Church gets atheist billboard removed

July 20, 2011

Where did all the good atheist billboards go?

December 2, 2010

It seems like the atheist advertisements are getting worse and worse. I was a big fan of some of the earlier ones like the one that read, “Don’t believe in god? You are not alone.” I also liked the “Imagine no religion” one, the “good without god” ones, and the “There is probably no god. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Now the atheist ads have turned more bitter and petty as well as becoming pretty much indefensible…though sadly, that hasn’t stopped those responsible for them from trying to hopelessly defend them anyway:

I’m sorry, David, but your billboard is shit. It’s doing a disservice to the atheist community. And you look like a total asshole to Fox News viewers for defending it.

Then there’s the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who have reproduced their stupid Washington Christmas “display” from last year in Wisconsin that is essentially just giving the finger to the religious.

Now I recognize that no matter what billboard atheists put up, it’s guaranteed to piss someone off no matter how inoffensive it is but that’s no reason to put up a billboard that is legitimately out to offend people…especially at this time of year.

Like last year, numerous atheist groups have tried to play Fox News’ game by playing along with this “War on Christmas” nonsense in the most childish of ways. Now I don’t think Christmas should be a national holiday either but honestly, who the fuck cares?

There are so many bigger fish to fry and sticking your tongue out at Christmas at this time of year is not going to win friends. I say, stop being reactive or childish and let them have their Christmas.

And while the holiday season commences, we should display a positive secular humanist message to the world. One of the best examples of this that I’d seen was the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia’s “Tree of Knowledge” display, which sadly this year has been disallowed. This display said all the right things. It can hardly even be called an “atheist” display at all. It celebrated tolerance, unity, and a diversity of viewpoints. And atheism was simply included as one of those viewpoints. That’s taking advantage of the sentimental spirit so representative of the season.

An even better way to promote atheism this holiday season would be to organize atheist and secular groups to take part in charity work while wearing your atheism on your sleeve, both literally and figuratively. And an even better way would be to unite atheist groups and religious groups to perform charity work together for the common good. This last one makes for great free publicity. News media love feel-good stories about opposing groups coming together for a good cause.

My point is that Fox News wants everyone to think atheists are angry, bitter assholes like the one featured in this hilarious, less than subtle trailer for the direct-to-DVD film Christmas With A Capital C:

So why would you give them exactly what they want?

C’mon atheists. This holiday season, let’s remind Americans that being an atheist can make you a better person and not just a jerk.

Enhanced by Zemanta

News From Around The Blogosphere 8.11.10

August 11, 2010

1. ARF is the reason we can’t regrow limbs

A protein called ARF, which acts as a fail-safe mechanism to protect against cancer, also prevents regeneration in mammals, a study published Aug. 6 in Cell Stem Cell suggests. ARF backs up Rb, an important anticancer protein, by limiting the ability of mature cells to divide and replicate. But researchers in California have discovered that blocking ARF and Rb allowed mature muscle cells taken from mice to proliferate, something the cells normally cannot do.The discovery is an important step in learning why mammals, including people, can’t regrow or replace lost limbs and organs the way animals such as salamanders and zebrafish can. Such work may one day lead to new treatments for injuries.

2. Pastor Michael Dowd thanks New Atheists – In a recent sermon, Dowd, who wrote Thank God for Evolution, thanked outspoken atheists for challenging the beliefs of Christians and pushing them to take a critical eye to their own beliefs. You can read the full sermon here (PDF).

3. 25% of Spaniards are without religious affiliation – That’s at least what a new study suggests. And in the U.S., it’s believed that 25% of Millennials are also without religious affiliation, so it seems the U.S. isn’t the only nation showing a rise in godlessness.

"Fuckin' bullshit! I had to wait 8 years for that shit!"

4. A robot to detect and express emotions

A team of programmers at Hertfordshire University have created Nao, a robot that detects and expresses emotions and is capable of forming bonds with people.

Dr Michio Kaku is a leading physicist and futurologist.

24th century technology

21st century technology

4. How Star Trek art directors designed the iPad 23 years ago?

“The initial motivation for that was in fact cost,” Okuda explained. “Doing it purely as a graphic was considerably less expensive than buying electronic components. But very quickly we began to realize—as we figured out how these things would work and how someone would operate them, people would come to me and say, ‘What happens if I need to do this?’ Perhaps it was some action I hadn’t thought of, and we didn’t have a specific control for that. And I realized the proper answer to that was, ‘It’s in the software.’ All the things we needed could be software-definable.”

