The Christian Hang-up On Sex – is it really just a Freudian Slip?

pictureshowman.comChristian organizations are always going on about how they want to limit sexual freedom and exposure to sex to the public. There’s never a shortage of nuts willing to proclaim that the prevalence of sex in public media like television, movies and print is the source of moral decline in our country (never mind that nations with more liberal censorship policies often have less crime).

To deal with this “problem of moral degradation,” some Christian organizations have very creative ways in which they try to “sanitize” their fellow believers from material they find objectionable. Some organize boycotts, some lobby government officials for legislative change, and some actually attempt to remove the offending scenes from movies.

One such Christian company that attempted to censor mainstream Hollywood movies was CleanFlicks, run by Daniel Thompson. The Utah-based company catered primarily to Mormon, billing their services as “family-friendly” and as “movies you can trust.” Initially they sought to simply edit out the offending scenes of rated-R movies and other films they found to be objectionable, but a 2006 court ruling in favor of filmmakers blocked Thompson’s efforts to edit the creative works of others and he switched, instead, to offering a NetFlix-like service that provided “family-safe” rentals by mail of unedited classic and modern movies that “…contain no nudity, no graphic violence, and no sexual content.”

Thompson’s dedication to morality and decency as well as family-centric values must be commended.

Or not.

It seems that he doth protest too much. Apparently there’s a reason that Daniel Thompson consciously represses sexual deviance and immorality. It’s probably not a true parapraxis (a.k.a. the Freudian slip), since his conscious repression of sexuality and immorality really cannot be said to have “unconsciously” emerged by hiring 14-year olds for oral sex.

That’s right, the champion of decency and morality for families molested and raped the daughters and sisters of the very families he pretended to give two shits about.

Police on Friday arrested Daniel Thompson, 31, and another man. Two 14-year-old girls needed money and decided to offer sexual favors, police said.
A third girl put them in contact with one of the men and he paid both 14-year-olds $20 for oral sex, police said. Later, the man took the girls to Thompson and the teenagers performed oral sex on him, according to police.
Police said the scheme was exposed when one of the girl’s mothers found a $20 bill and asked where it came [from].

Links:

Salt Lake City Tribune: Former movie ‘sanitizer’ accused of sex with underage girls

(H/T: The Information Paradox)

Advertisements

Break-in in Turin: Satanists or Ebay?

A thief or thieves broke into the Church of the Great Mother of God in Turin, Italy last week and took two so-called holy relics from behind the altar: a crystal sphere containing holy water and a prayer book called a missal, which contains all the prayers for mass and from psalms. Okay… the missal really isn’t a relic being only 20 years old.

From the article, Turin police have said that the thefts were most likely “stolen to be used in a rite of black magic.” The hypothesis is that the items are symbolic only and have no intrinsic value, but the missal would could be used in a “black mass.”

The padre that runs the church, Sandro Menzio, feels that the break-in was professional since the thief/thieves knew just which door to enter and how to circumvent the alarm.

Professional thieving satanists. Right.

Since there really is no evidence of organized, criminal Satanism in the world (Anton LeVay doesn’t count), if there were “Satanists” involved, they were every bit as deluded about superstitious beliefs perpetrated by the Catholic church as orthodox church goers. Its unlikely that “professionals” would bother with such juvenile silliness but possible I suppose.

The more likely, more parsimonious explanation is that someone stole items they figured wouldn’t be missed. Someone that knows the church, perhaps has routine access. Someone with an Ebay account where they might hope to unload the items. The Ebay link is to a page of “holy relics” (that was the search parameter I used) found for sale. And the Catholic church is hopping mad over sales of “holy relics” on Ebay, prompting them to set up a “boycottebay” website and inundate Ebay with letters of protest at sales of Eucharist wafers and other superstitious crap.

And Ebay apparently caved and pulled many auctions, vowing not to permit future such sales of “highly sacred” items.

