Extraordinary claims require extraordinary shirts.

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Climate Change is a Hoax, Evolution is from Hell, Rape is a Gift - Vote for Me! November 06, 2012 08:54 5 Comments

 

With Your Help, Cute Robots Like This One Might Be Spared the Cruelty of Governing Officials With Little-to-No Intelligence. (Source: T3, NASA)

If You're A Fan of Logic, Science, and Reason, Maybe The Following People Do Not Deserve Your Vote Today

The headlining act today is Barack "Things Could Have Been Worse" Obama VS Mitt "Insert Binders-Full-Of-Women-Joke, 47-Percent-Remark, or Mormon-Reference Here" Romney. But those of us who have voted before might recollect, after waving off the fog of crushing responsibility and old people funk, that there's a lot more going on on Election Day. Each of us has the power to minutely influence not only the Presidential election, but myriad Congressional contests as well.

With that in mind, Dana Liebelson of the journalism website Mother Jones has compiled a list of the 9 Most Anti-Science Candidates in America, all of whom are up for election or re-election this today, November 6th. So, if the Curiosity Rover, newly classified species of frog, and confirmation of speculative subatomic particles give you a raging brainer, maybe those nine folks don't deserve to be making policy decisions in this country. Just maybe.

 

Hank Johnson Wields More Power Than Mortals Can Comprehend

I won't list them all here, but I've got to share my absolute favorite. Sure, there's Mr. Akin's  abominable belief that rape never results in pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," or Paul Broun's claim that "all that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory—all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." Classic stuff. But the cake and ice cream has to go to incumbent Georgia congressman Hank Johnson, who was concerned that Guam would be overpopulated to the point of TIPPING OVER. Yep... capsizing. Because islands are just like kayaks.

Do your duty. Then wipe your bottom and go vote!


Billboard to Do What No Debate Has Done - REALLY Address Romney's Faith October 21, 2012 23:46 35 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] I hope people can read tiny fine print as a mobile billboard zooms by. Because it's important. It's a real hope! I'm not being sarcastic! (Source: CNN)[/caption]

Organized Atheists Stick to the Plan of Using the Billboard as Their Only Tactic - BUT ON WHEELS

American Atheists have licked their wounds (has? wound?) after having their billboards pulled from the convention area in North Carolina a few months back, and have returned with a vengeance.  A billboard-powered vengeance!  ...It's a mild, easy-going sort of vengeance, according to a recent story from CNN.

While Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida leading up to his final showdown with the President, cruising the mean streets of the muggiest place on Earth will be a mobile billboard condemning the Mittster's religion for its exclusionist practices.  The billboard refers to the doctrine preventing black people from serving as priests (who am I kidding? Black men.  Women will ALWAYS be NEVER allowed to do ANYTHING), that is, until 1978, when Kolob's Space God sent a magic message to change the law.  It also refers to the ongoing discrimination towards the homosexual community (who am I kidding again? Gays.  Because lesbians will ALWAYS be NEVER considered IMPORTANT).

But! A twist! Mormons say that the billboard's claims are inaccurate!

"People are surely free to disagree with us on the facts," Dale Jones, a church spokesman, quickly damage-controlled in an email to CNN.  "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."

That's a very good point.  American Atheists just don't have the facts!   LIke the fact that, even though they're have always been black members of the Mormon church, they were originally prevented from becoming priests (something EVERY SINGLE MALE MEMBER of the Mormon church becomes) because every single black person has the mark of Cain and is a descendant of Bigfoot. (By the way, this didn't change in that "revelation.")  Or the fact that 80 to 90 percent of the door-to-door volunteers pioneering for Proposition 8 (the California state amendment that would only allow the union between a man and a woman be recognized and valid in the state) were of the LDS team, and that almost 200 grand was spent by the Mormon church towards Prop 8.  Yep. A church spent its funds to influence legislation of the right-refusing variety.  Exactly what they're not really supposed to do.

So, yes, feel free to point out that you do have specific demographics in your congregation.  But don't try to hide the face that you may not exactly want them there.

Go billboard, go billboard, go!  I feel like our store needs a Mormon shirt....


