Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.


Law in a theocracy

Aug 30th, 2012 11:01 am | By

Apparently in Pakistan, if you’re a lawyer and you think a case might not go your way, the thing to do is to muse aloud about people who got murdered in similar circumstances if you know what I mean wink wink nudge nudge. At least if you see yourself as a lawyer for Team God.

A lawyer representing the man who accused a Pakistani Christian girl of blasphemy has claimed that if she is not convicted, Muslims could “take the law into their own hands”.

Rao Abdur Raheem, who appeared in court for the first time at a bail hearing on Tuesday, cited the example of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last year gunned down a senior politician who had called for the reform of the much-abused blasphemy law.

Because a girl of 11, with possible learning difficulties, may or may not have thrown out or burned or carried in a garbage bag a few pages from the Koran or a guidebook on reading the Koran – if she doesn’t get convicted, never mind the evidence or the age or the who cares about a few pages from a mass-produced book anyway growthefuckup, then let’s hope somebody murders her.

Really? Really, Rao Abdur Raheem? The case is so good? The “crime” is so horrendous? That you want her convicted (and executed, I take it?) or else murdered?

What a profoundly horrible person you must be. I hope you get over it.

The girl, Rimsha Masih, whose family says she is 11, was arrested earlier this month and charged with desecrating the Qur’an after a neighbour, Malik Hammad, claimed that he saw her with burnt pages of the holy text in a bag she was carrying.

Her family had hoped that she would be granted bail on Thursday after a medical report this week found that she was a minor – thus eligible for bail – and has learning difficulties. But those hopes were dashed when Raheem challenged the report in court and the hearing was postponed.

According to Raheem, the medical report on Masih was illegal, as it followed the orders of a civil servant and not the court, and went beyond its remit of determining her age. He accused the government of supporting her and manipulating court proceedings.

Speaking outside the Islamabad court after the hearing, Raheem said: “There are many Mumtaz Qadris in this country … This (medical) report has been managed by the state, state agencies and the accused.”

Later, sitting in his office beneath a large poster of Qadri, Raheem told the Guardian: “If the court is not allowed to do its work, because the state is helping the accused, then the public has no other option except to take the law into their own hands.”

Sometimes it’s actively unpleasant living in a world with so much obsessive stupid malice in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



They’re not a separate issue

Aug 29th, 2012 6:19 pm | By

One nice thing.

There’s a transcript of a hangout PZ did with Rebecca and Jen and Brownian and Louis. (I’m not sure I know Louis.)

Louis is apparently in the UK, and he said a thing I liked.

So I see the vitriol, I see the vehemence of it. And I can understand Brownian’s point, of the, fuck you assholes [Unintelligible] misogynist skeptics. I can see it, because, you know, it’s so apparent to me as an outsider from that angle.

But when I’ve been to Skeptics in the Pub in the UK, or when I’ve been to skeptic events in the UK, or when I’ve dealt with, I don’t know, the Simon Singhs or these sorts of people over here, it’s all so obvious that. . . you know. . . Anita Anand, Simon’s partner, or any of these wonderful people whose names I can now not remember. Tessa Kendall for example. Who are fantastic skeptics and fantastic atheists and fantastic advocates for Enlightenment values and thought.

There was never a question. . .  that these people that didn’t have willies were somehow our equals or betters. It was never an issue. So I’m coming from an incredibly privileged background, where it was never questioned. Or at least in my limited view, it was never questioned.

That’s the feeling I got when I was there. (Although that’s partly because I naturally didn’t experience everything. I now know of one guy who was there from the fuck you assholes [Unintelligible] misogynist skeptics contingent.)

And to see some of the abhorrent stuff that’s been chucked out across the intertubes recently, and not so recently, is shocking to me. But that just makes me want to redouble my efforts.

That, you know. . . the Enlightenment values for which skeptics and atheists claim to stand are the Enlightenment values from which feminists have built feminism. It’s – they’re not a separate issue. So I don’t really feel like ceding ground to the misogynists. I don’t really feel like ceding ground to the homophobes and the racists, and the privileged white dudes who think that, you know, being skeptical of Nessie is somehow good, good enough. It just isn’t! You know, I think it all comes from the same wellspring. It all comes from that same Enlightenment value.

Yes yes yes and yes.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Landscape on Mars

Aug 29th, 2012 4:52 pm | By

Seen the picture of Mount Sharp?

Postcards from Mars, eh.

