Larry David has created quite a little firestorm that seems to be growing into a wildfire. It seems there are some people who are pissed that his character on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm pissed, albeit accidentally, on a picture of Jesus Christ.
In the episode, Larry accidentally splashes a picture of Jesus when he is urinating at someone’s house. For whatever reason, though Larry noticed the sprinkle on the face of the Jesus, he didn’t wipe it away.
After Larry leaves, the two women of the house see the urine on the picture, which they assume is a teardrop (it’s below Jesus’ eye), and drop to their knees claiming a miracle. Jesus is crying!
Now, Twitter is all a-tweet with people who are so upset by the episode they are banding together to get the attention of Glenn Beck so that he will “expose” Larry David’s supposed bigotry on his show.
The Web site, Big Hollywood, has posted an e-mail it received from someone who has promised to not watch Curb anymore. The e-mail said, “‘…what I saw made me feel a little sick, extremely disappointed and a bit angry as well. I will never watch the show again as I have lost all respect and feelings of good will for Mr. David.’”
Several people have responded to the e-mail in the comments section of the piece. Oddly, one person, who describes Larry as a “Christ hater” seems to think that this action of Larry David somehow lessens the supposed anti-semitism of Mel Gibson. The person wrote, “It doesn’t make Mel Gibson look anywhere near as bad, now does it?”
Another person, who vowed never to watch the show again, said, “I loved this show and thought it was so funny. All that’s changed. I can’t believe he is this crude and would go to this extreme to insult so many. As a Jew, he should understand compassion and sensitivity to others. I’m disgusted and disappointed.”
Really, people? He didn’t really p!ss on your Jesus any more than he really pissed on the picture of Jesus in the show. It is fiction – PRETEND – and we know you are good at pretending. You should understand this concept.
Further, in the show it was an accident. It’s not like his character thought, “piss on Jesus!” and therefore literally pissed on Jesus.
Perhaps what really has these people so upset is not so much the fact that Larry’s character urinated on Jesus but that he made it seem that some people are so gullible as to assume a miracle so easily without investigating what the truth of the matter may be. (And of course, we know that never happens in real life.)
Now if only they’d do the same for Christianity and Islam..
A French court has convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud, but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France.
Two branches of the group’s operations and several of its leaders in France have been fined.
The case came after complaints from two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into paying more than 20,000 euros (£18,100) in the 1990s.
A Scientology spokesman told the BBC the verdict was “all bark and no bite”.
France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion.
Prosecutors had asked for the group’s French operations to be dissolved and more heavily fined, but a legal loophole prevented any ban.
Instead, a Paris judge ordered the Church’s Celebrity Centre and a bookshop to pay a 600,000-euro fine.
Alain Rosenberg, the group’s head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros.
Three other leading members of the group were also fined.
Ban ‘still possible’
Unlike the US, France has always refused to recognise Scientology as a religion, arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims, the BBC’s Emma Jane Kirby reports from Paris.
Over the past 10 years, France has taken several individual members of the group to court on charges of fraud and misleading publicity, but this is the first time the organisation itself has been charged, she says.
Tommy Davis, spokesman for the Church of Scientology International, told BBC News that the court had acted “in total violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and French constitutional guarantees on freedom”.
The case “fell flat on its face”, he said.
“The fines will get thrown out on appeal. We’ve had similar cases before and in other countries. If it has to go to the court of human rights we’re confident we will win there.”
Speaking by phone from the US, he said it was a “political gesture” against the organisation, but “Scientology will continue to grow in France”.
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and includes Hollywood stars such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
In the case leading up to Tuesday’s ruling, a woman said she was sold expensive life-improvement courses, vitamins and other products after taking a personality test.
A second woman alleges she was fired by her Scientologist boss after refusing to undergo testing and sign up to courses.
The organisation denied that any mental manipulation took place.
The court was unable to impose a ban because of a legal amendment that was passed just before the trial began, preventing the banning of an organisation convicted of fraud.
However, that amendment has now been changed.
“It is very regrettable that the law quietly changed before the trial,” Georges Fenech, the head of the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults, told French TV.
“The system has now been put in place by parliament and it is certain that in the future, if new offences are committed, a ban could eventually be pronounced,” he said.
A lawyer defending Scientology’s operations in France said there would be an appeal.
Eric Roux, a spokesman for the Celebrity Centre, urged France to recognise Scientology’s “legality”.
“Religious freedom is in danger in this country,” he said.
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Monday came out strongly against efforts by Islamic nations to bar the defamation of religions, saying the moves would restrict free speech.”Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters. “I strongly disagree.”
Clinton said the United States was opposed to negative depictions of specific faiths and would always fight against belief-based discrimination. But she said a person’s ability to practice their religion was entirely unrelated to another person’s right to free speech.
“The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faith will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions,” Clinton said. “These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.”Her comments came as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 56-nation bloc of Islamic countries, is pressing the U.N. Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution that would broadly condemn the defamation of religion.
