The faith is dead long live the faith 13

Here are facts and figures from a Pew survey conducted between June and September of 2014, reported by the Washington Post:

Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers.

The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. …

That’s still a lot of Christians. Nearly three-quarters of the nation.

At the same time, the share of those who are not affiliated with a religion has jumped from 16 percent to about 23 percent in the same time period. The trend follows a pattern found earlier in the American Religious Identification Survey, which found that in 1990, 86 percent of American adults identified as Christians, compared with 76 percent in 2008. Here are three key takeaways from Pew’s new survey.

  1. Millennials are growing even less affiliated with religion as they get older 

The older generation of millennials (those who were born from 1981 to 1989) are becoming even less affiliated with religion than they were about a decade ago, the survey suggests. In 2007, when the Pew Research Center did their last Religious Landscape Survey and these adults were just entering adulthood, 25 percent of them did not affiliate with a religion, but this grew to 34 percent in the latest survey.

The trends among the aging millennials is especially significant, said Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. In 2010, 13 percent of baby boomers were religiously unaffiliated as they were entering retirement, the same percentage in 1972. “Some have asked, ‘Might they become more religiously affiliated as they get older?’ There’s nothing in this data to suggest that’s what’s happening,” he said. Millennials get married later than older generations, but they are not necessarily more likely to become religiously affiliated, he said.

  1. There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans

The numbers of Catholics and Protestants have each shrunk between three and five percentage points since 2007. The evangelical share of the American population has dropped by one percentage point since 2007.

There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans (23 percent) than Catholics (21 percent) and mainline Protestants (15 percent). …

That’s 36% of Christians accounted for. What sort of Christians are the remaining 35% if neither Catholic nor Protestant? Are they all Mormons?

The groups experience their losses through what’s called “religious switching,” when someone switches from one faith to another. Thirteen percent of Americans were raised Catholic but are no longer Catholic, compared with just 2 percent of Americans who are converts to Catholicism. “That means that there are more than six former Catholics for every convert to Catholicism,” Smith said. “There’s no other group in the survey that has that ratio of loss due to religious switching.” There are 3 million fewer Catholics today than there were in 2007. While the percentage of Catholics in the United States has remained relatively steady, Smith said we might be observing the beginning of the decline of the Catholic share of the population.

Pew estimates there are about 5 million fewer mainline Protestants than there were in 2007. About 10 percent of the U.S. population say they were raised in the mainline Protestant tradition, while 6 percent have converted to mainline Protestantism.

Evangelical Protestants have experienced less decline, due to their net  positive retention rate. For every person who has left evangelical Protestantism after growing up, 1.2 have switched to join an evangelical denomination.

Then comes apparently good news.

  1. Those who are unaffiliated are becoming more secular

The “nones,” or religiously unaffiliated, include atheists, agnostics and those  who say they believe in “nothing in particular”. Of those who are unaffiliated, 31 percent describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up six points from 2007.

“What we’re seeing now is that the share of people who say religion is important to them is declining,” Smith said. “The religiously unaffiliated are not just growing, but as they grow, they are becoming more secular.”

And people in older generations are increasingly disavowing organized religion. Among baby boomers, 17 percent identify as a religious “none,” up from 14 percent in 2007.

“There’s a continuing religious disaffiliation among older cohorts. That is really striking,” Smith said. “I continue to be struck by the pace at which the unaffiliated are growing.”

White Americans (24 percent) are more likely to say they have no religion, compared with 20 percent of Hispanic Americans and 18 percent of black Americans. The retention rates of the “nones” who say they were raised as religiously affiliated has grown by seven points since 2007 to 53 percent.

The religions are such musty old things. Relics from the pre-science age – or the ages between Greek enlightenment and the West European Enlightenment. Dark and awful. Christianity and Islam in particular are calculated to cause profound anxiety with their terrible doctrines of hell.

Trouble is, many who turn away from those old religions, embrace Leftism. And that’s a religion too.

In his excellent book Thinkers of the New Left, Professor Roger Scruton writes of the devout Marxist, Louis Althusser:

[Althusser says that] you can understand [Marx’s book] Capital only if you already believe it. That is the criterion of religious faith, which is locked inviolably within the single thought of its own validity – the thought that “I understand because I believe”. For the scientific mind, belief is the consequence and not the cause of understanding. But it is precisely the scientific failure of Marxism which necessitates Althusser’s enterprise – that of the sacralisation of Marx’s texts and the transformation of their content into revealed dogma. … When Althusser turns to the text of Capital, it is partly in order to give vent to religious awe, but also to extract a phrase or a paragraph, which he encases in metaphysical nonsense, like a drunken mystic commenting on the gospels.

