Monday, October 25, 2010

"You Can't Have Morality Without God"

As an Atheist, I am constantly hearing from Christians that morality would not exist without the word of God instructing us on how to live our lives. Though I’ve found many things in the bible to dispute this claim, I will stick to the most well known set of ground rules in the bible, The Ten Commandment.

Most may not know them all, but everyone knows what they are and what they represent. If morality is truly from God’s own words, then surely it should be in these laws.

Having looked at them all though, only about six of them are even relevant to life and God's chosen people broke all but one of them. Some of the laws were even overlooked by God, because it was prosperous for the chosen people.

Think About This:

The first four commandments:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. - This is just God being a jealous god like we've read so much about. I'm referring to the passages that actually say he is a jealous God even though he is just and fair.

2. Thou shall not make unto thee any graven images. - To me this is the same reason as the first commandment. The Catholic Church is especially known for breaking this commandment. Just look at all the religious art.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain. - To me this is the same reason as the first commandment.  Also, how would one define "in vain"? Could it be saying God is great while blowing up a plane in his name or simply saying that something should be an abomination unto him?

4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. - This is because God had to rest on the seventh day and so should we. Really that doesn't make sense. Also, Sabbath comes from the Pagan word "Sabbat" which means celebration. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Now we get to the next six. These are the ones that I actually approve of, even if God overlooked them.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother. - It's always a good idea to honor and learn from you're elders, except it doesn't quite work this way. We are supposed to love our parents, but we shouldn't honor everything they say. Look at it this way, what if you're father was the man in Sodom and Gomorrah, he didn't want people to hear of the city's bad reputation, so he offered his own daughters for his enemies to "have their way with". An honorable person wouldn't do this to their own children, but if a dishonorable man DID do this, the child would have to obey or they would be breaking a commandment.

6. Thou shalt not kill. - of course if you are populating the world, you wouldnt wouldnt to kill you'reselves off. Besides, how could a society grow with such chaos? Only thing is, the bible is filled with people who have killed in the name of God.

7. Thou shall not commit adultery. - , but it doesn't make a bit of sense because God obviously didn't mind polygamy.

8. Thou shalt not steal. - stealing brings disorder to society. It causes distrust and contempt. So of course this is a good idea, except that God's chosen people stole not only property, but wives and slaves whenever they conquered a new tribe.

9. Thou shalt not bare false witness. - This one is great. This is one that actually doesn't get broken in the bible very often.

10. Thou shalt not covet. - I think wanting things give you motivation and a purpose in life..I dont really find this comandment nessesary, thier are reasons why it can be bad though. in the bible, God's chosen people coveted land that they were told they would inherit. They also coveted the property, slaves and wives of the men that they conquered. But God obviously didn't care about this transgression. Also, I find it interesting that you can't even THINK about doing something. It commands you to ignore the natural urges of desire.

This leaves us with only six commandments that give us morality. Only six and no where does it cover rape, abuse, slavery, equal rights or anything else that we claim are important. So if God is the reason for morality, wouldn't he add a lot more than six commandments? And what of the ones that God seemed to overlook for his chosen people?

After reading the commandments, it’s obvious that basing morality off of them is a bad idea. People can learn a far better ideal of morality from common sense and their own life experiences.

Morality without religious doctrine is related to culture, upbringing, life experiences, logic and common sense. If you follow only the moral code set forth by a certain religion, there is always going to be something left out.

There are also shades of gray when it comes to morality, not everything is simply "good and evil." If you had the chance to save the life of a complete stranger, but it meant letting someone you loved die, how would you choose? That's sort of an example.

Now I've talked about sharing the same principles as the word of God has taught us, but who's to say that these rules are just in the first place? Is God to say that they are absolutely just when really, we are the ones who are interpreting the word of God?

What of the other things that God let everyone get away with in his name in the old testament? What about treating women as property and what about slavery? In our secular nation, we have found that these are considered immoral and were probably influenced mostly by religion in the first place. Isn't this a good argument for Godless morality?

There were many other commandments that Moses passed onto us and maybe I'll talk about those some other time.

In conclusion, there are certain things that God's word has left out or even included that should be considered as immoral. I also find it interesting that the son of God's teachings could differ so much from our omnipotent creator's teachings. If you think about it, Jesus Christ's teachings were more influential to morality in our modern world then our God's. But even the savior's teachings can be challenged and it still goes to show that a belief in God is not necessary for morality.

Written by Jon Heim, edited by Hannah Hood.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boy Scouts Of America

Last year, a gay man and his son were accepted into the boy scouts. The openly gay father went on camping trips, attended meetings and given a uniform. This year the "don't-be-gay-sparky boy scouts" decided that the gay father could not wear the uniform but could still be in charge of fund raising.Boy Scouts of America have a policy of no OPENLY gay or OPENLY ATHEIST. The supreme court has ruled that as a private organization they are permitted to do this.

Boy Scouts Of America are intolerant. They ban Homosexuals, atheists, and women and probably anyone else who is not a christian. They even support the stance that abortion is wrong. What the hell does this have to do with guiding children?...it's indoctrination.

 They specifically mention atheists, but what if a Muslim father wanted to support them? It's ridiculous to say that, oh...if you don't have a faith, you're not equal, but if you believe in something else, we'll make an exception...if that even is what they do.

It's all about money too, since they are a non-profit organization to avoid taxes and government regulation. they are letting this guy sell popcorn for them, but they are not allowing him to be any other part of the organization. This is certainly not separate but equal.

it's really sad that even though you don't bring up you're beliefs or sexuality, they still judge you based on them.

They should consider the fact that this guy is doing what fathers should do, take a part in their children's lives. many fathers don't even care!

If I have a son in the future, and he wants to be a part of a scouting program, I'm going to find a program that is not out to ban free thinking, or is apposed to being  you're self.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who I'm Voting For (lesser of multiple evils)

Joe Sestak For Senate

Political Positions

* Abortion - Sestak is pro-choice, holding a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and   a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.NARAL endorsed Sestak in the 2010   Democratic primary over Specter because of Sestak's opposition to a ban on partial birth   abortion. In 2009, Sestak's invitation to speak to students at the Catholic Malvern   Preparatory School was rescinded after the school received criticism from Catholic   parents and alumni.

* Economy - Sestak supports requiring Congress to offset the cost of all new spending. The   Congressman also supports expanding middle class tax cuts and letting the Bush tax cuts   expire. He voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Stimulus)   and the Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008.

* Education - Sestak voted for the Improving Head Start Act and the College Cost Reduction   and Access Act.

* Environment - Sestak voted for the Waxman Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act   (Cap and Trade) program.Joe Sestak has a 96% lifetime rating from League of Conservation   Voters and a 100% rating from PennEnvironment. He was endorsed by the Sierra Club in his   2006 and 2008 Congressional election campaigns. He voted for the Renewable Energy and   Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 and the New Direction for Energy Independence,   National Security and Consumer Protection Act. He was also an original co-sponsor of the   Climate Stewardship Act (H.R. 620) and the Safe Climate Act.

* Gun Rights - Sestak supports gun control and has a 100% rating from the Brady Campaign to   Prevent Gun Violence and an F rating from the National Rifle Association. Sestak has   called for the reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons.

