Obama Scores a Big One with Science Team Announcement

datePosted on 20:41, December 21st, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

Okay, I just got done blasting President-elect Obama on his poor choice of choosing right-wing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. And no, I do not take any of it back. It was a bad decision. However, Obama has recently made a very good decision. Four of them actually. Obama has named four brilliant and dedicated scientists to his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. This is a very welcome move that clearly indicates a new direction for the United States. President Bush’s “War on Science” has resulted in an incalculable amount of damage that will probably take several generations to reverse. In his weekly internet address, Obama outlined a clear and distinct path that science will take in his administration. This, to me, is the most encouraging and positive public announcement I have heard in some time. The United States used to be the leader of cutting edge innovations in all fields of science and technology. While the past administration was preaching religious doctrine and ignoring and ridiculing scientists, the rest of the world passed us by. Now perhaps we have a fighting chance to regain some of what was lost. Now that is real change. Good move Mr. President-elect. Keep it up!

Link to 12/20/08 President-elect Obama’s Weekly Address

Evangelical Pastor to give Obama Invocation

datePosted on 14:05, December 18th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

Rick Warren, the Pro-Choice, anti-LGBT, right-wing evangelical pastor will give the invocation at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. Obviously I have a great deal of difficulty rationalizing this bigoted religious figure taking part in anything in my life, but to hold center stage in front of hundreds of millions of people worldwide is maddening. It’s clear as day that Obama wants to include the Religious Right, but this, to me, is way over-the-top. Obama may as well just say that everything the Democratic Party stands for irrelevant.

Why must we have an invocation or a benediction, for that matter, in the first place? There is plenty of “religion” to go around at the inauguration as it is. Most presidents say, “…so help me God” at the end of their oath. It is not required, yet they do it. Theodore Roosevelt said, “…and thus I swear.” Good Theodore! But Obama is no Roosevelt. He will utter the “G” word. Rick Warren will probably behave admirable and end of looking good. But it is a massive lie and a horrible injustice to all LGBT’s in the United States – not to mention women in general. Acknowledging Warren in any capacity gives credence to his archaic divisive hateful views.

Note to the president-elect: From those of us that look to you as a welcome change to make an attempt to unite our nation, you’ve just put a giant wedge right down the center. Not a great start. Shame on you!

FFRF Sues City After “No Religion” Billboard Taken Down

datePosted on 14:36, December 2nd, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the city of Ranch Cucamonga in Southern California for removing their billboard after alleged complaints and a phone call from city representative Linda Daniels. The billboards depicts the ubiquitous World Trade Center twin towers with the words “Imagine no religion” taken form John Lennon’s song Imagine (shown elsewhere in this blog). General Outdoor sign company removed the billboard after Daniels called and said the city had allegedly received 90 calls complaining about the billboard.

This is clearly a perfect example of a city giving preferential treatment to a religious majority over a non-religious minority. The Bill of Rights was created for the express purpose of preventing this from happening. The city is violating the rights of the FFRF and other non-believers. What’s more, this action reflects very poorly on the religious protesters.  Everyday I come in contact with religious billboards and religious advertising that I find very offensive. So, I look away or change the channel – or better yet, if there is an opportunity for me to express another view – I express it. Suppressing the opinions of any group because they differ from yours is very wrong. When the government does it, it is illegal.

From a philosophical point of view, the world would indeed be a much better and safer place to live in without religion. In recent memory I don’t recall any atheists bombing subways or flying airplanes into

buildings. Those acts belong to Christians, Muslims, and other believers. Apparently the people of  Rancho Cucamonga are so comfortable with their religious hatred and violence that they can’t Imagine life without it.

No religion’ billboard taken down after complaints

By The Associated Press, Associated Press

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – Complaints have led to the removal of an atheist group’s “Imagine No Religion” billboard in this San Bernardino County city.

The General Outdoor sign company took down the Freedom From Religion Foundation billboard after the city said it received about 90 complaints and asked whether there was a way to remove it.

The Madison, Wis.-based foundation, which advocates separation of church and state, has billboards in eight states that include such messages as “Reasons Greetings” and “Beware of Dogma.”

The foundation’s co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said the billboard is meant to encourage a debate about religion by evoking lyrics from a John Lennon song.

