Friday, April 1, 2011

This blog is no longer active

Join us at the new Wordpress site:

http://www.endhereditaryreligion.com

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monicks atheist list

Test

con referencia a:

"@_7654_ @_Flynn_ @_fredh @_Layla_ @_Modus_Operandi @0b03tt3 @0OO00OO0 @0ph3lia @105Ross @123GoGeorge @1atheist @1azylizzie @1liberalmind @1minion @26Tim @2bookworm @303dk"
- We Are Wonderful Atheists! « Monicks: Unleashed (ver en Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I feel like Alice in Wonderland

Five justices have pretty much set a course that will wreck our democracy as it was conceived by the founders. Ok, wait a minute. The founders gave the vote only to landowning aristocracy and not to their slaves. After two hundred years the disenfranchised managed to wrest a piece of the action, but the five conservative justices on the court have succeeded in nullifying all the progress that the disenfranchised were able to achieve. About the only thing the lamentable court decision didn't do was take away the right of women to vote. Otherwise, we are back to square one with powerful wealthy white men calling the shots.

con referencia a:

"Conservatives may not know how to govern when they are in power, but they sure know how to make certain that centrists, progressives and liberals are not given a sustained opportunity to work their will."
- John Dean: A Supreme Victory for Special Interests - Truthdig (ver en Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Anti-government attitudes need not kill health care reform

This research concludes there is evidence that current anti-government sentiment need not foreclose the public option. However the pundits pretty much agree that it will be impossible to pass a health care reform bill that contains any kind of public option. Support for such an option is generally positive according to public opinion polls.

So why isn't congress listening to the polls? One theory is that their paymasters, are against a public option because it would destroy private companies.

The study was done before health care reform became a red hot issue following the rise of the Obama administration. It would be interesting to see how things have changed.

There are now so many Idiot Americans being constantly stirred up against the government that it may be impossible to effectively govern anymore until the public resentment against the government is attacked successfully. There is no other counterbalance strong enough to oppose corrupt greedy corporations. Who it may go without saying are responsible for corrupting our political system.

Somehow, the public has to understand that the demagogues deliberately destroying faith in the government must be effectively countered.

con referencia a: Must health policy for the uninsured defer to current anti-government sentiment?. (ver en Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New posts are now appearing on our WordPress site

The End of Hereditary Religion is getting bigger and better. Besides myself, two other writers are contributing posts and we have a forum operating in conjunction with the blogs. WordPress offers many features that encourage reader interaction, such as InstantDebate and of course the forum. Zemanta is a plugin that scans blog text and suggests artwork or Wiki definitions based on keywords. This is a wonderful tool to give readers more depth and background for the key ideas in a post.

We plan to mirror the Apostate Alley resources currently posted on Secular Earth and also the secular parenting resources. These resources consist of web sites, blogs, videos, DVDs, books and so forth that people recovering from religion or thinking of leaving a relgion will find useful. What sets our resources apart is the international scope of our effort.

The current Blogspot blog will remain in operation until the major content is shifted to the new blog.

http://www.endhereditaryreligion.com

If you are following this blog consider following the new blog as well. At least until we get everything moved.

Thanks for reading this blog. You can find us also on facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10129512247

You can follow me on Twitter: @librehombre

Saturday, February 14, 2009

We Must Tread With Awful Reverence -- Not!

For centuries organized religions built their followers by imposing their dogma and superstition on non-consenting children too helplessly naive and powerless to reject what they are commanded to believe. Much of what is so maladaptive and destructive about organized religion will be discarded if religious institutions have to create their theology to pass the scrutiny and questioning of mature minds that value free inquiry and demand sensible answers to their questions. If several generations can be raised free of hereditary religion, totally new and reformed religions will have an opportunity to form. As things stand now, humanity is stuck in the iron age.

President Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, said,
"This doctrine ['that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers'] is the genuine fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors, wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold." --Thomas Jefferson: Report for University of Virginia, 1818.
The End of Hereditary Religion provides news, research resources, and discussions about how to end hereditary religions. The scope is international and a main focus is working to eliminate the early and intensive indoctrination of minor children. Parents are the controlling vector for perpetuating hereditary religions. The debilitating effects of present day organized religions more appropriate for ancient tribes than for modern people, can be and must be ended. Educating parents and motivating them to change is the goal.

No three year old toddler looks up at their parents and says, "yes, please mommy and daddy sentence me to your ancient primitive religious delusions for life". If a small child was aware of what was coming they probably would say, "let me develop the maturity of mind and ability to wisely choose whether I want a religion in my life and if so, which one."

Children deserve to be listened to and to be treated with dignity as individuals. The days when they were treated as chattel are past. Accordingly, parents should only have a revocable privilege to supervise the medical treatment, education, and religious involvement or freedom from religion of their children -- not an inherent right. Such a parental privilege carries with it the obligation to make decisions for children from the perspective of the child, not the parent. Parental decisions must not harm them physically or mentally and must never, never foreclose a child's future options.

Attending to children's rights is a timely undertaking as the year 2008 has been declared the year that child rights will be mainlined. It is about time. The United Nations International Convention on the rights of the Child (CRC) was developed in 1989. The UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights will celebrate a 60 year anniversary this year.

Friday, February 13, 2009

UNICEF Freedom of Thought Poster


I came accross this photograph of a beautiful little orphan girl taken by Noel Gomski (who granted his permission to use this shot). You can see his other photos on Flickr. This photo appears on a web site in the Philippines: http://simplykat.blogspot.com/

Children have the right to freedom of thought and this includes about religious matters.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sharia law is a travesty for children

Please watch this video and consider adding your name to the global petition:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=lWtFoRe6a8Y (against Sharia law)

http://www.shariapetition.com/

There is also a petition just for citizens of the UK.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Catch 22 of saving children from emotional abuse

This is the text of my recent post to Amazon.com's Parenting Discussion Forum:

The catch 22 of religiously inspired child abuse
Share
Today at 4:15am | Edit Note | Delete
An Amazon Parents forum participant writes:

I think everyone should just chill. The fact of the matter is, parents will teach their children whatever they want and as long as it doesn't fall under abuse as defined by the Dept. of Social Services, there is nothing anyone else can do about it.

BAM! CASE CLOSED
+++++++

Richard replies:

No, the case is far from closed, as you put it. This discussion is about parents subjecting children to harm through actions they control, and indeed are complicit in. The harm is to their child's mental health and emotional well being, leaving aside the gross violation of their personhood. Can you find a state in the country that does not have laws against inflicting emotional abuse on another person? Such laws do exist, but....

No minor child can walk into child protective services and seek help to escape the mind control program they are subjected to. The damage to their intellectual development and emotional health occurs over many years. In the best of circumstances, the crime of inflicting emotional abuse on another person is extremely difficult to prosecute -- even when the abuse is blatant and has no religious overtones. The only persons legally able to speak for a child are the same persons complicit in the abuse. That is the nub of the problem. That is the catch 22.

For anyone reading this that may suspect they know of a child that is being abused, here are the behavioral indications (quoted from the non-profit web page Helpguide.org):

"Behavioral signs. Since emotional child abuse does not leave concrete marks, the effects may be harder to detect. Is the child excessively shy, fearful or afraid of doing something wrong? Behavioral extremes may also be a clue. A child may be constantly trying to parent other children for example, or on the opposite side exhibit antisocial behavior such as uncontrolled aggression. Look for inappropriate age behaviors as well, such as an older child exhibiting behaviors more commonly found in younger children.

Caregiver signs. Does a caregiver seem unusually harsh and critical of a child, belittling and shaming him or her in front of others? Has the caregiver shown anger or issues with control in other areas? A caregiver may also seem strangely unconcerned with a child's welfare or performance. Keep in mind that there might not be immediate caregiver signs. Tragically, many emotionally abusive caregivers can present a kind outside face to the world, making the abuse of the child all the more confusing and scary."

Children have rights that are trampled in the United States by a legal doctrine that favors parents religious free exercise rights over consideration of children's welfare interests. Experts assert this legal doctrine is on weak moral ground because it is based solely on patriarchal tradition, which of course is male privilige written large.

