Archived Issue of the Separationist

You have loaded a back issue of The Separationist, the newsletter of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry.


ISSUE: March 2001

Edited by Dave Peterson


Contents:

NEXT MEETING: Sunday, 18 March at 4:00 pm

    Gage Hall, 4 Archdale  St., Charleston SC

Speaker: Dr. Massimo Pugliucci

Topic: "Design: Yes; Intelligent: No ­­ A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory"

Massimo  Pigliucci  is  Associate Professor in the Departments of Botany and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at  the  University~  of Tennessee in Knoxville.He has a Doctorate in genetics from the University of Ferrara  (Italy), and a Ph.D.  in botany from the University af Connecticut. He has been a post-doctoral associate at Brown University. His  academic  research  focuses on the ecology and evolution genotype-environment inter-actions, that is, on the old nature vs. nurture problem. He has published 49 technical papers in evolutionary biology. He has written two popular science books in Italian. Sinauer published in 1998 the technical Phenotypic Evolution: a Reaction Norm Perspective (co-authored  with  Carl Schlichting), and Phenotypic Plasticity: Beyond Nature vs. Nurture for Johns Hopkins University Press (2000).

He is also the author of Tales of the Rational, published by the Freethought Press in 2000. He has been awarded the prestigious  Dobzhansky Prize by the Society for the Study of Evolution and has been selected as teacher of the year by the University of Tennessee Mortar Board Faculty Appreciation committee.

As a skeptic, he has debated creationist Duane Gish and Christian theologian William Lane Craig,  has given talks to various skeptic and humanist groups throughout the US, and has published in Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer. Editor of the on-line skeptical magazine Reality Check (http:/fp.bio.utk.edu/reality), he can be reached via e-mail at pigliucci@utk.edu. (Reality Check has some excellent in-depth articles.  Ed)

Dr. Pigliucci was also one of the founders of the Rationalists of East Tennessee, a sister organization to SHL.

In summarizing his topic for the meeting, he said that a new brand of creationists has been making a lot of noise in the past few years, using the label ``intelligent design theory. Intelligent Design (ID) theory is actually centuries, if not millennia, old. In fact, when skeptic Michael Shermer (in How We Believe) polled people on why they believe in a god, their main response was that such belief explains the existence and order of the universe; intelligent design, it seems, is one major way people rationalize faith. This lecture addresses some recent arguments advanced by neo-creationists and attempts to show why they are clever but insufficient to put a serious dent in the modern neo-Darwinian explanatory framework for the diversity of life on earth, otherwise known as the scientific theory.of evolution.

After the meeting, all those who are interested will repair to a local restaurant for further discussion and camaraderie.

AN APPRECIATION...

by SHL member Sharon Fratepietro

It's hard to think of Doris and Wyman Hoten as two people.  You never see one without the other.  To Doris it seems they've been together indefinitely!  Asked how long they've been married, she says, ``At least 20.  Maybe 23.''  The Hotens come from Tennessee, originally, and have three sons.

Doris and Wyman Hoten have been members of our SHL group for over three years.  Combined, they serve as our organization's treasurer.  You will nearly always see them at our Sunday meetings and dinners at Vickery's, and you can count on them to show up at our periodic executive committee meetings, rain or shine, despite having to travel from their home in Summerville after a hard day's work.

And it's a long workday, too, for Doris, who is a mail carrier and supervisor six days a week in the James Island Post Office.  Semi-retired Wyman still works at the Charleston Airport in pre-boarding security.

Although Doris and Wyman originally met in a nightclub, they don't have much time these days to go dancing, one of their favorite forms of relaxation.  They play golf whenever time permits.  Both are enthusiastic Libertarians and participate in local Libertarian activities.  And now Doris is looking forward to visiting Paris and Amsterdam with her three sisters and their mother in May.  Might be the first time you could see Doris without Wyman, come to think of it.

It's important to say that we appreciate knowing Wyman and Doris, for their friendship, consistently good humor, and their reliable contributions to our Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry group.

HUMANIST BOOK DISCUSSION:

By Sharon Strong

On Sunday, April 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Humanist Book Discussion Group will gather to talk about "Writings On an Ethical Life" by Peter Singer. You can buy the book in the "Staff Recommends" section at the Barnes and Noble store on Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (at a 20% discount!) in West Ashley.  The Humanist Book Discussion takes place on the first Sunday of the month at that same Barnes and Noble.  Everyone is welcome to participate or just come to listen. For more information, call me at 853-3976.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA...

