Archive for December, 2012

Belgium to Charge Scientology with Fraud and Extortion

Posted in Scientology the cult on December 31st, 2012 by Jim Newman – 3 Comments

Europe is not tolerant of Scientology renamed the Church of Scientology with its wicked ways of cheating people. Belgium is to charge Scientology.

After a long lasting legal battle Belgium prosecutors demand to label the Church of Scientology as a criminal organization and charge it and its leaders with extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine.

The subpoenas have been sent to the scientologists, the local financial newspaper De Tijd reported.

On 30 September 1999, 120 Belgian police officers raided 25 Scientology offices and seized tons of documents, which took the public prosecutor eight years to examine.

Eight long years of sifting through this crud to make a case. Belgium had tried to declaim Scientology as a church. Belgium makes official the protection of church organizations. You cannot just claim you are a church to receive state protection. Belgium has only a few protected churches: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, the Orthodox Church, Judaism and Islam. Belgium does not recognize many sects as protected churches.

Scientology, along with other churches such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons], Anthroposophy, Opus Dei and various Catholic and Protestant evangelical and Pentecostal groups, figures on an official Belgian list of “harmful sectarian organizations.”

Why not include fundamentalist Islamists and Christians? Belgium has received criticism for its lack of religious tolerance. A nonprotected church can limit a member’s ability to hold office or gain child custody.

 In divorce cases, courts sometimes deny child custody to a parent on grounds that he or she is affiliated with a “harmful sect.” In some cases, courts also grant a parent who is a member of a “sect” visitation rights on condition that he or she does not “expose” his or her child/children to the teachings or lifestyle of the religious group in question.

The tax department has denied the Japanese religious group Sukyo Malikari the right to exemption from property tax for its place of worship because it is included on the list of groups suspected of being “harmful sects.”

The US state department has deplored Belgium’s lack of tolerance, along with Germany and France. Immigrant religiosity in the US is and will be a voting bloc.

In Washington, the State Department said that if Belgian authorities “have evidence that individuals violated Belgian law, they should take appropriate legal steps consistent with Belgium’s international obligations to protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

“We would, however, oppose any effort to stigmatize an entire group based solely upon reglious beliefs and would be concerned over infringement of any individual’s rights because of religious affiliation,” the State Department spokesman’s office said.

While the state department can serve the idea of people and not groups being charged, it has both considered corporations as individuals, and racketeering as a crime of organized groups. Organized crime infiltrated the Teamster’s union back in 1927. The RICCO act was enforced through interstate and foreign commerce laws over racketeering, gambling, sex trade, and bribery. Group affiliation has definite legal ramifications in the US. I’m sure religious people in the US fear that if one church is examined for legality of its members as condoned by the church itself then why not another church, and why not so-called victims of a renegade church who unknowingly participate in illegal activities? Yet, just as a nonuser tolerating illegal drug use in their presence is illegal so is an individual participating in a church that promotes illegal practice. Gangs have had similar treatment.

Aside from group affiliation issues, the US has been lenient in determining whether a group is a church or not. It has examined closely Native American churches. Primarily because of their use of drugs and other illegal, though traditional, practices. The US did however examine Scientology as a group and supported its case by declaring the group a business.

The Church of Scientology battled the IRS for 25 years to regain its tax exemption after the IRS withdrew it 1967, claiming the organization was a commercial enterprise rather than a church. [30] The IRS decision was upheld by numerous courts, despite Scientology and its members bringing 2,200 lawsuits against the IRS and its officials over the course of the dispute. TheNew York Times revealed in Mar. 1997 that during Scientology’s campaign against the IRS, the organization’s lawyers had “hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of I.R.S. officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities.”

In 1991, the Scientology’s ecclesiastical leader David Miscavige met with then-IRS Commissioner Fred T. Goldberg Jr. and offered to call off the group’s lawsuits in exchange for regaining its tax-exempt status. The New York Times stated that in agreeing to Miscavige’s proposal, Goldberg “created a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology outside normal agency procedures” and that IRS “tax analysts were ordered to ignore the substantive issues in reviewing the decision,” according to IRS files. In order to receive the exemption, Scientology agreed to pay the IRS $12.5 million and “agreed to more Federal Government intrusion than perhaps any religious organization has ever allowed.”

Rather than exert more energy in evaluating Scientology as a church, sect, or cult, Belgium is now pursuing Scientology from the purview of business practices, as a criminal organization.

