Love those puffy… TGO

Sexy 807

Is America beginning to accept atheists?

The American masses sure are ignorant and stupid. The funny thing is, they think they’re smart. They actually believe that the Bible is literally true; along with its characters who lived for several hundred years or even over a thousand years. And let’s not forget the talking snake, along with dozens upon dozens of other absolutely ridiculous superstitions, not the least of which is the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus!

But yes, I know, we atheists are evil and immoral because we don’t believe in the “holy” book. But then again, we also don’t believe in Mother Goose, the Easter Bunny or the Three Little Pigs. And for this folks, we’re going to hell. Oh wait, there is no hell, just as there is no heaven. Oops, another “mistake” we atheists seem to make: we don’t believe in reward or punishment by our “creator.”

Anyway, as for me, it’s all about science and trying to discover the truth. Unlike the religious lemmings, who start out with all the answers, answers given to us by people who believed the world was flat, along with a myriad of other absurdities… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Inclusive policies for atheists, along with growing media attention and the rising number of religiously unaffiliated populations in the US, may herald the start of a shift in how America perceives those who don’t believe in God.

Christian Science Monitor

As the debate around religious freedom heats up across the country, one group has become increasingly central to the conversation: Atheists.

Earlier this month, lawmakers in Madison, Wis. voted to give atheists the same protections for employment, housing, and public accommodations as other groups – making the city the first in the nation to include atheists in its list of protected classes.

The decision, coupled with growing media attention and the rising number of atheists and religiously unaffiliated across the United States, may be a sign of shifting perceptions around those who reject religious beliefs.

Among the least accepted groups in the United States today, atheists have long faced discrimination in politics, military service, and schools, as well as hostility in everyday life.

Eight states have laws that technically prohibit atheists from holding office: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. A 1961 Supreme Court ruling prevents these laws from being actively enforced, yet there are no openly atheist members of Congress, The Washington Post reported.

In 2013, news magazine The Week published a piece about the US military’s religious requirement for recruits, which classified as a potential risk indicator a “lack or loss of spiritual faith.” While advocates of the policy said it aimed to strengthen emotional well-being among troops, where suicide rates were on the rise, others saw it as discriminatory and unconstitutional, according to the report.

“This country was founded on a very critical principle – the Founding Framers looked at the horrors that occurred throughout history by mixing religion and war, and they said, ‘We’re going to separate church and state,’” Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told The Week. “And that means they cannot test for religion in the military.”

Similar debates have played out in other parts of American life: at schools, during child custody battles, in advertising. For the most part, atheists and advocates of secularism have had to fight against a prevailing public perception in which they are seen in a negative light.

“Like a light switch, it’s, ‘You’re immoral, you’re gonna raise evil children, you’re a bad parent,’” Todd Stiefel, a former Catholic who now leads a nationwide campaign called Openly Secular, told CBS News. “They’re questioning your whole existence. It’s painful. It’s discrimination.”

About half of Americans surveyed in a Pew Research Center study said they would be less likely to vote for an atheist candidate for president, versus less than 40 percent who said the same about an adulterous one.

Another report found that nearly half of all Americans would be unhappy if a family member married someone who does not believe in God, while 53 percent said it is necessary to believe in God to be moral.

Overall, 40 percent of Americans viewed atheists negatively, rating them 33 or below on a scale of 1 to 100.

One study in 2011 found that a central motivation driving animosity against atheists is mistrust: “Participants found a description of an untrustworthy person to be more representative of atheists than of Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists, or Jewish people,” the researchers wrote. “Only people with a proven track record of untrustworthy conduct – rapists – were distrusted to a comparable degree as atheists.”

“We challenge the whole concept that you can’t be good without God,” David Silverman, president of American Atheists, explained to Slate. “We challenge the idea that religion is important in the first place, and that really makes them uncomfortable.”

Things may be starting to change for atheists, however, as the new law in Madison shows.

In March, an avowed atheist spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for the first time in history, and she urged Republicans to reach out to young people who identify as secular.

“Embrace me,” Jamila Bey, an African American journalist and board member of the group American Atheists, said at the 41st annual CPAC. “Let me vote for GOP candidates.”

Part of the reason for the shift is a decline in religious affiliation in the United States: About 20 percent of the US general public considered themselves religiously unaffiliated in 2012, up from about 15 percent in 2007, according to Pew. About 7 percent of the public said they did not believe in “God or universal spirit.”

It also helps that the rising number of children “growing up godless” has not resulted in moral mayhem. As Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., wrote in an op-ed for the LA Times:

“Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children… nonreligious family life is replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of ‘questioning everything’ and, far above all, empathy.”

