Victoria NeuroNotes

Behind the Guise of “Religious Freedom” Legislation

40 Comments

Warning:  Graphic image.

Since 2010,  I’ve been closely monitoring what’s been happening on a local, state, and federal level regarding ‘religious freedom’ legislation to undermine the rights of gays and lesbians and women’s health care and reproductive rights, while significantly cutting the most effective anti-poverty programs for children and mothers.

In 2011 and 2012 there was an unprecedented rise in the passage of provisions related to women’s health and reproductive rights from religious conservatives.  In 2011 alone, State legislatures across the United States introduced approximately 1100 provisions.  Why is there such a push to deny women necessary reproductive healthcare options, when we have significant evidence regarding the harm to women, their children, and society?

And what about same-sex marriage and raising children?

Live Science“Pope Benedict called gay marriage a threat “to the future of humanity itself,” citing the need for children to have heterosexual homes.”  A threat to humanity?  That’s not what the research shows.  Statements like that can promote fear and bigotry, and incite hate crimes against gays and lesbians.

Below is a chart showing the percentage of people who say gay marriage goes against their religious beliefs:

Source: Public Religion Research Institution — PublicReligion.org

For those who’ve not been keeping up with the proliferation of ‘religious freedom’ legislation (at the enormous cost to American tax payers), there are several states that have proposed bills that would allow business owners to discriminate based on their religious convictions.  Arizona is one such state.

Shortly after the bill was sent to the governor, the state of Arizona was informed that the  NFL would move the 2015 Super Bowl to Tampa if the governor didn’t veto the bill.  Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

“Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake publicly urged Brewer to veto the measure, citing worries about the economic impact on the state’s businesses.”

The Arizona SB 1062 bill would have offered a legal defense for individuals and businesses facing discrimination lawsuits if they could prove they acted upon a “sincerely held religious belief.”

If this is really about their “sincerely held religious beliefs”, then businesses can technically deny services to people of different faiths, those who use contraceptives, have had an abortion, committed adultery, got divorced for any other reason besides adultery and/or abandonment, couples living together, those who’ve had sex outside of marriage, atheist and agnostics, and/or anyone suspected of committing one or more of the 7 deadly sins listed in Proverbs 6:16-19.

So I ask:  who is responsible for the rise in hate crimes against homosexuals, not just in the U.S., but globally?

Chicago Lesbian Couple Attacked by Gang of Ten Men

“A young Chicago lesbian couple was violently attacked and beaten up by a mob of 10 men on the evening of July 6, prompting gay groups to call for more attention to hate crimes.”

“We see cases like this all the time, all over the city and all over the state,” said Rick Garcia, policy director at The Civil Rights Agenda. “It shows that animosity toward lesbian and gay people is just below the surface. We think we’ve made such big gains, but right below the surface we see this animosity and violence.”

Business Insider reported that New York’s police commissioner Ray Kelly said anti-gay hate crime in New York spiked 70% in 2013.  It further stated that the violence is due to the fact that gays have made unprecedented political gains.

How American evangelicals made life unbearable for gays in Uganda

“Fanned by Western evangelicals, homophobia has spread across the African continent voraciously in recent years, including Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the point that the European Union’s highest court last week ruled that fear of imprisonment [and death] for homosexuality in African countries is grounds for asylum in the EU.”

Gay Person Burn Alive In Uganda By Anti-Gay Mob

Source: scallywagandvagabond.com

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”  Leviticus 20:13

Tweet from the president of the Family Research Council (FRC) in America

BTW, did you know that the upcoming Supreme Court case could impose Arizona’s discrimination bill on the entire country?  Here’s a wake-up call.  Should the SCOTUS decide that corporations are people of faith,  they will be giving power to those who are at the greatest risk for abusing their power.

“So if the Supreme Court agrees with the plaintiffs in these cases that corporations aren’t just people, but they can also be people of faith, the outcome will be very similar to what would happen if Congress had taken the bill Brewer just vetoed, passed it at the federal level and then President Obama had signed it into law — except, of course, for the fact that no one on the Supreme Court was actually elected to make law.”

