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By Eric Norwood
Republished with author's permission
Further info at Mormon Gulag

This story is about Eric Norwood's personal experiences at a place called The Utah Boys Ranch, which models itself as a "tough-love" prep-school, but while Eric was there, he witnessed some unbelievable atrocities. It is a Mormon-funded and staffed facility, and religious indoctrination is a fundamental aspect of the school. There was sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, suicide, staff corruption, and escape. A major Utah political figure, Senator Chris Buttars, was the executive director while Eric was there.

This is Eric's story:

His filthy digit tasted like rust and fish. "I can hurt you without leaving any marks," Brent growled as I writhed in agony on the ground. I struggled for breath as he mounted my back, put his finger in my mouth, and pulled back on my cheek, fish-hooking me. The pain was incredible. I tried to beg him to stop, but the words would not come.

After he finished beating and bludgeoning submissiveness into me, he pulled me up by the rope that was lassoed around my waist. The wool army blanket I had fashioned as a skirt had shifted askew and I stood there in my boxers bleeding from my nose, humiliated.

My green Utah Boys Ranch t-shirt had been ridiculously stretched out and looked more like a low cut blouse. I loosened the noose around my waist and pulled the itchy blanket through the loop and folded it over so it looked like a brown bath towel secured by a belt. He wasn't satisfied, he wanted more. I just wanted out of this classroom. I started to think about how I got here.

The Utah Boys Ranch appears to be a kind of tough-love school with a Christian-esque undertow. My parents thought as much when they employed its services in hopes of corralling their spiritually wayward son.

Being kidnapped was probably the last thing I was worried about at 15 years old. I was staying at my grandma's house that fateful night. My step-dad and I had been at war since I had refused to go to seminary, a church service for Mormon kids in high school that began at the ungodly hour of six in the morning.

I loathed early morning seminary more than the three hours of my Sunday regular LDS church service consumed, or the three hours on Wednesday nights. My opposition, paired with my step-dad's religious fanaticism, resulted in being grounded almost to the point of indentured servitude. Grandma's house was my sanctuary. Ironically, when I looked up at the clock that next morning - as two imposing silhouettes entered the house my mom grew up in - it was five minutes to 6 a.m. on Valentine's Day.

I was camped out on the sofa bed in the TV room with a plate of leftover lasagna from the fridge. It was half eaten and a Roseanne re-run was playing when they first walked in. They looked around as if they had been told where to go, but hadn't quite envisioned it right. They looked to their left, saw the terrified eyes of a 15-year-old, and pounced. They shoved clothes and shoes on me and I was gone before I was able to think about which way I should run. They told me very little. Their first names were Paul and Barry.

Barry was a white guy, a big mother. At least 6'5", and I would not be surprised to hear that he weighed more than 300 pounds, but he was not fat. Paul was shorter and had a darker complexion. He was big too, and meaner than Barry. He turned to me when we first got into their white mid-sized rental car and said, "You have a choice. You can be cool and get on an airplane with us and be there in a couple of hours, or you can sit back there with handcuffs on for the next 12 hours. Non-stop."

"Where are we going?" I asked, still in shock.

"Utah," Barry answered casually from the passenger seat, without turning his head. "We are from the Utah Boys Ranch, Eric, and your parents have asked us to take you back with us."

"What?" My head was spinning. I felt like I was going to throw up. There is no way that this was happening. My mom would never allow this. Utah? What the hell is a Boys Ranch? I couldn't breathe.

"I guess we're driving," Paul said odiously.

I knew the child-lock would be on and as I saw the familiar houses of my grandmother's street pass by, I started to roll down the window. We weren't going fast enough for them to notice yet and the warm Agoura Hills climate didn't tip them off. I rolled it down enough to fit my arm out and open the door from the outside when Paul paused at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, looked back at me, and stopped the car.

He shoved the gear into park and pulled handcuffs out of somewhere and told me to give him my wrists. I sat there cuffed for a moment when I realized that I really would die from this feeling in my chest - a physical manifestation of angst. My heart was beating furiously, and I knew that I couldn't last 12 hours.

"You can take me on a plane. I'll be cool."

"Now that's more like it," Barry said kindly. "My wife will be happy."

The first person I met in Utah was Senator Chris Buttars. I had no idea who he was until that point.

All I knew was that he was to be feared, and I was scared to death of him from the moment I first saw him.

"Sit down," he squawked in a loud, high pitched, galling voice that sounded like a cross between a buzzard and an old cowboy. He continued to make it very clear that I was at his mercy. He told me who he was - politically - and the influence he had. If I ever wanted to leave I was to do what he said. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen," I mumbled.

"Three years might not be enough for you. I can have a judge order you to be here until you are 21," he croaked. With that he sent me off to be "changed and put on work crew."

I was led down a long hall of doors with nameplates. I had no clue what kind of place this was. I didn't see any cows or horses...no sign of what I thought a "ranch" would resemble. Paul took me into a small room that was no bigger than a broom closet, which was stacked to the ceiling with three colors of cloth, blue, green and brown. There were green t-shirts, blue t-shirts, and blue jeans.

There were also brown army wool blankets, and I remember thinking that I didn't want to sleep under such a coarse covering before I was told to "put it on." I was told to wrap a thick, itchy blanket around my waist like a towel and wear it like a dress.

I was then given a "leash" made of climbing rope and what I think was a square knot to tie around my waist.

I had never imagined being tethered and walked like a dog, but here I was, being walked like a dog towards a cluster of about 12 other boys. They were lined up facing a wall while two large men in red sweatshirts watched them from a couple of chairs off to the side.

Some of the boys had camouflage pants on, a few others wore dresses. I wondered how long I was to be in this blanket dress. I was later told that it was so I wouldn't run away - and they were right - I literally could not run in this humiliating getup. I could barely get a full stride walking.

That's when I saw Brent - or 'Captain America,' as he was called disparagingly - for the first time. My leash was handed off to him, but he told me to wrap it around my waist and go join the group of young men who were standing with their noses touching the wall, all spread out about arms length from each other.

I turned to the boy who was standing to my right and asked him how long he had been here, but before I could get my question all the way out, my forehead careened into the carpeted wall in front of me. A sharp pain stabbed the back of my head, and suddenly bad breath filled my nostrils. "Are you talking on my work crew, boy?" a red-shirted man screamed at me.

My head was ringing. I was still trying to piece together what had just happened when I looked behind me and massaged the pain in my head. Suddenly my legs fell out from underneath me and I was on my back.

He had just slammed my forehead into the wall, and now he had put his foot behind mine and pushed me, sending me to the floor flat on my back.

He stood over me and bawled, "Don't look at me. Don't look around. Don't you MOVE without permission! You don't do anything without permission! If you talk, I think you are talking about running away, and I will restrain you. Do you understand?" I nodded. I knew then that I had to get out of this place. I wasn't going to last here.

It was only my second week on work crew when Neil Westwood refused to turn his back to Brent and place his nose on the wall, which is what the command "face the wall" plainly meant. It was a Mexican standoff for a few moments. Stunningly it seemed like Brent was going to let Neil get his way. I had never seen an older boy in a pissing contest with a staff member before. The younger kids refused commands, but they were always quickly thumped into docility.

Neil was a big kid, a lot bigger than me - probably 230 pounds or so, and over six-feet tall, but dispelled any image of toughness with his glasses, disproportionately small arms, and frizzy hairdo. Neil was as obnoxious as he was an easy target, but I still can't believe that no one reacted when Brent stood up in a flash of rage and chucked a full, unopened gallon of milk at Neil's face from about five feet away, crumbling him to a pitiful puddle of tears, blood, and non-fat milk.

The work crew was depraved. When they didn't have us facing the wall for hours at a time we were digging ditches with spoons, only to fill them back in again.

We made huge piles of heavy rocks taken from the field, the field that both surrounded and contained us, only to be told to move the massive mound to another location. They worked us in ways redolent of Stalin's gulags.

There was an agonizing week of all-day sod laying - with bits of mud and grass sticking to the inside of my wool dress - in preparation for some ceremony the work crew boys weren't privy to. The Scarecrow Festival was even worse. We worked for weeks from eight in the morning till eight at night in preparation and to take down that contrived fall carnival/ fundraiser. Boys wished for death. There was also a dry-cleaning service that they operated somewhere in town, which was supposedly much better than any job on campus - even kitchen duty.

Getting off from work crew meant school during the day, and considerably less work. Some sadist there created a t-shirt caste system that involved wearing either a blue t-shirt or green t-shirt. "Blue shirts" could talk, receive letters (which were opened and read first), talk to their parents, and possibly go off campus.

"Green shirts" were allowed into school, but that was about it. No speaking, sitting, or anything but working or reading LDS literature. A "green shirt" was forced to read the Book of Mormon, in particular the first 22 chapters. We were interviewed by one of the four full-time Mormon missionaries that worked there and had to paraphrase all of "First Nephi" before receiving a blue t-shirt. What good derives from reading the Book of Mormon under duress is anyone's guess, but I did it. I had to.

I had to go to church and seminary too.

It turns out that any form of decadence - smoking a little grass, telling your math teacher to sit on it, being gay or bi-curious, sexually assaulting a family member or young girl - is curable by a little hard work, tough love, and Mormon doctrine. Boys with "sexual issues" are housed together in what could only be some cruel showing of satire.

They were constantly being caught jerking each other off onto each other, or, more tragically, assaulting younger boys. Whatever it was, they would be shoved into blankets and thrown on work crew. On Tuesday night they would meet with all the boys with sexual issues and provide remedies like IcyHot on the penis to stifle homosexual urges.

I was kept there until they couldn't keep me any longer, and on my 18th birthday I walked out the front doors into a cold October morning with nowhere to go and nothing but my freedom. If I didn't experience it myself I would not believe a place like this exists. A Mormon gulag.

How do they get away with all of the abuse? The forced religion, the stifling of freedom of speech? Was it legal to prevent us from reporting abuse to authorities, or to restrain us with ropes, wool blankets, and duct tape? Is it legal to force young boys to talk about masturbation with Mormon clergy and missionaries? How does all of this go unnoticed? We were young and naive and didn't know that most of what they did to us was illegal. Buttars was famous for telling us that we had only three rights: food, safety, and shelter. They failed to even live up to those standards.

Besides being callow, we hardly had the chance to report any abuse. They instruct parents to ignore any claims of abuse from their children. They call any complaints from children a manipulation tool - "fear factor" - and instruct parents to be wary of the "tactic" they say they encounter most.

There were also no phones to call the police. No nurses or medical examiners to talk to. No government authorities to check in on us. Incongruously, this Orwellian facility desperately needs government oversight.

Sen. Buttars said it all when he told a reporter, "What sets us apart is that we're the only residential treatment facility that doesn't seek or accept government funding. If we did, they'd control us."

Reprinted with permission from Orato.com

Trailer from the new short film Clearing Time: Fighting a Mormon Gulag:

Originally posted to Chino Blanco on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:07 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  wow - that is hard to take (144+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sean Robertson, ABB, Buckeye BattleCry, lanshark, sacrelicious, sara seattle, Hummingbird, Byron from Denver, devtob, prfb, Walt starr, regis, opinionated, gladkov, SecondComing, DaleA, buckeyekarl, Dont Just Stand There, roses, javelina, skertso, L0kI, UK LibDem Dave, nicta, dejavu, Eddie in ME, Sychotic1, betson08, snakelass, walkshills, WisVoter, bablhous, vivens fons, G2geek, historys mysteries, 3goldens, wmc418, CTPatriot, revbludge, zeuspapa, sap, skyounkin, Ice Blue, cerulean, playtonjr, grada3784, esquimaux, myboo, DrSpalding, Themistoclea, kestrel9000, mango, mcartri, Son of a Cat, raincrow, StrayCat, erratic, JVolvo, AndyS In Colorado, Dinclusin, Timothy J, emsprater, Stripe, means are the ends, shaharazade, FrankieB, Bernie68, Temmoku, AllanTBG, illusionmajik, Pandoras Box, Aaa T Tudeattack, GoldnI, tegrat, Loudoun County Dem, moodyinsavannah, linkage, maxalb, crodri, gustynpip, jimbobb, sfbob, Newzie, Rumarhazzit, M Sullivan, LynneK, TheFatLadySings, joycemocha, bythesea, Akonitum, minerva1157, Lujane, Cassandra Waites, NogodsnomastersMary, WoodlandsPerson, kyril, LaFajita, mattc129, MinervainNH, DixieDishrag, BYw, ryangoesboom, satanicpanic, Pris from LA, multilee, Psychotronicman, Dirtandiron, An Affirming Flame, Shhs, smash artist, mrchumchum, MingPicket, JesseCW, dsharma23, scotths, MooseHB, IreGyre, Losty, AkaEnragedGoddess, Wisteacher, Colorado Billy, Lazar, BasketCase, Alec82, chrome327, lostmypassword, Dave1955, ctlrick, OldLady in BC, j b norton, addisnana, farbuska, BlueFranco, USHomeopath, Anne was here, Hawaiian, ribofunk, the dogs sockpuppet, penny8611, BlueHead, kevin k, Laurie Gator, Bobby D, CherryTheTart

    Not that I doubt the existence of such a place - just that it is allowed to function as it does.  

    I really have to wonder at parents who send their sons there.  Does the author confront them after his release?  What possible excuse do they offer?

    Are lawsuits pending?

    Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

    by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:23:24 AM PST

    •  Not hard to take if youre a faithful Christian (60+ / 0-)

      because if those dastardly non-believers start to attack the Mormon church, soon then it will lead to attacks on Baptists and Methodists and even Cathlics, and eventually all religions will be banned!

      Man Battlestations!

      See how easy it is to support pedophelia, incest, rape and all that comes with it? Stage 7 of faith.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:04:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

        •  I would agree (20+ / 0-)

          that religious fanatics come from all religions. It just so happens that the "christian" religion takes it to another level, in the name of "jesus".

          When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

          by desnyder on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:38:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

            •  I've noticed that, too. (37+ / 0-)

              If the same comments against Christians and Christianity in general were directed at gays, blacks, or some other general group, they would be hide-rated.  Prejudice against Christians is not at all uncommon here.

              I have no problem with criticisms of specific Christians (Dobson comes immediately to mind) or the actions of specific groups, as described by the diarist, but we are all written off by some.

              You'd think we were all Republicans or something!

              •  Religion is a business (65+ / 2-)

                There's no spirituality in organized mainstream religion... it's ALMOST completely given over to money and control through the most refined techniques that have been developed over thousands of years. The name of the 'god' changes but the very lucrative scam continues.

                The Abrahamic religions are responsible for at least half the conflict in the world.

                Ordinary people are held in thrall by concepts such as 'death insurance', the concept that if you follow 'the rules' while you're alive you'll go to 'the good place' after you die, and for ever.

                Commandments such as "Do not kill" are mostly ignored.

                There's a few exceptions, but mostly it's a very successful scam that keeps unemployable people well-fed.

                Please notice that I did point out that there's a few, VERY few exceptions.

                A huge housecleaning is needed; Wall st. is getting it now, and hopefully people will wake up and stop buying the religious stock too.

                Perhaps when that's over true spirituality will have a chance to flourish.

                •  Maybe the Abrahamic religions are responsible (18+ / 0-)

                  for "half" (rolls eyes) the conflict in the world bc.... half the ppl in the world belong to those religions.  1 Billion Catholics, 1 Billion Muslims, 800 million Protestants (I'm sorry I do not know the rough estimate of how many ppl belong to the Jewish faith).

                  Your statement is just pure ignorance.  I find that some ppl on this site let the absence of religion become their religion (ironic huhg).

                  GOP = Godless opposition party We Hassle to make America a Vassal (state)

                  by Shhs on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:47:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  OOOhhhh, did I hit a nerve? (12+ / 0-)

                    "The tongue beats where the tooth hurts"

                    Old German proverb

                  •  The absence of religion is not a religion. (61+ / 0-)

                    It only seems that way to people who are so thoroughly indoctrinated into religious "faith" that they can't conceive of any other way to think.

                    The absence of religion can simply be a refusal to accept the extraordinary claims of religion without the requisite extraordinary evidence.

                    In the absence of any such evidence, it is foolish to choose belief as the "default option."

                    "Lies return." - African proverb

                    by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:19:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  When ppl talk about trying to convert (12+ / 0-)

                      other ppl to their belief system, or when the say they have the supreme knowledge more so than everyone else, I'm sorry that's a little religony for me.

                      GOP = Godless opposition party We Hassle to make America a Vassal (state)

                      by Shhs on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:56:45 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I've often noticed that a certain (11+ / 0-)
                        type of religion produces a certain type of atheist in reaction to it.  And sometimes vice versa.
                      •  not all religions are proselytizing (10+ / 0-)

                        i am Christian, in fact my brand of Christianity is one of the oldest - way before all kinds of Protestantism - and we couldn't care less about how many we are. Moreover, we don't sit around talking about being saved or going to hell.

                        a lot of people are extremely ignorant about religion, because all they know is the uniquely American brand of Christianity. Trust me, that's not broadly representative.

                        "It is my job to make government cool again" - Barack Obama

                        by transilvana on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:16:00 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, we atheists tend to keep our mouths shut (54+ / 0-)

                        about it most of the time (for example: in social situations, at work, when applying for a job, or when running for public office).

                        This is because whenever an atheist states his/her position in any way - no matter how politely - he/she is likely to be accused of one of the following:

                        (1) trying to "convert" people

                        (2) being arrogant and nasty

                        (3) being the devil.

                        Meanwhile, people who proclaim their religious beliefs in exactly the same way are routinely treated with respect and deference. Religious faith is equated with virtue - for no rational reason whatsoever - while atheism is regarded as morally questionable.

                        This gets kind of old after awhile.

                        To respond to DailyDrew below: Actually, I haven't read Dawkins (yet), but people keep telling me I should. I certainly do respect anyone who is willing to express an atheist position (of any stripe, and there are many) unapologetically in the public square, as I do know Dawkins has done.  

                        Atheists must "come out." That is the only way atheism will lose its stigma.

                        See - I don't care about converting anybody. I'd just like to be able to state my opinion, like anyone else, without being reviled. I'd like to see atheists get elected to public office without having to pretend they're religious (something that currently is just about impossible in the United States of America).

                        We have a long way to go before that is achieved.

                        "Lies return." - African proverb

                        by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:53:05 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Agnostic here... (19+ / 0-)

                          Though I'm frequently called an atheist.

                          I don't see how it matters one way or another, whether there's a god, or not. If there is a god, he obviously doesn't give a damn about humanity; if there is no god, it doesn't matter anyway.

                          I simply can't waste my mind, or build my life, around a biggest-penis contest between god and satan. If that's all this universe is about, then both of them are assholes, and I'm holding out for a better candidate.

                          Eventually, the dots just connect themselves.

                          by Executive Odor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:05:59 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You have a point, but... (8+ / 0-)

                            I don't see how it matters one way or another, whether there's a god, or not. If there is a god, he obviously doesn't give a damn about humanity; if there is no god, it doesn't matter anyway.

                            What you're saying is that you don't really care what the truth is. Fine. But some of us do care.

                            The pursuit of truth is not a "biggest-penis contest." It's an effort to separate truth from bullshit. I certainly don't pretend to possess the truth, but I think a sincere pursuit of the truth is crucial. In fact it's the only thing that matters. The truth justifies itself, because it's the truth.

                            To put it another way: I think truth is more important than happiness. And anytime I hear someone dismiss the importance of truth - or (worse yet) claim limply that the truth is "just relative" - I imagine myself in Room 101 with O'Brien screaming in my face: "How many fingers, Winston?"  

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:14:10 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The thing is (14+ / 0-)

                            This is a truth we can't know, unless some deity shows up to perform tricks for the living.

                            I agree, "faith" is irrational. I agree, the God Industry is a cancer. But if sincere religious belief gives some people comfort, so be it, as long as it neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg, as Jefferson might have said.

                            My biggest objection to religion is its influence on government, and law. We treat many "sins" as "crimes", and that amounts to religious tyranny.

                            I personally lean towards atheism, but I don't feel qualified to declare an ultimate "truth", one way or the other. I am convinced, however, that if there is an all-knowing god, then an all-knowing god already knows my eventual fate, and nothing I can do will change it.

                            Eventually, the dots just connect themselves.

                            by Executive Odor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:31:24 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There are many truths we can't know. (6+ / 0-)

                            But that doesn't mean we can't pursue them - just as (for example) I can strive to perform my job perfectly, even though I know I'm not perfect.

                            My biggest objection to religion is its influence on government, and law. We treat many "sins" as "crimes", and that amounts to religious tyranny.

                            Agreed.

                            But if sincere religious belief gives some people comfort, so be it, as long as it neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg, as Jefferson might have said.

                            Well, as I said myself, I don't care about converting anybody. But in choosing my own beliefs, I'm not looking for something that will just get me through the night. I'm looking for something that is true.

                            I believe the truth matters. If you want to call that an article of faith, so be it.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:48:13 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I also believe the truth matters (5+ / 0-)

                            Which is why I can't simply accept these things on faith.

                            All I'm saying is that millions billions of people will accept this dogma on mere faith, and they will entertain no logic or evidence that might settle the question for you and me.

                            Their faith is stronger than reason. It has been that way for millenia, and, lacking any solid proof on either side, it seems to me that the best we can do is defend ourselves against the tyranny of zealots.

                            Eventually, the dots just connect themselves.

                            by Executive Odor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:16:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "Know" (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf, Night Train

                            This is a truth we can't know

                            I respectfully disagree.

                            When we say we don't know the answer to a question, it means that multiple answers can be supplied, each equally credible. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, we had no idea whether our galaxy was the only one or whether there were multiple "island universes". Reasonable arguments came in on both sides, and the primitive data at the time supported both hypothesis. We didn't know.

                            In contrast, when we consider whether there is God of some sort, it is very difficult to credibly answer the question "yes". We have no data in favor of a god, and every day, the amount of factual information that might be amenable to a supernatural explanation grows smaller. The gaps that a god would have to squeeze into are literally unfathomably small.

                            Thus, to say we don't know whether a god exists isn't really fair. We can be as sure that a god doesn't exist as we can be sure that the sun doesn't revolve around the earth, or that whales evolved from land mammals. It's simply not fair to require a higher standard of proof for the god question than for any other.

                          •  What truth are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

                            Religion is just that "religion". Living to help humanity and to make the world a better place is pro-active. There is no need to speak about what is right or wrong if you are doing the right thing to others less fortunate.

                            When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

                            by desnyder on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:03:25 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I disagree, (0+ / 0-)

                            There is no need to speak about what is right or wrong if you are doing the right thing to others less fortunate.

                            Being good to others less fortunate is obviously of huge importance. But there is more to life than that.

                            There is also the search for truth. What truth am I talking about? The one that exists and is real, not imagined. There is always a need to speak about this.

                            Partial definition of reality: If something is real, it exists whether one believes in it or not. In other words, if one must believe in it in order for it to be "real" - then it's not real.

                            The difference between truth and falsehood may not matter to you (and that's your preorgative), but to some of us it's the most important thing there is.

                            Belief in falsehood is pernicious, and it has led to many evils over the centuries. That's why I referenced Room 101 from George Orwell's 1984 in my previous comment. Orwell was trying to warn us that in a world where "truth" is held to be "just relative," what happens is that whoever has the most power in a given situation will tend to decide what it wants the truth to be - and then use its power to force that truth down the throats of others.

                            This is exactly what the Bush administration tried to do (and succeeded in doing, temporarily) in "creating its own reality" to justify its bloody adventure in Iraq. If you and I let go of the idea of a concrete, real reality that really exists (in other words, of facts - not just opinions and spin), then we have no recourse when Big Brother tries to force his reality/religion/worldview down our throats. We have no leg to stand on. We're at his mercy.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 03:01:10 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm fine with the literal truth of the Bible (4+ / 0-)

                            except for the monotheistic religious gloss that somehow got added to the Penteteuch or book of the law from out of left field.

                            The version I follow is basically a law book with a lot of historical precedent attached.

                            Some of the stories in it make great literature, especially those which if taken literally would not be considered likely to be rated PG.

                            Genesis has a pantheon of deities paired as opposites whose powers define the range of legal precedent in the ancient near east.

                            In the story of Abraham you have Shariah law contrasted with the Im hotep of the Egyptians and the common law that has been informally codified at a point in time where we first see the juncture of gene, oinkos and phratre.

                            Taken as established in common law the form of contracts, norms, mores, attitudes, values, blessings, curses, bans of abomination, codes of professional practice, edicts of craftsmanship, midwifery, medicine, diplomacy, warfare, covenants of alleigence, institutions of marriage, rights of slaves, are fascinatingly carved into stone as a written law which is thereafter held sacred and soverign over the divine rights of kings.

                            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

                            by rktect on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:56:55 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You are obviously a scholar (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            rktect, Mr Horrible

                            And I am not.

                            I can agree that the Bible contains some of the most beautiful prose and poetry ever composed. I can even agree that many of the teachings atrributed to Jesus offer a generally decent way of life.

                            I also believe it to be a collection of the day's wisdom, truism, and legend, handed down through generations. But I don't have the faith to consider all of its contents to be infallible, literally true, and applicable to modern times.

                            Eventually, the dots just connect themselves.

                            by Executive Odor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:23:31 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Believe it not, EO, (5+ / 0-)

                            (so to speak)

                            But I don't have the faith to consider all of its contents to be infallible, literally true, and applicable to modern times.

                            at least in my neck of the Christian woods you don't need to regard the Bible as all of those three to be considered a person of faith. As a mainstream Lutheran, I'm perfectly comfortable with the last of the three. The first two, not so much. And guess what? I'm not going to get drummed out of my parish or the Church because of it.

                            George W. Bush: "Smaller than life."--Frank Rich

                            by Sharoney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:08:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My stepmother was a Lutheran (4+ / 0-)

                            She sang in the choir, got involved in all their activities.  She said one day she believed in reincarnation.

                            My Dad and I (both atheists) looked at her and laughingly told her she couldn't be a Lutheran - or any Christian for that matter - and believe in reincarnation.

                            She said they never told her that at church.  I guess she must have dozed off.

                            Or Lutherans must be very liberal Christians.

                          •  Kinda like Methodists (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sharoney

                            The degree to which they can be described as liberal varies greatly from congregation to congregation.

                          •  But (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            they all have to believe that someone came back form the dead, right?

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 12:34:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  LOL (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quotemstr

                            Theology can be a tough nut for some people to crack, which is why some prefer to go to unaffiliated churches where the preacher man will just tell them what is "right" and what is "wrong."

                            In the other direction, another Lutheran friend of mine who is given to tall tales but who swears on a stack of Bibles that this particular story is true--said that he once visited a Lutheran parish where they had a statue of Martin Luther on display above a side altar...

                            ...where there was a candle rack and collection box, so visitors could light a candle and pray for him to intercede with God for them.

                            It's called "unclear on the concept."

                            George W. Bush: "Smaller than life."--Frank Rich

                            by Sharoney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:49:55 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  amen n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:30:52 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not a believer and take nothing on faith (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Garrett, Executive Odor, Night Train

                            I find the ancient near east as discussed in the Penteteuch c 1830 BC to be a lot like the American frontier c 1830 AD.

                            There are shipowners making epic voyages, lumber barons, land speculators, pirates, smugglers, slavers, renegades raiding settlements, cattle barons fighting sheephearders, lots of tribes raiding wagon trains from horseback using bows and arrows,...  

                            I'm fascinated by the extent of the international trade, the length people go to to protect the trade routes that are the base of the great trading houses and their monopolies and colonies, the diplomatic alliances, and the wit of the scribes.

                            I like the exactness of the correlation between Egyptian campaign accounts of their 500 year struggle against the king of Kadesh, and the biblical account of the distribution of lands and the conquest.

                            I think Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus tell the same story as Judges and Joshuah only from the different perspectives of Israels adventures in the north and south.

                            I can't understand why when it comes to crossing the Red Sea between Elim (Thebes port on the Red Sea) and Elat (Solomons port at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba) nobody seems to want to take into account Hatshepsuts fleet.

                            Here we have set and setting where the Egyptians have been going to Elat to buy Frankincense, Myrrh, Linen, bitumen, natron and the other goods necessary for mummification at Karnak since the story of Sinhue and the Tale of the shipwrecked sailor which date to the 12th dynasty.

                            After about 600 BC when we have NECO sending a Phoenican fleet down the Red Sea to circumnavigate Libya and return from the Atlantic through the Pillars of Hercules as an ocean empire larger than Europe and Asia combined I lose interest fast becaue other sources are better. When I write that I don't like having to use the convention of BC and AD.

                            I consider the New Testament, with the exception of some well plagerized wisdom literature to be predominently composed of the monotheistic religious gloss I like to strip out.

                            What remains really ought to include the gnostic texts so you can get a sense of the real issues being discussed.

                            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

                            by rktect on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 03:27:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Agreed, it's frustrating. (8+ / 0-)

                          As an Atheist (And a humanist, and many other things) who lacks belief in any particular deity but does profess a great deal of faith in the potential of the human spirit, I have found after multiple repetitions that I have to be extremely careful about discussing that fact with coworkers, clients, or acquaintances of any kind. Several times I have had the experience that they will immediately begin to act much differently toward me, as if every positive gesture I had ever done was a ruse specifically designed to lure them in to accepting my aberrant beliefs.

                          The true meaning of 'work life balance' is that employers expect you to be doing and thinking about work enough at home, to balance the work you do at work.

                          by Serpents Sorrow on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:01:58 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Serpent (0+ / 0-)

                            Tell them these were the beliefs of our founding fathers. We were not born a "christian" nation which is their continual forcing of their values on others.

                            When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

                            by desnyder on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:45:09 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Are you serious? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Night Train

                            Have you ever had such a conversation? I have, and it has never ended well. I am hoping to maintain professionalism in the work place and a comment about the 'founding fathers' is nothing but an invitation to an argument or a pity party. (I pity you Serpie, you just don't understand God's plan! You need to submit yourself to Jesus!)

                            Most people just aren't philosophically prepared to have such conversations in an honest way without turning it into a pissing contest.

                            The true meaning of 'work life balance' is that employers expect you to be doing and thinking about work enough at home, to balance the work you do at work.

                            by Serpents Sorrow on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:22:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  can't rec you ten times, so (7+ / 0-)

                          ...I'm commenting! Atheists are reviled by most people, I agree. And your phrasing--"Atheists must come out"--is exactly what it feels like! My family is religious, and the few of us that aren't have to tread very carefully. It's a strange feeling to guard my words in front of people who, in every other way, love me unconditionally.

                          Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Teddy Roosevelt

                          by dejavu on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:59:44 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Sounds like you've read some Dawkins! (8+ / 0-)

                      Very well put.  I love the way he (and you) refers to belief and faith as a "default" for people without the ability to think rationally.

                      •  does that mean, therefore (4+ / 0-)

                        that anyone with a belief is automatically tarred as "without the ability to think rationally"?

