Showing all posts for #Secular Vs. Religious
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Secular message not well received as House of Reps daily prayer

Published June 6th, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

juan-mendez

I like this — Arizona Rep. Juan Mendez offered the daily prayer at a floor session, and instead of God talk, he spoke about tolerance and the values we share as humans, and the duty of government to look past religious divisions:

Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.

This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

What a great sentiment, and surely the members of the House, even if religious, appreciated such a positive message.

Except for Rep. Steve Smith, who felt it necessary to re-do the prayer the next day in repentance. What a douche.

Some articles:

About Rep. Mendez’s secular daily prayer

About Rep. Smith, butt-hurt, re-doing the prayer

I look forward to the day when Pastafarian members of the House can speak openly about their one True faith.

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Where is the evidence?

Published April 7th, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

Here’s a video that has been making the rounds.   Richard Dawkins shows great patience in interviewing Creationist Wendy Wright.  I find it painful to watch but also fascinating.

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Signs of an Enlightened School Board

Published July 16th, 2012 by Bobby Henderson

enlightened_schoolboard

It appears the Flying Spaghetti Monster has infiltrated local levels of government here in Okanagan Falls, Canada. This is a service vehicle used by the Regional District’s School Board!

-Wes

Nice to see a school board with some sense.

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Melbourne counter-demonstration: Muslims and Pastafarians Vs. Atheists

Published June 11th, 2012 by Bobby Henderson

During lunch break on Sunday April 15th  at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, a group of 20 or so courageous Muslim extremists gathered in front of the convention center filled with 4000 Atheist unbelievers. They were quickly joined by two Pastafarians and shoulder to shoulder they demonstrated against those ignorant Atheists who do not understand Creation nor fear God. Islam and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism have the same core beliefs in common; we believe (and truly know) that the universe and all living beings were created by a deity and a Prophet spoke in His name. We just have different opinions about  the name of that god and Prophet and also treat our wenches slightly differently. Apart from that, Islam and Pastafarianism: Same struggle!

In the attached pictures you will see the Muslims demonstrating in full Islamic regalia together with Pastafarians in colander head gear holding up the Gospel and a fresh pack of Spaghetti. On the windows in the background you might see the reflection of a Pirate Ship. Coincidence??

Pesto be upon all Believers,

VinZ

IMG_3645_Along_came_a_Wench

IMG_3646_Him

IMG_3648_Pasta_Gospel_and_Colanders

IMG_3652_Can_you_find_Him_and_the_Pirate_Ship

IMG_3653_FSM_Is_The_Creator

IMG_389680_Pastafarian_and_muslims_convincing_unbelievers

Pasta Brothers

Pastafarian Preaching along Muslim brothas

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Oregon faith-healing couple found guilty of manslaughter

Published September 30th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

image

From kwtx:

Dale and Shannon Hickman of Oregon City, Ore., who prayed for their ailing prematurely born son rather than seeking medical care, have been found guilty of felony manslaughter.

Prosecutors claimed Shannon Hickman never sought prenatal care and the couple never considered taking the premature infant to the hospital.

The child was born with a bacterial infection and underdeveloped lungs and died within nine hours after he had trouble breathing.

The Hickmans’ attorney claimed religious persecution and said there was no evidence that medical care would have saved the baby.

Faith healing is one of those areas where I can ignore it as a so long as it’s affecting themselves.  But it’s very sad when parents are making reckless choices for their kids.  I am happy to see this case worked out and hopefully it will cause some religious groups to do some critical thinking.

Some believe this case illustrates how evil religion is. I wavered on posting the article because that is not the point I wanted to make. More to the point, I believe the Church of FSM is not just another anti-religion club. A lot of us have the view that religion is harmful and antiquated, but a lot of us also accept that a huge number of people feel they get something positive out of their faith and their religious communities.

So I am cautious about posting things that promote the idea that the world would be better off without religion. Because, more than anything, I don’t believe it’s in the scope of the Church of FSM to make that statement.

The point I want to make is this: instead of drawing the line between the religious and non-religious, let’s draw the line between the reasonable and unreasonable. Let’s criticize a culture that values faith over reason, rather than religion itself.

Why? We know plenty of religious people and we realize that the majority of Christians do not reject modern medicine for their children. We personally know people who get something positive from their religious communities and yet still act with reason.

These are the people who might believe in some scripture, but they also realize that their faith does a poor job of explaining the natural world. They are not blinded by faith, they are reasonable. We need these people to promote the value of reason within their communities.

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David Attenborough Vs. Creationism

Published September 25th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Sir David Attenborough

The Telegraph has an article about my all-time favorite Naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, and the campaign he’s joined to combat religion in science.

The naturalist joined three Nobel laureates, the atheist Richard Dawkins and other leading scientists in calling on the government to tackle the "threat" of creationism.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the BHA, said: "Evolution is probably the most important idea underlying biological science and we support the view of many experts that it should be introduced right from primary level in all state-maintained schools.

"At the same time, the threat of creationism and ‘intelligent design’ being taught as science is real and ongoing, particularly as more and more schools are opened up to be run by religious fundamentalists.

