Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Reason Review 1-4

The Reason Review - Volume 1 Issue 4


Editorial Message

Dear Readers,

Welcome to The Reason Review 1-4.

To those who came to yet another great Out And Out event, thanks for your support and participation. Judging from the laughter during the screening of Sita Sings the Blues, I reckon it was as much fun for our attendees as it was for me. Congratulations to Rohit, who won the official merchandise film still print we raffled off after the discussion.

We look forward to next semester's Out And Out, scheduled around Passover/Holy week in mid-April, during which we will likewise host an evening of community, content, and dialogue for disbelievers of Jewish and Christian background.

Over the past few weeks, we have made much progress in getting in touch with other varsity and city secular societies. I and Society President Sebastian Garza also had a very productive meeting with August Brunsman, 
Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance, with which SSOMIT is affiliated.

One of the bigger bits of news in the last cycle is the release of The Atheist Delusion by infamous Christian preacher Ray Comfort. I saw Comfort hurry past with a crew at The Reason Rally in DC this summer, promoting the film by carrying a huge banner, often across the stage. I have included Stephen Knight's review of it in the Media section, and have linked to the film as well. Yes, I suggest everyone watch the film too. It's a headache-inducing, rapid-edit, preaching-heavy hodge-podge set to overly dramatic music. The main reason I recommend it is because much of it consists of random people being "interviewed" by an off-camera Comfort as they trip over his horrifically bad theistic apologetics, which shows just how important it is to raise awareness of counter-apologetics among atheists, especially the youth.

Another big piece of news is the death of Evangelical fire-and-brimstone comic strip artist Jack Chick. Chick's famously linked D&D to real-life dark magic, which made his works a frequent target of parody. This kind of paranoia, combined with his own bigotry, flowed through all his tracts, as he threatened everyone from gay people to atheists to Catholics to Muslims to rock music fans with hellfire, and insisted that John 3:16 could make everything right again. It's sad that he died such an ignorant and hateful person, but I'm glad we won't be seeing any more of his work lying around.

One shocking bit of recent news is the smearing of Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi as not merely Islamophobes, but "anti-Muslim extremists", and by The Southern Poverty Law Center, no less. This is quite surreal, given that Hirsi Ali has always kept her attacks focused on the religion of Islam, and Nawaz is himself a Muslim. Even the quotes that the SPLC provided in this "Field Guide", to support their claim of bigotry on the part of the two, were either irrelevant, mundane, or contradictory. To list Nawaz and Hirsi Ali together with the likes of David Horowitz and Pamela Geller is shameful beyond comprehension.

Other than these stories, we have a great opinion piece by Thomas Larson on the use of the label "atheist", a review of a "Hindus for Trump" event, a report on the history of "Satanic Panic" in the US paired with a Polite Conversations podcast episode on actual Satanic "worship", a clip of President Obama discussing atheist issues with Bill Maher, and another great Matt Dillahunty debate for our Classic feature.

Hope you enjoy the issue.


Sohan Dsouza
Editor of The Reason Review

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Out And Out of Hinduism

The Secular Society of MIT held its second Out And Out event on Nov 1st evening, for atheists of Hindu background and their secular supporters. The event began with a introductory presentation by SSOMIT Social Chair Sohan Dsouza, on Hinduism and its relevance to atheism and secularism. Sita Sings the Blues -- Nina Paley's musical-comedic animate take on the Ramayana -- was screened, followed by a discussion of the film, Hinduism, superstition, casteism, and secularism in India. One attendee won an official print of a still from the film in our Javascript-powered raffle.

Lincoln Atheists billboard coming down

According to Lamar’s statistics, the south-facing junior poster makes an average of 26,218 impressions a week. The text, printed atop an outline of the state of Nebraska, was set to be on display for a month.But then several people threatened to stop doing business at the gas station/store, and the sign's coming down early, according to correspondence between Lamar’s Lincoln general manager and the Lincoln Atheists.

'I am a big fan of Hindu': Twitter is amazed at Modi-style Trump event in New Jersey

But this wasn't just fringe outfits in India seeking publicity. An actual organisation aiming to speak for Hindus within the Republican party started organising support for Trump, and even depicted him as Vishnu.

Brigham Young Students Who Report Sexual Assault Won’t Face Honor Code Sanctions

The 34-page report, researched and drafted by a four-person advisory council starting in May, came after news accounts that the Mormon-run university in Provo, Utah, had investigated students for possible honor code violations after they reported being sexually assaulted. Some experts in law and gender issues on college campuses called that approach troubling. The cases set off a torrent of online criticism as well as a protest on campus in April.

Catholic Church bans scattering of ashes as 'pantheism'

The new guidance accepts cremation in principle but signals a clampdown on increasingly varied uses for ashes, insisting instead that they should only be kept in a “sacred place”, such as a cemetery.

R.I.P. Jack Chick, comics scaremonger

The reclusive king of the scaremongers, Chick railed against everything from gay rights and Dungeons & Dragons to Freemasonry and the Catholic church—which he believed instigated the Holocaust, the Russian Revolution, and the Civil War—in formulaic and often repetitive mini-comics peppered with apocalyptic predictions and ethnic stereotypes.

Louis Smith lands British Gymnastics ban after video appearing to mock Islam

However the decision to suspend Smith was criticised as “appalling” by the National Secular Society, which said it worried for the consequences for free speech. Its spokesman Ben Jones told the Guardian: “It is appalling that British Gymnastics is imposing Islamic blasphemy laws. No religion or idea should be above mockery, satire or criticism.

Sweden opens first atheist cemetery to cater to growing non-religious population

“In fact the reaction has been positive from religious and non-religious people alike across the country.”  He stressed that people of faith were welcome to be buried there as well so long as they accepted that they could not have the marks of their religion on their headstone.

Iran arrests 11 linked to underground 'modelling and decadence' network, say reports

Iran blocks dozens of websites and heavily polices social media to enforce what they see as conservative Islamic values. The latest arrests follow the apprehension of eight people suspected of working for online modelling agencies deemed to be "un-Islamic" after a police probe in May this year.

Protesters burn books as Jordan reduces religion’s role in schools

In a chemistry book for tenth-graders, a sentence beginning with "praise be to God" was removed. "The total number of Quranic verses went down from 261 to 44 in Arabic language books from fifth to tenth grade," said Ahmad Hajaya, a spokesman from the teachers’ association. "There are hidden powers that want to normalise the curriculum and globalise it so that the next generation will kneel down [succumb] to other cultures and to the enemy as well."

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi 'faces new round of lashes'

In 2012, he was arrested in the city of Jeddah and charged with "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and "going beyond the realm of obedience". Later that year, a judge recommended that he also be tried for apostasy, which carries the death penalty, because Badawi had refused to "repent to God". But that was not pursued by prosecutors, and in 2013 Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes by a criminal court on the initial charges.

Hindu temples attacked in Bangladesh over Facebook post

District police chief Mizanur Rahman said two Islamist groups had been demonstrating to demand the arrest and execution of the fisherman when a group of between 100 and 150 men broke away and attacked the temples. [...] "We have also arrested a 30-year-old Hindu man for the Facebook post. He'll be charged with breaching internet laws," Nasirnagar police chief Abdul Kader said, adding the post had already been taken down.

13 people caned for indecency in Aceh

The Antara news agency reported that the convicts were guilty of inappropriate acts, including khalwat (affectionate contact by an unmarried couple) and ikhtilat (intimacy or mixing) in violation of Islamic bylaws. The 13 people received nine to 25 strikes each, depending on the severity of their misdeeds. The caning of a 14th convict was delayed due to her pregnancy and is set to be carried out after she has given birth.

Indonesia’s top court weighs ban on sex outside marriage

In an early court hearing, one conservative judge, Patrialis Akbar, appeared to affirm arguments made by conservative plaintiffs, saying, “Our freedom is limited by moral values as well as religious values. . . . We’re not a secular country — this country acknowledges religion.”

North Korea's War On Christianity: The Globe's Number One Religious Persecutor

The existence of formal religious organizations for Christian denominations suggests toleration of religion, but notes CSW, evidence unsurprisingly suggests “use of these formal facilities, organizations and institutions for political means.” Indeed, the report cites the conclusion of others “that North Korea uses religious organizations as a survival strategy to seek goods and support from, and improve their image with, other religious organizations worldwide—especially those from South Korea.”


