Tag Archives: religious right

Radical religion’s war on education

18 Nov

Today I was listening to the Reasonable Doubts podcast and they had a really interesting segment on the religious right’s attack on education. Here is my summary of what they had to say:

It is a well known fact that on average the more educated a person is the less likely they are to be conservative or religious. (Yes there are highly educated conservative and religious people, but the data shows that these people are anomalies)

Education and exposure to different cultures/people/worldviews has a corrosive effect on religious faith and conservatism. The radical religious right’s response to this fact is to isolate their children from the world with home schooling, while simultaneously working to undermine public education. My non-American readers might be shocked to find out that here in America parents can homeschool their children with little to no qualifications or curriculum standards; in essence they can teach, or not teach, anything they want regardless of their own education level.

Often in the United States you will hear defenders of homeschooling put forth statistics that suggest homeschooled children excel in all areas, especially scholastic aptitude tests. The fact is, all of these statics are bogus and poorly collected. There is an excellent article in the Peabody Journal of Education by Dr. Eric Isenberg titled “What have we learned about homeschooling?” In the article Isenberg examines the quantitative data on homeschooling, how extensive it is, and how it is collected and then goes point by point showing that essentially it is a black hole.

We do not have good data on homeschooling or its effectiveness. Why? Because the religious right fought hard to make sure the government wasn’t allowed to collect such data. They deliberately want to keep it as unclear as possible. If data was accurately collected it would show the appalling low level of education these homeschoolers are receiving.

The conservative religious right has set up a system where homeschooled children can go from their sheltered home “education” straight to private religious fundamentalist “universities” without ever encountering an idea or person who might challenge their faith. These students then graduate from these “schools” and are often hired as government aids to work for conservative officials. This was recently very prominent when Bush was in power. A lot of his aids were from these private religious institutions. He legal defense team was made up of “Liberty” “University” graduates, a “school” 10 minutes from where I went to college. This system and it’s goals of raising up fundamentalist children sheltered from opposing view points has a name and a website, “Generation Joshua.” (There is an interesting NY Times Best Seller book by Michelle Goldberg on this subject titled “Kingdom Coming.”)

Another way these religious fundamentalist schools affect the public is through tax vouchers for private schools. Through tax vouchers, the public has to subsidize families who choose to send their children to private schools instead of public ones. The political spin is that this is about “school choice,” but if you see past the bullshit it’s really about back-door public funding for religious schools. Almost all private schools in the United States are religious. The guys on Reasonable Doubts even pointed out that the even some of the few officially “secular” charter schools are actually very religious in their curriculum while remaining outwardly worldly.

Public education is a blight for the radical religious right. Pat Robertson, infamous televangelist and founder of Regent “University”, had this to say about tax vouchers: “They say vouchers would spell the end of public schools in America. To which we say, so what?” Jerry Falwell (the same as Robertson and also founded his own “school,” “Liberty” “University”) had this to say on the matter: “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, there won’t be any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Luckily the fat bastard died before that could happen, but his minions are hard at work trying to advance his “vision.”

These institutions are bastions of conservatism and religion. Here students are taught what to think as opposed to how to think, and their curricula are carefully crafted to be as bias and twisted as possible. “Liberty” “University” even went so far as to ban liberals. The fact is that the radical religious right’s worldview cannot survive in the free market of ideas. When exposed to the sunlight of different cultures, people, points of view, and education in general, it shrivels up and dies. To protect their fragile children from reality, the religious right sets up system whereby students are exposed only to “approved” ideas. I find it hilariously ironic that conservatives like to claim liberals are like Maoists and Stalinists while they’re the ones with thought police institutions with portraits of Jesus on the walls.

Atheist resistance

20 Apr

So living in Lynchburg Virginia, home of “9/11 is god’s punishment ” Jerry Falwell and his penitentiary of brainwashing and bullshit, “Liberty” “university”, religious stuff is all over town. Every other car either has a LU sticker, the christian fish magnet, or “Not I, but Christ” sticker. The local stores are also almost entirely owned by the LU octopus. Falwall and his ilk even have their own section in walmart that sells only LU gear, along with religious books.

So as a way to stay sane and get some cheap thrills, I engage in a little Atheist resistance. First up is my car. When you’re stopped at a red light, that’s your 30 second chance to get a message out to the three cars behind you. (Assuming you’re in the middle lane)

I love these things. I change them out every so often, depending on what’s pissing me off that week. Sometimes it’s political, like pro-choice signs (which are a real hit in the area ~_^), but most of the time it’s religious. Currently I’m blasting the catholic church for their 2000 yr + child pedophilia scandal.

