If there were a god, and it felt mortal pain at the sin of blasphemy, it would be a vain and weak creature, unworthy of sympathy, let alone worship. But there isn’t. There are simply poisonous little men and women who build cages in the night for the people who remember how to think and laugh, and they stack those cages into great black iron walls of monolithic, truthless authority.
— Warren Ellis Your God Is Not Strong | VICE (via eliamaras)

theatlantic:

What We Know About Sam Bacile, the Mysterious Filmmaker Who Set the Muslim World on Fire

He knew the film would lead to violence. To state the obvious, a film did not kill four U.S. officials in Libya today, that blame can only be placed on the religious extremists (allegedly Islamic) who fired gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades into the U.S. Embassy. But according to one of Bacile’s consultants on the film, Steve Klein, the two knew full well that their incendiary movie would provoke violent reprisals. Klein told the Associated Press this morning that he warned Bacile “you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh,” referring to the Dutch filmmaker murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004. Klein said Bacile acknowledged that. “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” he told the AP. Well gentlemen, congratulations, you got your violent reprisal.

He hates Islam with a passion In a telephone interview from his home, Bacile told The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Bradley and Dion Nissenbaum that “Islam is a cancer” adding that “The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie.”

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

I watched the trailer(s) for “Innocence of Muslims” and…I just…I have a hard time understanding if it’s blatantly offensive because I have a hard time understanding what the hell is supposed to be happening. It’s just so. poorly. done. Like elementary-school-play dialogue and props shot on a green screen so that a desert could be inserted into the background. And this cost $5 million? Did you spend it all on booze?

the-noise-figures:

christgoldman:

‘It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.’
- Jen McCreight 

YES!

the-noise-figures:

“Since the moment I began criticizing religion in public, I have argued that Islam merits special concern—because it is currently the most militant and retrograde of the world’s major religions. This has always made certain people uncomfortable, because they find it difficult to distinguish a focus on Islam—specifically, on the real-world effects of its doctrines regarding martyrdom, jihad, apostasy, and the status of women—from bigotry against Muslims. But the difference is clear and crucial. My criticism of conservative Islam has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or nationality. And, as I have often said, no one suffers the consequences of this pernicious ideology—the abridgments of political and intellectual freedom, the mistreatment of women, the fanaticism and sectarian murder—more than innocent Muslims.”
— Wrestling the Troll : Sam Harris

Good article. Most people who criticize Sam Harris do not understand what he is talking about in the first place.

-FA

(via atheismfuckyeah)

I’ve been giving this issue a lot of thought after the whole Laci Green debacle.  Namely: criticism of Islam vs. Islamophobia/racism.  There have been serious suggestions that non-POC should refrain from criticizing Islam.  That this should be solely the responsibility of Muslims or ex-Muslims of color.  Thinking this way, I can see two red flags being raised by Sam’s passage above:  1. The claim that Islam merits special concern.  2. At the end of the paragraph a white man is “talking to,” “talking over,” or “speaking for” POC about the experiences of POC.

I believe that based on his words above the same bloggers who called Laci Green racist/Islamophobic would call Sam Harris racist/Islamophobic too. 

I might write about this someday.  Are social justice bloggers just using the ad-hominem fallacy wrapped around progressive racial politics?  Is Islam inextricably linked to race and therefore out of bounds from non-POC western atheists?  It would be a long ass article, would not be ready any time soon, and maybe 5 people who follow me would read it.  Having said that I’m glad this is popping up on my dash.  I think the atheist community should have this discussion.

To address the-noise-figure’s point, yes, I think lots of social justice bloggers just using the ad hominem fallacy wrapped around progressive racial politics. I think anyone who defines themselves using amorphic words like “justice” (or “freedom” - that’s a good one) doesn’t really have anything concrete to argue.

As to whether or not Islam is inextricably linked to race and whether or not it is “off-limits” for non-POCs: Islam is not necessarily linked to race because there are Muslims all over the world (and contrary to Western opinion, most of them do not live in the Middle East.) Also, I personally think very little is off-limits when it comes tointellectual discourse. Again, intellectual discourse. I think everyone is entitled to an argument provided they can back it up. I think everyone is entitled to an opinion (different from an argument) provided they can articulate why. Therefore, no, I don’t think intellectual or theoretical criticism of Islam is by default “off-limits.” I think you need to so your research and I think harsh and specific criticisms that are applied is great sweeping generalizations are stupid, invalid, and at times quite harmful. 

