Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Texas Pledge Challenged: “god” Should be Deleted

An atheist couple in Dallas, Texas filed a suit to have the word "god" removed from the Texas state pledge, which reads:

"Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under god, one and indivisible."

House Bill 1034 during the 80th Legislature added the phrase "one state under god" this year, requiring all school-age children beginning in kindergarten to be indoctrinated in Christian mythology regardless of the mythical beliefs or lack thereof of their families. Children whose families are Hindu, Muslim, Native American, agnostic and atheist must worship the Christian god every morning. The alternative is to be ostracized by the teacher leading the pledge and stand in the hall during this moment of state-sponsored superstition.

If the suit filed by David and Shannon Croft is finally heard and the judge sitting on the bench uses the United States Constitution as a guide, the phrase may be deleted, but I suspect that fear of alienating a voting base may impact the judge's decision. It's likely the judge will cite the national pledge as precedent, putting the onus of adhering to the Constitution on the federal government first.

The Crofts filed a request for injunction to prevent the pledge from being used until the case was heard, but this was denied.

News links:

Suit would delete' God' from Texas pledge

Court denies injunction on state pledge

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Threat of Theocracy: Islam and World Domination

Make no mistake. Muslims seek to dominate the world.

I'm not simply using hyperbole in that statement or exaggerating the threat that Islam poses to freedom and secular choices. Various cults of Islam are devout in their intent to spread their cults to all of humanity and publically state these intents. Moreover, it is written in their mythology, which they accept as unquestioning truth, that Muslims should seek to share their delusion with the entire world.

Mawlana Abul Alla Mawdudi, the founder of Pakistan's fundamentalist movement, has said:

Islam is not a normal religion like the other religions in the world, and Muslim nations are not like normal nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn't look for a nation to be in better condition than another nation. Islam doesn't care about land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power in this world that tries to get in the way of that goal Islam will fight and destroy. In order for Islam to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.

Of course, so-called moderate Muslims will object and say that "jihad" simply means "struggle" and that each Muslim "struggles" to bring peace, harmony, etc. Unfortunately, theirs is a voice, even if it is a majority, that isn't heard nor is it loud. It is, after all, the Koran itself that teaches what jihad is truly about in passages like those found in Surah 8:

When you fight with disbelievers, do not retreat. Those who do will go to hell (8:15-16); those that the Muslims killed were not really killed by them. It was Allah who did the killing (8:17); Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah (8:39); and, don't let the disbelievers think they can escape. They are your enemy and the enemy of Allah (8:59-60).

Passages like these are what inform the violent interpretations of "jihad" with Muslims; but what of global domination? What justifies this evangelism of terror in the eyes of the Muslim? Further looks at Koranic verses is revealing:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits...And slay them wherever ye catch them.  And turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they first fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them.  Such is the reward of those who reject faith.  But if they cease, Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.  And fight them on until there is no more persecution.  And the religion becomes Allah's.  But if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression (2:190-3)

Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward (4:74).

And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful (9:5)

Nor is there any encouragement within the Koran to tolerate those that don't accept the delusion of Islam:

Thou seest many of them making friends with those who disbelieve. Surely ill for them is that which they themselves send on before them (5:80).

Jihad explains the few extremists that have "martyred" themselves by flying planes into skyscrapers, detonating themselves on trains, or those caught before they could detonate bombs in the United States and Europe. But the jihad that threatens to introduce Islam in staggering numbers across Europe is far more subtle than a suicide bomber. This jihad is playing on secular ideals and the cry for tolerance on the left in the wake of the more violent versions of jihad. The subtle version seeks to introduce Muslim practices and culture in the secular nations of Europe by changing laws and policies making it difficult for opposition to question, criticize or restrict Muslims. On the surface, it seems a good thing not to restrict someone based solely on their religious beliefs. But, looking a bit deeper, one sees more than a mere longing for religious equality. A recent outcry in the United States by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) complains of new TSA requirements at airports to search large head-coverings that include cowboy hats, straw hats, turbans and berets. In particular, TSA security personnel can now pat down these types of headgear even if the metal detectors didn't alert in order to check for non-metallic, dangerous items.

