FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Post-Partisan Invocation

Posted by dystressed on December 29, 2008

Much has been made of Rick Warren being invited by Obama to give the invocation at the innauguration. I didn’t much care until I ran across the news that Rick Warren calls his critics “Christophobes.”

I take exception to that. I am not phobic of Christ, but of his followers. I am in fact, a Rickophobe. I am wary of people who wield tremendous power over the hearts and minds of Americans, regardless of their political leanings, but I am especially wary of the religious ones. Religious tyrranny is something the founders of this nation are known for escaping, but it is also something that we have inadvertantly perpetuated. Though we have enshrined religion with freedom and kept it marginally separate from government, we have given it de facto establishment, giving it freedom to abuse its non-profit-tax-exempt status as a billy club against dissenters and non-believers.

The rise of the Christian Right has raised the visibility of the Evangelical Agenda: Make Everyone Believe in Jesus.

If the Rick Warrens of this country have their way, there would be no religious freedom, and indeed no dissent. There would be one country ruled by those who claim to know the will of God. A quick glance back to high school literature class and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible can give you chills when you think about the end result of a theocracy. When there is no freedom of ideas, there is no freedom.

While it pains me to admit this, I believe that Rick Warren should be heard. But let him be heard for what he is, a religious fascist. There are few evangelicals who do not pray for a totalitarian Christian state that would be devoid of freedom of thought.

What Obama has done for the FreeThought community is actually a backhanded favor. By inadvertantly stirring up the embers of a long smoldering fire, he has ensured that religious moderates and liberals can be reminded how dangerous the Evangelical Agenda truly is.

Advertisements

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Opinions are like…

Posted by Skeptigator on November 5, 2008

Well maybe I won’t finish that title but you get the idea.

Now that the 800-day election cycle has just been completed and Barack Obama appears to be the President-Elect he is sure going to get a lot of advice, some of it requested much of it not. Over the next few months he’ll be planning his transition to the White House, figuring out his first steps not only from a policy perspective but who he’s going to appoint into Cabinet positions and other “spoils of war”.

If you were asked to sit at the table when Obama makes out his policy initiatives, what would be, say, the top 5? Who should he pick, either specifically or general descriptions of qualifications, for key Cabinet positions?

These are pretty much open-ended questions, but try to keep the suggestions FreeThought-y…

Here are some of my thoughts to kick off the discussion

  • Actually pay attention to your US Office of Science and Technology (aka the President’s Science Advisor)…
  • Significant funding for alt-fuel/energy, a Manhattan-style project (might I suggest SciAm’s Grand Solar Plan)
  • Disband the Faith-Based Initiatives program
  • Close Guantanamo Bay
  • End the Cuban embargo (last time I checked the Cold War was over)
  • Revise our Trademark/Patent system
  • Maintain Net Neutrality (yes it’s totally nerd but you’ll be surprised how you could be affected).

Cabinet positions

  • Warren Buffet for Treasury Secretary
  • Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State (or maybe Department of Health)
  • Al Gore at the Department of Energy (or perhaps the EPA)
  • Sarah Palin, Ambassador to Antartica

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Change is Gonna Come

Posted by Andy D. on October 21, 2008

Seal released a timely new video cover of the 60’s civil rights theme of Sam Cooke’s, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

For you freethinkers, there is a great agnostic line in the lyrics: “It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die. I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky.”

Here is today’s up-to-date polling from a fascinating and fun website intrade. Yes, you may trade the election.

I wouldn’t bet on Sen. McCain and yet I am saddened that we probably won’t be giving Indiana’s 11 electoral votes to Sen. Barack Obama.  I do remember a couple weeks back that Indiana was leaning blue which surprised the heck out of me so maybe it is tighter than this.  Who knows?

