27 November 2013

Pope Francis: Islam and the Quran are opposed to every form of violence

In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel"), Pope Francis pontificates about Islam.

Here's what he said in paragraph 253.
Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.
So according to Pope Francis, we should replace "hateful generalizations" about Islam and the Quran with the hopeful (and obviously false) generalizations that Islam and the Quran "are opposed to every form of violence."

It is, of course, obvious to anyone who has read the Quran or today's newspaper that the pope's generalization is false. Islam is not opposed to every form of violence, and neither is the Quran.

Here are some verses from the Quran that the pope assures us are completely nonviolent.
  1. Slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places  whence they drove you out ... If  they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. Quran 2:191
  2. Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. 2:193
  3. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. 3:151
  4. Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other. ... So good women are the obedient. ... As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds  apart, and scourge them. 4:34
  5. Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. 4:56
  6. Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. 4:76
  7. Choose not friends from them [unbelievers]. ... Take them and kill them  wherever ye find them. 4:89
  8. Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant. 4:91
  9. The disbelievers are an open enemy to you. 4:101
  10. Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of  believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you? 4:144
  11. The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger ... will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such  will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. 5:33
  12. As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. ... An exemplary punishment from Allah. 5:38
  13. Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. ... He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. 5:51
  14. The Jews ... We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. 5:64
  15. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. 8:12
  16. Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. 8:39
  17. It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. 8:67
  18. Slay the idolaters wherever ye  find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. 9:5
  19. Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers. 9:23
  20. The Jews ... and the Christians ... Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How  perverse are they! 9:30
  21. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with  them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end. 9:73
  22. O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and  let them find harshness in you. 9:123
  23. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will  be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. 22:19-21
  24. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. 48:29
  25. Those who take for friends a folk with whom Allah is wroth ... Allah hath prepared for them a dreadful doom. 58:14
  26. Tell their  brethren who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture ... that they verily are liars. 59:11
  27. O ye who believe! Choose not My enemy and your enemy for allies. Do ye give them friendship when they disbelieve? 60:1
  28. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end. 66:9

20 November 2013

The Poverty and Justice Bible: Another exercise in dishonesty

20 Nov 13 Note: Back in January of 2009, after President Obama took the oath of office (without a Bible), the Evangelical Alliance sent him a copy of "the poverty and justice bible." Now the American Bible Society is sending copies of the same edition  to all of the 535 members of Congress. So I thought I'd update my 2009 post one of the two most dishonest Bible editions (the other is "The Green Bible").

In previous posts I've mentioned the Green Bible, which highlights in green all the verses in the Bible that show God's loving concern for the environment. Of course, if they were being honest, there wouldn't be a single highlighted verse. Because the God of the Bible doesn't give a shit about the environment.

But they are not being honest, so they highlight verses like Numbers 21:6-7, where God sent snakes to bite and kill people for complaining about lack of food and water (God's 26th Killing).

I suppose this passage was highlighted because it had snakes in it (well, actually "fiery serpents"). So God must care about snakes (since he sent them to bite and kill people) or something.

A similar approach was taken by The Poverty and Justice Bible. It highlights in orange the verses that show God's attitude toward poverty and justice. In it they claim to have highlighted over 2000 verses. Among them is Joshua 7:25-26. I'll quote these verses using the translation that they use (the Contemporary English Version).
Joshua said, "Achan, you have caused us a lot of trouble. Now the Lord is paying you back with the same kind of trouble.
The people of Israel then stoned to death Achan and his family. They made a fire and burnt the bodies, together with what Achan had stolen, and all his possessions. They covered the remains with a big pile of rocks, which is still there. Then the Lord stopped being angry with Israel.
So this passage (God's 34th Killing) was highlighted in the PAJ Bible to show God's attitude towards justice -- which in this case is that anyone that steals stuff from God (after he had Israelites steal it from others after killing them all) should be stoned to death, along with his entire family.

In looking over the two (the Green and PAJ Bibles), I'm not sure which is more dishonest. If you get a chance, check them out at the library and let me know what you think. (Don't buy them, though. They're not worth it.)

The PAJ Bible, by the way, was sent to President Obama after his second oath of office by the Evangelical Alliance (the wording of his first oath was botched and had to be repeated). Since he didn't have a Bible for his second oath, they wanted to make sure he'd always have one around, one "that focuses on these issues that are so close to his, and God’s, heart.”

