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Episode 12: Partial Transcript

by Noah Lugeons & Heath Enwright

(Note: Transcript may contain portions that were edited for time reasons)

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And now, the Scathing Atheist.

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s May 9th and somebody needs to tell people in Kentucky to stop wearing “I ‘heart’ KY” shirts

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from voluptuous New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s episode,

  • Christians will get upset about imaginary threats to their imaginary friend,

  • We’ll learn that in Turkey, you’re autistic,

  • And Darrel Ray will rejoin us to talk about pee-pees and coochies,

But first, the Diatribe.

Diatribe:

I started my post-secondary education at a small state college in rural Georgia.  And while you may not know me that well, even if this is your first time listening to the show you’ve probably already figured out that I’m not exactly right for a small state college in rural Georgia.  Let’s just say that my theological opinions ran counter to the prevailing ones.

You may have also picked up on the fact that I really don’t give two shits who I offend.

As you can imagine, this made for a combustible mix that didn’t take long to ignite.

I all but insured it with what I thought a harmless and excessively hilarious gag.  My dorm number was 174, but with a piece of posterboard and a sharpie, I cleverly changed it to 666.  Now, rural Georgia or no, I didn’t think this would actually piss anyone off.  Sure, they’re all Christian there, but this was college.  We were all a bunch of seditious rebels telling the status quo to go fuck itself, right?

Well, as it turns out, not so much.  Later that day I came back to a 174 where I’d left a 666 and below it there was a handwritten note.  I don’t recall every word of it, but I remember the opening line exactly:

“All the rest of us on this hall are Christian.”

The righteous vandal went on to explain that they didn’t want to see none of my satanic crap any-no-how and if I didn’t love Jesus I didn’t belong in that dorm hall, I didn’t belong in that college, I didn’t belong in that state and, come down to it, I didn’t belong in this country.  I was not welcome.

And, of course, I left a response.  Again, I don’t recall it verbatim, but it was a variation on the following:

“How feeble is your conviction if the very fact that someone doesn’t agree with you threatens it?”

I probably used a lot more words than that and I probably ensured that a few of them would force his ass to the dictionary, but that was the core of my rebuttal.  It’s been twenty years and I’m starting to think he’s not going to respond at all.

But that continues to be my strongest issue with religion as a whole.  If your idea has merit, it doesn’t need you there to defend it.  You can simply place it in the public arena and it can fend for itself.  Hell, how impressive would an omnipotent god be if he needed you to fight his battles for him?

If you want to see the deafening echo of this threat-response, just express your atheism on any social media venue and watch the wagons circle.  They’ll attack your intellect, your motivations, your morals, your conviction and occasionally your penis size (regardless of your gender).  They’ll gather together like white blood cells to defend their precious idea.

But meritorious ideas don’t need white blood cells.  If your ideas need to be reinforced once a week, they’re bullshit.  If you need to read the same book over and over again and hang out with people pre-screened to agree with you, you’re giving the bullshit armor.  If your ideas need to be propagated by an organized group that exists only to propagate your ideas they are bullshit.  And finally, if you’re threatened by people thinking you’re full of shit, it can only be because you’re full of shit.

Nobody ever had to show up at my door on a Saturday morning to convince me that A is equal to C if both are equal to B.  Nobody ever had to sneak a pamphlet into my Halloween candy to convince me that elephants are bigger than gerbils.  Nobody ever woke up early and dressed their kids up so that they could go somewhere and sing songs about cesium atoms having 55 protons.

Nobody ever passionately held a belief because it was true.  If it’s true, you don’t need passion.  Logic is more than enough of a scaffolding to hold up a genuine fact.  You only passion if logic isn’t enough.

Headlines:

Joining me for headlines tonight is the Pythias to my Damon, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to… be pithy, I guess?

Like Tina Fey if she were a dude?

She’s not a dude?  I feel so much less gay now…

In our lead story tonight, Christians across the internet are screaming themselves hoarse over an almost completely bullshit story about the Pentagon court-martialing people for being Christian.

