John Mill’s latest column: Drone Wars & Death Panels

http://theamericanheathen.com/2012/08/18/drone-wars-and-death-panels/

Death from the skies may be convenient for tech-savvy, riches-laiden countries like the USA … but is long-distance warfare making it too easy to murder those with whom we disagree?

From God with Glee

Beware that toothy grin

By an unapologetic atheist Editor

It is a rather common theme among religionist propaganda to see the smiling sharply dressed Christian contrasted with the atheist who, when not illustrated with devil horns, is shown as a miserable disheveled fellow only Gollum would call friend.

I’ve met my fair share of fast-talking, grinning religionists diligent to assure me they resided at the pinnacle of contentment due to their supposed belief in the supernatural.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the pitch. If you haven’t, it goes a little something like this: “I’ve been a fool for sin. I’ve fallen for temptation’s wicked siren song. And I’ve slept on the devil’s back porch. But I found the cure for misery. And you, too, friend, can be happy like me if you would just accept Jesus Christ into your heart.”

Of course, the majority of the time it isn’t the peaceable Christ character they want you to emulate but, instead, they seek compliance with one of the 33,820 Abrahamic derivations of Christianity worldwide.

Since I was old enough to realize the supernatural existed only in human imagination, movies and comic books I have heard the claims that non-believers become atheists because they are either angry with the fictional god character or have chosen not to adhere to occultism or believe in magic due to some personality defect or mental trauma.

It didn’t take me long to infer, astutely, that these claims that religionists are somehow more well-adjusted, loving, peaceful, relaxed and generally joyous than their secular brethren was just another cheap trick in the dogmatist’s arsenal.

Degradation is the name of the game, and how better to scare little children into compliance than to assure them a life without mythology is a life not worth living.

According to a Grand Valley State University study by Luke Galen (in my home state of Michigan) confident atheists are as well-adjusted and content as their religious counterparts. The study notes those who claim to wholeheartedly believe in a magical being consider themselves the happiest, with those believers who engage in actual critical thinking with regards to their beliefs tending to be among the unhappiest.

Though studies can be deceptive – generally because the number of test subjects is so low compared to the population, and there is tendency for people to shy away from sharing true feelings about religion – I am willing to concede ignorance is bliss.

Take, for instance, babies. They are arguably the most ignorant humans on the planet. As long as they are sheltered, fed and given companionship they are content and perfectly happy. It then seems reasonable those infantile adults who believe nothing bad will ever happen to them because magic grandpa is ever monitoring them as they go through life have fewer fears and anxiety.

Placebos work – this we know.

It is popular among the religious propaganda machine to admonish atheists as not only unhappy but angry.

“Why are you so mad at God?” they ask. “If you don’t like religion why don’t you just avoid it?”

It has always amazed me that seemingly intelligent people can posit such obtuse notions.

Would one ask the slave why he is so angry with the slave-master?

Yet, despite religion’s several-thousand-year stranglehold on mankind; and with all the horrors it has wrought, we non-believers who dare push back against tyranny are deemed insurrectionists and ne’er-do-wells.

After all, how dare we be upset that our speech, actions, taxes, foreign policy, and bodies are controlled by the majority cult?

Google away, and you will quickly find many thousands of links to studies which purport atheists suffer decreased longevity and may be generally less happy than the religious.

Of course, those same searches turn up studies which show atheists enjoy better sex lives and are more intelligent.

According to Tomas Rees’ study of the Global Peace Index, the most peaceful countries in the world also have the highest rates of non-theists while – you guessed it – the most turbulent and warlike countries had the greatest numbers of the “faithful.”

Another statistical certainty, which I have discussed in other articles and essays, is the fact that more than 98 percent of the American prison population (U.S. Department of Justice) is composed of religious people. The overwhelming majority faith of those religious folks is Christianity.

More than 98 percent of criminals are religious; and that seems obvious there is more than mere correlation here.

Non-theists tend to be more law-abiding, peaceful and respectful of people and their property while a hefty price tag of rape, murder, slavery, child molestation, arson, theft and unnecessary war comes with the blissful ignorance and self-delusion of popular occultism.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, I am left with more questions than when I started. Are the religious genuinely more content than the secular? And, if so, does this give the occultists the right to instate their voodoo upon the rest of us? Or, are the wicked among them simply feigning pleasantry in a sort of social engineering to better wage their propaganda war? It works for police, salesmen and spies.

If the religious are brimming with unadulterated glee, then perhaps it is because they possess penultimate control over this world … and they know it. After all, even sharks sometimes look like they’re smiling.