If you examine the history of human rights progress you can see a clear pattern. The starting point is a widespread harmful cultural practice and a legal system that shelters the rights abuses. Slavery was legal because rich white landowners controlled the legal apparatus and they had a financial stake in having slaves. In the South they pointed to their bibles as justification for the practice. The abolition movement started in the mercantile North where the financial stake in agriculture did not exist.

Drunk driving, spousal abuse, miscegenation; and segregation in housing, education and public life, all follow the pattern. Women were denied the right to vote in the USA until 1920. Blacks were subject to Jim Crow. A white male power structure and public indifference fostered these injustices. Recall that most judges were white males until very recently and spousal rape could not be prosecuted. Likewise, the hierarchy of most organized religions is in the hands of white males. Coincidence?

Until women achieve full and complete equality with men imbalances and injustices will continue. Protecting children and advancing women's rights are key to solving many of our problems.

We see the legal system now fosters and protects religious mind control programs. In state legislatures around the country, Christian fascist leaders such as Tony Perkins, Michael Ferris and James Dobson (all are dominionists that would replace our democracy with a theonomy and all are part of the Council for National Policy cabal) were able to bulldoze state legislatures into revoking and revising truancy laws to enable sham homeschools to mushroom. Estimates are that as many as 1.5 million children are sequestered in their own homes and subject to brain washing 24/7. I have posted extensively on this topic.

Adherents, clerics and anyone who gets a paycheck from a church has a financial stake in maintaining the membership of their congregations. All congregations, without exception, must maintain a constant flow of new adherents in the front door as the old members fade away and can no longer chip in the collection plate. Religion is a vast multi-billion dollar enterprise. What business do you know that could allow their customers to die away and not replace them?

Organized religion has adapted the most sophisticated public relations tools known to modern man. According to their PR, society would collapse from moral rot if people were not sitting in the pews listening to and absorbing ancient fables and myths. They trumpet their charitable works, yet some recent studies show that only about five percent of tax exempt donations actually go to charity. The rest is spent maintaining property and I suppose on coffee and cake for the members. Essentially what you have is a social club operated for the benefit of the members at the expense of the tax paying public.

A new facebook group, Abolish tax breaks for faith-based groups, is devoted to countering unfair tax laws that favor groups just because they believe in mythology :

http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?id=1077947340&gv=4#/group.php?gid=48134307000

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sarah Palin must be stopped

No one seems aware that Palin is a pawn of the dominionists and would be controlled by the same people that have rigged elections and put their puppet GW Bush in office for the last 8 years. Palin's AOG churches in Alaska belong to a radical breakaway sect that the main AOG hierarchy has disavowed. The murky details are not being published by the mainstream media. To go behind the curtain please read the articles on Talk2Action starting with this one:

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/9/1/24846/28141/Front_Page/The_Council_For_National_Policy_Meets_In_Minn_Vets_Palin

and there is more background on CNP here:

http://watch.pair.com/cnp.html

These people are identified by Chris Hedges, Michelle Goldman and others as Christian fascists -- they are not your fathers right-wing fundamentalists. Can you say seditious traitors?

Sarah Palin must be stopped at all costs. Please pass this information along to your networks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A prayer for freedom of identity, September 25, 2007 Amartya Sen
By
Brian Griffith (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (Issues of Our Time) (Paperback)
Sen is so eloquent it's overkill. To a global but divided world he speaks of identity as a multi-layered matter of personal choice: "The same person can, for example, be a British citizen, of Malaysian origen, with Chinese racial characteristics, a stock broker, a non-vegitarian, an asthmatic, a linguist, a bodybuilder, a poet, an opponent of abortion, a bird-watcher, an astrologer, and one who believes that God invented Darwin to test the gullible." (p. 24)

Sen notes several popular ways of dealing with identity. One he calls "identity disregard", and another is "singular affiliation".

In "identity disregard" we dismiss all shared identity, and treat each person as an economic self-interest group of one. As some proponents of this view argue, "If it's not in your interest, why have you chosen to do as you did?". Sen notes that this assumption, "makes huge idiots out of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, and rather smaller idiots out of the rest of us." (p. 21)

"Singular affiliation" on the other hand, defines people by their membership in one (only one) of their many social circles. This can be an externally imposed label, as in stereotypes of what Westerners are, or in can be self-imposed general conformity -- as when Oscar Wilde said, "Most people are other people. ... Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation".

Feeling both social and an individual, Sen launches his excellent exploration of identity in the modern world. He visits the great "West VS Non-West" divide, where he dispenses with the usual hoopla:

"... in disputing the gross and natsy generalization that members of the Islamic civilization have a belligerant culture, it is common enough to argue that they actually share a culture of peace and goodwill. But this simply replaces one stereotype with another, and furthermore, it involves accepting an implicit presumption that people who happen to be Muslim by religion would be similar in other ways as well." (p. 42)

In many corners of the world Sen shows the subtle handicaps which delimited identity can impose. He mentions South African doctor and anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele, who describes the impact of polarized identity on the AIDS crisis: The "mistrust of science that has traditionally been controlled by white people" hampers medical efforts; open discussion of the problem is often suppressed by "the fear of acknowledging an epidemic that could easily be used to fan the worst racial stereotyping". (p. 92)

Always sounding magisterial, Sen wades into the home-town issues of British multiculturalism, political correctitude, and the struggles of "globalism vs anti-globalism". He distinguishes between the desire for ethnic groups to leave one another alone, and the desire for a freedom to choose among many cultural options. To those who urge funding schools for each religion he is blunt: "It is unfair to children who have not yet had much opportunity of reasoning and choice to be put into rigid boxes guided by one specific criterion of categorization, and to be told: 'That is your identity and this is all you are going to get'." (p. 118)

To people who believe their identity is more a fate than a choice, Sen affirms we can do better: "We have to make sure, above all, that our mind is not halved by a horizon". The book's opening dedication sounds almost like a Buddhist vow to seek enlightenment: "To Antara, Nandana, Indrani, and Kabir with the hope of a world less imprisoned by illusion".

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Atheist Experience: Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die

The Atheist Experience: Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die: "The West needs to buck up and firmly communicate that everyone gets freedom of conscience, but not freedom of behavior, and certainly not freedom from offense. And if the Islamists or any of the other People of the Book don't like it, they can Fuck Right Off. Jews, Catholics, Protestant, Jains, Zoroastrians, Pastafarians - whatever - get with the program or don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

Friday, August 29, 2008

VIETNAM: Dramatic rise in child abuse cases

Disciplining children by striking or humiliating them has traditionally been a normal part of good parenting in Vietnam

HANOI, 29 August 2008 (IRIN) - When Tran Van De strikes his grandchildren, he says he does it out of love. "I know it hurts; it hurts me too," says the 68-year old retiree, a grandfather of four. "But it helps them become good citizens. That was the way I was taught when I was a child. It's not abuse. I love my grandchildren. How could I abuse them?"

In many countries, a parent hitting a child or leaving them in a house alone would be reported to the authorities. A social worker would be sent to investigate. The police might be summoned and child abuse charges could even be filed against the parent.

In Vietnam, this scenario would not happen. There is no accepted definition of "child abuse". There are no social workers. There are no specific laws against physical punishment, according to Duong Tuyet Mien, a professor at Hanoi Law University, and other experts in the field.

Disciplining children by striking or humiliating them has traditionally been a normal part of good parenting in Vietnam. It is a part of good teaching. Indeed, it would be irresponsible not to use physical punishment if a child misbehaved, according to parents interviewed by IRIN and authorities at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

For complete article go here:

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=80059

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Join with Maryam Namazie and CEMB to defeat radical Islam



Maryam Namazie, the extremely courageous Iranian human rights activist based in Great Britain, gave this presentation to explain the purpose of the Council of ExMuslims of Britain (CEMB). According to the Koran, apostasy is punishable by stoning to death. In the west, radical Islamists have access to Internet web sites they can use to condemn and threaten Muslims who dare to leave Islam, or convert to another faith, or speak out against the misogyny, oppression and hatred of radical political Islam.Peace loving people around the world must support CEMB and other organizations and people who are inspired to action by Maryam's vision and bravery. Here are actions you can take to support CEMB. (Go to http://tinyurl.com/2dwu4e)

* Sign on to CEMB campaigns and urgent actions.

* Add your name and statement to CEMB's list of members or supporters.

* Volunteer your time and expertise. CEMB particularly needs help in charity law, conference organising, researching, writing and broadcasting.

* Tell others about CEMB by forwarding recent media coverage or CEMB press releases to everyone you know...

* Donate money

* Participate in the CEMB forum discussions

* Join the Facebook group, "1,000,000 activists for Maryam Namazie"

According to the writer and philosopher A. C. Grayling, CEMB's manifesto constitutes a bill of rights which is absolutely necessary for everyone, non-religious and otherwise, to adopt and observe now that the world is again experiencing, with such bitterness, widespread religion-generated difficulties.

CEMB manifesto

We, non-believers, atheists, and ex-Muslims, are establishing or joining the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to insist that no one be pigeonholed as Muslims with culturally relative rights nor deemed to be represented by regressive Islamic organisations and "Muslim community leaders".

Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered 'apostates' - punishable by death in countries under Islamic law.

By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism.

Whilst religion or the lack thereof is a private affair, the increasing intervention of and devastation caused by religion and particularly Islam in contemporary society has necessitated our public renunciation and declaration. We represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.

Taking the lead from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, we demand:

1. Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.
2. Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious 'sanctities'.
3. Freedom of religion and atheism.
4. Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.
5. Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people's rights and freedoms.
6. Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict woman's independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.
7. Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.
8. Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.
9. Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.
10. Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.

Editorial comment


The Koran, Bible, and Jewish bible all contain harsh words and advocate cruel treatment to intimidate believers from leaving and non-believers for refusing to believe. This is ignorant tribal thinking unworthy of modern people. Join the gathering storm of protest against such stupidity and backwardness. Insist your faith community openly, publically, emphatically and continually renounces all the passages in your holy text and directives that contain injunctions against apostasy and non-belief. Withdraw financial support if they refuse. An even more effective strategy is to find a more modern approach to search for answers to the transcendental questions life poses (if you believe such questions are worthwhile pondering) and vote with your feet. Be sure to tell your cleric why you are leaving. You have the power to force your faith community to conform to fair and reasonable demands. Don't be a lamb, be a lion. Maryam Namazie is showing you the way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The USA Should Institute International Standards on Child Rights

James G. Dwyer, The Relationship Rights of Children. Cambridge University Press, 2006, $ 55.00 hardcover.

The United States and Somalia stand as the only two nations in the world that refuse to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document that lays down the basic rights and moral standing of children. Nor has the U.S. attempted to adopt the comprehensive legislation passed in many countries, such as England's The Children Act, which focuses on all matters pertaining to children, with the child's welfare squarely defining all legal actions.

James Dwyer, in his complexly argued book, The Relationship Rights of Children, believes that, while the United States goes far in protecting parents" rights, it is often at the expense of the welfare of children. He does not offer why the United States leans so far in favor of parents (there are complicated historical and cultural reasons for our "difference"), but instead makes a strong case, based on two centuries of philosophical reasoning, for why children deserve the same moral and legal consideration as adults, even when this consideration steps on the rights of adults.

The debate about children's rights, when it takes place at all in this country, is usually carried on by legal scholars, with the occasional contribution of social scientists who either study child development or who offer measures of children's economic and psychological well-being. With Dwyer, we are offered extensive arguments from the philosopher giants, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls and others on the value of the moral autonomy of the individual. These philosophers, he admits, focus their arguments on adults, not children. In fact, he notes, John Stuart Mill, in his theory of liberty, specifically states: "[this] is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties." Not so for Dwyer. He makes a compelling case that the same moral rights apply to children.

"Critically then, each of us competent adults has rights of self-determination because it is generally assumed as a moral matter that our interests matter, and matter equally regardless of our status in society. This empirical assumption certainly applies to children as well, and if we are to respect children as equals, we must extend the moral assumption to them also--that is, that their interests matter as much as do adults' interests in state decision making."

But how do children know what their interests are, and if they did, how can they assert them? Children are, of course, dependent upon adults to do so for them. But which adults? Here Dwyer argues forcefully that although the law professes to promote "the best interests of children," in fact it is far more protective of parental rights, and that these rights are often based on a purely biological claim, not any test of parental ability. Dwyer promotes a view of parents as caretakers, not automatic owners of children. He focuses his criticism on laws creating parental rights at birth, and protecting them in events of abuse and neglect after birth. His solution is to drastically re-formulate the law so that, among other requirements, a birth mother must sign a "Parental Vow" promising love and support within two days after birth in order to become a legal parent, but the state may file a petition within seven days to determine in a court proceeding whether the mother is, in fact, unsuitable for one of many reasons, including age, mental incapacity, past conduct of violence against family members, etc. Fathers achieve legal parenthood only if the birth mother consents and they are married. Fathers not married to the mother can only be deemed legal parents if the mother consents and the father petitions the court, passing all the tests of adequate parenting. Non-biological adults may also petition the court within 30 days and their claim will be determined by the court. Following birth, similar strict tests are applied in cases of abuse or neglect of children, allowing the court to more easily terminate parental rights than is now the case.

His view of children's rights privileges birth mothers but gives little other advantage to biological ties. Unwed fathers still have an obligation to support but not to access unless they have passed all the above tests. Adults who have acted like parents, or have firm attached relationships to children, like stepfathers, have rights over non-involved biological fathers, and a child may have more than two significant adults in his life. From this perspective, attachment trumps biology and a parent must earn the right to become and to continue as a parent.

This concept of parents as caretakers or trustees rather than the owners of children who have independent rights is much more in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and with most European efforts at establishing a code of children's rights. Some of its obvious consequences would be a move toward no corporal punishment and ultimately the right of children themselves, as they grow older, to petition to "divorce" their parents--the course taken in Europe.

Grounded in a strong tradition of moral philosophy, this child-centered approach adds valuable support to some American legal scholars and others who have been moving more timidly in this direction, most notably with a new revision of the influential American Law Institutes" treatise on Parent and Child where "de facto" parents (such as stepparents) without biological ties would be given greater access rights.

A limitation of this book is that Dwyer limits himself to the "protective" rights of young children and does not wander into the thornier "choice rights" of maturing adolescents. For instance: does the protective state have the right to insist on drug testing for children before they may join any after-school activity, as the Supreme Court recently ruled? or, are the rights of children served when in one courtroom a 13-year-old who steals a candy bar may be given a lawyer and nearly all the due process rights of a criminal defendant while down the hall a 13-year-old whose physical custody is being determined following divorce may have no voice or representation at all? Perhaps this philosopher will tackle maturing children's rights in his next book.

Mary Ann Mason

University of California, Berkeley

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Excerpt from article by Chris Hedges author of American Fascist
http://www.theocracywatch.org/chris_hedges_nov24_04.htm

THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE AND LAW

The movement seeks the imprint of law and science. It must discredit the rational disciplines that are the pillars of the Enlightenment to abolish the liberal polity of the Enlightenment. This corruption of science and law is vital in promoting the doctrine. Creationism, or "intelligent design," like Eugenics for the Nazis, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline to destroy the discipline of science itself. This is why the Christian Right is working to bring test cases to ensure that school textbooks include "intelligent design" and condemn gay marriage.

The drive by the Christian Right to include crackpot theories in scientific or legal debate is part of the campaign to destroy dispassionate and honest intellectual inquiry. Facts become interchangeable with opinions. An understanding of reality is not to be based on the elaborate gathering of facts and evidence. The ideology alone is true. Facts that get in the way of the ideology can be altered. Lies, in this worldview, become true. Hannah Arendt called this effort "nihilistic relativism" although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

The Christian Right has fought successfully to have Creationist books sold in national park bookstores in the Grand Canyon, taught as a theory in public schools in states like Alabama and Arkansas. "Intelligent design" is promoted in Christian textbooks. All animal species, or at least their progenitors, students read, fit on Noah's ark. The Grand Canyon was created a few thousand years ago by the flood that lifted up Noah's ark, not one billion years ago, as geologists have determined. The earth is only a few thousand years old in line with the literal reading of Genesis. This is not some quaint, homespun view of the world. It is an insidious attempt to undermine rational scientific research and intellectual inquiry.

Tom Delay, following the Columbine shootings, gave voice to this assault when he said that the killings had taken place "because our school systems teach children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud." (speech Delay gave in the House on June 16, 1999 )

"What convinces masses are not facts," Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism, "and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the "masses" inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time." (p.351)

There are more than 6 million elementary and secondary school students attending private schools and 11.5 percent of these students attend schools run by the Christian Right. These "Christian" schools saw an increase of 46 percent in enrollment in the last decade. The 245,000 additional students accounted for 75 percent of the total rise in private school enrollment.

The Threat of Christian Fascism is Hidden, but Very Real



For more on fascism:

American Fascists, The Christian Right and The War on America, by Chris Hedges
Kingdom Coming, by Michelle Goldberg
American Theocracy, The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury by Kevin Philips
Reports on the web include:
http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm#_edn14
http://www.theocracywatch.org/
http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v19n3/clarkson_dominionism.html
http://www.theocracywatch.org/chris_hedges_nov24_04.htm
http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/1/5/155457/0298
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/12/0081322

http://www.amazon.com/review/product/1419644386/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?_encoding=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Amazon.com reviewer

Liars for Jesus

February 18, 2008
By Steven L. Roberts (Madison, WI) - See all my reviews

Liars for Jesus by Chris Rodda is one of the best written and most important books about contemporary American politics that I have read in years. The only problem with this book is that it was apparently published with the author's own money, making its availability somewhat limited. This book should be widely read and discussed, because it helps explain why the Christian Right seems so incomprehensibly loony to most of us who are not part of that movement, and, conversely, why they attack the rest of us with such unfettered zeal.

There has been a series of revisionist "history" books published since the end of WWII which give a "Christian" version of American history that attempts to paint the Founding Fathers and subsequent American culture in a way that is in agreement with contemporary Fundamentalism. We have now had a couple of generations of conservative Christians who have been buying into this version of history and reacting angrily to an America that assumes fundamental principals like the separation of church and state to be at the core of what America stands for.

Author Rodda systematically lists and then busts a series of myths that these spurious history books have generated. She leaves no stone unturned in doing so.

Things get really scary when she starts quoting Supreme Court opinions written by Rennquist, Thomas and Burger, and it becomes apparent that members of our highest court do not know the difference between real history and Fundamentalist wishful thinking.

The book is a fascinating study in how the desire for a different set of facts can, over time, morph into an alternative if deluded "reality".

My Comment:

There is an insidious clandestine effort underway driven by Christian fascists to polute the common person's understanding of American history and the part religion plays in that history. This is not merely the usual difference of interpretation that ethical historians normally write about. As Michelle Goldman explains in her book, "Kingdom Comming", what is dangerous is that a gradual shift has occurred so that what would have been unthinkable rubbish ten years ago is now embraced by the fascists as absolute truth.

Others, trained from childhood to follow authority blindly accept the lies as truth. Since kids in homeschools never encounter any other point of view they readily accept the lies. Which is exactly why their misbegotten parents sequester them in their sham schools.

Accordingly, this propaganda posing as history is being freely passed around over the Internet and incorporated in textbooks sold to the child abusers in charge of lying to their children. Revisionist history books by several different authors (David Barton, Peter Marshall, Mark A. Beliles (Author), and Stephen K. McDowell to name a few) are widely used in sham homeschools along with grossly distorted books on science that are teaching ID and creation myths and calling it science.

Parents do this because they trust the likes of James Dobson, Michael Ferris, Phylis Schafly, and Pat Robertson and they have no critical faculties. Dobson, the high priest of religious child abuse, insists the most important quality a child can have is obedience. According to him children are inherently incorrigible and they must be whipped to convince them to obey what they are told to do. These are the methods totalitarians use.

We know from engaging parents on public discussion forums how deranged these people are and how futile it is to try and hold an intelligent discussion with them. A constant retort is, "well that is your opinion", facts mean absolutely nothing. Their brains are reduced to a worthless pile of rotten cells that serve no function.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dr. Marlene Winnell

This is a CNN interview on December 14, 2007, where Dr. Winnell explains how toxic Christianity contributed to Mathew Murray's shooting spree on December 9th.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Secular Parenting is better

Some wisdom on the art of secular parenting, via the Kiosk at the Secular Web:

It starts off with:

Earlier this year on the way home from school, she told me about a chat she'd had that day with Mrs. W, her teacher at [her] Lutheran preschool. "I told Mrs. W I think God is just pretend. But I said I'm still thinking about it. And I asked if she thinks God is pretend."

I looked at her in the rearview mirror, munching on the apple I'd for once remembered to bring for her snack, so beautifully innocent of the fact that she had stood with her little toes at the edge of an age-old chasm, shouting a courageous and ancient question to her teacher on the far rim. My daughter, you see, hasn't heard that there are unaskable questions.

"So what'd Mrs. W say?"

"She said no," Laney said, matter-of-factly. "She said, 'I think God is very real.'"

"Uh huh. Then what did you say, Laney?"

"I said, 'That's okay--as long as you're still thinking about it, too.'"
It closes by noting that:

I often find myself humbly suggesting that it is possible to raisechildren every bit as ethical, caring, loving, humane, inspired and well-adjusted without religion as with it. In reality (my favorite place to be, after all) I don't believe parenting without religion is merely "as good" as parenting with it. I think it is immeasurably better. I think it blows the doors off religious parenting in everyrespect--powerful inquiry, reasoned ethics, ecstatic inspiration, cosmic humility and profound humanity--and I am floored by my good fortune to live in one of the few human generations to date when raising children without religious indoctrination is a practical possibility.


-- Dale McGowan, Parenting Beyong Belief

Monday, June 9, 2008

False reasons given for why people become atheists

Religious theists sometimes try to dismiss atheism and atheists by claiming that people only become atheists due to bad experiences as kids with false or bad religions. This myth allows theists to imagine that atheists' experiences with "false" religion has nothing to do with their own "true" religion, that atheistic critiques of religion don't really impact their own religion, and that if atheists only learned about "true" religion then they would abandon their atheism.

None of these beliefs are true — at least in the sense that there is a necessary logical progression involved. We must, however, grant that there are some strong correlations involved. People who grow up in a very positive religious environment are probably less likely to question the religious beliefs they are taught and abandon their religion, much less theism itself. Such an event is possible, but it is less likely.

Similarly, a person who grows up in a home where religion is used as a tool for abuse and control may be a bit more likely to question the foundations of that religion. This, then, can more readily lead them to give up the religious beliefs taught to them and perhaps even belief in God as well. Once again, such a result is not guaranteed because there are many who do not follow that path, but it isn't uncommon either.

Austin Cline writing on About.com

Myth: Atheism is Caused by False Religion, Bad Experiences with Bad Religions

Go here for the entire article:
http://atheism.about.com/od/knowledgeofreligiongod/a/BadReligion.htm

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Child Militants in Pakistan Conned into Suicide

Boys of all ages are subject to exploitation at madrassahs, say child rights groups
PESHAWAR,
26 May 2008 (IRIN) - Authorities are investigating allegations that militants running some madrassas (Islamic schools) in Swat Valley, north-western Pakistan, are recruiting and training children as soldiers. According to local newspaper reports, the police are questioning six men accused of such offences.

The Swat Valley area, some 160km northeast from Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar, has seen intense fighting between militants and government forces since November 2007.

However, an agreement was finalised on 21 May between representatives of the militants and government officials in NWFP, under which it is hoped peace will return to the area.

Shaukat Salim, the district coordinator of the Child Rights Committee (CRC) of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), an Islamabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), told IRIN that child militancy had been on the rise in the area.

Child militants caught

Salim said that about 25 to 30 madrassa students, aged between seven and 15, had been used by leaders of extremist outfits in Swat to carry out attacks. These children have been detained by security forces and are being held at Swat District Jail.

According to Salim, six others students from a madrassa in the Kabal tehsil (sub-district) have been apprehended by the police for their alleged involvement in an attempted suicide attack.

Salim also cited the story of Abid, 12, who he said had been forced to wear a suicide bomb jacket with which he was to blow up the district courts. He was also caught and is among those being held at Swat jail, Salim said.

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=78400

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corporal punishment key reason for school dropouts

For the complete story go to:

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=78275

LAHORE,
18 May 2008 (IRIN) - Quite often, Bilal Javed, 10, stands opposite the school he once attended and peers past the gates. An able pupil, who excelled at mathematics during his five years in school, Bilal misses lessons. But he has not been to school for four months and says he is "too scared" to venture through the entrance again.

Bilal's father, Asad Javed, 33, explained: "My son was good at his work and we were eager he gain an education. But one day he was beaten so badly by his science teacher, who hit him with a shoe, that he came home badly bruised and in great pain”.

“I had to give him a painkilling tablet so he could sleep," said Asad, who works as a cleaner.

The boy was punished for talking in class. He has, since then, refused to return and his parents say they are helpless.

"We want him to be educated, but we don't want him to be beaten up," said Bilal’s father, who himself went to school for only three years.

According to the Islamabad-based Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating the rights of children, 35,000 high school pupils in Pakistan drop out of the education system each year due to corporal punishment.

Such beatings at schools are also responsible for one of the highest dropout rates in the world, which stands at 50 percent during the first five years of education, according to SPARC.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Recovery advice from an old apostate to a new apostate

The following advice was posted on a Mormon recovery site. (go to http://www.secularearth.com and look in Support/Apostate Alley for a comprehensive list of Mormon recovery sites.)

1. Identify and question all the rules you've ever been taught about what's good and bad. Understand how you make those judgments and insist on solid reasons for making them in the future.

2. Identify and question your core beliefs about yourself and how they affect your behavior. If you have any or all of these, work on losing them:

a. Nothing really bad can happen to me, because I'm a good person and/or there's this benevolent force that watches over me.

b. I deserve to be punished when I'm bad.

c. If something goes wrong, it's probably at least partially my fault.

3. Develop the habit of questioning others' behavior and motivation before your own.

4. Don't assume that there's a universal set of rules that everyone is or knows they should be playing by. In fact one to four of every hundred people, depending on which expert you choose to believe, actually lack the conscience that you just naturally operate by. They ignore "the rules" and either try to hurt others or just don't care if they do. Joseph Smith was one of them, and I suspect every single one of his successors has been as well.

5. Watch out for the way of thinking where you believe what people say based on words and feelings, and insist on proof that something is right or true instead of proof that it is wrong or untrue.

6. Learn about and practice critical thinking. It's a discipline with a specific set of skills that you've been conditioned to avoid.

7. Remember, skepticism is good. You might find an online skeptics' group and just observe how the members think and talk about things. There are pompous asses everywhere - especially online, where many of them find the attention and respect they don't get in the physical world - but those for whom skepticism is a way of life can teach you a lot.

The stupidity, as you call it, is really insidious. It got me big time, some 20 years after quitting the church. I don't even think it was a church thing, necessarily, but the church didn't help. I got a lot of dumb ideas from it
and from parents who got their dumb ideas from it.

I just quit and never thought much about it until a profoundly awful, nearly ruinous life experience forced me to. The suggestions above are the product of that thinking. You have an advantage in that you're thinking about it now, before someone else comes along and really sticks it to you. That's what happened to me.

I felt stupid, too, until I discovered the vast secret club of people who'd had the same experience. Then I realized I'm just a person who was in a particular place at a particular time, with a particular set of beliefs about love and the world and myself, who happened to meet a person who took advantage of those beliefs.

If you were a convert, you could say the same thing about the church. If not, you were born into a cult started by a con man. It IS a scam. You know this already. For me, just admitting I'd been scammed was a major hurdle.

Smart people get scammed every day, in and out of the church. It can happen to anyone, and anyone who doesn't know that is a prime target. Understanding how it happens and how susceptible you are is a serious advantage in life.

Leaving a religion has costs

If you're like everyone else, you weren't told all of the weirdness at the beginning.

At the beginning, it seemed like a very reasonable, family-oriented church. The weirdness came in tiny bits and pieces, and, before you knew it--there it was!

Or, if you grew up in the church, how could you have known differently?

Don't blame yourself for not seeing past what you were given; 32 years ago, the internet did not exist, and research was difficult (if not impossible). Who would think that a CHURCH was lying to them?

You'll feel better, in time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Political Consequences of Child Abuse

Alice Miller
The Journal of Psycohohistory
http://www.psychohistory.com/htm/06_politic.html

In the lives of all the tyrants I examined, I found without exception paranoid trains of thought bound up with their biographies in early childhood and the repression of the experiences they had been through. Mao had been regularly whipped by his father and later sent 30 million people to their deaths, but he hardly ever admitted the full extent of the rage he must have felt toward his own father, a very severe teacher who had tried through beatings to "make a man" out of his son. Stalin caused millions to suffer and die because even at the height of his power his actions were determined by unconscious infantile fear of powerlessness. Apparently his father, a poor cobbler from Georgia, attempted to drown his frustration with liquor and whipped his son almost every day. His mother displayed psychotic traits, was completely incapable of defending her son and was usually away from home either praying in church or running the priest's household. Stalin idealized his parents right up to the end of his life and was constantly haunted by the fear of dangers that had long since ceased to exist but were still present in his deranged mind. The same might be true of many other tyrants. The groups of people they singled out for persecution and the rationalization mechanisms they employed were different in each case, but the fundamental reason behind it was probably identical. They often drew on ideologies to disguise the truth and their own paranoia. And the masses chimed in enthusiastically because they were unaware of the real motives, including those operative in their own biographies. The infantile revenge fantasies of individuals would be of no account if society did not regularly show such naive alacrity in helping to make them come true.

Comment:
Theists try to claim that atheist tyrants took more lives that Christian tyrants. Who can count up all the bodies on both sides? This article by Alice Miller probably comes closer to explaining the atrocities committed by communist tyrants, who were coincidentally atheists. Alice Miller is credited with being the first person to correctly identify the relationship between abused children and the abusers they go on to become. The entire article is noteworthy for original thinking and research.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Multinational, comparative legal study on the rights of children

The Law Library of Congress published this study. For details go to:

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/child-rights/index.html

Ancient civilizations entrusted heads of families with omnipotent authority over their children. The rather common underlying legal assumption was that children lack the capacity to discern correctly between prescribed behavioral standards, a condition that made them legally comparable to property and therefore sellable. Academicians have debated on the boundaries of patria potestas (currently translatable into parental authority). As an example, the Roman 12 Tables assigned this power to the fathers. Strict interpreters sustained that this authority was extreme and a remnant of pre-existing “practices of barbarous origin and primitive character” (Table VI, Law I, II and III. S.P. Scott, The Civil Law, Vol. XII, 64-65 (The Central Trust Company 1932)). A more conciliatory approach interpreted the precepts as having gradually evolved to restrict irresponsible and abusive exercise of such authority.

It was not until the 20th Century that the legal status of children was subjected to serious reviews and corrections. The idea that children have rights finally emerged and were embodied in Family Codes and Code of Minors. They were enacted to recognize children as “developing beings whosemoral status gradually changes” thus demanding a realistic understanding of their interests within the families and the larger social context (Introduction to Philosophical Views of Children: A Brief History in the Moral and Political Status of Children (David Archard & Colin Macleod eds., 2005)).

Children hold our hopes for a better future. Their status has been a subject of concern for lawmakers, scholars, judges, lawyers, and common citizens. National laws and regulations as well as international treaties have been dedicated to children with increased interest during the last century.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Camp Quest is unique

Camp Quest is the first residential summer camp in the history of the United States for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, or whatever other terms might be applied to those who hold to a naturalistic, not supernatural world view.

The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Camp Quest was first held in 1996 and until 2002 was operated by the Free Inquiry Group, Inc. (FIG) of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The idea for the project originated with Edwin Kagin and he and his wife Helen served as Camp Directors for the first ten years of the original Camp Quest, retiring at the end of the 2005 camp session.

Go here for complete information and the location of all the camp grounds in the USA.

http://www.camp-quest.org/

Have we made much progress since 1880?

Jacob Middleton examines how the Victorians’ obsession with death extended to
terrifying their children in order to prepare them for the grave…

By Jacob Middleton
May 2007

In 1880, the philosopher Alex­ander Bain complained about the way in which Victorian society discip­lined its children. While he saw many meth­ods as ineffect­ual, he reserved his great­est hostil­ity to what he dubbed “spiritual, ghostly, or super­natural terrors”. 1 Bain was a rationalist, heavily influenced by the utilitarian philo­sophers of the early 19th century, and his hostil­ity towards what he regarded as super­stition is therefore hardly surprising. What disturbed him most, however, was not the nature of this means of disciplin­ing children, but its ubiquity; in a society that wished to regard itself as rational and modern, most children were frightened into quiescence by the threat of supernatural terrors.

The period in which Bain was writing was one in which corporal punishment of children at school and home was habitual and the treatment to which many children was subjected was considered, even then, to be cruel and demeaning. Moreover, super­natural retrib­ution had long been considered an accept­able means of disciplining children. In The History of the Fairchild Family, probably the most successful children’s book in Victorian Britain, death is painfully visited upon those who disobey parental authority. A child might find itself burnt to death for the sin of vanity, while
illicitly consuming preserved fruit would “merely” result in a near-fatal fever. 2 Such punishments were regarded as natural consequences of disobedience, a divine retribution.

You can read the rest of this fascinating article at:

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/commentary/443/pass_grade_in_passing_on.html

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Scots humanists ask for equality in education

HSS Launches Education Campaign in The Herald

Families who don’t believe in God failed by education, Humanists say
By Andrew Denholm, Education Correspondent, The Herald, 23.04.08

Families who don't believe in God are being failed by Scotland's education system, it was claimed yesterday. The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) warned that both lessons and events such as assemblies in non-denominational schools were largely directed at those who had a Christian faith.

This Saturday, the society will launch an education campaign, founded on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which calls for the humanist view to be more widely recognised.

The (Humanist Society of Scotland) HSS will publish new curriculum material for religious and moral education lessons as well as advice to schools and parents about balancing Christian assemblies and visits from ministers with secular alternatives.

Bob McKay, education officer with the HSS, said: "The convention affirms the right of all children to an education that respects both their own cultural values and those of others.

"In Scotland, all parents have the right to raise their children in the religion of their choice, and send them to school in the expectation that their faith will be respected - which is as it should be.

"But no provision of any kind is made for the one in three Scots who have no religious belief. At present, all they can do is ask that their children be withdrawn or excluded from religious activities, which is quite simply inadequate and unfair."

Full article is here:
http://www.humanism-scotland.org.uk/news/hss-launches-education-campaign-in-the-herald.html

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Excerpt of Quaker Speech

From a speech entitled, "Should Quakers Receive The Good Samaritan Into Their Membership?" given in 1954 by Arthur Morgan. What he had to say about hereditary religion still applies today.

It is my personal feeling that Christianity at its best has greater value than any of the other great religions, but that most religions, large and small, have values that we might acquire with profit. It is my opinion, too, that the life outlook and teaching of Jesus were very different from the religion which now bears his name. If it should be true that Christians do have the one true faith whereby men may be saved, then perhaps they should keep their present attitudes, though the heavens fall. But what if they are mistaken? Suppose we consider that possibility.

A small proportion of people acquire their major life convictions through a process of intense objective inquiry and reflection. Most of us, on the other hand, get our underlying convictions chiefly by social inheritance or by the accident of circumstance. Most followers of Islam are born of Moslem parents. The same is true of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists and others. Each believes he or she has the one true faith and that others are misled by error. This is a very significant fact, of which we seldom get the full implication.

It is the general policy in each religious faith to endeavor to teach children the essentials of the faith and to surround them with such a climate of indoctrination that they will have no inclination and almost no capacity to question it or to depart from it. This is such an old, deep rooted tradition in nearly all religions that we accept it as natural, and we do not realize how it may perpetuate error and maintain barriers between peoples. This purpose of indoctrination commonly is furthered by the influences of parents and of the religious community, and in many cases by the prevailing social atmosphere. Where such influences are fairly cumulative, a natural result is that a very strong sense of inner assurance is developed concerning whatever faith is involved. It often is immune to any contrary influence.

Continues at the paragraph starting --- The result is illustrated

http://www.universalistfriends.org/quf1998.html

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Indian Baby Dropping Ritual Video



This practice is just wrong on so many levels. The Indian authorities must put a stop to this.

Media urged to play role for promoting child rights awareness

This article appears in the Pakistan Associated Press web site:

http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36879&Itemid=2

ISLAMABAD,
Apr 30 (APP): Media must play an active role in promoting awareness among people regarding child rights protection and human rights.

This was observed by the participants in a media consultation on Consequences of Corporal Punishment arranged by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held here on Wednesday.

The consultation was arranged to discuss the hazards, and alternatives to corporal punishment. The event began with a Song on Juvenile Justice produced by SPARC.

National Manager Promotion, SPARC, Ms. Fazila Gulrez briefed the participants about reasons and consequences of Corporal punishment.

Elaborating the causes, she said that the basic reason of these punishments are lack of education and awareness about the impact such punishments create on the mental growth of child.

As a result of punishment and physical abuses, children lose their interest in study and some times they adopt rebellious attitude which is a serious threat to their future.

In public schools, it has been observed that teachers use to behave harshly to make child more disciplined ignoring the consequences of such attitude and there is need to train the teachers for treating children keeping in view the individual differences and psychological needs, she added.

Fazila Gulrez said that domestic violence can include physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse. Children who witness regular acts of violence have greater emotional and behavioral problems than other children. Even very young children can be profoundly frightened and affected.

A child growing up in an abusive household learns to solve their problems using violence, rather than through more peaceful means as some of the long-term effects may include copying their parental role models and behaving in similarly destructive ways in their adult relationships,
she said.

Children may learn that it is acceptable to behave in a degrading way to other people, as they have seen this occur in the violent episodes they witnessed. Appropriate support and counselling will help children grow up learning not to abuse others, she added.

(Please go to the Pakistan AP web site for the complete article)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let´s get serious Pope Benedict

Excerpt from http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/matthew_harwood/2008/04/a_prayer_for_the_prey.html


Prior to being Christ's Vicar on Earth, Pope Benedict's previous incarnation was the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which centuries before took the biblical command to "not suffer a witch to live" seriously and went by a different name: the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

As defender of the faith, Ratzinger could have amended the Vatican's Crimen Sollicitationis [Crime of Solicitation], which originally drew guidelines for how the
church dealt with priests that used the confessional booth to solicit sex from parishioners, even the young. In 2001, Ratzinger revisited the document in a confidential letter to bishops reminding them of the strict penalties whistle blowers faced if they took the matter outside the church.

As David France reported in his book Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal, any accusation against a priest for paedophilia, as long as the allegedcrime wasn't more than 10 years ago, would trigger a church trial. The rub, however, was that the lawyers and jurors would all be priests sworn to secrecy. "Appeals," France wrote, "would go directly to an ecclesiastical tribunal in Rome, under Ratzinger's authority." More damning, priests that took part in the proceedings could not talk about them, the Irish Examiner reports, until 10 years after the child abused reached adulthood.

Lawyer Thomas O'Shea, who represented three young men allegedly olested by a former Houston seminarian, noted in the article that the Vatican's secrecy oath ensures that the statute of limitations for such crimes will have already run out in the US if any priest decided to speak out after his secrecy oath expired. The church rejected O'Shea's accusations and said Crimen Sollicitationis merely clarifies internal procedures. Nowhere in the policy are the victims and their rights mentioned, says canon lawyer Father Thomas Doyle.

Ratzinger had the power to change these polices but did nothing. He still does, Doyle told the BBC nearly two years ago, and advised that the church's policy should be: "[F]ull disclosure to the civil authorities, absolute isolation and dismissal of any accused and proven and convicted clerics, complete openness and transparency, complete openness of all financial situations, stop all barriers to the legal process and completely co-operate with the civil authorities everywhere."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Religious objectors abuse their children

NOTE: I am posting this letter that was written in 2003 only to help reveal the attitude of our government here in the 21st century. To think congress would even consider such legislation is a mark of just how corrupted our system has become in the service of religion. I will follow up to find out what happened to the legislation. Perhaps this travesty was defeated. We can only hope so.





Letter from a Former Amish Child Sawmill Worker to Congress

United States Senate
Washington,DC

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC
October 21, 2003

Senators and Representatives:

I was born and raised Amish. Both my brother and I were forced at a very young age to work in a sawmill that was owned and operated by our Amish uncle. As soon as we left elementary school at age 14 it was decided by various leaders in the community that we would work on the sawmill because our family was poor and needed the money. We protested this decision, but our protests were overruled by the leaders in the Amish community.

