Tag Archives: atheist

the Atheist and the little girl

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an aeroplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.

“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.” To which
the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?”

And then she went back to reading her book.

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unbelievable!!!!!

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CHRIST IS RISEN! (some thoughts for Easter)

CHRIST IS RISEN!

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Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was a Russian Communist leader who took part in the Bolshevik Revolution 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda , and was a full member of the Politburo.

Once in Kiev in 1930 he gave an anti-Christian speech to a large gathering on the subject of atheism

After putting down Christianity for an hour, at the end of his diatribe, a man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient acclamation:

“CHRIST IS RISEN!”

En masse came the reply:

“HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

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A professor from Moscow University some years ago said that religion in Russia was virtually dead and  he claimed “There is no one in the Churches, except a few little old ladies”

Well, these so-called “little old ladies” have seen off the Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev, and the rest.  The little old ladies have won – and,  it is most likely that what sustained them was their abiding hope in the living Christ – the one who is and always will be the Resurrection and the Life.

No one and nothing can defeat him: no political system, no military dictator, no communist, no fascist – nobody.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

He was dead and he was buried.  Then on the third day, he rose from the dead and is alive forever more

And the world has never been the same since.

a brief story…..

PIt concerns a little girl who one day was restless and fidgeting.  Her father was trying to read his newspaper, but was being constantly interrupted by his young daughter.

To amuse her, her dad tore a map of the world from the paper he was attempting to read.  He then cut the page into small pieces.

“Here’s a jigsaw puzzle” he told the little girl, “Why not sit down somewhere quiet and put it together”

The youngster whose knowledge of geography was pretty limited, went to work on the map and, to her father’s amazement, soon had it reassembled.

“How did you do it so quickly?” he asked her.

“Oh it was easy” she replied, “There’s a picture of a man on the other side. I put the man together and the world came out right!”

If we truly believe in the power of God and that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life – put back together, as it were, on Easter day – then one day the world in all its difficulty and brokeness, will come out all right.

Christ will triumph.  The victory will be his. Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

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After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last? via CNN

Sunday Assembly founders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans have begun to franchise their “godless congregations.”
January 4th, 2014

By Katie Engelhart, special to CNN

LONDON (CNN)

The world’s most voguish – though not its only – atheist church opened last year in London, to global attention and abundant acclaim.

So popular was the premise, so bright the promise, that soon the Sunday Assembly was ready to franchise, branching out into cities such as New York, Dublin and Melbourne.

“It’s a way to scale goodness,” declared Sanderson Jones, a standup comic and co-founder of The Sunday Assembly, which calls itself a “godless congregation.”

But nearly as quickly as the Assembly spread, it split, with New York City emerging as organized atheism’s Avignon.

In October, three former members of Sunday Assembly NYC announced the formation of a breakaway group called Godless Revival.

“The Sunday Assembly,” wrote Godless Revival founder Lee Moore in a scathing blog post, “has a problem with atheism.”

Moore alleges that, among other things, Jones advised the NYC group to “boycott the word atheism” and “not to have speakers from the atheist community.” It also wanted the New York branch to host Assembly services in a churchlike setting, instead of the Manhattan dive bar where it was launched.

Jones denies ordering the NYC chapter to do away with the word “atheism,” but acknowledges telling the group “not to cater solely to atheists.” He also said he advised them to leave the dive bar “where women wore bikinis,” in favor of a more family-friendly venue.

The squabbles led to a tiff and finally a schism between two factions within Sunday Assembly NYC. Jones reportedly told Moore that his faction was no longer welcome in the Sunday Assembly movement.

Moore promises that his group, Godless Revival, will be more firmly atheistic than the Sunday Assembly, which he now dismisses as “a humanistic cult.”

In a recent interview, Jones described the split as “very sad.” But, he added, “ultimately, it is for the benefit of the community. One day, I hope there will soon be communities for every different type of atheist, agnostic and humanist. We are only one flavor of ice cream, and one day we hope there’ll be congregations for every godless palate.”