* Heathcare - Sestak credits his support for health care reform as to "pay back" the   country that provided him and his family health care while he was in the Navy (the   TRICARE program), especially for treating his daughter's brain tumor. He supports state-  provided preventive care and voted for the CHAMP Act. Sestak originally co-sponsored the   Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiations Act, the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer   Childhood Cancer Act and co-sponsored H.R. 3800, which establishes a public-private   Partnership for Health Care Improvement. He also announced the Pediatric Cancer Caucus,   which he will co-chair. He is also a member of the Autism Caucus, Diabetes Caucus, 21st   Century Health Care Caucus, Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Nursing Caucus, and   Cystic Fibrosis Caucus.

* Unions - Sestak is an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act and supports   the original version that includes card check. He created the Labor Advisory Committee to   address the challenges facing working families in his district.

* Medical Marijuana - Sestak voted to allow states to regulate medical marijuana  by voting   for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2008,   which would have barred the Department of Justice from preventing the implementation of   state laws regarding the distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana.   The bill was defeated 165-262.

* Military - As a candidate, Sestak campaigned to end the war in Iraq. Once in office in   2007, he supported Congressional efforts to re-deploy forces but ultimately voted for the   no-strings-attached war supplemental that the House constructed after President Bush's   veto, a bill that many critics of the Bush administration have called a "blank check" for   the continuation of administration policies in the Middle East.

  Sestak supported the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which critics contend continues the   Bush administration's policy of warrantless wiretapping and provides retroactive immunity   to telecommunications companies who participated in the National Security Agency's   "terrorist surveillance program."

  Sestak supported the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan in late 2009, and   military actions such as drone strikes in northwest Pakistan. He supports the gradual   drawdown of troops from Iraq.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chris Carney For House Of Representatives

Political Positions

Carney is a somewhat conservative Democrat, which is not surprising given the nature of the district. For example, while opposing proposals to privatize Social Security, he said he is open to the idea of adding private accounts in addition to (not at the expense of) traditional defined benefits. He supports federal investment in stem cell research, and is an advocate of universal healthcare. He supports gun rights, identifies as Pro-Life, and opposes gay marriage. He supports estate tax reduction.

Carney made change of direction in Iraq policy a cornerstone of his 2006 campaign, often decrying the Bush Administration's war policies. However, he subsequently voted to continue the war in Iraq, H.R. 2206, and against H.R. 2956, an effort to establish a timeline to withdraw from Iraq. Carney was one of only ten Democrats to vote against ending the war. Carney also is not enthusiastic about investigations of pre-war intelligence. “The more energy spent on answering Congressional investigations, the less time will be spent on winning the war,” he said.

On May 3, 2007, Carney voted with 166 Republicans against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (aka Matthew Shephad Act), even though the Pennsylvania delegation (including 4 Republicans) voted 14-4 in favor.

In 2008 he was one of the "Blue Dog" Democrats who joined most Republicans in an unsuccessful to attempt to pass a bill amending FISA to grant telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their involvement in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. In particular, he sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi encouraging her not to fight the bill.

Carney voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Congressman Carney also voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remeber This The Next Time You Vote! II

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

AMENDMENT XI

Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.

Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 11.

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

AMENDMENT XII

Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.

Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -- the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.

AMENDMENT XIII

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XIV

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

AMENDMENT XV

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude--

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XVI

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

AMENDMENT XVII

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

AMENDMENT XVIII

Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

AMENDMENT XIX

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XX

Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.

Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

AMENDMENT XXI

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

AMENDMENT XXII

Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

Section 1.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

AMENDMENT XXIII

Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

Section 1.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XXIV

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XXV

Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.

Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the 25th amendment.

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

AMENDMENT XXVI

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.

Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

AMENDMENT XXVII

Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

Remember This The Next Time You Vote!

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section. 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article III.

Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section. 2.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State,--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section. 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.

Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section. 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

Attest William Jackson Secretary

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

Why Do You Believe In God?

Who Told You That You Are A Sinner?

Your church? But wait, don't fret! There's a magic cure, and your church just happens to have it! (Of course some might suggest that your church has merely cut you in order to sell you a band-aid...)

Did Adam  And Eve Sin?

They disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (right and wrong). So, yes...Right?

Just one problem. How could Adam and Eve have been expected to comprehend the implications of their actions if, prior to their indiscretion, they had no concept of wrong, evil, punishment, suffering, pain and death? even if God had been successful in adequately explaining all of these concepts and the distinction between right and wrong to them beforehand, this means that he would have had to have given them knowledge of good and evil anyway, which turns this entire story into one big ridiculous farce.

A just, loving and secure god would realize that simply not believing in him is NOT a crime worthy of hellfire.

A Sin Can Not Be Inherited


I find it abhorrent that a newborn baby is considered to be dirty with sin. This makes a complete mockery of true morality, which requires both an understand of right and wrong, and that individual's willful intention to do wrong, in order to determine immorality.

Even our modest human justice system has the basic common sense not to prosecute minors for their "immoral" actions, let alone for those of their ancestors.

A Blood Sacrifice Can Not "Pay" For A Person's Sin

It is an archaic, deeply flawed view of morality that says that, as long as there is blood spilled to appease god (and innocent blood at that), then the crime is forgiven.

How can someone else pay for your sins? In what sense is morality and justice served if someone, say, offers to take the place of a condemned criminal in the electric chair? Does this change the fact that the criminal has not been held responsible for his actions? And how is the innocent death anything more than a sad, pointless waste that doesn't add a grain to the overall moral equation?

This is corrupt morality, removing responsibility from the sinner and causing a dangerous volatile mindset where anything goes as long as you repent before the buzzer (also known as the "miraculous death row conversion").

Blinded by the numbing repetition and familiarity of this salvation plan, Christians fail to see the stark depravity and poison that drips from it. Indeed, if this is not superstitious witchcraft, then I don't know what is. (Well, that's not entirely true. These definitely are: Christian "spells" cast through persuasive prayer, the macabre cannibalistic "ritual" of communion, the truly frightening "possession" that causes a person to speak in tongues...)

By labeling virtually every natural urge and function as a sin (from sexuality, to having negative feelings towards our enemies), the church ensures the lifelong dependency and commitment of its guilt-ridden, emotionally-crippled followers.

Have You Ever Asked Yourself This Question?
I Mean Seriously Asked Yourself?


Pierre Charron once noted that we are baptized or circumcised a Christian or a Jew, long before we are even aware we are a human.

Is it any wonder then that, through early indoctrination while the critical mind is still developing, we almost without exception go on to inherit the precise religion of our parents or surrounding culture?

No, of course not - it's only natural. But that doesn't say much for the actual truth of that particular religion , does it?

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Creation

Most people think that you need a god to explain the existence of the world. They point to the complexity and order of the universe as sure proof that it was designed by a conscious entity, but stop one step short of reaching the glaring conclusion to their logic.

Such an intelligent designer, one might well presume, would have to be fairly complex and ordered itself, wouldn't it? Perhaps even more so than the universe? So then what created god?

