I had an encounter with a Mormon using the name “Hero Spector” on another blog recently. The results were quite amusing. Continue reading
Imagine my shock at the sheer stupidity and arrogance of this group of radical “Christians”:
On the weekend of Black Friday, a group of three people emptied a calendar stand of its entire stock of sexist and objectifying products.
Every day on the way to work, we had to walk by this kiosk. Each passing encounter forced a specific sexuality and beauty standard upon us, and we couldn’t take it anymore. We were sick of being told that our worth is equivalent to what aesthetic pleasure our bodies can afford someone else (typically a man).
If your environment disturbs you, disturb it.
Or even better, disturb it with your friends. Together, we formulated a plan and decided upon roles that we were all comfortable with: the distraction, the bagger, and the lookout. The area was scoped out beforehand for cameras, number of employees, and general foot traffic, and escape routes were elaborated. We created placards with anti-sexist rhetoric to replace the calendars, being cautious to touch them only with gloves on.
The distraction pretended to shop until the other two entered separately, and then began to engage the sole employee in conversation. The bagger stashed the product in a trash bag, while the lookout stood beside watching for passersby and police. After the product had been replaced with the placards, the bagger took the trash out through a side door, appearing as a mall employee. Once sure the bagger hadn’t been followed, the lookout exited and headed to the meetup spot. The distraction ended the conversation with the employee and walked away without incident. We all left laughing.
A big part of any action is strengthening bonds of trust with those whom you already know and love. We invite you to disturb your own environments, with these suggestions:
- Always use gloves for everything you handle (no fingerprints)
- Make sure you have enough bags/baggers (we had to make several trips, and the employee at your kiosk may not be so inattentive)
- Wear a very different change of clothes underneath your outfit–if followed, you can hide and remove the outer clothing.
- Wear something to obscure your face from cameras and passersby (if a hat, look down at the ground while passing a camera)
Be cautious, but don’t be paranoid. This was (and should be) easy and fun!
I would have expected this sort of crap from a group of radical atheists and feminists, not Christians! But then again, we do have Christian bigots that have murdered abortion doctors too, even though the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill.”
If these people were at all sincere, they would have destroyed the calendars in front of the store employees and customers and allowed themselves to be arrested and proceed afterwards to take a stand for their cause in court. Instead, they are just cowards, thieves and self-righteous @$$holes. In any case, I would put them in jail for a long time and/or fine them thousands of dollars!
It is no secret that the Unitarian and Universalist movements, which have merged in the United States into the Unitarian Universalist Association, had their origins in Christianity. Therefore, people who are inclined to reject Christianity will often reject the UUA too, without considering that non-Christians have been welcome in it since it was founded in 1961. Continue reading
Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:
Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading
P Z Myers wrote an essay for the Washington Post that reads as follows:
Atheism is the default position. You don’t have to do anything to be an atheist, but you have to work awfully hard to not be one…..
I consider this to be a falsehood, based on my own personal experience. I was raised in a conservative Protestant family, so I naturally adopted the basic Christian beliefs of my parents and other relatives. It required no work at all to simply believe in God and to accept the Bible as the Word of God. So for me, evangelical Protestantism WAS the default position; it was not until I was attending college that I decided to stop believing in God and it was at the end of a long internal struggle that involved some emotional wrangling that I never would have experienced had I simply chosen to ignore the contradictions I had discovered and remain a Christian. Thus I had to work very hard to deprogram myself and think freely from the dogmas of any religion. And I had to undergo this process TWICE, since I later was seduced to join the Baha’i Faith and then deprogram myself from that as well.
From a universal perspective, there cannot be a default position on religion, politics, or any other subject involving dogmas (and yes, atheism is properly classed as a dogma). There are only defaults with regards to family upbringings. The only way atheism can be a default position is if a child is raised in a family of atheists.
The Creation Museum may be declining, but as long as it turns even a slight profit, the Creationist bigots will keep it running for many years to come.
- Creation Museum adds zip-line course? (wcpo.com)
- Kentucky State Representatives Visit the Creation Museum (patheos.com)
- Facing declining ticket sales, Creation Museum opens zip-lining facility and other godly attractions (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Creation Museum Determines That 81% of Ticket Buyers Only There to Mock (freewoodpost.com)
- Creation Museum adds zip lines to help visitors sail over logic and whiz past critical thought [Spiffy] (fark.com)
Originally posted on The Skeptical Teacher:
[**Update (6-25-13): It seems this blog post has come to the attention of none other than Ken Ham himself, who runs the Creation Museum. If you are interested, you can read his response on his Facebook page.]
In an interesting, though not very surprising, development, it seems the Creation Museum in Kentucky is running out of money. And it seems the problem is that, like creationism itself, there is nothing new or different about the exhibits at this “museum”. The irony is that Ken Ham and other creationists claim the Creation Museum is doing scientific work which proves creationism to be true, yet since the place opened 5 years ago nothing has changed and no new “creation science” research has appeared.
No actual scientific research, but your kids can “ride a dinosaur” just like Fred Flintstone did! No wonder these morons are going out of business. Image source
Someone made a comment below one of my oldest blog entries here and it ended up in my spam folder. I not only pulled it out of that folder and approved it, I wish to respond directly to it here to make sure that it gets maximum exposure, because I found it to be sheer nonsense! The original parts of the statement will be in red italics and my responses will be in green bold.
Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:
We want religious believers to police their own.
We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.
So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?
I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.
I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.
And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.
And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.
Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.
So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.
Let us turn to this instead:
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.
We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.
