Monday, May 25, 2020
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Largest Survey on Nonreligious Americans Reveals Widespread Discrimination and Stigma


Cranford, NJ—Today, the nonreligious identity organization American Atheists released Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America, a comprehensive report drawn from the groundbreaking U.S. Secular Survey. Counting nearly 34,000 nonreligious participants and organized by a team of researchers at Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, the U.S. Secular Survey is the largest ever data collection project on secular Americans and their experiences.

“At 75 million people, religiously unaffiliated Americans are as large a demographic as either Evangelical Christians or Catholics, and explicitly nonreligious people comprise a growing share of the population, yet before the U.S. Secular Survey there had been a lack of focused research on our community,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists, who helped lead the project. “What we found shocked us. Discrimination and stigma against nonreligious Americans is widespread and extremely harmful.”

Due to their nonreligious identity, more than half of participants (54.5%) had negative experiences with family members, nearly one third (29.4%) in education, and more than one in five (21.7%) in the workplace. Of those who experienced discrimination within their families, there was a 73.3% higher rate of likely depression.

“This report shows that the more religious the community, the more likely nonreligious people are to face discrimination and stigma,” said Gill. “Nonreligious Americans living in very religious communities, concentrated in rural areas and the South, are particularly at risk.”

The nearly one third of participants (29.8%) living in “very religious” communities were nearly two and a half times more likely to experience discrimination in education, two and a half times more likely in public services (voting, jury duty, poll work), more than three times more likely in employent, and more than two times more likely when dealing with private businesses, compared to those living in “not at all religious” communities.

“The struggles of nonreligious Americans are far too often overlooked. Thankfully, the U.S. Secular Survey has revealed the discrimination our community regularly faces,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “With that well-established, we need to find solutions and work toward ending the stigma faced by our community.”

The report found that involvement with organized secular community groups is an important protective factor that correlated with reduced likelihood of loneliness and depression. Members of national secular organizations were 34.8% less likely than non-members to be at risk for depression, while members of local secular groups were 29.3% less likely.

“Now that we know the power of organized secularism, it’s up to secular organizations to advocate for change and provide as many nonreligious Americans as possible with the support and community they need,” added Fish.



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Philosophy Gags | Jonathan MS Pearce


Time to share some philosophical jokes. Here’s my philosophical joke, the only one I remember consistently:

A travelling professor enters a philosophy faculty. He sees all the students really pander to and look after this one particular professor, giving him all his needs. He finds this odd and asks one of the students why they are looking after this one professor so well.
“Aah, he’s a solipsist. If he goes, we all go.”

***

How many Freudians to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to change the lightbulb and one to hold the penis.
I mean the mother!
I MEAN THE LADDER!

***

Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

***

  • Question: how many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
  • Answer: fish.

***

And a few others I have here and there. I love this one:

15 Best Philosophy memes images | Philosophy memes, Philosophy, Memes

Dean, to the physics department: “Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff? Why couldn’t you be more like the math department – all they need is pencils, paper, and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

***

Seeing the zen master on the other side of a raging torrent, a student waved his arms and shouted out, “Master, master, how do I get to the other side?”

The master smiled and said, “You are on the other side.”


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Anti-Vaxxers and Winning Their Facebook Battle


Anti-vaxxers have a special place in my Hall of Infamy. They are idiots, plain and simple, and no amount of whining by them or on their behalf will change my opinion. Yes, Big Pharma is a problem, yes there are issues with the financing and distribution of such drugs – well, all drugs – but no, the pseudoscience claptrap of these conspiracy theorists does not cut the mustard with me.

The situation is not looking good for those fighting for truth and science:

Anti-vaccination Facebook Pages are currently better at attracting undecided users to their cause than pro-science counterparts, researchers have found.

As social media sites struggle to purge misinformation and conspiracy theories from their platforms, including campaigns relating to COVID-19, a study has now shown how differing stances on vaccination have evolved and competed over time. The project, led by Neil Johnson, professor of physics at George Washington University, analyzed Facebook communities containing close to 100 million individuals, grouping them into “clusters” to map how members interact, shift and share links.

