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Atheist Christmas carol: There's No Christmas in Hell

Sean sends us, "An atheist Christmas anthem, written by Pillow Army frontman Tim Franklin," and adds: "(Pillow Army opened for/played with Cory at a Seattle stop on a book tour a few years ago)."

They certainly did. Pillow Army has since become one of my favorite acts (check out Model Citizen from To Comfort And Destroy). Nice to see Tim rockin' for the holidays!

Tim Franklin - "There's No Christmas In Hell (And That's Why I'm So Sad)" (Thanks, Sean!)

Pope says atheists are OK with Jesus, so long as they "do good"

Yesterday's Papal homily, delivered by the Pope without notes after conducting Mass in his residence, included a story about a priest who told an atheist that he was redeemed by Jesus just as a Catholic would be, so long as the atheist "did good."

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Kickstarting Atheist Baby Shoes

David from Berlin's Atheist Shoe Company sends us, "a Kickstarter for Atheist Baby Shoes - super snuggly handmade shoes, the soles of which are screenprinted with homages to the only higher powers babies know... Our slightly peculiar video explains all - highlights are the 'Atheist Baby Experiment' at the 1:40 mark and the 'Booby' power-ballad at 5:37."

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How atheists find meaning and joy in nature

There doesn't have to be a pre-ordained meaning to the universe in order for it to mean something. That's one of the fun things about being human — we get to make meaning for ourselves. With that in mind, please read this lovely essay by Brian Switek about finding wonder and joy in the oft-denigrated idea of being "just" a product of time and chance. Maggie

Pope cool with atheists

Steve Anderson at The Independent:
Pope Francis has said that atheists should be seen as good people as long as they do good, in a move to urge people of all religions - or no religion at all - to get along.

Minneapolis SkepTech conference, coming April 5/6

Next week, I'll be speaking at the SkepTech Conference, a new gathering put together by University of Minnesota students. The lineup features some great folks from the science and skeptic communities, including bloggers PZ Myers and Hemant Mehta, and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. Registration is free. Come check it out! Maggie

Women in atheism: a tour through history

Here's an hour-long lecture and Q&A with Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The lecture recounts the long, honorable history of women in atheism, and explicitly connects feminism and freethought. It's a great tour through the history -- the often secret history -- of women who fought and gave all, risking persecution for speaking out against religion and for women's rights to control their destinies. The lecture was recorded at the Center for Inquiry's 2012 Women in Secularism Conference, and FFRF was founded by Gaylor and her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor.

CFI's Women in Secularism Conf. | Annie Laurie Gaylor: "The History of Women in Freethought" (via Skepchick)

Jar of American Gods


A Redditor posts photos of a jar of American gods, hole-punched out of the US dollar bills that an atheist friend receives as tips in his job as a valet.

My atheist friend has worked as a Valet for over a decade. He uses a hole-punch to take out the "god" on US dollars. Here is a picture of his collected "gods". (imgur.com)

How a US soldier finally got his Pastafarian dogtags


Justin Griffith, an atheist in the US military, tells the story of how he ended up with ATHEIST/FSM on his dogtags. It all started when he enlisted as an atheist, only to have his recruiter record his religion as "Baptist." Even switching recruiters didn't end up with the error corrected. At boot camp, recruits were only allowed one "holy book" from their stated religion, so he brought The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which became the most-loved book in camp, much-borrowed and re-read by the other recruits. Even his drill sergeant liked it. Kinda.

At one point my Drill Sergeant tried to take it away from me. He thought it was just some book that I smuggled in. Keep in mind that Drill Sergeants are professionally trained in the art of not laughing at anything (yelling and freaking out are more appropriate responses to most situations.)

Anyway, this is the gist of the conversation:

Drill Sergeant: “Private Griffith – is that some contraband?”
Me: “No, Drill Sergeant. It’s my holy book.“
Drill Sergeant: “Give that to me…” *Yoink!* “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? What the fuck?”
Me: ”I’m a Pastafarian, Drill Sergeant.”

[he shot me a look like he was t minus 5 seconds from throwing me into the Sun]

Drill Sergeant: “Are you fucking with me? Are you fucking with me at 0600, Private Griffith? Before I even get some goddamned breakfast?”

[I did my best to return the intensely humorless stone face.]

Me: “No, Drill Sergeant.”
Drill Sergeant: “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? I don’t fucking believe it!!!”
Me: “I believe it, Drill Sergeant.”
Drill Sergeant: “What the hell is wrong with you, warrior?”