And, just to be silly, here’s the nuttiest Ebay Auction I’ve seen in quite some time. Found under the “holy relic” search, you can be the proud owner of a “New Holy Relic made unknowingly by many hands and machines that god dwells within and about and thusly made by god!!!” Here’s a snippet of the description:

This amazing piece of unintentional found natural art says it all. The whole Da Vinci Code story right in the natural wood grain of this cabinet door as can be seen in the pix.. As you can see at the bottom of the door is the origins, the sun as in the sun worshippers from whom the worshippers of the eternal feminine sprang. She is represented by the nude with no head, feet or hands above the sun. Above her the V grail sign that is her sign as the embodiment of Jesus’ counterpart, Yin to his Yang. This is so prominent in the Da Vinci code Story. She’s headless of course to symbolizes mans domination of the feminine, she also has no feet or hands as her actions are controlled by the masculine. Only her body is left to bear the fruit of the womb with which she wields and regains her power in myriad ways.

The seller adds that you can take the whole cabinet for a mere $50,000 starting bid! It might have healing powers, but the seller offers no guarantees!

Oh, did I mention the seller has 100% positive feed back? Hurry! Bidding ends Jan 31st.

F***-Up, Move-up (in the Catholic Church, Anyway)

I read several religious sites and blogs and even have a couple loaded in my Google Reader.

One such blog is Divinity and Beyond (catchy name, eh? I like it), written by Susan Hogan/Albach. Her latest post as I write this one is about the Catholic priest/molestation scandals, specifically the coincidence of professional development that appears to be a direct result of the arrest of Rev. Daniel McCormack about 2 years ago.

The gist is that at least five church officials moved up the Vatican ladder including Cardinal Francis George who refused to remove McCormack from his ministry at the recommendation of the cardinal’s review board. This, after McCormack was first arrested but not charged. He went on to molest more little boys before ultimately being charged, convicted and sent to prison. Where’s Cardinal Francis George now? He’s the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The article goes on to reveal four other promotions of church officials that were associated with McCormack and new of his dastardly deeds.

Like Vjack is apt to say at Atheist Revolution: “you’ll know them by their deeds.”

Young Muslims – A Growing Danger to Western Society?

In recent comments to two articles I wrote previously on Breaking Spells, the28 wrote that Islam-Watch.org is a site that cannot be used as a reference since the authors at that site (there are many) do not “really know Islam trully is (sic).” My response was, of course, to point out that the authors at Islam-Watch.org are former Muslims who are very well informed about Islam and are in the best position to actually criticize the cults of Islam because of their insights. Indeed, it would be fallacious to argue that the site should be disregarded since the commenter hasn’t demonstrated their lack of knowledge -in fact, it is very easy to see that the authors are very knowledgeable about the topic simply by reading their works, which stand on their own merits.

But the28 also implied that the media (assuming he means news outlets, newspapers, blogs, etc.) are biased to believe that all Muslims are like Iran in their beliefs. I don’t think this is the case. Indeed, I don’t get that feeling from the media either. If anything, Muslim superstitions are down-played in media reports (except, perhaps, ultra-conservative and Christian sources -particularly blogs) and the focus is on alleged extremists and hard-liners. I think the media has intentionally ignored the irrational and dangerous nature of a large number of Muslims living in western nations.

To support this contention, I cite the following report: Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism (Mirza, Senthilkumaran, and Ja’far 2007). The report was written based on survey data compiled by the authors and separated into various age-groups. Their intent was to explore the attitudes and beliefs of Muslims living in Britain. In general, they found that the majority of British-Muslims desire integration and acceptance and do not seek to dominate British culture -just maintain their own.

This is consistent with the criticisms that the28 gave me in another comment on the same day, which was to refute the claim that I asserted that the Muslim religion seeks to dominate the world. Yet I still stand by that claim. And you’ll see why.

