Category Archives: society

Atheists/agnostics know more about Christianity than Christians do

The revelation that atheists and agnostics are the groups most knowledgeable about major world religions has, unsurprisingly, gone viral among atheist blogs and sites.  One interesting tidbit that seems to have been lost, however, is that they’re even more knowledgeable about the Bible and Christianity than Christians, as an aggregate, are.  If you don’t consider Mormoms as Christians, as many Christians don’t, then the knowledge gap is even larger, since Mormons top everyone, and thus skew the results in Christians’ favor.

Atheists are generally not surprised by the news, as we’ve been saying for a long time that the Bible, taken as a whole, is a powerful tool against Christianity.  To maintain faith, it has to be sanitized, processed, and effectively censored for the believing masses.  How many Christians are aware, for example, that the Bible says their god tortured and eventually killed an innocent newborn for the sins of its father?  And this is simply one barbarism among dozens of others.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, summed it up nicely:  “I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people.  Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge.”

No Rational Basis

That’s the sum of Judge Walker’s argument in his decision overturning California’s gay marriage ban (which also seem to nicely characterize the religious beliefs of the ban’s proponents, but I digress…).  To get a good sense why Walker came to that conclusion, here is an excerpt from his decision:

Proponents argued that Proposition 8 should be evaluated solely by considering its language and its consistency with the “central purpose of marriage, in California and everywhere else,…to promote naturally procreative sexual relationships and to channel them into stable, enduring unions for the sake of producing and raising the next generation.”…

At oral argument on proponents’ motion for summary judgment, the court posed to proponents’ counsel the assumption that “the state’s interest in marriage is procreative” and inquired how permitting same-sex marriage impairs or adversely affects that interest. Counsel replied that the inquiry was “not the legally relevant question,” but when pressed for an answer, counsel replied: “Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know.”…

Despite this response, proponents in their trial brief promised to “demonstrate that redefining marriage to encompass same-sex relationships” would effect some twenty-three specific harmful consequences. At trial, however, proponents presented only one witness, David Blankenhorn, to address the government interest in marriage. Blankenhorn’s testimony…provided no credible evidence to support any of the claimed adverse effects proponents promised to demonstrate. During closing arguments, proponents again focused on the contention that “responsible procreation is really at the heart of society’s interest in regulating marriage.” When asked to identify the evidence at trial that supported this contention, proponents’ counsel replied, “you don’t have to have evidence of this point.” (h/t Reason Magazine)

Just the clueless blathering of a liberal San Francisco judge?  Oh, wait

[R]ecommended by Ed Meese, [Walker was] appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups.

Ouch.  When your ideological bedfellows essentially say you’re full of hot air, that’s gotta hurt.

But…but…won’t someone think of the will of the majority?

This objection, especially when coming from people who should know better, floors me.  I can only think their intention is demagoguery.  The answer to them can be made in three words:  Bill of Rights*.  If the will of the majority is sacrosanct, then the Bill of Rights is superfluous.  Its whole raison d’être is to protect individual rights, particularly those of minorities.  If rights are subject to the whim of transient majorities, then why call them rights rather than privileges?  Coming shortly upon the heals of major decisions regarding the second amendment and gun ownership, supported by many of the same groups now wailing about the reversal of the gay marriage ban, one would think the objection would not even be raised.  The gumption that produces this sort of selective amnesia is breathtaking to behold.

Yet, as noted on NPR this morning, Judge Walker was careful not to couch his decision primarily in terms of law, but of evidence and “findings of fact.”  This makes it less likely that an appeals court will overturn the decision.  As is obvious from the completely vacuous arguments of the defendants, it was easy for Judge Walker to go that route.  It’s almost as if the defendants’ case was entirely…faith-based.

Eventually, those who argue against same-sex marriage will lose, just as they lost against interracial marriage equality decades ago.  As then, there simply aren’t any good reasons to deny any loving adult couple from enjoying the same right most everyone else does – a fact Judge Walker made stellarly clear.  But religiously-motivated action is very rarely ever founded on reason or evidence, is it?  This is what makes it so harmful, and why many seek to contain its pernicious effects to believers themselves.

