1

Donald Trump’s Christian problem

To me, there are so many red flags regarding the incoming Trump administration that it’s tough to pick one over which to freak out.

One issue that isn’t going to get a lot of coverage in mainstream media is Trump’s Christian problem.

Andy by Christian problem, I don’t mean Trump himself. I read more than a few people who say he’s actually an atheist or at least doesn’t care much about religion. And to be fair, it does seem that Trump worships himself first, (which might make him a Satanist if anything) and money second.

My worry stems from the fact that Trump has little if any experience in governing. I think he’s going to rely more on advisors and people in his cabinet for the nuts and bolts of his administration’s policies, than have past presidents. This is where the Christian problem comes into the picture.

I think by now, we’re all aware of Mike Pence’s stance on religion, but if not, he’s described as a born again evangelical Catholic, whatever the hell that is.

And much like the pervert who can’t keep it in his pants, evangelicals have a tough time keeping their religion to themselves.

Which brings us to Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education – billionaire Christian, Betsy DeVos.

DeVos is a Calvinist, who, depending on which side of the bed Pence gets out of on a particular morning, may or may not be going to hell.

According to an article via POLITICO, DeVos, said that she wants to reform the whole education system to bring “greater Kingdom gain,” which is evangelical-speak for, “we want to teach your kids about Jesus.”

She went on to say,

The church — which ought to be in our view far more central to the life of the community — has been displaced by the public school as the center for activity, the center for what goes on in the community.

It is certainly our hope that churches would continue, no matter what the environment — whether there’s government funding some day through tax credits, or vouchers, or some other mechanism or whatever it may be — that more and more churches will get more and more active and engaged in education,” he said. “We just can think of no better way to rebuild our families and our communities.

To be fair, DeVos hasn’t come out and said that she wants to introduce a Jesus-focused curriculum into the public school system. That could be because those pesky founding fathers had some goofy ideas about keeping church and state separate. However, what she does want is to make it easier for people to send their kids to private schools where they can get a “higher quality education”, which may or may not include Jesus. Spoiler alert: it includes Jesus.

This is exactly the kind of thing that has me worried about what’s coming down the road. My gut tells me that Trump has a few big ideas of what he wants to accomplish as president – an overall picture if you will – and I think most of it is on the economic front. Think, bringing back jobs and making America great.

Trump probably doesn’t care much personally about “christianizing” the schools or our country, but I think there’s plenty in his administration who do. And if DeVos says that Jesus will help make America great again, then that’s probably good enough for Trump.

And make no mistake, he’ll have plenty of support on this front, too. I hear plenty of people, and read plenty of letters in the papers saying that what’s needed is for America to “get back to god.”

I keep hearing people say that we need to give this administration a chance, and to be sure, I have no choice. This is what we have, and most of us are going to have to sit back and watch the show.

If you haven’t done so, now might be a good time to donate to one of the many organizations who will take up the fight to keep church and state separate and who will fight for a secular government, because I think we’re going to need it now more than ever.

Oink.

2

Why religion needs warning labels

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but religion is not a victimless crime.

Every year thousands of people die as a result of religious practices and beliefs; a lot of them children. It’s such an epidemic that I think it’s time for religion to come with warning labels.

I’m not kidding.

We should regulate religion like cigarettes or alcohol. Don’t feed it to children, and slap a warning label across every book of “Holy Scripture” that reads: Warning! This can damage your mental and/or physical health, and it can cause you to harm others.

Other warnings can include:
This religion may cause depression, anxiety, a sense of fear, and feelings of self righteousness and superiority.
It may cause delusions.
It may block those things in your brain that help you understand facts and data.
It may cause false hope.
It may stop you from getting that thing checked out by a doctor.

Okay, maybe you think that warning labels are a bit excessive. Well, then, how about we try recommendation labels?

It’s recommended that you take this religion with a bucket of salt.
It’s recommended that you demand proof for every claim made by this religion before believing. (It’s recommended that you seek that proof from someone other than your priest, pastor, rabbi or imam.)
It’s recommended that you view religion as a collection of myths and fables written by people with extremely limited understanding of the world and how it worked.
It’s recommended to keep it out of the reach of children.
It’s recommended that you have that thing checked out by a doctor.

And lastly, and most importantly, it’s recommended that if you view Jesus as your co-pilot, you don’t let him take the wheel.

13

The Fresh Taste of Crow in the Morning

Disclaimer: I am not smart. I am not well-educated, well-read, erudite or well-spoken. As much as it is an embarrassment to admit these things, I do so, so that everyone take my utterances with a large amount of salt. And whenever you read something that makes you shake your head, please refer to this paragraph.

So American held an election, and to call the results a little polarizing is like calling space a little ‘out there’.

The election of Donald Trump, and the election cycle that preceded it, brought to the surface tensions and hostilities brewing in this country for years.

As with all things polarizing, when things break one way or another, the inevitable finger pointing starts, and this was the case over the last few days. Twitter and Facebook became battlegrounds with people hurling vituperations like pitching machines gone haywire. Full disclosure: I’m guilty of being quite the asshole on Twitter, which I realize is ironic given the above sentence. Hypocrite, thy name is Wisnton.

So what’s this got to do with atheism? Everything.

The divide in the atheist community is reflective of the divide in America. As Martin Hughes over at Barrier Breaker pointed out

“We’re really starting to hate each other, which leads to us attacking each other more, which leads to the atheist movement becoming less and less about attacking religion, and more and more about whether you’re a social justice advocate or an anti-SJW in the atheist arena.”

I don’t want to get into the whole SJW vs Anti-SJW argument here, other than to say it’s one of the core issues that’s separating us as a community and as a country. I, being the non-smart person that I am, have no answers on how to fix this, and it seems we’re destined to travel on opposite paths at least for the time being.

