Posts Tagged pope

The Death of A Wretched Human Being: Antonin Scalia

downloadLast week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at the age of 79 in some luxury resort in West Texass. He did not pay to stay at that luxury resort owned by John B. Poindexter,  a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm with  seven subsidiaries and a  combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.

I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”

A friend, indeed.

One of Poindexter’s companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.

Is it just mere coincidence that a year later we see a Justice of that very same court invited to the luxurious home/ranch of the owner of the company involved in a case which the Supreme Court refused to hear?

Nothing about who Scalia was suggests that it could be a mere coincidence. What is for certain, however, is that it constitutes a conflict of interest.

Interesting to note is that this was not the first time Scalia acted unethically (that we know of).  In 2004, he joined then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney on a hunting trip while Cheney was the subject of a lawsuit over his energy task force, and in response to calls that he sit out the case, Scalia issued a highly unusual 21-page argument explaining why he refused to do so.

While judges have to file financial disclosure statements, including reporting of gifts they receive and disclosing when someone who is not a relative gives them “transportation, lodging, food, or entertainment” worth a certain amount (see 1978 Ethics in Government Act passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal), there is really no one who enforces that. And while every other federal judge below the Supreme Court and the decision about whether or not they should be recused from cases where there could be a potential conflict of interest is potentially subject to the review of a higher judge or other judges on his court, no one reviews the decision of a Justice and thus Supreme Court justices essentially become the final arbiters of whether or not to recuse themselves from cases that may constitute a conflict of interest.

Why am I bringing this up on the day of Antonin Sacalia’s funeral? Because while much of the mainstream press was quickly lining up to offer glowing commemorations of his career as a public servant and brilliant man, I want to be sure that Scalia’s destructive judicial legacy is  not completely whitewashed.

He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues”…  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr  said in a statement confirming Justice Scalia’s death. “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”

No it is not. Antonin Scalia’s death is great news and this nation’s salvation. He did not serve this country loyally.  On the contrary,  he used and abused his position in the highest court of the land to align himself with power, against the powerless.

Scalia was a contemptible human being who once during oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case suggested that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

He decided his cases based on what the Catholic church preaches about women and reproduction.

He repeatedly and casually equated LGBT and its advocates to apologists for incest, rape, bestiality, child pornography and murder.

He has been nothing but an antagonist to social justice ever since he took seat on that bench/ivory tower of his. Heck, his last official act was denying a stay of execution.

Scalia’s death is not a loss to this nation or the Supreme Court. Scalia was the disease that’s been gnawing and eating away at our Democracy like a malignancy.  His death is our salvation as a nation.

And that is what I have to say about him on this day of his funeral.

May he rest in the hell he believed in so much and which he created for others during his short time in this world.

 

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Picture of the Day

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A balloon flies past Pope Francis during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Ah…the irony.

This picture captures Pope Francis’ essence quite expertly, because Francis (like all other Popes) is really just an inflatable air head. He is a figurehead, a caricature who contributes nothing to the world but thin air, a facade, lies, hollow words without backing, recited compassion, dogmatic empathy, ignorance, judgment and hate masked under the lofty, airy yet thin veneer of god and religiosity.  He is a hollow shell, a stand-in  for peoples’ desire for answers and meaning, even though he offers nothing in return but lofty words that pacify your mind and make you sleep better at night.

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Dear Pope

On this Easter, as you address the world and the people sheep who have flocked around you to listen to your hopeful phony messages about love, peace and understanding – concepts you merely like to talk about it seems in lofty attire while releasing doves into the sky but which, given your Church’s track record even as we speak, you have no intention of actually ever backing with real, meaningful actions, let me, as an atheist whom you graciously say is not a monster after all, tell you a few things.

Now, I am not inclined at this moment to go into a whole discussion about the absurdity of religion and, in particular, of your particular brand of faith that prompts you to “pray” for peace every year  and every year we don’t get this peace you, as a especially pious man, have been lobbying for, but I will tell you that Easter is a Pagan tradition that has hardly anything to do with Jesus.

Easter eggs and bunnies and the Spring equinox have as much to do with Christ as Christmas trees, mistletoe and the fall equinox and winter solstice. In fact, there is really nothing Christian or Biblical about forty days of Lent, decorated trees in your homes, engraved images and symbols of Ba’al and Ishtar, the sun Gods, the use of Evergreen and mistletoe, the latter of which Pagan priests (Druids) used to conjure black magic in love potions, “sunrise services”, Santa Clause, decorated eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham symbolizing and worshiping the Goddess Ēostre.