The sawmill work was extremely dangerous and strenuous. We worked around saws, belts, cables and other power equipment used to move and cut logs. We rolled heavy logs onto carriages where they were clamped and cut. We lifted and carried boards weighing hundreds of pounds. Often times we had to step over tracks while carrying these boards, which created risks for slipping or twisting. My brother and I were lucky in that neither of us suffered a serious injury, but to this day I have back problems due to the two years of hard physical labor that I did on that sawmill.

My brother and I each earned less than minimum wage in these jobs, about $20 per day. The days were at least 8 hours long, and often 10 hours. We did not receive any of this money as it was paid directly to our parents.

Our experience in the sawmill convinced me that sawmills are completely inappropriate places for children to be working. There was nothing about our Amish upbringing that made the sawmill any less dangerous for us than it was for children of other religions. I am now 31 years old, a toolmaker and a father of two young children. There is no way I would allow my children to work in a sawmill and I am grateful for laws that prevent all children, regardless of faith, from working in sawmills.

For these reasons, I was shocked and dismayed when I read news articles stating that Congress was considering a change in the law that would allow Amish sawmill owners to employ Amish children as young as 14, while preserving child labor protections for children of other faiths. This would be a tragic mistake, as Amish children need these protections at least as much as non-Amish children. Amish children, because of their parents’ financial condition and the lack of educational opportunities, are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by sawmill owners. I had also thought that the U.S. Constitution would prohibit such blatant discrimination based solely on a child’s religion.

I do not think that the safety provisions included in the proposed legislation will make these jobs safe for children. Sawmills are inherently dangerous for children and cannot be made safer by simply limiting the use of power equipment or the distance between the children and such equipment, or requiring adult supervision I had all those things on the sawmill, and it was still much too dangerous for children.

I applaud those Senators and Representatives who are standing up for Amish children and ask you to please continue your opposition to this proposed legislation. I implore others who might be considering the proposal to reject it and maintain current child labor protections for Amish children as it is for any other child, regardless of religion. I speak for many Amish children who have no choice in this matter, because for them it is futile to speak out. Thank you for listening to my concerns.

John Miller
Mansfield, OH

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Christians want us to believe there is nothing wrong with Christianity



Monique Davis is a Christian. A mature representative, in the Illinois legislature. This person in probably every other aspect of her life is normal, possibly a loving protective mother. She has served in the legislature since 1987. Apparently in all these years she served honorably or she would not have been re-elected so many times.

Except.

Her religion has turned her into a raving lunatic. The hate filled diatribe she directed to Rob Sherman, a well respected Atheist activist, can only be attributed to religious bigotry. Such bigotry had to be carefully inculcated by clerics and the people around Ms Davis. It also traces to the overbearing attitude of privilige Christians in the United States have adopted over the years. They seem to completely forget that there are other faith groups in our country and that tens of millions of Americans check the "None" box. Perhaps Ms Davis is feeling stressed because finally Americans are stepping back and considering just what kind of country we became by according Christianity so much deference and respect for so many years.

Ms Davis must do the honorable thing and resign. Or, the Illinois legislature can force her out. Either way, a person who demonstrates such lack of self control and such misbegotten feelings can no longer claim a right to serve her state.

Here is the diatribe:

"The following exchange between atheist activist Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove and Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) took place Wednesday afternoon in the General Assembly as Sherman testified before the House State Government Administration Committee.[...]
Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.
I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?
I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--
Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?
Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!
Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---
Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon."

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, April 3, 2008

List of children's rights organizations

A
Abundant Life Foundation
Action on Rights for Children
B
Berkshire Industrial Farm
C
Canadian Children's Rights Council
ChilOut
Child Rights Information Network
Child Watch Phuket
Child Welfare League of Canada
Child Workers in Asia
Child advocacy 360
Childline India Foundation
Children First Now
Children's Aid Society (Canada)
Children's Defense Fund
Children's Rights Project, UWC
D
Defence for Children International
Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities
E
ECPAT
Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism
F
Fight Against Child Exploitation
First Focus
Free The Children
I
International Children's Peace Prize
International Falcon Movement
K
KidsRights Foundation
N
National Safe Place
P
Pies Descalzos Foundation
R
Red Hand Day
S
Stand for Children
Stop Child Executions Campaign
T
Terre des hommes
The Global Fund for Children
W
Watchlist (NGO)

For hypertext links go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Children%27s_rights_organizations

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The secret downsides to religion no one admits to

The following is quoted from a personal narrative of a person who I say was wounded by organized religion. Two factors are relevent: organized religion plants the concept that human life has a transcendent purpose that one can only understand via religion. So even in this case the person escaped the yoke of Catholocism he was still compelled to search for something to assuage his need for transcendental answers. Admittedly, this is not how he describes his search, but this is at bottom the hole he was trying to fill. "I need (sic) some faith...didn't I". Secondly religion often creates friction between family members who are at odds about religion. This man is fortunate his wife is in agreement, but he knows he has to face his other family members with the truth of his status and he knows this is going to be unpleasant. In many ways, he is faced with the same dilemma a gay person is faced with when their family members are say very conservative.

After college I still went to church in Columbia, South Carolina. I wasn't very comfortable with the more conservative church there. A priest in a homily once referred to NPR as "National Communist Radio". I didn't like the fundamentalization of the Catholic Church, so I went less and less.

I then began looking around at other faiths. I read Taoist and Buddhist literature. I attended a UU service a couple of times and even visited a Zen Buddhist temple. I began meditating and did some Tai Chi. I liked a lot of it, but it wasn't really right for me. But, I need some faith...didn't I?

Last spring I began reading a lot of the atheist bloggers over at ScienceBlogs. Pharyngula and Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge
stick out the most in mind. At first the outspoken atheism rankled me quite a bit. I really liked their writing in general, though. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that atheism was a real option. I started thinking "Why not?", and it short order I had accepted that I was an atheist. It was months later that my wife and I really talked about the issue. Apparently she had gone through a similar crisis of faith, and had given up on God soon after I had. It was a great discussion. I still haven't talked to my family about it. I don't know how they will react, but I am not looking forward to it. The conversation has to happen soon, though.


http://exchristian.net

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Issue - Church role: defending dogma or confronting wickedness?

Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Saturday | January 27, 2007

The island's dubious label of being the murder capital of the world has led me to question the effectiveness and presence of the Church's prophetic voice to the nation. Certainly, biblical understanding of the role of the Government supports the notion that it has a necessary role in law enforcement or 'bearing the sword'. But this cannot absolve the Church of her prophetic responsibility to a nation held hostage by violence.

It is has been my experience as a devout Christian that the organised Church in Jamaica has devoted much time, scholarship and strategy to the defence of denominational dogma and legalism, while the weightier matters of justice and mercy have fallen by the wayside.

Corporate gatherings devote much time to preserving divisive denominational issues of Sabbatarianism, modes of baptism, styles of worship, women's adornment and glossolalia. This long list of pet doctrines undoubtedly have their place, but an earnest witness of true faith must also
include a radical commitment to confront the wickedness that has become commonplace in Jamaica.

It was the understanding that like John the Baptist and Jonah, the Church ultimately stands as God's prophet to the nation, that led Dr. King and the black Church to confront and overthrow institutionalised wickedness in the United States.

If the Church in Jamaica is to be truly relevant and effective, her leaders must be willing to do more than propagate an escapist, divisive, doctrinal nit-picking kind of Christianity that only serves the four walls of the church. Jesus did promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.