Christianity pays for an entire staff of dudes who speak loudly about bullshit stories every week.  As a group, not exactly the pantheon of epistemological rigor.  

The tiny nugget of truth buried among this citadel of bullshit involves an April 23rd meeting between Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a group of pentagon officials including several generals and a chaplain.  And the very fact that the pentagon had the audacity to sit down with a person bearing legitimate complaints about clear violations of military prohibitions against religious proselytization was more than Christians could bear.

If they’re not careful, all this logic is gonna snowball out of control.  

Don’t worry, the paragons of journalistic integrity at Fox News were quick to put the brakes on it.  They noticed an article about this meeting and asked the pentagon if there were any plans to court-martial chaplains who proselytize.  The pentagon said no, but that wouldn’t piss of their viewers so they pretended the answer was yes.  And before long bloggers were leading off with headlines like “Pentagon Confirms They May Court-Martial Soldiers Who Hold Christian Faith”.

Yeah, court martialing 90% of the armed forces.  That shouldn’t fuck up military readiness, should it?  I mean, who’s gonna remotely fly all these drones?

They manage to inflate a low-level meeting to Weinstein now chairing a panel to reform court-martial procedures, they conclude that this will mean the end of military chaplains and that Obama’s Defense Department was (quote) “promising to bring criminal charges against any military personnel who express or share their faith.”

I’m beginning to think Obama made up all that stuff about being Christian and white, just to get elected.  

So yeah, scant amount of dubious evidence, passionately held conclusion despite overwhelming data to the contrary.  Been there, done that.

Pentagon warns Christian soldiers that proselytization will be met with court martial: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/may/06/blog-posting/bloggers-say-pentagon-may-court-martial-christian-/ & http://nation.foxnews.com/religion/2013/05/03/rear-admiral-says-faith-under-attack-military & http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2569472030.html

And in other Christians-Being-Furious-Over-Shit-That-Didn’t-Actually-Happen News, a high-school track team in Texas was disqualified from a 4 by 100 meter relay last weekend when a runner made a religious gesture at the end of the race.

Jews are gonna get offended by swastikas . . . Muslims are gonna get offended by Danish cartoons . . .  As an atheist, I’m supremely offended by any trinity-related gesture.  Don’t we get to pick an N-word too?  We’ve got unholy cows.

That sounds fair to me, but it really wouldn’t matter in this case because they weren’t actually disqualified because of a religious gesture, but rather because the judges deemed it “excessive celebration” and backed it up with clearly stated rules that specifically forbade “raising the hands or arms in celebration” after winning because, you know, it’s un-Jesus-y.

Do we really need to sit Christianity down for a quick seminar on what subset means?  Did religion really manage to brainwash away the Venn diagram concept?  That’s like a free built-in piece of brain functionality they’re throwing away.  And don’t they believe that somebody REALLY IMPORTANT designed all the brains?  

Well, I don’t know… if god made man in his own image then most of god is an idiot.  But this is how desperate Christians are to maintain their “help, help, I’m being oppressed” narrative.

Supreme omnipotent power is a mandate from the masses.

Excellent supplementary reference.  So here we’ve got a high school kid who gets disqualified from a track meet and it’s being reported on national news.  Nevermind that he was DQed for “excessive celebration and acting disrespectfully toward officials” and admits himself that there was no oppression of his faith here.

We can’t keep having laws that say “No doing stupid shit, unless you REALLY believe in it, and have a group of people with similar hats.”

Track Team disqualified for making “Religious Gesture” (Officially for “excessive celebration”): http://www.christianpost.com/news/was-relay-team-disqualified-from-state-championships-for-religious-gesture-95251/

Our next story takes us to New York Cities parking lot, New Jersey, where three members of the Trenton Diocese have resigned amid allegations that they knowingly allowed a child-molester to accompany them on overnight youth retreats.