Pressure against government agencies in the United States has less impact, however, than in Europe, where Muslims have made it difficult to be critical or restrictive on their religious superstitions without being "hateful" or "discriminatory." In Scotland, doctors and nurses at a hospital have been instructed not to eat in front of Muslim workers during Ramadan. Food trolleys are to be moved away from their sight and Muslim workers are to be given time to pray. This is an example of religious tolerance gone too far, but that isn't the furthest reaches of what is desired by Muslims in Britain. Muslims there wanted a law passed that would essentially make it a crime to criticize or blaspheme Islam. What passed was apparently a "watered down" version which restricts "threatening" comments designed to incite others against a religious group. I suppose referring to Islam as a delusion responsible for violence and terrorism would ostensibly qualify as an illegal comment if made in public.

Islam is a presence in Europe that uses violence to influence both Muslims and non-Muslims. In France, radical Islam is being blamed for violence in hospitals –physicians have been assaulted by men for "touching" Muslim women during the course of examinations and Muslim men are demanding "virginity certificates" for young girls. Muslims are also attacking the police in Muslim neighborhoods with stones and Molotov cocktails. For his efforts in documenting the nature of Muslim violence against Muslim women, Theo Van Gogh paid with his life. Upon completion of the 10 minute film, Van Gogh received death threats. On Nov. 2, 2004, the threats were carried out by a Muslim, deluded by superstitions of jihad and his holy duty to his god. In 2006, riots broke out across the Muslim world in response to cartoons depicting Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. People died. Over cartoons. In an effort to appease Muslims, much has been done by non-Muslims in the West to present an air of tolerance, which is just what Muslims want. Tolerance is a step towards acceptance. Once Islam becomes as accepted as any other religious superstition, there would be less opposition to conversion. And in the largely secular Europe, Islam might well fill a void and experience little real opposition compared to that in the United States.

But it's interesting to note that the very non-Muslims (theists and atheists alike) who called for "respect" and "tolerance" for Islam in the wake of the cartoon riots had little to say about the riots that ensued. Didn't they notice that this "religion of peace" was both threatening and carrying out violence, primarily because some of the cartoons they objected to depicted Islam as violent? The irony is deep.

Islam expects tolerance for their delusions. The Koran dictates that those unbelievers that accept them can live, particularly if they convert. Those that refuse to accept them must die.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Historicity of Jesus: the Making of a Myth

So often I see it written on blogs or internet communities where the historicity of Jesus is being discussed where the Christian apologist will respond to those skeptical of a historical Jesus by reminding them that very little evidence exists to support the historicity of figures like Socrates, Alexander the Great, etc. While this may be true for the former, it is a bit less realistic a statement for the former. Nonetheless, the difference lies in the fact that neither of these figures has supernatural claims surrounding him to which millions of people are expected to behave in a certain manner in support of. Nor does my belief about life or the universe depend on either of these two actually existing in history. So the argument amounts to nothing more than a straw man, but it is a straw man that I see many atheists and non-believers get stuck on when they debate the historicity of Jesus with this would-be messiah’s apologists.

Historians don’t use the “empirical evidences” of chemists and physicists, but they do make predictions based upon the evidence they actually obtain. Evidence for historical figures and events comes in the forms of primary and secondary evidence. The written artifacts of the subject constitute primary evidence: bills of laden, manifests, deeds to property, signed orders, correspondence, etc. Secondary evidence comes in the form of documents written in an era after the subject’s period, usually written about the subject, describing his deeds, actions, or ideas about the world.

With regard to historical figures like George Washington, there exist many primary documents that conform to the period contemporary to the man. Occasionally, a forged document emerges (documents related to George Washington are valuable, after all) and is detected by some inconsistence when compared with other documents. Or, in the case of a document I recall being discussed once, the forger used the wrong ink, which when empirically analyzed, showed to be of a 20th century variety.

What exists with the Jesus account amounts to only secondary evidence. The only sources we have to say that Jesus existed in history are the Synaptic Gospels and a few apocrypha. Each of which offer conflicting accounts in some cases or appear to be derived from a single source in others. None of Jesus’ personal correspondences exist; not a single account of his life exists that was written while he was alleged to exist; not a single artifact is produced that can be empirically linked to Jesus; etc.

