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“I love you, I just don’t support you or your right to get married.”

So I saw this posted on facebook.
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I am so angry about this I can’t even think straight. I expected better from the person who posted it.
Saying you “do not support” marriage equality is the same as saying it shouldn’t be legal. I can’t see another way to interpret it. That means you’re saying they should not be able to marry the person of their choosing, that they should be denied the benefits and privileges of the marriage contract. That this legal contract between equals should be restricted to certain types of people.
That all adds up to second-class citizen status because of who they love.

In this context, “stand for what we believe” means denying legal equality to an already persecuted minority. You’re not defending anyone, you’re not helping anyone, you’re hurting people for no benefit to anyone.

Furthermore, the stereotyping of Christians as hateful, small-minded bigots comes from statements exactly like this, statements that claim being a Christian means being anti-gay. The ones who push this stereotype the hardest are hate groups who want to pressure Christians to support them by convincing them that this is part of being a Christian. If you really want to separate Christianity from bigotry, you need to stop claiming it as your motivation every time you act like a bigot.

Incidentally, you can be a Christian without denying equal rights. If you don’t believe me, come to San Francisco Pride next year and see how many churches of various denominations march in it, often carrying signs advertising “I will marry you!”

Finally, the whine about “name-calling and stereotyping” being “what we don’t want done to you” grates me on another level, because while Christians do get called names and stereotyped, LGBT people get denied services, fired from their jobs, beaten, raped, and murdered. Don’t pretend that you’re equally persecuted with people who literally just won the right to have their marriages recognized throughout the country, and in half the nation the right to marry the person they choose at all.

Consider what friendship means before you imply all that, and then say “we’re still friends.”
I want my friends to be better people than that.

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!

As promised, here are “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!” along with my answers. Here is the source link, which I’ll be reading from instead of the Pharyngula post so that I won’t have to wonder if I would have said that before I read PZ’s answer. Hopefully writing the last post will have moved my mind in different directions enough to help with that for the questions I already read. Since the list is hosted on Today Christian, I will assume the context that the questions are being asked by some variety of Christian.

Read the rest of this entry

Why Churches?

A conversation on facebook got me thinking about this. Why do people go to churches? I mean, in theory what purpose do churches serve? From my outsider’s point of view churches don’t seem to do anything but bore people, ask for money, and protect child abusers, but clearly people must be getting something out of it.

I only ever attended one church service, when I was about eight years old. I went along with the neighbors after their kids invited me. I don’t remember much, mostly being very bored and very uncomfortable, there was something profoundly creepy to me about all these grownups talking so seriously about stuff that seemed obviously make-believe. I never went back, and I’ve never felt that I was missing anything by it.

But many people go every week, sometimes more than once. Why? This is something I hadn’t really thought of before, it was always just something lots of people did, but the more I think about it the weirder it seems.

If you’re a church-goer I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment and tell me what you get out of it. From your point of view, what do they actually do?

An awful metaphor

So, this is the post I mentioned on the Blasphemy Day one. I was bouncing around TVTropes, as I sometimes do, and I found myself following a link to Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Now I generally avoid FSTDT, since it’s more likely to fill me with anger and despair than anything else. In fact I really should have learned by now, I’m far better off with sites like Raising My Rainbow since reading that tends to make me smile.

Pretty obvious now that I think about it. Stories of a gender nonconforming child with a loving family determined to let him be who he wants to be: Good. Collection of the worst quotes made by people who appear to be a danger to themselves and others, many of whom seem to have untreated mental illnesses, which is usually treated as a freakshow for people to laugh at: Bad. And yet I just couldn’t stop myself from clicking the link.

So, here’s the quote that started this post. It’s from 2006, hardly breaking news. As I thought about it, I realized that I had to write about it, and then as my mind branched off into different tracks I decided to do the Blasphemy Day post first. I will reproduce it here below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry

“unable to give their consent”

So you may have heard a while back that a German court ruled that the circumcision of infants was child abuse. Brendan O’Neill has apparently decided that the only reason for this decision could have been anti-Jewish bigotry, and that bigotry came from atheists.

I’m going to quote the part of O’Neill’s article that made me feel a need to address it, I have more to say on the matter but really this is the primary point, the main idea, the one thing that I want an answer to.

There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion. But perhaps the worst thing is its rebranding of certain religious practices as “child abuse”. Everything from sending your kid to a Catholic school to having your baby boy circumcised has been redefined by anti-religious campaigners as “abuse”. This use of emotionally loaded language to demonise the practices and beliefs of people of faith has reached its ugly and logical conclusion in Germany, where a court has decreed that circumcision for religious purposes causes “bodily harm”, against boys who are “unable to give their consent”, and therefore should be outlawed.

See the quotes there on the part about consent? I want someone to tell me how an infant gives consent. Heck, the court case was about a four year old boy from a Muslim family, tell me how a four year old gives legal consent.

I notice you also put quotes around “bodily harm”. See the thing is, Brendan (may I call you Brendan?), when you use quotes like that it looks like you’re disputing the words used. So this paragraph suggests that you think:

  1. Cutting off a foreskin is not bodily harm, and
  2. Children, including newborn infants, are capable of giving consent.

I really want an explanation of this. Seriously, no bullshit. Use small words because I’m kind of stupid. How is this not causing harm without consent? O’Neill never explains this, he just goes on to say that people who did terrible things to the Jews in history also called circumcision barbaric child abuse. In other news, a stopped clock is right twice a day, Hitler ate sugar, and an association fallacy really isn’t worth stretching into five paragraphs.

That’s the meat of this post. Frankly you can skip the rest if you want because from here on out it’s mostly just shouting. With lots of wine, so it’s not even coherent.  Read the rest of this entry

Why I care about religion.

It’s not uncommon for atheists to be asked questions like “Why do you spend so much time talking about religion if you don’t believe it?” or “If you think religion’s a fantasy, why do you care if other people are wasting their time with it?”

This is why.

(I stole this from JT Eberhard, who got it from his brother. I have no idea where it originated.) Read the rest of this entry

Why Creationism Horrifies Me, part two: Reality

Welcome to part two of Why Creationism Horrifies Me! This series was inspired by and is in part a direct response to Andrew Toy’s The Horrors of the Creation Theory, Part 1 and Part 2.

In our last installment I used a ridiculously long metaphor to examine the implications of creationism, were it true. This time we’ll be looking at the real world impact of creationism, not why it would horrify me, were it true, but why it does even though it’s not.

I’m going to have to start with misinformation. I want to draw a distinction here between misinformation and outright lying, because while lying certainly counts as misinforming, I honestly don’t believe most creationists are lying when they spread misinformation, but simply misinformed themselves.

Creationist organizations spread a lot of misinformation. They say things like the dust found on the surface of the Moon was consistent with a young universe which is false. Or that radio-carbon dating is inaccurate which is true under certain circumstances, that scientists are aware of and compensate for. Or that Charles Darwin admitted in his famous book that the eye could not have evolved, which I’m going to call an outright lie, because while Darwin did write that it is difficult to imagine the evolution of eyes, the very next thing in the book is an outline of one way it might have happened.

One of the more common bits of misinformation is the idea that evolution is “only a theory”. Read the rest of this entry

Why Creationism Horrifies Me, part one: The Puzzle

This morning I found that I had a new email follower from the blog “Adopting James“, an interesting project. Andrew Toy and his wife Sarabeth want to adopt a child, but in the interest of paying for food and bills and all those trivial things they’d like Andrew’s writing career to take off first and have created a blog to further that goal. For all that I disagree with them, I genuinely wish them luck on that.

