“Ground-Zero” Mosque

Posted 08/14/2010 by What-the-F@!th?!
Categories: Current Events, Religion and Government

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President Barack Obama recently made a statement concerning the infamous “Ground-Zero” mosque and many are in outrage over his “support” to those who wish to build it.  My question is why?  What’s so offensive about supporting the Constitution and, more specifically, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment?

First off, the “Ground-zero” mosque is not at “Ground-zero.” It’s actually a couple of blocks away. What’s being built there isn’t even a mosque. What’s being built there is a community center which is 13 stories in height and of those 13 stories the top 2 are designated as a Muslim prayer space.

There are lots of people claiming this to be a very patronizing and insensitive thing to do. I don’t buy it.  I have yet to see any credible evidence which suggests the community center is being built for reasons that can be considered malicious. Either way, feelings are ultimately irrelevant. You can get as upset as you want to get. It won’t change the Constitution. This public display of anger is just another attempt to deny these Muslims their rights. Those who are in opposition to the community center know they can’t stop it because the Constitution protects the right to freely exercise religion. They’re playing their little violins and sad music to try and convince the Muslims to deny themselves of their own rights as Americans. They’re trying to get the Muslim community to censor themselves.

Also, Muslim lives were lost on the morning of September the 11th.  Islam is a religion with approximately a billion adherents and the atrocities of that day were caused by a minority view within Islam so I find it worth emphasizing that a vast majority of Muslims are not our enemies and it is unethical to treat them as such by holding them responsible for the crimes of others.  That is not to say that Islam has done enough to denounce and stifle the extremism because in my opinion, it hasn’t.

A disgust of Islam, the taken life of a loved-one, and hurt feelings do not give anyone precedence to deny others, who had no hand in September the 11th, their rights, which is in this case, the right to freedom of religion as laid out in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  We constantly hear complaints from gun advocates concerning attacks on their Second Amendment rights.  These people obviously know how it feels to have their rights in danger.  This is analogous to just about every other civil rights issue: slavery, suffrage of blacks and women, segregation, homosexual discrimination, and atheist discrimination.  Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you have the right to take away others’ rights.


The “Power” of Prayer

Posted 08/13/2010 by What-the-F@!th?!
Categories: Matters of Faith

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Far too many believe in the “power of prayer” when there is no reason, and more importantly, no evidence, to believe such a thing.  Studies have shown there is no advantage to prayer; meaning the odds of “success” are the same regardless of how much prayer is done, how many pray for it, and where the prayer is offered.  That is not to say that prayer is not completely without benefit.  Praying can be a very cathartic experience and provide those who are in need with a feeling of relief.  And no, the benefit of a catharsis does not prove a god is real.  Prayer is cathartic in the same way that young children and their imaginary friends are; both are ways of releasing pent up emotions.  Anyway, the lack of statistical significance in support of prayer does not mean that there is not a god; it just demonstrates the non-existence of a personal god. 

Unfortunately, logic does not sway those with faith when it comes to matters of faith.  That’s a shame and I’d like to ask those of you who buy into the notion of prayer a few questions so you can hopefully “see the light.”   Whose prayer would you answer: the prayers of an adolescent who wants her severe case of acne to clear up before school picture day or the prayers of another adolescent who lost her vision and wants it back?  Obviously, any decent, rational person would answer the latter.  Why hasn’t any god?  What would be stopping us from answering the prayers of both adolescents?  What’s stopping a god?  If you believe in prayer it should trouble you that your god won’t heal any of the amputees, the mentally challenged, or the blind but takes the time to make sure you’re “blessed.”  Would you take the time to make sure you were “blessed” while refusing to answer the prayers of the hungry, the sick, and the poor?

There’s a Wall Between Church and State, Not a One-Way Street

Posted 07/07/2010 by What-the-F@!th?!
Categories: Religion and Government

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“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.” – Thomas Jefferson (in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists explaining the intent of the First Amendment)

The founding fathers built a wall between Church and State, not a one-way street in which the religious and their ideology can influence the government.  In order to know why the fundamentalist Christians who believe the latter are wrong, it is important to have a basic understanding of Virginia history.  In 1786, one year before the Constitution was written, Patrick Henry, one of the more radical founders that also happened to be opposed to replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, submitted a proposal to the Virginia legislature to have the colony publicly fund the teaching of Christianity in public schools.  Patrick Henry’s proposal was dismissed and instead Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was passed and signed into Virginia law.  The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom barred tax support for religious institutions, prohibited religious tests for public office, and was the foundation for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment in the Constitution.

