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Reason Rally: Veni, Vidi, Vici

datePosted on 08:03, March 28th, 2012 by Kosmic Kurt

Below is a brief recap for those that missed the event and a reminder for those that did attend as to why we were there in the first place.

If you weren’t there, what did you miss?

In a word, everything! The reason Rally was the largest non-theistic convention ever. Never before have so many people and so many diverse groups within the freethought community come together for a single event. Officially there were just over 20,000 people – give or take, according to the National Parks facility people. Make that, just over 20,000 people on our feet for ten hours in the rain! We also all came together as atheists.

What did we see?

Leaders from all of the sponsoring organizations like David Silverman, Dan Barker, and Ron Lindsay
Comedians from Jamie Kilstein (I’m still sore from laughing) to Tim Minchin
Musicians like Bad Religion, Tim Minchin, Shelly Segal, and Andy Shernoff
Advocate Scientists like Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, and Lawrence Krauss
Celebrities like Bill Maher and Penn Jillette (via recorded video) and Adam Savage
Real life activist heroes like Jessica Ahlquist
and much more

Why?

To show our representatives in Washington, and the world for that matter, that we exist. We exist and we vote. Even in the rain, we stayed. We expressed our convictions and concerns. We also came together as a unified community. We put to bed that asinine saying that, “Getting non-believers together is like herding cats.”  FFRF with AA with AHA with CFI, oh my! Everyone put aside personal differences and bad histories and came together for reason, logic and a god-free lifestyle.

For those of us there, it was a profound emotional experience that none of us will ever forget. In the next few weeks there will be much commentary, blogs, reports, YouTube posts and more. Check it out and see what you missed. Whether you went or not, buy the video. It will help support the event which was funded by the organizations themselves along with a matching donation from Todd Stiefel (we love you Todd!).

What’s next?

Time to kick ass. Everyone left motivated and pumped. We need to take that energy and translate it to action. The American Atheists “Come Out” campaign is all about atheists coming out. There has never been a better time. We have the numbers and the abilities to influence public policy on all levels. We need to do that. We need to run for all public offices. Atheists need to be on local school boards, and in state assemblies. We can no longer sit on the sidelines while our country goes to hell (excuse the religious pun). The religious right has been infiltrating our government since they came to power in the early 1980’s. It’s time to take back our country and restore “real” American values of moral decency. As Penn Jillette so very eloquently expressed, “We are the just and moral ones. We must take the high moral ground and force the religious to rise to our level.”

What did you do this past weekend? Me, I can to Washington DC, I saw the largest gathering of rational people in history, and I participated in the event that will go down in history and the beginning of the new enlightenment for the United States. I came, I saw, I conquered.

Stand Up and Be Counted, Now!

datePosted on 12:23, February 8th, 2012 by Kosmic Kurt

I have advocated before and will continue to encourage people to stand up for their rights and be true to their own world views. The sooner one acknowledges that they no longer believe in fairy tales and reside in the real world, the better. However, now really is the time to speak up and be counted.  On March 24, 2012 the entire secular community is coming together for an unprecedented event: The Reason Rally. Never before have all major national organizations come together for such a gathering. Sponsoring organizations of the event include American atheists, The Center for Inquiry, the Atheist Alliance of America, The Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, Camp Quest, United COR, Secular Coalition of America and others. The list of featured speakers is unprecedented:  Richard Dawkins, James Randi, PZ Meyers, Adam Savage, and more. There will also be music by Tim Minchin and Bad Religion

The Reason Rally takes place at the National Mall in Washington DC. The event will be the single largest gathering of rational non-theists in the history of the world. If you are an atheist, humanist, or any type of non-theist, you need to attend this event.

We talk often of imagining the day when atheists will no longer be looked down upon, the day when atheists will be respected and are able to really hold political offices in all states. We talk about a future world where superstitions and age-old dogma no longer poisons the minds of humankind. That day may be a long way off, but this event will take us one giant step closer. Think of how it will feel to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow freethinkers. Image how, many years from now, you will be able to tell your children, or grandchildren, that you were there. You were at the rally. Many of you have attended national convections and know how much of a charge you get from that. Now imagine something like that only one hundred times bigger. Yes, there will most likely be tens of thousands of atheists from all over the world attending. One of them will be me. I encourage each and every one of you to join me, join your fellow freethinkers and show the world that we exist. Stay tuned for more updates.

