Showing all posts for #Secular Vs. Religious
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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

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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.

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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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402 Comments

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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Awkward Billboard is Awkward

Published May 22nd, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Billboard placed in Greensboro, North Carolina after Rapture fails to show.

Does anyone know the story on this billboard? It almost looks like a moderate Christian group mocking the Rapture sect for their extreme views.

What I am wondering is this: when the world did not end, did it cause anyone to become more rational? Or will the Doomsdayers become stronger believers (as sometimes happens in cults) – and more importantly, do moderate Christians feel their interpretation of the bible has been validated?

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Colombia Pastafarians First Meeting

Published April 25th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Dear Friends at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,

We celebrated last Friday the event of the reference. It took place at the "Plaza de la Paz" [Right in front of the Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral] in Barranquilla, Colombia. Though we were only 25 Pastafarians, the presence of his Noodliness was strong. The opportunity served us to settle an agenda of activities that are planned in order to promote the idea of the separation of church & state, a secular view of the world, and of course, the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I´m not sure of how well informed are you about what´s going on here in Colombia, but under the Uribe administration freedom of beliefs was not cherished [measures that undermine the spirit of the Constitution of 1991 were taken, like forcing the teaching of religion again in schools and granting privileges to the Catholic Church]. The previous constitution was adopted in1886, which made Colombia a confesional state, namely, a Catholic one. This means that in the past 9 years we got back over a 100 years on the subject of rights, having to witness cases related to the discrimination towards other beliefs, not to mention those who are agnostic or atheists. The situation is really one to worry about: picture yourself the General Prosecutor boycotting a law that allows women to abort if (1) Malformation of the fetus, (2) Grave risk for the mother´s life & (3) Pregnancy being a result of rape. Guess what? This member of the government is affiliated to the "Legionaries of Christ"[!!!], and offered a number of different phony legal explanations to promote the figure of "conscientious objection of institutions" [Yeah, right, that´s what he argued] so as to allow different hospitals to deny the services to women that requested the practice of abortions under the above mentioned three circumstances [as granted by a Sentence of the Constitutional Court]. In the practice, he has put forward an agenda that implicitly accepts it is good to be first a believer and then a member of the government. Going beyond the discussion on abortion, no matter if one is in favor or against it, it is simply outrageous that a member of the government decides that it is legal to brake the law.

Since some of us got sick & tired of this & other similar cases, we decided to open a FB group called "Primera Iglesia del Monstruo de Spaghetti Volador de Barranquilla". The attached pictures were taken the day of the meeting. We hope to make a small contribution & that you include this news on the site.

May he touch & enlighten us all with his noodly appendage!

Sincerely yours,
René J. Campis C.
Pastafarian

(more…)

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He Boiled For Your Shirt

Published April 19th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

I’ve added a few additions to the store, including the “He Boiled For Your Sins” shirt above. I got some upset emails about the ‘He Boiled’ designs posted here before (some of you will remember Kaitlyn’s He Boiled poster from a few weeks ago), and at the time I felt it was too polarizing to add to the store. But a few things have turned me around since then.

I talked with some of the upset people and tried to understand why this design, more than others, irked them. What I heard was that they felt it was directly mocking Christianity, directly mocking Jesus for his sacrifice and you’re wrong to question what I know to be True. The conversations were for the most part civil, but I detected a sticking point around the idea of Original Sin.

There is a strong belief that Jesus died for mankind’s sins among this group, and a strong belief in Original Sin – the idea that we are born guilty, or born with a tendency towards a sinful lifestyle. Only “belief” is not a strong enough word – they felt it was unshakable truth, and that questioning this was the highest offense.

I feel everyone has a right to their beliefs, but I also feel strongly that no ideas are above scrutiny, and that Unquestionable Truths have dangerous potential, whatever the idea at the root of it. The context makes it an unstable force, not necessarily the content.

Original Sin is True, therefore unbaptized babies in non-Christian countries are doomed to Hell. The people who can believe this without inner conflict are under the influence of an Unquestionable Truth.

So then, the shirt. Is there value in questioning in what Can Not Be Questioned? I think there is, and I think the people who do the questioning are working for the cause of reason. Some people will only see our group as being willfully disrespectful. Some of us will only see theirs as culture that values irrationality, that rejects reason. But I have talked to many religious people who believe faith is not a virtue – or at least, that faith is not necessarily a virtue – who value reason more than dogma. These people don’t feel threatened by our group. All in all, I think this shirt is a force of good in the world and I hope most people will get that.

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Indiana Abortion Drama

Published April 7th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

“I mean, do a group of old white ladies govern what goes on with my balls? No. They don’t. But this is what happens in America. Old white men who believe in an invisible man in the sky get to say what goes on in all women’s vaginas.”  – Ned Hepburn, Death and Taxes.

fatwhite
Old white men

Death and Taxes magazine has an enlightening article on the showdown in Indiana over abortion you might want to check out.

