I was raised a Catholic and started questioning the religion in my early teens.
I was born different and church told me acting on what I was born meant eternal damnation. Even thinking about what was the core of my being meant eternal damnation. No being true to myself for me. Live a life of lies and denial, punish myself for even thinking or feeling what was at the core of my being of suffer eternal torment.
This brought me to the place where I asked the first question every blossoming skeptic and free thinking atheist asks.
What the fuck?
What are you people telling me?
You mean that I should lead a life of utter misery, lying to people about what I feel in the core of my existence, not even acknowledging that core to myself based on the promise of some sort of eternal reward I might get after I die.
What the fuck?
Not only that but the invisible, all powerful, all knowing and all loving magic sky daddy did this to test me and if I fail I will be tortured and suffer for all eternity?
What sort of really sick bastard would do that to anyone?
Much less to a child.
There you have it a thirteen year old’s version of the Epicurean Dilemma.
David Hume’s version From Wikipedia:
“Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?”
Suddenly the very idea of there being a god seemed as feeble as there being a Santa Claus.
Indeed Christianity by eliminating the majority of gods and goddesses made the questioning of their god almost inevitable.
I mean seriously isn’t Atheism about believing in one few gods than monotheists.
But there was something more.
Religion seemed like a con game that sort of loses its reason to exist with wide spread literacy.
If most people can read why do you need to go and pay someone to read the stuff to you?
Ah the reality is that religion is a whip and shackles that help the rulers maintain their power.
Divine Right of Kings.
Does anyone really believe a bunch of inbred cousin fuckers deserve to rule over people who have no say in their holding that position of power?
Or that some uptight asshole who has sworn an oath of total chastity (except for molesting children) has any right what so ever to dictate how the rest of us deal with sex and or procreation?
Who appointed these fuckers eternal dictators channeling magic invisible sky daddy like Shirley Maclaine channeling Ramtha as any sort of moral guides?
Why don’t they quit begging, pay their property taxes and get a real job like the people they con into giving them money?
Most of all I despise assholes who claim magic invisible sky daddy tells them to be bigots and hate mongers.
Fuck you there is no god.
And gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people who take a stand for equality and in opposition to racism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are more ethical and moral than you are with all your hate filled Bible thumping.
By Mike Ludwig
Friday, 12 October 2012
Imagine it’s Election Day and you walk into your local polling station. Before you can get a ballot, a poll worker demands a photo ID. Luckily, you have one and remembered to bring it. You hand over a state ID, but the poll worker looks confused. The poll worker says the photo and stated gender on the ID does not match your appearance. Suddenly, a complete stranger is asking you questions about very personal aspects of your life.
Perhaps you are asked to sign an affidavit and only given a provisional ballot, or worse – you are turned away or become frustrated and leave without voting at all. This is what advocates fear could happen to thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming voters in states across the country due to controversial voter ID laws.
Under the guise of curbing the already rare occurrence of voter fraud, Republican lawmakers in several states have passed new laws requiring voters to produce a form of photo or government identification in order to vote. Many observers, including the Justice Department, say the laws do little to prevent fraud and would simply disenfranchise poor and minority voters.
In April, the Williams Institute estimated that 25,000 transgender voters living in states with strict voter ID laws would be unable to vote in upcoming elections. This number is a bit out of date because legal challenges have since postponed or overturned voter ID laws in states such as South Carolina and Pennsylvania, but thousands of trans and gender non-conforming citizens are still at risk.
“New voter ID laws have created costly barriers to voting for many trans people. And much worse, the debate about voter ID laws has made even the idea of voting harder, so many of us may feel discouraged from even trying to vote on election day,” said Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
From Out Serve: http://outservemag.com/2012/09/war-journal-trans-deployed/
By Keith Thompson
12, Sep 2012
I choose to go by Keith. It isn’t my real name, but a pseudonym I selected to protect my identity. I am a female-to-male transgender Soldier, currently stationed in Afghanistan. At home, I am married to my wife—the most supportive person that I know. Nobody in Afghanistan knows I am trans, and I prefer to keep it that way, for obvious reasons.
The command climate in my unit during pre-deployment was harsh for me. The Soldiers in my unit think that I am a lesbian, serving openly and proudly. They do not know I am trans. I have never had an issue with any of my immediate colleagues about my sexual orientation. Just before we deployed, however, we received a new “butter bar” in our ranks. I started to feel that I was treated differently from the rest of the crew, chosen for the jobs nobody really wanted. Most of all, I could tell that this officer had a huge issue with me. Whenever I attempted conversation with her, she would ignore me.