                        THAT'S the quibble.  Which is it?

                        Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                        by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:03:50 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No, it doesn't mean they lack the ability . . . (10+ / 0-)

                          . . . but simply that, in some cases, they may lack the willingness.

                          "Lies return." - African proverb

                          by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:19:12 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  some cases, or all cases? (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sharoney, linkage, Darmok

                            are we going to make sweeping generalizations, or not?

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:46:30 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Since religious faith is itself irrational, (16+ / 0-)

                            then it obviously follows that one who embraces a religious faith has chosen not to think rationally in that case. That is hardly what I consider a "sweeping generalization." In fact it's almost a tautology. It doesn't necessarily invalidate other aspects of the person's personality.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:57:25 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  but that is exactly what (6+ / 0-)

                            most people arguing here seem to be saying - that the very fact that someone has a religious faith AUTOMATICALLY calls into question their rationality.

                            Witness the response after yours (directly below).

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:11:58 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Why not just stick to the point? (11+ / 0-)

                            Religious faith is itself irrational. That's simple. Why not just stick with that? Why (apparently) seek to turn it into a personal insult against all religious people?

                            People's rationality doesn't need to be "called into question" anyway, because it's already quite clear that humans, in general, are often irrational. Religion is far from being the only example. Love is irrational, too. So are much anger and fear. So are many other human emotions and actions. Is this news to you?

                            To try to turn a discussion about religious faith into a general discussion about human irrationality is just a way of muddying the issue and trying to change the subject.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:21:31 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I like your take on this (5+ / 0-)

                            Humans are by nature, partly rational and party irrational.  And one of the great adventures in life is to try to reconcile your rational self and irrational self to arrive at your true self.

                            I just don't think we'd be humans if we were purely rational creatures.  We'd just be biological robots...

                            "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

                            by Brian A on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:13:28 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Conflation (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quotemstr

                            To try to turn a discussion about religious faith into a general discussion about human irrationality is just a way of muddying the issue and trying to change the subject.

                            Conflating the irrationality of love (or hate, for that matter) and the irrationality of religion is muddying the issue.

                            Love is irrational because there's no "reason" to love, but love does confer benefits. There's no "reason" to believe creeds, but the "benefits" of accepting extraordinary creeds absent extraordinary evidence are nothing like the benefits of loving.

                            Note that I'm not saying that creed-based religion doesn't confer benefits; I'm just suggesting that you look at what those benefits are, and compare them to the benefits that accrue from acting out the irrational demands of love.

                            One other thing needing a fine point: The word "religion" is a bit slippery; some religions elevate love, and others lose sight of that. This only serves to highlight the supremacy of love as the irrationality of choice among the hip set.

                            Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

                            by razajac on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:55:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No (0+ / 0-)

                            Bhuddism has no deity.  Yet it centres around love.

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 12:48:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "No"? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Night Train

                            Not sure why you think you contradict me.

                            Also: This is not the way I see the Buddha. I've come to see the legend of the Buddha as instructive of the view that you need not fear the search for truth.

                            I was thinking about the Buddha myth some time ago, and it hit me; I think some people harbor a fear of the search for truth, on the grounds that it could lead to the discovery that there is no core meaning to life. The Buddha tells us that we don't have to fear that.

                            So the primacy of the Buddha's message is truth. The love part is just an encouragement not to be afraid of what we'll find when we get there; we'll find love. But you won't find it while "looking for love."

                            Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

                            by razajac on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 01:23:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Because (0+ / 0-)

                            Bhudda, while revered, intensely so, is revered for his wisdom not for his divinity.  He is 'divine' because of his wisdom not 'wise' because he is 'divine'.

                            Everyone else seems to put the cart before the horse.

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 01:44:54 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Justifiably so. 30 (0+ / 0-)

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 12:44:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, clarification (8+ / 0-)

                            "Believers" may be able to think rationally about some things, but refuse to allow themselves to confront the issues of their faith.  We are hard wired to believe what our parents tell us as children.  If they teach nonsense, like that an omniscient, omnipresent boogie man is reading the child's thoughts, the child will believe it.  The difference between believers and those of us who choose to think critically about a volume of fiction written thousands of years is that we ("non-believers" or atheists or whatever we are labeled) divorce ourselves from irrational, immature dogma.  We choose to question and grow, as opposed to accede and proliferate.

                          •  I hear a fundamental stance from you (8+ / 0-)

                            that there is NO WAY there could be anything effecting our world or "reality" that we are not aware of.  Anything else is irrational, it seems.

                            Funny - there are particle physicists who have found anomalies that they can't explain through any scientific means - like a single electron occupying the two different spaces at the same time.   Some have no explanation other than there must be more out there than can be scientifically explained, leaving the door open to the possibility of a form of energy we aren't equipped to understand.

                            Agnostics make sense to me (I am often of that mindset myself) - how can we know?  

                            I find that self-identified Athiests who scoff at the sincere beliefs of others can be just as fundamentalist as the most diehard Christian or Muslim.  

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:10:24 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Complete misrepresentation (10+ / 0-)

                            We do not know anything.  However, ascribing a default "God" or "higher power" as an explanation for those things that we do not know is the cheapest of cop outs.  What scientists cannot explain, they seek to.  It is this curiosity that leads to discovery. What you are describing is the "God in the gaps" BS that intelligent design proponents push.

                            With respect to agnosticism, what does that mean, really?  Are the odds that a god exists 50/50?  Or is it not extremely unlikely that some being created everything, knows everything, and listens to all our prayers simultaneously.  And if you say, "sounds likely to me", what created that god?  Some higher form?  So God is not the apex?  And what created God's creator?  

                            And, scoffing at other people's beliefs?  Absolutely!  First of all, people have scoffed at my beliefs my whole life, and I've never tried to tell anyone that a baby was born from a virgin mother (clearly impossible) or that the father, son and holy ghost are one person.  It goes on and on.  So, yes, I scoff at others' beliefs when they are absurd.  If it was your belief that the sun rises in the morning, that would be fine with me.  But don't try to tell me that magic tricks are true.

                          •  can I tell you about me? (7+ / 0-)

                            I'd like to share this, because I don't see that it fits neatly into any category.

                            I am, most of the time, pretty unsure about God - whether such a being exists (meaning, I have times when I feel that it does, and times when I feel that it doesn't, and neither feeling is compelling enough to stick with me 100% of the time).

                            I absolutely have grave doubts about the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ.  I suspect that these myths arose to make the case that Jesus was the Messiah, in fulfillment of prophecy.  

                            But, you know what?  It really doesn't matter to me whether or not those are historical facts or myths.  At my church, I have found a haven where I can doubt to this extent, and still find myself in communion with people who feel that the TEACHINGS of Jesus are reason enough to be there.  Most, of course, probably believe more of the official story than I do... but I don't find that to be a failing on their part.  

                            Through this communion, I am connected with people I probably wouldn't know otherwise, and together we do things like feed the homeless and push back against fundamentalists who seek to exclude some of us from basic human rights.  We work for peace, and stand in unity to support the very same values that people share on this site.  

                            Most of us don't believe that we're doing what we're doing out of FEAR (fear of a Hell that I don't believe in anyway), but out of LOVE for our fellow human beings.  

                            THIS is what religion can be.  

                            So... I'm willing to suspend judgment on whether my FEELING of God is real or just a fantasy - and I don't see that it is a crucial distinction anyway.  If such a belief causes hateful behavior, it's wrong.  If it causes positive behavior, is it also wrong, and worthy of your hostility and denegration?

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:36:39 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Look- (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Catesby, Red Fields, JesseCW, Night Train

                            You can believe what you want.  I would not infringe on your RIGHT to believe what you want, but that does not believe that I have to RESPECT your beliefs.

                            That it takes a place like a church in which (regardless of your personal dedication to the gospels or even the left leaning ideology of your communion) mysticism is passed off as truth and indoctrination of youth is celebrated to bring together people who want to do the best for society is an unfortunate situation.  Are there any Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus or Atheists in your church?  If not, is it not, then, necessarily exclusionary?  If there was no church, but in stead places for people of all stripes to come together, would that not be a better solution?

                            And, on agnosticism, let me encapsulate (poorly, I'm sure) what Richard Dawkins says about it, in part.  According to him, there are 2 types of agnostics: temporary and permanent.  Temporary agnostics believe that God may be the answer to the questions that haunt us, but science may eventually be able to provide those answers.  Permanent agnostics just don't know and, whatever science may prove, it cannot prove everything.  Into which category do you think you fall?

                          •  This is basic. (7+ / 0-)

                            Funny - there are particle physicists who have found anomalies that they can't explain through any scientific means - like a single electron occupying the two different spaces at the same time.

                            In other words, these physicists cannot explain these anomalies.

                            They do not yet have enough information to explain these phenomena. Therefore, they refrain from trying to explain it. This is humility.

                            Many religious people, on the other hand, seize on this same lack of information and a commit a basic logical fallacy - the "argument from ignorance." That is, they try to use a lack of information to support the conclusion they want. ("Those lights in the sky are unidentified and unexplained, therefore they must be spaceships piloted by extraterrestrials.")

                            They do not yet have enough information to explain these phenomena - yet they insist on their explanation anyway. This is arrogance.

                            I am, most of the time, pretty unsure about God - whether such a being exists (meaning, I have times when I feel that it does, and times when I feel that it doesn't, and neither feeling is compelling enough to stick with me 100% of the time).

                            O.K., but some of us prefer to leave feeling out of the equation altogether. We choose, instead, to think. But it seems that in the general population, feeling is more popular than thinking (perhaps because thinking requires effort).

                            It really doesn't matter to me whether or not those are historical facts or myths.

                            Maybe not to you - and that's certainly your prerogative. But to some of us, the difference between truth and B.S. is about as fundamental as anything can be.

                            Which is not to say, of course, that myth/B.S. is totally without value. Far from it. I have read plenty of Bible. Likewise the Koran, the Buddhist sutras, and Bulfinch's Mythology.  As cultural material, they all contain much that is of interest.    

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:06:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One quibble (2+ / 0-)

                            "In other words, these physicists cannot explain these anomalies.

                            They do not yet have enough information to explain these phenomena. Therefore, they refrain from trying to explain it. This is humility."

                            I don't think they refrain from trying to explain it.  I think they try to, but at this point, cannot.

                          •  Good point. (4+ / 0-)

                            What I really mean to say is: They know enough to suspend definitive explanation until the evidence is in. Until then, any attempts to explain the mysterious phenomenon are provisional, and are subject to change.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:20:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Then you thoroughly miss the point. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            Their life is  study to understand it, to explain that little bit more.

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 12:54:22 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree with most of what you write (0+ / 0-)

                            and I agree that thinking can be harder than feeling.  I DON'T happen to agree that thinking is therefore, in every case, more valuable than feeling.  We wouldn't be human without both.

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:22:47 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Elephants mourn. (2+ / 0-)

                            I saw a nature program once in which a mother elephant stood over her dead calf for four days, clearly in mourning.  Other animals feel.  Higher thought is exactly what makes us human.

                          •  does the fact that animals also feel emotion (0+ / 0-)

                            make emotion less important than rational thought?  

                            When you're faced with a major life decision (Do I take this job or that one?  Do I marry this person or not?  Do I choose this grad school or that one?  Do I follow my joy or the money?) - if you're like me, you make a big PRO/CON list for each option, and consider them all carefully.  You talk to friends and loved ones for other points of view.  In the end, what puts one choice over?  Is it a gut instinct?  Or is it purely rational?

                            I submit that the gut instinct is an invaluable tool that I have used to great success in my life.  I have NEVER made a choice that my gut warned me against.  After I've done my rational thinking, I have to obey my gut - which is emotion (which, incidentally, probably comes from the subconscious MIND, doesn't it?).

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:40:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  my point was that advanced thought is (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Night Train

                            more of what makes us human than "feelings".  That's all.

                          •  OK... that's fair (0+ / 0-)

                            but can you address my other questions?  Do you find "gut reaction" valid?  Have you ever relied on it?  What do you think it is?

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:47:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Gut reaction (2+ / 0-)

                            Evolutionarily, I'd guess that it has to do with survival.  If you're in a bad situation, it helps you get out of it.  If you were in the woods and heard a branch snap, you may not logically come to the conclusion that it's a bear, but we are tuned to make snap decisions for self preservation.

                          •  However (0+ / 0-)

                            you are not able to judge whether a choice that you didn't make would have ultimately turned out to be better.

                          •  Yes, but... (0+ / 0-)

                            I DON'T happen to agree that thinking is therefore, in every case, more valuable than feeling.  We wouldn't be human without both.

                            True, we wouldn't be human without both. But then, I don't accept that "being human" is necessarily desirable. Given what we've done in our history - to each other, to our fellow species, and to our planet - I'm not inclined to believe that being a Homo sapiens is anything to brag about.

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:27:46 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you have an excellent point, there. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Catesby, Mayken

                            I'm sure the earth could go into a period of healing were we to suddenly be gone.

                            So, the question is... would God exist if humans didn't?   In the traditional sense, perhaps not (can't say for sure).  However, in some earth-religions, Nature and God are one and the same, and nature would indeed continue.

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:34:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Dem in the heart of Texas (5+ / 0-)

                            This atheist believes "By their acts ye shall know them".

                            By your acts as I have come across your comments and participation here I see you as someone I'm proud to know.

                            We may not always agree, tho I can't remember ever being in contention with you. But, you seem perfectly rational to me. (Take this with a grain of salt, I doubt my own rationality at times. lol)

                            They may call themselves Republican, I know a Dalek when I see one.

                            by high uintas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:08:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  thank you kindly, high unitas (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wee Mama, high uintas, Mayken

                            I feel extremely lucky to have a church home where there are others like me.

                            I have enjoyed the opportunity that this conversation has allowed for me to try to put into words what is often locked inside me.  

                            A long time ago, I reached the limit of what I'm able to rationally understand, and on many subjects have had to trust that others who know more than I do probably understand things I can't (and I'm a reasonably intelligent person).   At these times, I have to trust my judgment and trust the person in whom I've placed my faith about any particular difficult issue.  So, even I (a faith-challenged person) have more faith than I'd generally be willing to own up to.  

                            You know what gave me a lot of comfort?  When Mother Theresa owned up to a long period where her faith was missing.  You know what she did?  She kept ACTING like it was still there, and kept doing her work.  If that's all there is, then it's still good work.  I don't need the reward of Heaven, though I'd be tickled to find myself there when the time comes.  (If, however, the afterlife is as many other Christians say it is, I'll probably be sharing martinis in hell with my buddies.)

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:30:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Mother Theresa was no angel... (3+ / 0-)

                            She believed that one had to experience extreme pain to be close to Jesus.  She was known to have disallowed some of the people she "saved" from medical care so that they would be in more pain.  I'm just not sure if she's the one you want to refer to...

                          •  I have almost nothing in common (0+ / 0-)

                            with Mother Theresa.  Obviously, I'm not Catholic, I don't believe in the Catholic sense of sainthood, and I'm a pretty rabid pro-choice person who likes my comfortable home.  I do NOT support or condone most of Mother Theresa's theology.  (I do like St. Francis of Assisi, though!).

                            My point was that this woman gave up a "normal" life to help the extremely needy at great personal cost, and did so DESPITE the fact that for over thirty years, she had absolutely no sense of faith or the presence of God - I find it comforting, somehow.  Still, she did it under the vestige of her religion.  I guess it means that I can participate in the good works that I am able to do whether or not I happen to be believing that day.   I can indulge in the warm rush of faith when I feel it, and just concentrate on good works when I don't.  It's the best of both worlds, really, and it keeps me from feeling like a hypocrite.

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:54:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  PS - I had never heard (0+ / 0-)

                            that she promoted the suffering of those she was trying to help.  That's really sad, isn't it?

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:56:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It was an eye opener for me, too, look it up! nt (2+ / 0-)
                          •  "I am therefore I think" is what I go by nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dem in the heart of Texas
                          •  You know enough, apparently, (2+ / 0-)

                            to dismiss even the concept of agnosticism. It's that sort of intellectual hubris that gives atheists the label of fundamentalists. On one hand you admit that you don't know everything, but then you state with certainty that every answer other than your own is B.S. Well, which is it?

                            My version of Agnosticism is very simple -- I don't know enough to have any definitive answer on what animates the universe, or why, if anything. I'm comfortable with that.

                            In the meantime, I'll keep my senses open to all possibilities (and yes, some ideas are far less likely than others as best I can tell). At the end of the day I couldn't care less what a person calls his/rself, as long as s/he treats people with tolerance, respect and compassion.

                            Hope: a Breeze in the Essence of Learning

                            by dRefractor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:58:25 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Here we go, this old canard! (5+ / 0-)

                            The intellectual hubris card?  Why not call me an elitist?

                            We have been so brainwashed in this country that most people actually believe that it is unfair to question people's religious beliefs.  Again, not to say that they can't believe whatever it is that they do, but I cannot question the validity of what you believe without being a know-it-all.

                            Obviously, I don't know everything, or much of anything, really.  All I am asking for is some justification of belief, and I've gotten none.

                            Finally, in pursuit of some of that justification, you say you follow Jesus' teachings.  From whose gospel?  The ones that were allowed into the New Testament, or the ones that were not?  How do you know that the words in the Bible are at all accurate?  Or does that not matter, either?

                          •  I didn't say anything about questioning beliefs (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dem in the heart of Texas

                            For instance, it's clear to anyone who studies history that the bible verses were hand picked and ofttimes modified versions of recorded events. And even the recorded history itself is always questionable.

                            But your outright dismissal of religion of any kind, even the doubting kind (the very definition of Atheism) I find to be disingenuous IF you claim to not know everything.

                            I know of one honest atheist who unequivocally stated that her intelligence was such that she knew without a doubt that there are no higher powers -- that we are random flotsam and jetsam in a universal stew. As she is quite a nice person, I didn't hold that opinion against her ; )

                            Hope: a Breeze in the Essence of Learning

                            by dRefractor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:33:20 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I can dismiss religion AND not know everything (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quotemstr, Night Train

                            It's a pretty fulfilling way to live, if you give it a shot.

                            And I'm sure you dismiss many religions.  How do you feel about Pagans?  The polytheism of ancient Greek and Rome were just plain silly, right?  And how about people who believe in female circumcision is God's teaching?  Terrible!

                          •  I can, and do, dismiss many aspects (0+ / 0-)

                            of various religions based on my value system, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't some truths buried amongst them that may or may not agree with my value system.

                            I don't believe that I have a big enough picture to know which parts of any given religion might be divinely inspired ("good" or "bad") or even if there is divine inspiration underlying anything.

                            Your dismissal of religion seems to have given you some sense of happiness -- so more power to ya - ya fundamentalist :D

                            Hope: a Breeze in the Essence of Learning

                            by dRefractor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:02:21 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Please, read a Richard Dawkins book (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            Try "The God Delusion".  Hide it from your friends.  Read it secretly if you must.  I'm not trying to convert you, but seeing where you're coming from, I think you could get a lot out of it.

                          •  Nobody's driving me off this fence (2+ / 0-)

                            dammit, nobody!

                            I'm guessing I'll agree with a lot of the observations but not the conclusions, but I'll check it out. Thanks.

                            Hope: a Breeze in the Essence of Learning

                            by dRefractor on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:48:52 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  a justification for belief (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Mayken

                            believing provides comfort and satisfaction and, in some cases, a reason to live for a lot of people.  IF those beliefs do not cause them to inflict harm on others (such as the case outlined in this diary), is comfort and satisfaction and purpose not enough of a justification?

                            To me, it doesn't MATTER if God can be proven - in fact, if it could, belief would be DEAD, would it not?  For some, simply having faith that there is more out there than we can know is enough.  In my opinion, that is valid.

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:46:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Summation (7+ / 0-)

                            You can believe what you want, as long as it doesn't effect me.  Sadly, congregations can be led astray to associate religious beliefs with bigotry and aggressive foreign policy, among other things.

                            For my whole life, I've been attacked for my beliefs.  It's hard to say how many people have told me that I'm going to Hell, even as a kid.  And, yes, I have been an Atheist for as long as I remember.  As I have grown up, I realized that I need not be ashamed of what I believe and further I've come to see that I can justify what I believe.  I try at all times to avoid attacking people, but I do not stop myself from questioning exactly what it is they believe.  And I will not capitulate if I do not get good answers.

                            If anything, I would like to prove to people who are afraid to admit their true beliefs that it's okay to express themselves.  It's fine to question authority and the religion into which you were born is not a cage from which you cannot escape.

                            I harbor no ill will towards you and I wish you all the best in the new year.

                          •  back at you, DD (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dRefractor

                            it's been a good conversation, and I appreciage your participation in it.  Please know that I fully respect (and even envy) your stance.  I think it would be great to be that sure of anything. :D  I am sorry that you've been judged negatively for it.  That's not my way.

                            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:25:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Anything observable can be observed. (3+ / 0-)

                            That which cannot be observed (or the absence cannot be observed), and can have no discernable, measurable effect, for all intents and purposes, as far as anyone need be concerend, isn't there.

                            And it does not conform to reason to pretend that something does.

                            Are there things that go bump in the night, so to speak?

                            Possibly, but I haven't heard of a seriously investigated case for which there wasn't a good scientific, observable, repeatable explanation.

                            That said, being a Buddhist myself, these things are largely "bracketted" for me.

                            "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

                            by Mumon on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:29:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's not true (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quotemstr, Night Train

                            that particle physicists have found anomalies that cannot be explained by any scientific means.  There are competing theories out there that explain pretty much everything (and if there aren't, it's because they're newly discovered phenomena and scientists are still working on coming up with explanations, not that they think any possible explanation is beyond our comprehension).  The problem in many cases is that scientists don't agree on which of several competing explanations is most likely to be correct, and we don't have the technology or ability (yet) to devise experiments or make observations that will distinguish between them.

                            But if you're looking for God in phenomena that haven't been satisfactorily explained (yet), all you have is an ever-shrinking "God of the gaps".  You're better off sticking to irrationality (and I'm not saying that to be snide, just that you're more likely to find the God you're looking for in the irrational than in obscure physics problems).

                        •  You do as you're told; you think as you're told. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Dem in the heart of Texas

                          Dawkins knows the truth. There is No God but No God, and Dawkins is his Prophet.

                          So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

                          by khereva on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:26:32 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  That comment is stupid. (0+ / 0-)

                            Hell, I've never even read Dawkins. I've read the Bible, though.

                            One problem with religious people is that since they're willing to be credulous and accept things on faith, they apparently can't imagine any other way to think. Thus, they tend to assume that everyone is credulous and accepts things on faith. But the whole point of being non-religious (or atheistic, if you prefer) is to not accept things on faith.

                            Therefore, while I'm not against reading Dawkins (nor against reading the Bible, for that matter) the whole point is to think for oneself, and not take things on faith. Otherwise one is simply a chump - whether one misplaces one's faith in religion, astrology, Richard Dawkins, Barack Obama, or whatever.  

                            "Lies return." - African proverb

                            by Night Train on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 03:13:46 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Not true, Night Train. (0+ / 0-)

                      Some people worship money, some people worship power, some people worship themselves.

                      Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

                      by murasaki on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:58:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wrong. "Worship" is not necessarily religion. (0+ / 0-)

                        I don't like "worship" of money either - but it's not religion, because it does not involve belief in the supernatural.

                        If you make a practice of stretching the definitions of a word far beyond the way it's normally used, you just end up with a word that means everything - and thus nothing.

                        "Lies return." - African proverb

                        by Night Train on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 02:41:41 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  13 millions Jews (8+ / 0-)

                    And I totally agree that the Abrahamic faiths have bred fanaticism to a ridiculous degree.  Since Judaism is so much older, I think our age of fanaticism was just a long time ago, thats why its not really talked about...

                    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

                    by Brian A on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:11:42 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  It's not ironly when you make a bullshit remark (9+ / 0-)

                    that only shows how narrow your mind is.

                    Lack of faith is not a religion.

                    Only someone who is trapped within the mindset that because they have faith that everyone who is human must also would be so foolish to say something like that.

                    But that's America. In European countries - the ones we think we're superior to, despite their lack of crime and poverty and division -

                    Well, your statement is pure ignorance.

                    I can't remember where I've heard that before.

                    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                    by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:47:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  That's a low blow to say that to people here (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Buckeye BattleCry

                    that last paragraph.

                    It's horrible.

                    You nor any other religious dogma gets to put parameters around people's spirituality and beliefs.

                    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

                    by bronte17 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:17:34 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's all too true. That's why it hurts. (0+ / 0-)

                      And if no religious dogma gets to put parameters around people's spirituality and beliefs, be sure to apply that stricture to atheists as well.

                      So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

                      by khereva on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:33:21 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Okay. (0+ / 0-)

                    It isn't the religion it is the hypocrisy inherent in all.

                    Tell me you are a member of "X", I don't care whether it true or not and I will show you.

                    Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                    by Demena on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:02:07 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I've had enough (9+ / 0-)

                  Lujane is right. If you had said this about any group other than the one which is the ground of my being and many others here, you'd be hide-rated. So I'm doing it anyway. You could not be more wrong about Christianity as a whole. You've just bought a load of crap that, frankly, the non-religious right wants you to buy. If all Christians are as you describe, then the greatest force for positive behavior change in the world is gone.

                •  Why don't you go nail that to a door somewhere? (3+ / 0-)

                  If you would just drop the hostility, you sound like a true religious reformer in the making. You have a keen grasp on the problem, now go work toward the solution!

                  This is what irritates me about people who criticize the faith of others. It can be very emotionally gratifying to tear down someone's faith, but it accomplishes nothing. You aren't going to get rid of the scam until you replace it with something better.

                  If you see your fellow man lying in the ditch of mental bondage, are you going to be the Samaritan and pull him up out of it, or are you just going to kick dirt in his face?

                  (-5.88, -6.46) Democracy is what happens between elections.

                  by autoegocrat on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:05:12 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  "God is dead and we have killed him." (0+ / 0-)

                  'Nuff said.

                  A jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn (D-TX)

                  by Ice Blue on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:18:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Try getting a thicker skin (53+ / 0-)

                If you were gay, hardly an hour would pass without some Dobson/Warren/William Donohue/etc... Christian gas bag hogging the spotlight boliviating about how gays are child molesters, bestiality and incest practitioners, abominations, filthy and sinful, and entirely responsible for everything that ails western society.

                And they are honored and rewarded by our Presidents and leaders regularly for saying so.

                Forgive me if I'm compelled to roll my eyes every time a Christian complains they are victims of prejudice. I just can't help myself.

                Wake me if he actually repeals DOMA, revokes DADT or passes ENDA.

                by Scott Wooledge on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:23:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The key difference is that being (18+ / 0-)

                gay or black is not a choice, being Christian is . . .   (but I suspect that deep down you're not really that obtuse and already know that - instead the real story is that you just like displaying fake martydom in public).

                •  Spoken like a typical (4+ / 2-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BradMajors, cville townie, Darmok, leftneck
                  Hidden by:
                  Bronx59, FishBiscuit

                  ...librul moran.

                  Now now, don't publicly martyr yourself. Being alibrul moran is a choice, and as you yourself assert, no one can gripe when or if they face bigoted attitudes when they are directed at a choice-based categorization.

                  Or maybe OTOH you want to re-examine your original claim. Have a nice day.

                  •  Huh, my original claim was basically that (7+ / 0-)

                    if people chose to join an organization - be it really really stupid, or even praise-worthy - and then bring the topic up on a public forum, they are fair game for any bashing that might ensue.  

                    And they probably should take this bashing in a stoic fashion - of course, if they don't, that's perfectly fine - they have every right to whine and complain what with the first amendment and all.  

                    But that in turn opens them up to the suspicions of "martyrdom" I raised, wouldn't you say?

                    •  Just checking (6+ / 0-)

                      ...you are OK with painting with a broad-brush, with assuming guilt based upon association, and, in short, bigotry, just so long as the target of the bigotry is of a voluntary grouping - such as being a member of the Democratic Party.

                      I disagree, to the core, but I do give you total props for consistancy.

                      •  I still remain puzzled how criticism of (7+ / 0-)

                        a group that somebody voluntarily belongs to can be construed as "bigotry" - that's just plain bizzare.

                        In any event, I went through a phase in my life where my primary identity was as "Red Sox Fan" - and, being somebody with numerous NYC-based acquaintainces, experienced plenty of bigotry (based on your definition) for taking this courageous stand.

                        Nevertheless, I never went onto the internet blogs to whine and complain about this bigotry and how awful New Yorkers were.  One reason was that such technology didn't exist at the time.  A second reason was if it bothered me so much, couldn't I just quit being a Red Sox Fan?  

                        Similary, if Christians are so thin-skinned as to be bothered by internet posts (that most likely don't even apply to them), can't they simply opt out?

                        •  An authetic belief in a creator god and (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Wee Mama, Roadbed Guy, Lujane, Mayken

                          an immortal soul are a little more serious than being a fan of a sports team.

                          However, really all that semantic bullshit is irrelevant to someone who wants to promote progressive politics in a country with a large Christian supermajority--you and us gain nothing by making a habit of antagonizing a group most Americans belong to.  Also, given that there are many, many Christians whose faith is a source of compassion, love and understanding, it is not remotely necessary.

                          "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                          by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:27:13 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Who is to say that a belief in something (5+ / 0-)

                            imaginary (i.e., God) is more important than a belief in something very real (i.e., the Red Sox)?

                            Is that bigotry in and of itself?  If it is, boy, that really stings me to the core.

                            Anyhoo, who was it - Rick Warren maybe? - who was promulagating the idea that there is a "God-shaped hole" in all of us  . . . .(implying, I suppose that we are not whole without having this hole filled).

                            Now just imagine the implications if the Red Sox have exactly the same size and shape as God . . ..

                          •  It's not imaginary to them (6+ / 0-)

                            Is it that hard for you to imagine that believing in such a thing might be somewhat important?  In fact, one thing that has never ceased to amaze me is that the Christian right professes to believe in this incredible thing--an omniscient, omnipotent Creator God--and yet are satisfied with the shallow, OT heavy reading of the Bible they seem to base their faith off of. Maybe that's why the Christian left is so much less visible. They are more likely to take injunctions to love thy neighbor but to not judge him/her and be generally humble seriously, rather than mere decorative edges of a flag to rally their own personal tribe around.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:20:59 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I can totally imagine that They Believe (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            snakelass, OHdog

                            and hopefully you can equally imagine how hurtful, demeaning, and potentially bigoted the idea that my deeply-held personal beliefs are inferior to their beliefs is to me.

                          •  How dare you Blaspheme the Red Sox (6+ / 0-)

                            by comparing them to your trivial religious pastimes.

                            Sorry about your rights, we hope to have them restored shortly.

                            by qi motuoche on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:10:19 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The comparison is that they both (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Quicklund, OHdog, qi motuoche

                            cause a lot of pain and suffering . . .

