Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Legislation

I’m pleased Governor Brewer chose to veto SB 1062 and recognize the pitfall it entailed for the people of Arizona. This legislation was not about “religious freedom” as supporters claimed, it was about legalizing discrimination against a portion of the Arizona populace. I think America has learned well no good comes from legislating and sanctioning discrimination against segments of its society based on ignorant beliefs.

A good day for Arizona.

Arizona Anti-Gay Business Law

Well, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted here and it’s with a somewhat hot button issue: an anti-gay bill passed by the Arizona Legislature. The bill essentially says business owners may refuse service to gay customers based on their religious beliefs.

While I do believe business owners have the right to refuse service to a customer I also think anyone who would refuse a customer based on bigoted views (even when religiously based) is a fool for a business owner. Even more, how can you tell by looking at someone if they’re gay or not. Simple answer: you can’t.

The stupidity of bigotry aside, what is dangerous about this bill is that it codifies and legalizes discrimination based on a religious or moral belief. If it is allowed to discriminate against homosexuals for religious reasons, then how long will it be before others decide to claim their religion or morality as an acceptable excuse to reinstate a wide range of despicable hatred (racism, misogyny, and discrimination) as the norm.

My hope is that Governor Brewer will veto the law but it is difficult to say if she will do so. Some of her comments make it clear that she agrees that business should be allowed to deny service to customers as they see fit but also appears to believe that such practice should not be sanctioned by the state through law. I think she sees the inherent danger of the law as being see as state sanctioned discrimination.

We shall see soon what she will decide.

Atheist Billboard Problem (Again)

Just some thoughts on:

Atheists ‘Slaves Obey Your Masters’ Billboard Raises Tempers In Pennsylvania

A billboard erected in one of the city’s most racially diverse neighborhoods featured an African slave with the biblical quote, “Slaves, obey your masters.” It lasted less than a day before someone tore it down.

And Atheists wonder why main stream Americans dislike them so much. There’s no way the Atheists responsible for this billboard could claim they don’t deserve the anger and outrage aimed at them. Why?

  1. The scripture quote is incomplete and therefor ignores the context in which it was intended. (Yes, the Bible said slavery was okay, a concept we consider abhorrent and no one endorses in the modern day United States.)
  2. Using black slavery imagery was a blatant racist poke. This no other way around it. No one educated in the United States could claim to be unaware of how offensive that imagery is to all Americans, but especially blacks. I dare say most foreigners understand and find the imagery offensive as well.

So they rightly deserve the anger directed at them , though certainly not the death threats. You can not engage others in religious discussions by demeaning and insulting your target audience. Being upset over the legislature calling 2012 the year of the Bible or whatever is silly. Be more concerned about religiously affiliated politicians trying to pass regulations and laws based on religious dogma (like recent efforts by Christians against contraception, women’s health, and Sharia). Atheists who proselytize atheism are no better than those religious groups they target.

Besides, a real Atheist wouldn’t care about another person’s religion anyway. As an Agnostic, I don’t. When approached by those proselytizing I make it clear I’m not interested in converting (though I will discuss their beliefs with them if they remain civil) and walk away from those that can’t accept my refusal to convert.

An Atheist proselytizing Atheism is about as effective as a Creationist teaching Evolution.

Valley Roman Catholic Church Says No More Altar Girls

Fox News Radio 550 KFYI

In explaining his decision to ban girls from altar service, the rector tells The Arizona Republic that Christ established the priesthood by choosing men and serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act. Instead, girls will be offered the opportunity to prepare the church and altar area before Mass.

Yeah but the bible says a lot of things are acceptable that people in the United States don’t accept anymore. Things like slavery, forcing a raped woman to marry her rapist, killing adulterers, etc., etc.  The RCC is just showing themselves to be the same old misogynistic and backwards church that they’ve always been in vain attempts to regain their dwindling influence and authority.

Hawking and Missed Moments of Dialogue

Some rambling commentary on my part about Stephen Hawking and the mild uproar caused by his comment.

I don’t write as much about religion any more as I used to, mainly because I’ve found it is near impossible to sway people one way or the other when it comes to religion or spiritual belief. That and the notion that I should even be trying to sway people was actually rather arrogant in and of itself. Trying to do so is like beating a dead horse and really only accomplishes creating unnecessary conflict. As such I now try to steer clear of such topics.

But today I make a rare break from my personal rule to comment mainly due to the uproar Stephen Hawking made regarding his atheistic view of the universe. I noticed most people broke sharply into two factions: Hawking supporters and religious supporters. Both factions naturally disagreed with one another, but sadly little actual discourse arose. Instead there were a rash of insults and disrespect back and forth with only hardening opinions on both sides. This lack of discourse in this instant I blame on Mr. Hawking. I just don’t see what was logically gained by Mr. Hawking restating his well known views in such a manner.

While I am agnostic and do not believe in an afterlife, I thought Hawking’s words, whether intentional or not, sounded demeaning, elitist, and rather arrogant. By demeaning the beliefs of others he lost a moment in which he could have made an effort to explain his atheistic perceptions to theists without the implied denigration. You can’t start a rational dialogue when the dialogue from the start evokes an emotional reaction, in this case resentment and anger by many religious and spiritual followers and believers. If you can not show respect for others you certainly can not expect them to respect you in return. A more respectful, measured approach by Hawking would have far greater influence.

Ultimately, I am of the opinion that much of the conflict between religion and science would be eliminated if both sides would stop trying to interject themselves into the others sphere of influence. Given historical events and the currently meddling of extremists on both sides to interfere with one another I know that’s unlikely to happen.

I’ve known deeply religious and spiritual people who were excellent scientists and I’ve known atheists who were as equally humanitarian and caring as the most devoutly religious. As such I do not accept the notion that atheism and theism can not coexist or are natural enemies of one another.

News Round Up

U.S. decision can’t wait for Afghan legitimacy: Gates | Reuters

The overriding question is not, “how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner,” Emanuel said, adding it was important the election outcome be seen as legitimate and credible.

An interesting comment that highlights Emanuel’s silly statist notion that the government are more important than the people. That and proving he’s an idiot for trying to blur the truth about Afghanistan: it’s a war against the Al-Qaeda and their allies, the Taliban. Besides I think there’s actual progress in Afghanistan since Karzai agreed to a new round of elections, something that would not have happened under Afghanistan’s many assorted dictators of the past generations.

House panel redraws credit agency bill | Politics | Reuters

Draft legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to rein in credit rating agencies has been redrawn to drop a provision mandating across-the-board repeal of U.S. laws requiring the use of credit ratings.

Just more proof on the complete failure and corruption of our government. Why does the repealed language have to be reinstated into a bill after it was stripped out if there was not anything wrong with it in the first place? Just typical games and corruption. The whole credit ratings system has become one giant scam.

NATO a corpse, fumes former Canada military boss | International | Reuters

At least it’s still somewhat more relevant than say…the United Nations. Not that the General doesn’t have a point about NATO’s problematic members that want all the benefits but none of the responsibility nor the burden such responsibility entails.

Vatican welcomes Anglicans into Catholic church – CNN.com

Interesting though I can not help but wonder if Roman Catholics are going to start questioning why these new “converts” will be allowed to operate under a different set of rules for Anglican priests regarding marriage versus Roman Catholic priests. Seems odd, but the RCC will work it for themselves.

National Day of Prayer

Obama tones down National Day of Prayer observance – CNN.com

Normally I would not care one way or the other about Obama toning down National Day of Prayer observances given that I’m an agnostic. I have never liked the idea of the Federal Government “sanctioning” anything of a religious nature such as prayer. In this case, I comment given a Christian conservative friend of mine, who is very much aware of my non-religious nature, was all in a tizzy over the President’s decision, calling it spiteful and an “attack” on Christians nation wide.

To this I pointed out that most Americans didn’t care or were even aware of day set aside for prayer so how could it be an “attack”. I also reminded him of several other points to which he grudingly agreed: the government should not be sanctioning one religion or religious practice over others, Christians should pray daily anyway (let alone live moral lives according to their beliefs), and that Obama was just returning to the pre-Bush days of how the day was recognized. I then added he shouldn’t allow someone, be it a member of his congregation or a church leader, to twist his faith into anger, rage, or other negative emotions incompatible with the core teachings of Christianity over a non-existant slight. In the end he agreed I was right and indicated he was going to pray for forgiveness tonight for allowing another to disrupt his personal relationship with God.

I may be an agnostic but I respect those of faith. I think the caution here for those who are religious is to avoid letting contrived controversies interfere with your faith and its practices. More importantly, don’t allow your faith to be used by others to push agendas. One does not need, nor should they desire, government sanction to justify or support their religious practice.