Saturday, June 25, 2011

Consulting the Bible - Part 1: Slavery

What is your favorite book?

Apparently, there is an unspoken rule in Christianity that one must answer this question with 'The Bible' before the words even finish reaching their ears. Just look at facebook. Every religious person I know has 'The Bible' listed in their favorite books section, yet I can guarantee that 99% of them have not actually read the Bible from cover-to-cover.

I can't even imagine the thought process. "Well, I've always wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird and everyone else likes it... so... I'm SURE it's my favorite book."

What I can't comprehend is how a person can call themselves a Christian when they haven't read the actual Christian text. Learning a few of the verses doesn't count, nor does reading a few psalms. If I'm going to believe in something, you can rest assured that I fully understand what I'm buying into before I go out proselytizing. I expect you to do the same thing.

Also, you don't get to pick and choose which parts / verses of The Bible you accept. If you're a Christian, I'm going to assume 1. you've actually read the Bible, 2. you comprehended the Bible, and 3. you accepted the Bible as you're religious text and live you're life based on that moral code.

You know, the moral code that embraces human sacrifice, rape, slavery, genocide, and infanticide.

Part 1 - Slavery

Even though it didn't make the Ten Commandments, one would expect The Bible to be pretty clear about slavery. It's bad. People who enslave others should be punished, right? The Bible is your moral compass, right - so, let's take a look to see what the verses say about the issue.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

That's right, The Bible clearly indicates that slavery is okay and you can treat your slaves as property.

Have you ever wondered how hard you could beat your slaves? Well, there is no need to wonder, just consult your Bible:

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

What about sleeping with your female slaves? Yes, The Bible also provides guidance on this issue:

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Maybe Jesus himself can clear up this issue, because there is no way the Bible could actually condone slavery, right? Wrong!!! Jesus said:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

The Bible is a scary place, and before you start telling people it's your favorite book, you should probably ensure you know exactly what that means. Educate yourself. Don't listen to your preacher or your friends or your minister or even to me. Open the book and read it. You may be surprised at the God you fall to your knees to worship...

Congrats New York!!

I wanted to take a quick moment to say congratulations to New York for joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C in allowing same-sex couples to wed.

I hope each and every gay couple that ties the knot enjoys every happiness that you deserve as an EQUAL American citizen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Book of Mormon

I apologize for not posting as regularly this week. I've been spending time with the family and trolloping around NYC which hasn't given me much time to research / write / etc...

I really wanted to see The Book of Mormon while I was in the city, but it was impossible to get tickets, especially last minute.

Now, if you haven't heard of The Book of Mormon it is a musical running on Broadway that was written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone (Parker and Stone are the creators of South Park). The show was the top winner at this years Tony Awards, taking home 7 awards, including best musical.

I find the show extremely appealing since most of the hard hitting humor seems to come from actual Mormon beliefs. Such as the song "I Believe"

I believe that God has a plan for all of us.
I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.
And I believe; that the current President of The Church, Thomas Modson, speaks directly to God.
I am A Mormon,
And, dang it! a Mormon just believes!


I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob.
I believe that Jesus has his own planet as well.
And I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.
If you believe, the Lord will reveal it.
And you'll know it's all true. You'll just feel it.
You'll be a Mormon
And, by gosh!
A Mormon just believes!
Oh, I believe.

The Mormons believe some crazy things!!! Here are the my top 5 on the crazy list

5. After Jesus was resurrected, he visited the people of the Americas.

4. Baptism for the Dead - Mormons believe that because God is our Heavenly Father, he would not condemn those who never had the opportunity to be baptized or understand the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, He prepared a way by which these people could receive the necessary ordinance of baptism to return to live with Him again. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often a descendant of the person, is baptized on behalf of the individual in a Mormon temple. In other words, the baptism if performed by proxy with a living person standing in for the deceased individual.