As an Honorable Skeptic, one of my basic values is Truth in Advertising, the idea that what you see from any organization is exactly what you should expect and nothing else whatsoever. So I was offended by this website after hearing about it from a friend:
……neither should Pakistan. BOTH states were founded after World War II by followers of a specific religion who wanted to establish a society in which that religion would dominate it. Pakistan excluded Hindus and remains a hotbed of Muslim extremism to this day (which is why it was stupid for President Bush Jr. to accept Pakistan as an ally in his “War on Terrorism”, when in fact Osama Bin Ladin was hiding out in Pakistan for years until President Obama finally had him killed). And Israel continues to violate the rights of Palestinians by building and keeping Jewish settlements on the West Bank, thus stealing land the United Nations said was not theirs in 1947. Yet the United States also continues to support Israel, no matter what. Why is Jewish extremism more acceptable than Muslim extremism? Either accept both and the states made from them or condemn both and the states made from them. Not only one or the other, unless you are a religious bigot.
This understanding came to me after reading this:
While other countries are “Muslim” or “Islamic” because they just so happen to have a large Muslim population, Pakistan was founded by Muslims as a Muslim country in rather deliberate fashion.
Likewise, Israel was founded by Jews as a Jewish country in rather deliberate fashion. If one is illegitimate, so is the other. Can you discuss this too?
That isn’t at all part of my focus or within my scope as a blogger. There are plenty of critics of Israel and Zionism who can speak to such matters better than I can.
I understand. My actual point is that I know of no anti-Zionists that also attack Pakistan for its existence as a Muslim state founded to separate its people from mostly Hindu India. Proving that they are more biased towards Islam and against Jews than any just person should be.
As an non-theist, I’m one of those “a plague on both your houses” people that gets it from both sides.
At least if there is a hell, there should be a place in it for frauds like this guy:
Duane T. Gish dies
- March 6th, 2013
The young-earth creationist Duane T. Gish died on March 5, 2013, at the age of 92, according to Answers in Genesis’s obituary. Born on February 17, 1921, in White City, Kansas, he served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1946 in the Pacific Theater of Operations, attaining the rank of captain. He earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1949, and then a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1953. After a stint as a postdoctoral fellow and then assistant professor of biochemistry at Cornell University Medical College, he returned as a researcher to the University of California, Berkeley, from 1956 to 1960, before joining the Upjohn Company as a researcher from 1960 to 1971. In 1971, he became the vice president of the Institute for Creation Research, founded in 1970 by Henry Morris. In 2005, Gish retired, becoming the ICR’s Senior Vice President Emeritus. A prolific writer, his most famous book was Evolution: The Fossils Say No! (Master Books, 1973), entitled in later editions Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record (Master Books, 1985) and Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! (Master Books, 1995). His most recent book was Letter to a Theistic Evolutionist (ICON, 2012).
But Gish was famous, or notorious, principally on account of his debates with scientists, including such opponents as George Bakken, Kenneth R. Miller, Massimo Pigliucci, Kenneth Saladin, Michael Shermer, and William Thwaites. “If the mild-mannered professorial Morris was the Darwin of the creationist movement,” wrote Ronald L. Numbers in The Creationists (2006), “then the bumptious Gish was its T. H. Huxley.” Gish boasted of having engaged in over three hundred debates. He was certainly a lively debater, whose style involved a rapid delivery of arguments on widely varying topics; his debate style was dubbed the “Gish Gallop” by NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott in 1994. But scientists quickly concluded — in the words of Karl Fezer, writing (PDF) in 1993 — that “Gish will say, with rhetorical flourish and dramatic emphasis, whatever he thinks will serve to maintain, in the minds of his uncritical followers, his image as a knowledgeable ‘creation scientist.’ An essential component is to lard his remarks with technical detail; whether that detail is accurate or relevant or based on unambiguous evidence is of no concern. When confronted with evidence of his own error, he resorts to diversionary tactics and outright denial.”
Creationism, especially the Bible based kind, never had any legitimacy. To understand why, just read this.
A pregnant woman was fired for premarital sex, according to a lawsuit she filed that claims wrongful termination.
The woman, Teri James, was a teacher at San Diego Christian College when she was called into her supervisor’s office in October.
Her supervisor got straight to the point when she asked if James was pregnant, reports TODAY. James, unmarried at the time, confirmed the news.
The admission was a violation of the school’s rules, according to the lawsuit filed by James in San Diego County superior court. She explained in the lawsuit that the termination letter included:
“Teri engaged in activity outside the scope of the Handbook and Community Covenant that does not build up the college’s mission.”
James added that her then-fiance was offered a job by the school, even though they knew he engaged in premarital sex. James added of the meeting where she was fired:
“I had to leave right after the meeting. I had to go into the office with all of my co-workers and say I’m leaving. I never came back so I don’t know what my co-workers thought, but for me, it was humiliating.”
ABC Local notes that Teri James isn’t suing to get her job back. Instead, she is suing for damages because of wrongful termination and invasion of privacy.
The school’s community covenant states that Biblical character is highly valued and desire. It also states that the school frowns on sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, though it doesn’t say what the consequence would be for a violation. Teri James added of her termination:
“San Diego Christian College did not show any mercy or grace towards me, and acted completely un-Christ-like. They made more of a business decision than showing God’s love.”
James’ attorney, Gloria Allred, added that the college, while a Christian school, still has to “comply with the laws of the state of California.” This means they cannot discriminate against an employee based on gender, marital status, or pregnancy.
Do you think the college was right to fire Teri James for having premarital sex?
Even Jesus was quoted as saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Clearly, those Christian schools and their “Biblical” values are a load of crap!
