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Religion

More Americans than ever claim no religious affiliation!

This is an encouraging sign coming from the USA.

Unbelief is on the uptick. People who check “None” for their religious affiliation are now nearly one in five Americans (19%), the highest ever documented, according to the Pew Center for the People and the Press.

The rapid rise of Nones — including atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe “nothing in particular” — defies the usually glacial rate of change in spiritual identity.

How high the Nones numbers might go depends on demographics, says Mark Chaves, professor of Sociology, Religion and Divinity at Duke University, an expert on the General Social Survey.

Two forces could hold Nones’ numbers down. First, they are disproportionately young, often single, and highly educated — all groups with a low birth rate. Second, the number of believers who immigrate to the USA from particularly religious nations, such as Catholics from Mexico, fluctuates with government policies and economic issues, Chaves says.

But the chief way the category grows is by “switchers.” A 2009 Pew Forum look at “switching” found more than 10% of American adults became Nones after growing up within a religious group.

Chaves says there’s another dimension to the unbelief trend worth watching.

“Americans famously say they believe in some variation of God. Over 90% do,” Chaves says. “But it used to be 99% decades ago. The change is slow, but we can see it coming.”

The last paragraph is of particular interest. It is one thing to declare no religious affiliation. It is quite another to say that you don’t believe in a God.

Oh, and in Canada, the proportion saying that they had no religious affiliation – 23%.

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This is logic – and THIS is…

…the logic of religion!

LOL!

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Separation of church and state- are we not still secular in Canada?

I don’t think I have been more angry with this government than I am right now with the announcement that the Harperites, if re-elected, would establish an “Office of Religious Freedom”.

Now please, don’t launch barbs accusing me of being intolerant – because I am not. I am, however, a humanist and do not believe in the existence of any supreme deity. The whole notion is and always has been ludicrous to me. BUT, I have no problem with those who do believe in “something” – as long as it does not interfere with me. Whatever gets you through the night, and all that.

YET, as an atheist I am sickened by the notion that my government and my tax dollars would go toward the protection of something I find ridiculous, obscene, oppressive and damaging.

Government does NOT have ANY legitimate role in the religious affairs of any individual. Anytime. Anywhere! Let alone the funneling of public dollars to a non-secular goal.

This alone is almost enough to make me abandon my non-partisanship and go down to David McGuinty’s office and sign up to do some door to door work!

Friends. Imagine what this government will do if given a majority! I would not discount the following. Seriously.

It is the thin edge of the wedge.

This is weird. And this is to where the NeoCons want to lead us.

Arkansas
State Constitution, Article 19 Section 1:

No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.

Maryland
Declaration of Rights:
Article 36
“That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come.”

Article 37
“That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God;”

Massachusetts
State Constitution, Article 3
“Any every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.”
Comment: Apparently non-Christians are not “equally under the protection of the law”.

Note: this part of the Massachusetts’ State Constitution was amended. Here is Article XI of the Articles of Amendment:
“Article XI. Instead of the third article of the bill of rights, the following modification and amendment thereof is substituted.
As the public worship of God and instructions in piety, religion and morality, promote the happiness and prosperity of a people and the security of a republican government; — therefore, the several religious societies of this commonwealth, whether corporate or unincorporate, at any meeting legally warned and holden for that purpose, shall ever have the right to elect their pastors or religious teachers, to contract with them for their support, to raise money for erecting and repairing houses for public worship, for the maintenance of religious instruction, and for the payment of necessary expenses: and all persons belonging to any religious society shall be taken and held to be members, until they shall file with the clerk of such society, a written notice, declaring the dissolution of their membership, and thenceforth shall not be liable for any grant or contract which may be thereafter made, or entered into by such society: — and all religious sects and denominations, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good citizens of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.” [See Amendments, Arts. XLVI and XLVIII, The Initiative, section 2, and The Referendum, section 2].”

Mississippi
State Constitution. Article 14 (“General Provisions”), Section 265
“No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”

North Carolina
State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8
“Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

South Carolina
State Constitution, Article VI
Section 2:
“No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”
Section 5: The oath of office ends in,
“So help me God.”

Tennessee
State Constitution, Article 9 Section 2
“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

Texas
State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4
“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

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Another reason why I am happy to be a Canadian…

According to Gallup, 40% of Americans believe that humans were created by a “god” in the past 10,000 years while this number is only 14% north of the border.

I love Americans. I truly do. They are an amazing people. But I just don’t understand them sometimes. They voted in Dubya twice. Indebted themselves into oblivion. And 4 out of ten of them, like our own Stockwell Day, think that humans played with dinosaurs.

