‘The Cleaners’ Who Scrub Social Media


‘The Cleaners’ Who Scrub Social Media

the cleaners - Screenshot_2018-09-18 CBC News

“Social media platforms say they want to scrub fake news and inappropriate content off their platforms. Find out who’s doing some of the work of actually cleaning it up.”

 

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Christian Militia Calls for Obama’s Assassination on Facebook


Christian militia calls for Obama’s assassination on Facebook

According to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dated Nov. 22, the U.S. Secret Service is aware that Everest Wilhelmsen, leader of the Christian American Patriots Militia, is calling for Obama’s assassination.

The Christian American Patriots Militia sent out a post to the more than 1400 members of their Facebook groupdeclaring the militia now has the “authority” to assassinate President Barack Obama:

“We now have authority to shoot Obama, i.e., to kill him,” Wilhelmsen wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

The following is an excerpt from the disturbing post, dated Nov. 19:

“The authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution: He is levying war on the United States and aiding and comforting our foreign enemies – the 2nd Amendment gives us the right and duty (authority) to engage an enemy of the United States that does so with the design to reduce us under absolute Despotism. I would be very surprised, if Obama does not leave Washington DC today (Nov. 19th) … never to return, if he is not dead within the month.”

The group’s Facebook page claims Obama’s “rogues and thugs are in fact supplanting our Constitution with a communist Oligarchy of corrupt political and legal elites” and encourages “Christian American patriots” to “rise and fight vigorously to protect our nation and our posterity.”

The SPLC reports a spokesman for the Secret Service would not say if the Facebook post had prompted an investigation: “That’s not something we openly discuss,” the Secret Service spokesman said.

Yet one would hope a group of Christian extremists threatening to assassinate the President of the United States would merit close investigation by the Secret Service. After all, calling for the assassination of the President of the United States is a crime.

For more political news, information and humor see Left Coast Lucy on Facebook. For more news, information and humor relevant to atheists, freethinkers, and secular humanists, see Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner on Facebook. On Twitter follow Progressive Examiner.

Naturalist explains how the zombie apocalypse would collapse after just one week – thanks to Mother Nature


Naturalist explains how the zombie apocalypse would collapse after just one week – thanks to Mother Nature

From: News Corp Australia Network

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency along with the Centre for Disease Control, used a zombie outbreak scenario in 2012 to teach citizens to prepare for emergency.

Walking Dead

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in The Walking Dead. Rick and his ragged band of survivors would – in event of a “real” zombie apocalypse – have an unbeatable hoard of allies in the form of nature’s birds, beasts and bugs, according to a US naturalist. Source: Supplied

FLESH is food – and the fresher the better. It’s something the zombies know. Probably the only thing, actually.

But what about their own dead – or rather, undead – flesh?

It’s carrion.

And that’s good news for the hipster tribes who spend weekends dressing up as zombies while worrying just what they would/will do if/when Day of The Dead actually arrives. If they survive that initial frenzy, they can sit back and watch Mother Nature do the rest.

US National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski has put the matter into perspective, stating this planet’s fauna would deal with such animated evil “brutally, and without quarter”.

More here:-

Pink armadillos ain’t your Texas critters


Pink armadillos ain’t your Texas critters

Susan Milius
by  Susan Milius

DIGGING DIRT  Pink fairy armadillos have claws so specialized for digging that they struggle to walk on hard surfaces.

Nicholas Smythe/Getty Images

Here’s an Internet bizarrity that you can believe in: the pink fairy armadillo.

It’s a real animal, the smallest armadillo species in the world. At about 100 grams, it would fit in your hands. It’s covered with “very fine, silky white hair,” says Mariella Superina of the CONICET research center in Mendoza, Argentina. And its hard outer covering, rich in blood vessels, can blush pink.

Full details of Chlamyphorus truncatus biology, though, might as well be a fairy tale. It’s known only from a dry, sandy swath of Argentina and spends most of its time underground. The pink fairy is so hard to spot that Superina and her colleagues are struggling to determine whether it’s endangered or not. She heads an international group of specialists now trying to assess the risk of extinction for the world’s 21 known armadillo species, plus their close relatives, the sloths and anteaters.

In 10 years of field work, she has never caught sight of the pink species in the wild. She has seen tracks made by digging claws and the diamond-shaped tip of its tail. After several meters, the tracks just stop where, she presumes, the armadillo disappeared underground. Locals, she says, “can track down any animal — except the pink fairy armadillo.” Occasionally someone captures one and soon panics about keeping it alive. These rare captives, she reports, usually live no more than about eight days.

Superina struggled to care for one such stray that couldn’t be returned to the wild. In 2011, she published a Zoo Biology paper largely about what it wouldn’t eat. In desperation, she discovered that it would slurp up a goop (consisting of milk, cat food and exactly half a banana) that had been mixed for a different species. The next stray fairy, though, wouldn’t touch the stuff. (Don’t even think of getting one as a pet, she says.)

During the eight months the goop-tolerant fairy lived in Superina’s home terrarium, infrared cameras recorded it moving below the sand surface. Biologists had thought the species “swims” through sand. No, Superina now says. “It was very funny — it digs and then it backs up and compacts the sand with its butt plate.” The video shows a pale, furry body digging and butting, digging and butting. The flattened round rear plate used in compaction is unique to fairy armadillos. This rare glimpse may have solved a paleontological mystery, too: Previously found rows of compacted earth discs that look like slumping sliced bread may actually be the work of ancient fairy armadillos’ butt plates.

As the world’s smallest armadillo, the pink fairy can fit on researcher Mariella Superina’s hand.

Paul Vogt, M. Superina

This sleeping armadillo was rescued from someone who tried to keep it illegally.

M. Superina

Unlike in most armadillos, the carapace of a pink fairy armadillo can be lifted partly up and has fur underneath.

M. Superina

Pink fairy armadillos use their flat rear ends to tamp soil as they burrow.

M. Superina

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A Reminder Just How Not Racist, the “We’re Not Racist” Tea Baggers, Are Not Racist, Not


Tea Party Politician on Obama: “Assassinate the fucken nigger and his monkey children”

By Anomaly

Tea Party candidate and Libertarian Jules Manson just called for the assassination of President Obama and his children on Facebook, but I’m sure it was just a ‘misspeak’ (wink wink).

In an unnerving display of racism and violence today, this Ron Paul supporting libertarian, who ran for a seat on the City of Carson’s City council last march, and thankfully failed, wrote:

“Assassinate the fucken nigger and his monkey children”

What’s a fucken? Grammar ‘misspeaks’ aside, behold the world of Jules Manson (no relation to Marylin Mason, who apparently is a kinder, gentler person):

Manson posted his visceral diatribe on his Facebook wall apparently angry over the passing of NDAA, however, someone should enlighten him that 86 Senators passed that abomination of a bill, which makes vetoing it successfully problematic; more than 2/3rds of the Senate majority supported this bill. But hey, don’t let the facts stop the racist rhetoric. Manson removed his offensive (and illegal) post when hundreds of Facebook users poured out their outrage. At this point, Manson (and no, this is not bad satire) felt compelled to explain that he is not really a racist. No, really.

Examiner.com’s Michael Stone reports, “Manson argued that using the word “nigger” does not make him a racist.” Sane America would beg to differ.

Americans Against the Tea Party‘s Facebook page posted a screen capture of the offensive remarks and recived over a 100 angry and outraged comments in a little over an hour. The following is a small sample of those remarks:

sure hope the Secret Service and FBI get this creep, he is dangerous to everyone! We can thank the Republicans for this brand of extremism.

reported to secret service…who seemed interested enough to ask for the url and a screen shot

“And his monkey children” smfh. That part bothers me the most.

I’d like to see how Fox News will defend THIS!

I hope the FBI has seen what he has said and will be showing up at his door soon.

The best way to stick it to idiots like this is vote to re elect Obama and then Warren in 2016.

Manson will be running for Senate next year (I joke). The failed politician’s Facebook page has since been removed and he’s most likely in a fetal position on the floor sucking his thumb waiting for the Secret Service. Good luck on that.

Big thanks to Michael Stone

Priest Condemns Homophobia as Anti-Christ, Religious Right Freaks Out


Religious Right calls priest who condemns homophobia anti-Christ

Is the Very Reverend Gary Hall a tool of Satan?

Jennifer LeClaire, who writes for the conservative Christian magazine Charisma, quotes Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), as saying “Gary Hall of the National Cathedral is sinning when he claims that opposition to homosexuality is a sin. This is counterfeit Christianity in action—transferring the guilt before God from those who are committing sins (of which homosexuality is one) to those who oppose those sins.” LaBarbera calls this an example of a new heretical ‘sin-affirming Christianity’ that poses a danger of spreading within the evangelical Church. Jennifer LeClaire adds that she thinks LaBarbera is “spot-on” and declares she is shocked by the kind of deception the Very Reverend Hall is perpetrating.

Yesterday (Oct. 22), Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (another hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) added his two cents worth in the FRC’s Washington Watch Daily Commentary. He compared the Very Rev. Hall to one of the “false prophets” from the biblical Book of Jeremiah: “they encourage those who do evil, and as a result, no one turns from doing evil.”

So what did Gary Hall say that has the Religious Right so upset? Here’s a sample:

“We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.”

“It’s more than tragic—in fact it’s shameful–that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence.”

And after same-sex marriages became legal in Washington DC earlier this year, Hall announced that the National Cathedral would begin to perform the wedding ceremonies.

