Monthly Archives: October 2008

Godless Americans and Bigotry In the U.S.

Christians throughout the United States claim that their faith is under attack and that their religious freedom is in jeopardy. They believe they are being persecuted and discriminated against from all sides, a claim which we see on TV, hear on the radio and read on forums across the internet. Explaining that atheists in America are marginalized and one of the last remaining groups that it is socially acceptable to discriminate against has, in my experience so far, proven to be an exercise in futility.

Many of you may already be aware of the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Dole‘s “attack ad” against Kay Hagan.

In the ad, Hagan is accused of associating with Godless Americans, taking “Godless money” and even being Godless, herself.

Campbell Brown of CNN
reports:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican of North Carolina is trying to hold onto her seat in an extremely close race, and to that end, she is attacking the religious faith of her opponent, Kay Hagan.[…]

Yeah, you heard that right: “There is no God.” The only problem is Kay Hagan never said it. Never. Just a picture of her face over someone else’s audio. Kay Hagan is a member of the Presbyterian Church. She is a former Sunday school teacher.

The fundraiser the ad mentions was not hosted by the Godless American Political Action Committee. A member was one of 40 different co-hosts. Sen. John Kerry was at this fundraiser. […]

Elizabeth Dole is hardly alone here. Her ad is just one of the most egregious.

Good for you, Campbell Brown, for calling Dole out on this lie. Except… not only do you fail to recognize the implicit bigotry of the ad but you also express it yourself, calling the ad “one of the most egregious” of the campaign.

Would it be just as evil to accuse Hagan of associating with Blacks, Hispanics or Jews, for instance? Would it even be a point of discussion, much less worthy of attack, if Hagan had taken money from an organization representing the civil rights of one of these minorities?

But you’re hardly alone, Campbell Brown; your article is just one of the more bigoted.

From the Fayetteville Observer:

During a town hall meeting, a McCain supporter said she was afraid of Obama because he was an Arab. Taking the microphone from the frightened woman, McCain said her fears were unfounded, Obama is not an Arab. He’s a decent American, a family man, with whom McCain just happens to have differences.

Honesty like that has earned McCain respect from both sides of the aisles. Sen. Elizabeth Dole should take a lesson from McCain. A broadcast ad targeting her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan, shows Dole ratcheting up her rhetoric, and probably winning the honor, so far, of fielding the nastiest, most misleading, negative ad of the campaign. Here’s part of the ad that portrays Hagan as a godless liberal:

Leaving aside for the moment that McCain’s defense of Obama was bigoted, implying that “decent” and “family man” are the opposite of “Arab”, this article goes on to call Dole’s ad “the nastiest […] negative ad of the campaign”.

I think it’s time we stop and ask ourselves why godlessness or atheism can even be used as slurs. Why is it among the nastiest, most egregious things that can be said about a person?

Something Colin Powell recently said comes to mind. In response to accusations that Barack Obama is a Muslim, Powell said this:

Well the correct answer is, ‘He’s not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian’. But the really right answer is, “What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No’, that’s not America.

The same principle applies here. The factually correct answer is that Kay Hagan is not “godless”; the ethically correct answer is, “So what if she is?”.

Alex Castellano says to Wolf Blitzer of CNN:

There’s a way to make this attack. There’s a way to say, “Look, this lady goes to church, believes in god but look who she’s taking money from.” This is a question of judgment. There’s a fair way to bring up who you’re associated with. This seems to cross a line.

So it’s an act of poor judgment to associate with atheists and take money from them? You’d think we were all terrorists or something.

It’s come to a sad state of affairs in the United States of America when a particular religion or lack of religion can be used as ammunition to make an attack on someone’s character.

To any Christian in America who thinks his faith is under attack or that he is being persecuted or discriminated against, ask yourself how egregious, nasty, malicious or negative the ad would have been had it read like this:

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I’m Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: A leader of Focus on the Family recently held a secret fund-raiser in Kay Hagan’s honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can only rely on God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus saves!

BILL O’REILLY, HOST, “THE O’REILLY FACTOR”: The Pledge of Allegiance says “one nation under God”, you’re down with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re down with that.

O’REILLY: Our money says “In God we trust”, you’re OK with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are!