The minds of most people living in the last two thousand years have been darkened by the mystic fantasies of three individuals:

  • the confector of Christianity, St. Paul;
  • the concocter of Islam, Muhammad;
  • the inflictor of Communism, Karl Marx.

Anti-Zionism is racism 4

Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Jew-hatred is not a result of the existence of Israel or of anything Israel does. The cause and result go the other way round. Israel is hated because Jews are hated.

We are not talking about the religion of Judaism. Strange to say, it’s very rare to hear even the most rabid anti-Semite attack the Jewish religion. (We ourselves do, in a rational way, because we attack religion as such, but we are not anti-Semites.) We are talking about hatred of the Jews as a people.

The root of anti-Semitism is, however, in religion.

First, the author of the Christian religion, St. Paul, spread his weird belief that the Jewish god had been born as a man. He picked an actual person, a Jew born in the time of Augustus Caesar; a religious fanatic who tried to lead a little insurgent band against Roman rule and was consequently executed. St. Paul claimed that the man lived on after his death as a co-divine being, and that the failure of the Jews to acknowledge this “truth” excluded them from the redemption from sin that belief in the god-man alone provided. His converts told a whopper in their novels (called the gospels) about the god-man – that the Jews had begged to be held guilty forever for killing him.

Next, some three hundred years later, the Romans, having themselves crucified the man as was their wont with insurrectionists, decided that he was indeed a god, the God that the Jews had first invented – or at least part of the God in some mystical way or other – and insisted on the wildly improbable story that blamed the crucifixion on the actual man’s fellow Jews.

For two thousand years Christianity (though not all Christians) held the Jews to be bad. Not their religion, which Christianity came round to adopting as the pre-history of the god-man, but the nation, the people, who were dispersed from their own land and scattered among other nations when their general mutiny against Roman rule failed. They were cast in the role of handy scapegoats for every ill that afflicted the peoples they lived among.

With the rise of Islam, the Jews who lived in the lands that Muslims conquered were maltreated for a different badness: they, like the Christians, would not accept the “truth” of Muhammad’s religion, so must suffer the consequences of their obstinacy and pay to stay alive, or die. When, in 1948, the Jews in their recovered homeland mustered an army which actually defeated six invading Arab armies, the Arabs felt deeply humiliated. Something had gone very wrong. Allah simply could not allow such a thing to happen. Islam had conquered that once-Jewish territory centuries earlier, and no one else was allowed to own it.

The Jews were allowed to re-establish a Jewish state in 1948 by the consent of the great powers which had taken custody of the region after they defeated the Islamic Ottoman empire in the war of 1914-1918. First some 80% of the ancient Jewish homeland had been allocated to an Arab emir for a new state called Transjordan (one of 21 Arab despotisms, some of them newly created at that time). Then they divided the remaining 20% between  the Jews and some other Arabs. The Jewish people – what remained of it after six of its fifteen million had been systematically killed in Christian Europe – unhesitatingly took its portion. The Arabs wanted all of the 20% or nothing. So they got nothing. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, survivors of the attempted genocide, went home to Zion. Their patriotism is called Zionism. It is not more or less legitimate than the patriotism of any other people.

But it is the only patriotism that is reviled. The Jewish state is the only state whose legitimacy is continually called into question in forums of the Christian and Islamic worlds.

Dennis Prager, with whom we almost always agree on political issues though never on religion, writes at Townhall:

Whenever I have received a call from a listener to my radio show challenging Israel’s legitimacy, I have asked these people if they ever called a radio show to challenge any other country’s legitimacy. In particular, I ask, have they ever questioned the legitimacy of Pakistan?

The answer, of course, is always “no.” In fact, no caller ever understood why I even mentioned Pakistan.

There are two reasons for this.

First, of all the 200-plus countries in the world, only Israel’s legitimacy is challenged. So mentioning any other country seems strange to a caller. Second, almost no one outside of India and Pakistan knows anything about the founding of Pakistan.

Only months before the U.N. adopted a proposal to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state in 1947, India was partitioned into a Muslim and a Hindu state. The Hindu state was, of course, India. And the Muslim state became known as Pakistan. It comprises 310,000 square miles, about 40,000 square miles larger than Texas.

In both cases, the declaration of an independent state resulted in violence. As soon as the newly established state of Israel was declared in May 1948, it was invaded by six Arab armies. And the partition of India led to a terrible violence between Muslims and Hindus.

According to the final report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission from Dec. 28, 1949, the 1948 war of Israel’s independence created 726,000 Arabs refugees. Many sources put the figure at about 200,000 less. A roughly equal number of Jewish refugees — approximately 700,000 — were created when they were forcibly expelled from the Arab countries where they had lived for countless generations. In addition, approximately 10,000 Arabs were killed in the fighting that ensued after the Arab invasion of Israel.

