Category Archives: religion

a church just like mine

Two days ago, a madman walked into a church just like mine (and only four hours away from mine) and opened fire, killing two people and injuring others.

Compared to many religions, Unitarian Universalism is a tiny denomination; we have maybe 100,000 members in the United States. So this tragedy hits extra hard — particularly because the man wielding the weapon didn’t choose a church at random. No, he deliberately planned to attack the Knoxville UU congregation because of its liberal social policies. He hates liberals, says the letter he left in his truck; he hates gays. Apparently, while he was shooting, he was shouting hatred for all to hear.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, "Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right."

High on one of the outer walls of my church hangs a banner that says “Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.” My congregation of about 300 people are very progressive in our politics: I’d estimate us to be 90% pro choice, 95% Democrats, 100% supportive of gay rights. UUs don’t adhere to a specific creed; rather, my church includes atheists, humanists, pagans, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and those who create their own spirituality.

Many beliefs, but one congregation. Why do we come together? Because we find truth and meaning in the seven principles that all Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Although we have no common prayers or mantras, we recite a covenant each Sunday. UUs everywhere speak a variation of these words each week:

    Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.

    We are liberal. We are welcoming to all. And for this, a man decided people just like me deserved to die.

    the age of accountability

    Tim has written an excellent, thought-provoking essay about the FLDS sect and their indoctrination of woman and children into the belief that it’s OK for a middle-aged man to “marry” and have sex with multiple underage “wives.” He points out that many religions offer their own indoctrinations of one sort or another, and he points out that in many Christian churches, very young children are encouraged to get up and proclaim their own personal relationship with Jesus. He ends his essay as follows:

    Perhaps the members of the FLDS Church are afraid that if the girls were older, that they might choose to not marry 49 year-old men. Perhaps they might not choose to engage in that kind of lifestyle at all. Perhaps they would choose to think for themselves, instead of just falling mindlessly into behaviors that are so easily encouraged when a child is so young.

    Perhaps Christians (like myself) are guilty of the same thing with spiritual issues.

    I had no idea that children made “professions of faith” at age 5 or 7. But here’s the thing: kids that age also make “professions of faith” in Santa Claus. They’re raised in an environment where the adults around them tell tales of a big guy in a red suit who arrives by night with a sleigh full of toys; and sure enough, on Christmas morning, the toys are there. So of course they believe in Santa: the proof is under the tree, plus their parents told them this was The Truth. They’ll continue to believe until reason and common sense (or friends in the know) convince them otherwise.

    Now I’ll use Christianity as an example, although I don’t mean to single it out. Take a small child who’s being raised in a Christian environment. The child’s parents tell them about the big guy in heaven and his son, and about all the wonders that befall those who Believe. It’s clear that having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is a Very Big Deal to the child’s family and friends. And sure enough, the child sees that when people get up in church on Sunday and talk about their relationship with Jesus, those folks get a lot of positive attention. The child knows that their parents expect them to announce their belief at some point. Maybe one of their friends has already made the trip to the altar and been subsequently showered with praise. So of course the child will do the same thing: all the evidence is that they’ll be rewarded for doing so, and their parents have told them that this is The Truth. They’ll continue to believe — how long? In some cases, forever. In other cases, until new people, new situations, or their own contemplation, convinces them to change their minds.

    I go to a Unitarian Universalist church. We don’t have a specific creed or dogma; each member is free to determine their own spiritual path and individual belief structure. Our Sunday School classes teach the basics of all the major world religions, familiarizing our children with the history, major figures, and beliefs of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Humanism, and more. We stress to the kids that it will be up to them to determine what they believe.

    But despite that broad education, the fact is that our kids also have a natural tendency to believe in the same things their parents do. My own children have grown up with a Humanist/Atheist mother and a Humanist father who has a vague sense of god as the life force that binds the world together. We’re very liberal Democrats. And surprise, surprise, our teenage kids have liberal beliefs about social issues, they’re Obama supporters, and my daughter is a professed Atheist.

    My daughter is 16. I believe she’s mature enough to make a statement about her belief (or lack thereof). My son is 13; he’s still sorting out his thoughts, and I wouldn’t ask him to make a firm statement about where he stands on religion. I wouldn’t begin to ask a 5 or 7 year old for a real, permanent statement of their faith — just as they’ll say they believe in Santa, if you ask them about religion you’ll get a recitation of what they know their parents want to hear and whatever will get them the most positive attention.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

    Along similar lines, I expect this is why nationally, laws indicate that kids under 16 can’t legally consent to have sex; having raised a child to that age, I’ve definitely seen this age as a defining point in her growth and maturity. My almost-13 year old son is by no means anywhere close to being ready for the emotional or physical toll of a sexual relationship.

