I’ve never lost a friend or family member over my religious beliefs, but I’ve spoken to many people who have. It’s a major blow to the gut whenever I hear these stories. I always feel incredibly lucky that since identifying as an atheist I haven’t had to deal with this kind of personal loss.
I found this Facebook exchange on Twitter from @AtheismNews:
My friend and fellow blogger, Jeremy introduced me to the term “ovarian lottery”. I say “introduced” because I obviously don’t pay enough attention to Warren Buffett my own damn self (I need to fix this). Jeremy and his wife just returned from a vacation in Bali and he’s done a few posts on the wealth divide in the areas they visited. Today at Le Cafe Witteveen he applies the idea of the ovarian lottery to religious identity. Rape trigger warning for the full post, but not in the segment below.
Imagine you were born on the island of Bali in a little village on a rice farm. The likelihood that you would become a fervent Hindu is 99.9%. You would grow up, learn your parents’ craft and religious traditions. You would grow strong, get married and teach your children the same thing.
Imagine, instead, that you were born just a few miles to the east and west of Bali on one of the two neighboring islands on a rice farm. The likelihood that you would grow up as a Muslim is almost 100%. The cycle would continue through your children and theirs.
I thought this was humorous, especially in light of Tim Tebow’s on-going dinkusness. Of course it’s ridiculous, this idea that if there is a God, he would give one good crap about your personal performance on the football field. I mean, what if BOTH teams are praying really, really hard for God’s approval? How is he going to decide who to favor? Or what if he’s too busy making famines in Africa to listen to the football guys prayers at all?
I was originally just going to post this comic and move on, but I liked the title of the website that it came from: “Inherit the Mirth”. Cool – more comics using humor to point out the idiosyncrasies of the bible and belief, perhaps? When I followed the link back I discovered that the site was started by a Christian. Hmm. Well, good on him. I like people who can have a laugh at themselves. After a bit of digging around I found the “About” page (bolding is mine):
Ten years ago, Cuyler Black, a part-time youth minister in Ontario at the time, was often buying resources in local Christian bookstores. He noticed that very few, if any, of the greeting cards in those shops had a humorous bent. Cuyler thought that was a shame. He understood God to have a wonderful sense of humor and believed all Christians should as well. That humorous sensibility was being under-represented in Christian merchandise. The ensuing result has been Inherit The Mirth®,a line of greeting cards, calendars, t-shirts, posters, books and more, emphasizing the light-hearted side of faith.
A “wonderful sense of humor?” Oh, that wacky God – what with the witty drowning of the Earth’s entire population (minus a few), the silly smiting, the jokester plagues and the filicide*. And do you know how else we know that God has a sense of humor? More from Inherit the Mirth:
People with a sense of humor give other people nicknames. Jesus called Peter ‘the Rock” and called the boisterous brothers James and John the “Sons of Thunder”. And speaking of boisterous, Jesus enjoyed the company of kids (“Let the little children come unto me”– Matt. 19:14). How can you enjoy hanging out with ankle-biters and not have a sense of humor?
Some of the Christians I know embrace just the “good parts” of their religion. They brush aside the bad parts as “antiquated” or as “misinterpretations” or as blatant lies written by man after the “original bible” was written (wait, what?). They have these ideas and thus can justify dismissing the parts they don’t like. They can walk away with a rosy picture of Jesus petting a lamb, feeding the poor and healing sick people. God becomes just a stern father figure who might have to take humanity over his knee now and then, but really, don’t all children get out of line and need the occasional physical and psychological torture as a reminder to be good?
I really appreciate a sense of humor, but I have a hard time reconciling the idea of a jokey-pokey, nickname-giving, Dad-on-the-playground-with-the-kiddies God with the same God who would cast anyone into an eternal pit of suffering. Some people may find humor in their faith, but I’ve read the Bible and I sure don’t remember there being much to smile about.
Or, you know, this could just be a silly comic.
*BTW – This is a fun page if you need to know which prefix to add to “-cide” if you want to be specific about the kind of killing someone is doing.
Heh. A kickass atheist, nerdy, Doctor-loving coworker forwarded this to me. It’s copyright 2007, so I’m assuming it’s made the rounds in the past, but I’ve never seen it and it made me lulz lots, so I thought I’d pass it on.