                          •  nope (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Roadbed Guy
                            "An authetic belief in a creator god and
                            an immortal soul are a little more serious than being a fan of a sports team."

                            Umm, not really.

                            So what you are saying is that because atheists are a minority that should just shut up and go away? Isn't that how the Roman's felt about Christians?

                          •  No, I'd say they should behave... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...the way they claim all other religions' and their adherents should.

                            So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

                            by khereva on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:36:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Do people hold (0+ / 0-)

                            inauthentic beliefs?

                          •  I think so (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JesseCW

                            I there there are many, many prominent leaders on the right who profess to be Christians but actually believe in nothing more than their personal enrichment and professional success.

                            Also, less nefariously, I think there's a lot of people who call themselves Christian because they were raised to but have never really processed the implications of an infinite afterlife whose character is determined by the judgment of a god-man who taught that you should love other people at least as much as you love yourself.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:11:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  It seems straightforward (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Roadbed Guy, leftneck

                          thinking that every individual in a diverse group of people is the same is not a profitable mental approach. Voluntary membership or not. That standard applies to publicly-proclaimed atheists too. Is it far to say every atheist is a sanctimaneous ahole just because it is posible to find such creatures if one looks. No.

                        •  Or at least put up a reasonable defense (0+ / 0-)

                          of their position instead of whining about how we're being mean for not believing as they do.

                  •  Antagonistic little othertrucker, aren't you? (3+ / 2-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Roadbed Guy, FishBiscuit, texcubsf
                    Hidden by:
                    Bronx59, JesseCW

                    with an invitation like that, you're obviously blogging because you know that from the safety of your little keyboard you can let one loose like that and not worry if your health insurance is paid up.

                    Way to keep the discussion civil and constructive.

                    FAIL.

                    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                    by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:39:47 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Physician Heal thyself (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      quotemstr, cville townie, Darmok, JesseCW

                      A quick skim of this diary will show any unbiased reader that snafubar is about the last person here to go around criticizing others of being antagonistic.

                      Myself, I thought my short post did a wonderful job illustrating why bigotry is to be decried, even when it is directed towards a 'voluntary assosciation'. Makes one, those capable of it at least, to think, yes?

                      Have a nice day.

                      •  I'm not giving advice, i'm calling out the liars (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        snakelass, texcubsf

                        and frauds.

                        By the way, how many "unbiased" readers have you "skimmed" today?

                        Let's try this, oh great noble judge of thee -

                        You come across a guy who's frothing at the mouth and swinging at anything that comes his way, and you presume that he must be a hothead lunatic who just needs to be put down...but having just arrived, you have absolutely no idea what transpired in the moments, hours, or days before that created that situation.

                        Meanwhile, you've known me personally for how long? You're able to accurately assess that I just plopped into a discussion and started going off like a grenade because I was bored and antagonistic?

                        So what you see as "antagonism" might just be my defensiveness coming back around to collect the ones who inspired it. There's a big difference between a antagonism and a reaction.

                        Please pay attention to it.

                        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                        by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:52:49 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  This is a public forum (7+ / 0-)

                          and no matter what the situational vectors for a comment may be, it is important for us to self-moderate when someone goes off the handle against a group as broad, diverse, and more importantly, large as "Christians."

                          This tough love boot camp stuff (which can be secular too, even if it trends towards the paleolithic forms of Christianity) makes me as sick as the next guy, but would it kill you guys to use some adjectives?  My Lutheran grandmother and Methodist mother have nothing to do with these pieces of shit.

                          "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                          by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:33:45 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Interesting, so you are *large* group (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            snakelass, snafubar, JesseCW, Night Train

                            and therefore worthy of being pandered to . . .

                            and more importantly, large as "Christians."

                            Reminds me of when Mr. Bush was at 93% and I was proudly one of the 7%'ers . . .

                          •  I am not a Christian (7+ / 0-)

                            never have been, probably never will be.  

                            It's not pandering unless all Christians support the backwards positions of the fundamentalist right--they don't.  And, like it or not, this is a democracy.  Putting progressive politics on one side and Christianity on the other is exactly what the right elites want, and if they ever succeed in doing so we're all totally fucked.

                            Fortunately that tide seems to be moving back out, apparent wishes of some militant atheists aside.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:10:50 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You know, I have *never* gone to (7+ / 0-)

                            any church's online website or discussion group looking to rile them up. I am totally happy with leaving the religionists alone if they leave me alone.

                            But, when I come on this obstensibly political website and find it over-run with seemingly persecuted Christians, the tends to rile me up some for a couple of reasons:

                            1. Christians in the USA are far from mistreated as a group under any stretch of the imagination
                            1. Politics in the USA should be free from the influence of religion - by extension so should this website.  Therefore I regard any religious discussion as a hostile intrusion.  Perhaps an exception would be the diaries (such as those by that TroutEating (??) diarist) that explicitly bemoan the fact that most aspects of the political process in the USA are horribly tainted by religion.
                          •  Can't speak for everyone (7+ / 0-)

                            I don't really have any more patience than you do for Christians claiming persecution, maybe other posters feel differently. You are right, it is silly.

                            My problem is more with validating the longstanding right-wing project of labeling the views of far-right fundamentalist bigots as "Christianity"--a religion that in reality can easily be interpreted as a prescription for socialism. Jesus, if he existed, wouldn't have voted Republican, and he would certainly have unleashed hell on a shithole like the one in this diary.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:53:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You're a fool. (0+ / 0-)

                            Oh, so unless all members are guilty, whatever number you choose to be acceptable is acceptable, and no one is allowed to raise an issue with the ones who actually are out of line?

                            Wow.

                            Sure hope nobody rapes your kids. Cause if there aren't that many of them, I guess it won't be worth our time to get involved with it.

                            Wow.

                            And fuck you with the "militant" atheist label.

                            I'm only as "militant" as the assholes that have put their figurative bayonettes in my face, and if you don't like my attitude, I suggest your first move is to move swiftly amongst the faithful in this country and tell them to back the fuck off. Because they built me. Congratulations on their exceptional handiwork.

                            Because I've said a dozen times in this thread, I have not been living alone in a vacuum on the moon these last 41 years, and you better not only have balls of steel but be well armed if you plan to step into my life and tell me that i have no right to express my opinions about what my experiences have meant to me, because , dear hypocrite, that is precisely the right that every faithful person is whining about when they falsely claim their freedom of religious expression is somehow under attack when I have the temerity to tell them I'm not interested in their message.

                            Like it or not, this is a democracy.

                            IN DEED.

                            Even for the people who don't see "G"od.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:05:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Easy there champ (2+ / 0-)

                            Please read this carefully, because I don't think you have been so far.

                            Who ever said anything about not criticizing any Christians?  I think I've been quite clear that fundamentalist Christians can go to hell; in fact, I think it's a lot more cutting--and more accurate--to accuse them of not being Christians at all. Hell, I think the loudest, most obnoxious right-wing pieces of shit don't even think of themselves as Christian, but rather use a faux social conservatism to raise support for a far right secular agenda. With a number of exceptions, I believe the loud bigots within the right who claim to be Christian only spout their bile to distract and get easily manipulated people on their side, not because they believe it. There are plenty of gay Republicans in DC, plenty of right-wingers who never step into a church unless they have to, and you're very naive if you think there is any friction between them and the focus of the family types. At any rate, with your blind and indiscriminate rage against millions of Americans who have done nothing to you, you are playing right into those bastards' hands.

                            I'm sure you have good reasons to be angry, and I have no problem with you expressing yourself.  But, please, not here. When you rage against all of Christianity on the most prominent and public of all progressive communities, or in any venue where you are identified first and foremost as a liberal, you hurt a project and a cause that is bigger than you, bigger than me, bigger even than this country.  

                            You tell me to go out "amongst the faithful... and tell them to back the fuck off," but it's not remotely clear what you think that will accomplish. It will make you feel better, maybe, but no one is going to change their religion because you think they're terrible people. Those who would legislate their morality will only be satisfied at how effectively they are riling up the sinners, and those who are more inclined to listen to the parts of their scriptures that tell them to judge not and render to Caesar will only be alienated by your insistence that all Christians are right-wing fundamentalists. Worse case scenario, they'll believe you, leave their moderate church, and join up with the local fire-and-brimstone hatemongers instead. In a nation that is 80, 90 percent Christian the left can accomplish nothing if Christianity is publicly conflated with the right wing, and if the left can accomplish nothing in the United States at this critical time, people all over the world will die--from global warming, from oil wars, from preventable diseases. Like I said in another part of this thread, it's not about people feeling persecuted or who deserves to be offended, it's about fighting back against monsters who start elective wars, torture people, and generally support a system that puts profit and tribalistic loyalty above peoples' well being. Doesn't really matter to me if those victims are in Guantanamo or Utah, nor if they are tortured in the name of moral hygiene or the war of terror. The perpetrators are all the same, and I'll do anything to stop them--least of all telling people I otherwise agree with on almost everything to shut the fuck up.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:00:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  WHen you learn how to read (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            leftneck

                            then I'll play along.

                            If you can go through my stuff and find out that "All Christians' are what I meant, then find it.

                            But you have to be clever enough, astute enough, aware enough, and objective enough that there are good Christians, there are not-so Good Christians who are merely keeping the room warm, and there are bad Christians.

                            When I talk about the Bad, I mention them with specificity.

                            This diary has been about the collective shelter that all the others provide for the bad ones by screaming and crying "But if you come after the bad christians, that means your coming after all of us!"

                            So you, not me, are making a claim that I did not ever make, and then you're holding me accountable for it .

                            Again and again.

                            And I'm too fucking wound up after going around and around to deal with this any longer.

                            I want to deal with people on their own individual acts and deeds, not on their label.

                            And that means atheists aren't evil until the do something evil, and that means that Christians are not to be presumed any more incapable of doing evil than anyone else.

                            If that does't make my thoughts on this clear, I've got nothing more.

                            ____________________________

                            Now I'm going to address something specific in this last post that has me ready to throw something.

                            You tell me to go out "amongst the faithful... and tell them to back the fuck off," but it's not remotely clear what you think that will accomplish. It will make you feel better, maybe, but no one is going to change their religion because you think they're terrible people.

                            What it will accomplish? I'm addressing people who call me a hothead. I'm telling you that I got to be a hothead by having self-righteous assholes judge me when they refuse to be judged themselves. Those are the people who have built me. So if you don't like my attitude, the best way to assuage my angst is to go address the faithful on your team who have no reservations about telling me to go to hell and that i'm the cause of teh downfall of civilization when I've never committed a crime. You tell those people to stop antagonizing me and then running back under the shelter of "freedom of religion" when I tell them I'm not interested in being proselytized to by hypocrites, and then going one stpe further and claiming that merely by saying I don't want to have someone cram a message down my throat that I don't like and blame me for things I'm not responsible for that someonw I'm OPPRESSING? them? ? ?

                            You seem to be saying that I'm feeding the monsters by reacting to them.

                            That's tragic.

                            Its a story I tell all the time, that very few are deep enough to understand, but here I go:

                            (this is a hypothetical parable of events that have not ever taken place)

                            You are walking along and you come across a dog hunkered down in the corner of an abandoned building. The dog is covered in open wounds, dried blood, mange, and he's frothing at the mouth and growling profusely. The dog is scared and wounded, and is defending his little corner of territory that was empty until you started getting near, and that's why he's growling. He's trying to communicate to you.

                            But some people might see this as a time to experiment. They might presume that if they poke the dog in the eye, it might bite them, and since we all agree that dogs should never bite people under any circumstances, that when a dog does bite you shoot it.

                            And they poke the dog, the dog does exactly what they thought it would, and then they shoot the dog.

                            Can someone tell me what responsibility the dog played in this story, beyond being utterly honest about it's intentions, keeping to itself and avoiding conflict until it was inevitable, and at the very least guilty of nothing more than being tragically predictable so that someone else could take advantage of it's honesty?

                            So, the "Christians" I'm talking about here - not ALL christians mind you - are the ones who feel not just free, not just permitted, but OBLIGATED to antagonize someone like me so that they can stand back and point to the gathering crowd, "SEE! I found another one! They're all coming after us! They won't leave us alone, I tell you! We are under attack!"

                            Those are the people I want you to say, "STFU".

                            Those are the specific "Christians" who I'm so pissed at, but if I had to include this screed in place of the word "Christians" every time I wanted to have a discussion on the subject, the keyboard would run out of electrons before I could finish my thought.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 07:16:54 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And for the last time, champ, using cute little (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            nicknames like "champ" which might be perceived as those who are obviously as unhinged as i am as a bit condescending or even provocative.

                            Now , I won't begrudge anyone their right to be provocative.

                            I am too.

                            But if I'm willing to be snide, condescending, and provocative, then I'm ready and willing to have a real scrum and get in there and get dirty.

                            but to have the balls to throw chum in the water just to stir up the sharks into a frenzy and then start acting shocked and dismayed about how agitated the water seems to be

                            really chaps my ass.

                            I'll play any game I'm invited to, but the rules better be the same for both teams, champ.  

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 07:21:26 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'd like to point out that Barack Obama calls (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wee Mama, Quicklund, Lujane, bvig

                            himself a Christian, and he belives in God. Notice that he also belives in helping others, telling the truth, and in mercy and justice.

                            As far as I can tell, he's not irrational in his thinking.

                            Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

                            by murasaki on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:14:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Apples are not oranges. If you have seen (0+ / 0-)

                            anywhere that I have said, "And Barack Obama is one Christian I have a problem with!"

                            I've made it very clear (to those who actually read each word in sequence when i write them that way for a purpose) that I am upset with the people who have mistreated me.

                            Those people happen to be Christians.

                            So I say things like "The Christians I'm referring to are...." and everyone who is speed-reading at Mach 3 only sees the word "Christian" and says "Goddamn you snafubar, you smear all Christians!"

                            No, I slammed the ones I qualified whom I was talking about, and it's the lack of attention span and tender feelings around here (just like mine) that makes this argument so hard to pin down.

                            I wasnt' talking about Obama. Take a good hour to read through my other comments in this diary - and the ones that have been made to me - and you'll see why I'm so pissed.

                            Barack Obama indeed is not irrational, that's why I voted for him.

                            But if you want to say that because Barack Obama is a Christian, and Barack Obama is rational, therefore all Christians are rational -

                            well, then, I've got nowhere to go with that because it's a logical absurdity.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:54:19 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Let me know when you find such objectivity (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            LuvSet, snakelass

                            to come to the defense of "atheists" as quickly as you see the need to rescue "christians".

                            And if you find anywhere in my comments where I said anything about you in particular, your grandmother or your mother, then bring it to me, ok.

                            But it's bizarre how many people here today have taken personal umbrage because I mentioned not them by name, but their religion. Meanwhile, I'm just another atheist...just like all the rest.

                            Yes this is a public forum, and what fires me up is that anyone can say anything to me, and in their eyes it's always up to me how I react to it. And then when I say something to anyone else, well now the rules have changed, because it's up to me now to moderate my comments.

                            I lose coming and going.

                            So when you come up with a better system for your public forum policing, get back to me.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:30:49 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's not about who is right or who is wrong (5+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wee Mama, ppluto, wildweasels, Bronx59, Mayken

                            it's not about who needs to be defended or who deserves to be offended. It's definitely not about what's fair. It's about what we can do to take back this country from right wing. We owe it to ourselves, our country, and the world to do so. Taking monsters like the ones who run the Utah Boy's Ranch at their word when they claim to be followers of Christ and using their actions to tar a large majority of this country doesn't do that, and is counterproductive in more ways than one.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:01:34 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You lost me. So in the course of standing up to (0+ / 0-)

                            republicans, we can become aware of something that inspires 800 comments and you think that's a waste of time?

                            I'm not with you, and glad not to be.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:58:45 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't understand what you mean (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Bronx59

                            I'm all about getting places like the one in this diary shut down, and I think opposing fundamentalist, hate-filled Christianity is a great goal. My point is that by attacking all Christians for the actions of monsters and bigots, you hurt, rather than promote, both of those causes.

                            And I think it is telling how few of those 800 comments are actually about action against the Utah Boy's Ranch.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:18:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Look - first of all the idea of "attacking all (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            Christians" is bullshit.

                            But if, amongst a crowd of Christians, a number of remarkable things stand out, how exactly are we supposed to talk about them without using the word Christian?

                            And you, sadly, are making the very point that I've been trying to make again and again and again - you're exactly who I'm talking to about exactly what I'm pissed about.

                            Let's try a hypothetical - a far out one.

                            Let's presume I'm an evil fuck who just wants to do evil for the sake of evil. What better way to give myself cover in America today than to build a church and claim that I'm one of Jesus' favorites?

                            Are you really going to tell me that such a thing in this country does not indeed allow a great distraction to keep the focus anywhere but on the individuals but on the larger purpose - Jesus?

                            You have to understand this. People can provide themselves a window of cover- call it presumed innocence - by hiding under a banner of God.

                            And the rest of us "mere" citizens who were deluded enough to think that we all actually had the presumption of innocence? Well, fuck us, were suspect and dangerous until proven otherwise; in fact, we're expected to be doing something wrong because if all the wrong in the world is done by anyone but Christians, and I'm not a Christian, it's only a matter of time before I prove how the Devil has led me astray.

                            This comes from the words of Mike Huckabee and anyone else who keeps repeating that without God there is no law. The implication is that all humans are inherently evil, and only fear of God keeps them on the straight and narrow; ergo, anyone who does not acknowledge "G"od will inevitably be tempted by the Devil to do evil. Now if you make me find a direct quote, I'll do it. But if you're honest with yourself, you know he said it.

                            In Summary - again - if you won't acknowledge that it is the collective inertia of the mass of mainstream Christians who give shelter to the outliers and lunatics because they're afraid that if we attack the outliers then someday we'll close down the whole church, then you and I simply do not see this country through the same lens.

                            Because I am deeply committed to the points I have made in this thread and essay - as committed to the Christians who assail me (see that qualifier there? I did not include "all" Christians, but only the ones who assail me.) are committed to theirs.

                            The Utah Boys Ranch would not exist if it was a secular summer camp - not longer than one summer, anyway. Only because it's tied to a church did enough of this shit go on long enough for a guy to write a book about generations of kids going through this madness.

                            Mainstream Christians may not commit the deeds of the outliars and lunatics; but they provide a real obstacle to calling a spade a spade because they think "christian" spades are special.

                            I think you and I have found a point of contention we're not going to get past. I've said my peace.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:39:59 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Okay (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wee Mama, snafubar

                            First, I apologize.  There were some posters in this thread who attacked all Christians; they were the ones who set me off.  I hadn't really bothered to check all of your posts, since I figured if you were replying positively to those posts it made sense that you agreed with them.  What I didn't realize is that a post of yours had started it, way up there at the top.  And, other than your contention that all Christians give cover to the bigots, you haven't really attacked all of Christianity.

                            I think what made it hard for me to get your point was

                            The Utah Boys Ranch would not exist if it was a secular summer camp - not longer than one summer, anyway. Only because it's tied to a church did enough of this shit go on long enough for a guy to write a book about generations of kids going through this madness.

                            I've been aware of these "kidnap unruly teenagers and torture them into submission" places for a few years now, and as far as I know it is not only a religious phenomenon. http://www.wwaspsinfo.net/ is a group of a couple dozen, many of which are overseas. Some are certainly Christian-oriented, but others, like the infamous Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, do not appear to be.  From what I've heard and what I can read on it (the testimonies from parents regarding "Discovery Seminars" are particularly illuminating), many of them operate on a mixture of pop psychology and boot-camp martialism.

                            This is not to say "aha you're wrong" but merely to explain why I didn't understand what you were getting at. The people who run these things will use any means--going overseas, hiding it behind religion or psychological jargon--to hide what they actually are, torture camps.

                            In this way, you are right, I don't see the world through the same lens as you. To me, the problem is violent sociopaths who are happy to use any screen they can to do what they want; religion is only one of them (from my point of view, it isn't even the dominant one, patriotism is). Furthermore, I believe that when they use religion this way, they abuse said religion. As a result, I think that true followers of Christianity, those who take the compassion and kindness ordered by their messiah seriously, represent the most powerful potential allies around. Not just because they are numerous, either (although this is important) but because they have the power to take the masks away from the monster.

                            When I think about it, our projects are the same; both of us want to get rid of the cover that fundamentalist Christians enjoy by calling themselves Christians. You want to do it by getting rid of any special status for Christianity. I don't really have a problem with this, except that I think it is impossible. In my experience, people can only leave Christianity on their own, they can't be talked into it. If they are believers, it is unrealistic for them to not take their beliefs very seriously--what is this short life compared to eternity? What I'd like to do instead is take away Christianity from the fundamentalists. This won't be easy either, but we at least have the words and actions of the guy the religion is named after on our side, to say nothing of millions of Americans.

                            I don't know if any of this is gonna be convincing to you, but I hope you can at least understand where I'm coming from.

                            "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                            by leftneck on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 11:06:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I have a better understanding of your point now (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            leftneck

                            and I think with some subtle distinctions I might be inclined to carry further, but not now, we are more alike in thought than unlike.

                            There is a lot of open wounds all around right now; the one thing on all sides that seems to give us common ground is that somehow in a surreal way we all think that someone out there is blaming us or disparaging us, and we all feel threatened.

                            And in my defense, that's where I think atheists hold the higher ground, not just intellectually, but ethically and morally as well. The most rudimentary construct of democracy says that all are equal; it is clear to me at least that Christians as they advertise themselves in America 2009, don't actually believe this to be true. They believe that some are indeed (in their eyes) demonstrably better people than others, and that they believe they know how to pick them out of a crowd not by a person's words or deeds, but by presumptions and allegations based on assumptions.

                            There's a real tragedy in the irony that this country may have been founded by godly men, but they founded it so that each individual might find god on his own terms; somehow that ideal has been perverted by one group who think that by force of greater numbers they can turn the country back into a land that protects not freedom of religion thought, but freedom of their particular religion - which is actually not freedom at all.

                            So in the end, I'm ultimately not just defending atheism by voicing my condemnation for how some religions can be perverted and be protected by force of larger numbers; I'm trying (and not doing a very good job at it) to point out that as a country we are at serious risk of losing the very spirit of democracy that we are supposed to be such a noble and grand example of.

                            I notice that you also make a distinction; you qualify Christianity by noting "some who take it serioiusly", implying that others don't. And where I agree with your assessment, I disagree that it will ever be possible to find out which one is which. By nature of the what religion is defined to be, it cannot be defined except by each individual. So those who you claim aren't "serious" will simply tell you that how they see god i show they see god and no one can ever take that away from them.

                            By contrast, those of us who advocate a framework of logic, reason, and evidence either have the facts to back up our argument, or we don't, and perhaps one of the reasons we're so tenacious and defensive is precisely because we know the game is up if we're lying. So we don't do that because it's so easy to get caught.

                            The faithful, on the other hand, can make up new rules, bend old ones, and always drop back and punt by pointing out that in the end its all in their heart anyway.

                            So.

                            This has been a productive intellectual exchange, and I thank you for allowing me to thrash around as much as I did and still being willing to come back for more.

                            Perhaps I have explained better how I became so raw and loaded for bear; and I commend you for your tolerance and tenacity for I wish there were more like you so that discussions in general could be this productive.

                            My apologies if any of my bites seemed personally intended to wound; it's more reflex than vengeance.

                            Peace.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:09:19 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          leftneck

                          You really do not get snark, sarcasm, and the ol see-things-from-the-other-guy's-perspective ... whassis ... empathy, do you?

                          Have a nice day.

                          •  I get it when i find it, judge. The shit throwing (0+ / 0-)

                            in this thread is far from friendly and snark.

                            Empathy?

                            Yeah, the guy who's outnumbered 9 to one really has to watch out for the masses gathered to kick his ass. They might break a nail.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:07:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So (0+ / 0-)

                            You want to be treated fairly.

                            At the same time you wish to treat believers unfairly.

                            Gotcha.

                            I suspect you and I will never agree. Have a nice day.

                          •  If you think I'm treating believers unfairly, you (0+ / 0-)

                            haven't made your argument for that.

                            What am I asking for that is so unfair in your eyes?

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:11:11 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unfairness (0+ / 0-)

                            Your blanket anger towards anyone religious.

                            Your over-the-top outrage at my post, which was nothing more than an attempt to use irony to demonstrate why bigotry = stupidity, even if/when said bigotry is aimed at 'voluntary' groupings.

                            You say you feel religious people should treat your atheistic beliefs with respect, yet you seem unable to extend that same respect to the religious people.

                            It's pretty simple, really. Hope you think about things and find a way to see issues from more than just your personal perspective.

                            Cheers.

                          •  The fact I'm still outnumbered ten to one, and (0+ / 0-)

                            since you can't measure the people I'm actually forced to deal with - nor measure the true content of what they have actually said to my face and be able to measure just how deep those wounds go - is our problem.

                            And again I say to you - you're not reading very carefully. Every one of my comments has a qualifier, such as "Christians who think..." or "Christians who treat each people this way based on this subject..."

                            and as such I am indeed being more specific than just "Christians" - with one exception - my larger, overall point is that I never get any credibility from people like you because you sit here and say "how dare you talk about all Christians when it's not all of us have done this thing to you" -

                            Great - if there are nine of you to every one of me, which one of us is more likely to meet the kind of person who is about to set our hair on fire?

                            And really - lets go one step further - I'm talking in generalities on a blog, because this is an intellectual discussion. I don't treat all Christians any one way or the other until something comes out of their mouth to tell me where they stand and then I act accordingly. But I still have the right to say that I live in a predominantly Christian society who largely sees me as a problem before I even open my mouth.

                            Prove to me that my reality is otherwise and I'll accept your umbrage at my tone.

                            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                            by snafubar on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:29:38 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  PS this is funny (0+ / 0-)

                          By the way, how many "unbiased" readers have you "skimmed" today?

                          Grats on forming the most opaque would-be flame I believe I've yet read in decades of online blather. I'll bite; I gotta ask what this means.

                          Cheers.

                    •  Extremely thinly veiled or not (0+ / 0-)

                      Chickensit internet tough-guy threats of physical violence rate a doughnut

              •  You can't be serious. Tell me this was a joke. (16+ / 0-)

                You have got to be kidding?

                That was a fucking joke, right?

                The group that is 9 to one dominant in this society feels threatened?

                Oh, please.

                Don't make a fool out of yourself,

                Or do. But you're a fool nonetheless.

                The only thing Christians in this country are doing right now is proving to the world that democracy to them is nothing more than means to an end. Once they win an election by 50 percent plus one, then they feel they can rewrite all laws to make the country look the way they think our fathers wanted it to look and there it will remain.

                I'm so pissed at your comment I'm taking time out.

                Predjudice against Christians?

                Who's the group of loudmouth motherfuckers who tell me that I'm not a real American, or that I have no right to speak my mind? They weren't Jews, Lujane, they weren't Black, they weren't any minority group.

                You have a pathetically naive view of this site and this country. If Dr James Dobson or any of the people with a microphone were to speak their thoughts of holier-than-thou condemnation in a closed room with no windows, you and I both know they'd never be heard from again. So they use the insulation of the airwaves to say things to the masses that they would never have the courage to say to an individual standing in front of them because even they know how unforgivably offensive their rhetoric is.

                Please - if you fall for this bullshit canard that somehow Christians are oppressed in this country -

                George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:37:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  "Prejudice"? (13+ / 0-)

                Interesting that a concrete and horrific example of child slavery is graphically presented, then outraged commenters post, and are quickly followed by the tut-tut brigade:

                If the same comments against Christians and Christianity in general were directed at gays, blacks, or some other general group, they would be hide-rated.  Prejudice against Christians is not at all uncommon here.

                Perhaps you & your ilk need to be schooled on the definition of the word. Here's one:

                Prejudice – preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

                You might note that the opinion is "preconceived", that is, before any evidence has been presented. This is not the case here. A good deal of evidence has been presented. You might note that prejudice is not informed by "reason or actual experience". That is not the case here.

                Major Christian (& Christian-ish, like the Mormons) denominations have historically (& presently) made it their mission to crush dissent, attack minorities, and legislate against nonChristian religions. These are facts, abundantly available to anyone who views the historical record. These are NOT prejudices.

                Are there Christians who aren't like this? Indeed there are. To paint, as the Christian apologists again and again cry out, with too broad a brush is a bad thing. But again and again I see Christians carefully nipping one little hair from the condemnation brush and turning around and applying it to someone else -- Dobson, say -- with no recognition of the legacy of criminality, hate, and prejudice being a Christian is heir to.

              •  Because being Christian, unlike being black & gay (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alizard, esquimaux

                is a concious choice. And when you join a religion, you suffer some of the slings and arrows directed at the wider group.  Do you cringe when people criticize "Republicans" without taking the time to make the very obvious point that some of them are decent, well-intentioned people?

                "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

                by SpiderStumbled22 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:57:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Interesting observation (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cedwyn, thursdays child, Lujane

                Two common differentiators stand between the groups you mentioned and Christians or for any other Religious individual.

                They are Choice and Faith.

                On race, there isn't a choice.

                While others may argue, when you are Gay, there wasn't a choice.

                Yes, there is prejudice against many, the religious included.

                It is the weakest point of our American culture, our ability to be easily divided.

                People cannot change their race, nor walk away from being within their own skin.

                As for Reilgion many individuals come into their faith and also walk away from it, others are removed from their houses of worship by members of their own faith.

                But, there is a fallacy in equating any affiliation, no matter how strong it may be with predetermined conditions such as race and sexual orentation.

                The difference is stark when the individual has no option, they are the way they are, regardless of faith, and never had the option of choice, whereas  Religions can be adopted or discarded.

                I can understand how many Christians feel.

                We all suffer from being outsiders in this country, each and everyone of us is likely at some point in their lives to fully appreciate what it means to be "one of them" whatever that may mean at the time.

                I am male, white and southern.

                I have been in numerous situations where I was discounted simply because of the way I speak.

                I can deal with it, or learn to change my dialect, I have that choice.

                I do not have a choice about being white, and while skin the color of mine has been the American meal ticket, I too, find myself in situations where the way I look is how I am treated, both good and bad.

                This part of our culture is the part that requires CHANGE the most, in my opinion.

                I have a very great deal of hope that this Obama Administration will lead this change in each of us and make us all more aware of our shared Americaness.

                We must stitch our nation's people together and mend the rips and tears our nation has inflicted upon itself as a result of our Political/Social/Economic/Religious History.

                Our greatest acheivement will be our national cohesiveness and the power and energy that will flow from this culmination and coming together we will overcome the obstacles history places in front og our nation.

                "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                by wmc418 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:29:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  So many "good" Christians remain silent (29+ / 0-)

              as the Rick Warrens of the world spread their bile and profess to speak for the whole faith. It's a shame that makes it so easy to overlook they apparently aren't.

