Bill Maher on religion and society
“The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end… Plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists. By those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn’t learn a lot about it… Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful when someone says, “I’m willing, Lord! I’ll do whatever you want me to do!” Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas… And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you you don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that’s what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a littany of getting shit dead wrong… This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you comes at a horrible price… If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let’s remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That’s it. Grow up or die.” -Bill Maher
Oakland Politics:: US Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum Discuss Parental Rights
US Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum Discuss Parental Rights
Sun Mar 22, 2009 at 19:41:00 PM EDT
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US Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum Discuss Parental Rights on Get Your Justice Live
Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) discusses his upcoming reintroduction of the former Parental Rights Amendment from 2008 into the 111th Congress. The Congressman confirmed that efforts from citizens are working with an increase from 24 co-sponsors to 54 co-sponsors to the proposed Parental Rights Amendment. Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, will be on an upcoming episode. We were also joined by Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Form. Congressman Hoekstra stated very clearly that “I don’t want anybody coming between the parents and the kids, and creating a barrier.”
The language is simple: “The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.“ The Congressman demonstrated clear examples of where parents make a better caregiver than the government. Congressman Hoekstra further said that one of the causes of the erosion of our parental rights is government growth, “Men of zeal who lack understanding,” people that basically mean well but who lack understanding. It is imperative that we protect our parental rights from both domestic and international government intrusions, but that means discussing our concerns consistently with our government officials.
To listen to interview in its entirety, visit the linked title.
US Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum Discuss Parental Rights on Get Your Justice Live
laryholland :: US Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum Discuss Parental Rights
Pakistani youths embrace secular lifestyle | GroundReport
by Abhishek Behl July 24, 2007
Abhishek Behl, www.merinews.com
What happened at Lal Masjid in Pakistan haunts the world, but all Pakistani youngsters do not subscribe to this fundamentalist approach. They love to live life kingsize – movies, songs and cricket gives them a high.
THE YOUTH in Pakistan is much like that of India; they work hard and party harder and those living in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and other urban centers are experiencing an urban and chic lifestyle. Not only this most of the people in Pakistan particularly youth are opposed to the Jihadi culture being promoted by different sectarian political parties.
This was disclosed by Taimur Banday, a visitor from Pakistan, who often visits India and has plenty of friends on this side of the border. Banday, whose forefathers hail from Kashmir represents the typical youngster, who wants to enjoy life to the hilt while doing his bit for the society and the people.
Interacting with Merinews, he gave an insider’s insight into what the youth in Pakistan thinks and what are the aims and aspirations of the generation Y in that country.
The ubiquitous call centers which dot the Indian city landscapes have sprung up in most Pakistan cities, says the strapping young man, adding that a large number of boys and even girls work in these offices.
“The girls do work in night shifts and stay with friends like in India,” he said, but the similarity does not end here. Like India, there is a very serious disconnect between the urban and rural people, particularly the youth in Pakistan, says Taimur and he reasons that this happens because 90 per cent of the children go to Urdu medium schools.
Only 6 to 7 per cent of children study in English medium schools which is often a passport to success in South Asia. Surprisingly, the youth in Pakistan are supportive of the military rule and they appreciate the steps taken by President Musharraf in reviving the economy which has entered the bullish phase.
The Associated Press: God-less ‘congregations’ planned for humanists
God-less ‘congregations’ planned for humanists
By JAY LINDSAY – 3 days ago
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — The monthly schedule is church-like, with its parenting classes, guest speakers and small group meetings to hash out shared beliefs. But God isn’t part of this Cambridge congregation.
Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, is building a God-free model of community that he hopes helps humanists increase in numbers and influence.
Epstein sees potential in research showing that there are more people with no religion. In the latest American Religious Identification Survey, released this month, 15 percent of respondents in 2008 said they had no religion, compared to 8.2 percent in 1990. Epstein believes that group includes large numbers of people who are humanist, but have never identified themselves that way and can be reached.
At the same time, there is broader acceptance of those with no faith, as indicated by President Barack Obama’s mention of “nonbelievers” in his inaugural address, Epstein said.
Definitions of humanism vary. Generally, humanists reject belief in the supernatural and are guided by reason, experience and compassion for others. Epstein defines the philosophy as a commitment to living ethical, personally fulfilling lives while serving the greater good.
Epstein wants to plant local humanist centers nationwide that perform many of the community-building functions of a church, only in service of the humanist creed. He will promote his idea as he tours the country to promote his book, “Good Without God,” which is scheduled to be published by HarperCollins later this year. Epstein will receive assistance and funding from groups such as the American Humanist Association and the Secular Student Alliance, which have chapters they hope to strengthen and multiply.