These things, however, have everything to do with the ancient pagan traditions of Babylon and Mesopotamia. Engaging in such activities makes professing Christians nothing but idolaters, but I guess you know that being the head of the Church. Woops.

Secondly, since you are talking about peace and its importance and how to achieve it, let this lowly atheist enlighten you on the fact that you do not achieve peace by talking about it, but by identifying what the impediments to it are and addressing the challenges that stand in the way of peace, accordingly.

In the larger sense, you achieve peace by recognizing the inherent dignity in all of us; by creating bonds of friendship and bridges of cooperation among people regardless of their identities and inherent attributes.

You achieve peace by respecting and acknowledging an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being whose agency as a human being should be respected and upheld.

You achieve peace by inspiring those who follow you to respect and acknowledge an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being deserving of the same rights as everyone else.

You achieve peace by empowering women – which entails recognizing them as fully equal human beings who have the right to maintain control over their bodies and reproduction; as people with their own agency and a right to self-governance because viewing and treating women as second class human beings who ought to have no control and agency over their own bodies according to the finest tradition of your oppressive , bigoted, misogynistic Church and its practices for hundreds of years, is precisely the reason why women are not empowered.

And make no mistake about it: empowerment of women has everything to do with both peace and economic stability and is, in fact, an integral part of it.  By taking a profoundly anti-choice stance, you marginalize women and disempower them, which leads to the very poverty you want to see end.

You create peace by spending some of your tax exempt riches on the under-privileged and poor in society; on educating the ignorant; on giving opportunities to those less fortunate; on giving a voice to the weak, defenseless and exploited by creating communities of support, trust and tolerance where each individual’s autonomy and agency are respected and upheld, instead of spending that money on hate campaigns to insure that gays and lesbians do not get to marry or on political campaigns aimed at controlling what women can do with their bodies.

Sadly, none of that is happening in the Catholic church which still argues that women should not have employment equality; that they should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners’ employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.

Colluding with the police to cover up the sex crimes of your priests and blaming allegedly gay priests for the massive cases of pedophilia in your church  – thus equating homosexuality with pedophilia – does not constitute  having done the most you can for victims of childhood abuse as you claim, nor does it constitute “transparency and responsibility” on your part as you also like to claim.

When you condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts your image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring  disease, even though not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.

Calling transgendered people demonic – is cruel, harmful, dangerous and indecent, not to mention explicitly dehumanizing. It is, per the Church’s own position on demons, eliminationist. It is not a recipe for peace.

As long as you marginalize members of the queer community, as long as you uphold discrimination against women, as long as you value fetuses more than the people carrying them by ordering Catholic hospitals to refuse to give life-saving abortions, or refuse to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims; as long as you refuse to allow unmarried same-sex partners to visit one another in the hospital, and as long as you spend millions of your organization’s tax exempt money on hate, then you are, frankly, nothing but a dirtbag – no matter how many speeches you hold fellating the idea of peace in velvet tones neatly wrapped in false humility and empathy.

When you manifestly refuse to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty, such as empowering women, it is mendacious to argue that you are saying bold and challenging things and are a purveyor of peace.

Peace is not achieved by treating some people in society – such as women, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals  – as less than, ultimately dehumanizing them in the process and depriving them of their rights and privileges – as if they were yours to give in the first place. Helping these individuals to be given the same kind of access, rights and opportunities as everyone else, however, are the things that will empower people and promote peace.

Peace is not achieved through heart-warming speeches, lofty metaphors and, most of all, prayer.  Peace requires a lot of hard work and hard decisions, including the elimination of bigotry and “othering” and all the other myriad of things the Chruch does that are diametrically opposed to the concept of peace and are right-out harmful.

Peace requires humility and thus examining and then eliminating the very things that stand in its way.

That Progressives remain fascinated with you is mystifying as it is  beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure on their part to truly recognize the evil behind your organization’s seemingly loving, all-inclusive facade.

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Today in Conversations With Theists

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This is one of the most unintelligently argued statements I have ever read reeking of deliberate misinformation, conflation of unrelated facts, logical fallacy and just pure sophistry.

I might also add the unintended hilarity of them putting “Atheist” dark ages on there because we all know who was responsible for the actual Dark Ages.  Ha ha, joke’s on you, sucker….

Anyway, North Korea is not using science and reason to do anything. Quite the opposite. The North Korean regime uses jingoism, brainwashing and sequestration of their population from the outside world, as well as pure obedience to uniformity to achieve the totalitarian shit-hole they have created.