3. There are multiple heavens. There are actually three according to the Mormon doctrine. One for those that do just ok, one for those that do better than average, and one for those that are really, really good.

2. Modern Revelation. The Mormons believe that the elected prophet of the time gets visits from god and gives him directions. The Mormons have a convention 2 times per year and the prophet tells them what God said.

1. Multiple worlds with multiple Gods. They believe that God created many planets with many people and each planet has its own God. They go further to say that if you are good and special you can also become a God of your own planet.

I have no idea how people can invest their entire lives into this belief system. It just seems insane to me; an awfully hard pill to swallow. However, there are more than 13 million Mormons world-wide.

13 Million!!!

In fact, John Huntsman is running for President of the USA and is of the Mormon faith. Maybe he will get his own planet some day :)

If anyone has seen The Book of Mormon, I would love to hear your opinion. I've listened to a lot of the songs and some were quit shocking!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sins of the Father

When I was little, my Dad use to take us fishing at this 'secret lake' out in the middle of nowhere. In order to get there, you had to drive down a hidden dirt road in the middle of the woods, cross through a fence marked "Private Property", and cross your fingers in hopes that you would make it down the road and back without getting the car stuck in the mud.

It was a secret place for our little family, and the fish were always biting. We would sit on the lake's edge and my Dad would show me how to bait the hook and cast the line. We all waited together in anticipation as we watched the floaters bobbing on top of the water. Fishing takes a lot of patience, and I remember how quite it was when we were at our covert lake.

When we spent time at the lake, the rest of the world seemed to vanish. It was almost easy to forget about the tears, the fights, and the broken promises.

My Dad was, and still is, a drug addict. I wouldn't say it was our families dark secret, because everyone knew and my Dad usually made it painfully obvious, but for me, his addiction was always a very dark cloud over my youth. I didn't want anyone to know.

I usually pretended everything was okay or that I was indifferent to his choices. Inside, it killed me.

As a child, I didn't understand what an addiction was. To me, everything was black and white. My Dad could either choose us, his family, or he could choose the drugs. Black / white. He always chose the drugs. As an adult, I understand that he wasn't always in control and that he may have wanted to choose us, but couldn't.

Our days of sitting on the edge of the lake ended, and 'going fishing' became a constant unfulfilled promise.

"When I get out of prison, I promise we'll go fishing..." he would say to me. I can't even count the number of times I heard it, but I can count the number of times he followed through. Zero.

I use to think 'If I were a better son, he would stop taking drugs.' If I were nicer to my sister, if I didn't talk back, if I wasn't so hard-headed, if I brushed my teeth after every meal, if I wrote him a letter, if I prayed... something! There had to be something I could do to make him better. I knew it was my fault. If I were a good son, he would just choose us, instead of the drugs. Black / white.

The other memories of my father are not as pleasant as the lake. I remember sitting in a drug house while his dealer measured out drugs on a metal scale. I remember bringing him a homemade bookmark with a mallard duck on it when he was in the jail downtown. The corrections officer handed it to him while I watched through the bullet proof glass. I remember Christmas morning when he pushed my mom. I remember when he received special privileges to come to my high school graduation. I remember going to see him in jail and rehab centers.

Even though it is a cliche, I believe that what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. If anything, my Dad showed me 'what NOT to do'... heck, he could have written the book! "Don't leave your small children in a house alone while you go out to buy drugs"... that would be bad. "Don't do drugs," and "Don't ever EVER choose anything over your family."

I've never done drugs. Not a single breath of pot has ever entered my body, nor will it. I've been hard on my friends that made different choices. I ended relationships and friendships over the drug/alcohol issue so that I could surround myself with non-addictive personalities. I've had enough addiction in my life, and I've never even been addicted to anything.

