The Danger of Being an Atheist


I'm obviously an atheist, but I had no idea what a difficult line that is to toe. Luckily my internet pal Philosoraptor turned me on to this alarming list of facts* about me and my fellow godless brethren.

Don't be mad at the atheists. They lead a very difficult life because of their beliefs. Anyone out there who considers themselves an atheist should educate themselves to the facts. I was very sad to read this and feel that we should all do our best to help the atheists:

• Atheists have a significantly higher rate of depression than non-atheist groups.

• Teenagers who identify themselves as atheist have a higher rate of suicide than those who don't.

• The WHO says venereal diseases spread faster among atheistic populations, particularly syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.

• On average, atheists have a 60% higher chance of dying from cancer and a 54% slower recovery rate.

• Married couples where one or both spouses is an atheist experience a higher rate of divorce than those who don't.

• Atheists account for an unusually high percentage of the total number of people who died of AIDS since the 1980s.

• Atheist world leaders are responsible for more total deaths as a result of politically motivated murders and genocides than the deaths of all religious wars combined since the beginning of recorded history.

• On average, atheists earn 35% less in household income per year than non-atheists.

• Atheists have a higher college drop-out rate than non-atheists and score an average 2.03 GPA compared to 3.13 for non-atheists.

• The rate of birth defects is 14% higher among couples who identify themselves as atheists.

• While Catholics top the charts for number of abortions per year, atheists top the charts for the number of miscarriages and infanticide cases, where the mother murdered her baby after it was born.

• Atheists account for a shocking 82% of the number of serial killers in the United States and an even more shocking 90% of those arrested for human cannibalism.

• Of all the cases of treason tried in the United States, 57.6% of those convicted were self-proclaimed atheists... more than Christians, Muslims, Jews, Agnostics and all other religions combined.

• The life expectancy for atheists is 12.03 years shorter than non-atheists.

• Atheists account for a larger percentage of military dishonorable discharges than non-atheists.

• A surprising documentary on PBS public television interviewed people after they saw an actor stage a collapse in the street to try and classify who was most likely to help and who was most likely to ignore the person. They repeated the scenario several hundred times over a period of three years to get a sampling based on age, gender, race, religious affiliation and economic status. In every instance, atheists ranked at the bottom of the list in terms of their willingness to help, unless the victim appeared to be an attractive white woman. They ranked lower than any other group when the victim appeared to be homeless or affiliated with a religion, such as a Hasidic Jew or a priest/nun. The documentary's producers were stunned to find that Christians, Jews and Muslims, in spite of their religious differences, were more inclined to help each other than atheists were inclined to help anybody.

Personally, when I see someone collapse in the street, I pee on them and steal their shit. But damn it, I pee on everyone equally.

*In this case, we're using this definition of fact.


Another Stupid Lawsuit


This news story is ridiculous, but it's also a great example of the expectation some religious people have in regard to their beliefs and world around them. This guy should have never taken a job in public transit if he has religious beliefs that prohibit him from performing his duties.

A Texas bus driver has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was fired for his religious beliefs after refusing to transport a client to a Planned Parenthood office, court documents showed Wednesday.

Edwin A. Graning worked for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, Texas, for less than a year before he was let go in January. At the time, he told his supervisor that, "in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion," according to the lawsuit. Graning is an ordained Christian minister.

(On a side note, anyone can become an ordained minister. Online. For free.)

Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that offers a range of medical services to women, including those related to abortion, often draws the ire of anti-abortion groups in the United States, where the procedure is legal but fiercely controversial.

So it would seem he had no idea why she was going to Planned Parenthood. It could have been for an abortion, but it could have also been for a medical check-up, a counseling appointment, to pick up medication, to take a pregnancy test, or to utilize any number of other services. Planned Parenthood is a pretty busy place. It is not, as some might have you believe, an abortion factory.

He is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

"It's only because he voiced his religions beliefs that he was canned," Edward White III, Graning's lawyer, told CNN. "Employers have a legal responsibility to at least attempt to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs. ... CARTS clearly violated Mr. Graning's religious freedom."