The charges against the Church of Scientology stem from employment contracts issued to recruit volunteers and members allegedly breaching the country’s strict employment laws. In Belgium as in some other countries Scientology is not recognized as a faith.

In 2008 the Belgium Labor Mediation Service complained about number of labor contracts, prompting an investigation.

A judge then ordered raids on Scientology premises where police allegedly “managed to seize a wealth of evidence,” that the organization had spied on and extorted money from its members, the Flanders News reported.

Belgian authorities have been legally battling Scientologists since 2007, when the country tried to label the movement as a cult. Around the same time Belgian prosecutors ruled that the Belgian Church of Scientology, plus Scientology’s Office of Human Rights and their 12 members, should be charged with extortion, fraud, organized crime, illegal medical practice.

Scientology changed its name to Church of Scientology to emphasize its churchiness. Yet, its dogma states one can still be a member of another church. It also insists its literature and activities are science and not religious. Their book A Way to Happiness in particular insists its morality is common sense and not religious. Aside from this nonsense whether or not it cheats people is most pertinent.

They were accused of practicing medicine without a license and violating privacy laws.

The church described the case as a “witch hunt”, with vocal supporters in the US condemning the move.

No other large group calling itself a church has spent more time in court suing criticism, and spying and invading people’s lives.

An estimated 500 people belong to the church of Scientology in Belgium, where the government denied Scientology the status of religion in 1997.  The organization’s European headquarters are located in Brussels.

In 2009 the organization was convicted in France on fraud charges.

That conviction was upheld in a French appeals court in February 2012.

The Belgium case may be the successful way of stopping endemic fraud within scientology.

The Church of Scientology houses its European headquarters in Brussels, so a ban in Belgium could be crippling to the group — and authorities there seem to know it. One of the more similar recent cases against came in 2009, when the French chapter of Scientology was convicted of fraud by a Paris court and fined nearly $900,000. “But the judges did not ban the church entirely, as the prosecution had demanded, saying that a change in the law prevented such an action for fraud,”reported The New York Times‘s Steven Erlanger. So the French chapter got saved by a legal wrinkle, but the Belgian prosecutors don’t appear to be backing down.

If we could get the faith healers too…

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

Islamic Extremists Oppress Mali with Harsh and Cruel Jihad

Posted in Islam, Uncategorized on December 30th, 2012 by Jim Newman – Comments Off

Islamic oppression in Mali is in the headlines for its cruelty and disdain of human rights. Mali, in the throes of civil claims for Taureg independence, has made room for Islamic Jihadists to overtake civil law and justice with Sharia. To instill fear and gain control of the Taureg, Islamists have invoked harsh penalties for the slightest infractions.

 “I myself cut off my brother’s hand,” said Aliou Touré, a police chief in the Islamist-held north of this divided nation. “We had no choice but to practice the justice of God.”

You know, I have never heard of a scientists saying I am going to cut off your hand because of science-based justice.

This harsh application of Shariah law, with people accused of being thieves sometimes having their feet amputated as well, has occurred at least 14 times since the Islamist takeover last spring,..

Why not just kill them. It would be more kind. In a country where 50% of the population earns less than $1.25 a day, being amputated kills all career choices and makes the individual a life-long beggar. This is terrorism not justice. Justice is not meant to incapacitate more people.

But those are just the known cases, and dozens of other residents have been publicly flogged with camel-hair whips or tree branches for offenses like smoking, or even for playing music on the radio. Several were whipped in Gao on Monday for smoking in public, an official said, while others said that anything other than Koranic verses were proscribed as cellphone ringtones. A jaunty tune is punishable by flogging.

At least one case of the most severe punishment — stoning to death — was carried out in the town of Aguelhok in July against a couple accused of having children out of wedlock.

I do not see how liberals and moderates can view this as a country practicing freedom. I do not see how a multicultural view justifies ignoring this. I do not see how a United Nations can be so moribund and political as to not be able to stop this immediately. No sane person can hear this and not see this as religious terrorism that has nothing to do with cultural or religious freedom, or independence of purview from the West. Economists will point to oil, uranium, and too many people but there is more than an ideological hook or the news would be about resource, material, and infrastructure shortage, including material news from the people themselves. If you say you’re doing Jihad, one must believe that or we cannot accept any self avowal and consider all allegiance suspect. If you say god is on your side justifiably against another, I believe they think god is helping them and they will see the world through their god, not as if through god but through god.

