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Lazy8
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Posted: Apr 14, 2014 - 1:32pm



50 Cent dubbed over Jehovah's Witnesses telling deaf people not to masturbate.

Not safe for work (even with headphones if you work with deaf people).
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Posted: Mar 13, 2014 - 11:14am

Today's extremely important societal issue(s) to be tackled by a religious authority...

Fatwa prohibits ‘All You Can Eat’ offers - Al Arabiya News

A fatwa (religious edict) against “all you can eat” buffets by a Saudi cleric has stirred debate among users of social networking site Twitter.

The cleric, Saleh al-Fawzan, recently issued a fatwa through a kingdom-based Quranic TV station prohibiting open buffets, saying that the value and quantity of what is sold should be pre-determined before it is purchased.

“Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia (Islamic) law,” said Fawzan on al-Atheer channel.

Using the Twitter hashtag “prohibiting-open-buffet” (in Arabic), some of the site’s users criticized Fawzan’s fatwa.

“Restaurants will be ruined if they didn’t quantify the food they sold. This negates the sheikh’s premise that the quantity is unknown,” said on Twitter user.

Mere fatwa

“This is not Quran just a mere fatwa, if you want to follow it, you are a free man but you can not impose it on others,” wrote another.

One user sarcastically wrote: “Congratulations! Open buffets have made it in the list for what is forbidden for us.”

However, some comments were posted supporting the cleric.

“It is funny, those who call for discussions, they do not discuss evidence or what the sheikh has proposed but discuss his person.”

While another said: “The disaster is those who criticize the sheikh are ignorant, they do not know.”

The fatwa has also caught the attention of local and regional newspapers.

Saudi’s al-Madina newspaper published a headline on Wednesday that read: “Fatwa prohibits open buffets creates uproar on Twitter.”

Egyptian news outlets Sada el-Balad and Nawaret carried the story with accompanying videos of the interview where the cleric proclaimed the fatwa.


Pat Robertson: Watching Porn (and Horror) Movies Gives Demons ‘Permission’ to Wreck Your Car

Responding to a 700 Club viewer who asked today if watching a horror movie caused her to get into a car accident, Pat Robertson said that viewing horror films and x-rated videos could result in curses or demonic possession.

“A few years ago I heard about a teenage girl who was demon possessed, and people began to deal with the demon and try to cast it out. And you know what the demon said? ‘I had permission.’ And the permission was granted when this child had gone to some double-X-rated movie, or whatever it was, and had allowed this thing to come into her.”

While he said he didn’t know if the viewer herself is possessed, he said he had heard similar stories about movies leading people to become possessed by demons.

He also suggested that movie producers are susceptible to Satanic influences, which cause them to make such films.

"This thing may be living around you and what you need to do is speak it — command this thing to leave — and ask God to forgive you."


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Posted: Mar 9, 2014 - 8:13am

Hollywood blockbuster ‘Noah’ banned in Qatar, Bahrain, UAE - Al Arabiya News

Upcoming Hollywood movie “Noah” has been banned in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on religious grounds, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters on Saturday.

Sending shockwaves across the Arab world, the $125 million film - starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins - was officially banned by censors in the three Gulf countries this week.

“Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries,” a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the film, told Reuters.

The religious argument returns to one particular Islamic ruling which forbids artistic portrayals of the prophets.

Egypt’s Azhar weighs in

Earlier this week, the Egypt-based Al-Azhar authority ruled that screening the biblical production is prohibited in Islam.

“Al-Azhar prohibits the screening of a film that characterizes Noah,” reads the title of a statement ‘issued on Thursday by the top Muslim institution.

More Arab states are expected to ban the film.

"The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because ‘it contradicts the teachings of Islam’," the Paramount Pictures representative said, adding that the studio expected a similar ban in Jordan and Kuwait.

The film will premiere in the United States on March 28.

Noah, who in the Bible’s Book of Genesis built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood, is revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An entire chapter in the Quran is devoted to him.

