News From Around The Blogosphere 3.15.10

March 15, 2010

1. Valedictorian sues Indiana high school for putting graduation prayer up for a vote – Greenwood High School in Indianapolis seems to think their alumni won’t survive the outside world without praying to all mighty Jesus. The top ranked student in the graduating class, Eric Workman, is suing the school. And of course Christians are spinning this as discrimination somehow:

The Rev. Shan Rutherford, pastor of Greenwood Christian Church for more than three decades, said he disagrees with the proposition that such a prayer would violate a student’s rights.

“If I lived in a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation or anything else, I would expect to go along with the majority,” Rutherford said. “He’s trying to go with minority rule. To me, that’s wrong in a democracy, one that was founded on Christian principles.”

“If you don’t agree, I don’t think you should try to stop other people from exercising their rights.”

I’d pay real money to see this guy prayer to Allah or Vishnu right now. Who is he kidding? I think we all know this guy would sooner jump off a bridge to his death before praying to another god.

2. Christian fasts to death for Jesus -Evelyn Boyd decided to lock herself and a room and live only on water for three weeks. It turns out that this behavior leads to death. Who knew?

3.  ACLU sues Constance McMillen’s school – I’ve previously written about McMillen, the 18-year-old lesbian who school canceled prom rather than let her bring her girlfriend. And in retaliation for her going to the ACLU, they made sure it wasn’t exactly a secret as to why they canceled prom. Well, I hope they’re very proud of that decision because it’s now going to land them in court. Not only is the ACLU not backing down but the brave teen is standing up for principles:

“All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student. But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly,” said the student, 18-year-old Constance McMillen, in an ACLU news release. “This isn’t just about me and my rights anymore — now I’m fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom.”

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News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.10

March 12, 2010

1. School cancels prom to turn students against gay teen – Constance McMillen was planning to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend in a small town in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And after the ACLU stopped the school from denying her right to attend the prom the school got even by canceling the whole thing and making the student body know it was McMillen’s fault. And the town’s mayor chimed in, supporting the school. Because that’s just the kind of classy folks they have in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

2. Zimbabwe anti-vax religious sect gets 100 killed – Who needs vaccines when you’ve got prayer? Except, you know, if you actually want people to live.

3. Pope’s exorcist finds the devil isn’t in the details but in the Vatican – Rev. Gabriel Amorth has the silliest resume on Earth. He’s been the chief exorcist for the Vatican for 25 years. His favorite movie? You guessed it. It’s The Exorcist. He alleges to have treated over 70,000 cases of demonic possession and sadly, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

But even the fearless priest becomes still, his voice grave when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City.

//

“He has tried already. He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Agca. And also now with the attack on Christmas Eve night when the crazy woman pushed down Benedict XVI.”

. . .

Amorth confesses, “The devil resides in the Vatican.”While admitting that it is hard to prove, he says the consequences of the devil’s work are evident: Cardinals who don’t believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked with the devil. As early 1972 Pope Paul VI talked about the “smoke of Satan” that hovered in the Vatican, but it is more recent events like the pedophilia scandal the church is confronted with and the grisly murder by a Swiss guard of his commander and wife that Amorth uses as evidence of the devil’s presence.

Apparently humans can’t do anything against the Church without it being attributed to the devil.

4. More child abuse for Catholics to downplay – Two ex-Vienna choir boys have come out with accusations that they were raped by Church officials. But remember. It’s really the devil that’s doing it.

5. Robert Kennedy Jr. spreads false, malicious rumor in the Huff Po – The media has wised up to the anti-vaxxers, so the only source willing to take them is the Huffington Post due to its total lack of anything that could even remotely be considered by anyone on planet Earth as journalist standards. So now the anti-vaxxers got their man, RFK Jr. to push their libelous accusations about Dr. Poul Thorsen. Of course not a single word of it has any basis in fact. But then again, when have the anti-vaxxers or the Huffington Post ever care about facts?

But here’s one interesting story posted at the Huff Po:

6. Buying ghosts in a bottle – I have to at least give credit to the scammers for creativity. And it’s nice to see such witty skepticism expressed in the MSNBC clip embedded on the page.

7. PZ Myers eats your god with vegemite:


Atheist News 5.5.09

May 5, 2009

Since there were a few atheist-related news stories I wanted to blog about, I just decided to compile them in one blog.