Nor is it comforting to think that we were once that way, (crusades, inquisition) they will evolve if it’s right for them. Justice and freedom do not come inevitably and do not remain kindly. The soporific effects of peace blind us to the need for vigilance and maintenance against oppression. But it does not mean making them Christian or wanton invasion. That’s Christian Jihad extremism.

Mali Jihad is working. Tens of thousands are fleeing the North for the South. Civil courts are being sold and Sharia Jihadists meet in hotel rooms to dispense justice. Ali Akbar graffiti covers the administrative buildings. The police officer who had his brother’s arm severed responded:

“He stole nine times,” he said of his brother. “He’s my own brother. God told us to do it. God created my brother. God created me. You must read the Koran to see that what I say is true. This is in the Koran. That’s why we do it.”

This is the logic of hate and religious oppression. Apologists say the bible or koran is used to fulfill the evilness of people who would otherwise still be evil. If someone were to say “kill the president” and someone killed the president that recommending person would also be responsible. If a book says “kill the president” and someone did it after reading the book, the book is partly responsible. The Koran must be held accountable for much of this great evil. Not in counter Jihad but in counter justice to invoke human rights as the highest good, able to be read in a ruling, civil book.

Mali has been struggling with human rights issues since last march when a group of soldiers captured the government due to their disapproval of how the president handled the Taureg rebellion. Tauregs are camel-based, pastoral nomads descended from the Berbers. Desperate to eke a living from the Saharan desert they move about crossing geographic and geologic boundaries to exist. These are the people of which the movies were made showing massive camel-caravans across the vast desert and sleeping in billowing, animal-skinned tents at rest stops. They practiced this lifestyle for 2,000 years and were the only people of Mali, Sudan then,  to effectively prevent French control when Algiers and the rest of West Africa fell. Timbuktu is in Mali. For westerners it was the end of the world. The farthest train stop so to speak. All the way from Timbuktu was a media meme in the states.

When independence returned to West Africa in the sixties, Taureg land was divided. Rising population, increased desertification, and modernization away from pastoralism to agriculture all have further oppressed the Taureg such that they rebel for independence. Slavery and a caste system existed long before westerners arrived and the French tried to make it illegal. However some 8% are still slaves and the many more effectively so as servants which constitute some 50%. Remember that in neighboring Niger it wasn’t until 2003 that slavery was made illegal.

In religious practice Tauregs were animistic and then some succumbed to Christianity and most to Islam. A strange kind of animistic Islam with totems and amulets. Their religion is thus both antithetical to Christianity and Islam proper. Mali is considered to be 90% Islam having been conquered by Islam in the 12th century and again by the Islamic Songhai in the 16th century. The fall of Songhai rule along with the loss of trade due to increased shipping marked began the decline of Mali punctuated by a famine and drought so massive people sold themselves into slavery to gain sustenance.

It has been traditionally matrilineal, a common practice in peoples whose men are gone for long periods of time. Here in contrast to other Muslims, men wear the veil, usually of Indigo color, to ward off evil spirits. Easy to anthro-interpret this as protection from sand but it very well could be purely cultural as only mature men are allowed to wear it as a rite of passage. Food consists mostly of millet bread, milk-based products, and dates. The famous gunpowder tea is a common beverage traditionally served by pouring back and forth from pot to cup three times. Gunpowder tea is an oolong tea that is rolled into pellets, looking like gunpowder grains, allowing for greater flavor after travel and physical abuse. The best gunpowder tea is tightly round and shiny.

The last of five Taureg rebellions since 1916, the northern territory of Azawad was hoped to be independent. Conflict arose whether these were Taureg, post Libya fighters, or Islamic Jihadists. The NMLA (National Mali Liberation Army) is somewhat comical in its defense, at one point claiming to have 30 functional tanks with 10 more being repaired. Factionalism and poor supplies allowed Islam usurpation of what little power and hope they had. The Mali government is currently ruled by the President of the general assembly and there have been no elections. Mali is a poor, diverse, religiously divided country. It is sometimes difficult to know who the enemy is.  Algeria is the best hope for support but they have not recovered from their own civil war in the 90′s.

Mali has little resource and future. It serves as a playground for thug Jihadists who would usurp civil unrest for religious conquest. Let it serve as a lesson for us how religion and sacred texts are used for oppression as tools of oppression because they can be  easily read or interpreted as commanding oppression. Let us be careful what we write lest it be followed!