Focus on the Family and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took Christian money. What did Hagan promise in return?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless America!

It wouldn’t hurt at all, would it? In fact, it might even give the impression that Dole was campaigning for Hagan. Why? Because being a Christian in America is seen as virtuous and respectable. Dole’s ad has the desired effect only because atheism is perceived in the United States as something to be hated and feared; something evil, immoral and repugnant.

The prejudice and bigotry toward atheists in America is so commonplace and accepted that a politician running for elected office uses and exploits it without apology as a smear against an opponent.

Most of those decrying the ad are doing so because “Kay Hagan is so a Christian!”, while remaining oblivious to just how wrong the ad really is, and why. Not only does this go unnoticed by the media, they actually play into the idea and reinforce it; as of last night, even Keith Olbermann didn’t seem to catch on.

So, Christians, please don’t ever complain to me about how your rights and freedoms are being trodden on, or whine that you are being discriminated against, because you will get no sympathy from me.

You are extremely well represented in the United States, and I hope that Elizabeth Dole’s “egregious, nasty, negative attack ad” and all the media responses to it will help put that into perspective for you.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


The God Who Wasn’t There

In a discussion at Rutherford Lawson’s blog, Postman linked to thegodmovie.com. The God Who Wasn’t There has been out since 2005, so some of you may already be familiar with it. I’ve never seen it myself, but I have every intention of doing do so the minute I can lay my hands on a copy. I saw the trailer and then found a ten minute clip on YouTube which I immediately decided to post here.

But first, from the above linked website:

In this critically acclaimed film, you will discover:

  • The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus
  • The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults
  • Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion
  • Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes

Now, on with the show:

Thanks, Postman!


Sarah Palin: Spreading the Wealth

The McCain campaign has repeatedly called Obama a socialist, using against him the words, “spread the wealth around”. It’s kind of hard to blame them, at this point; desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. They’re losing badly and don’t seem to have any real plans of their own to promote, so the best they can hope for is to scare voters with threats of socialism or communism under an Obama administration.

At a rally in Des Moines, Sarah Palin says the following:

See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody. Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us. Now, they do this in other countries where the people are not free.

MSNBC – Keith Olbermann

Olbermann responds:

So Gov., Obama’s not just a socialist? Not just a re-distributionist re-distributor? Maybe not just a totalitarian? Maybe not just a dictator, he may be a communist?

To paraphrase you in Des Moines, Governor, Obama wants to set up, unlike other candidates, collectively owning the resources. By sharing that wealth and those resources. Collectivist sharing’ the wealth socialist communism, I’d say.

But wait! There’s more!

Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.”

[emphasis mine]

The New Yorker Magazine – Hendrik Hertzberg

I’d respond to this myself, but Keith Olbermann did it so well:

Who was the collectivist share-the-wealther, who was boasting to the reporter visiting from “The New Yorker Magazine,”of having been able to send a check for $1,200 to every man, woman and child in the state since, quote “Alaska is sometimes described as America’s socialist state, because of its collective ownership of resources?”

Why, you said that, Governor! You’re a share-the-wealth, collectivist, Almost-Socialist-Governor, Governor! Who also believes that income, property, inventory and investments, collectively belonging to everybody else, leads to a misuse of power, and government making decisions for us, turning countries into places where the people are not free.

Places like, Sarah Palin’s America! Governor, all sorts of choice words apply here: hypocrite, double-talker, snake-oil seller, socialist. But let me stick with just one, with which to bid you goodbye. You, governor, are a fraud.

I think that pretty much sums it up!


National Day Of Silence: April 17, 2009

This past weekend, I wrote about a blogger who had misrepresented the purpose of the National Day of Silence.

Despite bogus claims and outright lies being promoted by various people, the Day of Silence is not about “promoting homosexuality”. It began 12 years ago when University of Virginia students wanted to find a way to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment on campus. This year, it was held in memory of Lawrence King, an 8th grade student who was murdered because of his sexual orientation.

Contrary to claims by groups like the American Family Association and the various individuals riding its coat-tails, this kind of bullying and harassment is a serious problem in schools. The purpose of the Day of Silence is to bring awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment, and to promote effective responses to it. It is not about allowing gay students to disrupt class for the day to promote a “homosexual agenda”, as the AFA would have people believe. Students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.