By SHL member Sharon Fratepietro

From March 11-23 I am going with a human rights delegation to Colombia (South America), with an organization called Witness for Peace.

As you probably know, Colombia is the world's main source of coca and its illegal product, cocaine, and the major source of this drug sold in the United States.  Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world today.  Our delegation is going there to see how the Colombian people have been affected by Plan Colombia, the $1.3 billion foreign aid program passed by the U.S. Congress last August as part of the U.S. drug war.  In case you, like most other people, are not very familiar with Plan Colombia, I will briefly explain what it is.

The greater part of Plan Colombia comprises the supply of military equipment and training, ostensibly to help the Colombian military fumigate the coca fields.  But the situation in Colombia is far from black and white. The government army is fighting a vicious, 37-year-old civil war with two leftist guerrilla groups. In addition, countless private militias act with impunity as death squads, often with either the complicity or tacit consent of the army. The guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the army, itself, have all been implicated in narcotrafficking and terrible human rights abuses.

I think the situation in Colombia is remarkably like that of the U.S. involvement in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, when we supported abusive governments later proven to have committed or approved the vast majority of human rights abuses in those countries.  However, in El Salvador and Guatemala the enemy we worried about was Marxism, rather than narcotrafficking.

While Witness for Peace calls itself a ``faith-based'' organization, it also accepts non-theistic Humanists like me on its delegations.  In 1987 I went to Nicaragua on a similar delegation, where only two other members were non-theists.  On the Colombia delegation roster of a hundred people, I notice that I am the only one described as a Humanist (there is one other atheist).

While in Colombia, we will travel to several locations including the war zone.  We will observe and speak with people who represent many points of view, including those of the U.S. government, the Colombian military, various Colombian human rights organizations, and Colombian people affected by the drug war.

I believe the Witness for Peace trip is important because few U.S. citizens understand how the U.S. drug demand and the U.S. war on drugs are affecting people from other countries.  I think all Humanists should understand and care about this issue.

I also think the larger problem of our U.S. drug policy and its seemingly unwinnable drug war is another matter all Humanists should understand and care about.  Certainly a national dialog on this issue is warranted, and I wish Humanists would take the lead on this.

Soon after I return from Colombia I am scheduled to talk about my trip on two occasions.  The first is the Forum at the Unitarian Church on Sunday, April 1, at 10 a.m.  The second is at the College of Charleston on Tuesday, August 3, starting at 7 p.m. in Room 118 of the Education Center on St. Philip St. (across from the parking garage).

If you know of any other opportunities for me to give a talk, I would welcome the suggestion.  And if you are interested in hearing about my trip, I hope to see you at one of my talks.

In the meantime, I will think you all as I represent Secular Humanism among the delegates in my travel group.

GOD'S LlGHTNING ROD...

By Russell Dunn

(Reprinted from Pique (2/01), the newsletter of the Secular Humanist Society of New York.)

It should come as no surprise that most Christians view prayer as a central part of their religious lives. And, to be sure, there is much about prayer to commend it regardless of whether God exists or is just a figment of humanity's collective imagination. Prayer gives believers the feeling of tapping into a higher power, and this can be both very self-affirming and self-expanding, for it provides a sense of cosmic connection, of being an integral part of the universe.

Prayer gives believers an opportunity to think beyond themselves, to become less self-involved, even if only for a moment. This also can be very helpful since, as social beings, we belong to a larger community, and it generally behooves us to think about the welfare of others in addition to ourselves. Prayer helps believers put their thoughts into a more constructive, optimistic framework, with good things wished for and positive outcomes visualized. This happens to be very different from how most of us think during the majority of our waking hours, for frequently our thoughts are filled with life's negativities.

Prayer gives believers the feeling that they are accomplishing something purposeful, even if it may only be an illusion. For this reason, when a believer prays for a sick aunt to recover from an illness and she does, there is the temptation to conclude that it was the power of one's prayers that contributed to her sudden improvement in health. Rightly or wrongly, the believer ends up feeling empowered. Despite all of these positive attributes, however, there is one aspect of prayer that is so glaringly negative that I fear it may overshadow all of the positives so far stated. I am talking about the lightning rod effect prayer has for dissipating constructive social energy.