“The city has no business suggesting our billboard be censored,” Gaylor said. “They’re not allowed to interfere over religious controversy.”

The city’s actions are “dangerously close” to censorship and a violation of the First Amendment, said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition.

“A city government has no business trying to dictate or influence the content of an advertising image, particularly one that’s political and controversial as this is simply because some people don’t like it and complained about it,” Scheer said.

Creationism in UK Schools

datePosted on 21:04, November 11th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

A recent survey conducted by Teachers TV in the United Kingdom indicated that 18% of the science teachers surveyed thought creationism/intelligent design should be given equal status with evolution; indicating that they did not even know what a scientific theory is. Science broadcaster Adam Rutherford stated that such teachers should be removed from teaching science. Here here! A lucid voice of reason. Those that are ignorant or just plain stupid enough to suggest that the “controversy” should be taught do not belong teaching our children. When will they get it? There is no controversy. Creationism is an idea (a bad one). It is not a scientific theory. There is no evidence, nothing to test or falsify. It fails every single definition of a good (or even bad) scientific theory. I am so sick of hearing about this nonsense. Teachers who want to teach religious dogma are free to do so in their churches and private homes – but not in schools. Unfortunately the UK does not have any separation of state and church laws in place to protect both knowledge and religion. Here in the United States we do have the First Amendment. All of us need to defend the First Amendment whenever it is threatened by the ignorant and evil who try to force their ill-conceived drivel into our public schools.

Link

http://www.teachers.tv/news/30218

A Return to Science

datePosted on 14:06, November 11th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

Now that the election is finally over and most of us can get back to a normal routine, we need to remember that science and reason must continue be a priority and our daily lives. With the election of Barack Obama as our next president we are at least given the hope of a return to an age of intellectual and scientific progress. Obama has stated he would reverse many of the Bush anti-science policies that were imposed during the past eight years. He has also pledged to end the moratorium on science that the Bush administration created by appointing a Science and Technology adviser to his cabinet. It’s about time! It’s still not entirely clear how Obama will react to state and church separation issues. He has already violated them during the election process. But all in all it appears that the religious right will not get a “special” place in his administration. Let’s hope so.

Links

Obama to reverse Bush policies

Obama on science



Both Obama and McCain Use Churches to Get the Vote Out.

datePosted on 21:22, November 2nd, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

The associated press reported today that both presidential candidates sent their volunteers to churches to motivate people to vote. Propaganda either supporting or decrying one candidate or the other was plentiful. Spokesmen for both sides say they are not violating the law because the churches are not directly telling people to vote for one candidate or the other. Do they really think people are that stupid? Political action groups are handing out fliers in churches.  Both parties are busing people to polling stations from churches. They are using churches as a vehicle to campaign! The AP article makes a point of saying that both sides were respectful not to violate federal laws that would jeopardize a church’s tax-exempt status.  But come on! The almost non-existent fine line they are walking is just an insult to state and church separation. I am going to be so glad when this election is over.

Link to the original article

Dan Barker Rocks SWiFT Meeting

datePosted on 23:08, November 1st, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

Today Dan Barker, the Co-President of The Freedom from Religion Foundation, was the guest speaker at the monthly SWiFT (Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers) meeting. Those of us that were there were treated to thought provoking discourse and musical entertainment. Barker is an accomplished musician and composer. He entertained us on the piano and sung various songs from his repertoire including Friendly Neighborhood Atheist and Vatican Rag. The Freedom from Religion Foundation has a lot to be proud of. They have successfully launched numerous lawsuits against separation of state and church violations including the current lawsuit against President Bush and others for the National Day of Prayer, to name just one.

Barker is an amazing individual and someone who is who should be looked at as a roll model for how to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. His appearance motivated me – and hopefully others present. Today, especially, we need to stand up for our rights. The political climate of the United States is very hostile toward Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, and just about anyone who is not a Christian. The United States is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian nation. We owe it to ourselves and our descendants to make a stand and rock the boat whenever we can to set things right. I am proud to be an Atheist and proud to say that someone like Dan Barker resides among our ranks.

