Freedom of Religion is Freedom from Religion

In the interview of Mike Pence on the Kudlow show yesterday, Mike Pence made a truly frightening statement.

Mind you, before he got there he railed on about gas (and energy prices) being 60% higher than when he left office, and his answer is for the United States to become “energy independent.” No word about a major war in Ukraine that resulted in a global upset of the energy market. Does he really believe that starting up drilling again in Alaska, on federal lands, and offshore, would solve that problem? Does he really think we’re that stupid?

But I digress. He said that the “radical left” wants to keep God out of our lives. Hell yes they do, and I guess I am now also a “radical leftist” due to that attitude.

If you don’t want to watch the whole video (some of it is very painful to watch) you can scroll to 10:30 to listen to Kudlow’s introduction to the religious section, and at 11:10 Pence says it:

“The radical left believes that the freedom of religion is the freedom from religion.”

This is truly frightening to me.

Does that mean he thinks the government should have the right to push religion on me?

Which religion?

Jehovah’s Witnesses? Southern Baptism? Catholicism? Methodism? Mormonism? Islam? Hinduism?

Do I have the right to push any of these on him?

What his statement says to me is that he actually believes the government should be able to push religion on us. They could make is wear hijabs, or turbans, or yarmulkes. They could force us to waste our times attending their services. They could decide what we can eat and can’t eat.

Maybe he should go to live in Iran and see how that is working out for them.

Freedom of religion to me has always meant that the Hindus and Jews and Christians and Mormons and Muslims all get to do their thing, build their temples, proselytize, knock on my door to try to get me to join them, raise money, tithe people who want to pay, pray, and make excuses for systemic societal failures because “God works in mysterious ways.”

Just leave me alone, please!

A Dark Day for Freedom and Individual Rights in the U.S.

With the Supreme Court striking down Roe vs. Wade, things are changing in this country, for the worse, for the much worse.

But then again, we have observed this circus happening since 2016, where somehow we have let “conservative” values roll over our freedom. What did we expect? We have seeded the Supreme Court for years now just to make this happen, and it started with McConnell’s blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland. It’s ironic that these same “conservatives” are the ones who proclaim their freedom was taken away by an election that didn’t go their way.

The country is heading down a path of darkness forced by religious zealots. I have no problem with Christians being Christians, and Muslim’s being Muslims, as long as they stay out of interfering with my life and my freedom, all the rest of us who don’t buy into their delusions.

Here they have crossed this border. They are interfering, and that’s deeply disturbing.

What’s next?

How about we make all our women wear burkas because that makes us men feel better about the powers we have?

I hear their God hates genitals. Maybe we can bring in genital mutilation – of course for women only. And for witches.

Do you think I am angry?

You bet I am.


The Conspiracy Theory of Creationism

Here is a good article that characterizes modern creationism as a conspiracy theory.

Why creationism bears all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory (

It’s stuff like this that shapes my attitude that for all the good that religious people claim it does, for the most part, religion substracts from the well-being of humanity as a whole. I used to say that mankind would have developed space travel and reached the moon by the year 1000 if it hadn’t been for the Christian religion and all the oppression it practiced through the centuries.

Catholic Sexual Abuse: Cardinal George Pell

In 2019, Cardinal George Pell, the third most powerful man in the Vatican, was sentenced to jail for six years, with no chance for parole for at least three years and eight months, for the child sex abuse he was convicted of back in December of 2018.

Just recently, the High Court of Australia overturned the conviction, basically stating that nobody but the perpetrator and the victim were in the room where it happened, so it’s their word against his.

It’s very, very rare that there are third-party witnesses in a room where rape is occurring! A jury convicted him after reviewing the evidence in a trial! It shows how powerful church officials get away with rape.

During a broadcast interview in the UK, Pell said that his style was rather direct in the way he defended Christian teachings. He basically said that that people hated him for his conservative views.