A lightning rod [at its best] works by discharging a buildup of electrical charge before a lightning strike can occur. In a manner of speaking, prayer can be thought of as producing the same effect, only in this case, causing social energy to be dissipated. When people gather together to pray en masse for a better world, for instance, or for less conflict in the Mideast, or for any particular purpose, they end up walking out of church convinced that they've accomplished at least a part of the task by the act of prayer itself. Then they return to their regular 9-5 workday lives until it's time to go back to church on the following weekend. The end result is that no social action occurs in between. For these folks, prayer becomes a metaphorical lightning rod, discharging the social and emotional energy for change that otherwise would be available for secular, altruistic  pursuits.

Surely, how much better the world would be if people could take their wishes, hopes, and aspirations and transform them into social action rather than having their energies dispersed through the phenomenon of prayer. Clearly, there are realms of human suffering that might be amenable to change if more time and energy were otherwise available by god-fearing people.

What's more, it's not only prayer, but religion itself that siphons off energy for social change. Religion makes the world around us seem like a way station to Heaven and eternal life. Taken in this context, why should anyone invest a great deal of time and energy in the here-and-now, when it is really the next world (the here-after) that counts? Or to personalize it, why should you trouble yourself spending the next 80 years of life on Earth, in a physical universe, to make things better when you will be spending the rest of eternity in a spiritual universe of noncorruptibility and perfection? Prayer, then, fits in quite well with religion's view of life on earth being transitory. In other words, do what you can through prayer, using the mechanisms of the spirit world, but don't fret too much about changing the world dramatically because it  is  really the  next life,  where everything  is spiritual, that counts!

Religious enthusiasts will argue, of course, that prayer is by no means a non-productive diversion; they will contend that prayer does influence outcomes. One recent study ­­ questionable at best, however ­­ suggests that the more people who pray for an outcome, the greater is the likelihood that this outcome will occur. This would seem to be a strange notion indeed, for it makes God seemingly indifferent to the prayers of single, individual humans, but easily swayed as the number of supplicant humans increases.

Despite such peculiarities of prayer, there is no lack of human beings who believe that they have a one-on-one relationship with a supreme being, and, that by praying, the future course of events can be altered. They judge this based on the fact that things generally work out for the best ­­ meaning then that life's positive outcomes must be the result of prayer.

But let's get real about this. No matter what happens in the external world, you can always turn the outcome into a positive, and humans generally do in an attempt to give meaning to their lives. Let me give an example to illustrate my point. Let's suppose that your best friend ­­ a young woman ­­ develops lung cancer, prays for help, and has everyone she knows pray for her:

1) If she is untreated and ends up cured, then "It's a miracle. Praised be God."

2) If she is treated and ends up cured, then ''God the Almighty has responded to her prayers and saved her" ­­ forget that the doctors had any part in it!

3) If she is treated and then lives another five years before succumbing, it is because God intervened and, in his unending mercy, gave her an additional five years of life.

4) If she is treated and dies immediately, then God, in his infinite wisdom, has spared her from further and unnecessary suffering.

5) If she is treated and dies a terrible, agonizing death, then it is because "God moves in mysterious ways" or "God was testing her faith" or "God never gives you more than you can handle." It's like playing a three shell game with a pea under every shell ­­ you can't lose! No matter what the outcome may be, it can always be made to look as  though God has intervened in answer to one's prayers ­­ even when the end result is the most atrocious outcome imaginable. When every possible outcome is allowed, however, God then simply becomes another word for fate.

So let the believers pray...

As for me, if I could make a prayer it would be the simple offering: "Let us pray less and do more."

MISSIONARY GROUP LINKED TO Billy GRAHAM'S SON RECEIVING U.S. AID   SUBSIDY, PROSELYTIZES NEEDY...

From the American Atheist Webpaper

of 5 March. (atheist.org)

Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief organization operated by Franklin Graham has received more than $200,000 in subsidies from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and engages in religious proselytizing directed at earthquake victims and other needy residents of El Salvador, according to a report in today's New York Times.

Graham is the son of prominent evangelist Billy Graham; and both men are close friends of President George W.  Bush.  Bush has created a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in order to fund religion based social programs.  Critics have charged, though,that the plan violates the separation of church and state, and that religious groups would tie the money to their sectarian mission of conversion and preaching.

