Someone in the Catholic church of Australia plays video games on his Apple Mac computer

Tonight I was reviewing my web server logs and noticed a “GET /2014/08/logitech-f710-controller-on-mac-os-x/” request from IP address 180.95.35.136. That address is assigned to https://www.catholic.org.au/. I hope that blog view wasn’t from a child being abused, or about to be abused, under the control of a Catholic priest in Australia. If the request was from an adult in that organization how are they spending their time? Which is to say, why are they spending time playing video games rather than sucking God’s cock?

P.S., Yes, this is a lame attempt to mimic the style of the Rude Pundit. Nonetheless, I do seriously worry that a child being abused by a Catholic priest did an Internet search and found my blog article. And if it was an adult in that organization then what the hell are they doing playing video games (something most hyper religious people consider a satanic activity) rather than praying and other such useless sectarian activities?

Indiana state trooper pulls woman over and asks “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your savior?”

A lot of Christians criticized me when I pointed out that WranglerStar, a YouTube content creator, should keep his religious views to himself after he spent the last minute of a six minute, ostensibly secular, video proselytizing.

While that persons behavior was inappropriate the behavior of Indiana State Police Trooper Brian Hamilton is so egregious he should be fired immediately. According to this Daily Kos story Trooper Hamilton used his position of power to proselytize for his religion after stopping a motorist for a chicken-shit offense for which he issued a verbal warning. While detaining the motorist he asked multiple questions unrelated to the traffic infraction. For example, “Did she accept Jesus Christ as her savior?” He also handed the driver a pamphlet from his preferred church. Holy shit! What motorist in the same situation would not feel intimidated to provide the answers Trooper Hamilton wanted to hear rather than tell him it’s none of his fucking business?

Fortunately the ACLU has filed a lawsuit.

Updated 2015-10-18: Sigh. This story is a year old. I really, really, hate it when an otherwise reputable site like Daily Kos doesn’t make it clear that they’re talking about ancient history.

I had to scroll to the seventh page of Google search results to find this link to PacerMonitor.com that provides some details about the lawsuit. It says the case terminated 2015-04-03 but provides no details regarding the disposition of the lawsuit.

After a lot of searching the only web page I could find that was not about the original incident and dated October 2014 was this article dated 2015-09-24. It talks about an accident to which Cpl. Brian Hamilton gave an official statement. Is that the same Brian Hamilton that was working for the Indiana State Police a year earlier? I would bet it is the same individual but the name is common enough that it could be coincidence. So, as all too often happens, it appears a “bad apple” simply moved from one police department to another.

FRC whines that they are only halfway to their fundraising goal of $2.5M

Long ago I signed up for email from the Family Research Council (FRC) under a nom de rude (h/t The Rude Pundit). Once or twice a week I receive an email from them. Today’s begging for dollars email warmed my heart. I learned that even with a $500K “matching” donation from someone they’ve still only managed to raise $1.3M of their $2.5M goal. The deadline for raising another $1.2M is tonight. Bwahahaha. The sooner people stop giving money to grifters like Tony Perkins (head of the FRC) the sooner our world will improve as the money is put to more useful purposes.

The humiliation of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed

The title of this article deliberately mirrors that of Dr. Jerry Coyne’s article at Why Evolution Is True. I agree with Dr. Coyne that we have created a society in which “infractions” that three decades ago when I was in primary school would have been ignored or, at most, resulted in a lecture about how to behave now result in police arrest. This is both counterproductive and idiotic.

We have to stop thinking in terms of “security at all costs”. I’m tired of taking off my shoes when flying. I’m tired of taking off my belt when reporting for jury duty at the San Jose Federal court. Which happened two years ago and will likely be repeated when I report for jury duty again this coming monday.

Below is the mail I sent to the Irving, TX police department prior to reading Dr. Coynes article.

from:   Kurtis Rader 
to:     lboyd@cityofirving.org, bredburn@cityofirving.org, jspivey@cityofirving.org, bjolley@cityofirving.org
date:   Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 6:31 PM
subject:        the arrest of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed

I'm a 54 year old white male software engineer who grew up in a middle class suburban family that attended a Protestant church. In other words I'm a member of a demographic you could reasonably expect to support you. Yet every time I read about incidents like the arrest of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed I become more firmly convinced the police cannot be trusted to exercise good judgement and it is reasonable for me and my neighbors to fear an encounter with the police.

In my opinion the officers involved in that incident are not competent to issue parking tickets let alone arrest people. And your department's defense that

    “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”

and that you

    wanted "a broader explanation" from the teen

is absurd. Hang your heads in shame.

P.S., I'm also appalled at the behavior of the school staff. Your officers should have defused the situation (pun intended) instead of escalating tensions. Get a fucking grip.

