Episode 3 Partial Transcript
Episode 3: The Valentine’s Edition:
“Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the new national restaurant chain for Christian cheapskates and penny-pinching pastors. If you’ve got a party of 12 rowdy jack-offs who’ve managed to forget Christianity’s central tenant on the drive from the sermon to brunch, bring them down to your neighborhood Papal-bee’s. Our friendly wait staff will be happy to accept a snarky message on the receipt and a Jesus-pamphlet in lieu of a living wage. So come on out to Papal-bee’s and enjoy the Last Supper… you’ll ever tip for.
And now, the SCATHING ATHEIST!
It’s Thursday, it’s February 14th and it turns out Catholics get really pissed when you lick your thumb and wipe the schmutz off their forehead. I’m your host Noah Lugeons and THIS is the Scathing Atheist.
On this fortnight’s episode…
Some ex-Nazi who ran the inquisition is looking for work,
We’ll toss all the legislators in the Bible Belt into the ring and see who can out-stupid who
And apparently I’ll sound like a more smug, more scripted Dennis Miller,
But first, the Diatribe…
This diatribe can be considered a companion piece to an incomprehensibly stupid Op-Ed I found on the Huffington Post the other day. It’s by one Dr. Peggy Drexler and it’s titled, “Why Kids and Religion Mix”. If you’d like to get your bearings before I disembowel her argument and strangle it with its own intestines, you can pause the podcast and find the link on the shownotes for this episode at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.
Or better yet, don’t bother because it’s so engorged with stupidity that even a casual encounter with it might actually lower your overall capacity for intelligent thought.
Dr. Drexler, a Research Psychologist, Gender Scholar and bona fide horse’s rectum has decided that even people who don’t believe in God should still get their kids some good church-learnin’ and she makes the case for it in the circuitous way one has to if one intends to justify such a brainless proposition.
We start by meeting Sam, a child of two Catholic apostates who were surprised one night when their son decided to start a meal off by thanking Jesus for providing everything. They shouldn’t have been too surprised, of course, as we all know that Christians aren’t above proselytizing to children without their parent’s permission. But regardless, we now find Sam’s parent on the horns of a dilemma. They don’t want to force their kid to adopt their take on religion (after all, that’s what they’re parents probably tried to do to them) but they also don’t want their kid being indoctrinated by some morally-dubious charlatan either.
Personally, I’m a firm believer that this shouldn’t be a dilemma. On the one hand you have a group of people actively pushing unverifiable claims about the very nature of the universe and on the other hand you have reality. You wouldn’t want your kids muddying their minds with alternative forms of mathematics or biology. You wouldn’t leave it to them to decide if scientific or homeopathic medicines work better, so why would you feel any differently about religion? Sure, eventually you want your kid to go out into the world and make up their own mind, but shouldn’t you start them with a firm grounding in reality the way you would with every other subject known to humanity?
But as you might have guessed, Dr. Drexler would have you believe otherwise. She goes to great lengths to list all the perceived virtues of church-attendance, largely by vaguely referencing studies that she fails to cite.
But a lack of data doesn’t stop her from making rock-solid claims like “Participation in a religious community may help kids develop a strong moral core”, “religion seems to be somewhat comforting to kids” and “…[Religion] can provide a certain stability that children welcome in a world that’s full of change”. Well it’s hard to argue with facts like those. No, seriously… it’s hard to argue with. What the fuck does any of it even mean?
Later she says, “In the wake of Newtown and all the other tragedies worldwide, more and more we’ve had to rely on some kind of a God to get us through” and I assume she typed that with a straight face. I can’t speak for a theist, of course, but as an atheist I find it profoundly comforting that an intelligent, omnipotent god didn’t knowing allow the massacre at Newtown to take place. I would imagine that thinking otherwise would be a source of stark terror more than comfort, but then again, maybe that’s why I’m an atheist.
But the Op-Ed gets more asinine still. At one point she launches into a series of sentences that seem to be competing for the title of the stupidest assemblage of words ever accomplished in English:
“News-making men like Lance Armstrong, who cheated and lied over many years …give us reason to increase children’s exposure to people and ideas that will help them develop a strong moral code.” And with this, cue the pedophilia jokes.