The clusters were color coded, mapped and analyzed. And the results were surprising, Johnson told Newsweek, describing the current situation as a “perfect storm” that could see legitimate information drowned out by fringe, fake, science.

The findings were not at all what was expected:

“We expected to find a network where establishment medical science/government public health advice (‘Blue’) forms a very large strong core, surrounded by a small number of fairly disorganized communities expressing a fringe view, like opposing vaccines (‘Red’). We found the complete opposite,” Johnson said. “Instead, there’s a complex, three sided online war over trust in establishment medical science and health guidance—and Red is now in the driving seat.

“Instead of it being a two-sided war of Red vs Blue, anti-vaccination has pulled in the huge population of people who ordinarily don’t talk a lot online about such issues; communities on Facebook of pet lovers or parents with a particular interest. These users are akin to a civilian population in an insurgency. We call them ‘Green.’ Blue is fighting in the wrong place, off to one side.”

The team’s findings suggested anti-vax Facebook Pages are smaller but more nimble than pro-vaccination communities, appearing to become “heavily entangled” with the much larger groups of users who are yet to fully form their own opinions.

Under present conditions, one predictive model used by the scientists found that anti-vaccination support could reach dominance in approximately 10 years.

The result of all of the disinformation is that 1 in 4 Americans are looking to refuse to get vaccinated in the event of  vaccine being created, as abc Action News report:

Sill, when asked about the likelihood of agreeing to get a safe and effective vaccine, the new survey shows some skepticism about being inoculated. One-quarter of Americans said they were not likely to get vaccinated, even if a safe and effective vaccine was developed. About three-quarters said they would likely get the immunization.

The interesting angle is the partisan divide, or not as is the case:

Those Americans who are opposed to getting a vaccine, experts say, often fall into one of two categories. But, unlike most things in American politics and concerning the coronavirus outbreak, those groups are not partisan in nature, with about equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans saying they were likely to get the vaccine.

“There’s always been an anti-vaccine group of individuals that are going to refuse vaccines no matter what,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert, and a professor of medicine, epidemiology and global health at Emory University. “The question is, how do they impact other people.”

“You always have a sense of anxiety that this is a new vaccine. Is it safe? Is it effective,” del Rio continued. “But if a vaccine is safe, then the problem that you run into is complacency.”

“It’s not just the skeptics, it’s truly ones that don’t actively go looking for a vaccine,” he added.

Del Rio told ABC News that while the country is generally “very good” at vaccinating children, the number of adults who receive vaccinations pales in comparison, citing the influenza vaccine as an example.

“After the pandemic of influenza, the influenza vaccination…became recommended for every age beyond six months,” he said. “We’ve done really good at vaccinating young people – were getting rates in the order of 40% or so – we’re doing terrible vaccinating adults, and we’re particularly bad vaccinating adult males.”

Over time, del Rio said, people have become “less interested” in vaccines. In a recent Gallup survey, confidence in vaccines has been on the decline. Fewer U.S. adults consider childhood vaccinations to be important than in previous years. The survey, released in March, found that 84% said it’s important to vaccine their children, down from 94% in 2001.

This kind of mindset is alien to me, and yet so depressingly prevalent.

 


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Mark Taylor: Republicans, Who Got Crushed in the 2018 Midterms, Still Won Them! | Beth Stoneburner | Friendly Atheist


Christian conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed “prophet” Mark Taylor said in 2018 that the midterm elections that year would bring about a “red tsunami” of voters. That prediction became all the more comical when he kept defending it following the blue wave that actually occurred. (He said those who couldn’t see the red tsunami just lacked spiritual maturity.)

This week, with the 2020 election on the horizon, Taylor continued to pretend his prophecy was successfully fulfilled.

“I prophesied there was going to be a red tsunami in the midterms, and I got hammered because we lost the House,” Taylor said. “We didn’t lose the House … I believe they [the GOP] allowed it to happen to let people see and experience who these Democrats were, how bad they really were, so that people could experience for themselves so that they will never be able to get back into office again.”