Glenn Beck Knows What God Can Do With His Finger October 05, 2012 05:55 11 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="615"] Glenn Beck, puffy and on the verge of tears. (Source: The Raw Story)[/caption]

Romney's Falling Poll Numbers Proof of Upcoming Miracle, says Washed-Up Talking Head

One nigh-worthless human being has interviewed another, resulting in the utterance of some ridiculous things, according to a recent Raw Story article (which means we all win!).  Glenn Beck (who has yet to move into the black hole of obscurity that consumes all useless mouthpieces) was interviewed by David Barton, whom you may remember as the author of The Jefferson Lies, which has been called "the least credible history book in print." The interview appears on "Right Wing Watch," which I'm sure is a wholly objective news outlet interested in only the truth**.  Within said interview, Beck opened his gaping flap chasm (tm) and uttered what we all know to be true - Mitt Romney was no one's first choice (which is odd, because weren't there like nine Republican candidates just six months ago?).

This means (according to Beck), "God is trying to make this so clear to us that if it happens [A Romney win in November], it’s his finger. Because nothing looks good.”  This leads to numerous questions:

  • Is god's plan to watch the voting process unfold, dictating the will of the nation's voters, and then ignore it and fudge the numbers?  Or
  • Is god going to enter the minds of each person within the voting booth and effectively undo free will for three minutes PER voter?
  • Why not simply make Romney a likable, effective, winnable politician, instead of leave him as someone that makes someone as Joseph-Smith-believingly thick as Glenn Beck say, "there’s no reason that I should feel good on this."
  • What's god's finger got to do with anything?

Finally, Beck was clear to say "if." I've gotta hand it to the man - it's a great way to cover your tushy when you're spouting pure, unfiltered malarky.  "Well, if Romney wins in spite of his crippling unpopularity and lack of any likable traits, it will clearly be God's finger doing the fingering. If Obama wins, then God works in mysterious ways.  Now excuse me while I return to my subterranean lair, half-submerged in my own tears, covered in chalkboards filled with my inane scribblings."*

If you'd like to suffer through two grown men verbally yank off over Mitt Romney, comparing him to George Washington in the process, you can watch the video here.

Yep, I got to write "God's finger doing the fingering". This is the tops!  Let's put that on a shirt!

 

*this may not in fact be a literal quote

 

**EDIT: Our intrepid readership has informed me that Right Wing Watch is a project from People for the American Way tasked with monitoring and reporting the extreme right.  Thanks for the info!


The One Thing About "Innocence of Muslims" October 01, 2012 17:45 31 Comments

I shared a link awhile back that got a reaction I did not expect in my wildest mescaline-induced hallucinations.  No, not the Atheism+ one (although, what fun, huh?) Not the old priest saying goofy sodomy things either.  I don't blame you - it was a month ago, and I can barely remember life before that awful Kia hamster commercials destroyed my ability to reason.  I'm talking about this one:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="390"] The same good-ol Bible-tearin-event from Huntington Beach. Remember? (Source: Examiner)[/caption]

Yeah! Now you're on board.  I was surprised by the response.  Many called this peaceful protest an act by "militant" atheists behaving in just the same manner as the Westboro Baptist Church; that they were extremists, that they were the "Mirror, Mirror" versions of religious zealots, complete with twisted goatee and cackling laugh.  Many called it stupid and childish, a pointless exercise geared only to annoy.  All of this surprised me to no end, and re-reading them now to find the best bits makes me ask the same question I asked in August - did we all read the same article?  I know 99.9999% of us weren't there, we didn't precisely see the demonstration, so we cannot fully know what went down on that boardwalk that day, but c'mon now - I'm still astonished that I can read this and see "peaceful demonstration that showed that much of the bible is genocidal, immoral, anachronistic and contradictory," and others see "antagonistic protest on par with bible-thumpers screeching that gays burn in eternal torment."

But I suppose that's neither here nor there.  I can't claim to understand the reaction of many of our readers, both here and on Facebook, but I do have a question - how do you (and I'm referring to you specifically, you who felt this demonstration, the tearing up of photocopied pages of the Bible that say, for instance, that a raped woman must marry her rapist, or that non-virgins on their wedding nights should be murdered, was appallingly overblown, offensive, and shocking) feel about the violence-inducing YouTube video making the rounds and causing "protests" in the middle east? Protests that have ended in the murders of many in Libya and Egypt.  How does that "demonstration" strike you?