First up, the Indiana bus company, Bloomington Transit, rejected the planned athvertising for their buses. They cited the “too controversial” clause. Of course there was absolutely nothing wrong with the ad. See for yourself:

This is “too controversial?” But the Indiana Atheists are not giving up:

Today the ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of the campaign, is filing a lawsuit against Bloomington Transit on First Amendment grounds. No campaign donations will be spent on the suit.

Here is the filed complaint (PDF, 172 KB)

Next up, Pat Robertson gives relationship advice:

And finally, it seems that in Indonesia, atheists are not even recognized:

All couples who marry in Indonesia must declare a religion. Agnosticism and Atheism are not recognized. The Civil Registry Office can record marriages of persons of Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian-Protestant and Christian-Catholic faiths. Marriage partners must have the same religion; otherwise one partner must make a written declaration of a change of religion.

That’s it. The wedding’s off. Cancel the caterers.


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.30.09

January 31, 2009

atheist-bus-battling-buses-picadilly2Atheist Bus Campaign spreads to Brazil

The Brazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics launched the first phase of the campaign in the country, with eight slogans that we want to display on buses in the city of São Paulo. The phrases explain what atheists think, and seek to launch a first step towards the recognition of skeptical people as full and worthy citizen, with its deserved place in society. One of the highlights is the phrase that calls for an effective secular state, which ATEA believes should be a priority for citizens of all beliefs and disbelief.

And you can check out what the 8 slogans are by clicking the link above.

And the bus ads in Italy are back as well – Atheists–we’re everywhere you want to be.The new ad reads:

The Good News Is There Are Millions of Atheists In Italy; The Excellent News Is They Believe In Freedom Of Expression.”

Most/Least religious states in the U.S. – No surprise I’m in one of the better ones.

Creationist Ben Stein to deliver commencement address at University of Vermont – This is the guy who said:

When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.”

ACLU suing public school because administrators harassed a woman they accused of being a witch – This is still the 21st century, right?

California court of appeals upheld the expulsion of two juniors from California Lutheran High School for “conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians” – No seriously, what century is this?

How to fail Metaphysics at UHawaii – Links to a PDF disclaimer written by the professor of the class.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyDinosaur Fossils Fit Well Into Tree Of Life – “A recent study by researchers at the University of Bath and London’s Natural History Museum has found that scientists’ knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs is remarkably complete.

Evolutionary biologists use two ways to study the evolution of prehistoric plants and animals: firstly they use radioactive dating techniques to put fossils in chronological order according to the age of the rocks in which they are found (stratigraphy); secondly they observe and classify the characteristics of fossilised remains according to their relatedness (morphology).”

Robots To Clean Your Kitchen And Play Hockey? – A news story about robots–you know you can’t resist.

New Stem Cell-like Functions In Plants Found – “Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants—a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells—researchers at New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found. The findings, which suggest that some roles of stem cells in organ regeneration may be shared by other types of cells, are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.25.08

August 26, 2008

Crazy homophobic, bible-thumping principal in Florida gets ass handed to him in court -The ACLU saves the day once again.

Homophobic, Bible-thumpers trying to overturn California same-sex marriage law – With the war in Iraqi, the genocide in Darfur, the hostilities in Georgia, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, constant chaos throughout the Middle East, widespread poverty, and a host of other crises around the world, I for one applaud these guys for having their priorities straight [rolling eyes].

“An estimated 15,000 backers of the measure, most of them members of Mormon, Catholic and evangelical Christian churches, knocked on doors and distributed campaign literature to registered voters throughout the state this weekend and last, according to Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 8 campaign.”

Homophobic Bible-thumpers sending negative letters to Hallmark for making gay-friendly cards – Our old fascist friends at the poorly named American Family Association are at it again. Feel free to contact Hallmark and thank them for being non-discriminatory…if for no other reason than to stick it to the AFA.

Oh, and here’s the latest AFA newsletter:

Did you know that the four major television networks have declared war on decency by suing the FCC for the right to air profanity and nudity at any time of day? We do have a counter attack but the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (S. 1780) is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate. The Act (S. 1780) would reaffirm Congress’ support for vigorous enforcement of the existing broadcast dece! ncy laws and the importance of protecting the public airwaves from indecent content.

