Sunday School

Sunday School 28th February 2021

This topic contains 42 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 3 months, 1 week ago.

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    A study suggests that while atheists and theists have similar moral compass points when it comes to actions concerning individuals, we tend to have less respect for authority. Research article. For us respect is earned and not automatically given, especially to people who put “reverend” before their name.

    A look at the gender differences of nonreligious Americans. There are more than 45,000 ways to believe in the imaginary Christian god.

    Theists everywhere seem to me to be getting more and more agitated about the decrease in the numbers of schools indoctrinating children. They always want to “strike the right balance”, which is code for “religious privilege”.

    If religious freedom is constitutionally protected, freedom from religion should also be.

    The good news this week is the passing of The Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to provide protections for LGBTQ individuals. The usual suspects from the conservative Christian Right are not happy with equality for all citizens as voiced by one GOP lawmaker with different moral standards to atheists. Southern Baptists expels four churches for being less homophobic than they are required to be.

    I wonder if the Orange Ogre will comment on the Atheists for Liberty group at the CPAC today?

    This week’s Woo: How Quacks become millionaires.

    Environment: What’s up with the Ozone Layer?

    Extremists struggle with certain kinds of brain processing research shows.

    Could a placebo help cure hypochondria?

    Coffee with Satanists seems to me like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

    I don’t believe any gods exist in this Universe no matter what shape it is and I find it difficult to accept a multiverse might exist because it is science based on zero evidence. What would Karl Popper think of that statement?

    What is a minimally good life and are you prepared to live it?

    Witnessing nine decades of progress through secular humanism. The Disinformation Vaccine: Is There a Cure for Conspiracy Theories?

    This week I will order this book: The Unintended Consequences of Taming Nature.

    Some photographs taken last week.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil……

    Coffee Break Video:  If There Is No God, Murder Isn’t Wrong – Christopher Hitchens responds from the grave. Cancel Culture is Over Party – Real Time with Bill Maher.


    Have a great week everyone!

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”

    Terry Pratchett.



    Thanks Reg!




    Freedom from religion and freedom of religion are both constitutionally protected, not just by the First Amendment, but by the all-too-neglected Ninth Amendment, which states:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    In other words, individual rights are natural and predated the writing of the U.S. Constitution and those rights (including the right to no believe) do not have to be acknowledged or enumerated in the Constitution in order to exist.

    Also, not believing in religion does not in itself deny or disparage the right of others to believe in religion or vice-versa, so both rights can and do exist side-by-side.

    And even if the U.S. Constitution and The Bill of Rights never existed, the right to believe and the right to not believe are both tied together by the laws of logic.

    Believing in a proposition means not believing in that which is contrary or contradictory to that proposition.  And if the right to believe applies to any proposition, so also does the right to disbelieve.


    Also, not believing in religion does not in itself deny or disparage the right of others to believe in religion or vice-versa, so both rights can and do exist side-by-side.

    In theory and on paper, yes. And in most “everyday” situations it may also be true. But how many Supreme Courts justices are “Nones”? Most are Catholics and there are no “Nones” even though about 26% of citizens are in the latter group, compared to 20% Catholic.

    You cannot accept that the “No Religious Test Clause” is fully upheld when it comes to politics, even if the original Framers insisted on this?

    And what happens when the Fundies get into power? They draft laws that explicitly discriminate against atheists and minority religions.

    People like Kim Davis, who worked in a position of “public trust” decided not to grant  marriage licenses to some citizens because of her religious objections and she was sent to jail. That was the right thing to happen. But she ended up meeting with Pope Francis (The Cuddly One)…thought not as his request and becoming a hero for other homophobic Christians in government paid jobs. There are several cases where atheists and non Christian citizens are discriminated against.

    I was once in court for a minor speeding offense. I was trying to get it quashed because the paperwork was all wrong. I represented myself and was called to give evidence. I was handed a Bible to swear on and refused it on the grounds that I should have been first asked if I was a Christian. The clerk asked me what religion I was and I said “That is none of your business”. The judge said “The court does not appreciate your attitude” to which I replied “Nor I, the courts assumptions about me”. There was a moment of silence. The judge asked if I would like to swear on a non religious oath. I said “OK” but that it would be quicker if he read my summons as it would save him and the court time. He did and immediately dismissed the case as he saw the 3 errors in it. I said “Thank you, your honor” as I left. I think he was glad we did not go down that road.

    All this time the cop that wrote it was glaring at me and as I left the courtroom, he followed me out to main doors.  He was getting ready to say something he thought was “clever” so I “got my retaliation in first” (an Irish saying). I stopped and asked him if he wanted an autographed photo of me “if you can’t take your eyes off me”. He erupted in hushed anger and mentioned something about how his god would have the final word. I just laughed at him and walked away. Not the first time I have had attitude from the cops over their poxy religion. And again since then 🙂





    We do have our work cut out for us, but also much in our favor.