I was lucky that a few of my colleagues witnessed this treatment and agreed to write statements on my behalf. With their help, a complaint was filed with the company’s equal opportunity representative. Because of this investigation, this officer was not allowed to deploy with our unit, which was a relief. When I deployed to Afghanistan, I was nervous after the incident, but now feel accepted with open arms.
When the colonel came to visit our company while on a mission, I was asked about my family and my life at home. I looked at my first sergeant, who nodded her approval, and I spoke freely about my wife. I was rather surprised the colonel seemed interested. My superiors had genuine and honest curiosity about my home life.
The base here has an OutServe chapter, but I haven’t been to any of the gatherings. I feel guilty, but I mostly pass the time with three online college courses, and something about discussing LGBT issues openly in military groups still makes me hesitant. That nervousness has kept me from getting involved in OutServe here, at least for now.
Continue reading at: http://outservemag.com/2012/09/war-journal-trans-deployed/
By Andrew Tilghman – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 15, 2012
She’s a lesbian, and almost everyone in her unit knows it.
She wears her hair cropped short and has a distinctly boyish appearance.
And she’s becoming manlier by the day, now that she’s started taking male hormones.
Call her Keith. That’s the name this 26-year-old specialist, now deployed to Afghanistan, plans to take when she completes a transition begun several months ago when she started giving herselftestosterone injections every other week, under the direction of a civilian doctor who specializes in gender changes.
“It’s going well. My voice is deeper, I’m getting more muscle. I feel more energy. I feel more like myself,” she told Military Times in a recent interview via Skype from her containerized housing unit in Afghanistan.
Keith declined to be identified by her real name because under military policy, troops diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” are deemed medically unfit for service and face administrative separation.
The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011 cleared the way for gay troops to serve openly but did not address transgender individuals, defined as people who don’t identify with their birth gender.
From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/lori-holyfield-sociologist-ph-d-calls-for-retraction-of-anti-gay-regnerus-paper/news/2012/10/15/50978
by Scott Rose
on October 15, 2012
Reposted with Permission
Lori Holyfield is a Ph.D. and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Arkansas. She authored the book, Moving Up and Out: Poverty, Education, and the Single Parent Family.
“I am calling on Elsevier to retract the Regnerus article from publication.”
“The study’s methodology is not valid. Regnerus claims to have proved correlation between gay parents and bad child outcomes, but his study does not support those claims. This is a bogus study that perpetuates negative stereotypes.”
I spoke with Dr. Holyfield apropos of W. Bradford Wilcox’s involvement in the scandal.
Regnerus was chiefly funded by the NOM-linked Wtherspoon Institute. Wilcox was the Witherspoon Institute Program Director who organized the Regnerus study, and then collaborated with Regnerus on study design before Witherspoon approved Regnerus for full study funding. Wilcox also collaborated with Regnerus on data collection and data analysis. A preponderance of evidence shows that he was permitted to do peer review. Furthermore, Wilcox is on the editorial board of the journal that published Regnerus, Elsevier’s Social Science Research.
Dr. Holyfield says:
“It is Research Ethics 101 to disclose conflicts of interest. Wilcox had so many roles in this, that it is unbelievable that journal editor James Wright never bothered to disclose any of Wilcox’s conflicts of interest to the public. That I see, we know for sure that Wilcox is on the journal’s editorial board, and that he is a long-time collaborator of Regnerus and of journal editor James Wright, and that he was the Witherspoon Program Director who recruited Regnerus for the study, and that he collaborated with Regnerus on study design, and then also did data collection and data analysis work. How did it happen, that none of this was disclosed? It is extremely important to note, that disclosure of these conflicts of interest would be necessary, whether the study was valid or not.”
“For Wilcox to use the word “honorific” about his position of Witherspoon Program Director, and Regnerus study design collaborator, is a veiled attempt to turn back the clock. But the damage is done, and the credibility of this study is absolutely, indisputably undone. That Wilcox was a study designer, and that was not disclosed, is alone enough to justify retraction. The further possibility that he was a peer reviewer just adds weight to the case for retraction.”
“It is especially unacceptable that the conflict of interests were hidden, and that there is an ongoing attempt to deceive the public about them. It adds insult to that injury, that what was produced was a methodologically invalid study that perpetuates negative social stereotypes. This is a very malevolent situation; something must be done about it.”
