Paul Strand Misses the point completely

An article over at CBN by Paul Strand has this to say about the American Humanist Association’s Newest, and Biggest Ad Campaign, Consider Humanism

In the past, the group’s campaign was more subtle, with simple messages like, “No God, No Problem.”

But the latest string of commercials, billboards and print ads takes scriptures about subjects such as smiting, slavery and women’s submission, and uses them negatively.

*Emphasis Mine

I don’t think he realizes that all of those things are viewed as big negatives nowadays.  Hopefully he’ll realize that slavery and misogyny have no place in today’s world. Truly, I’m not surprised by this as it is CBN.

ACLU to Represent Mayfield, KY Muslims

In Mayfield, Ky a local group of Muslims was recently denied a zoning permit for them to use a spot in a strip mall as a mosque.  Originally the zoning board approved the permit but after public outcry, the decision was revoked.  Another meeting was arranged so the public could comment on record,however when a representative from the Muslim community arrived to make the Muslim community’s case , he was turned away at the door because the room was full of all other locals, many if not all of them opposed to the plan. The permit was denied due to “inadequate parking”, the allocated space for the rented section of the strip mall only had 6 spaces. You can read more about the decision via the local NPR station.

Thankfully the ACLU has taken up the case:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky have agreed to represent Khadar Ahmed, a resident of Mayfield, Kentucky, who was denied a permit last month by the Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustment to operate a Muslim worship center in the town’s central business district.

Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky [said,] “The fact that Mr. Ahmed was initially granted a permit and then had it taken away without there being any change in circumstances is troubling.”

“Preventing any group from freely practicing their faith is unlawful and contrary to core American values,” said Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “While we remain open to alternative avenues of resolution, governmental actions that have the effect of denying individuals the right to practice their religion must be challenged.”

Hopefully the local Mayfield Government will realize that they made a huge mistake and will do the right thing before they cost themselves and the citizens of Mayfield lots of money in a legal battle.

Questions for you…

I have to work with several of our customers who we supply software for. Some of the institutions we supply are overtly religious, and offer “Christ Centered Teachings” from a “Christian World View”.  Many times when working with these customers I must endure them making overtly religious statements to myself, as well as listening to their phone system’s messages that tell all about how Christian they are. Most of the time I’ll simply brush off their annoying messages about living with God, and Blessing me over the holiday’s and such.  Sometimes I get the feeling, that since I don’t return these sentiments, I am fed even more the next time I must deal with them.  They don’t know I’m an atheist but I’m starting to think if they did I might end up getting even more of these “well wishes”.

How do you deal with customers who proselytize to you while at work?

Does your work place have a secular work policy, as in no religion while at work?

Pat Robertson is a douche…

I was flicking through the tv last night and saw this story about people protesting a mosque going up in an old Burlington Coat Factory, in NYC.  The reason this is news you might ask?  The mosque is going in two-blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.

Since this was a CBN Broadcast any opposing viewpoint never even made it into the piece. The only side of the opposing view was a shot of the man trying to build the mosque, Feisal Abdul Rauf,who (according to a quick google search) works on fostering better understanding between the West and the Muslim community. Looks like these protesters want none of that.

This is what ole Pat had to say after the report finished,

“I feel it is an abomination to build a Muslim sign of Triumph at the ruins of the grave site of 3000 brave Americans.   I just think it’s something that’s terrible. I think it’s something that shouldn’t be done and I think Mayor Bloomberg should have better sense; that he and the city council of New York should say no.”

Like it or not Pat the same freedom that lets you spout your nonsense on air like this applies to *shock* other people too.  Those same freedoms that let you keep worship how you want and where you want also apply to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Pagans, and non-believers.  Just because you think your way is the best doesn’t give you the right to take away other’s freedoms.  And until you understand that you’ll always be a douche Pat.

While I haven’t really heard much on the man behind the mosque, I do happen to think having a mosque so close to the site of the WTC disaster would do some good.  Fostering a better understanding between Non-Muslim Americans and Muslims is something we all could benefit from.  And while I’m not particularly fond of any religion, and criticize anything that is morally unacceptable (looking at you Islam & Christianity), I think learning about what defines people can help us lead to a healthy dialogue.   I for one hope they get the mosque and Muslim Community Center up and going soon, it would make a wonderful trip to complement a visit to the WTC Memorial that’s due to open 9/11/2011.

