Buffy Somers leading girls away from Western Religion?

According to a recent study by Dr. Kristin Aune the character Buffy Somers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is leading young girls away from traditional Western Religion.

The study, published in the book Women and Religion in the West, says that young women are taking a greater interest in Wicca and other Pagan religions.   To the extent that 50,000 young women have abandoned Western religion to study paganism.

Why are young girls so influenced by a TV series?  According to the author, “Because of its focus on female empowerment”.

So, after watching a role model that is smart, tough and empowered in a world that constantly throws road-blocks in her way, young girls are no longer content to follow the misogynistic ways of western religion.   Religious practices which tell you whatever you accomplish is due to a long-deceased guy from the desert and not your own abilities?   Go figure.

Young girls can learn a lot through the trials and tribulations of young Buffy Somers.  My most excellent daughter mainlined Buffy for years and she’s awesome.  As for Paganism?  I haven’t seen any pagan suicide bombers or pagans picketing soldier funerals lately.

I read this article and my first thought was, “How cool is that?” Buffy’s not even airing anymore and it’s still rocking the world.  AWESOME!


From the "You've got to be kidding me" file

“Special licenses offered to those who fear ‘beast'”

What? Who? Huh?

“West Virginia is offering special driver’s licenses to people who oppose digitized photos because they believe this could be the beginning of the biblical “mark of the beast” prophecy.”

So, who carries the burden of the additional cost in time and resources? Who do you think?

Look, I can understand where they are coming from. I generally refuse to have my picture taken, since it is my sincere belief that photographs steal your soul. But I don’t expect taxpayers to foot the bill for the photorealistic artwork I use on my driver’s license.


Taxpayers fund faith over knowledge at Colorado school

Colorado Christian University, a college that puts their faith ahead of knowledge (seriously, it’s right on the front page of their website), has just had a courtroom victory to receive state scholarship money.

As an American I can only say I’m appalled. There are many universities in the United States that were founded by religious institutions who receive state and federal money. Serious institutions of higher learning and knowledge. Conversely, CCU is a Christian indoctrination center where students must sign a promise to emulate the life of Jesus and biblical teachings and faculty must sign a statement that the bible is the “infallible word of god”.

They must have amazing programs in biology, geology and astrophysics. I can imagine the excitement looking through the course catalog and finding out that I could get a degree in one of those subjects with a single 30 minute course.

I don’t understand how the state of Colorado can use taxpayer dollars to support students attending a blatantly discriminatory institution.  Faculty must sign a “Statement of Faith” that includes:

“We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.”

In the school’s “Strategic Objectives” the following two objectives are listed first,  “Honor Christ and share the love of Christ on campus and around the world” and “Teach students to trust the Bible, live holy lives and be evangelists”.  The most telling bit, however, is the objective listed last, “Become a great university”.
So, there is the obvious discouragement of a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or non-theist working or attending this institution.  It still begs the question, “Who would want to attend this dogma over knowledge day camp?”

I don’t argue their right to exist, only that their evangelical mission should be assisted through taxpayer dollars.   Let them pay for their proselytizing themselves.


May 1st: National Day of Reason

The Naional Day of Reason is held on the first Thursday in May to coincide with the National Day of Prayer.

Sure, it was established to counter the National Day of Pretending to do something useful but it is the way it is observed that makes it cool.  Instead of a day of protesting the waste of public funds for politicians et. al. (OK, that happens too) , the preferred way to spend the day is in service.  Yes, actually doing something good not WAITING for some invisible friend to get it done for you.

So get out and give blood (that is what I am going to do), volunteer, plant a tree, donate time or money.  Be a good HUMAN!

Admiring his crops, a farmer asks his friend how his corn grew so high.

In reply his friend told him, “I have to give God all the credit. I pray every day before and after I go to work the fields”.

“That’s amazing!”, the farmer said, “What happens when you don’t go to work?”


CBS Sunday Morning: Weird Juxtapositions

CBS Sunday Morning, in general, continues to be the epitome of excellence in television. This particular Sunday morning, April 27th, they aired an excellent piece on Jeremy Hall. Jeremy Hall is a soldier in the U.S. Army who in his second tour in Iraq faced persecution from fellow soldiers and superiors for his lack of superstitious beliefs. This persecution necessitating a personal body-guard and, eventually, a trip stateside. The reporting on this subject was up to Sunday Morning’s high standards.

Following the commercial break, the next piece was a commentary by Ben Stein. Yes, Ben Stein, mouthpiece of the creation science supporting documentary Expelled. Mr. Stein was commenting on the situation with the polygamist cult in Texas. He likened the state assault on an institution that was illegal and immoral to the Nazi’s. I find it particularly heinous that Mr. Stein associates anyone with whom he disagrees with Hitler’s Nazi party. As he did with evolution proponents in Expelled. Further, Mr. Stein appears to feel that the state of Texas should continue to turn a blind eye to the persecution of women and children as they have for decades.

In both cases it points out the responsibility of the state, actually the responsibility of all of us, to provide for the safety and well being of the minority. In the case of Jeremy Hall and others like him, the military as an instrument of the people of the United States has a responsibility to represent the people of the United States. All of them. Even the 16% who don’t believe in a supernatural deity. The state of Texas, after many years of turning a blind eye, finally took its responsibility seriously for the children of FLDS church. By bringing those children out of that corrupt society, where adult men can take young girls as their brides and women have little or no rights, they have fulfilled the promise of our secular society.

“The laws of humanity make it a duty for nations, as well as individuals, to succor those whom accident and distress have thrown upon them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1807. ME 11:144


Added to Atheist Blogroll

I’ve added “Something to Say” to the Atheist Blogroll.