Skip The Praying and Remember 9/11 For What It Is

datePosted on 23:37, September 10th, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

Today, the entire nation is “celebrating” the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Once again the nation will come together in prayer. Pray to God, the real god. The god that, oops, forgot to lift a finger to help save any of the thousands of innocent lives that were lost; the god that failed to do anything to prevent the billions of dollars of damage that was done. Yes, that god. The god that the late comedian George Carlin called, “Incompetent at best.” As I continually remind all of those that I know, it was religion that caused the destruction of the twin towers. It was religion that took the lives of many innocent people that day. It was a complete and unwavering dogmatic belief in a flawed worldview based upon misinterpretation of poorly written millennia-old nonsense that caused the events of 9/11. It was the exact same belief that caused millions to perish in crusades and inquisitions. It is the same belief that today takes the lives of children denied proper medical care or cause them harm by torturing them for being born in the first place. Islam, like Christianity, is guilty of causing death and destruction.

It’s easy to say, and many do, that it was Allah, not Jesus, that was responsible for 9/11. Yes, the terrorists were followers of Allah. The terrorists were adherents of Islam, and in their mind, they were carrying out their god’s will. But today, millions of Americans will pray to Jesus (and some to Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu, whoever) for thanks. Hello? Any of you lemmings ever consider what you’re doing? Thanks for what? For messing up and allowing people to get killed? If God was in the work-place, he would have been fired! Do not pray to an ineffectual, sadistic monster. Rather, how about we have a moment of silence to reflect upon how we lead our lives. Rather than pray to non-existent deities, why don’t we all make a pack with each other to treat each other with love and respect. Instead of praying to God to help prevent disasters (already proven that it doesn’t work), let’s look to ourselves. Let’s begin a new chapter in human social development and hold people accountable for their actions and look to the one proven entity that has the power to make the world a better place to live – us.

Ten years have come and gone since the tragic events of 9/11 and most people still miss the point. If religion had no stronghold, the twin towers would still be here. Only religion could motivate someone to commit such atrocities. And only religion can cause the current wave of hatred that spreads through our country like wildfires, accosting those who have divergent views from the masses. The world has many problems. But prayer is not the answer. Prayer is the problem.

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

–Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg, April 20th 1999

Only we have the power effect changes. Forget the praying and do something constructive and positive. Remember 9/11 for what it really is. A blatantly powerful example of what religion is capable of.

When Church and State Entangle

datePosted on 19:14, August 9th, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

When government becomes entangled with religion, disaster is the only result. This simple fact has been demonstrated time and time again. There are no winners – only losers. Recently I have been directly involved in a church and state abuse in my own community. Today is voting day for the recall elections in Wisconsin. I will not be one of those voting as I was forced to vote earlier by absentee ballot. The abuse I had to endure during my last voting experience precludes me from voting at my designated polling station. As I wrote about in an earlier post, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Village of Brown Deer put a Christian cross on the wall in the voting room between portraits of Presidents Washington and Lincoln. I complained to the Village Manager who did respond very cordially and promised to correct the problem. I was happy and satisfied. Well, at our most recent public election, not only was the cross still there but I now had the displeasure of looking at a “Happy Jesus Face” as well. This time I complained on the spot and was belittled and rebuffed in front of my neighbors by the president of the church. He emphatically declared that he would not remove anything and that no one could make him do otherwise. The entire experience was very unsettling to me and caused me a great deal of discomfort. So began the emails from me to the village board and the village attorney. I reached out to FFRF, AU and the ACLU for help as well. To date, only FFRF has written a letter on my behalf. The emails I have sent have been met with mixed responses; some cordial, some not so cordial. Nothing has been done to move the election site yet, but I am told that options are being considered. So I voted by absentee ballot and vowed not to enter St. Paul’s again. The hardest part of my ordeal is explaining to people why church and state should be kept separate. So many people just don’t get it. So many foolish people really think that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation. To those misguided individuals I offer the following:

The United States was founded by people who left England because they did NOT want to be told that they had to belong to the Church of England. The Church of England had long since severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church and had created its own brand of Christianity. Our founding fathers wanted to make sure that people could choose which, if any, god to pray to. Thomas Jefferson put it best when he wrote,

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Thomas Jefferson

Jan. 1. 1802

People who are ignorant in the matter of Jefferson’s Wall really need to stop preaching their nonsense and start thinking. The whole point of the First Amendment is to protect the rights of all citizens. It protects churches from being told what to do by the government. It protects individuals from being told which church they have to belong to. It states categorically that the government will not endorse one religion over another. By keeping church and state separate everyone one wins.

