Monthly Archives: May 2011
Too busy to regularly blog for the next week or so, but please enjoy the following video from The View.
What is worse is that everyone knows she’s being a complete idiot, but they’re going to say… “Not on paper.” I say we need someone who isn’t afraid to articulate secular, evidence-based views and to stop accommodating faith-based stupidity.
You can get updates and read more about Damon Fowler’s situation on Hemant’s blog.
Jerrett, Damon’s brother, gave an interview. I found the following story quite profound.
My parents can be a little unpredictable about things. I heard rumors that they fully blame me for everything that my brother did in the last several months, from admitting that he’s an atheist to the school prayer incident.
It probably has a lot to do with the email I sent my mother when I was 23, after I left home to go to school in the Dallas area. She kept trying to rule my life, asking me if I found a church in Texas. I finally got tired of it and told her, in a lengthy email, that I am agnostic and there is no way I’ll ever go back to Christianity. She tells me that I’ve gotten too smart and that because of that I have turned my back on God. Apparently, to her, there is a such thing as “thinking too much.”
That’s right, all you faithful people out there. Don’t get too smart. Don’t think too much. Heck, why would you even want to go to college, an environment that makes you do exactly that?
Instead, you should take inspiration from #3 of the Top 13 Creepiest Christian Education Video For Kids.
Remember when I mentioned the billboard put up by the Orange County Coalition for Reason as part of a national billboard campaign?
Well, there are plenty of people not happy with atheists speaking out. Similar billboards in California have been defaced. In Westminster, however, the Christians chose a much more reasonable course of action.
A group of Christians who have been gathering to conduct Bible studies under a “Godless billboard” erected by a national atheist organization say they will do so until the sign comes down.
This is perfect. Nobody breaks any laws. Nobody gets hurt. No property gets damaged or vandalized. No groups or ideas get censored. Both sides get to say and do what they want. More importantly, we’ve given religious people something constructive to do with their time: yell and pray and read the Bible ceaselessly, all to fight against… a sign.
This is almost as nonsensical as atheists gathering and reading Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World each time they see a sign telling non-Christians to either repent or face hell (signs which line the highways of many states). But of course, these Christians (like people of other religions) have holy books as well as special powers that allow them to communicate directly with their over-Lord who tells them “the absolute truth,” and we don’t want to mess with that.
Longbrake, a member of Calvary Chapel Westgrove and a 40-year Orange County resident, said he and other Christians respect the atheists’ freedom of speech, but want their voices to be heard as well.
“There is no question that this billboard is unhealthy for our community,” he said.
Unhealthy? A billboard that says “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone,” is unquestionably unhealthy? Dear Sir, was the billboard even meant for Christian consumption? My awfully godless, narrow-minded brain tells me that this billboard was meant to reach out to people who already have doubts about religion, who already suspect it is more likely that all religions are false than it is that only one of the millions that have existed is the one true one. It’s a message of solidarity to people who would otherwise feel ostracized by their religious community.
It doesn’t even say you should be an atheist, or that atheism is good, or that we should question God. It says that if you, despite all your effort, find that you just can’t believe, you shouldn’t feel alone. You should know that there are hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people around the world who agree with you and who’ve come to this conclusion independently in many different societies, with different religions, and in different times. You should know that the world is much larger than the community you come from, and that even when horrible things happen to people like Damon Fowler (kicked out of his “Christian” home and community), there are lots of people supporting you and your cause.
Orange County Christians, read the Bible and protest all you want. There’s greater work to be done.
You know, there’s nothing like a good old faith-based investigative report. Half of the time it is about “not praying enough” and the other half it’s about the permissive atheistic culture. Of course, the cure is always more prayer and “better training”.
Will the incantations and wailings of Catholics change the archaic standards for which they choose leaders? Will “more training” reform the Church’s psychotic ideas about human sexuality?
Inspiration: Stephen Fry, Humanist.
That’s right, it’s official. The calculations for the end of the world were five months off. The official date has been pushed back to October 21, 2011.
But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.
Saturday was “an invisible judgment day” in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said.
That’s right. When your predictions were wrong, you say your predictions were RIGHT, just invisible. It’s kind of how the Millerites said the whole 1844 Uber Fail was a party in Heaven. Can’t be seen.
Religion is man-made, and it shows.
After all the prayers at graduation rehearsal, all the complaints by atheist Damon Fowler, all the insults and threats issued at him, all the drama involving his mother effectively disowning him, all the support from secular Netizens around the world, after donations totaling over $10,000 (and counting) for Fowler’s scholarship fund (in addition to $1000 from FFRF), the graduation at Bastrop High School finally happened.
In Christian form, unfortunately.
The sound is a bit off, so let me quote directly and translate.
I respect the beliefs of others, but…
Plug this into Google translate from Christianspeak –> English, and you’ll get this as output.
I claim to respect your beliefs, but I don’t give a shit about your constitutional rights. I’m going to lead everyone in Christian prayer in a publicly funded high school ceremony because I can’t stand the idea of praying silently and privately. Prayer must be in-your-face. Fuck all you nonbelievers if you don’t agree.
Not just any prayer, of course. Christian prayer, and Christian prayer only.
Of course, it’s useless trying to educate these people on basic civics. The only option we have left is to talk to them in a language that everyone understands: money.
The courts have ruled consistently that official prayer at a publicly funded ceremony, even if student-led, is government endorsement of religion and violates the Establishment Clause. The fact that prayer was rehearsed beforehand and no action was taken (e.g., the moment of silence could have been faculty-led) puts the final nail in their coffin.
