Third Grader Caught Evangelizing on Playground

I’m going to simply ask some questions here on this story from OneNewsNow about a third grader, a little girl by the name of Felicia Clark, who was stopped from handing out Christian tracts during recess at an elementary school in Pennsylvania. The Rutherford Institute has come to her defense. There may be a possible lawsuit on constitutional grounds that Felicia’s right to “freedom of religious expression” was violated. How old is this girl?

The first reaction, maybe by even nonChristians, is to go, “Awww, leave the cute kid alone.” But stop and think. Did that little girl come up with this idea all on her own? Did she buy those Christian tracts all on her own? Do you think possibly someone instructed her to pass those tracts out?

Yes, I’m always the suspicious one. Possibly Felicia was in Sunday School and there was some sort of lesson on sharing the gospel with friends. Maybe from that lesson she got the idea all on her own (barring her Sunday School teacher) to take her valuable playtime and hand out tracts to other third graders. The only reason I think this could be true is how bad of a strategy it is to hand out tracts to other little kids: what third grader is seriously going to halt their playtime and sit down to read a religious tract? It’s hard enough to get them to pay attention in class.

If this was all Felicia’s idea, not her parents or a youth pastor or some sort of group-led evangelizing project at church, they may have a case. I don’t believe you leave your freedom of expression at the door when you enter a public school either. But to prove this with a third grader is going to be difficult. Third graders are highly impressionable (correct me if I’m wrong child psychology major out there) and mimic the adults around them, in particular the wishes of their parents.

It just seems like a calculated effort to make secular school authorities look like villains because they’re picking on a sweet, innocent little girl just wanting to bring the light of Jesus to the kids destined for hell around her. That’s my cynical side speaking. If it wasn’t, well, Felicia is in the thick of it as the adults are now going to play.

As I do not have kids of my own, I’m not sure how I would feel as an atheist if my kid brought home a religious tract from school. I’m not the sort of person to freak out and go calling the school board or the media voicing my parental protest on what may be more of a trivial issue. More likely I would sit down with my kid and explain the tract and why I think it’s a bunch of nonsense. However, my kid would have to make that determination for them self later on in life when they are able to reason through all of their options for belief or disbelief. I would be concerned if the tract was coming from a religious organization working through little kids and it was fairly obvious what was going on. Felicia can have her freedom of religious expression, but not if she’s a pawn.

I can see parents of different religions having a problem with it. They’re not sending their kids to a public school to be witnessed to on the playground. It’s not like the kid was wearing a T-shirt that says, “I love Jesus.” She was actively recruiting for Christ on school grounds. I kind of doubt she was all on her own.

Here’s my last question: how would everyone react if my little atheist kid handed out tracts to Felicia and her friends saying there was no evidence for God? You think the same parents and religious institutions would jump to protect his/her freedom of expression? I think they would view my kid as a little monster (images of the kid from The Omen come to mind).

Beyonce’s Father Leaves to Make Gospel Music

It’s a mutual decision so there’s no animosity, but Matthew Knowles, Beyonce’s father, will no longer represent his famous daughter. Per Christian Post, instead he will be dedicating his time to “gospel and inspirational music.” This is one instance where a Christian parent was proud of her celebrity daughter’s achievements and we’re referring of course to the latest stories on Mary Hudson’s book pitch on her daughter Katy Perry. I would say Beyonce and Katy Perry both have done their share of sexing up their own music. How come Beyonce’s dad is so casual about it? Maybe he’s just a realist. Beyonce has to make her own decisions on how she’s going to portray herself.

But it does still feel odd between Matthew Knowles interest in gospel music as a Christian and Beyonce’s top 40 music including the hit she did with Destiny’s Child, “Bootylicious.” What were the lyrics again?

I don’t think you ready for this jelly
i don’t think you ready for this jelly
I don’t think you ready for this
Is my body to bootylicious for ya baby
I don’t think you ready for this jelly
i don’t think you ready for this jelly
I don’t think you ready for this
Is my body to bootylicious for ya babe

I don’t have a problem with the song or Beyonce’s beautiful butt, but there’s always this question mark that comes up when I hear about such and such celeb is Christian and then I remember their music or movies and I say to myself, “Really?” I don’t want to be judgmental as I know Christians vary in their beliefs. Then again, what separates Christianity from the mainstream media? Usually some sort of moral outline that doesn’t include exalting the booty. Of course, past generations of Christians are always appalled at the upcoming generation. Can you imagine transporting a Christian from the fifties to witness Christian pop culture in the year 2011? They would have a heart attack.

