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June 13 2015

surveyork
14:32

"he sighed heavily, and explained that thousands of years ago, tribes of nomadic desert peoples made up God because, being incapable of scientific reasoning due to caveman-like existences, they had no other way of making sense of things like sunshine, rocks and pork-transmitted trichinosis.

“They made it all up, and they were ignorant, unwashed, half-naked pre-historic barbarians,” Leobald said. “So who are you gonna believe: Carl Sagan, and the pantheon of the world’s greatest scientific and intellectual minds, or some guy who measured wealth by how many goats he had?”

Sagan, according to Leobald, is an “astronomer” in a big city far, far away who writes what are known as “books.”

“I just felt like an idiot saying all that nonsense week in, week out. What’s the point of singing hymns of joyous adoration to a fictional entity?” Leobald said.

“Why convene to donate time, money and personal resources to a being which exists only in fabulous legends and mythological ancient texts? If we were to keep doing that, week after week, why, we’d feel ridiculous, wouldn’t we? Plus, we’d look pretty stupid as well. It’d be like talking to a wall, and frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time. And I sincerely hope all of you do too.” "

May 31 2015

surveyork
00:32
surveyork
00:15

▶ Sarah Haider: Islam and the Necessity of Liberal Critique (AHA Conference 2015) - YouTube

Presented at the American Humanist Association 74th Annual Conference, May 7-10, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. #ahacon15

Reformists in Muslim countries are routinely silenced, through persecution or violence, which has been increasing over the last few decades as Islamism gains traction. Liberals are in a unique position to make a nuanced and compassionate critique of harmful conceptions of religion- a position which we are ceding. As a result, the only visible voices are those of hate-mongers from the far-right, Islamists and outright apologists. It is of the highest priority that liberals exert pressure on both groups towards positive change.

Sarah Haider is a co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America, a community building organization for Ex-Muslims across the non-theist spectrum, for which she currently works to reduce discrimination of those who left Islam.

April 10 2015

surveyork
21:26
A growing number of airline passengers, particularly on trips between the United States and Israel, are now sharing stories of conflicts between ultra-Orthodox Jewish men trying to follow their faith and women just hoping to sit down. Several flights from New York to Israel over the last year have been delayed or disrupted over the issue, and with social media spreading outrage and debate, the disputes have spawned a protest initiative, an online petition and a spoof safety video from a Jewish magazine suggesting a full-body safety vest (“Yes, it’s kosher!”) to protect ultra-Orthodox men from women seated next to them on airplanes.

March 21 2015

surveyork
20:06
Protesters in southern Chile have tried to stop the ordination of a Catholic bishop, accusing him of covering up a priest's sexual abuse of young boys.

March 12 2015

surveyork
22:48


Pay close attention to how reasonable and benevolent Qureshi sounds in the beginning. For the first 10 minutes or so, he comes off as a fine spokesman for a moderate Islam that has been unfairly stigmatized by Western paranoia. However, once he is asked to denounce the most despicable aspects of shari’ah—Can non-Muslims be taken as slaves? Should women be stoned to death for adultery?—the mask suddenly slips. It is an amazing moment, when shameless guile reaches the precipice of religious superstition: Qureshi is clearly afraid to misrepresent his faith, lest he blaspheme and break trust with all the religious maniacs standing at his back. In the end, he can’t even pretend to have values remotely commensurate with our own. All he can muster is the lamest of dodges: “I’m not a theologian.”

[...]

Look again at the dissembling of Qureshi. Listen to all his seemingly sane and balanced talk about the “disenfranchisement” and “unnecessary targeting” of young Muslim men, about “cycles of violence,” and about jihad’s being nothing more than the universal principle of “self-defense.” And then realize that this voice of moderation believes that in a properly constituted caliphate, gays, apostates, blasphemers, and adulterers will be stoned to death, Jews and Christians will be forced to pay a protection tax, and all other non-Muslims will live as slaves.
Theocracy with a Human Face - Asim Quresh of CAGE : Sam Harris

February 27 2015

surveyork
05:56
UPDATED: Norwegian police raided the offices of the Catholic Church’s diocese in Oslo on Thursday, and charged the diocese, Bishop Bernt Eidsvig and the church’s finance director with serious fraud. The church leaders are suspected of wrongfully claiming as much as NOK 50 million (USD 13 million) in state support by presenting fraudulent membership statistics.

January 17 2015

surveyork
20:27

There are no Charlie Hebdos in India. Je suis declarations notwithstanding, freedom of expression now seems to be an abstract ideal, a distant dream of our founding fathers.

At around the time that TV was breathlessly covering the 3.7 million people rally in Paris, there was considerably less attention on the protests in India against Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. Poor Murugan might have at the very least merited a stray nod from all those fulminating talking heads. Instead, the writer announced his retirement from writing.

For 25 years Murugan has written poetry, short stories and novels and single-handedly compiled a dictionary of the Kongu dialect. But it was his 2010 novel, Madhurobhagan (One Part Woman), set 100 years ago about a childless couple who attend a religious festival in the author’s hometown of Tiruchengode where women have consensual sex with men other than their husbands in the hope of conceiving, that has earned the ire of the RSS and caste organisations like the Hindu Munnani.