White, who works for a public interest law group founded by evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, said CARTS sent a second driver to collect the client and took her and a friend to the Planned Parenthood office.

Uhhhh, no, it is not only because he voiced his religious beliefs - that's just kind of annoying and better kept to yourself. Dude got fired because he refused to do his job. Did no one point this out to you? Oh, wait -

"While others may wish to make more of it, to CARTS this is just about our expectation that employees perform the duties they are hired for," David Marsh, general manager of CARTS, said in an e-mail message to CNN.

In addition to rides along fixed routes, CARTS offers some door-to-door service within its rural coverage area.

The lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for western Texas, Austin Division, was filed on July 14.

I hope this guy doesn't win. I don't see how he could, really. When I worked in a deli, I was a vegetarian, but that didn't mean I had the right to refuse to slice lunch meat. The only way I would have had the right to refuse to do that aspect of my job is if I had told my boss that I was unable to perform that aspect of my position because of those beliefs and was hired anyway with the understanding that I wasn't going to cut any meat. So unless the guy told CARTS that he wasn't able to drive people in some instances because of his religious beliefs, he would have been hired under the pretense that he was able to perform his work duties regardless of what his religious views are.

Even ignoring that, it seems to me the guy didn't actually have any grounds to refuse to do his job even if his religious opposition to abortion was something that legally had to be worked around because he had no way of knowing that's what she was going to Planned Parenthood to have done.


Ask an Atheist Episode 7 - Conspiracy Theories

Here it is, episode 7 of Ask An Atheist!

From the official blog: Case and Mike discuss the nature of conspiracy theories, and why most of them fail the test of evidence.

If you don't check it out, you're just playing into "The Man's" plot to destroy something you care about!!


Why Little Things Matter


I was going to write about this yesterday because It's semi-local and I found it interesting, but then I got distracted by epic personal lameness, so here it is today:

PORT ANGELES -- Tim Davis, a candidate for Clallam County District Court 1 judge, stood in front of a voters-forum audience of 100 people this week and related one of those stories about an electoral opponent that makes the ears perk up.

Davis, a candidate with Pam Lindquist in the Aug. 17 primary, said incumbent Judge Rick Porter had required a potential juror in a DUI trial to pledging to truthfully answer questions about her qualifications to be a juror, "so help you God."

The judge uses the term, asking if the juror so swears, and the juror is expected to answer, "I do."

When the woman objected -- after she was impaneled -- to saying "I do" to the phrase "so help you God," Porter told her to sit in the jury box "all by herself," Davis told the audience, saying Porter's actions were unnecessary and suggesting that Porter humiliated the woman.

"That never, ever happened," Porter responded at the forum Tuesday in Port Angeles.

"This issue, as far as I know, never came up."

Gail Smith of Sequim said Thursday that's exactly that happened to her Feb. 17 as a juror during a one-day driving-under-the-influence trial that Porter presided over.

Only an option

She said she was required to take the oath twice before the trial began despite the state Administrative Office of the Courts and the state Supreme Court saying that the phrase is only an option and not required.

"I had to say it to perform my civic duty," she said.

"I felt consternation, I felt embarrassment, and I felt discriminated against. I was not given the option that the state Supreme Court has given people."

Smith said she continued fuming about having to take the oath after the trial began.

During a break, she wrote a note in the jury room expressing her anger and gave it to the bailiff to give it to Porter, she said.

In the note, she compared the oath to taking an oath that invokes the name of Santa Claus, Smith said.

Her husband was in the courtroom with other trial participants and saw Porter laugh when he read it out loud, Smith said.

Her husband said Porter told the defense attorney and prosecutor that he needed to question Smith to determine if her anger would make her biased, Smith said.

When the jurors returned from lunch, Smith was called out of the jury room by the bailiff.

"I was required to sit alone in front of the defense lawyers, the prosecutor, a deputy sheriff witness, the general public and the defendant's family member while the judge explained to me that the state Supreme Court mandates that he follow, verbatim, certain protocol including the so-help-me-God oath," Smith said.

"He asked if my being upset at having to swear to the oath would taint my ability to be a juror, and I answered no."