This was not done through any desire for self-promotion or aggrandizement.  It is just a little bit of giving back to a community, or movement if you will, that has provided me with a much needed sense of belonging.  Through the Internet and the many blogs, podcasts and resources available I’ve come to the realization that I’m not alone.  Far from it, I am part of a thriving community that is no longer silent and isolated.

If only to say, “I’m here too”, I thought it was important to be listed.  Please visit one of the sites in the sidebar under “Atheist Blogroll”.

“The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable.” — Andrea Dworkin (1946 – 2005), American Feminist and Author


No evidence of neglect??

I just read an A.P. story from Wausau, Wisconsin about parents having 3 of their children taken from their home after a 4th child died from undiagnosed and untreated diabetes. The parents believe that healing comes from god, as it says in the bible.

They didn’t pray for their daughter to die, but they did pray her to death.

As disgusting as I, and any other reasonable person, would find this story. It was even more horrifying to hear the quotes from the authorities. After having the surviving children checked out by physicians, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said, “There is no physical evidence of abuse or neglect. None” I don’t think you’re looking hard enough, Dan! Maybe you should look at 11-year-old Kara’s corpse. Kara, who hadn’t seen a doctor in 8 years and who passed away of treatable diabetes.

“They believed up to the time she stopped breathing she was going to get better. They just thought it was a spiritual attack.”, Vergin said. Honestly, how is this really any different than the voices in their head telling them to cut the demons out of her?

If you were hoping the state would provide some kind of protection for the rest of the kids, aged 13-16, it is unlikely. While I expect their would be follow-up by the appropriate agencies, the parents will probably get their kids back since Wisconsin has laws to protect the misguided followers of ancient superstitions. Janine Geske, a Marquette University law professor says that in Wisconsin a parent cannot be accused of abuse or neglect of a child if in good faith they selected prayer as a basis of treatment for a disease.

According to the grandmother, the girld had been ill for several days and by last Saturday couldn’t walk or talk.

“… Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it is a serious contender..” — Richard Dawkins

More references:

Wisconsin’s faith-healing law faces fresh scrutiny

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion


Teapot Worship? Doesn't sound so bad.

I came across an article about a Malaysian woman jailed for worshiping a giant teapot which I thought might be, at the very least, amusing. Unfortunately, the lady and the late lamented Teapot cult were really just subtext to a much more disturbing situation.

While Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship, it is currently interpreted as meaning you are free to worship as your parents did. Kamariah Ali, our teapot worshiper, is being jailed under Sharia law since she was born a Muslim. Never mind, that she no long self-identifies as one, the Malaysian constitution defines all ethnic Malays as Muslim and Muslims in Malaysia are subject to the Sharia courts.

This is particularly poignant in light of the recent Pew Forum survey on the U.S. Religious Landscape which shows that about a quarter of Americans exercise their freedom of religion by choosing not to practice the faith of their parents. This is the expression of freedom of religion only possible where there is a complete secular constitution and separation of church and state.

“If you have a faith, it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it is the same faith as your parents and grandparents had. No doubt soaring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables, help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth. The convictions that you so passionately believe would have been a completely different, and largely contradictory, set of convictions, if only you had happened to be born in a different place. Epidemiology, not evidence.” — Richard Dawkins


The World Ends in 2012! Can I have your stuff?

In the last couple of days I’ve heard people mention the belief that the Mayan Calendar foreshadows the end of the world in 2012. They Mayan culture is long gone, why has this meme come to the surface now?

Well, there have been a spate of news articles about the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012. The quesion, as posed by USA Today, “Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?”.

If you hit Amazon.com looking for books and such on the subject you get quite a variety with titles like, “The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies and Possibilities” and “The Mayan Code: Time Acceleration and Awakening the World Mind”. Some might dismiss this as typical New Age bunk, but there is always a portion of the credulous who will have anxiety after learning of apocalyptic predictions.

What makes the Mayan apocalypse any different from The Millenium, The Great Disappointment of 1844 or any other prediction of the end of the world? Well, I think it has a lot to do with some of the mystique of Pre-Columbian Meso-American cultures like the Aztec, Inca and the Maya.

Honestly, when you hear someone speak of the Maya, what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it of an long lost advanced civilization with lost knowledge we have yet to recover? Is it of ancient astronauts?

The Mayan culture was extensive and advanced, but it seems unlikely they had any prescient knowledge of the end of the world. I think it would be great if we could ask them. Unfortuntely, this advanced culture with foreknowledge of the end of the world collapsed over a thousand years ago.

So, if you are convinced the world will end in 2012…. Can I have your stuff?

“The End of the Universe is very popular, people like to dress up for it, Gives it a sense of occasion.” — Douglas Adams in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”


The Out Campaign

I’ve chosen to advertise my support for Richard Dawkins’ “Out Campaign” http://outcampaign.org on this site. I was initially reticent to do this. But I have changed my mind.

I originally felt that The Out Campaign and the stylized red letter ‘A’ was the kind of ostentation required for a philosophy that cannot stand on its own merit. Seriously, while it seems to be quite necessary to repeatedly avow devotion to a chosen superstitious life philosophy, it doesn’t seem to me that the same protestations are necessary for attempting to base your life on reason. Shouldn’t this be the default? Thus leaving spirits, magic and other nonsense to the fringe. Why should it require advertising?

Well, in a time when there indeed seems to be religious test for the office of President of the United States, I can comfortably say there is a real need for this kind of grass roots marketing of reason and I am happy to be part of it.

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1782)