100mm telephoto image from Curiosity rover

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



So that she will mend her ways

Aug 29th, 2012 11:46 am | By

Małgorzata has sent me another gem - a lecture on tv by an Egyptian cleric explaining why men have to beat up women.

Abd Al-Rahman Mansour: Islam instructs a man to beat his wife as a last resort before divorce, so that she will mend her ways, treat him with kindness and respect, and know that her husband has a higher status than her.

That’s usefully blunt. We know where we are. We’re among stupid unreflective people who have not managed to figure out that stronger does not equal better or higher, and that the mere fact that person X is able to beat up person Y does not mean that person X is better than person Y. It’s the morality of street thugs. What do you do if you’re a street thug? You look for people you can take, as opposed to people who can take you. That’s not morality, it’s just engineering.

When ‘Aisha thought ill of the Prophet Muhammad, believing that he did not treat her the same as his other wives, and that when he left her room, he would go to another wife, she followed him and spied on him. ‘Aisha said that when the Prophet found out about this, “He gave me a shove that was painful.”

This was done in order to discipline her, not because the Prophet enjoyed beating or inflicting bodily harm. The Prophet did this in order to discipline this woman.

“Discipline” nothing. He did it to make her knuckle under and let him fuck around the house as much as he liked. She wasn’t as keen on polygamy as he was, so he punched her to force her to do what he wanted.

A good woman, even if beaten by her husband, puts her hand in his and says: “I will not rest until you are pleased with me.” This is how the Prophet Muhammad taught his women to be.

Well of course he did, because it make things so pleasant for him. It’s been making things pleasant for Muslim men ever since.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Police the borders

Aug 29th, 2012 10:37 am | By

The Everyday Sexism Project keeps track of that very thing. If you follow it on Twitter you see a lot of items that people send in. One today was the children’s magazine rack at Tesco.

Embedded image permalink

Picture by @sconesgone

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Both parties have respect

Aug 29th, 2012 9:47 am | By

Fabulous. The Republicans are having New York’s archbishop Timothy Dolan saying a goodbye prayer at their convention, so now the Democrats are having him too, so that everyone will know that both parties suck up to the Catholic church because hey, votes.

The fact that Dolan will be speaking at both conventions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, shows the measure of respect both parties have for “ou[r] new cardinal.”

Yes exactly, and why the hell should they do that?

Mind you, the rest of what Bloomberg said sounded a tad perfunctory, or even contemptuous.

“It’s very flattering, I think, to him,” Bloomberg said. “He’s a very good speaker, and I’m sure he’ll give a very nice invocation, blessing or whatever he chooses to call it.”

Mmmmmmf.

But seriously. Timothy Dolan is the guy who pitched a huge fit at the New York Times for reporting on priestly child rape because other people do it too. He’s not someone both parties should respect. He’s a moral imbecile.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Enabling them

Aug 28th, 2012 2:23 pm | By

Aron Ra said his piece in Amy’s series.

Remember that we’re not talking about religizombies either; we’re talking about plainly prejudiced people who consistently identify as, associate with, and participate in the freethinking community –both virtually and personally. Yes or no, are these the sort of people you want to have seen as representative of your position? Or typical of it? Or welcome in it? Because when you minimize the threat they impose, you are enabling them.

If you’re tired of hearing what’s-her-name complain about this all the time, why not solve the problem? Could it help to pretend that isn’t a problem? Or not enough of one to warrant your attention? Should you become part of the problem yourself? Do you think a bit of name-calling would be an appropriate response? If you not only permit it –by ignoring it- but actually contribute to it at all, then you’re aiding and defending those trolls –which is much worse than feeding them. If you’re well-known in this movement, you’ll be seen as a spokesman for despicable behavior. I have seen it happen.

Because when you minimize the threat they impose, you are enabling them. Yes you are.

There was a time when one could get away with telling really offensive jokes, or expressing deep-seated hatred against any other demographic, and it would be nervously tolerated. Why is it not that way anymore? Because the pockets of humanity who permit that are dwindling. That means progressive people are having a positive impact, and there is just no defensible alternate position on this matter.

So be a progressive people and have a positive impact. Dwindle the pockets of humanity who permit the expression of deep-seated hatred against women. Because why not?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Giles Fraser versus human rights

Aug 28th, 2012 12:32 pm | By

Giles Fraser strongly disapproves of the idea (and the judicial finding) that non-medical circumcision is what it is: genital cutting of an infant for religious reasons.

Generally, the logic behind these moves is that circumcision is an act of unnecessary violence against a child and that it is imposing a belief system against a child’s will. If an adult wants to be circumcised, so be it.

But child circumcision violates the rights of the child over his body. I recently defended circumcision in the Guardian and was inundated with letters telling me I was a child abuser, that male circumcision was like female genital mutilation. But mostly, the arguments against were all about choice.

That’s surprisingly clumsy – it would be much easier to follow if the last sentence of the first para and first sentence of the second were one sentence -

 If an adult wants to be circumcised, so be it, but child circumcision violates the rights of the child over his body.

So I’ll do him a favor and re-write it, so that we can follow.

Generally, the logic behind these moves is that circumcision is an act of unnecessary violence against a child and that it is imposing a belief system against a child’s will. If an adult wants to be circumcised, so be it, but child circumcision violates the rights of the child over his body.

I recently defended circumcision in the Guardian and was inundated with letters telling me I was a child abuser, that male circumcision was like female genital mutilation. But mostly, the arguments against were all about choice.

Apparently, only choice makes it ok.

There; at least now we know where we are.

Choice doesn’t exactly make it ok, but it certainly (and obviously) does take the act out of the hands of the parents, and that certainly (and obviously) does make a difference. Doing something to someone is different from doing something to yourself. So yes – in that sense, choice does make it a hell of a lot more ok than the total absence of choice does.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to everything. It doesn’t mean don’t feed an infant, or don’t provide an infant with shelter from rain and cold, or don’t take an infant to the doctor. It does mean don’t cut bits off the infant unless it’s medically necessary.

But Giles Fraser doesn’t see it that way. He wants to do a reductio, instead, so he tells us to imagine parents not teaching their child a language, on the grounds of choice.

See above. Don’t play silly buggers.

I offer this bonkers experiment as a reductio ad absurdum of the sort of thing that is often said about imposing religion on children.

It is a rubbish argument because to be inducted into a community of values is a precondition for making sense of the world in a moral way — it is even a precondition of the very freedom that the mad liberal parents are after, a precondition of the child deciding that he or she is going to believe something different.

But this particular issue is not about imposing religion on children. It’s about not imposing genital cutting on infants for non-medical reasons, including religious reasons. The core of it is not the religion but the cutting.

Fraser is apparently simply taking for granted the idea that the religion and the cutting are inseparable; that if the cutting is delayed until adulthood, the infant/child is therefore not in the religion – is denied the religion, excluded from the religion.

How ugly. How ugly not to give the religion the chance to grow up a little and decide that cutting can be both optional and delayed. How ugly to insist that snipping infant penises is somehow mandatory for a particular religion, and that it’s “mad” to think otherwise.

Choice has become a cuckoo value in our society — driving out other values like fairness and community.

Fairness? Driving out fairness? What about the unfairness of snipping penises without consent? And how on earth is it “cuckoo” to think that people should have a right to choose whether or not to modify their genitals?

And the same goes for community. That too should be a matter of choice. It’s not for Giles Fraser to decide that all children should be drafted into one “community” or another from birth via genital branding.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Tighten it up

Aug 28th, 2012 7:43 am | By

Hooray, great strides for women in India.

An Indian company has launched what it claims is the country’s first vagina tightening cream, saying it will make women feel “like a virgin” again. The company says it is about empowering women…

Empowering women? By making them feel “like a virgin”? Because virgin women are so powerful? What, like the Delphic oracle? Tight virginal vagina=telephone line to the gods?

This video is designed to market a vaginal “rejuvenation and tightening” product, which was launched this month in India.

The makers of 18 Again, the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Ultratech, say it is the first of its kind in India (similar creams are already available in other parts of the world such as the USA), and fills a gap in the market.

Ultratech’s owner, Rishi Bhatia, says the cream, which is selling for around $44 (£28), contains natural ingredients including gold dust, aloe vera, almond and pomegranate, and has been clinically tested.

“It’s a unique and revolutionary product which also works towards building inner confidence in a woman and boosting her self esteem,” says Mr Bhatia, adding that the goal of the product is to “empower women”.

Oh right! I get it now. Because of course any woman who has a disgusting sloppy baggy loose vagina has obviously lost any inner confidence she once had. It’s well known that there is a nerve that links the vagina to the inner confidence and that as the vagina sheds its discipline and becomes like a giant deflated balloon, all the air goes out of the inner confidence too. It’s tragic. How wonderful that there’s now a magical way to use gold dust to tighten up the horrible floppy thing.

