What’s going on with Winston

A quick note to the fans

Production of the comic has been slow lately, and as I recently mentioned on Twitter, things are not good at work.

I work in print media, which as you all know, is a dying industry.
My boss recently told me that cuts are coming, and while my job isn’t yet in danger, the writing is on the wall and I’m not sure how much time I have left.

Because of this, I’ve taken on freelance work to pay off some bills as quickly as possible so in the event that I find myself jobless, I’ll hopefully have enough cash to survive for awhile.
I do have material written, and new material will be coming, but I wanted to give everyone a heads up to know that I’m not disinterested or tired of the work. It’s mainly that much of my free time is spoken for right now.

Fear not. The haram ham isn’t going away just yet.

As always, I do appreciate everyone who supports this endeavor.

Oink!

Atheist Prayer and Government Meetings

It’s not uncommon for legislative bodies – federal, state or local – to open their sessions with an invocation or prayer. And while many of these bodies do make an effort to allow people of faiths other than Christian to give the opening prayer, groups often left out are the atheists, secularists and other non believers.
 
The Supreme Court ruled in May of 2014 that prayers – even prayers that favor a specific religion – given before opening of a legislative session do not violate the constitution.
 
Justice Kennedy wrote:

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation
was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government,
which to me is a pleasant way of saying, “there’s more Christians than you atheists, so nyah.”
 
Even with the Court’s decision, however, the matter isn’t going away.
 
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a legal challenge to the Pensylvania House of Representatives’ use of prayer to open a session is being heard in court.
 
The issue has been brought up by a group of atheists who say they’ve petitioned for, and been denied, the right to give an invocation to open the governing body’s sessions.
 
Some members of the House say their exclusion of nonbelievers is covered under the state’s constitution, which says that those giving the invocation would be members of a “regularly established church or religious institution.”
 
While the argument that atheists by and large aren’t members of a “regularly established church or religious institution” there are plenty of recognized churches that are atheistic, such as the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple. It would seem the House would be on shaky legal ground if they denied a member of these churches the right to give the opening prayer.
 
And really, what’s the harm in letting someone of a different faith or someone of no faith say a few words before your meeting. If your faith is strong enough, then it shouldn’t bother you. This seems more about discriminating against a certain group than it does about upholding the law or the constitution. I don’t know if these people are afraid we atheists are going to get up and sacrifice a chicken to Beelzebub or what.
 
But it shouldn’t matter, anyway. There’s no good reason today to open a government meeting with an appeal to some invisible “higher authority” when there’s no solid evidence such an authority exists. The fact that government is so often screwed up and ineffective is proof enough that appealing to a god isn’t doing any good.
 
I serve on a small board here in town, and thankfully we don’t open our sessions with prayer. The only religious aspect comes when swearing someone in and they’re asked to tell the truth “so help me god,” which still makes me cringe.
 
I think the only appropriate invocation one should utter before any board or committee meeting is, “Let’s get this shit over with.”

Supreme Court to hear case on state funds going to religious institutions

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Missouri case in which state funds can be used for religious institutions. The case stems from a program in which recycled rubber from tires is used to create a safer surface for children’s playgrounds.

A church in Missouri wanted funds from this grant program to improve their playground, but were denied because of a constitutional amendment restricting public funds to be used for churches.

According to the story, the church initially sued and lost on appeal, but now the Supreme Court is taking up the case.

The attorneys for the church make the argument that the use of the funds don’t promote any religion and therefore the church should be able to participate in these grant programs, however, people like Richard Katskee, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State disagree. He says:

“It’s a competitive grant program, with winners and losers. … There’s a government official who decides who gets the money. That can be done because that’s the favorite faith of that government official. Even if it’s done on neutral criteria, those whose houses of worship don’t get the money are going to feel rightly it’s favoring other faiths.

According to the report, this is going to be a case to watch because it will challenge Blaine Amendments that exist in 38 states. About Blaine Amendments, the report says:

In 1875, Maine Sen. James G. Blaine proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit public money from going to “sectarian” schools.

At the time, “sectarian” was code for “Catholic.” Public schools required students to read from Protestant texts, sing Christian hymns and say Protestant prayers.

Religious scholars attribute the widespread adoption of Blaine Amendments to increased Catholic immigration — and the opening of more Catholic schools — in the 1800s, which led to a fear that the government would begin to fund Catholic education.

What’s interesting is this all started because you had one sect of Christianity trying to discriminate against the other.

