Does Internet Use Decrease Religious Affiliation?

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A research study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion  authored by Paul K. McClure of Baylor University, and quoted in the psychology and neuroscience news websitePsyPostappears to answer that question: Yes (or at least a qualified Yes)!

Quoting from the PsyPost article:

McClure found that the more that individuals use the Internet, the less likely the chance of them remaining “religiously affiliated and religiously exclusive.” Increased internet use, however, was not found to be responsible for decreased participation in  religious activities. McClure states that:

One of my main findings in this study is that increases in internet use correlate with a loss of religious affiliation, and I also discovered that individuals who spend lots of time online are less likely to be religious exclusivists, or in other words they’re less likely to think there’s only one correct religion out there.” 

I will not attempt to debate the results of the Baylor University study but I think the stated “conclusion” Mr. McClure has drawn from this study may be a little one-sided.

McClure states:

To make sense of these findings, I argue that internet use encourages a certain ‘tinkering’ posture which makes individuals feel that they’re no longer beholden to institutions or religious dogma.”

Rather than looking at the study findings in a negative light, which McClure appears to do, I will argue that religious dogma, which relies on blind faith and strict obedience to a religion’s interpretation of ancient, translated text, has met it’s match in the diversity and constant flow of new information provided by the Internet. The Internet has, indeed, set individuals free from the belief that they are beholden to an organized religion or a set of religious dogma.

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The Muslim Question

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A Washington Post opinion piece: “Donald Trump’s sharp contrast from Obama and Bush on Islam has serious implications” written by William McCants, currently appears on the Washington Post website under the subheading: “Acts of Faith.”

This article correctly points out that the essential moral rules of Islam, as proclaimed in the Sharia, are closely and literally followed by some Muslims and, are treated less seriously, more as guidelines rather than commandments, by most other Muslims. This is not news! I think that, by now, most intelligent non-Muslim Amerians understand that not every Muslim is a radical jihadist. We work with Muslims, socialize with Muslims and welcome Muslims to hold important roles in our lives based on their character and behavior, not based on their religion.

The primary point of this article however, implies that proposals such as President-elect Trump’s extreme vetting are not only unnecessary but will lead to more jihadist recruitment. In other words, the implication is: ‘if you fight it, it will only grow larger, so don’t fight it.’ These are not exactly words to live by!

We have, since 9/11/2001, allowed approx. 2 million virtually unvetted Muslims to immigrate to or visit the United States on visas and that has resulted in approximately 50 terrorist acts that are directly credited to radical Islamic teachings, resulting in many hundreds of innocent lives lost (not even counting the thousands lost on 9/11/2001 itself).

Those who oppose Donald Trump have used his positions on border security and on immigration from the Arab world as reasons to label him a ‘racist, an islamophobe, a bigot and even a monster; for the safety of all American citizens, these people and their labels must be ignored! Donald Trump and the people he is naming to his cabinet are dedicated to protecting American citizens from enormous and growing International threats, radical Islam is only one of them.

Note: The author: William McCants, is a fellow at The Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy and is the director of its Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World.

Kentucky’s Mini-Gods

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Rowan County, Kentucky

County Clerk Kim Davis was a “born again sinner” and claims that, since that day, she has “pledged the rest of her life to the service of the Lord.” To Kim Davis that pledge apparently means that she has become the sole arbiter, interpreter and executor of God’s word.

Kim Davis has apparently forgotten another vow that she made when assuming the position of Rowan County Clerk:

County Clerk Oath:

Did you catch that last sentence? “. . . ” will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality, so help me God!

Kim Davis is not only a Christian Bigot, she is a person who is willing to break an oath to God based on her own, amateurish interpretation of His word.

Does she hold a divinity degree? Does she have years of experience studying the works of biblical scholars? No, she’s just a reformed sinner who, like so many of her ilk, desperately wants to be a mini-God because she has no faith in her Creator’s ability to run His own show.

Hopefully God will reward her with just enough jail time to remind her of her place in the universe, enough of a fine to make her realize that “so help me God” means something and a period of unemployability that will remind her that she is the humble servant not anyone’s master.

The County Clerk’s oath (above) was borrowed from an article in the Daily Kos about another Kentucky County Clerk, Casey Davis (possibly a relative), who had the same hate-filled Mini-God complex that Ms. Davis has. Mr Davis, however, additionally, felt the need, as part of his position, to “remind” gay people that they would forever ‘burn in Hell.” His story and the above oath of office can be found HERE!

Speaking of Hell, where the Hell does Kentucky find these losers?