“There are so many millions of people out there who basically share our views, that we’ve got room for everybody,” Epstein said. “What we’re doing here has got to grow even more.”
Read the entire article here:
Quiverfull — A real and growing danger
The Vagina Clown Car Movement is apparently picking up steam. It’s certainly getting a lot of mainstream coverage. This article in Newsweek gives us everything we need to be sure that this is a dangerous, sexist, and growing movement. Forgive me for doing a lot of quoting, but I think there’s a lot here that you, gentle readers, need to know, and I can’t really hope to improve on the words straight from the horse’s mouth.
At the heart of this reality-show depiction of “extreme motherhood” is a growing conservative Christian emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, an antifeminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God’s law and that women’s highest calling is as wives and “prolific” mothers.
There you have it, folks. At the heart of the vagina clown car movement is a blatantly sexist agenda. This is about men, not women. Should we be surprised that people who are trying to return to the roots of a misogynist Bronze Age mythology should rediscover the idea that the best way to keep women quiet is to keep them barefoot and pregnant?
Mary Pride, an early homeschooling leader whose 1985 book “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality” is a founding text of Quiverfull, convinced many readers that regulating one’s fertility is a slippery slope. “Family planning is the mother of abortion,” she writes. “A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular.” Instead, Pride and her peers argue, Christians should leave family planning in God’s hands, and become “maternal missionaries”: birthing as many children as He gives them as both a demonstration of radical faith and obedience, as well as a plan to effect Christian revival in the culture through demographic means—that is, by having more children than their political opponents.
Honestly, you couldn’t ask for more. The woman who wrote the book on the subject admits — nay, brags — that this is about controlling politics. We should not take this too lightly. Maybe it’s a fringe element now, but we should never discount the power of large groups of delusional zealots.
Often, children of the movement are also called “arrows.” Quiverfull takes its name from Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” A wealth of military metaphors follows from this namesake, as Pride and her fellow advocates urge women toward militant fecundity in the service of religious rebirth: creating what they bluntly refer to as an army of devout children to wage spiritual battle against God’s enemies. As Quiverfull author Rachel Scott writes in her 2004 movement book, “Birthing God’s Mighty Warriors,” “Children are our ammunition in the spiritual realm to whip the enemy! These special arrows were handcrafted by the warrior himself and were carefully fashioned to achieve the purpose of annihilating the enemy.”
I’m actually finding it hard to think of anything to say about this. If you don’t read this and feel a twinge of fear, something is wrong with you. These people are ambitious, zealous, delusional, and growing in power.
Quiverfull advocates Rick and Jan Hess, authors of 1990’s “A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ,” envision the worldly gains such a method could bring, if more Christians began producing “full quivers” of “arrows for the war”: control of both houses of Congress, the “reclamation” of sinful cities like San Francisco and massive boycotts of companies that do not comply with conservative Christian mores. “If the body of Christ had been reproducing as we were designed to do,” the Hesses write, “we would not be in the mess we are today.” Nancy Campbell, author of another movement book from 2003 called “Be Fruitful and Multiply,” exhorts Christian women to do just that with promises of spiritual glory. “Oh what a vision,” she writes, “to invade the earth with mighty sons and daughters who have been trained and prepared for God’s divine purposes.”
I mean, hell’s bells, folks! These people think they’re building an army for Jesus! And somebody thinks this is ok? We’re ok with people having seventeen kids and training them all to believe that women are subservient to men, and then getting them to take over Congress? Really? This is ok?
Quiverfull doesn’t follow from any particular church’s teachings but rather is a conviction shared by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians across denominational lines, often spread through the burgeoning conservative homeschooling community, which the U.S. Department of Education estimates has more than 1 million school-age children, and which homeschooling groups say easily has twice that number.
Two million! I wasn’t kidding when I said this movement is dangerous, and that it’s growing. You think eight years of Bushie-Jesus was bad? Wait until Congress is filled with these nut-jobs and they get a president who sees things their way.
Quiverfull’s pronatalist emphasis is linked to a companion doctrine of strident antifeminism among conservative Christians who see the women’s liberation movement as the origin of a host of social ills, from abortion to divorce, women working and teen sex.
If I was a woman, I’m pretty sure I would be absolutely outraged. No more divorce? No working women? And tell me, please, how feminism leads to teen sex. That’s just baffling.
At the forefront of evangelical opposition to feminism is a group of self-described “patriarchy” advocates, who have reclaimed the term from women’s studies curricula to advocate a strict “complementarian” theology of wives and daughters being submissive to their husbands and fathers.
You see? I’m not making this shit up, and I’m not exaggerating.