Regnerus alleges to have found that 23% of his respondents, young adult children of “lesbian mothers” experienced sexual victimization while growing up. Yet, the question he posed to come up with that finding asked only if “a parent or other adult caregiver” had abused the respondent. Dr. Holyfield says:
“The question as posed does not give us answers that we can use in any way to help sexually abused children. The abuser could have been the heterosexual husband, or an uncle, or an older cousin, or anybody. The question Regnerus posed is an irresponsible and ridiculous question. In the absence of anything that would tell us who was the most likely perpetrator, the information is useless to us. But we see that it is useful to political agents seeking to perpetuate negative stereotypes. Regnerus is implying causation by reporting this rate for children of lesbian mothers. He can say he didn’t prove causation all he wants; the fact is, he implied causation. And, it is ironic, because we know that pedophile perpetrators often are male heterosexuals. That would be just one reason this finding should have raised a red flag.”
Dr. Holyfield is aghast that the Regnerus study was carried out at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Politically-motivated groups bend facts all the time. The difference here is that this took place at a research university, which absolutely should have measures in place to insure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. It sounds like there was some social networking going on, and that the $55,000 planning grant from The Witherspoon Institute got talked about, and then the work with the full $785,000 in funding followed. Somewhere along the way, though, the relationships that allowed this unacceptable thing to happen in a research university got obscured.”
Social Science Research editor James Wright took the Regnerus paper from submission to acceptance for publication on a suspicious rush schedule. It is documented that the Regnerus submission did not receive valid peer review. Dr. Holyfield says:
“When you look at that phenomenally short turn-around time from submission to acceptance, you just can’t help but wonder if somebody connected with Witherspoon or Regnerus didn’t call the editor and make special arrangements. With all the evidence and documentation now known, all signs point to Wilcox. Because of that, I think it would be in the best interest of the editorial board and the journal to provide the names of the peer reviewers in this case. Peer reviewers’ anonymity should be respected when the research is valid. This research is not valid. If a full investigation is not carried out, the journal’s reputation will be permanently darkened. Peer reviewers who were in any way involved in Regnerus’s funding and/or in his research should have recused themselves immediately; this never should have happened.”
Dr. Holyfield continues:
“Wright himself has lost credibility. I can not imagine that the protection of the peer reviewers is more important that the protection of the integrity of the research.”
Writing in his sham “audit” of the publication of the Regnerus study, Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat said: “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”
“The point is,” Dr. Holyfield continues, “to not protect a reviewer who engaged in conflicts of interest, over the integrity of the research itself. Just to say ‘This is not valid research’ is not enough, given that the study made it into publication in these unethical ways on Social Science Research editor James Wright’s watch. This is a terrible disservice both to the journal and to the discipline. And, it is a tragedy for the American academy and for the public as a whole.”
I asked Dr. Holyfield if she wanted to make any other statements about the Regnerus study.
“Yes,” she said. “I am calling for retraction of the Regnerus study from publication. I call for retraction, and I strongly encourage disclosure of the names of the peer reviewers who engaged in conflicts of interest. These are only some of the ways that integrity can be restored to the process. The Regnerus study must be retracted from publication.”
New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
I’ve been a “None” for a long time. That’s the term the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life uses to describe the religiously unaffiliated, a category that its new report, “Nones on the Rise,” shows has been soaring in number over the past few years and now surpasses white evangelical Protestants as well as white mainline Protestants, second only to Catholics. I’ve always felt we Nones were a tiny minority. But here we are, surging in an America that’s been steeped in religious dogma, where Republican politics has been overrun by zealots hellbent on controlling women’s bodies and discriminating against gays.
I was raised in an Italian Catholic family, went to church every Sunday and did my stint as an altar boy. But when I came to realize I was gay as a teen, and that the church had dubbed me “intrinsically disordered,” things began to unravel quickly. I questioned everything about the church, and about my faith, and ran as far away from it as I could. And I can’t say I’d still be there if I weren’t gay myself, either, because seeing the church describing any group of citizens that way would likely have driven me away. And that’s apparently what happened for millions of Americans.
According to the Pew study, one in five Americans now identifies as having no religious affiliation, even as many of them state that they believe in God or describe themselves as spiritual. The various denominations of Protestants together accounted for two out of three Americans in the 1960s but now total only 48 percent. And the only reason Catholics, who account for 22 percent of Americans today, haven’t diminished further is that the wave of new immigrants to the country has replaced the many Catholics who’ve left the church in the past five years.
Much of the decline of these churches is attributed to generational replacement: Among people under 30 a third are in the None category. Pew offers several theories for this, but number one is political backlash: “Young adults, in particular, have turned away from organized religion because they perceive it as deeply entangled with conservative politics and do not want to have any association with it.” Whereas Joe Biden might accept the Catholic Church’s positions personally, even if he disagrees politically, newer generations aren’t having any of it, seeing the churches as corrupted by power.
“Mix It Up” tries to get kids to spend time with classmates of different backgrounds. American Family Association sees a stealth gay plot.
By Alex Halperin
October 15, 2012
The culture wars don’t take a lunch break.
A decade ago the Southern Poverty Law Center launched “Mix It Up” to get kids to spend time with classmates of different backgrounds. Since chow time is arguably the most segregated part of the day, on October 30, the SPLC encourages students to “move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch.” It says that almost 2,500 schools have agreed to “Mix It Up at Lunch.”
You might never have heard of Mix It Up but for the ultra-conservative American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer who sees in it what he seems to see in everything, (Yes!) a stealth gay plot. The New York Times reported:
Although the suggested activities for Mix It Up at Lunch Day do not expressly address gay and lesbian students, the law center itself promotes equal treatment for gays and lesbians and that philosophy then informs the school program, Fischer said.
“Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same,” Mr. Fischer said. “It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda. No one is in favor of anyone getting bullied for any reason, but these anti-bullying policies become a mechanism for punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behavior is not something that should be normalized.”
“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” Maureen Costello, director of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project told the Times. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.” The Teaching Tolerance website is more succinct: “Describing Mix this way is an out-and-out lie.”
By David Edwards
Monday, October 15, 2012
An Iowa pastor who has called for an Iowa judge to be removed because he voted to legalize same sex marriage recently used a sermon to castigate a woman for objecting to political activism at his church.
The Associated Press reported on Sunday that City Church of Burlington Rev. Steve Youngblood had acknowledged wanting to “slap” the woman in his Oct. 7 sermon after she raised objections to fliers that were being distributed at the church on the grounds that it was illegal for tax-exempt organizations to promote political candidates or causes.
The fliers backed the removal of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, one of the justices who joined in a unanimous decision that overturned a law banning same sex marriage in the state. The woman contacted the group Vote Yes To Retain Iowa Supreme Court Justices, which later filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service.
In the Oct. 7 Sermon, Youngblood lashed out at the woman, saying that he would “like to slap her” and that her husband should “correct her.” The pastor added that the woman’s actions were “not Christian behavior.”
“What makes me madder is that this person’s husband won’t correct them,” he ranted. “I don’t like rebellious women. I don’t like rebellious men, either. They’re even worse.”
By Roger Baker
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
The 2012 presidential race is shaping up as a new kind of political fight being fairly openly fought around the issue of class and inequality with racial overtones.
Not so long ago, during Barack Obama’s 2008 election for example, class was the “C” word; class was virtually a forbidden topic in American politics. During the Clinton era, politicians sidestepped the issue and got votes by appealing to the “middle class.” American voters were taught to think of themselves as members of a nearly classless society within a naturally prosperous nation.
During Obama’s first presidential election, his main response to the serious and growing economic crisis was to maintain the fiction that the interests of all economic classes, whether rich or poor, were identical. The 2008 presidential campaign, on the Democratic side, was all about hope.
The hope was that once the economy recovered, as it always did in the modern age, a new tide of economic recovery would lift all boats. This recovery would ease racial tension aimed at immigrants and the low income minority voters who made up much of the Democratic party base.
Especially under the post-9/11 period of corporate domination, the wealthy interests supporting the Republicans were benefiting from exploitative policies that resulted in extreme income inequity. This really amounted to class warfare, but to even raise the issue of inequality would bring immediate charges of inciting class warfare from Republicans.
Even as late as last year, frank discussion about economic injustice was deemed to be such a sensitive topic that Obama was afraid to discuss the issue of rampant and growing economic inequality. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote at Politico that, in May 2011, historian Robert Dallek finally asked Obama what the group [meeting in the White House’s Family Dining Room] could do to help him. Obama’s answer went right to a present-day concern: “What you could do for me is to help me find a way to discuss the issue of inequality in our society without being accused of class warfare.”
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/oct/14/un-global-food-crisis-warning
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.
“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently.
Prices of main food crops such as wheat and maize are now close to those that sparked riots in 25 countries in 2008. FAO figures released this week suggest that 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Wheat production this year is expected to be 5.2% below 2011, with yields of most other crops, except rice, also falling, says the UN.
The figures come as one of the world’s leading environmentalists issued a warning that the global food supply system could collapse at any point, leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry, sparking widespread riots and bringing down governments. In a shocking new assessment of the prospects of meeting food needs, Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken.