Saturday, July 28, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 7/28/07

Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, MA, Ph.D., D.LITT, FBA, FRS (July 28, 1902 - September 17, 1994)

According to Wikipedia, Popper "was an Austrian-born British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is counted among the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century, and also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. Popper is perhaps best known for repudiating the classical observationalist-inductivist account of scientific method by advancing empirical falsifiability as the criterion for distinguishing scientific theory from non-science; and for his vigorous defense of liberal democracy and the principles of social criticism which he took to make the flourishing of the 'open society' possible....

"Popper was a member of the Academy of Humanism and described himself as an agnostic..."

Today is also the birthday of German philosopher and anthropologist, Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (July 28, 1804 - September 13, 1872), who believed that "God is nothing else than man: he is, so to speak, the outward projection of man's inward nature."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Woman Ordered Honour Killing Of Son's Wife

Bachan Athwal, a 70-year-old grandmother, screamed "liars" as she was led away, having been convicted of ordering the honour killing of her daughter-in-law.


Religious Related Violence 7/27/07

13 dead, 61 injured in suicide bombing near Pakistani mosque

6 Iraqi police killed by Samarra roadside bomb

3 NATO soldiers, 1 Afghan soldier killed in Afghanistan fighting

17 killed in southern Iraqi fighting


Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United For Israel Tour

MAX BLUMENTHAL -- On July 16, I attended Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit. Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain. In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and elements of the Israeli government.

But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. - must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee's flock as "even greater than the multitude Moses commanded."


See also:

The mainstream, sane, serious Joe Lieberman

Tom DeLay Says He Supports Israel So Jesus Can "Cleanse It"

Gospel 2.0: Jesuits Move Into Second Life

Father Antonio Spadaro, the literary critic of "Civilta' Cattolica" and an expert on new technologies, writes: "This virtual Second Life is becoming populated with churches, mosques, temples, cathedrals. synagogues, places of prayer of all kinds. And behind an avatar there is a man or a woman, perhaps searching for God and faith, perhaps with very strong spiritual needs."


See also:

Second Life

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Study: Dinosaurs Coexisted With Their Ancestors

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dinosaurs shared the Earth for millions of years with the species that were their ancestors, a new study concludes.


Preachers Of Doom

Evangelicals who proclaim the coming apocalypse have failed to mobilise ordinary Americans but their views are gaining influence in Washington.


Despite Catholic Feel, Developers Say Fla. Town Will Be Inclusive

NAPLES, Fla. -- No, of course not, Ave Maria is not a Roman Catholic town, its builders say. Why would you think such a thing?


Democratic Candidates Trying To Reach Religious Voters

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Tired of being seen by religious voters as too secular or even hostile toward religion, the Democratic Party and its presidential candidates have launched an all-out effort to win their votes.


Sex Charges Unsettle Church

Members of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church are trying to cope after allegations that their youth pastor, Troy Deal, went online to solicit a child for sex.


Televangelist Tammy Fay Bakker Messner Dies

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, a former televangelist who helped lead a huge television ministry before its collapse in a sex and corruption scandal, has died, her Web site reported on Saturday.


Nativity Battle Brewing In Berkley

BERKLEY -- City voters will get a chance in November to decide whether they want the city to display a nativity scene and other holiday symbols on City Hall property for the Christmas season.


Suspect Missing In Evolution Death-Threat Case

An anti-evolutionary Christian extremist suspected of sending threatening letters to biology professors at the University of Colorado has gone on the lam, according to a staff member familiar with a police investigation into the matter.


U.S. Backs Churches In Atheist Fight

The U.S. Department of Justice has waded into a legal brawl between a national atheist group and the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which pledged $734,570 in grants to three historic churches in a major downtown face-lift in time for the 2006 Super Bowl.


Baptist Morality Activist Arrested On Sex-For-Hire Charges

RALEIGH, N.C. (ABP) -- Coy Privette, the president of a Christian morality group and a former state legislator and Southern Baptist Convention leader, has been arrested on prostitution-related charges in North Carolina.


Confucius Making A Comeback

ZHENGZHOU, China -- At first, the Web site director and his schoolteacher wife sent their 5-year-old son to a Confucian school in this central Chinese city simply because it was two minutes from home. But the more they learned about the school, the more they liked what they saw.


Court Of Appeal Rules That Shambo Must Die

The long-running saga of Shambo the bull entered its final chapter yesterday, as the Court of Appeal ruled a slaughter order on the animal was justified, despite his sacred status for the Hindu monks who keep him.


The Business Of Religion

It used to be that companies were in the business of selling products and churches were in the business of promoting faith. Today the line between religion and the marketplace is blurring. Faith-based marketing generates nearly $5 billion a year in revenue. And as VOA's Mil Arcega reports, some well-known companies are bringing religion to the boardroom.


