Marriage Equality and Religious Bigotry

marriageequality2

Religious bigots who are against marriage equality often cite the Bible as their objection. One of their main verses to recite is 1 Corinthians 6:9 (kind of ironic chapter and verse right there, huh? lol).

But let’s take a look at it.

9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God

So if this is one of the verses that is used to oppose marriage equality (and homosexuality in general) then why aren’t they opposed to fornicators, idolators or thieves getting married? Why aren’t they protesting adulterers, swindlers, and drunkards getting married?

Since when did homosexuality become the “unforgivable sin”?

Recent polls show that 58% of Americans (at least) support marriage equality. 76% of Americans identify as Christian. Those numbers are definitely bound to cross over. Even if the 24% of the population which is not Christian supports marriage equality, that would mean at least 34% of American Christians support it also. It’s time for people to stop using their Bronze Age book of mythology to oppose the rights and freedoms of others.

During slavery times in America, slaves were not permitted to marry. They were only allowed to have “civil unions.” Sound familiar? And at one point in time in America it was illegal in many states for inter-racial couples to get married.

What side of history will people be on when all is said and done on this matter? Religion-based bigotry has to be stopped!

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Muslims, Breasts, and Disasters, oh my!

amina

Recently, this article came to my attention (http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/03/21/4-april-2013-international-day-to-defend-amina-she-represents-us/) about a woman from Tunisia named Amina. She posted a picture of herself online baring her naked breasts with Arabic text written on her that says, “[M]y body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor.”

Clearly that message was lost on the Muslims. Maybe they don’t read Arabic? Anyhow, as the above article states, “Islamist cleric Adel Almi, president of Al-Jamia Al-Li-Wassatia Tawia Wal-Islah, has called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death saying Amina’s actions will bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…”

Yeah. She may give ideas to other women. Watch out! Other Muslim women in the Middle East may start to realize that their bodies are their own and not owned by some man. But epidemics and disasters? What?! Her breasts are gonna cause a typhoon, earthquake, or hurricane? *eyeroll*

Newsflash, Muslim world: They are called “natural disasters” for a reason. Because they are natural! Therefore, there’s no supernatural cause for them. They happen as a result of nature. A woman baring her breasts, two women kissing, two men adopting a child, or a teenager eating a bacon sandwich after getting a tattoo while listening to a Marilyn Manson CD is not gonna cause a natural disaster. I promise!

I tell ya, for a bunch of people who claim that their religious text is full of science, they sure are ignorant of science. Naked breasts don’t cause hurricanes. But let me guess, we can’t prove that they don’t, huh? LOL

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The Problem of Religion in Politics

churchandstate

The problem with religion in politics is this: You have pastors nationwide preaching things from the pulpit that aren’t necessarily true about politics. And they have congregations who blindly eat up anything they say. They accept what they say as “gospel truth” no matter what. Rarely do they look up the things they are told. They trust their pastors. So if their Pastors say, during the reign of Emperor George II, that the war in Iraq was caused by the god of the Bible to get the Gospel into that area (like was said by a former Pastor of mine to us one morning), or if some Right-wing nutcase Pastor says that Obamacare is going to exterminate the elderly (http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/klingenschmitt-obamacare-will-exterminate-elderly-systematically), they blindly accept it!

This is dangerous! That’s why the Founding Fathers created America to be a secular Republic and not a Christian theocracy. They had just fled a country, England, that had a state-sponsored religion. This is why they promoted a Separation of Church and State, a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter in 1802. This is why the US Senate ratified the Treaty of Tripoli which states “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” unanimously in 1797. This is why there is no mention of God, Jesus, Christianity, or the Bible in the Constitution. This is why we have a secular Constitution and not merely the Bible as our Constitution.

They founded America as a place where people can have the freedom to practice religion or not practice it. But that’s also why it was intended by them for religion to be separate from government. Religion was to be a private matter.

This is why “under god” was not included in the original pledge of allegiance. This is why “In god we trust” was not originally on our curency. This is why “In god we trust” was not our original national motto; it was “E. pluribus unum (out of many, one).” The original intent for this country was a melting pot, a unified plurality. Not a Christian theocracy.

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Steven Crowder: Innocent Victim or Political Provocateur? (VIDEO)

Innocent victim or just deserts?

Innocent victim or just deserts?