When I make promises to my children, I keep them. I hold me children close to my heart and cherish every moment I have with them. I promise to hear their voices and their words when other adults may discount them. I promise to guide them and protect them throughout their lives. I promise to keep them safe from pain so they won't ever look at me and think "what did I do wrong." I promise to hold their hands and tickle their bellies so that we can laugh together and make happy memories. I promise to sleep in their beds when they have a bad dream and tell them funny stories about mermaids and princesses to make the dreams go away. I promise to always be there, as a father and friend, for my girls. I promise to take them fishing.

For that, I want to say: Thank you Daddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gay Marriage v David Tyree

David Tyree just made me mad. In fact, he kind of pissed me off.

Today, the NY State Assembly passed a same sex marriage bill. The bill is now headed to the Republican controlled state senate, where it's fate is unknown.

Tyree, a former NY Giants receiver, took this opportunity to release a video through the 'National Organization for Marriage' indicating that allowing gay marriage would

be the beginning of our country sliding toward ... anarchy

Really? Anarchy? You really think allowing gay marriage will lead to the destruction of our government and an eternal state of lawlessness? Really?

Tyree went on to say:

Marriage is the only relationship that actually mirrors the relationship with God

I am disappointed when ... not enough guys ... lift up something as honorable and near to God's heart as marriage

We're doing God an injustice by not making his heart known to our country

Is that why you had children prior to your marriage? You know, back when you were a raging drug addict? Is that how you lift up God's message? Interesting...

It is not justifiable to alter a long-standing institution because a minority -- an influential minority -- has ... an agenda

Really? Wow. As a black man, you are going to stand there and say that a minority doesn't deserve a voice because it goes against the majority? I remember a time when African Americans had to fight for equal rights. They were a minority with... "an agenda". They fought the long-standing institution of slavery, jim crow laws, equal rights, voting rights... that seemed to work out okay for you. That didn't lead to anarchy.

In my favorite point, he argued that same sex parents could not raise children of the opposite sex:

You can't teach something that you don't have, So two men will never be able to teach a woman how to be a woman.

Wow, I guess social services should come in and take every male child being raised by a single mother, and every daughter raised by a single father. "Sorry little boy, I know you Dad passed away, but we are going to take you from your mother because she doesn't have the right parts to raise you..."

I have no words.

I Pledge Allegiance to Porky Pig

Look - it's Porky Pig reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you notice what is missing?

When Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, he did not use the words "under God." In fact, those words were not added to the Pledge until 1954, some 62 years later, by President Eisenhower who had recently been converted from a Jehovah's Witness to a baptized Presbyterian.

To most, the words 'Under God' are not a big deal; but think about this. What if President Eisenhower was converted to a Muslim instead of a Presbyterian back in 1953. What if you had to stand up and say "One Nation, under Islam" each time you swore fealty to your country? Would it be a big deal then? Would you fight the change? Would you stand up for your rights as a free American governed by a SECULAR government?

Of course you would. Of course I will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do Children Burn in Hell?!

When I was little, I knew my parents were going to burn in hell. I went to a Baptist church and they made it very clear to everyone, children included, that if you didn't go to church, praise the lord, and 'get saved,' you were going to burn and suffer for the rest of eternity.

As a child, I was petrified. I was saved, so I was going to live in heaven after I died, but what about EVERYONE else? My friends and family were good people, they didn't deserve an eternal roasting in the Earth's core. I had nightmares.

As an adult, I view this practice for what it is: child abuse.

Hell is used as a scare tactic to brainwash young children. A child will believe anything when the alternative is never ending pain. They are raised to accept something without question... because if they don't a mean red man will take a pitchfork to their souls.

Children think visually. When someone tells them about a place, such as hell, it burns an image into their mind. To use hell / damnation as a tool to scare children should be punishable by law.

However, kids are raised this way every single day, especially in the South where I live. What kind of adults will these children become? It's simple. Instead of doing good in order to be a good person, they will do good in order to receive a reward (in this case, heaven). These adults will be afraid to question authority or challenge the norm. They will be weak minded and constantly live in fear, not only for their own soul, but for the souls of everyone they love.