Opposing Views is a website that generally presents different opinions on various topics and allows its users to debate then freely. So it was a surprise to see the Creationist propaganda mill known as Answers in Genesis publish this rank nonsense for all to see on that site:
The Book of Job is one of those Bible works that clearly served a theological purpose: solving the problem of evil. Ancient Hebrews assumed that the universe was created by an all-powerful and intelligent deity who also gave laws to govern the lives of his Chosen People. But this created a dilemma: how could an all-powerful God allow for evil in his own creation? The Book of Job attempts to address this issue, but does so in a sloppy manner that really does not give any genuine answers.
A preacher actually went before a city council to argue about gay rights legislation being proposed and debated there. Look at what he ended up doing!
Such a stunt never would have occurred to me…..but I’m not a preacher.
First, read what Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, wrote about Bill Nye, the Science Guy:
First, the AP article quotes Nye as saying the following:
If we raise a generation of students who don’t believe in the process of science, who think everything that we’ve come to know about nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text, you’re not going to continue to innovate.
So, here is my challenge (one that I gave to the reporter a few times). I want Bill Nye to name one invention—one piece of technology—that would not have been able to be invented without the inventor believing in evolution. Just name one!
But Nye said nothing specific about man-made technology or invention relating to evolution in his quote, did he? I looked up the word “innovate” in an online dictionary.
transitive verb1: to introduce as or as if new2archaic : to effect a change in <the dictates of my father were … not to be altered, innovated, or even discussed — Sir Walter Scott>intransitive verb: to make changes : do something in a new way
There are many ways to innovate, but the surest way to do so is to have a mind unfettered by dogma of any kind. Thus anything that limits free thinking limits innovation. It’s not just about Bible based religions. Communist states in the 20th Century also limited innovation and interfered directly with scientific advancement if it seemed to contradict Marxist dogmas.
Ken Ham continues:
Usually, when I have challenged an evolutionist to come up with one example of something invented for mankind that would not be possible without accepting evolution, I get the following response: “Understanding resistance in bacteria and thus being able to invent drugs.”
But as we have written on our website many times before, antibiotic resistance has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution. Whether one is an evolutionist or a creationist, a researcher can observe the resistance and even understand issues of mutations and other things that can cause the resistance. Such research is dealing with observational science.
The bastard just does not get it, does he? Bill Nye was not merely talking about defending evolution, opposing Creationism, or even rejecting religious dogmas of any kind. He was talking about the dogmatic, bigoted thinking at the very root of Creationist and fundamentalist views.
antibiotic resistance has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution.
Perhaps, but what about all those Bible verses that depict people as being demon possessed, when they could have merely suffered from mental diseases? Had we never looked harder at such people in the real world we all live in, we might not have found ways to treat brain disorders and we would still be in fear of demons. Indeed, we have found no evidence of demons, but we have clear evidence of mental disorders and have used science, with its INNOVATIVE thinking, to enable people with these disorders to enjoy productive lives. THAT is what Nye could have been talking about!
Screw you and your (bowel) movement, Ham! Your challenge is bogus!
- Ken Ham: Still Ranting About Bill Nye (sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com)
- Ken Ham Challenges Bill Nye to a Debate (patheos.com)
- Ken Ham Wants To Debate Bill Nye (sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com)
- Bill Nye the Humanist Guy vs. Ken Ham the Creationist Man (marccortez.com)
- Ken Ham is an unreliable guide [Thoughts from Kansas] (scienceblogs.com)
This has to be one of the most pathetic criticisms of the Atheist community I’ve ever seen. If it had been written by a Christian attacking Atheists, it could not have been worse.
Atheism is too often expensive.
Where are the picnics and hikes and movie screenings? We know that the demographics of the movement are diverse, and, therefore, it’s likely that the needs of the individuals are quite varied as well… so why is raising awareness about the historicity of Jesus (usually a ticketed event) always more important than delivering casseroles to the non-theist first-time parents? Where are the low-cost, easy-access events that tie us together as people, simply for us to get to know one another and organically create support networks?
We talk an awful big game about Christianity in particular, but ultimately religions have cornered the market on human emotional connection, and so far it seems that the atheist movement is content to ignore it altogether. A major reason it’s hard to leave the church is because of the wealth of social and emotional support you must leave behind. Learning about evolution and archeology are awesome, mind-opening opportunities that are great for everyone, but a lecture about evolution won’t pick your kids up from practice if your car breaks down. Or take you out for coffee if you’re having a rough week. Or play a pickup game of raquetball. Or come to your open mic night. Or whatever it is that you do. And the connections that make those interactions possible aren’t easy to create when you don’t have the money to join in.
I then commented there:
Indeed, that link should give a great solution to Amanda’s problem:
Atheism and Agnosticism: Theological Diversity in Unitarian Universalism
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.
Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.
Another non-theistic tradition is Humanism, which focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior.
Unless, of course, she is too bigoted to fellowship with anyone who is not an atheist. And that would only draw my contempt.
Is that a mosquito I hear?
I was disgusted to read this:
Chick-fil-A president slams gay marriage
The president of Chick-fil-A, the fast food chain with more than 1,600 restaurants and $4 billion in revenue, has come out against same-sex marriage.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Dan Cathy, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in a recent radio interview. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
In an interview with the Baptist Press published this week, Cathy doubled down on his stance against same-sex unions.
“Guilty as charged,” Cathy said. “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
“We know that it might not be popular with everyone,” he added, “but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
The company, founded by Dan’s father, Truett Cathy, in 1946, has a history of “unapologetic social conservatism,” as the Daily Caller put it. All 1,608 of its stores are closed on Sundays, a day of rest for most Christians.