Mr Bhatia says the product is not claiming to restore a woman’s virginity, but to restore the emotions of being a virgin.

“We are only saying, ‘feel like a virgin’ – it’s a metaphor. It tries to bring back that feeling when a person is 18.”

Or 16, or 14…or 9, as is not uncommon in India.

“This kind of cream is utter nonsense, and could give some women an inferiority complex,” argues Annie Raja from the National Federation of Indian Women, which fights for women’s rights in the country.

Ms Raja says that rather than empower women, the cream will do the opposite, by reaffirming a patriarchal view that is held by many here – the notion that men want all women to be virgins until their wedding night.

Well you know how it is – all those men tromping through there, they blow the thing out, so it gets to be like trying to fuck a blanket, and a very dirty used stained blanket at that.

Has anybody thought of inventing disposable vaginas? What about that for a solution? A new clean tight virginal one every morning, and high self-esteem all around. Win-win!

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



I do a guest post

Aug 27th, 2012 5:05 pm | By

Taslima invited me to write a post on why I’m a feminist, so now I get to have the honor of a post on Taslima’s blog. Woot!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Is this a fork in the road or just an added lane?

Aug 27th, 2012 2:54 pm | By

Ron Lindsay has some observations on atheism plus. Good stuff.

One question he asks in conclusion -

CFI has long been active in supporting LGBT equality, in supporting reproductive rights, in supporting equality for women, in opposing suppression of women and minorities, not just in the US but in other countries, in supporting public schools, in advocating for patient’s rights, including the right to assistance in dying, in fighting restrictions on the teaching of evolution, in opposing religious interference with health care policy, in promoting the use of science in shaping public policy, in safeguarding our rights to free speech, and in protecting the rights of the nonreligious. We focus on these issues because: 1. they are the issues where religious dogma and/or pseudoscience continue to have significant influence and, therefore, they’re the issues most closely related to our mission as a secular/skeptical organization; and 2. we have limited resources of money and staff time; we can’t do everything.

So do the advocates of A+ believe some or all of these issues are not worth spending time on? If so, why? What other issues will A+ be focused on? What are the connections between these other issues and atheism? Where will A+ find the resources to focus on these other issues?

Speaking for myself, no. I don’t think of atheism+ as diverging from CFI. On the contrary, I think of CFI as pretty much the same kind of thing.

I’ll just add a comment I made there. (As soon as I did, one “Dan” turned up to call me things, by way of illustrating the total non-existence of misogyny, or something. So I won’t be commenting there any more. That’s how this goes.)

So far, and speaking just for myself, I’ve been taking Atheist+ as an adjective more than a movement, which means among other things that I don’t have to worry about wasting resources or splitting into factions.

I think of it as a shorthand for saying “gnu atheist [i.e. explicit, vocal, assertive etc atheist] with extra added egalitarianism.”

It’s extra added, right now, because of this wave of cheery unabashed sexism. I feel a need for the + as a quick way to make the point that the atheism movement (and there is such a thing) shouldn’t include rude hostility to women. (Or any other groups, but that’s the thing: sexism seems to be exempt from the taboos on racism and the like.)

I did a follow-up comment to say I think of CFI as being on the same side of that issue.

Update: Rogi Riverstone provided an illustration on her Atheism+ Facebook page.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



No joy

Aug 27th, 2012 11:32 am | By

Life should be dull and empty and joyless, because god. No music, no dance, no play, no laughter, no frivolity, no flirting, no getting jiggy. No faces, no conversation, no friendship, no mingling, no color. No joy – because that’s the devil’s work.

AFP reports:

Taliban insurgents beheaded 17 civilians, including two women, who were holding a party with music in a southern Afghanistan village, officials said Monday.

Party. Music. Women. Mingling. Too much fun. No fun for you! No fun, no pleasure, no heads.

“I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban,” the Helmand provincial governor’s spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP, referring to Islamists notorious during their rule for public executions and the suppression of music and parties.

“Two women and 15 men were beheaded. They were partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban,” he said.

Nematullah Khan, the Musa Qala district chief confirmed that the villagers had organised a party with music, and one local official said he suspected that the two women had been dancing.

Secret parties with dancing women from a gypsy-type tribe are common across southern Afghanistan.

During their 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan the Taliban, now waging a fierce insurgency against the NATO-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, also tried to stop the mixing of men and women who were not related.