I figure the “liberty” kids in Lynchburg are constantly confined to their nice little clean bubble of rich, white, conservative christian fanatics, it’d be nice to jar them out of their comfort zone and make them realize they’re not the only game in town. If I have to sit in traffic and put up with their stupid signs, they can suffer my 1st amendment rights to mine. Yeah, some could argue that it might look a little trashy, but if nobody stands up and says something, they’ll think that everyone is just like them, and thus their beliefs will be all the further reinforced.

Secondly is pamphlets. In Lynchburg there are pamphlets all around. The LU kids stuff them inside beer cases, leave them in shops, in mailboxes, on dining tables, under your windshield wipers, everywhere. I’ve put a few of them up here on my blog, and they all say the same thing: You’re a rotten person that’s going to burn in hell forever unless you buy our product. So I decided to make my own. Here is one that I’m currently circulating:

Outside:

Inside:

I can’t make the picture any bigger, so incase you can’t read it, the outside when you first open it just says something like “Hey, you’re ok the way you are, you’re not a sinner, nor are you damned to some eternal punishment.” Then it goes on about how the pamphlet isn’t trying to get them to join anything, or give any money, unlike other religious pamphlets. The inside just asks 20 simple questions to get people thinking about their faith critically.

I get a real rush putting out these pamphlets. I have to be all ninja like so I don’t get caught. Sometimes I’ll sit down at a table with my stuff, wait a few minutes, and get up, conveniently forgetting to take the pamphlet with me. I love to put these in the religious books sections of book stores, there I can really hit my target audience.

The bumper stickers in the car give me a bit of a thrill, but not so much as sneaking around with pamphlets. I guess I just feel safer with a physical barrier between me and them. Though I have been honked at, shouted at, and flicked off before while sitting at a red light. (How christian, eh?) There have been times when I’ve nervously expected a bullet to come through the glass behind me and kill me, or for my car to be rammed, or for someone to throw something at my windshield. That’s all a thrill too, though it does make me wonder about my opponents when I have to worry about being physically attacked and they don’t. What do you think that says about them?

Do you speak for god?

16 Feb

While conducting research on my senior thesis in history, I came across this speech given by Emperor Wilhelm to his troops in 1914:

“Remember that you are the chosen people! The spirit of the Lord has descended upon me, because I am Emperor of the Germans! I am the instrument of the Most High. I am His sword, His representative….May all the enemies of the German people perish! God demands their destruction, God, who through my mouth, commands you to execute His will!”

Why is it god always speaks through man, and never directly?

One of the milestones on my road to deconversion was when I realized that everything I had been told about religion, god, Jesus, etc, was told to me by another human being.

I thought to myself:  “Now wait a second….human beings are fallible. They make mistakes. They lie. They have agendas, sometimes hidden ones. They care about power. They are not perfect. So why would an all perfect god always use such biased, self interested agents as humans to spread his word? Those people claim to speak for god, and we have only their word. We just have to trust them. These people often lie and take advantage of that blind trust… What if they are not speaking for god? What if they are just claiming to speak for god? Or what if they think they are speaking for god but it is just all in their head? We have no way of knowing…. But why would someone pretend to be talking for god? Simple. Power, money, prestige….”

Look at these two big examples. Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. Both of them made millions of dollars claiming to speak for god. Both of them set up “schools” where they make even more money telling people they speak for god. Televangelists have been doing this for ages.

But ok, those are big examples. What about your average pastor/priest/imam/rabbi? Well, I would argue that most of them are just spouting the old stuff that someone else once claimed was god’s word. They read from the bible/koran/torah and say “this is god’s word!” They don’t have too much to gain (if their operation is still small) accept the prestige (among believers) of knowing the god’s will. The people who wrote what they’re saying, however, had a lot to gain.

These “holy texts” ordered entire cultures! The people who wrote them, claiming themselves (men) as the holy instruments of god crafted these texts to secure their power. “Women should be subservient” is an excellent example. If you read or watch “Misquoting Jesus” you can see how early Christian scribes altered the bible to secure contemporary power bases throughout the middle ages.

You can have a lot of power over someone who believes that you and you alone know the path to salvation. Just look around at modern and ancient cults! People commit suicide for their cult leaders! The only thing that is different between a cult and organized religion is size. The smaller it is, the more intense control you can exercise over your followers. (It’s easier to brainwash 30 people who you see every day than it is to brainwash 30 million that you speak to once a week, though there are those among the 30 million that will be fanatically devoted to you or the cause)

Imagine for a second there was a mad man on the corner claiming to know the will of the stop sign. Say he was shouting at people that they must live their lives according to a book written by those divinely inspired by the stop sign. Imagine he asked for contributions or a tithe to help fun the work of the holy stop sign. Imagine if he had millions of followers who likewise believed the will of the stop sign was known through a book. Imagine if he made lots of money and lived lavish lifestyles off of the contribution on stop sign believers.Now imagine if those millions of stop sign believers tried to change the laws in your country to favor those who accept the stop sign. They want to affect how you live your life and what freedoms you have based off of what somebody claims is the will of the stop sign, and you have only their word. There is no way to see if they are actually right. You just have to take it on faith.