    I consider it unconscionable for the FLDS sect to “marry” girls that age to men so much older; girls of 13 or 14 aren’t ready to give informed consent to sex with anyone, let alone a 40 or 50 year old man. I absolutely believe that those women and children go along with the program because domineering older men have embedded those thoughts in their heads from infancy on; and in their sequestered environment, they don’t know any other way. As Tim suggests, if the sect waited until the girls were mature enough to make their own choice, they would almost certainly resist the idea of a union with a vastly older partner they have no affection for.

    If we all waited until our children were 16 before we mentioned our religious beliefs (or political stands, or any other strongly held opinions), then I think many people would be surprised and perhaps shocked at the outcome. If I presented the notion of Santa Claus to my daughter out of the blue today, she’d be very unlikely to believe. If a 16 year old who had never heard stories of any supernatural origin of the earth or been told of a supreme being were given an outline of Christianity’s fundamental tenets, including the 7-day creation, the virgin birth, the rising of the dead man, and so on, I think they’d be very unlikely to believe that, either.

    But we all want our children to be like us, and to believe what we believe. I am a parent; thus I indoctrinate. The important difference between me (or my Christian friends) and people like those in the FLDS sect is that we’re trying to give our children positive, constructive beliefs that we think will help them lead good lives and be good people. The FLDS parents (and others in similar cults) are giving their children negative beliefs that encourage them to participate in harmful, destructive, even illegal behavior. As far as I’m concerned, their right to teach their children about their faith ends when child abuse begins.

    seeing red

    https://i0.wp.com/darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/images/red.jpgI heard earlier on NPR that one of the guidelines given to organizations that are caring for children taken from the polygamous sect in Utah is that they should, as much as possible, remove the color red from the environment. In addition, caregivers shouldn’t wear red clothes. Why? Because sect members associate the color with evil or Satan, and therefore the children might be frightened to see it in their surroundings.

    As I listened, I looked at the walls of my kitchen / office alcove / dining area, which are — you guessed it — red. My gosh, I thought, those poor kids would be scared to death if they came in here.

    I mentioned this to my daughter just now, when she got home from school, saying that the children would probably think they’d encounter Satan personally in this house with all the red walls. Maybe so, she said, “But you could tell them he only comes to visit on Wednesdays.” 🙂

    life, liberty, and the pursuit of reality

    https://i2.wp.com/www.choosereality.org/art/choose-reality-3-120x50.jpgThanks to my friend Jack, I have a new adjective for myself: realist. He introduced me to the website of the Church of Reality.

    It sounds like another April Fool’s joke, but it’s a real church with missions that I absolutely agree with:

    1. We Believe in Reality – the Way It Really Is
    2. We Spread the Sacred Message – Reality
    3. We Choose the Sacred Direction – Forward
    4. We Honor the Tree of Knowledge
    5. We Ask the Sacred Moral Question – What Is Good?
    6. We Issue the Sacred Challenge – How do we know that what we believe is real?
    7. We Are Activists – We Make It Happen
    8. We Unite Religion and Reality

    From the website:

    Since no one knows all of reality, the Church of Reality is a religious commitment to the pursuit of reality the way it really is. We think about thinking. We wonder about wondering. We try to understand the understanding of understanding. We are Explorers, not followers. The phrase “What is Real?” is our Sacred Question and the word “Reality” is our Sacred Message. We talk about reality, think about reality, and aim to make reality more important in society.

    The Church of Reality is a new breed of religion that is based on reality rather than mythology. We answer the great questions that other religions address, like what is right and wrong, how do people live together in a community, and what are our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. We address these concerns in the context of our evolutionary history, our present reality, and our future evolution.

    https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/15677294v2_240x240_Front.jpg… Realists are not without values or morality. Our values are based on Humanism rather than a fictional holy book. As Realists, our values include Positive Evolution, Exploration, Honesty and Integrity, Freedom, Individualism, Peace, Courage, Environmentalism, Compassion, Justice, Inclusiveness, Scrutiny and Doubt, Humility, Reason, Wisdom, and Personal Responsibility. We believe in Original Virtue rather than Original Sin. We are a Doubt-Based rather than Faith-Based religion.

    https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/170409123v6_240x240_Front_Color-BlackWhite.jpgVery cool — and exactly in line with my existing thought processes as a Unitarian Universalist, an atheist, and a humanist.

    Consider me a member of the Church of Reality. My shirt and my bumper sticker are now on order. 🙂

     

    Addendum: In an interesting coincidence, several hours after I posted the above, a smiling woman in her 50’s just knocked on my door carrying a Bible and a small pile of other literature. She began, “Hello, we’re out today talking with our neighbors about the Bible, and in particular about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, and…” Me (smiling): “Oh, no thank you.” Her: “You aren’t interested?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “You aren’t a Bible reader?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “OK, well, have a great day, and thank you for being so friendly about it!” I was glad she didn’t get pushy, and she was glad I wasn’t rude, so it was a fair trade.

    This is the third religious visitor I’ve had in the last few months. Perhaps I need to keep a little pile of literature of my own by the door, to give them: cards with the URL of this blog, issues of Skeptic magazine, pamphlets from the American Humanist Association, a list of Biblical contradictions…

    I don’t get it

    https://i0.wp.com/purpledoll.hautetfort.com/images/medium_Sadness.jpgThe week before Christmas, the mother of one of the girls in my daughter’s church youth group died of breast cancer. The woman was 49 years old and had known she was in a terminal condition for well over a year. I don’t know the details of what treatments she underwent and when exactly her treatment options ran out, but I do know that she spent the last months fighting fiercely for every possible day.

    The daughter my daughter is friends with is in high school. An older daughter is in college. The woman’s divorced husband had shared entirely amicable joint custody for more than 10 years.

    At the memorial service, held at our church the week after Christmas, a small, sturdy box made of dark wood, reminding me of a miniature treasure chest, held the woman’s ashes. The box was surrounded by greenery, photographs, and dozens of tiny candles. Numerous friends and relatives came forward to speak of the woman’s love of life, of her adoration of her children as well as any other children she encountered, of her humor, her kindness, her intense caring for those around her.

    The minister who led the service wasn’t our minister, but a pastor who, among other things, leads support groups for women with advanced breast cancer. Often, when I attend funerals, I’m offended by the lack of attention paid to the individual who has died: the clergy person puts forth a few generalities that too often indicate he or she didn’t know the deceased personally, and then proceeds to offer endless doctrine-specific prayers. In this case, the minister was both eloquent and personal; she was gentle and understanding in her guidance of the service and her dealing with the family. Her prayers were meditative and, although Christian, open enough to encompass the thoughts of mourners from many faiths.

    But (you knew it was coming, didn’t you?) she made one statement that yanked me completely out of the quiet thoughtfulness of the moment and sparked a quick flare of anger that I’m obviously not yet over. In one of her prayers, after referring to the deceased woman’s joyful life and loving family, the minister said something like the following: “And now she is with You, the one who loves her most of all.”

    Excuse me? Which part of a God loving her most of all relates to letting her suffer during her treatments and deciding that she should die? Which aspect of love is linked to allowing a still-young woman to waste away before the eyes of her children? How exactly does the God who supposedly loves her more than anyone else justify her months of pain, her too-early death, and all other aspects of removing a marvelous person who had so much to offer the world? And how does a minister dare to stand in front of dozens of grieving family members and suggest that anyone loved the dead woman more than they did?

    I’m at a loss to understand or forgive such a statement.

    stumbled upon

    Yesterday I discovered Stumbleupon. It could easily suck up far too much of my time, because it’s showing a truly eerie sense for the kinds of sites I’ll enjoy. Just now, for example, it gave me this.

    https://i1.wp.com/www.hermitscave.org/forum/get_attachment.php/ef1a564912ed74ad43526e93acc61edb/haahaeu4.jpg

    the joy of cooking

    https://i1.wp.com/jacketmagazine.com/02/px/girlcook.jpgLast evening, after the summer hiatus, I returned to the church kitchen to cook dinner for our Wednesday Chalice Night program. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.

    I started at about 1:00 p.m., first making the filling for 60 black-bean burritos, and then preparing 4 large pans of banana pudding. I gathered up the ingredients for enchilada sauce, packed my car full of food (and my kids), and headed for church at 4:00. There we were joined by my husband, Jack, and Rita, and we had the usual excellent time as we filled and baked burritos, cooked enchilada sauce and Mexican rice, and dished out pudding. We were ready to serve at 5:30.

    In looking for art to accompany this entry, I found a wonderful cartoon of a church kitchen. It reminds me very much of my church’s kitchen, which has signs everywhere: instructions, warnings, reminders, threats, you name it. My favorite is the brand-new fine print that someone has added to the signs labeling our storage bins full of paper plates and plastic utensils: It goes into detail about the energy and resources used to produce paper/plasticware and the space those items will subsequently take up in landfills, and suggests that people think twice before actually removing anything from the bins and using it. As Jack pointed out, when it comes to things like environmental issues, we UUs can be just the teensiest bit holier-than-thou…

    I love putting together the list of what I need and going on the big shopping trip every week. I love coming to my stopping time for work on Wednesday and moving from computer to kitchen counter to start preparations. I love the cooking, and the serving, and looking out into the church social hall to see tables full of people talking and enjoying themselves over a home-cooked meal. It’s as close to spiritual as I get.

    If you’re near downtown Louisville on a Wednesday from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m., come by and eat dinner for $4.00 ($2.00 for a small portion; kids under 10 are free). You’ll enjoy friendly company and good, homemade food, and it will truly be my pleasure to greet you at the serving window.

    forbidden fruit

    https://i1.wp.com/www.chgs.umn.edu/Visual___Artistic_Resources/Art_From_Lost_Boys_of_Sudan/Image_Gallery_Cont_1/AdamEve.jpgIf you’ve read my past couple of entries, then you know exactly how much I’m loving a bit of news I heard earlier today from my friend Mo, wife of Bruce.

    The Creation Museum that opened recently in Kentucky features Adam and Eve in assorted dioramas and settings — including a 40-second film starring one Eric Linden as the world’s first guy. (You can visit his personal site here, complete with a picture of his Adamly self and soothing new age music.) At least, the museum did show the film, until they learned that Linden was the founder of a pornographic website. 🙂

    Various sources have found Linden’s name on the Whois data for BedroomAcrobat.com. This from, of all places, FoxNews.com:

    Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat.

    He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site’s sexually suggestive logo.

    Linden describes the site as “from his past”:

    “I’m a Web designer and I was trying to think to the future and capitalize on different domain names, just trying to be clever. I handed the domain name off to somebody, so I really don’t know what’s going on with it.”

    At the moment, the “all new site” is under construction.

    https://i0.wp.com/sfxinternational.com/images/ericl2.jpgSo, what is the enterprising erstwhile Adam up to these days? Why, he’s selling clothing for SFX International. A recent comment on his web site suggests that people concerned about the ruckus should visit the company’s site “and see that it is a nice, hip and fresh clothing line! Not nearly as bad as they are making it out to be.” Sounds like something run by Doris Day, right? Think again. Head on over to SFX, and you’ll notice that the logo on the clothes has a clever little line added that makes the company name look like SEX (as you can see at right). And then, of course, there’s the minor point that SFX stands for Sir Fuxalot. You’ll see it in the title bar at the top of your browser — and, for that matter, on their About Us page. And I wonder if the folks at the Creation Museum have seen the photos of himself that Linden has chosen to post on the SFX site (including the one shown here)?

    –> Insert your own “forbidden fruit” joke here….

    Adam and Eve artwork by Yohannes, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan

    prepare to (make) believe

    Yesterday morning, about 9:30, my husband (henceforth referred to as D) and I reached the exit off I-275 in Kentucky (near Cincinnati) that leads to the Creation Museum, an offshoot of the organization Answers in Genesis. We were there to participate in the Rally for Reason, a gathering of reason- and science-minded individuals protesting the promotion of the creationists’ “young earth” myth as science.

    I’ve included some of my photos here. You can see more on my Flickr page.

    https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/211/520038717_19fd76ca9f.jpg

    My personal desire to be part of the rally stemmed from my fear of the religious right’s attempts to force their beliefs on other Americans. School groups will probably be taken to this museum, where children will be exposed to the exhibits and propaganda as though they were equivalent to verifiable scientific truth — which they are not. I’ve read AIG’s pseudoscientific articles, and I’m appalled that so many Americans are willing to suspend all belief in the rational and instead contort the facts in their minds as much as necessary to fit into the narrow grooves prescribed by a literal reading of the book of Genesis.

    So, there we were. As we approached the exit on I-275, we could see the museum from the highway. A police car was parked on the highway — the first of many, many police we saw. The Boone County police had clearly decided that they were taking no chances and that a continual presence was their best best at maintaining order.

    https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/251/520038235_ff16c35bcc.jpg

    When we reached the corner to turn to the museum, Rally for Reason volunteers were standing beside the road wearing orange vests; they directed us to the parking area about two miles away on the grounds of the First Farm Inn. (This is a lovely and elegant inn down a narrow, wooded country road. It was wonderful of them to let everyone park there.) We immediately noticed that most of the other cars were as decorated with stickers as ours. This must be more of a left-wing thing to do, because very few of the cars we saw entering the museum sported any stickers at all — lots of Christian fish symbols, and license plates reading 1Bible and GotJC, but not stickers. (The exception were a couple of cars that had stickers with an outline of a brontosaurus and the words “We’re taking dinosaurs back,” which I thought showed unusual cleverness.)

    We were transported to the rally site in a van driven by a volunteer who travelled from Georgia. Shuttles ran all day as needed, so the distant parking wasn’t an issue. We took chairs and a bag with snacks and drinks. When we arrived it was clear that there weren’t as many people as I’d expected and hoped, but there were at least 100 coming and going throughout the day — enough to form a solid and constant presence along the road leading to the museum gates. I’m not sure whose land the rally was on, or if it was public property designated by Boone County. We were on a curve that people rounded just before turning left into the museum.

    D is at far right:

    https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/237/520006106_d658621509.jpg

    The gates are topped with metal dinosaur outlines. However, there is no sign indicating that this is the Creation Museum, either here on the main entrance or outside the museum on I-275. I find this curious.

    A table at the rally site provided materials for people to make signs. Signs were also available that had been made by representatives of DefCon and other sponsoring groups. (We made our sign at home.) Judging from the sign wording, the t-shirts, the pins, and so on, those in attendance were largely atheists (although not 100%). There wound up being at least four of us from our Unitarian Universalist church, and I would think there were probably people from the Cincinnati UU churches. (I’m curious what opinion of the museum is held by Christians who endorse evolution.)

    https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/209/520004622_0c2e07844f.jpg

    We looked around at the materials on display, and then I joined the row on the road while D stood and listened to a speaker from Case Western Reserve. Various people spoke, some serious, some humorous. There was also 60’s-style protest rock from time to time, which provided an energetic backdrop for the sign-waving.

    You can see the fence around the museum behind the tent:

    https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/230/520004062_4caa8514bd.jpg

    Mostly, people were lined along the road, holding up their signs and waving at the cars driving by. Reactions from drivers were extremely mixed:

    • Some refused to offer any recognition that anything or anyone was beside the road, driving by with stony faces and eyes fixed straight ahead.
    • A few offered signs of agreement with us: thumbs-up, waving, horn-beeping.
    • Many looked surprised, or interested, or amused, or annoyed. (I could hear in my head the comments that some of the parents were undoubtedly making to the kids in the back seat about the godless, hell-bound heathens. My inner response was to want to beg them to please not brainwash their children into believing this mythological travesty.)
    • A surprising number of vehicle occupants — including drivers! — took pictures of us, both still and video. One man managed to drive the entire length of the rally with his video camera out the window, held with both hands; I’m not sure how he was steering. (Perhaps he let Jesus take the wheel.) Several times, large vans carrying 10-20 people went by, and almost every time the occupants were busily capturing us on film.
    • Several women offered to pray for us. One drove slowly past, pointing to each sign-holder in turn, saying “I’ll pray for you. I’ll pray for you. …” Others shouted blanket prayer promises as they passed. Their prayers must have been busy last night.
    • And then there were the truly negative responses, offered almost entirely by men. One man shouted angrily all the way down the line, “You’re stupid!” Another, equally incensed, shouted, “You’re morons! You’re all a bunch of morons!” Both their faces were contorted with genuine rage; both were distracted enough by their fury that they missed the turn into the museum and had to turn around. Both were clean-cut, professional-looking, middle-aged men driving nice cars. Who are these intolerant souls who surround us every day, and what would happen to our country if their furious inability to accept dissent was allowed to take charge?
    • The most confusing response was offered by an African-American man who drove by shouting repeatedly at us that “Evolution is racism!” I’ve never heard such a statement before, and it makes no sense to me or D or others who were there.
    • The response that I found most annoying came from woman of about 50, riding in the back seat of a car, who looked straight at me and my sign, shook her head, and waved her finger back and forth at me as if she were chastising a naughty child. Astonishing. Who did she think she was — and who did she think I was?

    https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/253/520005830_1c7441b8a2.jpg

    As I mentioned earlier, the police were a constant presence, driving back and forth every few minutes. A pair of officers on horseback also made an appearance. And, interestingly, the Boone County Sheriff himself spent much of the morning on site. He was dropped off at about 10:00, and he mingled pleasantly with the crowd, talking with the organizers, doing interviews with the press, and keeping an eye on things. (He was wearing a suit with his badge on his belt, not a uniform.) Around noon, a couple of museum proponents arrived and began a heated argument with a couple of rally attendees. I was watching, and as the volume level increased, both sides got very much in each others’ faces, but there was no physical contact. A little later, we heard that the woman had reported to police that she had been “assaulted” by someone from the rally — and the Sheriff, who was there, immediately let his officers know that it simply hadn’t happened. My opinion of the law’s dealings with the event is entirely positive: They made the rules and expectations crystal clear up front, they maintained a neutral presence, they communicated continually with the organizers, and in general they did their job in a professional manner.

    The other constant presence was the press. Camera crews were roaming everywhere, interviewing organizers, speakers, and attendees. Standing next to me on the road was a girl of about 10, whose parents were involved with the rally (you can see her in the picture above); she was holding her sign high and waving at everyone who went by. The press were fascinated by her, and nearly every camera crew took her picture; she was even interviewed by a film crew from Switzerland, of all places. (I have a cousin who lives there, so I may have shown up on her news channel!)

    https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/241/520036871_16e69342d0.jpg

    We stayed until about 1:00, and then headed home. No, I don’t think we changed any minds, but we at least reminded all the museum attendees that not everyone believes as they do. We were very glad we went, to add our dissenting voices to the crowd and to be reminded that there are others who think as we do, even in Indiana and Kentucky. 🙂

    https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/246/520034413_6c5877defc.jpg

    where I’ll be tomorrow

    https://i1.wp.com/www.rallyforreason.com/Rally_4_Reason_files/R4Rlogo.JPGTomorrow I’m planning to spend much of the day in northern Kentucky at the Rally for Reason, peacefully expressing my opinion about the opening of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, a multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art facility devoted to teaching creationism as fact and illustrating “scientifically” that the Earth is less than 5,000 years old.

    Hundreds or perhaps thousands of similarly minded people will be there, listening to speakers, displaying signs, handing out literature, and making it plain to muscum visitors that not everyone believes as they do — and, in particular, that not everyone believes it’s appropriate to teach a nonscientific view of the Earth’s origin to our children.

    If you agree, and you’re within driving distance, I urge you to come. If you’re too far away, please visit the resources at the rally’s website and express your support.

    There are those who feel that by rallying, we only give more attention to this sadly misinformed take on history and evolution. I suggest that you read this, written by the rally’s organizer. Some excerpts:

    “Answers in Genesis” has managed to get world wide press for their fantasy presentations. The “Creation Museum” is being endorsed by official convention and tourist outlets for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Governor of Kentucky has expressed support for teaching Bible stories in public schools, and Boone County, Kentucky is giving breaks on laws and taxation, denied others, to the vendors of religious dogma. The temporary President of the United States has even opined that the jury is still out on evolution.

    Foolish ideas can come dressed up, just as there can be dressed up fools. And the presentations of the “Answers in Genesis” (www.AnswersInGenesis.org) outfit are well dressed indeed—yes, this is a compliment to their marketing. But such well dressed ideas can deceive many to their great cost. Just ask some Germans and Italians whether they would rather their country had not been treated to, much less accepted, the dressed up ideas of Hitler and Il Duce.

    If, given all of the publicity that has been generated, nothing supporting science and evidence is offered, the impression will be given to the public, the press, and lawmakers that no one objects, and that if fancy, growling, expensive, mechanized displays of dinosaurs and humans living at the same time, and sharing “Noah’s Ark,” are presented as true, with no word to the contrary, then it must be so.

    … The attitude that it is best not to give nonsense credit by opposing it can be quite dangerous. School boards and legislators might well conclude, without further information, that if scientists, teachers, and the public are not opposed to the well publicized idea of teaching Bronze Age myths as fact, then such misinformation is okay.

    … And, if you think being outdoors in response to a threat to the foundations of knowledge is too much trouble, do not worry. Those who would establish a theocracy over us have promised to attack only when it is convenient for you, when it is not raining, when you can be warm, dry, safe, well fed, and have had plenty of time to engage in Liberal Angst over just what to do. Meanwhile, others will fight the American Religious Civil War and protect your freedoms for you.