The effort is widely seen as a reaction to perceived anti-Islamic incidents, including the publication in Europe of several cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Michael Posner, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for human rights, democracy and labor whose office prepares the religious freedom report, said the resolution “goes too far.”
“The notion that a religion can be defamed and that any comments that are negative about that religion can constitute a violation of human rights to us violates the core principle of free speech,” he said.
Posner was part of a delegation at the Human Rights Council that successfully negotiated with Egypt a compromise over another similar resolution that had aimed to condemn religion-related harassment or discrimination.
He said the administration wanted to differentiate between such harassment and defamation and would do so both in the Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly.
“There are limits to free expression and there are certainly concerns about people targeting individuals because of their religious belief or their race or their ethnicity,” he said.
‘Violation of free speech’
“But at the same time, we’re also clear that a resolution, broadly speaking, that talks about the defamation of a religion is a violation of free speech.”
Clinton and Posner spoke as they released the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom, which, as in years past, criticized Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea and Sudan for violating religious freedom.
Since this is a free country… fuck all religions.
A North Carolina pastor plans to host a Halloween event at his church to burn heretical books. At the top of the list — the Bible.
Pastor Marc Grizzard claims the King James version of the Bible is the only true word of God, and that all other versions are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word.
On Halloween night, Grizzard and the 14 members of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church will set fire to other versions of the scripture, as well as music and books by Christian authors.
“We are burning books that we believe to be Satanic,” Pastor Grizzard said.
“I believe the King James version is God’s preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God… for English-speaking people.”
All other religious or Christian texts are sacreligious, the pastor insists. The list of books being burned will include works written by “a lot of different authors who we consider heretics, such as Billy Graham, Rick Warren… the list goes on and on,” Pastor Grizzard said.
Also on the pastor’s list of heretical authors — Mother Teresa, according to a full list that was previously available at the Amazing Grace Baptist Church’s Web site. The Church’s Web site — which is no longer available — calls the event ‘Burning Perversions of God’s Word,’ and urges parishioners to “come celebrate Halloween by burning Satan’s bibles.” Calls to the Amazing Grace Church were not returned Thursday.
Some in the pastor’s community support the event.
“In my opinion, the King James Version is the only version,” Sissy Messer said.
But not all residents of Canton, N.C. agree with the bonfire of the profanities.
“I think some of the newer versions make it easier for people to understand,” said resident Judy Kirby.
The book-burning is being promoted as a social event with a barbecue dinner. The event will run from “7 p.m.- Till,” according to the announcement previously posted on the Web site.
Thanks to JT Hundley for the link.
In 1988 an associate professor started growing cultures of Escherichia coli. Twenty-one years and 40,000 generations of bacteria later, Richard Lenski, who is now a professor of microbial ecology at Michigan State University, reveals new details about the differences between adaptive and random genetic changes during evolution.
Sequencing genomes of various generations of the bacteria, which had been frozen periodically over the years, Lenski and his team found that adaptive and random genomic changes don’t necessarily follow the same patterns. Rather than a plodding equilibrium, even in a consistent environment, the interplay between these two kinds of genomic changes “is complex and can be counterintuitive,” Lenski said in a prepared statement.
Early changes in the bacteria appeared to be largely adaptive, helping them be more successful in their environment. “The genome was evolving along at a surprisingly constant rate, even as the adaptation of the bacteria slowed down,” he noted. “But then suddenly the mutation rate jumped way up, and a new dynamic relationship was established.”
By generation 20,000, for example, the group found that some 45 genetic mutations had occurred, but 6,000 generations later a genetic mutation in the metabolism arose and sparked a rapid increase in the number of mutations so that by generation 40,000, some 653 mutations had occurred. Unlike the earlier changes, many of these later mutations appeared to be more random and neutral.
The long-awaited findings show that calculating rates and types of evolutionary change may be even more difficult to do without a rich data set. “The fluid and complex coupling observed between the rates of genomic evolution and adaptation even in this simplistic system cautions against categorical interpretations about rates of genomic evolution in nature without specific knowledge of molecular and population-genetic processes,” the paper authors wrote.
Such detailed pictures of mutation rates have been made possible since the advent of rapid genome sequencing. “It’s extra nice now to be able to show precisely how selection has changed the genomes of these bacteria, step by step over tens of thousands of generations,” Lenski said.
The new data “beautifully emphasize the succession of mutational events that allowed these organisms to climb toward higher and higher efficiency in their environment,” Dominique Schneider of the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, and a coauthor on the paper, said in a prepared statement. The paper, published online today in Nature, also happens to come 150 years after Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species. (Scientific American is a part of the Nature Publishing Group.)
