Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Replacing secularism with atheism?

Domenick Maglio wrote a piece for Hernando Today that claims that the atheism is replacing secularism as the 'state' religion'. This sounds like an absurd claim to me, but lets take a look at his case anyway...
Our founders were God-fearing men. They convened all their political functions with a prayer. References to God are in full view inside and outside our historical government buildings. The personal and official authors spoke openly concerning the Supreme Being.
What the founders believed in isn't really important. It's what the law says that matters. But I find it funny that some believers like to hang on to the statement that founders  talked of God since many of them were Deists and not Christians. Newsflash, nothing that the founders did mention in any documents was inherently Christian. In fact, the first treaty ratified by the United States clearly stated that the US is not a nation founded on the Christian religion.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states that all people have the freedom to practice religion equally and openly under the law. There is no wall of separation between church and the federal government mentioned in the Constitution, nor is there any disallowing the freedom to discuss or practice Christianity or any other religion. There is a direct prohibition against establishing a national religion.
Yes, the first amendment does provide the freedom of worshiping or not worshiping the religion of your choice.  But the prohibition against establishing a national religion is the separation of church and state that he claims isn't included. When questioned in a letter, Thomas Jefferson had this to say about the phrase "prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion".
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, 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.
While the phrase 'separation of church and state' is not in the Constitution, the principle itself is.
In our post 1960 progressive, secular revolution a frontal attack has been unleashed on Christianity.
Secular revolution? The United States was founded as a secular nation to start with! Part of 'secular'
means having no religious bias. And that is the principle I just mentioned prior. As far as an attack on Christianity... Please provide one legitimate example. I'm sure that what Domenick is perceiving as an attack will actually be no more than the proper application of the law.
Recently in the United States we have seen a spectacular rise in atheism and a repression of anything Christian.
True, atheism is becoming more common, but how is the religion that is held by 78% of Americans and dominates the airwaves and other medium being repressed?
Public prayer has practically become an illegal act.
That's simply not true. Prayer is still perfectly legal and will remain that way. The only prayer that has ever been stopped was illegal prayer. When public officials lead a prayer (and not all other types of prayer) as an official or required act they are violating the establishment clause.
A prayer no longer introduces most government meetings.
What with all the challenges to either stop those invocations or also allow  other religions to take part, it sure seems pretty common to me. If it was rare, we would hardly be hearing about it at all, not all the time.
Mentioning God in a commencement ceremony has become shockingly controversial national news.
It depends who says it. If the principle wants to recite the Lords Prayer, that's going to be a problem. But if a student wants to thank God in a speech, that's their right and perfectly fine.
Ministers and pastors are being intimidated by the IRS as to what they can say.
No they aren't! The IRS is simply promising to follow the law. Any non-profit is forbidden to campaign for a candidate or issue and remain tax free. So the only churches in danger are those that break a law that has been in place forever. Doesn't seem unreasonable to me.
The military has removed references to God from their training manuals.
Well, they've removed some. But that isn't due to oppression, but because they  were there illegally to begin with.
Military chaplains are not allowed to counsel using Biblical references. Atheist “chaplains” have been established and given the same rights by our military as those religiously trained. 
From what I've found, it looks like Domenick is talking about one of two things. Either he's foolishly believing a fully falsified chain email that's been going around for years, or he's confused about the case of Klender and Firtko. They are two VA program trainees that sued over alleged religious discrimination. But the problem wasn't their Christianity, but their attitude and actions. Until chaplains of every flavor are instituted, their job is to be a spiritual presence to believers of all stripes. But when faced with beliefs that differed from theirs they tried to force their beliefs on them. It is not a chaplains job to try to convert someone or plainly dismiss their beliefs. They can believe whatever they want, but if they can't do the job they applied for, they had every right to be dropped.
“Freedom from religion” is really repression of Christianity. Some are calling atheism the new secular religion. The federal government’s promoting of atheism and significantly limiting Christianity is approaching the violation of our First Amendment rights.
No, the government not taking sides does not equate to repression of Christianity. Christianity is not being limited in any way. The only Christian acts being limited are those that have been illegal since the United States was founded. This is not a limiting of Christianity, but the government finally righting the wrongs of the illegal an unfair advantage that Christianity has enjoyed for years and years. The government no longer openly favoring Christianity over all other creeds is not an attack on Christianity, it is a respecting of the first amendment.

