I had an opportunity to attend Sunday service at a “non-denominational” church called Love and Truth (close-minded my ass).  Oh how religion has modernized itself, I’m speaking strictly of its image, even Love and Truth still holds to the same bigoted views required of the Bible, they are not THAT modern.  Now, I am never surprised when I come across religious hypocrisy but what I witnessed at Love and Truth made me smile and think “Seriously?”  It is common knowledge that the overwhelming majority of religious people have never read the very book in which they place so much stock, but the story of Jesus Cleansing the Temple is a classic that every self-respecting Christian has heard.  It is for this reason that I found it curious why none of the members of Love and Truth had anything to say about the ATM machine sitting just outside the entrance to the sanctuary.  Of course it wasn’t called an ATM because that would just be a dead giveaway, in large print, it was labeled “Giving Center”, completely different from an ATM right?  You see a Bank ATM is used to transfers money whereas the church “Giving Center” is used to transfer money.

To those who missed Sunday school that day, or those who have never attended a more fundamentalist, “old time religion”, type church the story goes like this.

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. – Mark 11:15

According the biblical account Jesus wasn’t shy about telling the money changers to get the hell out.  If you read the account given in the book of John it says when Jesus walked into the Temple “he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.”  Even if you are not like me and doubt the stories you have to admit what happened next is pretty bad-ass for a character who is constantly presented as meek and gentle.  Did Jesus walk over and explain why what they were doing was wrong?  Did he attempt to correct what he saw as a trivial matter?

“OH, HELL NO!”, said Jesus; like a BOSS!

The J-MAN actually took time to construct (or being a demi-god called down from the sky like Thor calling Mjölnir) a whip with multiple cords before applying it thoroughly to the asses of those selling sacrificial animals and exchanging currencies while flipping tables and shit.  Apparently Jesus didn’t think commerce had any place in “his fathers house” and nothing guarantees a message getting across like multiple leather strips cracking across some ass.

Getting back to Love and Truth and their ATM machine “Giving Center”.  Do I think some zealous Christian should walk in, break the ATM machine and commence whipping the ass of the Pastor who authorized the machine?  NO.  I’m just pointing out what I came to realize shortly before realizing the absurdity of faith, religion is a business; one in which happiness and the promise of never dieing can be had for the low, low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.  If it were not obvious enough, Love and Truth has six franchise campus locations spread over West Tennessee; got to keep that money net spread far and wide I imagine.  You cannot buy doves or oxen for sacrifice at Love and Truth, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, allegedly, but you can buy multiple items with hip and cool logos; totally different kind of commerce so Jesus wouldn’t mind.

I don’t expect anyone attending Love and Truth to see anything wrong with the money machine.  Being religious means never having to think for yourself.  The Pastor says the money changing machine “Giving Center” is part of Gods plan and the Pastor is best friends with God, so ignore the cognitive dissonance welling up in your mind, stop thinking, swipe your damn credit card and give the Pastor Love and Truth 10% of your income plus how ever much makes you feel better about yourself.  After all, you wouldn’t want to piss off the Pastor God would you?

This is a difficult video to watch, but it deals with a difficult subject that should not be avoided simply because it is unpleasant. The harsh imagery is necessary in a world long desensitized, and while it may grieve your heart, it’s ultimately designed to engage and challenge your mind.  Burn injuries are some of the most horrific and feared injuries. Those who intentionally burn others are monstrous and sadistic to the extreme. This video takes a hard but necessary look at the terrible consequences of burning and the “benevolent, loving and just” parent that demonstrates his love by setting fire to his own children.

Video Produced By: The Thinking Atheist

Male circumcision is the removal of some or the entire foreskin (prepuce) from the penis.  Arguments that have been raised in favor of circumcision include that it provides important health advantages which outweigh the risks, has no substantial effects on sexual function, has a low complication rate when carried out by an experienced physician, and is best performed during the neonatal period.  Those raised in opposition to circumcision include that it adversely affects penile function and sexual pleasure, is justified only by medical myths, is extremely painful, and is a violation of human rights.

Within this debate I find myself firmly in opposition to this act of physical injury that degrades the appearance and function of the penis.  It is genital mutilation.

I found myself compelled to put my thoughts into words because the issue has weighed on me since before my son was born.  After explaining my opposition, my wife supported my decision to forgo circumcision and my mother has been opposed to the act since I was born and the doctors persuaded her to have me circumcised.

It is hard not to become passionate about the subject when it directly relates to my son, who is sleeping peacefully beside me at the moment.  Just tonight, at a new years gathering, my sister-in-law questioned if my son had been circumcised and when I asked her why she thought it was important she made reference to men who have come to the clinic she is employed with regarding infections of their penis.  I asked her if I was to assume that because some guys didn’t know how to properly clean themselves I should therefore assume my son would do the same.  She had no reply.  Later I broached the subject again and asked her if she thought that female circumcision was ethical.  She, not surprisingly, said it was not but that male circumcision was “biblical” and that she could think this because we were in her house.  It was at this point that my wife intervened and my sister-in-law, not wanting her flawed logic and opinions challenged, casually walked away.

First, where an argument is made lends no weight to its truth or falsity.  I never argued that she was not entitled to her opinion but being in her home does not entitle her to be correct about a given subject.  As she decided to walk away and deprive me of the ability to address her directly I am writing this as an open letter.

Now, regarding the act being “Biblical”, it is true that according to the Old Testament God commanded Abraham and every male member of his tribe to be circumcised as part of a covenant.  However the Old Testament states God commanded his people to do many things which we would now judge as unethical or immoral but I’ll leave that topic for another discussion.

My refutation to this argument is simple.  Abraham, not I, made that covenant.  Neither my son nor I made, nor could we make, any covenant when we were newborns and cannot be bound by those made by our parents.  I reserve the right to refuse Abraham’s covenant, to not be placed under its government, and to not be bound by the customs of desert nomads from 6000 years ago.  Of those I know, no one follows the laws of Leviticus as commanded but I know plenty of people, like my sister-in-law, who will cherry pick which laws they think are still “good.”

How can it be that your child is born, supposedly designed by God, and then, after admiring such a beautiful newborn, a parent can turn their head and allow a section of his genitals to be painfully cut away?  Any reason given to justify circumcision is invalidated by one fact.  Every individual, no matter how young, has a right to be secure in his or her own body and decide for themselves what they will keep and discard.  I have neither the power nor the right to decide anything regarding the appearance of my son’s penis.  I may only decide those medical treatments needed to preserve his life.  This human right is more sacred to me than any preachment or declaration by Abraham and, if told to choose between logic, reason, and my own moral compass or what is “Biblical”; I choose logic and reason; Abraham and scripture be damned.  Circumcision is immoral!

Quod erat demonstrandum

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
― Christopher Hitchens

Thank you Christopher, we will take it from here…