Obama administration responsible for creating more atheists

As I listen to President Obama give interviews during this last week of his presidency, he’s taking credit for a lot of things: improving the economy, creating jobs, and giving healthcare to millions of Americans are among his accomplishments.

But according to at least one person, Obama is responsible for creating more atheists, which if true, is another reason to like the guy.

An article from a Russian website, Pravda Report, claims that Christianity is under attack and that Obama is responsible for people abandoning the faith. Professor of the Department of Missiology at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Alexander Dvorkin, seems to be the only person quoted in the article, and he delivers one easily debunked argument for Christian persecution after another.

Here, I’ll show you.

He states,

“One of the reasons for the growing amount of atheists in the United States is said to be Obama’s policy to transform schools and universities from secular into openly anti-Christian institutions. In many US schools, reading the Bible or the public wearing of crosses may entail penalties . . .”

Nope.

. . . “In any case, it is already impossible to openly criticize homosexuality.”

Nope.

. . . “Christian holidays are being erased, and it is considered politically incorrect to congratulate one another on Christmas – one should congratulate each other on the so-called “holiday season.”

Nope, again. See how easy that was?

If you’re an atheist, you’ve no doubt been hearing the same fallacious arguments coming from the religious for awhile. It’s almost like they want to be persecuted.

Oh, that’s right, they do. Because if they’re being persecuted, then the Bible is right because it said they’d be persecuted.

Lastly, Dvorkin takes the predictable shot at Hollywood because of the “Occult vision” in Hollywood films that portray Christians as “narrow-minded cranks at best, or malevolent villains at worst.”

I’ve watched a lot of movies and I can’t think of one off the top of my head in which an identifiable Christian character is portrayed as a crank or malevolent villain. In fact, the religious affiliation of most characters in films is unknown or not revealed. Maybe I’m just watching the wrong films, or maybe this guy is making shit up.

And I’ll tell you something else – There’s an awful lot of people going to see these movies with the “occult vision” and they ain’t all atheists. Plenty of Christians go to the movies too.

The only place where Dvorkin gets it somewhat right is when he claims that Christianity is oppressed in the Middle East. About that he says, “. . .they simply kill Christians.” I’m not up to speed on everything that goes on in the Middle East, but I don’t think it’s open season on Christians everywhere there. I could be wrong, or this guy could be making shit up.

Despite the whining, Christians have it pretty good here in America, and throughout much of the world. Believe me, no one – not even us Atheist Pigs – are out to get them. And I can’t help it that people in large numbers are becoming wise to the charade of religion because that’s what’s happening.

Society isn’t conspiring against Christians or any other religion, but rather, people are asking questions, debating and waking up to the fact that religion isn’t the path to enlightenment or knowledge it purports to be. And they’re waking up to the fact that at the end of the day, all religion has to offer is unsubstantiated claims and untestable evidence.

And that’s just not good enough anymore.

Happy New Year, or whatever

Just a quick note to say Happy New Year to all my little piglets (if you celebrate that kind of thing). It’s not easy being an atheist pig, but your love of unholy ham makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you for a wonderful year, all your support, and here’s to more profane pork being served up in 2017.

Oink!

Merry Pigsmas

Tis the season for giving, my piglets, and to show how thankful I am for all your support throughout the year, I’m giving you discounts on all Atheist Pig merchandise at ReasonistInk. Everything has been marked down 10%, and if you use the promo code PIGSMAS, you’ll get an additional 5% off.

This sale is good for the rest of December, 2016, and I hope to have some new, fresh designs ready for the new year.

Thank you to the fans, and always remember, that ham is best when shared with others.

Atheist holiday billboards taken down

2016-billboard-2

Billboards put up by American Atheists in Monroe, Louisiana, urging people to skip church this Christmas season were taken down only two hours after being put up, after residents complained according to KNOE 8 News.

As usual, Christians got their undies in a knot for someone daring to put forth a different viewpoint.

One resident said

“I praise God that there was so much stirred up about it that it was taken down.”

Blech.

Seriously, if God was so offended, why didn’t he stop the billboards from going up in the first place?

To be fair, it is the Bible Belt, and there probably isn’t a diversity of opinion. Still, the message isn’t offensive and, if these people’s faith can’t stand up to something as innocuous as suggesting that people skip church, then it isn’t much of a faith, is it?

Nick Fish, program director for American Atheists said,

“They need to get over themselves and realize this is a country with a lot of viewpoints, and they’re not the only ones with a view on this.”

Agreed.

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.

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.