I bed you’d be pretty pissed off. I bet you’d try and point out that the guy on the corner is mad, and he does not really speak for the stop sign. I bet you’d try to get proof that he spoke for the stop sign, or that the stop sign even had a will in the first place! I bet you’d fight to stop them from telling you how to live your life, what freedoms you had, all because of what they think a stop sign is telling them. Sounds pretty insane right?

That is how Atheists feel about you. (You being if you are in fact a believer in a higher power who also believes that the will of said power can be known, and that it is your duty to tell others how to live and enact laws if need be)

Take the Tea Party seriously

8 Feb

I can’t stand those Tea bagger idiots, I don’t think the majority of America can either, yet we must not underestimate them. The represent a angry, ill-informed, “reality don’t matter” mob, but if we don’t take them head on, soon they will be in control of the government.

If they were serious about cutting government waste and minimizing government involvement then I’d be with them, but they’re not.  The poor bastards are being manipulated by very powerful corporations like Fox into screwing themselves over. Their messiah, Sarah Palin, is a complete fucking bimbo who believes Jebus is coming back in her life time, and that Africa is a country. How unintelligent can you get? Gah, I digress. I am overwhelmed with seething rage when I think of her.

What really gets me is that they claim to be against government involvement in people’s lives, yet what they really mean is “I want the government to leave my money alone, but at the same time I want it to police your bedroom, force your children to say my religion’s prayers in public schools, and generally just enforce my world views and morals on you!”

You really want smaller government? FINE. Then quit trying to legislate your religion into my life!!!!!

To be honest. I HATE the bailouts. Yeah our entire economy would have crashed, but maybe then we would have executed some of these big bankers who are still getting million dollar bonuses. Did conservatives get the message that repealing government safeguards on the economy causes this shit? Nope. This whole thing builds up under Bush and crashes on Obama’s head, and there is no way he could have come out ok. (Yeah, maybe in the long run our economy will be better for the bailouts, but I’d still sleep better at night if some bankers had been shot)

Oh, that’s another thing, they tea baggers are hypocrites. “It’s only a crime when a liberal does it!” Bush took fiscal conservatism and strangled it; brutally. Where were the tea party people when Bush took Clinton’s record government surplus and drove it straight through the ground with the multi-trillion dollar wars in Iraq (no connection to 9-11) and Afghanistan? Nowhere. They were silent because he is a conservative good ol’boy and was doing god’s will, just like Palin claims to be. Bullshit.

I also can’t stand the double speak they put out. “Freedom” is now a worthless word. It used to mean something, now it’s hollow and twisted. To the tea baggers, “Freedom” means letting pharmaceutical, insurance, and energy corporations royally fuck America. To them “freedom” means the ability to impose their social/religious views on the rest of the country. Shove gays back into the shadows, kick science out of schools, silence non christians, and enslave women in their own bodies. Sorry, but you don’t have the “right” or the “freedom” to do that.

Fighting these people will be difficult. The large majority of this country is un-intelligent, fickle, and gullible. If we could get them to agree that an idea is only as valid as how well it works in reality, then we could beat them. Unfortunately they don’t play by those rules. Has anyone ever said something so off the wall, so stupid, that you just gawk at them, speechless? That’s how I feel about the tea party people. It’s a challenge to take them on because you simply don’t know where to start correcting them. And worse, they take your speechlessness as proof they have a point!

As hard as it may be, we must meet them head on with reason and facts again and again, and constantly demand evidence supporting their positions. If this does not work then we must get out of the way and let them win. (Yeah, I know…) Things in America will then crash and the world will go to hell, but only then will the fucktards that voted them in start to make the connection that maybe, just maybe, reality does matter.

Your religion is wrong

3 Feb

Everyone hates hearing “your religion is wrong”. Religion is extremely important to people, and being told your entire world view is incorrect can really sour your day. I think the difficult part for Atheists is that when people hear “Atheist” they automatically think “here is someone who denies everything I love and hold true.” Well, yes, technically, Atheists do not believe in all the religious stuff you do, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to attack you for it at every instance. (Yes, there are Atheists who might seem very loud and combative about it, but that’s because we live in a society that demonizes and persecutes them. They’re lashing out because of this)

To believe one things inherently means you disbelieve another. If you say you’re a Christian, then you are also saying Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Pagans, Buddhists, etc, are all wrong. If you’re a Muslim, you believe all the others are wrong. I think the reason people don’t freak out when someone tells them they are another religion, like Jewish or Muslim, is that at least you have god in common. You might disagree on the particulars, but at least you have some common religious ground. Atheists don’t have that benefit. They are the anti-thesis to all things religious.