If you happen to be one of the fundamentalist Christians I mentioned earlier, let this sink in.  Patrick Henry proposed to have the state endorse Christianity by having it used as a tool of indoctrination within public schools and Thomas Jefferson instead wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which was then adopted into the Constitution as the basis for the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This situation right here perfectly describes how some of the founding fathers felt about religious interference with government.  They did not want it!

Voting with Religion Undermines Our Freedom Of/From Religion

Posted 07/03/2010 by What-the-F@!th?!
Categories: Religion and Government

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“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”

“Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God’s law, on the Ten Commandments. No apologies.”

“When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we’ll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed.”

“There is going to be war, [and Christians may be called to] take up the sword to overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them.”

– Randall Terry (Operation Rescue)

Religion is a personal endeavor and by being such, followers are completely free to subjugate themselves, and only themselves, to the creeds, codes, and dogmas that they deem to be true.  The moment religious citizens begin voting on proposition and legislation with their religious dogma, worshiping with their vote, they are voting against one of the very principles our nation was founded upon, our freedom of and from religion. It is a road to theocracy and we here in the United States have been walking down this road for decades.   This might sound confusing and contradictory to you; “How can voting with my religion be violating our principle of freedom of religion?  Doesn’t freedom of religion give me that right?”  The answer to both is no.  I may be opposed to homosexuality (I’m not, this is for sake of argument) for religious reasons but if I were to seek some sort of legislation criminalizing the act it would not be sufficient for me to point to my holy text or proclaim it to be God’s will.  I would have to explain why homosexuality violates some principle that anyone of any background and faith (or lack of) would be able to understand and agree upon.

Politics is the attempt to reach a consensus or agreement on issues and this is dependent upon topics being open for debate and susceptible to reason.  It is compromise.  At the most fundamental levels, religion does not allow for compromise.  Compromise within religion is amount to heresy.  If God issues an edict, his followers are expected to comply regardless of the consequences they might face here in society.  When people vote with their religion and win, they inject their religious principle into the government.  When enough religious principle and ideology has been injected into the government, a theocracy is born.  In a theocracy, a certain religious viewpoint is given endorsement, minimizing the value of all other religious viewpoints making the adherents of the newly minimized religious viewpoints outsiders and potentially, depending upon the specifics, criminals.  Does this sound like freedom of and from religion?

I have a few questions for those of you who disagree with me…What if your religion was not the majority and legislation was passed that somehow affected your freedom to worship the way you see fit?  Would you still be okay with it?  Doesn’t secularism seem a much more rational approach for the government to take?

Survey: Most Americans say God Helps with Personal Decisions?

Posted 06/19/2010 by What-the-F@!th?!
Categories: Matters of Faith

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Here are some highlights from the survey:

* 82 percent of participants reported that they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions.
* 71 percent said they believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God’s plan for them.
* 61 percent indicated they believe God has determined the direction and course of their lives.
* 32 percent agreed with the statement: “There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands.

The survey found 71% of Americans believed that all of the good and bad are part of God’s plan.  I find this to be a bittersweet piece of information.  Good because at least a majority of worshipers acknowledge that if their god did create all there is, he is ultimately responsible for all of it.  Bad because why would these Christians worship a being that stood by and just let the Holocaust and other atrocities happen?  It’s like you and me loving an individual who always carries a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger ready before a moment’s notice to squeeze for our failure to abide by his wishes.  It’s blatantly sadomasochistic.

The survey also found 61% say God has determined the direction of their lives.  This is a double-edged belief.  If these people feel that God has directed them (whatever happened to the Christian belief in free-will?) then it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that God directs everyone’s lives.  When you believe that, then men such as Hitler and Stalin should be admonished for their crimes against humanity seeing as their lives were directed by God and not of their own accord.  I’m sure all of these people will then say this was not the doing of God but instead the doing of Satan.  But…that would directly contradict with the previous finding in the survey that good and bad are all parts of God’s plan.  Even if it was Satan, Satan is only following the direction and course that God has indicated for him, which 71% agreed upon.

According to the survey, 32% of Americans agreed with the statement, “There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands.”  I don’t think I have to tell you how dangerous it is to believe planning is essentially a waste of time.  It is a drastic self-defeating outlook on life and aside from being self-defeating, it can be absolutely fatal.  I occasionally hear stories in the news about families with ill children who instead of going to the hospital to obtain the medical help that is needed for their ill children, the parents think it a better idea to leave their problems in the hands of their likely non-existent god.