If you think this post is just another stereotyping of the attitudes of Christian traditionalists then read the comment posted under article on Beyonce’s father: “I’m sure Beyonce’s vulgar sexually charged video’s would make every father proud of their daughters lewd public behavior that is being passed off as entertainment.”

Wolves Comic Strip

You may see the depiction of a pug more than once in my cartoons and comic strips. I used to have one and they are hilarious little clowns. But often I’d be staring at my pug, name of Cricket by the way, and I just kept thinking, “THAT came from a wolf?” It’s one of the best examples of the variety within a species by way of artificial selection. Natural selection on the other hand would have wiped pugs out long ago if set free into the wild. We picked them for cuteness but they have breathing problems, bad hips and they like to fart alot (especially going up the stairs). Natural selection looks to save survival traits and toss out health issues unless it’s a trade off for another feature that is useful.

Something from Nothing Big Bang Comic Strip

You’ll find this comic strip on one of the old school Freethunk pages before the site was revamped into a WP theme, but I reread it again and seeing as how the latest item making the popular posts list is on The Big Bang Theory I figure it would be appropriate to post again. The point here is not to prove the Big Bang but to ask Christian literalists to apply the same logic they throw at the Big Bang Theory to their own god.

It is ironic that Christian literalists like to try to make the Big Bang and Evolutionary Theory into fantasy and yet their solution is a god who can do anything and everything and “poof” the universe and everything in it appears in 6 days..sort of like, oh–magic! Why 6 days? If God is all powerful why not 1 second or why even a second if we’re going to go into the realm of the fantastic. The 6 day narrative seems obvious that it is a convenient way to tell a story; it follows a format that is comfortable with how a creation myth might be told in the ancient world.

So your god came from nothing and therefore he can create everything? That’s not fantasy?!! And this god is unverifiable so you have to have faith instead of using scientific inquiry to find out if he really exists or if he was made up or possibly if you even have the wrong god?

The fair solution if you believe the Big Bang to be fantasy is to not jump to another fantasy. It is to wait for another, more logical solution with evidence. As it stands, the Big Bang is accumulating evidence, enough so that within the scientific community and amongst theistic evolutionists it is a nonissue. Unlike Christians with their god, science doesn’t claim to know everything at once. It is a process of piecing together the puzzle. When there are so many interlocking pieces in the puzzle that you begin to make out the picture it serves as scientific fact. All that is left is to continue to find the remaining puzzle pieces which may take a short time or a long time, but science never stops investigating or asking how something happened or debating. They just don’t want to take a huge step backward, throw up their hands and fill in the blank with god.

Katy Perry’s Mom Says Put Some Clothes On

Well, in a manner of speaking, Mary Perry Hudson says she wants her daughter to put some clothes on. Per a fluff piece on Fox News, “No mother wants to see the top of her daughter’s boobs,” was what Mother Hudson wrote as part of her pitch on a book about her daughter. A book that even Fox says along with Tori Spelling’s mom, “…are both trying to cash in with tell-all biographies on their famous daughters.”

I can understand if I were a father I would not want to see my daughter’s cleavage. It would be awkward and uncomfortable and that is unfortunately just a part of being a father of a sexy daughter. But what do mothers care about a little cleavage? Sure, the natural instinct is to protect their daughters from harm brought in the form of slobbery men, but is Katy so meek that she needs protection? I think Katy Perry has body guards to take care of beating those types of intrusive men to a bloody pulp.

So far, I still don’t find anything offensive about Katy Perry–maybe annoying at times, but not offensive. She’s done some sexy poses, sang some sexy songs and married Russell Brand–who definitely has had some issues that are more dire than Katy’s including sexual abuse and drug abuse. What I continue to take offense at is Mary Hudson wanting to air her family’s dirty laundry in front of everyone in a tell-all book with the excuse that it will help other mothers and promote the gospel. Bull! She wants a best selling book which would go along way to funding her ministry and giving her new public speaking forums. Mary, much like her daughter, is looking for fame and power. Once the book is published, I expect to see her multiple times on Fox News Channel.

