Church and State Separation Issue in the Supreme Court

datePosted on 11:31, May 5th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

President Obama has had a full plate since he took office just over 100 days ago. But nothing, not Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, North Korea, the banking industry, the automotive industry, health care, the swine flu, nothing, will have more of an impact on our lives than picking the next Supreme Court Justice. All of the mentioned subjects do greatly affect our lives. And to those that are suffering directly from the recession (job loss, house foreclosure); you have my most sincere sympathy. But picking a new Supreme Court Justice will not just affect our lives, but perhaps those of future generations, as well.

The Supreme Court is our last line of defense. It is the entity of government that protects the individual or individuals from unconstitutional actions. The current Supreme Court is finely balance between right wing radicals that are against keeping abortion legal and do not agree with the first amendment (Scalia and Thomas, for example) and those that do believe in a woman’s right to choose and also in the first amendment establishment clause (Ginsburg and Stevens, for example). Justice David Souter will be stepping down at the end of the current session. Souter has historically been more liberal and has consistently supported separation of church and state even though he was hired by a conservative republican (Bush Sr.). We further have to consider that Justice Stevens is eighty nine years old and most assuredly will be retiring during Obama’s administration too. Ginsburg is seventy-six.

Back before the presidential election I urged voters to keep the Supreme Court in mind when considering candidates. Our freedom of and from religion was literally at stake. It would make sense for Obama to hire a woman – we only have one presently serving. When Sandra Day O’Conner retired, George Bush Jr. took the opportunity to replace her with a conservative white male. Personally I do not care about race, sex, heritage, etc. I care about someone opposing Scalia, Thomas and the theocratic hegemony they are trying to create. I have yet to meet a single African American who agrees with even one decision that Thomas (an African American) has made. He speaks only for the the white male extreme religious right. And Scalia has argued that Christianity should be taught in public schools. Both of them, along with the conservative Bush appointees Alito and Roberts are a serious threat to our first amendment rights. If another right-wing radical is appointed, we are all screwed! I personally feel Obama will hire a woman to fill the next vacancy. Based on Obama’s actions during his first 100 days, she will most likely be a moderate rather than a liberal. Coming from a legal background Obama must realize what is at stake. I just hope he does not reach too far across the isle and tip the scales in the wrong direction.

Now is the Time to Come Out

datePosted on 15:38, April 27th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

More and more people are declaring themselves atheist. A recent New York Times article describes how a small local humanist group put up a billboard and received positive inquires from many new people, as well as, over one hundred people showing up for a recent public symposium they gave. Those of you that consider yourself to be a “freethinker,” now is your time. Get information on local groups and Join Them! Most people think atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other freethinkers are such a small minority and that we just don’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recent surveys put the number non-believers around 15% of the United State population. The issue is that we are also the most non-organized minority in the country.

Many freethinkers belong to large national groups and subscribe to journals and other periodicals. But very few actually belong to local groups and go out and try and make a difference. Again, now is the time! If there are issues in your community, you need the help of your fellow freethinkers to fight discrimination and violations of your rights. The Atheist Alliance maintains a huge database of local groups from all over. Start there and then call or email the groups you find. You can also contact the other large national groups to see if they know of any local organizations. The point is you need to get organized. There is power in numbers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/us/27atheist.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper#

Religion Class For Adults

datePosted on 14:10, April 24th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

It is absolutely frightening how many people have no idea that there are  other people with different beliefs than their own. I am constantly being assaulted by ignorance that I would never have dreamed as being possible. The current controversy taking place right here in Southeastern Wisconsin involving high school graduations taking place in a Christian church has spawned a  huge volume of breathtakingly uninformed bogs and letters being posted everywhere. It’s a big problem when people are arguing that non-Christian children should be forced to go to a church to receive their diploma. But, it’s an even bigger problem when they are trying to defend the church as being “non-denominational!” Yes, it is a non-denominational Christian church. These mind-bogglingly ignorant Christians just can’t understand that not everyone is Christian.

