- The Religious Right, Prop8, SB1070; Partners In Crime
- Secular Coalition Applauds Resolution Supporting Fact-Based Education, Denouncing Texas School Board Meddling
- Freethought “Billboard Blitz” in Tampa
- FFRF vouches publicly for reason in New Jersey
- Why psychotic patients with religious delusions are harder to cure.
- Bang! The Universe Verse
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 04:11 PM PDT
Over the past two weeks the cause of Christian Reconstructionists has been bolstered by proponents of Prop 8 in
These three movements share fundamental similarities that make it unsurprising that they have many, though certainly not all, supporters in common. In each case, there is a fundamental desire to make conditional and exclusive those rights deemed equal and inalienable by the Constitution. In each case, those that are most like them are considered more worthy of rights than those that are unlike them.
Although the immigration battle lacks the overtly religious overtones of the Prop 8 campaign, Nationalist Christians easily reconcile the two issues as part of their divinely inspired vision for
Christian Reconstructionists have long sought to redefine freedom of religion as freedom to impose their religion on society without interference. The success of the Prop8 campaign would serve to further this goal by effectively doing precisely that. The entire argument for the discrimination of homosexuals, and the denial of their civil rights, is based on Fundamentalist Christian doctrine. If this doctrine can be imposed in this case, it can be imposed in others.
The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the free exercise of religion. It does not protect only the free exercise of Christianity, the free exercise of Christians to force others to live by their doctrine, or the preference of Christianity and Christians that they should have special protections and privileges. The founding fathers used the term ‘religion’ in order to express the principle that all religions, beliefs, and world views, have exactly the same status before the law and the government. Had their intention been that Christians, and the Christian church, were exceptional, they would have made at least one specific reference to the religion. Instead, they made no such identification whatsoever of Christianity, Jesus, or the Christian God, and only referred to religion in general. There are no references to Christianity or Jesus in the Declaration of independence or the Constitution.
The laws of the
Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment reads as follows;
All persons born or naturalized in the
While it is the first sentence of this section that anti-immigration nationalists find problematic, it’s the second sentence that causes such consternation for the religiously motivated, Proposition 8, anti-homosexual crusaders.
Supporters of Proposition 8 disguise their prejudice by trying to frame it in positive terms. They claim that the motivation behind their efforts is not to discriminate against homosexuals, per se, but to protect marriage and families. If this were the case, one would think that their efforts would be better spent decreasing the divorce rate among their fellow Christians rather than trying to deny others their right to marry whomever they choose.
The Proposition 8 campaign is about imposing Fundamentalist, anti-gay, Christian doctrine on American society. This campaign is about making an inalienable right conditional, based on the tenets of a religion. This campaign is about decimating the principles of the Constitution by subjecting the rights of a minority to the approval of the majority and establishing a law respecting religion; something the constitution clearly prohibits.
While anti-immigration forces differ from anti-gay activists in many ways, the principles of exclusion and the desire to codify majority bias are common to both. The targeted areas of change to the Fourteenth Amendment, purportedly designed to protect this country of immigrants from other immigrants, would create an insurmountable weakness in the American Constitution. American citizenship would become something that could be denied an individual born in
This is worth reiterating. Citizenship would be denied to an individual born in
All three of these movements have in common a desire to deny to some the rights that the Constitution guarantees to all. All of these movements attempt to deny individual rights and freedoms, and replace them with conditional privileges, subject to either Christian Doctrine or Majority rule.
Conservative politicians revel in the distractions that divert attention from their lack of a proactive platform and the Democrats seem easily led into the fog they’ve created. Conservatives are fueling the flames of discontent with misinformation, propaganda, and religious rhetoric, while the Democrats are running around after them trying to stomp out the fire with paper shoes. The immigration battle and culture wars are nothing more to the Right Wing than a convenient political situation to exploit in an election year when they seem to have no other tools in the shed. They are either oblivious or unconcerned about the impact these movements could have on the foundation of American society. Their only objective is to win elections, all else be damned. The Democrats need to stop messing around and extinguish the flames at their source.
Christian Reconstructionists, homophobic zealots, and xenophobic nationalists cannot be allowed to erode and subvert the Constitution. While their identified targets seem different, their strategy and desired outcome is very much the same. The inalienable rights guaranteed to all American citizens are viewed as conditional allowances that they want to control. They want to protect their existing majority through their version of ‘14th Amendment’ immigration reform, and then use that majority to deny equal rights, and true freedom of and from religion, to minorities.
The rights of a minority cannot be subjected to a general vote. This is nothing more than a cruel joke to remind the minority that they are in fact a minority, and therefore will loose such a vote because they are.
Americans cannot be denied citizenship based on the crimes of their parents or their racial or ethnic heritage. This violates so many principles of the constitution, let alone principles of justice and human decency, that it boggles the mind that elected officials such as Mitch McConnell would have the gall to suggest such a thing.
Religious doctrine cannot be imposed on American citizens as law, or used to deny the civil rights or liberties of those citizens. Despite the fictitious claims of the Christian Reconstructionists,
The Fourteenth Amendment must be upheld and protected, and the Religious-Right, xenophobic homophobes rebuked for their subversive attempts. The American Constitution was framed and worded with specific intent and the principle of equality is neither negotiable nor expendable. There is no secret meaning known only to Glenn Beck or any other self-proclaimed and discredited scholar with a nefarious agenda. If there is one thing that encapsulates what it means to be an American, it’s the Constitution. Trying to undermine or destroy that is down-right criminal.
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:38 PM PDT
The Secular Coalition for America lauded a House resolution (H. Res. 1593) supporting fact-based social studies curricula in public schools, introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) in response to the social studies curriculum established by the Texas State Board of Education, one which imposes a theocratic slant on the teaching of American history and other subjects.The Secular Coalition for America advocates for separation of church and state and is the national lobbying organization representing the interests of Secular Americans – atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheists – in our nation’s capital.