She said that part of the oath is in brackets in court rules set out by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, meaning it is optional.

Smith described herself as a secularist, or one who, according to www.mirrian-webster.com ascribes to secularism, or "indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations."

"I'm a secularist, not an atheist," Smith said. "I challenge church dogma of any sort. It didn't make me any less impartial."

Porter agrees about option

Porter on Thursday agreed that the "so help you God" part of the oath is optional, noting, too, the brackets.

Porter said he vaguely recalled an incident involving a woman who objected to the oath.

He asked if the incident happened two or three years ago, saying it's been a long year.

He said no one is required to say "so help you God."

"I recall there was a lady who told [District Court Administrator Keith Wills] that she was an atheist and didn't want to do that," Porter said of the oath.

"I explained that I was sorry, and it was part of the script. I don't know if it was during the trial or after the trial, I honestly don't know.

"I recall vaguely having a conversation and saying I don't mean to offend you and that's the way the script reads."

Porter said this is the only time anyone has raised an issue with the oath in District Court.

"I'm just amazed that this is that big an issue," Porter said.

As to claiming at the forum, "that never happened," Porter said Thursday he was referring to Davis' characterization of the incident.

"He said I was rude and belittling to her, and that never happened."

It seems to me that this Judge singled this woman out, was kind of a prick to her, she stood up for herself, he was even more of a prick to her, and now he's trying to distance himself from the whole thing because it's nearly election time.

The thing that really gets me about these kinds of stories are the comments. A few of the uglier ones:

Posted by Allen Frank

Criminals hate Judge Porter.
Trial Attorney's hate Judge Porter.
Atheists hate Judge Porter.

Sounds like my kind of Judge.
God Bless you Judge Porter!

Posted by Allen Frank

The latest tactic of the Atheist Progressives is to deny being Atheist; calling themselves "secularists". Sounds better I guess.

"During a break, she wrote a note in the jury room expressing her anger and gave it to the bailiff to give it to Porter, she said.

In the note, she compared the oath to taking an oath that invokes the name of Santa Claus, Smith said."

Equating God with Santa Claus??
Sounds like an Atheist to me!!
Posted by Allen Frank

I never said it wasn't ok for folks to be Atheists.
It's just hysterical that people like Ms. Smith would go out of her way to claim to be a Secularist and not an Atheist....then equate God with Santa. That's the point. We have free will to make choices and are, THANK GOD, free to exercise our Rights. Even make fun of God like Ms Smith did.
I'm pointing out her clear case of HYPOCRISY!
Seems like Ms Smith enjoys being offended so she can lash out her dogma.

Most of the negative comments on the story were posted by this guy, Allen Frank. From what he's written, he's most likely a random harmless troll.

Posted by Lauren Pratt

If someone doesn't take an oath . . . how do u determine if THEY r telling the truth? R there consequences for people who do not take the oath and later are determined to be unethical or a liar???

This is just an epic fail in regard to reading comprehension. She didn't refuse to take the oath, she refused to say the bits having to do with god, which is legally her right.

Posted by Wynn silence

Porter must be doing something right. Because he's got all the drunks and nutjobs mad at him. Oh yeah and the Devil and his crouwd too.

Davis needs to present what he will do different or better than Porter or drop out of the eletion and quit waisting the peoples time with back stabbing.

And the same Go's for Pam Linquist. Both of them sound like they should be in the school district Judge for a day program.

This is probably the most disappointing comment I read. But nothing new or surprising here either.

Look, if a judge had made someone uncomfortable about saying the god bits of an oath, people would be freaking out about the injustice and abuse of power in the situation. It's hard not to feel a little bitter when a good chunk of comments (granted, a healthy portion of those were from ranty Mr. Frank, but still) are essentially saying - well, she's an atheist so good for him.

This is a little thing and it's very tempting to want to distance oneself from this kind of story to avoid the inevitable label of being whiny or petty, but when you let the little things slide, it paves the way for the bigger issues to have just a little more credence. That's why it's important for people to speak up, even for the little things like a religious display at the capital or the words 'Under God' in our pledge and on our money, or a judge using his position of influence to make you feel singled out or your secularism.