Remember 9/11 – Without the Prayer Please!

datePosted on 14:59, September 11th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

As we remember those who lost their lives in the terrorists’ attacks of 2001, let us do so without prayer. For it was belief in a god that caused the tragedy in the first place. Here is a quick history lesson for those who have forgotten. Seven years ago a bunch of educated, highly trained (they would have to be in order to fly the airplanes) brave men hijacked four airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. These men were not fanatics; they were devoted religious followers fulfilling their god’s plan. Their god may not be the mainstream god in the United States, but a god nevertheless. They were doing what they believed their god wanted them to do.

Many other atheists have argued , and I fully concur, that only religion and faith in a deity could have motivated these people to commit such terrible acts. Their belief was so strong that they killed innocents and took their own lives in the name of their god. Killing in the name of a god has been, and continues to be a common practice (The Crusades, The Inquisition, Northern Ireland, Iraq, etc). And it is an acceptable practice (depending on whose side you are on).

The events of 9/11 were horribly tragic and my thoughts go out to the survivors of the innocent victims. But I also want to remind everyone that there is an important lesson to be learned from this. It was faith that killed these people. It was faith that motivated the religious faithful to kill. No matter how you look at it, praying is a ridiculous and counter-productive effort. If you believe in the existence of many gods, then the Islamic one is obviously more powerful and your prayers to the Judeo-Christian god accomplish nothing. If you believe there is only one god then you are praying to the very god that caused this catastrophe in the first place – WTF? Finally, if you doubt that any god could or would change the laws of physics and take action based on your futile supplication, you are obviously wasting your time. So why bother?

Rather than embracing the agent that is responsible for this tragic event, we should move on to question whether we, as a society, want to continue to support an enterprise (religion) that fosters this type of bloodshed. I say NO! Do not pray for the victims of 9/11, remember them the next time religion asks you to do something that causes harm to others. Let the unfortunate victims of 9/11 serve as a painful reminder of what true unquestioning faith is capable of achieving.


 

 

Biblical Education in Public Schools

datePosted on 16:26, September 4th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

WorldNetDaily Exclusive
Texas to teachers: Bible will be taught
Plan requires instruction in both Old and New Testaments


Posted: August 29, 2008
8:17 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh


WorldNetDaily


The Bible history and literature will be taught in Texas public schools

The Bible’s history and literature will be required to be taught in public schools in Texas under a new law that has been clarified by the state attorney general to mean exactly what it says.

“This is a huge victory for the people of Texas and, I think, for people across the country for academic freedom,” said Jonathan Saenz, a lawyer for Liberty Legal. “There are 1,300 references to the Bible in the works of Shakespeare alone. Over 60 percent of the allusions studied in [advanced placement] English come from the Bible. Students are going to be better academically and culturally when they hear about the Bible.”

The decision is a result of work by the state legislature as well as an opinion from Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, in a letter to Education Commissioner Robert Scott. House Bill 1287 was approved by state lawmakers in the spring of 2008, and it was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry. It states all school districts must offer the course as an elective at the high school level by the 2009-2010 school year.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, the author of the plan, said if 15 or more students express interest in the course, districts must provide it.

(Story continues below)

“A lot of schools don’t know they can have the course, and this bill notifies them that the Supreme Court ruled school districts can offer it,” Chisum said earlier in advocating for the plan. “School districts should know they can offer the course because it better prepares students for college literature and history classes.”

Kevin Franck, of the People for the American Way, told the San Antonio newspaper his group isn’t necessarily opposed to the plan, but will be watching its implementation.

And Chisum said the legislature specifically addressed the Bible, not the Quran or any other religious writing, because “the Bible as a text … has historical and literary value.”

“It can’t go off into other religious philosophies because then it would be teaching religion, when the course is meant to teach literature,” he said.

Saenz told WND the actual curriculum – whether schools use only the Bible or another text – is left up to the local school district boards.

“Students more and more have been demanding the courses,” he said. “The problem has been that school districts have been threatened [by activists] for offering the courses.

“Now they’ve got the state board of education’s clear guidelines, and support from the attorney general,” he said.

He said his organization has been involved in the adoption of the law from its beginning. Counting members of both houses in the legislature, the vote in Texas was 167-3 for the plan.