The Texas Board of Education voted this year to change the state’s social studies curricula to teach the falsehood that the U.S. Constitution and American justice derives from Biblical law. Theocrats on the Board also tried – but failed – to eliminate Thomas Jefferson from a list of influential thinkers, to be replaced with religious figures such as John Calvin. Previously, the Board eliminated from textbooks a reference to the scientific consensus regarding the age of the universe – apparently because science contradicts the Biblical date of origin. As school board member David Bradley told the New York Times, “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state.”
Due to the size of the
Faircloth urged the adoption of H.Res. 1593, saying, “The passage of Rep. Johnson’s resolution would send an unmistakable signal that our Congress will not stand for our children’s education being tampered with to suit a religious-extremist agenda based on religious bias and outright falsehoods.”
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:36 PM PDT
The nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) hopes heads will turn to view a “mini-blitz” of 30 billboards placed throughout the
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in
FFRF’s newest message, showing the face of a penny saying “In Reason We Trust,” is debuting in
“To be accurate, the religious motto would have to say ‘In God Some of Us Trust,’ and wouldn’t that be silly?” said Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. She pointed out that the nonreligious is the largest-growing segment of the population by religious identification, at 15%.
Other FFRF billboard messages include:
Several of the colorful billboards have a “stained glass window” motif.
“We want our billboards to be attractive, since our messages are controversial, and freethinkers like stained glass as much as the religious do. But we’d also like to create a little cognitive dissonance. Wouldn’t it be something if you saw this message, ‘Imagine No Religion’ or ‘Sleep in on Sundays,’ in a church?” asks Gaylor.
Since kicking off a billboard campaign in October 2007 in
Also going up this week is a new design, “Enjoy Life Now: There Is No Afterlife,” in
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:32 PM PDT
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first freethought billboard is now up in the Garden State of New Jersey.
The billboard faces south off
The message and design theme debuted in April 2010 in
FFRF has more than 16,000 members nationally and more than 350 in
An issue of particular concern to
FFRF placed its first billboard in
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said the Foundation opposes public resources going to private religious schools. “Backers of the OSA claim there’s no burden to taxpayers because of the corporate involvement. When corporations get tax credits, the tax burden gets shifted to individuals. It looks like part of the ongoing effort to privatize education in the
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 02:26 PM PDT
We all hold beliefs that are not provable, and defining when these beliefs cross the line and become psychotic delusions is not easy. It’s clear that such a line does exist, however: every town has its share of people whose religious beliefs fall sufficiently far outside the conventional that they are declared psychotic.
In popular imagination, at least, psychotic delusions often have a religious component. In reality, many psychotic delusions are not religious. However, many delusions involve hallucinations or mind control by unseen agents, and so it’s not too surprising that those who experience them fold them into their religious background. The religious beliefs don’t trigger the psychosis, but they become enmeshed within it.
But do religious beliefs help or hinder those with delusions?
Sylvia Mohr, at the University Hosptial of Geneva in
She found that religious nature of their delusions did help some patients to cope. For some, who believed they were being persecuted demons, belief in their god or guardian angel gave them comfort and strength to deal with their condition. This is what one patient said:
For one patient, who believed he was being controlled by supernatural entities, turning to his priest helped them to understand that his delusion was an illness. Others had similar tails to tell.
However for most patients (55%, in fact), the religious component of their delusions actually made their condition more serious. This was especially the case for those suffering from self-delusions – thinking that they are somebody else. The delusion that you are John the Baptist seems to make it harder to cope with your disease than the delusion that you are Napoleon!
Patients with delusions – and especially those with religious delusions – tended also to be more religious than those. And this is where their real problems begin.
For one thing, despite being more religious, patients with religious delusions actually engage in fewer group religious activities and receive less support from their religious communities than do patients with non-religious delusions. That’s presumably because their religious communities find these religious delusions particularly disturbing.
These patients also are more likely to find that their religion brings them into conflict with psychiatrists and others who are trying to provide mental health support. In fact, one in four of them have come to believe that their religion does not allow them to take antipsychotic medication.
So religion is a mixed bag when it comes to psychosis. For some, it provides solace. For others, however, it increases the danger that they will sink further into their own delusions – a problem exacerbated by the fact that they are shunned by their religious colleagues.For these patients, their religion is more often a burden than a support.
Mohr, S., Borras, L., Betrisey, C., Pierre-Yves, B., Gilliéron, C., & Huguelet, P. (2010). Delusions with Religious Content in Patients with Psychosis: How They Interact with Spiritual Coping Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes, 73 (2), 158-172 DOI: 10.1521/psyc.2010.73.2.158
Posted: 09 Aug 2010 07:23 PM PDT
Looking for a way to explain the origins of the universe to your kids . . . or your parents? BANG! The Universe Verse is for you!
“In the beginning, before time had begun, nothing existed, and nothing was fun.” So begins your journey through the Big Bang. The narrators, an elderly couple (he looking remarkably like that Einstein fellow) cart an infant about with them for the first few pages, but soon set it aside as they explore the beginnings of time and creation of matter, leading you through elements and relativity for good measure. From the publisher:
“Book one in a three part series, BANG! explains the scientific theories regarding the origin of the universe using captivating illustrations and whimsical rhymes. From the beginning of existence to the birth of stars and galaxies, you’ll learn how matter was created, why stars shine and where where we fit in this wild and crazy universe.”
Lovingly illustrated in white on black, BANG! is a resource accessible to adults and children alike. You can read it free online on Dunbar’s website, request it in PDF format, or buy it in paperback. You may also pick it up on Amazon.com.
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