Did anyone else pick up on the fact that Eve tempted Adam, and not the other way around? And that good, chaste Adam turned away the seductress Eve (gently, kindly, but with manly firmness and moral conviction that she’s lacking. Heh…”manly firmness”).
The video’s description contains a promotion for the Liberty Counsel’s Day of Purity. DOP’s website “offers those who strive for sexual purity an opportunity to stand together in opposition to a culture of moral decline.” The website urges young people to “be a part of the ‘counter-coulture’ – – be politically incorrect.” Do it! Or, wait…don’t do it! Or purity bear will come and judge you while sadly watching you have immoral, out-of-wedlock sex.
This (the video, purity bear and the DOP) is hilarious, infuriating and sad. Yes, waiting to have sex (however you define that) until you are in a committed marriage (whatever that means to you and your partner) is a great way to to stay “sexually pure” (whatever that means). It’s also not very realistic. This video is an example of how religious indoctrination makes teens feel guilty about their normal, biological, sexual urges. And it’s an example of how religion seems to have trouble speaking frankly about sex to children and teens. I mean, who takes sex advice from a teddy bear? What do they know about sex? Well, unless they’re zoo-bound grizzly bears; they have promiscuous sex all year round to fend off the boredom. Hey! Nice role model you chose there, Liberty Counsel!
But, whatever. All I know is I want Purity Bear. He does look cuddly. Plus, I could put him on my bedside table so he can watch when I have sex. Poor bear could probably use some good ol’ voyeurism after this stint.
I like the reminder that we were not founded on Christian values as I’ve heard people put forth (e.g., “This country was founded on the Ten Commandments!“), and that our government documents used to reflect our shared secular values.
I’m not so much of a fan of the idea that we should adhere to the original values because they are the original values that were agreed upon around 200 years ago. As a progressive I understand that change is necessary as our interactions with and understanding of the world around us evolves. We should adhere to the secular values implied in the image below because only by keeping the divisive religious dogma of hundreds of different religious ideologies out of our government – the one thing that unites most of us in this country – can we live together in something that approaches harmony.
Did you know?
The original Constitution of the United States that was ratified in 1789 had only one reference to religion: [Article 6] No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The de facto motto of the United States, adopted as part of the Great Seal of the U.S. by an Act of Congress in 1782 was E. Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). Congress changed it 174 years later (1956) to “In God We Trust.”
The original ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ was written in 1892 by Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy who DID NOT INCLUDE the words “Under God.” Those were added by Congress 62 years later (1954).
The U.S. didn’t issue Paper Currency until 1861, and ‘In God We Trust’ didn’t appear on it for 96 years (1957).
Just after the Red Scare in the 1950’s, CONGRESS CHANGED the Pledge of Allegiance and our Nation’s Motto over the FEAR of COMMUNISM.
In a time when fear is traded like a commodity, and the word SOCIALISM is being used to create the same fear as the old word COMMUNISM, let’s REMEMBER that our country was NOT founded on fear. NO, OUR NATION was founded out of HOPE for a better world where all people were EQUAL – that we were ONE from MANY.
Let’s not let fear change our nation’s great tradition & direction again.
It’s official. Even police know what people like me have been saying for years … church is equal to punishment.
If you break the law in Bay Minette, Alabama, you can either serve time in prison or in church … your choice.
I never expected anyone to validate that church is punishment. I hope they seat these prisoners away from any bibles. I wouldn’t want them getting any ideas about God-approved baby killing or raping the women in the pews around them if they read it.
Okay…so Cafe Witteveen is using sarcasm and humor to address the situation. I’m more feeling this right now:
Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.
If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.
Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.
So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.
Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail…and the church of their choice.
Let’s take this apart. Just a little. Just a slightly harder look at some of the implications and assumptions being made here.
Offenders have a choice.
Let’s see… you can either go to jail and pay a fine, or continue about your daily routine and devote an hour or two per every 168-hour week to going to church. How is this a reasonable choice? If the offender has a family to support, or a job, or is in school, or has no money to pay fines, or don’t want a permanent criminal record, there is no choice here. In the video above Chief Rowland says that if he would have to choose between going to jail and paying a hefty fine or just going to church he’d certainly select church. Really? I’m shocked!
This isn’t a violation of church and state.
