0

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.

6

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.

0

Do atheists need churches?

I admit that I find the idea of an atheist church to be funny. When I was a kid, I hated my parents dragging me to church every Sunday. And when I was a Christian adult, I went because that’s what Christians did.

However, the idea of going to church now – even an atheist one – seems odd and out of place, but then these churches aren’t for me because I’m blessed to be anti-social. And much in the way I dreaded going to church every Sunday when I was a kid, I now dread interacting with other members of the human species.

I’ve come to find out this is one of the many things that makes me abnormal.

For the rest of humanity, though, being social with other members of the species is integral to mental wellbeing and social standing. Back in the day, towns were often built around the church. The church was the focal point of social life. If you weren’t working on the farm, you were participating in some church activity. Church life is integral to many communities that I suspect that a lot of people attend services and events more for the social aspect than for the act of “worship.”

Losing your faith can have a severe impact on your social life, especially if you before relied on church for social interactions. You might find that your church friends no longer want anything to do with you, and you might find yourself isolated. And believe it or not, some who lose faith miss the rituals associated with church services.

An article coming out of Salt Lake City talks about a church for non-believers dubbed the Sunday Assembly, which offers nonbelievers a “churchlike service that offers music, readings and community for those who don’t belong to the state’s dominant religion, Mormonism or other faith groups.” The church’s motto is: Live better, help often, wonder more.

I’m pretty cynical and dislike most things, which I’ve come to learn is another one of the many things that makes me abnormal. But I think it’s important for atheists, secularists and “nones” to get together and socialize. If you’re in an area with few unbelievers, it’s easy to get lonely and isolated. There are online communities, but those are increasingly becoming more toxic and fractured. I suspect that much of that has to do with people not interacting face-to-face.

While I have no plans to attend any service with events like “[a] band playing the 1980s hit song “Walking on Sunshine” while attendees sang along and batted beach balls around the room,” because that sounds dreadful.

However, I believe It’s important that non-believers who want that church experience have a place where they can go to socialize, share baby recipes, and figure out how best to destroy Christmas once and for all.

On second thought, if plotting to get rid of Christmas is involved, I might be on board.

0

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!

0

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.

0

Who’s really responsible for the war on Christmas?

Tis the season when a lot of people get uptight over those who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Their thinking (I think) is that those who say Happy Holidays are doing so because they’re evil non-believers who hate Christmas, Jesus and/or Christians.

We hear every year that there’s a war on Christmas. And it’s common to hear that it’s the atheists who are perpetrating said war.

Even Donald Trump said at a rally, that we can start saying Merry Christmas again, to much applause.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s always been safe for people to say Merry Christmas. I hear it every year and never once have I chided anyone for saying it, much in the same way I don’t get my undies in a bunch when someone says god bless you after a sneeze.

Actually, that one does bother me because I think it’s wrong to single out that sole bodily function for comment. I mean, no one bothers to acknowledge my coughs, my burps or my farts, which, if we’re being honest, could use a blessing especially after I’ve eaten cheese.

But I digress.

It’s true that Christianity has dominated the public square for a long, long time. It’s only recently that people started to wake up to the fact that America is a diverse country with many beliefs and traditions. Many people who who hold agnostic or of other beliefs celebrate Christmas. One could argue that Christmas is a Christian holiday, and that if you’re not Christian, then don’t celebrate it. One could also argue that if you’re not Jewish or Muslim, then you don’t have to participate in their holidays either.

The problem with that, as I see it, is that Christmas is – for better or worse – embedded in American culture. Just turn on the TV anytime after Thanksgiving and you’ll see commercial after commercial offering Christmas sales. And speaking of TV, how many Christmas specials run between Thanksgiving and December 25th? I mean, we literally have a channel that runs a movie called A Christmas Story for a full, god-damned 24-hours. And can you imagine the kind of shit a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa gets at school?

And because it’s so commercialized, companies want to maximize the number of people celebrating the holiday because it means more dollars into their coffers. This is why you’ll see stores saying Happy Holidays, and advertising Holiday Specials rather than Christmas specials.

It’s really not about those evil atheists hating on Jesus. It’s totally about the companies trying to get as many people shopping in their stores as they can.

True, there are plenty of secular organizations who complain when a nativity scene is on public property.  Some, such as the Satanic Temple, call for an inclusive approach. If you get your nativity scene, then they get their satanic display. That seems fair. That might be what some Christians see as the war on Christmas, but frankly, the time for keeping religious displays on private property and church property is long overdue.

Whether the Christians like it or not, Christmas is everyone’s holiday now, and that’s not the fault of the atheists. That’s the fault of the corporations and the consumer culture.

I can’t speak for all atheists, but I don’t want to destroy Christmas. I’m not on a crusade to ban Santa, nativity scenes, yule logs or any of the trappings. And I’m not opposed to anyone saying Merry Christmas.

So, this Christmas season, say whatever the hell you want. And next time someone tells you that it’s the atheists who are waging a war on Christmas, you can tell them that, no, it’s the corporations – and they won that war a long time ago.

0

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.

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.