*Yes, I realize Judge Walker referred to the equal protection clause, which is part of the Fourteenth Amendment, and not any part of the Bill of Rights, which is the collective name for the first Ten Amendments, but the basic principle is the same: the enumeration of rights to protect against, in de Tocqueville’s memorable phrase, the “tyranny of the majority.”

Communism’s Christian roots

I’ve lately been reading Robert Service’s excellent Comrades!: Communism – A World History, a book which aims to deliver a “general account of communism around the world.”  Like many works so grand in scope, Comrades starts at the beginning: the origins of communism.  Service does a superb job describing these origins, enumerating the many influences on the ideology throughout history.  Two facts stand out: 1) as a vision of the ideal society, types of communism existed long before Marx and Engels in the 19th century; 2) a significant number of those influences were Christian thinkers, taking from Christian doctrines.  This latter fact is something I wish to explore further here.

Before I get into that, it might be useful to define what we mean by “communism”.  Service correctly notes how stubbornly it has defied definition.  “One communist’s communism is another communist’s anti-communism,” he writes.  Still, there are at least two core elements virtually all communisms (with a small “c”) have built upon: 

  • Common, as opposed to private, ownership of property and the means of production
  • “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

What those who identify themselves as communist or socialist have never agreed on is the means to achieve this vision.  Marx and Engels, members of a long line of communist theorists, by no means settled the debate, but they were the first to thoroughly elaborate an allegedly scientific analysis of why capitalism would inevitably collapse and lead ultimately to communism.  They drew inspiration from wide-ranging array of philosophers, economists, historians, and scientists, both classic and contemporary.   

While today’s Christians tirelessly strive to promote atheism as the genesis of communism, a claim I’ve refuted many times on this blog (see right sidebar), they’ve never explained why no atheist thinker mentions anything like it until the 19th century.  In contrast, communist principles are found at the very birth of Christianity:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:44-45, NIV)

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37, NIV).

 These passages excited the imaginations of later Christians, inspiring real and theoretical applications.  One of the most influential was Catholic Saint Thomas More’s Utopia.  Published in the early 16th century, it described a society free of private ownership and unemployment, where communal living is the norm, and worship of all forms is tolerated, except forms of non-worship like atheism. Other similar works by fellow Christian thinkers followed, including The City of the Sun and Description of the Republic of Christianopolis.  Christian sects such as the Anabaptists, the True Levellers, the Plymouth colonists, and the Mormons made attempts to put communist principles into practice.  They weren’t successful, to put it mildly.

The industrial revolution begun in the 18th century resulted in some severe side-effects, such as social dislocations and abysmal working conditions, which in turn provided fertile ground for the rapid growth of leveling ideologies like communism. Christians were among the vanguard in the “social justice” movements that emerged in the 19th century, both as leaders and ideologists.  A roundly influential tract was written by Joseph Proudhon titled What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government, the famous conclusion of which was “property is theft.”  Proudhon cited the Bible as the primary influence on his beliefs.

Another popular figure in the early 19th century proto-communist movement was Wilhelm Weitling, who wrote Gospel of Poor Sinners, a book which traced communism back to early Christianity.  Weitling produced another work, Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom, which was praised my Marx. It was influential among the founders of the League of the Just, whose goal was “the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, based on the ideals of love of one’s neighbour, equality and justice”.  The League of the Just would later become the Communist League.  Marx and Engels were members, and they were commissioned to draw up a manifesto for the organization.  They did just that, and so came into existence The Communist Manifesto.

Although Christians were prominent in founding and promoting communism, it would be a mistake to view communism as primarily a Christian ideology until Marxism.  Indeed, many Christians going back centuries defended private property, and they opposed communism in both word and deed (but sometimes not for the most noble of reasons…), particularly Marx’s religiously-unfriendly brand of communism.  Yet it would also be a mistake to deny communism’s indebtedness to Christian scriptures and thinkers, a rich legacy from which a sizable number Christians draw even up to the present time.  Liberation theology is the most notable species of Christian communism that remains alive and well, albeit in an evolved form.