Teach about religion, not a religion

The following is clipped from a New Republic article
Atheism's Wrong Turn
by Damon Linker
Post Date Monday, December 10, 2007 | Issue Date Monday, December 10, 2007

If the only role of religious education was to propagate colorful local traditions and rational ethics, there would [be] little problem, but there is more- so much more. Many religions add education on the hatred of outside groups, active dis-belief in scientific knowledge, and closed-mindedness about other views of reality, not to mention obscure taboos, self-hatred, and other impediments to mental health. This is a problem, yet the new atheists make only one concrete proposal, which comes from Daniel Dennet. That is to to teach children about religion. That's right- more religion! His proposal is to teach all students about the vast depth of human religious tradition, from the major religions including their own, to those of other cultures and other times, perhaps including even atheism, though not necessarily. This long-term, detailed study of other traditions would enable children to make up their own minds about life's cosmic questions, knowing what many of the possible answers are, not just the ones their parents told them. This instruction would be a capstone to a truly liberal and civic-minded education. The American founders responded to the recent history of religious intolerance both in Europe and in some of the early colonies by separating church and state. We have since have taken this wisdom and extended it to a state-sponsored system of education that would make the founders extremely proud. But the intolerance they tried to guard against is still with us, and particularly with other cultures with whom we deal very closely. The new atheists would surely like to wave a wand and make it all go away. But in the real world, we need to attend to the real causes of intolerance and illiberality, and one primary cause still with us is parochial, illiberal, education, which might be slightly mitigated by a liberal curriculum of cross-cultural and cross-religious education.

Religious objectors violate the rights of children

From the Columbian, Clark County Washington:

"Who wins in a battle between parental rights and the criminal justice system? The child, at least in cases where solid science is used to prove that routine medical treatment was withheld from a child by the parents. Unfortunately for Ava Worthington, none of this matters. It’s too late. The 15-month-old Oregon City, Ore., girl died at home on March 2 of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. According to The Associated Press, doctors say the pneumonia and the infection could have been prevented or treated with antibiotics. Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, are accused of using prayer instead of medical care to try to cure Ava. Both pleaded not guilty on Monday in Clackamas County to charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment."


The concept of children as separate persons has not taken hold here in the United States. The rights of children are spelled out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which has been signed off (but not fully implemented) by all but two countries in the world. Disgracefully, the United States is one of the two. Somalia is the other one. We are keeping company with violent backward thugs.

You can help. Take action now...

Individuals and organizations in the United States that support the treaty must make a considerable effort to educate their fellow citizens about the importance of U.S. ratification of the CRC. For example, individuals can organize informational meetings and distribute materials about the CRC; work with local churches, schools and community groups to create grassroots support; and contact local newspapers with letters to the editor and op-eds in support of U.S. ratification of the CRC. Organizations can help by educating their staff and members about the Convention; discussing the CRC in newsletters and membership magazines; sending informational mailings to members; including the CRC as an issue at annual meetings; getting field offices involved; and officially endorsing U.S. ratification of the Convention.

http://www.unicef.org
http://www.childrightscampaign.org

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Early childhood religious indoctrination

The facts about early childhood development are fairly well established. Children's little minds are like sponges and they have no critical defenses. Indeed this is what makes the practice of religious indoctrination so morally objectionable. All religions officially sanction the practice, it is calculated, devious, and unfair. Leave aside parental motivations, which as I have stressed over and over I am convinced are noble and well intentioned. I am troubled by institutional motivations -- they have to maintain membership rolls so they have vested interests.

If parents consign their children to religious indoctrination out of love and it is harmful how are we to consider this? It matters not if a drunk driver loves you or hates you when he crashes into you. The result is the same, and the result of a drunk driver's actions are what society goes after them for.

Religions have been given carte blanc in our country to do as they please. Now it is time we take stock and examine where we are. And yes I know the Supreme Court has decided parents can instruct their minor children in whatever religion they chose. This practice is legal (Pierce vs Mass 1944). But, please recall the supreme court gave approval for segregated schools, so that's not an iron clad argument. The supreme court also decided against women's suffrage. In Myner v. Happerstett the US Supreme Court decided that being a citizen does not guarantee suffrage. It was not until the 1920s that women finally had suffrage granted to them.

Times change, Pierce was decided 64 years ago. We move on, our understanding improves, and we should continually strive to make better choices that do not disadvantage one group with respect to another. Particularly, in this case children's interests versus their parents free exercise of religion interests. Why should the free exercise clause be so broadly interpreted? Children have rights, or they sure ought to have them by now.

Children suffer at the hands of barbaric adults

The following information was copied from the Facebook support group, "2,000,000 People Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)". The author reveals in stark language how primitive and ignorant parents abuse the female children in their families. Apparently, no female child escapes this horror. If you have never read a description of the procedure you will be shocked at the brutality and callousness of the process. There are 55,441 members of this activist group on Facebook and they are adding thousands of supporters daily. Facebook offers many facilities for joining friends, family members and complete strangers together to rapidly distribute information and coordinate group action.

Thank you for your concern for the women who endure this procedure, it means a lot to them to see that the world cares and campaigns for their basic rights. Since its 2008, I thought I would (sic) something different to try and educate as many people as possible about Female Genital Mutilation or Female Circumcision.

I had my Circumcision done when I was 7 years old. When I was little and knew nothing about it. The procedures I had to endure are:
1. Set in a chair, (legs open) and let a midwife (da3ia in Arabic) cut me
and then stitched me while three other women hold me back.
2. For about two weeks I wasn’t allowed to run or play any sports.
3. Using the bathroom was painful for about 3 days. After the process was done women and children came to my house ate candy, drank juice, said Mubark (congratulation) and if I was luck (sic) I got money. Circumcision in Sudan is treated just like a wedding, graduation or even better then a Birthday.

I am asking as Woman, to please to join the group “2 Million people against Female Circumcision {FGM: Female Genital Mutilation”. Two million is the number of women who are circumcised each year {around 000 a day}.

Hopefully by the end of 2008 we can have two million members. The possible side effects of female genital mutilation are numerous. They include urine retention, haemorrhaging, infection,
pain, menstrual complications, infertility, and loss of sexual pleasure or inability to perform sexual intercourse, death and psychological disturbances. In some cases, babies have been seriously harmed during prolonged labor, due to circumcision, resulting in brain damage or
death of the child.

please (sic) have a heart Join and invite others. This is for the four to thirteen year old females who can’t make that decision. Thank you.
This group was createed on the 15th of January,2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Child abuse in southern India province

Child abuse: Media urged to focus on loopholes in law
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
MADURAI:

In order to check child abuse, media should focus mainly on the lacuna
in law which allows perpetrators to get away with this crime, said
Henri Tiphagne, executive director of People’s Watch, at a media
consultation on child abuse here on Wednesday.

Addressing
mediapersons, human rights and child welfare activists on the role and
responsibility of the media on the increasing violence against
children, Tiphagne quoting a national study on child abuse said that
among the 12,500 respondents, 53 percent were subjected to some form of
abuse, among whom 50 percent were aware of the identity of the
perpetrators of the abuse against them. However, 70 percent of the
child victims were not prepared to complain against the perpetrators.

Pointing
out to the increasing number of incidents of violence against children
of both sexes, despite the existence of over 150 legally recognised
child welfare and human rights organisations in the country, Tiphagne
attributed the impunity in law towards the perpetrators as the major
reason for this phenomenon.

In order to change this scenario,
the media should focus on this factor in their reports, Tiphagne said
and suggested that Tamil Nadu should enact an exclusive act to protect
child rights and set an example to other States.

Additional
Director-General of Press Information Bureau (PIB), Ganesan said that
the recurring violence against children despite the plethora of schemes
and laws to protect their rights clearly showed that the government
machinery could not handle the situation single handedly and wanted the
fourth estate to work in coordination with the non-governmental
organisations.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Instead of putting the bible and testament into the hands of the children



The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history. such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by shewing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TPaine posted the following in the comments section of a USA Today article by Nica Lalli entitled Am I Raising Atheist Children?

I have respect and admiration for many people who happen to be Christians. At times my Christian friends can be simply infuriating.

As an Atheist myself, I repeatedly hear the patronizing sermon from Christians that:

"You need Christianity to have Morals." or: "Your Morals will float in the wind"

How can they not see the inherent insult and self-congratulation in these statements?

I have a mind that functions normally, therefore I am capable of understanding Morality without having a group, or one specific book think for me.

I have spent decades studying Philosophy, Ethics and Morality from a wide variety of sources. No one source is complete, or without its problems.

It is when you restrict yourself to one narrow belief that you risk believing wrongly.

The Bible contains many wonderful ideas. It also contains others I find disturbing, to say the least.

I see no evidence this world was created and directed by any “supreme being” referenced in organized religions. The Natural Laws we see about us every day are elegant and amazing. They don’t require the presence of the specific “being” referenced.

My Atheistic belief is not a Religion, as some would suggest, simply a normal human brain functioning in reality.