Nevertheless, the New York schism raises critical questions about the Sunday Assembly. Namely: Can the atheist church model survive? Is disbelief enough to keep a Sunday gathering together?

Big-tent atheism

I attended my first service last April, when Sunday Assembly was still a rag-tag venture in East London.

The service was held in a crumbly, deconsecrated church and largely populated by white 20-somethings with long hair and baggy spring jackets (a group from which I hail.)

I wrote that the Assembly “had a wayward, whimsical feel. At a table by the door, ladies served homemade cakes and tea. The house band played Cat Stevens. Our ‘priest’ wore pink skinny jeans.”

I judged the effort to be “part quixotic hipster start-up, part Southern megachurch.”

The central idea was attractive enough. The Assembly described itself as a secular urban oasis, where atheists could enjoy the benefits of traditional church – the sense of community, the weekly sermon, the scheduled time for reflection, the community service opportunities, the ethos of self-improvement, the singing and the free food – without God. I liked the vibe and the slogan: “Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More.”

Shortly thereafter, Assembly services began bringing in hundreds of similarly warm-and-fuzzy nonbelievers. The wee East London church grew too small, and the Assembly moved to central London’s more elegant Conway Hall.

The Assembly drew criticism, to be sure—from atheists who fundamentally object to organized disbelief, from theists who resent the pillaging of their texts and traditions. But coverage was largely positive – and it was everywhere.

In September, a second wave of coverage peaked, with news that the Assembly was franchising: across England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the United States and Australia. That month, the founders launched a crowd-funding campaign that aims to raise $802,500. (As of mid-December, less than $56,000 had been raised.)

Still, prospective Sunday Assembly franchisers seemed exhilarated. Los Angeles chapter founder Ian Dodd enthused that he would “have a godless congregation in the city of angels.” In November, his inaugural Assembly drew more than 400 attendees.

But as the atheist church grew, it began to change—and to move away from its atheism.

“How atheist should our Assembly be?” wrote Jones in August. “The short answer to that is: not very.”

Pippa Evans, Assembly’s other co-founder, elaborated: “‘Atheist Church’ as a phrase has been good to us. It has got us publicity. But the term ‘atheist’ does hold negative connotations.”

Warm-and-fuzzy atheism gave way to not-quite atheism: or at least a very subdued, milquetoast nonbelief. Sunday services made much mention of “whizziness” and “wonder”—but rarely spoke of God’s nonexistence.

The newer, bigger Sunday Assembly now markets itself as a kind of atheist version of Unitarian Univeralism: irreligious, but still eager to include everyone.

In a way, this is a smart move. According to the 2012 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 20% of Americans have no religious affiliation, but just a fraction of those identify as atheists.

A godless congregation is likely to draw crowds if it appeals to what Herb Silverman, founder of the Secular Coalition for America, calls “big-tent” atheism, which includes “agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more.”

But atheists who wanted a firmly atheist church—a Sunday Assembly where categorical disbelief is discussed and celebrated—will not be satisfied.

As the Sunday Assembly downplays its atheism, it also appears increasingly churchlike.

Starting a Sunday Assembly chapter now involves a “Sunday Assembly Everywhere accreditation process,” which grants “the right to use all the Sunday Assembly materials, logos, positive vibe and goodwill.”

Aspiring Sunday Assembly founders must form legal entities and attend “training days in the UK,” sign the Sunday Assembly Charter and pass a three- to six-month peer review. Only then may formal accreditation be granted.

This is not an East London hipster hyper-localism anymore.

Selling swag and charisma

Organized atheism is not necessarily new. French Revolutionaries, for instance, were early atheist entrepreneurs.

In 1793, secularists famously seized the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to build a “Temple of Reason.” They decorated the church with busts of philosophers, built an altar to Reason, lit a torch of Truth – and brought in an actress to play Liberty.

A half-century later, French philosopher Auguste Comte drew acclaim for his “religion of humanity,” which imagined an army of secular sages ministering to secular souls. London has hosted formal atheist gatherings for almost as long.