They don’t employ science and reason to do anything. The only science they use is how to make nukes. That is where it ends. They don’t engage in trade, they don’t exchange ideas and they can’t even feed their own population, which they could if they actually used science for any purpose other than making weapons of mass destruction.

Second, just like any other dictatorship, especially a Communist one, they have abandoned the church and religion in general because it is just another competing institution next to the Communist dictatorship they are running.

And this is where most people get it wrong when they pick some dictatorship such as Stalin’s Communist Russia or Hitler’s Nazi Germany  – all of which admonished religion – to argue that atheism causes totalitarianism. What such arguments fail to understand is that totalitarian leaders don’t oppose religion and/or god on philosophical grounds, they only oppose them because they don’t want church leaders and Popes competing with the obedience to The Fuhrer or Supreme Leader that is running the country.

Ever note how the North Korean leader is equated to a god? With his picture hanging on everyone’s walls and even how and when the first one in the line was born is shrouded in some religious mystery? The Korean Central News Agency describes Kim Jong-un as “a great person born of heaven“, a propaganda term his father and grandfather had enjoyed as well.  According to official biographers of the North Korean state, Kim Jong-un father’s birth at Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow across the sky over the mountain and a new star in the heavens. In reality, that murderous charlatan was born in the Soviet village of Vyatskoye without any rainbows and shit appearing.

As I have mentioned before, trying to have a constructive, intelligent and meaningful conversation with religious people is almost impossible because it is impossible to have a meaningful conversation with an entity that uses fiction such as the Bible, god and Jesus, as the “back up” and back bone of their arguments. However, it is not just that. When religious people do try to make an argument against atheists, for instance, without even employing the Bible and “god”, it still stinks because they cannot even do that right. Case in point, the pathetic attempt above trying to pass as truly intelligent thought when in reality it is just as coherent of a thought-process as their belief in a fictional entity.

I recommend whoever came up with this ridiculous dribble actually do their research and maybe try this thing called fact-based arguing and deductive reasoning, but I know I expect too much of entities that believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

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I Have a Book

need more books

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Conversations With Theists

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Trying to have a constructive, intelligent and meaningful conversation and/or even debate with religious people is impossible. It is more likely to be hit by a meteor than find a religious person capable of engaging in intelligent, meaningful discourse about religion, life and existence,  and with that I mean not using fiction such as the Bible, god and Jesus, as the “back up” and back bone of their arguments.

Eventually such conversations take on the form where you see yourself educating a grown-ass human being with all their mental faculties intact on basic tenets of deductive reasoning and coherent thought, which, invariably, sounds condescending and patronizing, making the religious people feel like you are talking down on them or treating them like an idiot, which is certainly not intentional but merely what happens when you talk to someone who is the intellectual equivalent of a strawberry short-cake incapable of rational thought, or unwilling – the science is still out on that one.

The thing is, I do not look forward to putting religious people down and talk down on them or even come across as patronizing, they do it to themselves. After all, how do you have a conversation with someone who, upon being presented with facts about something, goes back to citing Jesus, the Bible and thus the kind of unbelievable crap that a fifth grader could disprove, as their “source” or “evidence”?

If you believe the things written in the Bible, and I mean everything, not just cherry-picked items you find convenient to believe in and adhere to – including that the Earth is 6000 years old, that a woman was made using a man’s rib, talking snakes that coax people into eating fruits that then get them banned and the myriad of other fairy tales and fables in the Bible – then that not only sets you up for being rebutted, ridiculed and utterly creamed in a debate – which in turn you find offensive, mean and harsh-  but it also makes you an idiot.

If you believe that the billion-galaxy universe was just created for us, you are an idiot.

If you believe that a man can come back from the dead, then you are an idiot.

If you believe that a man can part a body of water through sheer will power, then you are an idiot.

If you believe that a virgin can become pregnant by some invisible being, then you are an idiot.

If you believe that a woman was created by taking the osteopathic tissue of a male, then you are an idiot.

If you believe that god answering the prayers of overpaid thespians and athletes while ignoring the plight of starving children in Sudan makes sense and is just a matter of god working in mysterious ways, and a matter of free will, the you are an idiot.

When you live in a world in which 26,000 starve to death every day yet you keep thanking god for the food he allegedly put on your table and thus for personally feeding you, then you are an idiot.

The list of such absurdities goes on and on and the religious person’s defense of them is always “free will”, “evil” and “faith.”