What do you think? Is putting this up near the former WTC a good idea or bad one?

President Obama goes after the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill

At the National Prayer breakfast this morning President Obama made some comments on The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill.

“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or … more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda,”

This was in response to the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill that would put punishments on gays, lesbians, and  transgendered people.  The punishments range from life imprisonment to death for those that practice that kind of lifestyle. This bill which was being pushed by  The Family.  The Family aka The Fellowship aka The Foundation is a secretive group for politicians and other high-ranking officials to go around and practice their Bible studies and general god talk.  They’re members include,Rep. John Ensign and former Gov. Mark  Sanford.

The best part of this however is that President Obama made these remarks at The Family’s sponsored event, The National Prayer Breakfast.  I really was disappointed that the President was actually going to attend the event, however this makes it a little better.  I still think that him going constitutes a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  How is going to a Christian Prayer service, while bringing other heads of state, not saying that “Hey yeah the government likes this religion”?

Hopefully next year will be different and Mr. Obama will stay back and start to distance himself from events like these, or at least maybe attend a Secular Humanist Breakfast?

A Bad Ruling

An appeals court has overturned a ruling that the Ten Commandments can not be displayed in Grayson County Kentucky’s courthouse.   The display of the Ten Commandments was put up as part of an educational display to display the foundations of law.  Also included in the display was the Magna Carta as well as the Declaration of Independence and a few other documents.  The display was put up after a Baptist minister suggested it:

The minister said he wanted the commandments posted “to keep government from pushing God out,” but mentioned putting up other documents so the display might not be challenged, according to a court document.

The fiscal court gave its approval, and the preacher paid for the documents and hung them.

–Via the Lexington Herald Leader

The Emphasis is mine.

The minister knew that what he was doing violated the first amendment establishment clause and then tried to skirt around it!  The majority opinion from the court  basically says they don’t know if the fiscal court meant to have it as a religious display or a historical display, that only the minister meant it.  This is like someone saying hey you like cheeseburgers then agreeing and then later saying no I didn’t say I liked cheeseburgers.  The lower court had this one right and I really hope that the ACLU of KY appeals this one.

You can find the opinions of the court here

The minister said he wanted the commandments posted “to keep government from pushing God out,” but mentioned putting up other documents so the display might not be challenged, according to a court document.

The fiscal court gave its approval, and the preacher paid for the documents and hung them.

A Bad Law…with a bit of an upside.

The Kentucky House today passed a bill that would allow for the creation of  license plates that bears “In God we Trust” on it as an alternative to the general plate that is given to Kentuckians at no charge.  Now I know that as our “national motto”, (and I use that loosely), the phrase does not come without controversy.  Yet just last year this happened:

The Transportation Cabinet rejected that request, saying that the group promotes a “specific faith or religious position.”

Unfortunately since this is a Kentucky congressional matter it most likely won’t be held up to the same standards as a private group would.  I urge you to write to your state senator and ask them to oppose this as it basically discriminates against people who don’t trust in god, mainly atheists, agnostics, and non-theists.  Thankfully the transportation cabinet denied the group who applied for a specialty plate last year, on the grounds that it violated KRS186.162(pdf) The specific section are as follows:

(e)The group shall not have as its primary purpose the promotion of any specific faith, religion, or antireligion;

Unfortunately, the license plates are being put into the same section of law as the general license plate requirements section which will basically bypass the special group requirements.  The specific bill  creates/amends sections of the Kentucky Revised Statutes(Kentucky Law) ; it can be found here.

One good bit of new from all of this, one representative voted against the bill, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.  I will personally be writing her to thank her for taking the right stance on this and sticking up for those who don’t believe in a god or gods, and I’d encourage every Kentuckian out there to do the same.  I’m sure she’s catching lots of flak from people for voting against it.  Let’s let her know that we appreciate that kind of stance in our legislature.

Update: The corresponding Kentucky Senate bill is SB 36