And please tell me how the government is promoting atheism? They certainly aren't broadcasting propaganda stating 'there is no God'. The common Christian persecution complex is making the illogical jump that the government no longer favoring Christianity equates to the promotion of atheism. That isn't the case though. The law says that the government not take sides on the issue, and that's very different from endorsing atheism. Imagine that Domenick wants to watch FOX and I want to watch BBC. If the government decides to just turn off the TV, they are not taking sides in either my or his favor. Yet Domenick seems to believe that the switching off of the TV means that they side with my wanting to watch BBC...
The belief in no God signals that government alone thinks it has the power to create a plentiful, peaceful and just world. This is promoting allegiance and reverence for an all-powerful government, which has been an essential element in all communist and fascist dictatorships.
Sigh... All! Really? What about Nazi Germany? A catholic nation, ruled by the Catholic Hitler, who claimed he was doing God's work, and had every soldier wear belt buckles that read 'God with us' was atheistic?  How!? Also, the horrors of the communist regimes pretty much replaced traditional religion with the worship of the state and ruler. Something else that is not secular at all.
Antonio Gramsci, a prominent Italian communist intellectual, noted in the 1920s that Christian moral values had to be undermined and eliminated for communism to take root with the people. It is for this reason; communist nations eventually deny citizens the opportunity to practice Christianity openly. Christianity had to be repressed for the state to replace it as the ultimate force of what is good and bad for the people.
It wasn't just Christianity, it was all religions that had to be repressed. But not to institute an intellectual atheism, but the blind obedience and worship of the state and ruler.
Currently, the freedom to express and practice Christianity worldwide is under attack.
Is Domenick having a laugh?
Atheists are targeting the symbol of Christianity, the cross, across the nation. Crosses that have been present for decades in national parks are being forcefully removed. Even crosses in cemeteries and roadside shrines are being called discriminatory against non-believers. Christmas and Easter have been significantly undermined as religious national holidays. They are currently being referred to as “happy holidays” and the “spring holiday.” Even Christ has been removed from Xmas. The nativity displays have been prohibited in public space by often just a single request.
 I feel as though he's being deliberately obtuse... The only displays being challenged are illegal ones. The Ten Commandments at a church or in you front lawn are fine. But at a public school it is illegal. Same with crosses. Why is he so concerned about Easter and Christmas though? Both are Pagan holidays stolen by Christianity. It's also comical that 'Xmas' bothers him since that and Xianity are no more than the abbreviations that were used by early Christians.
The Affordable Care Act is a nationally imposed health program. It is requiring Christian organizations and businesses with strong Christian convictions to buy services although they oppose them on religious grounds. These services include abortion on demand, contraceptive device distribution and progressive sexual education. It is an obvious ignoring of their First Amendment rights.
 I'm guessing that he's oblivious to the fact that religious organizations are exempt. And it shouldn't matter what the owner of a business believes. They are free to practice what they wish. But they are not free to force what they believe on their employees. And this is exactly what they are asking to do when wanting out of the ACA. No one is telling the owners they have to get an abortion after-all...
Non-spiritual men did not found the U.S. They did not seek a society based on a belief in no God. All religions were welcome to lawfully practice the beliefs of their choice, including atheism. The concept of religious freedom was inclusive, not exclusive. The founders were wise men that often called upon God for guidance.
And that is exactly what atheists want a return to. Pay attention!
Our progressive national government has no Constitutional right to inhibit Christianity. Neither does it have the right to sanction and facilitate the establishment of the belief in “no God”— atheism — or promote science as a quasi religion.
Which is probably why none of these things are happening...
Albert Einstein, one of the most revered scientists in history, and many other prominent scientists, have noted the hand of God in their sophisticated investigations of the inspirationally beautiful interconnections of the universe. 
Yes, there are religious scientists, but that doesn't really matter. But since he mentions Einstein specifically, I feel this quote is appropriate.
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
Sounds pretty clear to me.
A so-called “secular society” whose national government suppresses Christianity or imposes any one religion on its people, is not secular. It is either a theocracy or a totalitarian government.
Correct, but the government isn't forcing or even supporting atheism. But ask me this, why then do so many politicians  call for the forming of a Christian theocracy? Would Domenick oppose that as well?