Needless to say, most Christians have not taken it kindly when confronted with communism’s kinship to their religion.  They primarily object that the social order described in works like Acts was a voluntary arrangement, not one to be imposed by force as attempted by the Marxist-Leninist brand of communists, or that it was applicable only to that time period.  The objections are peculiar in that Christians have never denied themselves the right to be guided by scripture in questions about how the social order should be arranged; abortion and gay marriage being two notable, contemporary examples.  Moreover, if indeed it’s the case that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), then it would imply the Christian god has sanctioned the communist ethos described in Acts as his desired state for everyone, or at least for his followers.  Even if Christians blanche at imposing it on unwilling participants, either democratically or dictatorially, that doesn’t prevent them from imposing it on themselves.  That all Christian attempts at doing so have failed cannot indicate a problem in the principles themselves, since they were “God-breathed” and thus infallible.  Christians, why are you running from your communist heritage, rather than embracing it?

Is theism compatible with the rule of law?

Skeptics are well-aware of the deleterious impact religion can sometimes have on the lives and well-being of humans, particularly on the vulnerable and innocent.  And sadly, justice for faith-based crimes has been the exception rather than the rule, which only compounds the problem.  An article in yesterday’s Washington Post that will surely boil your blood reminds us anew that we still have a long way to go to turn that around.  More broadly, it demonstrates why religion can have no place in law and governance.

The article follows-up on the court cases of Christian parents whose children died as a result of the withholding of medical treatment in favor of administering magical incantations (aka, “prayer”), specifically, what punishment these parents received for their gross neglect.  Its author, Professor Jonathan Turley, found that judges were exceptionally lenient in these cases.  A “faith defense” was factored in to sentencing decisions, resulting in jail times less than those received for misdemeanors.  Even more galling, the murderous parents were allowed to retain custody of the remaining children.  Professor Turley contrasted the treatment these parents received against sentences levied on parents in which belief played no part and found the latter were far more harsh.

It is of course outrageous that innocent children should die due to the criminal negligence of their parents.  Even more outrageous is that countless others will die until the justice system stops sentencing these parents with a relative slap on the wrist and punishes them commiserate with what their act truly is: murder.

Unfortunately, this may prove far more difficult than many appreciate.  For in a worldview steeped in god-belief, what rational grounds exist to reject the practices of these Christian parents?  Most religions, including the various Christianities, tell us the will and plan of their god is inscrutable, mysterious, unknowable.  Moreover, their holy books and deities promise supernatural healing miracles by uttering a few fervent words.  Consequently, how can a theist gainsay the defense put forward by these parents?

“I do not regret trusting truly in the Lord for my daughter’s health.”

“I am guilty of trusting my Lord’s wisdom completely. . . . Guilty of asking for heavenly intervention. Guilty of following Jesus Christ when the whole world does not understand. Guilty of obeying my God.”

One of the judges, a theist, “reminded” one of the parents during sentencing, “God probably works through other people, some of them doctors.”  But how could this judge possibly know what the Christian god “probably” does?  The more reasonable assumption, based on a biblical worldview, is that Yahweh probably wanted the children dead, otherwise it would have supernaturally cured the children of their illnesses as a result of their parents’ supplications.  And if that’s what probably Yahweh wanted, who is any human to judge or condemn the parents?  Could that be what’s really underlying the travesty of these laughable sentences?

And ask yourself this.  What’s to prevent neglectful parents from utilizing the theist defense any time a child is injured or dies?  “But Your Honor, I had prepared the proper offering to Hestia to care and feed my 2 year old while I was gone on vacation.  If I’m guilty of his death, I’m guilty of asking for heavenly intervention.  Guilty of following the gods atop Mt. Olympus when the whole world does not understand.  Guilty of obeying Zeus.”  Where does it end?

Religious belief is an acid on the rule of law.  If judges and legislators cannot separate such belief from their official duties, they’re simply unqualified.

P.S. I realize it’s been a few months since my last blog entry. I’ve been reading (slowly imbibing is probably more accurate) David Eller’s powerful book, Atheism Advanced.  More than any other recent book, this one has strikingly changed my perspective and understanding of religion.  I believe it’s a must-read for every atheist.  More to come on this wonderful book.