              Wake me if he actually repeals DOMA, revokes DADT or passes ENDA.

              by Scott Wooledge on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:31:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Not just atheists (23+ / 0-)

              A lot of the worst anti-Christian stuff I've heard is from people who were brought up in repressive or abusive Christian churches, so their anti-Christian feelings are based on first-hand experience. The problem is being unable to differentiate between the "church" of their upbringing that used "christianity" as a weapon, and actual churches that preach something Jesus would recognize as Christian.

              Heck, even the evangelicals and a lot of the media is incapable of making distinctions. The evangelicals will tell you that attacking some rabid anti-gay loon makes you an anti-Christian persecutor. The MSM will use "people of faith" to mean right-wing loonies.

              Save your anger for the people committing the abuses.

              •  It just wasn't pure enough. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LuvSet, Cedwyn, wmc418, quotemstr

                Isn't that always the argument?

                Whether it's marxism, communism, laissez-faire, some religious dogma, or any form of "doctrinism" that fails to live up to its putative outcome?

                Somehow the error never seems to be inherent to the doctrine itself.  Whenever it fails, that's just because the attempt wasn't pure enough.  The practitioners weren't perfect enough.

                Maybe we should look for paths that aren't so frail in execution.  

                Hey, Wolf. DailyKos is the Best Political Team on the planet.

                by Alden on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:10:28 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Huh? (6+ / 0-)

                  I'm struggling to connect your rant with what I said, but I'm missing something.

                  Let me try again.

                  1. There are hundreds of different philosophies held by people who call themselves "Christian".
                  1. Therefore no single philosophy can make the claim to speak for all who self-label themselves that way.
                  1. Corollary: No single philosophy should be singled out by you as standing for all.

                  Let me take an example that's less fraught. Let's say there's some hypothetical hugely popular left-leaning blog. Let's call it, I don't know, "The Daily K". Now let's say the "Daily K" has 50000 people who post on it, and let's say that somebody pulls one of those diaries out and says, "Now you see what all of those nuts on the Daily K think?"

                  Taking your argument, I guess if you tried to say "wait a minute, that diarist doesn't speak for the whole community, that's just one voice among many", then I would be justified in saying that "it's always the followers who impure, not the philosophy, right? So maybe all those "Daily K" followers should abandon the whole left-wing blog idea and follow another one that's less frail in execution."

                  •  You think that's a rant? (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alizard, quotemstr, adrianrf

                    I can only chuckle at the characterization.  You must live a pleasantly sheltered life.

                    Where I live, the majority of Christian churches of all denominations are party-politically engaged and preaching intolerance.

                    Christians who don't pursue or at least condone one form or another of hateful or manipulative behavior are not merely a clear minority in this part of the country (and probably the US as a whole), they're a small one.  That's not to say there is no Christ-like opposition within the religion, but it is outnumbered and deeply overshadowed by the authoritarians.

                    You appear to be trying to argue that a doctrine is NOT represented by the majority of its practitioners -- that you can't criticize a doctrine for the way the majority of its practitioners act.  (Even though the point your analogy comes closest to supporting is the opposite, namely my contention that any doctrine IS in fact represented by the de facto majority of its practitioners and not by an isolated exception here and there.)

                    Thus the only way to dissociate the majority practice from the doctrine itself is to claim that the doctrine is sound regardless of what it has led to in the real world, and that the only problem with it is impure practice.  That puts you in the same boat with defenders of most of the historic "isms" of the world.

                    Hey, Wolf. DailyKos is the Best Political Team on the planet.

                    by Alden on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:22:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Could be we're all well aware that if we said (15+ / 0-)

              these comments to real people on the street that most of us would be dead, bleeding, or just plain never seen again.

              It always fascinates me how the group who is always rubbing my nose in the fact that they outnumber me ten to one is so threatened and offended by me.

              So, in a way, yes, I speak out at daily Kos because they let me.

              in another way, I'm 41 now, and I've had all I can fucking stand from pious, self-righteous hypocrites who judge me while claiming that Jesus is the only one who can rightly judge anyone. I'm tired of being told that this is a "Christian" country, because not a single one of these assholes in 41 years has ever been able to explain to me (wait for this)

              ...if our founding fathers had the parchment laid out on the table before them, and the quill pen full of ink with more to spare in their hands, and they wanted this to be a Christian nation to the exclusion of any other kind -

              Why didn't they just write it down?

              Still waiting for that answer.

              Thanks for trying to back me up, but I'm pretty much backed up as it is (against a wall) and I'm swinging of my own free will and inertia to keep myself from becoming a non-person.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:28:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Why should we not feel safe? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica

              Are religious people that violent?

            •  oh fuck off (2+ / 1-)
              Recommended by:
              alizard, cville townie
              Hidden by:
              khereva

              give me a break, don't attribute one person's comments to the whole community and claim that we're all atheists, or that if we feel that the modern evangelical community has some inherent contradictions that it needs to address. get a grip

              "Charlie don't SURF!"

              by billydanielus on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:21:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It's not prejudice. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cedwyn, adrianrf

              Religion has been controlling peoples' minds for thousands of years.  The data is in.  This is not prejudice.  It's post-judice.  ;-)

              "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

              by SpiderStumbled22 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:54:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Indeed, Wee Mama. (4+ / 0-)

              I am going to try to avoid these diaries in the future because if there is any element of religion in the diarist's story, then, sure as shooting, a huge pile-on against religion and people of faith in general, of every stripe, occurs.

              At such times, comments that wouldn't get a pass making sweeping condemnations or generalizations about any other broad-based group, or its members, are cheered on here like a winning sports team. People who have tragically and unfortunately been hurt by religious believers or institutions or who are simply offended at the idea of religion merrily vent their spleen, indiscriminately, whether or not it's germane to the point of the diary, and are in turn cheered on by others and rewarded by recs for doing so.

              The initial point about the diary is forgotten as a huge pie fight about religion itself develops, and anyone who asks for a more reasoned (to use a favorite concept in this diary's comments)

              I'm tired of it. I thought we progressives were better than that. And I say that as a former atheist who is now a devout Lutheran.

              Now I'll stand back and let the potshots begin.

              George W. Bush: "Smaller than life."--Frank Rich

              by Sharoney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:07:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am toying with the idea of writing a diary (3+ / 0-)

                about the varieties of atheist experience with an appreciation for the very different ways folks can arrive at being atheists, and closing with a gentle request that some of the more ::ahem:: ardent atheists grant a reciprocal respect that just possibly there might be as much variety among Christians and other people of faith as well.

                •  BTW, my third-to-last (3+ / 0-)

                  paragraph should have read,

                  The initial point about the diary is forgotten as a huge pie fight about religion itself develops, and anyone who asks for a more reasoned (to use a favorite concept in this diary's comments) approach about the role and culpability of religion in public life is usually shouted down--with the shouters considering it payback for their pain even though their targeted commenter had nothing to do with their individual situation except being identified as Christian.

                  Don't know how that happened.

                  What some of the "ardent atheists" don't get is that I've been there. I was atheist for over 34 years. I did my share of scorning, although I aimed at the institutional Church and didn't issue blanket condemnations against all its members. I certainly didn't use the cozy anonymity of a website to smear people I didn't even know for beliefs or actions that I arrogantly assumed they agreed with/practiced.

                  When I had my conversio it was, among other things, through a process of inquiry and reading that I had set for myself. I wanted to be sure of what I was dismissing, because I had witnessed firsthand what the Christian life was when well and truly lived and wanted to be informed and knowledgable when I opened my mouth to give an opinion on the subject. I took an almost academic approach to the process, and wanted ammunition to bolster my lack of belief, my scorn, and found that the opposite happened.

                  But even afterwards I can still identify with and sympathise with nonbelievers, and understand their bewilderment. (I don't go into the details of my conversion here, however, because, frankly, this isn't the place for it.) I'm sure there are other Christian Kossacks who feel the same way.

                  But any attempt to air that sympathy is usually met in situations like this with more virulence.

                  George W. Bush: "Smaller than life."--Frank Rich

                  by Sharoney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:39:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Excellent observation (3+ / 0-)

                What we are witnessing in this diary is a fundamental weakness of our American society.

                While the entire world views the USA as an entity, we Americans are prone to division within our own ranks.

                Remember the Mumbai Terrorist incident, those evil killers wanted Americans and Brits.

                They didn't care what race, sexual orientation, or religion the Americans were, possess an American Passport and we are all alike to non Americans.

                Shrewd and cynical Americans have preyed upon our national predeliction for division and the past half century of cultural stagnation is the result of our weakness.

                Republican politicians could never have obtained electoral majorities without our American disease of divisivness.

                It even affects us at Kos.

                "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                by wmc418 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:45:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  kind of like you just did (0+ / 0-)
              to athiests...?
            •  nice blanket statement yourself (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              second gen

              that anybody who says anything against Christianity must be an atheist.

              Not so.

          •  Not a chance. (0+ / 0-)

            It's all of them, not just Christians.

            "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

            by Drew J Jones on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:04:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  uh... (9+ / 0-)

            The madrasses can be pretty insane too, though I've not heard if they are this abusive.

            Fundamentalism of any kind is prone to this kind of evil, I don't think it has anything to do with the mythology.

            I would also differ that Mormonism is "Christian", because in a lot of respects it isn't.

          •  Glad it's being exposed... (0+ / 0-)

            holy unholy shit!

            O - It's not just for Oprah anymore!

            by crkrjx on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:42:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Are you serious? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn, alizard, second gen

            These people are nuts, for sure...

            But they didn't bury two 9 yr old girls alive for their sins... Every religion is just as nutty when it has the chance to be... the difference here being that we don't live in a theocracy, we live in a world of law, and the LAW protects us from this getting worse (not that it could be much worse)... Now the LAW needs to step in and close any institution like this and remove these kids from their parents care, they're obviously not fit for parenting.

            -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. - African Proverb

            by L0kI on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:47:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think this is a ........... (0+ / 0-)

            ....far more telling tale of any 'fundamentalist' mind set, whether religious, political, or secular.

            It just seems that these stories that have a religious undertow are even more shocking and sickening, in the name of a man who stood for acceptance, and spent most of his life witht he outcasts of society.

            "Strength over weakness, pride over humility, and knowledge over faith."

            by Fuzzy5150 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 02:16:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This isn't something Xtian specific (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dem in the heart of Texas

            by any means.

            Google "Scientology RPF"

        •  he's satirizing all those Mormon cries (7+ / 0-)

          of "religious persecution!!!"

          It seems obvious.

          Wake me if he actually repeals DOMA, revokes DADT or passes ENDA.

          by Scott Wooledge on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:22:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, please. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HighSticking, mrkvica, snakelass

          Millions of Christians don't seem to have a problem continuing to donate to the Catholic Church, despite its long record, and the Catholics are amazingly among the least fucked-up these days.

          "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

          by Drew J Jones on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:03:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well Christians would certainly know how to (4+ / 0-)

          paint with broad brushes,

          WOULDN'T THEY?

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:18:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We're not talking about religion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard

          as much as we're talking about a rigidly communitarian or may I even say, communistic mindset.
          The problem is not faith, but anti-individualism and anti-modernism.  

        •  You need to stand against this (5+ / 0-)

          instead of attacking people who are outraged that it not only continues, but is so well funded and supported by Senators no less. Without examination from authorities and no recourse for the abuse because it's sanctified by a church.

          You don't see gays and Jews and blacks running these vicious homes of abuse.

          The church doesn't get a free pass to abuse and distort civil liberties and constitutional protections.

          <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

          by bronte17 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:13:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, comment is borderline HR IMO NT (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftneck
        •  Like Richard Dawkins said (0+ / 0-)

          There is no standard to compare 'moderate' religious people to 'extreme' religious people. There is no set list of instructions with a clearly defined set of behaviors, when once passed, someone's entered the world of "zealot".

          Millions of Christians are moderate, sure, but we need a way to watch over the ones that have crossed that line.



          Didn't Texas just legalize polygamy this past year?

          •  not being Richard Dawkins (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama

            I can say that if any member of any organization wants to use the power of the state to impose its beliefs on non-members, that person has crossed the line into zealotry.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:56:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This comment is odious... (33+ / 0-)

        ...and ignorant.

        If you're interested in talking to an actual faithful Christian regarding how the vast majority of faithful Christians feel about how the LDS church has completely twisted and fouled the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, shoot me an email.  

        If not, you're just confirming that you'd rather paint with an ignorant and hateful brush.

        For the record, I couldn't bear to read this entire diary.  I got about two sentences into it and had to skim through the rest.  This faithful Christian would like to see the people running this place exposed and held accountable.  To put it lightly.

        Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

        by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:40:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you aren't painting LDSers (11+ / 0-)

          with a hateful and ignorant brush? Your cult is better than their cult? By what authority?

          •  All you have to do is read the New Testament (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            memiller, JVolvo, Quicklund, leftneck

            ...then read the Book of Mormon, and you'll see that the LDS church is anything but Christian. That does not mean that a priori there is nothing of worth in the Mormon faith, it just means that while perhaps inspired by Christianity, the LDS faith is no more Christian than the beliefs espoused by Rev. Moon and his followers.

            •  Well, if they're so NOT Christian, can we shut (6+ / 0-)

              the place down then because it's not a religion?

              Or do you get it now?

              You don't have to be "christian" to be covered by this stupid rule that all religions deserve to be beyond reproach for their actions because a bunch of other people in another church don't want someone to come after them.

              It's staggeringly sad how impossible it is to make this point in this country.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:17:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  um, big logic hole there... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                snakelass, leftneck

                if they're not Christian, they're not a religion?  Is that really the question you asked?  What does that make Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and the rest of the world religions?

                I don't think that raincrow was commenting on the diary as much as simply the question of whether or not the LDS Church should be considered "Christian".

                For what it's worth, I think it IS a Christian sect.  However, even though I'm a member of a mainstream protestant religion, I subscribe to the belief that Jesus died to take away our sins, not our minds.  I think the LDS church is based on a load of BS, and I think a whole lot of other churches are, too.

                Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:13:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No hole. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mrkvica, snakelass, thursdays child

                  I did not ask the question that if a group is not Christian then they are not a religion; I think that is the platform many Christian sects stand on though to avoid answering for their own actions.

                  In other words, whether or not someone thinks they deserve to be a religion and therefore beyond reproach for their actions seems to be a function of that particular group.

                  When an atheist looks on the country as a whole and sees that what they all have in common is they have the divine right to choose and hold their own faith and therefore whatever specifics they engage in is beyond reproach, the whole system looks very perverse.

                  Because when one person comes up with a really screwy idea, he's called delusional and he's taken away.

                  But when a group does it, they'r called a church and protected by law.

                  or did I miss something?

                  George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                  by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:37:11 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  So, if they were REAL Christians (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LuvSet, mrkvica, snakelass, pacotrey

              we should respect them more?  Loonies of another feather are still fucking crazy.

        •  Penny, you're demonstrating that any comment (5+ / 0-)

          I made about religion would piss you off.

          Ignorant?

          enough with the "vast majority" arguments already?
          If the "vast majority" of people don't commit murder, do we stop worrying about those who do?

          And the next time you can't bear to read something, consider yourself "ignorant" and uninformed enough that you shouldn't be commenting on it.

          I speak from my personal experience, and as such my experience is my knowledge. Therefore, it's impossible to be "ignorant" about what I've lived through.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:16:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please don't cast such aspersions. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, jabney, leftneck

            I couldn't bear to read it because it was breaking my heart to read about someone being put through that kind of hell.  I guess you automatically assumed I couldn't bear to read it because...why, I can't guess.  

            If your personal experience is that every single person you've ever met who claims to be a person of faith is actually the kind of monster outlined in the diary, I don't know what to tell you.  

            Peace.  Seriously.  I hope we can agree to disagree on this before it gets uglier.

            Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

            by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:35:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  and why does your post look so (0+ / 0-)

          much like anti-LDS bigotry?

          If you're interested in talking to an actual faithful Christian regarding how the vast majority of faithful Christians feel about how the LDS church has completely twisted and fouled the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, shoot me an email.  

          If you want to make a case against LDS in a secular forum like this one, make your case in a way that a non-member of your version of Christianity can take seriously.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:59:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  This kind of thing (37+ / 0-)

        goes on in non-religious facilities too, especially "boot camp" style drug treatment facilities for teens.  Speaking as an athiest, it's not cool trying to paint this as a religious phenomenon.  Mostly it's a about money- these facilities charge parents thousands of dollars a month.  Even having your kid be kidnapped costs $$$.  

        (While I'm here- anyone who's interested in this subject ought to check out International Survivor's Action Committee- lots of good info)

        •  Here is another data point (10+ / 0-)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          I can give you many others.

          As an atheist I also view this as additional proof that religions can go very wrong when they accumulate power in a geography.

          Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

          by Shockwave on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:46:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ANY group of people can go wrong (19+ / 0-)

            ...when they accumulate power in a geography. Power is an irresistible attractant to cruel people. Wackos use religion just as they use their political denominations (Baathist, Nazi, whatever), ethnic group (Hutu, Tutse, Tamil, whatever), etc. -- to give themselves some excuse, some tissue of legitimization so they can justify the cruelties they inflict. Interview psychopaths in prison and mental hospitals and you will find that even these people who are supposed to have "no conscience" almost always have some excuse that "justifies" the hideous things they have done to other living creatures.

            It's the same story over and over and over and over again. Any time you allow people to accumulate power in isolation and secrecy, you can be sure there will be gross abuse of power. Make isolation and secrecy against the law, especially where children (and national policy) are involved, and assign someone neutral as watchdog, and these problems cannot remain undetected.

            Sunlight is ALWAYS the best disinfectant.

            •  ...which is why you don't fail to shut them down (8+ / 0-)

              just because they hide under the umbrella that all religions are beyond reproach in America because the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

              Yes, sunlight is a great disinfectant. Which is why I used the analogy of the umbrella of religion....

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:12:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  but religions have "special rights" (7+ / 0-)

              It's much harder to shut down a ruthless Religious school than a ruthless Atheist school because religions get special dispensation -- they are presumed to be doing the right thing.

              •  Agreed, and I think it's wrong (6+ / 0-)

                Religious organizations should not get any special dispensation or privileges. I'm vastly oversimplifying due to lack of time, but I think the religion-neutral, non-profit services churches offer the community should be treated as such for taxation purposes. OTOH church-owned business ventures should be taxed as such, churches should have to pay property taxes, etc., etc.

                I haven't seen a fully convincing argument as to why churches should be privileged when a communal building for anti-religionists would not be.

                •  Bingo. You have not seen a convincing argument (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  adrianrf

                  because there is none.

                  We originally gave churches tax-exempt status so that there would be no plausible way for the government to rule on what the the churches do, since the church could say that it was not supporting the government with it's taxes.

                  Now enough people have forgotten that purpose, that the churches are wanting to have their force of numbers influence the election but still claim the government keep their hands off God.

                  Hey - there's that hypocrisy thing I keep ranting about. Son of a bitch....

                  So you agree they should not, and yet they do. and the odds of that changing anytime soon are about on par with Jesus coming back to Earth by Tuesday and landing in my living room.

                  George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                  by snafubar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:46:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  This is absolutely true. Also, because they can (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LuvSet, snafubar, adrianrf

                scream about the First Amendment, and because most religious groups are very well funded (as compared to secular groups).

          •  Don't get me wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave

            I do not think that religion should be given any special clearance to break the law, nor do I deny that the power that they can accrue is corrupting.  But while there are plenty of examples of people doing bad things in the name of religion, I'm not willing to condemn ALL religion based on said examples.  I am an athiest because I don't think there is evidence for god, I'm not anti-religion per se.  

            And I've read a lot about these types of schools and I see them more as a money-making enterprise than a religious enterprise.  All of these operations need to be STRICTLY regulated- too many children are killed or tortured in these facilities, religious or otherwise.  

        •  When we start a diary about bootcamps that are (8+ / 0-)

          based on something other than faith, then I'll chime in on that diary.

          This one was about Mormons, and I direct my comments to it as such.

          One thing at a time.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:11:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  thank you for this small island of (0+ / 0-)

          rationality in this discussion.

          A fanatical religion is PART of the problem here, but this situation would be possible with any kind of fanaticism, religious or otherwise.

          Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

          by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:15:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Rev. Sunlight Gardener from "The Talisman' ! (6+ / 0-)

        These stories always remind me of the brutality described in a portion of Stephen King's book, "The Talisman".  During his cross-country trek, Jack Sawyer comes under the control of a home for wayward boys run by an evil reverend, Sunlight Gardener.

        -begin sarcasm
        This residential treatment facility in Utah seems to be one of many throughout the country that seek to emulate the concern, empathy and spirit of rehabilitation shown by Gardener in King's fictional story.
        -end sarcasm

      •  forget that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, The Angevin, lonelyutahdem15

        The Mormon church is nothing but a warped step child of FreeMasonry.  Nothing "Christian" about it at all.  This Christian is in full support of any attack on the apostate instituion.

        Shameful.  Don't even pretend Mormonism is Christianity.

        •  ahmmmm, only some "christians" are Christians? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard, ripple, Catesby

          As I recall, that was a Papal claim for ages, even to the point of waging a war of extermination (Crusade) against the Albigensians (Catholics, but "heretical" ones.)  Lessee, new and old Catholics (reformed and old school? whatever.)

          Luther begged to differ, but was unchristianed for his efforts.

          Methodists, at least 2 synods worth, baptists, probably 50 or more sects, C of E, Episcopalians (2 variants, I believe.), Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Science?, those who pass out The Watchtower, Unitarians, Roundheads (classical), Puritans, Amish?, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Random unorthodox?, Quakers?, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, etc.

          Which group doesn't claim to believe in Jesus Christ?

          Is there any other sure-fire definition of "Christian"?  I say no.  I say no one group or person gets to call the shots, either, unless everybody is willing to give unanimous consent to the Papacy as the supreme arbited of all things Xtian.

          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

          by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:24:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jabney

            Any other sect that ritually worships Jahbalon and considers Christ the brother os Lucifer, is so twisted in their heretical occult, it is safe to say it's not Chrisitanity.  Much in the same way Scientology is not Science, this phonly occultish crap is not reflective of the Church (all denominations).

            George Bush will tell you he's a Christian.
            Satan himself will tell you he's a Christian.

            My point is, don't pretend this crap is looked upon favorably by Chrisitans.  It's evil.

            •  I take all professions of religious belief (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ripple, adrianrf

              at face value. I am not equipped to "see into a person's heart and soul" to verify the truth or falsity of those claims.

              If a person falsely claims membership in a religion, that's an issue between he and his Deity, and/or him and the members of that specific religious group.

              If you believe that a person or organization is falsely claiming to be a member of your religion, that is between you and them, take that dispute up with them and leave us the hell out of it.

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:07:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't bring it up (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dem in the heart of Texas

                My comment was in response to this nugget of wisom that has been reced 56 times:

                Not hard to take if youre a faithful Christian

                because if those dastardly non-believers start to attack the Mormon church, soon then it will lead to attacks on Baptists and Methodists and even Cathlics, and eventually all religions will be banned!

                Man Battlestations!

                See how easy it is to support pedophelia, incest, rape and all that comes with it? Stage 7 of faith.

                So when people falsely slander "faithful Chrisitans" to fulfill their hatred of all Chrisitans, then they aught to find something in the Gospels of Christ that would even suggest this savagery is acceptable.  But no, it's much easier to lump the bad habits of a psuedoChrisitan cult.  The cult is way more Masonic than Chrisitian.  If you care to do the least bit of research, I'll direct you kindly.  But in no way, should this filth be attributed to the looking away of Chrisitans because we fear that we're next.  It's stupidity.

                All evil should be exposed.  Inside and outside of the Church.  My point is, don't pretend this is an issue the wide body of Christ is covering up for the sake of their own hide.  Chrisitians (not the elite, hierarchy, pedophile priests, or TV evangelists) but the Believers do not deserve to be saddled with this type of stereotype.  Cast stones all you want, but make sure you know who the offender is.  Mormonism is not Christianity.

                •  my point is that (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ripple, adrianrf

                  since Mormons call themselves Christians, I take this at face value, too.

                  Any problem you have with this is with them and not me.

                  Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                  by alizard on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:28:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand (0+ / 0-)

                    but I didn't necessarily bring you into the conversation.  My reply was to the half-wit that suggested Chrisitans are willing to cover up atrosities because we're afraid of being exposed as sadists.  

                    It is not directed towards you or your value system at all.  But when I read garbage like that, I must reply.  When I reply, it is generally with my own understanding, experience, and knowledge.

                    I do not take any claim (especially dealing with the fine line between politics and religion) at face value.  Their comment was aimed at Chrisitians by attempting guilt by association.  Oh they have JC in their title, so they simply MUST be Chrisitans.  It isn't so.  The history, ceremonies, and beliefs of Mormonism is completely 100% antithetical to Christianity.

                    Judgement shouldn't be sacrificed for the sake of neutrality.

              •  hmmm... taking it at face value... (0+ / 0-)

                I remember discussing this in 2004 with my (fundie) Mother-in-law.  She supported GWB because he is "a good Christian" (and clearly, Kerry was not, in her mind).  I asked what kind of Christian would start a war, and on top of that, lie in the process?  She said his profession was good enough (clearly, Kerry's wasn't).  I responded with: "but wouldn't Satan lie about his beliefs, if he wanted to get in your good graces?"

                No answer there.

                Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:50:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I would presume so (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dem in the heart of Texas

                  however, I am still not equipped to "see into a person's heart and soul", even should that person happen to be the horned and tailed gentleman described in Christian mythos as "the Father of Lies" and has taken corporeal form. In fact, given that person's legendary attributes, I'd probably be even less able to see into his "heart and soul" than I would most people.

                  Nor am I equipped to see into the "heart and soul" of a person who could be taken as one of Satan's (substitute "Evil member of your favorite religious pantheon" for non-Christians) spiritual descendants like George Bush or Dick Cheney.

                  I would also not vote for or against someone based on his public religious beliefs unless they were of the sort which are in and of themselves a clear and present danger to the Republic (Dominionism / Third Wave / other Religious Right extremist theocratic belief systems qualify, IMO) should a person holding these beliefs become a holder of public office.

                  IOW, I would not vote for a person because he's a member of a religion, but I might vote against one for that reason.

                  Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                  by alizard on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 12:35:19 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  However (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dem in the heart of Texas

          you don't get to decide.  I don't happen to think that most people that call themselves Christian actually are.

          I don't get to decide either.

        •  Not all Mormon help for adolescents is like this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dem in the heart of Texas
          This diary recounts a horror, one which I find difficult to read. Such treatment of adolescents by adults is repellent and unconscionable.

          I am not a Mormon. Nevertheless, I hope this awful story won't be used to tar all Mormon institutions with the same brush. That would be an unfortunate mistake.

          About 5 years ago, a (then) 15 year old girl with whose family I'm close spent about 9 months at a residential treatment center for girls in Utah. My friends live in the Northeast and the family is Jewish. A counselor suggested the Utah facility for their daughter at a very difficult time in the girl's life.

          The treatment center does not describe itself as Mormon, but most of its personnel are members of the Church of L.D.S. Both the young woman and her parents assure me that no one was mistreated there, and that the girls got plenty of attention and care, with generally good results.

          The range of competence, sincerity and success among adolescent residential treatment facilities is enormous. If residential treatment should become necessary for your child, I hope you will judge each program on its individual merits, not by some overly simple criterion such as the religion of the people who work there.

          "This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described." *

          by dratman on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:01:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sick sadists abusing children in God's name (102+ / 0-)

      We have laws to protect children but they are generally enforced at the state and local level. The power of the Mormon church in Utah makes local enforcement of child protection laws impossible.

      This is why separation of church and state is so important.

      Church sponsored programs abuse kids in God's name.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:05:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For further reading... (19+ / 0-)

      try:

      Under the Banner of Heaven
      by Jon Krakauer.

      The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence.

      and...

      Using as a focal point the chilling story of offshoot Mormon fundamentalist brothers Dan and Ron Lafferty, who in 1984 brutally butchered their sister-in-law and 15-month-old niece in the name of a divine revelation, Krakauer explores what he sees as the nature of radical Mormon sects with Svengali-like leaders. Using mostly secondary historical texts and some contemporary primary sources, Krakauer compellingly details the history of the Mormon church from its early 19th-century creation by Joseph Smith (whom Krakauer describes as a convicted con man) to its violent journey from upstate New York to the Midwest and finally Utah, where, after the 1890 renunciation of the church's holy doctrine sanctioning multiple marriages, it transformed itself into one of the world's fastest-growing religions.

      The Mormons (who today are more interested in fighting gay marriage then their own polygamist fundies) have a lurid history that's still playing out today.

      I am a liberal - I question authority, ALL authority.

      by Pescadero Bill on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:38:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow? (9+ / 0-)

      Am I the only one who isn't at all shocked by this?  This is what religion does to people.  Faith rationalizes religion, allowing these kinds of things to take place.

      What else could you expect?

      And the place is apparently staffed by Mormon missionaries.  Nope, no church involvement there.  Nosiree.

      And don't anybody give me this bullshit about broad brush strokes.  It's "good people of faith" who put their money into wicked organizations like the LDS.  Were it not for "the millions of good (Christians/Muslims/Jews/Mormons/whatever)," these sick fucks wouldn't have the means to do such disgusting things to people.

      People need to put down the crutch and join the rational.

      "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

      by Drew J Jones on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:59:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly (5+ / 0-)

        Children are abused in many venues.  And lock-ups of all nature are problematic, especially those for children.
        Stick to the issue...too many in this thread are blinded by the shiny nickle in the corner(LDS/religion)

        •  Nonsense. (15+ / 0-)

          You can't separate the LDS from the issue, just as you can't separate the abuses by priests from the bizarre structure and rules of the Catholic Church.  These things happen when people's understandings of reality are distorted by religion.

          I submit that you'd find, in every single case, that these kids were taken to this facility because of "good Mormon parents" who meant well but were manipulated by their religion.

          "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

          by Drew J Jones on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:25:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not mutually exclusive (10+ / 0-)

            My point is that this issue exists in many venues.  I know non-religious people who have sent their kids to abusive places.  And then they're suprised when their kids become more troubled.

            This problem needs to be fixed wherever it exists. "Reform Schools" are big business.  They are religious, non-religious, military style and exist globally.  

            No dispute that this entire industry is a problem.  I am sad to see that the majority of this thread was hijacked by the religion vs. non-religious crowd.  

            •  I think you'll find... (6+ / 0-)

              ...that it occurs with much higher frequency in religious settings.  And the more fundamentalist the religion, the higher the frequency as well.

              The existence of abuse in secular settings doesn't imply that secular settings are equally bad in general.

              "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

              by Drew J Jones on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:02:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yikes (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dem in the heart of Texas

                We'll have to disagree on that...for the child of abuse in the secular setting, the rate is 100%

                You may think religous setting creat the most abuse.  Frankly, as a parent (with many kids, of all ages and having lived in 5 state...) I can assure you that there are more "crazy" parents out there than not.  It's unfortunate.  Way too many parents are terrible parents.  And it's not generational.  Simply put, since the beginning of time, children have never had a voice.  They are the most common victim of any crime you can name.