Today's report confirms that, at least in the case of Samaritan's Purse, religious groups may find it difficult if not impossible to separate their  public funding from a faith-based mission. Dr.  Paul Chiles, director for Samaritan's Purse operations in El Salvador, told the Times that the charitable agency neither discriminates nor proselytizes aggressively.  He then cryptically added, "We are first a Christian organization and second an aid organization.  You can't really separate the two..."

According to the Times, needy victims of recent earthquakes in El Salvador were given religious tracts and asked to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.  AID recipients were also made to attend prayer meetings before Samaritan's Purse agents showed them how to construct temporary shelters with materials provided by the U.S.  government.

One villager told the paper, "They said a lot, but the principal thing was God and that earthly things do not matter."

Officials with the organization raised a point that could be a problem with subsequent funding, and efforts to subsidize faith-based social programs in the U.S.  Samaritan's Purse spokesmen said that they bring private resources to El Salvador as well, which according to the Times, they say "they may use in any manner."  They added that they do not demand religious belief or attendance at worship or Bible reading services as a condition for assistance; but the situation in El Salvador seems to contradict that claim.  Dr.  Chiles delivered another mixed message when he told the Times, "We definitely don't ever use the gifts that we bring as a means to change people.  We distribute to people in need.  At the same time, we bring the message of the Gospel."

"It may very well be that this is a very fuzzy area right now," said AID mission director Kenneth Ellis.  "I know our legal office in Washington is struggling with how do we deal (sic) with faith-based organizations."

The Times noted that officials at Agency for International Development have been "troubled" by the ambiguous situation with Samaritan's Purse.

Bible study, proselytizing and spreading the Christian gospel, though,seems central to the mission of Samaritan's Purse.  The group's webpage boasted that in one community where the charity provided supplies to needy people, 150 persons converted after seeing a movie about Jesus Christ.  Franklin Graham, head of the organization, said: "When we go into these villages and help people get back into their homes, we hope we'll be able to plant new churches all over this country."

The Times investigation noted, "Unlike other religiously affiliated relief groups, who try to team up with local groups expert in housing or community development, Samaritan's Purse has drawn volunteers from local evangelical congregations..."

The result has been that Graham's organization has "raised suspicion among many relief workers here, who noted that other religiously affiliated relief groups had spun off their relief work into separate entities that receiving federal financing."

Graham Linked To Covert Ops?

Franklin Graham and his organization have been involved in more questionable activities throughout Latin and Central America, though, notes sociologist Sara Diamond, author of the 1989 expose "Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right."

Samaritan's Purse was at the center of a bizarre scheme to transport and settle thousands of Laotian refugees left in the wake of the Vietnam war to a network of "Jonestown" style camps in Guyana.  The Laotian group was composed of Hmongs, who had been trained and deployed by the CIA and other covert ops programs in Southeast Asia. Leading the effort was a U.S.  embassy operative from Bangkok, and a handful of religion based "refugee aid" groups including Samaritan's Purse.  Graham attempted to enlist the United Nations in the project,and even approached then-President Forbes Burham of Guyana who had recently been converted to Christianity by the Latin America director of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International.

The plan collapsed when Hmong leaders pulled out at the behest of Laotian drug lord General Vang Po.

The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) provided seed money for many religious right outreaches, including Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, Paul Crouch's Trinity Broadcasting, and even Jim Bakker's defunct PTL or "Praise the Lord" media operation.  The organization began in 1952, founded by California businessmen Demos Shakarian, an Armenian immigrant who was "motivated by a vision of world-wide revival which he thought would herald the imminent return of Jesus Christ."  (Covert Action Bulletin, Spring, 1987).  The FGBMFI incorporated Pentecostal beliefs and rituals, including speaking in tongues (glossolalia), enthusiastic worship, and frenetic faith-healing.

The halcyon days for FGBMFI came during the Reagan administration, when many Washington insiders and political operatives flocked to the group.  Among them were James Watt, Secretary of the Interior and George Otis, a "full gospel" businessman with ties to the National Bible Association.  Otis subsidized Robertson projects in America and even the Middle East, including construction of a Christian radio propaganda station which worked closely with the fascist phalangist leader Major Sa'ad Haddad.  Other FGBMFI members were high up in the U.S.  military, and organized endless prayer meetings and prayer breakfasts, such as the one addressed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen.  John Vessey, in 1985.

