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Reposted from Mikey Weinstein by pierre9045

The New York Times recently ran a story that may have been published with the most sterling intent. However, as folk wisdom and common sense universally informs us, “good intentions” can easily land us in some less-than-comfortable positions. Indeed, we all know too well what paves the road to hell. The Times story sympathetically and deservedly profiles a 17-year-old yeshiva student who has accepted her well-earned offer of admission to the acclaimed and prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Throughout the article, the good intentions come through loud and clear; however, so too do numerous biases, disgusting insinuations, and implicitly discriminatory assumptions that play to age-old, terribly hurtful stereotypes about the Jewish people; my people.

In fact, even the title of the article – “17-Year-Old Makes the First-Ever Charge From an Orthodox Yeshiva to West Point” – is wholly inaccurate. Ms. Rachelle David (the subject of the article) most certainly is not the first Orthodox Yeshiva graduate to enter the celebrated West Point military institution. (The New York Times has since corrected this inaccuracy from their April 28th article.)

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Fri May 01, 2015 at 06:57 AM PDT

Credo

by Bill Day

Reposted from Bill Day by pierre9045

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I call myself that in order to distinguish myself from the dominant strain of North American Christianity. At the risk of sounding arrogant and judgmental, I am compelled to say that conservative Christians have adopted a very narrow and exclusionary reading of the Bible, thereby rendering static and dead a book I find dynamic and alive. It is not my purpose here to defend my faith or my reading of the Bible; neither needs defending. My purpose is simply to clarify what I believe. Before developing my own beliefs about Christ and the Bible, I think it appropriate to share a little of my personal history.

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Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 05:20 PM PDT

The World's First Atheist Orphanage

by Els

Reposted from Els by pierre9045

Okay, so there is this orphanage in Uganda that has captured my imagination.  And in my imagination I hope it will capture yours.  Billed as the world's first atheist orphanage, BiZoHa has as its charter the care and education of 25 orphans in Muhokya, western Uganda.  It has a GoFundMe campaign up looking for donations, a second tranch of a little over $3,000, to fund a kitchen, caretakers and solar panels.

 The orphanage was started with a fundraiser in February 26, 2015, when the original campaign raised $5,820.  I think I saw the link here.  I coughed up $10 on the basis of the idea alone, and was joined by folks belonging to a variety of irreligious organizations.  

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Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 06:09 PM PDT

The New-Problem of Creation

by TCMercado

Reposted from TCMercado by pierre9045
.
"Their agenda is to incorporate religious myth as scientific theory within the American classroom, an “alternative option” so students can simply take it or leave it...Seems perfectly reasonable, except it isn’t."
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Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 08:05 AM PDT

Happy Openly Secular Day!

by jusjtim35

Reposted from justjim35 by jusjtim35

Kind of a quick diary, but wanted to put this out there. Today, 4/23 is Openly Secular Day. This is the day all closeted non-believers are encouraged to tell at least one person in their life that they don't believe in God.

This idea is modeled on the LGBT model that has been so successful in helping open the doors for people who are afraid of how the world will react if they come out. Like it or not being an Atheist/Humanist in America is still a difficult thing to be. People who announce their lack of belief often are ridiculed, shunned and ostracized. While I personally am lucky to have been raised in a family of non-believers there are many others who have not had that good fortune.

While there are groups devoted to helping people come to terms with their lack of belief and how to deal with family members who might reject them, by coming out Atheist we are hoping to help turn the tide and show the world that Atheists are merely other people. Some of us are even people who do good works on behalf of others.

You don't need to be religious to believe in good. This is actually a core tenet of Humanism.

I am in a massive hurry and won't have time to check back on this diary until much later today or even tonight. I do hope at least one person here finds the strength to tell at least one person about their lack of belief and that things go well when you do so. Only by tearing down the prejudices about Atheism can we change the negative perceptions of us non-believers.

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Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 10:51 AM PDT

Atheists on CBS's Sunday Morning

by pierre9045

I would like to point you all to a really great piece on today's CBS This Sunday Morning about Atheism.

Atheists: In godlessness we trust

It was reported by Mo Rocca, who I must admit I have a fondness for, and this piece did not disappoint.

Among the subjects: a man who lost his family and job.

"Because around here, people are taught that morality comes from religion. So if you don't have religious beliefs, then you must not be a moral person."
And a black Atheist who talks of the pervasive religious presence within the African American community.
One man attending said, "Once you say 'I'm an atheist,' all the doors start closing. You can hear 'em."

Thomas told Rocca, "They often feel isolated, and so we help with that. You know, we don't want anybody feeling that they're alone in this."

One man said, "Among our community, the black community, what's the first thing women say they're looking for? A God-fearing man."

No surprise: Almost half of all Americans say they'd be unhappy if a family member married an atheist.

These are the types of stories those of us in the Secular community hear a lot about, but few outside ever come across.

The piece also includes Todd Stiefel, an active member in numerous Secular organizations including Foundation Beyond Belief, a secular charity organization, and how the group Openly Secular focuses more on changing public opinion on Atheists.