South Caroline Church Bloodshed Could Have Ended Sooner

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From the June 19th, New York Times Political News NOW section: “Martin O’Malley, a Democratic candidate for president, called for a new national assault weapons ban and other gun control measures in an email sent to supporters after the shooting deaths at a South Carolina church this week.

An assault weapons ban, which has nothing to do with the massacre at the South Carolina Church, is an idea that has seen plenty of ‘daylight’ in the past but, thanks to the NRA, it has virtually disappeared from the news. Banning assault weapons is not an altogether bad idea; except that it probably violates the Constitution, But before Mr. O’Malley begins to open his mouth and spew forth the phrase “other gun control measures” he needs to take his head out of the sand and understand the FACT that if one or two members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church had hand-guns on their persons and had the guts to use them, lives would have been saved.

Insanity seems to reign in the world of Liberals as it does in the world of Religion. When you consider the “forgiveness” that rained down on that wothless piece of crap who not only shot and killed 9 people but shot them repeatedly, reportedly having to reload several times, you have to wonder about the sanity of the survivors, I cannot forgive those who forgave Dylann Roof for their blatent disregard for the safety of their fellow parishioners. They apparently believe in heaven so much they are willing to allow a murderer to continue the bloodshed without raising a hand (or other weapon) against him. There were most likely worshipers on every side of Roof and apparently not one of them had the guts to “cold-cock’ him with a fist or hymnal or brass candlestick.

Mr O’Mally and others of his mindset refuse to understand the power for good of a gun in the hands of a good person. Killing someone is not a bad thing if it is done with the proper motive and saves the lives of future victims; even most “believers” will tell you that. But unfortunately, Liberals like O’Malley do not believe that the average citizen is intelligent enough to be trusted with that kind of decision.

Hate Crime?

Right now Obama’s lap-dog U.S. Attorney General is supposedly deciding whether or not to charge Roof with a hate crime. Just another publicity stunt! A man who is witnessed shooting 9 people to death must certainly qualify for the death penalty regardless of what is “in his heart” but under the Obama Administration “racial equality and justice” are far more important than common sense or even common law.

REFERENCES:

New York Times: “An Angry O’Malley Calls for an Assault Weapons Ban” 

New York Times:In Charleston, Raw Emotion at Hearing for Suspect in Church Shooting

Garland Texas: Flipping Off a Bully

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I am an avid defender of our First Amendment right to free speech but when that speech imperils public safety, as it did in Garland Texas this past week at the ‘draw a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed’ contest, I can’t help but feel that the wiser choice for the Garland ISD (the owners of the venue) and the City of Garland would have been to NOT allow the event to take place.

The school district and the city potentially placed the lives of many of the citizens of Garland at risk for what was, in the end, an insult not just to radical elements in Islam but to the many million Muslims who mean no harm to anyone.

Garland was very fortunate that the only challenge to their nonsensical cartoon contest that night was posed by two amateurs who literally only lasted fifteen seconds when opposed by a single Garland Traffic Enforcement Officer. Had radical Islamic elements sent in their “A” Team of trained jihadi warriors, not only the Curtis Culwell Center but much of the surrounding area may have been devastated by their bombs and bullets.

Yes Free Speech is and always will be an essential element of American life but too often people like Pamela Geller (and the better known Fred Phelps) use it to spread hate against people they personally detest; that IS still free, protected speech but, in my opinion, it is not what was intended by the First Amendment. The question being re-asked today is: ‘Is hate speech also protected by the First Amendment’ and the Supreme Court has already ruled that YES hate speech is also Constitutionally protected speech (see Snyder v. Phelps )

So, when the skinny kid in the schoolyard raises his middle finger in the face of the large, mean-tempered bully he doesn’t have to worry about a Federal Warrant being issued for his arrest, he just has to worry about being well enough to get to school the next day.

Free speech, like everything else in life, has consequences and when you use it, not to present or defend your own ideas but to tear down others you must be prepared to accept the possible consequences (and in this case, retribution of people who are not bound by our rules, laws or culture). Pamela Geller and the other attendees at the Garland Event were standing up for their Constitutional right to “flip off” the bullies in Islam (something most every American wants to do) but I seriously doubt they had thoughtfully considered the possible consequences. Nor did the City of Garland; to them this was possibly a display of patriotism but more likely it was just an opportunity to enjoy some positive media coverage.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the citizens of Garland did not appreciate the thought that their city, or even their own neighborhood may have been turned into a war zone.

We are, without a doubt, at war with the radical elements of Islam but wars are meant to be fought by trained and equipped  soldiers, not the bakers, butchers and retailers in a small American city.