Apologists for the Jesus myth will often respond with, “what artifact would be good enough?” A blood-soaked piece of wood that tests to only have 23 chromosomes comes to mind, but, realistically, I’m reminded that many historical figures contemporary to Jesus or before are accompanied by artifacts that are in their name: effigies, murals, tapestries, sculptures, trinkets, jewelry, songs, poems, stories, cities and streets named after them, and so on. Jesus Christ has none of these things that were created during his life or even just after. It isn’t until about 50 – 70 years after he was alleged to have been executed that the newly emergent Christian cult created documents detailing the life of this person.

If Jesus Christ did not exist, we would expect to see only post-mortem accounts of his life. We would expect to see the creators of this mythical character use existing mythology to flesh out the character they’re creating. We would expect to see a borrowing of text, as was common for the day, from existing religious texts to create the new myth. We would expect to see mistakes in things like geography and contradictions between authors of the new mythical character if they weren’t collaborating close enough –or if they were competing with one another! We would also expect the Jesus myth to conform to the hero archetype as well.
And you know what, we see all these things.

Existing Mythology and Borrowing of Text

In Daniel 7:13, we find, “[a]s I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.” In Mark 13:26, we see, “[t]hen they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.”

This direct word-for-word borrowing of Old Testament text by gospel author is something that was done throughout Near Eastern cultures. Anyone who’s read in Near Eastern texts ranging from Gilgamesh to the Egyptian stories from the earliest writings to well after the alleged time of Jesus will see examples of this literary “borrowing.” One of the only time this literary practice of ancient texts is ignored is with Judeo-Christian and Islamic myths.

As another example of so many, the crucifixion scene in Mark is clearly based on Psalm 22. The first lines of Psalm 22 read “my god, my god, why have you forsaken me?,” which is a lamentation song supposedly written by David. In Mark, Jesus quotes this as he “dies” on the cross. Those deluded by the spell of Christianity will cite this as “prophecy fulfillment,” even though this isn’t a “prophecy” at all. It’s a song. A song of lament and there is no indication in Psalms that this is any sort of prophecy. We are left to accept that either the alleged “son of God” lacked imagination or originality in this and dozens of other sayings and speeches.

Indeed, the obvious explanation of so-called “prophecy-fulfillments” is that they are all* written by authors who were writing with these prophecies and sayings in mind.

Geographical Problems

In this section, I’m directly quoting the work of a skeptic in an internet community, and I’ve linked the passage at the end of this post. I won’t say that he’s 100% accurate in the information, but I did a quick look at the biblical passages in question as well as a map of the region and it looks like this gentleman is spot on.

1. The author of Mark states that Jesus cast out demons from a man and into a couple thousand pigs while in Gerasa. The pigs then ran down a steep place and into the Sea of Galilee. Galilee is about 30 miles from Gerasa.

2. Matthew's author changed the earlier Mark to Gadara, which is still 5 miles from the shore of Galilee. The earliest manuscripts are Mark, which state Gerasa. But even if it were Gadara and Mark's author was wrong (leaving one to wonder why we should trust "as gospel" the word of either since they cannot agree -one is obviously deluded), did Mark's author run to keep up with the pigs for 5 miles just to watch their fate?

3. The author of Mark also wrote that Jesus traveled from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee, about 30-50 miles (depending on the route) in order to reach Sidon, which was back on the Mediterranean coast, yet another 40-50 miles! The wisest of wise men took a 70 mile journey, on foot, to reach his destination. Talk about taking the scenic route. A more likely explanation is that the gospel was invented by an author that was simply ignorant of Palestinian geography (in other words, had never been there; in other words, wasn't an 'apostle') and thought Sidon was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. [1]

Inter-Gospel Contradictions

The contradictory genealogies of Matthew and Luke are probably the first that come to mind for most. Even the most deeply deluded of Christian apologists seem to have difficulty reconciling this difference. Though I have seen one or two lame attempts, the worst of these being the excuse that one of the genealogies is actually that of Mary. There shouldn’t even be a genealogy of Joseph going back to David since he isn’t Jesus’ father… yet Paul writes in Romans 1:3 that Jesus was born of the seed of David. This is evidence of a bit of editing and footwork done by the early Christians who were reconciling OT prophecy to create their “messiah.” This bit gets written in to the Jesus mythology to help create the character and flesh out his part.