Really Peggy? You’re really going to put the fucking CLERGY up as your standard for strong, moral behavior? You’re going to take the only profession in the country that is synonymous with child rape and suggest that they are the moral alternative to Lance Armstrong?
Okay, okay, so maybe I’m being too Vatican-centric here. Maybe Peggy and her flock would hear that and say, “not all priests are pedophiles”. This is true, but the very fact that you have to point it out is certainly ammo for me, but for the sake of argument, let’s set all of that aside. Let’s instead think of all the Baptists and Pentecostals and Evangelicals who manage to keep their dicks to themselves and instead simply instill good, Christian values like hating gay people and women who exercise biological autonomy.
Not good enough? Alright, let’s even set aside those assholes and consider the most liberal, open-minded, Six-Flags over Jesus church you can possibly imagine with a watered down message, a full time rock band and a fucking Starbucks. Let’s say that you found a church where the transgendered, pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-sunshine and puppy tails priest is a fucking Nobel laureate and gives 94% of his income to charity. What happens to the strong moral code when your kid starts reading up on Jesus and finds out that he’s a pro-slavery misogynistic bigoted liar that promised to return 2000 years ago and still hasn’t made good? In other words, what happens to an edifice built on bullshit when the shit starts to rot?
But wait, Dr. Drexler’s not through being stupid. Immediately after suggesting that the group of people that brought us the Inquisition, the largest pedophilia scandal in human history and Monsignor Meth are somehow better than a one-testicled cyclist on steroids, she throws out an assertion you couldn’t justify to a retarded sea-monkey:
“…in a world where evil often trumps good, religion can’t hurt.”
She makes no attempt to justify it at all. She just leaves it standing on the page their like a nerd who was just thrown naked into the girl’s locker room. RELIGION CAN’T HURT!? I’m quite certain I heard something about religion being used to start wars, subjugate minorities, justify slavery, inhibit science, oppress women, tyrannize nations, roll back social evolution, rationalize suicide bombings and otherwise validate every morally repugnant institution in the history of human civilization. In fact, if I’m not mistaken AS I SPEAK someone if being murdered because of it.
No, sorry Peggy, but you’re putting your stuffing your lunch up your ass again. It’s ATHEISM that can’t hurt. At its best religion is naïve and arrogant. At its worst it’s fatal.
Our top news item today, John Ratzinger is fallible again. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Pope has decided to hang up his Mitre and his Zuchetto and call it quits. When asked why he has chosen to be the first Pope to resign since the death of Joan of Arc, the Pope responded “I’m 85 years old, which is pretty much dead.”
While the Vatican sites his advanced age, the blogosphere is abuzz with speculation that there might be more to it than that. Some suggest that he’s trying to avoid the fallout from the ever widening child rape and torture scandal; others propose that he’s trying to avoid the fallout from the looming money-laundering scandal; still others submit that he’s trying to avoid the fallout from being indicted by the International Criminal Court; still other suggest that all those atheists on Twitter finally got to him.
In domestic news, the Obama Administration recently proposed updated guidelines for the Affordable Care Act, designed to further placate Christian opposition to the requirement that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control. Arguing that they shouldn’t be mandated to pay for something they morally oppose, Christian leaders have managed to wring compromise after compromise out of the president.
The latest round of capitulations expanded the definition of “religious based organizations” to include religious hospitals, universities and charities. While employees of these organizations would still be able to receive contraception through their insurance, the employer would not be burdened by the cost or the unbearable encumbrance of guilt that paying for birth-control pills might incur.
Christian leaders aren’t satisfied with the compromise, of course, and vow to continue to fight the good fight until the exemption includes any-damn-body who wants it including Religious Institutions like Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A.
Common sense, of course, would kindly ask these religious institutions to go fuck themselves as a law that was passed by a democratically elected majority is supposed to trump the prophetic dictates of an infanticidal space-phantom.