Below are pictures of the debacle at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church where voting for my district takes place. If anyone would like to contact the Village of Brown Deer the website is listed below. I would ask that if you do contact the village or any officials please be courteous and polite. I am engaged in dialog with the village and this my community where my family and I reside. Rather than spewing negative rhetoric, I am working hard to crate a positive change that will benefit everyone.

Village of Brown Deer

Bin Laden Dumped At Sea. Good!

datePosted on 19:33, May 3rd, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

The latest foolishness in the bin Laden saga is that Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, are complaining that the United States did not follow appropriate Islamic procedures when the body of bin Laden was dumped into the sea. Well I got news for all of the ignorant wining Muslim clerics, “too bad, none of your F’n business.” A killer was killed and disposed of in accordance with common sense – much more important than your silly outdated customs. I applaud the United States military in the handling of the disposal of their trash. Actually I would not have even announced to anyone how or where the body was disposed of. Bin Laden is already seen as a martyr by many. Having his body around for inspiration would be a colossal disaster. The body should just have been destroyed. It bothers me that our government would even make such a stupid statement that “the body was handled with respect.” Why? Perhaps because we want to show the world that we are not barbaric animals like the thug bin Laden was. Or maybe because we want to show the world that we respect others religious customs.

Well it’s done. Perhaps we can move on and deal with the fact that bin Laden or not, religion (Islam in this case), is still a dangerous threat to the security of all humankind. Bin Laden was evil. However, his evil was easily justified by his religion. Just as Thomas Aquinas justified torturing and killing millions of innocents, just as Moses justified committing genocide against the Midianites. All this and more done in the name of religion.

France Takes Hard Line Against Burqa

datePosted on 21:34, April 12th, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

Yesterday French police arrested two women who violated the new French law prohibiting full veils being worn in public. The law officially does not call out burqas, the traditional Muslim garb which denigrates women to second class citizens in most Muslim countries, but rather carefully refers to covering ones face. From a security point-of-view the French most certainly have a right to request that one’s identity can be clarified. Terrorism is something that we Americans have very little first-hand knowledge of. In Europe it is a much different situation. The law requires that anyone wearing a full facial veil or mask in public must remove it when asked to for identification purposes. I feel the law is reasonable. But more importantly, from a Humanist point-of-view, full facial veils, specifically the burqa, when worn for religious reasons, are an intolerable attack upon women. Islam is one of the most cruelest and inhumane religious when it comes to the treatment of women. The French pride themselves on individual freedoms. Although, at first, it may seem counterintuitive, the ban on the veils is correct. The less-than-one-percent of the French Muslim women who insist on wearing a burqa in public can be subject to arrest and a fine of 250 Euros. Other European countries are considering similar laws. Here in the United States it is doubtful that anything of the sort would ever happen. But then again, there are decency laws which prohibit inappropriate clothing – and lack of clothing, in public places. It is not okay to wear clothing with vulgar or profane pictures or language – especially in public places where children may be exposed to it. But then, what is considered vulgar and profane may differ from one area to another. Either way, the burqa is offensive against women and provides a security risk. I support the French.

Voting in Christian Brown Deer

datePosted on 18:24, April 5th, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

Brown Deer is a small Milwaukee suburb of about twelve thousand people. Today as I went to vote at the Lutheran church that had its community room transformed into a polling center, I was keenly aware of the paper crucifix proudly thumb-tacked to the bulletin board between the cutout pictures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. My leering gaze was interrupted by a cordial salutation from one of the volunteers who knows me by name. I smiled and said, “Good morning.” As my gaze returned to the offending icon, representing thousands of years of oppression and bloody killing, I was interrupted again by another smiling face issuing another genuinely friendly salutation. Should I stand out of the line I was in and make a scene and demand that the offending 12” piece of paper be removed. After all it is the principle of the matter. I was genuinely offended. On the other hand, this is my community and these simple people meant me no harm. Why should I ruin their day and by the angry atheist? In the end, I decided not to say anything. I went and voted and promptly left the church.

