#0019 RRS Newsletter for June 22, 2007

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Good days to you all! Todays post is a bit shorter than it has been in the past few days. I'm also very excited to announce that I have added a Table of Contents to these newsletters! Now all you have to do to get to the section or article you are interested in, is click on the section or article you want to read! If this doesn't kill the length issues a few people have had, I don'tthink anything will, lol. It will also inspire more people to read these, I think, since there is no more need to troll through the stuff you don't want to see to get to the things that may interest you! Still some bugs to work out, mainly in my html abilities, but I hope you all enjoy it!

Thank you for reading,
Stay rational
Jack
and the RRS MI team

Table of Contents

Rational Response Squad News

RRS Michigan News

Science News

Liquid Mirror Could Peer From Moon New biological Anthropology video

Religion

Skulls Smuggled for Monks' Chalices Christian Terrorism in the USA UK Government says no to creationism ID in science NICOLE SMALKOWSKI On BBC AMERICA! HERE

Government

Help Americans United fight religious descrimination

Community

Richard Dawkins, Science and Spirituality Students May Soon See Video Explaining Atheism

Entertainment

Julia Sweeny on Mormons ">How to choose a god Smiling

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Here is our youtube channel, view it before we're banned for rocking the boat!

Challenge to married Christian couples to abstain from murdering millions of potential humans.

Here is our burqa challenge video, referenced in the video below.

Question for muslim woman who wears burqa:

Why the double standard?

What should the next big Rational Response Squad project be?

Talk about this topic on our message board instead.

Sapient would admit his mother to a mental hospital if...

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A great article on a possible liquid mirror telescope projected to be installed on the Moon!

Liquid Mirror Could Peer From Moon

New biological Anthropology video

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Human evolution
Date: Jun 21, 2007 7:37 PM

"Thanks Nicole"

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So you think Buddhists are unthreatening, huh?

Check out his article, and get back to me. It shows how the Buddhist monasteries in India are supporting the Black Market trade of Human skeletons!

Photo in the News: Skulls Smuggled for Monks' Chalices

Christian Terrorism in the USA

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 21, 2007 3:36 PM

Substance D TPO

Christian Terrorism

On July 29, 1994, a religious fundamentalist named Paul Hill attacked a Pensacola, Florida family planning center, murdering abortion provider Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett with a single blast from a pump-action shotgun. With numerous eyewitnesses, Hill surrendered peacefully and confessed to his crime at the scene. Hill was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, convicted by a jury, and given the death sentence. On September 3, 2003, he was executed by lethal injection. He never once expressed any regret for his crimes, and urged others to do the same in his last statement before his death.

I'm against the death penalty in almost all cases, but this is one of the extraordinary few where I believe it was completely appropriate. The two crucial conditions for this sentence were satisfied: first, there was absolutely no rational doubt as to Hill's guilt, and second, he had shown such a remorseless and cold-blooded indifference to human life that it was highly unlikely any prison term, no matter how long, would ever reform him. In such a case, I believe society is justified in putting the offender to death - not as a method of vengeance, but for the same reason we destroy rabid animals, as a means of self-defense.

But Hill's legacy lives on in the radical fringes of the anti-abortion movement, where he is seen as a hero and a martyr. Appallingly, three Christian groups in Milwaukee are planning to stage "Paul Hill Days" (via), a celebration of this bloodthirsty fanatic's killing spree that will include a re-enactment of the murders. The website, which other than its sincere praise of a convicted murderer is indistinguishable from standard evangelical right-wing rhetoric, speaks of its creators' "admiration for Paul Hill and his act of love and mercy", and wants to "recognize [him] as a hero".

In my opinion, this is going too far. Anti-abortion activists should be free to claim that Hill was innocent of the charges against him, or that he should have been convicted of a lesser offense, or that the punishment he received was too harsh, or that the law he violated should be changed. What they should not be free to do, in my opinion, is to call an act of murder a heroic and praiseworthy deed and celebrate its occurrence. Free speech does not include the right to make threats or to encourage people to commit criminal offenses, and if this is not leaping over that line, it is at the very least straddling it.

If past experience is any guide, the mainstream media will maintain a deafening silence on this issue. Normally, the media is eager to promote sensational stories likely to produce fear and outrage. But when that story could reflect badly on Christians, or any other large, influential group which the powers that be are afraid to offend, it is obligingly swept under the rug and ignored. Politicians, likewise, will ignore it: Republicans because they count on the support of people like the ones who planned Paul Hill Days, Democrats because they are afraid to advocate any position that might be judged as anti-faith. Leaders of the religious right will keep silent, not wanting to damage their public standing by seeming to endorse violence, but also not wanting to alienate their fanatical pro-life followers for whom no anti-abortion action is too extreme. And this conspiracy of silence, this gentleman's agreement to keep quiet, is exactly what emboldens Christian terrorists and makes it more likely that they will strike again.