What I am certain of is that I will not underestimate the right-wing talk radio for the rest of the election.  I bet it gets very ugly because they are desperate and McCain/Palin are not running a consistent message.  The ad hominem unpatriotic attacks are all around and I think this may be the year that America has had enough of swift boating and voter scandals.  Palin is saying there are pro-America types of states and small towns.  So city people in blue states are not American?  America is smarter than that.  McCain’s choice of Palin is what took my vote off the table.  If McCain had chosen Sen. Joe Lieberman that would have been “mavericky” and impressed me.  Instead he chose Palin’s decisiveness and it is politics as usual.  McCain made a deal with the religous right to give them their judges even though I don’t think he is all that religious. Could you image if it was Thompson or Huckabee running now?  Even McCain would be an improvement over Bush and his anti-science politics.  Yet, could you imagine Palin as President?  Yikes!

One can be pro-business, pro-science, pro-civil liberties and be a moderate Republican.  Science education is the most important tool for innovation and we need to invest in it and fight the Religious Right’s anti-intellectualism campaign.  We need another space race like what happened when Sputnik launched which killed the creation science movement.  It is one thing to be ignorant but it is something much worse to be proud of it.

Fiscal conservatives are great such as Sandra Day O’Connor and Barry Goldwater.   These types need to take the Republican party back from these power hungry religious types who want to legislate their beliefs on everyone if they ever want to get my vote again.  How unpatriotic!  Too many of our young men and women have died for all of us to have freedom of conscience.  We need to deal with the “actual” problems on this material earth.  You know the one we all agree exists!  Let’s send a message to the far right kooks that America is not going to take it anymore.  Even if we cannot win Indiana (which there is still a chance) let’s send a LOUD message through the popular vote to the James Dobsons (who surprise, surprise, flip-flopped  on McCain) that enough is enough.

I will say Barack is an interesting mix between JFK and Barry Goldwater and he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago which is Milton Friedman’s shareholder is everything economics.  He knows how important the market is.  He ran the Harvard Law Review with Federalist Society people (who think the post-Civil War 14th Amendment was a mistake and most decisions should be state’s rights) and he survived.  He didn’t play favorites in that position like others thought he would.  That is 180 degrees different than Bush or Palin and he doesn’t surround himself with yes men.  He has left and right leaning economic policies and here is a great article explaining it.  For you fiscal conservative moderate Republicans, it’s Ok, the water is fine. The economy will be fine under Democrats.  It certainly cannot do as bad as Bush and his failed kingdom presidency.  Please, get out and vote!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Anybody else watching the Vice Presidential debate tonight?

Posted by Eye4Cards on October 2, 2008

I’ve actually been looking forward to watching the Vice Presidential debate tonight.  I only know Palin from some of the articles I have read and haven’t had the opportunity to see her live.

So far, the main thing that has captured my attention is the disperity in education between both party’s candidates.  I don’t base everything on education.  That would be short-sighted; however, I find it a good starting point when considering these are candidates for two of the most important jobs in the world:

Barack Obama

Columbia University: BA political science

Harvard:  Juris Doctor magna cum laude

Joe Biden

University of Delaware: BA history BA political science

Syracuse University College of Law:  Juris Doctor

John McCain

Unites States Naval Academy (class rank of 894 out of 899)

Sarah Palin

Hawaii Pacific University (1 semester)

North Idaho College (2 semesters)

University of Idaho: journalism (2 semesters)

Matanuska-Susitna College (1 semester)

University of Idaho:  BA journalism

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Conversation with a Friendly Christian

Posted by Skeptigator on June 30, 2008

About 9 months ago, I was introduced to the website FriendlyChristian.com (I believe through FriendlyAtheist.com). Even though I am a fairly committed atheist I still like to keep up on what “the Fundies” are doing. I have a list of these sites in my Google Reader however it became obvious very quickly that the author of FriendlyChristian.com was not your typical Christian. I realized that I would go to my “Fundies” category and the first blog posts I would read would be the latest on FriendlyChristian.com, Bill you’ll be happy to note that your blog has moved to my “Regulars” category.