                One of the biggest problems of humanity is the raising of decent children by themselves.  As my teenagers put it, "____will grow up fine despite their parents"
                My mother describes it as "being raised by wolves". The babies are raising themselves out there with very little protection.

                Believe me, no religion, fundy or not, has cornered the market on abuse and neglect.

                •  You're completely incoherent. (0+ / 0-)

                  The rate of abuse for children in secular settings is 100%?

                  You may think religous setting creat the most abuse.

                  I think it's wholly uncontroversial to say that religion has caused or assisted in more harm to humans than any other institution in all of human history.  There's really no dispute.

                  "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

                  by Drew J Jones on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:51:30 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's not what I said (0+ / 0-)

                    Learn to read

                    A child who has been abused is abused.  For that individual, the rate is already 100% no matter where it occurred.  The percentage doesn't go down, the abuse isn't somehow nicer if it happens in a secular setting.  I have a neighbor who just sent her kid to a "top" boarding school...not religious; and he was abused.  

                    This isn't about you.  It's about children being abused.  Nothing gets done while the lazy point fingers at religion rather than seek legislation forcing regulation of all schools.  

                    •  Not so much. (0+ / 0-)

                      I know that's not what you said, but your comment was mindless babbling.

                      You're still avoiding my point -- that abuse is more (much more) common in religious settings than secular ones.

                      Regulating schools to prevent abuse, regardless of the schools' religious affiliations or lackthereof, is right, but failing to acknowledge the role religion plays in the abuse of children is idiotic.  Why you insist on ignoring that, I don't know.  You can't fix problems if you can't acknowledge causes.

                      "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

                      by Drew J Jones on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 11:17:21 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  And you (0+ / 0-)

                        can't fix problems while focusing on the one "cause" you have a problem with.  You call it "religion", I call it a form of mental illness (to abuse children/the weak in the name of anybody or anything).

                        As a long time advocate for children, I've seen abuse and neglect that runs the gamut.  It's everywhere.  What is notable about this story, in this forum, is it's relationship to powerful GOPers.
                        Too bad a group of self-righteous asshats always have get on their soapbox about religion and hijack the thread.  As a group, and individually, I find the behavior every bit as zealous as that of religious fundamentalists.  And it serves nobody; least of all the victims of violence and neglect.

    •  They have many (2+ / 0-)
      the Provo Canyon Boys School is another such place.
      The industry also tried "outdoor education" programs, but too many deatys resulted, and the government became involved.

      Sorry about your rights, we hope to have them restored shortly.

      by qi motuoche on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:34:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  While alpine caving near Grand Targhee in 2007, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        qi motuoche

        I ran across both boys & girls groups - also run by the Mormons, just outside of Driggs, Idaho.  But these seemed like legitimate summer camps.

        Dubya's legacy: 25 million really pissed Iraqis...50 million shoes

        by skrekk on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:15:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's bad enough that these places exist (3+ / 0-)

      but just as bad--and a vital precursor to shutting them down--that people don't know about the abuses that occur at them.  A google search for "Utah Boy's Ranch" brings thisup at number 8 or so; it is the first critical link that appears.  It should be number one. I don't know much about google result engineering, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with linking.  The important thing is to get the Utah Boy's Ranch(and others like it) shut down, but in the meantime parents considering such a place should know exactly what they're sending their children to (Utah Boy's Ranch, that is).

      "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

      by leftneck on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:03:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dedicated to ... Sandee Beckers (123+ / 0-)

    Former President, Eagle Forum of California

    Folks like Sandee sit on the board of California Renewal and promote Prop H8 while her fellow travelers wreak havoc in Utah.

  •  Mormonism is a Cult (16+ / 0-)

    ...so this story doesn't surprise me in the least.

    •  At the risk of starting blog armageddon, what (58+ / 0-)

      religion is NOT a cult?

      The whole idea of surrendering one's freedom of thought for blind faith and allegiance is common amongst all religions, whether its Jonestown, or David Koresh, or the Catholic Church. Simply because some do unthinkable things and some do less-unthinkable things does not change the essential common requirement of willful blind allegiance of the followers - or the fact that such blindness is required by the leaders.

      All religions are cult.

      I know someone wants to chase me around the block for this one. I'll play...

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:53:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  faith has always been hijacked by those who seek (22+ / 0-)

        power over others and it is called religion.

        I am an optimist, I am positive we will screw it up

        by whoknu on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:59:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ...which is why some of us hold faith in as much (33+ / 0-)

          contempt as we do religion.

          Religion is a set of arbitrary and capricous rules dictated by fiat; faith only makes it possible for people to accept a rotten idea.

          therefore, if you really want to curb the influence of religion, someone has to start having a serious discussion about how faith makes it all possible and is therefore no better.

          Faith was nice to get through the day when we  had no answers. Thousands of years later and now that we have so many more answers, why do we still need to close our eyes and say "I really don't know".

          ?

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:02:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  sometimes we still need to (17+ / 0-)

            have faith. We often need to have faith that everything is for a purpose.  But that purpose should never be hijacked for someone else's greed for power over us.  

            I am an optimist, I am positive we will screw it up

            by whoknu on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:06:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Faith is 100% useless. (25+ / 0-)

              By definition, to believe something with no empirical reasoning is anti-intellectual. I don't need to have faith that everything is for a purpose because I understand that it is not.

              To quote Tim Minchin:

              I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant lump of carbon.
              I have one life, and it is short
              And unimportant...

              This is reality, and this is what makes me value every day of my life. I want to learn as much as I can, taste as many foods, see as many sights, meet as many people, and have as many adventures as I possibly can in my short time. To quote a little further:

              Isn’t this enough?
              Just this world?
              Just this beautiful, complex
              Wonderfully unfathomable world?
              How does it so fail to hold our attention
              That we have to diminish it with the invention
              Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?
              If you’re into Shakespeare
              Lend me your ear:
              "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
              To throw perfume on the violet... is just fucking silly"
              Or something like that.

              To have faith would cheapen my life, not enrich it. If I were to pretend that I have some noble purpose I would lose my supreme motivation to be good, and to live the happiest life I possibly can.

              We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

              by Chicagoa on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:21:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Which is fine for you. (5+ / 0-)

                Seriously.  (I'm not being a smart ass.  For once.)

                But for those who do have faith and truly do not use it as an excuse to foist shit on their fellow man, can we live and let live?

                Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

                by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:35:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, what the hell, let's play (5+ / 0-)

                By definition, to believe something with no empirical reasoning is anti-intellectual.

                Two questions:

                1. do you believe man landed on the moon, Sir Edmund Hilary climbed Everest (yes/yes or no/no or a combination thereof)
                1. If either answer is 'yes', can you list the step-by-step empirical reasoning that got you to yes?

                Let us start from:  'There is a peak in the Himalayas called Mount Everest' - let us grant that as an axiom therefore requiring no reasoning for proof. let's go from there.

                Your turn.

                Yes, this is a massive tangent from the sheer horror of the diary - which was the callousness of parents who would send their son into such a place and the very fact that such a place exists.

                But this whole thing is about power and control and Faith is not even a necessary condition for the exercise of both, leave alone being a sufficient condition.

                •  Questions (8+ / 0-)
                  1. yes/yes
                  1. Yes I can.

                  The moon mission:

                  A. Thousands eyewitness construction and launch of Apollo 11's Saturn V vehicle.

                  B. Photographic and documentary evidence for planning and execution of the flight.

                  C. External confirmation of Mare Tranquillitatis site by lunar probe SELENE.
                  ____________________________

                  While there is certainly more evidence I think the average empiricist would find those three, when connected, provide sufficient evidence to believe the mission as historical fact.

                  Shall I assemble some core reasons for believing the Everest expedition?

                  We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                  by Chicagoa on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:42:26 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But unless you HAVE personally assembled and revi (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dem in the heart of Texas

                    reviewed it, you're taking it on faith.

                    Voting changes things. That's why they don't allow it.

                    by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:52:53 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You've got to be kidding, right ? (5+ / 0-)

                      So unless I actually witnessed the moment that Newton conceived the notion of gravity and discovered the mathematical formulae to make good use of it, then gravity really is only an existential concept that I merely believe in as a matter of faith?

                      Only a person locked in a mental vault where faith rules supreme could come up with that.

                      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:45:21 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Oh come on.... (0+ / 0-)

                        You can easily verify the existence of gravity by simply dropping a ball. The theory behind why that is so, the gravitational constant and the formula GMm/r^2, the fact that the acceleration due to gravity on Earth is 9.8 m/s^2 is taken on 'blind' faith - unless you spend the time learning calculus and physics yourself.

                        Can you verify the moon landing (and the theory behind orbital flights) just as easily?  How is that even a valid comparision?

                  •  Logic (0+ / 0-)

                    A and B can tell you a rocket was launched. You may even have been at the launch and watched the rocket take off with the three guys in it (oh, sure, you watched them get on, but how do you know they did not get right off on the other side?).

                    Beyond that, you got nothing. They may have done a few turns in a high earth orbit and returned. The whole 'landing on the moon' transmission could have been a film they carried up into the Saturn V and broadcast to the world while they were in orbit.

                    C Yeah, right. Lunar Probe SELENE, launched by the same Nasa guys who launched the Saturn V that faked the moon landing.  If you can fake the moon landing, how hard can it be to fake a probe photograph?

                    When connected, the truly rational empiricist can only conclude the following from A, B and C:

                    "Nasa launched a rocket that showed films of a man walking on the moon.  Later, another rocket launched by Nasa sent back pictures that was supposed to be the site where the first rocket was said to have landed."

                    Anything beyond that comes with a large dollop of faith and the willingness to get trained for many years in the astronaut program, be launched in a spacecraft and actually land on the moon yourself.

                    Ultimately, for a strict empiricist, all absolute proof (or disproof) has to be experienced. That takes effort. That means the absolute rational empiricist has to actively follow a religion in order to comment on whether or not it is a hoax.

                    Which is why it is a good thing we are all not strict empiricists.

                    disclaimer if you see my post a few turns below, you will see that my answers to the questions is yes / yes as well. So, no points for painting me a whacko :-))

                    •  SELENE (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      adrianrf

                      Was a JAXA probe, Japanese space exploration.

                      We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                      by Chicagoa on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 03:27:25 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Not necessarily faith -- (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Chicagoa, adrianrf

                      I use binoculars too see afar and then often confirm what I saw at a distance by closer approach.  Empiricism leads me to rely on my binos, even without closer approach, not faith. During my life I have learned throuogh experience and empirical analysis that various means of obtaining and receiving data have various credibility ratings.  There is a sufficiency of sufficiently credible information, cross corroborating and supporting with the expected differences and nuances that I can declare the overall top level summarization as matters of fact and not faith, just as I can declare my wall socket live by using a continuity tester instead of actually plugging an electrical device into it.

                      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                      by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:04:43 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  This is patently ridiculous (11+ / 0-)

                  There is a difference between belief in something that cannot, under any conceivable burden of proof, be shown to either exist or not exist and something that can.

                  God, by nature, is an unfalsifiable concept. The moon or Mt. Everest are real places and there is real, physical evidence and substantial documentary evidence that Hillary climbed Everest or Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. I could easily prove the latter with a sufficiently powerful telescope or my own trip to 'Tranquility Base.' That I cannot currently do so does not mean these things did not happen - but, in theory, I could easily prove or disprove that they did through my own research.

                  As, as for 'faith' being necessary for the exercise of power and control, faith, in so far as it conveys legitimacy on societal actors for the things that they do are crucial to the operation of that power and control.  But, the real point here is the type of culture the two outlooks foster. Why is it that the empiricist is often far more skeptical of well-supported research than the faithful are of their unsupported religious dogmas? Because empiricism supports and nourishes a culture of skepticism while faith promotes a culture of intellectual naiveté. It promotes simplistic magical thinking over dealing with a complex reality as it really is.

                  Skepticism and empiricism have given us MRIs. Faith has given us faith healing and wishful thinking that is false, however comforting it may be to us. If your child was sick and dying - which would you turn to?

                  Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                  by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:49:03 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  empiricism in religion (lack thereof) (0+ / 0-)

                    it is a convenient way to separate 'science' from 'religion' by arguing that 'religion is totally opposed to empiricism while science embraces it'

                    Of course empiricism is the right way to prove things in the scientific method. But why do we scientists (and yes, I am one, trained as a scientist and an engineer) glibly assume that religion has no room for empiricism?

                    Yes, the Old Testament says all sorts of interesting things about what should be done to adulterers. I don't see too many of my neighbors actually practicing it.  By the same token, I was assured in the eighth grade that the atom had this massive neutron in the middle that had protons embedded in it with electrons whirling around.  Didn't think much of that by the time I got to 12th grade and I was learning about the s, p, d, f layers, quantum physics and probability density functions.

                    Clearly religions around the world have used the crucible of empiricism to test their own practices - Buddhism has prescribed techniques of meditation that (apparently) work for many, many people - even if it is self reported.  Christianity offers 'peace of mind' to believers and there is enough evidence that believers actually get 'peace of mind'.

                    Of course I believe that man landed on the moon and Sir Edmund Hilary climbed Mt Everest.  But the process by which I accept that is not really that different from the process by which a religious person arrives at the conclusion that certain behaviors on their part would lead to certain results.

                    When I started studying engineering, I was no more certain that I would graduate as an engineer than the practitioner of Yoga or the kid who trained for the Olympics.  What sustained me through the years of training was the observation that 'others had done it' and my own confidence in my abilities to follow that practice.

                    That is when I came to appreciate how closely the processes resembled each other:  the religious person also believes that by following certain practices, he can achieve certain goals. In that, he is guided by the experience of others whose words he takes on faith.

                    The big difference of course, is that I can empirically verify that the guy who trained for the olympics actually made it. If he did not make it, I could conclude that the path he followed was bullshit or that he did not try hard enough.

                    But if the goal was more subtle - exit from clinical depression - how can I empirically verify?  

                    That is the reason why I have such a problem with painting religions as cons.  They might not be.

                    Certainly there are people exploiting religion to pull off crimes, scams and cons, but then there are an awful lot of people doing the same thing with the financial markets too.

                    So, the rational way to look at religion (from a non-believer's point of view) is that it may or may not deliver on its promise (whatever that may be).  But while you are finding that out, dear religious person, stay out of my life.

                    I just find it incredibly hard to dismiss all religious practice as a hoax when I have no clue as to whether it really is a hoax.

                    •  just a few points (3+ / 0-)

                      I'm technically a social scientist - so, not a real one! :-)

                      But why do we scientists (and yes, I am one, trained as a scientist and an engineer) glibly assume that religion has no room for empiricism?

                      I guess that depends upon what standard for verification is which, as we come from very different fields, varies tremendously given what you are studying. What IS the standard of verification for religion? Seeing a 'miracle'? A divine visitation? Can it be replicated by any standard we are familiar with in our own chosen fields? I'm not an engineer, but I believe I understand the general principles, if not the technical details, upon which empiricism is based in your field. Similarly, I will assume you know mine as well. But how do we judge the claims of religion in a way that we can both accept?  

                      Clearly religions around the world have used the crucible of empiricism to test their own practices - Buddhism has prescribed techniques of meditation that (apparently) work for many, many people - even if it is self reported.  Christianity offers 'peace of mind' to believers and there is enough evidence that believers actually get 'peace of mind'.

                      But, as an engineer, is this a standard you think is acceptable for empirical verification of religious claims about the nature of reality and the existence of a divine, supernatural power? Or, better yet, does the discovery by archaeologists of the ancient city of Troy mean we have proof of the veracity of the Greek myths? That Zeus, Apollo, and the like exist?

                      How do we test for the power of the divine in these instances? Should we weigh or otherwise analyze bodies at the exact moment of death to determine if is a physical release of the soul?

                      That is when I came to appreciate how closely the processes resembled each other:  the religious person also believes that by following certain practices, he can achieve certain goals. In that, he is guided by the experience of others whose words he takes on faith.

                      No. Not at all. The body of knowledge that guided your research had been built up over time as a result of intense struggle between advocates of different theories of physical reality. Over time the scientific community came to believe that, say, Quantum mechanics, Relativity, and other various ideas were empirically verified according to the standards of the day and, importantly, the ongoing work of contemporary scientists and engineers. Would  electrical engineering of the type common today be possible if, say, quantum mechanics was fundamentally wrong in some way?

                      What's important here is that there is a standard by which scientific debate in your field resolved these issues. For issues of religious faith, there are no such standards and attempting to fashion one strikes me as both fanciful and deluded. Again, how do we prove the 'soul' exists? We can prove things like atoms, extrasolar planets, and bacteria exist, because theory, logic, and our tools say they do. But God? Heaven? My natural skepticism says I should give you the benefit of the doubt, but beyond that you have to prove it to me in some way.
                       

                      I just find it incredibly hard to dismiss all religious practice as a hoax when I have no clue as to whether it really is a hoax.

                      But, to return to your meditation example, is 'success' by this standard evidence for the supernatural claims of religion or is something 'more earthly' a likely explanation? If I thank God after winning the Super Bowl, is that evidence of God's existence?

                      So, the rational way to look at religion (from a non-believer's point of view) is that it may or may not deliver on its promise (whatever that may be).  But while you are finding that out, dear religious person, stay out of my life.

                      I agree, and I am willing enough to do this if religion extends me the same courtesy. But religion, especially fundamentalist religion, doesn't want to compete because it, at heart, is an ideological proposition that brooks no opposition to it. Opposition to a scientific theory is necessary for progress to occur because it works out the kinks and problems in the theory. If it doesn't hold up it is usually abandoned after some period of time.

                      Opposition to religious dogma, however, is a threat to communal identity and the political, cultural, and economic order that identity supports. If I oppose the theory of evolution, I'm a harmless crank. If, on the other hand, I oppose Papal infallibility, a literal interpretation of religious texts, or the commonly held beliefs of my religious community, I am a threat to society and social order.    

                      Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                      by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:09:13 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Let me address the key issues (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ppluto, Benito

                        I think you are raising.

                        First the notion of 'accept'

                        What IS the standard of verification for religion? Seeing a 'miracle'? A divine visitation? Can it be replicated by any standard we are familiar with in our own chosen fields? ... But how do we judge the claims of religion in a way that we can both accept?

                        Short of someone forcing you to accept the claims of religion, what is wrong in simply being indifferent to it? I don't drink alcohol, never had a beer in my life. Many many good people have told me that I don't know what I am missing. Others have told me that smoking pot is one of the best experiences ever - LSD, Cocaine - they all make similar claims. I am completely indifferent to the professed charms of all of the above.

                        But should I choose to verify the claim, what is the only option available to me?  I have to drink beer, smoke pot and use LSD and cocaine. What else can I possibly do to truly verify the claim - where the promised benefit is an experience rather than a tangible thing?

                        In the same manner, religion promises experiences. Short of following the actions prescribed, there is NO way to verify that claim.  That does not make religion a hoax, does it? Just as my not wanting to try beer does not mean that a cold one on a hot day does not feel great to many people (wow - that was a triple negative....).

                        Paradoxically, even the opposite effect is observable.  Take the case of cigarettes.  Can any chain smoker claim that his first cigarette was a pleasant experience?  And yet, they swear by it. I have heard tequila aficionados describe the horrible first experience. There are many such examples, where the claim can only be verified by actually trying it.

                        Again, how do we prove the 'soul' exists? We can prove things like atoms, extrasolar planets, and bacteria exist, because theory, logic, and our tools say they do. But God? Heaven? My natural skepticism says I should give you the benefit of the doubt, but beyond that you have to prove it to me in some way.

                        Well, in Quantum mechanics, we put in a tremendous effort in finding out if some of these postulated particles truly exist.  Witness the construction of the Hadron Collider to try and get evidence of the Higgs Boson. For years, these particles are simply postulates without proof. So, what is wrong in accepting a 'soul' as a postulate whose proof can only be found (if it exists) by following a religion for many years?  

                        As for your last question, the religious person would be tempted to reply: Your natural skepticism should also lead you demand proof before you accept the incredibly crazy claims about the first few seconds of the Big Bang or the claims of string theory.  But you don't - primarily because the claims are made by scientists - and you are willing to trust the process that other scientists would test the claim for you.  

                        A good example is extraterrestrial intelligence.  Carl Sagan argued vehemently that there has to be intelligence outside of earth. We have not a shred of evidence that is so. So, we postulate - we look for planets (or moons)  that may have water, assuming that life cannot exist without water. So too does religion postulate the presence of a 'soul', 'heaven'.  You are certainly free to question such a claim, but is that really so different from the SETI project?

                        If I thank God after winning the Super Bowl, is that evidence of God's existence?

                        Certainly not. If it is experiential, it cannot be proven - it can only be experienced. The idea is that you can never analytically prove or disprove 'God', 'Soul', 'Heaven', but you can convince yourself of the validity (or otherwise) of these concepts only by actually acting in a prescribed manner. Just as no matter how many times you tell me 'that beer felt great', I can never prove or disprove it until I open up a can and pour it into my mouth.

                        •  indifference (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          quotemstr, adrianrf

                          I think you missed my last point, which is why I CAN remain indifferent or skeptical about scientific postulates - what happened after the Big Bang as in your example above - but I cannot stay indifferent about religion and the role it plays in society:

                          I agree, and I am willing enough to do this [be indifferent] if religion extends me the same courtesy. But religion, especially fundamentalist religion, doesn't want to compete because it, at heart, is an ideological proposition that brooks no opposition to it. Opposition to a scientific theory is necessary for progress to occur because it works out the kinks and problems in the theory. If it doesn't hold up it is usually abandoned after some period of time.

                          Opposition to religious dogma, however, is a threat to communal identity and the political, cultural, and economic order that identity supports. If I oppose the theory of evolution, I'm a harmless crank. If, on the other hand, I oppose Papal infallibility, a literal interpretation of religious texts, or the commonly held beliefs of my religious community, I am a threat to society and social order.

                           

                          In talking about how or why to stay indifferent you have to unpack the social role religion plays from its truth claims about reality. If 'science' and 'religion' affected me not at all then I would truly not care what some priest says about reality, morality, or anything else. But, the fact of the matter is that religion, through its grip on the social order and the people around me, affects me far, far more than some scientist's ramblings on String Theory. Now, if that grip was supported by well supported evidence of the type you and I both know science requires then I wouldn't be so unhappy, but, they quite simply aren't.

                          As an aside, I find your argument on SETI a bit strange. Sagan's argument is ultimately based on our experience here on Earth, based on sound physical principles, informed by evolutionary theory, and is a hypothesis that seems reasonable GIVEN the vastness of the universe and what we know about life here on Earth. It is a hypothesis derived from both sound theory and empirical evidence.

                          Moreover, based on physical principles, the proposition that life exists 'out there' is NOT based on an unfalsifiable, supernatural proposition of the sort that says 'God exists, made the universe, and this is his/hers/its holy book.' That 'life exists out there' is something we can test for - we can go see. We can't do that for the existence or non existence of God. Angels and Demons exist 'out there' - how do we look for them? How do we know them when we see them?    

                          If it is experiential, it cannot be proven - it can only be experienced. The idea is that you can never analytically prove or disprove 'God', 'Soul', 'Heaven', but you can convince yourself of the validity (or otherwise) of these concepts only by actually acting in a prescribed manner. Just as no matter how many times you tell me 'that beer felt great', I can never prove or disprove it until I open up a can and pour it into my mouth.

                          That's the point. Science, because of our shared physical reality, IS something we can share. Given the proper training, data, and equipment, I could replicate everything you have done in your field and you mine. We can base a common understanding of the world around that shared experience. Religious epiphany is simply something we cannot share, yet many, many, many presume to build entire societies, with all their norms, rules, and petty oppressions around some unshared, mystical experience that claims a power over all of physical reality that can never be verified or replicated.

                          Suppose, for instance, that I say that 'God tells me that homosexuals' are evil and must be destroyed. Or that 'pedophilia is good and must engaged in.' How can you judge my position to be wrong? Or right? Or anything?

                          So, turning your question back on you:

                          So, what is wrong in accepting a homosexuality as evil or pedophilia as good as a postulate whose proof can only be found (if it exists) by following a religion for many years?

                          But, what do I know? I'm not a real scientist. :-)

                          Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                          by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:56:18 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  two things (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Benito

                            ' That 'life exists out there' is something we can test for - we can go see.

                            Really?  Seriously?  We can exhaust the entire Universe and 'go see'?

                            Can we even exhaust our little corner of our galaxy looking exhaustively for life before the sun burns out?

                            Suppose, for instance, that I say that 'God tells me that homosexuals' are evil and must be destroyed. Or that 'pedophilia is good and must engaged in.' How can you judge my position to be wrong? Or right? Or anything?

                            That depends on what system of government you live under.  In a Democracy, you judge good and evil by a well accepted majority or on the basis of principles that are universally accepted - such as  'thou shalt not harm another without just cause and if you do, thou shalt have your ass dragged to the nearest court and thy act shall be judged by a jury of your peers. If thou should be found guilty , why then, thy ass shall be locked away in a penitentiary - where thou shall be penitent to thy God for a very long time'.

                            If your God tells me that homosexuals must be destroyed, I would remind you that subject to the above, you can do any damn thing you please. Just don't be surprised to see that following your God's commands result in very real consequences. And since the person who does God's work should bear any burden, you can bear the burden of being locked away in prison cheerfully.

                            It is really not very complicated.

                          •  asdf! (0+ / 0-)

                            In a Democracy, you judge good and evil by a well accepted majority or on the basis of principles that are universally accepted

                            Are you seriously claiming that the principles of right and wrong vary according to the type of government one lives under? That's not true on its face. Among other things, the concept of "war crime" would be meaningless.

                            And Benito is right. It's ridiculous and disingenuous to equate the "faith" required to believe in a supported explanation of the possible the "faith" required to believe in the patently impossible.

                          •  patently impossible? (0+ / 0-)

                            what is patently impossible?  that there is a plane of existence outside the one we see here on earth?

                            More 'patently impossible' than this?

                            strongly suggests that spacetime has eleven dimensions,[1] as opposed to the usual three space and one time, but the theory can easily describe universes with four observable spacetime dimensions as well

                            Does anything in this or this look patently impossible?

                            It tries to conciliate the gap between the conception of our universe based on its four observable dimensions with the ten, eleven, or twenty-six dimensions theoretical equations lead to suppose the universe is made with. For this purpose it is assumed the extra dimensions are "wrapped" up on themselves, or "curled" up on Calabi-Yau spaces, or on orbifolds.

                            Some say reality is constituted of twenty-five principles, some of twenty-six. Some say It consists of thirty-one categories, there are even some who believe they are infinite!

                            Do you see a lot of difference between the above two quotes in the degree of 'patent impossibility'

                          •  Argument from personal incredulity (0+ / 0-)

                            "Plane of existence" - that's such a vague term that you can't really discuss it. String theory is a work in progress, and when done, will make repeatable and measurable predictions about the universe.

                            On the other hand, religion proposes impossible things. Crystals do not have aurus. A man cannot walk on water. And the Red Sea will not part, even if you shake a mighty stick at it and pray really hard.

                            When I say impossible, I mean "impossible according to science." Before you jump on that: how else, besides science, do we know about the world, and how else can we accurately make predictions?

                          •  rejoinder (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            adrianrf

                            We can exhaust the entire Universe and 'go see'?

                            Can we poll every person in the world? Or fully document every species on Earth? No. We can take what we believe to be a representative sample and go from there. Is it 'perfect'? No. But, it is far more scientific an endeavor than attempting to 'find God' - how do you take a 'representative sample' of the divine?

                            Just don't be surprised to see that following your God's commands result in very real consequences. And since the person who does God's work should bear any burden, you can bear the burden of being locked away in prison cheerfully.

                            How exactly have those abusing religion faced social consequences? Is it not taboo to criticize religion and faith? Aren't critics of faith instantly labeled as 'haters' by many unreceptive of the criticism? How many, to this day, still defend the Catholic Church for protecting pedophiles? How many accept bigotry against homosexuals because its in the good book? African-American slavery and Jim Crow segregation in this country was in no small way justified by recourse to the Bible. Religion is fundamentally about the social order - and social orders, by definition - create the consequences of action... and are rarely affected by them.  

                            Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                            by Benito on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:41:00 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  um, no (0+ / 0-)

                            Comparing SETI to a poll of who you are going to vote for is a complete misreading of statistical techniques and what they mean.

                            You answer your own question:  How do you take a 'representative sample of the divine'?  

                            You don't.  You can't.

                            You have to want to look at each definition of the Divine and investigate it independently - if you so choose to.

                            Is it not taboo to criticize religion and faith? Aren't critics of faith instantly labeled as 'haters' by many unreceptive of the criticism? How many, to this day, still defend the Catholic Church for protecting pedophiles?

                            Taboo? here in this country? Has PZ Myers come to a bad end when I was not noticing?  Has Dawkins? Hitchens?

                            As for being labeled something, should I worry that Limbaugh and a goodly portion of his listeners call  me an Econazi?

                            If the Catholic churches are protecting pedophiles and law enforcement is not acting on it, then shame on law enforcement.  When asses belong in jail, it is the sworn duty of prosecutors to put those asses in jail. Why blame catholicism for what some of its proponents do that has nothing to do with Catholicism?  Is pedophilia somehow sanctioned in Catholicism that people want to adhere to and follow?  If so, they should do so with the full knowledge that they could end up in jail.

                          •  ok you win (0+ / 0-)

                            I give up. :-) (But.. isn't SETI just sampling a very, very, very, very, very ...VERY small portion of what is out there? They may never find anything, but that doesn't make what they're doing unscientific.)

                            And you're not an econazi. Limbaugh reserves the 'Nazi' ending for feminists doesn't he? Ecodemon, maybe.

                            Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                            by Benito on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 01:53:36 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  there is no 'win' or 'lose' (0+ / 0-)

                            in this matter - it is all very personal and individual.

                            What I was arguing for is 'live and let live' - atheists should avoid painting all religious people as extremists and irrational.  I was also pointing out that what we often deride as 'blind faith' is far more prevalent in our daily lives than we think.

                            BTW... what we are doing in SETI is scientific all right - it just isn't statistical sampling.

                    •  That's borders on being just silly ... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      adrianrf

                      You get born. You are somehow kept isolated from religious propaganda. Is there any possibility whatsoever that you could imagine the Bible, let alone deduce (or induce) it from empirical reality.  Pretty much no.

                      Science and technology have evolved and grown, yes, largely from observation of the real world, and not from relying upon blind faith in things.

                      Christianity, however, as well as a great number of other religions are based on "revelation" and accepted on faith.  You cannot test any of it except by believing, buying into it, and then dying.

                      There is no similarity of method.  It may be true that certain practices deliver peace of mind, but that is not the ostensible purpose of those practices, they were not empirically adopted because of the evidence that they created peace of mind.