My heart breaks for these children. They will never understand or know what 'could have been'.

To knowingly and willingly do this to a child is abuse.

The day I embraced my atheism and truly accepted who I was (a non-believer), I felt a profound freedom and sense of joy. I will raise my children within this joy and I can't wait to see the adults they become.

If you look at my children and pity them for not 'knowing the Lord' - DON'T - it's not my children that need the sympathy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You the Devil, Man

There is a public TV show in Austin called The Atheist Experience that airs in Austin, TX every Sunday. You can actually stream the show online from anywhere in the world and they have a show archive on their website.

These guys and girls are fantastic and you should definitely check them out. The hosts meet up for dinner after every show and if I'm ever in Austin for business I'm totally going to meet up with them.

My favorite part of the show is when they take viewer calls. Here is a little "best of" video clip, for your enjoyment :)

Michele Bachmann: Insanity has Entered the Building

Let's take a moment to meet the new presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, who announced her running bid last night during the Republican Debate on CNN.

Who is Michele Bachmann? What does this woman stand for? What does she represent?

"Not all cultures are equal." - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is a tea party activist that wants to promote her Christian values in our Secular government. She is a Concerned Woman for America.

"I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist. I'm not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I'm not a scientist." - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann supports intelligent design (aka creationism) in the public school science cirriculum and stated that evolution is 'just a theory'. When religious people say this it makes my blood boil. It shows how ignorant they are when it comes to science and evolution. In science there is nothing higher / nothing better than a theory. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is our best explanation for the fact of evolution. (Take a look at this great website that explains what a theory actually is in science: So, instead of teaching the facts, Michele Bachmann wants to teach stories with no scientific evidence... in the science class... in a public school?

Michele was actually challenged by a 17 year old high school student in Louisiana when she stated:

“there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact… hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.”

In response, the student replied to Michele with the following:

Congresswoman Bachmann, I see your “hundreds” of scientists, and raise you millions of scientists.

For the next hand, I raise you 43 Nobel Laureate scientists. That’s right: 43 Nobel Laureate scientists have endorsed our effort to repeal Louisiana’s creationism law.

Congresswoman Bachmann never replied.

Michele Bachmann supported a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to ban gay marriage and referred to the gay community as people with 'sexual dysfunction' and 'sexual identity disorders'. Here are some Quotes by the Congresswoman:

"Gay Marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I am not understating that. - Michele Bachmann"

"And what a bizarre time we're in, when a judge will say to little children that you can't say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it. - Michele Bachmann"

"Normalization (of gayness) through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of "the Lion King" for instance, and a teacher might say, "Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?" The message is: I'm better at what I do, because I'm gay. - Michele Bachmann"

Michele Bachmann opposes minimum wage increases.

"If we took away the minimum wage - if conceivably it was gone - we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level" - Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann was against a the government-run health insurance public option.

Michele Bachmann believes that global warming is a hoax since "carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature." No, I'm not kidding

As an American, I value my freedom and I have a profound respect for the men and women that serve our country to protect that freedom. Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in equality, and if you are not an equal, are you really free?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creation / How it All Started

I saw this video by Christina over on The Friendly Atheist Blog and it had me laughing out loud. She has a great sense of humor - check it out :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Immortality and Death

Immortality. Humans have searched for, written about, and lusted for eternal life since the beginning of documented history. The thought of living forever is like a powerful drug to the human body. It can paralyze the senses and make us believe almost anything. Literature and cinema are full of tales dealing with immortality.

There is the Island of Immortals in Gulliver's Travels.

The Greek Gods.

The Roman Gods.

The Holy Grail, The Elixir of Life, The Fountain of Youth.

Christianity, Islam, Taoism.

The Elves in Lord of the Rings.


Edward and Bella. Bill and Eric. Dracula.

Why do humans have such a profound obsession with immortality? Because we are scared stupid (sometimes literally) about dying, about leaving the Earth, about being forgotten, about missing life.