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

Cultural Appropriation and Daniel Baldwin Makes Me Depressed

Posted in Books, Famous People, Uncategorized, woo on December 30th, 2012 by Kenna – Comments Off

Daniel Baldwin as Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

I sat down to write about Christmas With a Capital C, the anti-atheist Christmas movie from a bazillion years ago, but I didn’t get through 10 minutes of the movie before I turned it off. It wasn’t because of the politics. It wasn’t because of the bad acting or script (but surprisingly high production values). It was because of poor Daniel Baldwin. He spends the entire movie DESPERATELY trying to be his brother, Alec Baldwin. Specifically, Alec Baldwin’s character Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock. But without the jokes. Or the charm. Or the chin.

It would be like watching one of Steven Colbert’s siblings do an impression of the Colbert Report for Christian Broadcasting Network. After the initial laugh, you realize this guy is only getting work because he looks like his brother’s famous character. His whole life is completely overshadowed by his brothers work. It’s just depressing. I can’t watch.

Instead, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the Mayan Apocalypse, Native American Shamanism and cultural appropriation. There’s a really great short film called “White Shamans, Plastic Medicine Men” done by a Native American tribe in the 1990′s. It’s not strictly debunkery, but the documentary goes into why white “shamans” are full of crap. I’ll give you a minute to watch a bit.

White Shamans Plastic Medicine Men

Traditional Mongolia and Padme. They copied it down to the dots on the face.

A LOT of “woo” borrow symbols and ceremonies from other cultures. From “Asian” medicine to “African” voodoo. They think it lends legitimacy to their woo. (Sort of like how having the discount Baldwin might lend legitimacy to your movie) Often, the woo practitioners will turn around and pretend that their Frankenstein woo is exactly the same as the symbols and ceremonies from the other culture. (Sort of like how the discount Baldwin is only worth something if he pretends to be the famous, sexy Baldwin) This is called “cultural appropriation.” That’s when you cherry-pick the things you like from another culture, suck them dry of their original meaning, and take the remaining husks for your own use. Is it bad? Not always. After all, cultural appropriation from Mongolia is where we got Princess Amadala’s costumes in Star Wars Episode 1. And it won awards.

Maybe that’s a bad example.

Anyway, it puts me in mind of the Mayan Apocalypse hype. Everyone and their mother was posting something or other mocking those silly ancient Mayans. Because IF THE MAYANS WERE SO PSYCHIC THEN WHY DIDN’T THEY PREDICT THE SPANISH INQUISITON (har-har). But Mayans are still alive and kicking. Those Mayans are kinda pissed that the rest of the world is mocking them over doomsday fanaticism that has nothing to do with the real Mayan calendar was basically created by Coast to Coast AM and this jerk. Take a gander at his amazon page. Notice anything… shaman-y?

Did you know that the Guatemalan government used the day to promote tourism and hired a bunch of non-Mayan models to perform sham rituals at the Mayan temple? Cultural appropriation is for everyone!

Anyway, my point here is that sometimes we’re barking up the wrong tree. The Mayan Apocalypse wasn’t Mayan at all. It was 100% New Age babbling. If we’d picked apart Coast to Coast AM for promoting vaguely racist theories about the end of the world (the theories basically boil down to: I took a lot of drugs and realized dark-skinned people were too primitive to have built the pyramids – it must have been aliens/quantum consciousness! And the drugs said they’re trying to warn us!), we’d had saved a HUGE amount of trouble.

But hindsight is 20/20. Give the documentary a watch. It’s good stuff.

Notes On a Secular Christmas

Posted in atheists, religion on December 29th, 2012 by Jim Newman – Comments Off

My somnambulistic writing response to the holidays has meant several things. Being busy with family and visitors along with storms and cooking means writing is lost to meaning. Usually, writing is meaning but in this case it had to wait. My apologies. These are my notes on secular Christmas.

Now that the unabashed greed orgy is over and life transitions to a post JC celebration I am left with a mild spiritual hangover and renewed desire to express.

I have been thinking deeply about Dave Silverman’s remark that Christmas gets better as it becomes more about family and real giving to people, and not some mystical gift of one man of his self, son, or something on which no one agrees. With the huge tyrannical hurdle that it is an exchange anyway and not charity–you must follow Christ to get the gift. Imagine a doctor saying, here I will give you life but you have to become a Republican forever.