-Brain Hulk

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Encourage the dying

If a friend is dying, should you help them plan their final wishes or try to avoid the topic? One of Billy Graham's readers has this question on his mind.
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: A friend is dying of cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Yesterday, she asked me to help plan her funeral service. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her no, but doesn’t she need encouragement right now, instead of thinking about her death? — L.R.
Is anyone else bewildered by the lack of urgency being shown here. LR says that his friend isn't expected to last much longer. So he takes the time to write a letter to Billy Graham. Waits for his letter to make it through the pile of other letters that are sent in. Than waits for the newspaper to print Billy's reply. If she didn't have long to live, it's very possible she died before LR ever got the reply to his letter.
Not cool Jesus, not cool...
DEAR L.R.: The most encouraging thing you could do for your friend right now would be to follow her wishes and help her plan her funeral service.

After all, to you this may seem morbid or depressing, but she is facing her situation realistically, and it may even give her joy to know that others won’t have to worry about these details.

Otherwise, the responsibility will fall on her family, who may not have any idea about her wishes. Abraham made careful arrangements for the final needs of his family, and it’s wise for us to do the same (see Genesis 23:1-20).

What can you do to help your friend? First, listen carefully to her, and take notes on what she says. Ask questions also, such as if she has any favorite hymns she’d like sung or passages from the Bible she’d like included. Encourage her, too, to talk with her pastor. If she doesn’t have one, the chaplain in her hospital will know how to help her.
Surprisingly this isn't bad advice. But here's the thing... Billy giving good advice means abandoning what the Bible has to say on the issue. Lets take a look at Luke 9:59-60...
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
So the Biblical advice for LR is actually contrary to what Billy suggested. Jesus would rather LR shrug of the friend's death, let someone else worry about her and just move callously on without even attending the funeral. Not exactly loving or caring if you ask me.


-Brain Hulk

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Stop speech... for free speech?

Leave it to a priest on Fox News to say something that makes absolutely no sense at all... The Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Morris had some rather baffling things to say.
You get yourself into something that is, first of all, satanic, that is supernatural
The hang up on it being supernatural is quite strange. What part of Christianity isn't supernatural? Morris is a Catholic. Be believes that wine and crackers literally turn into the blood and body of Jesus for crying out loud!
They believe that as soon as you connect yourself with evil, evil stuff happens. I feel very bad for them.
But that's not what most Satanists believe. They believe that God is the oppressor and that Satan is the one that sets you free from his steely grasp. In short, in Satanism, the Devil is good and God is bad.
Anybody who walks into a crowded theater and yells ‘Fire! Do they have a right to do it? Yes. Free speech? No! Why? Because you’re inciting violence.
There's a huge variable that Morris is leaving out, and that's if there is in fact a fire. If there's no fire, then yeah... That's going to be a problem. It's a little like believers yelling, "Hell! Hell!" without actually showing there is a Hell...
When you have a group that does this, not just because they want to do their own little worship, but they are provoking anger and hatred among the community, the city can step in and say, ‘That’s not worship, that’s not free speech, that’s mockery, and you’re inciting violence!’
Who cares if someone else doesn't like it if they aren't doing anything illegal? I don't like church services, but I'm not going to try and ban them just because I don't like them. If someone going to church makes me angry, then it's me with the problem, not them. If someone simply following a different religion, or going to a different kind of mass sounds like mockery to me, then I'm probably being oversensitive and aren't very secure in my beliefs. And if this goes as far as driving me to
violence, I have some serious anger issues.

Morris probably doesn't realize this, but he's painted a picture where someone simply being a Satanist and attending a black mass makes him hate them, feel mocked, and want to respond violently simply because they exist. That's not exactly a favorable image for the supposed loving followers of Christ.
But what if I want to go and desecrate a Koran out in front of my church? What if I want to speak pro-Nazi stuff right in front of my church and get people all fired up on a public sidewalk? I think at some point government has to step in the name of free speech.
It's like he has no idea what free speech is. Free speech means that you can say whatever you want no matter how little others may agree or find it offensive. As ugly as the Westboro Baptist Church is, they are well within their rights to say what they want. Free speech ends when actual threats are made. Yet many a Christian has no problem threatening non-Christians will eternal torture in Hell.
What about when Christians protest in front of family planning clinics? Does he want them banned for 'inciting violence' as well?

