Tag Archive: prayer


If Christians have prayed to their God to stop mass shootings, and there still are mass shootings, does that mean their God approves of mass shootings?

His plan sure is… what’s that excuse again? Mysterious? His plan is mysterious, yes, that’s it.

I’m pretty sure there have been plenty Christians – American or not – who have asked their deity to stop mass shootings that seem to have become a daily part of American life and culture. I can only conclude that His response – based on 294 mass shootings in 274 days this year – is a resounding “nope”.

Let us consult the Good Book of words that the Almighty allegedly blessed us with:

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

So… Ask aaaaaanything and you’ll get it… ask for the murder of innocent children to stop… mass murder of children doesn’t stop, it gets worse… Strange. Now, If I were a Christian that would make me think (to be fair, I sort of was and it sort of did).

If American Christians prayed for Mitt Romney to win the 2012 election and he didn’t, why do they hate Barack Obama? Didn’t their God make his will clear by saying “no, fuck Mitt Romney, Barack is the man”.

Ah, Christians. Who can say how their closed little minds word. Or don’t work, as it were.

Ladies and gentlemen, the incredible, Mr. Tim Minchin! Genius. Absolute, genius. That is all.

If prayer actually works...

If prayer actually works… why don’t they?

Tell me, why the fuck they don’t? Why? Let me tell you. Because prayer doesn’t fucking work. That’s why.

That is all.

Clive Solomon

Clive Solomon: Your magic spells. They are powerless against me.

So, the Wanganui District Council has finally seen the light. And, like every other societal advance, the Christians fought it kicking and screaming right to the end. Thankfully Dr. Clive Solomon persevered and the council has eventually seen the light. Of reason. Finally.

Here’s the press release by the NZARH:

The New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (NZARH) welcomes todays decision by the Wanganui District Council to remove prayer from the formal proceedings of all Council meetings. We believe that this is a victory for all the residents of Wanganui and for the wider New Zealand community representing, as it does, the first step towards a true separation between church and state. The signal that this sends to the entire community of Wanganui is that the Council is not prepared to tolerate discrimination on the grounds of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

Following the decision Peter Harrison, spokesperson for the NZARH said “We are very pleased to hear that the Wanganui District Council has decided to conduct prayer outside official Council business. This approach is in accordance with the Bill of Rights, and recognises the importance of a tolerant multicultural society.”

Annette Main, Major of Wanganui commented on the decision, saying “I believe that the decisions we have made today are pragmatic and provide a reasonable compromise. It will allow those who wish to participate in a prayer or reflection to do so immediately before our Council meetings start. Those with an alternative view will also be provided for by removing the prayer from the meeting agenda.”

The NZARH recognises the instrumental work of Clive Solomon in standing up for religious equality in the face of sometimes emotional resistance. We also applaud the Councilors of Wanganui for coming to a resolution that is a credit to their city.

The NZARH sincerely hopes that the divisions caused by this issue will be quickly healed so that the Wanguanui District Council can continue it’s good work.

(http://www.nzarh.org.nz/news.htm#wanganui)

There is an article in Stuff about the result of Clive Solomon’s battle against bronze age magic and superstition:

The change of heart was prompted by a judgment from the High Court of Justice in Britain last month, which ruled that reciting prayers as part of a formal council meeting was not lawful under its Local Government Act.

However, the court did not believe reciting a prayer discriminated against councillors with no religious beliefs.

Councillor Clive Solomon, who first raised an objection to the prayer back in April, tabled the new information.

Dr Solomon indicated he would mount a legal challenge if his request to remove the prayer was defeated yesterday.

(http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6563096/Wanganui-District-Council-abolishes-prayer)

Well done Clive, your tenacity in fighting this idiocy is an inspiration to all of us.

The only down side to this debacle is that the Wanganui District Council wasted $24,000 of tax payer money on legal fees trying to keep their magic spell as part of a secular government organisation agenda. That’s a bit tragic but it’s also par for the course when it comes to the religious. Thankfully, they do seem to eventually see reason.