    The Constitutional ban on religious tests means that government cannot make religious belief a precondition of running for office. While it does not stop individual citizens or legislators from voting their personal religious biases, there are other elements of the Constitutional Republic that serve to limit the power of religious bias.

    First, Federal power is divided between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. If the Legislative Branch (the House and Senate) passes a religiously-biased law, the Executive Branch (the President) can always Veto it or use executive pardon to free citizens prosecuted under the law.

    Failing that, a single citizen adversely affected by the law can make a test case of it and run it through the court system all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for judicial review to determine the law’s Constitutionality.  Because the Supremes are appointed for life, they can and do throw curve balls that run contrary to perceived biases and even contrary to those who appointed them.

    For example, Richard Nixon’s Conservative Burger Court brought us Roe Vs. Wade and rulings banning the death penalty and upholding “the exclusionary rule” on illegally-obtained evidence. Justice Roberts ruled in favor of Obamacare and Trump’s own Supreme Court Apointees didn’t even consider his lawsuits regarding allegations of election fraud.

    Often, the Judiciary is more favorable than other Branches of the Federal Government on Religion/State questions.

    On lower court levels, jurors sometimes rule not just on the facts of the case but the justice of the law. If they think the law is unjust or unequally applied, sometimes they declare the defendant not guilty and thus effectively nullify the law. Jury nullification can go in all kinds of directions, but jury nullification has been used in the past to acquit fugitive slaves and those who harbored them, acquit peace protestors chaining themselves to military fences, acquit pot-smokers, acquit prostitutes and johns, and other “victimless crimes.”

    Also, as more people identify as “none,” the future promises to have fewer religious-based laws and more pressure to repeal these laws as well. We just have to keep pressing on these matters.

    Regarding testimonies, I have personally found in testifying in court or City Council meetings that when the bailiff or City Attorney presents The Holy Bible and asks me to swear, I just politely ask to Affirm and there is no fuss or bother.

    This doesn’t mean resistance may not come later, but so far, officials seemed to have encountered it before and accommodate me well. No scrutiny of my testimony based on affirmation either.



    It doesn’t surprise me too much that men would be slightly less likely to have a religious affiliation over women. As a generalization, in Christianity (and likely other religions) it seems like there is more pressure on women to uphold a sense of church community and values.

    I’ve known a number of families where the father stayed home during services, yet there was still considerable pressure on ‘good’ mothers to bring their children to church. That sort of mindset was probably once quite pervasive (and no doubt still is in many places). Even without having children or being in heterosexual marriages, the pressure on people who are AFAB to support godliness seems like it’s usually higher.

    I’ve even talked to moms who don’t know if they believe in a god themselves, yet they took their children to church because that’s what you do. I can’t say I’d blame them with the bizarre level of scrutiny mothers and women get. Not that men don’t face judgment too; I just don’t think the dynamic is the same.

    But then again, I could be completely wrong about why the discrepancy exists. I wonder how things would stack up if we were able to examine what people truly believe versus how they declare their religious affiliations outwardly (or even the lies some people tell to themselves).



    Indeed compared with some Western European countries (certainly not all) the U.S. seems to have a whole bunch of religion fused with politics. The near complete non-representation of non-religious politicians at the National level, the number of prayers and prayer groups and the use of God in phrases, motto, the constitution, oaths, your money, political speeches, monuments is staggering. The amount of clearly religious motivated legislation is huge and the number of absolute crazies at all government levels is quite notable.

    In most Western European countries religious monuments are there and as historical relics most aren’t going away, but new ones are rarely built in public squares nor with public money.

    I would say the biggest problems in Western Europe are 1. The religious tax in a handful of countries, 2. Blasphemy laws in a couple countries 3. Opening prayer in the legislature in a few countries (voluntary though it is…they shouldn’t happen at all). Having said that…the amount of blatant religious content, motivated legislation, crazies is low. And there have been atheist leaders and many atheist members of parliament. Calls for increasing secularisation is high.

    Thank fucking God at least for your constitution which limits religion to some extent. Having said that: how the US supreme court allows “God” printed on your money, for one example, is beyond me.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  Davis.


    God does have a way of creeping constitutions. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the nations that recognize QEII as head of state had him somewhere in their constitutions (or comparable documents) given her role as the something-or-other of the Church of England. I know one doesn’t necessitate the other, but it’s hard to say your nation is theoretically secular under those terms.


    Simon Paynton

    I think it makes sense that if women are charged with the main work of “bringing up the children”, and the Church plays a role in educating children’s characters or whatever – women would be more likely to bring the children to church, than men.

    It may be that women enjoy community more than men, who, traditionally, give less of a stuff about social matters.



    More likely it’s that oppressed people stick together. The women, being the oppressed, were able to get together once a week or more, for church duties where they knit blankets for the poor whilst bitching about the men and working out better ways to ‘manage’ their husbands.

    Any woman who truly believes the man is the head of the household, already believes someone other than themselves is in charge. Not a big leap to accepting an invisible boss, when your very visible one insists you obey him.