Taylor went on to assert that most of the new Democrats elected to Congress in 2018 “are not supposed to be there because they stole the election. We know that.

By his own logic, Democrats actually won the presidency in 2000 and 2016 even though Republicans came into the White House because it created an environment for Democrats to come back even stronger eventually. See?! Our side never loses even when we “lose”!

For what it’s what the only evidence of a stolen seat in 2018 was when a Republican operative committed voter fraud.

As for Harris, though, we’ve seen this pattern before — of lying, then covering up the lies, then insisting there never was a lie. The current president is rather fond of it. This method of “alternative facts” has spawned a new level of gullibility that further undercuts the moral authority of evangelical right-wing Christians. Rather than humbly admit he was wrong, Taylor continues to double down, no matter how much evidence to the contrary piles up.

It’s not a good look for him, for his faith, or for his party.

(via Right Wing Watch)





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Want to Undermine Christian Privilege? Be Careful How You Talk About Gods


globes

Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and Neptune are immediately recognizable as being among the planets of our solar system. But there is something else slightly less obvious about them: they are named after gods that were once widely worshipped by humans. They have good company in that respect since humans have worshipped many gods throughout our history. And while we are on the subject of gods, I have to make one more comparison between gods and planets that some atheists have probably noticed. The name of the planet we currently inhabit (i.e., Earth) is about as creative as the name most Christians use for their preferred god (i.e., “God”). When it came time to name our planet, it seems like we could have done better than a synonym for “dirt.”

So why do the other planets have cool names when ours is so mundane? I’m not sure. And yet, I suspect that posing the same question of the Christian god has a clearer answer: Christian privilege. I’d guess that the use of “God” as a proper name is a relatively recent thing. At least, it is difficult to imagine that Jews living during the time in which the events described in the bible allegedly took place would have referred to their god as “God.” Doing so would have been confusing to everyone because many different gods were worshipped. The same would have been true for early Christians. Referring to it only as “God” would have inevitably led to the question we should still be asking today: “Which god?”

And some point, Christianity become dominant in the West. This was aided by their violence, but that’s not really what I want to address here. After it became dominant, it was far easier to pretend that there were no other gods and even that there never had been other gods. Freed from competition (and equipped with power granted by the state to inflict violence upon dissenters), Christians could refer to their god simply as “God.” Who would dare question them? The had the power to rewrite history to favor them, and they utilized it to great effect.

If we fast-forward to today and consider that Christian privilege is alive and well in the United States, it might occur to us that one of the ways to undermine this toxic privilege is to meet any references to “God” by asking, “Which god?” It is an unexpected question only because Christian privilege has been allowed to flourish for far too long. Another would be for us to intentionally avoid ever referring to “God” ourselves but always to phrase things in such a way that acknowledges the multitude of gods. As long as the evidence for one remains no better than the evidence for another, why should atheists participate in Christian privilege? We shouldn’t!

Language matters, and the words we use influence the manner in which we think about our world. Referring to the Christian god as “God” instead of asking Christians to specify which god they are talking about perpetuates Christian privilege. Of the many thousands of gods humans have worshipped during our relatively brief time on our unfortunately named planet, none have less evidence for their existence than the one modern Christians prefer. As atheists, I see no reason why we should keep pretending otherwise.



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Why Humans Are More Than Mere Animals : Strange Notions


Ever since the time of Charles Darwin’s thunderous
appearance on the human stage, evolutionary materialists have envisioned a
world in which man appears without any rational need either for the God of
classical theism or for a spiritual and immortal human soul. Human beings are
finally to be classed as merely highly-developed subhuman hominins, whose
mental abilities do not differ in kind from those of other primates. Human
intellectual activity is thought to be merely a highly-evolved form of sentient
activity, which, in turn, is ultimately reducible to highly-evolved neural
patterns and activity within an advanced primate brain.

Still, a curious hangover from earlier Platonic times has
haunted this view of the world, something philosophers have long wrestled with,
known as the “problem of universals.”