                      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                      by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:25:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  To paraphrase Reagan (0+ / 0-)


                        Science is trusting something that is verifiable, whereas faith is trusting in something that can never be verified.

                        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                        by Benito on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 09:41:17 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  That is a path fraught with traps (0+ / 0-)

                        You get born. You are somehow kept isolated from religious propaganda. Is there any possibility whatsoever that you could imagine the Bible, let alone deduce (or induce) it from empirical reality.  Pretty much no.

                        How about this then:

                        You get born. You are somehow kept isolated from religious propaganda maps etc. Is there any possibility whatsoever that you could imagine the Bible existence of New York City, let alone deduce (or induce) it from empirical reality.  Pretty much no.

                        Ergo, New York City cannot exist if you were born on an isolated pacific island.

                        It may be true that certain practices deliver peace of mind, but that is not the ostensible purpose of those practices, they were not empirically adopted because of the evidence that they created peace of mind.

                        which can easily morph into:

                        It may be true that certain practices drug uses deliver peace of mind a high, but that is not the ostensible purpose of those practices, they were not empirically adopted because of the evidence that they created peace of mind a high.

                        So why do people use drugs to get high? And how do they know - before using the drug for the first time that it will result in a 'high'?  

                        •  Methinks you missed the context here - (0+ / 0-)

                          The discussion here is about methodology and the statement that the methodologies of science and religion are similar.

                          I didn't say the Bible/Biblical story only that one couldn't deduce or induce it from empirical reality.  No amount of scientifically studying nature will lead to the decision that God Spoke to Moses, etc.

                          The bit about drug use appears to be a non-sequitur and factually wrong. I fail to see any parallel or point.  The original author contended that certain religious practices were, in essence, empirical because they were found, over ages of practice, to bring a sense of peace of mind.  That would be empirical solely if they were adopted to generate said peace of mind, not if they were adopted to commune with god.

                          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                          by enhydra lutris on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:38:36 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

            •  "we"? Here we go again with general pronouns (3+ / 0-)

              I am one who can say unapologetically that when I have no answers for why someething happens, I don't look to something that I don't think exists and try to find one in the absence.

              Some people most certainly do - but keep in mind that I can spend the next sixteen hours telling you about things that used to be beyond the grasp of human knowledge that are now commonly accepted things we undertsand and use to our advantage.

              now - if we had gotten comfortable with the idea that anything we did not understand as long as we could find a non-answer in thinking God did it, how much do you wish to admit we would have surrendered?

              One can set the benchmark for being comfortable with faith over lack thereof anywhere you like throughout the timeline of human civilization, and I'm quite proud that some of us still haven't surrendered yet.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:50:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Correction: People looking to hijack any thought (6+ / 0-)

          will generally find an easy target for followers in a community that places faith over reason and critical thinking.

          It's not the faith that is hijacked, it's the faithful who are easily hijacked because of their lack of curiosity.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:45:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Faith is not hijacked by (0+ / 0-)

          those seeking power.  It is, instead, fomented and inculcated by those seeking power.  It does not arise in a vacuum.

          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

          by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:45:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  technically... (26+ / 0-)

        A church is an organized religion, a sect is a splinter that splits off from a church, and a cult is an original religious movement that has not formed a church but is not a sect.  

        As we use the term around here, a cult is an organization that exercises totalistic control over its members (a telltale sign is, not allowing them communication with the outside world), and uses coercive measures to prevent them leaving.  

        There's a very simple legal remedy for this kind of thing: the absolute requirement that individuals be allowed to communicate freely with the outside world, and specifically with law enforcement, and with some kind of agency or private-sector organization whose purpose is oversight over such things.  

        For example, you want to set up a juvenile treatment center of some kind?  OK, by law you have to have a telephone in there that can be used to place calls to local and federal law enforcement, the media, and the oversight organizations.  And the inmates have to have access to that phone without restriction or any threat of retaliation for using it.  

        If the kids try to organize a "coup" by reporting non-existent abuses and the place gets raided on false pretenses, the facts will come out pretty quickly and the management won't be put up on charges.

        But if the raid discovers abuses, then wham! the full force of the law comes down on the place, its owners, managers, and so on.  

        •  Pulling out my desk copy of the... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snakelass, monkee, Quicklund

          ...American Heritage Dictionary, the first definition of cult listed is:

          "A system of religious worship and ritual".

          The word has been sullied in effort to create a label to delegitimize some belief systems, but the word itself unblemished by our use does not in and of itself mean anything other than a synonym for a religion.  Cult has been taken to reference negatively, but think of related words.  Etymologically speaking, cult is connected to words like culture and cultivate, both of which generally viewed as positive and both of which are derived from cult as a root.  Cult itself is derived from a word that means "to till".  In the metaphorical reference that gave rise to the word as reference to religion, that tilling could either be seen as the religious participant being that which is tilled by the objects of their worship or the participant being the one doing the tilling with their various religiously motivated acts being the tilling.  Think of the reference to a tree bearing fruit as one of the many Christian metaphors for a Christian and the result of their actions.

          •  in comparative religion... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the term is used as I've described it.  General-usage dictionaries aren't particularly intended for getting at those kinds of technical definitions.

            •  And "comparative religion" is? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              adrianrf

              If they want a special word, why don't they create one, instead of abusing an existing one?  In everyday parlance, there isn't much difference between cult and sect, and that is probably just as close to the mark.

              I once heard some deprogrammers and cops babbling about what constitutes a cult, and, as near as I could tell, they perfectly described the Catholic church.  They must be the experts, because they go after them, right?

              "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

              by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:31:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  All religion may be a cult (32+ / 0-)

        but having been a Catholic:

        Nobody ever demanded 10% of my income be 'donated' to the church.

        Friends and family didn't stop talking to me when I refused to attend mass anymore.

        The priest never demanded that I contribute money to things like banning gay marriage in Califnornia under the ballot initiative, Prop 8...though I know those assholes at the Knights of Columbus did!

        I haven't attended service in almost 10 years, but I know I--and whomever chose to accompany me--could walk into any church tomorrow and attend Mass...can't walk into a Mormon temple unless you're a Mormon. Scary shit? You bet!

        •  And not just any Mormon, either. (9+ / 0-)

          You have to have a Temple Recommend to get into the temple. Then all you get to do is baptize the dead and such.

        •  But that's how it was for centuries. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snakelass

          They've just lost their edge and relaxed their standards in an effort to stay relevant in the modern world.

          Unfortunately there are still plenty of "lost souls" that fall victim to Mormon and other Cults.

          I am a liberal - I question authority, ALL authority.

          by Pescadero Bill on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:48:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Okay... (8+ / 0-)

          this diary is about child abuse by a religious-based organization. You're not seriously suggesting the Catholic Church stands on some moral high ground on this issue, are you?

          •  Ummmmmmmmmm....I hardly think (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snakelass, esquimaux, Pris from LA

            I spoke in glowing terms of the Catholic Church, but I didn't feel I needed to rehash the fact that it knew about the child abuse and moved diddlers around in an effort to keep them safe from prosecution. Is that what you wanted to hear? I thought it went without saying.

            •  No, I was (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, snakelass, Pris from LA

              thinking more of the widespread child abuse found at their schools over the years, particularly at Indian Schools.

              In light of that, I find a comparison of differing rules about attendance and participation between churches to be irrelevant. Both have similar real-world problems far exceeding their petty doctrinal differences.

              Any organization with an explicit moral hierarchy is a rich breeding ground for abuse and cover-up. And for the record, I am not arguing secular institutions are immune-- mental institutions, where people are divided into the "sane" and "insane," are good examples of that.

        •  Um...come on over to my Catholic family (8+ / 0-)

          and lets have a discussion about the 10%, whether or not you can take communion and still vote Democratic, and - nevermind prop8 - they're gunning for a US Constitutional Amendment to make Prop 8 the law of the land for all of us.

          So I'm not sure what angle you're on trying to suggest that Catholics are more tolerant of issues.

          We had a "war on pornography" in this town that made Mothers Against Drunk Drivers jealous that the white ribbons outnumbered their red ones.

          I think your problem may be in the ten year absence. Try again and you'll find out that we're about twelve minutes from a new Crusade.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:43:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Individual Catholics vary as much... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snakelass, Pris from LA

            ...as individual Protestants, individual agnostics, individual atheists, etc.

            Institutionally, the Roman Catholic Church is much more open than the Latter-Day Saints.  That isn't to say that they're perfect, but it is to say that I can walk into a Roman Catholic mass without an invitation.  It is to say that if I am a Roman Catholic, they won't audit me to see if I'm giving 10% of my income.  And my father, who grew up Roman Catholic before converting to Protestantism in his twenties, is still very much welcome among his Roman Catholic family and at the church he used to attend.

            Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

            by mistersite on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:36:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just for the record... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Donkey Hotey, ludlow

              Anyone can walk into a Sunday LDS church service without an invitation (temples are a different story, but they don't hold regular church services there; in fact, they are closed on Sundays).  

              The LDS church does keep records on how much a member contributes, but officially it's up to the member to declare whether or not he/she is a full tithe payer.  "Auditing," in the sense you seem to be implying, is not the practice. I stopped paying tithing years before I stopped going to church and no one asked me anything about it.  Are there horror stories to the contrary?  I'm sure there are, but I don't believe that's the common experience.

              Also, the notion that Mormon families routinely reject children that leave the faith, or are gay, etc. is simply not true.  Of course it happens much more than it should.  But my family still loves and includes me and my gay cousin in all family gatherings.  In fact, I can't think of anyone that I know personally who has been rejected by their families for leaving the church (made uncomfortable by disappointment, sure, but in no way shunned)...and I know lots of post-Mormons.  

              Is the Catholic Church more open than the LDS?  No doubt.  And there are certainly lots of legitimate things to criticize about the Mormons and especially how they've handled Prop 8, but DKos diarists/commenters have, in general, gone too far in portraying the LDS Church as uber controlling, hateful, and cult-like.  

              As others have said, we're painting the religion and its members with too broad a brush.  

          •  I don't take the Catholic Church seriously (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mumon, mrkvica, snakelass, snafubar

            anymore...and actually laugh at those who do! A priest telling me how to vote is as ridiculous as one telling me how I should have sex with my wife...well, I mean if I wasn't gay and actually had one.

            Years ago, however, I had a Jesuit priest tell me that I needed to vote according to how the Vatican instructed...I told him, that would be fine, as long as he, his church and the Vatican started paying taxes. He toodled off without a word...no doubt to a playground!

            •  Maybe you don't, but you'll notice the Catholics (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sternsieger, Mr Horrible

              do. And like the main thrust of this diary, those people who take themselves too seriously start seeing demons around every corner if they're not the dominant force they used to be and so many followers are leaving the flock.

              I think the fanaticiscm and cries of oppression by Christians in general in this country is a reflection of declining membership in the church and the increasing influence of secularism.

              So becaue they dont rule everything in the world anymore, they think they're victims.

              How ironic.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:14:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  You are not starting an argument - just revealing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        UU VIEW, Lujane

        your ignorance.

      •  well (6+ / 0-)

        no one has asked me to surrender my freedom of thought for blind faith and allegiance.

        yay Episcopalians--we encourage questions and do not demonize doubts.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
        We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 16 days!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:44:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have told my Presbyterian pastor (4+ / 0-)

          about many of my doubts and unorthodox beliefs. I have asked questions of her (yes, HER) that would have been considered blasphemous at my old fundamentalist Southern Baptist church. I have even taken issue with sermons that she and the other pastor have preached. She has welcomed all questions and even criticisms with nothing but love, understanding, and even encouragement. She has even thanked me for some of my criticisms, saying that it makes her think about things in different ways. We don't check our brains in at the door when we enter our church. That's why I love it. :)

        •  And the Glass House Award goes to.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TrueBlueMajority

          http://www.chron.com/...

          Abuse lawsuit cites Episcopal church, school
          County man tells of alleged sexual assault by a coach when he was a boy

          The suit, filed in state district court late Wednesday, states that officials with Holy Spirit Episcopal School and the diocese did nothing even though they had received complaints that the former boys athletic director and coach had inappropriately touched students and sent them sexually suggestive text messages.

          http://episcopalchurch.typepad.com/...

          Episcopal schools
          Anglican school's former students tell of brainwashing, abuse
          Bishop begins inquiry involving Grenville Christian College
          Neco Cockburn
          The Ottawa Citizen
          September 08, 2007

          An Anglican bishop has begun meeting with people as part of an inquiry into allegations of abusive practices at a Brockville-area private religious school that shut its doors earlier this summer.

          Grenville Christian College has faced numerous allegations since it closed at the end of July after citing changing demographics, declining enrolment and increasing operating costs.

          Former students have flooded websites and told media of allegations including physical and psychological abuse.

          •  i never said the Episcopal Church was perfect (3+ / 0-)

            any institution involving human beings is also going to contain people with the worst of human behaviors.

            all I said was that being an Episcopalian does not require me to surrender my freedom of thought or offer blind faith and allegiance, because it is a denomination that encourages questions and does not demonize doubts.

            and i stand by that.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
            We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 16 days!

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:05:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And I am sure that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mofembot

              most Mormons in the LDS church would say they haven't surrendered freedom of thought or offered blind allegiance either.  

              Nor would they say they condone abuse in the name of their religion. Yet the staff of the Utah Boys Ranch used the cover and authority of their religion to abusive ends, just as Episcopalian school staff shown above did. The small religious differences between the two groups made no real-world difference.

              •  I wouldn't be so sure if I were you (3+ / 0-)

                the LDS people I know are aware that they belong to a fundamentalist religion.  They know there is a long list of things they are never ever supposed to question.  I have no such list.  They know they can be excommunicated for doing/saying the wrong thing or holding the wrong views.  I have no such fears.

                and, as I think you know, child abuse is a universal evil.  there are plenty of secular schools using authority improperly to engage in child abuse.  Plus, children were not sent to the Episcopal School in the first place for "doing something wrong" or for acting in ways contrary to the faith.

                So to say that religion is the connecting factor between the Episcopal school and the Mormon boot camp is just odd.

                Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
                We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 15 days!

                by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:57:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  fyi - episcopal church USA is NOT anglican (0+ / 0-)

            and we're fighting our own internal struggle with the fundies in our midst.  The church body hoped that we could stay in communion and agree to disagree, but apparently, they're not willing to associate with us.  

            THIS is the brand of anglican that we're NOT about.

            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:28:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry if you didn't hear it, but it most (2+ / 0-)

          certainly was in the charter.

          Now...if you're for the most part comfortably within the boundaries of what is required of the church, or you are not so bold as to ask where those boundaries are, then chances are good that you haven't had one of these feet-to-the-fire moments that inspire guys like me and others.

          Experiment a little...push some boundaries...test some waters, friend, and you will find out in a big hurry that you may not have known you've surrendered - but there's a lot that you have presumed to surrender as long as you don't bring it up.

          Fair enough?

          Wasn't Gene Robinson an Episcopalian? Isn't that a branch of the Anglican church? Lets talk about surrender...because when he didn't and his congregation behind him, the entire Anglican communion tried to cut him out.

          Or was that another Episcopalean denomination....

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:39:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  +Gene Robinson is still an Episcopalian (3+ / 0-)

            The "entire" Anglican communion did not try to cut him out.

            The overwhelming majority of the Episcopal Church is behind him.  The breakaway parishes who are opposed to the ordained ministry of gay people and women do not represent the entire church.

            Now I will concede that the worldwide Anglican communion is pretty upset, because many (but not all) of the African bishops have a backwards attitude about homosexuality, and women too for that matter.

            I don't know what you mean by "it most certainly was in the charter."  what charter?  something tells me you don't know as much about my church as you think you do?

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
            We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 16 days!

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:12:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Upset? (0+ / 0-)

              That's a whole lot of angst to make the cover of Time Magazine and carry the news of the day for as long as it did to be just being "upset"

              Or is it just a guy who doesn't know as much about your religion as he thinks he does remarking that I don't have to know what the fight was about to know that it was anything but a polite disagreement amongst friends.

              And more to my point, as an atheist, my larger thrust is that every single body who claims to speak with one voice and act like they are aligned against all foes outside the group - will inevitably find their own internecine battles that will divide them further and further down to even members of a family.

              I find it hard to take seriously then when religious people in general (not you in particular) start talking about Atheists with the kind of derision and contempt that they do, because left alone to boil down the finer points of any argument, any coherent group will look just as ugly on their own.

              You aren't really going to try to tell me that my comment was outside the spirit of what happened with Gene Robinson, are you? Like I am the one making something out of it when there was nothing?

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:21:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  it is more than "upset" but you're still (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                snafubar

                not correct.  If you'd like to learn more about what this schism is (and it is fascinating, and much more complex than anything I can write in a blog comment), let me direct you to what our presiding Bishop (Katharine Jefferts Schori) said after the last meeting on the schism issue (homosexuality):

                We have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well.

                "The differences between us" refers to US (the Episcopal Church USA) and THEM (some members of the rest of the Anglican communion, as well as some seceding members within the Episcopal Church USA).  She cautions patience but is NOT giving in.

                You can read more about Bishop Jefferts-Schori
                here.   Can you find ANY similarities to the LDS church?  I'd love to hear them.

                You can choose to tar all people of faith with the same brush, or you can actually consider that there are people - scientists, philosophers, lgbt and straight - who can THINK and BELIEVE and not be fanatical about it.

                Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:44:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I see that you are defending this from a personal (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mr Horrible

                  point of view, and that's the unfortunate common thread amongst all the people who have engaged with me today.

                  I have begun to accept it is actually not possible at all to ask a person with strong faith to see the world from any other point of view.

                  I've read about Jefferts-Schori, and I applaud her diplomatic skills and her efforts to keep the schism from becoming a historical event.

                  But will you come with me on one thought?

                  Don't you find it ironic that you're out trying to explain the complex nuance in the Episcopal church, while others are out trying to explain their nuanced arguments about the LDS church, and I've managed to miss any real participation from the Catholics today but can relate a day-long story about what has happened in my family with Catholics - -

                  and what do all of them in common?

                  Faith.

                  Faith, which allows an individual to see his thoughts as divine and delivered directly from the creator and therefore beyond reproach - at the same time denying the same divine spirit in other denominations, sects, and relions that far outnumber them who all feel exactly the same way.

                  And I fell into this stew because from where I sit, it's rather ironic. I have issues with all the groups, rather than one against the rest, and somehow I turn out to be the mutual target of the entire crowd, who will put down their battle of the day with their standard foe in order to address the REAL evil one in this story - the guy who believes in nothing.

                  And I"m not a nihilist.

                  It's funny to me how I often manage to bring together groups who were fighting amongst themselves only moments before so that they can join with each other and fight me.

                  That's why faith is such a toxic idea to me - because for all the claim that everyone is entitled to their own supreme ideas, it's bizarre to sit outside and watch the group objectively and realize that they all silently think each other is full of shit, but the one thing that they can all agree on is that the real evil is the one who isn't in league with any of them.

                  George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                  by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:25:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I actually agree with a lot of what you write (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    snafubar, ContraFlo

                    Mostly, I wanted to set the record straight on what the Episcopal Church is and is not (it is nothing more than a VERSION of Anglicanism that arose in our unique country) and what the nature of the schism is.  I'm ready for it to be over, so that my church can resume blessing same-sex unions (since same-sex marriage is not legal here yet)

                    Let me direct you to another comment I just wrote in response to another - perhaps that will help you see my point of view.  It is here.  It looks like we aren't all that far apart from each other in a lot of ways.

                    It's funny to me how I often manage to bring together groups who were fighting amongst themselves only moments before so that they can join with each other and fight me.

                    Me, too!  What do fundies and (some) atheists have in common?  Neither can stand my beliefs.

                    Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                    by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:45:27 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I just want to throw one more component (2+ / 0-)

                      into this that may help explain why I'm so raw.

                      One of the things that most American faiths have in common is that they have lots to say about sex. Mostly about how not to have it, who not to have it with, how to keep it quiet when you have it, how not to be seen when it's happening - in other words, sex is essential for the perpetuance of the species, but it's supposed to happen in the dark and be beyond sight and consideration of all.

                      Meanwhile, we have this one common thread amongst Christians (and Muslims, but that's really far athread) that one particular kind of sex is supposed to define a person completely to the point of exclusion from all groups.

                      Got that?

                      It seems a little perverse to me that if sex is so taboo in religions, how did it come to be that a persons entire worth to society can be judged solely and without redeeming factors or extenuating circumstances.

                      So here we are with Prop 8, and the threatened Constitutional ammendment. People can have a job, pay taxes, serve their society to whatever degree society needs - but upon learning that this person has engaged in an act that scarcely anyone, if anyone, can even prove ever happened - the entireity of their contribution to society can be erased, condemned and forgotten.

                      Now - I would like to submit to any of the mainstream churches in this country, that if we were to summarily judge each person literally in a court of law the way they judge homosexuals then there would be about 14,000 people left who were considered "real Americans".

                      I've simply snapped over a group of people who demand civil rights when they were the oppressed group and still call the cops if anyone dares to keep them from getting what they want in the pursuit of happiness, and there they stand as a surreal example of why the laws are needed in the first place demanding that civil rights be denied to someone else.

                      I often think that the best reason to believe that there is no god is to realize that if "H"is judgment were anywhere near as severe as the believers insist that it is, most of the Christians would be struck by lightning about twice a day.

                      One mans (apparently rare minority) opinion.

                      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:59:57 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Do you know the NPR feature called (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Mumon, snafubar

                        "This I Believe"?   Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller fame) did a great installment about why his atheism makes him a better person.  You should look for the podcast of it - I happened to agree!

                        I agree with your assessment that many religions spend FAR too much time on sex and sexuality.  

                        For something completely different, my own Rector (sort of the head priest of our parish) said recently that she doesn't like to marry couples who haven't lived together first.  So, not all religious people are the same - there is a great variety, and the bad are AWFUL, while the good can be sublime.

                        I do value your input, and I have enjoyed having this conversation with you - so thank you for hanging in there with me.

                        Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

                        by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:20:07 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Thank you so much for that simple (0+ / 0-)

                          acknowledgment.

                          Some days I leave this place looking for all the flesh that has been flayed from my bones - and this amongst the group that is supposedly on the same team (as opposed to the ones I know wish awful things to happen to me.)

                          Keep the faith. :)

                          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:45:47 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

          •  Gene Robinson IS a Bishop in the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ContraFlo

            Episcopal Church USA.  Those who can't stand that fact are still welcome to stay in communion with the body of the Episcopal Church USA, but many of them are choosing to align with Anglican bodies outside of the Episcopal Church.

            There might be something about my religion that you don't know, hm?

            Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

            by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:31:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Amen, sister (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ContraFlo

          "Christ died to take away our sins, not our minds."  That poster is hanging in the library of  my church, where I'm welcome to attend on my agnostic days just as much as on my most faith-filled days.

          Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

          by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:26:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  relevant quotes (9+ / 0-)

        "A one sentence definition of mythology? "Mythology" is what we call someone else's religion."
        -- Joseph Campbell

        "A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes."
        --James Feibleman, "Understanding Philosophy", 1973

        The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

        by NCrefugee on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:19:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've never understood why (4+ / 0-)

        I I would want to belong to a group of people professing the same bunch of beliefs as each other. I don't know anyone who I share a majority of my beliefs with. Check my sig, and think about it. I'll stand alone, thank you. "We are all individuals!" - MP

        My relationship with God is defined not by religion and ritual, but by attitude and action.

        by World Citizen on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:21:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. I was always bemused (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        howd, mrkvica, farbuska

        how Catholics I know call Mormons a cult, they call Jehovah Witnesses a cult, then some fundy Protestants call Catholcism a cult, and some fundy Protestant sects call other fundy Protestant sects a cult.  

      •  Generalization I just wrote about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, UU VIEW, happymisanthropy

        I just complained about this kind of generalization upstream.

        I won't troll-rate you for it or start a flame war. Your comments are ignorant, but they spring partly from the fact that the noisy "Christians" are the ones who grab the attention.

        Q: What religion is not a cult?

        A: Most.

        The whole idea of surrendering one's freedom of thought for blind faith and allegiance is common amongst all religions

        No, it's not. I have attended services in many churches in several different denominations including Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran and UU. This was not a feature of any of them. I suspect you are generalizing from either a limited sample or no sample at all, just stuff you make up in your head.

        If there is any common value espoused by the left-blog community, it is to be reality based, and not consider "stuff I make up in my head" to be data.

      •  Good idea! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, phonegery, happymisanthropy

        Let's hijack the thread rather than think of some ideas to fix the problem.  The power of the progressive movement lies in "playing" games while children are abused.

        Nice

      •  I agree with you. Unless people admit doubts (0+ / 0-)

        and that their religion is a path for personal peace and ritual and tradition, it's ok. But when it is  about certainty, then it becomes a cult.

      •  sigh. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney

        I don't want to get into a fight about it, but what you describe is the exact opposite of my own religious community (Unitarian Universalist).  If UUs and Mormons are both cults, then the word doesn't mean a damn thing.

        Civil marriage is a civil right.

        by UU VIEW on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:20:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There are other books (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah, phonegery

      I have read where very similar tactics were used in Christian "reform" schools.

      There are bagels in the fridge

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:52:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  bigot n/t (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      ChemBob

      "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010 or 2012."
      -Yes On 8 co-manager

      by jethropalerobber on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:47:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As near as I can tell, (0+ / 0-)

      the only vaguely universal meaning for "cult" is "a religious sect that the speaker/writer disapproves of".

      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

      by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:42:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Religion to the rescue! (13+ / 0-)

    If by rescue you mean torture, slavery, child abuse, terror, etc.  As a non-believer I always try to be dipomatic and say, "religion is good for the individual but not an organization".  The problem seems to be that too many individuals get organized.

    I was not put on this earth to listen to meat! - Master Shake

    by MKHector on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:41:57 AM PST

    •  Don't hold back. Let it all out: I am an atheist (17+ / 0-)

      Non-believer is such a weak word if you really don't believe.

      I don't like being defined as a "non-smoker" simply because I don't engage in something galactically stupid. I should not be defined by what I abstain from.

      I choose to define myself as a free-thinker, which excludes any chance I'll start smoking or join a church. But if you want to take a stand - and truly lend some needed weight to the frame of mind you appear to be in support of -

      just say you're an atheist.

      Come on. Say it. Be proud of it.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:59:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Atheist" means the same thing (15+ / 0-)

        A-theist = not a theist. It's still a negative statement of what you're not. Better to say "free-thinker", "realist", "humanist", etc. which says what you do believe in rather than what you don't.

        "I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the Planet Earth."

        by lesliet on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:31:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Penn Jillette (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Black Leather Rain

          of Penn and Teller fame did a contribution to the NPR "What I believe" series along those lines. He tried to capture his beliefs with a word stronger than "atheism", said much the same thing you're saying about it being a negative rather than positive definition.

          Unfortunately, I can't remember what words he did end up using but maybe somebody has the book where the essay was collected, or has a link.

          •  "Agnostic" (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, RebeccaG, phonegery

            is my preferred term.  I find it more scientifically accurate and less emotionally invested.

            •  Seconded (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sharoney, Olds88, phonegery

              Athiests, at least the strident versions one encounters on-line, tend to strike me as close-minded and 'fundementalist' as the religionists they love to decry. Agnosticism is the much more interesting mindset, IMHO.

              Facts? Here's a fact: no one knows exactly what 'happens' after death. Human knowledge is vast, yet this question remains open. I suggest that so long as this question remains open, atheism remains a faith-based belief system as well.

              IMHO, life is more interesting when life's open questions are aproached with the agnostic point of view. Enjoy your day, Olds. :)

            •  I'm Actuatlly a Gnostic (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              m3, Mr Horrible

              Gnostic

              I believe the God of Abraham is a fucking dick and no friend of the Christ, the Buddha etc.

              Gnosticism (Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge, or in sanskrit gnana, knowledge) refers to a diverse, syncretistic religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God.

              The demiurge may be depicted as an embodiment of evil, or in other instances as merely imperfect and as benevolent as its inadequacy permits. This demiurge exists alongside another remote and unknowable Supreme Being that embodies good.

              •  Here's the real (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jabney

                Article of Faith

                In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove.
                And from this groove came the groove of all grooves.
                And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldy declared,
                "Let there be HOUSE!"
                and house music was born.
                "I am, you see,
                I am
                the creator, and this is my house!
                And, in my house there is ONLY house music.
                But, I am not so selfish because once you enter my house it then becomes OUR house and OUR house music!"
                And, you see, no one man owns house because house music is a universal language, spoken and understood by all.
                You see, house is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you're deep into the vibe of house.
                House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body.
                And, as I told you before, this is our house and our house music.
                And in every house, you understand, there is a keeper.
                And, in this house, the keeper is Jack.
                Now some of you who might wonder,

                "Who is Jack, and what is it that Jack does?"
                Jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body!
                Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake.
                Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm.
                Jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body.
                Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all Jackers together under one house.
                You may be black, you may be white; you may be Jew or Gentile. It don't make a difference in OUR House.

                And this is fresh.

                For all the abused children, for all those Oppressed.  Know that one day the vibe of righteousness is coming and will transform the beat of the wardrum into the groove of the heart.  That is all.

      •  Belief isn't "galactically stupid", (7+ / 0-)

        until it hampers a view of others or yourself, IMHO.

        People can believe all sorts of things, including creationary forces or divinely inspired writings from hundreds (or, in this case, tens) of years ago.

        Inspiration within your life can come from all sorts of places.

        What was described in this diary's excerpt is the result of cultism (i.e., mind-control techniques which specifically seek to limit physical and mental movement), abuse of governmental power and plain-old abuse.

        It doesn't justify tearing down the walls of a neighbor's faith in something beyond our control when she's grieving for her dead husband, for example.

        We can differ on having beliefs or on beliefs, themselves without being unfair to others or simply being assholes.

        If it wasn't religion, it would be something else to abuse and control other people, essentially.  Religion and faith are easy tools to use improperly by those who desire more power than they deserve over others, it turns out.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:50:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i am a 'secular humanist' (0+ / 0-)

        at least that is what i have been told. maybe they are right. i'll just take it on faith. snort.

        ...where will it tickle you?

        by GANJA on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:32:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Your premise is wrong. There is a god. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        waytac, mrkvica, happymisanthropy

        And it's me.

        But I'm laid back about it.

        Hand me down my walking cane, hand me down my hat...

        by Cheez Whiz on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:27:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know what you mean (0+ / 0-)

        I use the term non-believer because I don't believe.  There are no terms for not believing in fairies or leprechauns or, as Monty Burns would say, the boogerman.  It is not out of fear or lack of conviction.  Saying atheist gives these religions something to argue.  In effect, legitimizing their belief.

        I was not put on this earth to listen to meat! - Master Shake

        by MKHector on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:18:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  at risk of supporting illegal acts... (19+ / 0-)

    First of all, the place needs to be raided by the FBI, with cameras running, and the inmates need to be interviewed, and charges filed against management.  

    If that doesn't happen... then...