I am, of course, referring to the quote (and I cannot put enough stress on the word QUOTE) "film" Innocence of Muslims, which is apparently responsible for mass outrage and violence in the Middle East.  Much has already been said about this, so much so that the United Nations is now considering a law against blasphemy.  I don't want this blog, this one in particular, anyway, to be about how offensive such a law would be to any self-respecting human being with an ounce of individual, unique thought in her or his head, but that's honestly how out-of-hand this has become.  In a wildly misguided attempt to poke fun and satirize the Muslim religion and its wacky ne'er-do-well prophet Mohammed, some jackwagon "named" "Sam Bacile" supposedly made an amateur desert battle film without religious overtones (think John Carter but with no money), and in post-production turned it into a mess of anti-Islamic gobbledygook.  It was then supported by Terry Jones (the awful pastor, not the great Monty Python member), who turned away from his pile of smoldering Qu'rans long enough to back a fourteen-minute YouTube video.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="280"] This dingus... (source: anorak.co.uk)[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="255"] ...not this mad genius (Source: tomsoter.com)[/caption]

Much of the film paints Mohammed as a child-molesting self-aggrandizing fool of a Took.  Naturally, in response to being portrayed as the followers of a violent zealot, many Muslim people have behaved as violent zealots, attacking and screaming and shouting and who knows what else.  And absolutely no one is surprised.  I must, at this point, link over to Sam Harris' brilliant and incisive blog post "On the Freedom To Offend an Imaginary God," in which he cuts to the quick the notion of any sort of "blasphemy," as well as the response.

I spoke last week a wee bit about the relationship between moderates and their fundamentalist kinfolk - how it resembles something out of a horror story: a hapless couple on their way to their honeymoon villa experiences car trouble in front of a ramshackle cabin in the woods.  Inside are some creepy folk, but basically decent.  They offer the use of their phone, offer a warm cup of coffee, all while keeping their guests far clear from the cellar door, emanating from which are grunts, scrapes, growls.  Fast forward - the young man is killed, his ingenue set upon by the beast hidden under the house.   When the authorities arrive (far too late - we've seen this film), the deranged mutant has been put down, but the family keeping him does nothing but attempt to assuage their guilt - that was our poor, deranged kin! We can't stand by his actions, but we've come to accept that our mutant cousin will occasionally break his chains and murder innocence city folk!

That's clearly what we're seeing here.  The violent fundamentalists, whose restraint is a tiny twist-tie against a tide of terrific turbulence, have already acted.  Their more moderate members march, merely menacing the majority with mottos of malice: "Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet," as Harris points out. How do we feel about these protests?  I'm well aware that there is a vast chasm of difference between tearing up photocopies of the Bible and calling for the ban of a YouTube video coupled with the immediate death of the filmmaker, but both fall under this ridiculous blanket of "blasphemy."  Again, Harris is quick to point out - any man, woman, or child has the human right to criticize any person, any idea, any belief (AND THIS LAST BIT IS THE IMPORTANT PART) without fear of violent retribution.

But there's one important bit that I think Harris neglects to mention, and this is The One Thing no one seems to mention, The One Thing completely overlooked in all this talk of protests and marches and hate mongering - did anyone actually bother to watch this video?  We've all talked about it, people have apparently been killed because of it.  But of all the angry folk marching and burning and screaming - did any of them take the fourteen minutes to sit down and really see what this had to say?  Or did they just hear that there's some video out there saying not-nice stuff about their main man?  This, to me, is so very vital.  Not just because it reveals an almost inherent desire to pick up the torch and join the mob, not just because it reveals how incredibly conciliatory many on the side of the victims are willing to be by decrying the freedom of speech, but because HOLY SHIT this "movie" is terrible!  I've watched it twice now, because I hate my human senses.  That's twenty-eight minutes of my life, this precious, mind-bogglingly statistically-unlikely gift, that I've not only flushed down the drain - I made sure the drain was filled with utter filth before flushing.  Seriously, it's really bad.  Any rational human being, whose first instinct when presented with "offensive" ideas is NOT murdering those responsible wouldn't cry, "this is a tasteless debasement of long-cherished ideas" or "I can see what they're going for - a satirization of the tenets of Islam - but boy is it uncalled for and rude," but "this is horseshit." The first instinct is to laugh.  To laugh and to laugh and to laugh.  It's so incredibly clear from watching and listening that this was some desert drama, filmed on a shoestring budget, onto eighty percent of which has been dubbed the random babblings of someone who either A) thought he was being satirical and clever by poking these holes in the story of Mohammed, or B) just wanted to be as anti-Islam as possible with what little brain power he had left after downing his seventh Pabst Blue Ribbon.  It honestly feels like the sort of scheme the wildly immoral characters from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia might pull.  I mean, it ends with a goofy Benny HIll-esque chase!

Apparently every single reference to Islam or Mohammed or the Qu'ran throughout the "film" is dubbed in, and was done so without the actors' knowledge or consent.  This guy got some people together to make a weird little desert battle filmlet, took it, and puked bigoted dumbness all over it.  It's just not all that good, is what I'm saying! Every time I see a response video on YouTube, I'm shocked when it's "I'm very upset, and I have every right to be," or "How could they! This is an affront to all we hold dear!" and NOT "HA HA HA! What an unwatchable turd of a film.  A mentally-challenged box turtle in a dark closet could make a more coherent and interesting movie!"  I could see marches in the streets if Mel Gibson poured 150 million dollars into the wide release of The Passion of Mohammed: Time Rapist, sure, yes, that would be pretty messed up.  But this? Come on - there's actual stuff going on in the world.   Let the internet swallow this up and forget about it like "Friday" and that guy who cried about Britney Spears under a bedsheet.  Where were the marches over those atrocities!?

I started by asking a serious question about some readers' responses to a mild little demonstration in Huntington Beach.  I imagine many will argue that the comparison between that and these two "demonstrations" - both the "movie" and the acts in its wake - is misguided, unfair.  And of course they're not the same.  My goal is to not only shine a light on what makes them different, but also their similarities.

  • Huntington Beach Protest: A peaceful protest on a serious subject.
  • Innocence of Muslims: Dumb-dumb-stupid, and anyone viewing it should become immediately aware of how no adult person could take it seriously.
  • Reaction to Film: A screaming throng vibrating with pure malice, lashing out at anyone who might represent those that may be responsible.

Clearly different.  Yet the first two have something that the third doesn't - the fact that they should be protected.  The fact that they SHOULD exist.  I have no problem with "Sam Bacile" making his hate film and putting it on the web.  Go to, speak your mind.  How many people has he hurt in creating it? How many fires lit?  The answer is zero.  A person's hair-trigger reaction to respond to a (shitty) film with violence is not the fault of the film or the filmmaker.  There is no such thing as the right to NOT be offended, and it's high time we stop being free to criticize everything BUT someone's beliefs.

I repeat: there is NO SUCH THING as the right to NOT be offended.

There are just far better ways to do it than this awful film.  If Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Room had a little 14-minute movie baby, it would point and laugh at this "movie."  Transformers 2 thought this movie would benefit from opening a textbook now and again.  The Star Wars prequels make fun of this movie when they're all riding the short bus together.

As always, I'm prepared to be one-hundred percent wrong. Thoughts, my lovelies?

Edit: After finishing this blog, I found this great quote from Real Time with Bill Maher that explains why the acts of violence in response to the film are so scattershot - why a US Embassy in response to a YouTube film?  Here:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="806"] I say the more tits the merrier. (Source: minus.com, Real Time with Bill Maher)[/caption]

I guess some people just don't "get" YouTube.


Working With Moderates? Sorry, I'm Too Much of a Logic Fundie September 19, 2012 18:35 9 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] Professor Jacques Berlinerblau, forcing me to type "Berlinerblau" again. (Source: Twitter)[/caption]

New Book from Biblical Scholar Bemoans "New Atheists" and Calls for Cooperation with Moderates

Associate Professor of Jewish Civilization and nonbeliever Jacques Berlinerblau has published a book entitled "How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom," according to a report from The Washington Post.  His book, filled with stirring calls to action to preserve the first amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion, is really a call for atheists to essentially back off and unite with religious moderates.  Probably.  I haven't read it.  I'm taking the article's word for it.  But let's continue as if that's the case, shall we?  Thanks.