It is a giant leap from "we can't yet explain every aspect of the natural world" to "God did it". To rid us of a natural difficulty, the theist has invented a supernatural one.

There is no such thing as second-hand revelation. The bible is simply hearsay.

God-Of-The-Gaps

We once believed that thunder and lightning was god getting angry. Of course, now we have a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, it would be hard to find anyone who still believes this.

Religion is a crutch left over from man's pre-scientific youth and, like a child with a security blanket, our continued reliance on it for emotional support is unhealthy and detrimental to our growth.

As the ground illuminated by science advances, this god-of-the-gaps of human knowledge will continue to retreat with the shadows. You only have to look to the mistaken assumptions of your religious ancestors for a glimpse of the future of your god.

In the meantime, the atheist is not so intellectually promiscuous as to jump at a supernatural explanation just so that we can have an answer, any answer, right now.

"is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" - Epicurus (341-271 BC)

Morality

Contrary to what your church may have told you, atheists do not automatically turn to hedonism and anarchy. In fact, those who suggest that a man must be ethically restrained by a religion reveal, quite frankly, just how deep-seated their own morals are.

It is an easy target for the church to blame society's ills on man's inevitable shelving of the god myth. But the fact remains that there is a fraction of the immorality now then there was when the church had complete, unchallenged influence over every aspect of society.

This was a time of Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch- and heretic-burnings. It was a period know as the Dark Ages, and that they truly were - both morally and intellectually.

150 years ago: the abolition of slavery. 100 years ago: the emancipation of women. 50 years ago: inter-racial marriage. Today: same-sex relationships...
Why is it that the church always has to be dragged kicking and screaming (by secular outrage) towards the tolerance and compassion that, ironically, it claims to hold a monopoly on?

The Ten Commandments are woefully inadequate as a moral guide. The first four are blatant religious propaganda - basically a plug for the Hebrew god. The remaining six are dangerously held up as exhaustive and inspired by those who apparently haven't read them. For example: one wonders how "lying" and "envy" make the big list of don'ts, but not rape, torture, child abuse, racism, slavery....and surely nobody still seriously believes that black and white moral guidelines are much use in a gray-scale world. "thou shalt not kill" - but what about in genuine self-defense? "Thou shalt not bear false witness" - but what about lying to the Nazi officer who asked if you are hiding Jews? True morality requires judging each case on its own merits, not just overlaying the same clumsy morality stencil on everything.

Prayer

To the critical mind, it seems that the proportion of prayers that are specifically answered do not deviate too far from what the simple law of averages would suggest.

Having stopped praying since my younger years, I can certainly attest to having a better than fair share of good fortune.

Regardless, what never fails to surprise me is the egotism and arrogance of the theist who, by praying for divine favor or intervention, actually calls into doubt the very wisdom of their god!

This Life Is Not A "Vale Of Tears"

It makes me nauseous to think that children are being taught that the most important part of their life is auditioning for the next one. This is a truly poisonous concept that inevitably leads to the degradation of our current world as a transit life - a "vale of tears" that we must "put up with" momentarily until our ticket is clipped and we are rescued from this miserable existence of trial and temptation.

In stark contrast, atheists in general beleive this to be our one and only life, a view which, I can assure you, makes life precious beyond all value.

What if the greatest deception the devil every played on man was to convince him to devote his time to mindless rituals, self-depreciation, and violent prejudices? Of course, I realize this is a ridiculous premise; "the devil" is a construct of religion, not vice versa...

So what does the bible tell us?

Who should we kill?
* Homosexuals (Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26-32)
* Adulterers (Lev. 20:10, Deut. 22:22)
* Disobedient children (Deut. 21:20-21, Lev. 20:9, Exod. 21:15)
* Women who are not virgins on their wedding night (Deut. 22:13-21)
* All non-Christians (parable told by Christ - Luke 19:27)
* Those accused of wickedness by at least two people (Deut. 17:2-7)
* Anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exod. 35:2-3, Num. 15:32-6)

 Women
* It is "shameful" for a women to speak in church (1 Cor. 14:34-5)
* A man mus OK his wife's words if they are to have force (Num. 30:8)
* A women must not teach or hold authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:12)
* Lot saves the messengers from the men of Sodom by offering up his virgin daughters to "do to them as you please" *Gen. 19:8)
* "Kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourself every girl who has never slept with a man" (Moses - Num. 31:17-8)

 Slavery
* God supports slavery (Lev. 25:44-6, Exod. 21:2-8, Eph. 6:5, Col. 3:22)
* Instructions on how to sell your daughter as a slave (Exod. 21:7-8)
* When to give y our slaves "severe" or "light" beatings (Luke 12:42-8)
* Ok to beat slaves only if they don't die within 2 days (Exod. 21:20-1)
* How to mark your slave: drive an awl through it's ear (Deut. 15:17)

 Marriage
* It's best if all people remain unmarried. Marriage is a lesser-of-two-evils compromise for Christians too weak to resist their sexual urges, "for it is better to marry than to burn". (Paul - 1Cor. 7:1-2, 8-9, 25-6, 38)
* The rapist of an unwed woman must buy her and make her his wife (apparently a far more "holy" union than a genuine, loving same-sex relationship - Deut. 22:28-9)

 Justice
* If a man suspects his wife of cheating he can serve her a cursed drink; if she becomes deformed, then that proves her guilt (Num. 5:12-31)
* 42 children killed by bears for calling a prophet "baldy" (2 Kings 2:23-4)
* OK to beat your children with a rod - it wont kill them (Prov. 23:13-4)
* God commits, orders, or endorses every form of atrocity known to man (Pretty much pick a page of the Old Testament at random)

 Do the Old Testament laws still apply?
* Every "jot" and "tittle" (Christ - Matt 5:17-9)

 Christ, what a role model...
* Christ tells us we must "hate" our entire family, and een our own life, if we want to be one of his disciples (Luke 14:26)
* those who abandon their families will be rewarded (Matt. 19:29)
* "for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother...And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Christ - Matt. 10:35-6)
* "I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Christ - matt. 10:34)
* If you don't have a sword, sell your clothes to buy one (Luke 22:36)
* Curses fig tree for not bearing fruit in off-season (Mark 11:12-4, 20-1)
* Didn't want to help girl because she was a "dog" gentile (Matt. 15:22-8)

Of course there are several good passages in the bible, the ones that are carefully selected by your minister for sunday readings. But (and pardon the analogy) if you find some chocolate in a pile of dung you don't eat it, right? N. The good is tanted by the bad that surrounds it.

Don't be afraid to question. The truth is never embarrassed by honest enquiry. Don't take your minister's word for it, Don't even take my word for it. Look it up for yourself!

Take Matthew 1:22-3, Ask yourself; Was he telling the truth when he said that Christ's virgin birth had fulfilled a prophesy? (Isaiah 7:14)
Look it up. Read the context around it. Judge for yourself. wasn't Isaiah actually claiming that the baby would be a sign that a planned siege on Jerusalem during a civil war would fail? In fact, doesn't the prophet then go on and try to fulfill his own prophesy at Isaiah 8?!

Let Me Tell You About Mithra...