So now, thanks to the Evangelical Society, the American Bible Society, and the PAJ Bible, President Obama and Congress will know just what to do with someone that steals genocidal holy war booty from God: have everyone in the country stone him and his family to death and then burn them all for God. That way God won't be angry at us anymore.

(Maybe I should send the president and each member of Congress a copy of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. But then, I know what they'd do with it -- the same thing they'll do with the Poverty and Justice Bible (throw it away).

19 November 2013

God hates ornaments

Here's a fun little Bible story that I somehow forgot to include in the SAB. (I've added it this morning.)

It occurs in Exodus 33, just after God killed some of the Israelites in a plague (God's 15th Killing) because "of the calf, which Aaron made."
And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. Exodus 32:35
And before God shows Moses his back parts.
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. 33:22-23
After the golden calf affair, God settled down a bit, and promised to lead Moses to a land flowing with milk and honey.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart ... Unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 33:1-3a
He said he'd send an angel to drive out (kill?) all the current inhabitants of the land. (Including the Canaanites and the Jebusites)
I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 33:2 
(It turns out that God didn't keep his promise, but that's another story. See Joshua 15:63, 16:10, 17.12-13: Judges 1:21, 27, 3:1-5)

But God said he wouldn't be going with them, since if he did, he'd end up killing the lot of them for being so goddamned "stiffnecked."
 I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. 33:3b
When the people heard God's promise/threat, they mourned and took off their ornaments. 
And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments ... And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments. 33:4, 6
Which was a good thing, too, since God said he'd kill them all on the spot if he saw any ornaments. 
For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee." 33.5
Because God hates ornaments.

(We already knew that God hates Christmas trees; now we know that he hates ornaments as well.)

(I'm not sure what the ornaments were exactly, but it couldn't have been the gold jewelry that the Israelites stole from the Egyptians, since they'd already given it to Aaron for his golden calf.)

18 November 2013

The Skeptic's Annotated "Noah" trailer

Slide show of our SAB road trip

I made a slide show of our trip. Some of the photos aren't the best quality, so you might want to view it in full screen mode.

SAB road trip! by Slidely Slideshow

Pat Condell: How gay is Islam?

0:28 - "Among UK Muslims disapproval is 100%."

"Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance towards homosexual acts. ... None of the 500 British Muslims interviewed believed that homosexual acts were morally acceptable."

Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll The Guardian, 7 May 2009

2:28 "In Iran, they've settled the matter by hanging them from cranes in public."

Gays should be tortured and hanged, says Iranian minister meeting British MPs Daily Mail, 14 Nov 2007

Execution in Iran

2:32 - "In Mauritania they use the more traditional method, stoning to death."

"Any adult Muslim man who commits an impudent act against nature with an individual of his sex will face the penalty of death by public stoning."

"Deciphering Motive: Establishing Sexual Orientation as the 'One Central Reason' for Persecution in Asylum Claims", Columbia Human Rights Law Review, authored by Ritu Ghai, 43.2:349 (2012), page 522, footnote #4

2:37 - "In Saudi Arabia they prefer beheading, as they do for many things in that country, including witchcraft."

In January 2002, Saudi Arabia executed three men for "sodomy, marriage among themselves, and inciting pedophilia" (Paris Le Monde 4 Jan. 2002). The three men were beheaded by sword in public.

Saudi Arabia: The situation of homosexuals, including treatment by authorities and legal penalties Refworld

2:45 - "In countries that don't include the death penalty for being gay, it's still punishable by flogging and imprisonment."

Maldives (100% Muslim) — House arrest for women; banishment or whippings for men.
Morocco (99.9% Muslim) — Fine and between six month and three years in jail.
Afghanistan (>99% Muslim) — Imprisonment.
Kuwait — (>99% Muslim) Up to seven years in jail.
Somalia (99% Muslim) — Possible death penalty by stoning in southern parts of the country; elsewhere, a jail sentence of up to three years.
Algeria (99% Muslim) — Fines and a jail sentence of up to three years.
Yemen (~99% Muslim) — Imprisonment up to seven years, whipping with 100 lashes, or death by stoning, depending on gender and circumstances.
Tunisia (~98%) — Up to three years in prison; same-sex activity between women is legal.
Sudan (>97% Muslim) — Five years in prison, life imprisonment, flogging, and/or death penalty.
Libya — (97% Muslim) Up to five years of jail time.
Pakistan (96.4%) — Between two and 10 years in prison.
Bangladesh (89% Muslim) — Fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Syria (~87% Muslim) — Up to three years in prison.
Qatar (81% Muslim) — Up to seven years in prison (and for Muslims, corporal punishment or death).
Oman (75% Muslim) — Imprisonment from six months to three years.
Malaysia (61.3% Muslim) — Up to 20 years in prison and possibly whipping.
BuzzFeed: 76 Countries Where Anti-Gay Laws Are As Bad As Or Worse Than Russia’s (% Muslim statistics from Wikipedia)