While many of the Muslims polled were moderate and answered questions rationally, there were some surprising figures among 16-24 year olds. For instance, the question was posed, “would you prefer to live under Sharia law or British law?” Most British-Muslims chose the latter (59%), but when you segregate the age groups, 16-24 year olds were more in-favor of Sharia law than any other single group at whopping 37%! And this trend is consistent with nearly every question asked, making younger Muslims in Britain more hard-line than older Muslims.

The number of Muslims living in Britain is thought to be at least 1.5 million and possibly as high as 2 million. What that implies, assuming that the survey is a representative sample of British Muslims, is that 500,000 or more Muslims in Britain prefer Sharia law to British.

sharia-law.jpg

But what does Sharia Law entail? Among the most commonly identified “laws” in this theocratic form of governance are the wearing of veils for women and the prohibition of apostasy. So how do Muslims in the 16-24 year old age group to these issues in Britain?

veil.jpg

A full 53% of all Muslims in all age-groups surveyed believe women should wear the veil. That’s more than half. But this is a cultural issue, right? Fair enough. What about apostasy (leaving your religious faith for another, or no other, religion)?

apostacy.jpg

36% of Muslims between the ages of 16-24 believe that conversion to another faith, abandoning your faith, or the act of converting a Muslim from Islam is wrong and punishable by death! That could be a figure as high as 450,000 Muslims living in Britain -assuming there aren’t actually 2 million rather than 1.5 million. Admittedly, I don’t have the precise number of the total population of Muslims in the 16-24 age group, so I’m relying on the total responses in the survey that were in agreement, which was 31%. The point of the hard-line younger generation isn’t lost in this concession.

Across the board, only about 7% of the Muslims surveyed agreed with the statement, “I admire organizations like Al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight against the west.” But look at the difference among the 16-24 year olds:

al-qaeda.jpg

Clearly, resentment of western culture and hard-line mentality is on the rise among the younger generation of Muslims in Britain and probably the West in general. This generation is likely having a noticeable influence on their elders, encouraging a revival of Islamic fundamentalism.

Islam is an evangelical religion, whether those that pretend to call themselves “moderate Muslims” care to admit it or not. Otherwise, Islamic cults would not have spread so efficiently from the Near East to the other continents and regions of the world, particularly Africa and Indonesia and, now, Europe and North America. The Muslim populations that are there wish to remain segregated and under their own laws, independent of local governments. They want to allow conversion into their own religion but not out of. They want Muslims to marry only Muslims and, in extreme cases, use terrorism and violence to prevent otherwise.

I’ll agree that not all or even most Muslims in western communities act or believe in such a way. However, there are, apparently, enough Muslims, deluded by their superstitions, who live in Western communities that rational thinkers need be aware and cognizant of the danger that lurks within.

References:

Mirza, Munira; Senthilkumaran, A.; Ja’far, Z. (2007) Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism. London: The Policy Exchange.

Watching Islam: Let the “World be Warned!” (Previous Post)

The Threat of Theocracy: Islam and World Domination (Previous Post)

Religious Liberty?

This is an idea that Christians in the United States love. That is to say, if the religious freedom you express is Christian.

The First Amendment Center surveyed 1,007 respondents’ opinions on the First Amendment and found:

Only a slim majority (56 percent) of Americans said in a 2007 survey that freedom of worship should extend to people of all religious groups, no matter what their beliefs (down 16 points, from 72 percent in 2000).

To be fair, I looked at the actual survey instrument and the question is worded to ask, “Do you feel that the freedom to worship as one chooses…applies to all religious groups regardless of how extreme their beliefs are, or was never meant to apply to religious groups that most people would consider extreme or fringe?” [emphasis mine]

Clearly, the respondents were of a different opinion than the group surveyed in 2000, probably due to the attacks of 9/11, where religious extremism is popularly, and, perhaps, incorrectly viewed by Christians as only a Muslim problem and not a Christian one. Yet, there are other questions asked that are somewhat revealing.