I think this quote by the most brilliant Mr. Robert G. Ingersoll is most apt:

“I know of no crime that has not been defended by the church, in one form or other. The church is not a pioneer; it accepts a new truth, last of all, and only when denial has become useless.”
– Robert G. Ingersoll

The prayer before a meal

Praying. And thinking hard about it.

While speaking to an atheist friend of mine at work he asked me if I ever had a meal at the house of a mutual Christian friend. I said that I had not and he asked if it was because the Christian friend prayed before eating a meal. While the prayer before the meal thing is not necessarily the reason it certainly is a contributing reason. While at work, I strictly stay away from the subject of religion and I expect everybody else to do the same. In my private time, however, I will not shy away from expressing my opinion loudly,  so I don’t actively pursue situations where my complete and utter lack of respect for religious beliefs will cause conflict.

The conversation got me thinking about the praying before a meal thing that Christians are so fond of doing. The more religious a person is the more pious and intense the meal time prayer is likely to be. I know this since I come from a family where at family gatherings, there most certainly was going to be a bit of pre-meal praying. One uncle in particular always delivered fantastic and pious oration, bless his racist soul.

The prayer always followed a reasonably similar script, regardless of which side of the family was gathering. By ‘which side’ I mean: the Methodist side, the Methodist side that included the Jehovah’s witnesses or the Dutch Reformed side. Considering the seemingly scripted nature of the pre-meal prayers, I suspect that, mostly, Christians don’t sit down and think about what it is that they are babbling. Here are some examples of the pre-meal prayer one might experience:

For what we are about to receive, may the lord make us truly thankful. Amen

That one is the most common in my experience. I think people uncomfortable with the public spectacle of the thing opt for this version to get it over quickly. The extended version might go more like this:

For what we are about to receive, may the lord make us truly thankful. And may we always be mindful of the needs of others, for Jesus sake, Amen.

I’ve heard this one a couple of times:

Dear Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to thy service. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

I find this one quite interesting:

Bless us, O Lord, for these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Help us to be mindful of all our blessings, and the needs of those who have less. Amen.

On the surface I guess they seem sufficiently pious, nice even. Being thankful to your Lord Jesus for the food he’s given you to eat. Remember all the good things you have and remember those who don’t have as much. Isn’t that nice?

I have composed an altogether different prayer I would like to propose. I might even try to memorize it so that if the opportunity arose I’d be ready with a nice thought-provoking appeal to the almighty creator of the universe for everybody to ponder over while consuming a nice meal. It might go something like this:

For what we are about to receive dear Lord Jesus, make us truly thankful. To help us be truly thankful, please will you also open our minds so that we may understand why you have deemed us, who are able to afford to grow and purchase our own food, worthy of this bounty while allowing millions of children to starve to death every day. We are thankful, oh Lord, that you have deemed us worthy of living in a first world country which guarantees us food and shelter but to properly appreciate this oh Lord, open our minds to understand your plan that involves the mutilation and torture of millions of people, including children and babies, who are not deemed worthy of this bounty. Dear Lord, we are thankful for the first world medicine which is provided to us, essentially free of charge, through the toil of secular scientists, sometimes in the face of great adversity from your holy church and funded from taxes paid by those who are not of our faith and who do not believe you exist, but allow us to understand oh Lord, why millions are not deemed fit for this privilege and die horribly in the most disgusting ways imaginable even though they are far more religious than we are, obey your commandments with much more zeal and believe in you much more fervently. As we consume this bounty you have provided us who do not really need assistance oh Lord, help us to understand why so many little children who are unable to help themselves deserve to die of hunger, thirst and torture. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

I can’t help but wonder why Jesus Christ, who allegedly provides food to (some) Christians, also provides food to Muslims, Hindus and Atheists among others while at the same time not providing food to literally millions of other Christians who are left to starve to death. Among them very many little ‘Christian’ Children.

How do you rationalise that? I guess you don’t. I guess you just ignore it. I guess you just put it down to God’s mysterious but good plan… that involves the most horrible deaths imaginable for millions of people.

Praying to a deity before a meal to thank him (funny how it’s always a ‘him’) for the food he demonstrably had no part in providing? Yes, I find it offensive.

Oh, and Christian, ye who would pray when thy knowest that in thy presence are those who do not believe, or, in fact, anybody at all, should probably have another look at thy Bible, lest thy eternal soul be damned or some such:

Matthew 6
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Mahatma Gandhi: A great man who spent his life in search of the truth.

Mahatma Gandhi: A great man who spent his life striving for the truth.

I read an article on Stuff.co.nz about the furore over the saying of prayers in Wanganui District Council and it made me furious. It made me furious for a number of reasons, paramount being the ridiculous amount entitlement that a lot of Christians feel and the outright hypocrisy many of them display.

The drama began with a suggestion made by mayor Anette Main which was that the references to god should be removed from the prayer used to open each meeting . Apparently this sparked a furore about whether or not praying was an appropriate item of business for the council. The issue ended up as a complaint at the Human Rights Commission. It turns out that Councillor Clive Solomon laid the complaint with the commission to get a neutral voice to mediate the situation.

Apparently mediation failed  and now the Office of Human Rights Proceedings has been asked to consider taking the issue to a tribunal. Dr Solomon indicated that should the office decline, he would take the case there himself. If the tribunal heard the case and ruled that discrimination took place the judgement would be akin to that of a district court.

You can read the full sorry story here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5438985/Prayer-row-heads-to-tribunal

To illustrate the level of entitlement the rest of us non Christians have to deal with, here is a quote from a Christian on this very blog:

You choose to believe what you want, how can you possibly be afraid that I am “enforcing” my opinion on you?

And one  answer is, obviously, by doing things like trying to force people to pray as part of a governmental agenda. Christians feel so entitled to privilege that it seems they are physically unable to consider religion from another’s perspective. This is, I suppose unsurprising, since if they had to, briefly, consider the viewpoint of others and look at what they believe they probably wouldn’t be Christians for much longer after that. I know this to be true since that’s how most atheists become atheists after all.

The government has no place supporting one religion or indeed any religion over another or over no religion at all. It seems though, that Christians here in New Zealand and many other places feel that they have a right to espouse their ridiculous fairy tales and insist on the public uttering of their magical spells whenever and however they choose, even in the course of working for people who do not hold similar beliefs; those people’s opinion be damned.

I’m pretty sure the pious council members would take massive umbrage if they were instructed to take out their musallah, point it towards Mecca, get down on their hands and knees and open the council meeting by performing a nice decent and appropriately pious Salah. The way I see it is if somebody in a governmental capacity insists on including one religion in governmental business, they should include ALL religions in government business. Perhaps each meeting should be opened by praying to a different deity? Or perhaps we should just leave religion out of governmental business entirely.

Government and governmental bodies have no place in dictating to anybody what they should believe and has even less of a place supporting one belief system over another. Government should work for all people equally all the time.

Religion should be handled like a dirty family secret with the appropriate amount of embarrassment. It should only be talked about in hushed voices behind closed doors and should be kept as far away from the rest of us as possible.

This is the bit in the article that really annoy me:

Dr Solomon said his stance had come at a personal cost, with patients leaving his Whanganui surgery and his children being hassled at school.

I would like to remind these Christians who feel they can no longer support a man who is working for the greater good of everybody and who are hassling his children of what they allege to believe. I would like to quote their God Himself, Jesus Christ, from the New Testament (the bit without the horrors of slavery and genocide and child murder… hah, kidding, there’s still slavery) from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 22:

22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Hassling children? Nice one Christians, nice one. Hypocrisy much? Christian love? More like a petulant tantrum over their magic spells being taken away.

A great man once said these two things which sums everything up nicely:

” Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.”

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

The first one I would like to point out to the Christians who are ‘retaliating’ against Dr. Solomon’s quest, by leaving his medical practise and hassling his children, to rid his council meetings of prayer. Think about that quote for a second.

The second one, I think, sums up the vast majority of Christians. What you say and what you do should match. If you say you follow Jesus, why then do you not do as you believe he did?

Unlike Jesus of course, Mahatma Gandhi actually existed; we have empirical evidence for his existence and we have a pretty clear record of the good he did.

Prayer.

Prayer: this time will be just as effective as last time. For sure.

Prayer: this time will be just as effective as last time. For sure.

I wasn’t going to write about this again. Not this soon anyway but somebody reminded me of the dumb fuckery that is currently trending on Twitter. Even though this latest bout of idiocy is inspired by the happenings in London (#prayforlondon), please feel free to apply this to any situation what so ever that the religionuts feel should be prayed over.

Right, so, “pray for <insert some disaster area here>”. Examples: pray for London, pray for Christchurch, pray for Japan, pray for Haiti.

Why should one pray, after the fact, for the victims of a disaster? Do you expect the God you pray to is going to magically fix things, after the fact? Why is this God going to do this? To demonstrate his awesome? To demonstrate how kind and good he is? Will this time be different?

No you fucking idiot. He isn’t going to do a goddamn thing. Just like he didn’t do a goddamn thing any other times he was prayed to by you pious morons. Do you know why?  Because he doesn’t exist. You are talking to yourself. There, is, no, god. Not yours, not the ancient Greek’s, the Romans’, the Norse, the Africans, no gods at all, anywhere, ever.

However, if, hypothetically, there was a god, the Christian one for example (but feel free to replace ‘Jesus’ with whichever figment of your imagination you prefer): if Jesus needs to be told about whichever tragedy just happened, he isn’t omniscient and therefore is not a god. If he knew about it and caused it, Jesus is an evil mass murdering bastard. If he knew about it and he was able to stop it but didn’t, he’s criminally negligent. If he wasn’t able to stop it, he’s not a god. Why, exactly, are you praying? What are you asking for? What is wrong in your head?

Let me tell you what praying is really all about (to borrow from one of my earlier posts). Praying is something you do so that you can feel and look like you’ve done something without actually having to do anything. Telling people to pray for whatever tragedy is primarily to flaunt your precious pious disposition, to impress others with how freaking much you believe in your deity and how little your brain actually functions.

Praying is exactly like wanking. When you get right down to it, wanking is only good for the person stroking his dick. Some people get off on seeing somebody wank in public and other people get off by wanking in little groups or large groups but fundamentally, only the wanker really benefits.

Again, this is why I am irritated. Watching people tell other people to ‘pray for whatever’ is like watching one wanker, furiously whacking away, telling a bunch of other wankers to join him.

Praying is exactly like that. Only the idiot mumbling to himself benefits while the victims of the tragedy benefit nothing what so ever. The only one better off after a good ‘ol prayer is the idiot who did the praying. In fact, wanking would probably be more productive than praying.

So instead of mumbling some inane bullshit to a non-existent figment of your imagination, give some money to the Red Cross here: http://www.redcross.org.nz/donations or give some money to Oxfam here: http://www.oxfam.org.nz/donate-online or to Amnesty international here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/donate

Then go tell a real person you love them, stop being a pious dick and learn some science. THAT makes the world better.

A ritual called “praying”

Jesusianisimists believe that they can communicate with their deity through a ritual called “praying”. This ritual is usually used to petition the deity to intercede in human affairs to the advantage of the “praying” Jesusianisimist or a cause deemed important by the Jesusianisimist.

This ritual can take several forms and, strangely for an exceedingly important ritual fundamental to the Jesusianisimists “faith”, doesn’t have a strictly prescribed method associated with it. Of course there are the “formal” “prayers” performed on important occasions but the vast majority of “prayer” rituals are performed in a very unstructured manner.

One common form employed by many (but not all) Jesusianisimists is a “prayer” ritual called “saying grace”. This usually involves several Jesusianisimists, shortly prior to consuming a meal together, holding hands, closing their eyes and listening to an appointed Jesusianisimist say out loud for everybody to hear, how grateful they all are for the food that was provided by the deity and sometimes to petition the deity for continued good fortune. (This is strange behaviour, since the Jesusianisimists spent some considerable time working to earn money to purchase the food and then more time to prepare it. It is unclear which part the deity played.)

Another common form of the ritual involves the Jesusianisimist, shortly prior to going to bed, kneeling before his/her bed and saying a few words of thanks to the deity and perhaps to petition the deity to continue its benevolence towards the Jesusianisimist and the people the Jesusianisimist holds dear. (Again, it is unclear why the all-knowing deity must be reminded  about things it already knows.)

Jesusianisimists sometimes employ this “prayer” ritual just prior to a sporting match to petition their deity to aid them in beating the other team (A very strange thing to do since often both teams are Jesusianisimists and are asking for the same thing) and shortly after sporting matches to thank their deity… for something, even if they lose. (It is unclear what the purpose of gratitude is when one got exactly the opposite of what one asked for.)

Jesusianisimist often ask for things, help for strangers, relatives, themselves, they ask for rain, they ask for sunshine, they ask for good crops, for money, cars, cell phones, they ask for love, they ask to be saved from punishment, they ask to be healed from sickness, they ask for others to be healed from sickness, they ask every conceivable thing.

Jesusianisimists respect other Jesusianisimists who pray and are very grateful when other Jesusianisimists pray for them or on behalf of their causes.

Jesusianisimists also fervently believe that their deity answers these ritualistic petitions.

My observations are as follows:

  • Jesusianisimists often ask for things in contradiction to each other
  • Prayers obviously don’t always get answered (very often it is impossible to answer all prayers since they often contradict each other)
  • Prayers never get answered consistently
  • Jesusianisimists are quick to remember times when prayers seem to get answered but quick to forget the overwhelming number of times they don’t get answered

Some more observations go like this:

  • Muslims and Hindus also pray to their gods
  • Muslim and Hindu prayers get answered (and not answered) at exactly the same rate as Jesusianisimists prayers
  • Buddhists, Scientologists, atheists, agnostics, Satanists, Wiccans, Sun Worshippers, Witch Doctors, Nazis and Pol Pot often wish for things and their wishes come true at exactly the same rate as Jesusianisimists prayers.
  • There are some things that Jesusianisimists ask for that never, ever happen, such as the healing of an amputee
  • Prayers never get answered in such a way as to conclusively prove that there was supernatural intervention
  • No adequately run scientific study of prayer has ever shown it to be any more efficacious than the placebo effect. To the contrary, some studies have shown that people who know they are being prayed for fare worse than those who do not

Now, one can draw one of three conclusions:

  1. There are no deities that answer prayers and all answered prayers are happy coincidence
  2. Everybody has a deity to do their bidding (even atheists and Buddhists… somehow)  that answers (or doesn’t answer) their prayers and wishes
  3. The deity of the Jesusianisimists also answers the prayers and wishes of, well, everybody, including, oddly, Satanists and atheists

Three interesting possibilities. Only one is likely though and no extra points for guessing which one.

In closing, I would like you to take this message away from this post:

Pray for world peace. It’s the least you can do. Literally

Have some trouble understanding that? Let me elaborate. Praying does nothing. Not a damn thing. Giving money to a charity, that does something. Volunteering at a charity, that does something. Not wasting water and electricity, that does something. Recycling, that does something. Praying, does absolutely nothing. Obviously and demonstrably so. It is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Prayer exists so that people can feel like they’ve done something without actually having to do anything.

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