According to Queerty.com, the WinShape Foundation—Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm—donated more than $1.1 million between 2003 and 2008 to anti-LGBT groups, doubling that amount to $2 million in 2009.
Earlier this year, students at Northeastern University protested a proposal to put a Chick-fil-A on its Boston campus because of the company’s history of supporting anti-gay organizations. The school abandoned its plan.
I have been eating that restaurant chain’s food products for many years, and I love them, but I cannot accept this expression of homophobia and religious bigotry. So as a matter of principle, I am calling for a boycott of this company by all those who support gay marriage.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’”
What arrogance! Assuming that there is a God, that this God is that of the Bible, and that this God of the Bible is still against gay marriage because of statements made in his name thousands of years ago is the height of hubris, not skeptics like me casting doubt on all three claims, which are empirically UNFOUNDED. And being willing to alienate a large portion of your customer base because of unfounded claims is stupid!
This is the website for Chick-Fil-A: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Home
The company’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ChickfilA
And the company’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/chickfila
And a webpage to make comments directly to the company: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Connect/Contact-Us-CARES
- Ed Helms — I Won’t Eat at Chick-fil-A … ‘Cause It’s Anti-Gay (tmz.com)
- It is time to boycott Chick-fil-A (rhymeetreason.com)
- Chick-fil-A president says company opposes gay marriage (ajc.com)
- Chick-Fil-A’s anti-gay stance sparks online outrage (with poll) (vancouversun.com)
The Baha’i Faith claims to support the ideal of equality of men and women as a basic teaching. Equality implies that members of both genders, all else being the same, have the exact same rights and opportunities in society. Continue reading
Rebecca Watson just reported on a supposedly “moderate Theist”, named Stan, who criticized her attacks on Helen Ukpabio, a self-professed “witch-hunter” and Christian fanatic in Nigeria.
Here is the message he sent her:
Subject: Moving beyond Skepticism toward agendas
Message: Thank you guys/gals for years of entertainment, lessons regarding logical fallicies, interesting interviews, laughs and the ‘how-to’ in approaching a supposed “science-based” essay.
I continue to download your podcast weekly, though lately I find myself only to listen briefly to your science news, check who may be interviewed and skip to ‘Science or Fiction.’
Over these years (in MY subjective estimation) you have continued to drift toward an ‘agenda-based’ position forwarding not only skeptical thinking but actively pushing atheism.
It’s no longer limited to Rebecca’s consistant slam on organized religion, but seems woven through most your dialogues whenever the subject arises.
OK, example please! Late examples would be the story of a supposed Christian lady leader in Africa killing witches (the one coming or who came to Houston, TX). These acts of this organization in Africa are terrible. And so, you blame it on the religious group(s) for allowing or supporting this. In the same vein, let’s poke at the religious for our history segment on burning witches at the stake (last week). Skeptically, I think the anthropologists would look more at the local government structures at the time to be the culprit; but, religion is an easy target for you.
I wondered today, that say a man entered a local bank, loudly declared himself to be an athiest and proceeded to rob the bank at gunpoint, how you would spin it on SGU.
By what I see as of late, I think you would not deem it noteworthy, since 1) It’s not a topic driven by my afore mentioned agenda; 2) You wouldn’t accept that he was an athiest just by his declaration; and 3) You would NEVER associate his atheism (if he was) to this disassociative act.
If the last two reasons above seem sensible to you, why not apply that with inflamed news that includes religions?
I don’t think you can defend the position that you do give religious news the ‘fair skeptical look,’… and thus my first point (not your agenda) has grounds.
Though I may slowly drift from your podcast, I do thank you greatly for your lessons, and for introducing me to various energized skeptics across the globe who can keep focused on the “Science” and fair “Skepticism,” not focusing on groups to slam in order to feel good or more right.
I absolutely hate when people write like this. It is so intellectually dishonest!
Fighting bigotry is not about promoting the atheist agenda. Unless and until the speaker in the podcast is explicitly stating he wants to promote atheism, any such assumption from Theists should be considered an outright lie!
Indeed, I consider the writer above to be a backstabber. As the saying goes, it is not so much the evil doers that are the scourge of the world as much as the supposedly good people who do nothing….including Christians who ignore or make excuses for the extremists amongst themselves. Stan is an idiot.
Rebecca answered him as follows:
I don’t understand the complaint at all. Helen Ukpabio founded an evangelical Christian ministry based upon her interpretation of the Bible. She preaches to congregations around the world about witches, telling them that God hates these children and demands that they be cured or murdered.
Why on earth would we discuss that without mentioning religion? She is literally using religious belief to convince people to murder children. We never said that this is what all Christians do. We never even said that this is what all Christians believe or support. So what did we say that was incorrect?
When Stan did not give a straight reply to her, she sent another message:
Apparently I don’t merit a direct response, but I’ll try once more, anyway. Witches are paranormal creatures that do not exist. Our podcast is called “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.” Skeptics often rationally discuss the paranormal.
Now, I’m very curious: please explain why we should not have covered the Helen Ukpabio witch-hunter story.
The answer, quite simply, is that the Bible itself condones and even commands the sort of brutal stunts against women and children who are labled “witches” that Ukpabio calls for. And Stan must know that.
This whole issue would not exist if Christian leaders would stop lying about the Bible itself and how it was made.
There is nothing moderate about asserting as fact what is actually a falsehood. Not in politics nor in religion!
You can be a theist without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. You can even be a Christian without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. In short, you can be a Christian without believing in any lies. Try it sometime!
First, look at this:
Are all Christian schools this bigoted? Appearantly!
