Ask an Atheist: Pastor Jones and the Burning Book

What are your thoughts on Pastor Jones and his wanting to burn the Koran?

There are two sides to this, I guess.

I’d like to believe that this Pastor Jones would still be supporting freedom of speech if people were burning Bibles, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’m all for “desecrating” things that are “sacred,” for the simple reason that there is no such thing as “sanctity.”

We should not and must not hold things to be sacred. Once people start to hold a particular book as sacred, it usually follows that they’ll demand that others hold them sacred as well.

I’ve already explored this idea in a previous post, so I won’t go into that again. The main point is, burning a Quran is not a crime. Nor should it be.

Bottom line: I support free speech. Even the free speech of assholes. Even though I’m pretty positive that Pastor Jones isn’t burning Qurans for any noble or useful reasons, and that he merely sees his own book of fairy tales as much more worthy of reverence than theirs, I see no reason for the government to step in and stop them from exercising the same freedom of speech that everyone else enjoys.

The threats being made by those in Islamic countries over this event are the very definition of terrorism. They’re using the threat of violence to try to get us to abandon our most important principles. If you ask me, that’s much more deplorable than burning holy books.

Let’s not forget that the real problem here is the culture that is quick to make threats toward anyone that doesn’t adhere to their antiquated worldview; not the nonviolent protest of some insignificant Florida pastor.

To sum up: I DO agree with what Pastor Jones is doing; I DON’T agree with why he’s doing it; but I especially feel that the government has no business encouraging him to stop. Doing so would be nothing short of giving in to terrorism.

What the hell is the big deal with the Ground Zero mosque?

I’m pretty sure I’ve already talked about the Ground Zero mosque on this blog, but I’m too tired to go back over my archives and find out where.

It’s just sad that some Americans insist on showing that they’re only okay with religious freedom, provided that the religion in question is Christianity (or some version of it).

Recently, some good people put up a bunch of signs near the proposed site of the Muslim community center (which would contain a mosque), declaring “Islam is Welcome Here.”

Then someone stole it.

A sign that said “Islam is welcome here” has mysteriously disappeared from the planned site of the Muslim mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

It went missing on Tuesday morning, a short time after Fox 5 News crews videotaped the sign. It is unclear who had erected the sign and who removed it.

The green and white sign was on a pole in front of the building that the nonprofit Cordoba Initiative plans to use.

That’s right. A sign that says “Islam is welcome here” is not welcome there.

Words fail me.

Help! I’m drowning in irony!

(The relevant parts begin at about 3:09)

This is Ron Ramsey of Tennessee, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. And a Methodist.

Here’s what he said about the “threat” of Islam in the United States:

“Now, you know, I’m all about freedom of religion. I value the First Amendment as much as I value the Second Amendment as much as I value the Tenth Amendment and on and on and on,” he said. “But you cross the line when they try to start bringing Sharia Law here to the state of Tennessee — to the United States. We live under our Constitution and they live under our Constitution.

Interestingly enough, the part in bold I actually agree with. Sharia courts have popped up in several Western countries (including the UK), and that’s one thing I as an American would not tolerate.

Just like I wouldn’t tolerate anyone who believes that religious laws should be forced onto those who aren’t of their religion. People like… oh, I don’t know, Ron Ramsey? The guy who believes that women should not be allowed to terminate their pregnancies and that two people shouldn’t be allowed to get married if they’re the same sex, because Jesus hates queers and thinks a clump of cells with no consciousness is the same as a baby?

I guess by “freedom of religion,” they mean “freedom to worship Jesus however they please.”

He also calls the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing religion more of a “cult” or “nationality” than a true religion. (And therefore, perhaps it’s exempt from the Establishment Clause?)

Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the whole “Congress shall make no law” thing when it comes to religion. But he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a “cult.”

“Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it,” Ramsey said. “Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face.”

Christ. What an asshole.

It shouldn’t surprise you that he, like most of his GOP colleagues, is against the opening of a new Muslim community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (even though Murfreesboro already has a mosque) over these same irrelevant and paranoid concerns about Sharia law.