“It’s about changing hearts and changing minds,” Openly Secular’s Mr. Stiefel told CBS. “It’s about people realizing that we are somebody you don’t need to fear. We’re somebody you don’t need to distrust.”


She’s great. TGO

Sexy 806

Why more Boston Marathon survivors oppose the death penalty

The answer to the title of the article is simple, although few will admit it: America is soft. As the rest of the world grows a bigger set of testicles, ours are slowly eroding, until one day soon… they will disappear altogether. 

What is almost worse are the reasons (excuses) given by Bostonians, including those personally affected by the attacks. They claim that life in prison without parole would put an end to the case and prevent him from ever hurting anyone else. Hello, last time I checked, being dead would do the same, unless of course he came back to life and planted other bombs!

Political correctness and softness are going to ruin the United States of America, and the process is well under way. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: The Christian Science Monitor

A couple who each lost limbs during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing have called for life in prison without parole for convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, echoing similar calls by other survivors. Their view reflects a growing unease about capital punishment in Boston and nationwide.

Christian Science Monitor

Two more survivors have spoken out against the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, who each lost limbs during the attack, have called for life in prison without parole for Mr. Tsarnaev, whose federal death penalty trial begins Tuesday, The Boston Globe reported. The couple’s words echo those of Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was killed during the bombing, and reflects a broader shift in attitudes about capital punishment among Boston residents as well as among Democrats, women, and minorities nationwide.

The reasons why vary. For Ms. Kensky and Mr. Downes, putting Tsarnaev in prison for life and waiving his rights to appeal would close the case with justice served and let them move on with their lives. The Globe reported:

[W]ith the penalty phase about to begin, they concluded that life without the possibility of parole or appeal would provide the best route to healing, keeping Tsarnaev from hurting anyone else while “assuring that he disappears from our collective consciousness as soon as possible.”

The same goes for the Richards: “We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives,” they wrote in an op-ed, also for The Globe.

“As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours,” they added. “The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.”

In Boston, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1, the reasons may be more political, religious, and historical in nature.

“Massachusetts as a commonwealth has a basic commitment to civic virtues, to decency. These are deep, deep, deep in our soil,” the Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister at Boston’s historic Old South Church, told The Christian Science Monitor in January. “The death penalty kind of defiles the best of what it is to be virtuous in a civic sense. It kind of starts to wreck the equation.”

Indeed, close to half of respondents said they favored life without parole over the death penalty for Tsarnaev, according to a recent citywide survey by The MassINC Polling Group for Boston radio station WBUR.

Previous polls had similar results: A third of respondents wanted the death penalty for Tsarnaev, while more than half said they preferred life in prison, The Boston Globe found in September 2013.

Massachusetts formally ended the death penalty in 1984, but because the Tsarnaev case falls under federal jurisdiction, capital punishment is an option.

In general, the majority of Americans still favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder. But the number is down to 56 percent from 78 percent 20 years ago, a new Pew Research Center survey found.

The decline has come mostly from Democrats, among whom only 40 percent now support capital punishment, as opposed to 71 percent in 1996, according to the survey. Approval also dropped 10 percentage points among women, 7 percentage points among Hispanics, and 15 points among blacks.

One of the main reasons given for decline is the risk of convicting and executing innocent people, according to The Washington Post. Of the 125 people exonerated in the United States last year, six were on death row.

But some of those seeking a life sentence for Tsarnaev, who has admitted to setting the bombs with his brother, express an unease with executing even those known to be guilty.

“In our darkest moments and deepest sadness, we think of inflicting the same types of harm on him,” said Kensky and Patrick Downes in a joint statement Sunday, according to the Globe. “We wish that he could feel the searing pain and terror that four beautiful souls felt before their death, as well as the harsh reality of discovering mutilated or missing legs. If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant. However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance.”

Hunt for the Knights Templar’s Wealth in the New World

The Knights Templar’s were awesome. These people were centuries ahead of their time. They were so well-organized and efficient that they became a serious threat to the Church and to the hierarchy at the time. In fact, on Friday, October the 13th, 1307 (Friday the 13th) King Philip IV (who owed monetary debts to the Templars he could never repay) ordered Jacques de Molay, Templar Grand Master, to be arrested. He was tortured and subsequently burned alive at the stake. Most of the other Templars would meet a similar fate, until the order finally disbanded. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Newsweek

By Special Newsweek Editon 4/19/15 at 4:18 PM


For nearly two centuries, the Knights Templar plundered the vast riches of the Near East while marching under the banner of Christ in the Crusades. In addition to the silks, bullion, spices and other valuables the Templars claimed as spoils of war, the wealth of countless dukes, barons, viscounts and other lords flowed into the Order’s coffers as the flower of European nobility rushed to join the ranks of the holy warriors. The massive fortune collected by the Templars generated awe, jealousy and—in the centuries after their disbandment—hope for a payout.