Former coach of the year fired from Christian school for out-of-wedlock pregnancy
In an incredibly bizarre situation that appears headed for a legal challenge, a Dallas-area volleyball coach and science teacher was fired by the Christian school at which she worked for becoming pregnant before being married.
As first reported by Dallas Fort Worth network WFAA, Rockwall (Texas) Heritage Christian Academy volleyball coach and science teacher Cathy Samford was fired during the fall semester after she became pregnant out of wedlock. Samford had led the volleyball program for three years and had been named the school’s coach of the year once during that span.
Still, that couldn’t help save her job when she first admitted her pregnancy during the fall semester, with the school terminating her based on a violation of her contract’s morals clause because it was determined her pregnancy meant she could not serve as “a Christian role model.”
“I looked it up and thought, ‘They can’t do this,’” the 29-year-old Samford told WFAA. “We all have different views and interpretations. It’s not necessarily the Christian thing to do to throw somebody aside because of those.”
While Samford and her lawyer, Colin Walsh, are working toward filing a discrimination suit against the school, their case may be complicated by the fact that Heritage Christian Academy is a private school, and recent Supreme Court decisions have defended the right of Christian schools to exert more influence on their hirings and firings because they consider teachers to be “ministers in the classroom.”
“The Supreme Court, as a matter of fact in the last month, has ruled 9-to-0 that a Christian school does have that right, because this is a ministry, so we have the right to have standards of conduct,” Heritage Christian Academy headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor, who acknowledged that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had contacted the school, told WFAA. “How’s it going to look to a little fourth-grade girl that sees she’s pregnant and she’s not married?”
While the two parties attempted mediation, those efforts failed quickly because the school refused to consider a settlement for the case.
That has left Samford uninsured and in financial distress as she heads towards giving birth, a situation she never considered possible when she was a proud member of Heritage Christian Academy’s faculty.
Would it have been better if this teacher and coach had chosen abortion to hide that she was ever pregnant? According to traditional Christian morals, isn’t having an abortion even worse than having the baby out of wedlock? And have any men been fired for getting a woman pregnant out of wedlock? I’ve never heard of that happening!
This is why I will never teach at or send any children I have to such a school….most of them seem to be run by sexist hypocrites! This is not about enforcing morals, this is about a school trying to save money by denying an insurance claim, something you would expect only from corrupt private businesses! And even if having a baby out of wedlock is considered immoral, the BABY should not be punished for her parents’ mistakes!
Mitt Romney is shaping up to be the Republican front-runner for President. By all accounts and
appearances, he should be the ideal President candidate for conservatives: he is a successful businessman, he managed the state of Massachusetts as governor according to consistent conservative principles, and he even managed the Salt Lake City winter Olympics, making it a huge success.
There’s just one problem: he is a Mormon. And for members of the Religious Right, which is dominated by orthodox Christians, that can be a stumbling block. Of course, it would have been better for the credibility of the conservatives if they had never included the Religious Right; using religious matters to judge people and policies in our government violates the spirit if not the letter of church-state separation.
When I was a Baptist, there was a film shown at my church titled “The God Makers” which depicted Mormonism as a cult infested with pagan elements. This is ironic; Jews could say similar things about Christianity itself. Today, having rejected Christianity, I find those arguments about Mormonism pointless, but I do have my own reasons to oppose any political influence the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may have:
Racism, homophobia, and whatever other forms of bigotry the Mormon Church may endorse should be eradicated from secular politics in America. Nobody who would take the Book of Mormon seriously as scripture should be trusted to run the world’s most powerful democracy. We should have some standards for truth, logic, and ethics from our leaders. Thus, I will never vote for a Mormon for President, even if he was not a Republican.
In August of this year, I was looking into Facebook like I did almost every day, and I saw this ad that said “World of Warcraft – Free to play up to level 20″. Up until this time, I’d had no interest in any MMO games, thinking they were just for teens. I’d read about Everquest, but my reluctance to pay for games like that made me miss out on what could have been some great experiences.
Prior to seeing that ad, I saw these videos:
Even though World of Warcraft was never mentioned, they sparked my interest in the game. The Facebook ad only pushed me to take the plunge I otherwise never would have.
Once I was in the game, I proceeded to experiment with different races and classes of characters, but the one I came to love playing with the most was a Gnome warrior I named Bichorak.
Then in October, I paid for an upgrade to the game and played it more than ever. The limited exposure to the game from the trial account had only made me eagar to get more from it.
Some critical thoughts on the game and concepts related to it:
- This game IS addictive, but so can anything be that triggers pleasure to the body and mind, so to be consistent we would have to ban literally everything, including things that are essential to life, like sex and food. The “Drug Wars” waged by law enforcement over several decades have been a total waste of time, money, and lives and should be ended. Possession and use of a substance shouldn’t be banned; only if its use actually leads to harm of another person should legal action be taken.
- At first glance, the game seems to be all about violence and hatred between races. But in fact the actual theme of the World of Warcraft storylines is redemption from the mistakes of the past. ALL races have potential for both good and evil.
- Likewise, there is no point to stereotyping game players. I met some sweet people there who were very helpful to me, often asking nothing in return. And I also met some real jerks too. Inspired by the help I got as a new player, I in turn began helping others that were of lower levels once I reached the higher levels with my main character.
- Children who play the game soon learn the value of discipline, cooperation, and following orders. While playing solo is perfectly doable, the greatest rewards are for those who are willing to join groups and fight in dungeons, which provide richer loot and experience.
- Nothing lasts forever. A decade ago, Everquest was the greatest MMO ever. But it was overthrown by World of Warcraft, which is very simular in concept to Everquest. Perhaps a decade from now, something will overthrow WoW.