What are the implications of these cases?

“Denying birth control to your workers because of your own religious objections to it superimposes your own personal beliefs about conscience and faith onto your employees. So does refusing to serve a gay person due to a religious objection to their sexual orientation. If the Supreme Court winds up holding that one person’s faith can impose itself on another, which is exactly what the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood want them to do, then all the nightmare scenarios imagined in the debate over the Arizona bill could become very real — at least at the federal level.”

There will be little end to business owners’ ability to immunize themselves from the law should the SCOTUS allow corporations to be considered people of faith.  This move, under the guise of “religious liberty”, could expedite 3rd World country status.  Since August 2013, lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced legislation similar to the controversial Arizona bill.

Read:  Arizona’s anti-gay bill veto unlikely to end ‘religious freedom’ movement

On a personal note, I am a heterosexual woman.  Since 2010, I have experienced bullying by male heterosexuals (devout Catholics and Christian evangelicals).  I’ve been called a feminazi lesbian while peacefully advocating for pro-choice, the banning of corporal punishment on children, the rights of LGBTQ, and spreading awareness about religious trauma, where women, children and homosexuals are especially affected. Research shows:

From PBS Frontline:

“[…heterosexism is not just a personal value system, it is a tool in the maintenance of gender dichotomy. In other words, through heterosexism, any male who refuses to accept the dominant culture’s assignment of appropriate masculine behavior is labeled early on as a “sissy” or “fag” and then subjected to bullying. Similarly, any woman who opposes male dominance and control can be labeled a lesbian and attacked.

The potential of being ostracized as homosexual, regardless of actual sexual attractions and behaviors, puts pressure on all people to conform to a narrow standard of appropriate gender behavior, thereby maintaining and reinforcing our society’s hierarchical gender structure.”

And there is a serious problem with Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. military:

Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy, Washington, DC — James A. Parco, PhD —> Key Findings

And what about American evangelical’s influence in Europe?

“And as evangelical Christianity and other conservative religious movements gain force in Europe, the American right is finding more allies on the Continent. Cumulatively, their victories may be changing the global climate on some of the biggest social issues of our time.  “We have a conservative period now in history — a substantial movement to the right around the world,” says James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum in New York and a prominent thinker on the globalization of the Christian right.”  Source

From the Christian Science Monitor:  “US evangelicals aim to influence European law”

From the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA):

“Vision 2020 is the product of EEA’s reflection on religious liberty trends over 19 years, learning from our members, partners and political experiences. It has an ambitious goal – to pave the way for far greater Gospel impact in Europe by 2020 – because we have changed attitudes towards religious freedom, and because we have renewed Evangelical confidence in the Gospel and in our ability to share it, no matter what happens. Europe’s Evangelicals will be effective Good News People.”

Effective Good News People?

“At present, raising questions about toxic beliefs and abusive practices in religion seems to be violating a taboo. In society, we treasure our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. Our laws and mores reflect the general principle that if we are not harming others, we can do as we like. Forcing children to go to church hardly seems like a crime. Real damage is assumed to be done by extreme fringe groups we call “cults” and people have heard of ritual abuse. Moreover, religious institutions have a vested interest in promoting an uncritical view.

The important thing for us to realize is that Religious Trauma Syndrome is real. While it may be easier to understand the damage done by sexual abuse or natural disaster, religious practices can be just as harmful. More people are needing help and the taboos about criticizing religion need to be questioned.  […it cannot be overstated that mental health professionals need to recognize the seriousness of Religious Trauma Syndrome. Religion can and does cause great personal suffering, fractured families, and social breakdown.

We need to let go of making religion a special case in which criticism is taboo. It is our ethical responsibility to be aware and our human obligation to be compassionate.”  ~Dr Marlene Winell

See Religious Trauma Syndrome — published in the British journal, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Today, Nov. 2011:

We have every reason to be concerned about what’s happening to America, and globally, under the guise of religious freedom. As noted by Dr. Winell, It is our ethical responsibility to be aware — that religion can and does cause great personal suffering, fractured families, and social breakdown.  Imagine the implications should the predominately conservative, Catholic Supreme Court of the United States decide that for-profit corporations are people of faith.