The younger Graham has gradually stepped into his father's shoes as a leading religious figure catering to the politically powerful.  He gave the opening prayer at George W.  Bush's inaugural in January, and presided over a special ecumenical service afterwards at the National Cathedral.  He also makes the rounds at the various forums frequented by his famous father.  Franklin Graham has spoken at conventions of the National Religious Broadcasters, and the Moody Bible Institute's Founder's Week.  He has also been featured at baccalaureate services at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and at least one men's conference hosted by the religious right Promise Keepers.

Funding for international ministries?

Samaritan's Purse is one of numerous international Christian ministries which could benefit from a proposal made by Sen.  Jesse Helms, which would abolish the Agency for International Development and replace it with a quasi govern-mental board that would shift foreign assistance programs to private and religious groups.  Helms, head of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, floated the proposal in mid-January, and described the incoming administration of George W.  Bush as "an unprecedented opportunity."

Helms told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, "The time has come to reject what President Bush correctly labels the 'failed compassion of towering, distant bureaucracies' and, instead, empower private and faith-based groups who care most about those in need."

Helms seeks to replace the AID with an International Development Foundation which would allocate America's foreign aid funding to private and religious charities.  During his talk, he specifically mentioned Graham's Samaritan's Purse, along with Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and the Hadassah.  He also singled out Franklin Graham has giving him "a new zeal for helping the world's poor, particularly in Africa," observed the New York Times.

Today, the Times revealed that Helms is doing more than citing Graham's organization as a role-model for faith-based foreign aid. "Some American relief officials," noted the paper, "privately complain that members of Congress have put pressure on them to finance the group's (Samaritan's Purse) work, even though they have serious reservations about its proselytizing."

Phrases like "blurring the line" or "crossing the line" separating secular charity and religious preaching are often used to describe the Samaritan's Purse international outreach.  Graham took over the organization in 1979, following the death of its founder, Dr.  Bob Pierce.  It currently operates programs in a number of political hotspots, including Kosovo, Honduras, Bosnia, and the Sudan. Headquartered in North Carolina, Samaritan's Purse has an annual budget of nearly $100 million and 281 employees.

While the organization earns high marks for financial accountability and fund raising (which comprises only about 3% of its annual budget) others have expressed concern over its activities in the field, and tendency to blend charity and hard-shell Christianity.  One relief worker in El Salvador accused Graham's organization of "hitting these people when they are most vulnerable."

Ironically, one offended group is the Roman Catholic Church, which claims the allegiance of most citizens in El Salvador.  There, as throughout Latin America, the Vatican is being challenged in the "belief marketplace" by aggressive Protestant evangelicals, Mormons and new age cultists.  The Times noted: "In recent weeks, local (Catholic) clergy members said, relations between the two groups have again been rocky, because some local evangelical groups have conditioned aid on accepting their religion."

For further information:

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/church30.htm("Helms: religious groups should handle foreign aid money, programs,"1/15/01)

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/faith6.htm("Lieberman praises 'new spiritual awakening,' affirms support for faith-based legislation," 3/4/01)

EDITORIAL...

FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS

I have to laugh at the contortions backers of government aid to "faith based" organizations go to when the hard cases are bought up, that is if they are even willing to consider them.

The Post and Courier had an editorial (3/6) waxing wroth about the destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In it, they said, "The Taliban, which was once welcomed by Afghans because they seemed to personify religious faith and purity, has imposed a reign of terror." It does not occur to the editorial writer that the Taliban still personify religious faith and purity. Such qualities often go hand in hand with terrorist regimes.

I can see no way that the government can constitutionally give aid to religious (a more honest term than "faith based") organizations without having to give it to any such group that wants to run a drug rehab center, regardless of their views on anything else, including international terrorism. Otherwise, the government will be in the position of having to decide which religions are good and which are not. Cults are out, of course.

It reminds me of the old definition: What's the difference between a cult and a religion? Cults commit suicide; religions commit homicide.

Of course, the government is already in the business of choosing religions preferentially. The armed services do it all the time. They have detailed regulations about what groups get official sanction from the Chaplain Corps. Remember the flap our own Strom Thurmond raised a while back about Wiccan observances on various army posts, including SC's Fort Jackson.

I have a certificate saying I'm an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. The government will not allow me to claim equal status with the clergy of "mainstream" religions, saying the ULC is not a real religion, whatever that is.

I suspect that either aid to religious groups will never get out of the congress ­­ because the issues are unresolvable, or the issues will be finessed by leaving the regulations up to the executive branch. If that happens, we are in for a time of mischief and litigation. We may even get a few laughs from listening to tortured rationales in federalese. But let us hope it sinks of its own weight.