No, Cardinal Pell, people don’t hate you for your conservative views. It probably has something to do with the fact that you raped little boys.

You say you “can sleep quite well on most occasions.” Why don’t you try to tell that to those boys you raped, who have now been carrying this baggage with them for two decades, and will not likely forget it for the rest of their lives? We know about two. How many more were there?

The pope of the Catholics continues to allow this to happen.


Kudos to Justice Roberts

The Supreme Court upholds restrictions by states on churches during the pandemic, mostly thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’ leadership and reason, where others, expressly Justice Kavanaugh, dissented on religious grounds, ignoring the core of the argument itself. Roberts expressly rebuked Kavanaugh.

Here is the article in Slate with the details.


Thoughts about Politics and Hatred

Recently a friend shared a post on Facebook:

James Fallows, an American writer, notes that on February 20 neither South Korea nor the U.S. had any deaths from the coronavirus; on March 20 S. Korea had 100, the U.S. had 150; on April 20 S. Korea had 236 deaths while the U.S. surpassed 40,000. S. Korea followed WHOs guidelines and suggestions from mid-January – the U.S. did not.

This friend is on the liberal side of the spectrum.

A friend of his on the conservative side then responded to the effect that he needed to “stop the hatred” and that he had “reached a low point in his life as a Christian.”

There is no hatred that I can see in the quote above, which wasn’t even his own, it was a shared post.

Obviously, this person on the right side interpreted the ongoing political criticism of the right by my friend as hatred.

Being critical, and having different opinions, is central to the concept of democracy. If we oppose somebody’s view, and publicize that, we’re not hating. We’re simply propagating our own viewpoint. If our arguments are powerful, we’ll convince more people to come around to our side, and eventually change the course of a country, or a world.

He also referred to the Christianity of my friend. He must be inferring that being critical of conservative political views somehow affects a person’s Christian credibility.

I don’t watch sports. I don’t watch football. A long time ago, in a casual social conversation, a friend of mine made the statement that “I know you hate football….” which offended me a bit. I choose not to watch football. It does not do anything for me and I’d rather spend my time otherwise. That does not mean I hate football. It does not mean I don’t understand other people’s fascination with the game. I am just not interested.

I am not religious. That does not mean I hate Christians. I have many Christian friends, and I respect them. Their religion does not affect my assessment of them. I am just not interested.

I am actually fairly conservative in my political thinking, but I haven’t voted for any American Republican in a few decades. I am registered as an independent. But I don’t hate the American political right. I speak out against it because I think it’s misguided and it’s terrible for our current world situation and our country and its future.  I will do what I can with sound, logical, scientific arguments, within my limited abilities and reach, to try to persuade people to lean in my direction. That’s democracy at work.

That is not hatred.

The Yellow Deli

Many years ago, friends invited us to join them for lunch at the Yellow Deli in Vista, California. The menu is what you expect from a deli with food for all preferences and tastes and the atmosphere is in line with a hippie deli in California.

The waiters and waitresses wear groovy garb, many have long hair, some have dreadlocks, and it all fits. But their demeanor was slightly off, somewhat creepy almost, like something was not right. I remember thinking that maybe this was run by some commune. Still, being part of a commune does not make you act – well – creepy.

Then I came across this news article about the Twelve Tribes religious sect, and it all fell in place. The Twelve Tribes sect recruits its members, makes them give away all their worldly possessions and incorporates them into the community. Now they are indentured servants. As I searched further, articles abounded about the Twelve Tribes and the Yellow Deli. It turns out there are many of them around the country.

Here are some more links:

Article in the San Diego Reader in 2013

The signs are classic for the behavior of religious cults. I experienced this first hand myself in the 1970ies in the Moonies. Members give everything they have away, including real estate, cars, cash, when they join the group. Once all is gone, it’s virtually impossible to break away – how would you even get taxi fare or buy a plane ticket to get away if you wanted to? Members are made to work for no pay in highly stressful environments, like cooking and serving in restaurants, or hard labor working on a farm. Members work 16 – 18 hour days, usually two shifts, so they are too exhausted to think for themselves, think critically, and possibly rebel. An exhausted member is a pliant and conforming member.