Islamist Party Wins Turkey's Election

Turkey's prime minister claimed a thumping victory in yesterday's parliamentary election for his Islamist-rooted party but was quick to pledge adherence to secularism and continued economic and democratic reform.


Jehovahs Accused Over Gran's Death

A JEHOVAH'S Witness died after refusing a blood transfusion because it was against her religion.


Priest Says Church Knew He Abused Girls

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- A fraud lawsuit has been filed against the Milwaukee Archdiocese, accusing Catholic leaders of covering up for a priest accused of sexually assaulting children, reported WISN-TV.


Forgiven Child Goddess Gets Divinity Back

She was the Nepalese child goddess who broke with centuries of custom and travelled overseas, only for her family to learn she was being stripped of her title for that breach of etiquette. For three anxious weeks, her family negotiated with authorities, insisting she had done nothing wrong.


'Honour' Gang Laughed As Victim Suffered

The horrific final hours of a Kurdish woman murdered on the instructions of her father and uncle because she had brought "shame" on her family were revealed to a court yesterday.


Muslim Women Are Vitamin Deficient In The Sun

In "THE VEIL HARMS HEALTH", the Mirror says wearing a hijab can make women ill. They might not get enough sunlight. This means their bodies cannot absorb enough Vitamin D.


Cartoon Protest Muslims Jailed For Six Years

Three men were each sentenced to six years in prison yesterday for soliciting murder during a rally against a newspaper cartoon that offended Muslims around the world.


Christian Father And Son Were 'Paedophiles'

A DEVOUT Christian father and son who attended church three times every Sunday were secret paedophiles, Cardiff Crown Court heard yesterday.


Red Mosque Fueled Islamic Fire In Young Women

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Hameeda Sarfraz, 19, lively eyes sparkling out of a black burqa, was describing the boons of the afterlife.


God '08: Whose, And How Much, Will Voters Accept?

THE probing about his Mormon beliefs has by now become familiar to the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But when Mary Van Steenis, a teacher at a local Christian school, took the microphone at a recent "Ask Mitt Anything" forum in Pella, Iowa, to ask her question, it still felt as if some sort of unspoken boundary of social etiquette had been breached.


Religion Beat Became A Test Of Faith

A reporter looks at how the stories he covered affected him and his spiritual journey.


New Research Proves Single Origin Of Humans In Africa

Science Daily -- New research published in the journal Nature (19 July) has proved the single origin of humans theory by combining studies of global genetic variations in humans with skull measurements across the world. The research, at the University of Cambridge and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), represents a final blow for supporters of a multiple origins of humans theory.


Religious Related Violence 7/26/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories in the last 8 days:

Suicide bomber strikes Pakistani mosque; 14 dead

17 bodies found in Baghdad

Suspected Islamic insurgents kill 6 civilians -- mostly children

U.S. announces troop deaths in Iraq

Scores killed in bombings as violence soars in Pakistan


Blast kills U.S. soldier in Diyala province

2 Afghans killed, 2 wounded in southern Afghan car bombing

2 U.S. soldiers die from battle wounds in Iraq


17 slain bodies discovered in Iraqi capital

Afghan Foreign Ministry: One German hostage alive, other dead of heart attack

Bombs kill 8, hurt 17 in Baghdad

Taliban spokesman: 2 German hostages killed; fate of South Koreans to be decided Saturay

16 sectarian violence victims found

Blast kills U.S. soldier in Diyala province


Israel airstrikes hit Gaza after rockets hit Israeli territory

Palestinian sources: Israeli airstrikes target Islamic Jihad militants, 2 killed

Violence in Baghdad, Kut claims 10 lives

Suicide bomber strikes Sunni tribal leaders; 5 dead, 10 wounded


Deadly day in Afghanistan: 6 NATO forces killed on Monday

U.S. military announces 3 U.S. soldiers, 1 Marine killed in Iraq over weekend

Central Baghdad rocked by 4 car bombs; 16 dead

U.S. military: 48 Taliban insurgents killed in major fight

Roadside bomb kills U.S. soldier in Baghdad


Suicide car bomber kills at least 22 in Hilla; roadside bomb kills 1; 24 bodies found


More than 50 insurgents killed in Afghan fighting

Taliban threaten to kill more South Korean hostages if demands aren't met

Two car bombs in Baghdad strike soccer celebrants, at least 50 dead

French, British soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan


26 dead, 75 wounded in Baghdad car bomb

Sources: Israeli airstrike kills 3 Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza

Seven troop deaths reported

Many insurgents, Afghan, soldier, British soldier killed in Afghan fighting

British soldier killed in Afghan fighting

Indian security forces gun down militants in Kashmir


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jailed Polygamist Vows To Go From 4 Wives To One

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- Polygamist Tom Green has four wives, but when he's released from prison next month he pledges to live with only one of them -- his legal wife.


Chimps On Treadmills Offer Evolution Insight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Chimpanzees scampering on a treadmill have provided support for the notion that ancient human ancestors began walking on two legs because it used less energy than quadrupedal knuckle-walking, scientists said.