Mithra was a Persian/Indian god of the 6th century BC> Apparently, he was born of a virgin on December 25th. (as were the gods Osiris, Horus, Marduk, Sol, Saturn, and Apollo). A birth witnessed by shepherds, and by gift-bearing Magi who had followed a falling star. He became known as the light/good shepherd/son of god, and was said to be able to raise the dead, cast out devils, and cure the blind, lame and sick. Like the god Attis, Mithra was sacrificed at the spring equinox (easter, or "Eostre", being the ancient goddess of spring), rose up after three days and ascended to paradise (a Persian word). Prior to this, Mithra celebrated a last supper with his 12 disciples (representing the 12 signs of the zodiac). IN memory of this, his followers would "eat" their god in the form of wafers and bread (like the followers of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus) - bread marked with the cross, a symbol borrowed from another god, Tammuz. Mithra's worshipers also believed there would be a "day of judgment" when sinners and the "unbaptized" would be dragged down to darkness...

Sound familiar? Christianity is simply a mish-mash, hand-me-down, patchwork guilt of all the most memorable elements of a thousand different "pagan" religions that came before it.

Christians dismiss 9,999 religions as false, atheists dismiss just one more than that...

Born Of A Virgin

As we have seen, the virgin birth story is neither unique nor original to Christianity. Traditionally, a claim of virgin birth was a way of conveying the authenticity and importance of a god (and sometimes even morals, such as Julius Caesar) to a largely uneducated audience.

 December 25th
This date marks the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere - the turning point of winter as the days start to get longer again. Long before Christianity, sun god worshipers set aside this day to celebrate the beauty of nature with the return or "birth" of the sun.

With the obvious symbolism for the Pagans, it is easy to see why many virgin-born savior gods were said to have been born on December 25th in the hope of winning credulous and superstitious converts. It was in 350 AD that Pope Julius I "set" Christ's birthday to keep up this long tradition.

"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin" - Cardinal Bellarmine at Gallileo's trial, 1615

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Parsonage Allowance" and other Tax Advantages Available to Clergy

The IRS allows "ordained ministers" who are employed by a religious institution to exempt the money they pay to maintain a residence from taxation ("Parsonage Allowance").  This is not a deduction but an exemption (full amount is substracted from income).  The only limit on the amount is the "fair market rental value" of the house. So, a Mega Church Pastor, such as Creflo Dollar (or Eddie Long, or T.D. Jakes, or Rick Warren, or Joel Osteen or whoever), can exempt the fair market rental value on his home from his income. Fortunately he can only do this for his primary residence (as they usually own several homes).

Let's say that the Pastor's primary residence is valued at $5 million. A general rule of thumb for fair market rental value is 1% of the value of the home. In this case, it would $50,000 a month or $600,000 a year. That money is exempted from his income. He doesn't have to pay federal, state, or Social Security taxes on it. In addition, if he has a mortgage, he can also deduct the interest paid on it. This amounts to a double deduction but it is legal under IRS rules. Assuming his interest rate was 5%, that would be another $240,000 a year that could be deducted from his income. At this point, he could make well over $850,000 a year without owing any taxes.

If that is not bad enough, as an ordained minister, the Pastor is also allowed to opt out of Social Security. That means a savings of at least another 15% of his income. This is a special privilege available to ministers.

Granted, most Pastor's do not have the income of a Creflo Dollar or a Bishop Eddie Long but they are entitled to the same perks from the Government. This is, in my opinion,  a clear violation of church and state. Why is the IRS giving special tax breaks to religious leaders? It forces every other taxpayer to subsidize religions that they may not believe in.

With the deep debt that the USA is in, we need to look for more revenue sources. One way to get some immediate relief is to quit subsidizing pastors and churches.  Why won't politicians call for eliminating these tax breaks? Because it would be political suicide and most only care about getting re-elected.

We need statesmen today not politicians. Thomas Jefferson, in The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, written three years after he penned the Declaration of Independence, said: "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why I Am An Atheist

I come from a very religious Christian family, I've read the bible. I'm also working on the Qur'an, the Tanakh, and the Dhammapada. I have done research on many religions. I have homosexual friends. I have Atheist friends, Christian friends, Pagan friends and Agnostic friends. They are good people and shouldn't be judged by a certain kind of followers.

let me be clear exactly what I don't believe in, along with a higher being...Just so we are clear and you will see how this will also give a good reason why I don't believe in the other things that I will mention.

1.Souls/Spirits
2.Magic of any kind
3.Miracles

The reason for these I think is because I have never experienced an encounter that I could not use logic to understand.

I am an Atheist because I HAVE known God's word, as well as other god's words. I have prayed to God to show me that he does exist, and to change my mind about my beliefs. Since then I have come to accept the fact that it is not in my character to believe in higher beings. This was not a choice for me. I cant help the fact that I analyze and question everything. It's in my nature. In this scary; confusing world, why would I willingly choose to not have a savior?

That being said, after reading the bible I know that there is a lot of issues that God takes a stand against that I find intolerant and ridiculous. Also after learning the history of Christianity, I know that there are inconsistencies and contradictions. Even when you take away the traditions that are based on other religions and are not original, you are left with just what the bible tells you. which was written by men in a different language, which was translated at least twice over long periods of time, which were then translated again into easier to read versions. This compilation of stories were based off of documents that listed Hebrew law and parables and should not be taken literally.

There is also scientific proof against the written history of the bible, but I'm not going to comment on them because if you are reading this as a christian, you are only going to close you're mind to them to protect you're faith. I beleive that The difference between people of faith and people of science is when science changes or errors, the people of science changes with it, always moving forward.

Unlike Christians, I beleive that the bible is not a good thing to base you're morals off of. Even the ten commandments only has 2 laws that even apply to life. The rest only prove that God is a jealous being. The commandments that are not good laws, are only suggestions on how to live a life that seems Moral because it is what our society has come to accept as moral.
My life experiences have given me everything I need to form my own beliefs and provide me with morals. It's ridiculous to think that morals only come from religion.

I find hope in the beauty of life, this earth and every living thing. Friendship, love, passion, and the beauty that surrounds you is reason enough to live you're life. To want anything more is selfish.
The people who think that they are God's chosen ones are the same people who thought that the earth was the center of the universe. To think that humans are any more important then any other living thing is narcissistic. Another example of this narcissism is when someone is searching for religion, some of them pick the God who seems the closest to being human like. Any other God that Christians rule out our not "made in our image". Also that heaven's rewards consist of earthly treasures according to the bible.

I beleive Narcissism, fear, hopelessness and the inability to answer questions are the biggest reasons people "find" religion.

The only thing I ask of anyone, is that they judge me based on how well they know me. Nothing more. How could you know my thoughts? My morals? My Philosophies?

I don't need God to be good,
And please remember the first amendment.

Not all of my reasons are there, and the ones that are there, need more of an explanation that I have time for right now. I'm sure if you follow my blog, or ask me questions you will better understand my views.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Glossolalia - "Speaking in tongues"

In my opinion, speaking in tongues is not a normal result of having been saved. Rather, Pentecostals are motivated to speak in this way because of the expectations of their religious culture. They are expected to speak in tongues; this expectation is internalized; they end up speaking in tongues.

Here is an essay written about the subject on psychohistorian.org:

Speaking in tongues

Speaking in tongues has been practiced for many centuries, but despite its long history, differences of opinion accompany almost all questions regarding the phenomenon: is it sent from God? Is it of the Devil? Need it be a religious experience at all? Is it the result of a mental disease?

1. Introduction

I first learned about "speaking in tongues" as a 19th century phenomenon found amongst spiritualists and mediums during séances. This was an era when mildly interesting people would sit around in the dark in a heavily draped room and summon up spirits of the dead and hold conversations with them. Communication was generally facilitated by a medium, who would on occasion speak in a funny way.

I was thus surprised to hear that this garbled way of speaking was still popular today, although this time it was happening in the context of the Christian Pentecostal movement. In particular, some members of two Christian organizations in Stellenbosch (His People Christian Church, and Shophar Christian Church) were speaking in tongues. A colleague introduced me to an acquaintance of his, Denise M., who had been a member of the His People organization and had spoken in tongues, and now had some unanswered questions. We met and had several discussions, during which she agreed to write down her personal testimony. During the discussion I learned that in the Bible, two kinds of tongues are reported: a gift of diverse kinds of tongues (speaking in human languages) and the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue (a heavenly language).

The first type of tongues is called xenoglossia (xenos = foreign, glossa = tongue), a phrase coined by Charles Richet (1850-1935), a leading investigator of the paranormal from the 1870s to the 1930s (who also won the Nobel Prize for Physiology (1913) for his work on allergic responses). Xenoglossia is the use of an actual foreign language by a person who has had no conscious knowledge of that language. Since Denise M. does not claim to have experienced xenoglossia, I will only briefly examine this phenomenon.

The second category is commonly labeled glossolalia (glossa = tongue, lalia = speaking) and is what Denise M. and many other people have experienced.

The claim is sometimes made that glossolalia is a supernatural phenomenon. If this were true, then a scientific account or explanation of the behavior would not be possible. This is what I hope to examine in this article: is there any credible explanation for glossolalia?

2. Anomalous event or normal behavior?

Marcello Truzzi, sociologist and long-time CSICOP collaborator (currently at the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research) investigates anomalous events that seem unexplained by our current bio-physical/psychological models. He notes:

"…we can distinguish between the abnormal, the paranormal and the supernatural. If something is rare or extraordinary in science but it is explainable, we call it abnormal. The term paranormal refers to something that science can explain some day but at the present moment cannot. These are the scientific frontiers. However, there are things that are fundamentally inexplicable by science, the supernatural." (quoted in Solovey 1990)

I will examine glossolalia with reference to Truzzi's three categories: supernatural, paranormal, and abnormal, as well as asking if it could be normal behavior. I will first briefly review the supernatural perspective, and then take a look at tongues as it appears in the paranormal literature. Tongues could also be some kind of abnormality: language, psychopathology and altered mental states will be examined as possible explanations. Of course, tongues could also be a normal event that is merely being interpreted as something else.

3. How is glossolalia to be defined?

The definition of glossolalia depends very much on where you look. in the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) it is recorded as "a charisma that enables the recipient to praise God in miraculous speech." According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica (1990) it is "a neurotic or psychotic symptom." Seen anthropologically, it is one of the ways "man uses language when he practices religion" (Samarin 1972). Other phrases used are "tongue jabbering", "meaningless neologisms" and "unintelligible words". It would appear that the context within which the behavior is observed significantly influences its definition.

For now, I would suggest simply that glossolalic discourse be described as a human utterance apparently devoid of semantic meaning or syntax.

4. Who speaks in tongues?

The practice of speaking in tongues in Christianity goes back all the way to the beginning of this religion (see "glossolalia and the supernatural" below). Several studies of religious glossolalia have shown that those who speak in tongues are deeply touched by the experience. Goodman (1972) reports a "before and after" phase in the lives of the tongue-speakers, with a clear, decisive "change" in-between. Kildahl (1975) notes that Christian glossolalics reported positive, and negative consequences, following their exercise of tongue-speaking (for example, an increase in personal happiness, a sense of greater personal power, a joyful and warm personal fellowship among tongue-speakers, dependency on the leader who introduced the person to tongue-speaking and divisiveness that polarizes the religious community).

Tongues is not confined to Christianity, however. In all ages, and all parts of the world, people have spoken in apparently unintelligible fashion (Eliade 1987). May (1956) describes the prevalence of tongue-speaking amongst the Hindus in India. The physical manifestations appear to be analogous to what happens in a Christian context, though the belief system connected with the experience is quite different.

Anthropologist G J Jennings (1968) carried out an ethnological study of glossolalia and observed this behavior amongst Tibetan monks, certain North American Indians, the Haida Indians of the Pacific Northwest, the Aborigines of Australia, the aboriginal peoples of the subarctic regions of North America and Asia, the Curanderos of the Andes, the Dyaks of Borneo, the Chaco Indians of South America, shamans in the Sudan, Siberia and Greenland, and in various cults (Voodoo in Haiti, Zor in Ethiopia, Shango on the west coast of Africa, and the Shago in Trinidad).

I have heard anecdotal claims that tongue-speaking occurs in the New Age movement, and would appreciate reports from anyone who has knowledge or experience of this. [2006-11-16: See "Comments" below for an update]

5. What about xenoglossia?

Claims of xenoglossia are well known, and are found mainly within the Pentecostal Movement and in the literature of psychic research. In the broader Christian context, there are several historical accounts. For example, in the 18th century work Lives of the Saints, Alban Butler tells of St Pachomius, the Egyptian founder of the first Christian monastery, who could speak in Greek and Latin although he had never learned them.

In The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church, (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press 1971) E D O'Connor claims several cases of xenoglossia. Sumrall (1993:126) gives an example of a man who spoke in tongues after a sermon. Another man interpreted his message. "When they had finished, a young man walked to the front and spoke in a foreign language to the one who had given the message. The brother answered: 'I'm sorry, sir, but I don't understand any other language.' The man replied: 'But you spoke my language beautifully. I am Persian.' . the brother answered: 'No, it was the spirit who spoke to you. it was God talking to you, not me.' "

Not all Christian commentators, however, readily endorse the reality of xenoglossia; Harold Lindsell, in a Christianity Today article, comments:

"there is no known case in which a missionary received the gift of speaking the language of the group he sought to reach. Missionaries have always had to learn to speak the required languages the hard way."

In the paranormal literature, numerous cases of xenoglossia are encountered, where it is commonly explained as a feature associated with mediumship, or more rarely, as a manifestation of thought-reading.

An early case of xenoglossia involved a French medium, Madam X. This turn-of-the-century spiritualist wrote long sentences in modern Greek, a language she had not studied. Subsequent investigation showed that many of the phrases came from a particular Greek-French dictionary and it is thought that Madame X may have experienced cryptomnesia - the repetition of forgotten memories.

In his Polyglot Mediumship (1932), Ernesto Bozzano (1862-1945) describes thirty-five case histories of xenoglossia, attributing the ability to spirit possession. Bozzano was a leading Italian parapsychologist, and a vocal proponent of the spiritualistic interpretation of the phenomena of mediumship. He was one of the researchers who investigated the famous medium Eusapia Palladino.