The unquenchable end-times thirst

There’s no better guarantee of a good laugh than the steady stream of batshit crazy quotes from such Christian sites as Rapture Ready and Rapture Forums, which are a mainstay at Fundies Say the Darndest Things.  Here’s one choice example, preserved in all its ungrammatical glory:

When I got saved in 1973 I went to a lot of prophecy meetings listening to Jack van Impe and really thot the rapture was near then,A lot of it was emotions,but now w/what,s going on in the world,IT IS FACT!!!! (24thchance)

I remember as a teenager my fundamentalist Christian step-mother handing me a copy of Hal Lindsey’s extremely popular The Late, Great Planet Earth, one of but a series of books going back centuries predicting the end-times, and her telling me that Mikhail Gorbachev was the anti-Christ. I was pretty convinced by the book’s arguments, and watched developments in the Soviet Union with “rapt” attention.  Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as thought for poor Gorby, nor for “Magog” (as the Soviet Union was known in end-times parlance), as both faded into the dustbin of history.  The same couldn’t be said for Lindsey, who went on to write more end-times novels and make further boat-loads of money, despite a perfect track record of failed prediction.  But even Lindsey’s success can’t compare with the latest and greatest incarnation of end-times hopes, the Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which spawned a host of movies, and even video games.

Today, I’m still fascinated by the end-times.  No, not when they’ll occur, but by the seemingly unquenchable thirst for them among a persistent minority of religious believers.  Every failed end-times prediction seems only to serve as fodder for the next.  There’s no better example of the triumph of hope over experience than end-times belief.  Why?

 To understand the history and theology behind Christian eschatology (the fancy name for end-times belief), I picked up Bible scholar Robert Price’s recent work The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind.  Price, too, is interested why end-times belief is the cat of infinite lives, and he arrives at a satisfying – at least for me – answer:

So, as Russell says, we do in fact see a consistent, long-enduring pattern throughout Old and New Testament concerning prophecy, only it is not what he thinks it is.  Instead of Jesus following in the footsteps of the prophets with their use of spectacular symbolism to describe historical developments, what we have is the New Testament writers continuing to do as their Old Testament predecessors did: banking on soon-coming events as heralding the end of the universe in fire and meteor storms.  They were wrong and they kept being wrong.  And that is why today’s fundamentalists, following the same trajectory, keep striking out, too.  Perhaps if they allowed themselves to understand that the biblical writers had so grossly and repeatedly erred, they would learn their lesson.  But that they will not do, for fear of forfeiting scriptural authority.  And this traumatic truth about the Bible they repress, but it is a burden their consciences bear with difficulty, so it manifests itself in neurotic, repeating symptoms, notably the incorrigible desire to calculate the end of a world they are not mature enough to deal with apart from magical fantasies.

I’ll be the first to say, Price is venturing into a field here for which he possesses no particular training; he’s not a psychologist, so take his opinion with a grain of salt.  But his explanation, which he elsewhere attributes to cognitive dissonance, has the ring of truth.  Have you ever noticed that believers most fanatical in their idolotry of  a religious work or of some “prophet” seem the most susceptible to neverending end-times mania?  I also think Price is on to something when he  connects end-times thirst to a lack of personal maturity, though what causes the other is unclear.   Could this immaturity drive another tendency common among end-times enthusiasts: antipathy, even hatred, of the world?  When we’ve made a serious mess of things and just can’t seem to summon the will to correct them, one inclination, most often witnessed among children, is to smash the whole project and start afresh.  I suspect something’s similar at work with these last-days believers.  It also conveniently relieves them of taking any responsibility for partaking in common human endeavors to alleviate the world’s troubles.  The earth sucks and it’s going to be blown away soon by a divine nuke, so why bother?

As I wrote before, this is one of the most worrisome aspects of end-times belief, though such apathy does not compare to the dangerous lunacy to actually effect eschatological doctrines through open conflict.  While such a vile strain is mostly isolated, it’s come too close to having one of it’s own in real power for me to breathe easily any time soon.  History, sadly, is littered with the victims of apocalyptic preaching.  Could it just be a matter of time before the rest of us are victims too?

Edit: Reflecting more on believers’ loathing for the world, I think a better, simpler explanation for it derives from the belief that God will one day blast it to smithereens.  What a terrible place this must be for him to do that!