Searching For Love In All The Right's Places

While Giuliani and McCain register 'morally repugnant' on the religious right's traditional-values meter, Romney has a bigger problem: many conservative Christian evangelical leaders don't believe his religion measures up.


Bush Aides See Failure

WASHINGTON, July 17 -- President Bush's top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged today that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.


Murder Suspect Says He Was Doing God's Work

A Cypress man charged in the death of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant said Saturday that he was doing God's work when he went to a Montrose-area bar last month, hunting for a gay man to kill.


Cobb Must Pay $1 In Suit Over Christian-Only Prayer

A federal judge has awarded $1 to plaintiffs who sued Cobb County in a federal lawsuit several years ago, contending officials had violated federal law that requires prayers given before open meetings be performed by clergy people of various faiths.


Public Schools Grapple With Muslim Prayer

A San Diego school adjusts its schedule to accommodate Muslim worship.


Preacher Admits Sex Abuse, Avoids Jail

An unordained preacher who pleaded guilty Monday to three felony charges of first-degree sodomy in the repeated sexual abuse of three children will not serve any time in prison.


Pastors Face Charges Over Not Reporting Assaults

Three Loveland pastors face misdemeanor charges alleging they failed to report a series of sexual assaults involving families at their church but say they were not trying to hide anything.


Attorney Says Parents Did Not Do Exorcism

A council member and her husband face a state review after their daughter notified police last month.


Sect Leader Indicted

(CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Steed Jeffs, who is awaiting trial in southern Utah, was charged with eight additional felony counts from Arizona in two separate cases, authorities said Thursday.


Candidate Shot Dead In Countdown To Turkish Poll

An independent parliamentary candidate has been murdered in Istanbul as tensions rise in the approach to this weekend's elections, billed as one of the most crucial in Turkey's history.


Eternally Virginal

Rehymenisation surgery is the lastest example of an ancient obsession with totemic purity.


Islamic Edicts: The World's Stupidest Fatwas

No central authority controls doctrine in Islam, one of the world's great religions. The result? A proliferation of bizarre religious edicts against targets ranging from Salman Rushdie to polio vaccinations. FP collects some of the worst examples here.


Hindus Win Bull Fight In Courts

Evan Thomas, who represents the National Farmers Union in Wales on the assembly's TB action group, said: "We could be forgiven if we start busily searching for Hindu priests to bless our cattle sheds. The ruling could set disease control in Britain back by 70 years."


Retailer Wal-Mart Gets Religious -- Toys, That Is

Early next month, 425 Wal-Mart stores nationwide will begin carrying faith-based toys from One2believe that target parents who would rather that their kids play with a Samson action figure than a Spider-Man action figure.


Boy, 14, Describes How Religious Teachers Gave Him Suicide Mission

Fourteen-year-old Rafiqullah said the men at the Pakistani madrassa showed him and two classmates videos of suicide attackers. They taught the boys to drive a car and let them ride motorcycles. Then they gave Rafiqullah his mission: kill an Afghan governor.


See also:

Boy forced by Taliban to become would-be bomber is pardoned

Schoolgirls In The Gunsights Of The Taliban

WITH their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.


Pakistan Army Dispatched To Halt Holy War

THOUSANDS of troops were deployed to Pakistan's northwestern frontier to try to dissuade outlawed Islamic militants from launching a holy war against the government for its bloody attack on a radical mosque.


Catholic Church's Anti-Abuse Chief Quits

The head of the Catholic church's child protection unit has resigned ahead of the publication of an inquiry recommending sweeping changes in the way the church investigates abuse allegations.


Turkey's Great Divide

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has links, he believes, to Islamic sects that are intent on undermining democracy and Turkey's treasured secularist principles.


Exposing Child Abuse In The Name Of Religion

FEMALE genital mutilation is becoming more and more common in South London.


Fear Of Islamist Recruiting In Jails

As the four July 21 bomb plotters started their 40-year minimum sentences this week, a group of police special branch officers - the foot soldiers of the security services - based at Prison Service headquarters were quietly working to ensure that the failed bombers do not inspire a new generation of violent jihadists.


Deranged Man Killed Two In Firebomb Attacks

Robert Torto, 32, who suffered from "religious and grandiose delusions", admitted killing Khiza Hayat, 37 and Hamidullah Hamidi, 31, when he threw a petrol bomb into a south London off-licence.


Muslim Group Loses Cartoons Libel Case In Denmark

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A Muslim group lost a libel case on Friday against the leader of a Danish anti-immigrant party who had accused its members of treason for publicizing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.


Convict Sues God For Broken Contract

A man serving a 20-year sentence for murder has been rebuffed so far in his effort to sue God for breach of contract by failing to protect him from evil and turning him over to Satan who encouraged him to kill.


