McCain on Religion

March 5, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:29

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Man Who Claims He Went to Hell Scams Christians

February 20, 2008

Bill Wiese is a scam artist. He claims that he went to hell for exactly 23 minutes and now has written a book and spends his life lecturing about his experience in hell.

hell

Here’s a link
to the guy’s web site.

My first thought was – “Okay, so this guy had a nightmare and now is getting rich by convincing people it was true?” If that’s the case, I could make a great deal of money lecturing people on the dangers of going to school naked.

But Wiese assures us that it wasn’t a nightmare:

But first I want to address a couple things, questions that might be in your mind. The first question that would be inbill wiese mine, if I was listening to me, would be, “How do you know it wasn’t just a dream that you had? A Bad dream?” A couple points to make, first of all, I had left my body. I saw my body when I returned, lying on the floor. So I know for sure it was an out of body experience. Some Christians have said, “Oh a Christian can’t leave his body.” But that’s not true, In 2 Corinthians 12:2, when Paul was caught up into the third heaven, He said, “whether in the body, or out of the body I do not know.” So if he didn’t know that must mean it’s possible. And also he said in verse 1 that it was a vision, so I believe this comes under the classification of a vision.

What a fucking lunatic. Here’s some video from FoxNews about the story:

Christianity’s motivation for morality is fear. There is no better example than Bill Wiese. Christians want to be good because of fear that if they don’t they will be put into a burning place to work for eternity. They will define what “hell” would be like in Earthly terms – fire, etc. Yet to describe what “heaven” would be like is supposedly beyond what we can comprehend. What a load of garbage. Your religion is based on fear. That’s weak.


The Price of Atheism

February 17, 2008

Sorry I’ve just been posting videos lately. I’m in the middle of the spring tour and haven’t had much time to dedicate to TGR lately.


Michael Moore Cites Religious Beliefs as Reason to Not Vote for Hillary

February 8, 2008

Real Time: Religion in Politics

January 20, 2008

British Television Will Re-Air Cameron’s Jesus Tomb Documentary

January 17, 2008

From Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1704299,00.html

When the Discovery Channel aired a TV documentary last year raising the possibility that archeologists had found the family tomb of Jesus Christ in the hills behind Jerusalem, it caused a huge backlash among Christians. The claim, after all, challenged one of the cornerstones of Christian faith — that Jesus, after his crucifixion, rose bodily to heaven in his physical form.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus, made by Hollywood director James Cameron and Canadian investigative journalist Simcha Jesus TombJacobovici, was shown only once on Discovery. Britain’s Channel 4 canceled its own plans to air the documentary, which re-examines an archeological find from 1980 in which a crypt was found containing what were said to be the ossuaries of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the son of Joseph, Mariamne (possibly Mary Magdalene, say the film-makers) and Judah, son of Jesus. Given the highly explosive nature of its conclusion and its slapdash sleuthing, it was no surprise that the film was panned by some academics and many Christian clerics.

Still, even after the furor over the film faded, the questions it raised about the tomb unearthed in 1980 continued to make waves among archeologists and Biblical scholars. A leading New Testament expert from Princeton Theological Seminary, Prof. James Charlesworth, was intrigued enough to organize a conference in Jerusalem this week, bringing together over 50 archeologists, statisticians and experts in DNA, ceramics and ancient languages, to give evidence as to whether or not the crypt of Christ had been found. Their task was complicated by the fact that since the tomb was opened in 1980, the bones of the various ossuaries had gone missing through a mishap of Israeli bureaucracy. Also gone were diagrams made by excavators that showed where each stone sarcophagus lay inside the tomb, and what the family relationships might have been, say, between Jesus and Mary Magdelene, who some speculate may have been his wife.

After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from “no way” to “very possible”. Charlesworth told TIME: “I have reservations, but I can’t dismiss the possibility that this tomb was related to the Jesus clan.” Weighing the evidence, says Charlesworth, “we can tell that this was the tomb of a Jewish family from the time of Jesus. And we know that the names on the ossuaries are expressed the correct way as ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’.” But the professor has a few doubts. “The name on Jesus’s ossuary was scrawled on, like graffiti. There was no ornamentation. And there should have been. After all, his followers believed he was the Son of God.”

There was a revelation of sorts. The widow of Joseph Gat, the chief archeologist of the 1980 excavation electrified the conference by saying: “My husband believed that this was Jesus’s tomb, but because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, he was worried about a backlash of anti-Semitism and he didn’t think he could say this.”

The tomb was found by construction workers digging the foundations for an apartment building in the Talpiot hills, a modern suburb of Jerusalem. Gat and two other archeologists excavated the tomb, which had been vandalized centuries earlier. The ossuaries, including one with the scrawl “Jesus, son of Joseph” were moved into an antiquities warehouse where they languished, forgotten, until a BBC film crew in 1996 dusted them off. Jacobovici took the story further, using statistics — later disputed by experts — which seemed to indicate that, although Jesus and the others were all common Jewish names during the days of the Second Temple, the chances of them all being found in the same crypt, belonging to the same family, were rare indeed.