A few days ago video came out from Conservative “comedian” and Fox News contributor Steven Crowder of himself being assaulted by a Union guy in Michigan who was at a protest of the State’s new “Right-to-Work” legislation.  The short video also shows footage of protesters tearing down a tent placed there by the ironically-named Right-wing group Americans For Prosperity. This appeared to be the smoking gun that the Right needed to show that Union members are nothing but “violent thugs.” In fact, Crowder’s official video of this on his YouTube channel is titled “UNIONS ASSAULT ON CAMERA!!” Well, this is just bad for Union-supporting Progressives, Liberals, and Democrats! Or is it?

Since this video came out, political pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have been decrying these acts of violence on behalf of Union members. And rightly so. If there is unprovoked violence on the part of anyone it should be criticized by those who share their political views. But is there more to this story?

On PoliticsNation last night, Al Sharpton pointed out that the video was heavily edited (a fact that Left-wing blowhard and serial-interrupter Chris Matthews missed or ignored when he was sympathizing with Crowder). So this begs the question, what was edited out of the video? Well, dear readers, ask and ye shall receive!

After this video came out and the story came to my attention on the morning of December 12th, I began doing some research trying to find unedited video footage like any good fact-seeking human being should do. After a few hours I found a gold nugget. What did I find? A less-edited version of the video. And I found it in the most unlikely of places: On the Sean Hannity Show.

This video is edited in almost the same exact way as the official video found on Crowder’s YouTube channel. The difference is there’s about 5 seconds of footage in the video prior to when the “Union thug” starts swinging on him. It shows the Union member and two of his buddies standing face to face with Crowder and two of his AFP buddies. They are talking heatedly to each other. Then it shows the Union member get shoved down, although who did it is blocked from view and the camera man is panning. When he pans back right as the Union member is shoved down you see Crowder standing right behind him. Crowder then raises his hands as if he did nothing. Then the camera pans around to the Union member on the ground. He gets up and starts swinging on Crowder.

Now do we actually see Crowder push him down? Unfortunately not. But if it wasn’t Crowder then it was the guy standing to Crowder’s left, his friend. Everyone else standing there was Union members and protesters. So the Union member was shoved down by either Crowder or his friend and when he recovers and gets up he sees Crowder holding his hands up which could either be taken as a sign meaning “I didn’t do it” or it could be interpreted as a defensive stance, like he knew the guy was going to start swinging on him.

Bottom line is the man did not attack unprovoked. He was shoved by someone and he reacted out of self-defense. Furthermore, what do groups like Americans For Prosperity expect when they show up at a Union rally against “Right-to-Work” legislation which is attacking their livelihood? They knew exactly what they were doing there. AFP was not innocent in this; they were there to provoke. And they did just that. Unfortunately for them, they also had a fame-seeking attention-whore third-rate comedian taping the whole thing and his editor was too incompetent to remove all of the footage which showed the truth of the incident.

Think of it like this. Imagine if there was a Black pride rally and the KKK showed up and set up a tent in the very middle of it. Then one of the Klan members was interviewing people at the rally and asking them inflammatory questions like “Why do you think you deserve equal rights?” Then in an attempt to show how violent Black people are they shove a rally attendee down, thus causing him to get up and defend himself. Afterwards they edit the video to make the attack look unprovoked and upload it to the internet with the title “Innocent White man attacked by violent Black thug.” This is exactly what Crowder and his AFP buddies did.

The saddest part about it is these people have absolutely no shame. They are so desperate to advance their backwards political views that they will lie and manipulate in order to do so.

Here is the video starting at the point of the entire altercation. You be the judge. Start at the 1:20 mark.

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Is agnosticism “atheism lite”?

This question was posed on a friend’s page on Facebook this morning. My response to the question, “Is agnosticism ‘atheism lite’?” is this:

Most atheists also claim to be agnostic meaning they don’t know if there is a god or not. No one knows for certain if there is a god or not, including the most devout Christian (or any religious group) despite how much they will lie and claim that they know their god is real.

Everyone, atheist or theist, is agnostic. The thing is, though, the atheist goes one step further and takes the definitive stance that, based on the lack of evidence and the improbability of the existence of any deities, we do not believe in any of the thousands of deities that mankind has worshipped over the course of time. The problem is some people, of both atheist and theist persuasion, have falsely defined atheism as “Knowing there are no gods that exist.”