Now, while his ultimate goal of secularism within all forms of government is incredibly admirable - I agree that religion and policy should never ever be any sort of bedfellows - I'm entirely opposed to his method.  He claims that there are many faithful in the world who favor church-state separation, and that these are our natural allies.  I do not see how they can be.  First of all - the existence of moderates within a faith allows for the existence of fundamentalists.  It just does.  If a massive majority follows 90 percent of the tenets of their faith, they have no choice but to turn the other cheek when the minority follows the other 10 percent to its (quite often literal) bloody end.  Second, he seems to be confusing the notions of respecting the existence of a belief and respecting the belief itself, or even the believer.  Why fashion ourselves into moderates, gradually becoming more and more accepting of the foolish and dangerous things put forth by even the most moderate of the faithful?  How is that making us any stronger? How is that a victory for logic and reason?  I have to acknowledge a person's right to believe any ridiculous nonsense they want.  What Berlinerblau calls for is one of the most clear examples of the "lesser evils" principle I've heard, and I'd rather stick to my guns than do something I'm already calling "evil."


Signs From God (And His Atheist Buddies) September 05, 2012 21:35 3 Comments

[caption id="attachment_185" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Never mind poverty or war atrocities - let's get as nit-picky as possible. (Source: Blogspot)[/caption]

I will never understand eighty percent of the billboard advertising I see.  I live in Las Vegas, so a portion of the highway-adjacent advertising I’m forced to gaze upon each day is devoted to the hotel-casino industry.  This falls into that eighty percent.  The only time I’ve ever found these images and words even the slightest bit engaging is when they inform me that, oh, say, Jerry Seinfeld is back at the Caesars Palace Coliseum next month for a two-night engagement.  That kind of time-sensitive information is useful on a billboard (unless it's an infuriating digital billboard).  Everything else?  Telling me The Orleans has looser slots?  An ad about the Stratosphere’s luxurious rooms?  This is information better disseminated through television or in-flight magazine, or at least far out of town, on the highways into Vegas, where the laziest of tourists have yet to make a decision on where to stay.  These ads show up on our local highways and byways.  It’s weird.  The only other billboard images I find useful when you’re driving cross-country and are notified about something-that-shouldn’t-exist-but-does-and-now-you-have-to-visit-it.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="550"] The history of grease and salt REVEALED (Source: Travaux Pratiques Encadres)[/caption]

But the billboards telling me when Family Guy airs in syndication on a local cable channel, when Shrek 6 comes out, or telling me that, since Kermit the Frog doesn’t do drugs, I shouldn’t either – we can agree on their uselessness, right?

Forbes did its own report late last year with some very interesting  numbers (interesting to billboard salespeople and enthusiasts, I guess), and it looks like people are indeed influenced to visit stores or attend events based on what they learn from billboard advertising.  Good for them.  But enough of my lengthy and winding introduction.  You’re visitng TheProudAtheist blog – you’re wondering where they godlessness kicks in.  Here you go:

The ones that drive me up metaphorically furthest up the nonexistent wall are the most useless, ineffectual, bland messages, and Las Vegas, the city of sin, is dotted with them; disgusting moths blotting out the otherwise bright, friendly, prostitute-illuminating light of our city:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="430"] I guess he's working the door now? (Source: The Examiner)[/caption]

 

My "favorites:" the ones that just say “GOD” or “Jesus” or “3:14” or worse, like this lovable chestnut that will be maddeningly familiar to anyone that daily cruises the I-15: Infuriatingly, I cannot find a picture of it, but all it says, in huge letters, is “Hi! – your BFF, GOD.”   “Hi!” is in huge letters, and then there’s the little indication that this is a quote from “GOD.”  And then, in red ink, is “Your BFF.”  Like he forgot to mention it before he had the billboard design commissioned.  Garbage.  Pointless.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="430"] I doubt they wanted us to associate the resurrection with skid marks. Tee hee... skid marks. (Source: The Examiner)[/caption]