P.S., I’ve included the “religion” tag on this post because I strongly suspect that the skin color and name of the student, suggesting he is a Muslim, was a factor in how he was treated. I have no love for Islam. As an atheist I dislike all religions. Nonetheless I feel it is wrong to discriminate against a person solely due to the religion you believe they adhere to.

I’m going to have to science the shit out of this!

I just watched the excellent movie “Black Mass” starring Johnny Depp as the criminal James “Whitey” Bulger. But the reason for this post isn’t to talk about that movie. It’s to talk about the second trailer, subtly different from the first, I saw for the movie “The Martian” in which Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney, says “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this!” The book on which the movie is based is one of the few I gave a 5 out of 5 rating last year and will definitely read again. The two trailers I’ve seen give me hope the movie will be as good as the book.

Even if the movie is only almost as good as the book I hope it is seen by a large number of people who consider themselves religious. I want those people to think about the role religion and prayer played in the rescue of the eponymous character (i.e., none) and compare that to the role science and engineering played. I want them to think about the role religion has played in giving us the wonders we take for granted like the ability to talk with a family member in real-time thousands of miles away. Or be cured of an infection that just a hundred years ago would have meant a death sentence. Or give someone born deaf the ability to hear via a cochlear implant.

You’re welcome to your religious beliefs but I’ll take science any day of the week when it comes to making my life better.

Update 2015-10-02: I saw the movie this afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed it and encourage everyone to see it. Having said that the book is better. But that is because I’m a geek who appreciated all of the science and engineering in the book which had to be left out of the movie to keep it to a reasonable length. Note that the science and engineering in the book can be appreciated by anyone who can add 2 + 2 and get 4.

Nine months after I called WranglerStar an asshole for proselytizing in the wrong context another Christian berates me

Nine months ago I commented on a YouTube video and wrote a blog article about a hyper religious individual who can’t resist proselytizing in the wrong context (i.e., an ostensibly secular YouTube video). Yesterday someone named “Tommy Rad” replied to my comment. A full month since the previous reply.

Devout Christians, and highly religious people in general, just cannot let criticism of their beliefs pass without a comment. I stopped responding to those replies to my comment long ago but this most recent reply was too good to ignore. What follows are the statements from Tommy Rad with my replies.

“Well it IS his YT channel”.

Thanks for that information. I thought this channel was owned by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (http://ffrf.org). I completely missed the blindingly obvious fact that Cody created this channel to publish videos he creates under the pseudonym Wranglerstar. </eyeroll>

“did you send letters to CBS, NBC back in the day when they would sign-off with a prayer at midnight?”

I was born in 1961. I’ve seen plenty of broadcast TV sign-offs and never once saw a prayer. But then I grew up in Portland, OR where religion isn’t a big part of life for most people. I don’t doubt that specific stations may have done so (especially in the “bible belt”) but it was clearly not a uniform policy of NBC, CBS, ABC. And, yes, if I saw any channel that is not explicitly religious (e.g., TBS) in nature do what you describe I would complain to that station.

“The world has become a cesspit under the philosophy of secularism at the reins of the ‘progressives’.”

Really? That will come as quite a surprise to most European countries; especially the Scandinavian countries. Even in the USA measures of societal health show that the most religious states have the most problems (teen pregnancy, drug use, crime, poverty, etc.).

“Have you heard the utterly disgusting, life-hating vitriol coming from the lips of your secular 3rd-wave feminists?”

No, I haven’t. Perhaps you can provide some examples.

“Good job my friend, good job.”

Thank you. It is good for our future that people are abandoning religion in favor of secularism and humanist values.

The FRC wants you to “Help free Kim Davis from jail”

Todays I received the following email from the Family Research Council (FRC) headed by Tony Perkins. A theocratic grifter of some renown.

Kim Davis is the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. She has been jailed by a federal judge for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. And Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) wants to keep her there.

Gotta love the gratuitous swipe at a Democratic governor. Especially since he has no control over whether Ms. Davis is in jail or for how long. Also, she wasn’t jailed for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. She was jailed for contempt of court.

Her refusal is based on her belief that God has ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Regardless of the recent Supreme Court decision claiming same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, Kim is standing on a higher law, one she believes derives not from the decision of any court but from the hand of our Creator.

Apparently the FRC believes that everyone should be able to flout civil law if they hold a belief incompatible with that law. Not to mention all the people who want to be paid to do jobs that conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs. What do you want to bet that they will hastily modify that assertion once it is pointed out that by their reasoning

a) A Protestant paramedic can refuse to give aid to a Catholic and vice-versa.

b) A Muslim working at the DMV should be able to refuse to give a drivers license to women.

c) A Hindu working at McDonalds should be able to refuse to cook or serve hamburgers.

d) An Amish bus driver should be able to refuse to drive busses but still be paid.