The point is that people who advocate for a secular government are now looking to the future with a sense of dread. True, Trump isn’t an overly religious person – hell, some even speculate that he’s a non-believer. Mike Pence, however, is every bit the Christian, and rumors are that he’s going to be very influential in the Trump administration. I think this, combined with such a decisive victory, emboldened the religious right. Progressive ideas, of which secularism is one, is out of fashion in America today.

I’m a terrible soothsayer. I foresaw Clinton sweeping the country in a landslide. More than a few people said – people whom I mocked and derided – that I was wrong, way wrong. I was. Way wrong.

I don’t know if the atheist community will come together in light of this turn of events; somehow, I think not, but I’m going to try and make an effort. My goal is to be less vocal about politics and more vocal about church and state issues.

Lastly, I do hate the taste of crow, but eating it can often be good for you, I’m told.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to weigh in.

0

Pope gives sacrament to cancer patient

Religion News is reporting that Pope Francis recently gave the sacrament of confirmation to a Sicilian teenager suffering from cancer. The 16 year old boy, Giuseppe Chiolo, met with the pontiff at the Vatican where he received the sacrament.

Pope Francis is praised by many for being sensitive to the needs of the sick and disabled. He offered criticism at a mass in June of those who try to marginalize those who cannot “live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.”

He added:

“In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model.”

While meeting with Giuseppe, he offered words of comfort to his parents and other relatives who accompanied the boy. In addition, Francis also met with a girl who suffers from paralysis from a gunshot wound.

No word as yet if His Holiness, or the recently canonized Mother Teresa, were able to conjure up a miracle of healing to cure any of these people, but the Vegas odds of that happening don’t look good.

6

The outrage on social media

I read a post recently over at Atheist Revolution in which the author wrote of how he’d decided to stop watching cable news back in December. He noted how this decision led him to feel less angry and he wondered if limiting his intake of social media might also be a benefit to his mood and wellbeing.

This got me to thinking about how angry people seem these days.  I wondered how much of a role social media plays, if any.

The reason I ask is because I recently had a conversation at a coffee shop with the owners where we discussed the election and politics in general. And, although we disagreed on a few points, it was a pleasant conversation. I listened to what they had to say, and learned some things that I’d never considered before.

Driving home I wondered, if this conversation had taken place on Facebook or in the comments section of a website, how soon would it have devolved into name calling and blocking? Probably pretty quickly.

And it’s not just politics that get us riled up either. If you were to go onto virtually any website that allow comments, you’ll find people becoming obnoxious rather quickly regardless of the topic.
Which makes me wonder whether our true nature is one that is combative and nasty or if the relative safety and anonymity of the Internet creates an environment of intolerance to different viewpoints and opinions.

As a side note, I realize the irony of this post seeing as how Winston can be acerbic and rude on social media.

In my personal life, I’ve removed myself from Facebook because there are more posts now that look to illicit a response. I see posts about religion, politics, guns, more religion, anti Obama, etc. And I know that were I to engage any of these people, it would only be a matter of time before the gloves came off, and the block party started.

So I put it to the readers: Are we humans nothing more than anger bombs waiting to go off or has social media caused us to become more isolated and tribal?

Does social media play a role in our being less tolerant of other opinions and views?

2

Liberty Counsel advises churches regarding Boy Scouts

 Liberty Counsel has received questions from churches which have chosen to maintain their association with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) regarding whether their continued involvement with the organization requires them to admit an openly homosexual scout master or youth member. Liberty Counsel has provided model language to ensure that all church programs or uses of property, including scout troops, remain consistent with God’s Word.
For boys, BSA’s January 2014 membership standards require that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone” and state that “any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. The BSA is not endorsing homosexual conduct nor is it forcing religious chartered organizations to do so.” Therefore, churches may define and enforce behavior and advocacy in chartered scout troops consistent with biblical teaching.

For adult leaders, BSA will not prevent churches from selecting leaders consistent with their religious beliefs. BSA’s legal memo concludes that its right to grant charters to religious organizations is strongly protected under the law. However, when churches are challenged about use of their facilities for same-sex ceremonies, use of restrooms, and other LGBT issues, they hurt their legal defense by allowing the BSA as a recognized group. A better alternative to the BSA is Trail Life USA, which was formed in response to the change in the BSA policy. See www.traillifeusa.com.

“The once great Boy Scouts of America has taken a great fall when it changes the longstanding policy to allow homosexual scout leaders and members. This change in policy is fraught with danger. While there are ways for churches to protect their integrity and the safety of their young boys, the best alternative is to abandon the scouts because the scouts abandoned them. Trail Life USA is the best alternative to the failed BSA program,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “Liberty Counsel will continue to defend the right of churches to make employment and volunteer decisions based on church religious beliefs and the teachings of the Bible,” said Staver.

0

Religious sects forgo medical treatment for faith

According to a story from The Guardian, The Followers of Christ is a just one religious sect that relies on faith healing rather than modern medicine.

The story suggests that these groups seek out states, such as Idaho, that offer protection from prosecution due to religious practices.

It goes without saying that faith healing’s track record is abysmal, and that parents. According to the story:

The Followers of Christ’s cemetery is full of graves marking the deaths of children who lived a day, a week, a month.

What’s interesting is that the laws protecting such practices are holdovers from the Nixon administration. Due to some high-profile child abuse cases in the 60s, the administration pushed through the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, which was influenced by John Erlichman and JR Haldeman, both Christian Scientists. They added to the act a provision that those who believe that prayer is the only way to cure illness would be exempt from the law.

Today is Christopher Hitchens’ birthday, and there’s no better story than this that demonstrates that religion poisons everything.