History suggests, then, that there is nothing inherently anti-organization about atheism. As Assembly’s Sanderson Jones puts it, “things which are organized are not necessarily bad.”

To be sure, Sunday Assembly members in the United States say they’ve long wanted to join atheist congregations.

Ian Dodd, a 50-something camera operator in Los Angeles, had long been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church; he enjoyed it, but wanted something more explicitly irreligious.

Nicole Stevens of the Chicago chapter found herself yearning for a secular community—a “place to check in and think about things bigger than the day-to-day”—after having her first child.

But it is one thing to support an atheist “church” – where the ‘c’ is small and the effort is local – and another to back an atheist ‘Church’ that is global and centralized.

The former responds directly to the needs and fancies of its community. The latter assumes that its particular brand of disbelief is universally relevant—and worthy of trademark.

Centralized atheism also feeds hungrily on charisma, and Sanderson Jones, who resembles a tall, bearded messiah – and who, despite the SA recommendation that Assembly hosts should be regularly rotated, dominates each London service – provides ample fuel.

But it remains to be seen whether the Sunday Assembly’s diluted godlessness is meaty enough to sustain a flock.

“Because it is a godless congregation, we don’t have a doctrine to rely on,” explains Sunday Assembly Melbourne’s founder, “so we take reference from everything in the world.”

So far, Assembly sermonizers had included community workers, physicists, astronomers, wine writers, topless philanthropers, futurologists, happiness experts, video game enthusiasts, historians and even a vicar. The pulpit is open indeed.

My own misgivings are far less academic. I’m simply not getting what the Sunday Assembly promised. I’m not put off by the secular church model, but rather the prototype.

Take an October service in London, for example:

Instead of a thoughtful sermon, I got a five-minute Wikipedia-esque lecture on the history of particle physics.

Instead of receiving self-improvement nudges or engaging in conversation with strangers, I watched the founders fret (a lot) over technical glitches with the web streaming, talk about how hard they had worked to pull the service off, and try to sell me Sunday Assembly swag.

What’s more, instead of just hop, skipping and jumping over to a local venue, as I once did, I now had to brave the tube and traverse the city.

Back in New York, Lee Moore is gearing up for the launch of Godless Revival – but still speaks bitterly of his time with the Sunday Assembly network.

Over the telephone, I mused that the experience must have quashed any ambition he ever had to build a multinational atheist enterprise.

“Actually,” he admitted, “we do have expansion aims.”

Katie Engelhart is a London-based writer. Follow her at @katieengelhart or http://www.katieengelhart.com.

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Sunday Assembly in the USA

Sunday Assembly ‘Atheist Church’ Provokes Criticism
Kimberly WinstonReligion News ServiceNov 29, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO (RNS) Perhaps the Elephant & Castle pub here was a fitting locale for a visiting Brit to meet some mates.

But other stereotypes were left at the bar as about 100 people trod down a flight of stairs — pints of beer and wine glasses in hand — and into the pub’s basement to attend Sunday Assembly, a gathering of nonbelievers that both supporters and detractors have dubbed “atheist church.”

“Hellllllooooooooo San Francisco,” trilled Sanderson Jones, the blond, bearded British comedian everyone had come to meet on a recent Tuesday night. “If there is any city in the whole of the U.S. that should have a Sunday Assembly, it is San Francisco!”

Jones and his fellow British comedian Pippa Evans founded Sunday Assembly in London in January. Initial gatherings were standing room only, and branches were soon established in other British cities. Its use of group singing, lectures, and a goal to establish a sense of community have drawn many comparisons to traditional church.

But in San Francisco, a city long known for embracing nontraditional beliefs and lifestyles, Jones told the crowd the comparisons stop there.

“We get called the ‘atheist church,’ but we are really all the best bits of church but with no religion,” he said, darting his lanky form up and down the aisle, arms flapping like some excitable exotic bird. “Our vision is to help people live the best life possible.”

After some raucous applause, Jones hit the button on a borrowed sound system and kicked off the opening song — Jon Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” As the lyrics were projected on a screen, the crowd — largely, but not entirely, white and male — sang along, jumping and dancing and waving their hands in the air.

Part karaoke, part aerobics class, part comedy show, Sunday Assembly recently wrapped up a nine-city American leg of a fundraising tour but also left a long tail of backlash, as thousands of nonbelievers took to social media and the Internet to express their disdain:

* “Go to the @SundayAssembly website and what’s the first thing you notice?” tweeted someone calling himself AtheistChris17. “‘DONATE.’ Like any good church getting money is their goal.” * “‘Atheist churches’ like Sunday Assembly do atheism no favors,” tweeted Michael Luciano, who writes a blog called PolicyMic, where he further skewered Sunday Assembly as “fatuous.” * “Being an atheist and celebrating life without superstition everyday of the week is far more empowering than the wishy washy Sunday Assembly,” wrote blogger and secular humanist Doug Berger.

And, like the many churches that detractors say Sunday Assembly tries to mimic, there’s already been a schism of sorts. New York’s Sunday Assembly split off on its own after becoming frustrated with Jones’ and Evans’ insistence that they not use the word “atheist” to describe themselves, an organizer there said.

Jones is not surprised that the proverbial twit hit the fan. He even addressed it before the San Francisco crowd.

“If you start something that says ‘atheist church’ you should not be surprised to get a whole lot of abuse,” he said, “Twitter exists for all people who know you to tell you everything you are doing wrong.”

Polling data indicate Sunday Assembly may be on to something, however. While only 6 percent of Americans describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, one in five Americans are religiously unaffiliated, according to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life project. The same poll found that more than one-third of the religiously unaffiliated describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.”

Still, there is a strong strain of dislike in the atheist community for anything that smacks of religion or its trappings. Daniel McCoy, a local nonbeliever who spoke here and at a San Jose gathering about the power of story, said many nonbelievers are hostile to religion because of rejection by religious family and friends or abuse by a person with religious authority.

But nonbelievers who have no beef with church — and maybe even fond memories of it — can still do something churchy without betraying their nonbelief, he said.

“Church has been around for a long time and started with religion, but religion is not necessary to doing it,” he said.

Jones has been adamant that Sunday Assembly is not about bashing religion — something many high-octane atheists believe is necessary to their goals. “We can go through an entire Sunday Assembly meeting without mentioning atheism, without mentioning religion,” he said after the meeting, his voice raw from all the shouting. “We have enough values that define us without having to do that.”

Those values are in the group’s motto, he said: “Live better. Help often. Wonder more.”

Jenea Hayes, who traveled 26 miles through rush-hour traffic to attend with her 14-year-old daughter, Claire, said she was “disappointed” in the negative reaction to Sunday Assembly.

“I think a big part of it is in the United States there is a pushback against any person being open about their atheism,” she said. And those who are open about it, often try to distinguish themselves from the mainstream, which is religious.

“It is misguided,” she said of the criticism. “This is human stuff, not God stuff”

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Derren Brown and Faith Healing

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November 15, 2013 · 12:56

School Days are the happiest of your life?

Council pays out in school religion row – Herald Scotland

AN atheist living on a Scottish island has been awarded £1000 compensation from his local council after a protracted wrangle over religious education at his eight-year-old son’s primary school.

David Michael, from Great Bernera off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, accepted the payment from Western Isles Council.

It was made after he claimed he was victimised on the grounds of religion in the way officials dealt with his complaint.

The row started in 2008 when Mr Michael raised concerns about religious elements in lessons on Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King at Bernera Primary School, where his son was a pupil.

He was also concerned about a proposed trip to a Bible exhibition.

In a subsequent letter from Kirsteen Maclean, the school’s headteacher, he was told that removing his son, Anton, from religious education would have wider implications.

“Withdrawal from RE would also include him being withdrawn from all school assembly occasions and Christmas activities,” she said.

After lengthy discussions with the local authority – and subsequent legal action on the way his complaints were handled – the council has agreed to pay Mr Michael £1000 compensation and costs of more than £1400.

The out-of-court settlement means no ruling has been made in the case and therefore no liability has been accepted by the local authority.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind in Scotland.

Mr Michael intends to donate the compensation money to the school.

He said he welcomed the settlement.

“We had concerns over the religious overtone to lessons that we felt was inappropriate given our own views,” he said.

“The school has now accepted it needs to be more flexible over the way it deals with this issue.”

Mr Michael was also angered by the attitude of local authority officials who dealt with his complaint.

“In my view, the department has serious organisational culture problems and I call upon the director to address these urgently,” he added.

Iain Nisbet, head of education law at Govan Law Centre, which took the case with support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, welcomed the outcome.

“This is a tremendously important case,” he said.

“Not only is it the first time a religion and belief discrimination case has been brought to court in relation to a pupil’s education, it underlines the breadth of anti-discrimination duties which schools now have to comply with.”

However, the council refuted any suggestion of discrimination and said that the action of the parent had been “unreasonable”.

“The school was flexible with how it dealt with this issue throughout, but what we were adamant we would not do was change the curriculum on the basis of one parent’s views,” said a spokesman.

“The parent did not want to have his child removed from religious education.

“He wanted to change the curriculum specifically in relation to the importance of faith to public figures such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, and we argue that was unreasonable.

“We agreed to settle the court action by this parent on purely economic grounds.”

He said that the cost to the taxpayer of having a civil hearing in court would be far in excess of the cost of settling the action.

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The Atheist and the Little Girl

An atheist sat down next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passengers.” The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, no heaven, no hell, and no life after death?” he asked smugly.

“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff: grass. Yet, a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.” To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, heaven, hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?” And then, she went back to reading her book.

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Are atheists ‘truer’ feminists?

Faith In Feminism
 Vicky BeechingAugust 18, 2013
Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. Francesca is an atheist and believes atheism is a better foundation for feminism than religion. She chatted to me about why.

VB: You study theology and religion in great depth – you’re already a Professor at a young age. Having researched many of the world’s religions, do you feel their overall bias is toward, or away from, feminism?

FS: A number of the world’s religions today do privilege men over women – mainly (but not solely) because many religions are inherently hierarchical, both in terms of their construction of the relationship between gods and people, and in terms of the relationships within and among the worshippers themselves.

VB: And those hierarchies tend to be male dominated?

FS: Yes. Given that religions are social and cultural constructs, the gendered hierarchies inherent within society tend to be reflected in the religion that society creates and promotes. So if men tend to be valued over women in terms of social, economic and sexual empowerment, they will be in religions, too. That’s why Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the major monotheistic religions of the world, have a deity distinctively imaged as male. It’s no joke to claim that man made God in his own image.

Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou

// Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

VB: From your research into ancient societies, have there been religions in the past that bucked this trend?

FS: There’s a romantic idea that some polytheistic religions and pre-monotheistic religions, which boast male, female and ‘hybrid’ deities, offer a more harmonious balance between men and women. In the ancient world, this wasn’t the case at all. But some New Religious Movements today, such as Neo-Paganism in the West, do try to promote a greater sense of equality between women and men – often in direct response to the patriarchal nature of Christianity.

VB: In Christianity do you think the Bible and Church history mesh with feminism or stand against it?

FS: I respect, but despair of, those Christians who claim both the Bible and the Church promote a message of equality between men and women. The biblical texts are the products of ancient societies in which the notion of gender equality was unknown. Despite claims at various points in the Bible that women, men and children are all valued by God, men and women are consistently portrayed differently – and unequally – in their perceived value as religious and social beings.

VB: Do you think Jesus or Paul could be said to be ‘radical’ in their treatement of women, when seen in the context of their era?

FS: The Bible occasionally suggests that both Jesus and Paul challenged traditional social divisions, but both are also presented more frequently as upholding the conventional privileging of men over women. Whilst women played important roles in the religious practices of the home in early Judaism and Christianity, these roles were accorded a lesser status compared to the roles of men in the temples, synagogues and churches of these religions.

VB: What about the women in Scripture who are often used as examples that women do play a key role in Christian history?

FS: There are a handful of female characters in the Bible, and female religious specialists in the Church, who are valorised or celebrated, but they stand in bleak contrast to the overwhelming male-centredness of Christianity. Despite hints that some of the earliest Christian groups allowed a handful of women more prominent roles, the near-programmatic downgrading and degrading of women is one of the most shameful aspects of the history of Christianity.

VB: In Islam do you see a message of liberation and freedom for women, or not so much?

FS: Islam has inherited the male-centredness of the ancient religions and cultures from which it emerged. Like Judaism and Christianity, at its centre is a deity constructed as male, who nominated as his mouthpiece a male mediator. It also shares in common with Judaism and Christianity an attempt to define its god as a god without gender. But this strikes me as a theological construct designed to liberate the deity from the constraints of human comparison and worldly categories, rather than a ‘softening’ device recasting the god of Islam as a divine paradigm of equality and oneness.

VB: Aren’t there elements within the Muslim faith that promote women’s freedom?

FS: One of the commonly praised distinctive features of Islam is its explicit instruction that women are to be educated, accorded a notable degree of financial independence, and granted a certain degree of autonomy. These are social values celebrated today as essential platforms on which women’s empowerment must be built. But in Islam, these values sit alongside a pervasive religious preference not only to treat men and women differently, but to distance and segregate women from men: they are (usually) to pray separately, and they are to dress differently. For some Muslim women, segregation and veiling offer liberation from the voyeuristic male gaze, and a distinctive social space in which women can worship. But this rather suggests the problem lies with the men and their deity, rather than the women.

VB: Do you have any thoughts on the covering of the female body within Islam?

FS: In public discourse, much is made of the veiling or covering of Muslim women, but it’s important to remember that these continue to be features of some forms of Judaism and Christianity, too. In all three religions, the imbalance of body-covering between men and women reflects an ancient and deep-rooted cultural ‘othering’ of the bodies of women. Women’s bodies were deemed problematically different – too different – from those of men. And in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, they continue to be: whether the issue is veiling, male circumcision, segregated worship or women bishops, all three religions attest to the on-going problematizing of women’s bodies.

VB: Would you say that atheism and humanism are the only way for true feminists to go, if they want to be true to their passion for liberation and equality?

FS: Some New Religious Movements offer feminists and others committed to social equality a better chance of fulfilling a need for religious activities and experiences. So atheism isn’t necessarily the only alternative in that sense. And some older forms of humanism were not considered incompatible, in philosophical terms, with religious belief. But I find it hard to see how mainstream Judaism, Christianity and Islam can ever offer feminists and their allies a coherent religious framework in which social equality is both fundamental and attainable.

VB: Is there any way of being a feminist and following one of the Abrahamic faiths?

FS: The only way devotees of these religions can serve the cause for equality is by renouncing those aspects which undermine equality in all its forms. This is what some Jewish, Christian and Muslim believers almost seem to do – downplaying or distorting certain aspects; over-emphasizing or transforming others – but it demands an approach to their religious texts, traditions and practices which is so selective that the end result might as well be the formation of a spin-off sect. Ultimately, religious beliefs and practices are human, social constructions. For the religiously-inclined, it would be better to rip up the old blueprints and start again.

 

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August 19, 2013 · 10:45

The Atheist and the Genie

An atheist buys an Ancient Roman Catholic lamp at an auction, takes it home, and begins to polish it.

Suddenly, a genie appears, and says, “I’ll grant you three wishes, Master.”

The atheist says, “I wish I could believe in you.”

The genie snaps his fingers, and suddenly the atheist believes in him.

The atheist says, “Wow. I wish all atheists would believe this.”

The genie snaps his fingers again, and suddenly atheists all over the world begin to believe in genies.

“What about your third wish?” asks the genie.

“Well,” says the atheist, “I wish for a billion pounds.”

The genie snaps his fingers for a third time, but nothing happens.

“What’s wrong?” asks the atheist.

The genie shrugs and says, “Just because you believe in me, doesn’t necessarily mean that I really exist.”

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