NATlONAL MOTTO...

Submitted by Ken Nahigian in the Jan 2001 issue of AOF News and Views, published by the Atheists and Other Freethinkers of Sacramento Calif.

(I recently saw a letter to a paper that stated that our founding fathers put the motto on our currency from day one. This article sets that straight. Ed.)

"In God We Trust" was not on our early currency. In fact it didn't appear until 1864, on the short-lived two cent coin, then later, starting in 1908, on other coinage and bills. Before that the official national motto, used on most money, was the highly secular E Pluribus Unum ("From many, one"). That other motto you see on the Great Seal, Novus Ordo Seclorum, might also translate as "A new secular order" or "New age of the world" (actually it is from Virgil).  Also  pretty  secular.   Charles  Thornson, secretary of the Continental Congress, designed it in 1782.

Why the change? lntense lobbying from a group called the National Reform Association, sort of the Christian Coalition of its day, that's why. Unhappy  with  a  secular  Constitution,  NRA members wanted to amend it to add a preamble declaring 'This is a Christian nation.  They failed. But the Secretary of the Treasury, Samuel P. Chase, was a sympathizer; he tossed them the new coinage motto apparently as a sort of bone.

Other statesmen of the day tolerated the motto with mild embarrassment, seeing it as a slightly vulgar if benign bit of religious jingoism, which is why it did not really stick. But sentiments change. A century later, political tensions between the Soviet and western blocs were being painted as a struggle between Christian civilization and godless communism. In 1956, near the height of the Cold War, Eisenhower signed a law making "In God We Trust" the new national motto. (Just two years earlier, Congress had inserted "Under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance.)

ECUMENICAL DOINGS...

Humor from SHL member Gill Krebs

During a recent ecumenical gathering, an athiest rushed in shouting, "The building is on fire!"

­­The METHODISTS gathered in the corner and prayed.

­­The BAPTISTS cried, "Where is the holy water?"

­­The QUAKERS quietly praised God for the blessings that fire brings.

­­The LUTHERANS posted a notice on the door declaring the fire was evil.

­­The ROMAN CATHOLICS passed the plate to cover the damage.

­­ The JEWS posted symbols on the doors hoping the fire would pass.

­­The CONGREGATIONALISTS shouted, "Every man for himself!"

­­The FUNDAMENTALISTS proclaimed, "It's the vengeance of God!"

­­The EPISCOPALIANS formed a procession and marched out.

­­The CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS concluded that there was no fire.

­­The PRESBYTERIANS appointed a chairperson who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and submit a written report.

And...

­­The athiest grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out.

INTO COLLECTIBLES? Check this out...

Sighted by Eric Peterson

http://www.blessings-catalog.com/schoolgirl1.html

QUOTES...

"With regard to heritics... they deserve to be separated from the church by excommunication, but also able to be separated from the world by death... for it is a much more serious matter to corrupt faith, though which comes the soul's life, than to forge money, through which temporal life is supported. Hence if forgeries of money  or other malefactors are straigtaway put to death by secular princes, with much more justice can heretics, immediately upon conviction,  be not only excommunicated but also put to death...

Nothing should be denied the blessed that belongs to the perfection of their  happiness. Now everything is known the more for being compared with its contrary.... therefore, in order that the saints may enjoy the beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly, they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell....

The saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked by considering therein the order of divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed, while the punishment of other damned will cause it indirectly....

Thomas Aquinas (Summa theologica,1272)

"Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

Albert Einstein

The Devil in the Machine...

Contributed by Fred Edwords to the Humanists of Iowa

Your computer may be possessed by a demon, a leading minister warns. "while the computer Age has ushered in many advances, it has also opened yet another door through which Lucifer and his minions can enter and corrupt men's souls," said the Reverend Jim Peasboro, author of an upcoming book, The Devil in the Machine.

Demons are able to possess anything with a brain, from a chicken to  a human being. And today's thinking machines have enough space on their hard drives to accommodate Satan or any of his pals. "Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit," the minister confirmed.

The Savannah clergyman says he became aware of the problem from counseling churchgoers. "I learned that many members of my congregation became in touch with a dark force whenever they used their computers," he said. "Decent, happily married family men were drawn irresistibly to pornographic websites and forced to witness unspeakable abominations.''


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