Free Stock Image (header) courtesy of Morguefile.com

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

40 thoughts on “Behind the Guise of “Religious Freedom” Legislation

  1. This post hits a very personal family nerve with me, not just in my extended family (surrounding Austin, TX) but even with my own daughter and perhaps (likely?) with my 13-year old son. *fingers crossed* 😦

    It is so difficult for me to equate “personal individual faith” as Universal truth and/or law that Evangelical Fundamentalists (not just Christians either!) feel they are obligated to impose onto others. How did the word and concept of Judgement move from God’s sole jurisdiction, to a human or specific group of humans? You don’t have to answer that; I/we know the answers. But how utterly baffling that this sort of history keeps repeating itself over and over and over…with horrific consequences for humanity!

    I’m quickly reaching the point where even the word “faith” elicits great suspicion and fear with me when it should be purely a PERSONAL thing! Period!

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    • “I’m quickly reaching the point where even the word “faith” elicits great suspicion and fear with me when it should be purely a PERSONAL thing! Period!”

      Professor, I couldn’t agree more. I told a lovely Christian blogger that when I first started reading her blog I was having triggers. This was hard to admit to her. She was very gracious and understanding. She had also experienced religious trauma. My intent is not to offend people of faith. This post is not about belief in God. It’s about the side-effects of religion.

      “But how utterly baffling that this sort of history keeps repeating itself over and over and over…with horrific consequences for humanity!”

      I was reminded of a quote by Aldous Huxley :

      “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

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      • You and I have a similar view…. I used to have triggers with the words “faith” and “God.” Coming out of Catholicism, I became quite livid with all things religion. For the most part, I still loathe it and I still consider myself an atheist regarding believing in deity’s. It’s funny how life experiences changes us as I became very spiritual after an awakening last July. I now love the word faith, just see it differently than before. I do not use the word God in my language but I’m okay with hearing it now.

        Great blog. The picture of the gay man burnt alive hit me pretty hard.

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        • RC — such a great comment. I do get where you are coming from with the triggers. I will admit that I can still get them sometimes when I see the inhumanity in the name of a person’s god. My only concern is that such terms fuel the fire of those so desperate to hold on to their morphine drip, and like any drug addict, they will do what ever it takes to ensure their next fix — even at the cost of others. I think you are going to enjoy some of the information I’m going to share about ‘awakening’ type neurological information and interhemispheric integration. Yummy stuff. 😀

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          • I look forward to reading your future blogs. 🙂

            I like your analogy about the morphine drip. Any closed-minded thinking is an addiction of sorts. It’s an addiction of not feeling discomfort with new ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

            This is where we get into my kind of work – retraining the brain. 🙂 People fear opening their minds to new concepts, especially ones that challenge their beliefs for many reasons. Of course there is the societal pressures of what is presumed right to believe within their community, but there is also (what many holistic healers call the divide between the ego and soul) that plays a part. The ego is full of society’s training and our own by creating beliefs that make us feel certain and secure. There is insecurity about change. The soul however, is meshed with the energy of the universe and it’s always a message of peace, love, joy, and creativity of new thoughts and ideas.

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            • Well said. I had a profound experience back in late 2005. It took me several years to figure out what happened. Thankfully, I was already in the process of deconversion from my life-long programming in religion. When I came out of that stifling box, I had a completely new perspective about human nature, and for the first time in my life, I fell in love with humanity. That’s not to say that I am happy with how things are going in the world, but through this experience and through years of research, i came to see how much our environment affects us at a cellular level. I also found forgiveness for the wrongs suffered.

              But I agree with you that when we can get past our programming, atrophying neural networks and reconnecting networks in the prefrontal cortex that were disengaged by our programming, we will see the world through different eyes. We will see each other through different eyes. Only good can come from this, this I feel certain . 🙂

              “Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” ~Albert Camus

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  2. Even when I put aside the devastating consequences and the repugnant ideals, such a decision by SCOTUS would be nonsensical. Corporate personhood is bogus enough, but what about when an actual person’s religious beliefs conflicts with those of his or her employer? Who wins out? Why should the corporation’s views be more important than the individual’s?

    Insisting that religion belief is more sacred than any other guiding belief in a person’s life is such a dangerous stance. I want to think that SCOTUS will recognize the inherent conflict.

    Taking into account the real-world harm, the idea of something like this passing is reprehensible. So many states don’t even recognize sexual orientation discrimination, but even that is not enough for these evangelists. They don’t just want the right to be bigots, they want their bigotry to be protected.

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    • Well said, Madalyn. We have every right to be concerned and I see so much apathy. Who wins out? We both know the answer. You are spot on when you say “insisting that religious belief is more sacred than any other guiding belief in a person’s life is such a dangerous stance.”

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      • Unfortunately, yes, I think we do know. America is so infatuated with its freedoms, but when we can’t even agree on a definition we lean on a tightrope that’s simply too thin to hold us for long.

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  3. One wonders what type of sensibilities some have. It is perfect with their god to kill a man because he is gay. There must be something seriously wrong with such thinking. How does a person living his own life the way fit for them stop you from having sex with whoever you choose to?
    The religious nutheads need to be stopped and stopped soon.

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  4. Great article, but it was hard to read without getting mad.

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    • Thanks John. I had so much more solid research I wanted to add regarding the negative impact that ‘religious freedom’ legislation is having on communities in America. I’ve spoken to several people in my community about this and they don’t seem to be too concerned. In fact, it is risky to even bring it up. People quickly pull the ‘Christian persecution’ card. I’m currently living in a very Red, very religious, very violent, poverty stricken state.

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  5. Reported March 1. This shows you what length they will go to.

    In an effort its spokesman has described as “outreach to rednecks,” the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading “Second Amendment Celebrations,” where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in nonbelievers in hopes of converting them to Christ.

    As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.

    The goal is to “point people to Christ,

    http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20140228/FEATURES10/302280129?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

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  6. “Project ROSE is a Phoenix city program that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online. They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion program to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.

    In the Bethany Bible Church, those arrested were not allowed to speak to lawyers. Despite the handcuffs, they were not officially “arrested” at all.

    In law enforcement, language goes through the looking glass. Lieutenant James Gallagher, the former head of the Phoenix Vice Department, told me that Project ROSE raids were “programs.” The arrests were “contact.” And the sex workers who told Al Jazeera that they had been kidnapped in those windowless church rooms—they were “lawfully detained.”

    http://www.vice.com/read/in-arizona-project-rose-is-arresting-sex-workers-to-save-them

    What about the Johns — do they get kidnapped, too, and gang saved?

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    • That’s so disgusting. Very reminiscent of the fake abortion clinics. It’s nothing short of fraud. Reminds me of jails that only allow the Bible as reading material. Since the Bible has never made anyone violent… /sarcasm

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  7. Dear Victoria,
    First of all, it’s so great to see you and read your words again…you’ve been missed. I absolutely love your courage in speaking about this and your research is amazing. You can probably guess that I had a very conservative upbringing–within the confines of a small town and Catholic-only community. How wonderful to finally have a name (Religious Trauma) for the residual scars left over from what looked like a very normal, Christian, and God-fearing childhood. I can point back to religious experiences that truly scarred me for life–ironically, they almost ruined any chance I had at having a relationship with God.
    When someone says, “You must be religious,” I’ll quickly correct them with “I’m spiritual…there’s a HUGE difference.” As a spiritual person, I try to accept and love others without judgement. I don’t always succeed, but I never hide behind the Bible.
    Fantastic post, dear friend. I need to educate myself some more.
    xo, michelle

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    • Michelle,
      My dear friend, thank you for such a thoughtful comment and for sharing about your own personal experiences. We were both fortunate to get away from the madness — though I can’t say that I didn’t get out unscathed, either. I experienced a type of Stockholm syndrome. I think you brought up a good point when saying “what looked like a very normal, Christian, and God-fearing childhood.” I had night terrors starting at the age of 4 after learning about hell. They lasted until I was 10 — though I still had fear of hell and an angry god who had drowned countless children in the biblical flood. The terrors were so intense, and on a regular basis, that my parents took me to see doctors. The doctors pretty much blew it off as not being serious. But after my husband’s death, it was evangelical fundamentalist that pounced on me quickly, and put a strangle hold on me like the invasive, deceiving wisteria vine. and nearly snuffed the life out of me. They seek out people who are the most vulnerable, who’ve experienced trauma and hardships.

      The hardest part of that experience was being made to feel that my sole purpose on this planet was to serve men, in particular, a husband, obeying him, and that my life was not my own. I agree with you about the difference between being religious and being spiritual. Fundamentalists have managed to corrupt that meaning as well. Christian fundamentalism is predatory in nature and those who think and behave differently than them are considered the enemy of god and evil.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read.
      xღxღx

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  8. Wow, Victoria, Wow!

    I’m sorry, I’m a bit distracted. I may or may not come back to this, not because it’s a bad post, but because it’s an amazing post with a whole hell of a lot to take in.

    I look at that poor man lying in the dirt, burnt and dead. I have young children, but as an “older” mom I find myself wanting to take him into my arms and kiss his forehead. I cry when I look at his frailty, I am bothered and disgusted as I see preschool age boys look on like it’s a spectator sport. I want to hold them in my arms and shield them from the injustice done towards this human being right in front of them.

    I’m reminded of the 2014 Grammys. A mass wedding ceremony featuring many gay couples caused such a stir in social media. Many people said it was disgusting and offensive. I have a really difficult time with such reactions. Many said it was the most vile thing they ever saw on television. I wonder where are they when the local news goes into accounts about pedophiles teaching our sons and daughters at school or Church. What do they think about the 12,000 untested rape kits in Memphis, Tennessee? How upset do they get when they watch a video game, movie or a crime show portraying someone getting strangled, stabbed, shot, beaten or raped? I find all of those things much more hateful, violent and dramatic than grown ass people in love getting married.

    I know my priorities get screwy at times, but these extremities are just down right ridiculous. Where is the love?

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    • Charity,
      I’m so glad to see you, though I wished it was under different circumstances. I do apologize that this post was so intense, but this subject can’t be sugarcoated. I had trepidations about posting that image, but like Rick Garcia said, right below the surface of ‘tolerance’ we see this animosity and violence, and Americans are foolish to think this wouldn’t happen here. After reading the extensive study on adverse childhood experience (ACE), and seeing those children exposed to the horror of watching someone burned alive, it became apparent to me that those children were put at high risk for developing mental illness, disease, and early death. Here are the major findings of people (in America) who were either abused, neglected, and/or exposed to other traumatic stressors during childhood: Major findings:

      “Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors which we term adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are common.

      >> Adoption of health-risk behaviors
      >> Disease, disability and social problems
      >> Social, emotional, and cognitive impairment
      >> Early death

      To date, more than 50 scientific articles have been published.” http://www.cdc.gov/ace/pyramid.htm

      The very things these fundamentalists are blaming ‘Satan’, ‘demons’ and ‘sin’ on are caused by the behaviors and practices they promote as “godly” in their belief system. Why is this protected under religious liberty and at an enormous cost to humanity, especially since we have so many scientific studies regarding adverse childhood experiences? I didn’t even get into the studies about significant brain atrophy.

      You wrote:
      “What do they think about the 12,000 untested rape kits in Memphis, Tennessee? How upset do they get when they watch a video game, movie or a crime show portraying someone getting strangled, stabbed, shot, beaten or raped? I find all of those things much more hateful, violent and dramatic than grown ass people in love getting married.

      I know my priorities get screwy at times, but these extremities are just down right ridiculous. Where is the love?”

      Not to mention dangerous and potentially deadly. As the studies mentioned in my post stated, heterosexism is a tool used in the maintenance of gender dichotomy. Anyone who doesn’t heed to those behaviors are at risk of being ostracized as homosexual, regardless of actual sexual attractions and behaviors, which puts pressure on all people to conform to a narrow standard of appropriate gender behavior, thereby maintaining and reinforcing our society’s hierarchical gender structure.