Again, I would say many, many, many people would gladly give up their life for more peace in the world, and many do. It is ludicrous to praise just this one man who only had to give himself up. It is an insult to the many that sacrifice themselves without recognition. It’s like the bully wins praise while the real heroes go on quietly.

My only period of existential dread was after locating, chopping, and setting up the tree when I couldn’t bear to decorate it. I loved being with the kids outside and getting the tree. But upon being asked to put the lights up I was filled with anger, annoyance, and sorrow that this entire tradition now and still means Christ-mass. I awashed my feelings in a glass of stiff bourbon but could not sway the fact that Christmas really is about Christians celebrating their holiday. A holiday codified and stolen by a tyrannical Constantine some 1660 years ago, to control renegade religious sects, consolidate power, and bring it under state auspices. I wished my only known local Jewish friend Happy Hanukkah merely to balance out a Facebook emptiness of religious diversity.

Nevertheless, as I stared at the lights in my hand I was filled with the revelation that it is not my holiday, not my savior, and not even my religion. I remembered my friend in Florida who loved the lights as they represented the lights of religious revelation to her. Here I am lighting a candle in the dark, so to speak, and thinking of it as the enlightenment of man away from religion towards liberating knowledge, away from superstition. Such confusion that even light is ambiguated to heaven or freedom from it. I just felt nasty and wanted no part of furthering the myth. I suddenly felt sympathy to the devout Christians that deny the gifts and glittery materialism of Christmas for its deeper meaning. Why  not let them have their big holiday? Aside from the fairness issues of past Christian usurpation why not let them have their damned day and we have another one free of confused and syncretized meaning? By promoting the glitz was I even helping make the holiday more universal or just promulgating its support as a meme, hiding its rigid and abusive DNA.

I asked my daughter in the car if she were told that she would go on vacation for  several months and then on the day of departure told, no, just a lie to make you happy, would it be worth it? She stumbled with a no, but recovered and said well if it made her happy for awhile… A few more scenario’s and soon she made it clear that if something makes you happy then it is OK that it is not true or a lie. One can recover from the lie and the happiness is worth it. Is she a moderate where they wish everyone to have the freedom to do what makes them happy, the ambiguity of sorting out whether people can evaluate these actions in others, and the lack of desire to say one is wrong except in the choices of music, food, and movies? Trivially judgmental and socially libertarian? Though she can argue against ruining the earth as expressed by not shutting off the dish water soon enough? Why happiness? Why delayed happiness? Why immediate happiness? What of unhappiness leading to happiness? What are the consequences of lying when they bear against the immediate need for happiness? Sometimes I think I deconstruct superficially-expressed happiness simply because I don’t feel so negative as to need to fake it? Is it just another damned personality issue? When do I shout, there’s a god damned train coming, stop smelling the roses?

We slaughtered a hog for the holidays. Since it was a pasture-raised, Tamworth cross, a heritage pig, it had exquisite taste. Even the fat which I normally refuse to eat tasted good. Truly the first breed I have raised where it all is delicious–I nibbled the smoked hock to the bone in an atavistic, neanderthal delight. I realized then why farmers of the past liked lard–not just the anthro-attributed energy requirements. The hog you eat today from the box store is nothing like the hogs raised 50 or 100 years ago. While I praise electronics and mechanical change our food has gotten worse. It’s true there is more of it, more diversity, and better preservation but we have reduced its quality to make it more accessible. Just like popular music, movies, and books. Well maybe not entirely. But it’s easy to see how our bodies linger and hanker for old sensibilities. The other side is this kind of hog will cost $4-6 a pound at a Natural Foods store and the bacon will be taste tested in the finest of DC restaurants as haute cuisine.

Cooking became prime during the holidays. Tremendous amounts of time goes into cooking, lazing about, and then cooking some more. It reminds me of the reduction of disagreeable human interaction to the happy slurping of people eating. Getting together over food. It saddened me though that the big meal on the day shared with a person I rarely see which was full of merriment still bore sorrow that because of the storm they could not attend Christmas service. Were we not gay enough, did we not eat well, speak well, and share sufficient good will? Could they not be necessarily happy unless imprisoned in the womb of like-minded people enjoying exactly the same ideological world?

