Thursday, September 27, 2007

What is your opinion?

A high school student in Leakey, Texas, was ordered by his school district to cut his hair, but said religious values ban him from cutting it.
Full story at:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Court papers filed on behalf of God

This is an update on the previous post Nebraska Senator Sues God. It seems that God has decided to fight back (or his sheep anyway).

Two court filings in response to a lawsuit brought by Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers were filed on behalf of God, according to John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha, Nebraska.

"This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here -- poof!" said Mr. Friend. In one filing, St. Michael the Archangel is listed as a witness.

The response argues that the defendant is not subject to the jurisdiction and laws of the court. According to the response read by Friend, God said, "I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you."

Reports say that the papers were filed by "King Cobra", a lawmaker in Nebraska.

Chambers had sued God for "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." Chambers, an agnostic, argues that his lawsuit is "frivolous" and "anybody can sue anybody."

I find the comment of Mr. Friend most interesting. I wonder what he means by "...all of a sudden...", does that mean he was staring at an empty desk one second, and the next instant it was there, or does it mean that it suddenly appeared while he was gone taking an extended break in the toilet?

Hit the comments and let us know what you think of this rather issue (for want of a better word).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nebraska Senator sues God

It's about time! It's not for the reasons that I would really prefer, but it will be interesting to see where this goes. I love the last sentence of the article, take a read. Hit the comments and let us know what you think.

Nebraska state Senator Ernie Chambers, who represents legislative District 11 in North Omaha, has filed an unusual lawsuit on Friday. According to court documents obtained by Wikinews, Chambers has decided to sue God, looking for a judge to issue a "permanent injunction" against the highest power.

Chambers says in his suit that god has spread fear across the globe causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants. [God also caused] fearsome floods, horrendous hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues, famine, genocidal wars, birth defects, terrifying tornadoes and the like" and he wants the courts to order God "to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries

Some interesting things happening in prisons.

Published: September 10, 2007

Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.

The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.

Some inmates are outraged. Two of them, a Christian and an Orthodox Jew, in a federal prison camp in upstate New York, filed a class-action lawsuit last month claiming the bureau’s actions violate their rights to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency was acting in response to a 2004 report by the Office of the Inspector General in the Justice Department. The report recommended steps that prisons should take, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, to avoid becoming recruiting grounds for militant Islamic and other religious groups. The bureau, an agency of the Justice Department, defended its effort, which it calls the Standardized Chapel Library Project, as a way of barring access to materials that could, in its words, “discriminate, disparage, advocate violence or radicalize.”


This seems to be a rather slippery slope to be taking. First it is taking books from prisoners, on the slim chance they will help prisons become a recruiting ground for terrorist group; how long till books are banned from the general public for the same reasons. Then, if you really want to take it to extremes, a purging of all religions that don't fit a specific criteria.
This is not so much a religious issue, as an issue of all freedoms.

Let us know what you think, hit the comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Get thee to a nunnery!

The most recent issue of Bust magazine reports that there is an influx of young women joining convents. While they don't provide any specific statistics, I wouldn't say their reporting is entirely flawed. I know three girls from my high school who joined convents within five years of graduation. While women aren't running off to convents in droves, it's happening.

Of course, I'm not particularly thrilled about this news. But the funny thing is, if I had been born 100 years ago (or before), I would have faked Catholic belief and joined a convent. I am childfree (choosing to not have children), and one of the best ways to escape parenthood was to be a nun. Even 100 years ago, birth control wasn't as reliable, and abortions were illegal (and the ones that were performed were pretty dangerous). Granted, not every single woman who didn't want kids had to join a convent. But it was probably the most reliable form of birth control out there. And for many women, life in a convent was their best chance at anything more than basic education. While they may have been fed quite a bit of religious propaganda, they were still able to read and study. I would rather be forced to study a religious text every day for the rest of my life than not be allowed to read or work. Life in a convent would never be ideal for me. But had I been born into a situation where my rights were significantly curtailed, I'd be willing to fake belief. My childfree identity is so strong that I would rather be confined by a religion I don't believe in than be confined by motherhood.

Perhaps my hypothetical willingness to be a nun makes me a "bad" atheist. But being a fake Catholic is something I would only do under extreme circumstances; it's not something I have to worry about today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What religion?

Does this sound like something you would hear in your daily life?

To conclude, I invite you to embrace Christianity, for the greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to God, the Most High, in all aspects of one’s life – i.e., to die outside of Christianity. And Christianity means gain for you in this first life and the next, final life. The true religion is a mercy for people in their lives, filling their hearts with serenity and calm.

While reading a transcript of Bin Laden's most recent tape, I found a paragraph that just sounded so familiar to me. I realized that I had heard something similar from a Xian missionary a few years before. With a few changes, we got the above paragraph.
What struck me is how similar religions really are. I'm not talking about the books, I'm talking about the people who profess the belief. An extremist in one religion would be as extreme if they held a different belief. When it comes down to it, it is about power, and control over the masses; the most extreme tend to want that power and control - it doesn't matter where it comes from.

Here is the original quote:
To conclude, I invite you to embrace Islam, for the greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one’s life – i.e., to die outside of Islam. And Islam means gain for you in this first life and the next, final life. The true religion is a mercy for people in their lives, filling their hearts with serenity and calm.
Copy of the transcript:
The ABC transcript (PDF) :

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Recent Study shows how the mind handles myths

An interesting article on how the mind works, when confronted with myths. When applied to religion, you can get a fascinating picture of belief.

The research also highlights the disturbing reality that once an idea has been implanted in people's minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can paradoxically reinforce it.

Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain's subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true.

Many easily remembered things, in fact, such as one's birthday or a pet's name, are indeed true. But someone trying to manipulate public opinion can take advantage of this aspect of brain functioning. In politics and elsewhere, this means that whoever makes the first assertion about something has a large advantage over everyone who denies it later.