News item: The Texas GOP has “accused” a candidate for the Appeals Court, E. Ben Franks, of being an atheist. They believe this means he is out of touch with the public and would fail to uphold the laws of Texas. According to Law.com, “The Republican Party noted in its recent newsletter that Article 16, §1(a) of the Texas Constitution prescribes the oath of office for all elected or appointed officials. The officeholder swears to faithfully execute the duties of the office and, to the best of his or her ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state "so help me God."”
His Republican opponent, Bailey C. Moseley, says he thinks (but is obviously not sure) an atheist can take the oath and is bound to support the laws and Constitution of Texas.
"I think it's pertinent," Moseley says of the allegation. "In east Texas, a person's core beliefs are important." Yes in Texas, unless you believe in talking snakes, and a 6000 year old earth, you’re “out of touch.”
Jeff Fisher, the state Republican Party's executive director, says there are other sources of the allegation that Frank is an atheist. Fisher says "some people who know Franks" -- people whom Fisher did not identify -- have told him that Franks professes to be an atheist.
Fisher says the GOP sent the newsletter to people who subscribe to the party's e-mail publications to inform them about Franks.
Comment: Exactly how commonplace and routine must be anti-atheist bigotry be for a major political party to be so comfortable airing their bias? Answer: Very commonplace and routine.
What are the chances of E. Ben Franks being elected? Answer:
(For the whole article by Mary Alice Robbins go to: http://www.law.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/Preview&c=LawArticle&cid=1160125527178 )
News item: Ohio executed areligious cult leader Tuesday for murdering a family of five followers who were taken one at a time to a barn, bound and shot to death. The youngest was a girl just 7 years old.
Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, died by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. "I profess my love for God, my family, for my children, for Kathy (his wife). I am because you are," Lundgren said in his final statement.
The evidence against him in the deaths of the Avery family - Dennis, 49, Cheryl, 46, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and 7-year-old Karen - was compelling.
Upset by what he saw as a lack of faith, Lundgren arranged a dinner hosted by cult members. Afterward, he and his followers led the family members one by one - the father first, young Karen last - to their deaths while the others unknowingly cleaned up after dinner.
Lundgren shot each victim two or three times while a running chain saw muffled the sound of the gunfire.
Lundgren argued at his trial in 1990 that he was prophet of God and therefore not deserving of the death penalty.
"It's not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice," he had told the jurors. "I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet."
Comment: What, exactly, would be the believers argument against Lundgren the “Prophet.” That he’s not a prophet? And how would one know that if one also believes that prophecy actually has occurred and may occur again?
If one argues that God wouldn’t be giving such messages to anyone, then one has admitted that God can be judged by human-based standards of morality. If one argues that humans, however, cannot create moral standards, however, then one must just “accept” what God orders, as Mr. Lundgren did. Who is Mr. Lundgren to question God? How can Mr. Lundgren or others tell whether God speaks tothem or not?
The whole point of revelation is that its “truths” lie beyond reason. To mount a coherent argument against revelation requires rejecting all of revelation itself, doesn’t it?
News Item: (AFP) -The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God. "He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Comment: If this story is true, and it has not been denied, well, that changes everything! Instead of being an unmitigated disaster, the War in Iraq is actually the work of God! That makes everything OK!
And isn’t it comforting to know that this is how the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCoS) thinks? Who needs military intelligence?
Truly if God inspires President Bush (who refers to him as his ‘higher Father’), Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the Chairman of the JCoS, then our troubles are over!
Of course; unless God does not exist…
News item: In an interview with New Yorker editor, Sen. Barack Obama addressed the topic of religion saying, "It's not 'faith' if you are absolutely certain," and noted that he didn't believe his lack of "faith" would hurt him a national election. He added, "Evolution is more grounded in my experience than angels."
Comment: It’s sad but his (or anyone else’s) support for a more scientific approach to reality may cost votes at the ballot box.
Item: (AP, HOUSTON (Nov. 10, 2006) Michael Lord and Gary Lackey, a gay couple requesting bids for a landscaping job at their new house, received a polite - and, well, honest - e-mail from Sabrina Farber, a co-owner of Garden Guy: "I need to tell you that we cannot meet with you because we choose not to work for homosexuals."
Stunned, Lackey forwarded the e-mail to 200 friends, asking them not to patronize Garden Guy and urging them to pass the word on to friends and family. "I'm still shocked by the ignorance that exists in today's society," Lackey said in his e-mail. And word was indeed passed on - as fast as the Web could carry it.
Within days, the e-mail had been forwarded to thousands of people around the world, and quickly became the subject of heated and often ugly debates on the Internet. Because of the furor, a professional association of landscapers created a nondiscrimination policy.
But Farber said she and her husband have also gotten hundreds of calls and messages offering encouragement and have been touched by that. "We just cried. We have been through so much," Farber said. "We become accidental crusaders for Christ."
Comment: Yes, you read it here: Discriminating against gay couples is “crusading for Christ.” That makes it ok.
Item: (AP) Sir Elton John thinks all religions should be banned because they turn people into "really hateful lemmings... I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it," the British singer said in an interview with the Observer newspaper on Sunday. "Religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it is not really compassionate." The singer, who tied the knot with long-term partner David Furnish in a civil ceremony last year, said he admired the teachings of Jesus Christ, but disliked religious bodies. "The reality is that organized religion doesn't seem to work," he added.
The 59-year-old singer, who has sold an estimated 200 million records, is no stranger to controversy. In 2000, he hit out at the "ignorance" of the Roman Catholic Church after a priest said homosexuals were engaged in "a lifestyle that can never respond to the deepest longings of the human heart." Since then he has received blanket media coverage for a series of high-profile outbursts.
Comment: As bad as many forms of religion are, you cannot outlaw religion; freedom of the mind to believe in even the most ridiculous things, including Zeus, Poseiden, Xenu, Virgin births, revelations from a god, Vishnu, raising the dead, a world-wide flood, a 6 thousand year old earth, and so on, is the most fundamental right of all human rights.
However, this freedom allows for another thing which is what Elton John should concentrate on: freedom to CRITICIZE religion. This is the freedom that is the typically FIRST victim of religious intolerance.
Throughout history religious dissent has rarely been tolerated.