5. Andrew Morton writes worst book of 21st century – Awhile back, I probably wrote a blurb or two about Andrew Morton’s unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise, a book I’d never actually read but felt inclined to support due to its focus on his $cientology life. That was perhaps premature as Morton has just come out with a new biography on Angelina Jolie that is apparently so atrocious in its content and constant citing of unnamed sources that it led one critic to dub it the worst book of the century, so far. Ouch.

6. Freedom from Religion Foundation puts up 20 billboards in Florida -And for once, I actually like them all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

News From Around The Blogosphere 6.17.10

June 17, 2010

1. Montgomery County, Maryland rejects ban on paid fortune-telling services – Few people are more passionate about protecting the First Amendment right to Free Speech than I am but there’s nothing in the first amendment that protects fraud. A court ruled that alleged “psychic” Nick Nefedro can continue to sell his services as a fortune-teller without having any responsibility to prove his claims. Now I have no issue with people saying they have psychic powers when they don’t. That’s free speech. But the moment they start charging people for their bogus services, then it ceases being a free speech issue and becomes a fraud issue. There is a very clear line here, and it’s the moment money exchanges hands for alleged services being rendered.

August Brunsman

Greg Epstein

2. Are two atheists two too many? – Recently, White House officials met with atheist representatives from a secular organization for the second time ever (the first time was several months ago). This time it was just two representatives from the Secular Student Alliance, August Brunsman and Greg Epstein. Like before, it wasn’t just White House staff meeting with atheists alone but the atheists were simply included among 110 other people invited to discuss interfaith issues. Apparently though, according to Bill Bumpas of the Religious Right propaganda site OneNewsNow, that’s two atheists too many and despite there being 110 other people being invited, this was all part of a giant evil conspiracy to athe-ize America.

I will concede though that there was one atheist too many as I don’t much care for Epstein’s views.

3. Another piece of athvertising, another controversy – The Freedom From Religion Foundation actually showed some restraint for once in Chicago and posted an ad that no reasonable person could possibly find offensive. The slogan on the ad was simply:  “SLEEP IN ON SUNDAYS.” Surely no one could be offended by that, right? Wrong. Apparently, Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, is having none of that. And wow, if he’s this upset about such a benign ad, I can only imagine how enraged he was when he learned his Church’s highest ranking officials protected child rapists. Right? Right?


April 15, 2010

It seems like lately, the power of skepticism has proven far stronger than was to be expected and almost every big news story revolving around an issue skeptics take seriously, it’s been good news for us.

For instance, almost every time $cientology has been in the news for the past two years, it’s meant bad news for $cientology. And though seemingly unstoppable a few months ago, lately every news story surrounding the anti-vaccine movement has been bad news for them. Homeopathy’s been getting a lot of negative press lately. Modern dowsing rods received a snowstorm of bad publicity from mainstream media outlets over their use as bomb detectors in Iraq. The 9/11 denialist movement, though still lurking background, has been completely relegated to the fringes where they have virtually no chance of influencing public policy. Hell, even the UFO community, who have been virtually out of the news entirely for the last decade have suffered two pieces of bad publicity in just the last two weeks. And one of those stories, one of their own prominent leaders calling the entire movement “humans deceiving humans”, was a major blow.

The only major piece of pseudoscience that seems to have really grown in popularity in the past decade that isn’t on the decline is ghost hunting, which is more popular than ever thanks to The Sifi (Syfi? Syfy?Psi-phi? Zyphi? Sigh-Figh?) Channel and A&E. And that trend is likely to die off sooner or later due to the over-saturation of the market…and the fact that, you know, every episode is exactly the same, nothing happens, and their complete lack of ghosts that don’t look like the light from their own video equipment.

But now comes two biggies.

Simon Singh

Simon Singh has DEFEATED the British Chiropractic Association!! Singh had been barely hanging in their with the legal fees, which he paid himself. And yet it was the giant Goliath that is the British Chiropractic Association that threw in the towel.

The sudden end to the case will strengthen the campaign for reform of the libel laws, which Jack Straw, the justice secretary, is considering. It is also a specific pledge in the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

The whole matter seemed to have backfired on them anyway as the more they tried to silence Singh’s criticisms, the more attention they drove to them.

The other big victory today is the Freedom From Religion Foundation won its court case in the U.S., making the National Day of Prayer has been declared unconstitutional. And once again, church/state separation has been protected.

Viva la resistance!

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.23.09

December 24, 2009

1. Mississippi named most religious state – The latest Pew Forum study showing the religious demographics of each state found Mississippi to be the most religous with 82% of the population. Apparently, it placed number one in worship attendence, frequency of prayer, and belief in god. My own home state of New Jersey was fortunately way down the list at #30, though I wish it were dead last at #46 (because of several ties), an honor that was reserved for both Vermont and New Hampshire. So congratulations to Vermont and New Hampshire for being the most godless states in the union! You guys rock!