Public education is for everyone and should be inclusive of everyone, not just people of one religion.
Inspiration of the day: Jessica Ahlquist.
The psychiatrists should leave the religious alone. Even when their whole worldview is shattered by such things as evidence and common sense, they’ll keep believing, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Assuming May 21 ends without a cataclysm to end all cataclysms, those who believed God would whisk them up to heaven are now discovering they remain earthbound, and this might be unsettling to some of them.“I would say it would probably be similar to going through a trauma, like when your worldview changes,” Francine Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist with the Morris Psychological Group in Parsippany, said Saturday.
“I would expect there might be some anxiety, some shame and embarrassment,” she said. “You can even see kind of a severe outlet of emotions, crying and whatnot. Fear — what should we believe in any more? It’s going to put everything they’ve ever believed in into question.”Rosenberg said those who might be disillusioned can reach out to their local mental health professional or to someone in the religious community.
No no no, you have it all wrong. Those people don’t need any help. They don’t need us to comfort them. They aren’t going to question anything. It’s not going to make a difference.
As I mentioned before, when everything they believe is shown to be demonstrably wrong, it is natural for the religious to make up some desperate rationalizations for their worldview. It happens automatically.
It’s no wonder why we have so many crazy and wacky forms of religion:
-Joseph Smith is demonstrably one of the greatest frauds of all time, yet Mormonism is alive and well in the United States.
-According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we’ve been in the “last days” since 1914.
-Many of the thousands of believers who were in the Great Disappointment of 1844 formed the 7th Day Adventist Church, another wacky sect with crazy eschatological beliefs.
But of course, I don’t mean to pick on the weak ones.
About half of all Christians still believe that the Rapture is going to happen: they believe the bodies and corpses of all Christians, dead and alive, will suddenly disappear into God’s world, leaving all the non-Christians to suffer a period of tribulation.
If you believe in the above, and you suggest a date, then you’re a crazy crackpot fundamentalist. But if you believe in the above without saying a date, you’re a normal Christian.
Don’t don’t don’t draw any conclusions just yet. Remember what William Lane Craig said a week back about Biblical infanticide.
Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.
Sorry, no inspiration tonight. After all, I just found out that Bastrop High School’s graduation ceremony today featured a Lord’s Prayer.
I’m going to sign off for at least 12 hours to cool my mind…
Damon Fowler is a senior at Bastrop, a public high school in Louisiana. When he found out that his high school graduation ceremony would include Christian prayer, he shared his concerns with the principal and threatened to take legal action if his constitutional rights were to be violated.
As a result, the principal, Stacey Pullen, changed the program and agreed not to have official prayer at the ceremony.
For this, Damon Fowler was ostracized by virtually all his peers, many teachers, and even his mother. As his brother notes, the whole community is against him.
The town is creating mobs at churches as of last night to fight the decision of the school not to go through with the prayer (they didn’t want the ACLU breathing down their necks). Teachers have publicly insulted him.
One of those people was Mitzi Quinn, who said the following.
“And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates,” Quinn said.
That’s right. That’s a faculty member dissing a student for not contributing ANYTHING (just so she can justify an action so unconstitutional that it baffles even the most religious of minds).
All of this is bad enough. But guess what? The school let the prayer happen anyways [at a rehearsal, I think]. This went on without interruption, cheered on by Christians.
You can even watch the video.
This is beyond insane. Mobs and mobs of people cheering like it’s a football game. It’s like they win because they have an overwhelming majority.
This is exactly why the separation of church and state is so important. This is why something so seemingly trivial to some – school led prayer – is so fucking important. They’ve proved our point. This girl used prayer as a weapon to separate the Good Christians from The Others. To alienate. To shun. To mock. And even more disgustingly, the community cheers along like a pack of warriors who have defeated their enemy, and laugh condescendingly at the mention of a moment of silence.
Of course, the likelihood that these people are going to make a clean escape is zero. This is so illegal that it’s going to cost the school and the district much more money than they could possibly imagine, and it’s already sparking absolute outrage in the secular community.
But as we wait and see what happens next, there’s one thing I want to say from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you, Damon Fowler. There’s a support group on Facebook, and as you can see, there are many many people supportive of you. There are millions and millions of people around the world not only supporting you, supporting your cause, supporting your right to be treated fairly, but very inspired by you and your courage to fight for what is right.
I’m fortunate enough to have never been in your situation before, and I can only imagine what it feels like. “It’s the loneliest feeling in the world,” as Henry Drummond says in Inherit the Wind.
It’s that feeling when you know nobody sees you for who you are. It’s that feeling when your own mother refuses to talk to you because you’re an “agnostic.” It’s that feeling when you realize “the whole town hates me, aside from a few closet atheists that are silently supporting”. It’s that feeling when you hear people preaching all about love, fairness, and compassion and see those same people acting in the most cruel and illegal ways possible.
Sometimes it sucks to be a high schooler. But let me tell you something. I couldn’t have imagined how different life would be in college. I went to high school in a liberal city, but I still didn’t realize how many opportunities I would get later in life to meet amazingly smart, compassionate, and tolerant people . There are true friends everywhere to be found, and the world is much much bigger than the community you come from.
So my readers, please support Damon by joining the Facebook group and reading the inspirational comments on the Wall.
There’s also a scholarship fund for Damon.