Here’s some harmless Katy Perry cleavage shots with a final shot of what is an appropriate reaction to all the hype. Even with the cleavage, Katy always seems to have style, a classy dresser inspired by a variety of time periods in fashion. What’s my point? Well, that I can do a fluff piece just like Fox if you really want to know.

South Park Creators Take on Mormonism with a Musical

If they weren’t so damn rich with a dedicated audience I don’t think Trey Parker and Matt Stone could get away with doing this–parodying the Mormons with music. An in-depth story is running on MSNBC.com about the creation and production of their new Broadway musical The Book of Mormon featuring two Mormon missionaries who go to Uganda. Yes, this is actually going to be on Broadway!

Somehow between the brief periods of creating each South Park episode they have managed to write a script, lyrics and music for The Book of Mormon–then, as the show is nearing its premiere in the next 8 days, they are attending rehearsals and taking care of last minute business. It’s almost time for the curtain to go up and for them to check out and do nothing…oh wait, the 15th season of South Park is ready to go into production. Damn, that is one hell of a schedule.

So why would these two put themselves through so much turmoil? Well, for one, they love pissing people off, but two, according to the article, “Growing up in Colorado, next door to Utah, Parker and Stone had long been familiar with the Mormon church and its members; Parker even dated a Mormon girl and was badly hurt when she ditched him.” How’s that for a little vengeance. Oddly enough, I had a best friend who went through the same exact experience except he was foolish enough to join the Mormon Church for his girlfriend, and it wasn’t easy to leave.

From the tone of the article though, there doesn’t seem to be anything vindictive about The Book of Mormon. I believe they are doing it to see if it can be done and to make people laugh. Taboo subjects are becoming harder to find as Christianity has already taken its lumps in various forms (and I believe is all the better for it). The pair knew they obviously couldn’t do a musical on Islam as they’ve been down that road with South Park. Mormonism was the best choice for a new subversive project. It is completely American and a completely weird religion, suited for their twisted brand of humor.

It does appear that so far, the Mormons are being very smart about reacting to the musical. “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening,” the LDS website notes, “but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” Amazingly smart as they are avoiding adding any controversy to the production. That doesn’t mean that individual Mormons won’t get upset or maybe Mormons will even enjoy the production as even they can see how silly their religion can be.

Regardless, it is good to see a large production in the form of a Mormon parody. We’ve seen Big Love and some news specials, but they all focus on what LDS has left beind–polygamy. There is plenty of new contention to be found as The Mormon Church is the driving force on shooting down the legalization of gay marriage. They also continue to add members based on false premises that are easily researchable, from the writing of The Mormon Bible to Mormon claims about lost civilizations with no archaeological evidence to the claim that Mormons are just simply Christians (whose theology is radically different). It is a nutty, successful cult…but then so was Christianity at one point.

New Duke Nukem Game Kidnaps Women and Slaps Them

Fox News has a post on upcoming game information about Duke Nukem Forever, the long awaited sequel to the successful Duke Nukem series. The original Duke Nukem was released in 1991. Per Wiki, “Dr. Proton is a madman, determined to take over the world with his army of Techbots. Duke Nukem, the eponymous hero, takes upon the task of stopping him.” The main objection to this original version, if any, was violence. The objection to the newest version is sexism. According to Fox, there are scenes where the player can kidnap women. If the women get too unruly, you can slap them. They also say there are scenes of strippers and apparently two women go down on Duke.

Wow! Duke Nukem Forever seems  to want to outdo its predecessors in the “anything goes” game player mode. We’re speaking of course of Grand Theft Auto.

I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. Most certainly it is sexist, but it is also a fantasy game world. There are many indulgences in fantasy that are not in sync with reality. We all know that some individuals with mental deficiencies can blur the two worlds, but this is rare. Most game players get that in the games that there are things you can do that are immoral. Killing everything in sight is the best example. Kidnapping women is another, though it falls into a newer area of discussion because at least with killing you are usually on the right side of the battle–good versus evil.

So in the game, are these women evil? Is Duke stealing them away for some particular reason. Or is it simply to be perverse?