The Problem of Universals

Today many philosophers debate the exact status of
universals. While it is clear that a universal term is one thing predicated of
many, this linguistic reality gives rise to important and controversial
philosophical questions. Do universals exist only in speech or are they
something that exists independently in the real world? If they exist in the
mind, what do they ontologically constitute within the human person – merely
some biological phenomenon, or a spiritual product evincing human spiritual
immortality? Or, do they exist independently of the mind? If so, are they
merely something really common found within things? Or, do they actually exist
in a world of their own, independent of both men’s minds and natural objects –
as Plato claims?

Down through the long history of Western philosophy, major and minor thinkers have sought to give answers to these sorts of questions. Proper evaluation of these many positions would properly require a lengthy professional journal article or even a book – far beyond the scope of this present short piece.

Instead, what I propose to do here is to examine the actual
cognitive objects involved in this extensive discussion, not with a view to
declaring a winner in the debates between the various positions, but simply to
show that the basis for the debates entail two distinct cognitive entities
which are clearly incommensurable with each other, namely, the image and the
concept.

Image and Concept

One might wonder why I am now talking about the concept
(also called an “idea”) rather than the universal. It is because we encounter
the universal first in the form of the universal concept, which is the
intellectual representation of something that is common to many and can,
therefore, be predicated of many individuals. Hence, I will be talking about
the concept, or universal concept, as the cognitive object in and through which
the universal is understood. Thomistic philosophers maintain that the universal
concept is a spiritual in nature. Since the human intellect produces this
spiritual concept, they then use this fact to argue for the spirituality and
immortality of the human soul.

The image is viewed generally as an internal sense
representation, such as one has when he closes his eyes and imagines a “picture
of a cow.” More technically, for Thomistic philosophers, an image is any sense
impression of one of the internal senses, especially the imagination or sense
memory.

For many, the distinction between a concept and an image is
not clear, leading to such common depictions as that of forming a picture of a
“blindfolded lady holding scales” in one’s “mind,” when having an idea of
justice.

The Scottish skeptic, David Hume, who has greatly influenced the thinking of many modern materialists, was guilty of such confusion. Hume distinguishes between “impressions,” which he views as vivid and lively perceptions, and “ideas,” which are products of imagination and memory, making them less vivid and lively. But both “impressions” and “ideas” remain experiences, with ideas being merely weak resemblances of direct experience. One might rightly think that Hume has primarily in mind sense experience, when he speaks of “impressions.” Still, he also includes such things as love, hate, and acts of will.

Indeed, it is quite predictable that modern evolutionary
materialists would find themselves unable to think of ideas or concepts as
anything other than the same kind of neural activity that they conceive
sensation to entail. Suggesting that intellectual knowledge could be radically
different in kind from sense knowledge might be the belief of medieval
theologians and philosophers, but such byproducts of assumed metaphysical
dualism appear to have no place in modern science and its philosophical
interpretations, according to these scientific materialists.

The Differences

For evidence of the radical differences between images and
concepts (ideas), I shall turn to the work of Fr. Austin M. Woodbury, S.M., who
taught philosophy for decades at the Aquinas Academy in Sydney, Australia,
which he founded following World War II. Woodbury, who studied under Fr.
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, distinguished himself by thoroughly systematizing
the work of St. Thomas Aquinas in a manner not found in the writings of
Garrigou-Lagrange or other contemporary Thomists.

Woodbury enunciates many clear differences between images and concepts, thereby underlining the radical epistemological and ontological distinction between them. The following seventeen distinctions are based on his work.

1. An image is solely of how something appears to the
senses, as having this color or that shape or sound. But, the concept gives us
the very nature of something, for example, a mammal is understood as an animal
that gives milk.

2. An image always exhibits singular sensible qualities, for example, a particular color or shape or loudness or smell. But, a concept may
have no sensible qualities, for example, justice, truth, or goodness. Even a
sensible quality, considered as universal,
may have no sensible qualities, for example, color, as such, is colorless and
loudness, as such, is silent.

