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

 

Nun tells high school students masturbation causes homosexuality

Controversy at a Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina after Sister Jane Dominic Laurel told students that masturbation causes homosexuality at a school wide assembly last week.

Sister Laurel, a professor of theology at Nashville’s Aquinas College, is being widely condemned after forcefully denouncing homosexuality with outdated statistics, prejudiced stereotypes and other extremist claims.

A Charlotte Catholic student describes the lecture:

She started talking about how gays [sic] people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father … Also a guy could be gay if he masterbates [sic] and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay ‘friends’ who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and thats why he was gay. … Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk.

Gays And Lesbians More Popular Than Evangelicals Among Voters, Poll

The moral cause embedded in the marriage equality movement is potent, but the debate may come down to a simple matter of popularity.

On Thursday the Human Rights Campaign and Americans for Marriage Equality released the results of a study, entitled “Victory In Sight”, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and TargetPoint Consulting that investigated the nuances of voters’ views on marriage equality. More than a simple matter of “Should gays and lesbians be allowed to marry?”, the poll looked at shifts in opinions over time, reasons for such shifts, and differing opinions among ages, faiths, geographic areas and more.

The first question addressed acceptance, comparing voters’ favorable or unfavorable feelings towards gays and lesbians and towards evangelical Christians. In a nearly 80% Christian-identified country, the results might surprise you.

Fifty-three percent of voters said they felt favorably toward gays and lesbians, compared to 42% who felt favorably toward evangelicals. Eighteen percent said they felt unfavorably toward gays and lesbians, while 28% reported unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals.

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Gays And Lesbians More Popular Than Evangelicals Among Voters, Poll

The moral cause embedded in the marriage equality movement is potent, but the debate may come down to a simple matter of popularity.

On Thursday the Human Rights Campaign and Americans for Marriage Equality released the results of a study, entitled “Victory In Sight”, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and TargetPoint Consulting that investigated the nuances of voters’ views on marriage equality. More than a simple matter of “Should gays and lesbians be allowed to marry?”, the poll looked at shifts in opinions over time, reasons for such shifts, and differing opinions among ages, faiths, geographic areas and more.

The first question addressed acceptance, comparing voters’ favorable or unfavorable feelings towards gays and lesbians and towards evangelical Christians. In a nearly 80% Christian-identified country, the results might surprise you.

Fifty-three percent of voters said they felt favorably toward gays and lesbians, compared to 42% who felt favorably toward evangelicals. Eighteen percent said they felt unfavorably toward gays and lesbians, while 28% reported unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals.

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Pat Roberson: Jesus more likely to stone gays to death than bake them a wedding cake

Televangelist Pat Robertson on Wednesday argued that Jesus would have never baked a wedding cake for LGBT couples because it was more common to stone homosexuals during biblical times.

After a CBN report on a Colorado baker who supported an Arizona bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT couples, Robertson reflected on how Jesus would have responded if a gay couple asked him for a wedding cake.

“I think you’ve got to remember from the Bible, you look carefully at the Bible, what would have happened in Jesus’ time if two men decided they wanted to cohabitate together, they would have been stoned to death,” he explained. “So, Jesus would not have baked them a wedding cake, nor would he he have made them a bed to sleep in because they wouldn’t have been there.”

“But we don’t have that in this country here,” the TV preacher lamented. “So, that’s the way it is.”

Robertson opined that homosexuality was considered to be a “pathology” only “a few years ago,” and now LGBT people were “the oppressors” of religious people.

“What is it about gays, what is it about abortion?” he asked. “Both of them deny the reproduction of human species.”

“It’s as if the devil is saying, ‘I’m going to destroy your progeny any way I can, and if you will kill your baby, that’s fine. I’m with you. If you will deny the chance of having babies, that’s fine too, but I want to destroy your opportunities to reproduce,’” Robertson continued. “As a society, we need to realize where the attack is coming, because it is definitely an attack.”

“Jesus said, ‘I came to give life, and the devil want to steal, kill and destroy,’” co-host Wendy Griffith agreed.

You know why LGBT people have such a bad impression of Christians? It’s not because of protesters with “God hates fags” signs. We know they’re extremists. It’s because of daily being dehumanized by the Christians who lecture and preach at us, treating us as issues instead of as human beings—and because of the Christians we know who stand idly by, thinking that if they’re not actively hating us, that counts as loving us.

confrontingbabble-on:

"By the time Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer announced that she was vetoing SB 1062, a bill that would have made it easier for business owners to turn away gay and lesbian customers, the religious right had already lost.
Major corporations like Apple, Delta, and American Airlines voiced opposition to the bill. The National Football League was preparing to move the Super Bowl. And by the time Brewer put pen to paper Wednesday evening, it wasn’t just both Republican U.S. Senators from Arizona urging her to veto it. State lawmakers who had supported the bill were begging Brewer to save Arizona from themselves. 
“This is not about religious freedom, it was about creating a license to discriminate. It was wrong in the 60s with regard to race discrimination, wrong in the 70s in regard to women’s equality, and it’s wrong for America today.” (Evan Wolfson, head of the LGBT rights group Freedom to Marry)
“I think you’ve had a rise in hostility towards religion, and towards religious people in the public square,” says Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program, which helped write religious freedom legislation in Kansas and elsewhere. “It’s become increasingly acceptable to be negative towards religious people. It’s okay now to speak in a very negative way, especially if you can label them as haters.”   
Walsh points to the Supreme Court’s ruling in a 1990 religious freedom case, rather than the more recent battle for same-sex marriage, as the catalyst for the current battle. In that case, Justice Antonin Scalia – not known as a champion of gay rights – wrote that religion could not serve to exempt people from “laws of general applicability.” Any other approach, Scalia wrote, would “make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” “The Supreme Court essentially kicked religious freedom out of the pantheon of First Amendment rights,” says Walsh. “It told religious people they could no longer rely on the constitution, on the First Amendment, and would have to work through state legislatures.”
The backlash from corporate America should be seen as a barometer for just how drastically things have changed. It’s not enough to argue that the bills failed because legislators feared a loss of campaign contributions. The fact that corporate America fears driving away young talent, and is afraid that laws seen as targeting gays and lesbians are bad for business, is symbolic of how hard it will be for the religious right to roll back the LGBT rights movement’s progress.
"…what kind of signal are we sending to society if we have in essence a sign up in the inn or the bake shop that says ‘heterosexuals only,’ "
Read in full http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/why-religious-freedom-laws-are-doomed?cid=sm_tumblr

confrontingbabble-on:

"By the time Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer announced that she was vetoing SB 1062, a bill that would have made it easier for business owners to turn away gay and lesbian customers, the religious right had already lost.

Major corporations like Apple, Delta, and American Airlines voiced opposition to the bill. The National Football League was preparing to move the Super Bowl. And by the time Brewer put pen to paper Wednesday evening, it wasn’t just both Republican U.S. Senators from Arizona urging her to veto it. State lawmakers who had supported the bill were begging Brewer to save Arizona from themselves.

“This is not about religious freedom, it was about creating a license to discriminate. It was wrong in the 60s with regard to race discrimination, wrong in the 70s in regard to women’s equality, and it’s wrong for America today.” (Evan Wolfson, head of the LGBT rights group Freedom to Marry)

“I think you’ve had a rise in hostility towards religion, and towards religious people in the public square,” says Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program, which helped write religious freedom legislation in Kansas and elsewhere. “It’s become increasingly acceptable to be negative towards religious people. It’s okay now to speak in a very negative way, especially if you can label them as haters.”  

Walsh points to the Supreme Court’s ruling in a 1990 religious freedom case, rather than the more recent battle for same-sex marriage, as the catalyst for the current battle. In that case, Justice Antonin Scalia – not known as a champion of gay rights – wrote that religion could not serve to exempt people from “laws of general applicability.” Any other approach, Scalia wrote, would “make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”

“The Supreme Court essentially kicked religious freedom out of the pantheon of First Amendment rights,” says Walsh. “It told religious people they could no longer rely on the constitution, on the First Amendment, and would have to work through state legislatures.”

The backlash from corporate America should be seen as a barometer for just how drastically things have changed. It’s not enough to argue that the bills failed because legislators feared a loss of campaign contributions. The fact that corporate America fears driving away young talent, and is afraid that laws seen as targeting gays and lesbians are bad for business, is symbolic of how hard it will be for the religious right to roll back the LGBT rights movement’s progress.

"…what kind of signal are we sending to society if we have in essence a sign up in the inn or the bake shop that says ‘heterosexuals only,’ "

Read in full http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/why-religious-freedom-laws-are-doomed?cid=sm_tumblr

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…

How American evangelicals may be responsible for Uganda’s anti-gay law

While Ugandan President Museveni accuses the United States of trying to import social imperialism into Uganda by defending homosexual rights, who do you think is behind some of the anti-gay hysteria in Uganda right now?

A group of evangelical Christians from that very same hotbed of social imperialism: the United States of America.

Museveni on Monday signed into law a bill that toughens penalties against gay people and defines some homosexual acts as crimes punishable by life in prison.

Roger Ross Williams belonged to an organization called International House of Prayer in Missouri, whose missionary zeal fell on gays in Uganda. He decided to make a film about what he learned called “God Loves Uganda.”

Someone like evangelist Scott Lively is “an extremist in America,” Williams said, “but when he goes to Uganda he gets taken seriously because of what he represents.”

“He’s an American evangelical, and what an American represents in a place like Uganda – it represents power and wealth.”

“So he goes to Uganda and he can command the president, he can command the parliament for five hours. He did a three-day conference, where he told everyone about the threat of homosexuality, that they were there to recruit their children.”

“And that’s what really sort of started this whole bill on its, where it is now, today, this sort of tragic day.”

(Source: CNN)

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."

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‘Kill the gays’ penalty proposed by Malawi Muslim Association

Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) are calling for homosexual people in the country to be given the death penalty.

This suggestion comes at a time as some Civil Society Organisations (CSO) are pushing for the country to abolish the statute that penalise the act. Currently the maximum jail term sentence for those found guilty by the courts is 14 years.

In what will be viewed as stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, MAM Secretary General Dr Salmin Omar Idrussi is advancing that homosexuality should remain criminalised and the maximum sentence should be pegged at death.

“Although Malawi is regarded as a secular state but the country is blessed with God fearing citizens who can’t afford to deviate from God’s commandments for the sake of pleasing others who practice the act,’’ Idrussi is quoted by malawimuslims.com an official website for Malawi Muslims…

The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think homosexuality is a sin. Let me say that again. It does not matter if you think homosexuality is a sin, or if you think it is simply another expression of human love. It doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? Because people are dying. Kids are literally killing themselves because they are so tired of being rejected and dehumanized that they feel their only option left is to end their life. As a Youth Pastor, this makes me physically ill. And as a human, it should make you feel the same way. So, I’m through with the debate.

When faced with the choice between being theologically correct…as if this is even possible…and being morally responsible, I’ll go with morally responsible every time.