Australia | New Right Wing Government Leaps Forward into The Dark Ages


New Australian Government Cancels the Future

The following is a comment from a Facebook friend, Shane C which he left under a topic I posted on Facebook yesterday; Victoria Rollison’s “Abbott is hiding from the future“. It deserves wider readership than the Facebook page could offer and it is my pleasure to post it here. You will agree that Shane raises some thought-provoking points. Here is what Shane said:

The Cabinet of the new Australian government has just one woman, no science ministry, only one member who takes scientists’ findings on global warming to be true (but who believes a future proof broadband network is not needed), and a particularly dense education minister who thinks advanced tertiary education is a privilege that only the rich should have.

This is a cause of great concern.

A number of breakthroughs in science and technology will start to emerge over the next five to twenty years. Some of the main ones will be breakthroughs in medical science, breakthroughs in materials technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and nanotechnology.

A number of consequences will follow which will include but not limited to; the cure for all diseases, not just cancer, resulting in very long life, the catch being that only the rich and privileged can afford it, automation of labour in all mining and heavy industry resulting in the sudden unemployment of all non-skilled labour.

Because of the exponential nature of technological development, the nations that develop the three key technologies first, AI (artificial intelligence), QC (quantum computing), and NT (nanotechnology) will rule the world. Their medical and materials technologies will be as to the rest of the world as current technological societies are to stone age ones.

Not only will the nations who get to the key twenty-first century technologies first have a gigantic economic advantage but access to advanced technologies will bootstrap their advantage even further because they will go on to develop advanced means to accessing space with AI designed, NT grown, single stage to orbit (SSTO) spacecraft that will be relatively cheap to produce and operate.

We could be looking at a twenty-first century that will be dominated by a few AI/QC/NT enhanced societies taking humanity’s first truly permanent steps out into space. Those nations that will be successful will be those who take scientific research seriously, provide the world’s best telecommunications infrastructure, and provide their populations with the best access to medical care and education.

And the new Australian government is not interested in any of this

.

(Photo credit: Toban B.)

Technobiophilia


Technobiophilia

We surf the net, stream our films and save stuff in the cloud. Can we get all the nature we need from the digital world?

by  Sue Thomas
Getting back to nature: a visitor takes a photo of jellyfish in the aquarium in Wuhan, China. Photo by ReutersGetting back to nature: a visitor takes a photo of jellyfish in the aquarium in Wuhan, China. Photo by Reuters

Sue Thomas is a writer and digital pioneer. Her latest book is Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace (2013).

There are fish in my phone. Some are pure orange with white fins; others have black mottled markings along their orange backs. They glide, twist and turn above a bed of flat pale sand fringed by rocks and the bright green leaves of something that looks like watercress. Sometimes they swim out of view, leaving me to gaze at the empty scene in the knowledge that they will soon reappear. When I gently press my finger against the screen, the water ripples and the fish swim away. Eventually, they cruise out from behind the Google widget, appear from underneath the Facebook icon, or sneak around the corner of Contacts. This is Koi Live Wallpaper, an app designed for smartphones. The idea of an aquarium inside my phone appeals to my sense of humour and makes me smile. But I suspect its true appeal is more complicated than that.

In 1984, the psychiatrist Aaron Katcher and his team at the University of Pennsylvania conducted an experiment in the busy waiting room of a dentist’s office. On some days, before the surgery opened, the researchers installed an aquarium with tropical fish. On other days, they took it away. They measured the patients’ levels of anxiety in both environments, and the results were clear. On ‘aquarium days’, patients were less anxious and more compliant during the surgery. Katcher concluded that the presence of these colourful living creatures had a calming influence on people about to receive dental treatment. Then in 1990, Judith Heerwagen and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle found the same calming effect using a large nature mural instead of an aquarium in the waiting room of a specialist ‘dental fears’ clinic. A third experiment by the environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich and colleagues at Texas A&M University in 2003 found that stressed blood donors experienced lowered blood pressure and pulse rates while sitting in a room where a videotape of a nature scene was playing. The general conclusion was that visual exposure to nature not only diminished patient stress but also reduced physical pain. I’m not in pain when I look at my mobile, though I might well be stressed. Is that why I take time to gaze at my virtual aquarium?

A simple answer to this question is no. Katcher’s fish were real. Mine are animations. But there is increasing evidence that we respond very similarly to a ‘natural’ environment, whether it’s real or virtual, and research confirms that even simulated nature experiences can be remarkably powerful. In a 2008 study of Spanish energy consumers, the researchers Patrick Hartmann and Vanessa Apaolaza-Ibáñez at the University of the Basque Country examined responses to a new TV marketing campaign by one of the country’s leading energy brands, Iberdrola Energía Verde. The company was attempting to ‘green’ its image by evoking a virtual experience of nature through the use of pleasant imagery such as flying eagles, mountain scenery, and waterfalls. The intention was to evoke feelings of altruism and self-expression (‘Now, every time you switch on your light, you can feel good because you are helping nature’). The researchers found that consumers responded positively to the new branding, no matter whether they were already environmentally conscious or among the ‘non-concerned’. The ads brought the benefits of a ‘warm glow’ and a positive feeling of participating in the common good of the environment. The visual simulations were meeting a human desire to experience nature and reap its psychological benefits (pleasure, stress reduction, and so on). The research concluded that in societies where the experience of actual nature is becoming scarce, and life is increasingly virtual, the consumption of ‘green products’, especially those that evoke virtual contact with nature, can provide surrogate experiences.

The psychologist Deltcho Valtchanov at the University of Waterloo in Canada reached a similar conclusion in 2010 when he found that immersion in a computer-generated virtual reality nature space prompted an increase in positive feelings such as happiness, friendliness, affection and playfulness, and a decrease in negative feelings such as fear, anger and sadness. There were also significant decreases in levels of both perceived and physiological stress. Again, he and his colleagues concluded that encounters with nature in virtual reality have beneficial effects similar to encounters with real natural spaces. In other words, it seems that you can gain equal benefit from walking in a forest as from viewing an image of a forest or, as in my case, from watching virtual goldfish as opposed to real ones.

But what do we mean when we refer to ‘nature’? It’s a common term that seems to have an assumed collective meaning, often romanticised and sentimental. We speak of ‘getting back to nature’ as if there was once a prelapsarian baseline before we humans interfered and spoiled it. Gary Snyder, the American poet and environmentalist, offers alternative definitions from which we can choose. In The Practice of the Wild (1990), he distils down to two ways in which the term ‘nature’ is usually interpreted. One, he argues, is the outdoors: ‘the physical world, including all living things. Nature by this definition is a norm of the world that is apart from the features or products of civilisation and human will. The machine, the artefact, the devised, or the extraordinary (like a two-headed calf) is spoken of as “unnatural”.’

The other meaning is much broader, taking the first and adding to it all the products of human action and intention. Snyder calls it the material world and all its collective objects and phenomena. ‘Science and some sorts of mysticism rightly propose that everything is natural,’ he writes. In this sense, ‘there is nothing unnatural about New York City, or toxic wastes, or atomic energy, and nothing — by definition — that we do or experience in life is “unnatural”.’ That, of course, includes the products of technology. This is Snyder’s preferred definition — and mine too. However, though it’s not always made clear, I’d venture a guess that environmental psychologists might have a preference for the former, human-free definition of nature.

Either way, it’s been claimed that the love of nature derives from ‘biophilia’, or the biophilic tendency. The term, coined in the 1960s by the German social psychologist Erich Fromm, was intended to denote a psychological orientation towards nature, but it became better known when popularised by the American biologist E O Wilson in Biophilia (1984) as an ‘innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes’. Note that Wilson avoids the ‘n’ word, referring to ‘life’ instead. Of course, today the digerati are deeply engaged in conversations about what ‘life’ will mean in technologies of the future, a debate that will continue for a long time to come. More recently, the concept of biophilia has been celebrated by the Icelandic musician Björk in her 2011 album and musical project of the same name.

Perhaps biophilia can soothe our connected minds and improve our digital well-being

The notion of biophilia draws upon a genetic attraction to an ancient natural world that evolved long before we did. It appears that our urge for contact with nature can, as shown in the experiments described, restore energy, alleviate mental fatigue, and enhance attention. It also appears to be surprisingly transferable to digital environments.

In 2004 I began collecting examples of metaphors and images of the natural world commonly found in computer culture — terms such as stream, cloud, virus, worm, surfing, field, and so on. I intended to find out what can be learnt from them about the intersections between human beings, cyberspace, and nature. I quickly amassed a long list of examples but found myself unable to suggest a reason for this phenomenon, until I came across Wilson’s theory. I realised that the story had been right in front of me all the time. It can be found in the images on our machines, in the spaces we cultivate in our online communities, and in the language we use every day of our digital lives. It began the moment we moved into the alien, shape-shifting territory of the internet and prompted a resurgence of that ancient call to life, biophilia.

Our attempts to place ourselves in this new world nourished the growth of a new spur, a hybrid through which nature and technology become symbionts, rather than opponents. I have coined the term ‘technobiophilia’ for this. It’s a clumsy word — probably not quite the right one — but for now it helps to spell out what is happening so that we can understand it better. Is there the possibility that perhaps biophilia can soothe our connected minds and improve our digital well-being? How can we harness and develop our technobiophilic instincts in order to live well in the digital world?