A cousin of mine who is an ex-pat Québécois living in Tennessee, once remarked to me on Facebook that in the States, unlike Canada, religion and faith is everywhere. You can’t get away from it. With data like these, I think I understand what he said a bit better.

But still – wow. What a difference.

And I bet that if you removed the Alberta respondents, the 14% would drop into the single digits.

But if we’re so smart, why:

  • Do we keep voting in the ReformCons?
  • Have Ontario voters not pushed governments to abolish the separate schools system?
  • Do we have voting rates in the 50’s?
  • Does our weather suck so much?

OK – the last point is just me whining.

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Of COURSE religion is playing a role in our supposedly secular system of government!! Duh!

Good piece in The Hill Times today about religion, government and why the Harperites don’t really care if those to the left of centre take offence to their stands on such things as abortion or gay rights.

Pandering to the core supporters  has always been the ReformCon way of maintaining solid financial legging in the party. By raising the spectre of abortion, the Cons knew that they would get some flak from the Left – but that group wouldn’t vote for them in any case. Worse case scenario – those voters would stay home and the Decepticons could continue to govern even though they may garner only 30% – 35% of the popular vote.

Former MP Garth Turner, who was kicked out of Mr. Harper’s caucus and then briefly sat as an Independent and then a Liberal, detailed what he said are the deep and extensive connections between the Harper Tories and the Christian right in his 2009 book Sheeple: Caucus Confidential in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa. He said Mr. Harper knows that in a multi-party system with increasingly low voter turnout, which hit its lowest point ever at 59 per cent in the last federal election, in 2008, all a party needs is around 30 per cent of the vote to win government.

“It’s about feeding them the red meat they want to mobilize the base,” he said. “That’s what Harper knows and that’s what he does. That’s exactly what Doug Finley has been accomplishing for the last five years. So I’m not surprised at this and I’m not surprised they would do things that are dumb and broad-based social moves such as cutting off gay funding, and this whole abortion debate. It’s very divisive but it’s done in order to make sure they’ve got that narrow constituency sewn up, and in a society where you’ve got four or five parties across the country looking for support he knows this is how to win power and keep it.”

In a related article, Harris MacLeod asks the question: To the divided left: don’t you feel silly?

Today Lawrence Martin eloquently lays out the absurdity of 70 per cent of the Canadian political landscape that believes in climate change, abortion, and same sex marriage being ruled by the 30 per cent who don’t.

Says Mr. Martin:

“In combination, the centre-left and left still have the bulk of the population on their side. In a culture war, they would likely clobber the right. But because of the divisions, there can be no such victory.”

So how bout it then.

Yeah, how bout it?

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Anglican church on verge of extinction… here’s hoping others follow…

The Globe and Mail is reporting this morning that according to the church’s own internal report, the once mighty Anglican church of Canada is only one generation away from extinction.

Regular attendance is declining at all Canadian Christian churches, except for the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase is attributed to immigration.

But Anglicanism’s problem is aggravated because it is primarily a tribal church, the offspring of the Church of England. It has traditionally been home to Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent who increasingly have no ethnic identification with the church, said religious studies professor David Seljak of St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont.

A similar problem burdens the Presbyterian Church – offspring of the Church of Scotland – which is losing adherents almost as quickly as the Anglicans.

As an atheist who sees the demise of an archaic institution like church – any church – as reason for celebration, I still have to wonder about why this is happening.

The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.” (my bold)

According to the report, the diocese – “like most across Canada” – is in crisis. The report repeats, without qualification or question, the results of a controversial study presented to Anglican bishops five years ago that said that at the present rate of decline – a loss of 13,000 members per year – only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.

Is Canada really becoming a post-christian society? Are Canadians becoming more intelligent, more secular and in general more cynical of institutions generally? Or has this particular church brought about it’s own demise? I little of each, I wager. And if so, can the other churches be approaching the same fate? One can only hope though it is unlikely I will see this in my current lifetime.

As a postscript, one thing I have often wondered is why we still have highway signs pointing out the direction to the nearest church? Did or do folks have spiritual “emergencies” that demand they find a church tout de suite?

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God damn it all! It’s National Blasphemy Day

Thanks to the Squid-dude for making me aware of this!

Feel free to celebrate on this day the right to demean whatever fantasy creature you see fit!

Blasphemy Day International is an international campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a national day to promote free speech and stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to mock and insult religion without fear of murder, violence, and reprisal. It is the obligation of the world’s nations to safeguard dissent and the dissenters, not to side with the brutal interests of thugs who demand “respect” for their beliefs (i.e., immunity to being criticized or mocked or they threaten violence).

So if you support free speech, and the rights of those who disagree with religious views to voice their opinions peacefully, support our group and join the cause!

Hmmmm… betcha  stuff like this sends the christian right into conniption fits!

There is even a Facebook group!

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Those wacky christians are at it again!

Good post by Ken over at My Corner of the Universe.

Yes, Christians need to chill. They are in a bit of a siege mentality lately as they are railing against windmills coming at them from all directions.

A Christian group is calling for the removal of an elephant statue, modeled after a Hindu god, from the Calgary Zoo calling it “selective religious partiality.”

“The zoo is not a place of religious indoctrination, it is supposed to be a safe family environment free of religious icons and selective religious partiality,” Blake wrote

<and>

Jim Blake, national chairman of Concerned Christians Canada, sent a letter to the zoo on Thursday, calling for the sculpture to be removed.

Reminds me of The Simpsons episode:

In the episode “Homer the Heretic,” Springfield’s multifaith volunteer fire department mobilizes to save the Simpsons’ home–and Homer’s life. Reverend Lovejoy explains to Homer that God was working through his friends and neighbors, including a Christian like Ned Flanders and a Jew like Krusty.

But the minister comes up short when he points toward the other firefighter, Apu Nahaasapeemapetilon. After a nonplussed pause, the minister characterizes the convenience store operator’s religion as “miscellaneous.” This level of ignorance is too much for the normally mild-mannered Asian immigrant. Apu explodes: “Hindu! There are 700 million of us!” Corrected, Lovejoy replies with condescension, “Aw, that’s super.”

Apu

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Health care, and all things in the public good…

I have yet to post anything about the weird health care debate in the States.

But courtesy of and inspired by a wise Canuck blogger at Enormous Thriving Plants, I now must urge you to read the following great post about why we really do need a government and how they can, believe it or not, run a public program well and efficiently.

My health care in my country is just fine, thank-you.

Why does the conventional wisdom rail against all things state-run? It is as dogmatic as religion. Unfounded in fact and rooted in myth and fantasy…

Very entertaining post… thanks.

get.a.brain.morans

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I guess I have to strike Ireland off my list of places to visit

… cuz it would cost me BIG TIME! Like 25,000 Euros!

In a bold legislative move that further defines this as a nation that has yet to see its way clear of the Dark Ages, Ireland has declared blasphemy to be illegal!

I don’t swear TOO much, but I figger I’d be in hock inside a week.

blas⋅phe⋅my

–noun, plural -mies.

1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
2. Judaism.

a. an act of cursing or reviling God.
b. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using a substitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
3. Theology. the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
4. irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.: He uttered blasphemies against life itself.

In order to be found guilty, there has to be proof that the offender intended to cause outrage with a statement that is abusive or insulting. The statement also has to produce a violent reaction.

The bill states that a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if:

  • He or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.
  • He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The bill puts the onus on a defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

Note that the onus is on the defendant to show that there was “merit” in his or her blasphemous statement.

OK. Here’s the scenario, I’m in a pub in Ireland, sipping a pint and watching an EPR match.  Arsenal loses to Man. U on a poorly called penalty and I say:

GOD DAMN IT!

There’s a collection or righteous and pious citizens gathered in the corner and talking about which books they should burn next. Upon hearing my loud and proud exclamation, they get righteously and piously pissed and are outraged that I would speak such blasphemy.  In fact, one of them righteously and piously hurls a book of matches at me… quite a violent reaction, that!

So the cops show up and these righteous and pious good citizens explain the situation and how this blasphemer has caused outrage among them and how that outrage led to the violent act of throwing said matchbook.

My sorry ass is hauled off to the hold-up (I’m hoping they don’t have Tasers in Ireland!) and the next day I have to explain to a Magistrate how my

GOD DAMN IT!

was an expression of  genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value.

Yeah, ching-ching! There goes a heap of Euros flying off to live with the Leprachauns.

Problem is that I, as an atheist, pretty much equate the belief of a god with the belief in those little green men with beards who will lead you to that pot-of-gold! And I’m pretty sure there are plenty of Irish who feel the same way.

WHOA! Was THAT a blasphemous statement or what!

Here in Canada, there is a libellous blasphemy law in the books but it is happily superceded by our Charter rights.

Woo-hoo!

blasphemy1

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