But, speaking of Jesus’ birth, only Luke and Matthew seem aware of the fact that it is supposed to be a “virgin” birth (complete and utter nonsense to begin with). Luke and Matthew also disagree on the date that he was born. Luke has him born during the first census of Israel during the period in which Quirinius was governor of Syria. Matthew says he was born during the reign of Herod. Herod died in 4 BCE and the census took place between 6 and 7 CE. The authors of Matthew and Luke both agree on the *place* of Jesus’ birth, however, putting it at Bethlehem. Incidently, the author of Matthew seems to be quoting Micah (5:2) when he writes of it, more “borrowing” from the OT. Luke, on the other hand, has Joseph and Mary leave their home in Nazareth to go to Bethlehem for the birth for census purposes (which doesn’t make any logical sense, since Romans were interested in taxing people where they actually lived). The contradiction between Matthew and Luke is regarding their home, apparently Luke’s author thinks they lived in Nazareth before Jesus’ birth, whereas Matthew’s author says it was only after JC’s birth that they moved there because they were afraid to return to Judea.

There are many, many other contradictions between these alleged “synoptic” gospels (such as who bought the field of blood, how the field got its name, how Judas died, trials of Jesus, his death, the alleged “resurrection,” etc.), enough that it is apparent that “synoptic” is the last adjective that should be applied to these fables.

The Hero archetype.

The modern mythical archetype is as follows:

  1. The hero usually suffers a great loss, which makes him set off on a quest.
  2. The hero generally has a mentor or helper who helps him on his quest.
  3. The hero must face a set of trials, which allow him to overcome "evil".
  4. The hero narrowly escapes death, usually more than once.
  5. The hero escapes the "evil villain's" stronghold or destroys him.
  6. The hero is then reintegrated into society with a new status, wealth, or marriage to the princess.
  7. There has to be a happy ending.

Such modern heroes include Luke Skywalker, Superman, Batman, etc. But the hero archetype is nothing new to storytellers. Joseph Campbell outlined the “hero’s journey” in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces [2] and noted that this journey is shared by mythical heroes throughout history:

  1. A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
  2. A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
    Achieving the goal or "boon," which often results in important self-knowledge
  3. A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
  4. Application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained, can be used to improve the world

To quote Campbell, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

So why “Jesus Christ?”

The theology the group of believers that became Catholics held that a new covenant could only be made with a blood sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus had to exist and real, actual blood had to be spilled in order to form a new covenant. Catholics, the folks that voted on what texts were going to be “biblical” and which were not, voted in a new covenant along with the New Testament texts added to the earlier Judaic texts like the Torah. A new covenant exists. Therefore, Jesus existed. All very circular.

But why the name “Jesus” and not “Yeshua: as it is written in Hebrew. And why “Christ?” Yeshua, meaning “god saves” already existed and was very prominent in the newly voted on Bible. He’s better known as Joshua, the mass-murderer who is alleged to have committed genocide on Canaanites and other innocent people of the land he and his band of terrorists wanted to take. Of course, biblical mythology paints his deeds as acts of heroism (one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist), but rest assured, this hero is quoted directly in biblical mythology as having “devoted the city [Jericho] to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys (Joshua 6:21).” That is, every living thing *except* his favorite prostitute.

So the Catholic editors of their newly voted on biblical texts saw fit to change the name ever so slightly. Jesus, was also among the most common names of the time. And, since “christ” is from the Greek khristós, meaning “anointed one,” the functional equivalent of “messiah,” we are left with an “everyman name.” He might well have been named *Joe Messiah* if the story were to have unfolded in 20th century Ohio instead of the Iron Age.

References and Related Posts

  • [1]
  • SkinWalker. Bible Contradictions. Post #2 [], 2007

  • [2]
  • Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949.

  • Related Post:
  • Scientific Study of Religion

    Sunday, August 5, 2007

    Carnival of the Godless

    VJack has Carnival of the Godless #72 is up at Atheist Revolution

    Your's truly has a meager post included. My first in this carnival.

    Breaking the Spell of Islam: "Calling things by their name"

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls a spade a spade with regard to Muslim terrorism and reflects that the source of their actions is Islamic doctrine. She uses the phrase, "we must break this spell [of Islam]" and she notes that the tendency to polite self-censorship does the work of the Islamic propaganda machine.

    Religious delusion creates a danger for the world. How else does a doctor, trained to save lives, decide to take them as with the doctor who attempted to set of the bomb in Glasgow?

    Related Links

  • Suspected Terrorist Dies Following Glasgow Airport Jeep Attack

  • Saturday, August 4, 2007

    Evidence of Delusion

    There seems to be a preoccupation among critics of prolific atheist writers like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and, now, Christopher Hitchens for their insistence that religious belief amounts to delusion. But there are some religious followers for whom it can be said are clearly delusional:

    Aaron Snyder, would-be assassin of Bill Ritter, the governor of Colorado.
    Snyder, dressed in a tuxedo and sporting a “large caliber handgun,” strolled into Colorado’s state capital building with the probable intent to kill Bill Ritter. Snyder was shot dead by a State Trooper before he was able to fully execute his plan. Among Synder’s writings were notes and letters that claimed he “ruled this country for Jesus Christ” and that he is “Lord Governor of Christiendom [sic].” Synder was preoccupied with abortion and wrote several items about stopping it as “sovereign ruler.” He also wrote, “God is preparing me mentally to kill thousands of police officers.” Among the lists and notes was an “estimated expense to stop bloodshed” in which he planned, as ruler, to allocate funds: $15 million to purchase uniforms for his “Praetorian Guard,” $1.5 million for their rifles, swords and sidearms, and $25 million for tanks and armored vehicles. Clearly, Snyder was delusional. Modern tanks run about $4.5 million each, so his $25 million wouldn’t stretch far!

    Snyder is an extreme case of delusion that is obviously the result of mental insanity. But what does this say about those already mentally challenged and presented with the added influence of religious delusion? The next case might speak to that:

    Terry Mark Mangum, killer of a gay flight attendant.

    Magnum says he murdered Kenneth Cummings because “I believe I’m Elijah out of the Bible,” and “that he was carrying out God’s judgment and “sacrificing” Cummings’ body.” Magnum believed he was doing God’s work in killing a homosexual, whose charred remains were found hidden at his grandfather’s ranch. The district attorney is seeking a hate crimes enhancement, which will affect Magnum’s ability to get parole. Cummings was loved by his family and had set up college funds for his niece and nephew before being brutally stabbed in the head by someone doing God’s work.
    What does it take to send a psychopath over the edge? How does religious delusion affect the choices the psychopath or sociopath makes? Can they find justification for their anti-social and psychotic behaviors? If they believe that a magical deity, a deity they believe has ultimate authority over all mankind, wants them to kill, what’s to stop them from doing it?

    Fred Phelps wants erection dedicated to Matthew Shepard

    Sort of. The erection in question is a statue that would be placed in Casper's Monument Plaza that includes monuments to Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Ten Commandments and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Phelps’ statue, however, would include a plaque that would read, “MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22” with an image of Matthew Shepard.

    Does Phelps’ hatred and clearly delusional position equate to the previously mentioned Christians? He doesn’t actually kill anyone, but seems happy to have the innocent killed in the name of his God. Is it a matter of time before someone in his cult has had just a bit too much of the Kool-Aid and takes matters in their own hands? And lest we think that the Westboro Baptist Church (Phelps’ cult center) is a fluke of religious extremism, it might be healthy to realize that it is probably our nation’s religious freedom and secular principles which keep such nonsense from being codified into a theocratic state:

    Jafar Kiana stoned to death for adultery in Iran

    The same nation that cried foul to the U.N. a few months ago about the release of the Hollywood film, 300, saying that it unfairly depicted Persians as “barbaric” and wanted U.N. sanctions against Hollywood, CA, buried a man to his waist and murdered him by throwing stones at his exposed body. The reason: he had sex with a woman that was not his wife. The woman, Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, is also sentenced to the same fate (only women are buried up to their neck before the stones are thrown). The couple had two children that are currently living with Ebrahimi in prison and Ebrahimi was thrown out of her home by her husband over two years ago. Backward-ass, delusional theocratic nutbars like Muslims following Sharia Law have no compassion for love or kindness. Their delusions go against humanist ideals and are detrimental to society.
    Are the delusional Muslims, who murder in the name of Allah and call it legal under their “law” any different than the first two nutters mentioned above? Maybe. But I don’t see much difference.

    Does it follow that all religion is delusional because of the few that make bad choices in the name of their Gods? Certainly not. I just want to find out if there’s anyone who will disagree with me that any of these people are delusional before moving on to defining at what point it can really be defended logically that religion is not a delusion.

    More on this topic to follow in the future.