One of the first posts I read there was “The “Horrors” of the Creation Theory Part 1“, and since I feel strongly on the subject myself I thought I’d write about what are, to me at least, the real horrors of this ideology. Since Andrew and Sarabeth are Christians, and Christian creationism is by far the most common in my country, I will use that as my example. Don’t forget, though, that there are also Muslim, Jewish and Hindu creationists, and likely others of which I am unaware.

Because I think it’s striking, I’ll start by imagining it to be true and looking at the world that implies, and the god that implies. If creationism is true, then God is terrifyingly dishonest, though not technically lying. Let me try to explain.  Read the rest of this entry

Love, Guilt and Hell.

The blog Pharyngula has an ongoing series called “Why I am an atheist” which consists of stories submitted by readers. You can probably guess the subject.

Saturday’s story really stands out, though, and I’ve been meaning to share it since I read it that morning. It’s author calls herself mouthyb, and it starts like this,

My childhood sounds like the word “jesus,” repeated until it falls into noise, and you realize that it never meant anything to begin with.

My mother used to repeat it in the car, on road trips. She spent twelve hours of reminding us of this: jesus said that he had no mother, no brother, and that no one would get into heaven but by loving him more than anything or anyone else.

It was okay that she didn’t love me, she said. It meant that she was going to heaven.

Read the whole story here.

It’s difficult to read, and yet I recommend you do. Read the rest of this entry

The Infallibile Mind

I saw this on twitter the other day, and it’s a weird one. Not only the article itself, but the site it was on, apparently Faithful News is a site that collects articles they think Christians would be interested in and presents them in one place. I’m not sure how broad a net they cast there, I mean there’s something like forty thousand different Christian religions with many conflicts between them, I’m curious if the site attempts to provide for all of them or focuses on a narrow spectrum. But I’m going to at least make a token attempt to stay on topic here.

The article is titled “Faith in the infallibility of the mind is the atheist’s delusion”, and it puzzles me right from the start because I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone claim that the mind is infallible. In fact much of our society is the way it is because we know that our minds can be fooled. The scientific method and peer-review process are specifically built to make it hard to lie to yourself. All over you’ll see signs reminding you of things you not only know perfectly well, but that are obvious with even the least thought. Our computers ask “are you sure?” for countless operations because sometimes we click on the wrong things, and in my experience we still manage to click “yes” when we mean “no” to that surprisingly often. Read the rest of this entry

In which I wander among many topics

Was looking over my site stats, as I do sometimes, and I saw a referral from Daily Pagan News, who promoted my post “Curses“. Thanks for the link!

One of the first things I saw from DPN’s home page was this.

Gave me a chuckle. It was sourced to another tumblr page called teenwitchwendy. I’m not going to check that one out just now, because that leads to link-jumping all night and I have stuff to do. But the name made me think.

When I was a teenager, I knew a lot of pagans. Some Wiccans and Druids, but most of them weren’t so structured and simply called themselves “Pagan”. They were a diverse bunch, happy to agree on the broad outlines of the universe and just sort of fudge the details.

More than once somebody, usually an older person who was kind but not really “part of the group”, expressed the opinion that this whole “alternate lifestyle” thing was just a phase and everyone would grow up and become conservative Christians just like them. Now I haven’t kept touch with most of those people, but as far as I can tell that hasn’t happened. Sure, we all grew and changed, but I’m not aware of anyone who actually did that. Read the rest of this entry

Insomnia for fun and profit!

Haven’t been able to sleep at all tonight (last night?) so this might be a little more surreal than usual. But I’m looking forward to shutting off the blog reminder the very first time I see it today.

First, this article by Joshua Holland responding to the Naomi Wolf Guardian piece I linked yesterday. I can’t do this subject justice right now, I don’t know enough off the top off my head and I’m too tired to trust myself researching both articles. I may post more about this later, but for now I wanted to put this opposing viewpoint link there in case I totally forget about this after I see a shiny object or something.

So let’s turn to something else. Stephen Fry tweets this link about a Catholic exorcist who says that Harry Potter and yoga are evil. Seriously. Read the rest of this entry

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