Some background information: Indiana republicans are attempting to pass a bill to make abortions illegal after the 20th week.  Democrats are opposed, and back and forth discussions have turned nasty – at one point Eric Turner, a republican House of Representatives member, suggested women may fake a rape in order to get an abortion.

As much as I want to stay away from political (and emotionally charged) issues, it seems that there is something more insidious happening here that needs attention.  It’s plain this is less about governing and more about pushing a conservative, religious, agenda.  More and more we’re seeing this brazen attitude where government officials are doing “God’s work” – not always explicitly declared, but not uncommon, either – and more worryingly, no longer is this seen as an extreme position by many.  A disturbing number of people don’t see anything wrong with this, they somehow think that state capitals and courtrooms are a proper venue for these ideological battles. 

Regardless of personal views on abortion, we all have an interest in keeping these discussions out of government. At a time when the economy is on the edge of collapse, when we are fighting multiple wars, when millions are unemployed or underemployed, our government is spending time arguing over personal ideology. This is precisely why religion was meant to be kept out of government.

What do Pastafarians think about the abortion issue?  I for one believe that Life begins at the Creation of the sperm, and that sperm, as potential human lives, deserve equal protection given to fetuses and grown children.  Think of the billions of sperm needlessly killed by such things as hot tubs and tight-fitting underwear.  In the future we will learn to save every sperm Created, so these potential lives can each develop into human adults as the FSM intended.  Who’s with me? 

Join me at Save-Our-Sperm.org  (a work in progress).

sos400

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Kentucky considering “academic” bible classes

Published February 13th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

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The Kentucky Post reports the state of Kentucky is considering allowing the Christian Bible to be studied in school.  

From state Senator Bowen:

No doubt about it, the most important book ever written and obviously, it’s had so much influence on our society and all of Western civilization.

Senator Bowen sponsored the Bill “which would direct the state Department of Education to develop a course curriculum around the Bible, which local school councils could then approve for teaching in their schools.”

The bill was approved by Kentucky’s State Senate and now goes to the House for review.

Ostensibly the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that the teaching of the bible is taught in the context of literature or as a part of culture.  That would be nice.  Of course this blurring of the separation of church and state will cause overreaching by those who feel its their Duty to God as it has in the past.

I would love to see a comparative religion course made mandatory in public schools across the US.  

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Grassley’s megachurch probe was bullshit

Published January 10th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

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Unbelievable.

Senator Grassley of Iowa’s Evangelical Finance Probe was released this week.  A lot of us were hoping these megachurches would be scrutinized for their most flagrant abuses: the obscene salaries, the private jets and luxury cars, the politicking.  Most of us are shocked these sham broadcast ministries can exist as tax exempt non-profit organizations in the first place, but it is stunning that because they’re religious institutions they don’t have to file detailed financial disclosure reports to the IRS.  So we were glad that Grassley and team were investigating.

Well now the report is out and we know what they were doing the last three years and investigating was not it.  Out of the six broadcast ministries looked at only two cooperated, and *zero* subpoenas were issued by investigators.  What a scam. 

Grassley offered this statement, which I have been trying to parse for a while but I’m having trouble because it’s such bullshit:

The staff review sets the stage for a comprehensive discussion among churches and religious organizations.  I look forward to helping facilitate this dialogue and fostering an environment for self-reform within the community.

Translation: we will ask churches to be good.  Hey if that doesn’t work, perhaps another three year investigation in which nothing is investigated is in order.  You sir, Senator Grassley, are a fraud.

Here are some depressing articles about this mess:

CNN’s take

Huffington Post

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Tides are proof of God

Published January 7th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

President of the American Atheist Group, David Silverman, went on the O’Reilly Factor to talk about the group’s “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS” billboard campaign.  Bill O’Reilly said it was insulting to religious people.  Silverman says it’s the truth and how can the truth be offensive. 

YouKnowItsAScamBillboard600

I will admit I laughed when I heard about the billboard.  I can imagine the response it will get in Alabama.  Anyone remember the Top Gear episode where they did a road trip through the south and wrote controversial slogans on each others cars?  Made me think of that.

manloverulesok2 nascar_sucks

I will also admit I have a grudging respect for Bill O’Reilly – because as much of a pompous ass he is, and as often as he is wrong about so many things, I find him intellectually honest.  I believe he believes what he is saying, and you can’t say that about everyone.  [Edit - I got a lot of flack for that statement. Maybe deserved. But still I believe there is a difference between what he is doing and what Glenn Beck is doing. Both are asses but I believe O'Reilly sleeps well at night and doesn't believe himself to be a fraud.]

But here is one of those things O’Reilly says that leaves you stunned.  There is proof of (presumably a personal Christian) God because of Tides:

O’REILLY: I’ll tell you why it’s not a scam: the tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.

SILVERMAN: The tide goes in, tide goes out?

O’REILLY: The water, the tide comes in, it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, it always goes out. You can’t explain that.

Here’s the video:

In response, friend of the Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster, Mr. Stephen Colbert, had Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson on The Colbert Report to give a scientific explanation for the tides:

As always, the problem with the false religion/science dichotomy leaves the masses ignorant of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s influence over everything.

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