Twisted “Cowboy Logic”

You may remember that I recently wrote “Inauguration or Church Service?” in response to the planned religious involvement in Obama’s upcoming inauguration, but I’m not the only one who noticed.

Michael Newdow, lawyer and atheist activist, is part of a group who has filed a law suit to remove “so help me God” from the oath that the president is sworn in with. Charlie Daniels, confusing the two issues, wrote a bit entitled “He Must Be a Miserable Man” bashing Mr. Newdow and all atheists, and making grandiose claims about the interventions of the Christian god in the affairs of the United States.

Charlie, whether you realize it or not, Mr. Newdow is fighting for your rights as well. If the inauguration contained prayers to a different god, I’m pretty sure you would be (possibly literally) up in arms about it, even if 80% of the country had converted to this other religion.

The point of fighting for separation of church and state is not to take away your right to believe in any religion you choose, it is to protect all of our rights, and particularly to protect our government from undue influence by any specific religious sect.

When you go to get your driver’s license, do you have to affirm your Christian faith before you will be trusted to drive? When a police officer joins the force, do they swear to uphold God’s Holy Law, or the laws and constitution of the United States of America?

If religion had never been a factor in the inauguration, few people would push to have it added, or even notice its absence. Inclusion of religious activities in official government events is always divisive, and completely irrelevant to what our government is supposed to be.

Let’s look at a few of the main claims you make, and see if they’re true.

  • If you look at this issue using cowboy logic, if atheists don’t believe there is a God, why do they care where his name appears? Atheists by their very supposed beliefs claim they don’t believe in religion.

    You ask us to look at this issue using “cowboy logic”, but your “cowboy logic” seems to be no logic at all. I’m guessing that you don’t believe in Allah, Zeus or Baal, but if any one of them were praised on our money, in our schools or in the presidential inauguration, I think your “cowboy logic” would go haywire.

    If you really think that not believing in something makes implicit government endorsement of it acceptable, then if I petition for Baal to be praised in schools, will you support me?

  • Just what in the name of Sam Hill is atheism, if not a religion? It’s a belief, a choice concerning the deity, whether pro or con, so what atheists are doing is trying to force their religion on everybody else.

    Atheism is nothing like a religion. We have no dogma or belief system, no Atheist Pope, no belief in any gods. We have nothing that makes a religion a religion, and objecting to religion in government in no way prevents the free exercise of religion by any person in the country.

  • Now Mr. Newdow … wants prayer taken out of Obama’s inauguration claiming that it amounts to the government endorsing religion. Well if Mr. Newdow has his way and they take the prayer out doesn’t that amount to the government endorsing atheism?

    You seem to be admitting here that including Christian prayer in the inauguration is an endorsement of Christianity, you just object to it being changed to an endorsement of atheism.

    Removing a Christian prayer is no more an endorsement of atheism than it is an endorsement of Islam. If Mr. Newdow was instead invited to speak, along with another famous atheist, with the expressed intent of promoting atheism, then that would be an endorsement of atheism.

    A lack of religious involvement in an activity makes it secular, not atheistic, and as much as it pains many fundamentalist Christians, a secular government is exactly what the founders of this country intended.

  • The last I heard something like 80% of Americans believe in God in one-way or another. If this is truly a nation “by the people and for the people” where the majority rules, there should not even be a question of what should happen at President Obama’s inauguration.

    If this is truly a nation based on the constitution laid down at its founding, then there really is no question what should not happen. There should not be religion inserted into government events. It wouldn’t matter if 100% of US citizens were Christians, it would still not be an appropriate time for prayers or other religious activities.

  • I can’t imagine living in a dark world of believing that there is no Heaven, no Hell and no hope, that prayers are never answered because there’s no divine being to answer them.

    You also go on to imply that we are all secretly terrified of your god, but does this really make any sense?

    Do you really think that we are all liars who are simply unafraid of the Hell that we know awaits us, and so sinister that we are trying to take everyone else there with us?

    I accept that many if not most Christians truly believe that their god is real and at the same time believe that no other gods are. Is it so hard to accept that we feel the same way about your god as well?

  • If we deny God His rightful place in the affairs of this nation should we expect Him to intervene when we need protection? Just what do you think has kept us safe from terrorist attacks since 9/11? It certainly wasn’t the atheists.

    Like God intervened to prevent 9/11 since we’ve had prayer in our inaugurations and “under God” in the pledge recited in our schools and “In God We Trust” on or money for many years now?

    Oh, right, he didn’t.

You’re right about one thing though, Charlie, it wasn’t the atheists who have kept this country safe from terrorist attacks since 9/11. It was my lucky horse shoe.