Father Michael Fugee was convicted of fondling a teenage boy in 2003, but the conviction was overturned on appeal despite the fact that he had previously confessed to investigators.  Rather than retry the case, the prosecutors struck a deal with the archdiocese of Newark that would allow Fugee to remain with the ministry provided that he didn’t work with children.

I’m worried we won’t get in a dick joke if we don’t take the opportunity here.  

This show does have a two dick-joke minimum…

So what do you suppose they had in their video library there?  Movies like A Few Good Boys

The Priests of the Southern Child?

Altar Boys on the Side

Rosemary’s Adolescent

The Best Little Rectory in Texas

Super 8… Year Olds

Defrock of Ages (8-12)

And for the Jewish clients maybe Who Fucked Roger’s Rabbi?

It’s worth noting that in 2009 the archdiocese assigned him to the Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark and eventually removed him amidst scandal when this unsettling history came to light, so basically they’ve been moving this child-molester from place to place and waiting for somebody to say, “Hey, isn’t that dude a child-molester?” and then moving him somewhere else.

Wonderful . . . they figured out bit torrent for pedophiles.

3 resign from NJ church in pedophile priest scandal: http://news.yahoo.com/3-resign-nj-church-priest-scandal-161033762.html

And in our next story, a Turkish taint-stain has proven that when it comes to autism, one can actually have one’s head further up one’s ass than the anti-vaxers. Fehmi Kaya, the head of the Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children in Adana, Turkey said in a recent interview that atheism is (quote) “a different form of autism”.

If you’re gonna compare atheism to a mental disorder, autism is possibly the most flattering choice.  Rain Man was an awesome dude.  Sometimes autism comes with some super powers.  

On the other hand, theism as a mental disorder, would be something more like addiction to delusional psychosis with an extra chromosome on top.

Arguing that autism is the result of a lack of development in the “faith” center of the brain, he explains that this is why autistic children lack empathy with others, just like we atheists.

Kind of like the way Martin Luther King had an underdeveloped bigotry center of his brain.

Turkish Head of Education Dept. says Atheism is a Form of Autism: http://www.examiner.com/article/all-autistic-kids-are-atheists-and-atheism-is-a-form-of-autism & http://www.timeturk.com/en/2013/04/22/all-autistic-kids-are-atheists.html

And finally tonight, from the “If-God-Existed-He-Wouldn’t-Make-It-So-Easy-On-Me” News, the priest who was in charge of the treatment center where they sent priests accused of inappropriate sexual conduct has resigned amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

You’ve gotta be a little suspicious of these corporate climber types.  “So I hear you need somebody to head up the new Rape Department.  Look no further.  I’m your guy.  I know rape backwards and forwards.  I know it inside out… coming and going.  I know it like the back of my fist.

What would that resume look like?

Now, in defense of Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, former president and CEO of the Saint Luke Institute he was accused of more than just sexual impropriety.  He’s also being investigated for some shady financial practices so he’s really proving himself Catholic to the core.

Throw in some Nazi affiliation and you’ve got the holy trinity.

And, of course, to a Monsignor the term “inappropriate sexual conduct” is redundant.  So this could be an inappropriate, consensual relationship with his hand for all they care.  If he’s coming, it’s inappropriate.

What if God blows you in a dream? . . .  An Immaculate Erection scenario . . .

Or Ejaculate Conception…

Would that count as honorable discharge?

Priest who heads top clergy treatment center resigns amid allegations of impropriety: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/05/06/priest-who-heads-top-clergy-treatment-center-accused-of-impropriety/

Well, unfortunately we’ll have to leave you on that puzzler, as that’s all the time we’ve got for headlines tonight.  Heath, thanks once again for joining me tonight.

And when we return, you’ll witness the second coming of Darrel Ray.

Calendar:

It’s time for the atheist calendar portion of the show.  Back and well rested from a hiatus on last week’s episode, this is the part of the show we set aside to keep everyone up to speed on all the great atheist and secular events happening around country and around the world.