Now let’s turn to the creation of Pakistan. According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the creation of Pakistan resulted in 14 million refugees — Hindus fleeing Pakistan and Muslims fleeing India. Assuming a 50-50 split, the creation of Pakistan produced about seven million Hindu refugees — at least 10 times the number of Arab refugees that resulted from the war surrounding Israel’s creation. And the Mideast war, it should be recalled, was started by the Arab nations surrounding Israel. Were it not for the Arab rejection of Israel’s creation (and existence within any borders) and the subsequent Arab invasion, there would have been no Arab refugees.

And regarding deaths, the highest estimate of Arab deaths during the 1948 war following the partition of Palestine is 10,000. The number of deaths that resulted from the creation of Pakistan is around one million.

In addition, according to the Indian government, at least 86,000 women were raped. Most historians believe the number to be far higher. The number of women raped when Israel was established is close to zero. From all evidence I could find, the highest estimate was 12.

Given the spectacularly larger number of refugees and deaths caused by the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, why does no one ever question the legitimacy of Pakistan’s existence?

This question is particularly valid given another fact: Never before in history was there a Pakistan. It was a completely new nation. Moreover, its creation was made possible solely because of Muslim invasion. It was Muslims who invaded India, and killed about 60 million Hindus during the thousand-year Muslim rule of India. The area now known as Pakistan was Hindu until the Muslims invaded it in A.D. 711.

On the other and, modern Israel is the third Jewish state in the geographic area known as Palestine. The first was destroyed in 586 B.C., the second in A.D. 70. And there was never a non-Jewish sovereign state in Palestine.

So, given all these facts, why is Israel’s legitimacy challenged, while the legitimacy of Pakistan, a state that had never before existed and whose creation resulted in the largest mass migration in recorded history, is never challenged?

The answer is so obvious that only those who graduated from college, and especially from graduate school, need to be told: Israel is the one Jewish state in the world. So, while there are 49 Muslim-majority countries and 22 Arab states, much of the world questions or outright only rejects the right of the one Jewish state, the size of New Jersey, to exist.

If you are a member of the Presbyterian Church, send these facts to the leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA who voted to boycott Israel. If you are a student in Middle Eastern Studies — or for that matter, almost any other humanities department — and your professor is anti-Israel, ask your professor why Pakistan is legitimate and Israel isn’t.

They won’t have a good answer. Their opposition to Israel isn’t based on moral considerations.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks for us 5

This is from an interview by the Daily Beast with the greatest living woman – no, the greatest living person of our time, Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Q: You’re giving the keynote speech at the American Atheists National Convention [on April 3]. Are you going to talk about Islam primarily?

A: I am. And I think I have the same message as I have for feminists and for other groups who are addressing various issues in the world we live in today. For atheists, it’s: You address the issues of organized religion and atrocities committed in the name of organized religion. And I want them to focus on Islam today, because it’s in the name of Islam that most lives are taken, that most subjection, most intolerance is spread around the world. So for my fellow atheists, it’s a matter of: Listen, it’s one thing to protest about Christmas trees on December 25, but it’s quite another to witness fellow human beings in cages and burned alive, and women taken as slaves, again, in the names of this religion. So it’s very much a matter of organizing our priorities.

There’s a view in the United States that atheists can be overly intolerant toward nonviolent expressions of religion in public life — Christmas crèches and other religious displays on public property. Do you think atheists can be too aggressive on these issues?

This is so unfair. For centuries — centuries — quite honestly, it’s in the name of religion that people’s rights are violated, and atheists are finally getting together and reacting to that. If we just look at facts, I don’t think we need to fear atheist intolerance. The biggest threat to human rights is religious intolerance, not atheist intolerance.

Do you think there is prejudice against atheists in the United States? You see surveys, for instance, in which most people would not vote for a politician who is not religious.

There is that kind of intolerance. But as an atheist, I don’t fear that I’m going to be killed in the U.S. by believers who can’t tolerate my atheism. Whereas in my own family, my own religion, the community I was born into, when I said, “You know, I really don’t think I believe in life after death, and this Mohammed guy, I don’t believe in everything he said,” it was like, “Death unto you.” There is a massive difference. Same thing with the feminists. Listen, if you’re not allowed into a golf club, that doesn’t sit well with me, but if I were to prioritize, I would say: This girl, she’s just been denied her right to school, she’s just been forced into marriage, she’s just been genitally mutilated. That’s the sort of thing that we need to be, as women, signing up against — and as atheists. And by the way, the LGBT community — I think it’s awesome, and it’s taken some great steps. But in the name of Islam, gay men, or men who are accused of being gay, are put on the roofs of buildings and thrown down by a mob shouting “Allahu akbar!” doing this in the name of their faith. And it’s time that the gay community stood up to this. HIV is no longer the biggest killer of the gay community; it’s violence in the name of Islam, and no one’s talking about it.