On September 12th, 2001 I bought my horse shoe from a particularly powerful witch, and I have selflessly used it to protect the United States from terrorist attacks rather than using it to make myself rich and powerful. No one seems to be grateful though, and I’ve had just about enough of this.

Your lies and insults were the straw that broke the camel’s back. I hereby withdraw my horse shoe’s protection against terrorist attacks. Now whenever there is another terrorist attack in the US, you’ll know the true power it wields.

Stick that in your “cowboy logic” and smoke it!

The Hell in Allie’s Eyes

Saturday night, during the Mill Avenue Resistance event, I saw a disturbing example of the painful consequences of an insidious piece of Christian doctrine. I saw one of the horrors of Hell.

Allie and her husband were visitors from Texas. They were slightly inebriated after a night out on Mill Avenue, but while this probably magnified emotions, it was not their source. The couple seemed very surprised and confused by what we were doing and what we believed. So much so in fact that they got stuck with us for the rest of the night.

At first Allie, who borrowed one of our microphones, seemed pretty angry at us. As the night wore on though, she changed her tune a lot. She pulled a couple of us aside individually, apologized for her initial tone, and talked to us in a more personal and heartfelt manner.

I believe she genuinely cared for us, and that was touching. What I could not appreciate was her terror on our behalves. She just couldn’t understand how we could go through life without God. She thought that we and our children would need Him (which was more understandable after she said that her son had almost died), and above all she was terrified that we were all going to Hell.

“I have been through Hell,” she said, her hands clasping mine in a white-knuckled grip, and I could see Hell in her eyes. She told me that she would never be back to Phoenix again, but that we would never be out of her thoughts and prayers. If she never manages to break free of her religion, then I hope she does forget about us, just to spare her the pain.

I could tell that her belief in a loving god and Heaven gave her comfort, but her belief in Hell caused nothing but pain and anguish. Terrible, unending horror which she must face not after death, but every day of her life. It was as if she was trying to rescue us from a burning building, and we refused to come out. The problem is, the flames she sees are all in her head.

At the end of the night as we prepared to leave, she still couldn’t let go of me. She hugged me tightly over and over, clearly suffering from the effects of fire and brimstone Christian dogma laced with alcohol.

Although I would have liked to believe even just for the moment just to ease her pain, I couldn’t lie to her. She was slightly comforted by my admission that (as Christians often request of me) I did and would continue to ask God to reveal Himself to me, so I hope that will at least help absolve her of her guilt at watching us walk off down the road to Hell. As we trudged off down that grim path into the darkness though, her eyes were still sparkling with tears.

We have a fairly adversarial (but generally friendly) relationship with most of the evangelical preachers we see, but this experience reminded me again how difficult these issues could be for some of them.

I still believe that some are preaching either for their own salvation (since the Bible commands them to do it), or to be part of one of the more evangelical communities, but Allie reminded me how much this must hurt some of them. The dogma of Hell for the unbelievers and wrongly practicing believers can be a very powerful and painful motivator for a Christian who genuinely cares about other people.

In fact, when I was a young Christian I had very similar feelings, and while I didn’t yell abusive nonsense and tell people they were going to Hell, I did try to get people to go to church and read scriptures, and I tried to dissuade them from “sinning”.

I guess looking back on it, I was probably fairly annoying at times, and I can still remember how it hurt me to know that the people I tried to help were deaf to my pleas. What really hurt was not so much that they weren’t listening to me, but that I believed God would punish them for the things they were doing. What hurt me was Hell.

It still hurts me to see people harming themselves, but it hurts in a much more human way. I no longer fear an eternity of torment in Hell for myself or anyone else. While not believing in an afterlife makes some earthly tragedies even more painful, I am glad to be rid of the needless dread that the dogma of Hell brings.

Preachers often tell me that I “know the truth”, that “God wrote it on my heart”, and I just choose to deny it. I assure you, if I actually knew these things to be true then as disgusting as I find the concept of Hell, I would do my best to keep myself and others out of it. However I, like at least 80% of the people in the world, do not have the ideas of the Christian god or its sickening Hell “written on my heart”, and there is no credible evidence to convince me that any of it exists.

If there is a god out there, it hides extraordinarily well, and if there is a Hell waiting for the unbelievers, then that god has chosen to put me there. It has given me no way to believe.

The fact that I am not worried about that should tell you how likely I think it is to actually be true.

Allie, if you ever read this, I sincerely appreciate your concern, but I think it is misplaced. If you want to help me, please try to do as much good as you can in this world. If there is another after this, then it will be what it will be. I am not afraid.