But don’t take my word for it, check out some of the more memorable posts, IMO:

Bill Cecchini is the man behind the curtain however he has opened his blog to multiple authors including at least one who does not share his faith (or any for that matter). I had an opportunity to interview him recently, enjoy.

Skeptigator: Perhaps the biggest question I have is, “Why are you doing this website? After all, aren’t all Christians supposed to be friendly already?”

Bill: Aren’t all Christians supposed to be friendly? Well, yeah, I’d say so. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I’m pretty sure “friendly” is covered in there somewhere. Somewhere along the way, Christianity has evolved from a faith known for these fruits of the spirit into a religion known for book burning, judging, hating, and picketing. I won’t be known for that, nor will I stand for it. I try to live a simple, yet efficient life. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus tells a religious teacher what life is all about: loving God and loving each other. Christians have done a very good job of turning our faith into a bit of a joke. We judge unbelievers for their sin, then turn around and do the exact same thing. We have public burnings of The Da Vinci Code, as if that’s gonna communicate God’s love to anyone. We use the name GodHatesFags.com for our church’s website name. And we wonder why people look at us like we’re nuts.

A few weeks ago, one commenter wrote that she’d never come back to FriendlyChristian.com if the site ever became evangelistic. It was then that I realized that the site IS evangelistic, just not in an obvious or invasive manner. I love that I am able to allow so many unbelievers to see into my mind and life. I’ve always said that my curse/blessing is that I am very open, honest, and real. I admit my struggles, doubts, insecurities, and questions about the Christian faith. Unfortunately, many Christians paint an “I’ve got it all figured out” or “all is good cuz I’m saved” picture, when the truth is, we DON’T have it all figured out, and sometimes life ISN’T good. I think that my authenticity and transparency are what keep the readers interested and coming. Also, I think my posts give ex-Christians something that they can easily relate to.

I say all that to say this: FriendlyChristian.com is my attempt to bring Christianity back to its roots of love, service, truth, and relationships, without sacrificing the power and authority of the gospels, in an environment where everyone is welcome and conversation is encouraged.

On September 12th, 2006, my pastor said, “The world is changed by passionate people.” On FriendlyChristian.com, countless people have told me that I’m not doing anything unique or special. “It’s all been done before, Bill, and this might be a bit too big for you,” they say. Maybe so, but I’m gonna continue giving it all I have. I’m passionate, and just maybe I can change the world.

Skeptigator: What have been some of the biggest challenges personally for you in running a site like this? You have a mix of Christians and non-Christians. That must lead to interesting discussions?

Bill: Oh, the challenges are plentiful. When I started FC, right off the bat I encountered perhaps the most popular atheist stereotype: they are freakin’ smart! As a 28-year-old who is just now trying to finish up his undergraduate degree, I often struggle with feeling not smart enough to host a site frequented by educationally superior people who very openly disagree with much of what I have to say. I’m not good at debating and I’ve never been a very confrontational person.

Another challenge I have is trying to stay encouraged. It’s tough to put so much prayer, time, effort, and emotion into a blog and watch it get torn to shreds by people who think I’m “nuts,” as one reader put it. I often want to give up as I feel like I’m just one guy trying to take on the world, believers and non-believers alike.

One of my most frustrating challenges is dealing with Christians. I can’t stand when people tell me that I’m wrong for reading the wrong bible translation. It boils my blood when Christians criticize mega churches. I want to scream when Christians argue over things that, in the end JUST DON’T MATTER a whole lot. We’re supposed to be on the same team with a common message: Jesus saves. Instead we’re beating each other up and then wondering why people turn from God. *smacks head*

Lastly, one of the biggest challenges for me is that I just don’t feel like a good enough representative of the Christian faith to be hosting this site. My life is anything but holy and perfect. I am extremely flawed and only human. It wouldn’t be hard for a person to point out the sin in my life. I know this is the wrong way to think, and I often pray against it. But hey, you asked so I’m just gonna give it to you straight.