2:49 - "It was announced recently that several Islamic countries are trying to find a medical test to detect gay people and stop them at the border, so disgusted are they to homosexuality."

Gulf states to introduce medical testing on travelers to 'detect' gay people and stop them from entering the country Mail Online 8 October 2013

3:00 - "They even forced the United Nations to remove sexual orientation from a resolution condemning arbitrary executions, because Islamic countries want the right to arbitrarily execute gay people without being condemned for it."

UN cowardice is a betrayal of its gay citizens Patrick Strudwick: The Guardian, 23 Nov 2013

U.N. panel cuts gay reference from violence measure Reuters, Nov 17, 2010

16 November 2013

Drunk With Blood: Audiobook preview

Well, we're finally back from our cross-country road trip. I'll put up a few more pictures (I'll even include one of Steve Weeks!) and tell you about our adventures in a later post. Until then, I thought I'd let you preview the first few chapters of the audiobook, which should be available next week at audible.com and iTunes.




06 November 2013

On the road with the SAB: Palmyra, New York -- the birthplace of Mormonism

After Philip subbed for me at the Magnet Theater in New York City, we headed west toward Palmyra, New York -- the birthplace of Mormonism. We started with a guided tour of the Grandin Printing Shop, where the Book of Mormon was first printed in 1830. Then we toured the Smith family log home and visited the "sacred grove" where Jesus and his father first appeared to the 14-year old Joseph Smith. We finished up by climbing Hill Cumorah, where he dug up the golden plates.

Our tour guide was a nice young woman who tried her very best to convert us. She insisted that we give the Moroni challenge a try in the sacred grove. (This challenge is based on Moroni 10:4, which is the John 3:16 equivalent in Mormonism.) We agreed to do so if she would read Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and explain how a kind and loving God could inspire such a passage. She promised to read it and send us her explanation in an email. I'll let you how that turns out.

So Philip and I took the Moroni 10:4 challenge in the sacred grove.

And here's Philip at the Moroni monument on the top of Hill Cumorah.

Next stop: Mundelein, Illinois.

On the road with the SAB: The Magnet Theater in New York City

Steve was sick, so I filled in. The show will be up next week, but an audience member tagged me in this photo:

Here's the link.

01 November 2013

On the road with the SAB: Red Top Mountain and A. H. Stephens State Parks

As I mentioned back in August, Skeptic's Annotated Bibles were placed in cottages rented by the Georgia state parks. So since Philip and I were on our way to New York, and since Georgia is (sort of) on the way, we decided to visit the parks that agreed to put SABs next to Gideon Bibles in their cottages.

The first park that we visited was Red Top Mountain. We asked the park ranger if we could view the rooms, and to our surprise, she said OK.

Here is what we found when we opened the drawer next to the bed.

Red Top Mountain state park has eight cottages with an SAB (and a Gideon Bible) in each of the two bedrooms. (We didn't check all of them, but the ranger assured us that there are two in each cottage.)

Our next stop was A. H. Stephens State Historical Park near Crawfordville, Georgia. There are four cottages at the park that were also supplied with SABs. So we stopped at the office and asked the park manager if we could see one of them. He said OK, and, once again, we found an SAB sitting next to a Gideon Bible in each of the two bedroom drawers.

The strangest thing about this very strange affair is that apparently no one has yet commented or complained. I'd have never thought such a thing could happen in Georgia.

The second park that we visited, by the way, is named after Alexander H. Stephens who was the Vice President of the Confederacy. Here's what he had to say about slavery:
Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. (Cornerstone Speech)
Here is his statue by his graveside at the park.

File:Stephens Monument.JPG
Alexander H. Stephens graveside memorial at A. H. Stephens State Park

Next stop: New York City.