This resurgent emphasis on women’s submissiveness takes many forms, from the statement by the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention that wives must “graciously submit” to their husband’s “loving headship” and the theological works being written by the SBC-affiliated Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, to far more severe interpretations that claim women’s absolute obedience to their husbands is the first, necessary step toward Christians reclaiming the culture.
Sixteen million. Yeah, I know, the Southern Baptists aren’t the same as the Quiverfulls, but I can tell you from my own upbringing that anti-feminism and patriarchy are very near the surface in a lot of Baptist churches. I’ve been to a lot of churches, and it’s not hard to spot the sentiment. Trust me. These two groups are allies in the making, and we should not underestimate the power of the SBC in politics.
Some of the next generation of daughters is responding. Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, two young women in the Quiverfull movement who authored a book encouraging daughters to follow in their mothers’ footsteps, “So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God,” instruct their young peers to view motherhood to as women’s “final secret weapon in the battle for progressive dominion.”
Gentle readers, please do not let yourself be lulled into complacency by the reassurance that this is a fringe group, or that they are just a nutty group of extremists who could never hold sway over a whole country. They have two very powerful weapons — religion and motherhood — both of which elicit vitriolic gut level reactions when they are publicly criticized in any way. The people leading this movement know very well what they are doing. They are literally trying to outbreed dissenters and take over the country. It doesn’t take much math to realize that what they’re doing is not only possible, but relatively easy, given a few generations.
Parents need not abandon their faith
There are ways parents can approach the issue of guiding a child’s faith that respects the child’s rights and honors the parents own faith. Parents object that they do not see a way to have their religion and not involve their children. But these are two separate issues.
There are strong objections to the way that child raising has assumed an element of obligatory childhood religious indoctrination. Children can be, and should be taught about religion, but it does not follow that they have to be forced into a particular faith. Teaching children about religion is quite different than forcing them to take up a specific religion.
The choice to commit to a religion is one that belongs to a person with a mature mind that can weigh the pros and cons and consult their own (their own) conscience about the matter. Notwithstanding this injunction, we can find child adherents that claim they became religious of their own volition. Clearly their parents must have unfairly influenced such children.
The documentary film Deborah 13: Servant of God tells the story of a such a child. Here is an abbreviated version of the film that was broadcast in the UK.
Parents should wait to allow their children time to form the ability to think like an adult before allowing them to undertake religious training. Development experts say children around 12 to 14 are starting to think like adults. Furthermore, the initiative should be coming from the child not the parents. But, only after children have learned all the facts about religion: the relationship between religion and cults, the history of religion, and the impact of religion on society, both positive and negative.
All the ramifications should be discussed, parents must lay out all the possible options including eastern religions, not just various sects of Christianity. Also children should learn about the option of staying free of religion. Atheism or humanism are perfectly viable honorable choices.
Why should parents try to prevent their children from considering these options? Approximately 30,000,000 Americans lead happy productive secular lives guided by reason and as we can see in Europe and Scandinavia societies that are secular enjoy a high quality of life.
What parents, indeed cultures around the world, are doing now is dishonest and unethical. Parents withhold the knowledge of other options and do not fully disclose the drawbacks that go with getting involved in the supernatural. Religious communities can effect a persons freedom to be self determining and autonomous because for the indoctrination to work, the natural impluse of children to question everything must be tamped down. Religious institutions are not exactly hotbeds of skepticism, and that goes double for Sunday Schools and faith based schools.
Once a child enters a faith they usually find that leaving is not easy. Would it not be more fair if children knew this up front?
A frequent issue parents raise is what to do with small children if they do not take them to religious services. Surely this is not an insurmountable problem. There must be friends or family members who will care for children a few hours per month. Perhaps Christians could strike bargains with Jewish or Muslim friends who have a different Sabbath. Arrange a mutual support pact. In every family there is a circle of friends or family members that would step in. Parents can find ways to practice their faith, while simultaneously insuring their children’s religious freedom rights are not abridged.
Parental Inquisition | Democrat = Socialist
by Peter Kamakawiwoole writing at Parental Rights
Sweden and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
There’s an old saying that once you reach the top, you can only go down. For the nation of Sweden, however, reaching the top was only the beginning.
Sweden has long been regarded as a model nation, whose policies and laws are at the cutting-edge of international thinking on children’s rights. Sweden was the first nation to completely ban corporal punishment, the first to make sex education a mandatory feature of its educational curriculum, and the first to offer working parents free child-care for all children between the ages of 1 and 12. Thus, it should come as no surprise that on June 29, 1990, Sweden became the ninth nation in the world – and the first industrialized Western country – to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
And apparently, such innovations were only the beginning.
The modern regime in Sweden enjoys broad discretionary authority over parents, and is presently engaged in what Swedish lawyer Ruby Harrold-Claesson has termed a “parental inquisition.” The inquisition is broad, affecting educational decisions, child-rearing practices, parental discipline, and even the removal of children from their homes. The state wields incredible power, guided solely by its own “insights” into the child’s “best interests.” Against such power, no child or family is safe.
Sex-ed: No exemptions… period
When it comes to schools teaching children about the birds and the bees, American parents are used to two familiar words: “opt out.” Even parents who do not take advantage of parental exemptions are aware of their availability.
Apparently, that option has become outdated in Sweden.
In March 2008, Sweden’s government sought to take its trend-setting policies on mandatory sex education to the next level by eliminating all exemptions for parents – including parents with religious and philosophical differences.1 According to the state, all students, irrespective of religious or cultural beliefs, should receive instruction in the same subjects, and parental “exemptions” were being used as a ploy to keep children in ignorance. “Our belief in a tolerant society,” state officials wrote in a local paper, “should never result in us covering our eyes when women are the victim of attacks or being denied their rights with the excuse that it is a part of their culture or religion.”2
According to the state, the changes were primarily aimed at Sweden’s large Muslim immigrant populations, many of whom claimed religious exemptions for sex-ed classes.3
Although the proposal prompted a national debate, particularly among the nation’s major newspapers, nearly all of them came down firmly in favor of the government’s position. According to one paper, “religion has its given place in people’s lives. But in school, religious convictions ought to be studied, rather than be in control.”4 Another paper opined that eliminating the parental exceptions would be a good thing because it would give individual students “more power to decide for themselves whether or not they want to attend lessons which their parents find objectionable.”5
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- UN urges help for 1 billion deprived children (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Trying to convert people surely is a waste of time
I’m sure that people who favored slavery would have made the same argument. As would have those who did not want to grant women the right to vote, people of mixed races to marry, and blacks to use the same drinking fountain as whites. Nonetheless, change came about.
Realistically what we write here is not going to convert any bigots, or people who cannot see the injustice of the present system because they were raised to think belief was a duty. If it’s a choice of following what we advocate versus following what they think their god would say — well we know what the decision will be. God has the hell weapon in his arsenal.
It is an interesting fact that children who were punished physically during their childhood frequently defend the practice of hitting children. They also vociferously defend their parents. The analogy to people who were subjected to childhood religious indoctrination is rather striking and may stem from a similar psychological mechanism. All children are strongly indoctrinated with the idea that they must love their parents and obey them. The conditioning works against them seeing their parents in a true light.
Our project is interested in learning why parents believe forcing religion on their captive children is their right, even when shown that it can be harmful to some, probably large percentage, of children and that parent’s so called rights are on shaky moral ground. The indoctrination of children is customary, traditional, and shielded by strong taboos and tropes the institutions have put in place to guard themselves from criticism. Of that we may be sure.
Out of all the people who decide to objectively investigate and think about their options, there will be some percentage that agree that it is healthy to stop and question practices that are continued solely on the basis of tradition. In fact, solely on the basis of patriarchal tradition. In Rome, fathers could legally murder a rebellious son because family fortunes passed down the patriarchal line. It is no accident that we have a saying that a man’s home is his castle and the notion that it is wrong to interfere in another man’s castle is so strong. Child rearing is loaded with sanctimony and issues of male dominance and power. Conservatives just totally lose control of their bladders when parental “rights” are challenged. What about the rights of children? No one talks about that.
With the issue of childhood religious indoctrination, parents usually face pressure from family members, their co-religionists, clerics and what they themselves were forced to endure. The culture, institutions, and unfortunately even the law in the USA, offer formidable resistance to change. That does not mean that we cannot examine what is going on and see how it might be changed.
If the institutions are deprived of vulnerable children they are apt to strike a more reasonable tone. Free inquiry if allowed to flourish is the best defense we have against bad institutions and bad ideas. Children raised to value rational thought over superstition and dogma will make far more discerning consumers of religion and parents that are far more more fair to their offspring.
If the religious institutions of today are so good, so fair, and wise, they should not fear people who set out to question them and demand changes. The number one change would be to allow children a voice in decisions that effect them. Allow them to opt out if they are unhappy with religion. Respect their wishes. Let them question everything freely even the heretical bits. Let them say they don’t believe, if they don’t believe. They have a right to their own thoughts. The present practice is dishonest and unethical.
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- Encouraging Children to Believe Falsehoods (msatheists.org)
- A selection of the comments received regarding last week’s article on faith schools (guardian.co.uk)
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