3. An image is always singular, for example, this pig or this car. But, the concept is always universal (unum-versus-alia: one against others),
an understanding that applies to many things, for example, triangularity or
mankind.

4. An image has no degrees of extension, that is, that is,
the number of individual things to which it applies. For example, the image of this
horse applies to this horse only. But, a concept has degrees of extension. Horse, as such, applies to all horses; animal
applies to all animals. Yet, animal has greater extension than horse, since it
applies to all animals, including all horses.

5. An image can be produced extramentally, as say, a statue
or painting of a given height, color, and so forth. But the concept cannot be
produced extramentally, since there is no single statue or painting that can
physically be all horses at once. How does one make a painting or statue of
“living?” That is why abstract art looks so bizarre! You can make a statue of
Lincoln, but you cannot make a statue of humanity, since you cannot express all
mankind at once physically in a single statue.

6. An image makes no distinction within itself. For
example, an image of horse does not distinguish its vegetative powers from its
sentient powers. But we can abstract its vegetative powers from its sentient
powers and consider the conceptual distinction between them.

7. An image is always concrete. It is this triangle on this
board at this time, with its exact
shape, color, and size. The concept is abstract. It abstracts from all the
singularizing aspects of the image. The concept of animal abstracts from the
concrete accidental qualities of the zebra image that may be associated with
it.

8. Images constitute the fleeting, changing sense content
that accompanies conceptual knowledge, which is stable. Writing a paper on
animals may evoke many associated images of various individual cows, horses,
stables, hunters, and so forth – constituting a disconnected kaleidoscope of
sensible images connected only by the underlying conceptual theme.

9. Images follow the laws of association of images, as in
sailors and ships, whereas concepts follow the laws of reason, as hammering is
understood as a cause with a loud noise being its effect.

10. Images can vary without changing one’s logical train of
thought, whereas changing concepts under consideration can destroy the logic of
thought. Thus, imagining horses, chickens, or mice does not affect thinking
about animals, but shifting from animals to plants would distract from thinking
solely about animals.

11. Image clarity does not assure clear thinking, but clear
thinking – even with confused images – can still lead to true understanding.
Conversely, conceptual confusion will lead to false conclusions no matter how
vividly and clearly it is associated with images.

12. Despite variations in images, concepts may remain
stable. Thus, whether one imagines squirrels, bats, or mice, the concept of
animal is unaffected. Also, verbal images may vary while conceptual content is
untouched. For example, homme, Mann, uomo,
homo, and hombre all signify “man,” despite the varied verbal image.

13. Images alone do not permit speech to take place. Speech
is based on concepts, not images. The same word, animal, may evoke an image of
a horse to one person but a mongoose to another person. If the word stood for
the image, its content would be equivocal! That is why one does not say, “Did
you get my images?,” but rather, “Did you get my meaning, that is, the
conceptual content intended?”

14. If we thought only in images, translation from one
language to another would be impossible. The image does not convey a single,
defined meaning. The image of a man does not reveal whether it stands for an
adult, a male, Homo sapiens,
intelligence, a criminal, or any of a number of other significations. Words
themselves are purely arbitrary, meaning nothing unless you already know their
meaning or assign them a new meaning.

15. The judgment establishes a relation of affirmation or
negation between a subject and a predicate. Such a relation is not an image.

16. Reasoning entails apprehension of a nexus between
premises and a conclusion. This nexus is not an image.

17. While an image represents an individual entity existing
in space, the concept represents the nature outside of a given space and time.

Woodbury defines a “common image” as an image of a singular thing according to sensible appearances that happens to be similar to other singular things. While useful for the instinctive life of, say, a mouse, enable it to avoid all cats, it is not to be confused with the intellectual understanding of the nature of a cat, which belongs to the radically distinct universal concept.

Implications of This Radical Distinction

While philosophers may still argue about the exact
epistemological and ontological status of the universal concept, what should
now be clear is that its nature must be radically distinct from that of the
image.

Those philosophers and scientists who reduce all human
knowledge to sensation have constantly confused the image with the concept –
believing that all thought must be understood merely in terms of images and
their associations. In turn, images, for materialists, are grounded in neural
patterns or activity – so that concepts, ultimately, were presumed to be
basically reducible to just forms of neural activity in the brain. And, since
images were thought to be common to man and beast alike, no essential
differences between humans and other animals could be based on human
intellectual abilities.

But, once it is clear that conceptual knowledge is radically distinct from sense images, the possibility, that human intellectual knowledge is essentially distinct from, and superior to, mere animal manipulation of images, again emerges. The old arguments of ancient philosophers for the qualitative differences between human beings and lower animals become more rationally acceptable. Whatever credence may be given to such arguments, the seventeen distinctions between the image and concept listed above make it clear that it is no longer reasonable for naturalists to claim that universal concepts are merely sophisticated or common images somehow constituted of neural activity in the brain.

Conclusion

Because it is grounded in the individuating, quantifying
nature of matter, the image always presents itself under the conditions of
matter by being imaginable, concrete, sensible, singular, and particular. For
this reason, Thomistic philosophers maintain that images manifest dependence on
the physical organs of sensation. There is no indication that the sensory
powers which we share with the rest of the animal kingdom make us any more than
merely material beings.

On the other hand, the universal concept shows none of the characteristics proper to material beings. It is not imaginable, concrete, sensible, singular, or particular. In a word, the concept appears to be not material in nature and, entirely unlike the image, shows no signs of being dependent on matter. Concepts appear to be spiritual in nature. From the fact that human beings – alone in the animal kingdom – have the intellectual ability to form such universal concepts, Thomistic philosophers propose arguments demonstrating the spirituality and immortality of the human soul.

Perhaps, humans are, after all, God’s special creatures,
superior in nature to all lower forms of physical creation, including other
animals. Perhaps, men are placed on earth – not as coequal species to other
living things – but as stewards responsible for overseeing the welfare of all
subhuman creation within their power, including lower animals.

While irrational animals may possess sensitive, but mortal, souls, they do not possess spiritual and immortal souls. Such spiritual souls would have to have been endowed by our Creator solely to genuine human beings, whose essential superiority is marked by our remarkable species’ unique ability to think in terms of universal concepts – an ability totally absent in the rest of this planet’s sentient organisms.

Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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Tell Lawmakers: We’re Here, We’re Atheist, and We Demand Representation!


American Atheists recently launched Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America, a report based on the U.S. Secular Survey conducted in 2019. This survey of nearly 34,000 nonreligious participants looked at the needs, priorities, and challenges that atheists and nonreligious people face in our daily lives. This was the largest survey ever conducted focusing specifically on nonreligious communities in America.

American Atheists’ members helped make this groundbreaking report possible. But now we need your help again — we must send this report to lawmakers all across America to show them that we live in their districts and we deserve representation!

Please take action now! Click here to send Reality Check to your state and federal representatives!

Lawmakers can no longer ignore our community! Religiously unaffiliated people make up nearly 25% of the electorate, and explicitly nonreligious people comprise a growing share of the population. Moreover, the report shows that 94.7% of the participants were registered to vote and 86.5% always or nearly always vote, which is a significantly higher voting rate than the general population.

The three most important policy priorities for participants were 1) maintaining secular public schools, 2) opposing religious exemptions that allow for discrimination, and 3) ensuring access to abortion and contraception.

Moreover, the study shows that there is rampant stigma and discrimination against nonreligious people, particularly in very religious communities. But it also shows the strength of our communities — more than one in five participants were members of local secular groups.

Please act now! Tell your representatives that we live in their districts and that we deserve representation just like every other American!

Help elevate the voices of atheist, agnostic, humanist, and nonreligious Americans on Twitter using this sample tweet.

Or, even better, tell your own story using the hashtags #SecularSurvey or #RealityCheckReport. Even more sample tweets and social media graphics are available here.





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Lobbying: Corporate and Political Corruption



This is well worth watching. Cracking speech from the MP for Coventry South, a newcomer. See Citizen Representation: Corporate Lobbying and Legalised Corruption in the US and On Campaign Finance Reform. Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook: A Tippling Philosopher You can also buy me a cuppa. Please… It justifies me continuing to do this! […]



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This Priest Used a Water Gun to Shoot Holy Water in Parishioners’ Cars | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist


One interesting thing about the pandemic is that it really shines a light as to what church leaders consider important and what they consider frivolous.

Sermons, for example, are pretty vital. That’s why many pastors have moved their sermons online, sharing them via Facebook or YouTube. They might skip the worship music these days, but not the sermon.

It gets harder with rituals, though. You can’t bless people with holy water in person, right?

Well, at St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park near Detroit, Michigan, they found a way to offer people holy water while respecting COVID-related restrictions. It just involved a priest and a water gun.

I swear I’m not making this up. Just look at the pictures. They’re from last month, but remember that they take this oh-so-seriously.



On Saturday [April 11], the faithful were able to drive their cars to St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park near Detroit, where clergyman Timothy Pelc welcomed them with a face mask, face mask and gloves.

In the “transit style” as the parish described it on Facebook, the priest then sprayed the holy water from a safe distance onto the Easter baskets in the cars

I can’t decide whether I should be congratulating this church for finding a pandemic-themed workaround for a meaningful ritual… or yell out, “Don’t all of you see how ridiculous this is?!”

For what it’s worth, the church in question is embracing its newfound meme fame:

… They know people are mocking them, right?

Whatever the case, I’m baffled by all the people who drove to the church to get “holy water” via a squirt gun because they felt it was necessary to get closer to God.





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A Brief Review of It Chapter Two (2019)


As noted in my previous review, I had mixed feelings about It (2017). I thought that it improved upon the original made-for-TV film from 1990 in many ways, and I ended up enjoying it more than I had expected. But I thought it was too long and contained unnecessary scenes that did little to advance the narrative, much like the original. My main complaint was that Skarsgård’s muppet voice repeatedly took me out of the film as I found myself laughing at how ridiculous it sounded. So while I did enjoy it, I thought it was a shame that they came so close to something great but ended up missing the mark.

I am happy to report that the muppet voice did not bother me nearly as much during It Chapter Two (2019). Maybe they toned it down a bit, but I suspect this had more to do with me being ready for it this time. Unfortunately, Chapter Two struck me as longer, slower, and as containing far more unnecessary scenes. It wasn’t just that it was long and slow-moving because those aren’t necessarily bad things. The real problem was that this crossed over into pointlessness. The first film already gave us the character development, but the second one was not content to rely on that. There was too much repetition, mostly through needless flashbacks. There were also plenty of unnecessary scenes with the worst coming at the very end of the film. It seemed like the director just couldn’t stand the thought of concluding his film at the point where it was obvious to the audience that it should have ended.

As anyone even somewhat familiar with the story will know, Chapter Two focuses on the children from the first film, now grown up, returning to Derry nearly 30 years later to conclude their saga. I thought that the adult cast did a decent job but not as good as the child cast from the first film. There seemed to be something missing that I had trouble putting my finger on initially. It seemed like there was something flat about the performances. It wasn’t exactly that the actors were phoning it in, but the emotional tone just didn’t seem compelling. My guess is that this probably had more to do with the direction than anything. The result was that, despite the length of the film, the characters seemed one-dimensional at times.

While I didn’t find Chapter Two to be any scarier than It, I did appreciate the visual effects and the number of unsettling or just plain strange visuals included. The first one was good in this respect too, but this one was even better. I really liked the scenes where something odd would suddenly appear in the background and I wouldn’t initially be sure if I saw what I thought I saw. That helped to maintain the creepy vibe throughout much of the film.

Would I recommend It Chapter Two? I expect fans of the first one will have already seen it. I would definitely recommend it for the few who haven’t. If you didn’t like the first one, I don’t think there is anything here that will change your mind. I enjoyed it, but just like I said about the first one, seeing it once was enough. As much as I enjoy horror movies, getting me to sit through those that last nearly 3 hours is going to require more than either of the It films delivered.



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