The school boards themselves are responding that the ceremony is secular in nature and religion is not invoked. Please see the below picture of the “non-religious” setting that the graduations are taking place in – the one with the twenty foot tall monolith representing two thousand years of intolerance and hatred to all who oppose their hurtful anachronistic talking snake / bastard-child myth. Christian churches – all of them, teach that the 30% or more of us that are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, etc. are evil and will spend eternity rotting in hell. If any of these me-centric Christians were forced to attend their child’s graduation in a Shiite mosque that teaches that Christians are infidels and will go to hell, do you think they would want to attend?

I’m not angry at the church. It’s just doing what churches do and happily taking in donations from members – and school districts. I’m angry at the school board, the parents and everyone else who is so selfish and irresponsibly ignorant to the pain and suffering they are causing. I am angry at the money that is going to be wasted in lawsuits trying to protect our children from an institution that is supposed to educate them.

Perhaps if we taught comparative religion classes in schools, this wouldn’t be happening. In order to graduate high school our children need to profess a competency in reading and mathematics. How about a competency class for the teachers and parents on the diversity that makes up our great country. How about a class for adults on discrimination and prejudice and how to treat all people with the respect they deserve and not push their intolerant tribal beliefs on others.

Time to sever ties with the Vatican

datePosted on 13:40, April 15th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

The Obama administration has informally suggested at least three possible candidates as ambassador to the Vatican. All three, one of whom was Caroline Kennedy, have all been rejected by the Vatican for their pro-abortion views. Obama has made it clear that he will support the constitutional right of women to have abortions. So, either Obama picks a Pro-lifer, or the Pope accepts a Pro-choicer. Your guess is as good as mine. However, being that Obama is trying to include EVERYONE, he is probably the one who will capitulate.

Why does the United States need to have an ambassador to the Vatican? We don’t have one for any other religious organization. The Vatican stands for religious dogma. The United States has a constitution which says that religion should not affect public policy. Again, why bother? It is time to sever ties with this divisive, hateful, irresponsible, and murdering institution.

There is no difference between the Vatican and many terrorist organizations. Both spread lies and fear. Both have killed innocents for no reason. As a result of the policies of the current Pope, and past ones, millions of people die each year because the Catholic Church prevents the use of contraception in third-world countries. When the Pope issues a statement, it is almost always against scientific progress. Too many leaders listen to this nonsense. How many people’s lives could have possibly been saved if the United States was actively involved in stem cell research during the past eight years? With the possible exception of mainline Islam, no other organization has done more to hurt individuals, destroy human rights, and stifle scientific progress than the Vatican.

Today’s terrorist activities pale in comparison to the atrocities ordered by past popes (inquisition). Fortunately more and more Catholics are dissenting from many of the papal decrees. Bravo! Perhaps in time more people will see the Pope as the worthless, old, perverted, sadistic, dogmatic anachronism that he truly is. We can only hope.

Of Bunnies and Eggs…

datePosted on 13:50, April 10th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

Being an atheist and trying to raise a child sometimes presents interesting challenges. I come from a Reform Jewish background and my wife comes form a Catholic/Lutheran one. This time of year is particularly challenging. Most Jews are observing the Passover holiday. This celebrates the merciless god Yahweh killing tens of thousands of innocent Egyptian children. Well, in all fairness the Jews celebrate the fact that Yahweh killed the Egyptian children but spared the Hebrew ones. The whole idea always made me sick so I decided long ago not to celebrate or even acknowledge Passover.

Easter has always been difficult because it falls on different days each year.

After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic “full moon”) is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic “vernal equinox”).
–Wikipedia

As for why we have Easter in the first place;  Christians celebrate their bastard child coming back to life and somehow merging with Yahweh and some type of spirit or ghost. The end result is that now all people are sinners and the bastard child died for their sins. The reason why you are a sinner is because 5000 years ago a woman made from a rib bone had a conversation with a talking snake and ate a magical piece of fruit. An absolutely ridiculous and unsatisfying story. We don’t “celebrate” this either. No, we celebrate bunnies and eggs.

We celebrate bunnies and chocolate eggs. We celebrate having our daughter look for plastic eggs that we’ve hidden through the house and filled with candy. We explain that it is a minor holiday celebrating the beginning of Spring Break. When my daughter is older we will explain the awful roots of the holiday, but for right now she can enjoy it as a silly fun festival of bunnies and eggs.