With the Laci Green situation, as far as I know, her supposed Islamophobic comment was that she thinks Islam is a very sexist religion. And that’s all I got. Regardless of whether or not she actually said that, this woman has received very real death threats. In my opinion, that is never okay, especially as a response to a single comment expressing a very generalized opinion. I’m not going to go into “if she had said this” or “if she had said that” because we’f be here all day (though who am I kidding, this is Tumblr, we will be here all day.) I for one wouldn’t call her comment Islamophobic. A phobia is a fear. I really don’t think Laci Green is afraid of Muslims. I think she might be now that she’s received death threats. I can’t really blame her for that. She says she thinks Islam is sexist, and from her perspective, maybe it is. That’s her opinion and it’s my opinion that she has a right to it. Not necessarily that she’s right but that she has a right. My biggest problem with Laci Green-gate 2012 is that people got way sidetracked. Laci Green is a sex educator. She has made a name for herself by providing accessible, easy-to-understand information about things that many people don’t have information about. And I think she does a pretty damn good job of it. I don’t think she presents herself as a religious educator, as an expert on religion, as a credible source for religious information. I think she’s a sex educator who is a human being and therefore has opinions of her own which may or may not be factual. The fact that she made an offhand comment stating her opinion should not negate all the great work she’s done in her intended field, and itdefinitely should not be reason for people to attack her, bombard her with hateful messages, discredit everything she’s ever done, and make threats to her safety. And that’s all I’m saying about that.

Now, I don’t know much about Sam Harris. I’m basically going off the above quote, the linked article and Wikipedia. I don’t understand why he thinks Islam merits “special concern.” I just don’t. “The most militant and retrograde of the world’s religions”? I really don’t know what he means by that. I think he’s definitely right that people (read: Westerners) find it difficult to distinguish a focus on Islam from bigotry against Muslims, and I think he’s definitely right that innocent Muslims are negatively affected by that. (Yeah, that’s  big “ya think?!”) The irony is I think Sam Harris is one of those people who can’t make a distinction. He refers to on “the real-world effects of its doctrines regarding martyrdom, jihad, apostasy, and the status of women” as though those are concrete, exact, and unchanging elements that are universally accepted and enforced across the entire Muslim population. And that’s just not true. 

Islam is interpreted different by different people. (Like how “jihad” is translated in English to “holy war,” but translated in Arabic to “struggle.”) Islam is practiced differently by different people. Some of those people are horribly misguided terrorists who think suicide bombs are a good idea, but clearly the vast majority of Muslims are not like that. This can be applied to any terrorist. The shooter at the Sikh temple? He was in the US Army. He was also an obviously disturbed, white supremacist in a neo-Nazi band. That does not mean that every member of the US Army is an obviously disturbed, white supremacist in a neo-Nazi band who is going to commit mass murder.

I’m going to do some more reading on Sam Harris, but until then anyone else is welcome to chime in.

greencarnations:

cuimhnigh-i-gconai:

juniourr:

space-farts:

proud-atheist:

Children do not choose religion

http://proud-atheist.tumblr.com

This kinda sounds just as bad as the fanatical religious people. “BECOME WHO YOU ARE WHICH IS AN ATHIEST”.

Amen to that. Also it’s very presumptuous in that it implies people don’t ‘soul search’ or go on ‘spiritual journeys’ that result in practicing religions that as children, they never had contact. So no, religion is *not* always ‘a matter of the family you are born into’. A child could be raised an atheist and end up a Jehovah’s Witness, a Muslim or a Jain. Also, ‘realize that religion is man made’? From an agnostic student of religion, both religious and non-religious people alike are very well aware that ‘religion’ is man made, thus some spiritual paths tend to reject the label, such as Buddhists. Not to mention, I majorly dislike that this portrays that someone who follows a religion is not seen as an, ‘an individual’ or that religion crushes personal expression. This isn’t a dogmatic truth. To end with, I do actually agree with the first paragraph to an extent - although I’m not fond of the ‘brain-washed’ terminology. However to counter argue that, religions are spread all over the world. You have Muslims in the USA, Hindus in Peru, Christians in Iraq, Jews in the Isle of Man, Buddhists in Australia and Sikhs in Glasgow. 

Also, many children are now (rightfully) exposed to many other religious traditions other than their own - so they know that there are in fact other options out there. You can be Muslim learning about Christianity, Jewish learning about Hinduism. You can be someone of any religion or none who goes home to your parents and say, ‘today I learned that Muslims believe that Jesus is only a Prophet… I might go explore why that’s so.’ If they then decide to become Muslim, hey, that’s great! They’ve made an educated choice. Of course, that isn’t the case for all children. I just don’t like the implications of this and the wording, ergo all this is my personal opinion.

Rant over (and awaits the hate). 