The debate over Jesus’ s supposed tomb will probably rage for years to come. But the conference attendees voted unanimously that the tomb, now sealed over with concrete in the garden of a suburban apartment building, should be reopened and examined more carefully. “I feel vindicated,” Jacobovici told TIME. “It’s moved from ‘it can’t be the Jesus’ family tomb’ to ‘it could be.’ ”

Charlesworth, who is also a Methodist minister, says that the possible discovery of Christ’s tomb will illicit mixed reactions among Christians. Most, he believes, will view it positively. The faith of some believers, he says, will be buoyed by historical proof that Christ, the son of Joseph and Mary, did exist. “I don’t think it will undermine belief in the resurrection, only that Jesus rose as a spiritual body, not in the flesh.” He adds: “Christianity is a strong religion, based on faith and experience, and I don’t think that any discovery by archeologists will change that.”

View the location on Google Maps. Why? Why the hell not? What else are you doing right now?


American Atheists on Faith and Politics

January 14, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:26

American Atheists President Ellen Johnson has posted a fantastic monologue about Faith in Politics and John F. Kennedy. I’ve transcribed the speech below. I feel that it would be important to spread the transcript and/or video as much as possible, especially in the coming year. She poses the question “Would JFK be electable today with his stance in the issue of the separation of church and state?”

Here is the full transcript:

Welcome, and thanks for visting the American Atheists Web site. I’m Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists. By the time you see this video, the Iowa caucuses will be history. We still have 11 months to go until the 2008 Presidential Election, and odds are, that even right after the New Hampshire and Michigan primaries, we still won’t have a clear fix on who will be the nominees for Republican and Democratic Parties. One thing is for sure, however; religion and religious faith are playing a disproportionately large element in the race for the White House. And nearly all of the candidates feel the pressure to declare religious belief as a credential for public office.

Surveys indicate that the overwhelming majority of voters are mostly concerned about issues like: the budget deficit, war in Iraq and healthcare. A small but well organized coterie of evangelicals though, exercise a disproportionate amount of influence — especially inside the Republican Party. They vote, and they vote as a block. They’re well organized and when they vote, it’s not the Constitution or secular policies that guide their decisions. They’re convinced that America was, or is, or should be, a so-called “Christian nation” where the Bible is a template for how government and society should operate. We can all learn a lesson from their organizational skills and commitment to their cause.

Could John F. Kennedy be elected President of the United States today? It’s doubtful, given the current theo-political climate. Back in 1960, when JFK won the Democratic nomination for President, religion was a major campaign issue. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic and no Catholic up to that point had been elected to the White House. And in 1960, people were wondering if Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism somehow compromised his ability to serve the United States over the Vatican.

John F. Kennedy was one of the few Presidential Candidates who openly and proudly enunciated his support for the separation of church and state. Today that is almost a taboo phrase, “separation of church and state.” Mitt Romney uses it occasionally — so does Reverend Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul doesn’t even think that it should exist! He says, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of the founding fathers.”

Most candidates today repeat the myth that the separation of church and state is not in our Constitution or that its a legal fiction or that it simply means that the government cannot tamper in the affairs of religion. But all of those claims are simply wrong. It’s true that the words “separation of church and state” are not found in the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not part of our legal code. The words are an interpretation of what the Establishment Clause means. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which is the free exercise clause. And it guarantees our freedom from imposed or government compelled religion. That’s the Establishment Clause. Our courts have been consistent over the past 50 to 60 years that the First Amendment was intended to erect a wall of separation between state and church.

Unlike Huckabee and Romney and other candidates who want to showcase their religious beliefs as a credential for public office, John F. Kennedy embraced both elements of the First Amendment. He supported the right of people to believe in and practice their faith, so in long as those beliefs were not forced on other people. He also enunciated the principle that the state should not serve the church — any church — including his own. He opposed the official diplomatic recognition of the Vatican, complete with ambassadorial exchanges, fearing that it was unconstitutional and gave his own church too much power. Kennedy declared that if elected to the Presidency, he would put the Constitution first — not private religious beliefs. He also sent a clear message to the Catholic hierarchy that they should not interfere in the political affairs of the United States. Wherever Kennedy went, he was hounded by ads, picket signs and charges that he was a stalking horse for Roman Catholicism. Most of these accusations came from Protestant groups. So Kennedy, true to his style and principles, confronted his accusers during an historic appearance before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel in Houston, TX on September the 12th, 1960. Let me read you some of the quotes from his speech and then ask yourself if any candidate today would have the guts to stand up for these principles.

He began his talk to over 600 Protestant ministers by say that there were “far more critical issues than religion.” He said, “The hungry children I saw in West Virginia; the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills; the families forced to give up their farms; and America with too many slums, too few schools and too late to the moon and outer space.” And he said, “They are the real issues which should decide this campaign and they are not religious issues for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.”

Kennedy blamed religious sectarianism, especially the obsessive focus on his private Catholicism, as being responsible for obscuring what he called “the real issues” of his campaign. And just minutes into his talk, he put it all on the line. He said, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be a Catholic, how to act; and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Kennedy’s enlightened vision of a secular America — a polity free from religious dogma — is like night and day compared to our current political climate. I particularly like these following quotes from JFK.

“Whatever issue may come before me as President on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views — In accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power, nor threat of punishment, could cause me to decide otherwise. But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office.”

We’ve come a long way since the 1960 campaign and yes, there has been progress in defending separation of church and state thanks to groups like American Atheists. But we need to work very hard to make the politicians aware that a quarter of the United States population are not religious. We are a huge voting block. If we non-religious Americans make our issues our primary concern on election day, then we can make our voting power work for us.

Vote your atheism first, and together we can enlighten the vote. Thank you for visiting our Web site, I’m Ellen Johnson.