The findings might eventually help scientists better understand mutations in human diseases and infections. “Cancer progression is a fundamentally similar evolutionary process,” Jeffery Barrick, a postdoctoral researcher at the lab and lead author of the paper, said in a prepared statement. And although the research team will continue to study the progress of the minute bacteria in search for more answers, he added: “We know an astounding amount about the details of evolution in these little Erlenmeyer flasks.”
Thanks to JT. Hundley for this one.
Speaking at the launch of his new book “Cain”, Jose Saramago, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, said society would probably be better off without the Bible.
Roman Catholic Church leaders accused the 86-year-old of a publicity stunt.
The book is an ironic retelling of the Biblical story of Cain, Adam and Eve’s son who killed his younger brother Abel.
At the launch event in the northern Portuguese town of Penafiel on Sunday, Saramago said he did not think the book would offend Catholics “because they do not read the Bible”.
“The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency Lusa.
Saramago attacked “a cruel, jealous and unbearable God (who) exists only in our heads” and said he did not think his book would cause problems for the Catholic Church “because Catholics do not read the Bible.
“It might offend Jews, but that doesn’t really matter to me,” he added.
Father Manuel Marujao, the spokesman for the Portuguese conference of bishops, said he thought the remarks were a publicity stunt.
“A writer of Jose Saramago’s standing can criticise, (but) insults do no-one any good, particularly a Nobel Prize winner,” the priest said.
Rabbi Elieze Martino, spokesman for the Jewish community in Lisbon, said the Jewish world would not be shocked by the writings of Saramago or anyone else.
“Saramago does not know the Bible,” the rabbi said, “he has only superficial understanding of it.”
The author caused a scandal in Portugal in 1992 with “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.”
The book depicted Jesus losing his virginity to Mary Magdalene and being used by God to control the world.
Saramago quit Portugal at the time and moved to Lanzarote, in the Spanish Canary Islands.
NEW YORK (CNN) — Some New Yorkers may want to reconsider exclaiming “Thank God” when arriving at their destination subway station beginning next Monday.
Or at least that’s what a coalition of eight atheist organizations are hoping, having purchased a month-long campaign that will place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.
The advertisements ask the question, written simply over an image of a blue sky with wispy white clouds: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”
On October 26, a dozen bustling New York City subway stations will be adorned with the ads as “part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in a god”, according to a statement from the group, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.
New York City’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world with more than 5 million riders per day and more than 1.6 billion total passengers in 2008, according to the Metro Transit Authority.
Recognizing this, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason decided the “best bang for the buck” was to place posters in popular subway stations to capitalize on the amount of potential viewers, says Michael De Dora Jr., executive director of the New York Center for Inquiry, one of the associated atheist groups.
De Dora says the ambitions behind the advertisements are threefold.
First, the coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City’s secular community. He explained that the coalition also hopes to encourage “talking and thinking about religion and morality,” as well as support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers.
John Rafferty, president of the Secular Humanist Society of New York, another member group of the coalition, said the ads are in no way an anti-religious campaign. They are looking to reach out to more people who have similar feelings, but might not be aware of an outlet to express their beliefs, he said.
Rafferty and De Dora cite the American Religious Identification Survey, released earlier this year, as evidence of a shift away from organized religion. Those checking “none” for religion rose from 8 percent of the population in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008, effectively making “no religion” the fastest growing religious identification in the United States.
De Dora said that the “million” New York nonbelievers mentioned in the advertisements is the result of an extrapolation based on the survey’s findings. With more than 8 million residents living in New York’s five boroughs, the organization projects more than a million potential atheist New Yorkers.
De Dora said individuals “don’t need religion to be good people and productive members of society” and ultimately he feels that groups of nonbelievers are “adding to cultural life of NYC.”
The United Coalition of Reason, which is a national organization that helps local groups advocate atheist ideas, approached the New York nonbeliever associations in August with an offer of a donation from an anonymous source to help pay for the subway station ad campaign. The donation amount was for exactly $25,000 and specifically allocated for the subway advertising promotion.
Rafferty says the groups involved expect no substantial backlash over their ads. Since news of the campaign was made public early this week “reaction has been mixed,” De Dora said. He emphasizes that the Big Apple Coalition of Reason ads are not “forcing issues, they’re just getting ideas out there,” with the hope of fostering discussion in New York.
The ads are “not poking fun at religion and not being outright nasty,” he said.
A year ago some unease was caused by advertisements that ran inside subway cars promoting Islam. While the ads themselves weren’t controversial, they were partially funded by an imam of a Brooklyn mosque who served a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.
In a statement to CNN, Metro Transit Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said, “The MTA maintains basic advertising guidelines with prohibitions on nudity, four-letter words, and the like. Beyond that, to accord with the First Amendment, our advertising guidelines are written so as to not prohibit the free exercise of religion or abridge the freedom of speech.”
According to the Big Apple Coalition of Reason in their statement, the New York City campaign is just one component of a “nationwide effort” by the United Coalition of Reason that will see billboards and postings in transit systems across the United States.