I want to meet a Jew from the Isle of Man… we could be friends 

And coming from a child of a Jewish mother and Episcopalian/Spiritualist father, I completely agree with John

This is all I’m hearing from this graphic

While I agree with the sentiment juniourr’s statement, they are clearly not from the US. (I totally didn’t mean for that to sound sassy or accusatory. At all.)

I don’t like the wording of this graphic. It seems to imply that everyone is naturally an atheist and then in inducted into this crazy brainwashing cult called “religion.” And yes, that may be the case sometimes, but certainly not all the time. It sounds like this person is as much a brainwashed atheist and they claim other people are about religion.

I’m sure there are children who are exposed to other religions. I’m sure there are children who follow a faith different from that of their parents. I’m sure that happens somewhere. But I have never seen it. Ever. Ever.

Religion is like language. What you speak/believe as a child depends entirely on where you are born. Entirely. You’re born in France, you speak French. You’re born to a Catholic family, you’re Catholic. Done. But as you grow up, you learn things. Maybe you take classes specifically about another language/religion. Maybe you move to another country and you hardly ever use your native tongue. Maybe your beliefs totally change. But I have never seen a child have that kind of change.

Which brings us back to my first point. I think in other countries, people are exposed to more variety at a much younger age. But when I was a kid growing up in America, there’s no way any of my friends knew about other religions. They knew other religions existed (eventually) but they didn’t know anything about them. They just knew that those religions were wrong. Just like they knew other languages existed, but knew nothing about them. America is a very limited country in terms of worldly knowledge. You know what they say: if you speak three languages, you’re trilingual. If you speak two languages, you’re bilingual. If you speak one language, you’re American. America is also the major outlier when it comes to wealthy countries and religion.

We have never had a President who wasn’t a Christian. It will be a very long time before that is no longer the case. Our money says “In God We Trust” (when it probably should say “in this ugly green paper we trust.”) Our Pledge of Allegiance says “one nation, under God,” and that phrase was added 58 years ago. That being said, I’m betting that the person who made this graphic is American. Not saying they’re right, not saying this is the most eloquent way of expression their opinion, just saying I kinda get why they’re saying what they’re saying.

This is basically how religion worked where I grew up. Forgive me for always thinking it was bullshit.

religiousragings:

Seems legit

religiousragings:

Information and easy access to facts is religion’s worst enemy.

Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

The Yearly Cost of Religious Tax Exemptions: $71,000,000,000

helvetebrann:

Only a handful of publications in the sociology of religion have examined the finances of religions, and they are largely aimed at telling religions how to increase donations.1 Nowhere did we find prior research summarizing and detailing religious finances and tax policy, so we decided to investigate it ourselves.

This article is the result. It took some digging, but we think we now have a moderately clear understanding of the tax laws regarding religions in the United States. What we found suggests that religious institutions, if they were required to pay taxes the same as for-profit corporations do, would not have nearly as much money or influence as they enjoy in America today. In this article we estimate how much local, state, and federal governments subsidize religions.

However, before we get into our calculations, we think it best to address a criticism that is likely to be raised about this article. By suggesting that these groups should pay taxes, we are likely to be criticized by those who think that religions are largely charitable institutions engaged in beneficial service or charitable work and should therefore be exempt from taxes. This criticism requires responses at two levels, because there are two ways to think about religious “charity.” The first type of charity is the type that most people think of when they hear the phrase “serving people’s physical needs” (feeding and clothing the poor, building schools, and the like). The second type is different and involves addressing people’s “spiritual concerns.”

Do religions engage in charitable work that addresses the physical needs of the poor? Many do, but that is not their primary focus.
One calculation of the resources expended by 271 U.S. congregations found that, on average, “operating expenses” totaled 71 percent of all the expenditures of religions, much of that going to pay ministers’ salaries.4 Financial contributions addressing the physical needs of the poor fall within the remaining 29 percent of expenditures. While these numbers may be higher as a percentage of income than typical charitable giving by corporations, they are not hugely higher (depending on the religion) and are substantially lower in absolute terms. Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years.
To put this into perspective, the combined total of government subsidies to agriculture in the United States in 2009 was estimated to be $180.8 billion.38 Religions receive at least 40 percent of the subsidy that agriculture does in the United States.

stfuconservatives:

timekiller-s:

liberalsarecool:

Freedom for free thinkers.

Just a reminder, everybody.

Evangelical Christian extremists want “freedom of religion” to mean “we desire the freedom to push our narrow viewpoint on you through the laws we are forcing through not just Congress but in every state house, regardless of what religion you do, or do not, practise.”

“Freedom for our religion to override your religion or lack thereof.”

-Joe

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