One option would be that rather than keeping the virtual and the natural worlds separate — turning off our machines, taking e-sabbaticals, or undergoing digital detoxes, in order to connect with nature — we think about them all as integrated elements of a single life in a single world. There is already a growing sense in the wired community that connections with the natural world are vital to digital well-being, both now and in the future. This same community needs to pay attention to biophilia and to its implementation in biophilic design. With the help of biophilic insights, we can connect the planet beneath our feet with the planet inside our machines.

 

Religion Aids Criminals Justify Their Crimes


New Study Suggests Religion May Help Criminals Justify Their Crimes

By Justin Peters

An inmate reads his bible.

An inmate reads his bible at the minimum-security facility known as the Carol Vance Unit, March 24, 2001, near Houston, Texas.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

In 1996, noted criminologist Jewel asked a question that has long haunted those hoodlums prone to pondering the existential consequences of their actions: “Who will save your souls after those lies that you told, boy?” For generations of American crooks, the answer has been “religious do-gooders.” As a 2006 Federal Bureau of Prisons report put it, “faith groups have become involved in offering formal programs within prison to bring about not only the spiritual salvation of the inmates but their rehabilitation in the profane world as well.” The idea is that spiritual rebirth may help tame the criminal impulse, and set wild hearts on the straight and narrow.

Maybe not. A new study in the academic journal Theoretical Criminology (hat tip to the Vancouver Sun) suggests that, far from causing offenders to repent of their sins, religious instruction might actually encourage crime. The authors surveyed 48 “hardcore street offenders” in and around Atlanta, in hopes of determining what effect, if any, religion has on their behavior. While the vast majority of those surveyed (45 out of 48 people) claimed to be religious, the authors found that the interviewees “seemed to go out of their way to reconcile their belief in God with their serious predatory offending. They frequently employed elaborate and creative rationalizations in the process and actively exploit religious doctrine to justify their crimes.”

First of all, many interviewees had only a vague notion of the central tenets of their faiths. Take, for example, an 18-year-old robber whose “street name” was Que:

Que: I believe in God and the Bible and stuff. I believe in Christmas, and uh, you know the commitments and what not.

Int: You mean the Commandments?

Que: Yeah that. I believe in that.

Int: Can you name any of them?

Que: Ahhh … well, I don’t know … like don’t steal, and uh, don’t cheat and shit like that. Uhmm … I can’t remember the rest.

Often, the authors found, these knowledge gaps were self-serving. “God has to forgive everyone, even if they don’t believe in him,” insisted one 33-year-old enforcer for a drug gang, with a vested interest in avoiding damnation for the murders he had committed. A 23-year-old robber called Young Stunna suggested that the circumstances of his upbringing would absolve him of his crimes: “Jesus knows I ain’t have no choice, you know? He know I got a decent heart. He know I’m stuck in the hood and just doing what I gotta do to survive.”

Indeed, many of those surveyed used their understandings of faith to justify their own criminal behavior. A 25-year-old drug dealer called Cool suggested that God doesn’t mind when you do bad things to bad people:

Also another thing is this; if you doing some wrong to another bad person, like if I go rob a dope dealer or a molester or something, then it don’t count against me because it’s like I’m giving punishment to them for Jesus. That’s God’s will. Oh you molested some kids? Well now I’m [God] sending Cool over your house to get your ass.

In the end, the authors found, “there is reason to believe that these rationalizations and justifications may play a criminogenic role in their decision making.”

A couple points. First, this is a really small sample size, and it’s possible that if the authors had surveyed more people over a broader geographical area, their results would have been different. Second, as the authors themselves acknowledge, criminals certainly aren’t the only ones who tend to misunderstand religious teachings, or to contort them for their own benefit. Granted, there aren’t usually violent consequences when your Aunt Sue misunderstands something in the Bible; the worst that happens is that she’s just a little more unbearable at Thanksgiving dinner. But, still, the Theoretical Criminology study shouldn’t be interpreted as conclusive evidence that faith-based outreach and rehabilitation programs are worthless.

But the point is, neither is there conclusive evidence that religion on its own actually helps rehabilitate criminals. This becomes a policy question when we’re talking about prisons. As that Bureau of Prisons report put it, while “religious programs in the correctional setting have been the single most common form of institutional programming for inmates,” nobody really knows whether those programs are effective. There’s not much good data. People tend to use tautological arguments to support religion-based rehabilitation programs. That’s not good enough. If we’re going to talk about whether religion helps rehabilitate criminals, we need to insist on data. Don’t just take it on faith.

Holy Shit! Man Claims Jesus Appears In Bird Poop on His Car!


Man Claims the Bird Poop on His Car Looks Like Jesus
By Hemant Mehta
… and he has a point:

 

[Jim] Lawry was in the driveway of his parent’s Brooklyn, Ohio home when he noticed the spot left behind by a passing bird. A closer look gave him quite a surprise and left him amazed.

Lawry’s son, parents and friends all came out to look. They too were amazed.

In an email to NewsChannel5, Lawry said he believed it was some sort of sign and wanted to share.

Well, holy shit.

I thought for a moment that Jim was a skeptic who was just having a little pareidolia-ic fun… but his Facebook profile suggests that he’s totally serious about this being a sign from (*ahem*) above:

 

I want to know how long it takes before he gets another carwash. Because, um, ew.

(via Christian Nightmares)

Facebook: What Fears You Faced Based on Religion


Facebook: What fears you faced  based on religion

by Sean Faircloth

I wanted to cry reading several posts volunteered on our official Foundation Facebook page about childhood experiences and religion. Thank you everyone who told of your experiences. A recent comment in a Catholic publication implied these are isolated incidents. Maybe we all can take a step back, read the comments below, with compassion in our hearts, and face the reality that children are quite often deeply harmed by religious dogma. It is immoral and unacceptable. Under the leadership of our Executive Director, Elisabeth Cornwell, we are working at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science to overcome this great injustice and do so based on reason, and based on basic human decency.  Read the comments below. Some will break your heart. The last one from Amy Milligan breaks mine.

So many of you, by overcoming these horrors, have set an example for those of us who were never religious. If you can overcome, we can support you and work together for a better world in 2013 and beyond.

Thank you so much. It is such an honor to be involved in this deeply compassionate cause. Read on. — Sean Faircloth, Dir. of Strategy & Policy, author of Attack of the Theocrats, How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It.

You can leave comments here or on the RDFRS Facebook page

The comments below are just a few of the many

2119.large

Laura Rhodes I was brought up by a conservative southern baptist mother and atheist father. As a child I was indoctrinated into a “hellfire and brimstone” religion that taught me anyone that didn’t accept Christ as lord and savior would burn in eternal damnation. Every night for years I laid awake praying that god would convince my dad to become Christian so when I died we would be together in eternity. I remember having nightmares about his damnation. It wasn’t until high school I was able to leave the church and denounce all the nonsense I’d been fed as a child. To this day I consider myself a recovering Christian and as a result do not allow my child to be involved in Christian churches or organizations. No child should have to suffer the abuse of organized religion and carry lifelong scars from it

Karin Petersson I often looked at the sky, terrified the clouds would part, Jesus return to bring “home” the ones who was pure at heart, leaving me behind…

Amanda Bond Warner I was told to never bring home toys or books that belonged to my school friends and never to purchase things second-hand (like at yard sales, the Good Will, etc) because the owner or previous owner could be involved in spiritistic practices and attached a demon to the object. Once the demon has entrance to the home, it would torment and rape me, my mother, and sister. I was 6 when I was told this.

Trevor Buvyer I was invited to watch a Church production called “Hell’s Fire and Heaven’s Gates”, depicting the deaths of several people. Those who were believers were shown to ascend to heaven where Angels sang, those who were not, were hauled down underneath the stage by a man dressed as the devil with flames shooting up and terrifying music. I accepted Christianity out of pure fear. It was a horrible experience.

John Ashley When I was seven..I was told by a teacher in a Morman sunday school class that my grandparents,who weren’t Morman, could not go to the same heaven that I and other Mormans would be allowed into….so I told the teacher that I wasn’t going if they couldn’t go..She then put me outside the classroom on a chair in the hall and told my father what had happened.When I got home my father gave me a beating..Merry xmas

Susanna Sharp-Schwacke Because of teenage indoctrination, I suffered from absolute terror of the “End Times.”

Anita Wittig I was told similar to what the 7 year old in the story did. Went to church and school at the same damnable place, a church filled with pedophiles, con artists, and perverts..I learned early into my teens that nothing is as it seems, that there is an agenda behind each and every one of these losers, and that heaven and hell are states of being and mind here on earth.

Jacob Wagner It was always, and still is, difficult to discuss being gay (at least between family members, as they are very religious). Back when I was a Christian, I tried to suppress many feelings to stay “normal” and out of Hell. Now that I’m an atheist, I’m much more comfortable with myself and discussing such things as homosexuality.

Melissa Glenn My best friend in 2nd/3rd grade came from a home that didn’t go to church or practice religion. I tried to tell her about jesus and all that but she didn’t believe. I remember being 8 years old, crying, praying on my knees for god to let my best friend take my place in heaven. What kind of 8 year old should have to worry about the eternal torture of her best friend?

Martin Navnihal Lochner Our politics taught us that we are Gods people and that we must suppress the heathen that represent all the other races and orientations..a mix of nationalistic autocratic rule with apocalyptic theology crushed my spirit until I one day discovered a book called ‘ straight and crooked thinking by a Mr Thouless..’ It saved me by my own effort. I have been excommunicated by my family,crucified by our Church and lonely in community because of reason over myth… I am ok…

Samantha Fischer I was raised a Catholic and, though I have long since renounced that faith, I am still haunted with guilt for my supposed life “sins” that are contrary to the Catholic Church’s dogma: divorce, child out of wedlock, promiscuous behaviour, being “mean” and not “polite and respectful” (ie. speaking up for myself), etc. In fact, as a result of this guilt, the mental illness I suffer from often becomes aggravated and I am in some peril when I dwell on what I’ve done “wrong”.

Jennifer Darden horrible nighmares that if I didn’t “speak in other tongues” from being “filled with the Holy Spirit” that I would spend an eternity damned to hell. along with the ridiculous rules that I couldn’t watch tv, couldn’t wear pants, cut hair, etc. so happy to be out of such an oppressive religion. out of religion, period actually. along with most of my family, who no longer believe in a judgmental god.

Hal Molitor – I remember my sister returning from her Catholic grade school sobbing horribly because our parents were going to Hell because they were not married in the Catholic Church.

Gordo Clayton A woman I used to be very close to was raised in a deeply religious, very harsh, fundamentalist Christian family. Growing up, she was utterly terrified of that one Bible quite that says if you doubt God even for a moment you are doomed to Hell. Of course, tell a brain not to think of pink polar bears, that brain is going to envision pink polar bears. She had an instant of “what if” doubt at a young age and was absolutely traumatized up until she became an adult. She told me when she was a kid she’d lie awake in her room for hours, reading frivolous teen magazines, until exhaustion finally took over and she fell unconscious. This went on for years. This child was abused, without a doubt.

There was also a bunch of Rapture fear thrown in there too, but I gotta keep this thing under a million words. However, I want to say that when she told me her story a few years ago, that’s when I went from being a timid, apologetic atheist to being a militant atheist.

Rachel Wilde My niece (age 12) recently returned home from catholic school in tears because her class mates told her she would burn in hell as she is not a baptised catholic.

Allison Underwood Raised a Calvinist and believing in predestination, I always feared Hell when I was growing up, and the powerlessness I had in my own salvation was overwhelming at times. There’s no way of knowing whether or not you were Chosen until you’re at the Pearly Gates, and you’re either let inside or cast down to Hell. How do you find comfort in those thoughts?

Dan Allford Even now as an atheist adult I still get a pang of fear and doubt: what if the christians are right and I burn in hell for eternity? It’s still an uncomfortable thought for me, aged 38. Then I remember what I’ve seen, learned myself and experienced directly – and the notion of hell becomes rudiculous again. Children don’t have the strength of character to resist these superstitious, religious notions. I feel enormous pity for them.

Angela Darst Blais My mother became a Jehovah’s Witness when I was 5. I grew up thinking the world would end before I grew up. Armageddon would come and I and everyone else who didn’t believe would be killed, our flesh falling off as we watched. Talk about traumatized.

James Willis I had exactly the same speech given to me by someone who resmebled and sounded just like a car salesman. Turns out he was the pastor, I still have a recurring nightmare that scares me awake sometimes of loved ones dying by fire. Please stop this madness towards children. Lets keep them truly innocent by having a “religious” age of consent where it is illegal to have your parents force the archaic religion on you when your not old enough to understand right from wrong, let alone Jesus from Allah, or Krishna from Buddha. KEEP CHILDREN INNOCENT UNTIL THEY CAN CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES.

Robert Miller We had to take my 5 y. o. brother off of life support after a car accident. A Pentecostal preacher told my grieving mother that because he was so young he was not accountable for his faith, but that my mom’s faith must have been lacking. He told her that if her faith had been stronger Satan would not have been able to take my brother as God promises long life. My mom was shattered.

Jen Martin I felt left out as I had not been “saved” and took the lord’s supper (southern baptist) at about age 9. Two “friends” convinced me that I was going to hell and there was no way out of it, not even salvation, since I had taken of the lord without being worthy (i.e. being saved). The mother of one confirmed this interpretation of the bible, directly stating that I had no hope of salvation. This family justified a lot of questionable teachings to children. On a lighter note, I did find it funny that their daughter, the one in the story above, refused to kiss her boyfriend for months because she was convinced she would get pregnant (we were around 16). I had some laughs over that one. I guess had she allowed her daughter to attend sex education, she would have known (but that would take the “fear factor” out of life, right?). I have many stories similar to this… all in the life of a southern baptist.

Pete Simms I was forcibly exorcised for being gay at fourteen and told that I am going to hell. eight suicide attempts later and at 40 I am still dealing with the fallout so yes understand completely the little girls fears. hell is a scary place to damage a young mind with.

Joshua Torres Demons! This put so much fear in me. I have religious family members to this day said they met angels and demons. As a kid I always worried if one would visit me or attack me. Or even possess me! This made sleeping scary.now as a adult and one who doesnt believe that. No fear

Brian C Findley Being gay, I learned that I was an abomination and for nearly a decade i believed it. Only after my suicide attempt did i learn to love myself again.

Shanta Sultana Horrific fear is implemented on Muslim children, from a very early age children start to imagine the detailed stories of hell fire they have been tought about and its an excellent way to abuse and control children. Little girls especially. However the same fear disables the mind and toungue and Muslims stay in a pack and promise never to speak about the abuse. instead become PR mad nation. Whenever someone points out the truth its propaganda by the west, perhaps Penguin publishing company (figure that out!) or the Church etc.

Eddie Mcclanahan My Father was a Baptist minister, I am gay and always have been, so trust me growing up I had many sleepless nights.

Ross Moorhouse I was a fundie Christian till I saw the light. I am ashamed to say I used to preach about people going to hell. I no longer follow the god of bloodshed and murder nor his so called book.

Fred Akman sorry this is a bit longer than requested.. I was confronted at YMCA camp in Greensboro, NC after moving there from Los Angeles. A Young kid got up in my face when he found out I was Jewish, yelling that I couldn’t just turn my back on Jesus, he had died for my sins and I was going to hell. When I told him I was Jewish and didn’t believe in Jesus, he assaulted me. The camp did nothing about the attack after it was reported by my parents, so I stopped going to camp there. The same kid went to my high school, where he did the same thing to a gay student. This time I got in between and verbally wiped the floor with him and made him look really stupid, I didn’t hear any more out of him during high school. I became an atheist around the same time as the second incident, though I had been one inside since around 3rd or 4th grade (at a religious school). After leaving high school I began fighting to keep religion out of school and maintain separation of church and state, as well many other causes while I work towards my eventual PHD.

Mike Ahern Good Friday Catholic prayers for the Jews. Every Catholic congregation in the world prays for the conversion of the Jews so that they may be redeemed.

Linda Selzer My mother grew up in Austria with a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. In those days religious training was part of schooling, so my uncle went to a Jewish school so he could be Bar Mitzvahed and my mother went to Catholic training, When she was 10 her father died, and the nuns told her she had to pray every day for her father because he was Jewsih and therefore burning in hell. Becoming an atheist at the age of 12 is what eventually saved her.

Kaveh Haddadi I had the same experience, as a kid in my homeland Iran I’ve been told to follow the rules made by religion and it could even cover the rules made by our teachers. Failing to obey those rules, having a doubt about god or even about the supreme leader would lead to hell, I remember how it affected our childhood. fear of thinking and illusion were the smallest consequences of this method for us children. Thank you Mr. Dawkins, you’ve gifted the valuable act of thinking without fear to many Iranians, we owe you a big one.

Ashley Alderman After suffering complications (retroplacental hemorrhage and an incompetent cervix), I had my pregnancy terminated at age 20. I’ve been told repeatedly that I’ll burn in hell for it, even though the complications weren’t my fault. I’ve always questioned religion, but the fear of “hell” was so deeply embedded in my mind that I prayed for “forgiveness” night after night. I am SO glad that I broke free from those chains.

Bonny McCurdy My older brothers friend committed suicide in high school, I was so so sad for such a long time because I was taught that he was most definitely in hell. It was several years later that I realized it was all nonsense. Why do people teach their children such damaging lies? I will never understand.

Lainey Head Kloes I was kicked out of a catholic private school because I believed in science more than mandatory bible class. They called me a heathen at 11 and I’ve been atheist ever since..

Phillip Jones When i was in Primary school, my 5th grade teacher screamed at me about how I am born stupid and i should repent and devote my life to learning the ways of Jesus, or my family and friends would be sent to Hell.

At 23 and an Atheist, I still have re-occuring nightmares about my family and friends burning in a Lake of Holy Fire or dying in all sorts of gruesome manners. I’m on medication for my night terrors and I hope they leave my mind before i shuffle off this mortal coil and my natural materials go back into the universe.

Devin Kennedy Not exactly the same, but I was told as a child that “little boys who ask questions don’t get into heaven.”

Rachel Shockey I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family. My whole life was based on Christianity. At the age of 6 I became “saved”, only because the thought of hell terrified me. I wanted to avoid it at all costs. Throughout my childhood and teenage life I often wondered if I was really saved. And I would pray again to be “saved”. Looking back I now realize those were the start of my doubts about my faith. But it took till I was 16 to really question everything. When I finally told my family, at age 17, that I no longer considered myself a Christian, it was a family crisis. Although it hasn’t been easy being the only nonbeliever on both sides of the family, I’m glad I had the courage to not be influenced by irrational fears.

Bill Melton I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian (Nazarene) environment, and began having anxiety attacks at about 6 years old. I knew I was going to Hell because I had crushes on other boys, among other naughtinesses. One day at about that age, I came home from school to an empty house. I knew that my family had been taken in the rapture and left me behind. I carried the anxiety long after I realized that the myths were just that. Encouraging a child to envision him/herself being eternally tortured for being human is child abuse.