Insurance For Sex Abuse

Over the weekend the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to settle lawsuits from hundreds of sex-abuse victims. About $250 million will come out of the diocese bank account; $60 million will come from other religious orders and another $123 million from litigation with orders that chose to sit out the deal. Insurance companies will pay the remaining $227 million. Hold on -- can churches buy insurance for sex abuse?



LA Church 'Agrees Abuse Pay Deal'

More than 500 people allegedly abused by Los Angeles Catholic priests are to receive a record-breaking compensation pay-out, their main lawyer says.


Hitler Was An Atheist...?

Was the Nazi Party Based on an Atheist, Anti-Christian Ideology?


American Taliban On The Warpath Against Evolution

Take your pick: Darwinism or "Free Willy."


Butterfly Shows Evolution At Work

Scientists say they have seen one of the fastest evolutionary changes ever observed in a species of butterfly.


Religious Related Violence 7/18/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories in the last 6 days:

Taliban casualties 'heavy' in southern Afghan fight

Dutch soldier wounded in southern Afghanistan dies; British soldier killed in combat

Militants gun down 5 Iraqi police officers


Convoy attack kills 12 Pakistani security personnel

Osama bin Laden video surfaces; terror leader encourages martyrdom

Troops kill 'rogue' militia cell leader

Suicide car bomber kills 24 Pakistani soldiers

2 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

U.S. troops, Shiite militia members fight in southern town

Attacks throughout Iraq's capital city kill 10 civilians

U.S. airstrike kills at least 6 'terrorists' in Diyala

Gunmen kill 8 men, wound 3 others in drive-by south of capital

Minibus explosion kills at least 1 in Baghdad

21 bodies found across Baghdad


Baghdad car bomb kills 10; ambush kills 7

At least 31 killed in Pakistan bombings

Gunmen kill wife, son of Iraqi council member

Iraq police pick up 21 corpses


1 dead, 32 wounded in Thailand bombings

Suicide truck bomber kills at least 80 in Kirkuk; 170 wounded

U.S. soldier killed in northern Iraq Sunday


2 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq combat operations

NIE: Al Qaeda may use operatives in Iraq to plan another attack on U.S. soil

At least 12 dead in Islamabad suicide attack

Toll in eastern Baghdad suicide bombing up to 11

Gunmen kill 29 in village near Iraqi city of Baquba

Bombings kill 12, wound 12

1 dead, 32 wounded in Thailand bombings


Roadside bomb blasts kill 3 U.S. soldiers in Baghdad

Attack on Pakistani military convoy kills 16 soldiers

4 dead in dual bomb blasts near a Baghdad gas station


Friday, July 13, 2007

As War Enters Classrooms, Fear Grips Afghans

Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings: these are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban and others to shut down hundreds of Afghanistan's public schools. To take aim at education is to make war on the government.


New U.S. Intelligence Assessment Casts Doubts On Bush's Iraq Policy

Bush, facing growing pressure to change policy from key Republican senators, many of whom face re-election next year, has blamed the worsening violence on al Qaida in Iraq, a Sunni terrorist group inspired by Osama bin Laden. But the new report repeats a January intelligence assessment that the conflict is a "self-sustaining sectarian struggle between Shia and Sunnis" for which al Qaida in Iraq attacks have served as "effective accelerants."


See also:

Intelligence report: Al Qaida at renewed strength in Pakistan

The Return of Al Qaeda

Religious Book Seller Struck By Lightning

(CBS) HIALEAH -- A man making a trip from Puerto Rico to South Florida to raise money for his religious education remains hospitalized Monday after he was struck down by a bolt of lightning which flew from clear blue sky on Sunday. He was selling religious materials when he was hit.


Texas Adds 'Under God' To State Pledge

More than 50 years after the words "under God" were added to the national Pledge of Allegiance, Texas has made the phrase part of its oath.


Scared Straight

The religious right's ex-gay movement is scouting local recruits.


A Right-To-Life Rift In Colorado

It's come to this: The influential leader of the conservative religious group Focus on the Family, James Dobson, is too soft on the abortion question for some harder-line foes of abortion.


Fight Over Thou Shalts Won't Wilt

A Ten Commandments monument will remain on the lawn outside City Hall in Fargo, N.D., for now, but the City Commission's recent vote to keep it there won't end controversy over the marker.


Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.


Threats By Religious Group Spark Probe

University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus.


Disruption Of Hindu Chaplain's Senate Prayer Shows Religious Right's Intolerance

WASHINGTON -- Religious Right Activists Want Government To Reflect Only Their Faith, Says AU's Lynn.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today deplored the disruption by Religious Right activists of a Hindu chaplain's prayer to open the U.S. Senate.

"This shows the intolerance of many Religious Right activists," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "They say they want more religion in the public square, but it's clear they mean only their religion."


School Board Rejects Mom's Request

The question was: Are books on atheism, abortion and homosexuality appropriate for a school library?