[I went for broke]

Me: “Drill Sergeant, I’m afraid I can’t really talk to you about this any further unless I’m in my religious clothing. I need to be in full pirate regalia, or at the very least wearing an eye patch.”

….Then he just looked at me for about 30 seconds. Crickets. Time stopped… The other soldiers that were around were extremely scared of the coming mass punishment they imagined that I had surely just earned them.

Then he flipped through the book. He read a few sentences out loud. And then it happened.

He smiled.

Pastafarianism in the military (via JWZ)

Teen survivors of American religious brainwashing camps speak

On the off-chance that your blood is in need of boiling on this fine Sunday, I present a Reddit discussion started by a teen survivor of a religious brainwashing school that practiced "education" techniques (aimed at instilling religious belief) that included protracted solitary confinement, starvation, and physical punishment. The comments from fellow survivors only make it that much more infuriating.

These places exist IN AMERICA, they're completely legal, and they're only growing. It's the new solution for parents who have kids that don't conform blindly to their religious and political views, let me explain: After the initial shock of what I thought was a kidnapping, it was explained to me that my parents had arranged for me to attend Horizon Academy (http://www.horizonacademy.us/) because I admitted to them that I was atheist and didn't agree with a lot of their hateful views. Let me give you a detailed run-down of my experience here: To start off it's a boarding school where there is literally no communication with the outside world, the people who work here can do anything they want, and the students can do absolutely nothing about it. The basic idea is that you're not allowed to leave until you believably adopt their viewpoints and push them off on others. The minimum stay at these places is a year, an ENTIRE YEAR, that means no birthday, no christmas, no thanksgiving etc.; my stay lasted 2 years. The day to day functioning of this facility is based on a very strict set of rules and regulations: you eat what they give you, do what they tell you (often just pointless things just to brand mindless submission in your brain), and believe what they tell you to believe. Consequences for not adhering to these regulations include not eating for that day, being locked in small rooms for extended periods of time and the long term consequence of an extended stay. There's a lot more detail and intricacies I could get into, but my main purpose was to spread awareness to the only group of people I feel like could do something about this. Feel free to ask me anything about my stay, I could go on for days about some of the ridiculous things I went through.

In September 2009, after admitting to my parents that I was atheist, I was abruptly woken in the middle of the night by two strange men who subsequently threw me in a van and drove me 200 mi. to a facility that I would later find out serves the sole purpose of eliminating free thinking adolescents.

Black atheist group calls for ‘Day Of Solidarity’ during Black history month

[Video Link]

Members of the Black skeptics organization African Americans For Humanism (AAH) are planning events on Feb. 26 in six major U.S. cities, "targeting African-Americans who have privately or openly questioned their faith." The group holds religion responsible for “many of the problems plaguing the African American community” and promotes “rational and scientific methods of inquiry” that include “positive thinking, the sharing of ideas, and enlightened self-interest.”

Florida Atheists' Xmas ad campaign


After years of hearing the Christian right complain about the nonexistent "War on Christmas," the Florida chapter of American Atheists have decided to finally essay a skirmish. They'll be placing bus-ads in Florida this season advertising the fact that millions of Floridians are atheists and inviting atheists to attend their Ft Lauderdale convention Dec 18-19. I'm assuming that religious fundamentalists will oblige them by going crazy and make a huge stink, which'll ensure that the news of the convention is spread far and wide.

"Every year groups like The Catholic League and American Family Association told Americans about a war on Christmas that simply did not exist," American Atheists Communications Director Blair Scott says in the announcement. "Last year we thought we would give them what they seemed to want and fired the first shot in the war on Christmas. To both groups we say, 'Happy Holidays!'"

Atheist Group's New Florida Billboards About to Piss Off a Whole Bunch of Jesus Fans

Stephen Fry debating Ann Widdecombe on the worth of the Catholic Church

Here's a fascinating ten-minute animation to accompany audio from a debate between Stephen Fry and Ann Widdecombe, a UK Tory politician turned novelist. They're debating the motion, "The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world" (Widdecombe is a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism), and Fry is both charming and relentless, and scores some incredible points. If you like rhetoric, atheism debates, philosophy and animation, this is ten minutes very well-spent.

iq2 Shorts - Stephen Fry vs Ann Widdecombe: Catholic Church Debate (Thanks, Chippy!)