- The storylines of WoW are as rich and compelling as those of any other mythology….including those of the ancient Greeks and of modern religions like Judaism and Christianity. I can’t help but wonder if most of the stories in the Bible began merely as tales told for entertaiment, but hundreds of years later were mistaken for literal truth.
- Why do you have to pay in World of Warcraft (wiki.answers.com)
I’ve not been blogging much lately, mainly because I’ve been spending much of my free time since April (1) looking for a job and (2) playing World of Warcraft. A blog entry about World of Warcraft will be produced later, but other issues must be dealt with first.
First, read this article:
Cain says God persuaded him to run for president
ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Herman Cain said God convinced him to enter the race for president, comparing himself to Moses: “‘You’ve got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’”
The Georgia business executive played up his faith Saturday after battling sexual harassment allegations for two weeks, trying to shift the conversation to religion, an issue vital to conservative Republicans, especially in the South.
In a speech Saturday to a national meeting of young Republicans, Cain said the Lord persuaded him after much prayer.
“That’s when I prayed and prayed and prayed. I’m a man of faith — I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I’ve ever done before in my life,” Cain said. “And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses. ‘You’ve got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’”
Once he made the decision, Cain said, he did not look back.
Four women have now accused Cain of sexually harassing them when he led the National Restaurant Association more than a decade ago. Cain, who has denied wrongdoing, was silent about the allegations and did not take reporters’ questions.
Cain isn’t the first to say God prodded him toward a campaign. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, has said she felt God was speaking to her about the race, adding that her husband needed to see a “burning bush,” a Biblical reference to God’s first appearance to Moses.
During his speech, Cain also criticized President Barack Obama for canceling the space shuttle program — a decision actually made by President George W. Bush — as NASA shifts its focus on travel farther from Earth’s orbit.
“I can tell you that as president of the United States, we are not going to bum a ride to outer space with Russia,” Cain said to loud applause. “We’re going to regain our rightful place in terms of technology, space technology.”
Cain was talking about U.S. plans, now that the space shuttle is retired, to use Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station. In the meantime, NASA is focused on explorations deeper in space.
It was Bush who decided in 2004 to retire the space shuttle program. The Republican president still supported sending astronauts to the moon and Mars.
Obama, once in office, dropped the goal of a moon mission. Instead, NASA has plans to build a giant rocket capable of sending astronauts to an asteroid and eventually Mars. It wants to outsource to private companies the task of ferrying astronauts and cargo to the space station — a job previously performed by the space shuttle.
Until private companies are ready, NASA will keep buying seats on Russian Soyuz capsules to get astronauts to the space station. The cost per person to fly on a Soyuz is expected to rise from $56 million to $63 million, which is still cheaper than flying on the shuttle.
Cain spoke in advance of a Republican debate Saturday in South Carolina focused on foreign policy.
Cain is an idiot! If he thinks dragging God into his campaign is going to save it after being accused of sexual misconduct, he should talk to some Catholic priests who have been convicted of sexually abusing children. Not to mention getting a basic fact about the Space Shuttle cancellation wrong!
And while you can criticize those women for not revealing their claims until after Cain began running for President, the simple fact that Cain took such desperate measures to do damage control shows he is losing credibility with all but the most delusional religious bigots.
And why is there so much media hype about Herman Cain anyway? I think just because he is a Black Republican. Indeed, it seems the Republicans have been struggling ever since Obama became President to project the image of rejecting racism. But combating racism is more than just having a few token black people in your party; it’s about really doing what’s best for both black and while people in general. That the Republicans have not been doing.
I remember when George Bush Sr was President and he said he was against racial quotas for helping more black people get jobs and education. But he proved to be a total hypocrite when the venerable Thurgood Marshall, who had been a prominent civil rights activist in the 1960s and later a Supreme Court Justice, retired from the bench. Bush Sr then appointed to replace Marshall with…..another black man, Clarence Thomas. And then there was the uproar over Anita Hill and her accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas. Despite this, Thomas got on the court and has been a consistently conservative justice ever since, just as the Republicans wanted.
Being black means absolutely nothing if you are selling out and backstabbing most of your own race to get yourself ahead, that’s for sure!
With Barack Obama, the first black man to become President of the USA, the Republicans countered by electing Micheal Steele, another black man, as Republican National Committee Chairperson. But Steele proved to be so incompetent and controversial that he was replaced this year by a white man, Reince Priebus. Steele later made appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show of MSNBC as a political commentator. Poor fellow!
This nonsense has to stop. It is only tolerated because so many people are too ignorant to understand how stupid it is.
Unitarian Universalists have recently started an effort to engage in the sort of civil disobedience that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr and his followers did in the 1950s and 60s, and Mohandas Ghandi did in India a generation earlier.
Utah UU convicted for environmental activism
Federal jury faults Tim DeChristopher for blocking auction of oil and gases leases.
By Donald E. Skinner
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, a member of First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, was convicted Thursday of two felony counts of disrupting a federal auction of oil and gas leases more than two years ago. He faces up to ten years in prison.
DeChristopher made false bids of close to $1.8 million for more than a dozen properties in Utah during a Dec. 19, 2008, Bureau of Land Management auction, in an effort to block development near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and bring attention to the global climate crisis.
The jury deliberated nearly five hours after the four-day trial. Sentencing is scheduled for June. Prosecutors said in a news conference they would not seek the maximum penalty.
DeChristopher’s supporters on Thursday worked to put the best possible face on the verdict. “This is a beginning, not the end,” said Joan Gregory, First Unitarian’s Environmental Ministry coordinator. “We are looking at this as a turning point in the fight for climate justice. This verdict will not stop us.”