“It’s fantastic treasure,” says Marty Lagina, who along with brother Rick stars in History Channel’s The Curse of Oak Island. The show follows the brothers’ quest to uncover a vast store of riches long rumored to be hidden on its titular Nova Scotian island. What exactly that treasure is (and who hid it) eludes clear-cut definition. Theorists and treasure hunters speculate it is anything from lost manuscripts of Shakespearean plays to Marie Antoinette’s jewels to a sunken Viking ship. But the Laginas have seen enough evidence to convince them the treasure could be part of the lost Templar riches. “The connection with the Templars has always been there, since the original discovery of the Money Pit, which supposedly happened in 1795,” says Rick. “There’s always been four or five credible theories about the treasure’s origins—one of which has been that it’s from the Templars.”

How did the wealth of a medieval order of knights, who were destroyed more than a century before Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage, find a home in the New World? The prevailing theory among true believers is that during the Templar’s final days, a fleet of the Order’s ships sailed from La Rochelle, France to the safety of Scotland. The treasure then rested at Kilwinning Abbey until Sir Henry Sinclair and a group of Scottish knights spirited the wealth away to Oak Island, hiding the riches on the island for their progeny to eventually recover.

 “The Chapter of the Order of the Templars held at Paris 22nd April 1147,” by Francois-Marius Garnet (1844). The Templars constructed a temple-fortress covering six acres in the 13th century. Chateau De Versailles, France / Bridgeman Art Library


The story strikes most historians as more than a little fanciful, and the Laginas certainly approach it with a healthy sense of skepticism. “The theory gets a little more tenuous after you have the knights leaving Scotland,” says Marty. However, the brothers quickly point to what they believe is evidence that other Europeans reached the shores of America before Columbus. “There’s the Newport Tower in Rhode Island, which, according to the carbon-14 dating, was constructed between 1440 and 1480,” says Rick (though most researchers believe the tower was built well after Columbus’s discovery). He also references the Narragansett Rune Stone in Rhode Island, which, according to geologist Scott Wolter, contains a mark that links the slab of rock to the same sect of monks that helped construct Kilwinning Abbey—the same place that supposedly housed the Templar treasure before its journey to the New World. “There are these connections—spider web connections—but no dots that say it went from here to here to Oak Island,” says Rick.

Despite the lack of a smoking gun proving Sinclair and the Scottish knights made the voyage to Oak Island, the brothers maintain certain discoveries they’ve made on Oak Island make the Templar theory intriguing, if not convincing. “Has there been a find on Oak Island that we can say is a definitive tie-in to the Templars? No,” says Rick. “But, are there curious facts and bits of discovery that indicate the possibility? Yes.” One of those bits of evidence is the fact that the flag of the island’s native peoples, the Mi’kmaq, bears a striking resemblance to the Templar’s battle flag: a red cross on white with a red crescent and red star.

For Marty, the engravings of what appear to him to be corn and trillium flowers in Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel—a chapel built by Henry Sinclair’s grandson William in 1446—lend credence to the Templar theory. “To me, being from upper Michigan, there does really appear to be trilliums in the chapel,” says Marty. Both corn and trillium flowers are native to the Americas, indicating to Marty that Henry Sinclair had visited the New World and passed on what he saw to his family, who later incorporated it into the chapel decorations.

After pouring so much of their time and energy into navigating the pitfalls and perils of Oak Island in their effort to uncover the island’s secrets, the Laginas have high hopes their story will end with some sort of payoff. “We all want our money back,” says Rick. But while the brothers would love to discover a pile of gold and riches straight out of an Indiana Jones adventure, the rewards of the hunt extend beyond material goods. “I believe there’s a story on Oak Island of historic significance, and I want to be part of the team that figures it out,” says Rick. “If that story involves the Templars—one of the most powerful entities on the face of continental Europe during their time—then all the better.”

His brother agrees that finding solid proof of a Templar presence at Oak Island would constitute a huge win, but also embraces the mindset of what his sibling calls “hopeful skepticism.” “There are certain people who believe almost every lost treasure in existence has a connection to Oak Island. So we’ve got to take it all with a little dose of reality,” Marty says. In an adventure filled with half-truths and cryptic clues, keeping that level head may be the most valuable asset of all.

This article appears in the Newsweek’s special edition, Secret Socities: Infiltrating the Inner Circle, by Issue Editor James Ellis of Topix Media Lab.


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