"It's about changing hearts and changing minds," said Stiefel. "It's about people realizing that we are somebody you don't need to fear. We're somebody you don't need to distrust."
Though brief, I felt this piece really gave a good impression of what it is like to live without belief, and especially some of the social costs that go along with it, something that even more in-depth pieces have a hard time conveying.

We often associate the idea of people being shunned by their community for leaving the religion to fringe religions like the Amish, or Jehovah's Witnesses, but it happens a lot in Atheism too. Hence, the language of being "in the closet" now comes up a lot when talking of Atheism, as well.

One of the hardest things about the conflict between Religion and Secularism in America is getting beyond the shouting matches over who is wrong and who is right, who has suffered more and who has been wronged more. What there needs to be is a way for both groups to find a comfort zone where each can feel engaged without feeling threatened by the other. The reality, though, is that for this ideal to be reached, one of the important message that must be conveyed is simply what it is like to live without religion with this country, and how it can be difficult at times, and why. This piece on an early Sunday morning TV show, though but one small piece in the continuing culture clash, does a good job of moving it along.

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Reposted from Mikey Weinstein by pierre9045

A major war is being viciously waged against the United States of America, a war that’s global in scope and poses a terrifying threat to our national security interests. The ruthless attacks, which this conflict has generated, have inflicted grievous damage to nothing less than the U.S. Constitution itself, as well as the foundational core values of the United States armed forces. While the mainstream media has been woefully asleep regarding this raging conflict, the Pentagon has verified through its own official publications that the war has already led to vast transformations within the armed forces. Religious fanatics are spearheading this pernicious worldwide campaign and, no, I’m NOT referring to Shia or Sunni Islamic jihadists…. but “jihadist” was a good guess. I’m referring, of course, to our very own fire & brimstone fundamentalist Christian crusaders, both within uniform and without, who have seemingly infiltrated every echelon of the United States armed forces. These religious extremists are bolstered by legions of civilian zealots, parachurch organizations, legislators, and persons of influence who are carrying out their own grievous massacre of bedrock civil rights under the banner of “religious freedom.”

You want the latest proof? Witness the appalling appellation and homage recently given to USAF Chaplain (Capt.) Sonny Hernandez, 445th Airlift Wing Chaplain Corps: freshly crowned as the "Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Individual Mobilization Accession Company Grade Officer of the Year" at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio. The official statement regarding this newly benighted Company Grade Officer of the Year sounds wonderfully amazing and ecumenical. Well, don’t cue the U.S. Air Force band rendition of Kumbaya yet, folks – the plot’s about to thicken with bountiful bile and phlegm.

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Reposted from Troutfishing by pierre9045

Yesterday, in an April 14, 2015 Twocare.org story, I covered Senator Marco Rubio's close ties to the Miami, FL megachurch Christ Fellowship, which boasts an anti-gay hiring policy and whose head pastor Rick Blackwood - whose sermons Rubio says he specifically goes to the church to hear, rejects Darwin's theory of evolution and promotes exorcism and Young Earth creationism. But Christ Fellowship is not overtly political. Enter David Barton.

Barton claims the Constitution is based on the Bible, maintains that the separation of church and state is a myth, says Jesus opposed the minimum wage, and has published writing that appears to endorse "biblical slavery" for non-Christians.

And in 2010 Barton helped to rally the dominionist Christian right behind Marco Rubio and to lift Rubio to the United States Senate, from which perch Rubio has now launched a presidential bid.

In 2010, A febrile, Koch brothers-financed, Christian right activist-led political spasm known as the "Tea Party" swept the land.

And, Christian right presidential hopefuls such as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee began to maneuver in advance of the 2012 election. In March 2010 at the annual, arch-conservative CPAC convention in Washington D.C., Huckabee quipped that all Americans should be forced to listen to David Barton's version of American history - at gunpoint if necessary.

The ensuing controversy failed to deter Marco Rubio. Quite the contrary. Up onstage at a September 15, 2010 Longwood, Florida political rally, candidate Marco Rubio appeared for a heartfelt endorsement from former Vice Chair of the Texas GOP and pseudo-historian David Barton (pictured). To hammer home the point Barton then posted a special 5 minute, 52 second video endorsement of Rubio.

Barton and Rubio were the main attractions at the September 15th rally according to advance publicity, with Barton billed as a "constitutional scholar".

Little more than a month later Barton's close friend, New Apostolic Reformation prophet Cindy Jacobs, would release a prophecy forecasting the rise of a church-based third major political party led by "righteous" politicians such as Marco Rubio. Jacobs teaches that dominionist Christians have the God-given mandate to "subdue", "make subservient", and "bring into bondage" all unbelievers.

The dual September 15th appearance by Rubio and Barton was almost unnoticed* by media, except for, most prominently, coverage from Talking Points Memo reporter Brian Beutler - who noted that Barton had just helped orchestrate a wildly controversial religious right campaign to revise Texas textbook standards.