    Women enjoy community more than men?  Haha. Go look in a pub and count the men vs the women. And pubs are open every day. That’s just a lazy argument, rather than anything worth considering.

    Her Maj is only Head of the Church of England because of Henry VIII who the Pope wouldn’t grant a divorce to.  Henry seceded the church, and set up a mirror image of Catholicism except for the freedom to divorce. As there was no longer a Pope involved in the newly segregated religion, Henry took on the mantle. That’s why Her Maj is Defender of the Faith, and Supreme Commander of the Church of England.  The position outranks the Archbishop because Henry wanted to be sure he would never be answerable to the bishops.

    The title ‘Defender of the Faith’ was initially given by a Pope to James I of Scotland, hoping he’d stop Henry’s arguments with the Pope, but it was rescinded from James in a hissy fit when Henry seceded the church anyway.   But we just liked the sound of it, so we dug it up and polished it off and tagged it onto the Royal Duties.

    As an aside, Charles wants to change that title to Defender of all Faiths, in order to include all the other religions – if he ever makes it to the throne.  He’d still be Supreme Commander of the C of E though, as that’s the way the religious hierarchy got structured in the 16th century.

    ( I shall now go plunge my fingers into an ice bucket)


    @strega – I once asked a Northern Irish Protestant friend of mine what he thought the Protestant God would think of Camilla Parker Bowles being married to His next representative here on Earth.

    There was no broadcast-able reply 🙂



    As an aside, Charles wants to change that title to Defender of all Faiths, in order to include all the other religions – if he ever makes it to the throne. He’d still be Supreme Commander of the C of E though, as that’s the way the religious hierarchy got structured in the 16th century. ( I shall now go plunge my fingers into an ice bucket)

    It’s bizarrely fitting. Not the title; the fumbling colonial approach to… inclusivity? I almost want him to succeed (lulz) just for the good ol’ cringe humour.

    For what it’s worth, the queen could be replaced by a pencil crayon in our constitution and I am not sure anyone would ever notice. There just has to be a thing there. I suggested she be replaced with a unicorn just like we have on our national coat of arms. That’s something I can believe in.




    It is a very strange toss-up between the U.S. and Europe.

    On one hand, the. U.S. has no officially- established religions, yet a majority of Citizens identify with one religion or another.

    In many nations of Europe, however, there are officially-established religions supported by taxdollars, yet far fewer citizens identify with either the official religion or in other cases any religion.

    The U.S Government’s record on Religion/State Separation is mixed too.

    Our Supreme Court has made some notable rulings in favor of Secularism in government, yet it’s own building has pediments and friezes of religious law-givers and law-holders Moses with stone tablets, Mohammed, and Confucius.

    According to this Snopes article, though, the pediments and friezes were intended to portay them as historical figures in the history of law rather than as religious figures.  And the stone tablets only included the common secular law, not the whole Ten Commandments:

    Religious Symbols in the U.S. National Capital
    Do religious symbols abound in the national capital buildings and words of the United States’ founders?
    David Mikkelson
    Published 6 November 2003

    Religious Symbols in the U.S. National Capital

    Although we do have official tax-funded Chaplains in Congress and the Military, Constitution author James Madison opposed them and rightly so.  Congresscritters and Military members can always pray and worship on their own time and pass their own personal hat or helmet if they want to pay a minister.

    The “In God We Trust” motto was a much more recent phenomenon that came with President Eisenhower during the Cold War in the 1950s.  Prior to that, our National Motto was E Pluribus Unum (“Out of Many, One.”)

    In God We Trust–Wikipedia

    It really made no sense to evoke God in opposition to Communism, as Communism throughout history existed before Marx and Engels and could be either religious or Atheist.

    And the first Motto on Silver One Dollar coins of the U.S. Continental Congress was always my personal favorite for busybodies both religious and non-religious: “Mind Your Business.” 😎💲

    Continental Currency Dollar Coin–Wiikipedia

    As our present currency becomes more worthless with each new $Trillion Dollars spent on “gimmies,” maybe the old Continental Silver Dollars (traded in online accounts) will make a comeback!  Yes!

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Spelling and HTML
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Eliminating repetition, though not of repetitious editing



    Why the ice bucket for your fingers?  Is it to fight the temptation of dissent?  No need for that, I say.  Feel the Force of Dissent flowing through, you should!

    It’s one thing to defend the right to believe and disbelieve, but how can Charles claim to be Defender of All Faiths simultaneously?

    Does he defend all pork-eating faiths and pork-abstaining Judaism and Islam at the same time?  Or beef-eating believers and beef-abstaining Hinduism equally?  Or Beefeater’s Gin drinkers with Teatotalling religions side-by-side?  Maybe he defends all of Monty Python’s Crackpot Religions with matched vim and vigor!

    One thing’s for sure, if Charles tried defending all faiths equally, his Royal Cloak will have sleeves and buckles in the back and his Royal Parlor will be a rubber room. 🤪


    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Defending All Spelling and Spells of Perfection simultaneously
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