    Someone needs to organize to go into that place with full military-grade force, and liberate the inmates.   And then burn it to the ground.

    And what, exactly, do you do with child-abusing torturers?   Charging them with crimes is proper justice.  But if the powers that be won't let that happen?  Frankly I wouldn't object terribly if someone rounded them all up and shot them in cold blood.  

    Zero tolerance for child abuse, no compromises.  Justice one way, or justice some other way. .

    And in case anyone reading this thinks this is a bit extreme, go back and check out the diary on the gang-rape in Richmond CA, where people were suggesting that the rapists should be shot, have their penises chopped off, and so on.  

    Or you can ignore it and turn the proverbial page.  

    •  It Depends (12+ / 0-)

      And what, exactly, do you do with child-abusing torturers?

      First you determine whether or not the torturers are religious.  If so, they're almost certainly doing it for the right reasons, so they're off the hook.  Unless they are Muslim.  Then they are terrorists, and should be bombed.  Yes, we know the bombs might (will) also kill or maim the children we're liberating, but that's not the point.

      •  You nailed that! (6+ / 0-)

        We let anyone off the hook in this country if they are doing things that would be illegal otherwise for "religious reasons".  I am a bit tired of it.  Child abuse is child abuse.  Law enforcement should be enough.  Unless law enforcement in the area shares the same religious views as the abusers and that trumps doing their jobs.  

        Fox news: Even better than meth!

        by get the red out on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:30:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, bullcrap. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney, happymisanthropy

        First you determine whether or not the torturers are religious.  If so, they're almost certainly doing it for the right reasons, so they're off the hook.

        I'd be willing to bet that you'd find a very small proportion of religious people who would sanction the kind of abuses described above as long as they're done in the name of religion.  But, of course, it's much easier to make a generalization and tar a majority of Americans as abuse-enablers than it is to actually look at the complexities of the issue and take an approach that might not place religion as the ultimate evil in the world.

        Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

        by mistersite on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:45:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Buttars-- major political figure.... (4+ / 0-)

    Major political embarrassment, more like. Makes a great subject for Saturday's Voyeur.

    •  Gee, maybe we could burn them at the stake. (3+ / 0-)

      I hear there were communities in the past who used to deliver that kind of justice to those who strayed from the flock because they were sure it was what "G"od wanted....

      Let's run with this idea....

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:56:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  what they deserve, and what should get... (17+ / 0-)

        under law, are two different things.

        Yeah, they deserve to be shot.  Right between the eyes.  

        What they ought to get is, brought up on multiple counts of child abuse and endangerment, and sentenced to the maximum prison terms.

        There's a difference.  

        And the demarcation point is, when you have the suspect in handcuffs and safely bundled into the patrol car.  At that point, civilized justice takes over and prison sentences are the legitimate punishment.  

        But I'll tell you this.  

        If I ever saw someone torturing a child, and there was no way to get them arrested, I'd probably beat them to death with my bare hands and whatever heavy object was nearby.  And if you knew me at all you'd understand that there are few things in this world that would elicit that kind of reaction from me, and all of them belong to the category of "someone is doing violence to a defenseless person (child, elder, disabled, hostage) and there is no way to get them arrested."

        Zero tolerance for child abuse.  No excuses.  

  •  And this is why Religion earns so much contempt (36+ / 0-)

    Sam Harris has been villified by the faithful for his anti-religious and pro-atheist books. But one comment always seems to get lost in the argument, and it's his most powerful one:

    Religions treat themselves as homogeneous on all levels; Evangelicalism means Evangelicalism whether its Rick Warren or Fred Phelps - so although Rick Warren doesn't protest military funerals screaming "God hates fags", from those of us outside the religious community he gets the same contempt and here's why:

    We can't shut down Fred Phelps because, although he's a lunatic outlier with no useful purpose on earth but to make people want to stone one another, it's the overwhelming dominance and inertia of the calmer, mainstream Christian masses that say, "oh, but if you attack Fred Phelps for being a lunatic, you attack all of Christianity"

    That's a completely specious argument (translation: bullshit) but it always remains in religious communities.

    Religions will tolerate the most unthinkable acts by their followers, always insisting that they are the aberrant exceptions that are not reflected in the overall community.

    Meanwhile those same Christians demand that any aberration outside their religion is the exception proves the rule. One atheist run amok means they all burn in Hell.

    And until God writes a new book of the Bible called "HYPOCRISY IS THE ULTIMATE SIN, REPENT" we're all going to have to let religious freaks and criminals wander freely amongst us, while the completely innocuous (but not religious enough) amongst the society are looked upon with suspicion.

    In short, Atheists don't hate religion because we hate religious people per se; we hate religion because it allows really wicked people to get away with a lot of truly unthinkable shit because religious people are so blindly allegiant that they'll accept anything as long as the name "G"od is somewhere in the name.

    If only we could post this at say, FreeRepublic.com and get their reaction....but of course they won't allow such things.

    Maybe Mitt Romney wants to weigh in on this?

    In short, religion poisons everything because religious people never believe there is such a thing called poison within their midst; meanwhile they're burning people at the stake looking for it in everyone else.

    Gotta love that. Cracks me up to think the faithful believe God does....

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:47:56 AM PST

    •  With all due respect, (13+ / 0-)

      this

      we hate religion because it allows really wicked people to get away with a lot of truly unthinkable shit because religious people are so blindly allegiant that they'll accept anything as long as the name "G"od is somewhere in the name.

      is simply not true.  Not only is it not true, it is extremely insulting to the vast majority of "us" Christians.

        •  I am not, nor will I ever be (14+ / 0-)

          blindly allegiant simply because a person or organization uses God's name.  For you to suggest otherwise is very, very insulting.

          •  Are you so vain to think that I'm only allowed to (10+ / 0-)

            make a statement if it holds true for absolutely each and every member of the group?

            It's not about just YOU moondance. There might just be other people out there who I could be referring to and that does not mean that because you exist in contradiction to what I said that I'm not allowed to refer to them.

            This is precisely the point of my screed - if I say
            "christians" someone like you says "well, not me" - but if a Christian says "atheists" -

            well, screw us, right? Because we're all alike,right?  You can tell by the numbers tatooed on our foreheads.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:50:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am confused (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              exactly who is saying 'Screw all atheists'?

              Who has said ' If you attack Fred Phelps you are attacking all of Christianity'?

              If anything, a lot of people may be saying 'All atheists are going to hell', but if you are an atheist and you know there is no such place as hell, why do you care?

              we hate religion because it allows really wicked people to get away with a lot of truly unthinkable shit because religious people are so blindly allegiant that they'll accept anything as long as the name "G"od is somewhere in the name.

              exactly who are these 'religious people' you refer to that are so blindly allegiant? and how is that statement substantively different from the following variant:

              ...because Blacks / Jews / Whites are so blindly allegiant that they'll accept anything as long as the term slavery / anti-semitism / renaissance is somewhere in the name ...

              •  That seems very naive to me. (6+ / 0-)

                Whether or not there exists a heaven or hell is utterly irrelevant to my time here on this temporal earth.

                The apostates and atheists who were burned alive certainly did not go to "hell" in their own mind, but surely you're not denying they they did not suffer greately while alive here on earth, are you?

                I mean - really - have you ever wondered why, if a Christian felt that a sinner would suffer eternity in the fires of Hell that they would need to start the suffering and fire for the short time the sinner was still on Earth?

                ? ? ? ? ?

                See my point? I know my suffering will not be in Hell, but that doesn't change the reality that I have to put up with a crowd of unapologetic, self-righteous, hypocritical assholes who are throwing all this in my face while I'm trying to live the life I was supposedly given opportunity to by a Constitution that claimed no religion should be dictated for me.

                And as such, know I have no fear of burning for all eternity in a place I don't believe in when I die; however that does nothing to change the condemnation, the suspicion, the attacks I receive from those who think I will.

                you have to be able to separate and understand my rants are about the existence of being a citizen in a community, and have nothing to do with the literal or perceived matters of theology that we're all fighting about.

                George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:09:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  but snafubar, (0+ / 0-)

                  it appears there is a big difference between 'believing something' as in 'I believe that there is a heaven and hell and in my view you are going to hell' and acting on it as in 'if you don't accept my view I am going to kill you and personally send you to hell'

                  The former is harmless. The latter is dangerous.

                  Why would you hate the first group of people?  Because they are calling you names based on what they believe?

                  I well understand your point about being a citizen in a community.  But being called names and threatened with dire consequences I don't believe in and no one can possibly verify seems to me to be a weak reason to hate someone.

                  Why would I give them that much power over my own mental tranquility?

                  •  In the beginning (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    FutureNow, cville townie

                    the Nazi's called Jews a host of names.  It always starts with namecalling.  

                    This is a Mind and Thought War, Cynic.  You are way too generous in your assumptions and do not do justice to your chosen name.

                  •  It's just so easy to have this discussion as a (0+ / 0-)

                    rhetorical exercise, and in that frame of mind it does seem a bit silly to be as agitated as I am.

                    On the other hand, when you use the words "acting on it", I'd like to point out that a religious person couched in his religion and the support that gives him within his community does not need to burn me alive at the stake in order to really fuck up my life.

                    If one of your managers invites you over to his house - or shows up at your door, unannounced and uninvited - and starts proselytizing to you -

                    see where I might be going with this?

                    When it comes to finding my own catharsis and tranquility, perhaps you might acknowledge that some people can find it by not staying quiet about what we feel when we feel strongly about it.

                    The day I crawl out of the room because I'm not strong enough to speak up, that's when I'll really be dead.

                    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                    by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:42:39 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Moondance (12+ / 0-)

        you can't win this one. Let it go. Someone this hateful has to use fallacies to rationalize their hate. But because they refuse see it as hate, having convinced themselves it's "reason," is why you can't convince them otherwise. It's intellectual arrogance -- someone who thinks they're right because they think only they can be right. Because you are not them, i.e., don't agree with them, makes you automatically wrong. You can't reason with such a person. Pointing you a fallacy they've made will get it thrown back at you, like iliketodrum did (another fallacy, of course -- simply asserting something is true does not make it true).

        Us Christians have always endured this, from our earliest times. Being "insulted" by someone else's arrogance and misrepresentations of our beliefs and practices should be old hat to us by now. Feel sorry for the genuinely honest and humble atheists -- people who are atheist because they have followed their consciences or a perfectly legitimate belief system, like Buddhism, and not their personal need to hate and feel contempt toward their fellow human beings. People like this give such conscientious people a bad name, especially when they assume they speak for all atheists.

        -8.50, -7.64 "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer." - Camus

        by croyal on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:30:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for the sound advice, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, indyada, Lujane, penny8611

          croyal.  I'm taking a deep breath and stepping away.

        •  Ah, yes... (14+ / 0-)

          Any criticism of Christianity is motivated by hate. I was waiting for that one. Same thing the right says about criticism of Bush.

          But Buddhists are atheists? Try again.

          "All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms labor is treason. -Abraham Lincoln

          by happy camper on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:50:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This describes a lot of religious people I know (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, artmartin, farbuska

          (not all, but a lot)

          It's intellectual arrogance -- someone who thinks they're right because they think only they can be right. Because you are not them, i.e., don't agree with them, makes you automatically wrong. You can't reason with such a person. Pointing you a fallacy they've made will get it thrown back at you, like iliketodrum did (another fallacy, of course -- simply asserting something is true does not make it true).

          The thing that bothers me most about organized religion is the "my god is better than your god" mentality and the "you're all going to hell if you don't believe EXACTLY as we do" mentality.  

          Not saying ALL religious people do it, but there's far too much of it going around.  It is the reason for a lot of absence of peace in this world.

          I don't consider myself an atheist, but I don't believe in what most religious people call "God."  I believe, instead, that all our spirits - both those dwelling in earthly bodies and those that have moved on - are united in a collective of sorts.  I think of it as the Universal Spirit.

          1.20.09 - end of the error Can't come soon enough!

          by Cyber Kat on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:32:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  and why does that bother you? (0+ / 0-)

            The thing that bothers me most about organized religion is the "my god is better than your god" mentality and the "you're all going to hell if you don't believe EXACTLY as we do" mentality.

            I as that question in genuine curiosity with no indication of whether I am religious or not.

            Is it because they act on the 'my god is better...' premise thereby harming others or is it because you just think that is irrational so how can people be that irrational?

            •  Yes... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, moondance

              Is it because they act on the 'my god is better...'

              Partly.

              And partly because it seems so smug to think that your beliefs are superior to someone else's.

              It makes sense I suppose if you think it within your belief system, but if you can step outside your own beliefs and look back, it's a rather insulting (to the other belief system) sentiment.

              Have faith if you want it, but respect other people's beliefs as valid for them.

              1.20.09 - end of the error Can't come soon enough!

              by Cyber Kat on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:54:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Both (6+ / 0-)

              The 'my god is better than your god' can be used to justify any number of evil things.

              And the irrationality is terrifying, at least to me. What if instead of 'God' we were talking about 'Santa Claus'. On its merits, what the difference between believing in one over the other? It seems so arbitrary as to what is or is not believed that it makes religion completely unpredictable. It can do good things, or horrific things.

              That's why I was always more sympathetic to the corporate Republican rather than the religious right. Greed is something I can understand. Greed is predictable. Greed, in its own way, can be reasoned with. Faith? A meth addict flipping a coin is more predictable.  

              Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

              by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:05:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agree (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, Cyber Kat

                The 'my god is better than your god' can be used to justify any number of evil things.

                Can you say the Spanish Inquisition?  The Crusades?  Money is not the root of all evil, ironically and IMHO, religion is part of that equation too.

                And you're right; when it comes to someone who KNOWS they're right about something based on nothing but their own blind faith, no amount of logic or reason will ever disabuse them of it.  That is why faith is so dangerous, how many wars throughout history have been started (and are still being fought) because of incongruous religious beliefs that can neither be proven nor disproven?  Think of Sunni and Shia, how long have they been killing each other over their religious differences?

                As an atheist, I find this all to be about as absurd and futile as I would entire countries going to war and killing each other over which is the better color, green or blue.

                It was crime at the time but the laws, we changed 'em. -The New Pornographers

                by democracy inaction on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:48:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Tribalism (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ppluto, democracy inaction, Cyber Kat

                  As an atheist, I find this all to be about as absurd and futile as I would entire countries going to war and killing each other over which is the better color, green or blue.

                  Or which is better - butter side up or down....

                  The irony is that religion likely originated as a social innovation that allowed strangers to work together and cooperate without violence - to extend to others cooperation and good will that had before only taken place within the tribal community. This is why the story of the Good Samaritan is so powerful and important in Christianity.

                  Unfortunately, the unfalsifiable claims of religion quickly became subverted and controlled by those seeking power and authority over believers. The rest, as they say, is history.

                  Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                  by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:20:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Nit (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    adrianrf

                    "Social innovation" is a term that implies a level of intentional design that couldn't have been present in the early days of religion.

                    It's more likely that religion is an unfortunate byproduct of our cognitive machinery. Imagine a credulous, ignorant, and curious child. He asks one of his parents about lightning. The parent, not knowing any better, creates a story out of whole cloth. Over many children, these stories vary greatly. But some of these stories are memorable enough to be re-told to the next generation. Over many generations, we select for better and better stories.

                    Eventually, the stories become so elaborate or powerful that the child believes them into adulthood. After all, children are credulous. An adult who actually believes one of these stories will be even more inclined to spread it than one who believes the story is an amusing anecdote for children.

                    At this point, we're selecting, over many generations, good stories that leave a lasting impression into adulthood.

                    To a large extent, it doesn't matter whether these stories have a net positive or negative effect on the reproduction of those who believe them. Even if religion is a net negative (which I think likely), preventing its spread would require such drastic changes to the brain that it'd have been advantageous to allow it to persist anyway.

                    In short, religion isn't adaptive, and may in fact be maladaptive, and is just a product of our capacity to learn, our inborn credulity, our capacity for language, and our imagination, all of which are powerful survival tools separately.

                    •  pick (0+ / 0-)

                      "Social innovation" is a term that implies a level of intentional design that couldn't have been present in the early days of religion.

                      Innovation, Evolution, POE-tato, Poe-TATO. But, point taken. Cognition is clearly part of the story. But it's not all of it. We're all biologically capable of violence, for example, but only some societies and people seem to engage in it systematically.

                      To a large extent, it doesn't matter whether these stories have a net positive or negative effect on the reproduction of those who believe them. Even if religion is a net negative (which I think likely), preventing its spread would require such drastic changes to the brain that it'd have been advantageous to allow it to persist anyway.

                      In short, religion isn't adaptive, and may in fact be maladaptive, and is just a product of our capacity to learn, our inborn credulity, our capacity for language, and our imagination, all of which are powerful survival tools separately.  

                      Well...

                      At the individual level some studies in the modern era have shown a relationship between religion and, say healthy and/or productive living. This where, for instance, we get the idea of the Protestant Work Ethic.

                      But, I think the more powerful effect of religion would come at the group/society level where groups and societies are competing against one another for limited space and resources. If religious-based behavioral norms make the society as a whole more cohesive in the face or outside threats then the society may have a competitive advantage.

                      The Arabs peoples are a good example. Before Islam they were just another nomadic, tribal people mostly concerned inter-tribal warfare and petty commerce throughout the Greater Middle East. After Islam and the unification of the Arabian peninsula they became one of the leading Civilizations on Earth. While the Arabs and Arabia MAY have been united without the invention of Islam, clearly Islam greatly facilitated unification and served as an impetus to spread Arab power throughout the Middle East and, indeed, well beyond it.

                      So, the better question is under what conditions is, for a society as a whole, religion or a type of religion adaptive and when is it maladaptive?

                      Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                      by Benito on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 09:24:18 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy

            The thing that bothers me most about organized religion is the "my god is better than your god" mentality and the "you're all going to hell if you don't believe EXACTLY as we do" mentality.  

            How is that any different from the attitude of many atheists on this site: the "if you believe in God you're a fool" mentality and the "this society is going to Hell unless we get rid of religion" mentality?  I have seen both sentiments expressed in numerous places in this very diary.

            Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

            by mistersite on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:51:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, I'd say that narrowmindedness is (0+ / 0-)

              narrowmindedness no matter what the source.

              I like to keep my mental doors and windows open to let in a constant supply of fresh air.  Even the best ideas can get stagnant.  We need to shake then out every so often to see if they are still valid for us.

              I was raised Catholic, but over the years many of my original beliefs no longer seemed to fit with new information and new ideas I'd gathered.  When I realized that I was only going to church because it was an opportunity to sing, I stopped going.

              Many of the big cracks came around September 11, when I came to the conclusion that if there was a god - especially one that commanded, "Thou Shalt not kill" - she couldn't possibly be happy with any one killing in her name.

              As I said before, I have come to the conclusion that all our spirits joined together are what many have come to think of as "god."

              1.20.09 - end of the error Can't come soon enough!

              by Cyber Kat on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:45:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  No, I think you have missed the mark. (6+ / 0-)

          Feel sorry for the genuinely honest and humble atheists -- people who are atheist because they have followed their consciences or a perfectly legitimate belief system, like Buddhism, and not their personal need to hate and feel contempt toward their fellow human beings.

          I am not defending the parent comment to this thread, but I feel that your statement here is a mischaracterization.

          First of all, to assume that you can determine a person's reason for believing what they do is a bit arrogant and ignores any logical chain of causation.

          Has it occurred to you that people who are pushed to this type of anger over religion may have reached this point for reasons other than "personal need to hate and feel contempt toward their fellow human beings"?

          Based on your characterization, it appears not.

          Let's not forget that, despite our freedoms of and from religion in this country, it really is not considered acceptable to be atheist. The majority of Americans are Christians, and the majority of the rest are monotheistic believers of some sort. To openly profess that you do not believe in god can alienate one from his family, friends, and neighbors. This can cause fear and anger that leads us to lash out at those who trivialize our non-faith and question our motives.

          You bring up the fact that Christians have long had their views and beliefs wrongly portrayed, and this is certainly an accurate statement. Unfortunately, your comment here appears hypocritical because it is belittling to those who abstain from religion, at least in my opinion.

          •  Great points (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dejavu, mrkvica, RebeccaG

            I also find it interesting how any Christian in America, where Christianity accounts for the beliefs of upwards of 80% of the general population, can say with a straight face that they're being persecuted.  Because they do.  With a straight face.

            I am an atheist but only a few close friends and my immediate family know, my parents, siblings and extended family don't know.  And I don't plan to tell them because I would be genuinely alienated and shunned and I'm quite sure that one or more of them would feel the need hound me relentlessly about it until I was appropriately "saved".

            That's persecution.  The stuff that some Christians are always whining about that "proves" their persecution, like people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"?  Not so much.

            It was crime at the time but the laws, we changed 'em. -The New Pornographers

            by democracy inaction on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:00:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hubby and I were talking (5+ / 0-)

              about how you have to be in the closet if you are an atheist or agnostic because the "fighting fundies" will be on you to "save your soul" once they find out you are not a christian.

              The only thing worse than being an agnostic or atheist? Being a witch. The christians tell all sorts of lies about my religion, such as I worship satan (don't believe in the dude, he is part of your religion, not mine) and their holy book tells them to kill people like me. Nice... I live in the proverbial "broom closet" except to a select few people who I trust deeply.

              I am not able to wear my pentacle outside of my clothing like you christians can wear your religious jewelry (like a cross). If I take one of my "religious holidays" off of work (such as Samhain), I will get grief and prejudice like nobody's business. (I saw what happened to the last wiccan who tried to take Samhain off... I celebrate after work on that day or call in sick if I need to work that night).

              Really want to feel prosecuted? Can you talk to people about your house of worship? I can't do that. There are still too many christians that are prejudiced against my religion. I can have my children taken away because of my choice of religions, can you christians claim the same thing? Think about the infamous Sarah Palin Pastor thing. Did anyone object that this man was running women out of towns because they "practiced witchcraft", how many instances can you cite that people run christians out of a town because they are "praying for bad things" for the people of a town...

              DO NOT get on the persecution bandwagon with me. Walk in my shoes for a few months and tell me how much you are persecuted for being a christian...

              All my past mistakes and every misspent day - I wouldn't have it any other way... - Less Than Jake - "Gainesville Rock City"

              by Laurie Gator on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:44:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Someone this hateful. Oh, you're precious. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FutureNow, kyril, arrows theorem

          I've been living in a vacuum on the moon all my life, with absolutely no input that could have formed my personality all these years, right? I'ts EVIL that made me this way, and if the person you're talking about is not allowed to explain to you how and why he became so "hateful" then you're probably not going ot learn much about how to stop it.

          Hate is an interesting phrase that self-righteous people throw around with divine blessing.

          I don't hate anyone who is not thrusting a pitcfork in my face. But don't you ever dare to tell me that once it happens I'm not allowed to remember where it came from and be defensive the next time I see one coming.

          Because it seems to be the Christians these days who are out "pre-emptively" attacking things just to make sure they never get attacked.

          Don't feel sorry for me, you arrogant louse. I don't feel sorry for me.

          Perhaps, just perhaps, with a good mirror and a quiet afternoon with the power off, you can stare at yourself and recognize that it the kind of belittling condescension you display in your post that built monsters that you think you see before you.

          And maybe, just maybe, if you choose not to be so arrogant about "those who have followed their conscience"

          How dare you?

          How dare you!

          Are you implying that because I angry that I have no conscience or have not followed it?

          "People like this..."

          You don't have a fucking clue.

          Because it's people who use phrases and gross generalized stereotypes like that who are exactly who I'm talking to.

          Good luck with your program.

          I don't ever, nor did I in this case, claim I speak for all atheists. I speak for me. And it was YOU who assumed that I intended to speak for anyone else.

          Meditate on that. With or without God, but whatever it takes to realize that you just poured gas on a flaming person (one who you think was lunging at you, as well...)

          Incredible. I say "us" and "them" and a bunch of people who pretend to be offended by it prove that they indeed know who "they" and "we" are.

          Priceless.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:59:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And when you say "us" and "them" it's not as (8+ / 0-)

        condescending and contemptuous it is is when you hear it?

        Come on moondance - I'm not the one standing up on a pedestal who claims to know that MY thinking is ultimately superior (and so unquesionably so that it's beyond reproach)

        I am who I am and I expect to be judged on my acts, not on my percieved or implied actions that I personally have not acted on (nor even intended to in many circumstances).

        You didn't grasp anything I wrote - you merely spit out the "It's not true" defense.

        Yes, people who have hidden behind the shroud of God, religion, theology, have indeed committed horrifying things - and if I have to enumerate them and provide links and references, then you're intellectually dishonest.

        Yes, people without faith in God have done horrible things as well, but it is not an automatic cause/effect, which is what I sense coming from the Christian communities.

        It's always the same - every single religious group knows that those within the shelter of their own group are simply not capable of doing evil things. And then when evidence presents itself that it's simply not true, well then that's the exception to the rule.

        Meanwhile, those of us without faith are disparaged universally as being inevitably committed to doing SOMETHING evil, because in the eyes of the faithful we don't have anything to stop us.

        Want proof?

        Have you ever heard any US politician say that without God there is no law, so Gods law must take precedence over secular/civil law? (this is a trick question, because if you say no, I have no intention of furthering an "argument" with someone so dishonest. (Hint: two of them ran for president in 2008)

        And before you take umbrage at anything I say, with phrases like "it's extremely insulting to the vast majority of 'us' Christians".

        Well, isn't that special? And how indignant are you when I'm insulted by a Christian? Do you rush to my defense when people aren't supposed to be insulted, or just when someone on your team is insulted?

        This only further proves my point. This country is divided into "us" and "them" and your condescending objection to me - how dare I divide us like that - only proves that you like to just as much as I do.

        So I'm sleeping fine tonight.

        And I love the little democratic qualifier at the end...it's only extremely offending to "the vast majority" of ....

        as if it were offending to a "mere" majority what I said wouldnt' be so objectionable to you, or does it really have to be a "vast" majority?

        And the minority? Well, who cares about the minority.

        You know when the people in "your" camp keep bragging how they outnumber me 9 to one, I'm really shocked that you all feel so insecure and upset that the one out of ten would have a chance at doing anything to change your world.

        My experience is as valid as the flesh that I'm made of, and to say "it's simply not true" is...

        ..simply not true.

        It was true many times in my life, and to use a biblical parable to prove my point, you can imagine that being outnumbered 10 to one, sometimes 500 to one, I was not the daring soul who "cast the first stone".

        But there's no way I'm ever going to be hit with a stone and sit back and say thank you. I'm going ot throw it back, and someday you and those who are pissed at what I said might recognize that I was not born with this much angst.

        I earned it, much against my will, after many incessant and unapologetic attempts to run me into the ground for merely offering an opinion when it was asked of me ("Do you believe in God?").

        Now - if the rest of the pile-ons here suggest that I'm inviting conflict or I'm some kind of unforgivable prick for being honest enough to say "No." and leave it there, then I will sleep even better.

        There was something about a Golden Rule I was taught as a kid...and the ones who think they deserve so mucvh reverence for being better people than I do, make no apology when they insist that in matters of US law, and social convention, they can treat me any way they want to and if I dare say I'm offended, well then I've somehow attempted to abridge their "freedom of expression".

        Got that? You can all tell me to go to hell, but if I say that causes me grief, then I'm also guilty of oppressing the crowd that outnumbers me.

        Oh, this is a great country indeed.

        Except for so many of the people.

        Come on.

        I can't believe you wrote that last sentence.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:47:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have to agree with you.... (13+ / 0-)

          I spent years trying to just tell people that "I don't go to church" rather then saying I was an atheist. Even my Jewish friends dragged me to Temple! I went to so many different churches, just trying to be "nice" and then when I didn't accept the "truth" I saw there, I was dropped....some friendship. Very hard for a teen to endure. The "cold shoulder" was a powerful incentive to "find" a church. I was even persuaded to go to an Evangelical Revival meeting...and on the way home at 50 mph with my "friends" the Holy Spirit entered every one of them but somehow skipped me. So six were "saved" that night and one was forever "lost". And, no, they don't ever speak to me, saved as they were and I am "witness" to their glory and saving.
          Religion for many is just a "crutch" to feel superior in everything you do without blame for any perceived transgression. Look at Chuck Colson, saved while in prison, or many of those who suddenly "find" the Lord after their homosexuality or pedophila or philandering is exposed. The Lord should not be used as an excuse. Even acceptance of God is a driving force in AA meetings which degenerate into nothing more than testimonials for one being "saved". A "gateway" to religious conversion disguised as a "support" group.
          If the religious would just act according to the teachings and not force them on others and demand that other respect their beliefs while they demean and disrespect the beliefs and non beliefs of others, maybe we'd all have a more pleasant and peaceful society. But since "each one - reach one" is still a major goal, proselytizing will continue to be a driving force in Christianity and so will intolerance.

          •  Best post on the subject. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dejavu, snafubar, Temmoku

            I wish I could state my thoughts as well as you have, Temmoku.

          •  I guess if I had just taken the time to explain (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Temmoku, linkage

            that I've been through similar cycles with baptists in North Carolina, with Evangelicals in Indiana, and Catholics here in Pennsylvania, then I would have had the street cred that everyone here thinks I need to speak so intensely on this subject.

            It just spins my head that the groups who are already in control of this society by virtue of their superior numbers are somehow afraid that they're losing absolute dominance of everything, which and somehow translates to the idea they're being oppressed.

            __________________________

            And the "well if you didn't feel it, there's something wrong with you (you must not be trying hard enough, heathen") you experienced in the car that night....that wakes up a few nights with me personally as well. It's the ice dagger through the heart that does not heal, and once it's there, it only takes a very small pin to open it up again.

            I've often said how perversely ironic it is that the Evangelicals of today have gotten their hooks into government to the degree that they have - imagine our founders who recognized that all souls must be free to have their own faith and founding a democracy so that all would have the freedom to worship their religion without being told by the state what that religion should be; and in only 240 years we've come back around to some people who feel that the law should include their religion to the exclusion to of others.

            Maybe all that global warming is from the heat of Jefferson spinning in his grave.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:55:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  snafubar, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snafubar

          you're reading way too much into my words.  My words were not words of anger, but words from frustration.  I put the word us in quotation marks because you did.  Was I being snarky?  Yes, I was.  Was I throwing it back in your face?  Yes, I was.  Was it a bad call on my part?  Yes, it was.  I also don't understand your judgement of me on this, when you chose pretty much the exact same words (or sentiment).

          Here's the thing that so frustrates me.  Painting with broad strokes.  To me, it's uncool.  

          Should I not be allowed to express my thoughts on the subject?   Or to express my own personal views?  Should I sit down and shut up?

          Of course I know that many have committed horrible atrocities in the name of God.  One would have to live under a rock to think otherwise.

          How do I feel about the Utah Boy's Ranch, as a Christian?   They same way that I, as a survivor of child molestation, as a survivor of date rape as a teenager, and as a person who works with battered women, feel.  