Less than a year later, Barton began publicly promoting the New Apostolic Reformation's "7 Mountains" dominionist program, which advocates that charismatic Christians should, as NAR apostle Thomas Muthee outlined shortly before blessing and anointing Sarah Palin in a 2005 ceremony, "invade... infiltrate" seven key sectors of society: government, business, media, education, arts and entertainment, religion, and the family.

read the rest of this story at Twocare.org

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Reposted from Frederick Clarkson by pierre9045

Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In it, he cheered the Obama administration's recognition of the recent anti-LGBTQ legislative bigotry in Indiana. But Lynn's main purpose was to highlight the practice, which has existed since the Bush administration, of allowing federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of religion.  The practice, he says, is justified by a flawed 2007 analysis from the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department under president George W. Bush.  Lynn's organization and some seven dozen others have asked the president to rescind the Bush-era memo as a basis for policy.

The letter’s other signatories include the American Association of University Women, the ACLU, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFL-CIO), the American Jewish Committee, Hindu American Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Muslim Advocates, Interfaith Alliance, the Council for Secular Humanism, Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP in and many more civil liberties watchdogs, women’s rights groups and progressive religious organizations.

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Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 08:01 AM PDT

Don't blame an atheist

by kenneth houck

Reposted from kenneth houck by pierre9045

they have nothing to do with the decline of what I like to call apparent religion as greater voice put it:

" It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted  but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When  faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crises of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes a heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with a voice of compassion- its message becomes meaningless." Abraham Joshua Heschel

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Reposted from The Progressive Atheist by pierre9045

I know that there have been a lot of diaries on the RFRA laws like the one in Indiana already. I don't know how much more my take contributes to it.

On the other hand, I think that if people were more convinced of this argument, such laws would be far less defensible.

Now, while it seems clear to me that such RFRA laws are unconstitutional and in direct conflict with the Establishment Clause, I do not find them generally objectionable. If a butcher doesn't want to touch pork, if certain states want to protect that, as someone who wants to support other people's rights so long as they are not infringing anyone else's, I think that is alright. If that is what it's really about.

Yes, as an Atheist, it seems to me to be a privilege that only the religious can enjoy. But I am also willing to live and let live, and focus on some of the more real cases of injustice in our country. I wouldn't tell a Muslim not to be a butcher, anymore than I would tell Iggy Azalea not to be a rapper. It doesn't seem like a good idea to me, but if that's what you want to do, then by all means find a way that you can do it.

But that's not what it's all really about. The issue, for me, arises from the taken-for-granted notion that these religions somehow require such discrimination in the first place.

The fact is that no religion gives anyone a license to discriminate against others. But there are people who will discriminate against others no matter what their motivation. A bigot who hates gays because he claims it is his religion, I have no trust that such a person would not still be a bigot even without that religion.

Taken in this light, these RFRA laws are then merely cover for bigots to discriminate and treat others as second-class citizens, unless anti-dscrimination is explicitly included. Not only are they then in violation of the Establishment Clause, but also the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

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Reposted from leftprogressive by pierre9045

Raw Story reports:

A taxpayer-funded Christian school in Florida recently cited its “awesome God” as the reason it fired a teacher for her so-called “lifestyle choice” to be a lesbian.
Here's what happened:
Pfeiffer said that she moved to Florida to work as a dancer for Disney, and then took a job at Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center. But after her girlfriend began working as substitute teacher in another part of the school, rumors started to spread.

Even though Pfeiffer insisted that the couple tried to keep their relationship private, the school director eventually called her into her office to confront her about it.

“And then she was like, ‘Is it true what the rumors are about you and Kelly?’ and I said ‘Yes,” Pfeiffer recalled. “I said, ‘Could I be fired for that?’ and she said ‘Yes.’”

“Basically she said that what I’m doing is not socially acceptable and I’m living a life of sin.”

Within days, Pfeiffer was out of a job.

Here's the most ridiculous part:
Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center receives $2,442 in taxpayer funding per child from the state of Florida for providing voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) during the school year. The state pays the school $2,080 per child during the summer session.
And here are the "special rights" that, while claiming LGBT people are afforded them, the religious right always demands and always gets:
Attorneys pointed out to WFTV that the school had not broken any laws by firing Pfeiffer for her sexual orientation. An ordinance in Orange County, where the school is located, prohibits discrimination against LGBT people, but churches are exempted.
This is fucking ludicrous. Listen up, churches and religious organisations everywhere:

If you take money from ordinary citizens in the form of taxes, you don't get to discriminate. Not in employment, not in services, not for any reason (other than merit). Period. No exceptions. Don't give me this BS about your "sincerely held religious beliefs." I don't give a shit. You want to live according to your beliefs? Fine. Then live according to your own budget as well. Don't demand that taxpayers be forced to fund your delusions and brainwashings without getting something in return. Don't demand that your government, which must ensure equality of its citizens, sanction your efforts to ensure inequality among your employees.

Sadly, everything that I have just described did happen, and is perfectly legal.

And we're supposed to believe that Christians are persecuted in this country?

Cry me a fucking river, please.

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