We’ve already talked them up a couple of times on the show, but a quick reminder that the weekend of May 17th has two big events; Imagine No Religion 3 in Kamloops, BC and the Women in Secularism Conference in Washington DC.  Details on the lineups are linked on the website.

Imagine No Religion 3: http://inr3.eventbrite.ca/

Women in Secularism Conference: http://www.womeninsecularism.org/

At the end of the month we’ve got the American Humanist Association Annual Conference in beautiful San Diego, California.  They’ll be honoring some of the very best in the Secular Humanist movement including 2013’s Humanist of the Year, Dan Savage.  Other honorees include Greta Christina, Katha Pollitt (I hope I’m pronouncing her name right…), Carl Coon and Richard Leakey.  Oh, and did I mention Richard Dawkins was gonna be there?  So yeah, if you’re in the same hemisphere as this thing (and by that, I mean Western or Northern), you should really try to make it.

American Humanist Association’s Annual Meeting: http://conference.americanhumanist.org/

The following weekend they’ll be doing something pretty similar on the other side of the Atlantic.  The British Humanist Association Annual Conference will be taking place in Leeds over the weekend of June 7th.  They’ll be honoring Terry Pratchett with the 2013 Award for Services to Humanism.  They’ve already got a pretty impressive list of confirmed speakers and they’re promising more to come.

British Humanist Association’s Annual Meeting: http://bhaconference.org.uk/

You’ll find more information, including links to the homepages for all these events under the “Show Notes” for this episode.  Remember, if you’re involved with an atheist, humanist, skeptical or secular event that could use a little free publicity, let me know.  I’d be happy to plug your event to thousands of people who probably live nowhere near it, many of whom will hear it in archives long after it’s over.  You’ll find all the contact info on the contact page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

Outro:

Before we wrap things up for the night I wanted to make a quick correction about last week’s episode.  But unfortunately it looks like we didn’t fuck anything up last week so I won’t get to.  I promise to try less hard next time.

Normally I close the show out by thanking all the people who help make it go.  I usually thank all the people who send encouraging emails, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, subscribe to us on YouTube, rate us on iTunes and tell their friends about us.  Then I’ll thank people like Heath Enwright and Darrel Ray who joined me on the show and I’ll usually thank people like Bill and Suzy from the “Bar Room Atheist” podcast for providing the Farnsworth quote this week and for putting together a really fun and relaxed podcast which you’ll find linked on our shownotes.

Bar Room Atheists on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bar-room-atheist

And I usually thank everybody who could have spent the last 30 minutes listening to any number of awesome things and chose to listen to this show instead.  And above all, I usually thank the world’s most astute, intelligent and discerning people, the one’s who donate money to our show.  People like Justin, this week’s most valuable human.

But I’m not going to do that tonight.  It’s not that all those aforementioned people don’t deserve thanks; they do, especially Justin because he gave us money, but I’ve got a really important thanks this week and I’m afraid it would have overshadow all those other ones.  I want to thank one of the most dedicated, influential and admirable people in the modern secular movement.  Eugenie Scott, long time director of the National Center for Science Education and valiant warrior against creationism and science denialism recently announced her retirement.

So I want to say to Eugenie Scott that we in the secular community cannot thank you enough for all the hard work you’ve done in defense of science and rationality.  After a long and successful career taking on all comers, you’ve earned the right to retire in peace, knowing that you’ve made a substantive difference and that you’ve inspired an army of freethinkers to follow in your footsteps even if none of them will ever quite fill your shoes.  So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

That does it for tonight, but we’ll be back in 168 hours with the “Out of Egypt” Edition where Lucinda and Heath will join me to pour over 40 more chapters of immoral bullshit in the “Holy Babble”.  But if you can’t wait that long for more us, fear not.  Even in two parts I didn’t have quite enough room for all the good stuff from that Darrel Ray interview so I added a quick bonus question and answer to the “Extras” page on the website.  While you’re there, be sure to check out our erratically published blog and if you want to help me buy a new alternator and a car to put it in, click on the donate button on the right side of the page.