  • Capitol gunman's notes bizarre

  • FACTS EXCLUSIVE: Murder suspect — I did it

  • Phelps Thwarted In Bid To Erect Anti-Gay Statue

  • Amnesty protests stoning of Iran woman

  • Thursday, August 2, 2007

    Is Religion Just a Social Program?

    In Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett ends the book with a chapter titled, “Now What Do We Do?”, in which he poses the title question with regard to breaking the spell of religious belief. His answers focus on the continued scientific study of religion and belief and the continued examination and inquiry of religion by those interested in the phenomenon. He also advocates dialog and discussion among the religious and the non-religious. But, as informative as his book is, I think he falls short in this final chapter. What’s missing are suggestions for the non-religious to begin a process of replacing religion or at least setting religion aside as no longer needed.

    In an earlier post, I described some of the hypotheses of why religion exists and why humans are so universally drawn to it in so many different flavors. In another post, I examined one of the hypotheses that describe the evolution of religion as a social institution, as presented by Robert Bellah (Five Stages of Religious Evolution). Each of these assumes that religion is a social construct of humanity, evolved to fulfill social needs.

    But what if religion, in general, is just a social program of sorts? What sort of evidence would exist to support that hypothesis?

    First, religion would serve to provide for the down-trodden of society –the less fortunate who cannot provide for themselves without outside assistance. Ideally, such a social program seeks to get the individual going along so that the training wheels might come off, as it were. Faith based organizations exist to provide food and shelter for the homeless, assist the addict in getting clean or sober, providing shelter for battered women, and to bring comfort, companionship and outreach to the elderly or disabled. These are, of course, just a few social services provided by faith-based organizations, and their effectiveness is debatable: some more effective than others.

    Second, religion would serve to provide enhancement to the existing routines of the individual: youth outreach and mentorship; day-care and parenting skills classes; life coaching and motivational groups; counseling for marriage; etc.

    Third, for religion to be considered a social program, it would include fellowship opportunities that increase community involvement. This might include pancake breakfasts, community-wide flea-markets, plays, performances, concerts, car washes, and so on.

    Of course, religion provides all these services and more to the community.
    I, for one, don’t believe for a moment that only religion can provide these services. But for religion to no longer be necessary, it might be required that secular organizations do a better job at replacing religion in these areas. If humanist organizations are developed to fill the need for social programs (women’s shelters, outreach for homeless & elderly, afterschool programs, etc.), this would give viable alternatives to religious organizations, allowing those dismayed with their results to choose other programs. Even five years ago, it was apparent that faith-based initiatives were not living up to their expectations:

    After five years of aggressively implementing a Bush-style faith-based initiative in Texas, positive results have proven impossible to document or measure," Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), said at an Oct. 10 Capitol Hill press conference. "Evidence points instead to a system that is unregulated, prone to favoritism and co-mingling of funds, and even dangerous to the very people it is supposed to serve." (Faith-Based Failure [AU])
    Secular community involvement becomes incumbent upon secular humanists and atheists interested in seeing the influence of religious-based organizations that provide inadequate, dangerous (abstinence only programs to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa), and ineffective programs or services more interested in proselytizing or indoctrinating others in their myths or ideologies.

    A List of Secular charities and services that I’ve been able to find:

    1. 4H (
    2. American Cancer Society (
    3. American Foundation for AIDS Research (
    4. Americans United for the Separation of Church & State (
    5. Amnesty International (
    6. Atheist Charity
    7. Doctors without borders (
    8. Earthward (
    9. Girl Scouts (
    12. Heifer Project International (
    13. Humane Society (
    14. Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (
    15. Humanitas (
    16. Mama's Kitchen (
    17. Nature Conservancy (
    18. Oxfam (
    19. Planned Parenthood (
    20. Population Connection (
    21. Public Radio (
    22. Rails to Trails (
    23. Red Cross (
    24. Sierra Club (
    25. UNICEF (
    26. United Way?
    27. V (Jim Valvano) Foundation for Cancer Research (
    28. Women for Women International (
    29. World Wildlife Fund (
    30. Zoological Society of San Diego (

    Alcoholism/Substance Abuse Recovery:
    31. Moderation Management (
    32. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (
    33. SMART Recovery (
    34. Women for Sobriety (

    Related Posts
  • Why study religion scientifically and what are we able to objectively examine
  • ?
  • Five Stages of Religious Evolution