Category Archives: The Atheist’s Pulpit

One believer’s view.

Have A Damn Fine Day!

photo by MRuddIt must be the End-Times: the devil is stomping around Artesia this very moment.

New Mexicans will recall we used to have a state highway numbered ‘666’. Ah, but primitive superstition was too much for some. So, we spent public money changing the number to appease them. Church trumps State again, as ignorance does reason. mjh

[mjh: the following is a good in-depth article on the history of this lunacy.]

A Date With Destiny or Just Another Day? By K. Connie Kang, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

As for associating Satan with 666 and the antichrist, that’s the result of Christian authors writing about Satan so much, said J. Gordon Melton, a Methodist minister based in Santa Barbara and author of the “Encyclopedia of American Religions.”

“Satanism is itself largely a product of Christian paranoia,” Melton said.

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The Nick of time By Stephen Tomkins

Vexen Crabtree, the Minister of the London Church of Satan, plans to go to one of the alternative clubs that are celebrating 06/06/06. “My official take on it is that 666 is really only a Christian number,” he explains. “But any excuse for a party is a good one.” …

The book “Is George Bush The Antichrist?” was published in 2004 in the US. The answer was yes, showing all kinds of ways of doing the maths to get the president to equal 666.

Thank God For All This Hardship

Religion – Indonesians see disasters as God’s will – By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer

Battered by one calamity after another, Indonesians have found a resilience that has amazed even foreign aid workers. It’s rooted in a widely held belief that the troubles were sent by God, either as a test of their love for him or as punishment for straying from his teachings.

“Human beings are greedy, selfish and too arrogant,” said Prapto Warsito, a villager who lost his father and house to the country’s latest disaster, Saturday’s earthquake on Java Island that killed more than 5,800 people.

“The almighty one has decided to teach us a lesson,”
he said. …

“These (disasters) all come from Allah,” he said Monday. “We must be grateful and tests like this should be met with resolve and humbleness.” [mjh: sounds like a battered wife or abused child who says, ‘he only beats me because I deserve it.’]

Indonesian villagers blame magic, not flu

If there were a village of atheists (hard to imagine), they might well react to natural events with their own brand of ignorance — we’re all ignorant of something, and fear of the unknown is a very human quality. Still, one should note that religion and faith are doing nothing in the following case to counter ignorance and fear. mjh

Indonesian villagers blame magic, not flu

Some neighbors insist, however, that bird flu is not to blame. They are convinced black magic is at work, that ghosts now haunt their quiet Christian community of about 1,500 people.

Many are too scared to even pass by the family’s houses, and some who live nearby are awakened by nightmares that they will be the next to die.

“We are so afraid just to step into that house,” said a 37-year-old woman who identified herself only as Sembining. “We can’t tell what we’re afraid of – we’re just afraid.”

The Opiate of the People

I’ve been amused by the reaction to The Da Vinci Code, especially the recently released movie. To me, all religion is mythology — it says much about us and much to us but it’s all fiction. There is no god, in my belief. Even if there were a god or gods, there are so many nonsensical stories that believers accept with the blindest of faith.

Now, along come two cautionary tales to remind us that our need to believe in something greater than ourselves can be used by others to enslave us. The stories involve the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) and Divine Madness.

These excerpts are longish, but you should really read the even-longer articles. One appeared in Sunday’s Journal. The other is a related but slightly different and much more detailed article than the one which appeared there. mjh

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Justice system catching up to polygamous sect By David Kelly and Gary Cohn, Los Angeles Times

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — For half a century, while members of this remote, polygamous enclave engaged in widespread sexual abuse and child exploitation, government authorities on all levels did little to intervene or protect generations of victims.

In the sparsely populated canyon lands straddling the border between Arizona and Utah, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) — an offshoot of Mormonism — live by their own rules.

The religious sect of about 10,000 portrays itself as an industrious commune of the faithful, one that chooses to live apart from a hostile world. But their quaint lifestyle and self-imposed isolation have concealed troubling secrets that are only beginning to emerge. …

Among sect members, girls as young as 13 are forced into marriage, sexual abuse is rampant, rape is covered up, and child molesters are shielded by religious authorities and law enforcement. Boys are thrown out of town, abandoned like unwanted pets by the side of the road and forcibly ostracized from their families to reduce competition among the men for multiple wives.

Children routinely leave school at 11 or 12 to work hazardous construction jobs. Boys can be seen piloting dump trucks, backhoes, forklifts and other heavy equipment.

Girls work at home, trying to keep order in enormous families with multiple mothers and dozens of children.

Wives are threatened with mental institutions if they fail to “keep sweet” for their husbands.

Warren Jeffs, a wiry, third-generation church member, is the sect leader — a post that carries the title “prophet” and gives him virtually absolute control over the most intimate conduct in the community.

As prophet, Jeffs orders marriages, splits up families, evicts residents and exiles whomever he wants, with no regard for legal processes. He tells couples when they can and can’t have sex.

But Jeffs is now a fugitive, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list and accused by state and federal authorities of rape, sexual conduct with a minor, conspiracy and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Former members say he continues to exert influence nonetheless.

[the Journal printed KTLA The WB | Where Los Angeles Lives | Where Few Dare to Disobey By David Kelly and Gary Cohn, Times Staff Writers, which is less horrific.]

ABQjournal: A Spiritual Community in Reserve Is Also An Ultramarathon Powerhouse By Leslie Linthicum, Journal Staff Writer

Over the years, hundreds of people have chosen to follow Divine Madness’s leader, a short, bearded 58-year-old known as “Yo,” who now lives year round at the compound near Reserve.

Set in a deep canyon inside the Gila National Forest, the Divine Madness compound is stunning and remote, hidden by a circle of 8,000-foot mountain peaks. What goes on in the canyon is a mystery to most of the 400 or so people who live in Reserve. …

Is Divine Madness a spiritual community? A commune? A cult? Or nobody’s business? …

[Marc] Tizer, a Philadelphia native, moved to Boulder and started a commune influenced by Eastern thought in the late 1970s. He advocated communal living, meditation and exercise. It wasn’t until 1991 that Tizer, in a late-night speech, told the group he had been thinking about the power of running in a group as a tool to reach transformation. …

Divine Madness, named by Tizer to describe a state of bliss achieved through earthly activity, according to Bertoia grew into an ultrarunning training club increasingly micromanaged by Tizer. …

“We are a spiritual community dedicated to spiritual and personal growth and development, holistic healing, health, right lifestyle, and cooperative living,” she said in a statement. “Our great running success, which drew media attention, is owing as much to our balanced and harmonious lifestyle as the particular running and training methods we use.” …

A consultant in Florida who runs a support and referral system for former cult members said she was aware of Divine Madness and had counseled several former members.

“From stories I’ve heard from ex-members, it certainly is a cult,” said Carol Giambalvo, who also sits on the board of directors of the International Cultic Studies Association.

Ask god

In church or temple this week, I want you to think about the following story:

ABQjournal: Around New Mexico
Body ID’d as N.M. Woman

MOUNT AIRY, Md. — Police on Friday identified the woman whose body was found on the side of Interstate 70 early Thursday as Dusty Shuck of Silver City.

Investigators said Shuck, 24, was last seen in New Mexico about 10 days ago.

Authorities confirmed Shuck’s identity through fingerprint analysis and determined a cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head and a slit throat.

Passers-by found her body Thursday along the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 70 in Mount Airy, west of Baltimore.

As you sit there closer to god, ask him two questions: Why was this your plan for her? What is your plan for her vile killer? Let me know the answer you get.

(updated Mon 5/8/06) I’ve heard some believers say our minds are too puny to comprehend god’s plans. Well, perhaps Shuck was going to be the mother of the antichrist or vote Democratic in the fall.

Christ was born to his sacrifice. How many times did Dusty cry to god in 10 days? Who was saved by her sacrifice?

I could understand if people believed god created everything and got overwhelmed or lost interest. But people believe god is actively involved in their everyday lives — that they have a direct and personal relationship to god. How can anyone believe that. I know faith is beyond reason — so is madness. mjh

[updated 6/7/06]

Woman Seen Day Before Body Found

FREDERICK, Md.— Dusty M. Shuck, whose battered body was found along Interstate 70 in Maryland on May 4, reportedly was seen alive in Breezewood, Pa., the previous evening, a Frederick County prosecutor says.

Shuck, 24, disappeared April 24 after her mother, Lori Atwood, dropped her off for a doctor’s appointment in Silver City.

Deputy State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith said Tuesday a man and a woman told Maryland State Police investigators they saw Shuck at a Petro truck stop in Breezewood, about 25 miles north of the state line the evening of May 3.

“We don’t know what she was doing there and how she got there,” Smith said.

Shuck’s body was found about 5:45 a.m. May 4 along eastbound I-70 a few yards from a trucker rest stop near Mount Airy, about 95 miles east of Breezewood. Her throat had been slit and her upper body had multiple injuries, including blunt force trauma to the head, police have said.

This Week’s WTF

ABQjournal: Letters to the Editor
Country Lacking Real Values

WHAT HAVE you bleeding hearts done to my beautiful country?

We can no longer say or print “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone who doesn’t believe in Christmas. Nor can we say, “Happy Easter.” No longer is there a “Christmas” vacation. It is a holiday vacation. Nor is there an “Easter” vacation. It is spring break.

We have rewarded laziness and call it Welfare. We have killed our unborn and call it choice. We have polluted the air with profanity and an abundance of pornography and call it freedom of expression.

Children today have no heroes. Politicians lie and sports athletes use drugs. Parents call it searching for self-esteem. God is no longer allowed in school. The majority of Americans want and some have demanded that prayer be returned to school— to no avail. Morality has become a cesspool of depraved minds.

Once again, I ask, “What have you bleeding hearts done to my beautiful country?”


Take a deep breath, Ron. It’s my country, too.

I’m an atheist and I believe religion has caused as much harm as good and I still say “Merry Christmas” to people. Shame on you for opposing the more inclusive “Spring Break” — not everyone believes in Jesus.

Or would you require everyone to worship Jesus?

God may not be in school, but he’s in both Houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court (8 Catholics, 1 Jew — 0 atheists).

And World War III centers around two reactionary religious zealots and the ironically named “Holy Land.” Holy? The fanatical, devout followers of three religions with trivial differences between them will show their faith in god by destroying each other and the rest of us. Some faith. mjh

mjh’s blog — ‘War’ on Christians Is Alleged


I had a chance encounter with a colleague recently. Waxing philosophic,

he began to address great issues of creation. I didn’t object; I like him and he’s no bible-thumper. But, there came a point when I had

to say, somewhat to his surprise: I am an atheist. I don’t say that very often, though I’m not ashamed of it.

I have a friend who is probably the most literate person I know on matters of the

bible. She asked me recently, in effect, what do atheists believe, in the sense of what satisfies our common human need to understand or

explain difficult things.

Sometimes I half-jokingly refer to myself as an “antagagnostic” (antagonist + agnostic), defining such

as one who doubts there is a god but hates him just the same. Indeed, I hate the god of the bible, it is true. I have expressed that in

far stronger language on many occasions.

I don’t mind if you are a believer, even though I know many believers mind very much

that I don’t believe. I don’t seek to change believers, though many seek to change me. Doesn’t quite seem fair, but that’s just a

trivial bit of evidence that there either isn’t a god or s/he is extremely distant or heartless and unjust. There is far greater

evidence everywhere you look.

Oh, but what of all the good people I love, some of whom have faith? What of my sweet dog, Lucky,

who is the nicest person I know. What of those glorious morning glories that so inspire me, the mammoth mountains, waterfalls,

rainstorms, everything I love in the world. I do love it all, but I have no need to thank a god I don’t believe in for it. I’m grateful

and feel lucky — I just believe it was random chance that brought me here and will sweep me out of all memory in time. Misfortune and

sorrow are just part of the balance, as are joy and gratitude. mjh