Why Scientology makes you insane: reason 80,238

photo_lrhI’ve been working on an article about end-times believers, but this is too juicy (pardon the pun) to pass up.  From an article in the The Daily Telegraph comes this gem of a photo featuring Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, trying to find out whether tomatoes experience pain:

The article discusses declassified information on Scientology gathered by Britain’s intelligence services during the 1970s, primarily revealing how Hubbard and some of his Scientology associates “earned” their PhDs.

Unfortunately, there’s no word whether the tomatoes reached OT VIII as a result of Hubbard’s therapy.

How do you spell God-fearing? B-O-O-B-S!

Don’t believe me?  Check out this ad taken from a Christian blog for a Christian dating service.  Yeah, I’m guessing “chaste” is not one of the hopes held for this girl by Christian guys wanting to date her…Christian dating ad

Cheap point aside, there’s actually a more fundamental point I’d like to make here.  After all, dear visitor, you don’t come here merely to be entertained, but to be informed, right?

It’s well-known that for many Christians, evolution is a dirty word, with around half rejecting the theory in favor of creationism.  Ever notice, however, that they in fact act in accordance with its principals, as our ad explicitly suggests?  Traits like good looks, wealth, youth, or an ideal body are absent from lists of what makes a Godly mate, yet what do we see?  Christians desiring and selecting mates with precisely those traits, for reasons explained only by evolution.  But, Christians retort, the Bible doesn’t rule those qualities out either.  True, yet according to the theology, they should play no role; it’s the inner qualities that matter – God-fearing, virtuous, trustworthy and trusting, faithful, humble, etc. – not the outwardly or “worldly” ones.  Thus, we should see the attractive paired with the ugly, rich with poor, fit with fat, young with old, able with infirm – all in combinations wholly at odds with evolutionary psychology – because external appearances do not necessarily reflect the most esteemed personality traits.  If creationism, not evolution, is true, such qualities should hardly be a factor in choosing a mate.  Yet, they are.  Christian creationists are virtually indistinguishable from outsiders in the qualities they actually choose in a spouse.Sarah and Todd Palin

As far as I’m aware, no Christian creationist website has an explanation for why this is.  Perhaps they’d say it’s all covered under “the Fall,” which has made everyone, including themselves, incline to behave according to evolutionary instincts—which instincts of course originated with Satan, along with the rest of evilu…er, evolution. My guess is that creationists don’t want to tangle with the conundrum of why God would make certain people more desirably endowed physically when he says all the important traits are the invisible ones.  The cognitive dissonance for Muslim creationists must be especially acute.  Here Allah creates the female physical form and then orders his followers to cover it all up.Olsteens

Christian creationists, as in so much else, let’s see you practice what you preach!

Religulous

I finally watched Bill Maher’s film Religulous the other night, which came out in early October of last year.  What took me so long?  I was uncomfortable with Maher’s admitted deception in obtaining the interviews for his film, which was akin to Ben Stein’s practice in producing Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  But while Stein presented his film as a sober documentary investigation, Maher’s work took itself far less seriously, a sort of mockumentary, along the lines of Sasha Cohen’s Borat, though underlying Religulous is a fundamental point about religion.  Nonetheless, the film should be imbibed with a grain of salt.  I got the sense that clever film editing created the many “stupefied reactions” so common among the film’s pious believers.

Maher’s aim is to expose the ridiculous beliefs underlying today’s religions (thus the film title).  He doesn’t focus on any single religion, a tactic that won’t necessarily broaden the film’s appeal, but it does strengthen his case tenfold.  Sure, everyone knows that the notion of a man flying up to heaven on a winged stallion is laughable on its face, but a man born of the union between a virgin woman and a deity really happened? Ok, right… You gotta hand it to Maher for studiously maintaining an easy joviality with his interviewees, upon whom it probably eventually dawns that Maher is not exactly friendly to their cause.  I myself would stand flabbergasted at some of the stuff coming out these theists’ mouths, but Maher rolls with it in a completely disarming way, by supposing, it seemed, at least a little incredulity within his companion.

Two observations about the faithful from the film are readily apparent.  The first is the shallowness of their beliefs.  Many know the basic theological tenets, but it’s obvious they haven’t reasoned them out very well, a fact Maher exploits to their detriment (and the audience’s amusement).  The second is how far believers go in rationalizing obvious contradictions between their faith and reality.  The Muslims, for example, all unfailingly ascribe Islamic violence to “politics,” somewhat akin to how many Christians blame Christian hatred and violence on “deviations” from Jesus’s teachings (as if Christ never said “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live,” for example).