I don’t know if this would legally be considered a church-state violation, but it seems to me to be walking a fine line. A judge is telling offenders that their only options are go to jail and have a permanent criminal record or go to church and have your case dismissed. Go do something that is really, really painful for a variety of reasons or go to church. The judge is determining that what these criminals need is religion to straighten out their lives. There are no secular options – no community service, no counseling programs – for citizens who do not believe in God.
But don’t worry, there are a lot of options for different churches in Bay Minette and the surrounding area – 109 of them. You’ve got yer Baptist, yer Catholic, yer Methodist, yer Assembly of God, yer Presbyterian, yer Episcopal, a few of them Lutherans, and about a gazillion different house of worship with the phrase “of Christ” in the name somewhere. Why they even have themselves a Temple…for the Pentacostals. I mean if you can’t find yourself a house of worship in that list…what’s that? What’s a synogogue? Hell no, they don’t got any of them mosques down here. That’s a New York problem.
Church “could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.”
Church will save you. You will get some of those morals thingies that non-criminals have if you go to church. You need God to be a good person.
In the video above, Chief Rowland tells us that 30-day drug and alcohol programs don’t work…that longevity of treatment is the key. He assures us that “long-term programs do work”. So why not extend drug and alcohol programs…why not have mandated attendance at post-program meetings, something that may address an underlying addiction? Or…there’s a invisible guy in the clouds, I guess.
People who commit crimes don’t attend church. If they start going to church, they won’t commit any more crimes.
I’m guessing that some of these misdemeanor criminals are already going to church. So, what you’re telling the good people of Bay Minette Alabama is…if you’re going to church and you commit a crime, there’s no punishment. You just keep going to church. You have just made misdemeanors easier to commit, Bay Minette. Good job.
This “solution” is small-minded and I will be shocked if it curbs crime in Bay Minette, Alabama. But let me know how that works out for you.
My friend Ben (@deisum on Twitter) snapped a picture of the May 21st End of Days preachers. Apparently they showed up in Minneapolis today, just as I was driving down to Chicago. How come I always miss when the circus comes to town?
My first response was, “Seriously? The lone actions of a backwater hick of a pastor from the United States didn’t respect a different religion’s holy book, and that justifies the storming of a UN-held building and the taking of human life in Afghanistan? And people wonder why I reject organized religion!”
But as was pointed out in Psychology Today and Salon.com, just writing this off as a spat between two different religious groups is simplistic; there are geopolitical, social, cultural and economic issues that, along with religious differences, probably contributed to the loss of life.
In fact, when some of these other factors are removed from the picture, that may be why moderate Muslims in the United States were able to have a more moderate response to this tragedy:
The Muslim community in the United States has declined to respond to such an act by Jones and his small group of followers.
“Terry Jones had his 15 minutes of fame and we’re not going to help him get another few minutes,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In the US we have the idea that you don’t get to tell me what to do with my Quran (if I owned one). This mass-produced item that I can pick up at any number of different bookstores is NOT holy; it is ink on paper which becomes my personal property when I purchase it. It is a replica of a holy item. I can dog ear it, highlight it, copy pages of it and throw those copies in the garbage when I’m done with them. And if my replica Quran gets water damaged or otherwise becomes unusable, I can throw it out or destroy it, run down to Barnes and Noble and pick up a new copy. Perhaps we – and Terry Jones – see the burning of this Quran as a small symbolic gesture, that the Quran he burned was just one copy of millions out there.
The angry Afgahni mobs probably didn’t go out and kill people just because Pastor Jones was a dick who destoryed a copy of the Quran – that would be ridiculous, right? We in the United States know that Terry Jones is a lone dinkus who doesn’t speak for the majority of us in Western World, but perhaps the Afghanis responsible for the rioting believe that enough of us in the Western world are complicit, that we as a whole – including our leaders – allowed this to Quran burning to happen because we are contemptuous of the Afghani people as a whole, and that we see their nation only as a resource to be exploited.
I don’t claim to understand what really drove one group of human beings to violently attack and brutally injure and slaughter other human beings in Afghanistan. I think it is right to be outraged and offended by the incitement to violence by Jones and the violence and loss of life by Afghani mobs. However, I don’t think the correct response is to simply write off the whole situation as a Christianity vs. Islam problem.