Teachers and other public school officials should be allowed to lead prayers in public school.

To this, 58% of those surveyed were in agreement -42% in strong agreement.

The nation‟s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation.

and

The U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation.

To these two questions, 46% and 38%, respectively, were in strong agreement. But one that stands out:

A public school teacher should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in a history or social studies class.

To that question, a full 50% were in agreement -33% in strong agreement

Christian pundits like Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris continuously whine about wanting to include Biblical teachings in public schools and cry foul that teachers are prohibited from leading prayers and stating that their god and superstitions are facts. Many genuinely believe that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation” and refuse to accept evidence to the contrary. What they want is religion taught in public schools, but not just any religion. They want their own brand of superstition.

Christians never seem to realize that the separation of church and state in public schools is an advantage for them. Instead they keep pushing to have religion re-introduced. I say they should be very careful what they wish for. It isn’t implausible that a modern American community could emerge with a predominantly Muslim (or Hindu) majority that demands their religion be taught as fact just as Christians do. What happens when the one or two non-Muslims return home from their public school with the news that their Muslim teacher has told them that Allah is the one true god and only the Koran holds his word?

And what if Christians had their way altogether? Which particular cult of Christianity would then be the right one to follow? Would it be Catholicism? Baptist? Lutheran? Episcopalian? Methodist? Presbyterian? Mormon? Jehovah’s Witness? Some of these and not all? How would Christians decide which would be the right cult to allow in schools? Would it be a geographic issue? Would the majority faith get to teach their dogma as the right one and the minority cults be told to conform? Where would the Jews fit in? The Muslims? The Hindi? What of the Native Americans who follow traditional ways?

In nations where theocracies are already established, such questions are irrelevant. Minorities shut the hell up and have few rights in the face of the majority cult.

Religious freedom is about both freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion. Muslims should be free from having to conform to Christian dogma. Lutherans should not have to adhere to the Book of Mormon. And the non-religious should not need to have their children taught by publicly funded officials that the teacher’s particular superstition must be believed or mommy and daddy will burn in a lake of fire.

References:

Lapman, Jane (2008) U.S. religious freedom is being eroded, advocates say: Misconceptions and ignorance are weakening the Constitution’s ‘first freedom.’ Christian Science Monitor, January 16, 2008 edition

First Amendment Center (2007) State of the First Amendment 2007 Final Annotated Survey [PDF]

Myths of Atheism: Hitler/Stalin/Pot Were Evil Because of Atheism

In his encyclical released on Friday, Pope Benedict states atheism is responsible for some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” in history [1].

Did Pope Ratzinger skip the new-pope class that explains the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades?

This is a common myth that arises during debates with theists or in theistic arguments as in books or articles, particularly with Christian theists. The argument goes something like, “of course atheism is bad for the world, just look at what Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot did in the name of atheism [2].”

On the cuff of it, the argument is one which is post hoc ergo propter hoc, that is to say, it’s a false cause fallacy. More subtly, the argument is also an ad hominem, since the theist that argues this point is attempting to discredit his atheist opponents. The theist is safe in making his claim that atheism leads to evil since he has plausible deniability since, ostensibly, he’s only making an argument against atheism. However, this only holds true if the claim itself is true. As a simple argument form, it would be:

If atheism leads to evil, it cannot be true.
Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were atheists.
Atheism cannot be true.

However, as you can see, there are some problems with the argument as a modus ponens. The conclusion does not follow from the premises, and this is why:

1) There is no reason why truth cannot lead to evil.

2) Premise #2 is really a complex premise that contains one or more sub premises. It assumes factually that these three personalities were indeed atheists, that they were indeed evil, and that their evil was informed by their atheism. Even if the first two of these sub premises were agreed upon, and it seems reasonable to do so, there is no reason to believe that their atheism informed their evil actions. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that at least two of the three personalities were significantly influenced by religion, specifically Christianity, early in their lives.