Yes, I know these aren't chimps

2. Chimps have near-human understanding of fire

The use and control of fire are behavioral characteristics that distinguish humans from other animals. Now, a new study by Iowa State University anthropologist Jill Pruetz reports that savanna chimpanzees in Senegal have a near human understanding of wildfires and change their behavior in anticipation of the fire’s movement.

3. Top 10 scams of 2009 – All I can say is that this should be required viewing for everyone. Click the link.

4. Illinois comptroller candidate vandalizes atheist sign – Now granted, I don’t much care for the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) sign either. I believe it’s the same message verbatim that they used in Olympia, Washington last year that I thought was way too divisive for its public venue. But conservative candidate William J. Kelly has now violated the law and arguably has committed a hate crime by diliberately trying to turn the atheist sign in the Illinois Capitol building in Springfield upside down in protest. He was quite public about his desire to have it taken down prior to this, which makes it a premeditated action. Upon seeing him in the process of trying to pull off his stunt, police escorted him away.

Dan Parker of the FFRF knocked it out of the park with his response:

“We atheists believe that the nativity scene is mocking humanity,” by suggesting that those who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell, Barker said. “But notice that we are not defacing or stealing nativity scenes because we disagree with their speech.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.18.09

December 18, 2009

1. Illinois baseball team makes baby Jesus cry – An Illinois baseball team called the Joliet Jackhammers put up a deliberately amusing sign that seems to mock the sanctimonious invocations of “God” by athletes. Not surprisingly, this offended the fragile Christians who are just so darned persecuted. If only they had some all-powerful, supreme being that was looking out for them. If only.  This gave me an idea for a joke. What can’t tell the difference between the number one and the number three, feels it needs to fight an omnipotent god’s battles for it, and goes “Wah! Wah! Wah!” all the time? Christians.

2. Gov. Jan Brewer saves Arizona from. . .something. I’m not really clear from what – Brewer made an executive order saying that following the First Amendment to the Constitution by providing people the freedom to celebrate their religious holidays.

She similarly barred those agencies from stopping state employees from wishing others either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”

That’s a great idea. Someone should think about making that some kind of Constitutional Amendment or something. Checkmate non-existent atheists trying to stop people from saying “Merry Christmas”!

3. New South Portland, Maine mayor asks secular humanist to deliver invocation – Well I don’t really understand what the point of an invocation is if aren’t trying to, you know, invoke something, but whatever floats your boat. Mayor Tom Coward chose a college senior named Andrew Lovley who founded the Southern Maine Association of Secular Humanists (SMASH) on his campus to perform the ceremony. Gotta love those names.

4. Screw over your neighbors and win a free trip to Hooters – That’s apparently the latest evil plot by health insurance companies to provent doctors from saving more lives. A new campaign by Chamber of Commerce is actually trying to bribe people into signing up for emails that tell them “how to protect your family’s future and bring common sense solutions to the health-care debate” by offering them free gift cards to Hooters. And by “common sense solutions” they of course mean just continue to let 20,000 uninsured Americans die each year.

5. Ohio school removes ‘belief in God’ from mission statement – Actually, I think that’s more of a demand than a statement. But anyway, they did it to avoid a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Lake Local school board near Canton has voted to delete the reference to belief in God. A final vote is planned next month.

Does anyone else suspect that the real hero of Canton is the man they call Jayne?

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.1.09

December 2, 2009

1. Carl Wieland, head of Creation Ministries International, dared David Nicholls of the Atheist Foundation of Australia to organize an “atheist” vs. creationist debate at the upcoming large atheist conference in Melbourne (you see, it’s an “atheists” vs. the creationists debate at an atheist conference because Wieland wants his flock to belief evolution is just the religion of atheism and not accepted facts that people accept regardless of whether or not they’re religious). Nicholls hilariously declined the request:

If you skirt the question about accredited articles, then it is no wonder you are having trouble finding people to debate. Debate is not science, it is playing upon the prejudices of the audience. Scientific conclusion is about peer reviewing work from accredited scientific journals. I really can’t see Professor Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers or any real scientist taking seriously or bothering to debate about alien abductions even though millions believe it to be true. There are just no credible studies on this as there are no credible scientific studies that support creationism.

Wieland of course went to PZ Myers himself, who responded with nothing but the image presented above.