It is like this guy Ray Comfort who, upon being asked what he would do if he had indisputable proof that god, in fact, did not exist, responded that he would just go and pray to god to give him clarity while he contemplates  that.

Really? You expect me to respect that?

Conversations with theists almost always take on the same form to the point where I can anticipate precisely what they are going to say next.

Usually it goes something like this:

1) Religious person makes some hateful or unfounded claim, and I say unfounded because said religious person’s source(s) for making the claim are almost always The Bible, god, Jesus  – i.e. fiction (or whatever prophet and/or holy person the religious person is adhering to).  Not all my conversations are with Christians. I have debates with all sorts of religious people and suffice it to say that the arguments, if one can call it that, they present are the same in essence with only the names of holy people and locales changed.

2) I respond with facts and referencing historic, biological, physical and anthropological realities.

3) Religious person responds with some more bizarre, incoherent babble, citing the Bible and Jesus and other works of fiction as the source for their ignorant, detrimental and often hateful claims,  peppered with false analogies, strawmen and a host of other just factually wrong things.

4) I respond with some more facts refuting the ridiculous claim religious person makes.

At this point, my contempt and frustration is becoming more evident and surfacing. It is as if I was witness to a hilarious skit whose plot begins to slowly fade into the macabre and heinous and ridiculous and my smile fades equally as I am faced with the sad, baffling and horrific realization that I am talking to someone trapped in so much self-delusion and ignorance, nothing seems able to get them out of it. Reason, facts, physical laws, reality are all secondary when you deal with someone whose main reason for believing in humbug and fiction is faith, also known as wishful thinking.

5) Religious person then short-circuits and gets frustrated/confused/overwhelmed with all those facts presented to him or her and the nullification of their absurd claims, prompting them to grasp for straws, including playing the victim and whining about how unfair it is of us terrible, angry, mean atheists/critics to point out inconsistencies, injustices and a host of other detrimental acts of the church/bible/religion.

The same person that just spent the last hour telling us that gay people, for example, should not get married and thus be treated like second class human beings and citizens, suddenly begins whining, kicking and screaming about how unfair I am to them and how mean it is of me to not respect their beliefs and symbols and religious icons etc. etc.

typical-teenage-new-atheistPlaying the victim is then quickly followed by something in the order of “Oh, my faith is strong so what you say doesn’t bother me” blah blah blah and such a proclamation is accompanied usually by various ad hominem attacks and disparaging “observations” about my person and personality:  you sound angry, you sound bitter, you sound unloved, you sound like something bad happened to you and you never got over it, you poor thing, I feel sorry for you, I pity you, god loves you though, oh my dear I can tell someone has hurt you and you are speaking out of hurt, you are intolerant, you have no sense of humor, you have no hope blah blah yawn.

Every. Single. Time, this is the pattern. And this is the pattern because, at the end of the day, religious people have absolutely no backing of their claims. When you reference Hobbits, goblins, unicorns, god, Jesus, Muhammad, the Koran, the Jedi mind shit, Gremlins and other fictitious characters and entities to make your point or worse, to make claims about life, existence and such things,  you have no argument.

When you have no argument, other than the fictitious entities mentioned above and such things as “free will”, “satan” and “faith” – well that makes you quickly look like an idiot, which I can see, can be frustrating.

1238877_724072137625119_1597316218_nCase in point, the son in the Facebook conversation depicted here. His mother pisses and moans about his atheism and asks him why he has to share his terrible lack of belief with the world (which is darn rich coming from people who are always more than eager and willing to shove their backwards religious beliefs up everyone’s asses and vaginas, literally) and when her son responds by citing her her very own fucking Bible, she brushes him off with something patronizingly stupid like “Oh, at least you read it” obviously, and true to form, not having understood a single word he just said.

Note that how religious people behave now, feeling that their faith and beliefs are under attack  – which is absurd because how can someone’s demands for equality constitute a threat to religious people  – unless, of course, said religious person’s beliefs require them to hate – is the same line of arguing white supremacists used during segregation and the Civil Rights movement.

They, as the privileged and dominant as well as oppressive entity, suddenly claimed to be the victims who had to protect themselves against the blacks who had the NAACP on their side while those, poor white folks had nothing to protect them against the black man and his reefer but the KKK.

In reality, black people in this country wanted nothing more than equality and dignity instead of being subjugated, scapegoated, lynched and treated as sub-human.