I like to watch dancing. I like music. That party sounds like a very good time. It sounds like the epitome of humans at their best – doing beatiful things with music and bodies in motion to express celebration. It’s so deeply pathetic that there are people who think that’s the epitome of evil and that they worship a god who hates that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



She wept and begged to be released

Aug 27th, 2012 10:34 am | By

Spare a thought for that little girl in Pakistan who is in jail for “blasphemy” because she (supposedly, allegedly, some asshole saidly) had some pages of the Koran in a bag of trash, or put some pages of the Koran in a fire along with other trash, or some such stupid meaningless unreasonable bit of nonsense. Spare a thought for her, because she wants to get out. She would probably prefer to be at home, with people who love her and take care of her.

According to the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad, Rimsha’s lawyer said that when he saw her in jail over the weekend she wept and begged to be released.

Her parents have been taken into protective custody following threats, and many other Christian families are reported to have fled the neighbourhood.

There are fears that even if she is released, Rimsha’s family will not be safe in Pakistan. Others accused of blasphemy have been killed by vigilante mobs in the recent past.

Human beings: finding shitty reasons to torment each other for 100,000 years.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



She was scolded and told she was next

Aug 26th, 2012 5:55 pm | By

No freedom for you. No work for you. No acting career for you. No safety for you. No right to decide how to live your life for you. Only death threats for you, if you have the nerve to be an actress in Afghanistan.

Afghan female artist and actress Sahar Parniyan has shifted her home from western Kabul city to an unknown location after she received death threats from unknown individuals.

Sahar Parniyan used to perform in Afghan drama serials and TV shows with Benafsha who was murdered by unknown men during the Eid days in capital Kabul.

She says she has been threatened by unknown individuals not to appear in TV channels before her colleague Benafsha was assassinated.

In an exclusive interview with DW Sahar Parniyan said she received warnings from unknown individuals following the death of Benafsha and she was scolded and was told that she was next target to be assassinated.

So that’s her scolded and silenced and forced into hiding.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Watch those syllables

Aug 26th, 2012 4:21 pm | By

Here’s a thing. A very small thing, but a thing.

I just saw it for about the 87th time and realized what’s so annoying about it.

It’s != or |= for ≠

Here’s what so annoying about it.

What the hell is the point? Just say “doesn’t equal.” If you don’t have the actual ≠ handy then just type the words, for godsake.

I know another one like that. DFW for Dallas Ft Worth. If you’re writing or typing, by all means say DFW, but if you’re talking – well do what you want, but DFW is more syllables than Dallas Ft Worth.

I know this because Martin Amis pointed out another one in The Information – someone talking referred to the MW for microwave. Count them.

Here’s another: the BBC always says WWF, never World Wildlife Fund. Both longer and more cryptic. Stupid.

Always be careful of the W.

Also – I don’t want to point fingers, but four twenty ten is a silly way to say ninety.

This has been Sunday Advice, brought to you by the Milk Marketing Board.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Infantilizing?

Aug 26th, 2012 2:47 pm | By

One of the current hot memes in the “let’s hate on FTB and feminazis” campaign is to announce that we’re “infantilizing” women and that it’s disgusting, outrageous, appalling. What’s up with that?

How are we infantilizing women? I don’t see it. By thinking conferences should have anti-harassment policies?

Surely not. Having a policy doesn’t “infantilize” any more than laws do. Having a policy lets people know where they are, instead of forcing them to try to figure it out on their own. It lets people know they have some rights (and some obligations). It lets people know what’s expected of them. If anyone is being infantilized surely it’s people who have to be told not to make unwanted sexual moves.

In a way, anti-harassment policies de-infantilize women, in the sense that women who want sexual moves will probably have to do some initiating. What’s wrong with that?

Or is it by objecting to being called cunts and bitches all the time?

Come on. Is it “infantilizing” for people to object to racist epithets? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that suggested. If it’s not, why would it be so for women to object to sexist epithets?

Or maybe it’s neither of those, but then I have no idea what it is.

Anyone?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Where godlessness remains a real struggle

Aug 26th, 2012 11:32 am | By

Atheism is easy for me in a way it’s not easy for people in (for instance) small towns in the South or Midwest – people like Jerry DeWitt of DeRidder, Louisiana, for instance.

DeWitt is something of a reality check for many atheists, whose principles rarely cost them more than the price of “The God Delusion” in paperback. DeWitt refuses to leave DeRidder, a place where religion, politics and family pride are indivisible. Six months after he was “outed” as an atheist he lost his job and his wife — both, he says, as a direct consequence. Only a handful of his 100-plus relatives from DeRidder still speak to him. When I visited him, in late June, his house was in foreclosure, and he was contemplating moving into his 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser. This is the kind of environment where godlessness remains a real struggle and raises questions that could ramify across the rest of the country. Is the “new atheism” part of a much broader secularizing trend, like the one that started emptying out the churches in European towns and villages a century ago? Or is it just a ticket out of town?

That’s very poignant - he’s lost nearly everything but he refuses to leave.

When I first met Jerry DeWitt, I half expected a provincial contrarian hungry for attention. Instead, he was mild and apologetic, a short, baby-faced man with a gentle smile and a neatly trimmed dark beard. He was earnest and warm, and I soon discovered that many of his fellow townspeople cannot help liking him, no matter how much they dislike his atheism. He appears to have reached his conclusions about God with reluctance, and with remorse for the pain he has caused his friends and family. He seems to bear no grudge toward them. “At every atheist event I go to, there’s always someone who’s been hurt by religion, who wants me to tell him all preachers are charlatans,” DeWitt told me, soon after we met. “I always have to disappoint them. The ones I know are mostly very good people.”

But he’s a pariah in DeRidder – and a resource for other pariahs.

But DeWitt also hurled himself into his new role as a faith healer in reverse. He became the first “graduate” of the Clergy Project, discarding his anonymity and giving the clandestine preachers’ group its first dash of publicity. It was formed in early 2011 with a few dozen members, mostly recruited through Dan Barker, a former pastor who is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and through Linda LaScola, who in 2010 co-conducted a study of nonbelieving pastors with Daniel Dennett, the atheist philosopher. The project now has more than 300 members, with about 80 applicants awaiting clearance (the group is very careful about admissions, to secure the members’ privacy).

DeWitt also became the executive director of Recovering From Religion, formed in 2009 by Darrel Ray, a Kansas-based atheist proselytizer. The group grew quickly under DeWitt’s leadership and now includes at least 100 local chapters scattered across the country, each one typically with 10 to 12 participants. Like other public figures in the movement, DeWitt also serves as a one-man clearinghouse for religious doubters via Facebook and e-mail. During the four days I spent with him in DeRidder, he was almost constantly checking his cellphone and tapping out messages.

Teresa MacBain is on the same trip.

One former pastor named Teresa MacBain told me that when she began doubting her faith last year, she ran through her list of friends and acquaintances and realized that every single one of them was religious. With no one to confide in, she began recording her thoughts into her iPhone when she was alone in the car. “It was a huge encouragement when I finally found other people to talk to online,” she told me. Like DeWitt, MacBain joined the Clergy Project. Then, earlier this year, she resigned from her pastor’s position in Tallahassee and went public as an atheist. She was promptly defriended (in the literal and Facebook sense) by almost everyone she knew. But like DeWitt, she has begun receiving frequent messages from doubting pastors and churchgoers, seeking her help in making the leap away from God. “It’s all new friends now,” she said.

It must be a little like living through a plague, or a huge natural disaster. All new friends now.

 

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Hearing voices

Aug 25th, 2012 5:04 pm | By

Goodbye Neil Armstrong, and thanks for everything.

Did you know he was a Muslim? The Zionist media won’t be telling you that, of course, but it’s the truth.

What happened is, he heard the call to prayer while he was strolling around on the moon, and that was so awesome that he was all “O Allah” and he totally converted.

Ok no it’s not the truth, it’s an urban legend.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Women don’t do intellectually active

Aug 25th, 2012 4:35 pm | By

And speaking of videos…I didn’t watch all of that one on The Point the other day, and yesterday a Facebook friend, Mavaddat, pointed out a later segment when they talked about Y no women. Michael Shermer explained.

It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a guy thing.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5pmvv_-Lew

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More heads talking

Aug 25th, 2012 4:09 pm | By

There has been another hangout. This one was hosted by Alex Gabriel, and had Debbie Goddard, Jason Thibeault, and Stephanie Zvan along with me. It was to discuss atheism+ and humanism and “divisiveness” and the fact that it’s not a coup or a usurpation.

To me, in fact, it’s mostly a label for a stance or point of view, a useful shorthand. I don’t think that’s terribly divisive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-3JkhuOQ7A

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)