3) Since premises 1 and 2 do not hold up, the conclusion cannot follow from the premises.

As an ad hominem argument, the Hitler/Stalin/Pot argument is typically a tu quoque, or “you too,” made in response to the claim that religion is responsible for the deaths of millions through the inquisition, Crusades, genocides, New World invasion, etc.

Never has a causal effect been demonstrated by any historian (much less a theist in a debate) between atheism and the actions of, say, Stalin. Stalin ordered the deaths of thousands because he deemed them a threat to his government –a government that was dogmatic and powerful. Indeed, on could easily argue that Stalin’s position was that he “replaced” God and inserted himself as the national deity with statues and portraits in all public (and many private) lands and buildings. Those that carried out his death warrants did so because they believed in Stalin –because they “worshiped” him.

There are no gulags or concentration camps in recorded history that were designed to fulfill a “lack of belief” in something, which is what atheism is. None were constructed to destroy lives out of reason or rational thought, which is what informs the atheistic conclusion.

For another post that gives a very good treatment of yet another Myth of Atheism, see Vjack’s Atheism Does NOT Require Faith, which posted just yesterday as I was writing this. These are the sorts of things I’m glad to see Atheists write about and, perhaps, I’ll put together a set of links for reference to these and other Myths of Atheism posted here and elsewhere in the near future. I’ve some good ideas for the “Pages” feature that comes with WordPress, so keep checking back.

Notes

[1] Catholic News (11 Jan 2008). Hope encyclical rejects atheism.

[2] D’Souza, Dinesh (2007). What’s So Great About Christianity?: Chicago: Regenery Press, p 221. “the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three hundred years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades […] Atheism, not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders of history.”

A Spell to Break: the Belief in Transubstantiation

Transubstantiation

Transubstantiation – the ritual act of consuming bread and wine which are believed to transform into new substances, specifically the blood and body of Jesus Christ. This practice was defined as doctrine by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 then reaffirmed by the Council of Trent in 1551. Primarily a Catholic ritual, it is practiced among Protestant cults as well.

The idea is that the ritual reenacts, through a priest, the event where Jesus is alleged to have said, “this is my body,” and “this is my blood” to his disciples while having bread and wine at the Last Supper [1].

Interestingly enough, the act of endocannibalism, a method of incorporating the dead into the living by consuming substances that are of them isn’t limited to just Christianity. Amazonian natives once drank (and perhaps still do) a cocktail of cremation ashes of deceased villagers. For those that believe that the bread and wine truly transform into the new substances of flesh and blood, this is philosophically no different.

I doubt many of those that believe in transubstantiation would be unwilling to scoff at the South American Indian that drank a beverage for the sole purpose of ingesting the cremated ashes of the dead.

While there are doubtless many Christian adherents that view transubstantiation as a symbolic or commemorating gesture, through Christian doctrine it most definitely is not. Transubstantiation is the complete change of a substance.

This is an example of the types of superstitions held by devout, and even moderate, religious believers. And its the type of “spell” that ought be broke if we are to truly progress as a global society cease violence and bigotry in the name of two thousand year old books. My intent is to post a series of “Spells to Break” in the coming months as a way of disseminating information, hopefully to those who might be believers but have an inquiring mind. Maybe with enough outside perspectives on enough “spells” of religion and other paranormal beliefs, those that simply accepted the doctrines of their families and cultures without question might begin to have questions of their own. I’ll leave with quote from Sam Harris’ book, The End of Faith [2].

Is there any doubt that lone subscriber to these beliefs would be considered mad? Rather, is there any doubt that he would be mad? The danger of religious aith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.

References:

[1] Jones, Lindsey, ed. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed, Vol. 3. New York: Thomson – Gale, p. 1669.

[2] Harris, Sam (2004). The End of Faith. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 73.