Someone has to tell Morris that free speech doesn't mean, 'You can say whatever you want as long as I agree'. Also that simply disagreeing doesn't mean that you are being mocked or that violence is being incited. Banning one's speech in the name of free speech just doesn't make any sense! He did do a wonderful job of showing just how intolerant he really is (even to the point of violence).


-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thank engineering!

Survive a car crash? Was it God? Billy Graham has his opinion, but does it really make any sense?
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I escaped with only minor injuries from a bad car wreck a few months ago. Did God have something to do with this, like one of my friends says, or was I just lucky? I’ve never thought about questions like this before. — S.B.
SB doesn't mention how bad the accident actually was. I've heard people refer to fender-benders and bad, so we can't really say for sure how lucky he was. But since God and miracles are yet to be proven to be real things, all signs point to luck.
DEAR S.B.: Your friend is right; you weren’t “just lucky,” but God was watching over you and taking care of you. The Bible says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life” (Psalm 138:7).
Actually, if it was a serious accident and SB walked away without but a scratch, I'd thank the engineers that designed the car rather than an unproven deity.
The real question, however, is this: Why did God spare your life? Was it simply so you could go on living the same way you always have? I’m afraid many people in your situation end up doing exactly that, but I pray this won’t be true of you. God spared you for a purpose, and the most important thing you can do is to seek that purpose and dedicate your life to it.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article2114798.html#storylink=cpy
The 'why did he save you' question is a good one. Why does he supposedly save some people and not others? If SB's accident was serious and he hit another car, the occupants of that car may have been badly hurt or killed. In what world would a loving god save SB but not a mother and her child? And what about the kids that die of starvation every day? God doesn't help them, yet there are believers that think God helps them find a parking spot...
In other words, what is God trying to teach you through this experience?
The only two lessons I can see is that God is terribly unfair and monstrous, or that he just likes SB better than everyone else. One reflects the horror that is the Bible, and the other is an unlikely ego inflator.
What does he want to do in your life?
What about what Zeus, Odin, or Ra has planned for his life?
First, he wants you to realize that he loves you and has a plan for your life.
He plans to put you and your life in danger to make a point? Why hurt or kill others yet spare you when he could spare all and come to the same ends? Sounds like he's a terrible planner.
You aren’t here by chance, nor are you here just to live for yourself without any thought of God. God made you, and life’s greatest joy comes from knowing him and living for him every day.
Prove that's actually true, and then we can talk...


-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Football and faith

It looks like a complete non-story has begun to get national attention. Oneida High School, until recently, would lead students in the Lord's Prayer on the PA system prior to football games. When atheists and the ACLU rightly informed that that the school leading a prayer is unconstitutional, they decided to replace the prayer with a moment of silence.

Photo: WBIR
But when the moment of silence was announced at a game, cheerleaders began reciting the prayer on the side of the field instead. This completely un-noteworthy act has led Fox News to have the cheerleaders on air, said that they were defying a pre-game prayer ban, and that they were fighting for religious freedom. What a crock!

Fox News, and the ilk that believes everything they say, are making a huge mistake in their
assumptions. The school moving to a moment of silence was not a ban on prayer. Prayer wasn't banned at all. the only thing that changed is that the school is now following the law by not leading the prayer. The students and spectators always did and still do have the right to pray all they want. And the announcers can still pray all the want at all. They just have to do it privately rather than on the loudspeaker.

Since the cheerleaders took part in a prayer that was never taken away from them, how is it that they are fighting for religious freedom? Am I fighting for free speech if I say something that the government never said I couldn't say? Of course not! And that's exactly what is happening here. Despite Fox claiming victory for the cheerleaders, something different is actually happening. Fox and the cheerleaders are simply mistaking the removal of prayer from the PA system with a total ban on prayer. This is not oppression or an attack on religious liberty. All it is is a failure on their part to actually understand what exactly the ruling was, and that the right to personal prayer was never revoked.


-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jesus is Lard!