2. Has science validated the ancient Ayurvedic ‘Neti pot’ as a legitimate medical treatment? – I first heard about the Neti pot a few years ago when it was featured in an episode of Six Feet Under. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it but had since become somewhat skeptical of it from the little literature I’ve seen on it. A recent review article in American Family Physician found it effective adjunctive therapy for symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (and they say real “Western” medicine only treats the symptoms). Well a new study made some interesting findings about the Neti pot. It seems that while it may be effective in treating short-term nasal irrigation, long-term use can be harmful.

3. Freedom From Religion Foundation gets strong atheist sign up in Illinois Capitol Building for second year in a row – The text is very similar to the text used on last year’s Washington display that I wasn’t too pleased with, so this is kind of a mixed bag. While I’m willing to be more abrasive towards religion in other venues, I don’t think it’s appropriate to stick such a mean-spirited message on a federal building, regardless of the cause. You choose your battles and you take your audience into account. I don’t even encourage strong anti-religious sentiments on billboards but sticking it on government land is far harder to reasonably defend. It’s one thing when cranks complain that the entirely inoffensive billboards are attacks on their faith because they’ll be seen for what they are, cranks. But you put out actual attacks on people’s beliefs on government property and you’re the one who looks like the giant douche. And I’m really starting to think Dan Barker is a douche.

The Rufus Factor

4. Naked mole rats may be key to human survival from stroke

Two University of Illinois at Chicago researchers report in the Dec. 9 issue of NeuroReport (now online) that adult naked mole rat brain tissue can withstand extreme hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, for periods exceeding a half-hour — much longer than brain tissue from other mammals.

The findings may yield clues for better treatment of brain injuries associated with heart attack, stroke and accidents where the brain is starved of vital oxygen.

Atheist bus ads hitting Seattle means ‘War on Christmas’ season has begun

November 4, 2009

There is no real “War on Christmas.” Like the holiday itself, this was just a made-up marketing ploy. In this case, it was one invented by Fox “News” for ratings and fear-mongering. The idea was to find any case they could find where public institutions were choosing or being politically pressured to promote multiculturalism instead of promoting the establishment of any particular religion (you know, like it says in the Constitution), and then claim that it’s all just an elaborate conspiracy by the liberal devils to organizae in an elaborate plot to steal Christmas.

But since then, atheists and other secularists have chosen to have some fun with it. And that seems to be what the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had in mind with their latest ads that will be going up on 100 buses in Seattle:

I have to say that like numerous other ads brought to us by the FFRF, I’m not a big fan of this one. While I’m all for aggressive challenging of religion, I don’t think public ads are the place for it, especially not during the holiday season. I prefer the ads that say things like “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone”, “Beware of Dogma”, “Imagine No Religion”, and “A million New Yorkers are good without God.” And during the holidays, I particularly encourage a more inclusive message such as the Tree of Knowledge display from the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, where the covers to numerous religious, philosophy, and atheist texts were hung on a large tree. Once again, this one just seems in poor taste and fairly impossible to defend, especially at this time of year.

News From Around The Blogosphere 10.29.09

October 29, 2009

1. 69% ain’t afraid of no ghosts – A new survey found that 69% of people would live with ghosts for significantly reduced rent. And 51% would live with a ghost in exchange for free rent. Now given that my status as a skeptic gives me 100% ghost-haunting immunity, if anyone knows where I can get free or reduced rent in NYC because the place is haunted, let me know (I’m serious. Let me know).

2. Church posing as councelling center is shutting down

The ABC understands that the consumer watchdog ACCC has been investigating Mercy Ministries, after media reports that young women seeking psychological and medical support were instead essentially enrolled in a Bible program.

Some young women say they could not leave the treatment centre and that staff would “exorcise” them.

But Mercy Ministries denies those claims.

According to its website, Mercy Ministries is a Christian organisation that helps young women suffering from eating disorders, self-harm, abuse, addictions or an unwanted pregnancy.

3. Religious vandals again prove not to be very bright – Last week I’d posted about the poorly thought out vandalism to the atheist billboard in Moscow, Idaho in which, instead of just crossing out the “out” in the slogan “Millions are good without God,” they crossed out the whole word “without.” Amateurs. Well now another billboard put up by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has been vandalized by equally inept vandals:

I don’t know what offends me more, that they vandalized the billboard, which can be viewed as a hate crime, or that they didn’t put the word “FAGS” over the crossed out “Religion” as to change the sign to read:  “Keep fags out of government.” Just sloppy work. But the FFRF isn’t laughing. They’re offering a $1000 reward to anyone with information as to who’s responsible.

4. Daren Lee of “The Zeitgeist Movement” wins a grammar contest – I suspect that it was his misuse of the word “ironic” that really tipped the scales ultimately in his favor.