We’ll be keeping you abreast of further compromises as they occur.
In other Christians-thinking-they-should-have-special-privileges-and-getting-them news, the Southern California Christian School has filed suit against two former teachers who refused to provide proof of their faith. The teachers were asked to take their son, whom they love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering or, failing that, provide a statement of faith and a reference from a pastor.
Two teachers refused and were fired. When they threatened litigation, the school pre-sued, igniting a case that will challenge a landmark religious ruling by the Supreme Court last year. The Hosanna-Tabor (Tay-ber) ruling essentially exempted religious institutions from the laws all other employers have to follow with regards to religious discrimination. But by failing to specify what constituted a “religious worker”, the court left the status of teachers uncertain.
The school is seeking an injunction to prevent the teachers from suing for $150,000 each. Regardless of the outcome of the case, one can only hope that the discharged educators can go on to find employers willing to pay for their contraceptive insurance.
Amish defectors can sleep a little easier tonight knowing that the notorious drive-by stylist Samuel Mullet, Sr. will behind bars for at least a decade. Mullet, the leader of a splinter group considered stringent even by the standards of the Amish, was found guilty of forcibly shaving and barbering at least five Amish people. He and his fellow maverick Mennonites were sentenced to between 3 and 15 years in prison.
The team of criminal coiffeurs was convicted of conspiracy to violate a federal hate-crime law, which is probably the most sinister way you can possibly describe aggravated hairdressing. US Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach should be commended for not only procuring the conviction, but also thinking of something poignant to say afterwards to make the case seem way less bizarre and stupid than it actually was.
And in the ceaseless competition for the most pro-Christian, anti-Constitution piece of legislation in the bible belt, we have three worthy contenders this week:
Taking the Bronze medal is Virginia where the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections recently voted to endorse an amendment to the State’s Constitution that would allow prayer at graduation and allow students to opt out of assignments if the assignment “violates their faith”.
Senator William M. Stanley, a sponsor of the bill argues unconvincingly that this amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. He points out that it would allow, for example, a Muslim student to be excused from dissecting a fetal pig in biology class.
This line of argument would be far more compelling if anybody believed for a second that there had ever been a case of a Muslim student being forced to dissect a pig or if we were all spontaneously generated yesterday with no memory or intellect.
Taking the silver is perennial contender Alabama where legislators are pushing for a law that would allow the 10 commandments to be displayed on any building in the state. The bill, which sports the Orwellian title: “The Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment”, would offer legal protection for a practice that is already pervasive in the state.
Despite the brazenly unconstitutional nature of the law, Alabama tax-payers needn’t worry about the state wasting any money defending it if it’s passed, as third party groups have already stepped up to offer funding when the inevitable lawsuit occurs.
But the gold medal goes to the reigning champion of stupidity, Mississippi, where we find a seemingly innocuous bill that makes it legal to pray before public school groups. The bill, which passed unanimously through the House Education Committee, would ban teachers from penalizing students for expressing religious views in schoolwork, it would require allowing students to organize prayer groups and religious clubs and it would force schools to allow religious groups to use school facilities in the same way as nonreligious groups.
So what does the law do other than legalize a bunch of shit that’s already legal and force schools to do things they’re already doing? It also allows for prayers before “limited public forums” in school, which doesn’t sound that bad until they define “limited public forums” as things like football games and the morning announcements. Apparently, by limited they also mean “all-encompassing and mandatory”.
And while they failed to reach the podium this time around, I thought I should still toss out an honorable mention for Arkansas where the state legislature recently passed a bill with overwhelming majorities in both the house and senate that would allow the carrying of a concealed weapon in church.
While this law is probably every bit as stupid as the other ones, I don’t think it qualifies as pro-Christian or anti-Constitution, but I’m sure Arkansas will try harder next time.
And, lest I get all the way through the headlines only fucking with the Catholics once, German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller has come under fire for saying that recent criticism of the church leaves [quote] “an artificially created fury… which sometimes reminds one of a pogrom sentiment”.
This statement was quickly condemned by virtually every sentient being on earth; who collectively pointed out that legitimate denunciation of the anti-gay, anti-woman, pro-child rape platform of the Vatican is not really very much like inciting a population to genocide at all.
In Muller’s defense, I’m sure people inciting pogroms probably did occasionally make accusations along the lines of “those Jews are a bunch of conspiratorial child-rapists”, but of course when they were saying it, it wasn’t true.
In other news, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued florist Marina Plowman on January 25th in Rhode Island.
Atheists who follow the blogs will recall the case of one Jessica Ahlquist, who won a legal battle to remove a prayer banner at her high school and consequently became a target for religious blowhards throughout her community and the nation. In a show of solidarity with the young woman who was notoriously called an “evil little thing” by Rhode Island State Representative Peter Palumbo, a Madison, Wisconsin based secular group attempted to send the evil little thing some flowers.
Evil bigger thing Plowman refused to deliver to Ahlquist citing “fuck you, that’s why”.
The FFRF seeks a bouquet and an apology in the lawsuit, but they’ve indicated that they might be willing to settle out of court for fifty cents and some envelopes.
And finally today, a new Church in London called “The Sunday Assembly” has quickly garnered a large and enthusiastic congregation. The brainchild of standup comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones, this church offers what one attendant described as “a bit of community spirit but without the religion aspect.”
While its creators are careful not to call it an “Atheist Church”, seeming to prefer the term “Cultural Humanism”, it offers a clear and welcome alternative to religious ceremonies in the Western World’s least religious nation.
Services include singing, comedy, readings from books way better than the bible and discussions of science. While the service is meant to entertain, it also offers inspirational moments designed to invoke the wonders of life and the cosmos without placing any of its authorship in an imaginary being.
That’s it for headlines, when we return I’ll be joined by Lucinda Lugeons and Heath Enwright for a special Valentine’s Day panel discussion.
“Hi, I’m Carl, I’m the Assistant Manager here at the East 14th Street McDonalds. Thanks for coming in for the interview.”
“Here, have a seat. Would you like something to drink? A Coke maybe?”
“Alright, Mr… Rater…”
“Rat… in… zer?”
“No. That is mailman from Cheers. I am Ratzinger… like, you sing to mouse, no? Rat-Singer?”
“Oh, Ratzinger, got it… now… I’m detecting a little bit of an accent there. Is English your first language?”
“Okay. Do you speak any Spanish? Because a lot of our guys only speak Spanish.”
“I speak 7 languages.”
“Wow… that’s pretty impressive…”
“9 if you count Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew”
“Okay, well… we don’t. There’s not a lot of ancient Greeks or biblical Hebrews here in Sheboygan, but still… you never know. Anyway, I’ve gotta say, this is a pretty impressive application. It says here that you used to be pope?”
“Yes. Was Pope.”
“Awesome. Did they do the whole colored smoke thing?”
“Yes… was colored smoke.”
“Awesome. And what would you say was your favorite part about that job?”
“Job come with… infallibility.”
“Well that’s a nifty perk. What would you say was your least favorite part about being pope?”
“…hm… The Hat.”
“They made you wear a hat?”
“A silly hat.”
“Ssss…. Now, you will have to wear a hat to work here. Would that be a problem for you?”
“No… I wear normal hat.”
“Yeah, a hat like mine.”
“I wear that hat, sure.”
“So I have job?”
“Well… to be perfectly honest, your application had a few ‘Red Flags’”
“What is Red Flag?”
“Well, for example, it says here that you’re a former Nazi. Is that true?”
“Hitler Youth. Was member of Hitler Youth.”
“Wow… See, McDonalds is kind of against the whole Nazi thing I think.”
“Oh… Okay. Well in that case it might be okay. I mean, we can’t hold it against you if it was mandatory… I think.”
“So I have job?”
“Well, there is one other thing… it says hear that you’re currently under indictment from the International Criminal Court. Is that true?”
“You know… is silly. They are silly.”
“Sssss…. Can you tell me what you’re under indictment for?”
“I help cover up with the fondling of thousands of children. You know… is little stuff like that. Other charges are even sillier.”
“You know… inhibiting humanitarian efforts in developing world by opposing use of contraception in AIDS ravaged nations and places plagued by overpopulation. And parking tickets.”
“Ssss… See, I think that might really be a problem.”
“No, I make fry.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you make great French fries and all… but McDonalds corporate has kind of a policy against hiring people that are under international indictment for crimes against humanity… It’s an image thing, I think.”
“I… make… fry.”
“I am good enough to serve as head of world’s largest religion, but not to make fries in your crappy restaurant?”
“I’m sorry… but at East 14th Street McDonalds, we just have higher standards than the Vatican.”
Keeping you abreast of all the major happenings in the world of Atheist meet-ups and conventions, it’s time for the Atheist Calendar portion of the show. We’ll be skipping ahead a couple of weeks and focusing on some events around the country coming up in the first half of March as we build toward the big one in Austin on March 28th.
We’ll start in the Windy City where the Chicago Skeptics will be hosting a Skepticamp event on March 2nd. It’ll be held at the Irish American Heritage Center in Shy-Town from 11 am to 6 pm. If you’re going to be in the Chicago area and would like to meet up with some awesome skeptics, I hear they’ll have a few.
Skipping a week ahead and 150 miles Northwest, we’ve got Freethought Festival 2 in Madison, Wisconsin. The lineup offers a powerhouse of heavy hitters including Debbie Goddard, Darrel Ray, Dan Barker, Greta Christina, the Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta, Andrew Seidel and more. If you’re like me and thinking this sounds way better than your plans for the weekend of March 8th, there’s still time to register.
Hell and gone from Madison? Perhaps you can attend the National Atheist Party’s first convention in San Francisco on the 9th of March where they’ll feature virtually every prominent atheist speaker that won’t be in Madison that weekend: Aron Ra, Jessica Ahlquist and Jerry DeWitt to name a few. Should be a good time for a good cause and tickets are available as of this recording.
On the Ides of March the Wichita Coalition of Reason will be hosting an event with the irresistible title, “The Skeptics of OZ” featuring speakers such as JT Eberhard, DJ Grothe and Darrel Ray, who is seems to really be racking up those frequent flyer miles. It’s an all weekend event and no offense to Kansas, but what the hell else are you going to do in that god-forsaken wasteland?
Finally, don’t forget Pi Day coming up on March 14th. Almost certainly my favorite math-inspired holiday, the holiday is typically celebrated by telling people that it’s Pi Day and then trying to explain what that means and then trying to explain why you give a shit.
A quick request before I close out this section: Apparently this podcast is getting quite a few downloads down under, so if you’re aware of a good online calendar of atheist and secular events in Australia or if you’re involved with a conference in need of a free plug, email me or send me a tweet. You’ll find all the contact info on the “Contact Us” page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.
Just a quick note before we close out the show. If you noticed a bit of inconsistency in the sound quality during the program, I apologize for that. We’re in the process of upgrading our equipment so some segments were recorded on one rig and others on a much better one. By our next episode everything should be smooth and steady and I thank you for bearing with us through these growing pains.
I also want to thank everyone who took the time to leave us a review on iTunes and everyone who sent us an email. I couldn’t be more stoked with the response we’ve gotten so far. I also want to thank everyone who’s listening. I appreciate you giving me 30 minutes of your life and I’ll work really hard to earn another 30 minutes.
And if you enjoyed the show and you haven’t done it yet, please take a couple minutes to hop on to iTunes and give us a review. It really helps us spread the word and, if you need a more personal benefit, 8 people left reviews and I bought a new mixer and two dynamic headset mics. So basically, leave reviews and the sound quality gets better.
Finally, I want to throw out a big thanks to Heath Enwright and Lucinda Lugeons for joining me tonight. We’ll be back in two weeks with a special farewell in the “Pope-ulation Zero” edition. Until then, if you can’t get enough of us, check out the blog at Scathing Atheist (dot) com or follow us on Twitter @Noah (underscore) Lugeons. If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info on the Contact Us page of the website. All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.