This is one of those catch-all posts where I have several items to share with you.
Some atheist news and education which is great, and some church news that is horrible. So the score for the day is Atheists 2, churches -100.
First, the United Coalition of Reason is getting ready to post ads on the subway in New York. These are different than the ones they posted for us here in Morgantown, WV.
The bus ads say: A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you? That's awesome! The NYTimes wrote a long article about it, and our Morgantown billboard even gets a mention!
Next, I saw a video on The Friendly Atheist of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining the Argument from Ignorance. Dr. Tyson really knows how to explain things. Since I wrote a logical fallacy article about that, I posted it on that page with the other information. Here is the link: Logical Fallacy 4: Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam (Argument from Ignorance)
Also, Jose Saramago, a man who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, spoke at the launch of his new book, "Cain". He said his book, which is an ironic retelling of the biblical story of Cain, wouldn't offend catholics "because catholics do not read the bible." He added, "It might offend jews, but that doesn't really matter to me."
Apparently the catholics and jews are both offended, but what else is new? They have carte blanche to say whatever they want, but when someone says something against religion, they get all pissy. That's the hypocrisy of religion and bullies, though. So it's not really a shock.
And last but certainly most awful, is some news from Africa. The LATimes reported today about churches involved in the torture and murder of thousands of African children denounced as witches. Apparently some pastors and people read the bible literally, especially Exodus 22:18: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Children are tortured or killed by pastors and family members.
For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund.
"When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats," he said. "It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change ... and children are defenseless."
The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria's 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.
Nigeria is one of the heartlands of abuse, but hardly the only one: the United Nations Children's Fund says tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa.
... Churches outnumber schools, clinics and banks put together. Many promise to solve parishioner's material worries as well as spiritual ones — eight out of ten Nigerians struggle by on less than $2 a day. ...
"Pray your way to riches," advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.
It's hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft. ...
That's what Margaret Eyekang did when her 8-year-old daughter Abigail was accused by a "prophet" from the Apostolic Church, because the girl liked to sleep outside on hot nights — interpreted as meaning she might be flying off to join a coven. A series of exorcisms cost Eyekang eight months' wages, or US$270. The payments bankrupted her.
Neighbors also attacked her daughter.
"They beat her with sticks and asked me why I was bringing them a witch child," she said. A relative offered Eyekang floor space but Abigail was not welcome and had to sleep in the streets. ...
Helen Ukpabio is one of the few evangelists publicly linked to the denunciation of child witches. She heads the enormous Liberty Gospel church in Calabar, where Nwanaokwo used to live. Ukpabio makes and distributes popular books and DVDs on witchcraft; in one film, a group of child witches pull out a man's eyeballs. In another book, she advises that 60 percent of the inability to bear children is caused by witchcraft.
In an interview with the AP, Ukpabio is accompanied by her lawyer, church officials and personal film crew.
"Witchcraft is real," Ukpabio insisted, before denouncing the physical abuse of children. Ukpabio says she performs non-abusive exorcisms for free and was not aware of or responsible for any misinterpretation of her materials.
"I don't know about that," she declared.
However, she then acknowledged that she had seen a pastor from the Apostolic Church break a girl's jaw during an exorcism. Ukpabio said she prayed over her that night and cast out the demon. She did not respond to questions on whether she took the girl to hospital or complained about the injury to church authorities. ...
Just mentioning the name of a church is enough to frighten a group of bubbly children at the home.
"Please stop the pastors who hurt us," said Jerry quietly, touching the scars on his face. "I believe in God and God knows I am not a witch."
How repulsive is this? All in the name of god, religion and superstition.
And what about albinos in Africa? Their body parts are considered potent for black magic rituals. They are hunted and murdered by witch doctors for their potions.
How do we get through to people who are indoctrinated into christianity then mix the bible in with their own superstitions, gods and religions? We have yet to "cure" people of religion here in America, so maybe it's going to be awhile before there's any hope for third world countries. Especially since churches proselytize so heavily in them.
Well, on that unhappy note, I'll wrap this up for today. Wait, let's have a lolcat to make us smile again, shall we?