After the verdict, DeChristopher told his supporters, “We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know now that’s the reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. And many before me have gone to jail . . . If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well.”
Said Gregory, “What Tim wants, what we all want, is for everyone, wherever they live, to feel the urgency and be empowered by Tim’s actions and take actions in their own communities. This may have been a guilty verdict, but we have a very positive message to send out into the world. We need to take responsibility for change.”
And it’s not just a few of the rank and file members doing this!
UUA President Responds to Sentence in Arizona Protest Trial
August 23, 2011
(Boston, MA) The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was convicted August 5, 2011, on misdemeanor charges stemming from his nonviolent civil disobedience in Phoenix, Ariz., in July 2011.
Rev. Morales was arrested while protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Today, August 23, 2011, his sentence was announced in Maricopa County court. For his act of conscience, he received a sentence of one day in jail, with credit for the one day already served.
Rev. Morales released the following statement upon hearing of his sentence:
“While my trial has finally ended, my determination to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and the inhumane practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is stronger than ever.
“As people of faith, we are called to oppose injustice and help protect the most vulnerable among us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the inhumane immigration enforcement practices of Sheriff Arpaio, nor should we accept similar policies in other parts of our country.
“We Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love against such legislation and the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents. We look forward to an opportunity to witness publicly against such injustices at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012.”
The UUA is a faith community of more than 1,000 congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information, please visit our online press room.
And the movement is spreading like a virus!
Tar Sands Action inspired by a UU’s civil disobedience
A proposed pipeline could be ‘game over’ for climate change, say environmentalists.
By Donald E. Skinner
In late August, Barbara Ford will cross the country from her home in Portland, Ore., with several other members of that city’s First Unitarian Church. They’re headed for Washington, D.C., to participate in a large public witness event calling attention to the threat of global climate change.
Religious activists and organizations are gathering August 29 outside the White House as part of a two-week protest called Tar Sands Action, which is aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from clay and other materials in the tar sands region of Alberta. Environmental groups describe tar sands oil as one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, resulting in higher emissions during the refining process. Investing in tar sands oil will delay investment in clean and safe alternatives, environmentalists add.
Construction of the pipeline requires the signature of President Obama. The Tar Sands Action, which will extend from August 20 through September 3, is aimed at convincing him to not approve it.
“I’ve been feeling for the past five years that civil disobedience was going to be necessary in the climate movement,” said Ford, a former chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, an independent organization that works closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association on environmental justice issues. “It seems clear we can’t count on our government to do the right thing without our influence. To me, we’re at a similar crossroads as the civil rights movement was in the 1960s. There is no choice but to step forth and work for justice. We all need to do something besides recycling. This is my opportunity.”
The Tar Sands Action is the latest in a series of public witness events that have grown, at least in part, out of the arrest and conviction of Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher, a 29-year-old climate activist, for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2008 in Salt Lake City. Last month he was sentenced to two years in prison. DeChristopher’s actions have inspired UUs and many others across the country, and have caused them to take to the streets in pursuit of climate justice.
Five members of his congregation, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, were arrested in Washington in April in a protest against energy policies as part of the Power Shift 2011 energy and climate conference. They went as part of a group DeChristopher formed, Peaceful Uprising. Other UUs took part in a march across West Virginia in June to raise awareness of mountaintop removal mining. They cited DeChristopher’s actions as a reason for their own. When DeChristopher was sentenced, 26 people were arrested outside the courthouse.
Tar Sands Action was organized by Peaceful Uprising. DeChristopher is in prison, but his impact is still being felt.
What’s going on? Why are UUs doing these things now? The answer, quite simply, is that in the face of the almost total corporate domination of our politics made possible by that contemptible Citizens United decision by the U S Supreme Court, rejecting and physically fighting back against unjust and dishonorable governmental and corporate policies that are not in the best interests of the people have become fashionable once more, just as they were 40 to 50 years ago. And a possible side effect of these efforts will be more people seeing the Unitarian Universalist Association and its churches as the organization to join for finding more progressive social and environmental activists. After all, if it had not been for those stupid Jim Crow racist policies of the southern states, would most of us even know who Martin Luther King Jr was? UUs marched alongside him too.
- Tim DeChristopher’s Court Speech: ‘This Is What Patriotism Looks Like’ (via Food Freedom) (wilderside.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (revolutionwithoutborder.org)
- The Sentencing of Tim DeChristopher Highlights the Conflict Between the People and Corporate-Government (susansayler.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (guardian.co.uk)
- 1 day in jail for Arizona immigration protesters (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Take a look at this video:
There are several issues here that the video does not address.
First, Islamic immigrants who come to a Western nation tend to be more moderate in their views even upon arrival, and their children and grandchildren may become even more liberal in turn. The only reason why some Muslims may become radicalized later is because they are treated as second-class citizens in a country they were born in because they are Muslim.
Second, immigrants are allowed into a European country because its native population is falling or not growing fast enough already, and such a situation results in workers becoming more valued for their labor, thus labor movements become stronger and workers’ wages will increase, making it harder for business owners to get extremely rich. To counter this, corporations that dominate an industry will seek to increase the workers’ population through encouraging immigration. But doing this means introducing new people with different cultures. And this is a problem? Only for bigots.
Third, European nations seemed to have no problem invading and taking over Islamic parts of the world in the past. In particular, France not only conquered areas like Algeria and Tunisia, it legally made Algeria a part of France, not just a colony, and the Algerians had to fight long and hard to throw off French rule.
Note that immigration of Latinos to the United States is also mentioned in the video. Bigotry against Hispanic culture also fuels immigration restrictions in the USA. Also, the USA conquered and still holds land once controlled by Mexico.
You cannot take in millions of people to lower workers’ value, then turn around and scream about those workers being different from you. That sort of crock needs to be put down.
If you expel the Muslims from Europe, then the workers remaining will demand greater wages because there are fewer of them. Are you prepared to pay them more?
If you keep the Muslims in Europe, then treat them as equals, and accept that your demographics will change.
Also, people raised in Muslim families do not necessarily stay Muslim forever. There are plenty of former Muslims:
Need I also mention that the idea that a culture will die out because its population growth drops and reverses itself is bull$#it? You can have a culture evolving and prospering no matter what the size of the families that make it up. You just pass on that culture to the fewer children you have, period.
This ironic title above refers to the incestuous relationship that has recently been established between two major bodies of the Baha’i Administrative Order (BAO) : The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) and the International Teaching Center (ITC). The former is the supreme governing body of the BAO, while the latter’s membership is appointed by the UHJ. The bureaucratic nature of this system is illustrated by the “alphabet soup” I used here, much like that of American governmental institutions. Note also that the buildings of the Baha’i World Center look a lot like the governmental buildings in Washington, D. C. Would you call this spiritual?
When the UHJ was first established in 1963, its membership included former members of the International Baha’i Council (these had been appointed by Shoghi Effendi) and members of various National Spiritual Assemblies. Later, the UHJ established the ITC, intended to take the place of the dwindling Hands of the Cause of God. Over several decades, however, more and more members of the UHJ have tended to come from the ITC, until today, ALL the UHJ members were elected from the ITC’s membership, which was appointed by the UHJ previously. This is known as a “feedback loop”. The result is a system that is by nature extremely conservative and not open to new ideas that could allow it to adapt to changing circumstances.
This is truly no better than the Roman Catholic Church, in which the Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals, and these Cardinals are themselves appointed by the previous Popes!
For the sake of argument, I define “orthodox” in Islam as including the beliefs common to both the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, though the Sunnis themselves say only they are orthodox (much like orthodox Christians may be defined as including much more than the denominations called “Orthodox”, including Catholics and most Protestants).
There are several issues in Islam I find contradictory and thus I would never become a Muslim, even if I were to ever believe in a god again.
- Islam is said to be a world religion, appropriate for all peoples of the world to follow. This is absurd because Islam also makes Mecca the city that all Muslims must pray to five times a day and to make a pilgrimage to at least once in their lives. Islam also makes Arabic the default language for the Quran and for Muslim prayers and calls to prayer. Even Roman Catholicism no longer makes Latin the default language for Mass around the world. A truly worldly religion would have NO default language, no one city as the center of prayer and pilgrimage, and would see holiness in all places. We Unitarian Universalists might regard Boston as a place of historical significance to us, but we don’t pray to it!
- Islam is said to be the final religion, the Quran is Allah’s final revelation and Muhammad the last of the Prophets. This contradicts the idea of Allah as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and thus totally sovereign deity. If Allah wills another revelation by a new Prophet, as Baha’is have claimed, it is not for anyone to deny this. The argument that past revelations have been corrupted is pointless, since Islam is still divided into various sects. A truly pure and uncorrupted revelation from Allah would never have allowed this.
- Islam condemns idolatry. Really? Then Muslims should stop regarding the Quran as the Word of Allah. Even official histories of Islam admit that it wasn’t put together until some years after Muhammad’s death. Why didn’t Muhammad himself do this? Also, walking seven times around the Kaaba in Mecca during pilgrimage looks too much like idolatry to me! It’s just a building! Also, see point 1 above.
- Islam teaches that men can have no more than four wives at a time. Then why did Muhammad have nine or ten wives at the time of his death? Muslims should make up their minds; you cannot hold Muhammad as a supreme example of Muslims to follow and then ignore that he himself broke a basic rule of marriage!
Religions as tools for social cohesion are indeed valid reasons for having them, since people are by nature social beings. However, using any religion that has demonstratively false dogmas as that tool is by nature unethical because you are encouraging people to lie to others about reality. It is even worse when you have a government take that religion and use force to make everyone follow it. All this does is make many people into hypocrites who act a certain way in public while privately doubting or denying the religion. This results in greater corruption. It is no coincidence that the ones who often come across as the most moral and are also deeply religious also turn out to be the most hypocritical. I think the reason for this is because their moral values are simply not based on anything real and things that are not based on reality are themselves not real. If you need to believe in the Bible, the Quran, or some other scripture to believe in God, to be moral or function in a social order, then you are actually a dangerous person because you will resort to all sorts of dishonest arguments, claims and assertions to keep your faith. Likewise, getting a government to enforce your religion on everyone merely makes the government dishonest. We shouldn’t tolerate this any more than we should tolerate mob bosses taking over a government.
Thus, Islamic states like those of Saudi Arabia and Iran are contemptible and should be condemned and opposed at every turn, and the concept of Sharia (Islamic law) should be completely thrown out in all societies. They are simply phony by nature!
At the Panda’s Thumb blog, a commenter asked a simple question:
Does anyone have an example of something which is not “intelligently designed”? In Paley’s exposition of the “watchmaker” argument, he contrasts a watch with a stone. But the problem for a traditional theist is that God is the Creator of all things, including rocks. So, to be fair, I suppose that the request should include also unreal, hypothetical things. But the only unreal things that I can think of – centaurs, for example – are intelligently designed. (Which, by the way, shows that intelligent design is not sufficient to explain existence.)
So, what is the difference that intelligent design makes?
He got this reply:
Later, my seeing that hit me like a truck going 100 MPH. I then said:
- Who Designed the Designer? (borne.wordpress.com)