Muslims have every right to build places of worship and community centers, just like Christians do. A Muslim community center is not a Sharia court. And if you have a problem with that community center, or with the Cordoba House near Ground Zero, then you quite frankly have a problem with religious freedom.

Sharia law isn’t coming to America, people. Sorry to disappoint you.

And if you’re a conservative Christian concerned that it is, then I’d like to politely suggest that you keep your own religious dogma out of public policy before you start worrying that some other religion might do the same.

Muslim Bus Drivers Refuse to Let Seeing-Eye Dog on Board

This week in Crazy Muslim Superstitions:

Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their ‘unclean’ guide dogs.

One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.

The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.

Okay, I know Muslims aren’t stupid. I happen to know personally several practicing Muslims that are very smart and perfectly capable of making rational decisions (as “rational” as religious people can be, that is).

So perhaps it’s just the few Muslims who happened to accept a job with the UK public transportation system that were too stupid to realize that the rules of their career would require them to allow “unclean animals” into their workspaces. Seriously, how do you accept a job and then have the gall to try to make your own rules?

Sorry, assholes. I feel no sympathy for you. No one forced you to drive public buses. A blind man being able to get around safely is much more important than your silly superstitions, and since we wouldn’t expect you to do anything crazy, like… oh, I don’t know, quit living your lives based on ridiculous antiquated rules that Mohammed heard from his invisible friend… either quit your job, or quit being a prick.

What Do Muslims and Masons Have in Common?

This is a masonic ring.

According to the rules of the Society of Freemasons, only a Freemason is allowed to wear the ring.

But if I wanted to, I could wear one. Because I’m not a Freemason.

Make sense?

Well, yea. It does. If you’re the member of Group X, you have to follow the rules of Group X. However, if you’re not in Group X, you don’t have to adhere to the rules of Group X, because they do not apply to you. So because I’m not a Freemason, the rule “only a Freemason can wear a masonic ring” doesn’t apply to me, and I’m in no way morally obligated to follow it.

Are you with me so far?

This is Mohammed, the prophet of the Islamic religion.

Islam has a rule that says you are not allowed to draw the prophet Mohammed. Fine. They can have whatever silly fucking rules they want. However, since I am not a Muslim, that rule doesn’t apply to me.

Only people who are Muslims are obligated to follow Muslim rules. Non-Muslims are not. In any way.

That’s the way it works, folks. It’s not intolerance. It’s not racism. It’s not cultural insensitivity. It’s purely a matter of liberty and consent. If I agree to join a group, then I also agree to adhere to that group’s code… but only then.

If you think the Qur’an is sacred and that a depiction of Mohammed is blasphemous, you have every right to believe that. But you do not have the right to demand that other people believe it as well.

This is Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamic cleric. (He calls himself an imam, but I’m not Islamic, so I don’t have to call him that.)

He’s making headlines recently for placing Molly Norris, the woman responsible for “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” on an execution hit list. Which is a bit gauche. Execution hit lists are so 80s.

Anyway, the point is, this crazy mother fucker believes that this woman should be killed for not following a rule that only applies to members of a religion that she isn’t a part of. This is beyond disrespectful. This is a complete disgrace to freedom.

Why do we allow these crazy assholes to even act like they have the right to tell us what to do, say or think? Why do we give in to the unsubstantiated whims of a culture that hasn’t even progressed past the Renaissance? Why do we let them waltz into the marketplace of ideas and demand that we bend over backwards to respect and adhere to their archaic code under the guise of “cultural sensitivity” or “tolerance,” only to threaten and intimidate anyone who disagrees?

I’ve got news for you Bronze-age bastards. You do not get to use your freedom of speech to threaten others for exercising theirs. Your violent, antiquated belief system is an insult to human intelligence and to humanity itself, and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my black ass.

Because any religion, cult, creed or philosophy that demands compliance and threatens dissidents and critics with death isn’t worthy of even an iota of my respect.