‘Son of God’

The controversy surrounding Noah has emerged just days after “Son of God,” another biblical big-screen production, had a blockbuster opening last week.

It remains unknown, however when and where the film will be shown in cinemas across the Middle East.

“Son of God” is perhaps comparable to the 2004 release of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” which was lauded by some in the region, but banned by more conservative Arab states.


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Posted: Mar 1, 2014 - 7:17am

Religious Freedom Bills Rooted In Fears Of Obama Policies : NPR

(...) Whether these bills were born out of fear — or bigotry, as many opponents argue — they are marked by the notion that the culture is changing rapidly, in ways that undermine not just religious doctrine but the ability of individuals to act according to the dictates of their faith.

"There's a feeling that this administration is aggressively trying to restrict religious liberty in the United States," says Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative. "There's just a pattern here that has led a lot of people of faith to believe that this is a period of the most severe legal challenges to what had previously been seen in this country as a fairly broad right."

A released last week by Lifeway Research, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, found that 70 percent of senior Protestant pastors believe that religious liberty is in decline in this country and that 54 percent of the public agrees with them.

"This broader sense of anxiety that many conservative religious people have reaches out to many aspects of politics," says John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.

"There's genuine fear that religious liberty could be severely restricted," he continues. "Whether we believe those fears are justified or not is a different question."

Disappointed In Obama

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that turns on the question of whether the administration, under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, can force employers to provide birth control coverage even if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

In 2012, the court ruled unanimously against a position taken by the administration regarding church personnel policies.

"The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important," Chief Justice John Roberts . "But so, too, is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission."

President Obama's positions on these legal issues — as well as his support for same-sex marriage — has convinced some religious leaders that he and his administration are "the most tone-deaf to religious liberty in recent memory," as Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia put it to .

While arguing that religious liberty is "at risk," Chaput and other leaders concede that religious freedom is nowhere near as endangered in the United States as it is in, for example, North Korea, where last week an Australian missionary was detained for leaving religious pamphlets in a Buddhist temple.

But they argue Obama has not been sufficiently vigorous in speaking against religious persecution abroad, including mass killings of Christians in Nigeria.

"The State Department has downplayed the issue, the president has seldom raised it, nor have his representatives raised it in international meetings," says Bauer, a Republican presidential candidate in 2000 and president of the nonprofit group American Values. "They are much more likely to condemn a country for not allowing same-sex marriage, or other items on that agenda, than they are to condemn a country for persecuting Christians." (...)


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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 - 10:01pm

Circumcision ruling upsets liberal Jews
Liberal and secular Israeli Jews feel cut off from the civil judiciary by the growing power of sharia rabbinical courts
A one-year-old baby is at the centre of growing controversy that has pitted the rights of individual Israelis to follow their conscience against the formidable powers of the country's Orthodox rabbinical establishment. 

The hold of the religious authorities over Israelis' private lives has been thrust into the spotlight after a rabbinical court ruled that a Jewish woman, identified only as Elinor, must circumcise her son against her wishes. She has been ordered by the rabbis to pay a fine of $140 a day until the procedure is carried out. Following public disquiet, the judgment was frozen, pending a hearing before the country's supreme court.

There is no law requiring circumcision, but the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jewish parents follow the traditional practice of inviting a mohel, or circumcisor, to remove the foreskin of a newborn son. Rabbis regard the procedure as a commandment from God. 

The case, which is likely to fuel tensions between the country's secular and religious populations, highlights the lack of civil institutions in Israel regarding personal status matters such as marriage and divorce. It also comes in the wake of recent moves in various European countries to ban ritual circumcision, provoking an outcry in Israel that Jewish identity is under attack.

According to lawyers involved in the case, it is the first time the rabbinical authorities have sought to impose a ruling on circumcision, and would constitute an extension of their powers into a new area of Israeli Jews' lives.

Organisations promoting religious freedom hope that the supreme court, which is due to hear a petition on the case, will push back against the entrenched powers of the rabbis. 

"It is quite astounding that in 2014 there is a still a battle over the ABCs of democracy in Israel," said Uri Regev, the director of Hiddush, a movement lobbying for religious freedom and equality in Israel. "The country's core identity - whether it should be a state governed by secular laws or a theocracy - is still undecided." (...)


Prodigal_SOB
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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 - 7:38am

 Red_Dragon wrote:

Good point.

 
Just for fun I did look it up and he does get second billing but I think only because he was doing five roles.  The wizard role is listed second.


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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 - 7:31am

 Prodigal_SOB wrote:

Hard to have an opinion without watching it and I doubt I'll get around to doing that.  I don't find it odd in The Wizard of Oz though. 

 
Good point.
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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 - 7:29am

 Red_Dragon wrote:
Does anyone else find it just a little odd that that actor playing the title character doesn't get top billing in this film?

 
Hard to have an opinion without watching it and I doubt I'll get around to doing that.  I don't find it odd in The Wizard of Oz though. 
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Posted: Feb 28, 2014 - 7:03am

Does anyone else find it just a little odd that that actor playing the title character doesn't get top billing in this film?
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Posted: Feb 22, 2014 - 12:18am

One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam
Fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE says such a journey poses a real risk to life

Promoting or being involved in a one-way trip to the Red Planet is prohibited in Islam, a fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE has ruled.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said.  “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”

Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.

The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

Late in April 2013, Mars One, a Dutch company, invited volunteers to fly and live on the Red Planet, but there is no technology so far that would enable a return trip from Mars to Earth.  The company is planning the first such trip to Mars in 2023 and another crew every two years afterwards with the goal of establishing a permanent human colony.

The applicants must be aged between 18 and 40 years and in good physical condition.  They have to pay only $38 for the trip. Thousands of volunteers, including some 500 Saudis and other Arabs, have reportedly applied for the mission which costs $6 billion. The committee indicated that some may be interested in travelling to Mars for escaping punishment or standing before Almighty Allah for judgment.

 “This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything.  This has also been clearly underscored in verse 19&20/93 of the Holy Quran in which Allah says: There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant. (Indeed) He has enumerated them and counted them a (full) counting.”

Echoing the same, Islamic researcher Dr Shaikh Mohammed Al Ashmawy said there is no debate in this issue. “Almighty Allah said in verse 2/195 in the Holy Quran: Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction.”

Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, Imam of the Amena mosque, said: “Man’s life is not his or her own property; it is God’s creation, and therefore suicide is prohibited in all religions, and of course by law.”


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Posted: Feb 21, 2014 - 12:41pm

How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia's Anti-Gay Movement
Meet the Fox News producer, the nightclub impresario, and the oligarchs who teamed up to write inequality into law.

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Posted: Feb 16, 2014 - 1:10pm

 RichardPrins wrote:
Jamie Coots, well-known Middlesboro preacher, dies from snakebite | State | Kentucky.com
A well-known snake-handling preacher from Middlesboro died after being bitten during a church service Saturday evening, according to police.

Jamie Coots was bitten on his right hand by a snake, according to a news release.

An ambulance crew and firefighters tried to talk Coots into going to the hospital, but he refused treatment, police said.

That is common among members of snake-handling churches, who believe in faith healing.

Coots, a third-generation snake handler, pastored a small church in Middlesboro. (...)

A ball of snakes was held during a 1995 worship service in Jolo, W.Va.
Among the worshipers was Jamie Coots, a Middlesboro pastor who was charged in Tennessee in January with illegally transporting snakes.
Three rattlesnakes and two copperheads that were confiscated were given to a zoo.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/02/16/3092068/jamie-coots-well-known-snake-handling.html#storylink=cpy


 

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Posted: Feb 16, 2014 - 1:03pm

Jamie Coots, well-known Middlesboro preacher, dies from snakebite | State | Kentucky.com
A well-known snake-handling preacher from Middlesboro died after being bitten during a church service Saturday evening, according to police.

Jamie Coots was bitten on his right hand by a snake, according to a news release.

An ambulance crew and firefighters tried to talk Coots into going to the hospital, but he refused treatment, police said.

That is common among members of snake-handling churches, who believe in faith healing.

Coots, a third-generation snake handler, pastored a small church in Middlesboro. (...)

A ball of snakes was held during a 1995 worship service in Jolo, W.Va.
Among the worshipers was Jamie Coots, a Middlesboro pastor who was charged in Tennessee in January with illegally transporting snakes.
Three rattlesnakes and two copperheads that were confiscated were given to a zoo.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/02/16/3092068/jamie-coots-well-known-snake-handling.html#storylink=cpy

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Posted: Feb 15, 2014 - 1:18am

Police documents allege assault, forced marriage of girls in Quebec Jewish sect - The Globe and Mail

Quebec police started probing the Lev Tahor ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect after hearing nearly two years ago of allegations that teen-aged girls were confined in basements and married by force to older men, according to unsealed search-warrant applications.

The court documents also allege that children from other countries were brought to the Hasidic community to be married after false reasons were given in the immigration process.

Followers were kept under “psychogical control” with medications, and government money given to families was managed by the community leader, the documents say.

The documents are part of applications for search warrants from the Sûreté du Québec. They were unsealed on Friday at the request of several media outlets, including The Globe and Mail.

The provincial police executed the warrants last month at homes belonging to members of the Lev Tahor community in Quebec and Ontario. The allegations have not been tested in court.

The community was based in the Laurentians town of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, until it moved to the Chatham-Kent area, near Windsor, Ont., last November, citing fears Quebec officials would remove the children.

Judges in Quebec and Ontario have ordered 14 of the children placed in temporary foster care because of allegations of neglect and abuse. The judgments are being appealed.

The search-warrant filings allege a young woman said she was hit with a belt and a coat hanger and a pregnant 17-year told nurses at a hospital she was beaten by her brother, sexually abused by her father and married by force to a 30-year-old man when she was 15.

Investigators were told children had to drink water mixed with an unknown green powder and that “all kinds of pills” were bought from a pharmacy and given to people without explanation.

One man was quoted as saying someone “diagnosed with him a personality disorder and wanted him to take medications. He said that taking medications was compulsory if one disobeyed the community’s orders. He said that {blacked-out name} was beaten with a stick because she was not listening.”

Another person also told police about beatings with sticks, crowbars, whips and belts. “He was forced to take pills during meal times three times a day.”

That person said he was placed in a family he was not acquainted with when he joined the Lev Tahor. “There was nothing to eat. He had to beg. They all had to shave their hair.”

The witness said he saw a woman struck in the face because she did not want to wear the burqa-like outfit for women that has led Israeli media to call the group the Jewish Taliban.

The witness added that “no one could keep money, everything had to be handed to Shlomo,” the document said.

The Lev Tahor’s spiritual leader is Rabbi Shlomo Elbarnes, who is also known as Shlomo Helbrans.

Mr. Elbarnes, who ran a yeshiva in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in 1994 to a charge of conspiracy to kidnap after allegations he tried to convert a teenaged boy to his brand of Judaism against the wishes of his parents.

He fled to Canada in 2001 on a temporary visa. The next year, the Federal Court upheld a decision that granted him refugee status. (...)


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Posted: Feb 12, 2014 - 1:50am

Scott Atran wrote:
"Some would argue that religion is primarily a coercive means of social domi­nation. It involves a mixture of overt force and covert persuasion of the Godfather type, "an offer one can't refuse." The coercion argument holds that religion was created by and for rulers to materially exploit the ruled, with derivative or second­ary benefits to the oppressed masses of a low but constant level of material security and productivity (Marx 1842). By brute force and punishment, rulers block physical opportunities for heretical social forms to emerge and competitively spread over a population. In this situation, only bloody upheaval would likely effect a change, but at great cost and with dubious results. In subtler and less violent ways, rulers tie personal security and public order to religion, which actu­ally may render the local world a less uncertain and violent place to live. And so, for Protestant leader John Calvin, God commands support of injustice and tyranny against sedition and chaos: "Those who rule in an unjust and tyrannical world are raised by Him to punish the iniquity of the people .... If we have this ... impressed on our hearts, that the most iniquitous kings are placed on their thrones by the same decree by which the authority of all kings is established, those seditious thoughts will never enter our minds that a king is to be treated according to his merits" (1559).

According to Jared Diamond, who relates a form of the "religion is oppres­sion" argument: "Bands and tribes already had supernatural beliefs, just as do mod­ern established religions. But the supernatural beliefs of bands and tribes did not serve to justify central authority, justify transfer of wealth, or maintain peace be­tween unrelated individuals" (1997). True "religion" arose only when a central authority, or what Diamond calls a "kleptocrat," co-opted preexisting su­pernatural beliefs to set up a pyramid scam. In this game of social deception, wealth flows up the social hierarchy from plebes to patricians on its way to the gods. Of course, the plebes never see wealth get past the patricians, but they believe it does. The kleptocrat's trick is not entirely a con. He gets people to cooperate with one another under the belief that Big Brother is always lurking about in search of defectors. The plebes hope to emulate Big Brother by spying on and policing one another, which helps maintain personal security through public order. It also gives people a motive to sacrifice themselves for nonkin: "At the cost of a few society members who die in battle as soldiers, the whole society becomes much more effective at conquering other societies or resisting attacks" (p. 278). Self-sacrifice needn't even result in loss of an individual's inclusive genetic fitness: the martyr's relatives are usually rewarded with extra goods and elevated status.

Diamond's view of religion acknowledges the ubiquity of supernatural beliefs but is not obliged to account for them. For whatever reason, they happened to be around. What needs to be explained is how the kleptocrat gets the populace to go for the co-optation of such beliefs in a pyramid scam. Banging people over the head won't get ideas committed to it. Rewarding a person's kinfolk if a person dies for a cause is an inefficient way to spread the cause; to compensate for the lost mar­tyr requires dispensing benefits to the martyr's family, which is costly for the kleptocrat. Maintaining personal security through public order and belief in Big Brother still leaves open issues of the origin and validation of such belief. Diamond's restriction of religion to chiefdoms and state-level societies is arbi­trary. Supernatural agents can serve in all small-scale societies to mitigate selfish­ness. Religious beliefs discourage abandoning the elderly and infirm who are about to become ancestors, as with Australian aboriginals, or exploiting children who are ancestors reincarnated, as in Bali. Among hunter-gatherers, religious beliefs underscore commensal relations such as food sharing.

For Ibn Khaldun, and contrary to Calvin, religious law is designed especially to thwart injustice. Ibn Khaldun surveys the long-term cycles of civilizations and finds that even rulers must be accountable. If authorities become greedy and in­ just, the populace follows suit. This undermines governance and social cohesion. It renders society liable to sedition from within and attack from without. Even in the absence of dramatic events "injustice must bring ... the ruin of civilization" (1318). In fact, religion can be, and historically has been, as liberating as it has been domineering. As Adam Smith suggested, religions are co-opted and created by the disaffected to mobilize the populace against the kleptocrats: "Almost all religious sects have begun among the common people, from whom they have generally drawn their earliest as well as their most numerous proselytes. The austere system of morality ... was the system by which they could best recommend themselves to ... their plan of reformation" (1776). Indeed, Benjamin Franklin proposed that the revolutionary American Republic adopt the motto "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" (cited in Novak 2000). American Presidents and other politicians must constantly, and more or less convincingly, display faith in God and adherence to beliefs like Franklin's to be elected by the people they serve and govern. They must also religiously display contrition when the people show moral discontent."

"I have sinned. ... It is important that everybody know the sorrow I feel. ... And if my repentance is genuine ... and if l can maintain both a broken spirit and a strong heart, then good can come of this for our country as well as for me and my family. - U.S. President Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair, Yahoo! News (11 September 1998)"

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Posted: Feb 12, 2014 - 1:49am

Scott Atran wrote:
"Some would argue that religion is primarily a coercive means of social domi­nation. It involves a mixture of overt force and covert persuasion of the Godfather type, "an offer one can't refuse." The coercion argument holds that religion was created by and for rulers to materially exploit the ruled, with derivative or second­ary benefits to the oppressed masses of a low but constant level of material security and productivity (Marx 1842). By brute force and punishment, rulers block physical opportunities for heretical social forms to emerge and competi­tively spread over a population. In this situation, only bloody upheaval would likely effect a change, but at great cost and with dubious results. In subtler and less violent ways, rulers tie personal security and public order to religion, which actu­ally may render the local world a less uncertain and violent place to live. And so, for Protestant leader John Calvin, God commands support of injustice and tyranny against sedition and chaos: "Those who rule in an unjust and tyrannical world are raised by Him to punish the iniquity of the people .... If we have this ... impressed on our hearts, that the most iniquitous kings are placed on their thrones by the same decree by which the authority of all kings is established, those seditious thoughts will never enter our minds that a king is to be treated according to his merits" (1559). According to Jared Diamond, who relates a form of the "religion is oppres­sion" argument: "Bands and tribes already had supernatural beliefs, just as do mod­ern established religions. But the supernatural beliefs of bands and tribes did not serve to justify central authority, justify transfer of wealth, or maintain peace be­tween unrelated individuals" (1997). True "religion" arose only when a central authority, or what Diamond calls a "kleptocrat," co-opted preexisting su­pernatural beliefs to set up a pyramid scam. In this game of social deception, wealth flows up the social hierarchy from plebes to patricians on its way to the gods. Of course, the plebes never see wealth get past the patricians, but they believe it does. The kleptocrat's trick is not entirely a con. He gets people to cooperate with one another under the belief that Big Brother is always lurking about in search of defectors. The plebes hope to emulate Big Brother by spying on and policing one another, which helps maintain personal security through public order. It also gives people a motive to sacrifice themselves for nonkin: "At the cost of a few society members who die in battle as soldiers, the whole society becomes much more effective at conquering other societies or resisting attacks" (p. 278). Self-sacrifice needn't even result in loss of an individual's inclusive genetic fitness: the martyr's relatives are usually rewarded with extra goods and elevated status. Diamond's view of religion acknowledges the ubiquity of supernatural beliefs but is not obliged to account for them. For whatever reason, they happened to be around. What needs to be explained is how the kleptocrat gets the populace to go for the co-optation of such beliefs in a pyramid scam. Banging people over the head won't get ideas committed to it. Rewarding a person's kinfolk if a person dies for a cause is an inefficient way to spread the cause; to compensate for the lost mar­tyr requires dispensing benefits to the martyr's family, which is costly for the klep­tocrat. Maintaining personal security through public order and belief in Big Brother still leaves open issues of the origin and validation of such belief. Diamond's restriction of religion to chiefdoms and state-level societies is arbi­trary. Supernatural agents can serve in all small-scale societies to mitigate selfish­ness. Religious beliefs discourage abandoning the elderly and infirm who are about to become ancestors, as with Australian aboriginals, or exploiting children who are ancestors reincarnated, as in Bali. Among hunter-gatherers, religious beliefs underscore commensal relations such as food sharing. For Ibn Khaldun, and contrary to Calvin, religious law is designed especially to thwart injustice. Ibn Khaldun surveys the long-term cycles of civilizations and finds that even rulers must be accountable. If authorities become greedy and in­ just, the populace follows suit. This undermines governance and social cohesion. It renders society liable to sedition from within and attack from without. Even in the absence of dramatic events "injustice must bring ... the ruin of civilization" (1318). In fact, religion can be, and historically has been, as liberating as it has been domineering. As Adam Smith suggested, religions are co-opted and created by the disaffected to mobilize the populace against the kleptocrats: "Almost all religious sects have begun among the common people, from whom they have generally drawn their earliest as well as their most numerous proselytes. The austere system of morality ... was the system by which they could best recommend themselves to ... their plan of reformation" (1776). Indeed, Benjamin Franklin proposed that the revolutionary American Republic adopt the motto "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" (cited in Novak 2000). American Presidents and other politicians must constantly, and more or less convincingly, display faith in God and adherence to beliefs like Franklin's to be elected by the people they serve and govern. They must also religiously display contrition when the people show moral discontent."

"I have sinned. ... It is important that everybody know the sorrow I feel. ... And if my repentance is genuine ... and if l can maintain both a broken spirit and a strong heart, then good can come of this for our country as well as for me and my family. - U.S. President Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair, Yahoo! News (11 September 1998)"

RichardPrins
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Posted: Feb 10, 2014 - 11:39am

Scott Atran wrote:
The evolutionary and cognitive flip side of in-group commitment is out-group intolerance. In tribal cultures, religion is inseparable from polity, and all tribal cultures engage in intertribal warfare. In modern societies, orthodox and fundamentalist congregations tend to be associated with higher in-group cohesion and commitment than traditional or mainstream religious groups but also with less tolerance for out-groups. Numerous studies indicate that the stronger one's religious commitment to fundamentalist beliefs, the less tolerant one's politics and sense of justice. During the Vietnam War, for example, Americans who associated themselves with orthodox or fundamentalist religious beliefs were more inclined to support the war and its resolution through military action alone. Among Catholics and Protestant Baptists, fundamentalists tend to be more authoritarian, ethnocentric, dogmatic, and prejudiced toward other groups. This also appears to be the case for fundamentalist Moslems, Hindus, and Jews. In Guatemala and El Salvador, the Pentacostalist movement has been associated with the most conservative right-wing elements of society, including those who manned and supported the infamous "death squads".

Fundamentalist sects, as well as more transient religious cults, often emerge initially from the economic fringe or politically disenfranchised margins of society. They are most dynamic as millennial movements that tend to arise in times of crises that involve social oppression, political dislocation, economic dislocation, war, or epidemic. Recent historical examples include the Native American Ghost Dances of the late nineteenth century, post-World War II Melanesian Cargo Cults, and any number of revitalization and salvation movements in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in developing countries. In the United States and throughout the industrialized world, fundamentalist sects and religious cults may be, in part, reactions to institutionalized social mobility and economic "flexibility." This has permanently removed traditional (i.e., transgenerational) family and community moorings, making the self's disorientation a chronic condition for large population segments of our "culture."

Fundamentalism often exacerbates social and national conflict, if only by associating other causal factors (economic or social inequalities, territorial or resource-control disputes, etc.) with absolute, categorical discriminations that thwart negotiation and compromise. Social and conceptual differences become essentialized as ahistorical and acontextual differences of race, caste, class, or "civilization."

For example, Uri Tsvi Greenberg, the ultranationalist Jewish poet and ideologue, explained the Palestine conflict as a millennial struggle between Jews and Arabs in these terms: "Double blood for blood. Double fire for fire ...f or thus races repay their enemies; across generations and throughout time ....A  country is conquered in blood ...from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates" (1937). To the zealot, religious group differences seem no less insurmountable than the biological barriers that appear to separate animal species. Thus, during the first intifada, Rabbi Meir Kahane, a leader of the extreme religious right in Israel and among Jews in the United States, declared: "The Arabs are cancer, cancer, cancer. ... Let me become Defense Minister for two months and you will not have a single cockroach around" (cited in Ha'aretz Magazine, Israeli weekly, 31 May 1985; my translation). Similar thoughts are current during the second intifada. For example, Rabbi Ovadia Yosse, chief spiritual leader of the ultraorthodox Shas Party in Israel, declaims: "The Arabs must be annihilated, these evil ones, these accursed ones, they should be bombarded with supermissiles" (cited in Le Point, French weekly, 13 April 2001; my translation).

Such anti-other sentiments, of course, feed off one another and are often mutually generating. Thus, beginning in the 1920s, the Moslem religious leader (mufti) of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and numbers of other Moslem fundamentalists ever since, have routinely denounced the Jews as a "filthy race" intent on subjugating humankind. For example, as outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a preposterous forgery of the Russian Czarist police that outlines a Jewish plot to dominate the world: "You bring with you dangerous Thieves, Impostors and all sorts of Filth from Europe (i.e., Jews), while you profess that you are bringing civilization". Such notions are still current: "Oh, Allah, destroy America for it is controlled by Zionist Jews... Allah will avenge, in the name of his Prophet, the colonialist settlers who are the descendants of monkeys and pigs ... forgive us, oh Muhammad, for the acts of these monkeys and pigs who wished to profane your holiness" (Ikrima Sabri, Mufti of Jerusalem, weekly Friday prayer, radio broadcast on the Voice of Palestine, 11 July 1997).

In May 2001, the Moslem Taliban ("religious students"), who then ruled most of Afghanistan, ordered Hindus in the country to wear yellow identification badges to distinguish themselves from Moslems - a practice mimicking the pre­extermination stage in the Nazi persecution of European Jews in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In August 2001, the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (religious police) declared that persons convicted of teaching the Bible "will be imprisoned for life, or hanged" ("Les employes afghans d'ONG chretiennes risquent la peine de mort," Le Monde, 3 September 2001). Ever since the late 1940s, extreme Hindu pietists have been violently advocating expulsion or liquidation of Moslems from India. Today on the Internet, militant Hindus and Jews have teamed up on joint Web sites to explain that fighting Moslems everywhere in Southwest Asia is really a struggle against the anti-God ­ an idea that resonates with Christian militants who support U.S. domination in the area.

As fundamentalist groups become more dominant, other groups that were formerly part of the mainstream may attempt to counter fundamentalist encroachments. One reaction to fundamentalism is religious humanism, which seeks to break down the social and ideological barriers that keep certain groups subordinated to, or outside of, the mainstream (e.g., the "liberation theology" espoused by popular elements of the Catholic Church in Latin America). Another reaction is the splintering off of new, antagonistic fundamentalist groups from the mainstream or the margins. From an initial position of weakness, some fundamentalist groups may eventually adopt a more humanist strategy for group survival (early Christianity, twentieth-century European Moslem Brothers), whereas from a position of strength they may adopt an even more uncompromising stance (late Medieval Christian monastic orders, early Islam). Whatever the balance of forces, however, religious competition and conflict endure and social change ensues in the constant production of new sects, cults, and ever-evolving syncretic forms of religion.

RichardPrins
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Posted: Feb 6, 2014 - 5:31pm

Former Christian pastor on his atheist experiment | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio

Guest host Gill Deacon speaks to Ryan Bell, a former Christian pastor that is living "as if there is no God" for one full year. Bell, who spent the majority of his life in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, didn't make the decision lightly.

He reflects on losing teaching jobs at two Christian schools, the skepticism he's encountered from both atheist and Christian communities, and the early reaction to his blog, Year Without God.

Bell explains that the experiment comes from a genuine desire for new understandings, both of his own faith and of the ways that non-religious people experience the world.

"What I basically did at the beginning of the year was recognize that my belief system had eroded and that I couldn't avoid these questions anymore...some have felt like maybe I just tried to flip a switch and just not believe in God anymore."

"I'm really wanting to understand how people who don't believe in God see the world - how they explain things, what their responses are to beauty and love. Sometimes, as Christians, we're taught that if you don't believe in God, you can't really experience love, which is really silly."

RichardPrins
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Posted: Feb 3, 2014 - 8:49pm

Mississippi Most Religious State, Vermont Least Religious
Average religiousness of states continues to range widely

The United States of Agnostics - Emma Green - The Atlantic
RichardPrins
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Posted: Jan 29, 2014 - 1:42pm

A 60-minute Skype exorcism costs $295, and is considered a tax-deductible donation to the International Missions Program.

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