If you have comments, questions or death threats, you’ll find all the contact information on the “contact” page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.  All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

Oppressed Christians

June 13, 2011 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

I go to church once every two years. That’s a painful admission to make, so don’t go telling anyone.

We swap out years, visiting my wife’s family one Christmas and my family the next. On my wife’s family’s years I’m spared the ordeal, but when I visit my family it’s either spend the whole week arguing about invisible space zombies or just go to fucking church. My dad will be in the play, my cousin will play in the band, my nephews will be forced to embarrass themselves in little blue suits while they stumble through some idiotic praise to Santa Christ.

It’s one of those “95% pseudo-tainment, 5% sermon” kind of churches so it’s not as bad as it could be. The morning’s service lasts about 81 hours, but only about 4 hours of it pisses me off to the point where I feel I should be allowed a rebuttal. I sit there and suffer quietly, leafing through the bible and sketching little flip books where Jesus fights ninjas (it’s their bible, so I always let Jesus win).

I never close my eyes when they ask me to pray. This isn’t some little silent protest. It’s not like I’m crossing my fingers as I say amen or anything, but I can’t imagine closing my eyes for an extended period during a church service and trusting myself to wake back up later.

Afterwards, I rode back to my parent’s house with my dad and my wife and half-listened to my dad’s plea that I give up on the whole rational thinking thing and get involved with a church. I managed the obligatory shrugs and non-committal noises, but I spent the ride pondering the echoing voice of my dad’s pastor.

The parting message from the sermon was stuck in my craw. After three hours of the least spiritual inanity one could possibly schedule under the pretense of a church service, we’re treated to a 20 minute lecture about how Christians need to stand up to the secular world. It was a tirade about how religious people shouldn’t let the government encroach upon their rights. The pastor manages to get there after starting off with a waitress wearing a button that says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” or “Fuck the Jews”.

As my dear old dad rambled on about how “not that bad” the service was, I found myself reflecting on that peculiar notion that Christians have in which oppression equals having the same rights as everyone else. I wonder sometimes if part of the initiation to be a Christian is being able to pretend you’re being oppressed with a straight face. The group that counts amongst its ranks every president ever elected, the vast majority of every elected body in this country and the heads of the majority of influential businesses in the country says it’s being oppressed and people cover it on the news without then laughing until they cry.

So what is this “Christian oppression” of which they speak? I’ll start where the preacher man started.

Christians are being oppressed when businesses ask their employees to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”. This basic attempt to recognize that an enormous number of people in this country don’t celebrate the same religious holidays as them is seen as a slight against their basic rights. They have the right to impose their beliefs on you.

Christians are being oppressed when their religious beliefs aren’t plastered all over public property. The 10 Commandments should go on every courthouse wall (all 4 in each room) and they can say that without the slightest hint of irony. They can also explain why the tenets of Sharia Law should not be equally displayed. It’s not enough that they have their goddamned holy book profaning the court proceedings to begin with, they also reserve the right to impose their prehistoric top ten list of ethics on everyone else.

Christians are being oppressed when they aren’t permitted to lead classrooms in prayer. It’s not enough that no municipality in the country bans praying, they also have the right to force you or your children to sit through it as well. They have the right to impose their mythological praise on the world.

Christians are also being oppressed if any other group should be given any right like the ones they demand for themselves. If you want to put atheist messages in places that are actually reserved for private displays, you are violating their rights. They have the right to impose silence on every competing viewpoint.

Everything short of total Christian hegemony and immunity from all the laws that other groups have to follow is a violation of their Christian rights.

I have a solution to this, but I fear it might be extreme. Perhaps we should hold a lottery and randomly feed a few of these spittle spewing pastors to lions. We could stick the videos up on You-Tube and stick in a tagline like “Christians be warned”. I’ll admit that it might be overkill, but it seems like the easiest way to remind them what the word “oppression” means.