Yeah Atheists will disagree with you on just about everything religious, but the common ground you can find with them is in caring for your neighbor. Many Atheists, just like many believers, are normal, kind people, and there is a lot we can do together if we just get past the bickering.

What if your truth doesn’t match reality?

24 Jan

Theists, if there was a clear discrepancy between what your “absolute truth” says and what reality shows you, would you admit that your “absolute truth” is wrong, and thus not absolute?

I feel most theists would admit they don’t have all the answers, but what about those who would still hold onto ideas that can clearly be shown not to fit with reality? How do you argue with them? I figure you can’t really argue with them. If you play by the rules of “reality is impartial and final” like the rest of the world, and they don’t, then there is no point.

How do you deal with these people? Usually you just walk away and ignore them, but what do you do when people like this rise to positions of power? How do you combat them when they don’t care if reality says they’re nuts, and killing them only makes them martyrs?

The BS idea of “secular society” in America

24 Feb

I hear the phrase “secular society” thrown around a lot. Usually the people I hear using it are saying it with a tone of disgust in their voice, as if the secular society was keeping their religion from breathing easy, free from scrutiny or any kind of restraints.

So what exactly is a secular society? Well when I asked google to define it, all it did was point me to ” Consumer Behavior: Building Marketing Strategy“, a textbook. According to the textbook, a secular society is

“A society where the educational system, government, and political process are not controlled by a religious group, and most people’s daily behaviors are not guided by strict religious guidelines.”

So does America fit that profile? Sorta. Currently the educational system in this country is under attack by the “Intelligunt [sic] Design” people, or christian creationists in wolves’ clothing. Instead of teaching our children critical thinking skills, they rather have them stop questioning, give up, and say “god did it.” They purposely misuse the word “theory” and have no testable hypothesis of their own….but I digress….

As for the government and the political process, while they aren’t official theocracies like Iran, religion plays a big role, especially since the days of the Reagan administration. While Article VI section 3 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” none the less, religious tests specifically baring Atheists were written into the state constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  While the 14th amendment to the Constitution also prohibits these, it is damn near impossible for an Atheist to get elected to public office if they are open about their Atheism. (Only 1 congressman is openly Atheist, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and I doubt he was openly Atheist when he was running)

According to a study done by the University of Minnesota in 2006, Atheists are the least trusted group in American society…..our “secular society”…. Perhaps the bible should read “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an Atheist to to get elected in America.

The funny thing about this “secular society” is that the majority of the people who make up society aren’t secular. According to the CIA World Fact Book , 84% of the country is religious, and of that 84%, 78.5% is christian! Of that 78.5%, over a full third go to church every Sunday!

The scary thing is that the Republican Party has been taken over by the christian right. Slowly ever since the Reagan years the christian right has infiltrated the party, moving it farther and farther into the right. We just go over 8 years of an Evangelical christian president, arguably one of the worst presidents in history. Just this past election season Gov. Sarah Palin, another christian fundamentalist, ran for vice president. Had McCain been elected, she would have been a heart beat away from running the most powerful nation on earth……this coming from a person who doesn’t believe in evolution, thinks the world is only 6,000 years old, and that the Iraq war is “God’s will“…. Even scarier, this woman, if you can call her that (her view’s about a woman’s rights are atrocious) isn’t going away any time soon. Something tells me she’ll be back. “Huckabee/Palin 2012″…..*shudders*

So what is “secular” in this “secular society”? Well the courts perhaps. They do require empirical evidence before they convict someone of a crime, and until then the people making the charge/claim have the burden of proof….so I guess that’s secular. You can’t really just walk in as say “I have faith that the defendant is guilty!” That type of reasoning might work with the religious, but not in the real world. Unfortunately, the same christian right that has taken over the Republican party has slowly been working to “infiltrate the profession [of lawyers and judges]” as the bigot Jerry Falwell pointed out when talking about “liberty” “university’s” “law” “school”.

The same logic and reasoning behind requiring observable evidence is the cornerstone of science, so I guess that makes science secular too. (But not if the ID idiots have their way) Science is everywhere in our society…well almost. It’s given you everything you use, from the computer you’re reading this on, to the fiber in your clothes, to your car, house, electricity, and medicine that makes you feel better and can even save your life. Yet nobody remembers that when they’re trashing our “secular society.”