Righteous rage: Evolution from evangelical Christian to American Heathen

an unapologetic atheist

An interview with America’s angriest atheist

By aua Editor

Tuesday April 10, 2012

He calls himself America’s angriest atheist. However, the gravelly voiced pleas for freedom and fairness for all which emanate from his modest internet radio studio deep in Oklahoma are not diatribes of blind rage but an intense lucidity of purpose. When RJ Evans takes to cyberspace each Saturday evening with his team of skeptical scholars and constitutional devotees there becomes, for three short hours, a gathering place for disillusioned dogmatists, agnostics, deists, anti-theists, atheists and even curious believers. What the unfaithful get from the “American Heathen” radio show is discussion consisting of a mixture of politics, history and civil rights with a godless spin and a splash of humor. Despite his command of theology and brash attitude, Evans isn’t the working man’s Sam Harris or just another Howard Stern parrot. And, despite his commitment to his fellow man, his resemblance to Gandhi ends with a bald head.

PHOTO COURTESY RJ EVANS/AMERICAN HEATHEN
RJ Evans is host of the American Heathen weekly radio program.

In a land of pedestrian prophets and mass-produced idols, Evans’ modulus throughout American Heathen is that all people – religious or not – have the right to peaceful coexistence. Meanwhile, his show does the necessary work of offering intellectual topics in a format digestible by people who may not have advanced degrees in world religion or spend their leisure time decoding Hume and Huxley. This freethinker’s feast runs the gamut from serene to grisly, introducing familiar elements like listener call-ins, skits and unique contributors from around the globe including Dr. Charles A. Doswell III (2 Buck Chuck), author and radio broadcaster John Mill (Ronald Bruce Meyer), the Georgia State Director for the American Atheists Inc. Al Stefanelli and British historian Ken Humphreys with “Astounding Rubbish” before it climaxes with the American Heathen op-ed … a tirade of gnashing synapses in an aural onslaught. So, how did the leader of a veritable A-team of A-theism go from Christian kid with a promising future in music to arguably America’s angriest atheist? RJ Evans recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his metamorphisis from believer to atheist.

The journey

Initially your average white suburban kid growing up in the 1960s, Evans got his first close-up encounter with the entertainment business when he was fairly young. Though he had only been playing the drums for four years, 10-year-old Evans was called up to play a gig in a nightclub to fill in for the regular drummer who had fallen ill. “My dad was in radio and television in Las Vegas, Nevada, and some people happened to know my dad. They called him and he took me down there and I was thrust into the world of music,” Evans said. “My first rock band I was in I was 13 and it was with a bunch of Mormons. The band was called ‘Blind Wisdom’ and they went to the church the Osmond Brothers went to whenever they were in town.” Evans parents divorced shortly thereafter and he bounced around between his parents, foster homes and juvenile detention centers. Evans’ religious rearing was what he calls a “Lifesaver” roll of Christianity. “You name the flavor and I was probably exposed to it,” Evans said. “My dad surprisingly married a woman (Evans’ stepmother) that was a Mormon and he became a Jack Mormon, so everything was a mish-mash of stuff. Some days we would go to church with the Episcopalians or the Baptists or the Roman Catholics. It was almost a blur.” Evans said he began to question the world around him after a dispute with his father.

“I lied to him once and he forced me to sit in my room and read the Bible for two days. I remember thinking ‘this is full of shit,’” he said. “I was 10 or 11 and I could barely understand certain things at school but I remember reading this, and that planted a seed. After that I kept trying to justify the way I felt up until the point of my de-conversion.”

Evans left high school in his senior year to join the United States Marine Corps. When he came back to civilian life Evans embarked on his music career. That familiarity with travel and musical background may explain Evans’ foray into his decades-long career as a music engineer, roadie, songwriter and band-mate. “Holiday Inns, bars, clubs, dives – I had the opportunity to sign with Capitol Records in ’84-’85 when I was up in Seattle,” he said. “It was between the band I was in and a band called ‘WASP’ and we all know how that worked out.” During those years traveling, Evans worked everything from radio disc jockey to the manager of a roller rink – and he even studied under the great Uncle Bob Hardy, a legend in broadcast radio. Evans obtained his commercial broadcasting license while at Arizona Western College in Yuma.

Free-falling

Evans’ de-conversion came much later. He had written an album called “Dirty Hands” in the early 2000s and had been using a neighbor and friend as a mental muse for the sexually charged theme. “I revealed it to her and a couple weeks later I got a call from her husband saying they never wanted to speak to me again,” he said. “It may seem like an insignificant event to some but it was like somebody had pulled the rope to the guillotine.” Evans spun into a depressive state using alcohol to self-medicate. For reasons unknown to Evans that single event caused an eruption of emotion from the decades he had spent lying to himself about believing in God. “With all those questions I had been justifying I had become very fundamentalist. This was like I fell off a cliff and I didn’t know how hard I would hit the ground,” he said. “It was one of the most painful moments in my life.” Evans added, “My wife could hardly console me.” And then it happened – Evans had the epiphany that the magical beings and the religious system set up to support their alleged existence were mythology.

“Suddenly it was very clear to me. I haven’t figured it out to this day,” Evans said. “It wasn’t a rejection of a god or anything like that. I wasn’t angry at a god. I just knew it was bullshit.”

