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Member since: Sun Jan 14, 2007, 01:51 PM
Number of posts: 7,981

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New gun group tempers its message

It’s not always a bad thing when people break up. Irreconcilable differences sometimes are, well, irreconcilable.

Such was the case with the recent splintering of the former Gun Owners of Bucks County. The group’s recent breakup produced a new advocacy group that, we suspect, is more representative of mainstream gun owners. And by that, we mean folks who are not among the fanatical fringe.

The newly formed Pennsylvanians for Self Protection split from the parent group over a fringe issue that is both troubling and alienating, and ultimately proved to be divisive: openly carrying weapons at public rallies. Among those rallies was the recent and very controversial gathering at a public park in Morrisville, home to several baseball fields where hundreds of children play ball every Saturday throughout the spring ... with parents, siblings and grandparents in tow. In other words, lots of people.

The rally was organized by the Coalition for Peace Action to support reasoned legislation requiring background checks for all gun purchasers. As happened with other such rallies in the area, gun advocates staged a counterprotest. Fortunately, the baseball games were canceled and the demonstrators and counterdemonstrators got the park all to themselves.

Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:11 PM (14 replies)

A right for the religious is a right for the nonreligious

WASHINGTON — Government in America must be neutral among religions and neutral between religion and non-religion — at least that’s how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Establishment clause of the First Amendment.

But escalating conflicts involving government treatment of the nonreligious — atheists and humanists — reveal that far too many government officials are confused and conflicted about the meaning of “neutrality.”

In this month alone, an atheist monument stirred controversy in Florida, an atheist applicant for citizenship was instructed to join a church and a congressional committee nixed atheist chaplains.

Let’s start with the first-ever atheist monument, a 1,500-pound bench erected alongside a Ten Commandments monument in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.

Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:09 PM (3 replies)

Religion is in decline – so why are people so well behaved? (UK)

One of the most mystifying aspects of recent governments' emphasis on religion as a source of individual and social values has been its total mismatch with reality. Survey after survey has shown the population as a whole, and young people in particular, increasingly turning away from religious beliefs and influences entirely – and yet there has been no detrimental effect on the wellbeing of the nation.

The latest poll to highlight this mismatch was published yesterday, and focused on the opinions of young people aged 18-24. It found that 56% consider themselves to be of no religion (versus 28% Christian); 56% never attend a church or place of worship (versus 5% attending at least weekly); 57% saying they do not believe in a God (versus 25% saying they do); and 53% said religious leaders have no influence on their lives (versus 12% saying they have a lot or a fair amount of influence). Damningly, 41% said that religion is more often the cause of evil in the world than of good, with just 14% saying the opposite.

But has this led to the feared moral vacuum? The survey suggests not – just that young people get their morality from elsewhere. Eighty-two per cent said their parents have a lot or a fair amount of influence on them, whereas 77% cited their friends. When asked about societal welfare, only 19% said 'It's everyone for themselves'. When asked about attitudes to money, just 11% said that they 'spend what you earn as now, as life's too short'. Sixty-five per cent said they are proud of the armed forces, 77% proud of the NHS, 62% of the BBC and 70% of the nation's history. These findings are supported by wider research which shows that the non-religious are just as charitable and volunteer as much as the religious (they are sometimes less visible for the simple reason that they do not typically do either in the name of their non-religion).

However, given that there has been a change in recognised moral authority away from religion and towards secular influences, the question arises as to when a government is going to realise this change and accept the implications for public policy.

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Jun 30, 2013, 10:18 AM (14 replies)

Carter: Many religious leaders have failed women

Former President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.

The human rights activist said Friday religious authorities perpetuate misguided doctrines of male superiority, from the Catholic Church forbidding women from becoming priests to some African cultures mutilating the genitals of young girls.

Carter said the doctrines, which he described as theologically indefensible, contribute to a political, social and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women, a worldwide sex slave trade and inequality in the workplace and classroom.

“There is a great aversion among men leaders and some women leaders to admit that this is something that exists, that it’s serious and that it’s it troubling and should be addressed courageously,” Carter said at an international conference on women and religion.

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Jun 30, 2013, 07:13 AM (9 replies)

Rent boy scandal rocks the Vatican

THE Vatican is bracing itself for a rent boy scandal after a convicted pedophile priest apparently sought vengeance by informing on other child abusers in the Roman clergy.

Don Patrizio Poggi, who served a five-year sentence for abusing five 14 and 15-year-old boys at his parish on the outskirts of the Italian capital, has reportedly handed names to police. So far, four people have formally been placed under investigation by Rome magistrates.

The suspects are said to include a monsignor who is currently the secretary of an important bishop. Also being investigated is a former Carabinieri police officer suspected of recruiting under-age boys for the alleged prostitution ring.