How many cheeks do I have to turn, John316?

Yesterday, in the aftermath of John316′s vandalism of the forum, I extended an olive branch. I honestly welcomed him to the site and offered to forget the whole thing and start over. This morning he spit in my face.

Not only did he respond with “I have nothing to learn from an atheist.”, but he vandalized the forum again with identical posts of Romans 7:23 in every forum, and he responded to our answers to his original post by spouting lies and abuse and playing the martyr.

Well, John316, I don’t know what to say. I am posting this publicly in the hope that you will see it and that it will get through to you or others like you before we have problems like this again. You claim that you are “done with the forum”, and if that’s true then at least you’ll save me the trouble of deciding whether or not to ban you for your continued vandalism after we specifically asked you not to do that one thing.

The lies and abuse we can deal with, in fact we’re used to it. Despite your claim that we are afraid of you words and that we are censoring you,

“What? Are you so afraid of the truth? You can’t stand my words so you remove them. Will you also remove the words of the other religions as well? I thought not. You are a lire an a coward. You can’t even face me.” – John316

we in fact deleted only the duplicate posts that you put in every forum. We left one of the identical copies, 3 people responded to your post, and I even offered you absolution!

I’m not going to bother responding to everything you said, but I will cover some of the basic problems that riddle it.

Today’s John316 Verse

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

- Romans 7:23

  • You complain of being insulted repeatedly, including in the line right after you insult the person you are accusing of insulting you. Not to mention the fact that nearly everything you’ve posted from the beginning was riddled with insults.

    You called us hypocrites, but what you did is the very definition of hypocrisy.

    You may think we haven’t been nice enough to you, but I think that we have been nicer to you than most Christian sites would be to a similarly unruly atheist.

  • You lecture and denigrate us as if you know us better than we know ourselves, but you make us sound like the most despicable people in the world.

    That may be what you think of us, but I assure you, we are not bad people. If you took some time to see what we were actually like rather than coming in with such horrible prejudice, you might realize that.

  • You say that we are not animals and that we alone have souls, but you base this solely on the Bible, and it is dead wrong. If you took time to objectively observe the world, you would see that we are very clearly part of the animal kingdom, and not nearly so superior as many think themselves to be.

    As for souls, on the off chance that something akin to a soul does exist, I don’t know how we could believe that we alone possess it. If it’s there then it must be in many or all other animals as well. Still, it seems a very unlikely thing to exist at all.

  • You claim that our acceptance of the fact that we are animals is “a sure fire bet you’ll start picking up the ideas of Hitler. Mark my words you will kill rapanet and with out cause. It in your nature.”

    You take a very dim view of humanity, which is sadly in line with a literalistic reading of the Bible. I don’t mean to scare you, but at least 10% of the people around you (and probably a lot more) are atheists. I don’t see a 4th Reich starting here though, or even in the countries where most people are atheists. Your words just don’t ring true.

  • I just have to quote this one…

    And yes God is merciful and so is his vengeance. You will burn because you have sinned against an infinite and all powerful God. He is truly all loving and I look forward to your day of suffering. Mark my words it will come soon. Us Christens are tired of your lies and you mockery. You think you can just insult our God and be done with it? – John316

    Wow. Just…wow. Not only do you repeatedly say that you look forward to seeing us die and suffer for eternity, it sounds like you are threatening to start a holy war and kill us all!

    …and yes, I do think that I can just insult the despicable, depraved degenerate of a story book god that encourages such deranged behavior as yours, and I will continue to do so.

    You nuts can martyr me if you like, but you would only help my cause more than I could if I lived a hundred years.

  • Again I feel compelled to quote a whole paragraph.

    We force nothing upon you. It is your choice to accept Christ or die. You on the other hand force us to read your propaganda force us to sit in you schools and force us to believe in your lies. You are the essence of all that is evil in this world and God will come to judge you. You will be left wanting. – John316

    First, “accept Christ or die” is an attempt at force. If your Muslim equivalent came up to you and said “Accept Allah and Muhammad his prophet or die.”, would you still think of it the same way?

    As for the things that “we” (“we” here includes most Christians by the way) “forced” on you, your parents could have taught you at home or sent you to a private school where you could be at least somewhat shielded from reality, or you could have just dropped out.

    It seems though that you have instead chosen to attend ASU and intentionally subjected yourself further secular horrors.

    As for forcing you to believe anything, you obviously have not been forced to give up your faith or accept reality the way it is, so I’m not sure why you claim that one.

    As for us being “the essence of all that is evil in this world”, again you are staggeringly off base. Please take a look at Darfur, or North Korea, or many parts of the middle east. Pretty much anywhere you turn you can find horrible atrocities perpetrated by not only unbelievers but members of almost every religion around, including Christianity.

    In fact, if you want to see the “essence of evil”, you can start with a small taste of it by examining your own words and actions here over the last few days.

  • Just one more long quote.

    You honestly think you selfs greater then God and all of his loyal followers? You will know his judgment. You will know suffering. Satin is waiting for you. – John316

    Satin may be less luxurious than silk, but I’m not sure it’s exactly suffering. Maybe steel wool? Even burlap would be a much more torturous material. Satin is actually kinda’ nice.

    I know this last bit is a little petty, but seriously, for a university student your spelling is atrocious. Are you sure you were forced to go to school as a kid?

I guess I ended up being more mean than I intended to be at first because I went through your most recent post as I was writing this and I was annoyed by having such baseless, hostile and offensive drivel spewed at all of us. I particularly do not take kindly to being threatened.

Even if you don’t come back, John316, you have proven that not only is our fundamentalist Christian caricature not an unfair portrayal, but it probably doesn’t go far enough. In fact, you make it look almost normal by comparison.

Whether you continue to post here or not, please, find us next Saturday on Mill Ave. Try to bring a convincing argument though, because so far you’ve been a threatening, abusive vandal, but you have yet to bring up a single good reason for us to believe a word you say.

Welcome to the site, John316!

Last Friday, probably in response to my somewhat unkind calling out of the Mill Avenue preachers that day, we were visited by a new user named John316.

John316′s Bible verse

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

- John 3:16 KJV

First, John316, I want to say welcome to the site. While we did not appreciate your spamming of the same post across every forum, if you’re still here you are welcome to keep posting.

You can post whatever you want (as long as it is legal and not intended simply to disrupt the normal operation of the site), and if you request it I would be happy to give you another chance and restore your access to all of the forums.

If you continue to be hostile though, you can expect hostile responses in return, so if you want to have a serious discussion rather than a flame war I would suggest toning down the rhetoric a little next time. Most people don’t respond well to being called “lairs thieves and murders” for example.

Feel free to post more though. If you think you have some ideas worth expressing, we would be happy to hear them and respond. In the process, maybe we can all learn something.

Holiday Music Recommendations

If you’re out at the First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix with us at the time this is posted, there’s a good chance you’re hearing some of the fun holiday music we’re playing, so in case some of you go home and check the web site out I thought you might like to know what the music is.

Most of our holiday music comes from A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice, both by The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. You can listen to It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fish-Men, which is one of my favorite tracks, as well as some others on their web site. If you like what you hear, please buy it and maybe they’ll make another album for us!

You may also have heard selections from Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics, a fun little album of music sung by South Park characters. It is a bit more adult oriented, but it contains some very funny songs.

I’m sure there are many others out there as well, so if you’re tired of the limited selection of standard Christmas tunes you hear on the radio but you’re not a big fan of ours, there’s still hope for you.

Now that you know you don’t have to be stuck listening to an endless loop of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every December for the rest of your life, you can start searching for things you like and you’re sure to find something fun!

The turkeys win again…

Yes, once again this year two wily turkeys have managed to fool our president into pardoning them. I don’t know how they did it since he is usually so smart and tough on crime. No one executes more prisoners than his home state of Texas, and when he ran it he was the toughest guy you could hope for.

When convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker asked him for clemency shortly before her execution in 1998, Bush just mocked her. “‘Please,’ Bush whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, ‘don’t kill me.’” Now that was a real man.

Today though, we see that 8 long years as president have enfeebled our once-great leader. The pathetic gobbling pleas of these fat feathered miscreants should have gone as unanswered as a Texas death row inmate’s, and they should have been put to death just like the other 271 million turkeys sentenced this year, but now they will never be punished as they should.

Now these two monsters will be allowed to live out the rest of their natural lives in peace and happiness at Disneyland. They will probably be stuck in a pen where they will be poked and pelted with food and garbage as they live out their golden years. Ah, the good life.

Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin appeared to have caved in to the anti-death penalty lobby as well when she pardoned one of the waddled menaces, but she showed us where Bush’s balls went when right after the pardoning ceremony she did an interview, smiling and laughing while slaughterhouse workers behind her ground off the heads of these vile beasts in some kind of a turkey murdilizing machine that looked like a wood chipper. Imagine how many turkeys you could dispatch with one of those! Rudolf Höß would be proud.

Sarah Barracuda, if I weren’t terrified of disappearing into your toothy maw, I’d kiss you. Mister Bush on the other hand, I think I’ve just lost my respect for you.