Palm Beach County parent Laura Lopez doesn't think so and she recently made her opinion clear at a school board meeting.


Islamic Revolution Will Come In Pakistan, Warns Cleric

President Pervez Musharraf vowed yesterday to step up the fight against gun-toting fundamentalists, as the first funerals were held for militants killed in the Red Mosque siege and a defiant captured cleric predicted an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.


Are Bill Gates And Warren Buffett Atheist Donors?

Are the world's two biggest donors atheists?


Failed Bomb Attacks 'Hurt Islam'

The failed bomb attacks on London and Glasgow have damaged public perceptions of Islam, a survey has suggested.


Police Seize Magic Trick From Preacher

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan police are holding a Ghanaian preacher over a stage magic device they fear may dupe people into believing they have experienced miracles.


Al-Qaida's Deputy Leader Threatens Retaliation For Rushdie's Knighthood

Osama bin Laden's deputy warned Gordon Brown yesterday that Britain would be hit with "a very precise response" in retaliation for the knighthood given to the novelist Salman Rushdie.


Poll: Muslims Believe Key U.S. Goal Is To Undermine Islam

An in-depth poll of four major Muslim countries has ascertained that in each of them large majorities believe that undermining Islam is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy. The poll surveys were conducted in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia from Dec. 2006 to Feb. 2007 by, with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland.


Brainwashed Children Plead To Die As Martyrs

SAIMA KHAN wants to die a martyr. Life is transient, she told her father in a telephone call last week, and the real glory is to sacrifice it for Allah. Her statement would be alarming at any age, but Saima is only 10.


14 Hindus Given Life In Jail For Killing 116 Muslims

PATNA -- An Indian court jailed 14 Hindus for life yesterday for killing 116 Muslims and burying their bodies in a cauliflower patch during one of India's bloodiest religious riots almost 20 years ago.


Pope's Move On Latin Mass 'A Blow To Jews'

Jewish leaders and community groups criticised Pope Benedict XVI strongly yesterday after the head of the Roman Catholic Church formally removed restrictions on celebrating an old form of the Latin mass which includes prayers calling for the Jews to 'be delivered from their darkness' and converted to Catholicism.


How A 'Fourth Tier' Religious Law School Infiltrated The US Government

The hiring of 150 graduates of a poorly regarded faith-based law school has raised questions about the influence of faith on the American political process, says a New York trial lawyer.


The Republican War On Science Rages On

Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's testimony has once again highlighted the extent to which the Bush administration suppresses and manipulates science to fit their narrow ideological view. Whether it's stem cell research, global warming, the Plan B contraceptive, or abstinence-only education, they consistently put appeasing their extremist, fringe base over the interests of the country at large. CNN's Christine Romans details the many battles in Bush's War on Science.


See also:

Ex-Officials Tell of Conflict Over Science and Politics

Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised

The US Map Of Faith

Looking for God? Well this is where best to find Him in America.


Neutral Evolution Has Helped Shape Our Genome

Johns Hopkins researchers have added to the growing mound of evidence that many of the genetic bits and pieces that drive evolutionary changes do not confer any advantages or disadvantages to humans or other animals.


Genetic Engineers Who Don't Just Tinker

The first practical applications of synthetic biology may not be so far off. "The real killer app for this field has become bioenergy," Dr. Collins says. Under the stimulus of high gas prices, synthetic biologists are re-engineering microbes to generate the components of natural gas and petroleum. Whether this can be done economically remains to be seen. But one company, LS9 of San Carlos, Calif., says it is close to that goal. Its re-engineered microbe "produces hydrocarbons that look, smell and function" very similarly to those in petroleum, said Stephen del Cardayre, the company's vice president for research.


Rats Influenced By The Kindness Of Strangers

Claudia Rutte and Michael Taborsky of the University of Berne, Switzerland, trained rats to pull a lever that released food for their partner in the next cage. If the rats subsequently received snacks released by lever-pulling strangers in neighbouring cages, they were more likely to lever-pull and so feed another unfamiliar rat in the future. In other words, the rats became altruistic in response to a general level of cooperation in the population.


Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much

CHICAGO - Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.


See also:

Science's Slump

Al Qaeda Strongest Since September 11, 2001

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Al Qaeda is the strongest it has been since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a new U.S. government analysis concludes, according to a senior government official who has seen it.


See also:

Report: Al Qaeda renewing efforts to sneak terror plotters into U.S.

Leveling The Praying Field

In this campaign season, if Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards are any measure, there will be nothing unusual in Democrats' talking about the God who guides them and the beliefs that sustain them.


Hindu Prayer In The Senate Draws Protesters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Three protesters disrupted a prayer by a Hindu chaplain Thursday at the opening of a Senate hearing, calling it an abomination and shouting slogans about Jesus Christ.


