Reason Freely

Halloween

Posted in essay by reasonfreely on August 26, 2010

This was originally posted on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.  I’m just passing it along because it’s a funny read.  This woman seems to seriously believe this crap:

Original Post – (NOTE:  This is NOT mainstream Christianity, nor do I mean to say it is!)

A few select quotes…

“During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure.”

…Look, if we’re suspending reality and just making stuff up, I’m going to have to offer my explanation of how time-released curses function:  Witches at the Brachs Candy Factory coat these curses in an enteric coating, like 12-hour Sudafed, then hide them inside jelly beans, which are given out at Easter, during Evil Pagan Beltane Rabbit-God Worship celebrations.  The coating dissolves slowly inside the lower intestine, for approximately 6 months, at which point the time-released curses are exposed to digestive juices and enter the blood stream…

“During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.”

…This woman wouldn’t know a citation if it bit her in the ass.  She quotes the bible once in the whole article, and gives no evidence for any of her dramatic claims about the occult. Do you know how much candy corn is sold every year?  9 billion kernels.

It could be done, though:  The estimated 800,000 wiccans in the US would have to pray over 1,000 kernels of candy corn, each.  With logistics of shipping and so forth, it could be done in a week, easily within the time-release curse period.

“When nice church folk lay out their pumpkins on the church lawn, fill their baskets with nuts and herbs, and fire up their bonfires, the demons get busy. They have no respect for the church grounds. They respect only the sacrifice and do not care if it comes from believers or non-believers.”

…This article was pulled from Robertson’s website and replaced.  See the article that replaced it (quoted below) for the opposite (and equally fantastic) take on this idea.

“Witches take pride in laughing at the ignorance of natural men (those who ignore the spirit realm).”

…Apparently Witches love laughing.  Cackling.  Wearing green facepaint…  (Baum, 1900)

“The word “occult” means “secret.” The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes. These activities include…”

…You’re going to have to go read that article and find out!

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These go to 7

Posted in admin by reasonfreely on August 24, 2010

I’ve increased discussion thread length to 7 comments, which allows deeper discussions.  Plus, it allows you, the commenter, to get the last word.

Current Reading: The Family

Posted in Uncategorized by reasonfreely on August 19, 2010

A co-worker loaned me The Family.  This book is pretty chilling.  I’ve gotten about halfway through.  As typical of this sort of book, the first half is the history of the subject, which is, in this case, an elite fundamentalism that works like a shadow organization of religious right leaders in politics and business.

Expect a review soon.

Emotion and Revelation

Posted in discussion seed by reasonfreely on August 19, 2010

Does an extreme emotion or serious crisis ready a person’s mind for things beyond itself, touch the soul, break down the barriers of mundane concerns, awaken the spirit, and open your heart to the divine?

Or does it cloud your thinking, bias your judgment, and impair critical analysis?

I’ve heard it both ways.

Chaplains Urge Lawmakers to Reconsider Dropping DADT; Adm. Mullen Deploys Chaplains to Crimea River

Posted in discussion seed, news by reasonfreely on July 13, 2010

The Military Readiness Act is going to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and allow gays in the military.  Theoretically that should increase recruitment for the military in times of war by a small but much-needed margin.  And it would make service a lot less stressful for the homosexual men and women in the military already.

The joint chiefs seem to approve.  Adm. Mullen has been pushing for it for a while.  Other than a few homophobes afraid someone’s going to be oggling their Pvt. Parts in the group shower, some tea party extremists who don’t understand what “libertarian” means, and a few COs worrying about a stressful adjustment period, who’s really bothered by this?

If you guessed “chaplains,” you win!

They say that being ordered to stop preaching homophobia is going to restrict their religious freedom.  That would be a very valid complaint, if the idea of chaplaincy wasn’t questionably un/constitutional to begin with!  They seem to forget that the government is paying them. Government employees  shouldn’t be preaching anything to begin with, but somehow prison and military chaplains get a pass.

I’m not going to call for the abolishment of the chaplaincy, though I wouldn’t be opposed to a shift to a more humanist chaplaincy.  And I’m on the record opposing military proselytization or at least supporting a group that opposes it.  I think it keeps our soldiers’ morale up and provides valuable counseling — and those are worth some fraction of my income tax check.  I imagine we could do the same good with secular counselors and morale officers, but it would take a cultural shift, and generations of time.  A particularly strident author I’ve talked about before has called for it, though.

In my work in suicide prevention, I’ve met some chaplains and trained with some of them.  They’ve all been good folks, and they showed empathy to Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists all the same.  That’s the Love Thy Neighbor ethos I like so much about some flavors of Christianity.  But, apparently, not all chaplains are like the ones I’ve met, if they’re willing to fight for their already-questionable “right” to preach intolerance on the taxpayers’ dime.

Thankfully Admiral Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs, seems to find this objection about as irrelevant as I do.

Oh, and on a related note; what’s your opinion on the new $4 million survey of servicemembers?  As a sociologist and a fan of reasoning freely, I like making decisions with all the information I can get, but do you think this survey will gather valid, valuable, or reliable information?  See any interesting questions on there?  I think I do…

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Posted in news by reasonfreely on July 6, 2010

If you’ve read a lot of freethinker or atheist blogs, you probably expect me to celebrate a victory over Christians or something in reviewing CLS v. Martinez.  But I’m not.  I’m going to celebrate a small detail in the ruling that moves the nation (via the court) toward more rational thinking on gay rights.

The Wikipedia link describes it without too much legalese.

Click to see the full court opinion on this case.