Skeptigator: Personally, I think “Atheism” has a P.R. problem within the Christian community (perhaps the U.S. in general)? Do you agree? And, if so, what can atheists and freethinkers do to improve on that image, at least open doors to a greater understanding within the Christian community?

Bill: I agree that the word “atheist” has very negative connotations. The word “Christian” also has many negative connotations. My advice to anyone is that you can be the difference. Fight the stereotype. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.

Skeptigator: In conversations with Christians perhaps one of the least convincing arguments they will use is, “well, you just don’t have Faith”. As if I’m going to suddenly slap myself on the forehead and exclaim, “Eureka! That’s what I’ve been missing. Can I get that at Wal-Mart?” What is the least effective thing an atheist can say to attempt to convince you of the “error of your ways”?

Bill: Anything. I appreciate and welcome any productive dialog discussing the “errors” of either of our ways, but in the end, it’s the choice of each individual, right? I’m extremely open and honest about my faith. I acknowledge and admit to every struggle or question that I have about Christianity. I provide better arguments to convince myself of the “errors of my ways” than any theological or scientific argument from any atheist ever could. Many people see this as a weakness. I see it as a strength. I also think it makes Christianity much more attractive. People are sick of the “holier than thou/my ‘you know what’ don’t stink/check out my fancy suit/boycott Starbucks cuz they don’t support the troops” Christian. I say we drop the act and tackle the faith like a man. Or a woman 🙂

Skeptigator: You’ve alluded to this earlier but if you were forced to boil the message of Christ down to, oh, 200 words or less what would it be? Go!

Bill: I can do it in six: “Love God and love each other.” This is the theme behind FriendlyChristian.com and my purpose in life. Simple, eh?

Skeptigator: McCain, Obama or Barr?

Bill: “Hey look, it’s Elvis!” Nah, I haven’t decided yet, to be honest with you. I’ll cast my vote based on who I feel will lead our country the best, not on the fact that I’m a Christian and am expected to vote Republican. I’m not overly excited or hopeful about any of the candidates. Can I still vote Ron Paul?

As always, funny, honest and more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. If you get a chance, check out FriendlyChristian.com and participate in the conversation, it’s one worth having.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Barack Obama visits Fort Wayne

Posted by Skeptigator on April 4, 2008

As many Fort Wayners probably know by now, Barack Obama stopped by Wayne High School in Fort Wayne today. My wife and I plus our two little heathens were fortunate enough to be able to attend this event. There is something about a political rally that really gets your blood pumping. Until the speeches began I did not realize that today also marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have included a video of that portion of his speech.

After the event my wife lamented the fact that we weren’t able to see Hillary Clinton in person in order to get a “feel” for the two candidates. We were not able to see Bill Clinton when he came to town either. And allow me if you will to rant a little bit about the differences between the two campaigns. Hillary comes to a small restaurant in the Fort and Barack books a high school gymnasium. Bill Clinton comes to town and they book a room at the Grand Wayne Center. To me, and this is totally my opinion on the operations of the campaigns and not the fitness of either candidate, the Clinton campaign (or the local Democratic Party, not sure who does this stuff) is either not really trying very hard in Indiana or they are just running a sloppy campaign which I put in steep contrast to the very well thought out and coordinated efforts of the Barack campaign.

Also on another political note, the deadline to register to vote in time to be able vote at the May 6th primary is April 7th (check here for polling places). Many states require that you declare a party in order to vote in their primaries however Indiana does not. I need to verify this but the only caveat is that you can only vote on one party’s ballot in Indiana, so if you want to vote between Obama or Clinton then you will only be able to choose candidates on the Democratic ballot and you will not be able to choose any candidate on the Republican ticket (and vice versa).

Posted in Events, Local, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »