No Religious Test for Office. . .Just a little Atheist Test

god and government

If you don’t believe in a God there are seven states where you can forget running for public office, even though the Constitution says there can be no religious test (there are obviously many other states where a non-religious person wouldn’t seriously be considered for office either).

It’s truly stunning to read what the constitutions of these seven states say to non-theists (and maybe non-Christians, who, as everyone knows, don’t believe in a “Real” God).

Seven Christian States

And Read This on the New York Times


Tis the Season for Animals to Hide from the Gods


Just watched the excellent Netflix documentary: Virunga.  Highly recommend the film.  This incredible National Park in the Congo is not so much threatened by religion as by the flow of oil, which means the flow of money.  Then again, I suppose we could say oily money is one of our modern gods?

Then, once again, as another slaughter season begins, I get to read this bloody article on the sacrifice of animals in Nepal.

Half a million animals beheaded to give an orgasm to Gadhimai, Hindu goddess of power.  Lovely.

The people carrying out this brutal sacrifice are farmers and factory workers, all hoping that this bloodshed will bring them prosperity from the Hindu goddess Gadhimai. The sights and sounds are unimaginable. Pools of blood, animals bellowing in pain and panic, wide-eyed children looking on, devotees covered in animal blood, and some people even drinking blood from the headless but still warm carcasses.

So, let’s do the murdering math for the gods (I’ll round off the numbers just for the sheer joy):

-Millions of calves have their heads cut off for a Goddess.

-Millions of goats cut open for Allah (recently).

-Millions of chickens hacked apart for Yahweh (recently).

-Millions of birds and hogs and cattle chopped up for the American Holiday God.

-Millions of trees cut down for the Baby Bethlehem God.

-And let’s not forget the millions of animals poached for Folk Medicine Spirits.

Any others you can think of?

I would recommend that we all Give Shelter to Living Things in this season of “love and joy and light.”

It seems the Gods we humans love to please so much Really Don’t Like Animals!

(oh, and I would invest in an anti-drone weapon of some sort, since we know thousands of these will fly out from under christmas trees this year to scare even more birds to death)


Leaping (Off the Bridge of Reason) to Conclusions

leaping to conclusions


This has been bothering me.

What do the Ferguson mess, the Iraq mess, the Israel/Gaza mess, the shooting down of the plane over Ukraine, the Robin Williams’ suicide and religious faith have in common?

People jumping to conclusions.

People leaping without thinking.


The town of Ferguson apparently has a big, deep problem with race relations.  Seems so.

A young man of color seems to have strong-armed another man of color in a robbery.  Seems so.

The young man gets in a scuffle with an officer and is shot, killed, and we still haven’t got the full story.  Seems so.

Bad all around.  No question, this needs to be investigated, we need some truth, something must be done.

People protest.  Which they probably should.  But what are the facts?  Right.  We aren’t sure yet.  But people are mad, some get violent, some loot the businesses of innocent citizens.  And where are we?  A lock down of the town.  Great.  A mess.

People don’t think. . .they react. . .they leap to conclusions (some “News” fans the flames of quick conclusions).

It’s “Racist!”  Could be true, and if so, should be addressed.

It’s “Police Brutality!”  Could be true, and anyone who does violence with a badge on deserves to be punished.

It’s “Not enough non-White Police!”  Seems the case.

Now, quickly. . .

-An Army of Allah (I.S.) marches across Iraq killing people.  Check.

Some think this is what Islam is all about.  Wrong conclusion.

-Israel goes after tunnels from Gaza and Hamas keeps firing missiles from populated areas.  Check.

People leap to conclusions on ALL sides:  It’s THEIR fault!  No, it’s THEIR fault!

-The plane is shot down and it’s this group and that group and “certainly” the Russians.  Check.

But, we aren’t really sure yet.

-Robin Williams kills himself and it’s all over the papers that he was an addict.  Sells papers.

Comes out that he was sober and his depression and Parkinson’s added to his decision.

We aren’t really sure, and may never know the private story.

-Things happen in the world and some decide that “God is at work” or “God saved” someone from dying.

Except, we don’t know.  How do YOU know?  Where did that “Conclusion” come from?

What’s the difference in these stories?  Not much.  Check.

We seem to LOVE to Jump to Conclusions.

This, friends, is exactly why we need to practice serious Reason with a huge dose of Wisdom.


We are Just Jumpers. 



Doctoring Christ

Hello.  I'm here to help you poor heathens.  Could I take your picture and tell you about Jesus?

Hello. I’m here to help you poor heathens. Could I take your picture and tell you about Jesus?

The American doctor and nurse being treated for Ebola deserve our well-wishes (maybe prayers, if you do that).  You might think these missionaries, one working for an outfit led by Franklin Graham, would simply pray for healing instead of taking experimental drugs.

Well, anyway, my brain was immediately quarantined when I first heard they were missionaries.  So I did what I often do, I did some quick research on what they were REALLY doing in Africa and WHY they were doing it.

Dr. Brantly thanks people from his isolation ward and says, “We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him. . . My focus, however, remains the same—to follow God.”

Alright.  Many people go into helping professions because they “feel called.”  I don’t disrespect that.  However, it does raise questions about what the True Purpose of the Calling really is.

A quick scan of the their websites is revealing.

Samaritan’s Purse

Their intent and the purpose of Everything they Do (including Medical Care) is right on the top of the page:

“Helping in Jesus’ Name”

That’s pretty clear.  At least we know that each doctor and nurse is thinking about each poor lost soul as they are binding wounds and giving out pills (maybe leaving a bible next to their rag pillow?).

Read their Statement of Faith (notice that’s not a “mission statement”)

Note the usual “Bible is infallible,” one God in three persons, deity of the Lord Jesus, etc.

Then note “evangelism and discipleship” is every Christian’s responsibility.

Ok, get that.  Typical Evangelicalism.

But then comes the longest paragraph, on. . .SEX!
“marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female”

(an obvious distaste for same-sex relationships; and “genetic”?:  is that a jab at transgender folks?)

And then, of course, the end of the statement, the culmination (after SEX) which is, no surprise:
“human life is sacred from conception.” Right, don’t forget, we’re anti-choice.

As for the other missionary, Mrs. Writebol, she works for Serving in Mission which has another clearly stated intention:

“SIM is a community of God’s people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.”

Our purpose is to glorify God by planting, strengthening, and partnering with churches around the world as we:

evangelize the unreached,
minister to human need,
disciple believers into churches,
equip churches to fulfill Christ’s Commission. [“make Christian disciples of all nations”].”

“We believe that mankind is lost and needs to be redeemed through Christ Jesus, whom we proclaim as Savior. All of our ministry is motivated by this belief.”

This CNN Belief Blog story puts the approach of SIM workers this way,

“For instance, when a person suffers from an illness or injury, the medical missionary will approach and ask if they can help. “The missionary just shares something … and then sometimes they’ll say, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you?’”

“People will say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And we tell them that’s what Christ did,’” Salloum said. “It’s a natural transition – someone who has a physical need then to have a spiritual need.”

That’s precisely what Nancy Writebol did in Liberia, said the SIM executive. “She talked to children, she shared the Gospel. She was just available, there for the people. That was her world.”

Ok, what am I saying here?  That these missionaries shouldn’t do their mission work?  That they can’t believe these things or can’t preach in the name of their “Healing Savior”?


But what I think is rather appalling (and deeply concerning) is that these “Medical Professionals” are, at heart and by intent, “Missionary Preachers.”  They are NOT in foreign lands, among poor people in need of medical care, in order to help the body more than they are out in the “Missionfield” to save souls.  And, considering the Statement of Faith (and SIM’s Purpose) they must all sign allegiance to, each doctor and nurse carries their own conservative bias into village after village.  The Face of Medicine, the Face of America, the Face of Humanitarianism is:  Someone who wants to preach to vulnerable people, all the while pushing their Religion, their anti-Gay and anti-Abortion message, their Pro-Americanism, “making disciples of all nations,” spreading their “good news” like the epidemics they say they’re working to stop.

As a Former Evangelical Missionary, Yes, I have a Big Problem with that!

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment.  

*By the way, as you may have heard, I have the same critique of Preachers who dress up as Chaplains.

Religion without God

What if waterfalls?

What if waterfalls?

Thought for the day:

What if there is No God and Religion is just using The Name for its own purposes?

What if there IS a God, but S/He has nothing to do with Religion (“Faith” or “Spirituality”)?

Photographing God

Oh, come on, you know I’m kidding, right?

But, I’m not. . .sorta, ok, maybe. . .not.

Each of my books contains a selection of my Nature photographs.

I used to think Nature was “God’s Creation.”

Then, I believed in a “Spirit of Nature.”

Then, I thought that “Nature is God or God is Nature.”

Then, I wondered that “Nature is Full of Beauty and Beauty is God.”

Now, I think:  Nature is Nature

That’s enough for me.  How about you?

Here are some of my favorite Black & Whites: