Questionable Motives

November 13, 2010

Just how gullible does the Roman Catholic Church want Americans to be?

This is the US we’re talking about, land of the free, home of the brave, the shining city on the hill, the Nobel prize capital of the world. So, naturally, I thought the roman catholic church was so busy vilifying secularists and the great evil they represent – including such theistic affronts as human rights, political freedoms, dignity of personhood, respect for scientific understanding, and all that mundane, temporal jazz – that I assumed this conference was a bunch of modern day catholics poking fun at one of their absurdities from almost-ancient history.

Isn’t that the way most enlightened and educated Americans think about demonic possession?

But when it comes to treating demonic possession, the rc church is all business. It remains steadfast in bringing to bear all the modern weaponry at its disposal for the modern American citizen: exorcisms! That’s right, folks. There is growing need for them and the church needs to step up and do its theological duty. Cast that demon out. Use force if you have to. That very difficult and demanding expertise includes the brute force of using conjugated Latin, too. Very scary stuff to any demon to be sure… and even scarier to young people everywhere who need to learn it. Nevertheless, let us press on and read about what the rc church is doing behind closed doors at a hush-hush Baltimore conference:

There are only a handful of priests in the country trained as exorcists (it IS a university degree after all), but they say they are overwhelmed with requests from people who fear they are possessed by the Devil.

Now, American bishops are holding a conference on Friday and Saturday to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. The purpose is not necessarily to revive the practice, the organizers say, but to help Catholic clergy members learn how to distinguish who really needs an exorcism from who really needs a psychiatrist, or perhaps some pastoral care.

“Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference. “It’s only used in those cases where the Devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person.

Let’s ponder that last quote for a moment. Exorcism is needed when the devil is involved. Otherwise, one doesn’t really need that directed Latin. I see.

“But it’s rare, it’s extraordinary, so the use of exorcism is also rare and extraordinary,” he said. “But we have to be prepared.”

Yes, I strongly suspect that is rare. And extraordinary. And supernatural, it goes without saying. But the church is on the job. Take THAT, you evil secularist doubter who stands by while that misogynistic Satan has his way with small boys and helps protect the pedophiles in his employ. Oh, wait… I’m thinking of… umm… (diversion is needed)… Squirrel!

Where was I? Exorcism. Right.

So how does one diagnose demonic possession?

Some of the classic signs of possession by a demon, Bishop Paprocki said, include speaking in a language the person has never learned (excluding Latin, I presume); extraordinary shows of strength; a sudden aversion to spiritual things like holy water or the name of God; and severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite and cutting, scratching and biting the skin.

A person who claims to be possessed must be evaluated by doctors to rule out a mental or physical illness, according to Vatican guidelines issued in 1999, which superseded the previous guidelines, issued in 1614.

1999. Yup. New guidelines. 1999. The age of rare, extraordinary, supernatural demonic infestations are being re-defined by Vatican bureaucrats for their version of the disease in DSM IV (under Demonic Possession, no doubt) while atom colliders are being built deep underground, genomes are being catelogued, and missions to Mars are being carried out.

Now that leaves me wondering what kind of doctor rules out mental or physical illness for a bat shit crazy person babbling incoherently (sorry… speaking in ‘tongues’ is the correct lingo I think) and exhibiting violent behaviours including self harm? I would tend to think it must be a bat shit crazy doctor who is no longer able to maintain a living as a general practitioner… for somewhat obvious reasons of having lost his mind and turning to Oogity Boogity! for his professional opinion. I’m glad that such a person is not my family doctor and the church is welcome to him (I assume no women would fit the employment criteria… having the wrong gonads and all).

“People are talking about, are we taking two steps back?” Father Vega said. “My first reaction when I heard about the exorcism conference was, this is another of those trappings we’ve pulled out of the past.”

But he said that there could eventually be a rising demand for exorcism because of the influx of Hispanic and African Catholics to the United States. People from those cultures, he said, are more attuned to the experience of the supernatural.

That’s religious-speak for too damned ignorant to know any better, which is just the way the church likes ‘em. Especially those with an MD after their names. Always room at the inn, dontcha know, if you have the right gonads, the right frequency tuned to bat shit crazy, and the right gullibility to think modern medicine and demonic possession are mutually accommodating.

And people think science and religion are incompatible. I know! Those militant, strident, and arrogant atheistic secularists say the most ridiculous things!

September 15, 2010

Religious discrimination or fraud? You be Da Judge!

Filed under: discrimination,Law,Religion,Witchcraft — tildeb @ 7:10 pm

For an atheist, this has got to be one the funniest and most ironic stories around these days (from the Brampton Guardian):

A Brampton man has been charged with fraud and “pretending to practice witchcraft” in his home. Yogendra Pathak, 44, was arrested Monday and will make his first appearance in court Oct. 7.
“He was offering to solve people’s problems, whether they were romantic or financial, through witchcraft, and we’re alleging that he wasn’t able to do that,” said Peel Sgt. Zahir Shah.

Don’t faith healers do the same schtick with the same results? And yet the police don’t arrest them. We’re talking blatant religious discrimination here, folks!

Shah said practicing witchcraft is not illegal, but police allege Pathak took advantage of people’s beliefs and trust for financial gain.

Sounds suspiciously like the catholic church… but without the child raping. Still, no charges for the roman catholic church. Good thing they didn’t charge money for raping kids or they’d be in REAL trouble with the Law!

Peel Regional Police investigators with 21 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau said they don’t know how many people went to Pathak’s home and paid for “witchcraft-related services”, but it is believed he has been offering the services for well over a year.

It’s new to the parish, I’ll grant you.

“We know there are more people out there,” Shah said. Police said he was advertising his services on the radio, and focusing on the South Asian community.

This what happens when you forget that you need to go big or go home. Or not… if the police are waiting there. He should of gone with cable TV.

It’s a rare charge to lay, Shah agreed. “It’s the first time I’ve come across it,” he said.

It’s religious discrimination against wiccanism, is what I think it may be. Down with The Man! Fight the system! Threaten to turn them into frogs and bats (but don’t charge them $$$) and eternal damnation in some Irish bog!

Now consider the following legal advice as it pertains to visiting your favourite church, synagogue, mosque, or stone circle:

Meanwhile, police are also warning residents to verify the accuracy and reliability of any type of service being offered:
• verify that you are being told the truth before you do anything. There is no need to make  an immediate decision when purchasing a service;
• get as much information from the service provider as possible;
• ask for references, and check them;
• try to get a written contract;
• if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Too funny!

April 24, 2010

Is belief innocuous?

A common criticism of atheism is that it promotes a militant version of liberal conventional wisdom as the all-purpose solution for human ills, another kind of belief (like religious belief) that the solution to the world’s problems can be found by the withering away of religion through the continuing advancement of science and knowledge. The old and flawed canard to argue against this wisdom relies on pulling in Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot to represent this other-kind of belief identified as atheism in action, as if religious belief is not only a reasonable alternative to this cold and barbaric totalitarianism diametrically opposed to liberalism but one that is necessary to protect us from the inevitable ravages of atheism in action.

I have already explained why atheism is by definition is not another kind of belief (hence the importance of precursor word ‘non’) but simply a label that refutes the acceptance of any kind of supernatural mechanism to explain cause with effect. When any kind of supernatural mechanism is suggested as this link between cause and effect, I think we have a duty (at least to intellectual honesty) to dismiss the claim as unjustified. No matter what the claim may be – be it about homeopathy and the claim that water retain a ‘memory’ to demonic possession, from a tripartite god who cures leprosy to one who causes geological vengeance because of the attire of women – we need to reject that belief on the merit that it is an unjustified belief. Belief in a specific yet unknown supernatural mechanism between cause and effect simply is not justified because it is an incoherent assumption masquerading as something real and knowable. But under consideration is the question whether or not holding such beliefs is innocuous?

Consider this excerpt from this article Akwa-Ibom Child Witches:

From Nigeria to Congo, Kenya to Tanzania, The Gambia to Cameroon, there are reported cases of teens been hacked to death, toddlers being drowned in rivers, adolescent being macheted by frustrated men and women all because someone CONFIRMED spiritually that THEY ARE WITCHES! As an African, belief in witchcraft is not alien to me neither is the news of stoning to death of many confirmed by native spiritualists to be a witch.

If we move away from the specific and horrific actions justified by this specific belief – in this case the veracity of witchcraft – and look at any kind of belief as a stand-alone means to legitimately know anything whatsoever about linking cause with effect, then it becomes apparent that belief is an ending point to any gaining of knowledge. Believing something to be true and being satisfied with this assumption cannot be the beginning of an honest inquiry but its ending. It is a substitute answer – and one empty of knowledge. Belief is not an equivalent kind of knowledge whatsoever for any truth claim, as is suggested by those who wish to protect us from the ravages of atheistic belief that leads to totalitarianism and who support and apologize for the absurdity of non-overlapping magisteria for knowledge (those who support the notion that science answers one kind of question – the ‘how’ questions – while religion answers another kind of question – the ‘why’ questions) . Belief is a shortcut that attempts to persuade us to accept ignorance as another kind of knowledge, a different way to know, pretending to answer ‘why’ questions with anything other that pure speculation and assumption. This is false because at its root, belief in a supernatural intervention between cause and effect is simply a hypothesis – a truth claim unsubstantiated and unverified presented as some kind of informed answer when it clearly is not. It remains an assumption that is held to be true. Non belief, then,  is the opposite of this assertion – an insistence that any truth claims about the natural universe and anything within it must be substantiated and verified by some natural means other than more assumption to count as knowledge, to be considered informed.

Any time anyone acts on the conclusion that some belief is justified by merit of it being based on a belief, then that action  is unjustified. When we allow belief to be any kind of legitimate engine that drives actions rather than knowledge, then we are arguing that acting out of ignorance is synonymous to acting out of knowledge and both as legitimate as the other. This is patently false and people – believers and non believers – do not act this way: we don’t rush a injured or sick loved one to a brick layer because we honestly think that medical ignorance is the equivalent of medical expertise; we recognize that having knowledge is opposite to not having knowledge. Yet when it comes to belief and non belief, many seem to struggle with the notion of opposites.

Belief removed from any action in its name may seem to be innocuous but when ignorant beliefs informs ignorant actions, then belief is not innocuous. The children accused of witchcraft and treated accordingly by believers of witchcraft stand in testimony of the very real cost of belief in action.

February 17, 2010

No joke: Demonology classes for everyone?

They gather in Poland…

Congress participants argued that demonology lessons should be treated more seriously in seminaries and that ordinary people, too, would benefit from knowing more about exorcisms. During the congress, the priests discussed the main causes of possession by demons such as occult, esoteric beliefs like magic, eastern meditation and homeopathy.

I’ve just got to hear more about which branch of homeopathy causes demonic possession.

When someone asserts that one thing causes another, this is a scientific claim open to scientific scrutiny about causation. So please go ahead, graduates from the Vatican’s ‘university’ program that produces officially sanctioned exorcists, and prove the existence of demons, prove that demon possession is possible, and prove that exorcism contains the necessary efficacy to thwart and remove such possessions.

How can this nonsense still be believed in this day and age? These people should be ashamed of themselves for sacrificing their rational minds on the alter of some religious belief in oogity boogity. What’s that you say about scriptural evidence? Oh right. I nearly forgot: because the NT tells us that Jesus cast out demons, demons must be real. Sorry about that oversight: with such astounding evidence to back up the existence of demons, it’s no wonder these malignant magical critters hide in similar oogity boogity places like homeopathy.

It is beginning to make sense why demons hang out where they do… there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

January 28, 2010

Is atheism fundamentally a Straw Man argument?

There is a reprehensible opinion piece posted online at the New York Times by Ross Douthat that supposedly offers us an “illustration of militant atheism’s symbiotic relationship with religious fundamentalism.”

Specifically, Douthat criticizes Dawkins for using Pat Roberston and his diatribe of god-sanctioned blame for the devastation suffered by Haiti as an example of a ‘real’ christian (read my previous comment on Dawkins’ article and why he argues as much). This is a failure of critical thinking by Douthat. By asserting that atheism requires a Straw Man approach, Douthat fails to comprehend Dawkins’ central argument: that a willingness by today’s theological apologists to grant any credence to a religious interpretation of some holy text that focuses on what is meek and mild without accounting for the parts that are vicious and genocidal is intellectually dishonest.

Douthat’s counter argument that quotes New Testament passages to negate Robertson’s interpretation is exactly Dawkins’ point: one biblical reference is not any closer to being true or accurate than the other. The only difference is that Robertson’s interpretation takes into account the capriciousness and violence of the christian god, making such an opinion based on biblical interpretation more ‘real’ in a christian vein than one like Douthat’s which simply ignores the Old Testament’s accounts of a god that is unconscionably cruel and immoral in favour of specific passages that casts Jesus as benevolent and forgiving. Let us all remember, however, that it is from Jesus we first gain a biblical account for eternal damnation… hardly one that enhances the CV of hope and love people so often attribute to Jesus’ message.

I have read repeated criticisms of Dawkins and other New Atheists as creating a Straw Man religious argument, that is to say, that these atheists create a Robertson-ian god as the one that defines the christian god and then tear it down by revealing its obvious malevolence. But the god worshiped by most christians, this argument points out,  is not this god – the one believed in by some fringe and/or extreme fundamentalists as the one so vehemently opposed by ‘militant’ and ‘strident’ atheists – but one that is actually benevolent and wise and compassionate. The faulty conclusion then held by so many moderate religious apologists is that Dawkins and his cohorts aren’t criticizing their religious beliefs but merely the ones held by hard core fundamentalists.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

New Atheists care about what is true. They care about knowledge – about what’s probably accurate, probably correct, probably true. They care about coming to a better understanding of the natural world, of promoting honest intellectual and scientific inquiry. They also respect the rights and freedoms and dignity of individuals within a secular society. They are concerned about any influence that intentionally impedes any of these cares, and there is no greater single impediment than the false certainty of religious belief. But rather than criticize specific people’s beliefs, the New Atheists’ approach is to enter the public forum and expose unjustified beliefs – regardless whether the unjustified belief is religious, superstitious, supernatural, or just poor thinking. To do this, New Atheists point out why the unjustified foundational belief of a Robertson is no different in quality of belief than someone who insists on holding a Jesus is Love assumption. Nor is there any difference in the unjustified foundational beliefs upon which the complimentary and alternative medicine industry has been built. Belief in the supernatural, whether it be god or evil spirits or the memory of water, cannot be honest knowledge: because such ideas are beyond our ability to be examined in the natural world under natural conditions subject to natural forces and natural efficacy all which can be naturally measured, supernatural belief cannot be justified by any other measure other than more assumption and assertion. Assumption and assertion that cannot by definition undergo natural testing and rational criticism because it is supernatural is immune from honest critical inquiry. Asserted beliefs are assumed to be true because they are believed to be true. That is not a justification for the truth value of the belief but an excuse, an allowance, a willingness to suspend critical inquiry. So it doesn’t matter whether or not it is a Pat Robertson’s unjustified belief or an Ayatollah’s unjustified belief or a Pope Benedict XVI’s unjustified belief or a Sarah Palin’s unjustified belief – the common denominator pointed out by New Atheists like Dawkins is that supernatural beliefs in their entirety are equally unjustified.

When a Pat Robertson makes another disparaging public statement about suffering people deserving their suffering and backs it up with theology, it is an opportunity and not a requirement for atheists to once again point out that if not for the acceptance of the moderately religious, then the foundation of unjustified religious beliefs would be treated with the same scorn and disgust aimed at Robertson for his outrageous truth claims. Robertson and his ilk have an audience because there is widespread acceptance by religious apologists to excuse, allow, and suspend legitimate criticism in matters of religious belief. That’s a public problem and it requires a public solution.

Is unjustified belief in the supernatural and all its various promotions in the public domain in need of public criticism? My answer is an unequivocal Yes. The New Atheists like Dawkins don’t just say a meek and mild yes to this question in the privacy of their own minds; they DO something about it by bringing their arguments and expertise into the public domain to tackle the problem of a Robertson, an Ayatollah, a Pope, a Palin, head on.

So the answer to the title is No, atheism is not fundamentally a Straw Man argument but a call to action, a growing movement that will continue to challenge anyone who doesn’t care about what is true but what is unjustifiably believed to be true, and who would allow unjustified beliefs the right to take a place at any table in the public domain.

January 6, 2010

Will the real god please stand up?

First there was this dog’s breath  article by Karen Armstrong (not that I’m the only biased one when it comes to abhorring Armstrong’s researching abilities… read this review here) where she makes all kinds of incoherent statements, like “when we treat religion as something to be derided, dismissed, or destroyed, we risk amplifying its worst faults.” You see, in Karen’s mind the real god is the god behind the god, and what most religious people believe isn’t about this ‘real’ god at all. I’m sure the billions of people who profess religious faith will be surprised to read of their error in her latest best-selling pablum-spewing book The Case for God. Just to cover her bases, Armstrong conveniently shifts all blame for any negative effect from religiously inspired behaviours and political expressions to people who have either been forced into extremism by how secular values have been implemented or who have misunderstood the ‘real’ religious message. She falls back on the standard apologetic canard that Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus because people have long believed in various superstitions.

Good grief.

Sam Harris, one the authors I most highly admire for clarity and pointed linguistic accuracy about the very real dangers unquestioned religious belief presents to all of us today, has responded to Armstrong’s long-winded and serpentine article here. Once again, he scores a direct hit with his biting satire and we would be wise to listen to what he has to say.

For example, he responds to Armstrong’s depiction of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism (Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett) as people who have made the mistake of  categorizing religious “fundamentalism” for the totality of religion:

I can’t quite remember how we got it into our heads that jihad was linked to violence. (Might it have had something to do with the actual history and teachings of Islam?) And how could we have been so foolish as to connect the apparently inexhaustible supply of martyrs in the Muslim world to the Islamic doctrine of martyrdom? In my own defense, let me say that I do get spooked whenever Western Muslims advocate the murder of apostates (as 36 percent of Muslim young adults do in Britain). But I now know that these freedom-loving people just “want to see God reflected more clearly in public life.

Armstrong reveals that she still doesn’t get what Sam is talking about with a response to Harris’ criticism.

No surprise there.

December 26, 2009

Isn’t religion all about love?

I come across this description all the time, usually by well-pampered middle-class white folk who think their various innocuous religious interpretations of caring, compassion, and love represent the ‘mature’ version of modern religious belief. Any religiously-inspired action that defies this caring and compassionate version of god-inspired love is almost always dismissed as nothing more than an ignorant fringe element that does not represent the true meaning of faith in god… no matter how prevalent or abhorrent the religiously-inspired actions are. In this way, the religious believer can erect a false barrier between actions that are not about showing the love and actions that are, claiming the former is not caused by faith in god – in spite of religious faith being the direct and admitted root cause of the latest atrocity – while the latter is ONLY caused by faith in god. It is a neat trick. God gets only good press, so belief in god must therefore be only about the love.

It is the same story when believers attribute the miraculous survival of one person in the midst of a disaster to god’s benevolence while conveniently attribute the mass death and widespread destruction of a disaster to either natural forces or as god’s justified punishment – usually as a response to something about homosexuality. So here’s a fun little activity to try.

Try singing out a loud ‘Praise God!’ in response to news of  a mounting death toll from the latest mudslide, avalanche, flood, famine, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, cyclone, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or fire, and see what kind of response you get: people will think you’re rather sadistic, and understandably so. But sing out a loud ‘Praise God’ when one person survives this onslaught of the indifferent forces of nature and believers will not criticize your sadism because they don’t see the flip side of the beliefs. They only see what gives their god good press. This kind of belief has nothing whatsoever to do with love and everything to do with maintaining duplicity, which is dishonest. Religion is all about being dishonest in one’s attributions about god.

So it is without surprise that the forces of ‘love’ once again do battle in the name of honouring god…

In Nigeria, religious fundamentalism holds sway. Both Christian and Islamic fanatics are holding the nation hostage. They seek to foist their dark, retrogressive vision on the country. They show total disregard for human rights and basic freedoms including the right to life, freedom of thought, association and expression.

In July, religious fanatics once again unleashed mayhem in Nigeria. On the 29th, a Wednesday, a mob of about 200 people from the Liberty Gospel Church invaded the Cultural Centre in Calabar Cross River State. The Cultural Centre was the venue of a public symposium on witchcraft and child rights organised by the Nigerian Humanist Movement and Stepping Stones Nigeria.

Incidentally, the attack by the Liberty Gospel Church happened at the same time as the Nigerian police and the army were doing a battle with an Islamic sect called Boko Haram in Bornu State in Northern Nigeria. This fanatical group had declared a war against the state. They attacked and beheaded police officers and civilians in a violent campaign to foist their own version of sharia law on the country.

The picture is about Jane (left) and Mary, in Eket, Nigeria, who had been accused of being witches. Jane’s mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and Mary’s mother doused her in caustic soda. There are THOUSANDS of such abused children and we have religion to thank for it.

You can feel and see more of the love by reading the report here.

So what, right? These religious nutbars are somewhere in Africa and the whole place is nuts.

Well. Guess again. Sarah Palin thinks the world of these religious nutbars.

An African evangelist, Pastor Muthee has given guest sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God on at least 10 occasions in his role as the founder of the Word of Faith Church, also known as the Prayer Cave.

What has this to do with Palin?

She said, As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way.”

“And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Yup. The lord works in mysterious ways, mysterious being code for sadistic.

The pastor speaks of his offensive against a demonic presence in the town in a trailer for the evangelical video “Transformations”, made by Sentinel Group, a Christian research and information agency.

“We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place,” Pastor Muthee says.

After the spirit was broken, the crime rate dropped to almost zero and there was “explosive church growth” while almost every bar in the town closed down, the video says.

The full Transformations video featuring Pastor Muthee’s story has recently been removed from YouTube but the rest of the story is detailed in a 1999 article in the Christian Science Monitor, as well as on numerous evangelical websites.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic.

Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Pastor Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town’s ills, and order her to offer her up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.

Says the Monitor, “Muthee held a crusade that “brought about 200 people to Christ”.” They set up round-the-clock prayer intercession in the basement of a grocery store and eventually, says the pastor “the demonic influence – the ‘principality’ over Kiambu –was broken”, and Mama Jane fled the town.

According to accounts of the witchhunt circulated on evangelical websites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon.

It is this kind of religious nonsense, this is the kind of attributed thinking that powers the faith of people like Palin, and it ain’t about love. Religion is just as much about superstition, fear, and intolerance.

Read more of this travesty here.

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December 9, 2009

Is there any difference between religion and superstition?

Witch hunter Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria, has filed a lawsuit in Nigerian federal court against Leo Igwe, CFI’s (Center For Inquiry) representative in Nigeria.

The suit, scheduled for a hearing on Dec.17, is seeking an injunction preventing Igwe and other humanist groups from holding seminars or workshops aimed at raising consciousness about the dangers associated with the religious belief in witchcraft. The suit aims to erect a legal barrier against rationalist or humanist groups who might criticize, denounce or otherwise interfere with their practice of Christianity and their “deliverance” of people supposedly suffering from possession of an “evil or witchcraft spirit.” The suit also seeks to prevent law enforcement from arresting or detaining any member of the Liberty Gospel Church for performing or engaging in what they say are constitutionally protected religious activities. These activities include the burning of three children, ages 3 through 6, with fire and hot water, as reported by James Ibor of the Basic Rights Counsel in Nigeria on August 24, 2009. The parents believed their children were witches.

Ukpabio is seeking damages of 200 billion Nigerian Naira, more than $1.3 billion, for supposedly unlawful and unconstitutional infringement on her rights to belief in “God, Satan, witchcraft, Heaven and Hell fire” and for the alleged unlawful and unconstitutional detention of two members of her church.

Read the entire article here.

Ah yes, the old Let’s-pretend-to-be-reasonable-and-use-the-evil-secular-law-to-enforce-my-superstitious-nonsense ploy, and then, after you lose in court, you can then use that legal decision to support the insane notion that it is your right-to-practice-your-religion-over-and-above-respecting-the-human-rights-of-others or your freedom of religion is under attack by secularist forces that refuse to RESPECT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!

In the meantime, more children will be killed and mutilated on the alter of practicing superstitious nonsense…err… I mean the ugly side of the face that is just as much religious belief in action as is the more attractive face of helping the poor.

November 25, 2009

What’s wrong with a bit of religious belief enforced by the state?

Filed under: belief,civil rights,Law,Superstition,Witchcraft — tildeb @ 2:27 pm

Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national. The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.

A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.

“Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions.”

In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for “sorcery” and “charlatanry” an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.

Read the rest of the article here.

What is the difference between superstitious nonsense and religious belief? As far as I can tell, nothing. But let’s keep the State out of enforcing, protecting, and promoting such nonsense.

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