There is nothing on the DoS website that says everyone, or indeed anyone, is required to participate. It’s not necessarily observed throughout the entire day, and some schools only participate during lunch to avoid “disrupting” class. There is no single way to participate and no one is ever forced into participation. And yet, many people, often in the name of a superior moral agency, promote lies and misinformation about the purpose of this event, claiming that it is some kind of conspiracy to promote a “homosexual lifestyle” in public schools.

Saying that it’s not OK to bully, harass or murder someone because of his or her sexual orientation is not the same thing as promoting or honoring that sexual orientation. There is no reason that I can see to oppose the Day of Silence, other than ignorance, bigotry, and the desire to cause harm to a vulnerable group. And yet, opponents of this non-violent demonstration deluge schools with floods of angry letters and phone calls, threatening to keep their children home from school if the Day of Silence goes ahead.

This is just another form of bullying, a disgusting attempt to silence those whose opinions they dislike.

Public schools lose funding for each child that doesn’t attend school on any given day. The more students who are absent, the more funding the schools lose. This strong-arm tactic serves one purpose: to bully schools into calling off the event by threatening their funding.

The author of Mom Loves Being At Home said this in comments at her blog:

I wouldn’t expect everyone in the public school system to have a day where they honored my God if that wasn’t what they believed.

First of all, atheist students across the United States are required to participate, every single day, in a school-sponsored moment of silence, which is nothing more than a substitute for prayer. Do you oppose this ritual as well, Mom?

Most importantly, though, if bullying and harassing students because of their religious beliefs, Christian or otherwise, were a problem in our public schools, I would certainly not oppose efforts to bring awareness to the issue. In fact, I would join the effort myself and encourage my son to participate as well.

I do not approve of the Christian lifestyle. 1 I believe that it largely promotes intolerance, ignorance and bigotry; it certainly violates many of my personally-held values and principles. But it is not OK to mistreat people whose lifestyles I disapprove of, and I would fight alongside them to put a stop to it.

If your school or your child’s school is organizing a Day of Silence on April 17, 2009, I urge you to participate. Call the school or send a letter thanking them and assuring them that your child(ren) will be in attendance that day. If there is no event scheduled at your school, please read the Day of Silence FAQ to find out how you can help.


1Although I believe that Christianity largely promotes intolerance, ignorance and bigotry, I realize that not all Christians are ignorant, intolerant bigots, and I appreciate those who are educated, caring and tolerant.


Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Good News

With the election drawing nearer, I’ve been paying more attention to the television than I usually do. I actually switched it on this is morning, which I rarely do. Between stories about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, John McCain running a nasty campaign, Joe Biden being unprofessional and Barack Obama being a Marxist — all of which is beginning to wear just a bit, if I’m honest — I also heard a story that was very uplifting. We can all use good news once in a while, so I thought that sharing it here would be a nice way to kick off what might otherwise be just a crappy Monday.

Woman buys back foreclosed home for stranger, by Monika Diaz | WFAA-TV

While the misfortune of others lured hundreds of bargain hunters to the foreclosure auction, Tracy said she came to find closure. The mother took her seat among a sea of investors and strangers to say goodbye to her Pottsboro home, which is located just west of Denison.

[…]

“She was crying and I asked her what she was upset about,” said Marilyn Mock, of Rockwall.

When Tracy’s home, “Number 73,” came up for auction, Mock raised her hand and bid. With no picture of the property in the auction book, Mock had only Tracy’s word on the home’s worth.

[…]

It was a second chance given to Tracy by a stranger.

Texas Cable News

I’m all choked up again. Stories like this make me think that maybe the world isn’t as cold and hard as it sometimes seems to be.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Mom Hates Telling The Truth

In my quest for information about homeschooling (update on that situation coming soon), I keep coming across the blogs of what I call “creepy homeschoolers”: the people who, like Raani Starnes, come right out and say that they homeschool their children to keep them away from homosexuals. And they accuse gays of being sex obsessed. Yeeaah, uh huh…

So, the other day I came across a blog called Mom Loves Being At Home. I can certainly relate to that, but that’s also where the camaraderie ends.