Those of you who know me, know what a difficult position I was forced into by the ignorant Christian majority of Brown Deer. I suppose I justified my inaction by rationalizing it was a matter of degrees. Had the cross been larger, had there been someone preaching in the room, I would have been forced to take action. But the little paper cross was so small. And yet, it was large enough to offend me. I decided I will send a letter to the Village President and perhaps someone at the state election board just so they are aware of the situation. Legal precedent would not be in my favor if I filed a formal complaint. Curious if anyone else has had a similar situation?

Catholics Rejoice. Your iPhone Can Forgive You!

datePosted on 21:18, February 8th, 2011 by Kosmic Kurt

Just when you thought that the smart phone for the masses couldn’t get any more impractical, developers have reached a new low. There is now a confessional app for the iPhone. The app has received a lot of attention, much in part to the story released on MSNBC and other news outlets. After a bit of digging I found that there are other confessional apps out there. The one highlighted in the article is sanctioned by Bishop Kevin Rhoades for official Catholic use.

Just to clarify so there is no misunderstanding, if you are Catholic, you can confess your sins to your iPhone you can be absolved of your un-Catholic-like escapades without having to actually show your face in a church. Hallelujah!

However, the app falls way short in my opinion of what it could do. So, for those of us that do not accept the concept of sin in the first place, I have an idea and a challenge to all of you hackers out there. We develop a hack to the app that lets the person complete their confession and then says, “You have sinned and are NOT forgiven.”  Then an image of Satan appears on the screen and the hack causes the phone to begin intense and excessive drain of the battery so that it heats up and eventually melts the phone. Now that would be a great app.

Carl Sagan

datePosted on 20:28, November 8th, 2010 by Kosmic Kurt

Although not formally a self-proclaimed atheist, Carl Sagan embodied the spirit of atheism and freethought. Sagan, more than anyone in recent memory, inspired millions to look at the universe with eyes open rather than closed. November 9th is Carl Sagan’s birthday. The Council for Secular Humanism has a website dedicated to him. Having a day named after this pioneer is very apropos. Many years ago when I was struggling with my own atheism, his book Broca’s Brain, really helped to solidify my convictions. He completely destroyed many myths and superstitions to the point of obsolescence.

Carl Sagan was the most recognizable scientist in the world at the time of his death. He brought the wonders of science into people’s living rooms. One of the reasons that science is having such a herd time defending itself against the ignorant religious right is the fact that there are not many scientists taking the time to reach out and talk to people. Sagan took the most complex subjects and brought them down to a level that even the most illiterate theist could understand.

Perhaps Sagan’s most enduring gift to humankind was the way he debunked pseudoscience. He was tireless in exposing nonsensical claims and religious dogma. Now, more than ever, we really need someone like Car Sagan. We need someone with the intelligence and the courage to reach out and speak out. Fourteen years after his passing, his words ring as true today as when he first spoke them.

My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts (as well as unable to take such a course of action) if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival. In either case, the enterprise of knowledge is consistent with both science and religion, and is essential for the welfare of the human species.”

Broca’s Brain

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

Pale Blue Dot

The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.

Contact

Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? … No other human institution comes close.

—The Demon-Haunted World

FFRF 33rd Annual Convention Day 2 Part 2

datePosted on 19:59, October 31st, 2010 by Kosmic Kurt

The Banquet Dinner was set up in the ballroom where the speakers had been. Only, we now had tables. My wife and I found a place to sit and had dinner. To our left was couple from Louisiana and to my right was a couple from Arizona.  The gentleman was a retired doctor and very strong advocate of woman’s rights. We had a great dinner consisting of awesome conversation with fellow freethinkers.

The drawing for “clean” money was fun – no I didn’t win.  Clean money is money produced before 1954 when the United States mint printed “E. Pluribus Unum” instead of the offensive “In God We Trust” which most uneducated right-wing theocrats think was used all along. The foundation had several young people draw the winners – the youngest being only two years old.

After the drawing, Dan Barker and Pulitzer Prize cartoonist Steve Benson provided the evening’s entertainment with “Tunes and Toons.”  Basically it was Steve Benson’s amazing artwork with Dan Barker’s phenomenal piano playing. It also included humorous banter between the two of them.  I can honestly say it as probably the highlight of the evening. Dan’s piano playing always leaves me awestruck. Combine that with an award-winning illustrator and you have Tunes and Toons. The final cartoon was a picture of John Lennon making a peace sign with one of his hands.  The Twin Towers were behind him burning with the smoke rising forming the word “Imagine” in the clouds while Dan played his rendition of John Lennon’s classic Imagine. That image, along with the song, pretty much summed up the weekend.

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