In They Speak With Other Tongues (1964), J L Sherrill claims to have encountered a number of people who exhibited xenoglossia. Jennings (1968) tells of Tibetan monks who, in their ritual dances, spoke "in English with quotations from Shakespeare and with profanity like drunken soldiers, or in German, or French."

Inglis (1985:229) recounts several cases of xenoglossia. In 1857, for example, there is an account of a New York judge, J W Edmonds, who had a daughter, Laura, who was psychic. At a dinner party, Laura spoke in Greek with a Greek guest, carrying on an hour-long conversation. At other times, she could also speak Spanish and American Indian. The American medium George Valiantine could speak in Russian, German, Spanish and Welsh. A Brazilian medium, Carlos Mirabelli, was reported to be able to speak nearly thirty languages (including Syrian and Japanese) and could even write in hieroglyphics.

Modern scholars are more reserved in their judgment, however. Anthropological linguist W T Samarin (1972:112) notes:

"It is extremely doubtful that the alleged cases of xenoglossia (miraculous speech in real languages) are real. Anytime one attempts to verify them, he finds that the stories have been greatly distorted or that the 'witness' turns out to be incompetent or unreliable from a linguistic point of view."

Kildahl (1975) points out that:

"There are no reported instances of a glossolalist speaking a language which was then literally translated by an expert in that language…"

Malony & Lovekin (1985:5) conclude:

"Although tongue speakers often claim that their new language is French or Italian or Spanish, and so on – languages they never knew before – scientific studies to date have not confirmed their claims."

6. Glossolalia and the supernatural

Explaining glossolalic speech as divinely inspired has a long tradition. Motley (1967) points out that a tongue-speaker will usually assert that speech is divinely inspired and that his unknown tongue is a manifestation of the work of his God.

Tongue-speaking was known to Plato, who described its use by Greek and Roman oracles. The priests of Apollo, for example, engaged in prophetic glossolalia. Virgil wrote about a Roman Sibyl who spoke that way, in the Aeneid, book six.

In Christian scriptures, glossolalia is traced back to Acts 2, verse 4:

"They are all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to talk in other tongues, as the spirit gave them power of utterance."

There are numerous other historical accounts, several detailed by Cutten (1927:48-66). In the late 17th century, when the Roman Catholic Church was attempting to exterminate Protestants in southern France, several Huguenot children are said to have spoken correct French, which differed considerably from their native patois of the Cevennes Mountains.

During the 18th century, tongues was a common feature among British Quakers and American Methodists. In the early 19th century it was found among members of the Catholic Apostolic Church in England, and in the US among members of Mormon churches. Later in the 19th century, it became common within the Holiness Churches.

In the early 20th century, speaking in tongues as a religiously-endorsed activity became perhaps the defining characteristic of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian groups.

Bynum (1999) describes the origin of modern-day tongues:

"In 1900 Charles F. Parham opened the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. Under his teaching and ministry, Miss Agnes Ozman was influenced to speak in tongues. Within a short time a dozen more students had this experience."

The Cape Town-based His People Christian Church, in their New Foundations Course (p17) explain:

"With the baptism of the Holy Spirit, comes the ability to speak in tongues. This is the evidence that someone has in fact received the Holy Spirit … speaking in tongues is a very special gift from God … it is a sign for the unbelievers … speaking in tongues is a way of worshiping God … your mind will not understand what you will say in tongues. Do not let this be a blockage to flowing naturally in tongues … you have control over what you say. It is an act of your will. The Holy Spirit gives you the ability but you do the speaking."

Sumrall (1993:117) explains that tongues "is a supernatural utterance, which comes from God through the person of the Holy Spirit" and "when you speak in tongues, you are speaking supernaturally to God" (:122). He also cautions that the Devil seeks to counterfeit the gift of speaking in tongues: "I have seen dozens and dozens of people uttering things that could not be understood either by the other native people in the meeting or by me as a foreign visitor. They were merely stammering out words under demonic power."

7. Paranormal glossolalia

The first studies of glossolalia were carried out at the turn of the century by investigators of spiritualism. Alcock (1987) points out:

"The study of the paranormal was historically associated with the so-called occult sciences such as astrology and numerology; a more direct progenitor was the spiritualism craze of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."

Investigators examined spirit messages, apparitions by persons at the point of death, automatic writing, clairvoyance and so on. By the early 1920s the term "parapsychology" (besides or alongside psychology) was in use, instead of "psychical research", and may be defined as the scientific study of anomalous events associated with human experience.

A case reported in 1897 to the Society for Psychical Research described an account of glossolalia that was attributed to a spirit talking through the speaker:

When [the spirit] ceased giving me prose, it gave poetry in 'unknown tongues'. As the foreign verbiage came via voice, I penciled it down, mostly in an archaic mono-phonetic form…"

Another report described a woman:

"When she gave herself permission, her vocal organs would articulate nonsense-syllables with the greatest volubility and animation of expression and with no apparent fatigue, and then stop at the behest of her will."

A few years later, Theodore Flournoy (1854-1921) published From India To The Planet Mars, describing the spiritualistic glossolalia of Helene Smith, who claimed she was speaking in a Martian language. The author describes the experience:

"Presently, Helene begins to recite with increased volubility and incomprehensible jargon . after a few minutes, Helene interrupts herself, crying out "Oh, I have had enough of it; you say such words to me I will never be able to repeat them."

Flournoy was a leading psychologist and psychic investigator. His skepticism about mediums was modified by his experiences with Helene Smith; he showed that although a great deal of her reincarnation testimony was false, he could not explain all her accounts. His later investigation of Eusapia Palladino convinced him that she was a genuine medium.

The Swiss psychologist C G Jung, one-time croney of Sigmund Freud, was very fond of the supernatural. His doctoral dissertation described the case of a girl who exhibited glossolalia while in a séance:

"She went on speaking in the same conversational tone but in a strange idiom that sounded like French and Italian mixed . it was possible to make out a few words, but not to memorize them, because the language was so strange."

Not all early investigators, however, were convinced that this speech was a sign of anything paranormal. Best (1925:1707) writes:

"As to the absurd nonsense talked by mediums when they are possessed by their familiar demons or spirits, such matter is scarce worth regarding, as is appears to be, in most cases, meaningless gibberish."

As the 20th century drew to a close, séances seemed to have become déclassé, and the spirit world less eager to contact us through mediums, mystics and others sensitives sitting around in dingy rooms. Now, they seem to prefer the bright lights of a TV studio. In May of 2000, the American Fox TV network broadcast a two-hour special, "Powers Of The Paranormal: Live On Stage," which included the "séance of the century". The medium, Bill Burns, settled down, and after some standard spirit-possession twitches went into trance and summoned the spirits of Marilyn Monroe and Andy Kaufman. The spirits rambled on about how "I remember this and that." but when the séance was over, Burns explained that the spirits are always confused when they're contacted because "memory is the first thing to leave the spirit when you die."

A better class of dead people are contacted regularly by John Edwards, whose "Crossing Over" TV show regularly features quite intelligible spirits.