Death is so... final! There are no second chances or negotiations when it comes to your last breath. Sometimes I lay in bed and think "some day I'm going to die. Me. I am going to DIE!" Then I start to freak out a little bit... it's a scary thought. I accept death as part of life, but I'm in total denial about it happening to me. It's like hearing about some one's horrible freak accident and you think "well, that sucks for them, but it will never happen to me."

But eventually, death will catch up with all of us. The unspoken number-1 rule of life is to stay alive. All other goals and dreams seem pretty pointless if we can't achieve the first and most important goal. STAY ALIVE.

Also, we can't predict anything when it comes to death. Not the when, the where, the how... the why...

But eventually we will die... and then what?! This thought, the what-happens-next, is why humans are so obsessed with immortality.

Some people are so obsessed with not dying that they will waste their entire lives seeking immortality. This is where religious people and atheists differ. Religion gives people the idea that after they die, their soul can live on forever in a perfect paradise, surrounded by all of their loved ones. Sounds awesome, right. It's so comforting. Ahhhh... I could just sit back and bask in the promise of immortality.

But wait. Even in death, nothing is free. In order to reach this perfect paradise, you have to devote part of your life to God. You have to say the magic words, read the magic book, talk to God, and devote time to going to church. If you don't do these things, you can't go to heaven. The Bible says you have to accept Jesus into your heart in order to go to heaven. If you don't, not only will you not go to heaven, but you will BURN IN HELL, FOREVER!

Wait... what!?

What if I'm a good person? What if I'm moral. Honest. Caring. Loving. Compassionate. Wholesome. Funny. Sympathetic. Empathetic. Kind. Courageous. Honorable. What if I devote myself to feeding the homeless instead of wasting hours in a church. What if I decide to build houses with my own two hands, instead of clasping them in prayer. None of that matters, because if I don't speak the magic words, it's an eternity of hellfire and brimstone. Do I really deserve an eternal life of torture because I didn't go to church on Sundays? If so, what kind of God do you serve?

People often say, "well, it's better to be safe, than sorry - especially with your immortal soul." But do you know what I say to them? This is my life, my one and only chance to live. I am not going to waste a moment of my life worshipping a ghost or a phantom.

Instead I am going to play with my kids. I'm going to kiss my wife. I'm going to watch a sunset and listen to the ocean. I'm going to volunteer my time/money to help others... actually HELP them, not asking a ghost to help them. I'm going to grill out hamburgers. I'm going to cry at a sad movie. I'm going to sleep in on Sunday. I'm going to go on vacation with my family and see the world. I'm going to smile at a stranger. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to kick my feet up after a long day.

As an atheist, I believe that death is final. No pretty pictures, no fairy tales. It's hard to accept, at least it was for me; I wanted the fairy tale. But wanting it doesn't make it true.

I get it. Heaven is comforting. It is a beautiful idea. I can't think of anything better, but still, that doesn't make it true. The only truth we have is we live and we die. For that reason, I will not sacrifice one second of my life, my only life, for an unproven higher power. I will not chase immortality while wasting my time here on earth. At the end of my life, whenever that may be, I want to look back and know that I LIVED. I want to live running at full speed, jumping, flipping, and flying. I don't want to look back and see that I wasted my life on my knees, cowering in fear and praying to a merciless God. I want to leave a legacy. I want to live in the thoughts and memories of my family and friends. And they will be GREAT memories!

Dead. Death. Dying. Departure. Passing. The Big Sleep. The Swan Song. The End. How will you live? How will you love? Who will you choose to spend your life with? It's your life, your ONE life, how will you live it?

The 10 Scariest States to be an Atheist

I came across this article by Greta Christina (a fantastic blogger) on the alternet website. I'm not shocked, but sad to see good ole' NC made the list.