Don’t Forget To Vote

datePosted on 14:38, April 7th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

Today the State of Wisconsin has two important elections of interest to us non-theists. The position of State Supreme Court Justice and that of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Both are pretty much a no-brainer for us. In the Supreme Court race we have challenger Randy Koschnick who is suported by the religious right. He is verbally anti-gay to the extend of recently chastising the Iowa Supreme Court for upholding constitutional rights. I formally endorse Shirley Abrahamson as an excellent and fair judge. We do not need a radical right-winged intollerant extrmist running our court system.

In the battle for Superintendant of Public Instruction I don’t see much to argue about either. Rose Fernandez is supported by many religious organizations and is a proponent of home schooling! That’s right. The person running to take control of the State’s public education advocates home schooling.  Furthermore, Fernandez, who is a nurse, has never worked for the public school system. Her opponent, Tony Evers has served the State of Wisconsin for over 30 years. He does not favor home schooling and is very much against taking money away from public schools. Wisconsin schools are in need of much reform. Our educational standards need to be restructured. However, home schooling and funneling money to religious organizations is not the way to do it.

Rasmussen Apologizes to Islam

datePosted on 17:13, April 6th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

Newly nominated NATO Secretary General and former Prime Minster of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, formally apologized in Istanbul Turkey today for the Danish cartoons that satirized the Islamic prophet Mohammad back in 2006.

“I was deeply distressed that the cartoons were seen by many Muslims as an attempt by Denmark to mark and insult or behave disrespectively towards Islam or the Prophet Mohammad. Nothing could be further from my mind.”

This was the man that defended freedom of speech and was the hero of all of Europe. But now he wants to be Secretary General so he feels he needs to capitulate to the Islamic intolerance (in order to get Turkey’s vote). I realize this is not a complete apology – and hopeful it stops here – but it’s still bullshit! No other religion on the face of the earth is as intolerant and uncompromisingly arrogant as Islam. Every single day people say horrible things and propagate lies about non-believers. George Bush the elder claimed,

“…I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Did Bush, or will anyone ever apologize – no! But then atheists don’t threaten to kill in the name of pretend gods or prophets.

Church and State Separation Benefits All

datePosted on 14:31, April 6th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa State Supreme Court overturned a ten-year lower court ruling banning same sex marriages in Iowa. The ruling is well worded and very relevant. It grants that same sex marriages are legal in Iowa, while also preserving a particular religion’s right to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman so they can discriminate as they see fit. It states that public policy will not be dictated by any particular religious ideology. This is really a win for both the religious and the non-religious, as well as, both the straight and the gay – all people benefit from this. It has already been suggested that this decision will instigate a large shift in the population of LGBTs to Iowa, thus stimulating their economy. Good for Iowa. I was going to say that I applaud their progressive thinking. But then, Thomas Jefferson actually came up with the idea of keeping religion out of public policy over two hundred years ago. So, thank you Iowa for having the courage to uphold the constitution.

Texas Schools Fall; Rest of the Nation to Follow?

datePosted on 13:19, March 30th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

The State of Texas has joined the ranks of others in helping to “dumb down” our nation’s children. Religious radicals tried to infuse a new version of creationism, called “strengths and weaknesses’ into the state school curriculum. That measure was fortunately defeated by one vote. However, they did succeed in weakening many of the scientific principles that our children are supposed to be learning. Basically, teachers will now have the ability to teach other alternative nonsense if they themselves don’t understand or approve of modern scientific concepts.

The Texas idea is to expose students to alternative ideas. What alternatives? Alternatives to reality? Evolution, cell theory, and a 13.7 billion-year-old expanding universe are all scientific facts. To call them anything else is a lie. I do believe that creationism should be taught in schools. Yes I do – in history or mythology classes. Not in science classes. When will people stop electing morons to school boards? Religions posit supernatural explanations for things that have actual explanations. Science is about the real world we live in. Not an imaginary one. I love the Harry Potter stories and watch the movies with my daughter. But I would object strongly to the teaching of witchcraft as an alternative to medical principles or astrology as an alternative to astronomy in our schools. There has never been a single valid idea proposed as an alternative to evolutionary theory – never. No, god is not a scientific theory. You can not test an imaginary friend.