Chris W James In the church I went to as a child, they had a baptism tank to dunk ppl in. Being 5 years old, I asked my parents what the tank was about. After explaining to me briefly it was to “save souls from hell and eternal torment ” I let my mind wander and conjure up horrific images of a horrible place with torture, blood, demons etc. After service we talked in the parking lot, like most do, and a man with a Polaroid camera showed us these pictures of Jesus floating in the sky. My dad bought one for $5 and kept it in the glove box, assured that the end was nigh and we better get our house in order. I had terrible dreams of the devil coming for me, and that her lived in the water tower at my school, which was walking distance from the house. For awhile there I even wet the bed. My uncle finally told me it all wasn’t true, and things were better.

Wayne Stremski Catholic School, 1966, sixth grade, Confirmation time. I procrastinated on the coloring book of Jesus and the apostles I was assigned, not completing it. The lay teacher told me that I would not be confirmed because of that. I sweated through three days, too fearful to tell my parents – or even my friends. I thought the teacher was going to tell the bishop to walk right past me and not confirm me in church on Sunday. But when I was indeed confirmed, and the bishop slapped my face, well that started me thinking. 40 years later I figured it out for good. I am an atheist.

Aimee Eisiminger Sleepless nights….praying feverishly for forgiveness for the smallest of transgressions. At one point I started to believe that I must be a demon because I kept transgressing. I was simply following my nature but religion kept telling me that my nature was evil.

Boris Warszawski When I wasn’t 18 yet I was still forced to go to church. I got out of it by volunteering during the mass by teaching children the gospel in an age appropriate manner. The kids would draw or make crafts after the lesson. I was surprised when a little boy stole a girls crayon and she didn’t mind. I told her it was very nice of her. She replied, “Oh, I’m not being nice, he’s just gonna burn in hell”. The boy cried for the rest of the lesson and I was flabbergasted at how religion is taught to our youth.

Derek Rowe As a child raised in Mormonism, I was taught the following:

There are three different heavens. If I ever left Mormonism, if I did not marry in a Mormon temple, if I drank coffee or tea, if I drank alcohol, if I participated in any sexual act before marriage, if I did not continuously give 10% of my income to the Mormon church, I would be separated from my family members in the afterlife in a lower heaven while they enjoyed the highest level of heaven without me.

Stacey Silverman We live in the bible belt (Texas) and my 8-yr old daughter was told by her classmates on the playground that she would be going to hell since she doesn’t believe in Jesus. Dawkins is absolutely right. This is traumatic for a child to hear and she was upset for several days.

Petra Roesner I was “born into” the evangelical church in Germany, and for many years was told exactly that, that I would burn in hell for eternity and suffer terrible pain if I were to reject the church’s teachings. As if those words were not enough, we (in Sunday school) were shown horrific pictures that depicted human suffering in hell, resulting in many nightmares as I grew up. When I was 14 I was forced to participate in the traditional ritual of being “confirmed,” because it was what was expected from me by my family. Two weeks after that, I rode my bike to the courthouse and filed papers that I was officially leaving the church. As a mother, I have encountered one child in particular, who has told my boys that they would go to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus, had their character attacked for knowing about religion but not being religious (which would ultimately be their choice). As a result of this taunting or religious bullying, my younger son was afraid to go to sleep and had nightmares. Needless to say, they are not playing with this child anymore.

Mary Charles Severinghaus As a small girl, I lay in bed trembling and crying in terror if the sunrise were red. We had been taught by the nuns at our Roman Catholic school that the “unrevealed secret” of Our Lady of Fatima was that the end of the world would be preceded by a red sunrise. My parents wouldn’t listen to me, so I bore that burden by my scared little sad self for years.

Jennifer Bisson My sister died in a car accident at a young age. Afterwards I couldn’t even count how many people told me (@14 years old) she died because my family didn’t pray enough or because my family was not more active in church.

Vicki Burns-Hufstetler Very similar story- at 9 my father told me my beloved grandfather was going to hell for not believing as we did. They had also terrified me into thinking that Jesus would return at night- and i wouldn’t be ready. Worrying for mine and my Padaddy’s eternal souls caused me to be plagued with middle of the night panic attacks into my late teens. I educated myself and am now free

Buddy Brown Yeah I grew up in Oklahoma, as Christian as possible. When I was younger I wanted to be a missionary and spread the word of God. I used to be terrified of every little thought I had. I used to cry at night fearing that while I dreamed id have a dirty thought and miss the rapture. I used to physically hurt myself to do my best to prevent myself from thinking sexual thoughts. The fear of hell was horrible. It dictated every aspect of my life. The way I acted, dressed, thought, everything. I was as Christian as possible. In my teens I managed to get some time to think for myself. I got into a pretty bad car wreck. I certainly would’ve died were it not for the doctors and medical advancements… Not god. Yet over and over god kept getting the praise for my survival. I was bed ridden for quite a while and did plenty of reading. I had a biology textbook with me and read it as unbiased as I possibly could, and that was that. No more christianity for me. I’m now slowly working to try and become a biologist. And so much happier with my quality of life. Everything is better. Life is sweeter. And knowledge, not dogma, is what I strive for.

Angela Amira Petite A Priest told my infant school assembly that parents who had disabled children were evil and were being punished by god. My sister of course experienced significant brain damage through meningitis and became disabled. I was escorted shouting and crying from that assembly.

Eleanor Tagart I remember being in tears as a child because I was taught in school that unbelievers won’t go to heaven and that meant my mum wouldn’t be there.

Sondra Cevelin I was raised Agnostic, but my parents always let me go to church groups with school friends when I was a child. I remember a youth group leader asking me once why he never saw my parents on Sundays. I told him they didn’t believe in God, and he gave me a big hug and told me “I’m so sorry they won’t be in heaven with you”. I was absolutely devastated. I cried and prayed For them every night. At 8 or 9 years old, my parents were my whole world, and the thought of them burning in hell forever was terrifying. I brought it up with my dad, and he explained to me why I shouldn’t have believed it, but that only made me feel worse. I eventually got old enough to know better, but I vividly remember the terror I felt, and I would never wish that feeling on anyone, especially a child. That is why now that I have kids of my own, they are not allowed to go to church groups with friends. The last thing I want is my children crying themselves to sleep in fear over my soul.

Kirsty Moss I had a christian and atheist upbringing, my mother was a devout christian, my father an atheist. I remember long fitful nights terrified by the thought of my father being sent to hell simply for not believing. Funny thing was, he is a warm gentle beautiful soul with a strong moral compass and generous nature. An awesome nurturing and respectful father and husband. My mother was deeply depressed, volatile, angry and unhappy. The irony only dawned on me when I was substantially older and wiser. Not that I blame my mother. I believe (though I’m not 100 percent sure) that the church made her depression that much worse by its belief that to seek treatment was to admit to not being a good enough christian to fight off the ‘demon of depression’.

Melissa Glenn Idk if there is much to elaborate on.

I was raised baptist. If you didn’t believe in god you were going to hell. My best friend, when I was 8, didn’t believe in god. I tried to tell her about god but she wouldn’t believe. I was terrified for her. I prayed and cried on my knees for god to let her into heaven and I would go to hell in her place. I didn’t want my best friend to burn forever.

* * * * * *

What is really messed up about it is that I think at the time I was hoping that giving up my “spot” would be considered selfless enough to get us both in. Then I felt immediate shame and guilt once I realized that god could read my mind and would think I was actually being selfish and trying to trick him and that we would both go to hell because of it.

Isaiah Copp Raised as a evangelical/pentocostal I dealt with severe guilt and shame, mostly due to sexual maturity. Every time I had an erection, sexual thought, or masturbated I was taught that I was essentially crucifying and breaking the heart of Jesus over and over…Feeling insane with guilt for torturing such a beautiful saviour, I sought counsel and was told that I had demons in my soul fighting for my etenal existense….this is total psycological abuse…

Lm Brown That happened to me when President Kennedy was killed: A neighbor told five-year old me that he was going to Hell because he was Catholic. Christianity never had a real chance with me after that.

Desiree Nicole Maslen Being told a friend was going to hell was the least of our worries as children of my parent. That fear was just normal every day pain that we would never know the people around us when we went to heaven because none of them were as good christians as my mother. Our torture was being molested and beaten, if you can call it beating when you black your childs eyes and touch them and verbally bludgeon them into submission and fear every day…then you clench the deal by telling them baby jesus will cry if you ‘lie’ to the police or the school teachers so they think your mother is doing bad things.

Jessica Lynn-Lato As a child my Sicilian grandfather told me that anytime bad things happened to me – a cut or bruise, disappointment, death of loved ones, etc – God was punishing me for something bad I had previously done.

Kenneth Jones I feel ashamed to be subscribed to the Richard Dawkins foundation for reason and science. I hate this religion bashing.

Shouldn’t we be promoting reason, science and tolerance.

Also I am sick of comments like “god is bullshit” shows just as much intelligence and reasoning as those with unproven faith.

Elyse Schuler-Cruz I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic schools. I was afraid of physical intimacy until I was in my mid 20s. Even after I stopped believing that kissing with tongue was akin to premarital sex, I still had trouble becoming comfortable with sexuality. Sometimes, I find myself feeling guilty about things I do with my husband even though I know better. Hell, my husband and I are pretty vanilla by any standards except religious ones.

Sam Jacob Simply put I lived in fear as a child, I was never clear on what might send me to hell and what not. I had a friend who went to vacation bible school with me and he woke up screaming for months because he was having dreams that he was burning in hell. I felt so bad for him. Religion is CHILD ABUSE.