I've been following two of the stories listed in the article. The first one is described in state #4, Rhode Island. Here is a snippet from the blog:

4: Rhode Island. Did you hear the one about the public high school with the prayer banner in the school gym -- a prayer banner specifically addressed to "Our Heavenly Father"? The public high school that got asked to take the banner down by 15-year-old atheist high school student Jessica Ahlquist, since it's an unconstitutional promotion of religion by government? The public high school that's digging in its heels and hanging on to the banner, despite decades of unambiguous legal precedent making it clear that they're in the wrong? The public high school that's getting sued by said atheist high school student and the ACLU... and is still digging in its heels, devoting extensive time and resources to defending their promotion of religion?

That's Rhode Island, folks. And this story isn't just about a school administration insisting on its right to unconstitutionally establish religion. It's about a community's ostracization of an atheist teenager -- in some cases to the point of threats of violence. Ahlquist has been shunned, insulted, vilified, and even threatened with violence. Students in an English class in her school said -- during class -- that she should be "smacked around and beat up" for fighting the prayer banner. Comments in the Providence Journal article on the story were ugly, personal, even threatening -- to a great extent about the ACLU, but largely about Ahlquist herself. ("I think you need to talk to a doctor and get help... you are sick in the head." "Looks like we have a moon bat in the making." "Make no mistake, Jessica and the Bolshevik thugs representing her are driven by anti-Christian bigotry and intolerance and censorship... Curse them to hell.")

In fact, according to the Providence Journal, Ahlquist and another student were removed from their regular classroom schedule last month -- after some students said they intended to harm her. To quote JT Eberhard, high school specialist at the Secular Student Alliance, "In the city of Cranston, an entire community, perhaps an entire state of adults, is engaging in a smear campaign against a single high school student. Her crime? Believing her school violates the first amendment by hanging a prayer banner in the gym invoking the phrases 'Our heavenly father' and 'Amen'."

And this is in New England. This is Rhode Island. The first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule. The state specifically founded as a place of religious freedom, as a response to religious persecution. A slat in the cradle of liberty. And they are vilifying and threatening a 15-year-old girl for being an atheist, and for insisting that her public school follow the Constitution and not shove religion down her throat. Anti-atheist bigotry is everywhere. It's not just in Alabama or Mississippi. Or even Texas.

I heard Jessica Ahlquist speak on an atheist radio show called the Non-Prophets and I have to say that she blew me away. Jessica was bright, smart as hell, and so well composed during the interview. This girl is going to be a leader in our community and I hope that we can stand up and offer her the support her school / school board / and state are denying her!

The second story is described in state #1 - Louisiana. Here is a snippet from the article:

#1: Louisiana.

I freely admit that this list, and the order I'm presenting it, is subjective. It's not based on a careful statistical analysis of rigorously gathered data based on journalistically objective criteria about anti-atheist bigotry. It's based on stories that happened to get my atheist dander up. It's based on stories that made me sad -- and enraged.

And the story that happened in Louisiana made me sad, and enraged, more than almost any other.

I'm talking about Damon Fowler.

I'm talking about the atheist high school student who opposed his public school having a school-sponsored prayer at his graduation. Whose name was leaked. And who, as a result, was hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community; publicly demeaned by one of his teachers; physically threatened; and thrown out by his parents, who cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and threw his belongings onto the front porch. Whose public school went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway. Who has had to leave his home and move in with his sister near Dallas, Texas.

You know things are bad when your atheist safe haven from extremist religious persecution is in Texas.

That's Louisiana.

Worst. State. Ever.

This poor kid! He was also a featured guest on the Non-Prophets and visible shaken by the whole ordeal. This kid was torn apart by his school, his town, and his family for standing up for the constitution! That is insane to me. The 'evil' atheist community actually raised over $30,000.00 in scholarship money to send him to college while the 'christians' tossed him out on his ass.

Most of these issues reference the 1st amendment of the US constitution. The Establishment Clause in the first amendment is generally interpreted to mean that the government cannot establish a national religion by congress and that the government cannot favor one religion over another. The separation of church and state is attributed to Thomas Jefferson and often mentioned by the supreme court (Reynolds v. United States, Everson v. Board of Education). In the cases of Rhode Island and Louisiana, the public school would represent the STATE and the prayer would represent the CHURCH. These two should not co-exist.

Here is the full article:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Non-Religious Parenting

One of the most common questions people ask me is 'How will you raise your children in regards to religion and God?' That is a great question! I have three beautiful and spirited girls. My oldest is 5, my middle child is 2, and the youngest is 4 months old.

My wife and I want our girls to have a broad religious background and a basic understanding of all major world religions. All religions will be presented in the same way; none favored and none presented with low regard. Of course we will also discuss science, evolution, agnosticism, and atheism. We do not hope to raise carbon copies of ourselves. Our goal is to raise children that are open minded and accepting of all religious views. Then, when our girls are old enough to make an informed and cognitive decision, we hope they pick a path that will lead them to happiness. Weather that path leads them to God, Science, or Buddha we will support them whole-heartedly and with passion.

My wife and I know what kind of education we would like our children to have, the question for us is 'how do you teach a five year old about various world religions?'

Step 1 - Educate yourself! You can't expect to teach your child anything if you don't know the subject matter first. There are many resources on the web and in the library regarding religion and science. Do some research and ensure that you will be able to answer any questions they may have. Does this mean you need to memorize every verse of the Koran or every page of The Origin of Species? Of course not; but you should understand the basic beliefs of each religion or scientific principle.

Step 2 - Pick 1-3 religions and/or scientific concepts at a time. Present the concepts slowly, over a set period of time. Don't bombard your kids with information because they won't be able to grasp the concepts or remember them.

Step 3 - Focus on the positive and simplify the concepts, especially for younger children. When you are doing your research (see Step 1), select a few selling points you want your children to know. Here is an example of a scientific lesson and a religious lesson:
--Evolution-- "Where do people come from? Well, some people believe that chimps and humans have a common ancestor. That means a long long time ago there was an animal that kind of looked like a human and kind of looked like a chimp. Can you think of ways we look like a chimp" You could compare pictures of humans / chimps / apes / etc... My 5 year old really grasped this concept because she can clearly see the similarities.
--Christianity-- "Who is Jesus? Well, some people believe he was the son of God. Jesus accepted the outcasts, he helped the sick and poor, and told people to love one another" By focusing on the positive messages, the child will hopefully understand the true meaning of the religion.

Notice that both evolution and Christianity were presented in the same way; 'some people believe...' When you enforce the concept that everybody has their on belief system, it teaches the child that it is okay to be religiously diverse.

Step 4 - Be honest, answer their questions, and don't be afraid to say "I don't know." If your child asks, "what do you believe?" Tell them, and tell them why. Show them that you made an educated and rational decision about your beliefs. Lead by example in hopes they will also make an educated and rational decision.

I ran across a video on youtube a few months back where the speaker talks about religious diversity within the family setting. Take a look:

Other Resources: Parenting Beyond Belief

What is an Atheist

Atheist (n) - one who believes that there is no deity

It is a simple definition. Webster uses 8 simple words to define this controversial term. Atheist. :shivers:

The very word causes most Americans to gasp and turn their noses up in disgust. We are the most hated group in America, and in my opinion, one of the least understood. To be an atheist simply means you do not believe in a god. We have no dogma, no scripture or sacred text, just a simple belief in no higher power. Being an atheist does not mean you believe in evolution. It does not mean you are a liberal, or a democrat. It does not mean you worship the devil. It does not mean you are anti-American or anti-military. It does not mean you are sad, depressed and devoid of all happiness and beauty. It does not mean you hate religion or religious people. It does not mean you are a scientist or accept scientific evidence of creation.

It simply means you do not believe in a deity.

Yes, many atheists believe in the Big Bang theory, evolution, and all of that. Some don't. Either way, these beliefs are irrelevant. When a person says they are an atheist, don't assume anything... except the 8 simple words listed at the top of this post. And don't gasp, it's rude. :)

Did you know that you are actually a non-believer as well!? I would like you to do something for me. Take a look at the list below. These are some of the world's major religions along with their important figures, concepts, and books. As you read the list, think to yourself "I don't believe in this because_________________" or "I do believe in this because __________________". Ready? GO!

1. Christianity - Jesus of Nazareth, God, The Bible
2. Islam - Mohammad, Allah, The 5 Pillars
3. Hinduism - The Four Vedic Books, Brahman, Reincarnation, Karma
4. Buddhism - The 4 Noble Truths / The Noble Eight-Fold Path, Nirvana, Buddha
5. Sikhism - Nanak, The Adi Granth
6. Judaism - Yahweh, The Torah
7. Baha'ism - Baha Ullah
8. Confucianism - Confucius, Analects, Cultivation of Virtue
9. Jainism - The 24 Tirthankaras, Mahavira / Jina
10. Shintoism - Kami, Kojiki / Nihon Shoki

See!? You are probably a non-believer for 9 of the above religions. I am a non-believer for all 10. What words did you use to discount your belief in Nanak? In Mahavira? I use those same words of disbelief for Jesus, Mohammad, and God.

Why are you a Christian? Is it because you were born in the USA and raised to love Jesus. If you were born in India and raised in the Indian culture, would you still be a Christian? Or would you feel just as strongly about Hinduism as you do about Jesus? By a twist of coincidence, you were born in the USA and raised in a predominantly Christian nation - that does not mean you are correct.

Educate yourself. Think. Ask questions. Remember that you are an atheist when it comes to every OTHER world religion, I just take it one step further.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Good Man

"It is liberating to realize that my ideas, loves, and joys are neither programmed nor demanded by some god, but spring freely from my heart for however long it beats"

I'm not big on quotes or cliches, but when I ran across this saying on the Freedom From Religion facebook page I instantly felt a connection to the meaning behind the words. As an atheist, I take pride in knowing that my morals, loves, and joys are self derived. I've worked and labored for the last 8+ years to establish myself, not only as an adult, but as an educated and good man. A family man. Is this possible without religion? Without God? Many people would say 'No'. Many people believe that in order to live a moral and good life you need the hand of God to guide you and the Bible to educate you on what to do and what not to do.

Well, I hate to say it, but I know that killing is wrong without using the Bible as a reference. Adultery - Bad! Kindness - Good! We learn these concepts from childhood, from our families, our friends, and from our human ability to reason and THINK. We would know these things with or without a book.

As I stated earlier, I take pride in knowing that my personal moral code is self derived, based on current social understandings, and enforced out of desire and not the threat of eternal damnation. Why do people need an impending punishment in order to do good. Isn't doing good for goodness sake enough? Isn't that what Santa Clause told us all along!

I can't explain how liberating it is to cast aside the pre-determined religious morals and embrace your own moral code. Why is it that people can pick and choose passages from the Bible, embracing some and ignoring others, but can't listen to their own voice of reason. Should children that are abused honor their Mother and Father? Of course not! Should we discriminate against other humans based on their gender, race, or sexuality because we have an old book that supports us. No! We should treat everyone equally and with kindness - my 5 year old knows that. It is a simple lesson, one that would make this world a better place. A view that was shared by none other than Jesus (A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)) Notice it says "LOVE ONE ANOTHER"... there are no conditions or requirements of this love. It doesn't say "LOVE ONE ANOTHER... EXCEPT THE GAYS, YOU SHOULD HATE THEM!"

You are good enough to make your own choices, judgements, and morals even if they differ from previous circumstances. You ARE good enough! Don't let a text or verse determine how you live your life / treat others. If you know something is wrong, stand up for it. It will change your life.

So now, I will 'stand up' and BLOG!