The history of Satanic Panic in the US — and why it's not over yet

At its core, satanic ritual abuse claims relied on overzealous law enforcement, unsubstantiated statements from children, and above all, coercive and suggestive interrogation by therapists and prosecutors. Some of the defendants are still serving life sentences for crimes they probably didn’t commit—and most likely didn’t even happen in the first place.

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’

“If the French state protects me it is not little individual me: What is being protected is my freedom to be irreverent, and freedom of expression, so I should exercise this even more because I enjoy this protection.”


Zachary Bos -- Wanted: a simple explanation of abiogenesis

The MA State Director for American Atheists counters creationist misconceptions about abiogenesis

Thor Benson -- One nation, under no god: Atheists, more than any religion, have been excluded from the election

Surely we are prepared for some atheists in Congress, though. With zero atheists or agnostics in Congress, millions of Americans have no one in the federal government speaking to their lack of piety and desire to protect it. Elected officials wage political warfare making sure religious freedom is protected, yet too few care to protect freedom from religion.

Hemant Mehta -- Southern Poverty Law Center: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz Are “Anti-Muslim Extremists”

I spend a lot of time on this site criticizing Christianity (and other religions). But I would never want to take away Christians’ civil rights. I just want to persuade them to leave the faith, while helping people understand that the Bible is hardly a “good book.” Does that make me an extremist, too? The SPLC is making the mistake of equating fair criticism of Islam with unfair bigotry against Muslims.

Hemant Mehta -- Atheists Aren’t Trashing a New Movie About a Columbine Victim Supposedly Killed for Her Faith

Needless to say, there’s no evidence that Klebold and Harris killed students because they themselves were atheists or because their victims were all religious. They were social outcasts who killed indiscriminately. They wanted to see mass casualties. There has been plenty written about their motives — Dave Cullen‘s book Columbine is superb — and no credible journalist has ever said religion was a motivating factor one way or the other even if it came up during the course of the day.

Thomas Larson -- Who Are You Calling an Atheist?

“It shouldn’t be about the rise of the Nones; it’s about the rise of the atheists. We are the ones who are rising, the ones who are soaring. None is a euphemism. Look at how we’re fighting [over this term] amongst each other. It should be about atheists and theists—not about meaningless words like None or spiritual or agnostic. Those words just cloud everything.”

Rayhana Sultan -- A rebuttal to critics of Islam’s Non-Believers

You did not have to wait for the documentary to be released to witness how fragile a community is whose foundation is built on beliefs so weak that you need fear tactics embodied as domestic abuse, isolation, insult, intimidation, honour killing, and apostasy laws to keep its people from unfettered scepticism.

​Josiah M. Hesse -- Why Are So Many Horror Films Christian Propaganda?

"Many filmmakers actually believe in the message of their films. They see their jobs as being missionaries for Christianity, and film is their missionary tool. Fear is a missionary tool. The message is that evil is real enough to be feared, and that you should view Christianity or religion as the best answer."

Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi -- Uniform Civil Code: Why Do India's Liberals Oppose A Liberal Idea?

Pursuing a civic nationalism and a common civil code would bestow sacredness on Indian democracy, in a way worship and holy texts give sacred legitimacy to religions. And forming a new civic religion, with a common civil code, was the best way to defang the religious right in the long term.

Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi -- Triple Talaq Must Go, But So Should Beef Ban And Criminalisation Of LGBTQ People

With the scars of Partition still around, Nehru did not have the stomach to confront the Muslim clergy to adopt the Uniform Civil Code or to reform from within. Affronted by this, the Sangh Parivar now became born-again fans of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), an idea they earlier found blasphemous.


SSOMIT Out And Out Of Hinduism -- event for atheists from Hindu backgrounds and their secular supporters

An audio recording of the event's pre-film intro presentation and post-film discussion.

Real Time with Bill Maher -- President Obama on Atheism | Real Time with Bill Maher (Web Exclusive)

Bill asks President Barack Obama about a growing and underrepresented part of the electorate: nonbelievers.

Godless Spellchecker -- Review Of Ray Comfort's 'The Atheist Delusion'

Stephen Night of #GSPodcast reviews Ray Comfort's expectedly melodramatic, preachy, and edit-heavy attempt at apologetics
The film:

Atheist Debates - Skepticism and the historical Jesus

I moderated a debate between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Bob Price on whether Jesus existed. This is a talk I gave the day following the debate on my thoughts on that specific debate and the subject, in general.