I was more of a homebody this year. It’s true I was relieved not to have to spend time with relatives too alien and contrary to my world view with their defensive feelings or superior inclusion as it is their holiday after all. The entanglement of group dynamics in a place that is not home, like a vacation rental or mother-in-law house, reduced quite a bit of stress as well. Thank goodness, as well, I didn’t have to see other relatives at holiday parties who are just antithetical to me and truly wish me ill will as well or just see me as too foreign. But that stress too is a tradition of in-law visitation regardless of the holiday. Instead, this year, I felt warm in the love of others and not courtly in the need to fake enthusiasm or familial love. Or the ever important family politics to maintain favor. Or to just spend enough time together that we might realize we actually have something in common. It’s a dual-edged sword. I generally feel so beleaguered by the holidays that avoiding diplomacy and not rooting out commonality was a relief.

The Christmas greed orgy is always fun. It’s hard to be antimaterialistic and talk about Christmas philosophy (whatever that could be) when it’s just so damned fun to give gifts. I enjoy the shopping, making, and plotting. We are never ready on time. We always have way too many gifts (I was forgotten once but that’s another story). Opening them is one long drawn out process that can take a meal and most of the day. How shallow it would be to be moralistic and say I will give you the greatest gift in the world, the advice “to know thyself.” Rather than deny the material value of the world give some to some one and best yet make it someone you know with something you actually spent time on, even if working out whether it’s the right gift. When in doubt, give time. Or food.

It snowed on Christmas. The first time in decades. Many wanted to say it was a miracle but refrained in deference to risking my askew eyebrow reaction. It was grand but I don’t get why even the temptation to say it’s a miracle. Is it more interesting than talking about why the weather might be this way? So much easier to just be gleeful, call it a miracle, and please, pass the potatoes. It seems when I slum around Christians that are free to express, their language is so full of  fielty as to seem like the train saying “I think I can” ad nauseum except that it’s praise god and god’s will. While being accused of science being a religion I just don’t experience scientists employing fidelity rhetoric in their talk. Nor do we have to talk ourselves into the praise of science or a running verification of its ability to generate good things. One doesn’t have to pray to science for permission, blessings, or gratitude. For that I am supremely grateful.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.fronteirsofreason.com

You Don’t Need god to Grieve!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28th, 2012 by Phil Ferguson – 1 Comment

You Don't Need godWhat a delight!  CNN has provided space for a well known atheist to discuss current events and grief.  As our numbers continue to grow we will get more attention in the media.  This story was written by Lawrence Krauss.

It is impossible not to grieve with the families in Newtown, Connecticut, who have experienced such tremendous loss, just as it is impossible to not hope for anything that can provide some comfort.

All of us who have had children in primary school at one time or another stopped in our tracks when we heard the news, just as President Barack Obama did, as we tried to imagine how we would have coped had something so horrendous happened in our own child’s school.

You don’t need god, you don’t need to believe in a sky daddy to feel for these families.  I have two children in high school and would be in shock if something like this happened in their school.  It is hard to even imaging the emotions involved with the families that have lost innocent children.

But why must the nation grieve with God? After Newtown, a memorial service was held in which 10 clergy and Obama offered Hebrew, Christian and Muslim prayers, with the president stating: ” ‘Let the little children come to me,’ Jesus said, ‘and do not hinder them. For such belongs to the kingdom of Heaven.’ God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on.”

Religion does not provide strength.  It provides the weak a place to hide.  A false hope that it will be OK or that those that have died are in a better place.  It is a sick little torture that retards the natural grieving process.  Those 20 children and 6 adults are gone!  Forever!

We are told the Lord works in mysterious ways but, for many people, to suggest there might be an intelligent deity who could rationally act in such a fashion and that that deity is worth praying to and thanking for “calling them home” seems beyond the pale.

It is!  The belief in this system of lies leads to crazy reactions.

Mike Huckabee suggested that because we are keeping God out of schools, the Deity chose not to stop the slaughter of these young innocents.

If true, this would make god and evil jerk.  If I had the power to stop 26 deaths, I would.  You would not have to ask, you would not have to thank me.  It would simply be the right thing to do.

Why can’t we as a nation focus on consoling the families in their grief by focusing on the most important realities, the lives of the children they have lost, celebrating their memory and sharing our common love of family, of children, and of our common humanity and perhaps most importantly arguing that this tragedy may one day not be completely in vain: That a shocked nation might rationally decide that assault weapons are meant to kill many people in a short time, not to hunt for deer or defend one’s home.

Let us accept the reality of what has happened and look for solutions.