I've heard Bryan Fischer say some crazy things in my days, but this time he's spilled some serious mental diarrhea... Bryan (a director for the American Family Association) had this to say on his radio show:
Do you want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation? And not a Jewish nation? And not an Islamic nation? One single bit of proof is all you need. We freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country. You can’t do that in Israel. I’ve been to Israel. You go into the hotel to eat dinner; you go into a restaurant… you can’t get bacon there! You’re not gonna get it! Because it is a Jewish country. You go to a Muslim country, you are not going to get pork; you’re not going to get bacon; you’re not going to get a ham sandwich anywhere. Why? Because it is a Muslim land. The sheer fact that we clearly allow the consumption of bacon is absolute proof that we are in fact a Christian nation.
Is he serious? This is satire, right... There is so much wrong here I'm not even sure where to begin. How about the fact that even most Jewish and Muslim countries don't actually outright ban pork products. Dropping into a Muslim market will find you looking at a pork case with signs reading "Non-Muslims only."

Then there's the fact that (even if the claims were true) allowing pork sales in the USA would not mean that the default would be Christian. If we suppose that the US needs to be based on some religion, that also leaves the possibility the the US is based on one of the majority of most other religions that do not ban pork. Then there's atheists, since we don't ban pork.

Or maybe it's simply the separation of church and state at work. With that separation in place, no religion would be allowed to ban something for an entire country, as the rule of law mustn't give way
Yes, this is real.
to religious commands.

But hey, if Bryan is hung up on Bacon, then it actually bodes well for the United Church of Bacon being the cornerstone of the American nation.

Ah, but then there's the biggest problem with all of this. Since Bryan loves his Bible so much, lets take a look at it.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
-Leviticus 11:7-8
So if we are to play by Bryan's rules, the sale of bacon actually works against his claim. Just like Jews and Muslim's, Christians aren't supposed to eat bacon either (unless it's turkey bacon I suppose).
This is something that a lot of modern believers are good at. Just ignore the commands you don't like and follow the ones you do. In a way, the Jews and Muslims seem a bit more dedicated since they follow God's restrictions more closely.

Despite what Bryan claims, his one 'proof' actually fails at every angle. Perhaps he instead needs to sit down the BLT, confess his sins, and actually learn a little bit about what he is talking about for a change.


-Brain Hulk

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Monday, September 22, 2014

99 problems, but Jesus ain't one

Billy Graham always tells people to turn their lives over to Jesus, and this week he finally gets called out on it.
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: You always tell people to give their lives to Jesus, but what good will that do? I have a lot of problems, but just believing in Jesus isn’t going to make them go away. — A.M.
AM is correct, it doesn't seem that Jesus really seems to make problems just disappear.
DEAR A.M.: You don’t list what your problems are, but I can’t help but wonder how many of them would be on that list if you’d given your life to Jesus. For example, if you’d been following him, he would’ve kept you from making bad decisions and would have given you the wisdom to make right ones.
Bad decisions like priests raping little boys? Jesus didn't seem to help there. Jesus also doesn't seem to help those that need it most since the most impoverished areas tend to have higher rates of belief than those that are better well off.
You ask what good it does to believe in Jesus, but what good does it do to not believe in Jesus?
If you ignore him, it means you have no real purpose in life except to live for yourself. And if you ignore him, you have no hope of life beyond the grave.
Nice rewording of Pascal's Wager...  Surely Billy also advocates belief in Odin then, for denial of him may keep one out of Valhalla. Pascal's Wager is a horrible argument with several flaws. For Billy's sake, I hope he has better than that.
But it doesn’t need to be this way! From one end of the Bible to the other, God constantly tells us, “I love you.”
Yep, nothing says love like killing everything on Earth, commanding genocides, creating evil, condoning slavery, and deciding that all are deserving of eternal torture by default.
He loves us so much that he sent his son into the world to give his life for our salvation. Jesus, the Bible says, “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5).
How is needlessly sending your own son to death loving? 
Will all your problems vanish if you give your life to Christ? No, not necessarily.
At least Billy got that part right. Actually, your problems probably won't change much at all.
But you’ll no longer be alone, and he will give you wisdom and courage to face your problems. Don’t let bitterness, or pride or anything else keep you from Christ, but ask him to come into your life today.
Who's saying non-Christian's are alone? Billy is advocating reliance on an invisible deity that no one can even show to actually exist. A deity that is supposed to grant wisdom and courage, yet has his believers as the healthy majority amongst US prison inmates. Sorry, but belief in Christ doesn't seem to have the positive transformative power that Billy claims it does.


-Brain Hulk

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