So, when someone claims to be just an agnostic, they are basically sitting on the fence and refusing to really take a position on whether they believe in a deity or not. Saying you are agnostic really means nothing. When someone tells me they are an agnostic, the follow-up question should always be, “But do you believe any gods exist?” If no, then you are an agnostic atheist. If yes, then you are an agnostic theist.

What I think a lot of self-described agnostics are trying to do is take a position where they feel superior to both groups. I’ve seen it a lot. Agnostics who show up on an internet site talking about, “I’m an agnostic but I think hardcore atheists are just as bad as hardcore Christians.” or some variation thereof.

So, to answer the original question, no, agnosticism is not “atheism lite.”

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America’s Constant Violation of the Separation of Church and State

In Steubenville, Ohio, a city in my area of the Northern Ohio Valley, there’s a Constitutional issue taking place. The City of Steubenville, had a new logo designed. The logo contains the silhouettes of three city landmarks: Fort Steuben, the new bridge, and the St. Franciscan University chapel. Now, for those who don’t know, Steubenville is very famous for the university. People from all over the country come to Steubenville to go to the university.

The problem with the inclusion of the chapel is that it also contains the Christian cross on it. Inclusion of any religion in a city logo is clearly a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. So, someone from the city of Steubenville chose to remain anonymous and contacted the Freedom from Religion foundation and informed them of the violation. The FFRF swooped down on Steubenville and told them to remove the cross and chapel from the logo or they would file a lawsuit. The City did so, but then people from the Northern Ohio Valley area took up the cause and are trying to convince the city to leave it in. Supporters of the logo are now painting this as a fight for religious freedom (which, in my view, further illustrates why the chapel and cross should not be included in the logo. They are proving that the inclusion of the cross has everything to do with religion, and not with it being a city landmark like they were initially claiming.)

The supporters of the chapel and cross being included in the logo as a city landmark may have had a leg to stand, initially, if not for the fact that after the City pulled the logo, they approached the University and asked them if they wanted a different university building included in the logo. That way the logo would be religion-free and St. Franciscan could still be represented as a city landmark. The University refused! (http://www.franciscan.edu/News/2012/Statement-on-Change-to-City-Logo/) Clearly, they didn’t care to have their university included. They wanted their religion included!

So how can people argue that the inclusion of the chapel and cross has nothing to do with religion or placing one religion above another? The chapel itself is called “Christ the King Chapel.” There’s no way around it. A city placing one specific religion over all others, or representing only one religion in a city logo, violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. When people look at the Steubenville city logo as intended, it sends a clear message: “This city welcomes all Christians. Everyone else? Sucks to be you. Steubenville is a Christian city.” If the city does not intend to spread this message, then they have no choice but to remove the chapel from the logo and replace it with something else. If St. Franciscan decides to pout and throw a temper tantrum and not use a different university building, then that’s their choice. St. Franciscan is a university and that’s why it was chosen to be included. They are not a Church, no matter how much the Catholic Church runs them and influences their policy. Their religion shall not influence local government.

This brings us to a larger problem, though. America’s constant violation of the separation of Church and State.  Examples of which are America adding “under god” to our pledge (which was originally written by  Christian socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 sans the phrase) to combat the scourge of the “godless Communists,” and adopting “In god we trust” as our national motto and including it on our money.

America was created by our founding fathers to be a safe haven from a religion-controlled government like the one they fled in England. The First Amendment, clearly the most important one to them, hence why they made it the very first one, protects the people from both a State-sponsored religion, and from the State governing religion. Unfortunately, over the past few hundred years, the extremely religious have tried to hijack the Constitution and distort it and turn America into a Christian theocracy, even to the point where the Religious Right claim that America was founded as  a Christian nation, which is a completely fallacious charge and illustrates that they don’t know American history, or they merely choose to distort it.

America is not and never was a Christian nation. The Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified unanimously and signed by President John Adams in 1797, states,

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” [Emphasis mine]

Furthermore, the Constitution says that the Government cannot pass a law regarding an establishment of religion. That’s the establishment clause of the First Amendment. That means that one religion cannot be established above all others by the government in any way, shape, or form. Or, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” [Emphasis mine]

That clarifies it completely. Jefferson, a founding father, and the Constitituion are saying government, the state, should in no way be involved in religion. There should be no religion in government and no government in religion. That’s why things like “under god” in our pledge (which wasn’t in the original pledge, and wasn’t added until 1954) and “In god we trust” were not part of the vision of the founding fathers. If the founding father’s wanted “in god we trust” to be our national motto, they would have made it so. They didn’t. Our original national motto was “E. pluribus unum” or “Out of many, one.” Their vision for America was one of unity. Not one of religion. If they were alive today they would be shaking their head at this madness of religious nonsense in government.