 

Now, I do not want to anyone to get the right idea: I am in no way advocating that these billboards (these stupid, pointless billboards) MUST come down because they are in some way discriminatory or exclusionist to people of other faiths or those without faith.  Put up whatever the hell you want, you know?  Unless your billboard says “Hi, it’s your BFF, God, here – if you could just start murdering all of the non-believing infidels down there and salting the earth where they stand so that nothing can grow there again, you know, like I told you IN THE BIBLE, that’d be great,” I really can’t demand it come down.  I can, however, point out how empirically USELESS they are, right?  I mean… who is that for?  What real-life Ned Flanders is getting a warm and fuzzy pick-me-up from this bland messaging during their morning commute?  It’s more than likely not getting any Easter-and-Christmas-only asses in pews, and certainly isn’t a compelling enough argument (which it isn’t, it’s not an argument, it's big dumb words) to convince ANYONE in with the least bit conviction in what they currently believe to convert.  And convert to what?  Which “god” is this that is supposedly my BFF?  Is Protestant GOD my BFF, but Anglican GOD kind of lost track of his friends after college, and now getting coffee would be more awkward than fun?  And when did he start communicating with me like he’s the friend from high school writing a hasty message in my yearbook before he spent the summer at tennis camp?  I don’t want a deity that lets me know he’s thinking of me via Las Vegas billboard.  And, what, he’s EVERYONE’s BFF?  I thought we had something special, God.  What about that time we hit that hobo with your stepdad’s Jetta, and we both handled it like adults and never talked about it again but it bonded us for life and now we’ll have each other’s backs for like, ever, man? Do you just have that with EVERYONE?

 So, I think those words in that order up there has made a compelling case for the uselessness of religious billboards.  At least, the boring, “JESUS” ones.  The ones that are super-specific, like Harold Camping’s hilarious May 21st rapture billboards,  I am all for.  Anything that gives us a specific date in which people will be proven wrong (and which, coincidentally, spurs the creation of a number of bitchin’ parties) knock yourselves out.  But the blade cuts both ways: atheists have been using the ancient and mystical art of elevated cardboard to promote their unique message or organization of quite a while:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="573"] Delicious, Godless Fruit. (Source: Stephenphotos)[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] I didn't until this billboard. Thanks! (Source: CNN)[/caption]

Again, I have no problem with these particular examples. They’re stating a message about themselves simply and honestly.  But there are others, and recent events have made them worth talking about at length: I’m sure you were aware of this, but about two weeks ago (which goes to show how long I’ve been sitting on this article as we’ve waited for our blog page to be more kickass), this happened.  That’s a news report from August 13th about the billboards put up by American Atheists in Charlotte, North Carolina ahead of the Democratic National Convention.  There are two different designs, one targeting Christianity and the other Mormonism: the Christian billboard has an image of Jesus appearing on some toast, as he is oft-want to do ever since the invention of cameras, with statements like “Sadistic God, Useless Savior” and “Promotes Hate; Calls it Love.”  The Mormon version has some sort glowing guy leaping for joy – Oh! I just got it! He’s in his magic under”garments,” and it says “God is a Space Alien,” and “Baptizes Dead People.”    Now, you and I know that these are pretty accurate, if a little blunt, descriptions of some of the problems with these faiths: the LDS church has some nutty beliefs and even nuttier practices, and the most well-read of us could probably recite Dawkins’ summation of the god of the Christian bible from “The God Delusion” from memory.  You know, the bit about him being a jealous, malicious prick.