Posted under Atheism, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, April 5, 2015

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Christopher Hitchens: a missionary against religion 6

One doesn’t have to like everything Christopher Hitchens says in this medley of his arguments to enjoy it.

The nice thing is that he speaks well for atheism, and puts down his religious opponents, on every point they raise, briskly and thoroughly.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Religion general, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 22, 2015

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An atheist threatens world peace 13

What a gift to Muslim organizations in America which like to pretend that Muslims are victims of “Islamopobia”: three young Muslims shot dead by a thug of a neighbor in dispute with them over a parking space!

To spice up the claim that the vicious killing was a “hate crime”, the thug is reported to be an atheist. Now watch out for politicians, media, and the loudmouths of various religions claiming that atheists are murderous radicals, as bad and dangerous as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram. 

Reuters reports:

A gunman who had posted anti-religious messages on Facebook and quarreled with neighbors was charged with killing three young Muslims in what police said on Wednesday was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime.

Notice that the very first piece of information Reuter supplies is that he “posted anti-religious messages on Facebook” – even though they have also to report a little later that that has nothing to do with the crime.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, a full-time paralegal student from Chapel Hill, was charged with first-degree murder in Tuesday’s shootings around 5 p.m. two miles from the University of North Carolina campus.

The victims were newlyweds Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, and his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Yusor’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

The suspect, in handcuffs and orange jail garb, appeared briefly on Wednesday before a Durham County judge who ordered him held without bail pending a March 4 probable cause hearing.

Police said a preliminary investigation showed the motive to be a parking dispute. They said Hicks, who has no criminal history in Chapel Hill, turned himself in and was cooperating.

But for Islamic propagandists that wouldn’t do at all. At last they have an incident that, properly spun, will prove what they’ve been saying for years – America is cruelly “Islamophobic”.

The killings drew international condemnation. The shooting sparked the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter on social media with many posters assailing what they called a lack of news coverage.

Muslim activists demanded authorities investigate a possible motive of religious hatred.

And at once the police did their dhimmi duty:

“We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement.

So far, the leads seem to point another way:

The killings occurred in a condominium complex in a wooded area filled with two-story buildings. Neighbors said parking spaces were often a point of contention.

“I have seen and heard (Hicks) be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” said Samantha Maness, 25, a community college student. But she said she had never seen him show animosity along religious lines.

But there are those Facebook entries for the “hate-crime” advocates to pin their hopes on.

On Facebook, Hicks’ profile picture reads “Atheists for Equality” and he frequently posted quotes critical of religion. On Jan. 20 he posted a photo of a .38-caliber revolver that he said was loaded and belonged to him.

Hicks’ wife, Karen Hicks, told reporters at a news conference that her husband had been locked in a longstanding dispute over parking and the killings had nothing to do with religion. She said Hicks was not hateful and believed “everyone is equal”.

Nevertheless, the sad event must be milked for all the propaganda value it can yield:

Barakat’s family urged the shooting be investigated as a hate crime and said the three were killed with shots to the head.

And at a candlelight vigil held for the dead at UNC, attended by “hundreds of people” –

University and city leaders urged inclusiveness during a time of unease, while a brother of one of the victims called for nonviolence.

The implication being that violence could break out at any moment: whether against Muslims or against non-Muslims, we do not learn from the report.

The prosecution, it seems, will stick to its findings:

The incident appeared to be isolated and not part of a targeted campaign against North Carolina Muslims, Ripley Rand, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, told a news conference with local police officials. …

And the Islamic propagandists will stick to their wishes:

Groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the local Raleigh-based Muslims for Social Justice called for a federal investigation into possible hate crimes.

“I hope this terrible tragedy will be a turning point that brings the reality home that if we keep demonizing Muslims and equating their religion to terrorism, it will lead to more attacks,” said Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice.

It’s bad enough that three young people have been killed, but not bad enough for Reuters. They present the victims as extra good - while also keeping the idea of political-religious martyrdom before their readers:

“Today, we are crying tears of unimaginable pain over the execution-style murders,” Barakat’s older sister Suzanne told reporters.

She said her brother was light-hearted and loved basketball.

And:

All were involved in humanitarian aid programs.

And:

Barakat, an American citizen of Syrian origin, wrote in his last Facebook post about providing free dental supplies and food to homeless people in downtown Durham. He was raising funds for a trip to Turkey with 10 other dentists to provide free fillings, root canals and oral hygiene instruction to Syrian refugee children.

His sister-in-law, Abu-Salha, a sophomore at nearby North Carolina State University, was involved in making multimedia art to spread positive messages about being Muslim American.

Students at UNC said the three friends came from two of the most prominent Muslim families in the Raleigh area.

“Deah was a very proud Muslim American. He was proud of all his identities,” said Sofia Dard, a 21-year-old senior psychology major. She said Muslims were used to occasional harassment in post-9/11 America, but the shooting “adds a whole level of seriousness”.

 

Postscript: We may soon be in need of a word that suggests a psychopathic hatred of atheists that is permanently lodged in the minds of non-atheists. Suggestions are invited.  

Post-Postscript: Turns out the murderer is a Leftie. Quoting Powerline:

You can see the liberal media’s problem. Craig Hicks is, politically, a member of their team – a garden variety, cookie cutter, Obama-voting, conservative-hating liberal. His Facebook page looks like most reporters’ would, if they didn’t have to worry about appearances. So, much as they might want to publicize a hate crime against Muslims – Islamophobia at last! – can they possibly admit that a dyed in the wool liberal like Hicks can be guilty of an anti-Muslim hate crime? I think that would be too much cognitive dissonance. My guess is that the Chapel Hill murders will fade away as a local news story arising out of a dispute over a parking space.

Against God and Socialism (repeat) 15

This article in praise of Capitalism was first posted in 2011. We reproduce it now because our recent post Communism is secular Christianity (January 14, 2015) reminded us of it

  *

It is human nature to be selfish. If we weren’t selfish we wouldn’t survive. If we didn’t eat when we were hungry, warm ourselves when we were cold, seek cures for our illnesses, defend ourselves (and our children and our life-sustaining property), we’d die out pretty damn quick. Or rather, we would never have come into existence as a species at all.

We are most of us capable of sympathy with others, and we often willingly give away a thing we own to another person. Some are altruistic. A few will even give up their lives to save the lives of others. Nevertheless, we are all naturally and necessarily selfish.

Christianity and Communism require human nature to change. As it can’t, Christianity’s commandments to love our enemies and forgive those who do us harm turn many a person of good will and high aspiration into a hypocrite if not a corpse. Communist theorists have never settled the question of whether human nature must change so that the Revolution can take place, or whether the Revolution must take place in order for human nature to change. Of course it will never change, but there’s no stopping the collectivist dolts arguing about it.

Capitalism works well because it is in tune with our nature. Adam Smith called it “the natural order of liberty”. Everyone selfishly desires to provide for his needs. To pay for what he wants from others – services and goods – he has to provide something that others will pay him for. Millions do it, and the result is prosperity. Capitalism is an abstract machine most beautiful to behold in the wonder of its workings. When individuals have the incentive to achieve, acquire, and enjoy something for themselves, they’ll go to great lengths to afford it. They’ll compete with each other to provide what others want, toil to make it the better product, and set the price of it lower. The best is made available at the least cost. Everyone is both a taker and a giver, and everyone benefits. True, not everyone’s effort always succeeds, but nothing stops anyone from trying again.

Of course capitalism isn’t a remedy for every ill and discontent. But a capitalist society offers the best chance to an individual to make the best of his condition – being alive – which presents him with a tough challenge – to stay alive for a few score years, and make those years as good as his energy, cunning, and adaptability to conditions outside of his control (plus his statistically likely share of luck), can help them to be.

In a capitalist society no one has a fixed place, whether below, in the middle, or on top. A person can rise, sink, or stay. A truly capitalist society is necessarily a free society in which no one is prevented, by some ruler or ruling clique, from bettering his lot, striving, succeeding, or failing.

Capitalism is the enemy of that God of whom all the children in the British Empire used to sing at morning prayers in school assemblies before the Second World War:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small;

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all. …

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

He made them high and lowly,

He ordered their estate.

The children were being taught to be content with everything as it was, trusting that God the ruler up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable had ordained how everyone had his fixed place and should stay in it, and because He had ordained it, it must be perfect. The recognition that such a God was an indefensible authoritarian, a whim-driven cosmic dictator, an unjust and arrogant tyrant, came – perhaps unconsciously – to the choosers of Anglican hymns only after a few of the earth’s dictators had been trounced in a prolonged and terrible blood-letting.