Ron Reagan: “Not Afraid of Burning in Hell”

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Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, in a TV ad produced by the Freedom From Religion Foundation announced:

“I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government. That’s why I’m asking you to support the Freedom From Religion  Foundation, the nation’s largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended. (I’m) Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”

As an unabashed atheist myself, I’m all in favor of keeping “state and church separate,” but that simple and appealing idea does not justify the hateful,  blatantly egocentric actions of the foundation Mr. Reagan is lending his name to or the actions of the other major atheist group, The American Atheists organization.

It appears that these two Atheist organizations are unable to live comfortably with their beliefs and allow others who believe in religion to live with theirs. These organizations seem to have a deep-seated need to engage in a continual “pissing contest” (forgive the ‘earthy’ language) aimed to prove that they are right and others are wrong. They put up hateful messages on billboards and joyfully, it seems, attempt to interfere in the lives of religious people and break their faith.

To be fair, a similar charge can be made against many Christians, Jews, Moslems, etc., who are apparently so insecure in their beliefs they are constantly denigrating, threatening or (in the case of a faction of radicals) actually killing all others who don’t see the world as they do.

My belief is that religion and atheism (and the human race in general) are better served by adopting these world-views as strictly personal philosophies of life and models for a person’s everyday life. A belief, after all, does not come with a certificate of authenticity like a Rolex.

As distasteful as religion-biased legislation may be to me and other atheists, atheist-biased legislation would be just as distasteful to the majority of non-activist atheists and those religonists who believe in the idiom “live and let live”. (BTW: Live and Let Live combined with the medical professions credo “first do no harm” is the exact formula for societal peace and even, if it is at all possible, world peace.

When you think about it, that belief -based “pissing contest” I mentioned above goes on every day and it is not only ridiculous and hurtful but totally unproductive when you stop to think that neither side can ever be proved right or wrong . . . at least not in this lifetime.

The Religion Gambit

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An individual can hate all religions, mock them, criticize them and genuinely feel that religion is a destructive force that needs to be eliminated from society; for me, at least, it’s easy to understand those feelings because at some level I agree with all of them; but I also understand some basic truths about human nature. When you criticize or worse yet mock a person’s firmly held beliefs (about religion or any other subject) you set yourself up as a moral authority based ONLY on YOUR OWN firmly held beliefs, you become a hypocrite and you create a conflict that very seldom will end well.

It’s a zero-sum game that we all thoughtlessly engage in because, in the end, we humans are most times ruled by our egos, not by our intelligence, good judgement, humility or respect for others beliefs. Of course I am speaking in generalities here but anyone who is reading and judging this should have to admit that we are each the centers of our own universes and we (depending on our natures) either attempt, on a daily basis, to coexist with other people’s “universes” or find ways to set up conflicts with them.

CONFLICT:

To what end do we say “no you’re wrong and I’m right?” If speaking of strictly fact-based endeavors like the various branches of science and mathematics, right and wrong can usually be proven fairly easily but disagreements about more abstract areas of knowledge: things based on beliefs, theories, legends, superstitions or ancient writings will always produce more and possibly larger disagreement.

So, to what end do we argue about religion? To no good end and possibly, as was the case in France recently and in Denmark several years before, to a violent end.

The major problem in the religious world right now is, of course, radical Islam. It is not a problem that radical Muslims have their beliefs and moderate- and non-Muslems have their beliefs; the major problem is that, to the radicalized Muslim there is no room for disagreements, opposing opinions or even intelligent debate.

Radical Muslims have reduced their religion to the same level as the cockroach and termite worlds. Their objective is to mindlessly infest the world with their ideology and destroy whatever stands in their way. No conversation! No debate! No moderation or respect for others, not even for those who worship the same God but follow the Qur’an with a less violent, more civilized perspective.

What do you do when faced with a threat like radicalized Islam?

You don’t do as the United States tends to do and attempt to appease it.

You don’t take the incredibly stupid route like Charlie Hebdo has done by taunting and teasing it — oh yes, in a civilized society they had the RIGHT to do that but they had no end-game, no objective except to piss murderous radical Muslims off and hope there are a few writers and cartoonists left to write their friends epitaphs.

What you must do to beat radical Islam is work  hard to understand it: their temperament, their methods, their weaknesses, their manpower, the sources of their financing and supplies, and their physical locations. Then attack their financing and their supply chains, weakening and demoralizing them. Finally you must make a plan to relentlessly exterminate them, cell by cell. You are not, after all, dealing with civilized human beings, you are dealing with mutated cockroaches and termites trained in the use of high-tech weaponry.