While for most of the film I bounced between laughing and crying, there were a couple moments that offered hope.  One involved a retired Catholic priest who cheerfully dismissed fundamental Christian doctrines, such as the existence of hell.  This reminded me of one of my biggest complaints about theists, the fact that few of them entertain virtually no doubt about their beliefs.  This is the scourge of dogma, which is certainly not peculiar to religion, but which undoubtedly provided its main historical impetus.

 At both the film’s start and end, Maher describes his animating concern, one shared by Sam Harris in The End of Faith.  That is, in an age when humanity’s capabilities for destroying the planet grow practically by the day, faith-based, dogmatic belief is rapidly becoming a dangerous liability.  Fatalism underlies too much of today’s religion, sapping our collective need to act, and increasing our proclivity for conflict.  Watch Religulous for good entertainment, but keep in mind that the subject is ultimately no laughing matter.

Update: Valerie Tarico at Debunking Christianity just posted an illuminating article on knowing and certainty that segueways nicely with my objection to dogmatic religious belief.  The money quote: “As scientists learn more about how our brains work, certitude is coming to be seen as a vice rather than a virtue. Certainty is a confession of ignorance about our ability to be passionately mistaken.”

Oh, those glorious days of religion in the classroom

Many of today’s Christians lament how religion (by which they mean their religion) has been stripped from the public school curriculum.  They yearn for the days when the Bible was as much a part of learning as the three Rs.  But thanks to godless liberals, that’s no longer the case.  The results are as sad as they are predictable.  Just one example: biblically conservative teens are one of the most sexually promiscuous groups among their believing peers.  Who knew children of Christian evangelicals were so dependent on the public school teachers to imbue them with the proper morals?  But I digress…

We all know there were sound legal and constitutional arguments for keeping religion in the home and church. But that’s all foolishness to God, say militant Christians.  Yet, there were very practical reasons too, which unfortunately have been either overlooked or quietly swept under the rug.  One of them relates to a tragic and deadly incident in Pennsylvania some 160 years ago known as the “Philadelphia Bible Riots”. 

I’ll leave it to you to read the full story, but here are the essentials:  In the 1840s, Philadelphia public schools were dominated by Protestants.  Bible-reading, KJV-style, took place every morning.  This didn’t sit well, to say the least, with the growing number of Irish Catholic immigrants, who took theological direction from Rome and from a different bible.  Mix the traditional Christian brotherly love between the two sects, add a dash of demagoguery, bake in the fires of burning homes and buildings, and what do you get?  Ten persons dead, twenty wounded, and $5.8 million in property damage (in current dollars).

Rob Boston, author of the article linked above, arrives at some very important lessons from the riots.  Here are a couple:

[R]eligion is taken so seriously that when people believe that their religious rights are being violated, they are capable of responding in ways that shock.

Isn’t that the truth!  What is it about religion that sometimes relieves one of all civilized behavior?

[D]espite the claims that state-sponsored religion in public schools would be a unifying factor, history shows that it is a divisive one that quickly causes people to take sides.

One of the beneficial consequences of the separation of church and state in this country is inter- and intra-faith peaceful co-existence, which has traditionally been the exception rather than the rule throughout the world.  It’s ironic that some of those who most strongly advocate for a religious presence in the schools would probably now be arguing against it had the principle not been enforced.  Even more ironic is that it’s secularists who may actually be responsible for preserving the skins of Christians who so frequently revile them.

Christians persecuted for baptizing children…

…is undoubtedly how some Christianists will spin it, but everyone else will be rightfully appalled by the practice of a church in Colorado Springs baptizing children without parental permission.  It gets freakier than that, believe it or not, for the same church tried to lure a seventh-grader into one of its vans.  Many Christians complain how practices and views which are contrary to traditional Christian teachings are being “forced down their throats,” which is in reality their way of objecting to the mere existence of such things, yet it appears that Christians are the ones truly doing the forcing.

h/t Austin’s Atheism Blog