"It has never been more urgent for concrete steps to be taken to ensure that all state schools teach evolution, and not creationism, and we urge the Government to implement the simple and sensible measures suggested in this new statement."

I love that Sir David Attenborough has gotten involved.  I worry when the ones who make a stand come off as petty and one-dimensional.   David Attenborough is such a likeable guy, and his work so accessible … I think a whole lot of people are all the sudden going to want to listen.  

Here is my favorite video from Mr. Attenborough’s Planet Earth:

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Pastafarianism in the military

Published July 26th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Here’s a guest post by Justin Griffith.  Justin is well known for his fight against the idea that “there are no Atheists in Foxholes”.  He was recently profiled in the New York Times for his activism.

FSM_dogtags

A little while ago, news broke about a Pastafarian winning the right to wearing a pasta strainer on his head for his official driver’s license photograph *edit: it seems that there was no legal battle*. Coincidentally, around the same time, I got a few emails from the contributors to a Wikipedia article on Religious Symbols in the US Military asking if I would contribute a photograph of my Atheist dog tags.

Shortly after I donated the photograph to Wikipedia, the photo was added to the Flying Spaghetti Monster entry as well. Awesome.

I actually have a few funny stories about FSM and the Army. *warning: quoting a Drill Sergeant is NSFW*

Why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was bigger than Jesus in boot camp.

Holy_Book

There are strict rules about what non-military texts you can posses during boot camp. They only allow one book, and it must be a holy book from your religion. As you’d expect from this rule, there were a few Bibles, a Koran, and even a Book of Mormon in various wall-lockers in my company. Most people just didn’t have a book at all.

I, however, brought my copy of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

My book was incredibly popular, and people kept talking about it during the few short breaks you get during the typical boot camp day. Then other people would hear about it and ask me if they could borrow it. Everyone laughed like a bastard, and really enjoyed it.

Many people told me that the book really made some sense to them. I must have accidentally converted dozens of people, as the humorous parody religion’s messages actually sank in.

Drill Sergeant VS Flying Spaghetti Monster

At one point my Drill Sergeant tried to take it away from me. He thought it was just some book that I smuggled in. Keep in mind that Drill Sergeants are professionally trained in the art of not laughing at anything (yelling and freaking out are more appropriate responses to most situations.)

Anyway, this is the gist of the conversation:

Drill Sergeant: “Private Griffith – is that some contraband?”

Me: “No, Drill Sergeant. It’s my holy book.

Drill_Sargeant

Drill Sergeant: “Give that to me…” *Yoink!* “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? What the fuck?”

Me: ”I’m a Pastafarian, Drill Sergeant.”

[he shot me a look like he was t minus 5 seconds from throwing me into the Sun]

Drill Sergeant: “Are you fucking with me? Are you fucking with me at 0600, Private Griffith? Before I even get some goddamned breakfast?”

[I did my best to return the intensely humorless stone face.]

Me: “No, Drill Sergeant.”

Drill Sergeant: “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? I don’t fucking believe it!!!”

Me:I believe it, Drill Sergeant.”

Drill Sergeant: “What the hell is wrong with you, warrior?”

[I went for broke]

Me: “Drill Sergeant, I’m afraid I can’t really talk to you about this any further unless I’m in my religious clothing. I need to be in full pirate regalia, or at the very least wearing an eye patch.”

….Then he just looked at me for about 30 seconds. Crickets. Time stopped… The other soldiers that were around were extremely scared of the coming mass punishment they imagined that I had surely just earned them.

Then he flipped through the book. He read a few sentences out loud. And then it happened.

He smiled.

Then he handed me my book and told me to do some push ups – a slap on the wrist. And my punishment was really only for making him smile, not for anything else. He just couldn’t bring himself to treat this situation like every other situation.

My recruiter put his own religion on my forms, instead of Atheist.

First off, I actually had quite an ordeal simply getting my ID tags to accurately reflect my atheism. When I was speaking to Army recruiters, the first one that I worked with was a very religious person. Normally, this isn’t relevant. However, when asked what my religion was, I answered “Atheist”. He entered a “Baptist” variation.

At one point he asked me to look over his computer screen for any errors, and I hastily fixed this. I only had a few seconds, so I scrolled through the list and found “NO-REL-PREF”. A few days later, I had more issues with this recruiter and asked to be assigned to another one. He was great, but I guess he forgot to fix my religious preference on my forms as I requested. A similar set of circumstances prevented the mistake from being corrected when they were being issued at Basic Training.

YES-REL-PREF

Religious Preference – that’s the Army’s term. It’s a little garish and awkward, but it does the job. I was pissed off that I was stuck with dog tags that said “NO-REL-PREF”. I do have a religious preference – “none for me please… Atheist!” That’s not the same as “I don’t have a religious preference”.

I’ve thought about religion quite seriously, and I most certainly have a preference. Atheist has been on the military’s approved list of responses to this question for quite some time, so I was not breaking any barriers. I was finally told that I could (and did) change my religious preference to Atheist on my paperwork, but that I couldn’t receive updated dog tags. I was told that soldiers change their last names and religious preferences frequently enough, but must get their updated dog tags made off post at their own expense.

I was a little bit angered that I now had to buy my own set of ID tags to fix this, but at least I had an answer and a way forward.

FLY-SPA-MON

Being a former creationist, I really identified with Flying Spaghetti Monster meme. Leaving creationist indoctrination was a long and painful journey for me. Absurd as FSM might be, it’s as culturally significant to me as religion is to many others. I truly identify with it, appreciating both the humor and the reality underpinning the parody religion.

Obviously, a strictly serious answer to the question about my religious preference is “Atheist”. But given the amount of hassle I went through to get my dog tags corrected – I decided it was time for some levity. Unfortunately, the limited writing space is a factor. I considered these:

FLY-SPA-MON
PASTAFARIAN

But I wanted to include ATHEIST too, so in the end I settled with

ATHEIST / FSM

And I’m happy with that. Yes, these are legitimate ‘officially accepted’ dog tags by the way. Interestingly, there are more than a few that legitimate sets that say “Jedi Knight”.

You can check out Justin’s excellent website Rock Beyond Belief here.

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Vandalism update

Published June 16th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

KTVZ in Bend put up an article about the community response to the Bend church vandalism.  Very cool – I am happy to see this.

To most people, there is nothing humorous about crime, or religious beliefs.

But a group with a name many would find amusing is very serious about helping two churches vandalized in its name.

Word of Sunday night’s tagging spread to Pastafarian members with the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and atheists across the country.

One of them decided to do something about it – from halfway across the country.

"You know, when I saw this church get vandalized and someone did it, I guess through atheism or Pastafarianism, I just figured the church, even though they are wrong and even though I disagree with their beliefs, they didn’t deserve this," atheist Hemant Mehta said Wednesday. "So I think a lot of readers on my site would agree with this, so I asked them if they would consider chipping in."

Hemant Mehta, who goes by "the friendly atheist," created a church cleanup donation fund online from his home in Chicago.

You can check out the full article here.

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in to the cleanup fund. 

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Vandalism is Not OK

Published June 15th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

image

Last night, vandals spray-painted “Praise the FSM” and pirate-fish on two Christian churches in Bend, Oregon.

This is not ok.  This is counter to everything we stand for and acts like these only set back our cause.  I don’t know who did this, but I will try to find out.

image

From KTVZ in Bend:

"Praise the FSM": These are the words written, spray-painted and tagged across not one, but two churches on opposite sides of Bend Sunday night.

When Pastor John Bluebaugh of Christian Life Center got the news Monday morning, his first thought was, "Not again."

"Really, what went through my mind was, about six months we were tagged as well," said Bluebaugh. "It was the same kind of deal — different symbols, different sayings, but the exact same places."

There are markings left six months ago from vandals who drew Harry Potter-type slogans across the church.

Now, they’ve got a whole different mess to deal with. The graffiti apparently refers to The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an online group of people who claim they do not believe in religion but rather in what they call Pastafarianism.

Let’s set an example and clean this up.

Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist has started a cleanup fund.  Please chip in if you can.

From Hemant:

I don’t know how much the cleanup will cost, but if more money is raised than they need, I’ll give the rest to Foundation Beyond Belief (an organization that encourages atheists to give to secular charities).

Just a note: I know there is a feeling by some that it’s not our place to raise money for Christian churches. But let’s be clear, this is only about making a bad situation right. It’s in our interest to send a message that we don’t approve of vandalism. Ideally it will be our response that people remember, not the vandalism by a few who don’t get what we’re about. So, let me just say thank you to everyone who has chipped in, and especially to Hemant for organizing the fund.

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Zack Kopplin Vs. The Louisiana Science Education Act

Published May 28th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

 

Here’s a video of Zack Kopplin on Hardball last night.  Zack is the student battling the Lousiana Science Education Act – a law that would allow “supplemental textbooks and other teaching materials” into science classrooms.  Zack saw this (correctly) as a backdoor method to teach Creationism and has been leading the fight against it.

Some of us remember the LSEA bill passing in 2008.  Zack’s been trying to get it repealed since then.  He found a senator to sponsor the repeal and has since found thousands of supporters (including over 40 Noble Laureates).  Yesterday Zack brought teachers and scientists to testify in favor of the repeal in front of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee.

Zack makes a couple excellent points on Hardball.  One is that science *is* a process of critical thinking (one of the ostensible purposes of the law is to promote critical thinking).  Another point is that a state’s science standards determine how their students will be viewed elsewhere. 

He also slams Michelle Bachman which is both fair and entertaining.

All in all it was an excellent appearance.  Zack deserves a lot of credit for his work.  I for one am very impressed and I’m confident he has a bright future ahead of him.  Whatever the fate of the repeal, Zack’s done a tremendous service for the cause of rationality.  The fight is as important as the outcome.  The Louisiana legislature may reject reason for a few more years but the rest of the world has benefited from watching this ordeal.   There are bills similar to the LSEA all across the country – it’s an ongoing struggle, and I’m glad there are people like Zack on our side.

Zack, please let us know if you need anything from Team FSM.  We have your back.

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