The post that got my attention was entitled This is one of the reasons we homeschool. Can you guess what the reason was? You guessed it: those dreaded homosexuals! They’re hiding behind every bush just waiting to sodomize anything with a pulse, I tell you!

I want to take a quick detour here to say how utterly weird this is to me; I honestly cannot get my head around it. Even at my most religious, I couldn’t bring myself to care about other people’s sexual preferences or activities. I actually felt guilty at one point, convinced that I was a bad Christian because I just could not work myself into a queer-hating frenzy.

Anyway, Mom Apparently Also Hates Telling the Truth. She wrote, in a comment under the above-linked post, that the Day Of Silence was “about promoting the homosexual lifestyle in the public school system”. I posted a comment correcting her, but she deleted it. This wasn’t totally unexpected, so I copied it to a draft for safekeeping.

This is the comment that was so offensive it had to be removed:

Lottie, on October 24th, 2008 at 1:02 pm Said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

No it is not about promoting the homosexual lifestyle. It is about not bullying and harassing LGBT students. It was held in memory of Lawerence King, an 8th grader who was murdered because he was gay.

Do you not see the difference? Do you seriously oppose a non-violent, civil and very quiet demonstration that serves only to bring awareness to such a tragedy and attempts to put a stop to this kind of violence?

Is that what Christianity does to people?

Of course, the truth doesn’t line up with the homophobic propaganda she’s been sucking down from the American Family Association before regurgitating onto her own blog, so she simply deletes it, which means she is knowingly and deliberately promoting a lie. Nice values there. Can’t let the truth interfere with the agenda, though!

Those pesky little facts always seem to send the hate-mongering fundies into hiding (Raani Starnes’ blog is now open only to invited guests).

Another thing a lot of these creepy homeschoolers have on their blogs is Proverbs 22:6, which says:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

It seems that hate, intolerance and dishonesty are all part of the training for these people.

As much as I feel sorry for the kids at this point, I’m also glad, in a way, that they’re being kept home. This way, they’re not running loose in the public schools spreading the hatefulness their parents are indoctrinating them with. As if we needed anymore of that…

UPDATE: More underhanded, dishonest maneuvers from Mom:
After deleting my comment from her blog and then posting a 417 word comment on mine, she also posted the same long-winded comment on her blog in response to my comment which she refused. While she’s perfectly within her rights to do this, it’s just another example of how dishonest she is, and how she’s more interested in promoting an agenda full of lies and bigotry than in having an honest discussion.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


The Brilliance Of Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin, so-called advocate for the disabled and children with special needs, doesn’t seem to know a whole heck of a lot about the cause she’s supposedly so committed to.

Am I in the middle of a nightmare that won’t end, or did this idiot just mock fruit fly research in the context of discussing how to help special needs children?

Good Gawd! Does this woman read anything besides bibles and teleprompters?

Fruit Fly Research Illuminates Human Health, by Alison Davis

Decades of study have revealed that the tiny insects, which bear little resemblance to people, nevertheless share much of our genetic heritage. Fruit flies possess strikingly similar versions of the genes that promote normal human development and, when altered, contribute to disease.

The NIH Record

And there’s more:

Fruit Fly Research Set To Revolutionize Study Of Birth Defects

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2005) — A Queen’s University study of fruit flies that may revolutionize the way birth defects are studied has identified the genes affected by a widely prescribed drug known to cause birth defects.

Science Daily

But it gets even better:

Specific Brain Protein Required For Nerve Cell Connections To Form And Function

[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for these nerve cell connections to form and function correctly.

The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

Science Daily

After saying that “no bureaucracy should stand in the way of special needs kids” she mocks the very research that benefits special needs kids and suggests that funding for it be cut or eliminated. According to Palin, it’s money wasted on a “political pet project that really [doesn’t] make a whole lot of sense” and “has little or nothing to do with the public good”.

Fucking brilliant!

Richard Wolfe, says to Keith Olbermann:

Keith, I’m going to be as restrained and measured as I possibly can about this. This is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed comment we have seen from Governor Palin so far, and there’s been a lot of competition for that prize.

Please watch this short clip to hear Richard explain precisely why this is Palin’s worst blunder to date:

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On