Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Facepalm: Rep. Gohmert claims church-state separation means church plays role in state

In a breathtaking display of ignorance, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claims that the constitutional separation between church and state is meant to be a “one-way wall” where the “church plays a role in the state.”

Missouri lawmakers introduce ‘right to refuse service’ religious freedom bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — While Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer deliberates the fate of her state’s anti-gay religious freedom bill, legislation was filed on Monday in the Missouri Senate that would allow Missouri business owners to cite religious beliefs as a legal justification for refusing to provide service.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) sponsored the legislation, which states that a governmental authority shall not substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion unless the government demonstrates that it has a compelling interest.

“We’re trying to protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom,” Wallingford told the Kansas City Star…

Tom DeLay Claims God ‘Wrote The Constitution’, ‘Jesus Died For Our Freedom’

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) urged Americans to realize that God “wrote the Constitution” and predicted an upcoming “awakening” during an interview on John Hagee Ministries’ Global Evangelism Television network on Wednesday.

“I think we got off the track when we allowed our government to become a secular government,” DeLay told host Matthew Hagee, the executive pastor of the Texas Cornerstone Church. “[W]e stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.”

DeLay, who was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy charges before a Texas appeals court overturned the conviction in 2013, said that he has been trying to lead members of the House to Bible study. He then recounted an incident in which he “sealed off the rotunda of the Capitol … so that for three hours leaders of the House and Senate got on their knees seeking the face of God and praying.”

DeLay, aka “The Hammer,” also assured Hagee that “the Lord has heard us, I see the Holy Spirit moving,” before alluding to an upcoming “awakening.”

In October of 2013, DeLay made similar remarks in an interview with Matthew Hagee’s father, John Hagee, in which he claimed that after “a conference call with the Lord,” God instructed him to write a book advocating for the urgency of a constitutional revival.

"Jesus died for our freedom," DeLay, who became a born-again Christian in 1985, said in October. "And Jesus destroyed Satan so that we could be free and that is manifested in what is called the Constitution of the United States. God created this nation and God created the Constitution; it is written on biblical principles."

I can’t even…

(Source: The Huffington Post)

AZ Senate Passes ‘Right to Discriminate’ Bill

This afternoon, on a party-line 17-13 vote, Republicans in the Arizona Senate bucked the national trend and gave final approval to SB 1062, a GOP-led bill that would create a special “right” to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion.

Under the bill, which was introduced by Republican State Senator Steve Yarbrough, individuals and businesses would be granted the legal right to refuse services to people or groups if they claimed that doing so would “substantially burden” their freedom of religion.

In interviews with local media, Yarbrough made it perfectly clear that the specific purpose of this bill is to legitimize discrimination against the LGBT community. But during today’s nearly two-hour-long debate, Yarbrough took a different tack, claiming that the basic rights of LGBT people victimize anti-LGBT Christians.

"This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

Continue

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Alabama GOP introduces legislation requiring prayer in public schools

Republicans in Alabama have introduced legislation that would require public school teachers to lead students in a daily prayer. The legislation would require teachers in Alabama public school classrooms to recite a prayer at the beginning of every school day, for up to fifteen minutes.

The law would require teachers to perform a “verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.” That is, teachers would be required to read out loud to their students one of the opening prayers recited by chaplains or their guests before sessions of the U.S. Congress.

The Anniston Star reports State Rep. Steve Hurst (R) introduced the bill last month. The bill would require schools to set aside the first portion of the first class period every day “for study of the formal procedures followed by U.S. Congress,” which must include “a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers” given at the opening of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.

A Synopsis of the bill, HB318, reads:

This bill provides for a period of time in the public schools for studying the formal procedures of the United States Congress including the verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.

The following is an excerpt from the bill:

To prescribe a period of time in the public schools not to exceed 15 minutes for study of the formal procedures followed by the United States Congress, which study shall include a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the United States House of Representatives or Senate.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. At the commencement of the first class of each day in all grades in all public schools, the teacher in charge of the room in which such class is held shall, for a period of time not exceeding 15 minutes, instruct the class in the formal procedures followed by the United States Congress. The study shall include, but not be limited to, a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Susan Watson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the bill was a clear attempt to sneak teacher-led prayer into schools through a back door.

“Religious practices and beliefs are best taught at home and in our religious institutions,” she said. “The Alabama Legislature can try to pass anything it wants, but our public schools must still abide by the United States Constitution.”

As the Friendly Atheist notes: “Of course, this is all well and good for Christians because the prayers always seem to reflect their beliefs…”

Raw Story confirms the obvious: the prayers would almost certainly be Christian in nature, simply because most chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate have been Christians.