South Africa is not behind in this industry, as we now have our own tannie who regularly speaks to the dead on TV.

8. Glossolalia as psychological abnormality

Ask a member of the public how they determine if someone is mentally ill, and they are likely to reply that the person was "difficult to talk to" (Reda 1992). This layman's attitude towards madness is not entirely unreasonable, and seems to have inspired early researchers in the field. Glossolalics have been described as schizophrenic, hysteric, cataleptic, regressed, emotionally unstable, immature, neurotic, excessively dependent and highly dogmatic (Spanos & Hewitt 1979:429). As recently as 1990, the New Encyclopedia Britannica refers to it as 'a neurotic or psychotic symptom.'

Around the turn of the century, scientists understood glossolalia as a form of mass hysteria or psychosis. Cutten (1927), for example, wrote that glossolalics were "schizophrenics at worst or hysteric neurotics at best." However, with no reliable empirical evidence to back up the claim, such a statement is unwarranted.

As psychoses and schizophrenia became better understood, and further studies were conducted into the nature of glossolalia, the psychopathology hypothesis started to weaken. (A broader issue is the fascinating relationship between religious experience, belief in the paranormal, and mental health; see for example my "Psychology and religion reference list", particularly Aronoff et.al. 2000 and Peters et.al. 1999).

One of the earliest studies that looked into the psychopathology of tongues-speaking was undertaken by Lincoln Vivier for his 1960 PhD dissertation at the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa). This often-quoted and controversial work found that glossolalics were psychologically well-adjusted.

Hine (1969) in a study of Pentecostal glossolalia concluded: "Quite clearly, available evidence requires that an explanation of glossolalia as pathological be discarded."

Spanos and Hewitt (1979) showed no difference between glossolalics and non-glossolalics regarding self-esteem, depressive affects, psychosomatic symptoms, neuroticism, extroversion and dogmatism, noting that this "contradicts the common but empirically unfounded view that glossolalia is symptomatic of psychopathology."

The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association) does not list glossolalia as a symptom of psychosis. In fact, it isn't recognized as a diagnostic criteria for any disorder.

Grady and Loewenthal (1997) examined the broader context within which tongues is spoken - they investigated the frequency, content, associated behaviors, feelings and meanings associated with glossolalia. They found that:

Glossolalia was reported by those who practiced it to be a frequent, usually daily occurrence, more likely to happen out of religious settings than in them. It was reported to be more likely while driving, relaxing or engaged in domestic activities (thus in relatively private settings) than in explicitly religious contexts or activities. Typically the emotions reported are positive, calm ones, or sometimes 'no particular' emotions.

Those who had not practised glossolalia saw it differently:

"The non-glossolalics believed that glossolalia occurs less than daily, and that it normally occurs in religious settings and while engaged in religious activities, that it is accompanied by high arousal, usually positive emotions (ecstasy and the like)…"

The authors speculate that the data show that there are two forms of glossolalia – the private and the public. Type A (calm, private) is characterized by being frequent (daily or several times weekly), usually/often in private, mundane settings, self-aware while speaking, can attend to other claims on attention. In contrast, type B (excited, public) is occasional (weekly or less), usually/only in public/religious setting, not self-aware/dissociation/altered state of consciousness, cannot attend to other claims on attention. They then speculate that:

"Use of type A glossolalia is unlikely to be associated with psychopathology. It is suggested that even though a regular practitioner of glossolalia would engage in a more public and ecstatic form of glossolalia, he is likely to practice in private as well. It is suggested that glossolalia with some features of type b only might be more likely to co-occur with psychopathology, but this is obviously a matter for further investigation."

The claim is often made that schizophrenic speech is glossolalia. This is plainly false. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders characterizes speech in schizophrenia as vague, overly abstract or concrete, repetitive or stereotyped (less commonly, neologisms, perseveration and clanging may be found). Leff (1993:68) provides a sample of a schizophrenic's disorganized speech:

"In my mind is a gist of something that's coming you see and to get them prepared unto on and then when the Lord is ready that gist that's back in my head when the Lord says so my Lord there's then supplied the people who who's ready to who have been applied to come in and coincide their in on the thing the Lord bringeth forth to for me to say on that day on how and how and there and when to coincide their in unto with me."

Leff points out that in schizophrenese, individual words are recognizable, but the links between them cannot readily be followed. Even in the most disintegrated form of schizophrenic speech disorder, known as 'word salad', the units of speech are intact. What is obscure, is the meaning of the words. In glossolalia, on the other hand, although the sounds are incomprehensible, the symbolic meaning of the utterances is clear.

Another important distinction is that whereas glossolalia lasts for only a few minutes, the speech disorder of schizophrenics continues for days, weeks, or occasionally for years.

These observations suggest that glossolalia differs in some important respects from unintelligible forms of speech associated with psychopathology in general and schizophrenia in particular.

9. Abnormal mental states

During the 1960s a number of authors published work describing glossolalia in terms of some type of altered state of consciousness - cognitive disorganization, hypnotic susceptibility, trance state, or dissociation.

Are people who engage in speaking in tongues especially receptive to hypnotic suggestion? Hypnosis is a consciousness phenomenon, induced by suggestion, ranging from mild hypersuggestibility to a deep trance like state. Electrical activity in the brain, as measured by an electroencephalograph (EEG), has shown that the hypnotic state is only apparently a state of sleep, since the EEG patterns of the hypnotized person resemble those of someone awake and not those of a person in any of the phases of sleep. About eight out of ten people can be hypnotized, although only an estimated four will be "good" subjects.

The earliest investigations of a possible link between hypnotic susceptibility and glossolalia yielded inconclusive results, which can probably be attributed to the vagaries of the assessment techniques used (Malony & Lovekin (1985) briefly describe several of these studies).

Lincoln Vivier's 1960 study (mentioned in the previous section) used self-report inventories to determine that glossolalics scored lower on suggestibility than non-glossolalics.

On the other hand, Kildahl (1975) in the USA thought hypnotizability to be a hallmark feature of the glossolalia experience:

"If one can be hypnotized, then one is able under proper conditions to learn to speak in tongues. While people who speak in tongues are not hypnotized, the induction of glossolalia is very similar to the induction of hypnosis. There is a further connection. After a person has been hypnotized for the first time, it becomes increasingly easy for him to be hypnotized on repeated occasions. This holds true also for the tongue-speaker."

Kildahl's work drew attention from the popular media at the time; the New York Times (1974 January 21) reported as follows: "John P. Kildahl, a clinical psychologist and professor at New York Theological Seminary, said here today that the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues constituted 'learned behavior.' Dr. Kildahl, an ordained Lutheran clergy man and former chief psychologist at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, recently published a study of glossolalia... In his address, he said that on the basis of his research and extensive correspondence with charismatic Christians it appeared that five elements were normally present when someone began speaking in tongues. These are a 'magnetic' relationship with a group leader, a sense of personal distress, and 'intense emotional atmosphere,' a supporting group, and the prior learning of a rationale of its religious significance. In the case of people who begin to speak in tongues when they are alone, he said 'these five conditions have been present in the days or weeks preceding the initial experience.' "

Kildahl's hypothesis was tested by Spanos and Hewitt (1979). They examined the trait of absorption in imaginative experiences - the openness to absorbing and self-altering encounters, and to be engrossed in everyday activities such as daydreaming, watching a movie or reading. This trait is known to be an indicator of hypnotic susceptibility. They also employed a standardized technique (the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility) for directly assessing hypnotic susceptibility. Their findings showed - contrary to Kildahl's expectation - that glossolalics did not differ from non-glossolalics on either of these measures.