In order to ensure the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to fine broadcasters over “fleeting” instances of profanity or nudity, S. 1780 needs to be voted on by the full Senate. If S. 1780 does not pass, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act passed two years ago will be rendered essentially meaningless.

Recently, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a $550,000 indecency fine levied against CBS for the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” CBS also allowed profanity during Big Brother 10, which airs during prime time.

We are in a pivotal time regarding the ownership of America’s broadcast airwaves. The law says these airwaves belong to the American people, but the networks are trying to take them over and turn them into a toxic sewer. Now is the time to fight back!

Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

Bible-thumpers handing out Gideon Bibles to 5th Graders – (Yeah, there’s a very, very subtle theme to tonight’s blog). Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the only party in the story who IS smarter than a 5th grader, is taking legal action.  PZ Myers offers an another approach for dealing with these guys.

Deist Thomas Paine–one of, if not the most important of our Founding Fathers and one of, if not the most anti-religious of our mostly anti-religious Founding Fathers returns to my neighboring town of Fort Lee, New Jersey in the form of a statue to be placed where the man himself once stood.

Why you should be skeptical of acupuncture

The only thing that bites is this journalist’s investigative reporting skills – Another article about a “pet psychic.” This one is from a New England paper and begins with the title, “City puts the bite on pet psychic,” With a title like that you’d think you were in for a triumph of common sense against a con artist. But sadly, no. It’s another thinly veiled advertisement for this “pet psychic’s” services. Someone should tell the “psychic,” Willow that she still has time to enter to win the JREF million dollar prize. I’m sure she’ll get right on that as it’s the obvious solution to her problems.

Today is the 399th anniversary of Galileo presenting his telescope to the Venetian Senate

The Amateur Scientist stops in at cool sci-fi site Pink Raygun to debunk palm reading.

10 people with unbelievable medical conditions.

If your child isn’t vaccinated, parents have a right to know – MSNBC nails it again with outstanding coverage regarding the vaccine non-issue. (Thanks again to Brian)

Anti-vaxxer moron actually laughs at measles epidemic – Why? Everything she knows about the measles she learned from Leave It To Beaver and other sitcoms…with plotlines about CHICKEN POX. I can see how Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor of Age of Autism, could mix those 2 up; they sound so similar. According to Wikipedia:

“Globally, measles deaths are down 60 percent, from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. Africa has seen the most success, with annual measles deaths falling by 75 percent in just 5 years, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000.[13]

Oh, and Kim, there is no Thimerosal in MMR vaccines. Just thought you should know.

If only this happened in the real world:

Suzanne Somers joins other anti-medical vultures to pick at the flesh of the still very much alive Christina Applegate

Nina Fedoroff on why genetically modified food is good, why the Secretary of State needs a science adviser, and  science diplomacy.

Article on atheist billboard in Playboy Magazine – I was fortunate enough to see an almost identical billboard on my commute to work every day on the New Jersey Turnpike for a few months last year.

How large is Big Religion in America? – I’m not entirely in favor of the whole “framing” thing with regards to these issues but I’m personally just a big fan of the phrase “Big Religion” myself…though I only use it somewhat ironically, not so much as a “framing” technique or for propaganda purposes.

Creationist and “former atheist” Anthony Flew reviews “The God Delusion” – I think someone’s a little jealous of Dawkins’ vast, vast, vastly superior book sales:

“But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).”

Then I guess that makes Flew a Creationist bigot by the same definition and us all math bigots and history bigots too. I know I personally am intolerant of the belief that 2 + 2 = 5 and am completely intolerant of beliefs that are just plain: WRONG! I think Mr. Flew greatly undermines and diminishes the severity of what that word means. Maybe he should visit Afghanistan with some female friends or he should pretend to be an out of the closet gay man in the Bible Belt to learn what bigotry really means. If intellectual honesty is bigotry then call me a proud bigot!

Answers in Genesis’ poor responses to the 2 Evolution stories in the New York Times this weekend

And now for a moment of science:

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others – “Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.”

Bizarre Qualities Can Drive Species Evolution – “The ostentatious, sometimes bizarre qualities that improve a creature’s chances of finding a mate may also drive the reproductive separation of populations and the evolution of new species, say two Indiana University Bloomington biologists.”

Researchers Study ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ – “Call it the cocktail party effect: how an individual can participate in a one-on-one conversation within a cluster of people, switch to another, pick up important comments while tuning out others, change topics and return to the first conversation.”