          •  Now we're onto something. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dejavu, moondance

            And I have carried this thread on far too long only to point out that a lot of things are granted special dispensation because they use the word "church" or "religion", and Americans seem to say "Oh, we allow all churches and religions here, that's what makes us so great! Freedom of religion!"

            Meanwhile, some unthinkable things are allowed to happen because they remain sheltered under the heading of religion

            - - and - -

            worse still, we have one group of religious sects and denomination that seem to be saying, "Well our founders did write down in ink that the government does not enforce or condemn any particular religion, but we all know ours is the one they really meant, and the rest of you are really only welcome here if you submit, convert, shut up, or leave".

            Now - maybe my emotions are flowing a bit high - but given the fact that I'm surrounded by people who seem to feel just as intensely as I do but on different points of view, does this whole thread not seem like a poigniant microcosm of what this country and the whole world is dealing with?

            Good is good because it's good, not just because it comes with the right label.

            Bad is bad because it's bad, and it's not less evil because it comes with the right label.

            All I meant to say is that atheists are the only "group" (it's hard to be classified as having in common the fact that we have nothing in common) who sees all of us truly as equal and can be judged this way -

            - and I fear that the labels and the demonization and the demogoguery is growing to the point that some people really do think it would be a good thing if we made it law.

            I don't feel I should apologize for standing up and saying no, and when I see Boy's Ranch as another example of something unthinkable that covered itself in the idea "it's what God wants", my skin cralws, and that's what opened up all this angst.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:09:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The denomination I belong to is (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snafubar

              fairly liberal, although we still have a long way to go.

              From a theological standpoint, I feel that God created us all equal.  We are equal, which is why Prop 8 is unjust, to me.  Even if the fundies want to say it is a religious issue, there are churches that do and will officiate gay marriages.  Why the fundies feel they have a right to tell other churches what to do is beyond me.  They would be wise to want separation of church and state.  If they were to really think about it, since the state(s) doesn't allow churches (or government officials) to officiate gay marriages, then fundies themselves might end up in a position where the state doesn't allow them to practice their faith as they want.  To me, in addition to being wrong, it's also a dangerous precedent.  

              Until joining the DailyKos community, I've in had a discussion about Atheism. For whatever reason, it just never entered into conversation.  I suppose that's why it seems take me aback when I see not so great discussions about Christians.  But, at the same time, the fundies scream so loudly, theirs is often the only voice heard.

              And, yes, sadly many people do wave the banner of God to justify any and all actions.  The seem to forget Christ was called the Prince of Peace.

               

    •  let's not forget... (26+ / 0-)

      REVEREND Martin Luther King, and numerous others who have walked the same path.  Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, each of us can add names to the list.  

      And let's not forget Joe Stalin, promoter of official atheism, and murderer on a scale comparable to Hitler.  Nor was he any great friend of science either; just say Lysenko.  

      Bottom line is:  People will use whatever philosophy they can, to promote good deeds or evil deeds.  Emotion and action come first, and reason follows along with an excuse.  

      We in the US see the evils done in the name of religion.  But ask anyone from the former USSR about the evils done in the Stalin era in the name of atheist Marxism.  

    •  Soviet gulags were designed to enforce (7+ / 0-)

      an atheist ideology. Ideology and hatred always lead to travesties whether it claims to be godful or godless.

      The issue here is why we are allowing a horrificly abusive institution to exist and what can be done about it, not whether people who read certain books and follow certain ethical rules are all inherently evil. The director needs to be jailed.

      Your rants are irritating because they try to draw the same false oversimplification of good vs evil (us vs them) you claim to abhor.

      "Big boss man..you ain't so big, just tall, that's all." And McCain is the boss!

      by TheFatLadySings on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:23:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No! No! (23+ / 0-)

        The Gulags were NOT designed to enforce an aetheist philosophy.  The Gulags were designed to CONTROL a captive population.

        They didn't teach people to be good Communists.  The Gulags simply took anyone away that might in any way be, mostly, a threat to Stalin the crazy dictator.  

        It was all about control, and slave labor.

        Dana Ad Astra per Aspera! http://www.angrytoyrobot.blogspot.com The enemy is not man, the enemy is stupidity.

        by angrytoyrobot on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:40:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're both right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, RonV

          Technically speaking, Stalin's Soviet Union was an atheist state, though for World War II he found it convenient to lighten the leash on the Russian Orthodox church.  To believe in a God that was not submitted to Stalin was one of many tickets to the gulag.  

          In fact, Stalin's Soviet Union was a theocracy, whose only difference with traditional religions was that the deity was there in plain sight.  

          Now, some of us Christians, Jews and Muslims were taught to believe in a loving God whose most onerous demand upon us was to love our neighbor (yes, even THAT neighbor) as we love ourselves -- worshipping Him or Her is easy in comparison.  It hurts to be compared with loons like the Mormon gulag's administration and staff.  

          It hurts even more to hear "progressive" atheists drum us out of the circle, especially since "conservative" Christians, Jews and Muslims accuse us of backsliding, heresy and worse.  

          2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

          by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:22:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Only the atheist rants are irritating? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dejavu, democracy inaction, kyril

        That's really irritating. Because when I was younger - and i did not have people who got offended when i gave the "wrong" answer when they asked what church I went to  - I wasnt' this angry.

        Back then I did not care.

        But people MADE me care, even when i asked to be left alone.

        Can you - with a straight face - insist that if Fred Phelps did not have a sign outside his building that said "Westboro Baptist Church" but instead had no sign whatsoever or  - (God forbid ha!) - a sign that said "Westboro Atheist Refuge" that there would not be a crowd around the building so numerous and violent that he would be under perpetual siege?

        Come on.

        "whether people who read certain books and follow certain ethical rules are all inherently evil"

        Well, there you go. What do we call that - a slippery slope.

        now, were you talking about Atheists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, or....

        and that, Dear FatLadySings, is why we need to judge people by their deeds and actions, not by the words they didn't write but claim to believe in.

        I'm not oversimplifying anything - Im saying that if the story that was told in this diary was committed by any group that didn't claim to be a group following "God" that we would have had them all arrested and the building torn down long ago.

        the lowly 10% of the atheist  population is not the one propping up the idea that 'any church is a good church as long as there's "G"od in there somewhere', which is what allows Mormons and Fred Phelps to run around condemning gays (where if they tried to condemn Jews or people from Botswana or short people" they would be summarily shut down.)

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:23:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, "Westboro Atheist Refuge" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RonV

          As it is, Westboro Baptist Church is not protected by their claim of divine inspiration as by being populated mainly by a family of lawsuit-happy lawyers and the laws of the land.  

          Westboro Atheist Refuge would be protected by the laws of the land.  They'd probably be neutered by their own atheism -- their signs and protests would lose their punch if they didn't make recourse to a God.  

           

          2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

          by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:30:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Um.... (5+ / 0-)

      it's the overwhelming dominance and inertia of the calmer, mainstream Christian masses that say, "oh, but if you attack Fred Phelps for being a lunatic, you attack all of Christianity"

      What Christians have you actually talked to about this?  Seriously?  Have you actually heard these kinds of statements from Christians, or are you just assuming you will?

      I can't think of one Christian I know who would agree with your statement.

      Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

      by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:48:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  um, ok, then why (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        watershed

        are you and like 3 other people going up and doing this thread, doing that very same thing?

        It was only a couple of flipper babies!

        by itsbenj on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:59:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're equating... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftneck

          ...all people who follow Christ with Fred Phelps, who is the polar opposite of someone who follows the precepts of Jesus of Nazareth.  

          There's no way I can respond to that.  It's too nonsensical.

          Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

          by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:20:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  NO IM NOT. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            admiralh, dejavu, mrkvica, FutureNow, kyril

            I'm saying that because the balance of the society are "Good" Christians, that it is the collective mass that you form in our society that allows other "Christians" who may not be so noble and kind to have shelter as a "Christian" that they would not get if they were not Christian.

            Please tell me you understand this.

            I'm not making a gross stereotype.

            Im saying that it's the unquestionable respect that we have that "religion is sacred" that allows some people to say, "well, i'm religious" and therefore as such they can get away with things that someone who was outside the shelter of a religious group does not get.

            Don't put words in my mouth that I did not say and then hold me to them.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:13:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Equal treatment under the law (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sharoney, mrkvica

              The great fear held by the religious is that if the government is allowed to pick on one faith, their own group would be next.  Let something be done against Mormons in California with the law's blessing, and you can be sure that it will be done against Catholics in Utah or Jews in Alabama.  So religious and non-religious people who find Mormon theology untenable and its practices bizarre will spring to its defense in California.  

              It's not so much that religion is sacred, as it is that private conscience is held so sacred by American law that the government is restrained from acting against religiously-oriented groups in ways it would not act against non-religious groups.  Conversely, it cannot act against non-religious groups in ways that it does not act against religious groups.

              In the State of Utah, corporal punishment is legal, given parental permission.  The nature of corporal punishment is rarely prescribed.  If a public school in Utah can beat its charges with paddles, then so can a private school, be it religious or secular, especially if it does not leave marks.  

              It is to the credit of atheists that, to date, no such abusive camps flying the banner of atheism have been set up in North America.  

              The remedy at this point is to sue the Boy's Ranch into oblivion, file a RICO lawsuit and to swear out an arrest warrant for the counselors who committed sexual abuse.  Would any lawyers here want to help out?  

              2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

              by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:54:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'd be happy to explain it to you, because there (0+ / 0-)

          are personal stories in this.

          I'm sick of being judged by people who know who I am before I ever open my mouth. I've grown intolerant of intolerant people who are willing to boil the entireity of my existence (without knowing me personally at all) down to what they think a label means.

          And they came up with the label.

          Now, as to your remark about "going up and down this thread", I guess the better plan for America and the world is that we all just express ourselves in the simplest, most concise, one or two word comments (labels) and leave it at that.

          Because the worst that could happen would be for people to get really deep into an issue and reveal all their feelings and opinions on the matter.

          Right?

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:44:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Dear freind. please tell me why Fred Phelps has a (6+ / 0-)

        church after all that he's done and said and inspired others to do.

        If I, as an atheists, had tried to pull off five seconds of what Phelps does every waking moment of his existence, I would have been at best arrested, at worst, beaten to a pulp and no one would have cared what was done to whoever did it to me.

        That's my point.

        What Christians have I talked about this?

        Penny, I'll give you my phone number, my address if you like, and you can come over for as long as you have time and I'll tell you all my stories. I was not living in a vacuum or sequestered in the forest all my life. There are living, breathing, people with jobs and children who have had these conversations with me, standing only inches from my face.

        So don't act like it must be that I'm delusional and forming bizarre thoughts out of whole cloth. It should not be a real shock to you (if you're being honest) that unless you present yourself as an atheist and stick around for the aftermath, you would never have experienced what I'm talking about - and therefore to you such things simply don't exist.

        Don't do that.

        Don't.

        Do.

        That.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:10:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're calling for vigilante violence against (0+ / 0-)

          Fred Phelps?

          and before you deny it, you said

          If I, as an atheists, had tried to pull off five seconds of what Phelps does every waking moment of his existence, I would have been at best arrested, at worst, beaten to a pulp and no one would have cared what was done to whoever did it to me.

          Which seems to suggest that somebody ought to arrest Phelps or beat him to a pulp.

          The first amendment says we can't arrest Phelps for the content of his sermons/screeds.  Unless he commits a crime.

          So you're either calling for unconstitutional laws or vigilante violence.  Neither is a good thing for freethinkers to encourage, especially since they are the minority.

          Voting changes things. That's why they don't allow it.

          by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:19:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Have you caught your tail yet? you turned my (4+ / 0-)

            point completely around.

            It was a hypothetical rhetorical point, not an invitation to act it out, and you're reaching way out over a limb to make it so.

            No, I'm not suggesting or advocating vigilante violence.

            I'm saying that religions seem quite comfortable in their judgement of others - to the point that they can decide who amongst us is "fit" to be granted civil rights - but they take umbrage at anyone they want to who dares to stand up to them claiming their freedom of religion is being "infringed" or "oppressed".

            My screed is that it seems sickeningly ironic that a group of people who are themselves protected by civil rights legislation has the balls to openly demand that civil rights be denied to someone else for reasons only they can justify. They stand as an example of why we have civil rights laws in the first place, at the same time they claim that somehow civil rights is infringing on their freedom of religious expression.

            Read that paragraph again.

            it's not about vigilante justice. My comments were made from my own personal history with people who believe they are the kind of person that God wants them to be, and they are defending their duplicity as an expression of their religion.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:31:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My bad. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snafubar

              I thought you were suggesting that Phelps' continued survival was evidence that average Christians are secretly supporting him.

              Voting changes things. That's why they don't allow it.

              by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:05:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I really wish more people would read Sam Harris (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                adrianrf

                "the end of faith"

                He lays out brilliantly the point that it is the moderates in any religion who are really to blame for not stopping the madness.

                It's not that mainstream Christians support what Phelps does, it's that they have such a tragic and pathetic fear that if they do stand up against him and say that his form of "christianity" is a bridge too far, then somehow that will leave them as mainstream Christians vulnerable to being run out of town by some other criteria.

                Sorry if I didn't make that clearer. I admit that today was a blender-day on this website, and I was a little tightly wound...

                Peace. thanks for your comment.

                George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:55:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I can't either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        But Fred Phelps will say that. And so will everyone of the most right-wing looney "Christian" bunch. Surely you've heard them use the word "persecution".

        This is the kind of lumping together that irritates the hell out of me.

        1. Fred Phelps et al perform their bigotry in the name of Christianity.
        1. He gets criticized, rightly so.
        1. He screams "you're an anti-Christian persecutor".
        1. And then a normal, otherwise-rational person says "see? You mainstream Christians scream 'persecution' every time I criticize Fred Phelps!"

        AAAAAARGH!

    •  Jesus himself condemned hypocrisy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChakraTease, leftneck

      in the strongest possible terms.  Many people overlook that.

      Change has come to America. Change.gov

      by Chi on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:21:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Christians, on the other hand, don't seem to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        democracy inaction, ChakraTease

        think that it's possible for such a thing to be manifest in themselves. After all, however they are is how "G"od wanted them to be, and if they make a mistake it will be forgiven.

        The heathen nonbelievers, apostates, atheists and anyone not in a church...?

        Well.

        Those are hypocrites.

        I did not "overlook" that Jesus said something about hypocrisy; the genius in my post that still eludes you is that it's the Christians who's own inherent hypocrisy allows them to ignore that Jesus condemned hypocrisy, because they know Jesus loves them no matter what.

        Atheists, and anyone else? Well when they're hypocrites, Jesus does not love and forgive them.

        If I had a penny for everytime a grossly oversimplified stereotype was used against me by people who take umbrage at being smeared as part of a group -

        well I'd be rich and I wouldn't care what they say.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:05:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm glad you can tell us soooo much... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi

          ...about what "Christians" do.  I'm sure you've got some kind of non-anecdotal data that will demonstrate your generalizations about Christians, such as your assertion that "Christians... don't seem to think that it's possible for [hypocrisy] to be manifest in themselves."

          Your gross generalizations are beyond offensive.  If you substituted the name of any other religion, any ethnic group, any sexual orientation or gender for "Christian," your comment would have gotten so many hide-rates it might break the site's software.

          I understand from other posts on this thread that you've had some bad experiences with Christians.  While I genuinely feel sorry for that, that does not justify bigotry toward all Christians, any more than my having been mugged by two Latinos a few years ago would justify me if I hated all Latino/as.

          Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

          by mistersite on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:59:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Be offended then. Welcome to the club (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            democracy inaction

            while you're out there being so outraged that I would dare feel this way, I don't see any suggestion that you're going to have a talk with any of the people who contributed to the person you think I have no right to be.

            I don't see this one getting any better anytime soon.

            There's a difference bettween "bigotry" where a person declares that other people deserve (for reasons only they can explain) that some people be treated differently  -

            and

            What I'm expressing here is just outrage from my own experience - some of which is accumulating today from these posts -

            Now if you're going to twist the act of describing what I feel and why I feel it into somehow an act of bigotry, I've got nothing for you. When you see me act out in some way to exclude faithful people or Christians in general from society or you see me mistreat them somehow simply because I saw a religious symbol on their clothes or in their building, then you've found evidence of bigotry.

            You might plausibly call my attitude paranoia, but it's not bigotry. ANd the best way to cure paranoia is to find out what it is that makes someone so wounded and threatened and try to calm them down.

            The only thing I've seen in this thread are more people with nothing for me but the same antagonism that they think makes me such an asshole.

            How poetic.

            Beyond offensive. Tell me when you get back, OK?

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:39:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I agree. Women who support the Catholic churcha (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, ribofunk

      always bothered me because American women think for themselves generally and so, they don' follow church teachings on reproduction. BUT they support an organization that forces second and third world women to have babies until it kills them.

      I believe mainstream believers are responsible for the abuses of their leaders and other fanatics because they support the organization.

      This is just one example.
      If they don't speak out, but just ignore the rules they don't like, I think these women are complicit.

      •  Nice. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ppluto

        I believe mainstream believers are responsible for the abuses of their leaders and other fanatics because they support the organization.

        Let's apply that "reasoning" elsewhere, shall we?

        I believe most US citizens are responsible for Abu Ghraib and Gitmo because they support the government that perpetrates those abuses with their tax dollars.

        See how easy it is to wield that guilt-by-association broad brush?

        Talk about "beliefs"! The mind boggles.

        George W. Bush: "Smaller than life."--Frank Rich

        by Sharoney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:29:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's tribalism (8+ / 0-)

      That uses belief in the supernatural as a communal identity marker rather than the color of one's skin or the design of one's flag.

      It was a big innovation back in the day when were were all Bronze-age savages living in little communities surrounded by enemies, darkness, and ignorance. It fostered group cohesion and made communities more likely to survive the harsh environment and war with other tribes.

      Today? Not so much.

      Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

      by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:58:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

      You can't shut down Fred Phelps because of the First Amendment.  And atheists ought to be damn glad for that.

      Voting changes things. That's why they don't allow it.

      by happymisanthropy on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:04:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As always, (23+ / 0-)

    I'm completely unsurprised by these stories.

    The only comment I can make is that the Mormons seem to be better organized than their Evangelical counterparts.  The same camp run by Joel's Army freaks would be killing kids every few months, through exorcisms our out-of-control 'discipline' (torture).  I'm not saying the Mormons wouldn't like to implement that too, just that they're smart enough to know if they send a bunch of kids home in body bags, that might bring unwanted attention.

    Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

    by Kingsmeg on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 05:48:38 AM PST

    •  I AM completely surprised... (4+ / 0-)

      ...by some of these comments.

      The only comment I can make is that the Mormons seem to be better organized than their Evangelical counterparts.

      I know I'm just beating my head against the wall here, but I honestly don't know ONE follower of Jesus of Nazareth who would foist this kind of insanity on any living creature.  

      That people in this community of "progressives" are so willing to take up the mantra of "all Christians are evil" really stuns me.

      Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

      by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:53:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You haven't read enough books then (13+ / 0-)

        They just have them out of country.  There was a really sad book called, 'Jesusland' and the school was pretty similar and the people were good ole Christians.

        There are bagels in the fridge

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:58:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane

          ...any person who is truly following the precepts of Jesus of Nazareth would have no freaking part of this kind of an organization.

          People who have twisted the teachings of Jesus?  Sure.  It's happened throughout history.  

          The fact that so many people here are not willing or able to make that distinction is stunning.  You really are smarter than that.  

          Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

          by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:08:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have nothing to go by (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brother Love, mamamedusa, farbuska

            but their professions of faith.  All I am saying is that all the religions seem to have this sort of crazy shit hiding somewhere.

            Bad men take the mantle of faith as a cloak for their bad deeds.

            There are bagels in the fridge

            by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:14:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, all religions have... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dewley notid

              ...this sort of crazy shit hiding somewhere.  As do movements that have no grounding in faith whatsoever.  Stalin is a good example, obviously.  

              Bad men do take the mantle of faith as cloak for their bad deeds.  However, automatically trying to wrap that cloak around the shoulders of all people who claim faith...is illogical.

              Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

              by penny8611 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 07:26:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  This is a common argument (8+ / 0-)

            any person who is truly following the precepts of Jesus of Nazareth would have no freaking part of this kind of an organization.

            True [Christians/Muslims/etc] do not [torture/commit acts of terrorism/etc] and any people that do are not true [Christians/Muslims/etc]. But here is the thing about faith: you don't get to choose who is the true believer and who is not, the person doing the evil act in the name of their god does. In their view (the only view that matters w/r/t their religion), they are following the precepts of their god.

            •  Its very similar to 'Stalinism wasn't communism' (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ppluto, ChakraTease, TFinSF

              line taken by some Marxist apologists. Well, then what the hell was it? Didn't Christ himself say that you shall know them by their works?

              Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

              by Benito on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:10:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's the Core Virus (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sychotic1, ppluto

              and why all form of Christianity are basically strands of a "Flu" that over time mutates into killer, over and over again.

              The seed is the problem and that seed is the concept that a living being can obtain of infallible truth.

              •  Cognitive Dissonance (4+ / 0-)

                Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone get information that contradicts their belief system, it is psychologically painful because in order to assimilate the new information, the person must alter their belief system.  Because of cognitive dissonance, people will go out of their way to rationalize away any new information that contradicts their beliefs to avoid the psychological pain associated with assimilating that new information into their belief system.

                This essentially means that when someone is a true believer and has faith, even if there were concrete, irrefutable evidence that there is no God, it would likely not be accepted.  Again, faith is dangerous because far too many people have incongruous religious beliefs, each of them KNOW that they are right and the other is wrong and no amount of logic and reason will change their minds.

                How many lives have been wasted throughout history on wars fought over such religious differences?

                It was crime at the time but the laws, we changed 'em. -The New Pornographers

                by democracy inaction on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:34:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Let's make this clear (3+ / 0-)

            You talk about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (which many in the world view as nothing more than fable) as if it's some universally agreed-upon concept.  Within the Christian world, the very vague and often times contradictory messages of the Bible are pretty much used to create whatever rules and morals the group translating them so desires.  

            What you see as clear cut messages from Jesus of love and forgiveness are taken by others to validate their cruelty and control over others.  The Bible has been written and rewritten by human beings with all their own individual failings and ambitions.  

            I applaud that you yourself have chosen the more peaceful messages to center your world around but it's rather difficult for someone on the outside of it all to look objectively and see the overall good of Christianity or any major religion for that matter.  I can certainly acknowledge the pockets of good that have sprung up but, when mixing in the bad parts, it's no more than a wash and something I believe keeps our species from evolving to the next level.  

            I instead contend that the peaceful, loving, and giving life you profess to lead comes not from Jesus but from your basic goodness and logic and the rationalizations you made when you read the entire Bible.  I'm certain we'll disagree on that but let's agree on one thing.  There will be humans of all faiths and those without faith that will use their philosophy for evil, cruel, and authoritarian control over others.  Unless there is constant derision of these people from all others and particularly those who fall under the same banner, they will have strength.

            "There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes. - James Morrow

            by artmartin on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:37:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  So what you are saying (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mrkvica, Kingsmeg, artmartin, TFinSF

            is that your version of the "precepts of Jesus of Nazareth" is the one and correct version, and that all these others have "twisted the teachings of Jesus."

            Don't you see how self-serving this argument is? And also, don't you see that these other people who have "twisted the teachings of Jesus" could make the same argument about you?

            Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

            by admiralh on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:41:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I used (8+ / 0-)

        'Joel's Army' instead of 'Christian' precisely so I wouldn't offend progressive Christians on this site.  You choose to be offended anyway.

        What does this have to do with 'followers of Jesus of Nazareth'?  When I talk about believers in 2009 (in the context of religiously-motivated child abuse), I look at the actions of believers in 2009, not at legends in a holy book that people may or may not be reading.  I don't need to know what people think they're following or claim to be following (or quote as justification for child abuse, as the case may be), I only need to know what they're actually doing.  In this instance, what they're doing is abusing children.

        If you, as a believer, are unhappy with your religion's public image, then I suggest you either show facts to prove that your religion's adherents do not act in the ways described (they probably don't in any organized way, if you're a member of a progressive church, though individuals probably do send their 'problem' children to 'boot camps' run by other denominations), or else work within your church to change adherents' behavior.  But telling me (an outsider, with no influence in your church) 'it's not supposed to be like that!' doesn't change the facts of child abuse.  It certainly does nothing to stop child abuse.  It's merely a rationalization to protect your self-image as a member of that group.

        Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

        by Kingsmeg on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 08:01:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  kids have very few rights in our society (28+ / 0-)

    People who have not obtained the age of majority are some of the most oppressed people in our country.

    And unfortunately, this kind of treatment isn't anything unique to Mormonism. Our entire prison system is premised upon this kind of 'tough love'. This particular incident is but one strand of a much larger narrative of American oppression.

    At least Eric was 'released' at 18, and is generally accepted as having suffered, rather than 'deserving' his treatment.

  •  very common (56+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, there is a large group of these Mormon Gulags that are benignly described as "troubled teen boot camps" throughout the US, most of them being located in Utah.  The Mormon connection is only one of the reasons, the other is lack of oversight.
    One of the largest of these 'groups' is WWASPS, try googling them.  Also, check out www.isaccorp.org, an organization that is fighting these bootcamps.
    I know of this because several years ago, my ex sent my then-17 yr old son to one that was located in Ensenada, Mexico, run by WWASPS.  The reason is was located out of the US is to bypass laws that protect children.  My son was sent there because he was 'into drugs' and disobedient to his stepmother who hated him.  Never given a drug test upon admission, and beaten, etc., just like the kid in the this story.  My son was given drugs, never labeled or told why, while there.
    The only reason he was let out of there is because somehow the Mexican government finally reacted to all the complaints and shut it down, shipping all the kids to either other 'camps' if their parents would pay, or dumping them at the Mexico/US border if the parents wouldn't keep them in their organization.
    My son arrived with two black eyes and bruises all over his body.  He was bloated and had bad skin.  He was jumpy and nervous, couldn't sleep, and didn't trust anything or anybody.
    This type of treatment is still going on.  It needs to be stopped.

  •  My god (19+ / 0-)

    this is happening in our country? And it's legal?

    Stunning.

    Warning: this comment may contain sarcasm or satire.

    by MBNYC on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:12:07 AM PST

  •  This was very hard to read (29+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting it. Just....astounding in its Dickensonian cruely and criminality.

    It reminded me of the Indian boarding school stories.

    These people need to be behind bars forEVER.

  •  You didn't miss much in seminary :) (20+ / 0-)

    on the outside, that is.

    Wasn't interesting--just a lot of heavy-handed religious indoctrination, gender-role indoctrination, racism, and homophobia. "Scripture chase" actually didn't have an iota to do fostering a personal engagement with scripture; it was all about "being right," so you could "beat" a skeptical adversary who was challenging you in some matter of doctrine. No wonder I sucked so bad at that annoying drill :)

    All the while, I'm sure those dirty phone calls I was getting at home during puberty (from a mature man) were from some "righteous priesthood holder," or other.

    Like I say, you really didn't miss much :)

    I'm sorry you had to pay such a terrible price for not giving in to the regimentation.

    Thanks so much for the diary--and thanks so much for naming names. If we keep shining a spotlight on this stuff, we can eventually watch it shrivel.

    •  I'm a former scripture chase champion. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Chino Blanco

      And look where it got me.

      We called early morning seminary "cemetery," by the way, and I think it led me to a state of permanent sleep deprivation.

      Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

      by mofembot on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 10:48:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know you :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mofembot

        so, naturally, I don't know "where it got you."

        After I went away to a (secular) college, I connected with a counselor in the Student Health Service. She helped me to break with the church--which I did early in life, and cleanly.

        My favorite part of seminary was the film strips. There was Tom Trails, about the Indian kid who converted, but lived in a dysfunctional alcoholic household. Then there was something or other about the Whore of Babylon. Do you recall this? They showed an image of a beautiful, blonde, prim girl, then there was an image of a woman with sunglasses and a slinky black dress, with her head cocked at a provocative angle. The kids all hooted and applauded when she appeared.

        Today, in my 40s, I guess I'd have to say I have more in common with the Whore of Babylon than with the temple-bound ingenue :)

        •  I never got to see any Tom Trails stuff. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, karmsy

          But there were a number of films/filmstrips I do remember, such as (the original version) Man's Search for Happiness, Johnny Lingo ("Mahana, you ugly!"), and some film about saving oneself for a temple marriage (involving a trip to a Vegas wedding chapel), yadda, yadda.

          I ended up graduating from BYU, going on a mission (to France), marrying in the LA Temple... and being "hyperactive" up until about 13 years ago. Fortunately, my husband became disaffected at the same time I did (for slightly different reasons). Although our two adult kids were baptized, none of our three daughters considers herself Mormon.

          Our parents and sibs (with the exception of one of my brothers) are all active Mormons. Our disaffection greatly shocked them, but I'm happy to say that unlike so many of our similarly disaffected or ex-Mormon friends, our families did not disown us. However, they do occasionally succumb to the temptation to let us know that they're praying for us, and to try to get us to "repent" and to "think of eternal consequences," which is tiresome in the extreme. But we live in France and they're all Stateside, so this is not a frequent occurrence, mercifully enough.

          Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

          by mofembot on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 11:20:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm against the death penalty, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pinkhardhat, karmsy, OleHippieChick, kyril

    if anyone deserves it, it's these sickos.

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:26:02 AM PST

  •  How much a month to keep your kid at (12+ / 0-)

    the Boys Ranch? It has to cost the parents something.

    I had a friend whose 15 yo son was living with/having sex with a 30 year old divorcee with 3 kids. My friend felt her only option was to send him to some tough love place. I think she said that her son would have had to testify against his lover to press statutory rape charges, which he would not do. Two big samoan guys picked him up and took him to So. Utah by car (they lived in LA). Her son was there for 2 months and it cost her over $10,000.

    Only power used to empower is everlasting. Prof. Scott Bartchy www.nurseconscience.blogspot.com

    by ludlow on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:26:10 AM PST

  •  Interesting, but not all Mormons are... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, kyril

    Not in line with the Mormons I know in Indiana, but religious fanatics are the same the world over.

    Just remember THEY JUST WANT TO SAVE YER IMMORTAL GOD-DAMMED SOUL!

    At least the Mormons don't blow you up, like the Taleban or Hamas would to save you.

    Dana Ad Astra per Aspera! http://www.angrytoyrobot.blogspot.com The enemy is not man, the enemy is stupidity.

    by angrytoyrobot on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 06:32:56 AM PST

  •  This doesn't help. (4+ / 0-)

    Chino, I know you're pissed about Prop 8 (the reason you wrote another Mormon bashing diary), but this isn't productive.

    Let's say the title said 'Trapped in a Jewish Gulag'.  Not only would it never make the rec list, but the diarist would never be heard from again.  Of course I'm not advocating Chino disappear, but this diary (especially the title) doesn't belong on the rec list.