Atheist Experience 20.43 with Russell Glasser and Tracie Harris

The Atheist Experience episode 20.43 for October 30, 2016, with Russell Glasser and Tracie Harris. Predicting the Future. Tracie dissects two stories about predicting the future and finds confirmation bias.

Atheist Experience 20.42 with Russell Glasser and Don Baker

The Atheist Experience episode 20.42 for October 23, 2016, with Russell Glasser and Don Baker. The Failure of Time. Russell encourages viewers to vote and Don talks about how the Bible can't be reconciled with temporal reality.

Dogma Debate #276 - Christian Couple vs. David Smalley

Two Christian 4th Listeners attended David's debate with Matt Slick, and now they have their chance to talk with David directly.

Atheistically Speaking #287: Atheist Ethics And Implicit Biases, With Alonzo Fyfe

Joining me today is Alonzo Fyfe, who publishes the blog “Atheist Ethicist.” We talk about some really interesting topics including implicit biases and how they’re affecting this election. Alonzo has a theory that, though they might not be aware of it, most people who are anti-Hillary are actually victims of their own implicit biases.

Polite Conversations Episode 16 - Halloween Special with Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple

For this episode, the co founder of The Satanic Temple returns to the show for a discussion about offensive halloween costumes, cultural appropriation, whether pumpkins have anything to do with white privilege...Satanic cultural identity, conspiracy theory culture in america vs. muslim world (even though, sadly, anti semitic conspiracy theories are common place among muslims i haven't come across an 'infowars' type conspiracy *culture*....)

ScathingAtheist 194: SPLC You Later Edition

In this week’s episode, Mo delivers us the Quranic equivalent of digging in your skin for microchips, we learn that those guys with sheets at the Christian haunted house weren't ghosts, and Samuel Jackson will get added to the SPLC hate list for using the N word so much.

Point of Inquiry -- Halloween Special: Joe Nickell on the Paranormal’s Origin Story

Joe Nickell is perhaps the world's foremost investigator of the paranormal, as well as a magician and author, and he joins us for this special Halloween episode to discuss his recent feature article in Skeptical Inquirer, "Creators of The Paranormal."

Friendly Atheist Podcast Ep. 132 - Luke Fevin, Canadian Atheist Activist

Luke Fevin has fought against mandatory prayers in Alberta (Canada) secular schools. He sits on the Board of the Society of Edmonton Atheists and founded the advocacy group Albertan's for Equality Education. I spoke with Luke about some of the major church/state issues taking place in Canada, including within the public schools, local governments, and Catholic hospitals.

Friendly Atheist Podcast Ep. 134 - Brendon Marotta, Director of American Circumcision

Brendon Marotta is an award-winning filmmaker based out of Austin, Texas. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Film School, to work as a professional film editor. His first feature-length documentary as director is called American Circumcision. (You'll never guess what it's about.) We spoke about why male circumcision is problematic, the dubious health benefits of getting circumcized, and whether there's any chance of passing laws to prevent the procedure (at least without consent of the patient).

The Thinking Atheist: The Kafir Project

Author Lee Burvine speaks with host Seth Andrews about his sci-fi novel with religious (some would say sacreligious) themes, and Seth plays the first five chapters of the audiobook - read by Seth Andrews in their entirety - on this broadcast.

Godless Spellchecker -- Taking The Myth – 30 Oct 2016 Edition

This week on Taking The Myth, Stephen Knight (@Gspellchecker) and Iram Ramzan (@Iram_Ramzan) discuss the big topics. We talk about the Muslim Council Of Britain, Shakeel Begg’s ‘libel’ case, the SPLC and Maajid Nawaz, the ‘gay cake’ fiasco, Immigration, Black Cats, the American elections and much, much more!

Mythicist Milwaukee -- Atheism 101 Podcast Hosts Matt and Tim

Matt and Tim of the Atheism 101 podcast join us to discuss how and why they created the podcast. Matt and Tim share how much work goes into the research every week. They pride themselves on having accurate information. As a result of being close friends, they are very competitive and constantly challenge each other on various topics


Dogma Debate #117 -- Matt Dillahunty vs Eric Lounsbery

Special Debate show: Matt Dillahunty and Eric Lounsbery debate with David Smalley as moderator - Is there sufficient evidence to believe in the God of the Bible?

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