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

 

Finally raining after epic dry spell! Clear evidence that my rain dances have worked to appease the rain god Tó Neinilii.

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.
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Anonymous asked
Praying for you! :)

“‘I’ll pray for you’ is another popular phrase uttered by religious people in interactions with non-believers. While some no doubt have positive intentions, this is usually seen as a condescending remark. If a believer really thinks their god will alter its divine plan to satisfy his or her requests, I like to suggest that they focus all of those prayers on the sick and the dying, and leave me out of them.”

-David G. McAfee

More on #prayer

'I’ll pray for you' is another popular phrase uttered by religious people in interactions with non-believers. While some no doubt have positive intentions, this is usually seen as a condescending remark. If a believer really thinks their god will alter its divine plan to satisfy his or her requests, I like to suggest that they focus all of those prayers on the sick and the dying, and leave me out of them.

David G. McAfee

skepticalavenger:

But MY UNFOUNDED BELIEF IN PRAYER MUST BE IN ALL THE PLACES! Otherwise SIN and MORAL DECAY and BABY JESUS WILL CRY!

skepticalavenger:

But MY UNFOUNDED BELIEF IN PRAYER MUST BE IN ALL THE PLACES! Otherwise SIN and MORAL DECAY and BABY JESUS WILL CRY!

Anonymous asked
I was asked to say grace at dinner, and instead of thanking god for the food, i thanked the farmers and the earth, and most of all, our excellent hosts for preparing the meal and bringing our family together and welcoming us into their home. They were a little... confused at the lack of mention of god but very pleased and humbled by the end of it. It felt good to express my thanks in a more honest way than i ever had... Hopefully I will get the chance again next time we feast :)

atheismfuckyeah:

Now that was a good way to go about it - I’m glad it worked out for you! :)

- M

SCOTUS Wrestles With Prayer

When the Supreme Court agreed to take a case on prayer at government meetings, some advocates on both sides hoped for a clear resolution — a test that would establish, once and for all, what is acceptable under the Constitution.

They appear unlikely to get it.

Arguments before the court on Wednesday, in a case from a small town in upstate New York, illustrated how thorny the issue isand how elusive a definitive answer will likely be for the justices.

Two women, one Jewish and one atheist, sued the town of Greece, arguing that prayers offered at the start of meetings of the town board amounted to coercion, and government endorsement of a single faith. The prayers were overwhelmingly Christian…

…At the start of the arguments, Justice Elena Kagan asked whether it would be permissible for the Supreme Court to open its sessions by having a minister face the lawyers and “acknowledge the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

Suppose, the justice said, “the members of the court who had stood responded, ‘Amen,’ made the sign of the cross, and the chief justice then called your case. Would that be permissible?”

Hungar, the lawyer for the town, said he didn’t think so. But in the case of prayer before a legislative body, court doctrine has found that the country, “from its very foundations and founding,” allows it, he said.

That was the essence of the 1983 decision. The women say their case is different. In Greece, they say, the opening prayer amounts to coercion because members of the public are often required to appear before the board for town business.

“It is impossible not to participate without attracting attention to yourself,” Douglas Laycock, a lawyer for the two women, told the justices.

“And moments later you stand up to ask for a group home for your Down syndrome child or for continued use of the public access channel or whatever your petition is, having just, so far as you can tell, irritated the people that you were trying to persuade.”…

Read More

Ironically, Jesus seems to have already settled this one:
Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

Nothing is stopping all the Christians in any government procedure from praying to themselves before or during the proceedings, or from arriving early to join hands outside before entering the peoples venues. My mother in law knows that I don’t want to hear her prayers at the table, so she just prays quietly to herself instead of making a big deal out of her right to bombard our ears and our children’s ears with her spells, for which I thank her. Why are they so insistent on this public display of faith? It sure seems like a passive aggressive move to promote and establish their faith in the public discourse.

If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are forever praying for evil against one another.

Epicurus

Watching an Indy Car race and Joel Osteen offered his invocation as part of the opening ceremonies. He prayed to God to protect the drivers from accidents.

Literally, the first thing that happens is a driver’s car stalls at the starting line and gets smashed from behind.