Thus, being particularly sensitive to hypnosis does not seem a necessary condition for experiencing glossolalia.

The foremost proponent of the trance approach to glossolalia is Felicitas Goodman (1972), who analyzed twenty-nine case histories of tongue-speakers and concluded that speaking in tongues always involves a change of mental state similar to trance (with linguistic and cultural influences):

The trance-like state (an altered state of consciousness) - rather than the speaking in tongues - was the focus of their conversion experience; this trance is achieved or learned initially and is the primary manifestation, while the glossolalia is a secondary feature.

She holds that glossolalic speech is a consequence of being in a trance state:

"In my terms, when a person has removed himself from awareness of the ordinary reality surrounding him, he is in an altered mental state . I use dissociation to characterize the subject's divorcement from ordinary reality . the mental state of the glossolalist, with its obvious somatic agitation, seems to me hyperaroused."

Goodman spent a great deal of time observing the participants in her study, and became impressed with the kinetic behaviors (movements) they exhibited, ranging from trembling, shaking, twitching to jumping, rocking, bowing and arm lifting. To her, this was an essential part of the experience:

"While dissociated, the subjects are rarely ever motionless. There is movement, kinetic behavior, during all phases of this type of mental state."

The response to Goodman's glossolalia-as-hyperarousal was strong. It was rejected by most Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian tongues-speakers, who were against the idea that tongues was usually spoken in an ecstatic state, or as product of a trance. Sumrall (1993:119), an evangelical preacher, comments on his use of tongues:

"When I am speaking in my prayer language, I am alone most of the time. I get more inspiration walking around by myself or driving alone in my car, talking to the Lord."

Scientists, too, provided anecdotal reports that individuals sometimes engage in glossolalia while carrying out activity that involves sustained visual attention to the external environment (Kelsey 1965, Samarin 1972). Samarin notes: "any valid explanation must account for the behavior of one of my respondents: he talks to himself in tongues while testing new aircraft in the air!" As far as Samarin is concerned:

Glossolalia is sometimes associated with some degree of altered state of consciousness, that this occasionally involves motor activity that is involuntary or, rarely, a complete loss of consciousness, and that in any case subsequent use of glossolalia (that is, after the initial experience), is most often independent of dissociative phenomena.

Spanos and Hewitt (1979) directly tested the trance hypothesis, seeing if glossolalia could be repeated in the laboratory and under distinct non-trance like conditions. They recruited twelve young adults from a Charismatic Roman Catholic youth prayer group and studied their tongues-speaking, and concluded:

"Glossolalia was spoken easily with eyes open as well as closed and was neither accompanied by kinetic activity nor followed by disorientation. During glossolalia subjects receptivity to external events and their ability to use information learned before glossolalia was demonstrated…"

Thus, while tongues may be accompanied by kinetic activity, eye closure and disorientation in some social settings, it can easily occur in the absence of these behaviors.

The evidence thus strongly suggests that glossolalia is not a trance-like state, nor is it related to hypnotic suggestibility.

10. Is glossolalia an abnormal language phenomenon?

Part of the human condition is a need to understand experiences, and to explain new observations in the light of old, in terms of what is already known. People want to integrate that which is strange into a system of what is known and knowable.

It is thus entirely reasonable to equate glossolalic vocalizations with speech, fitting the audio-signal of tongue-speech into a previously prepared category, namely language. However, careful linguistic analysis of glossolalic speech samples contradict this common-sense view.

Motley (1967) concluded that there was no evidence that glossolalia represented a known language, structurally it had some similarities to human speech ("was quite language-like"), and did not closely resemble the speakers native language.

Samarin's extensive study of glossolalia leads him to conclude that "in spite of superficial similarities, glossolalia fundamentally is not language" (Samarin 1972). He characterized it as

"…strings of meaningless syllables made up of sounds taken from those familiar to the speaker and put together more or less haphazardly . glossolalia is language-like because the speaker unconsciously wants it to be language-like." (quoted in Nickell, 1993: 108)

11. Glossolalia as normal behavior

Glossolalics behave in various ways. Some go into convulsions or lose consciousness, others are less dramatic. Some seem to go into a trance, some claim to have amnesia of their speaking in tongues. It appears that their behavior is determined by the social expectations of their community and that this behavior is learned. Glossolalics behave the way they do, because it is acceptable and even expected, within their cultural context.

Gerlach and Hine (1968) conducted a study amongst pentecostal Christians and asked them to rank in importance the factors that influenced them to seek the experience of tongues. the study revealed that the most significant factor was contact with an individual who had already had the experience.

At least two studies have been undertaken with the express goal of teaching glossolalia. Samarin (1968) reported that he had taught members of his linguistic class how to speak in tongues, outside of any religious context, and as expected there were no feelings of euphoria as a result of the speaking.

Spanos et.al. (1986) carried out a similar experiment, showing that glossolalia was a learnable skill. After hearing a recorded sample of genuine glossolalia, 20% of his subjects were able to speak in tongues immediately without further training. After some coaching, 70% of the trained subjects were fluent in glossolalia. the authors conclude:

"Glossolalia, therefore, seems likely to be a type of learned behavior rather than a special altered state of mind."

Kildahl (1975) concludes that "the evidence is strong that one may learn to speak in tongues under certain prescribed conditions" and details what he calls the "induction process" leading up to glossolalic speech and summarizes his perspective as follows:

"My glossolalia research has convinced me that it is a learned behavior which can bring a sense of power and well-being. It may also lead to excesses resulting in community disruption. It is the use of glossolalia which determines whether or not it is constructive."

Micah said that true religion was to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. If the practice of glossolalia produces these fruits, then it appears to me to be a responsible use of the experience.

A similar sentiment is echoed by Peters et.al. (1999), who examined the incidence of delusional ideation in cults ('New Religious Movements' is the preferred term). Hare Krishnas and Druids were compared to Christians, non-religious people, and deluded psychotics.

New religious movement members were found to share a number of less florid delusional ideas with psychotic patients, were equally convinced of their veracity, but were not as preoccupied or distressed by these experiences. These findings suggest that form may be more important diagnostically than content: it is not what you believe, it is how you believe it.

12. Conclusion

Glossolalia is perhaps best understood as a vocal behavior that can be acquired by almost anyone who possesses the necessary motivation and who is exposed regularly to social environments that encourage such utterances. In our culture, the social groups that encourage glossolalia are almost invariably religious. Therefore, the motivations for engaging in it can usually be best understood in terms of the shared meaning ascribed to this behavior by the religious groups that practice it.

http://www.psychohistorian.org/psychology/articles/2005/speaking_in_tongues.php