Religious Related Violence 7/13/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories in the last 6 days:

U.S. soldier killed Saturday, 9 troops died Friday in Iraq

Death of 3 sailors in Iraq brings Friday's toll to nine

Official: Death toll in northern Iraq blast now at 117

'Several' Taliban militants killed in southern Afghan fighting, coalition says

2 children, at least 2 police killed in southern Afghanistan blast

19 bodies found in Baghdad

2 British soldier deaths reported in Iraq

Fighting in Shiite cities reported; Al-Maliki urges Sadrist movement to distance itself from violent militants with links to the group

2 Task Force Marne soldiers killed in bombing, bringing number of U.S. troop deaths on Friday to six

6 killed, 22 wounded in Baghdad suicide bombing

4 killed, 9 detained in Iraq raids


Suicide car bomber kills U.S. soldier, wounds 3 others, outside Baghdad

27 dead, 45 wounded in Sunday attacks in and around Baghdad

Violent attacks across Iraq kill at least 162 civilians in 48-hours

Pakistani army commander killed in mosque stand-off

Northern Iraqi market blast death toll hits 150

U.S. Embassy announces death of staff members in Iraq


Negotiations fail, Pakistani security forces enter mosque

Bombs, bullets kill 12, hurt 35 in Baghdad on Monday

Palestinian militant killed in gunfight with Israel soldiers


Islamic militants ambush Philippine marines, 8 dead

Green Zone targeted by mortars

13 killed in Iraq's Salaheddin province

Pakistani officials: Cleric leading mosque standoff killed in crossfire

Blast in Afghan bazaar kills more than a dozen civilians; wounds many more

Negotiations fail, Pakistani security forces enter mosque

26 unknown dead found across Baghdad Monday


Lebanon army launches final assault against militants

Israeli soldier killed during army, militant clashes

Military: Insurgents blow up Anbar house, killing 11

Latest incidents of violence in Iraq

U.S., Iraqi forces take out 'very big' al Qaeda hideout in Diyala; 20 dead, 20 in custody


U.S. soldier killed near Baghdad

19 killed in Baghdad mortar attack; 2 Iraqi media workers killed in crossfire

Lebanese army shells Islamic militants in refugee camp

Coalition airstrike targets individuals planting roadside bombs

Israeli soldier killed during army, militant clashes


Friday, July 06, 2007

Hobby Lobby Ad

On July 4th this week, Hobby Lobby took out a full page ad in the New York Times with the headline "In God We Trust." It contained a number of quotations which seem to be an attempt to promote the idea that the United States of America is a "Christian nation."

To see the ad, click HERE.

Here is my alternate version:

E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One)

Presidents / Founding Fathers

"We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition ... In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States."

- George Washington, Commander-in-Chief in the American Revolution; Signer of the Constitution; First President of the United States

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

- John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence; One of Two Signers of the Bill of Rights; Second President of the United States

"Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the 'wall of separation between church and state,' therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society."

- Thomas Jefferson, Signer and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence; Third President of the United States

"The civil government ... functions with complete success ... by the total separation of the Church from the State....And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together... The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

- James Madison, Principal author, U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights (aka; "Father of the Constitution"); Fouth President of the United States

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."

- Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Statesman, Diplomat, Scientist, Printer...

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity."

- Thomas Paine, Author of Common Sense; Key American patriotic writer

U.S. Constitution and Treaties

"The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

- Article VI, Section 3, The Constitution of the United States

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the freedom of press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

- Amendment 1, The Constitution of the United States

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."

- First part of Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, negotiated during the Washington administration, concluded on November 4, 1796, unanimously ratified by the Senate in June, 1797, and signed by John Adams on June 10, 1797

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government, can openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organization or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and State.'"

- Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, Everson v. Board of Education, 1947

"We find that the basic Constitutional principle of absolute separation was violated when the State of Illinois, speaking through its Supreme Court, sustained the school authorities of Champaign in sponsoring and effectively furthering religious beliefs by its educational arrangement. Separation means separation, not something less. Jefferson's metaphor in describing the relation between church and state speaks of a 'wall of separation,' not of a fine line easily overstepped. The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny. In no activity of the state is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its schools, to avoid confusing, not to say fusing, what the Constitution sought to keep strictly apart. 'The great American principle of eternal separation," Elihu Root's phrase bears repetition, is one of the vital reliances of our Constitutional system for assuring unities among our people stronger than our diversities. It is the Court's duty to enforce this principle in its full integrity. We renew our conviction that 'we have staked the very existence of our country on the faith that complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and best for religion.'"

- Justice Felix Frankfurter, U. S. Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, the 1948 decision that forbid public schools in Illinois from commingling sectarian and secular instruction

"First, this Court has decisively settled that the First Amendment's mandate that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof' has been made wholly applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.... Second, this Court has rejected unequivocally the contention that the Establishment Clause forbids only governmental preference of one religion over another."

- Justice Tom C. Clark, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

"The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion."