A sustained campaign included posters, a planned bandh and the distribution of selected pages. Murugan and his family were forced to flee town on the advise of the police. And a peace meeting among the author, agitators and district administration ended with an apology by Murugan and an assurance that future editions would excise the name of the town.

Je suis Charlie, hell yes. Je suis Perumal. Anyone?
surveyork
20:01

Every time someone ‘insults the religious sentiments’ of Muslims, ‘freedom of speech’ comes into the spotlight. From Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to the YouTube video ‘Innocence of Muslims’ fatwas from all over the Muslim World have been slashed on the heads of those who ‘misuse’ their freedom of speech to ‘insult Islam’.

However, when someone implements those very fatwas at the cost of human life, the handful of moderate Muslims defensively bellow that the act has nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. The barefaced deceit gets the backing of the liberal left of the West, that gets extra brownie points for speaking up about the self-inflicted ‘marginalisation of Muslims’, most of whom continue to avoid befriending ‘Jews and Christians’ because their scripture ostensibly prohibits it.

And so when the Charlie Hebdo office was attacked in Paris last week, everything from France’s occupation of Algeria over half a century ago to the economic disparity between Muslims and non-Muslims in the country was touted as the raison d’etre. Fingers have been pointed everywhere except at the awkward truth that the majority of Muslims around the world, and their version of Islam, endorse killing ‘blasphemers’.

January 03 2015

surveyork
23:46
surveyork
22:42
Right-wing Hindu groups allied to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — and whose members are overwhelmingly BJP members — have conducted a series of ceremonies across India over the past week to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

January 02 2015

surveyork
01:26

If a passenger was being verbally or physically abusive to airline staff, they would immediately be removed from the plane.

If a passenger was flouting the rules for take-off, thereby causing flight delay, they would immediately be removed from the plane.

If a passenger was openly engaging in racial or religious discrimination against another passenger or flight attendant, they would immediately be removed from the plane.

Why then, does El Al Airlines allow gender discrimination against women?  Why does El Al Airlines permit female passengers to be bullied, harassed, and intimidated into switching seats which they rightfully paid for and were assigned to by El Al Airlines? One person's religious rights do not trump another person's civil rights. 

December 22 2014

surveyork
11:02

Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said, in what is believed to be the first such admission by Catholic officials worldwide.

A group advising the Australian Church on how to deal with thousands of cases of child sex abuse said celibacy may be psychologically damaging for some priests.

“Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances,” said a 44-page report from the group, called the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.

surveyork
01:33

The future of special religious instruction in government primary schools is in doubt, with state funding uncertain and new data revealing that fewer than one in six students are enrolled in the program.

The popularity of the weekly 30-minute classes fell dramatically in the past six months – from 92,808 students to 53,361 – a 42 per cent plunge in enrolments in less than a year.

Religious instruction faces massive enrollments drop, funding uncertainty

December 21 2014

surveyork
11:18

So what do the mainstream (and non-Christian) scholars say about all this? Surprisingly very little – of substance anyway. Only Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey have thoroughly attempted to prove Jesus’ historical existence in recent times. Their most decisive point? The Gospels can generally be trusted – after we ignore the many, many bits that are untrustworthy – because of the hypothetical (i.e. non-existent) sources behind them. Who produced these hypothetical sources? When? What did they say? Were they reliable? Were they intended to be accurate historical portrayals, enlightening allegories, or entertaining fictions?

Ehrman and Casey can’t tell you – and neither can any New Testament scholar.

December 11 2014

surveyork
06:12

Three public school students in Mesa, Arizona, including a team captain, were allegedly removed from their varsity softball team, in part because they did not want to start each game with a “team prayer.” According to a complaint filed in a federal court in Arizona, the three girls were “penalized for not conducting ‘team prayer’ in accordance with the directive of Joseph Goodman,” the team’s coach. Coach Goodman, allegedly acted “for himself and at the behest of certain parents that were part of the [Mormon] Church.”

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The complaint paints a picture of a community where Mormon parents and students demanded the ability to micromanage other students’ lives. During a 2014 tournament, for example, the suit alleges that the plaintiffs liked to play “contemporary hip-hop and other popular music liked by teenage girls,” but that they were punished for doing so because one girl on the team thought that the music offended her “religious sensitivities.” At another point, the suit alleges that this girl’s parent monitored tweets sent by one of the three plaintiffs, and that certain “[s]ocial media postings made” by this plaintiff “were reported by certain [Mormon] Church members to Joseph Goodman at his direction and request.”

November 18 2014

surveyork
17:02

November 01 2014

surveyork
17:53

Research reveals religious beliefs can alter brain function, making us more prone to anxiety and depression

Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

September 06 2014

surveyork
04:58
Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a Mystery Faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.

August 23 2014

surveyork
23:30
Play fullscreen
▶ The Shrinking Cult of Scientology - YouTube
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