Nightline serves up some crap cake to atheists

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The ABC News program “Nightline” broadcast a segment on atheist Edwin Kagin Friday night and from the framing and word use it was one of those “look at the scary atheist” stories. I can’t say that I am surprised since most people hate atheists and what they don’t believe.

The story started out on the crap side with the intro from host Cynthia McFadden:

The group we are about to meet are not among them (believers). They not only disbelieve they are waging a WAR against on religion and mockery is often their weapon of choice…

After hearing that violent wording no wonder some minds slammed shut.

The rest of the piece went the same way and as blogger Paul Fidalgo put it:

But I didn’t know how bad it could get. Dan Harris and those responsible for his report on Edwin Kagin, in-your-face atheism and “de-baptism” should be ashamed. The entire piece is a seven-minute finger wagging at those mean atheists. The questions to Kagin pretty much never move beyond variations on “don’t you think you’re being really rude?” Kagin and those with him at the de-baptism ceremony are portrayed as nasty, callous jerks who are out to hurt feelings for the sheer joy of it. Plus, they drag out the subject of Kagin’s fundamentalist son, I suppose to serve as some kind of foil, as if you say, “How come your son is a man of God and you’re such a jerk?” Harris even pulls the “what about Stalin” canard.

Nightlines atrociously bad report on atheism

I agree with Paul. I wasn’t expecting a hand job like the believers get all the time in the news in similar profiles but at least Nightline could have been less dickish about it.

Of course the cowardly faction of atheists and freethinkers will come out and blame Edwin and the others in the profile for giving atheists a bad name as if atheism should only be about puppy dogs and rainbows. They fail to see the bias in the overall reporting. Television can even make Mother Theresa look bad if they wanted to. (It seems commenter to Paul’s blog are doing what I feared – blame the victim).

ABC decided to focus on Kagin’s de-baptism show and turn it into a negative practice which it really isn’t. Like one of the people interviewed said the difference is believers take it seriously. Edwin also said that if someone is secure in their faith then they shouldn’t be bothered by his mockery. He’s right and the same should go for the tisk-tisk atheists who cave into the whims of believers for the want of being liked.

The other bit in the report that pissed me off was the tag at the end when McFadden ended the segment with:

“the blurry line between free speech and poor taste…”

Uh, no there isn’t a line, blurry or otherwise. Free speech has nothing to do with taste because taste is subjective while free speech isn’t.

Here is the profile if you want to see it:

Edwin Kagin profile on ABC’s Nightline 07/16/2010

A sad example of science class in the Bible belt

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When I saw the video I link to in this post, I had a mixture of sadness and anger. I was sad because the students on camera say some stupid things about evolution for their age and I was angry because the so-called science teacher refused to tell them they were wrong.

“How can I say to a student, your ideas are trash, keep them out of this room…” – Joe Wilkey “science” teacher.

Rare Look Inside Bible Belt Classroom (1996)

The video is from a BBC program in 1996.

(Tip-o-hat to Atheist Revolution for the link to the video)

Right wing wants religious freedom as long it only includes Christianity

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Recently the religious right and their propaganda arm FOX News complained about NASA reaching out to the Muslim community and Muslim’s wanting to build mosques in the US. The Daily Show had a great segment on their fauxrage.

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Jon: But fox isn’t just concerned with Muslims in space — they are also very concerned with Muslims in mosques.

growing outrage over plans to build more mosques and Islamic centers in America.
Now in rural Tennessee a plan to build a mosque has sparked vandalism and death threats.
There’s Wisconsin, Sheepshead Head Bay, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the mosque at ground zero.
There are a number of people asking why are these mosques being built in my community.

Jon: Oh, oh, I think I know buzz there are Muslims who live in their community. And I guess they can’t find the prayer carpet room in the church or synagogue. Lest this seem like religious prejudice, rest assured it is not. — About building mosques. It is about what goes on inside its mosque.

There’s some people that are afraid. And they are afraid for good reason. Because islamic philosophy and ideology starts in a mosque. Their mission is to spread Islam to be dominant in the united states.

Jon: What? One of tenets of Islam is to spread Islam. That would be like if Christians went places and built churches

Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life

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I found this the other day and thought I would pass it on. I happen to agree with the Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life 100%. I encourage you to read and consider the points.

The recent Gods and Politics conference in Copenhagen adopted the following Declaration on Religion in Public Life. The conference was the first European event of Atheist Alliance International, and was co-hosted by AAI and the Danish Atheist Society.

We, at the World Atheist Conference: “Gods and Politics”, held in Copenhagen from 18 to 20 June 2010, hereby declare as follows:

* We recognize the unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and that freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.

* We submit that public policy should be informed by evidence and reason, not by dogma.

* We assert the need for a society based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. History has shown that the most successful societies are the most secular.

* We assert that the only equitable system of government in a democratic society is based on secularism: state neutrality in matters of religion or belief, favoring none and discriminating against none.

* We assert that private conduct, which respects the rights of others should not be the subject of legal sanction or government concern.

* We affirm the right of believers and non-believers alike to participate in public life and their right to equality of treatment in the democratic process.

* We affirm the right to freedom of expression for all, subject to limitations only as prescribed in international law – laws which all governments should respect and enforce. We reject all blasphemy laws and restrictions on the right to criticize religion or nonreligious life stances.

* We assert the principle of one law for all, with no special treatment for minority communities, and no jurisdiction for religious courts for the settlement of civil matters or family disputes.

* We reject all discrimination in employment (other than for religious leaders) and the provision of social services on the grounds of race, religion or belief, gender, class, caste or sexual orientation.

* We reject any special consideration for religion in politics and public life, and oppose charitable, tax-free status and state grants for the promotion of any religion as inimical to the interests of non-believers and those of other faiths. We oppose state funding for faith schools.

* We support the right to secular education, and assert the need for education in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs. We support the spirit of free inquiry and the teaching of science free from religious interference, and are opposed to indoctrination, religious or otherwise.

Adopted by the conference, Copenhagen, 20 June 2010.

Please circulate this as widely as you can among people and groups who advocate a secular society.

Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life June 20th 2010

Australian PM Julia Gillard doesn’t believe in God

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I was shocked when I learned that new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard doesn’t believe in God. This is why I need to live either in Europe or Australia since they aren’t hung up on their politicians and religion. What shocked me even more is she was quoted in an interview by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and it was made public. Good on her and Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has no intention of pretending to believe in God to attract religiously-inclined voters.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.

In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.

Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“I am what I am and people will judge that.

Gillard won’t play religion card

*Update* After posting this entry I heard that PM Gillard is opposed to gay marriage. Below is a quote and link to a newspaper article that confirms her view. While I am happy that she is an atheist, there isn’t a valid secular reason to oppose gay marriage. Tax implications and protecting children are red herrings and have roots in religious bigotry.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia.

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show today.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.
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Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

Gillard against gay marriage

Maybe one day we will have the perfect atheist elected official.

Campus groups can’t exclude people and still get funding

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The US Supreme Court ruled today that college groups can’t discriminate in its membership if the college has a non-discrimination policy. The Christian Legal Society, which excluded gays from membership, sued a law school after it refused to give it official campus funding and recognition.

The vote was 5 to 4. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion:

“In requiring CLS – in common with all other student organizations – to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion for the court’s liberals and moderate Anthony Kennedy. “CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy.”

Christian Group Can’t Bar Gays, Get Funding At Hastings College, Court Says

Basically the college’s rule didn’t prevent the Christian Legal Society from keeping its beliefs. The group has to allow everyone in if it wants funding and recognition just like every other campus group.