Non-religious people, just like any other kind of people, have a right to equal representation. We don't forfeit that when we make the decision to be open about our godlessness. Unfortunately, being a minority group, we have to remind people of that right fairly often and may even have to fight for that right from time to time. That's the burden of knowing what's right and sticking by it, even when society pressures you to conform to something different.


You Gotta Fight - For Your Right - To Maaaaaaaarry Children. What?


I know, I know, I live in the Seattle area, typically vote Democrat or even *gasp* third party, I was a vegetarian for a while, I'm a proponent for gay rights AND I'm against child marriage. I'm a walking progressive stereotype. Well one man is fighting the good fight so that skeevy old Muslims everywhere can marry kids in the name of their religion. Thank Mighty Atheismo there's someone out there willing to speak up for traditional religious values and traditional religious marriage.

Nigerian group slams trial of senator over child marriage

ABUJA — A Nigerian Islamic group on Tuesday challenged a suit filed by a government agency against a senator, Ahmed Sani Yerima, under fire over his marriage to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.

The Registered Trustees of Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria is seeking an order of the Federal High Court to restrain any government agency from interfering with the rights of the senator.

Defendants in the suit are the government-backed National Human Rights Commission, National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), and senate president and the speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Investigators of NAPTIP last May questioned Yerima, ex-governor of Muslim-dominated northwest Zamfara State, over the marriage.

Yerima, 49, who provided investigators with an affidavit of marriage from the Sharia Court of Appeal in Abuja, slammed the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003 which he said "must have been enacted in error".

The lawmaker said that he and his government had rejected the law -- which forbids marriage to anyone under 18 -- when he was governor between 1999 and 2007.

The Islamic body is seeking court declaration that Yerima's rights to privacy and practise his religion have been violated.

"We are saying that the honourable senator, as a Nigerian, fundamentally as a muslim, (that) the constitution guarantees him the right to practise his religion... the way and manner it is prescribed," the body's lawyer, Etigwe Uwa, told journalists after a court session on Tuesday.

"His religion allows him to marry four wives without restriction on age," he said.

Uwa said the section of the Child Rights Act which forbids marriage of a girl under the age of 18 contravenes the country's constitution which guarantees citizen's rights to practise his religion.

Uwa said a Muslim has the liberty to "even marry a child in the womb of her mother."

Judge Adamu Bello adjourned the case till October 21.

The Nigerian Senate has ordered a probe after the national rights watchdog.

Media reports have alleged Yerima paid a 100,000-dollar dowry before marrying the girl.

He faces 500,000 naira (3,270 dollars, 2,680 euros) fine or five years jail term, or both on conviction, NAPTIP officials said.

This freedom of religion bullshit is getting out of control. No. Your freedom of religion does not make it OK for you to marry children. Not in the womb, not when they're 13, not ever. Freedom of religion does not trump basic human rights, and I think the right for a kid to grow up before being bought and made to be some gross old man's wife is pretty fundamental. Now, before all you Jesus lovers start in on how terrible Muslims are and how this very behavior discredits their religion (but not yours) - how is this any different than the Catholic church trying to avoid legal responsibility for the child abuse scandal? I would say moving those priests around and pressuring the kids not to say anything and, oh yeah, trying to seek immunity from being held legally responsible for the abuse in the US is pretty similar to a guy wanting the religious freedom to marry a child. In fact, I'd say the Muslim has more balls because at least he's being open about it.

And that seems to be the Christians main issue with the Muslims. Their tenacity. Their transparency. They have no shame in the archaic and socially reprehensible demands of their religion. Christians are sneaky and two faced about their desire for special treatment. The fundamental ones, like the Phelps, seem to come the closest to real faith and belief and adherence to Christianity as it's written in the supposedly holy book and everyone else dislikes it because it's ugly and cruel. That's what religion is. Religion is the good and the worthless, the saved and the damned, the chosen and the cast offs. It's not hugathons and canned food drives and feeling all high on Jesus at Christmas and Easter, it's segregation, slavery, rape, torture, and simplistic caste system of the ones who are righteous and everyone else, who is essentially kindling for the endless fires of hell.