Etcetera.

Our Constitution guarantees Kim Davis the right to practice her faith. It's called "freedom of religion," and is the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights.

Yes, Ms. Davis is free to practice her faith. She can attend the church of her choosing as often as she wishes. She can give that church as much of her $80K/year salary as she wishes. She is free to read and write about her religion without government interference. What that right does not include is violating civil law and refusing to do the job for which she is paid.

The couple demanding she issue them a marriage license claims Kim's exercise of her freedom of religion has imposed a burden on them. Yet they have had many other options for obtaining a license and have, in fact, now gotten one.

Irrelevant point. Also disingenuous. Ms. Davis’ behavior imposes an unreasonable burden on the members of her community she is obligated to serve.

Apparently Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is more concerned with imposing a moral and personal burden on Kim Davis than he is with accommodating her deeply-held Christian convictions. So, he is keeping her in jail.

Yawn. Repeating a tiresome lie doesn’t make it true. A federal judge is keeping her in jail. You’re asking that Gov. Beshear provide her a “get out of jail free” card.

This is wrong. We jail criminals, not people of conscience. We penalize wrong-doers, not people who simply decline a service for moral reasons -- a service which is readily available in other places.

We do jail people of conscience. All the fucking time. People who protested the Vietnam war were jailed. People who protest nuclear war are jailed. And by telling a federal court she won’t abide by their ruling in a matter she has committed a crime known as “contempt of court”. What the FRC really means is that Christians shouldn’t be jailed for following “biblical law”. But only the parts of biblical law they feel like following. Not those other bits like killing adulterers (I’m looking at you Ms. Davis) or people who work on the sabbath.

American Christians need to stand with Kim Davis's right to stand by her religious convictions. You can help by signing our petition below to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear asking him to issue an accommodation to Kim Davis allowing her to live and work according to her beliefs…

I followed that link. A full 48 hours after I received the FRC’s email they had 32,158 signatures including mine. Yawn. And, of course, the petition page had the obligatory prominently placed “DONATE NOW!” button. Grifters gotta grift.

Tony Perkins gives us another book about persecution of Christians

Just what the world needs — another book about how Christians in America are persecuted. Tony Perkins, head of the FRC (Family Research Council) just emailed me to inform me that I can pre-order his book “No Fear”. I love the first sentence of his email to me:

What could God do through you, if you had no fear of man?

Clearly the world needs more religious fanatics willing to martyr themselves by committing acts of terrorism so they can be rewarded with 47 virgins in paradise. Oh, wait, that’s the other “one true religion”. Still, it’s nice to know Mr. Perkins is doing his part to ensure Muslims don’t hold a monopoly on religious extremism.

Mr Perkins goes on to tell us what we’ll find in his book:

Containing stories of young Christians facing intense opposition, No Fear shows the dramatic influence one person can have as they stand resolute for biblical truth in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and compassion.

Hopefully he explains in the book how “biblical truth” differs from simple “truth”. But I suspect “biblical truth” just means “shit I pulled out of my ass.”

It is easy to edit video to make people opposed to Planned Parenthood look like they support it

The group Majority Ohio has created a video showing how easy it is to edit video footage to make it appear that “pro-life” supporters who are trying to shutdown Planned Parenthood actually support the organization:

It isn’t difficult to take sentences (or fragments) out of context and portray them to mean the opposite of what the speaker intended.

The irony is that if the forced-birthers get their way and Planned Parenthood didn’t exist there would be even more abortions. Regardless of what you think about abortion you should support Planned Parenthood. That so many people want to see the organization killed makes it obvious their real agenda isn’t about abortion. It’s about controlling peoples sexual activity and keeping sex something that is only done if you intend to create a person.

H/T Daily Kos

How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

I can’t take credit for this post. It came to my attention via a comment at the blog Why Evolution Is True. That lead me to the Daily Kos article which was the source of the WEIT comment. That in turn lead me to the original article by Rev. Emily C. Heath. It’s a shame more religious people aren’t as reasonable and rational as Rev. Heath.

It seems like this election season “religious liberty” is a hot topic. Rumors of its demise are all around, as are politicians who want to make sure that you know they will never do anything to intrude upon it.

I’m a religious person with a lifelong passion for civil rights, so this is of great interest to me. So much so, that I believe we all need to determine whether our religious liberties are indeed at risk. So, as a public service, I’ve come up with this little quiz. I call it “How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions.” Just pick “A” or “B” for each question.

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key:

If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

In closing … remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority. The only way to ensure your own religious liberty remains strong is by advocating for the religious liberty of all, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. Because they deserve the same rights as you. Nothing more. Nothing less.