France Debates Banning the Burka

From the BBC:

The bill in front of the lower house would make it illegal to wear the niqab or burka anywhere in public.

It envisages fines of 150 euros (£119) for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burka.

This issue has come up many times on the interwebs, and I’ve found that atheists are somewhat divided on it.

To a libertarian heathen like myself, this isn’t even an issue. Women should be able to wear whatever they want, whether it’s a burka or a thong bikini. And the government passing legislation telling us what we can and can’t wear sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the very fabric (pun unintended) of our liberties.

You may not like the burka or what it represents, but that’s a woman’s choice to make. And even if you object and claim that the husbands are the real problem, it’s still a woman’s choice to comply. If she gets beaten for objecting, then arrest her asshole husband. Besides, if the studies mentioned in the story are valid, most women aren’t being marginalized; they’re wearing the veils of their own volition.

It’s pretty much a clear-cut case of “I don’t agree with what you say, but I support your right to say it.”

In general, the opposition argues that burkas and niqabs are signs of Muslim rebellion and an unwillingness to conform to modern culture. They see these veils as symbols of oppression, much like the way we think of klan robes or nazi armbands. Supporters of the French ban claim that wearing a burka amounts to “being cut off from society and rejecting the very spirit of the French republic that is founded on a desire to live together.”

To which I generally respond… and? Since when is it the government’s job to outlaw things that offend western culture, and to decide which opinions we’re meant to have? Even if the claims are true, since when does anyone have the right not to be offended?

Do you know how many things offend me? White people with dreadlocks. Vuvuzelas. Reality TV. Pat Robertson. The whole Kardashian family. Hugh Grant movies. The current Pledge of Allegiance. Ed Hardy clothing. Nickelback. Any of these things can be considered offensive to my idea of a desirable modern society. But that doesn’t mean they should be illegal.

There’s a good reason why it’s not illegal to wear klan robes or nazi armbands or to fly a Confederate flag or affix a “God Hates Fags” bumper sticker onto the back of your car. Because free speech is the number one most crucial component of our cherished western culture, and our society thrives on the free exchange of ideas (good or bad).

Clothing is a form of speech, in that it sends a message to all who see it. You may not necessarily be comfortable with that message, but that’s the price you pay for living in a free society. Being offended does not give you the right to take away someone else’s liberties, and if you don’t like it, tough. Go found your own country and force everyone to dress the same, talk the same, act the same, and think the same. See how that works for you.

The wearing of a burka harms no one, and therefore should not be eligible for legal prohibition.

Black Jeezus News Quickies (now with 10% more Prince)

Katherine Mangu-Ward (of Reason magazine fame) tells of a new Wyoming policy that relaxes regulations pertaining to the sale of “non-hazardous foods” like homemade pickles, hot sausage, and pot brownies (provided the seller makes less than $5000 a year).

Some morons object to the new policy (pretty much along the lines that the government should regulate almost every single part of our lives that could be potentially harmful), to which Mangu-Ward gives the best response ever:

In every state, people are free to feed others in their filthy, unregulated homes, it’s only when money changes hands that home cooks transform into a public health hazard.


* * *

And with one confused, misguided and ill-informed example of Godwin’s law too many, I’m officially done with the Huffington Post. They’ve been on my shit list for a while already, but this one puts them over the top.

So long, knee-jerk-liberal pseudo-science-embracing peddlers of woo. I’ll miss you. (Not really)

* * *

It’s not very accurate. But it’s still so wrong. So very, very wrong.

* * *

Hawai’i’s governor (ever try to type the possessive form of Hawai’i?), in a major show of unbridled bigotry and general douchebaggery, has vetoed a bill that would legalize same-sex civil unions in the state.

Not marriages. Civil unions.

Apparently, the difference in time zones means that while it’s 6:00 here, it’s the year 1903 over there.

* * *

Guess what. Public stonings still happen.

I shit on Islam.

* * *

John Loftus, of Debunking Christianity, brings us a brilliant post explaining what must be the case if Christianity is true. Among Black Jeezus’ personal favorites:

3) There must exist a perfectly good, omnipotent God, who created a perfectly good universe out of a desire/need to glorify himself by rewarding in heaven the few human beings who just got lucky to believe by being born at the right time and place, and who will condemn to hell those who do not believe.

6) That although there are many other similar mythological stories told in Ancient Near Eastern Literature that pre-date what we read in the Bible, the stories in the Bible are about real events and real people.

9) That although a great number of miracles were claimed to have happened in the different superstitious cultures of the ancient world, only the ones in the Bible actually happened as claimed.

11) That God created human beings with rational minds that require evidence before they accept something, and yet this same God does not provide enough evidence but asks them to have faith instead.

14) That although there were many false virgin birth claims about famous people (like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Plato) mythical heroes (like Mithra, Hercules) and savior gods (like Krishna, Osiris, Dionysus) in the ancient world, Jesus was really born of a virgin.

* * *

Justin Bieber will tour North Korea, thanks to 4chan.

Here’s a tip: if you’re a Canadian teen heartthrob that puts out shitty, manufactured pop music, and you one day decide to let the general public vote on where to send you on your next world tour… use radio buttons. And maybe filter out visitors coming from 4chan.

* * *

According to the artist formerly known as Prince but now known as a pretentious androgynous symbol, this whole “internet fad” is so over.

The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it. The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.

Does anyone else find that Prince talking about something being “outdated” spikes their irony meter to unprecedented levels?

That damn Prince. He’s always in my hair. (Aside: if you got that reference, you win)

Aaaaand here’s a gratuitous Prince video…

Black Jeezus’ News Quickies

William Lane Craig, who’s been lauded as one of Christianity’s top apologists, shows here why that title is about as useful as being the world’s tallest dwarf. In short, he asserts that he knows Christianity is true and that Mormonism isn’t because of the testament of the Holy Spirit. Seriously:

My knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I find myself confronted with a well-prepared and articulate Mormon who blows away my arguments and presents a case for Mormonism that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Christianity is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!)…he [the Mormon] can’t justifiably remain Mormon by appealing to his experience, since he doesn’t really have a genuine witness of the Holy Spirit, but only a counterfeit experience.

This is exactly why most atheists view apologetics and theology as non-subjects. Like arguing the color of Peter Pan’s tights.

(via Debunking Christianity)

* * *

Got any old video game equipment lying around? Here are 12 badass alternate uses for NES controllers.

* * *

Want to stay up-to-date on the activities and opinions of everyone’s favorite Islamic terrorist group, but don’t have time to learn clunky and outdated Arabic? Good news! Al Qaeda’s first English-language magazine is here, printed in the sinful language of the infidels.

I’ve just got two questions. Where do I subscribe? And do you accept Christian foreskins as payment?

* * *

Oh no. Here’s crazy Rand Paul about to say something controversial. Quick! Stop him!

Paul criticized the subsidies Wednesday in an interview on WHAS-AM in Louisville, saying that the program last year paid $9.1 million to 234 dead farmers in the Miami area.

Paul also criticized the federal government for giving $1 billion to farmers to leave their cropland fallow. He said: “I don’t think that’s a good idea, to pay people not to farm.”

What? Are you saying the government shouldn’t be giving money to farmers who don’t farm? What the hell kind of anti-progressive nonsense is that, Rand Paul?

And dead farmers shouldn’t get paid either?! What have you got against dead people, Rand? Huh? Don’t you know it’s the job of the government to take money from the taxpayers and give it to people who can’t work because they’re not alive. Don’t you? It’s called social justice, man.

Naive libertarians…

* * *

For you conspiracy theorists out there: Confessions of a UFO Hoaxer

The truth is, like, out there, man.

* * *

Christopher Hitchens will be undergoing chemotherapy (for throat cancer, if I’m not mistaken). A wise choice, Hitch. Keep fighting the good fight.