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The Benefits of the Legalization of Marijuana

Recently I read something in a news article that was both interesting and frightening.

“The U.S. incarceration rate in 1980 was 220 for every 100,000 people, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Today, with more than 2 million people incarcerated, the rate has climbed to 743 per 100,000 people. Reason magazine’s Veronique de Rugy points out nonviolent drug offenders account for ‘roughly one-fourth of all inmates in the United States, up from less than 10 percent in 1980.'” (Source citation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/spending-on-prisons-higher-ed_n_1835889.html)

According to the BJS study, “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004,” 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are serving time for marijuana offenses.  And this costs taxpayers $1 billion dollars annually. (http://norml.org/news/2006/10/12/nearly-one-in-eight-us-drug-prisoners-are-behind-bars-for-pot-taxpayers-spending-over-1-billion-annually-to-incarcerate-pot-offenders)

The “war on drugs” is a failed war. It’s a war that can never be won. It’s a war that’s not designed to be won, much like the “war on terror.” They are to be unending wars waged by faceless boogeymen to keep the population in fear.

Legalizing marijuana is one of the smartest things that American politicians could do on a number of levels. For one, there’s the obviousness of the $1 billion dollars that taxpayers pay annually to incarcerate petty weed offenses. That’s $1 billion dollars that could go to social programs and to things like education and health care. Both of those would vastly increase our quality of life in this country. We wouldn’t have to see schools closing down or making major cuts to their art and music programs.

Where I live in Ohio they’ve already closed down one of the four local elementary schools and the middle school. Now 5th and 6th graders stay in elementary school and 7th and 8th graders go to the high school. To me this raises a big problem. Putting 12 and 13 year old children in with high school students? That increases the chances of them being preyed upon by older students for either bullying or sexual purposes. We already see children being more sexually active at younger ages. I believe this increases if you put young, impressionable minds interacting daily with older, horny teenagers.

Second, it would make a substantial dent in the problem of overcrowded prisons. Of course $1 billion annually to taxpayers, to put it another way, generates $1 billion annually to for-profit jails and prisons. This is the evil of privatization. So they may not be all that interested in decreasing the prison population.

Third, it would stimulate the economy. If marijuana was made legal, people could then open businesses that specialized in selling marijuana. They could then hire people to work in their stores. This would help with the high unemployment rate. The marijuana could also then be taxed, thus generating more tax revenue. Marijuana could then become an American export which would also bring in more revenue for the United States.

These same arguments could be made for the legalization of prostution, which I think is another absurd and fascist law. Prostitution is nothing more than consentual sex between two adults where money is exchanged for a service. If prostitution was made legal it would cut down on the number of peope in prison for petty “soliticiting of a prostitute” or “prostitution” charges. Less people incarcerated means less of a taxpayer burden. And if prostitution was made legal then people could open up businesses specializing in sex for money. This would help stimulate the economy and lower unemployment rates. Also, legal prostitution would cut back on child prostitution (which would still be illegal) and would protect prostitutes who would no longer have to rely upon a pimp for protection. Prostitutes wouldn’t have to worry about being beaten or getting hooked on drugs by their pimps.

Advocating the legalization of weed and prostitution? I can hear the heads of Conservative Christians collectively exploding right now. And I can also hear the accusations forming as we speak, so allow me to address them beforehand.I do not smoke weed. I haven’t smoked weed since I was a teenager. I’ve never solicited a prostitute. I wouldn’t smoke weed or go to a brothel if both were legal. They just aren’t my thing. But even if I did that’s none of your damn business! That’s the point!

 

And I personally do not think that all drugs should be legalized, but I do say legalize weed and prostitution. Both of those are nothing more than a front for the war on the poor. Most of those incarcerated on petty weed and prostitution charges are poor and usually people of color.

“In 1990, half of California’s marijuana possession arrestees were African-American, Latino, Asian, or other nonwhite and 35% were under age 20. In 2010, 64% were nonwhite and 52% were under age 20. Marijuana possession arrests of teenagers of color rose from 3,100 in 1990 to 16,400 in 2010 – an arrest surge 300% greater than population growth in that group.” (http://cjcj.org/files/Misdemeanor_marijuana_arrests.pdf)

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