- John Paul Stevens, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, Wallace v. Jaffree, June 4, 1985

Supreme Court Justices

"It was under a solemn consciousness of the dangers from ecclesiastical ambition, the bigotry of spiritual pride, and the intolerance of sects, thus exemplified in our domestic, as well as in foreign annals, that it was deemed advisable to exclude from the national government all power to act upon the subject. The situation, too, of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in other presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in other, quakers; in others again, there was close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it has not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship."

- Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, "Father of American Jurisprudence," Placed on the Court by President James Madison

"Protecting religious freedoms may be more important in the late twentieth century than it was when the Bill of Rights was ratified. We live in a pluralistic society, with people of widely divergent religious backgrounds or with none at all. Government cannot endorse beliefs of one group without sending a clear message to non-adherents that they are outsiders."

- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in a speech to a Philadelphia conference on religion in public life, May 1991

Some Other National Political Leaders Since the Revolutionary Era

"I believe in an America where the separation of Church and State is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."

- John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President, speech to the Greater Houston ministerial Association during the Presidential campaign, 1960

"If any provision of the Constitution can be said to be more precious than the others, it is the provision of the First Amendment; which undertakes to separate church and state by keeping government's hands out of religion and by denying to any and all religious denominations any advantage from getting control of public policy or the public purse. This is so because the history of nations makes this truth manifest: When religion controls government, political freedom dies; and when government controls religion, religious freedom perishes."

- Sam J. Ervin, Jr., U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in Church & State, February 1985

"Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives."

- Barry Goldwater, American politician, in a speech, 1981


"I questioned the faithful of all communions; I particularly sought the society of clergymen, who are the depositories of the various creeds and have a personal interest in their survival ... all thought the main reason for the quiet sway of religion over their country was the complete separation of church and state. I have no hesitation in stating that throughout my stay in America I met nobody, lay or cleric, who did not agree about that."

- Alexis de Tocqueville, writing of his travels in America in 1830

"What little recognition the idea of obligation to the public obtains in modern morality is derived from Greek and Roman sources, not from Christian; as, even in the morality of private life, whatever exists of magnanimity, high-mindeness, personal dignity, even the sense of honor, is derived from the purely human, not the religious part of our education, and never could have grown out of a standard of ethics in which the only worth, professedly recognized, is that of obedience."

- John Stuart Mill, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion"


"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's"

- Jesus, according to Matthew 22:21

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

- Jesus, according to Matthew 6:5-6


Thanks to Ed and Michael Buckner for some of the quotes listed above (click HERE to read many more quotes compiled by them).

Click HERE to read some of the more extreme comments by key Founders that I could have used.

To directly address one idea promoted in the ad regarding Christianity being part of the Common Law, here is what Jefferson had to say about that:

"...For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time, to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law, or Lex non Scripta, and commences that of the statute law, or Lex Scripta. This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years,during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it. If it ever was adopted, therefore, into the common law, it must have been between the introduction of Christianity and the date of the Magna Charta. But of the laws of this period we have a tolerable collection by Lambard and Wilkins, probably not perfect, but neither very defective; and if any one chooses to build a doctrine on any law of-that period, supposed to have been lost, it is incumbent on him to prove it to have existed, and what were its contents. These were so far alterations of the common law, and became themselves a part of it. But none of these adopt Christianity as a part of the common law. If, therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons to the Introduction of Christianity among them, that system of religion could not be a part of: the common law, because they were not yet Christians, and if, having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are all able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

"What a conspiracy this, between Church and State! Sing Tantarara, rogues all, rogues all, Sing Tantarara, rogues all!"

For more detail, see Is Christianity part of English Common Law?

Religious Related Violence 7/6/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories in the last 7 days:

Police in UK believe Glasgow crash is terror incident

Threat level up to highest level in Britain

Witnesses: Glascow attack suspects shouted "Allah," appeared to be of south Asian descent

British soldier killed in southern Afghan operation

NATO soldier killed in southern Afghan operation; Taliban attack kills 3

Sources: 6 Palestinian militants killed in Gaza air strikes

NATO, U.S.-led coalition: Civilians possibly killed during Afghan fight possibly used as 'human shields'

Mass grave found near Iraqi city of Falluja, U.S. military said

U.S. soldier killed in southern Baghdad bombing; 100 U.S. troop deaths in June

Suicide bombing in Iraq's Diyala province; at least 15 civilians, police recruits dead

Baghdad raids kill 26 connected to 'Iranian terror networks,' Iraqi PM slams action, wants answers

Top insurgent said to be killed in Falluja


Sunday attacks kill 2 Americans in Iraq

British soldier killed in suspected Taliban attack

NATO soldier killed in Taliban attack, suspected suicide bombing

Ramadi police: Minutes after car bomb damages bridge, 2nd bomber stopped

Bombs, bullets, mortars kill 3, hurt 15 in Baghdad


U.S. soldier killed by blast

Attack on Spanish tour bus kills Spanish tourists, Yemeni guides

5 U.S. troops killed on Sunday

Palestinian militia member dies in clash with Israeli forces

Iraqi security forces recover 14 bodies


Men who plotted UK bomb attacks linked to al Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. officials say