The brewing scandal comes just weeks after Pope Francis confirmed the existence of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican to a visiting Latin American church group.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jun 28, 2013, 11:55 AM (32 replies)

The Devil Made Him Do It: Exorcist Author To Sue Georgetown For Not Being Catholic Enough

In a slightly bizarre case of synchronicity, last night I watched, for the billionth time, that great, horrifying, terrifying Satanic scare-fest, The Exorcist. Even while the 40-year-old film, adapted from a book by William Peter Blatty, shows its age in both style and sensibility, the tale of spewing demons in the Georgetown home of a besieged mother and daughter saved by the arcane and dark Catholic art of exorcism remains sharp and specific, particularly in its dogmatic view of both the belief and the practice. Where the synchronicity comes in? This morning I stumbled on the following news item: William Peter Blatty, a 1950 graduate of Georgetown University, intends to file a canon lawsuit, and has currently filed a petition of complaint, against his alma mater where the movie was filmed. Why? To put it simply, he believes the university is not Catholic enough. At least not Catholic enough to call itself Catholic.

And just how Catholic is that? Well, in the complaint filed with Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., the Academy-award winning horror-meister and cohorts (of which there are purportedly “more than 1,200 alumni, students, parents, teachers, and other laity from around the world”) claim the university does not comply with the “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” former Pope John Paul’s 1991 decree regarding the parameters of “Catholic” higher institutions of learning. The very expansive list of grievances outlining the non-compliance is dry and detailed (though one wonders what “failure to invite respect of Catholic Doctrine and Morals” refers to. We’ll get to that in a minute.), but the gist is quite simple:

… The university failed to ensure “that all official actions and commitments [are] authentically Catholic,” to recruit personnel that are willing and able to “promote Catholic identity,” to respect Catholic doctrine and that the university employs a majority of non-Catholics.

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Jun 27, 2013, 12:07 PM (3 replies)

The Weakling God of the Religious Right

Much religious conservativism is blatantly self-contradictory. Take this tweet from Fox News commentator Todd Starnes in response to the supreme court decision about DOMA:



The God that Todd Starnes and others like him believe in is apparently one who wants his will imposed on society, but lacks the power either to compel or to persuade sufficient numbers of people to do so. Apparently he is so powerful that he can hurl storms at areas infested with supporters of gay marriage, but nonetheless he was unable to get one aimed at the supreme court, and give it enough intensity or time it right, so as to persuade just one judge to vote the other way. His will is said to be sovereign, and yet a handful of judges have power of veto over him. He can guarantee you a parking spot when you go shopping, but big things like getting legislation passed and enforced are just too hard. Or at least, that is the impression one would get from listening to conservative commentators.

The ones with the weakest deity, of course, are the ones who would turn to violence to get their way. Their God is not only off with the timing or intensity of the storms that project his wrath. He is such a weakling, he needs people with guns to protect his honor. Or at least that’s the impression that militant fundamentalists give.


Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Jun 27, 2013, 12:02 PM (6 replies)

Two phrases I like to see together: ‘Creation Museum’ and ‘Financial Trouble’

In a developing story from Kentucky, the Creation Museum is running out of money due to declining attendance, bringing their “Ark Encounter” project to a stand-still because of a lack of funding.

Interestingly, the reason for the slowing traffic seems to be creationism itself, since the main exhibit has literally not changed in 5 years. Most museums’ exhibits change as new discoveries are made, as artifacts travel from other museums to visit, or as adjustments in scientific thinking are made.

Another reason could be the demographic that creationism’s proponents target.

A spectacle like the Creation Museum has a pretty limited audience. Sure, 46 percent of Americans profess to believe in creationism, but how many are enthusiastic enough to venture to Kentucky to spend nearly $30 to see a diorama of a little boy palling around with a vegetarian dinosaur? The museum’s target demographic may not be eager to lay down that much money: Belief in creationism correlates to less education, and less education correlates to lower income.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 11:45 AM (12 replies)

Nontheists Applaud Supreme Court Decisions on DOMA, Prop 8

Washington, DC – The Secular Coalition for America today applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and to dismiss the appeal of the lower court’s decision on Proposition 8, making marriage equality legal again in California.

Both cases impact marriage equality. California’s Proposition 8, barred same-sex marriage in the state, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Executive Director, Edwina Rogers, said the Coalition celebrates the Court’s decision on DOMA, noting that the U.S. Constitution extends “equal protection of the law” to all citizens.

“Efforts to restrict same-sex couples from access to civil marriage are blatant attempts to insert religious beliefs into our secular government,” Rogers said. “We applaud the Court’s decision on DOMA and Proposition 8, but we recognize there is still a lot of work to be done throughout the country in ensuring that marriage equality is the rule for all.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 10:08 AM (12 replies)

Clergy abuse case filled with silent bystanders

They stared at each other, the detective and the priest. Kelli McIlvain found interrogating him somewhat surreal. She had been raised Catholic and taught that a man in a black clerical shirt and white collar was nothing less than an emissary of God.

Father Donald Patrick Roemer was 5 feet 5, maybe 150 pounds. Hazel eyes. Blondish hair. A Ventura County Sheriff's Office report described him that night as "cooperative, seems stable," though McIlvain remembered how he repeatedly buried his head on the desk and wept.

To her surprise, his confession came easily. Yes, he said, he molested the 7-year-old boy.

McIlvain lit a cigarette. She hushed her voice, slowed her cadence to match his. Were there others, she asked. Yes, he said, according to court papers, and offered name after name.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 09:47 AM (2 replies)
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