CLS argued that they can make rules about conduct (“engage in unrepentant homosexual behavior” in this case) even though Hastings University’s rules prohibit making rules biased against specific groups (e.g. homosexuals).  The cour “declined to distinguish between status and conduct” — meaning you’re gay if you’re gay.  For as long as I can remember, the religious right have been pushing this false idea that homosexuality is a choice, just like smoking or something.  But the supreme court wasn’t having any of that BS.  A court of educated justices rejected that faulty logic, rather resoundingly.

What impresses me the most is the idea that groups can spread lies (e.g. homosexuality is a lifestyle/behavioral choice) all they want; but the supreme court, reasoning freely, won’t give that kind of deception any credibility.

Follow-Up: 20-something “nones” getting married by friends

Posted in discussion seed, news by reasonfreely on June 29, 2010

Remember the article about college students being more nonreligious this year?  Well other 20-somethings are eschewing the clergy in their own way.  Just like the college kids are getting more secular, weddings are starting to eschew traditional authority:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126426016

Here at Reason Freely, we love breaking from tradition and traditional authority.  That’s what it’s all about here.  So I love hearing stories like this.  I’m not cheering the demise of the ministry’s role in marriages so much as cheering the increasing freedom within which people are choosing their officiants.

I think religious officiants and settings do a great job of adding a sense of ancient austerity to a ceremony, but I like the idea of choosing a personal friend or family member to officiate, as well.  Instead of choosing from a list of approved religious passages, the friend can personalize the ceremony a lot better, based on shared experiences and intimate knowledge of the couple.

Let’s discuss factors that contribute to these numbers.  Here are my first-blush thoughts:

– There are more nonbelievers.  Recall from a previous post, 21.9% of college freshmen are “nones.”  And ARIS says 16.1% of the US are nones.  1/7 is 14.3%, so some of the nones are still getting married with pastoral officiants:  In some cases, nones are marrying people of faith, and acquiescing to a religious marriage out of respect (myself, for instance).

– Probably more licensed officiants are “nones” now.  Thank you Universal Life Church.

– Keep in mind, just because a friend is officiating doesn’t mean the couple or the officiant aren’t deeply religious.  However, it means that the couple and the friend are willing to break from traditional religious authority and custom.  That, alone, demonstrates free thought.  As I’ve said over and over again, I’m not against religion; I’m for free thought.

– There are more mixed marriages, with denomination meaning less and less and tolerant denominations (methodism, unitarianisn) growing in popularity (no source right now, sorry).  If you’re going to argue whether his or her pastor should officiate, and if you’re already marrying a heathen anyway (depending on the tolerance level of your denomination); why not do away with argument and let your best friend officiate?

– Community no longer means the people you go to church with.  Modern technology keeps you in touch with friends in ways you couldn’t before.  Now your friends are your community, even if they’re spread over a 500-mile+ diaspora.

– Weddings are getting expensive and heinously over-planned as expressions of self-identity and personal/family pecuniary might.  If your wedding becomes more of a personal expression than a religious sacrament, it makes sense to personalize the officiant, too.  Especially if you’re not as socially bound to your preacher.

Did anyone out there consider a friend for an officiant?  Anyone have a friend officiate?  If so, please comment with your reasons and thoughts.  I’d love to hear them!

Tea Party: Religious Bullying is Constitutional

Posted in news by reasonfreely on June 9, 2010

Aside from the religious leaders voicing support was Danita Kilcullen, the founder and organizer of the Tea Party in Fort Lauderdale. She vows to get the Tea Party behind the suspended teachers.

“Because it’s a breach of the First Amendment and because we so strongly believe in the Constitution in the United States of America,” Kilcullen said.

And what about the atheist teacher’s first amendments rights?

“Yea, but she hasn’t been punished for speaking out yet,” Kilcullen said. (NBC)

Let me get this straight…  You think it’s protected religious speech to sprinkle holy water on a nonbeliever in front of a classroom of students?  You think that the constitution supports bullying someone of a different religious view?   Because that seems to be the opposite of the intent of the first amendment.

Kilcullen demonstrates the ignorance of the Tea Party on constitutional issues.

In other news, I need to write something that’s not just newsfilter blogging.

Where’s the Love?

Posted in news by reasonfreely on June 2, 2010

A Catholic school fired an 8th grade math teacher for being an atheist on Facebook.  For the record, she says she’s not an atheist in reality — but she’s not sure about organized religion.  She’s a classic Doubting Thomas, and somehow I doubt this is going to inure her to faith.  Once again, the Apostolic Church proves its inflexibility, hypocrisy and lack of forgiveness.

(Plus, it shows how harmful the new Facebook privacy setting changes are.)

On one hand, it’s the school’s right to fire anyone they want especially because she signed a contract saying she had to “uphold the faith” while being a teacher.  Pre-algebra has as much to do with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as it does with George, Paul, Ringo and John, but they have the right to think God is in the quadratic formula if they want.  As a religious institution that’s funded by tuition and church tithes rather than tax money, they can freely fire atheists without breaking any discrimination laws — in fact, they could even argue first amendment protection here.   Legally and contractually, I believe the school is entitled to fire her.

But legal right isn’t the same as ethically right.

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Health News Reviews

Posted in review by reasonfreely on May 27, 2010

http://www.healthnewsreview.org/

GOOD:  Paid for by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, this site uses a standardized set of ten criteria to review medical news articles, judging them by how completely and accurately they inform the consumer.  The site is run by doctors, and the reviewers are doctors and public health professionals mixed with journalism professionals.

BAD:  To date the site has reviewed just 1,062 articles in 4 years.  That’s not even one per day.  Your chances of finding a review of a specific article on a given day are slim, especially if it’s a specialized topic or a secondary news source (e.g. blog, website, TV).

Overall, this site is great and I intend to follow it as time permits.  I’ll probably use it for future health posts.

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