 These billboards were put up by American Atheists in a valiant effort to show that both of the candidates for the upcoming Presidential election use part of their brains to worship and obey their imaginary friends, and on paper that’s a great idea (the exposing of the beliefs, not that the potential leaders of the free world follow ancient mystic texts).  But is it the right tact for this message?  The billboard?  Again, just like the pointless “What happens in Vegas, IS PAID FOR WITH AN ETERNITY IN HELL” crap I can see on my freeways, the usefulness of this sort of advertising is questionable at best.  These billboards aren’t letting readers know about a new sale at Macy’s or Engelbert Humperdink’s 2-night engagement at the airport Hilton lounge: they’re trying to attack firmly held beliefs on both sides.  Most atheists who have had the joyous feeling of converting a religious friend to a humanist and freethinking view of life will probably agree that it is a hard road – there are hours to be spent providing convincing arguments, presenting empirical evidence, and pointing out misconceptions and fallacies.  If the goal of these billboards was conversion, I was one-hundred-percent convinced they would fail out of hand. In the same way that I’m not going to be convinced that “god is my best friend forever” because of a billboard, no Mormon is going to read these and think, “you know what? Baptizing dead people is a bit sketchy.  In fact, now that I take a second to think about it, the whole mess seems far-fetched! Thanks, American Atheists!” The signs are too mean-spirited, too blunt and harsh.  The believer must be coddled, softly rocked back and forth until they are fully awake.  Plunging the believer head first in the icy water of truth will only cause him or her to jump back out that much faster – it’s got to be slow.  It’s very much like The Matrix.  It seems like these billboards are more about making a fuss and getting an atheist presence seen at the conferences:  a noble idea, but there are better ways.  I wish I could talk about this for the entire post, and I had planned on it, had even newer news not reared its ugly, free-speech-shitting-upon head (or, more accurately, if it’s shitting upon things, anus).

I’m sure we all saw this coming – the billboards? The dumb ones I’m not really in favor of because their message seems more cruel than helpful? Yeah, they’ve been yanked, days before the conference.  How utterly shocking and completely out of left-field.

The billboards, which had been scheduled to remain up through the DNC and then removed September 6th were taken down August 23rd after, you guessed it, violent threats were issued against the company that put them up.  American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising company both received VIOLENT THREATS after (SURPRISE) a story about the billboards appeared on the (HERE COMES MORE OF THAT SURPRISE I JUST MENTIONED) Fox News website.

 Yep.  Regular readers of Fox News saw the story, and the first thought that appeared in their turn-the-other-cheek, do-unto-others Christian Jesus Lamb Of God minds was to threaten two groups of people with violence.  Imagine a little scenario: instead of Christian and Mormon, as our current candidates are, let’s say the very improbable happened and we had a Jewish candidate running against a Hindu candidate.  If American Atheists put up one billboard mocking eight days of magic oil and other hullabaloo from the Old Testament, and the other about elephant-headed gods and a magic wheel of reincarnation, would there be violent threats demanding that the ads in question be removed?  Let’s go even further, to a future that probably won’t exist for decades: it’s two atheist opponents! And some Christian fringe organization puts up billboards mocking our belief in the Big Bang and Evolution, in morals without a God.  Would you see a massive influx of angry letters from atheists vowing violent retribution for being treated in such a manner?  Would we see that free speech applies to the majority only, and if it’s used to present opposing ideas, all you have to do is bellow loudly enough to shut it down completely?! I don’t picture the same vitriol coming from Judaism or Hinduism (and certainly not humanists, agnostics, and atheists) the way we see daily, in and out, like the coming and going of the tides, from Christians.  Where does this rampant hate come from?  The most enthusiastic and optimistic atheist might claim it is the spastic flailing of the dying – they might hope that these are the last acts of an opponent on the ropes, desperately swiping at any potential threat before it collapses, beaten.  I, sadly, can’t agree.  I don’t know where it comes from, but it certainly isn’t from ethics or morality.  It's from exclusivity and segregation, a hatred of the differing and differed. The only solace, and it’s meager, it is half-a-bean’s solace to a hungry, hungry hobo, is that at least the billboard eliciting these violent threats is an actual attack on Christianity.  It doesn’t get more blatant than calling your God sadistic.  But how is it that these people, whom I’m sure have stable lives, with steady jobs, with the skills required to drive cars and book travel on faulty and inconsistent websites, are unable to see the difference between an attack on an idea (an incorporeal thing that only exists in the minds that allow it the luxury) and actual people?  There must be something inherent in these indoctrinated beliefs that makes rational people, who wait patiently in checkout lines and no longer discipline their children physically, make this leap to the threat of physical violence.  One could hope that the threats were not in earnest – that it was just a scare tactic, and if they had not worked, there would indeed be zero violence over a couple of billboards, but one never knows.  And how long until its perceived attacks on Christianity – not real criticisms like the billboards, but the absurdities of the “War on Christmas” and the like – receive the same response?  It’s harrowing to think that if such behavior continues, there may be a new definition for “Christian fundamentalist,” one closer in line with its Islamic lexicographical brother.