This is not the first time such a thing has happened. On September 11, 2006, a Christian fundamentalist named David McMenemy crashed his gasoline-soaked car into a women's health clinic in Davenport, Iowa which he thought provided abortions (it did not), intending to blow the clinic up and die in the fire. McMenemy's attempted suicide bombing failed to destroy the clinic and he was convicted of arson, but it was striking how little media attention the story received. Had the perpetrator been a Muslim, there can be no doubt this story would have been in the headlines for weeks. Instead, it vanished with scarcely a ripple.

People like Paul Hill, McMenemy and other convicted fundamentalists (Clayton Waagner, Eric Rudolph, and others) are, in every sense of the word, religious terrorists. Exactly like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, they use random violence against civilians to terrify and demoralize their enemies, hoping to impose their will on the populace and prevail in a battle they cannot win by open shows of force. Our society's acceptance of the reckless, extremist anti-woman rhetoric of religious anti-abortion crusaders has created an atmosphere in which these fanatics can breathe, and until we cease to pay heed to these people and firmly avow our support for the right of all women to control their own bodies, we can expect Christian terrorism to continue.

Hurrah! UK Government says "no" to creationism/ID in science

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 21, 2007 3:39 PM

No Indoctrination

UK Government says "no" to creationism/ID in science classes

A petition on the 10 Downing St web site has elicited a response from the Government regarding the teaching of creationism/ID. The petition read:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the use of creationist and other pseudo-scientific propaganda in Government-funded schools.

The Prime Minister has recently spoken about the importance of science education in the UK. Creationism & Intelligent design are greatly featured in the media and are being used disingenuously to portray science & the theory or evolution as being in crisis when they are not. Moreover groups such as Truth in Science are targeting our nation's children and their science education with material that is not only non-scientific but have been rejected by the scientific community. These ideas therefore do not constitute science, cannot be considered scientific education and therefore do not belong in the nation's science classrooms.

The Government has since responded (with my emphasis):

The Government remains committed ensuring that young people have an understanding of the importance of science and the world around them.

Science is a core subject of the National Curriculum throughout every Key Stage. The National Curriculum secures for all pupils, irrespective of background and ability, an entitlement to a range of areas of learning. Its aim is to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for each pupil's self-fulfilment and development as an active and responsible citizen. It makes expectations for learning and attainment explicit to pupils, parents, teachers, governors, employers and the public, and establishes national standards for the performance of all pupils. All materials that support the teaching, learning and assessment of primary and secondary education, can be found on the National Curriculum website.

The Government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons. The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science. The science programmes of study set out the legal requirements of the science National Curriculum. They focus on the nature of science as a subject discipline, including what constitutes scientific evidence and how this is established. Students learn about scientific theories as established bodies of scientific knowledge with extensive supporting evidence, and how evidence can form the basis for experimentation to test hypotheses. In this context, the Government would expect teachers to answer pupils' questions about creationism, intelligent design, and other religious beliefs within this scientific framework.

We will be publishing guidance for schools, on the way creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching. It will be possible to ensure that the weight of scientific opinion is properly presented. The guidance will be available on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website in due course.

Hurrah!

There are two separate issues here that I'm going to mention:

I'm glad that they don't single out evolution as the reason for this, but encompass the entirety of science as that which is to be supported. This is a Good Thing™. However, the very specific language (The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science rather than what I personally would like to have seen: "The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not science and should not be taught as science") is perhaps quite telling. I guess this can be a fight for another day. I'm happy for this small victory of sanity and reality over superstition and political correctness.

I'm also glad to see that they haven't banned it completely from discussion. This allows (good) science teachers to be able to put creationism/ID in context to science (i.e. it's a load of sky-hooked hokum) without having to "teach" it to placate those who, bizarrely, still think like bronze-age nomads.

Now, if we can just get the Scottish Executive to convince the muppets at the SQA to do the same… *sigh* Devolved government was never supposed to mean we had to put up with this shit twice.

NICOLE SMALKOWSKI On BBC AMERICA! HERE!