Liberty Legal, a group committed to defending religious freedoms and First Amendment rights, had been asked to submit a brief on the issue of requiring schools to teach the Bible.

Saenz told WND the requirement allows such education to be either in a regular class or a separate class.

He noted that in one school district close to Dallas, already 160 students have signed up for the class.

Among the subjects that must now be taught in Texas are English, math, science, social students, health, physical education, fine arts, economics, technology and “religious literature, including the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament.”

“A school district must, of course, offer instruction in the subject matter … ‘as required curriculum,'” said the attorney general’s opinion, confirming for state education officials the legislature’s intent. “The Legislature did not mandate that this curriculum instruction be provided in independent courses.’

One group, the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, promotes its curriculum as the only one that uses the Bible as its primary textbook. Supporters include the conservative American Family Association, Eagle Forum and Plano-based Liberty Legal.

Council President Elizabeth Ridenour said the group’s material already is being used in 54 Texas school districts. There also are other curriculums that use their own textbooks.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with offering biblical studies in high school providing it is a literature course. I suspect that many religious teachers will exploit this opportunity and preach, rather than educate. This law also elevates the Judeo-Christian Bible above other “holy” books. I would also questions Saenz’s logic about all the references made to the Bible.  There are a great many references made to our Constitution.  So where are the Constitution classes in our schools?

Palin: Another Uneducated Right Wing Fanatic.

datePosted on 16:20, September 4th, 2008 by Kosmic Kurt

I did not intend this blog to be a political blog. However, with the mess brewing on the campaign trail I feel compelled to point out some important facts. It’s not hard to find information on Republican Vice-President nominee Sarah Palin. She has made quite a name for herself as a strong proponent of creationism. She clearly demonstrates that she has little or no formal education in science. Along with her running mate John McCain, she has stated she is in favor of introducing a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal. Palin supports Jews for Jesus’ David Brickner in blaming Israel’s problems on their lack of belief in Jesus. This woman is bad news all the way around.

McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate

Selection of anti-choice Palin shows just how extreme McCain presidency will be

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Sen. John McCain’s selection today of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is further evidence that a McCain presidency will be just another four years of the same old Bush-style anti-choice policies. Just like McCain, Palin opposes a woman’s right to choose. Palin has also stated her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

“John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate proves just how rigid and extreme his administration would be when it comes to a woman’s right to choose,” Keenan said. “For 25 years, McCain has opposed a woman’s right to choose, and we know that he will continue to push anti-choice policies in the White House. McCain’s pick of anti-choice Sarah Palin is further evidence that his White House will be just another four years of Bush-style policies. Any remaining doubts about McCain’s extreme anti-choice position should be put to rest when voters learn about the combined anti-choice records of Sarah Palin and John McCain.”

Palin, a member of the anti-choice group Feminists for Life, said during her campaign for governor that she is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. [Juneau Empire, “Abortion Draws Clear Divide in State Races,” accessed 8/29/08 and Anchorage Daily News, “Governor’s Race: Top contenders meet one last time to debate,” 11/03/06.]

“Sen. McCain’s selection of Palin as his vice-presidential running mate is especially troublesome for the unique audience of women voters NARAL Pro-Choice America is targeting: Independent and Republican pro-choice women in suburban andAmericans are tired of the kind of divisive anti-choice policies that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have pledged to continue to support. The contrast between pro-choice Sen. Obama and anti-choice Sen. McCain is clear. Voters are looking for a leader who respects women’s freedom and privacy. Barack Obama is that leader.” S exurban swing districts. These women play a pivotal role in the presidential election. Recent polling confirms how, once these voters know McCain’s extreme opposition to a woman’s right to choose and family planning, they will switch parties to support Sen. Barack Obama.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, which tracks all choice-related votes in Congress and ranks all 50 states on the status of women’s reproductive rights, classifies Sarah Palin as anti-choice.

Information about the polling can be found here. Learn more about NARAL Pro-Choice America’s actions to educate voters on McCain’s anti-choice record at www.MeetTheRealMcCain.com.

Contact:
Kathryn Prael, 202.973.3032


Jewish voters may be wary of Palin

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13098.html

‘Creation Science’ enters the race

http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/story/8347904p-8243554c.html

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