That's why we need to stop regarding freedom of religion as some greater or more sacred freedom than everything else. Freedom of religion does not mean that Christians have the right to discriminate against gays. Freedom of religion does not give adults the right to be child molesters. Religious rights do not trump other rights and it's time we rational, logical, socially responsible people stopped being afraid of the inevitable social backlash and started making some real noise in saying so.


AaA Episode 6: Spiritual is a Nonsense Word

One of my favorite shows yet.

Also, I believe they're giving the Ask an Atheist blog an overhaul, so once I get wind of the completion of that, I'll pass it along as well.

I Don't Think Jesus Saves Bad Business Practices

So. This wacky guy in OK has a commercial where he's hocking siding and, for good measure, Jesus.

Yeah guy, that's kind of a weird insert of highly questionable politicization in your commercial. I often wonder why people sometimes feel the need to include personal beliefs and opinions in situations where it seems generally understood that it's inappropriate to do so. Then I stumbled upon some reviews of his business. Now I understand completely. There are only two reviews that I found, but neither one of them was flattering or really surprising given the general attitude of the commercial.

Buyer Beware

The siding work provided by Terrell's was mediocre at best. Repairs were needed within two years. When I called to get the work repaired, Terrell's put me on a waiting list. I called again a couple of months later and they said I was still on the waiting list. I called back one more time and was told the same thing. Terrell's never called me back and I finally realized that the waiting list was just a ploy to deflect or put off their customers. I don't think they ever had any intention of standing behind their work.

Later, I went to another siding person and had to spend about $2,000 to have my siding put in good repair. I would not recommend Terrell's to anyone.

The second review is far more telling.

Rudest, worst service ever recieved.

We asked for a quote to enclose our patio into a sun-room, as we had from numerous other companies.

The quote we were given by the owner of the company was the most expensive and when we informed him about it, he yelled at my spouse, using profanity and had very ugly things to tell about how people of our race come into his country and take advantage of everyone, etc, and slammed down the phone.

It was very disturbing to experiance such hatred from the owner of the company, someone we would xpect would know better.

My spouse called him back to ask him id he realizes what he had just said to which the answer came back that "so what, s**(litigate) me you a*******".

May the Lord forgive him for all the hatred he carries.

So of course he's going to utilize that sweet sweet Christian privilege and appeal to his douchey tea bagging brethren - the business obviously can't stand on it's own merit.

Thanks to Unreasonable Faith and Cynical-C for the heads up.


AaA Ep. 5 - Why Do Atheists Exist?

Ask An Atheist Episode 5: Why Do Atheists Exist?


A Free Plug For Roy Zimmerman

The latest episode of Ask an Atheist is in the can, but it's not up yet over at askanatheist.tv, so until that gets posted, here's a taste of Roy Zimmerman. I was turned on to this guy by Dretlin over at The Happy Atheist Forum. Pretty funny.

I know, I'm probably one of the only atheists left who haven't run across this guy, but in case there are a few trailing me, here you go. =D


I Appreciate What Freedom Of Speech I Have


I can easily join the rabble rabble crowd of disillusioned non-hippie liberals who wax on about our freedom of speech in this country being more infringed upon than we should allow it to be. I think Phelps is a super douche, but I don't think he should be banned from protesting (though I do go back and forth about his presence at funerals. Damn, what a dick.)

However, I know that here in America I have it better than a lot of other places in the world. Here's an example of how bad things could be -

MOSCOW — One painting depicted Jesus Christ as Mickey Mouse, another as Vladimir Lenin. The 2007 exhibit was part of an effort to fight censorship of the arts, but the Russian Orthodox Church was horrified.

Now, after a 14-month trial, the two prominent Moscow art curators who put on the show are facing the prospect of three years in prison.

Artists and rights activists have appealed to the Kremlin to put a stop to the prosecution of Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, warning of a return to Soviet-era cultural censorship with the rules now dictated by a conservative and politically powerful church.

Even Russia's culture minister says the two men did nothing to break the law against inciting religious hatred.

But the prosecutors refuse to back down and have demanded a three-year prison sentence when the judge makes her ruling on July 12.

The exhibit "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum, a human rights center named after celebrated dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov, featured several paintings with images of Jesus Christ.

In one, Christ appeared to his disciples as Mickey Mouse. In another, of the crucifixion, the head of Christ was replaced by the Order of Lenin medal, the highest award of the Soviet Union.

Samodurov, who was the museum's director from its founding in 1996 until he stepped down in 2008, had already once been convicted of inciting religious hatred and fined the equivalent of $3,600 for an exhibit in 2003 called "Caution: Religion!"

The exhibit was closed a few days after it opened after a group of altar boys defaced many of the contemporary paintings, which used religious allusions to express attitudes toward religion, culture and the state.

You know, people who are religious often claim that their beliefs have power and that their god is all powerful. Reactions like this are what make me think that maybe they don't actually buy into all that hype. If you know you're right, you have no reason to be so angry at those who say you're wrong. Vandalism like this seems like an indication of doubt on their part.

I'm protective of art because I think it's valuable historically to a society. The art a society enjoys and produces says a lot about what's going on at that time in a unique way. The censorship of art, to me, is like censoring part of the historical record. Which hardly ever bodes well.


A Marriage Of Two Favorite Things - Porn And Sacrilege!


Hey, look, Jesus is a voyeur! Of course, given the 'God is always with you' story I've heard from many a staunch believer paired with the fact that God's son is Jesus and Jesus is his own dad, that should come as no surprise.

Jesus Christ is making an appearance in July's Portuguese version of Playboy magazine.

The magazine spread featuring Jesus is meant as an homage to Nobel winning writer Jose Saramago. Saramago, an atheist and the only Portugese author to receive a Nobel prize, died last month.

The images of Christ on the cover and within the pages of the magazine are inspired by a Saramago novel, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, a fictional reimagining of Christ's life as a flawed human being.

Jesus is on the cover of the July Playboy, sitting on a bed, holding a scantily clad female. The title of Saramago's book is engraved into the headboard of the bed.

The other explicit images in the magazine show Jesus watching a lesbian sex scene, standing next to a street prostitute, and looking over the shoulder of a half naked woman reminiscent of a Catholic school girl.
I don't have much more to say about this beyond "giggity".


Iran Says Yay To Elvis Hair, Boo To Puppy Love


Well, at least Iran is being a bit less sexist with its ridiculously controlling and restrictive rules regarding the legality of self image and self expression. I understand that banning the mullet is more for the benefit of society in general, but it seems like basically all punk hairstyles are forbidden - which I'm sure makes punks across America giggle with a special kind of punk satisfaction.

(July 6) -- Worried that Western ideas might be seeping into -- and onto -- the heads of their nation's young men, Iran's religious leaders have issued a catalog of acceptable "Islamic" male haircuts. Ponytails, spikes, mullets and Mohawks are now forbidden, but Elvis-style locks, floppy fringes and Simon Cowell-esque flattops get the ayatollahs' seal of approval. The entire selection of state-sanctioned styles will be revealed later this month at Tehran's Modesty and Veil Festival, whose organizers -- with help from Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance -- designed the hair guide. "The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture, religion and Islamic law," Jaleh Khodayar, the fair's female organizer, told Agence France-Presse. "We are happy that the Islamic republic of Iran's government has backed us in designing these hairstyles."

I love how the author of this story specifies that the organizer is female as if that means anything. No one is impressed by the progressiveness of Iran having a female organizer for an event that is in part meant to forbid specific hairstyles for an entire gender.
Although Iranian authorities have long attempted to enforce a strict female dress code -- women who wear their headscarves too far back or flash some ankle risk being arrested -- this is the first time that authorities have clearly set out what is and isn't follicly allowed for men. Previously, that judgment was left up to police, who would arrest boys with hairstyles inspired by European soccer players or American pop stars, and subject them to a swift short back and sides. Barbers who offered decadent Western cuts and male eyebrow plucking also risked being raided and shut down.
First of all, eyebrow plucking for either gender is painful enough - the punishment is already built into the practice. Second, isn't it kind of a testimate to the frailty of a belief if it requires controlling the practice of metrosexuality in order to maintain it?
But well-groomed men aren't the only group facing increased scrutiny this summer. The growing number of wealthy Iranians who keep dogs -- viewed as "unclean" by the mullahs -- could also face a crackdown. Last month, a senior Shiite cleric placed a fatwa on the pets and called for such displays of hound-human companionship to be outlawed. "Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," said Grand Ayatollah Naser Makerem Shirazi, according to Reuters. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."
Well that is about the stupidest shit I've ever heard. The insinuation that allowing people to have certain pets will somehow negatively affect a person's relationship with their human family is steaming grade-a BS. But I can see how the Iranian Ayatollahs might find the human-puppy bond intimidating. Once people experience unconditional love, the 'love' of jealous, petty Allah might not seem so enticing...

Everyone Needs A Break Sometime

You know what? There is a lot of jackassery going on out there right now, which means as I read my long list of atheist and secular bogs, I am inundated with a kind of chronic negativity. I've decided that today I'll have none of it.

This post is for anyone else who could use a break.

Here's some random happy stuff:


Vandalism Is Wrong, But You Were Asking For It


There's a silly little group out there called the Institute for Creation Research (I know) who is saying very silly things about the string of vandalisms that has seemed to follow the atheist bus and billboard campaigns across the country -

While vandalism should not be condoned, these recent events shed light on what some Americans will do when they feel that their freedom of speech is threatened. An atheist spokesman in North Carolina said their message is needed to “let people know we exist and that there’s a community here.”

Yet he failed to mention the concerted effort of atheist groups to stop religious Americans from freely exercising their religion. Not content with having the freedom themselves to worship or not as they see fit, militant atheists increasingly seek to shackle the beliefs of their fellow citizens through their own distorted interpretation of “separation of church and state.”

It is perhaps not surprising that some of those fellow citizens object.

When I read this, my immediate thought was - what an idiot - but Zach Voch over at the Friendly Atheist (where I learned about this story in the first place - thanks Hemant!) summed up my response to this quote quite well with an apt revision -

While vandalism should not be condoned, these recent events shed light on what some Americans will do when they falsely feel, thanks to propagandists like me, that their freedom of speech is threatened. An atheist spokesman in North Carolina said their message is needed to “let people know we exist and that there’s a community here.”

Yet he failed to mention the concerted effort of atheist groups to stop religious Americans from institutionalizing and forcing their religion on others. Not content with having the freedom themselves to worship or not as they see fit, secularists increasingly seek to preserve the equality and religious liberty of their fellow citizens through their historical and ethical reading of “separation of church and state.”

It is perhaps not surprising that theocrats and propagandists like myself object.

Christians and other religious groups, let me be as clear as humanly possible with this - taking away your unfounded privilege is not in any way taking away your rights. You can't act like you're being persecuted when you're the ones going around trying to stop other people from having a public voice.

Also, your vandalism sucks. Unimaginative and humorless - way to perpetuate your own stereotypes.


Christopher Hitchens Has Throat Cancer


Well I feel like a bit of an asshole for complaining about him cancelling his talk here in Seattle now that I know this, but Christopher Hitchens announced yesterday that he has throat cancer. I hope he makes a full recovery.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – British-born author Christopher Hitchens, known for his writings on world politics and religion, announced Wednesday he has throat cancer and will cut short his latest book tour to undergo treatment.

The television pundit and Vanity Fair contributing editor, who has tried to quit smoking in recent years, said he was suspending a tour to promote his new memoir "Hitch-22."

"I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus," he said in a statement. "This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice."

The self-described atheist announced in 2008 that he had quit smoking, although he has reportedly broken his vow on numerous occasions.

Hitchens, who former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher labeled a "naughty boy" after he said she was "sexy," approached US Special Forces in 2008 in order to be subjected to waterboarding, the controversial interrogation technique the CIA has used against terror suspects.

The one-time ardent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq emerged from the experience by declaring the technique as torture and stating his opposition to the use of waterboarding by the United States.