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More on the Foundations of the US Government

I read this article today giving more detail on the secular foundations of the US Government. There’s some great information here that continues to help dismiss the absurd claim by the religious right that the USA was founded as a Christian nation. Sadly, facts don’t seem to persuade the anti-intellectuals who cannot manage a simple grasp of US history and who refuse to actually read the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Here’s the article by Carol V. Hamilton on the History News Network of George Mason’s University.

http://hnn.us/articles/47323.html

Attempted “Logic” Fails

On the website CantonRep.com, Ron L. Dalpiaz wrote a letter to the editor about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Canton, Ohio. The letter appeared on December 18th, 2008.

Mr. Dalpiaz evidently does not approve of the billboard, nor does he approve or agree with the FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor’s comments about religion. That’s understandable. I don’t always agree with everything she says, either, even though I’m a FFRF member. One of the wonderful things about this country (the USA) is our freedom to disagree and express our disagreement. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees that.

In that light, I would like to point out the logical failings of Mr. Dalpiaz’s statements and show that, in numerous cases, his statements are the exact opposite of what is actually true. Sadly, I see this kind of illogical rhetoric all the time and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s the letter (quoted) along with my comments.

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What War on Christmas?

I found an editorial on iReport.com and thought it was a well-written statement about the alleged “War on Christmas” that is much touted by Fox News and many of the religious right.

The writer, Indy609, makes a clear distinction between the “separation of church and state” and a “war on Christmas,” something which seems to confuse a lot of people at Fox News. After giving examples of lawsuits and/or efforts to maintain the First Ammendment Separation, he notes…

None of these is the same as removing all religion from public life, not by the longest stretch of logical maneuvering.

Where are the lawsuits seeking to end Christian broadcasting? Where are the protests seeking to remove Christian-themed holiday music from the mall? Where are the referendums seeking to cover up the road signs in every town showing you the way to the nearest church? Who has sought to stifle candidates expressing their religious preference? When has anyone has advocated shutting down Christian bookstores? Where are the attempts to block the entryways to churches? Where are the ravenous letters opposing faith-based network programming such as “Touched By an Angel” or “Joan of Arcadia”? When one goes walking on any Main Street, America, this month, is Christmas not apparent in every direction?

Wanting to have a nativity display removed from a government building is not a “War on Christmas.” It’s an attempt to maintain freedom of religion. Put the display in any one of the beautiful churches in towns and cities across the entire country… where it belongs.

What’s the point of putting a nativity display (or other religious displays) in a government building when there are obviously more appropriate places for it? The answer? There isn’t a valid point.

Here’s a link to the editorial. http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-164454

The Santa Dilemma

I just ran across this entry in the Atheist Nexus blog and thought I’d pass it along. Many atheist parents struggle with the whether or not to promote the idea of Santa Claus to their children because of the obvious parallel to the idea of a god. Dale McGowan wrote this entry about Santa Claus being the “Ultimate Dry Run” for developing an inquisitive and skeptical mind in a child.

Santa Claus – The Ultimate Dry Run

I think this is a wonderful story about drawing out the inate rationality and inquisitiveness of a child without preaching to him or making declarative statements.

Mencken’s Creed

Too good to pass up…

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious…

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech…

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

– H. L. Mencken’s Creed, cited by George Seldes in Great Thoughts

With appreciation to the Freedom From Religion Foundation for bringing this quote to my attention.

A Perfect Example

Today, I read a perfect example of how religious dogma transcends all rationality and practicality. The link to the article is at the end, but here’s the synopsis.

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.”

Evidently, the priest distributed a letter to parishioners telling them that they are “putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.” The article goes on to say “A few church leaders said parishioners risked their immortal soul by voting for candidates who support abortion rights.”

Doing penance for their vote? Risking their immortal soul by voting a certain way?

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Seriously? He is?

I’ve read quite a bit recently about Barack Obama being the Anti-Christ. There’s a chain email (in multiple versions) going around giving the Biblical predictions for this. It’s been covered on Snopes, but I just wanted to re-emphasize the nonsensical nature of it because I personally know someone who claims this to be true, citing the email as one of the pieces of evidence to back up her claim.

Here’s the gist of the email.

According to The Book of Revelations the anti-Christ is: The anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal…. the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Is it OBAMA??

Read the Snopes post for the full debunking, but there are a few points I want to reiterate here.

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Hitler was not an atheist.

I am tired of hearing Christian theologians try to make the case that Hitler’s atheistic beliefs caused the deaths of untold millions.  Hitler was not the poster child for atheism. Hitler was the poster child for nationalistic bigots. Let me set the record straight for all of the historically challenged who keep asserting this incorrect belief.

Hitler was NOT an atheist.

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The Ten Commandments: Why most of them aren’t even good suggestions (Part 2)

The source for the following essay is Deuteronomy 5:6-5:21.

Well, here we are with commandment two.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

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The Meaning of Life

One question (or statement, depending on who’s speaking) I come across on occasion is how life can have any real meaning if I don’t believe in a divine creator. In other words, there’s a claim that if you don’t devote your life to serving “God,” your life can’t possibly be meaningful.

I was pondering posting my thoughts on this when I found the following post by Alonzo Fyfe of The Atheist Ethicist and thought I’d put off posting my own thoughts for now and share Alonzo’s wonderful metaphor. It gently and gracefully addresses the issue and shows a great difference between “meaning via religion” and  meaning via life.”

Here’s the link: The Meaning of Life

Enjoy!