If you don't know who she is, she's been an outspoken voice for the Free Thought movement for some time now.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 21, 2007 3:41 PM

Freethinking Transgirl !!!! Nicole Smalkowski!! ~ !My Official Myspace! Ken

Thanks: !!!! Nicole Smalkowski!! ~ !My Official Myspace!
Well said!!
RE: NICOLE SMALKOWSKI On BBC AMERICA! hERE!

PLEASE REPOST
THANKS EVERYONE
NICOLE SMALKOWSKI

Biological Malevolent Design: Deformed Babies (God's Plan)

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Reverend AtheiStar
Date: Jun 21, 2007 6:53 PM

Thanks to: Jason

http://hjem.get2net.dk/tst/weird/wbabys.htm

~RAS
Founder of FSA
Reverend AtheiStar
Free Speech Atheists
Malevolent Design
7 Day Atheist Challenge
Believerbots
Battered Believer's Syndrome

Join my group:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Free_Speech_Atheists/

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Help Americans United fight religious descrimination

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Rational Response Squad So. California
Date: Jun 21, 2007 11:41 AM

Congress Should Block Backdoor Move To Endorse Discrimination By Colleges, Says Americans United Wednesday, June 20, 2007

AU's Lynn Says Education Measure Could Be Used To Support Educational Institutions That Push Discriminatory Policy

The U.S. Senate should halt a backdoor effort to endorse discrimination by religious universities, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In a June 20 letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Americans United and other civil liberties groups called for changes to the Higher Education Amendments of 2007.

Currently the measure includes language that could allow the U.S. Department of Education to force the nation’s accrediting agencies to grant accreditation to universities with histories of religiously based discrimination, such as Bob Jones University. The measure states that educational accrediting groups must “consistently appl[y] and enforce standards that respect the stated mission of the institution of higher education, including religious missions.”

Some religious colleges are aggressively lobbying Congress to force accrediting agencies to override their nondiscrimination policies and to accredit colleges claiming a religious reason to discriminate against students and staff.

“I am appalled that the Senate would consider giving a green light to discrimination in our nation’s colleges and universities,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Senate should ensure that our nation’s accrediting agencies will not be strong-armed into approving religiously based discrimination against students and staff.”

The Americans United letter notes that “the nation has a long and shameful history of colleges and universities that have discriminated against faculty and students,” citing Bob Jones University as an example. The university, founded in 1927, pushed policies barring admission of African-Americans and prohibited students from interracial dating. The university’s founder also attacked the Catholic Church as a “satanic cult” and claimed that gay alumni could not return to campus.

“If the bill passes,” the letter states, “without removing the accreditation provision at issue, the historical role of accreditation associations in ending discrimination in education will be thrown into jeopardy.

“We expect that colleges and universities that would like to discriminate will pressure the Department of Education to stop accrediting bodies from refusing to accredit universities that engage in discrimination,” the letter continues. “We urge the Committee to amend the Higher Education Amendments to provide explicit protection for accrediting associations to enforce their own nondiscrimination provisions, as well as require compliance with federal, state, and local nondiscrimination laws.”

The other groups signing onto the letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and People For the American Way.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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Parts 3 and 4 of the series I started posting yesterday

Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 3

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Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 4

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Richard Dawkins, Science and Spirituality

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: A.D.M.
Date: Jun 20, 2007 9:46 PM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------

Much thanks to:
TPO

Beatle bones 'n' smokein' stones

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Comment: There's a deplorable straw man of Dawkins' scientific, that is, gene-centered, position as to the evolution of altruism in the end of this clip. I just want to say that Dawkins' book "The Selfish Gene" really is about altruism and that the genic selection fully explains the evolution of altruism.

Jussi K. Niemelä

Richard Dawkins, Science and Spirituality


Richard Dawkins is a spiritual man. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. -Carl Sagan

Students May Soon See Video Explaining Atheism

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: A.D.M.
Date: Jun 20, 2007 10:51 PM

----------------- Bulletin Message --------------
Thanks to: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 20, 2007 9:34 PM

Barbara

www.wkrn.com/nashvillenNEWS

Public high schools around the country will soon receive video presentations about atheism to show students .

The videos, produced and distributed by a group in Colorado, are intended to show students that atheists and other non-believers aren't as strange as they might think.

www.wkrn.com/nashvillenNEWS

Here's the video being shown:

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Julia Sweeny on Mormons

The Mormon boys arrive.

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" id="How to choose a god Smiling">

How to choose a god Smiling

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 21, 2007 3:11 PM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Sleeping Beauty Eye-wink
Date: Jun 19, 2007 9:00 PM

How to choose a god in 5 easy steps

The A-Team and we approve this message.

The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.