Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can Conservative Christians Support Homosexuals?

Everyone who knows me knows that the biggest bone I have to pick with conservative Christians regards their view of homosexuals.  I'm specifying "conservative Christians" because I think we all know liberal Christians who have a much friendlier attitude towards gays.  Us non-theists are never going to be able to convince Christians that homosexuality isn't a sin.  It's not our place to tell people of faith what to believe inside their faith.  Us non-theists don't believe in sin anyhow.  But there's nothing wrong with letting Christians know when their actions or statements towards homosexuals aren't respectful or loving.  Every good person can and should speak out against mistreatment and discrimination.

I've tried to keep up with a Christian cause that I read about on Friendly Atheist.  It's called "Changing the Face Of Christianity."  While I don't agree with some of what CTFOC has to say right now, I absolutely support the direction they seem to be heading.  Their mission is to hold up a mirror to themselves and try and reverse the public image of Christianity.  At the time of the Friendly Atheist interview with CTFOC founder Brad White, I was happy to accept that Mr. White had completely missed the mark.  Some of the things he said, and some of the things that were on his website were offensive.  After personally communicating with Brad, and researching more conversations he's had since the interview, I think that he's learning about how to cummunicate better to those who don't share his Christian perspective.  The jury is still out, as it should be.   
Here's a quote from his site, which I either didn't previously notice, or I didn't previously take seriously:  "One of the things we would ask in this subject area is your patience with our ministry."  I've decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

Most importantly, after reading a communication between himself and Craig James, I've been inspired to look more critically at my own approach to communicating with believers.  I'm encouraged, and I now think that Christians can change their perspective on homosexuals.  It is clear that in time homosexuals will certainly have equal civil rights.  It's bound to happen as long as it continues to receive support.  In the mean time, it's easy to get angry and yell at people about what we feel is an obvious thing, but it doesn't do any good, even if we're right.       

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Wrong With Learning Chinese?

Some people (you can probably guess who) are actually bitching about the Chinese language being offered in public schools. They've been complaining for a while, but with Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting the USA, the talk is heating up a bit. Do we really have that many conspiracy theorists out there?

Chinese taught in schools isn't a "sign that Obama will lead us into Communism." It's not a sign that China is taking over the world (not exactly). It's the recognition of a changing world and a changing global economic landscape.  Education needs to prepare people for the future, and that's what's happening.  Sure, China is funding many of these programs. Who cares? We send thousands of people into the world to teach English, and the world is better for it.  This isn't any different.  Kids want to learn Chinese so that they can get good, interesting jobs.  We shouldn't take that away from them because some people are frightened bigots. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Lost Boys Vote On Sudan Separation

The Lost Boys of Sudan are voting this week for North/South Separation of Sudan.  Sudan has a violent recent history of civil war, with the northern Muslims (who have controlled the country) literally hunting down and killing the southern Christians and Animists.  Starting in the mid 1980s, an entire generation of Sudanese children traveled on foot to flee the Texas sized country, surviving against all odds.  Many of them now live in the United States, but they are scattered all over the world.

The Lost Boys are hopeful that their homeland will gain independence and finally be free from Sharia law, which was one of the major issues that started the civil war in 1983.  It's estimated that over 2 million Sudanese were murdered by the violent Muslim regime.

If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check out the documentary called "God Grew Tired of Us."  It's an amazing story of hope and human triumph, as well as a reminder of the potential horror of religious regimes.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Tibetan Monks Learn Science in USA

It looks like the Dalai Lama makes sense sometimes.  He's sent 6 monks to the US to study science, in an effort to better educated future generations of monks and nuns in the knowledge of the physical world.  The best part of the article is when the Dalai Lama is quoted saying "Even Buddha himself said 'All my followers shouldn't accept my teachers out of faith, but out of constant investigation.'"  I think that most religious leaders would consider this approach to be threatening, so the Dalai Lama deserves some credit. 

Obviously, the monks are going to struggle grasping the concepts of science, as most of them are in their 30s and don't even understand the basics of biology and chemistry, but this is clearly a step towards "nlightenment"for them. 

They're also shopping at the dollar store, and use Facebook as a way to communicate with their friends back home.  Emory University, where the monks are studying, has translated math and science books to the monk's native tongue, which has enabled this project to take place.  The Dalai Lama has planned on introducing science and mathematics into his teachings for more than 20 years. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More on Taseer Assassination

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Science vs. Faith

Thanks to my buddy Eric for this.

Pakistani Governor Killed by His Own Guard, A Muslim Extremist

This is absolutely crazy, but another excellent example of just how hard it is to separate religion from state once they're allowed to be one and the same. 

The governor of Pakistan's central Punjab province, a senior member of the ruling party, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards in Islamabad on Tuesday, plunging the country into a new political crisis...Salman Taseer was killed because of his opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Is there really a place on this earth this fucked up?  Is this what happens when you give a fundamentalist Muslim a firearm and expect him to protect a man who supports freedom of speech?  The killer/bodyguard/coward Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri surrendered and is quoted saying "Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer."

The Times of India is calling it a "warning to Pak's liberal politicians," and proof of "the insidious spread of radical Islamist sentiment, infiltrating even the elite security services in Islamabad."  The Times also emphasizes that Taseer was an advocate of free speech, a vocal proponent for minority secular rights, and strongly against the blasphemy law: 

In the Aasiya Bibi case, which has polarized Pakistani society, Taseer, as governor of Punjab stood up publicly in her defence. Aasiya Bibi is on the threshold of a death sentence under this law. Taseer, in an interview last week defended his stand.

"Aasiya Bibi ... has been incarcerated for a year-and-a half on a charge trumped up against her five days after an incident where people who gave evidence against her were not even present. So this is a blatant violation against a member of a minority community."

Taseer drew a lot of fire from religionists and Islamists who want Pakistan's blasphemy law to remain tougher than ever and have been agitating in the streets for this. "The mindset got to him," said Vikram Sood, former RAW chief.