All About Love on the Appalachian Trail

To get members to give everything they have away, the cult must have something to give in return. On the Appalachian Trail, obviously, having a free hostel and serving free food for hikers is one way to draw them in. Then, making sure life is all about love, will cement the relationship. Voilà, a free labor source.

A Creepy Cult – on the UTC Campus

I get a kick out of these small town websites. Go check out the website of the University Echo and tell me where this university actually is located. I gave up after checking all the pages on the site. Would you not think they have a hint about their address, even their city or state? UTC could stand for all kinds of places. You got me. Obviously, it a very local rag and they don’t expect anyone from the outside to stumble there. Well, they got me. And they got a Yellow Deli!

But do check out the comments about the Yellow Deli on the bottom of the linked page.

Here is the corporate site link for the Vista restaurant 

And that’s what I did notice at the Yellow Deli so many years ago, when something just seemed off and creepy.


Comparing the Bible and the Quran – by Wolfgang Illauer

One of my friends and readers noticed my post titled Dirty Deeds and Bible Verses and promptly called me out about comparing the Bible and the Quran. I should have known better. As much as I read, I have not read the Bible nor the Quran, so I am not much of an authority. I can pull up passages with the best of them, but I cannot make a sound and winning argument. Of course, I am an atheist, so I am entitled to not knowing. Wolfgang is a linguist, a scholar, and a Christian who has written extensively about the Quran and Islam. So he shot back at me via email, which is am reprinting here with his permission.

First in the original German:

Jeff Sessions würde ich eine andere Stelle des Neuen Testaments entgegenhalten: Apostelgeschichte 5,29: „Man muß Gott mehr gehorchen als den Menschen.“ Ich kann mir kaum vorstellen, daß Gott es befürworten würde, den Kindern die Eltern wegzunehmen. Römer 13 ist deshalb problematisch, weil die Stelle vorauszusetzen scheint, daß der Staat nur das Gute befiehlt.

Du hast völlig recht, lieber Norbert, wenn Du davor warnst, Koran- oder Bibelstellen zu zitieren, um irgendeine politische Auffassung zu untermauern und sogar „Dirty Deeds“ zu rechtfertigen.

Allerdings ist ein gewaltiger Unterschied zwischen Bibel und Koran. Das Alte Testament enthält keine unmittelbar als göttliche Offenbarung an den heutigen Leser gerichteten Befehle wie der Koran („Ihr Gläubigen, tut das und das …“), sondern Erzählungen, und zwischen Neuem Testament und Koran, zwischen Jesus und Mohammed ist ein himmelweiter Unterschied. Auf der einen Seite sehen wir einen Mann, der Feindesliebe predigte, niemals zur Tötung „Ungläubiger“ oder anderer Menschen aufforderte, einen Mann, der Giganten des Geistes wie Tolstoi und Dostojewski faszinierte – und auf der anderen Seite einen Staatsführer, Feldherrn und Eroberer, der Gefangene machte und Anteil an der Beute bekam.

Überaus bezeichnend für den Unterschied zwischen Jesus und Mohammed ist die Haltung der beiden Religionsstifter zur Steinigung. Von Mohammed wird mehrfach überliefert, dass er die Steinigung für nötig hielt. In der Sammlung Al-Buhari steht das folgende Hadith (Reclam-Ausgabe Seite 451): „An einem Freitag steinigte Ali (Gott möge an ihm Wohlgefallen haben) eine Frau. Er sagte: ‚Ich habe sie gesteinigt, wie der Gesandte Gottes (Gott segne ihn und schenke ihm Heil) es in vergleichbaren Fällen getan hat.‘“ Und Jesus? Jeder kennt seine wunderbaren Worte (Johannesevangelium, Kapitel 8): „Wer von euch ohne Sünde ist, werfe den ersten Stein auf sie!“ und „Geh hin und sündige von jetzt an nicht mehr!“

Fazit: Die Menschenrechte sind mit dem Gesamttext des Neuen Testaments (auch da gibt es problematische Stellen) zu ca. 95 Prozent vereinbar. Der Koran dagegen ist ein Buch, das an vielen, vielen Stellen radikal und massiv den heute geltenden Menschenrechten widerspricht.

And here my translation:

I would counter Jeff Sessions with another citation of the New Testament: Acts 5.29: “We must obey God rather than men.” I can hardly imagine that God would support taking parents away from their children. Roman 13 is troubling because the passage seems to assume that the state only orders benevolence.

You are right, dear Norbert, when you warn about citing Quran or Bible verses in order to provide a foundation for a political view or even to justify “dirty deeds.”

There is, however, a massive difference between the Bible and the Quran. The Old Testament contains no divine epiphany directed at today’s readers as the Quran does (“believers, thou shalt do this and that…”), but instead tells stories, and there is a sky high difference between the New Testament and the Quran, as well as Jesus and Mohammed. On the one hand we see a man who preached loving your enemies, who never ordered the deaths of non-believers or anyone else, a man who fascinated giants of thought like Tolstoy or Dostoevsky – and on the other hand we see a statesman, a commander and conqueror, who took prisoners and his part of the loot.

The difference between Jesus and Mohammed is particularly highlighted by the attitude of the two founders of religions towards stoning. We know from multiple citations that Mohammed considered stoning necessary.  In the collection Al-Buhari we find the following Hadith (German Reclam edition page 451): “On a Friday Ali (Allah may be pleased with him) stoned a woman. He said: ‘I have stoned her, as the envoy of Allah (may Allah bless and praise him) has done so in comparable situations.'”And Jesus? Everyone knows his wonderful words (John 8.6): “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” and “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on sin no more.”

Conclusion: Human rights are compatible with about 95 percent of the text of the New Testament (while there are also some problematic locations). The Quran, however, is a book that in many, many places radically and massively contradicts today’s generally accepted human rights.

For further reading about comparisons between religions, and particularly strong condemnation of Islam, may I direct you to The End of Faith – by Sam Harris – here is my review written in 2009.

Ted Cruz: Atheists are not Fit to be President


Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander in chief of this nation.

— Ted Cruz, at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa on June 22, 2018

I don’t know what Ted Cruz believes or how he starts his day.

I also don’t know what Trump does when he gets up in the morning.

I am not a gambling man, but I’d put a lot of money on a bet that Trump does not believe in God and he does not start his day on his knees.

Dirty Deeds and Bible Verses

When politicians quote verses in scripture to justify their dirty deeds, the society is usually in trouble.

What distinguishes the blabbering of biblical verses of Jeff Sessions from those of Taliban lunatics or ISIS murderers who quote the Quran to justify their crimes and atrocities?

Nothing that I see.

Our country is not supposed to be based on religious values. I don’t want our so-called leaders to rationalize their crimes against humanity based on religious value systems that many of us do not support or subscribe to.

Napoleon on Religion

I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation so much as the mystery of the social order. It introduces into the thought of heaven an idea of equalization, which saves the rich from being massacred by the poor.

— Napoleon: In His Own Words” (1916)

In English: Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

Wisdom of Eric Trump

“There are things as Americans we should be united on. And if we can’t be united on God, if we can’t be united on African-American unemployment being at the lowest it’s ever been.”

— Eric Trump, complaining on Fox News that Democrats didn’t stand when Trump said we were united on God.

Sorry, Eric, but just because you believe in a sky fairy does not mean I have to stand and applaud it when it’s mentioned, particularly in a governmental setting in a country that should have state and church separated. What is great about America is exactly that – my right to sit when you blather about something that is completely meaningless to me.

God and Transgender People