Only in the minds of religious people is seeking equality “bullying,” as Michelle Bachman put it earlier this week when lamenting Arizona’s failed “right-to-discriminate” bill by stating that “the gay community have so bullied the American people”  – as if gay people were not legitimate citizens of their own country but just these other disgusting, bullying entities pestering an entire nation with their calls for equality. I mean how dare they demand equality and infringe upon Michelle Bachman and other religious peoples’ right to subjugate, humiliate and discriminate against an entire marginalized segment of the population?

Yes, only in the diseased minds and hearts of god-loving, religious people are demands for equality “bullying”, while casually dismissing an entire marginalized population as illegitimate citizens of their own country is considered “traditional values.”

Of course, when  – as an atheist  – one points out such hate and inconsistencies, one is called angry, militant, intolerant and hateful. If religion and its followers are one thing, then it is sadly predictable and thoroughly harmful.

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Quote of the Day

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If you happen to be with an atheist who tells you that he does not believe in God, you can read him the whole library, where it says that God exists, and where it is proven that God exists, and he will not believe. [However] if in the presence of this same atheist you witness to a consistent, Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart [and] it will be your witness that brings him the restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works”. –Pope Francis

First of all, I like the, unrelated to this quote may I add, image Lighthouse Catholic Media is using for their post as it is pure PR. By showing the Pope condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts his image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring  disease. Like Jesus.

Call me naive, but it is my estimation that not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.

Now I do not want to diss the Pope for having done something nice and then be accused of not being able to see the good things people do blah blah yawn, but I want to point out that the accolades the Pope received, both for touching a disfigured man as well as stating that atheists aren’t undiluted evil (a comment which was quietly reversed almost immediately) is emblematic of a larger narrative around Pope Francis that I find deeply objectionable; a narrative that basically says that since Pope Francis is not as overtly heinous as most popes, he is amazing, so let’s make him Time’s Person of the Year and celebrate him as a really amazing human being.

Manipulating people has never been easier.

Never mind that the Pope and the institution he represents neither have changed, nor have any intention to change any of the Catholic Church’s harmful doctrines – from homophobia to misogyny –  let’s give the man a pass and call him a great Pope and person for at least not having said gay people will go to hell. Is this the standard now?

When Pope Francis says that “even the atheists have capacity for good” and thus aren’t evil monsters condemned to hell,  he’s heralded as some sort of beacon of tolerance, even though it’s the bare minimum of decency to say that atheists have the capacity for goodness and doing good (although I would say that the Pope and I have very different ideas of what constitutes “doing good”).

Remember that despite all attempts at image control,  the Pope is still the figurehead and leader of a wealthy international organization that is profoundly and institutionally misogynistic, anti-choice and homophobic and the Pope himself  oversees the most powerfully influential lobby to deny women access to reproductive healthcare and  bodily autonomy.

This is an organization that, between 2005 and 2012, has spent $6.5 million on campaigns against same-sex marriage and thus hate. Also note that neither the Pope’s nor the Catholic church’s positions have changed with regard to any of these issues.

It is just that now the Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Francis, has decided to merely change the rhetoric, basically, with respect to how the church outwardly handles and talks about these issues without having any intention to actually change the harmful policies the church subscribes to and advocates. In the corporate world that is called white-washing.

And what about all those child abuse cases by the church and the cardinals that cover them up? He hasn’t done anything in that regard either. But hey, at least he doesn’t abuse children himself, so let’s celebrate him as an amazing man taking the catholic church in a new direction.

Feeding hungry people does not make Francis a great or exceptional pope. Frankly, it is his job. It is what Jesus taught. Francis doesn’t get a pat in the back for doing something that he’s known he needs to do since he signed up for this whole Pope thing. The pope is still against same sex marriage, he is still against contraception, he is still against abortion. Outwardly he is preaching about doing good but actually he stands for evil things – no matter how politely he talks about them.

Remember that many religious people help feed the hungry but still think gays are evil and abortion murder etc. Feeding the poor is not the litmus test of goodness or change.

As to the quote itself, all I can say is, what a load of unfounded, patronizing garbage.

The catholic church has been spending millions of their (tax exempt) dollars on hate and denying women access to reproductive care; money they could have used to feed and care for the needy, they have instead chosen to use to deny other people their rights and quash their autonomy.  And now this charlatan Pope Francis actually has the nerve to question the morality of atheists – trying to teach us about love, caring and Christian values? What a colossal asshole.

(By the way, what and where are all those libraries filled with evidence of a god? I thought the only “proof “this schmuck and his feeble-minded followers had for the existence of god was the pesky Bible and wishful thinking, also known as faith.  – Boy, when religious people pile it on, they sure pile it on high).

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