      Your compassion for these children deeply moved me. I was reading an article in the Economist — it stated: “Some European governments have said they are suspending aid to Uganda. But as long as Ugandan troops continue to be the mainstay of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, anything more than a rebuke is unlikely. In the meantime gay people in Uganda will pay the price. Red Pepper, a local tabloid, began a witch hunt the morning after the bill’s signing. Next to praise for the new law, it published a list of Uganda’s “top 200” gays. Three years ago a similar list prompted the murder of David Kato, a gay-rights activist.”

      http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21597943-diplomatic-pressure-did-not-stop-absurd-law-deadly-intolerance

      To make matters worse, studies have been done in America and the results showed that “there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty works as a deterrent. There have been far fewer studies done on hate crime laws as a deterrent, and none has demonstrated that they deter crimes.”

      Further more the article goes on to say that arresting people for hate-crimes, often young people, and placing them, for long periods of time, in prisons that make no attempt at rehabilitation and will undoubtedly subject them to the endemic violence of prisons, are part of the problem, not the solution. http://www.thenation.com/article/176437/hate-crime-laws-dont-prevent-violence-against-lgbt-people

      What we need to do is get to the root of the problem, and I think it was addressed in my post.

      Thank you so much for reading, for your support, and for taking the time to comment. Hope you’ll come back when you have the time. I especially like discoursing with you, and this is a subject that’s been swept under the rug of ‘religious freedom’ for too damn long.

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      • Agreed, religionists are horrible towards cults. I wonder why they can’t see themselves in the same light. I remember watching documentaries and reading books about cults as a Christian and I often felt uncomfortable with such material. I think it’s because I could often see myself in the stories of the victims. Really examining the Koran and the Talmud the last couple of years of my faith redirected me to scriptures I always had issues with in the Bible. It’s hard to mock ancient books of other religions once you realize that your own “holy” book is just as racist and misogynistic.

        Recently, my eight year old boy and I were discussing God and Christianity. I asked him what he considered himself to be. He told me with calmness and certainty “I’m an atheist.” I told him that I was glad that he’s confident in who he is right now. However, I made it clear to him that it’s important for him to know who he is, but to not get stuck on labels. I stress the importance of research and questions to both of my boys. Whatever or whoever they actually are or decide to be, the decision is strictly up to them as long as they don’t hurt anyone or themselves. My eight year old basically left the conversation in a way as to say “Okay, Mom, I already told you what I am.”

        I know it’s off topic, but are you going to watch “Cosmos” on Fox on Sunday nights? It’s a 13 week series hosted by your favorite person and mine, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I believe it’s on for an hour every week. Though it begins right at the kids’ bed time, Mr. Amazing and I have decided to allow them to stay up a little later to watch it. I’m quite excited about it myself. My eight year old is a genius who loves facts and science, my five year old boy has a beautiful mind that loves all things lovely including the solar system. You already know how I feel about water and the moon. I am quite ignorant on many topics and I’m hoping that NDGT can direct me on the path of learning about the origins of the earth, etc.

        The picture in your post still haunts me. I think about it when I’m alone, it pops up in my mind while I play in the snow with my young boys and I’ve discussed it at least once with my husband. It looks as though mad religionists set his body on fire specifically on his sexual organs. Knowing how horrific the locals treat homosexuals, it wouldn’t surprise me if he rarely, if ever, acted upon his sexuality. That makes the whole scenario even scarier. This is what mind control and manipulation combined with a mob mentality can do to a young man minding his own damn business by just living his life. A mamma’s baby, though grown, is still her little one, set afire in the ultimate evil, legalistic judgmentalism. Preschoolers look on as though it’s just another sunny day in town, scarring their mind, morality and emotions forever.

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        • Hi Charity. You wrote:

          “Recently, my eight year old boy and I were discussing God and Christianity. I asked him what he considered himself to be. He told me with calmness and certainty “I’m an atheist.” I told him that I was glad that he’s confident in who he is right now. However, I made it clear to him that it’s important for him to know who he is, but to not get stuck on labels.”

          I think this is great. When I was brainwashed by fundamentalism, I still had enough sense about me to tell my daughter that she was free to choose her own path, and to this day, she still thanks me. I never forced her to conform or make the sacrifices I made, as demanded by fundamentalism, and especially for women. I never taught her that her duty was to submit to her future husband, even though (at the time) I bought into the BS. When she went off to college, she returned an unbeliever. During that period, I too, had become an unbeliever — so we both pretty much de-converted at the same time, but neither one of us influenced each other in this regard.

          “I know it’s off topic, but are you going to watch “Cosmos” on Fox on Sunday nights?”

          I watched it last night. It was awesome. I got goosebumps at the end. I’ve programmed my cablebox to record all 13 programs. I was especially surprised when they focused on the 16th century monk, Giordano Bruno, and what the Roman Catholic Church had done to him. Just wow! Not that I was surprised what the RCC had done, as they have a very bloody history. Go Cosmos. Go Tyson.

          Here’s a good review from Slate if you haven’t see it already. A quote from the review:

          “Cosmos spent a lot of time on this, and I think they were making an interesting and subtle point. A shallow takeaway is that they were slamming religion, but I don’t think that was the reason behind those segments; that could’ve been done faster, in only a few minutes.

          Instead, I see it as making the more interesting and bigger point about suppression of thought and the grandeur of freedom of exploration of ideas.. Certainly, the Church was stuck in its dogma, burning Bruno and later having a go at Galileo. But you’ll note that the story was told with the focus on Bruno himself, his ideas, and how he could not be deterred from spreading the word about the greater Universe.

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/03/10/_cosmos_carl_sagan_s_classic_program_is_updated_and_terrific.html

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  9. 2/17/2014

    A Roman Catholic priest working as a chaplain at D.C.’s Washington Hospital Center refused to give last rites and communion to a heart attack patient earlier this month after the patient told him he’s gay”

    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/02/17/gay-man-says-priest-refused-give-last-rites/

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  10. When a person who is born blind has their sight repaired, they can’t, at least at first, make sense of the visual information they are seeing.
    You have to learn how to see.

    Visual recognition in your brain is a complex system of sub-routines. One of the many cognitive functions that form early in life and which are the means of which meaning are made from sensory input.
    You have been building from birth interconnected pathways in your brain, sensory systems that internally interpret sensation, recognition, experience, intention and meaning.
    Why do I say this? Well, when an infant has been taught to ‘see’ the world as their parents taught them.. in this case parents that find it acceptable to burn a man, alive, in the middle of the street for no other reason than his sexuality. They learn this is not something necessary to be shielded from their eyes, then these things become part of their childhood indoctrination, teachings.. which they will live by and repeat to their own children.

    After the age of 5, it is a rule of thumb that if a brain have never seen before (blindness), then it might never be able to learn how to do it.
    Infants who are taught to see the world in a certain way are very hard to rewire to see the world in different ways, because of how these cognitive functions and sensory systems in the brain build up from infancy.

    When this ability extends outside of our immediate senses, these systems function to create understanding that transients present experiences, it is a mechanism, a capacity of belief.

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    • Morti, thanks so much for your exceptionally insightful comment. Sadly, those children looking on were certainly confused as it goes against their intrinsic nature to empathized. I shutter to think what the long-term ramifications of seeing such horror will do to their mental and physical health. Antisocial behavior such as this is severe mental illness. This is clearly antisocial behavior they are teaching to children, thus wiring and rewiring their brain (neuroplasticity) to counter their empathic instincts.

      “Antisocial (or dissocial) personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. There may be an impoverished moral sense or conscience and a history of crime, legal problems, impulsive and aggressive behavior.

      Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is the name of the disorder as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Dissocial personality disorder is the name of a similar or equivalent concept defined in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), where it states that the diagnosis includes antisocial personality disorder. Both manuals have similar but not identical criteria. Both have also stated that their diagnoses have been referred to, or include what is referred to, as psychopathy or sociopathy, though distinctions are sometimes made.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

      In a nutshell — religious fundamentalism is an antagonist to civilization and devastating to the well being of humanity.

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