18 dead, 35 wounded in Baghdad car bombing

9 dead, more than 120 injured in mosque shootout


Israel enters Gaza in operation against Palestinian militants

Pakistani forces attack Red Mosque

10 killed in Baghdad, Baiji bombings

Six Canadian soldiers, Afghan interpreter killed in southern Afghan roadside bombing

Freed BBC reporter describes depression, terror of four months in captivity

U.S. military says 25 insurgents killed in three-day Diyala fight

Suicide bomb in northern Iraq kills 5, wounds 10


Palestinian sources: Israel kills 8 Hamas militants; journalist wounded

Violence in southern Baghdad: Car bomb kills at least 17; 2 U.S. soldiers dead

Heavy explosions, gunfire heard outside Islamabad mosque

NATO soldier killed in eastern Afghanistan attack

Attackers kill 3 in Iraq; 16 bodies found dumped in Baghdad

Military raids target al Qaeda in Iraq cells


At last 32 killed in Iraq violence

2 students at Red Mosque who tried to surrender are shot dead

At least 7 killed in Iraq violence

Two guns recovered near Pakistan airport amid reports of fire at president's plane

In southern Afghan fighting, 'significant amount of insurgents' killed

3 militants dead, 8 detained in military raids throughout Anbar

2 NATO soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan operation


Emory Brain Imaging Studies Reveal Biological Basis For Human Cooperation

Science Daily -- Functional MRI scans have revealed a "biologically embedded" basis for altruistic behavior, with several characteristic regions of the brain being activated when players of a game called "Prisoner's Dilemma" decide to trust each other and cooperate, rather than betray each other for immediate gain, say researchers from Emory University. They report on their study in the July 18 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.


Inferior Design

I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behe's second book as by his first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him.


Riley Says Pray For Rain

ALABAMA - With the state's weather forecasters not delivering much-needed rain, Gov. Bob Riley on Thursday turned to a higher power. The governor issued a proclamation calling for a week of prayer for rain, beginning Saturday.

Riley encouraged Alabamians to pray "individually and in their houses of worship."

"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for his blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty," Riley said. "This drought is without question a time of great difficulty."

Fairies Kill Four Villagers

Fairies killed four villagers in Lamplugh, near Whitehaven, a historical document reveals.

The document tells how villagers in Lamplugh met their deaths between 1656 and 1663.


Suit Says Company Forced Religion On Workers

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Medical assistant Lexi Foster says whether or not she was a good employee didn't matter at Woodcreek Pediatrics in Puyallup.

She says at times her supervisor seemed much more interested in saving Lexi's soul.


Three Students Jailed For Inciting Terrorism

Three Islamist extremists were jailed yesterday for engaging in "cyber-jihad" by inciting terrorism on the internet.


Nepalese Living Goddess Loses Divine Rights

A 10-year-old Nepalese girl was stripped of her status as a living goddess because she travelled overseas to promote a documentary about the centuries-old tradition, an official said yesterday.


An Unpleasant Incident

We like to believe that we live in an America where reasoned, nonviolent ideas can be freely aired without fear of retribution. That isn't always true.


ACLU Sues City Over Jesus Painting

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Slidell on Tuesday for displaying a painting of Jesus in a courthouse lobby, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.


Religion Losing Its Allure

ACCORDING to the census, religion in Australia is on the decline.


The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege

The theme of this book is the rise of public religiosity that has been orchestrated by a small group of "theoconservative" intellectuals. It is Mr. Linker's contention that Roman Catholicism has provided Republicans with a nondenominational language and morality with universal appeal. He foresees the end of separation of church and state and of secular polities.


I Was A Fanatic...

I know their thinking, says former radical Islamist.


Deal To Bring Paganism To Hospital Bedsides

HEALTH chiefs have reached a deal with Scotland's 30,000 Pagans to bring bedside healing rituals, meditation and special prayers into hospitals.


Should Science Speak To Faith?

Two prominent defenders of science exchange their views on how scientists ought to approach religion and its followers.


More London Bombings On Way

JERUSALEM -- The thwarted car bombings in London last week and the terror attack against Scotland's busiest airport were "completely justified" and likely the beginning of many more attacks in Britain, a prominent UK Islamist leader connected to terror supporting groups told WND yesterday.


Promise Keepers Try To Regain The Offensive

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of "Stand in the Gap," evangelicals hope to bring 250,000 men to Washington to re-ignite the Christian men's movement.


Christian Reconstructionists

A recent conference held by American Vision, a radical ministry that toils away to "help Christians build a truly Biblical worldview," displayed the growing organization of the dangerous Reconstructionist movement.