This shameless attempt to force prayer into the public schools of Alabama is clearly unconstitutional, and yet another example of conservative Christians attempting to indoctrinate and corrupt innocent minds with their religious superstitions.
X

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

(Source: nobeliefs.com)

STEPHEN HAWKING’S BLUNDER ON BLACK HOLES SHOWS DANGER OF LISTENING TO SCIENTISTS, SAYS BACHMANN

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Dr. Stephen Hawking’s recent statement that the black holes he famously described do not actually exist underscores “the danger inherent in listening to scientists,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) said today.

Rep. Bachmann unleashed a blistering attack on Dr. Hawking, who earlier referred to his mistake on black holes as his “biggest blunder.”

“Actually, Dr. Hawking, our biggest blunder as a society was ever listening to people like you,” said Rep. Bachmann. “If black holes don’t exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don’t either, like climate change and evolution.”

Rep. Bachmann added that all the students who were forced to learn about black holes in college should now sue Dr. Hawking for a full refund. “Fortunately for me, I did not take any science classes in college,” she said.

Bachmann’s anti-Hawking comments seemed to be gaining traction on Capitol Hill, as seen from the statement by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Science Committee, who said, “Going forward, members of the House Science Committee will do our best to avoid listening to scientists.”
X

Of course, that is not at all what Hawking is saying. Black holes exists, he has just found reason to rethink their “blackness”; the event horizon might not be as defined as previously thought. With objects as obscure and distant as black holes, we can expect that the science is subject to modification as we are still figure out the details. Climate change and (especially) evolution on the other hand, are far better understood phenomena than black holes.

EDIT: Turns out this is satire. My bad. It’s so hard with Bachmann because she would totally say this.

Chicago GOP hopeful: Autism and dementia are God’s punishments for LGBT rights

One of the Republicans lining up to challenge Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for her seat representing the 9th District of Illinois told the Chicago Daily Herald that God is “angry” with the United States and has sent scourges to punish the American people.

Candidate Susanne Atanus believes that autism and forms of dementia are punishments sent by God because of the growing support for marriage equality in the country and the prevalence of abortion.

“I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said at an endorsement session with the Daily Herald on Monday.

God controls the weather, she said, and tornadoes are evidence of his wrath.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”…

Continue

Within her last name there’s a clue as to the location of her head.

VeggieTales Creator Says Christians Fear Teaching Critical Thinking Skills Because ‘Our Kids Will Actually Use Them’

teachthemhowtothink:

cookieguggleman:

What?! I’m shocked at the level of awareness.

I didn’t watch the video, but Mehta quotes the panel as basically stating Christian homeschoolers are wary of teaching their kids critical thinking skills because then the kids might question their parent’s beliefs.  He then goes on to say:

That’s precisely why it’s important, especially as atheists, that our kids learn how to think instead of what to think. If they know how to think critically and ask the right questions, they’ll eventually find their way to the correct answers. On the other hand, if parents tell their kids that evolution is a conspiracy, or that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, or that David Barton knows what he’s talking about, the pesky truth will eventually lead to a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance and the child will learn to abandon the Bible-based thinking in favor of something more reliable.

Sadly, I don’t think it’s quite that simple for indoctrinated kids to escape religion, but promotion of critical thinking skills in our culture as a whole will help tremendously.  ~JJ

In Texas this is part of the official GOP platform:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. X

Fuckin terrifying! They’d sabotage their children’s minds (and the future of humanity) before they’d allow them to think for themselves.

Here’s what Stephen Colbert had to say about it:

“..The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge… I have long praised the Texas Board of Education for their valiant work rewriting our nation’s history textbooks. But now I believe they’ve got some stiff competition from the Texas GOP, who recently put a plank in their 2012 party platformn regarding children’s education which says, and I quote, ‘We oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills.’ Amen brother. For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.

“And you know who I blame? I blame Galileo…. For centuries we had a perfectly good explanation for the order of the universe. Bible says the sun goes around the Earth, making us the center of the universe. And you know what? Everyone was happy. And then numnuts over here gets a telescope for Christmas, uses his precious critical thinking skills and suddenly the Earth goes around the sun, blah blah blah and now we have lesbians.

I’m here to tell you now the Texas GOP is on to you, critical thinking skills! They know that you have quote ‘the purpose of challenging the students’ fixed beliefs, and a good teacher’s job is to maintain whatever fixed beliefs a student has when they enter first grade.

Frankly folks, I am embarrassed that we conservatives did not think of this sooner…. Sure,we discredited the liberal activism of the ‘60s and the socialist policies of the New Deal… But folks, all of that is just child’s play compared to the Texas GOP, who with this one plank of their platform have called for the repeal of the Enlightenment.

And as if to illustrate what is possible once you are freed from the shackles of critical thinking… The Texas GOP, when asked about this position, explained it as an oversight and should not have included the words ‘critical thinking skills.’

Now, when they were drafting the platform, somebody had to say ‘no critical thinking skills.’ Somebody else had to type those words and then the Texas GOP had to approve those words. Do you really think that would have been possible if anybody had been thinking critically? But thank God no one was. And if they get their way, nobody will be…” X

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker says, "Same sex marriage ban is part of a ‘healthy balance’ of LGBT rights"

iranianatheist:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker argued recently that a ban on marriage equality was part of a “healthy balance” of rights for LGBT people if other anti-discrimination laws were in place.

Well, I guess if we use this idiot’s logic, then we can argue that throwing food in the garbage is just a healthy…

assholeofday:

Asshole of the Day, October 28, 2013: Ted Cruz
by TeaPartyCat (Follow @TeaPartyCat)
The Texas GOP assholes are back out in force today, and why wouldn’t they be— a federal judge blocked part of their abortion law, the one they tried to ram through in a special session in June which made Wendy Davis a national figure. You remember that one. They were such assholes that it led to SIX Assholes of the Day.
Gov. Rick Perry, who won twice during the passing of this law—for claiming it was about the health of the mother, even though there is no exception to save the life of the mother AND for saying Wendy Davis should support the law because she was a single mother —, spoke out first:

Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.

Did you catch how he says “laws that reflect the will and values of Texans”. Sorry, Gov. Perry, the Constitution supersedes the will and values of Texans, and you know that. You mention it all the time when the values of Americans to want gun control is trumped by the Constitution, or did you only read up to the Second Amendment?
But today’s top spot goes to Sen. Ted Cruz, who is praised throughout the Tea Party for so eloquently explaining the conservative position where so many others often fail:

Texas passed commonsense legislation to protect the health of women and their unborn children. This law is constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent protecting the life and health of the mother and child. I hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Texas’ reasonable law.

There are 3 sentences in this statement, and in two of them he mentions protecting the health and life of the mother. It sounds nice, but it’s not true. If the Texas GOP cared about the health and life of the mother, there would be an exception to the abortion ban to save the life of the mother, but there isn’t. So time for you assholes to stop pretending you care about women. You don’t. It’d be nice if just once you lying assholes would admit that you don’t care about the mother at all.
It is Ted Cruz’s 6th time as Asshole of the Day. Previous wins were for
claiming victory in the government shutdown because he built a fundraising list
protesting the consequences of the shutdown HE orchestrated
claiming the shutdown he orchestrated will leave America vulnerable to a terrorist attack
comparing Obamacare to the Nazis gassing 6 million Jews
creating condescending memes to address the President like some i-can-haz teenager
Full story: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/10/28/5284828/reaction-to-federal-ruling-on.html
For a satirical look at the attempts of the Texas GOP to control female sexuality, check out my post over at WinkProgress: Texas Bans Gynecology

assholeofday:

Asshole of the Day, October 28, 2013: Ted Cruz

by TeaPartyCat ()

The Texas GOP assholes are back out in force today, and why wouldn’t they be— a federal judge blocked part of their abortion law, the one they tried to ram through in a special session in June which made Wendy Davis a national figure. You remember that one. They were such assholes that it led to SIX Assholes of the Day.

Gov. Rick Perry, who won twice during the passing of this law—for claiming it was about the health of the mother, even though there is no exception to save the life of the mother AND for saying Wendy Davis should support the law because she was a single mother —, spoke out first:

Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.

Did you catch how he says “laws that reflect the will and values of Texans”. Sorry, Gov. Perry, the Constitution supersedes the will and values of Texans, and you know that. You mention it all the time when the values of Americans to want gun control is trumped by the Constitution, or did you only read up to the Second Amendment?

But today’s top spot goes to Sen. Ted Cruz, who is praised throughout the Tea Party for so eloquently explaining the conservative position where so many others often fail:

Texas passed commonsense legislation to protect the health of women and their unborn children. This law is constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent protecting the life and health of the mother and child. I hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Texas’ reasonable law.

There are 3 sentences in this statement, and in two of them he mentions protecting the health and life of the mother. It sounds nice, but it’s not true. If the Texas GOP cared about the health and life of the mother, there would be an exception to the abortion ban to save the life of the mother, but there isn’t. So time for you assholes to stop pretending you care about women. You don’t. It’d be nice if just once you lying assholes would admit that you don’t care about the mother at all.

It is Ted Cruz’s 6th time as Asshole of the Day. Previous wins were for

Full story: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/10/28/5284828/reaction-to-federal-ruling-on.html

For a satirical look at the attempts of the Texas GOP to control female sexuality, check out my post over at WinkProgress: Texas Bans Gynecology

msnbc:

On the show, Rachel ran through a list of House Republican demands in exchange for funding the government instead of shutting it down.
(Chart by The Rachel Maddow Show)


Boy they just threw everything at the wall hoping something would stick. In the end they would’ve been happy with a toaster and free movie passes.

msnbc:

On the show, Rachel ran through a list of House Republican demands in exchange for funding the government instead of shutting it down.

(Chart by The Rachel Maddow Show)

Boy they just threw everything at the wall hoping something would stick. In the end they would’ve been happy with a toaster and free movie passes.