 One thing’s for sure, though.  Billboards suck.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="550"] Except This One. (Source: This Blog Rules)[/caption]

 


ExMormons On Mitt August 13, 2012 15:09 5 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="503"] A billboard advertising ex-Mormon support groups; Mormon pioneer leader Brigham Young in front of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City; Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; ex-Mormon Sue Emmett. (Source: Getty Images; AP Photo)[/caption]

Brigham Young's descendant on Mormons and Mitt

The Daily Beast has caught up with Sue Emmett, the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young and current president of the ExMormon Foundation, to get her take on why she left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and how she feels about current Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.  Brigham Young, if you don't know, was the founder of Salt Lake City and the Mormon president and prophet for 30 years, and is famous for stating, about increasing his flock, quote, "I don't care how you bring 'em, just bring 'em young."

Ahem.

Emmett's comments fall right in line with what I've heard about Mormonism - it spends most of its money promoting the image that many of its followers expemplify: honest, wholesome family values.  That's so you don't know about A) all the crazy stuff, and B) all the intolerant crap, most of which Emmett details in her quest for equal treatment as a Mormon woman.  When talking about Romney, she brings up the White Horse Prophecy, which sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, but is probably at the forefront of Mitt's mind, no matter how much he says it isn't.  The thing that astonished me the most? Emmett is of the opinion that Mitt's father, George Romney, who ran for President in 1968, "would have made a much better president. In many ways the church was more benign then than it is now.”  Staggering.  Apparently, at the height of rampant racism within the Mormon church, it was MORE BENIGN than it is now.  Yeesh.  Take the time to click here and read the full article over at The Daily Beast.


The Religio-Industrial Revolution Will Be Televised August 12, 2012 11:48 1 Comment

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="330"] One of many mega-churches around the nation, funneling untold dollars into the "religio-industrial" complex (Source: GodDiscussion.com)[/caption]

Richard Dawkins Foundation to expose the Lives of The Rich and Religious

From GodDiscussion.com comes the first information on a new documentary intended to reveal just how much of a cash cow this whole tax-free religion thing is.  From Sean Faircloth, RDF's Director of Strategy and Policy, ""Today, I am announcing that the Richard Dawkins Foundation U.S. is starting a project to expose  the religio-industrial complex through a professional documentary that reveals both the human injustices caused by fundamentalism in law but also the lifestyles of the rich and religious.  And you can help.  With a little bit of investigating of public records and Google maps, you can in your state document what is happening and show that this is a pervasive problem and not an anomaly.  And don’t forget the homes of the children and the siblings who are called by God to get a really sweet tax exemption."  GodDiscussion catalogues Faircloth's lengthy speech at the most recent TAM (The Amazing Meeting) in Las Vegas, and the article concludes with the full video.  To get the email address so you can help out, click here to be taken to the full article, where you can watch said video.  I was at TAM this year, but I was too busy shakin' it at Penn Jillette's Bacon and Doughnuts Party to hear anything other than killer tunes.  Let that be a lesson - important smart stuff first, get stupid later.


Birth Control For Some, Pointed Hats and Opulent Churches for Others August 10, 2012 14:11 1 Comment

President Obama at a campaign event in Akron (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images / August 1, 2012)

Bishops winning support, Obama winning Voters

How they can both be winning is a mystery to me, but apparently that's what's happening in the ongoing contraceptive battle. While Catholic bishops continue to gain support for their battle to not help people because every sperm is sacred, President Obama's plan to provide free contraceptives to women (and I guess men, too, probably) is seeing a surge in support from, drum roll, Catholics! Apparently there are some Catholics out there that understand that giving people rights doesn't limit the rights of others. Click to read the story from the LA Times.