The sad part of this story is that Texas is one of largest markets for textbooks. The textbook manufactures are going to make books based on the recommendations by school boards. So, if Texas says it’s alright to say the universe is only 6,000 years old, that asinine concept will find its way into textbooks that are used all across the nation. Texas will doom not only its own children but those of the entire nation.

If you do not want to return to the Dark Ages – the time when religion ruled the world and the average life expectancy was 35 – then get involved now! Call, write, email your local and state school board members. Talk to them. Engage them in dialog about their position on teaching science in science classes. If they are illiterate and live in a fantasy world, expose them and vote them out. The future of our nation depends on it.

Battlestar Galactica and God

datePosted on 19:45, March 24th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

In a slight departure from the normal theme of this website I want to talk about sci-fi. I recently watched the final episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. The four year run of the Sci-Fi Channel’s remake of the 1970’s hit show came to its climactic conclusion. As a sci-fi fan I had watch every episode and was eagerly waiting for all of the loose ends to be tied up. The Sci-Fi Channel had promoted the event with the slogan “You will know the truth.” Well the truth came and exploded with the impact of a supernova across this atheist’s brain. Their “truth” was: God!

—Spoiler Warning—

For those that have no idea of what I’m talking about, Battlestar Galactica was an experiment in television. It was, in my opinion, one of the most violent, graphic, engaging and mysterious adventures in television history. The plot lines at times made episodes of “Lost” seem like a Disney movie. The show was about the last survivors of the human race fleeing from a robotic race that they had created, the Cylons. The Cylons had turned on their creators and destroyed the 12 planetary worlds of the humans and were now pursuing the lone survivors. The humans were trying to reach a mythic “13th tribe” that according to legend split off from the rest of civilization thousands of years prior. The home of the 13th tribe was called Earth.

In addition to all of the special effects, dramatic plot lines, very adult themes and all of the other things made the show exciting; BSG was heaped in lots of mysticism and religion. I realized this from the start but because the production value was so high and the plot was so good I watched anyway. Besides almost everyone (humans) practiced a polytheistic religion so I didn’t take it too seriously. Some of the main characters were atheists, so I was content. As the show moved on there was an increasing amount of emphasis on prophesies and the idea of destiny. All of this was mixed with healthy skepticism so it really didn’t bother me. Well in the end, they answered all of the impossible to answer mysteries they had created over the past four years with one answer, “It was the will of God.”

Instead of even attempting to describe any of the unanswered questions and crazy story lines they had created, they pretty much invoked a deus ex machina and had the main characters literally say, “It was in God’s plan.” I dug around and found an interview with Ron Moore, the executive producer and found these interesting comments:

“I sort of assumed that the Colonials would have a belief system and figured it would probably be polytheistic, that seemed to be what they referred to in the original… “But it wasn’t really until relatively late in the game that I sort of randomly gave the Cylons a belief system.” …”I was in the middle of creating the characters and I was working on some lines for Number Six (a Cylon character) and I thought it was interesting if she professed a belief in God, in a single God.”
…”There came this notion of this outside monotheistic belief of the one true God that could not tolerate others, that started to drive out pagan worship and that fit very nicely with what we were doing with the show.”

Ron Moore, executive producer

The end of the series also promotes the idea of Intelligent Design. We (modern-day humans) are descended from a Cylon-Human child that was part of the original landing party on Earth 150,000 years ago. In other words we didn’t evolve – at least not on Earth. We are also shown that this has been a cycle that had been going on for quite some time and that maybe this time the cycle will be broken. Yes, there are many elements of Eastern Hindu – Jainism – Buddhism in there as well. The idea that humans were “planted” on Earth in accordance to a plan is just a bit much for me to swallow. I love sci-fi, and BSG will always remain one of my favorite shows. But I’m disappointed and feel a bit let down with final episode. Once again, something that was so wonderful has been riuned by religion. The theists will probably have a field day with this one – and I can’t blame then. In the sci-fi world of Battlestar Galactica, God reigns supreme:(

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