Mackenzie Maxwell I grew up Mormon. When I was 6, the Sunday school teacher told me that people who smoke would not make it to Heaven. My grandfather smoked back then. I had nightmares for weeks. Then I decided that if the people I love aren’t going to Heaven, I don’t want to go to Heaven either.

Daniel Villalobos I was told by the pastor of my baptist church that God can see me everytime & everywhere. That’s really fuck me up when I come to that age when kids start to masturbate. Sounds funny: IT WASN’T.

Gary Harmon I have a mental disorder which makes me paranoid, anxious, prone to mood swings and delusions. As a child, my religion both fed and subdued my mental disorders: God is always watching you. Thirty years later, I had to be hospitalized due to a mental breakdown. I told the doctors that my greatest fear was going to Hell, despite being an Atheist. But there’s no such thing as Hell. Some childhood monsters follow you forever.

Thema Modisi When I was a kid I we carpooled with this family that were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They gave me these Watchtower booklets to read. I remember reading a story about a girl who forgot to bless her food before she ate. Unfortunately for her there was a demon curled up in a piece of lettuce on her plate and after eating it she became possessed. I remember praying everynight after that for God to bless everything i would eat the next day. I was terrified the same would happen to me. One day when I was 13 I got tired of being afraid and I embraced atheism.

Chelsea Leah Johnson I had a lot of insomnia when I was ten because I was afraid of hell. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that any of the bible stories or god or jesus were real. I thought I HAD to accept it and I really tried, but I just couldn’t.

Phil Peron I have many childhood memories of being awakened by horrifying nightmares of hell and damnation. Felt more like terrorism. Even if God exists, It wouldn’t be worth worshipping. What an abhorrent being. Needless to say I won’t be subjecting my own children to this rubbish.

Hiroki Burke A belief in God made my adolescence a lot more confusing and frightening than it needed to be.

I had an interest in Biology and Evolution, and struggled to reconcile what I learnt about those with what I was being taught in religious education class. I was also struggling with my sexuality, which my religion teacher taught was a way for God to test our faith, and that God would still love us, so long as we never acted on any sexual feelings towards other men that we may have had. I interpreted this as God’s way of punishing me for having doubts and I would need to get rid of my doubts in order to get rid of my attraction towards other men and become ‘normal’.

Eventually, I got the courage to ask…why was God punishing me, and did he have good reason? Sure, I was having doubts. But how could I not? Everything I was learning about God simply didn’t match what I was learning about the real world. I was trying to reconcile it, I was TRYING to believe in God, I WANTED to believe in God. Was it really just for God to punish me when I actually wanted to serve him?

It finally occurred to me that, even if God did exist, he was a being that was not kind, was not just, was not something I wanted to spend eternity with after my death, and certainly wasn’t worthy of worship. It gave me the freedom to look at the world and myself with clear eyes and question my morality. Rather than just accepting that being Gay is wrong because my religion teacher said so, I was finally able to ask… “is it? If so, why? How is my being gay harming anyone else?”

Without religion, I would not have had to go through years of believing that I was a bad person. Believing that I was being punished for questioning the existence of my apparent creator.

I would have been able to develop a strong understanding of morality long ago. Religion doesn’t encourage understanding of morality, rather, it suppresses it by teaching the faithful obedience and submission.

Jaden Martinez I use to live in Wisconsin, America from birth to seven years. I was born into a heavily religious family, my grandma was a deep believer and grandpa was a paster. I would attend church services and was scared to death by the thought of burning in hell if I did not follow gods word. I did everything right, praying every night before bed and not saying a single swear word. My life was devoted to god until I entered pubescents. I started having feeling for girls, impure thoughts would come into my head almost all the time. I would try and fight these thoughts, I even looked into seeing a doctor about it. After a few years my worries increased causing me to be extremely anxious. I became mentally ill and had an episode that lasted nearly six months. When I was a child my mum told me that the devil would put a gun to my head and if I believed in god enough he would save me. In hospital I feared this was going to happen to me. The unpear thoughts lead me to believe I had evil me so I would hurt myself to try and get it out this resulted in me trying to take my life as a sacrifice so god would forgive me.

After a lot of counselling and help I got better. I have excepted myself and left religion behind me.

All this time I thought being gay was an illness but really it was the fear of gods word.

Lindsey Thompson I went through 10 years of undiagnosed Bipolar Hell. My parents took me to Christian counselors instead of psychiatrists, who told me that my depression came from sin and that if I truly repented in my heart, I would be healed. I began cutting and branding myself with hot metal in an attempt to prove to God that I was willing to suffer like Jesus suffered. When I attempted suicide at age 22 I was finally properly diagnosed in the psych ward. My church excommunicated me. I now lead a happy, stable life with medication and without God.

Kedar Anil Gadgil as a kid being raised to be hindu, i was convinced by adults that if i didn’t do something, or did something, or did something wrongly, etc…any infraction of the arbitrary code of ethics and ritual requirements…i would be reborn (in my next birth) as an ant (to be crushed) or a frog (living in mud and dirt) or a donkey (overloaded and abused)…etc…i was told that because in my past births (as ‘lower’ animals), i did good deeds, i have been ‘rewarded’ with a human birth…and that the ultimate goal is to be so good in this life that the lord shall have mercy on my poor soul and break the cycle or birth and death, and offer me a privileged place at his feet for eternity…!!! i have had many a sleepless nights trying to hope (and pray) that some random act of ommission or commission i did during the day didn’t break some arbit rule, and that if it did, hoping the lord would forgive my transgressions…

Tom McEvoy entered catholic school in’55..kindergarten….. 2 nuns for teachers…. I remember them holding big yard sticks….. they told me anyone who didn’t go to our church will burn in hell. 5 yrs old. Child Abuse…..

Anna Gardner I am still plagued with guilt even though the rational side of me tells me to stop being so silly. It is an intense fear. A fear of simply acting like a human. Afraid to think outside the box. Belittlement, shame..ugh I can’t express it correctly. These are deep-rooted feelings that come frombing told my whole life that I had better get my act together or face the deepest darkest pit. It still hurts.

Victoria N Finney There aren’t enough words for what I went through as a young bisexual girl in a Christian boarding school. I wanted to die. Anything would have been better than the hatred and condemnation I was surrounded by, even death.

Kristie Keller Starting from the time that I was about 7 or 8, I was told that my dad would go to Hell unless he accepted Jesus as his savior before he died. Because of this, I would sit in fear with my hand on the phone in case he fell off a ladder while changing light bulbs in our vaulted ceilings. Eventually I decided I’d rather not believe in Heaven if it came with the possibility of Hell. But that was only a decade later.

Diana Szymiczek At around 12 years old my Born-Again Christian neighbour stopped by to see me (she was the same age), and she heard my brother listening to AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell”. She turned to me and said “your brother WILL go to hell if he listens to that music”, and left. I cried for days. This is a girl who burned her bible after she lost a competition to win a new house, because the bible “told me if I wanted it I would win it”.

Jennifer Blaesing I remember being so terrified about feeding into temptation that it would lead me to become possessed by demons or the devil. We were told that temptations to sin were whispers from demons so I felt like they were constantly trying to control my mind. I’d lay awake petrified at nights agonizing over the idea that I cannot defeat them. I felt like I was the perfect candidate for possession because my mind was so weak.

Anneka Padrón Having been told that people who didn’t believe Christ was the Savior, and knowing that Jews denied he was so, I told a little girl in my 2nd grade class that she was going to Hell. She was so upset by this statement that she cried the rest of the day. To this day, I still feel guilty over this. This poor girl probably went home terrified. I know kids say mean things, but the things I told her were just me repeating what my mom told me. Ugh, I’m so glad I came to my senses.

Amy L Milligan I was raised as a Jehovah Witness. To keep young children in line we were told that god only loves children who obey their parents, study the bible, and attend the meetings without disruption. We were told stories of people harasses by demons who have to call on gods name to get freedom. Not having faith in god or worshipping him correctly results in demonic possession and harassment that is anything from physical harassment to your life being filled with terrible tests if faith. However they also teach that if you do worship in the most faithful way you will also be harasses by demons as proof that you have gods approval much like Job. Many if their teaching are in contradiction. So as a result, I had nightmares into adulthood of dark beings chasing me and pinning me down and no matter how loud I screamed gods name I couldn’t get away. I would wake up screaming and crying. 15 years ago my brother (22 at the time) was kicked out of the religion for being possessed by demons because he heard voices and thought people were following him. A year later he committed suicide. He was never directed to mental healthcare, it is never discussed and the “elders” who remove people from the congregation for these offenses are not trained in mental healthcare. They are janitors, construction workers, etc…regular men making dangerous judgements. About a year after that I left this cult, tired of the guilt, shame, and fear. For this I was excommunicated (they call it disfellowshipped like my brother) and deserted by all my family and friends. It took about 5 years to deprogram and I still struggle to understand how in this century a religion can proliferate such ignorance and fear. Currently I am a well educated Atheist, having nightmares on occasion but I no longer hold any fear of spiritual beings of any kind.

American Taliban Pushes For Mandatory Prayer In Public Schools


State Sen. Dennis Kruse Pushes For Mandatory Recitation Of Lord’s Prayer In Indiana Public Schools

Dennis Kruse School Prayer

Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse proposed legislation that would require public school students to recite the Lord’s Prayer. (Image via Facebook)

A Republican state senator wants Indiana’s public school students to begin each day by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Dennis Kruse, chair of the state Senate’s education committee, has introduced Senate Bill 23, which would allow Indiana’s school districts to require recitation of the prayer, “In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen.”