It is our modern morality that quickly pounces on these games when, in fact, we may want to take one step back first. There are several reasons, the most obvious is that the more taboo you make a game the more people want it, especially young kids. But the other is the question of interactive violence and crime versus viewing movies depicting violence and crime. There has been a longstanding moral war against horror movies which have been blamed for a variety of social ills and yet, we seem to be slowly getting over that particular villain and looking towards games as our next villain. I’ve never seen evidence that conclusively shows that horror movies depicting violence and rape against women have damaged our society. They seem to be there to release our inner demons (please note, figuratively speaking) and to experience our worst nightmares which much like our bedtime nightmares is a way of working through something unspeakable. It is a sort of therapy both for a perpetrator and a victim.

The question is if we go further than a movie, if the violence and crime is interactive, does that work in the same capacity? I just don’t know. Interactive games are different than movies or even the more violent comic books that have come out over the years (try reading anything by Garth Ennis).

I believe it’s fair to inform parents and sell these games only to adults. This will make us feel better BUT, we all know they will find their way into the hands of kids no matter how hard government or parental groups try to ban them–this is the Internet age, after all. Certainly, without providing strong female characters to contrast with female victims (which in this case may be strippers or prostitutes) that the game makers know they’re being sexist. They want to push a male fantasy that will sell and even men who are not sexists will be attracted to this taboo.

I just find myself not worrying about the sexism taboo in this context. I kind of wonder if doing it in a game gets rid of the urge to be a jackass in real life? It’s like an exorcism but without religion; purely psychological.  The only broad example I can give that most people might understand is that sports are often a replacement for real violence, or in the case of football–war itself. We partake in the war, either by being the spectator or by being the player, without actually killing or doing real harm. Otherwise, ask yourself, what is the point of football and why are we so obsessed with it as a nation? Remember that I didn’t say all sports, competition has its place, but boxing, football, wrestling, ultimate fighting and possibly even hockey have an element of violence in a society where violence is declining. Why do we feel the need to see two men strategically punch each other bloody in a ring until one of them is knocked out or surrenders in humiliation? Why aren’t there pacifists with signs protesting each boxing game, football game or ultimate fighting match?

Interactive violence, even with immoral intent such as rape or crime, may serve a psychological purpose. I hate to say I’m condoning it, but I believe what I’m saying is that I’m reserving judgment as so many other controversial genres have caused outrage in the last 100 years that instead of jumping to the same old conclusion I want to see some real evidence–not just scattered incidents of some nutty kid going off the deep end. I also find it interesting that some of the most extreme violent crimes rear their ugly heads in societies that don’t have the ability to blame it on video games or movies. If anything, it would be religion, and of course I’m referring to Islam and the violence done in the name of it against women and believers of other faiths.

SIDENOTE: Some research links violent video games to aggression in kids, particularly little boys. I find this highly questionable as I grew up in the transition period from Atari to Nintendo to PC Games. Boys were aggressive on the playground after a game of dodgeball. Boys were aggressive after school from sitting in a classroom all day. Boys were aggressive after watching their favorite cartoon. What is this aggression we’re talking about? Boys can be very physical, play-punching, wrestling, throwing things–this is not the same as a boy finding a real gun and shooting his classmates or a boy beating a girl to death. If we are to demonize violent video games the link has to be more defined. “Aggression” is too ambiguous. The link has to be to real violence and it has to be overwhelming–the majority of players–to be substantial. If there is only a minority affected then it’s a good bet there are other factors in play.

PETA Wants Bible to Include Animal Friendly Language

You knew it was coming when the 2011 NIV Bible translation announced that it was steering more towards gender neutral language. PETA, never afraid to garner more media attention by any means necessary, is asking that the NIV refer to animals as “she” or “he” instead of “it.” Sometimes the stupidity of it all just wants to make you slap yourself.

The effort to extend human rights to animals is noble but often misguided. We need to recognize that we want to be humane to animals, but that animals are not human. If animals are to be put on the same level as humans then they would need to show a little more respect such as not shitting on us as they fly overhead or mauling us while hiking or even throwing their poo at us for laughs. They should also have the ability to extend rights to other species instead of finding ingenious ways to “murder” and eat each other. Animals don’t give a damn if you refer to their correct gender as humans are not apt to know which animal is male or female anyways unless we’re referring to something like a male lion versus a female (the mane being the obvious clue). If we dehumanize animals by referring to them as “it” that is appropriate as they are NOT human. I think we’re smart enough to understand how to be humane to nonhumans without having to humanize them.

The Bible is a religious book based on ancient texts (though they are copies of copies) and the translations should reflect that–not political correctness or even modern niceties. Otherwise, this is how we get a Bible that no longer tells us what it said to people throughout history. There will be a knowledge gap between generations of Christians–one generation understanding the Bible has unpleasant references and successive generations who slowly become ignorant of the unpleasantness as the wording is changed to be friendlier and in sync with our modern morals. If there is bigotry, objectionable depictions of violence and rape, references to animal sacrifice and so forth, we do not want to sanitize it.

The CNN article quotes PETA’s vice president for policy, a practicing Roman Catholic named Bruce Friedrich who says, “Language matters. Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.”

Give me a break. Animals aren’t beloved in the Bible. They’re used to please God through ritual sacrifice. Not to mention God drowning all of them for no good reason in the Great Flood (they didn’t sin, men did). The sheer stupidity of this comment may be a result of the New Testament and not the Old. It is when Jesus says in Matthew, Chapter 6, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Which birds are Jesus referring to? Birds die all the time because they starve, they’re hunted by predators or they fly into a window and break their neck. In regards to predators, if Jesus is feeding these birds it is only to fatten them up for good eatin’ by the other predators he created. It makes you wonder if this is how the birds are thought of by Jesus then how does he really think of us? We’re more valuable then birds destined to be eaten?

How is it that a Catholic can read the Bible and ignore all of the violence done towards animals by God and in the name of God and come to the conclusion that animals are beloved by God? Animals are said not to even have souls–unless Catholics now believe they do? I found this response to that question on Catholic Answers Forums, “All living things have souls, but only angels and humans have spiritual souls. Animal and plant souls are material principles that cease to exist at death. Angels do not die, and human souls survive the death of the body.” If it doesn’t make sense to you then good for you! Because souls that are material defeat the definition of “soul” as far as I’m concerned.

Friedrich also suggests that the Bible promotes vegetarianism? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m sorry, but PETA may have good intentions but they sure attract some dumb ass people. I would love to see Bill Maher, a PETA board member and religious critic, come out and comment on this fellow PETA nut, but he may not even dare on this one.

This is extreme, but there are more moderate efforts to tie conservation and environmentalism into the Bible. This seems to come from Genesis chapter 1 which has been reinterpreted over time to be more about responsibility than man’s dominance: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

That’s all well and good if subdue means to “take care of,” but it still doesn’t mesh with most of the Old Testament. The ritual sacrifices performed throughout are pleasing to God–God likes to see his animals killed. And, I hate to be repetitive, but again, how the hell do you ignore Noah’s Flood and wiping out all of the animals except the pairs that were allowed on the ark?

This is simply one more example of modern morality being forced upon an ancient text. It does not fit.

SIDENOTE: I try to find a balance on animal rights as I  believe the term “animal rights” is misleading. Animals do not have the intelligence to demand their rights or even contemplate what they would be. We are placing rights on them that we believe to be humane. There is nothing wrong with being humane, except you have to remember that nature designed us to kill and eat meat. Yes, we are omnivores in that we also eat fruits and veggies and for survival purposes we can subsist on a nonmeat diet, but it was meat that helped advance us in the evolutionary process–not a vegetarian diet. Try reading this brief article on Food Anthropology for starters if you somehow believe meat is not tied in with evolutionary progress.

Does that mean we cannot overcome biology and find a way to be vegan? Sure, there may be legitimate meat substitutes that provide everything our bodies need in the future. At that time, we’re going to have an interesting problem–what to do with all of our domesticated animals?

Best Atheist Posters Video

I’m kind of on a video kick today. These are oldies but goodies with various comments on atheism and religion. Some are funny and some are rather dark commentary. And yes, for spelling addicts, I did notice “Santa Claus” was spelled wrong but I didn’t do it and can’t change it (I try to be a stickler for spelling too, so I’m fine with the emails I get saying such and such article or cartoon needs a correction–a second pair of eyes is useful).