But then Socialists took over from God. They decided what was best for humanity. They established the Welfare State. No rich men in castles, no poor men at gates. The State would provide every citizen with depressing accommodation, dull food, health care if he were judged worthy of being kept alive, indoctrination in schools. Though the Socialist State is a slave society, the citizens are not called slaves but Social Security Recipients, National Health Patients, Students, Workers. The belief of their rulers is that they’ll be content because the State provides them with “everything”; they’ll be grateful for the food however poor, the unit in the tower block however depressing, the bed in the hospital however filthy, the indoctrination however boring. The great thing about it, to the collectivist mind, is they won’t have to strive to keep alive. And no one will have cause to pity or envy anyone else, since no one will have less or worse, or more or better – except of course the rulers up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable who ordain that everyone else has his fixed place. They reserve plenty, choice, comfort, luxury, information, and power to themselves.

The recognition that such a State is counter to the human instinct for freedom – call it “selfishness “ if you will – should have come to every sane adult the world over when the Soviet Empire crashed. The idea of Socialism should have died then. But if it did, it was only for a short time. Like the Christian God, it rose again, and lives now in the White House, an administration indefensibly authoritarian, whim-driven, unjust, and arrogant.

Selfish human nature with its instinct for liberty, its impelling desire to possess what is good for it materially and mentally, is the force that can and must defeat it.

Whistling religion down the wind? 10

Today we posted this on our Facebook page:

A message to Republicans:

We know there are thousands, and we plausibly guess there are tens of thousands, and we conjecture not unreasonably that there may be millions of atheists and secularists who would vote Republican if Christian conservatism did not exert the degree of influence on Republican policy that it does now. Many atheists have voted Democratic not because they like Obama and Pelosi and Reid and Holder and their horrible Leftist, redistributionist, and unpatriotic policies, but because they are repelled by the voices of the religious sounding so loud and often on the Right. By paying less attention to those voices, and keeping religion out of policy-making, you would not lose the votes of many Christians. They’re not likely to go over en masse to the Left. But you would gain a considerable number of new voters. Please take this message, which we advance very seriously, into consideration.

Please help us get our message to Republicans.

It just may make some difference.

Or not?

Would the Republicans ever risk losing the votes of the religious Right? Do they think of it as their base? Would they ever consider ignoring it, let alone abandoning it?

What do our readers think?

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Commentary, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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The punishment of reason 3

If it sears the mind of a decent person merely to imagine the suffering of Raif Badawi as he is subjected to his punishment of 1000 lashes, administered 50 at a time once a week for 20 weeks, knowing what the punishment is being inflicted for could make his blood boil.

badawi

Raif Badawi

First, here’s a short description of the first day of Raif’s lashings from a site we’ve never visited before named 360NoBS:

A Saudi blogger declared guilty of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jeddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators.

Reports further stated that he would receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks. …

Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque.

His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness.

The witness, who also has close knowledge of the case, said the lashing lasted about 15 minutes.

Badawi has been held since mid-2012 after he founded the Free Saudi Liberals blog. … He used it to criticise the kingdom’s influential clerics …

He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal the judge stiffened the punishment.

Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.

Rights groups argue that the case against Badawi is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their prestige in the kingdom, as well as their influential role in supporting government policies.

flog-man-360nobs.gif,qresize=191,P2C143.pagespeed.ce.cXQQgHrh8yJAup1RtEFU

The man shackled to a whipping post in this picture from 360NoBS may or may not be Raif Badawi,

but in any case it serves to illustrate Islam’s infliction of agony, humiliation, misery, and despair .

Denis MacEoin writes at Gatestone:

[Raif Badaw’s] first 50 lashes were administered Friday. After the noon prayers, outside the mosque, Saudi writer and blogger Raif Badawi, 30, received a sentence perhaps worse than death. Accused of “insulting Islam,” he is to receive 1000 lashes: 50 per week for 20 weeks — nearly half a year. “The lashing order says Raif should ‘be lashed very severely,'” a twitter notice read. “If they lash him again next week we do not know if he is going to survive. He has no medical assistance,” another notice said.

After that, he is to spend ten years in prison and pay a fine of $266,000. If he ever leaves prison, his life will have been destroyed…

His wife and three children have been given asylum in Canada. Her family has filed for divorce on the grounds of his supposed apostasy. …

Badawi had written, “My commitment is… to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”

He is alleged to have criticized the Wahhabi clergy who run his country hand in hand with the royal family. Muslims seem not to be able to handle questions, reasoned criticism or satire. …

Nadeem Malik, the UK Director of the Bahu Trust, a Sufi Muslim charity that “espouses the virtues of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and equality” said: “Our Prophet would have been absolutely crystal clear and unequivocal in condemning any such action. That’s not in the name of Islam at all, and Muslims are sick of having their faith hijacked in this manner.”

I do not doubt Mr. Malik’s sincerity, and I respect the Islamic tradition (Barelwi) from which he comes as one more in keeping with a non-violent interpretation.

We are sick of hearing that this or that group of violent Muslims have “hijacked” the religion of Islam. Islam enjoins violence.

It is a myth that Sufis are against violence. The Muslim murderers of some 385 people, including 186 small children, at a school in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, were Sufis.

But his statement sharply points out why there is a problem. He was – quite innocently, I am sure – completely wrong.

The writer shouldn’t be sure. We unhesitatingly doubt his innocence. Either he knows he is lying, or he is unable to understand the words of the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith, and knows nothing of Islam’s own tales of Muhammad.

There is an inspiration for attacks like those on writers, cartoonists, and film-makers: France’s Charlie Hebdo journalists; Amsterdam’s Theo van Gogh; Denmark’s Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste, and Flemming Rose, and Sweden’s Lars Vilks – as well as the assassination attempt on the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz and the fatwa for the murder of the British writer Salman Rushdie. The inspiration for this behavior is not that the Prophet Muhammad was lampooned or criticized or mocked. The inspiration for this behavior is that Muhammad himself would have ordered or approved such attacks as revenge for assaults on his honour.

Shortly after his move from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, for instance, when he became the effective ruler of the town, opponents emerged in the Jewish and wider communities. Poets wrote lampoons and disrespectful verses. Muhammad had them killed. Not just poets, but almost anyone who disagreed with him and his “revelations.”

In 624, for example, a Jewish poet named Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf wrote verses condemning the killing of notables from Mecca. He later became a one-man Charlie Hebdo, writing obscene and erotic verses about the Muslim women. Muhammad took offense and instructed one of his companions, Muhammad ibn Maslama, to assassinate Ka’b. When Ibn Maslama expressed doubts about having to lie to Ka’b in order to trick him into going with him, Muhammad told him lying was permissible for such purposes. Ibn Maslama and some other Muslims went out with Ka’b under false pretenses and murdered him.

Ka’b ibn al-Ahraf was not Muhammad’s only victim. …  There is a list in WikiIslam of 43 people – as well as all the men from the Jewish tribe of the Banu Qurayza – who were killed on Muhammad’s orders or whose murders were sanctioned by him.

Today the lashes of Raif Badawi stand with the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo as further symbols of the determination of many extremists to reject the norms of reason, tolerance, pluralism, equality, the Universal Declaration human rights and the value that begins every chapter but one of the Qur’an: mercy.

This cannot be said often or emphatically enough: It is not a case of  Islamic “extremists”  rejecting reason, but of Islam itself being an ideology totally in opposition to reason.

All “faiths” reject reason by definition. Islam punishes it.

A taste of Robert Ingersoll 15

To say one is “agnostic” is to say one does not know – eg. whether a god exists or not.

If one does not know that a god exists, one cannot be in a state of belief that he does. A person who says “I am an agnostic” is, at that moment, an atheist. He might be leaving open the possibility that one day he will know for sure whether or not there is a god, but he does not know it now. For now, he is without belief in a god. For now he is an atheist.

To call oneself “an agnostic” is, we think, an attempt to make a statement of unbelief softer, less challenging; to put a little powder on the bare face of atheism.

Robert G. Ingersoll called himself an agnostic. Although we would argue over the implications of that self-description, we like much of what he wrote and said.

Here is the conclusion of Ingersoll’s lectureWhy I am an Agnostic (1896):

One Sunday I went with my brother to hear a Free Will Baptist preacher. He was a large man, dressed like a farmer, but he was an orator. He could paint a picture with words.

He took for his text the parable of “the rich man and Lazarus”. He described Dives, the rich man – his manner of life, the excesses in which he indulged, his extravagance, his riotous nights, his purple and fine linen, his feasts, his wines, and his beautiful women.

Then he described Lazarus, his poverty, his rags and wretchedness, his poor body eaten by disease, the crusts and crumbs he devoured, the dogs that pitied him. He pictured his lonely life, his friendless death.

Then, changing his tone of pity to one of triumph – leaping from tears to the heights of exultation – from defeat to victory – he described the glorious company of angels, who with white and outspread wings carried the soul of the despised pauper to Paradise – to the bosom of Abraham.

Then, changing his voice to one of scorn and loathing, he told of the rich man’s death. He was in his palace, on his costly couch, the air heavy with perfume, the room filled with servants and physicians. His gold was worthless then. He could not buy another breath. He died, and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.

Then, assuming a dramatic attitude, putting his right hand to his ear, he whispered, “Hark! I hear the rich man’s voice. What does he say? Hark! ‘Father Abraham! Father Abraham! I pray thee send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my parched tongue, for I am tormented in this flame’.”

“Oh, my hearers, he has been making that request for more than eighteen hundred years. And millions of ages hence that wail will cross the gulf that lies between the saved and lost and still will be heard the cry: ‘Father Abraham! Father Abraham! I pray thee send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my parched tongue, for I am tormented in this flame’.”

For the first time I understood the dogma of eternal pain – appreciated “the glad tidings of great joy”. For the first time my imagination grasped the height and depth of the Christian horror. Then I said: “It is a lie, and I hate your religion. If it is true, I hate your God.”

From that day I have had no fear, no doubt. For me, on that day, the flames of hell were quenched. From that day I have passionately hated every orthodox creed. That Sermon did some good.

We cannot understand how Christians can believe that their god loves every human being but will condemn anyone who offends him to everlasting torment.

But then, we fail to understand how anyone can believe anything that Christianity teaches, from the triune god all the way down.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Commentary, Religion general, Theology by Jillian Becker on Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Why we matter 2

Here’s one of the most important reasons why The Atheist Conservative needs to exist. Why what we have to say is important. Why we must make ourselves heard.

From Fox News comes this story of an atheist of the left. In everything except his atheism, he couldn’t be more wrong.

If you sign up for Denver college professor Charles Angeletti’s American Civilization class, be forewarned that you’re going to have to recite his invective-filled “New Pledge” – and according to some of his students, also be ready to swallow a big helping of his politics.

Angeletti, who teaches at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has students learn an anti-American spoof of the Pledge of Allegiance that denounces the U.S. as a Republican-controlled bastion of injustice, all while spewing his own far-left brand of politics, according to current and former students.

The professor hands out this “pledge” on a flier to his students and demands that they repeat it.

I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American. And to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don’t watch your step.

The anti-U.S. recitation, first reported by higher education blog Campus Reform, was a satirical pledge aimed at getting students to question their nation’s leadership, Angeletti said. The self-proclaimed atheist and socialist told the site that he has been distributing the pledge in his classes for nearly 20 years as part of his lesson plan.

“We’re very racist, we’re very repressive, we’re very Christian oriented, we don’t tolerate other kinds of thinking in this country,” Angeletti told Campus Reform. “I could go on and on – and do, in my classes, for hours about things that we need to do to make this a better country.”

Could anything be further from the truth?

Consider that a majority of voters twice elected a black man (though he was completely unqualified for high office) to the presidency, many of them just to prove they were not racist. But see how America has again become over race-conscious as a result. President Obama and his attorney-general Eric Holder  are race-hustlers, working with others of their kidney; most prominently Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Malik Zulu Shabazz (head of the New Black Panther Party). Racism is now mostly expressed by black politicians, black trade union bosses,  black politicians  and “community organizers”.

The  voices calling loudly for repression in the US are those of politically-correct lefties.

We too dislike Christianity, and we exist to prove that one can be conservative, a defender of the Constitution, a free marketeer, an advocate for states’ rights, and a patriot without believing in the supernatural, or bible literalism, or creationism, or that “Jesus” is a god or a part of a god, or in that rump of a godthing they call “intelligent design”. Our existence alone disproves his caricature of conservative thought.

And equally that one can be an atheist without being – yes – “Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis”;  or politically-correct progressives, Alinskyite community organizers, whitewashers of Islam, collectivists, redistributionists and America-hating racists.  

As for “not tolerating other kinds of thinking”, the US is the one country in the world which really does protect freedom of speech. The Left of course would change that if it could.

Academia is dominated by lefties like this professor, and – what is more and worse – his comrades are at present occupying the commanding heights of power.

 A student from Angeletti’s class told Campus Reform that the flier was handed out to the entire class and all students were required to recite it.

“This was an attempt to propagandize an entire classroom of young adults,” Steven Farr, a freshman majoring in meteorology, told the blog site.

Officials at Metropolitan State University of Denver did not immediately return requests for comment. The 24,000-student school has the second-highest undergraduate enrollment in the state and has several notable Division II sports programs. It also bills itself as a top choice for active-duty military and veterans to pursue higher education, and has several notable Division II sports programs.

We wonder what the active-duty soldiers and the vets think of Professor Charles Angeletti’s ravings.

Ah! – Fox tells us:

“This is typical elite, progressive, post-modernist garbage,” said Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “I hope and believe that vets in his class will challenge this professor. We have seen this time and time again. Lessons like this stack the deck against veterans and basically tell them, you fought for nothing,” Hegseth added. “You fought for a lie.”

 

(Hat-tip to our Facebook reader and commenter, Joe Compton. He rightly believes that to counter the lies of ill-informed, malicious, anti-America atheists like this, is why The Atheist Conservative exists.)

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