The proposal does offer exemptions, including a provision allowing students and parents to opt out of a school’s mandatory prayer. Still, experts and the Indiana Senate legal committee believe the bill to be unconstitutional, the Indianapolis Star reports.

A similar law exists in Florida, but no schools there adopted the measure for fear of hefty legal fees associated with likely litigation, Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told the Star. A lawsuit against a prayer banner in a Rhode Island school last year, for example, cost the school more than $173,000 in attorney’s fees.

Seidel told the Star he worried requiring prayer in schools would lead to bullying of students who chose not to participate. Still, the Indiana proposal comes as more atheist clubs spring up in high schools across the country, even in more religious states like North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.

Kruse’s history in Indiana education has been filled with controversy. He sponsored a bill last year to allow schools to teach creationism that failed in the state House. He tried again in December by announcing plans to introduce new legislation for what he called “truth in education,” an effort that would allow teachers to question scientific principles, such as evolution.

Is The Meme “Nuclear Iran” a Cover For Iran’s Killing and Torture of Dissenters?


The meme of “nuclear Iran” is plastered in every media. This makes convenient cover for Iran’s internal killings and human rights violations. Little attention is given to the slaughter, torture and persecution of minorities, women, atheists, perceived heretics and dissenters!

US Blasts Iran Over Torture And Death Of Blogger

Posted by:– chainsoff

English: Mr. Sayyed Mohammad Beheshti
English: Mr. Sayyed Mohammad Beheshti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. has strongly condemned Iran for thetorture and death of Iranian blogger and labor activistSattar Beheshti (35), who as reported, died earlier this week while undergoing interrogation in Evin Prison. “We are appalled by reports that Iranian authorities tortured and killed blogger and activist Sattar Beheshti during a prison interrogation. Besheshti had been arrested for a crime no greater than expressing his political opinion online,” saidVictoria Nuland, U.S. Department spokesperson.

Nuland said that the Iranian government must “investigate this murder, hold accountable those responsible for Beheshti’s arrest, torture, and killing, and immediately cease all reported harassment of Beheshti’s family.” GVF reported that Beheshti’s death occured just one week after his arrest by Iran’s cyber police.

Beheshti was arrested by Iran’s cyber police on national security charges on October 30, who also confiscated the activist’s personal belongings, including his computer and handwritten notes.

Beheshti, the family’s only breadwinner, was reportedly active on Facebook. Iran’s cyber police was launched in January 2011 as part of the nation’s crackdown on online activism. “Sattar Beheshti is just one of thousands of victims of the Iranian government’s campaign of violent repression and efforts to curtail basic freedoms at all costs,” Nuland said

The GOP Rape Advisory Chart


The GOP Rape Advisory Chart

UPDATE: Volume II of the GOP Rape Advisory Chart can be found HERE and Volume III is HERE.

A week or so ago, someone posted her version of the GOP Rape Advisory Chart to help sort out all of the confusion about the wide variety of rape “flavors” that today’s Republican Party seems so hell-bent on bringing to light.

I thought she did a fantastic job, but, given the latest entries into the “rainbow of rape flavors” yesterday and today by Richard Mourdock and John Cornyn, I decided to create a revised version that plays it straight–I’m just including the actual quotes themselves. Feel free to repost on Facebook, TW or wherever you wish.

So, without further ado, I present the updated Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart:

Anyway, just to reiterate, since I’ve had at least one person contact me directly about it, please feel free to repost the graphic anywhere you wish, and don’t worry about “credit” or “attribution”…the color-code chart idea was someone else’s, as noted above, and I certainly don’t want “credit” for the disgusting statements by the GOP jackasses in the chart.

Also, if you want to attach a link to the chart, I’d recommend either a) ANY of the Democrats running against the scumbags who made the quotes (there’s too many to list again) or, alternately, RAINN or Jamie Leigh Foundation, both of which seem appropriate.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

The Jamie Leigh Foundation

In case the name Jamie Leigh Jones doesn’t ring any bells, here’s a reminder…it’s the 10 most riveting minutes of video you’ll watch today, believe me:

I should probably also note that the chart above is far from all-inclusive. Several additional quotes are listed in the comments, and there’s many (far, far too many) more that haven’t been yet.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Photoshop could handle that large of an image file if I tried to include them all, and I’d quickly run out of background colors to use.

The Second Coming of Mohammed, Mormon Founders Dream | Christopher Hitchen’s Reveals Mormon Origins


“I Will Be a Second Mohammed” – Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith

From left to right: Joseph Smith, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed

Hitchens on Mormons Part 1 of 2

Truth is my god. The only path to truth is evidence (convincing and sufficient evidence). Faith is not a path to truth as people have demonstrated by having had faith in many fraudulent persons and schemes throughout history. Divine revelation is not a path to truth as is proven by the incompatible revelations found in today’s competing human religions – they simply cannot all be true. Indeed the only real path to truth ever known to humanity is sufficient and convincing evidence.

Hitchens on Mormons Part 2 of 2

From the chapter entitled ‘Lowly Stamp of Their Origin — Religion’s Corrupt Beginnings’ of his book God is Not Great, Hitchens explains the origins of the Smith Cult.

“I Will Be a Second Mohammed” – Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith

 In the heat of the Missouri “Mormon War” of 1838, Joseph Smith made the following claim, “I will be to this generation a second Mohammed” “So shall it eventually be with us—‘Joseph Smith or the Sword!’ ”[1]

[1] Joseph Smith made this statement at the conclusion of a speech in the public square at Far West, Missouri on October 14, 1838. This particular quote is documented in Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, second edition, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), p. 230–231. Fawn Brodie’s footnote regarding this speech contains valuable information, and follows. “Except where noted, all the details of this chapter [16] are taken from the History of the [Mormon] Church. This speech, however, was not recorded there, and the report given here is based upon the accounts of seven men. See the affidavits of T.B. Marsh, Orson Hyde, George M. Hinkle, John Corrill, W.W. Phelps, Samson Avard, and Reed Peck in Correspondence, Orders, etc., pp. 57–9, 97–129. The Marsh and Hyde account, which was made on October 24, is particularly important. Part of it was reproduced in History of the [Mormon] Church, Vol. III, p. 167. See also the Peck manuscript, p. 80. Joseph himself barely mentioned the speech in his history; see Vol. III, p. 162.”

Similarities between Muslims and Mormons

Thomas S. Monson, the current “Prophet” of the LDS Church

Other similarities between Islam and Mormonism include, but are not limited to:

  • A founding prophet who received visits from an angel, leading to revelation of a book of scripture;
  • An emphasis upon family, and the family unit as the foundation for religious life and the transmission of values;
  • Insistence that their religion is a complete way of life, meant to directly influence every facet of existence;
  • A belief that theirs constitutes the one and only completely true religion on the earth today;
  • Belief that good deeds are required for salvation just as much as faith;
  • Assertions that modern Christianity does not conform to the original religion taught by Jesus Christ;
  • Belief that the text of the Bible, as presently constituted, has been adulterated from its original form;
  • Rejection of the Christian doctrines of Original Sin and the Trinity;
  • Strong emphasis upon education, both in the secular and religious arenas;
  • Belief in fasting during specified periods of time;
  • Incorporation of a sacred ritual of ablution, though each religion’s rite differs in form, frequency and purpose;
  • Belief that their faith represents the genuine, original religion of Adam, and of all true prophets thereafter;
  • Prohibition of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and homosexual and bisexual practices;
  • Belief that one’s marriage can potentially continue into the next life, if one is faithful to the religion;
  • Belief in varying degrees of reward and punishment in the hereafter, depending upon one’s performance in this life;
  • Special reverence for, though not worship of, their founding prophet;
  • Emphasis upon charitable giving, and helping the downtrodden;
  • An active interest in proselytizing nonbelievers;
  • Strong emphasis upon chastity, including modesty in dress; and
  • A clergy drawn from the laity, without necessarily requiring collegiate or seminary training.
  • A division of the religion into a minimum of two parties after the death of the founding prophet, with one party claiming that leadership should continue through the prophet’s descendents, and the other party rejecting this idea

Conservative Islamist Fanatic Seeks Death of Crippled Girl


Rao Abdur Raheem: The Militant Lawyer Who Wants Disabled Christian Girl Dead
‎Via:-| Richard BartholomewGo to full article

From the Guardian:

A lawyer representing the man who accused a Pakistani Christian girl of blasphemy has said that if she is not convicted, Muslims could “take the law into their own hands”.

Rao Abdur Raheem cited the example of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last year shot dead a politician who had called for reform of the much-abused blasphemy law.

…Raheem said he had taken on the case for free because he was convinced that Masih should be punished. “This girl is guilty. If the state overrides the court, then God will get a person to do the job,” he said.

I’ve written about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and their baleful consequences, previously. The current case, however, is particularly egregious; the accused girl, Rimsha Masih, reportedly has a learning disability. Raheem, however, is unconcerned about this: her medical assessement, he claims, was “illegal” and should not be taken into consideration.

In December 2010, Raheem created a self-described “lawyers’ forum”, called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet; according to the New York Times, the group produced a petition in support of Qadri which was signed by a 1,000 lawyers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Members of the group also reportedly ”greeted Mr. Qadri’s… court appearances by throwing rose petals”. The NY Times noted:

…The lawyers’ stance is perhaps just the most glaring expression of what has become a deep generational divide tearing at the fabric of Pakistani society, and of the broad influence of religious conservatism — and even militancy — that now exists among the educated middle class.

They are often described as the Zia generation: Pakistanis who have come of age since the 1980s, when the military dictator, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, began to promote Islam in public education and to use it as a political tool to unify this young and insecure nation.

Raheem has also turned his attention to the internet and the US embassy; the Express Tribune reported in May that:

Margalla police station registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Facebook and three other websites under sections 295-A and 298-A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on the directions of Additional Sessions Judge Kamran Basharat Mufti. The application had been submitted by the Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum (NRLF).

One of the complainants, Advocate Rao Abdur Rahim, told The Express Tribune that they had been informed in July 2011 that Facebook and a few other websites had been posting ‘blasphemous’ posts on their websites and the material was being uploaded from inside Pakistan.

…”We gave three applications: one against Payam TV for telecasting a movie ‘Yousaf’, one against Facebook and three other websites and one against the US embassy in Islamabad for organising a gathering of gays and lesbians,” the petitioner said.

Yousaf is actually an Urdu television serial, telling the Koranic version of the story of the Biblical Joseph. Episodes can be found on YouTube.

Raheem has a Facebook page, consisting for the most part of jpegs of urdu documents. His group also has a Facebook page, under the spelling “Namos E Risalat Lawyers“, where a booklet in support of Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been posted. Hypocritically, both pages carry material condemning the violence of militant Buddhist monks in Burma (a subject I looked at here).

There’s also a YouTube channel related to the group, under the name “nrlfp50″ (The booklet on the group’s Facebook page includes a reference to a website, “nrlfp.com”, which is currently defunct). One of the videos posted is footage of a rally in support of the murderer Qadri:

UPDATE (2 September): Rimsha had been handed over to the police by a local imam; the AFP reported on 24 August:

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in the Islamabad suburb of Mehrabad, insisted he had saved the girl, Rimsha, from mob violence by handing her to police but said the incident arose because Muslims had not stopped local Christians’ “anti-Islam activities” earlier.

Yesterday, it was reported that Chishti “has called for the law to be followed to its conclusion, even if that means the girl is executed”. However, his enthusiasm for having alleged blasphemers executed may perhaps now have cooled somewhat:

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti appeared in court on Sunday after witnesses claimed to have seen him adding pages of the Qur’an to a bag of ashes Rimsha Masih had been carrying away for disposal last month in order to strengthen the case against her.

…Tahir Naveed Chaudhry from the All Pakistan Minority Committee said it had always maintained that evidence was planted on her.

“And now it is proved that the whole story was only designed to dislocate the Christian people,” he said. “He must be prosecuted under the blasphemy law as it will set a precedent against anyone else who tries to misuse that law.”

Rao’s bloodlust, though, remains undiminished:

“Our case is totally separate from the case against Chishti,” he said. “The man who accused him of adding pages from the Qur’an also confirmed that Rimsha burned a book containing verses from the Qur’an.”

Facebook Atheist Charged for “Insulting” Islam | Islamo-Fascism Attacks Free Speech


Alex Aan’s trial begins Thursday

Via:- Maryam Namazie

Alex Aan‘s trial begins tomorrow, Thursday, with the first prosecution witnesses being called, according to Rafiq Mahmood. Alex is the 30 year old Indonesian civil servant who has been charged with ‘insulting’ Islam in an atheist group in Facebook.

Rafiq says:

This isn’t just for Alex but for all of us. There have been far too many “blasphemy” cases which have just slipped by. We have to stop it if we have a chance and Indonesia is a very good place to make a stand.

And a stand we must make.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and the Atheist Alliance International are collecting money towards Alex’s case. If you want to support his case financially, you can send a donation to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Just make sure to earmark it for Alex Aan.

Jailbreak 5.1 Untethered


For fans of Jailbreak, news just in of progress made toward a Jailbreak 5.1 unthered solution for Iphones and Ipads!

Pod2g Has Bypassed ASLR, One Step Closer to the Jailbreak

In an exciting bit of news earlier today, pod2g announced that he has overcome yet another barrier that was preventing him from finishing the jailbreak. ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) is a security measure introduced by Apple in recent versions of iOS. One result of this new method of security is difficulty in developing jailbreaks. Therefore, since Apple has begun implementing this new feature, it has been the effort of jailbreakers to bypass it.

Now, the battle has been won, and we are moving forward to another untethered jailbreak. We still don’t have an ETA, but this has been a long awaited step in the jailbreak community, and will hopefully make future jailbreaks that much easier.

Be sure to check back frequently for updates on the situation, and you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter below to be notified of any new information.

Free Speech Crushed by Islamic Power


Religion and freedom of speech are poles apart. In Egypt, a 17 year has been sentenced to three years in prison for a Facebook post that made fun of Muhammad.

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.

Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda.

“Assiut child’s court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud … for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet,” the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.

The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted some Muslims to attack Christians. Several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in the violence.

Fanatics that burn down houses and enact violence against humans who dare to insult religion, are the ones the government should be putting behind bars!

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2012/04/04/egypt-jails-christian-student-to-three-years-in-jail-for-insulting-islam/

 

Not To Be Missed | Freethinker Richard Dawkins and Catholic Fascist George Pell


Coming up

Q & A  Adventures in Democracy

Panellists

Monday, 9 April

Q&A on Facebook

Q&A ABC TV Tony Jones

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/

Q&A puts punters, pollies and pundits together in the studio to thrash out the hot issues of the week.

It’s about democracy in action – on Q&A the audience gets to ask the questions.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from – everyone can have a go and take it up to our politicians and opinion makers.

Energetic and opinionated – Q&A brings Australia’s egalitarian and larrikin spirit into the studio.

Q&A is about encouraging people to engage with politics and society.

Q&A is hosted by one of the ABC’s most respected journalists – Tony Jones.

Q&A is live to air – it’s happening as viewers watch.

If you want a chance to ask the questions, register online now.

About Tony Jones

Tony Jones is one of Australia’s most respected journalists. As host of Q&A he brings over 20 years of award winning journalism to the table.

Tony is known for his incisive and probing interviews on the breaking issues of the day. His role on Q&A capitalises on his ability to tap into the political zeitgeist and keep the discussion focused and on track.

Tony Jones has won pretty much every award an Australian journalist could wish for. He’s covered the seminal news events of the last two decades – from the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, through the collapse of apartheid in South Africa, to the rise of the Taliban and, closer to home, the revelations of sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities.
Now with Q&A Tony is embarking on a new kind of inquiry.

He wants to put the Australian public directly in touch with the politicians and playmakers – to give them the opportunity to get some answers, eye to eye.
Public democracy, open dialogue, transparency – it’s what every good journalist strives for.

Muslim Ignoramus Attacks Unrepentant Blasphemer Salman Rushdie


Salman Rushdie brushes off call for festival ‘blasphemy’ ban

  • by: Amanda Hodge

AN Indian Muslim leader has demanded Salman Rushdie be banned from the country’s biggest literary festival, warning that an invitation to the novelist who endured a fatwa will add “salt to injury”.

The vice-chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, one of India’s most influential Islamic seminaries, has called on the government to deny the Indian-born writer a visa to attend the Jaipur Literary Festival over the insult caused to Muslims by his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.

“I call upon the Muslim organisations of the country to mount pressure on the centre to withdraw the visa and prevent him visiting India, where community members still feel hurt owing to the anti-Islamic remarks in his writings,” Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani said this week.

“The Muslims cannot pardon him at any cost. If he visits India, it would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims.”

More here:-

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/salman-rushdie-brushes-off-call-for-festival-blasphemy-ban/story-e6frg6so-1226242085384

Retarded Pro-Blaspemy Islamists Seek Facebook Censorship


LAHORE – The Lahore High Court Justice Sh Azmat Saeed on Monday ordered ministry of information and technology to block access to all websites in Pakistan especially American social networking website “Facebook”, spreading religious hatred on internet and to submit a compliance report by October 6. The judge, however, made it clear that no search engine including “Google” would be blocked.

The court issued this order while hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on the access to American social networking website “Facebook” for hosting competition featuring blasphemous caricatures. Muhammad & Ahmad, a public interest litigation firm, through chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique advocate filed this petition and prayed for a permanent ban on access to Facebook for hosting a fresh blasphemous caricature drawing contest world over under a title “2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day-May 20, 2011″.

The petitioner pointed out that Islamic values are being derogated in the name of information that is hurting feeling of billions of Muslims. He said despite order of the court, ministry of information technology did not block websites spreading religious hatred.

Petitioner requested that Facebook and all similar websites be permanently blocked or banned in Pakistan for airing, placing, visualizing obscene caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The petition aims at stopping unholy drawing contest as well as blocking access to the facebook site in order to save feelings of millions of Muslims from being hurt by the objectionable caricatures which the masters minds of the “2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day-May 20, 2011 are planning through the dirty contest. He pleaded that due to holding of fresh competition, SHO Civil Lines Police Station be directed to register a criminal case under Section 295-C and other relevant provisions of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against the perpetrators.

Petitioner has sought directions for the federal government to stop display of material with respect to blasphemy of any religion or Holy Prophet on Facebook and all other such websites in Pakistan. He said the government be directed to establish a permanent authority, having legal status, who would monitor such objectionable activities across the world, so that blasphemy of Holy Prophet should be banned forever, including the holy personalities of all religions.

Source: – http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/09/facebook-to-be-blocked/