Evans said the de-conversion was less stressful for his wife as she had always been more of a doubter. “Once I got past the depression the anger came out,” Evans said. “I was angry and pissed off at being lied to by parents and relatives and friends. I wasn’t able to see like I can today. At that time I was an emotional basket case. I wasn’t able to see they were brainwashed too, and products of their environment.” Nowadays Evans understands people’s religion is an accessory like hair dye, jewelry or clothing and should be treated as such. “I’ve grown a considerable amount during that time to understand the intricacies of religious people, but back then I just wanted to scream at the world … that’s why American Heathen was born,” he said. “I was probably one of the loudest and most intimidating individuals to be around. In fact, my wife was kind of scared to be around me when I was on the air.” Evans added, “I became a sponge. I was reading everything I could get my hands on and I was pontificating on anything I could with any degree of knowledge, and it was sheer rage.” Evans said much of his rage stemmed from the time he spent praying from the beds of foster homes and juvenile detention centers for a fictional deity to give him guidance. “I was hearing no answers, and at this time I’m thinking he (God) is teaching me a lesson for being a little shit,” He said. “There were a lot of psychological issues involved with this falling off the cliff – it was a culmination of a lot of stuff.” Coming out of the non-theistic closet had more than just psychological implications. “My birth mother disowned me within about a year of my declaration, and I had several best friends walk away,” Evans said.

Renewed purpose

PHOTO COURTESY RJ EVANS/AMERICAN HEATHEN
Radio host RJ Evans is pictured here in his studio during one of his American Heathen radio show broadcasts. Catch the program from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Central Time) Saturdays at http://www.shocknetradio.com.

Now nearly 7 years after his first broadcast to a single listener, Evans has turned his rage on American theocracy. “If you can separate the human from the belief system you’re doing alright. It’s alright to be angry at religion, but when you turn to ad hominem attacks on a person you are essentially bullying,” Evans said.

“There is nothing wrong with the atheist community being aggressive, but we need to get to the root cause.”

According to Evans, he’s not really interested in what people believe, just as long as they resist the urge to force others to live under that belief system. “There are three things I live by: honor, integrity and loyalty. All three of those things have to exist simultaneously otherwise I am not complete and I am not living a moral life,” he said. “It’s based in that idea that, just by my existence, I am somewhat responsible for my fellow human brother or sister because we are all connected by the common ancestry and the evolution that brought us to this brief moment.” Evans added, “I try to take full advantage with making those connections and remaining loyal to humanity as opposed to selfish deeds.” True to his word, Evans and his contributors do not earn any money for their work on American Heathen. Evans built the studio and pays all the costs associated as an effort to help get the message of truth and justice out to the American people.

On Christopher Hitchens

“If I had to narrow it down to one particular author it would definitely have to be Christopher Hitchens because he was relentless. Of course he was flawed, as all of us are, but he was a pitbull – when he grabbed hold he wasn’t letting go,” Evans said. “What I learned in the Marine Corps they really hammered into me: once you commit to something you stick with it, and if you are wrong you need to be the first one to admit to being wrong and not just hide.” Evans said the loss of Hitchens may have been terrible, but that every atheist has the ability to speak out about issues that matter to humankind.

Misconceptions about atheism

“Believe it or not I think people have the same misconceptions about theists as the theists do about atheists,” Evans said. “We tend to judge each other based on some form of ideological perch, and we get into the habit of making ourselves superior to others; atheists are accused of intellectual snobbery and theists are accused of being stupid.” He added, “We are extremely judgmental and there are times when we need to take a step back and take a second look at the circumstance to see what the bigger picture is.”

Herding cats

Evans said one of the reasons atheists will have difficulty garnering full rights under a system free of theocracy is a lack of cohesiveness. “We don’t seem to have a collective desire to inspire humanity. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own national TV network? Unfortunately there are a lot of egos involved and there seems to be a lack of connection because we don’t have that political or religious rallying point,” he said. “Why not humanism? It’s a very natural position: we do give a shit about each other.” Evans said human mortality should be enough of a reason for people to put aside their differences and use all of mankind’s science and brainpower to work to lessen suffering wherever it exists. “People don’t see it. They’re focusing on ideological points instead of freedom and liberty,” he said.

“Many people are dying and many more are desperate to walk away from their religion but they are too afraid. Atheists can come out of the closet and live in harmony with theists – it can be done, but only if we all stand up for our rights.”

Evans added, “All it takes is coming out and saying ‘I don’t believe.’ It’s amazing how liberating it is. When the conversation presents itself, and it will, just say you don’t believe. Tell them to show you the evidence. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

A thorn in their side

Evans’ American Heathen emblem is an ancient letter which means “thorn.” “I don’t just want to be a thorn in the side of religion, but any establishment that does not stand for liberty and justice,” he said. “I don’t want to debate gods or ancient precepts that have no basis in fact. I want atheists and agnostics to get out of the closet and stand up for themselves because the longer they sit quietly the longer this tyranny will continue.” Evans added, “There has not been a single battle in human history – whether physical or a battle of will or ideology – where people didn’t get hurt along the way; that’s going to happen. Yes, some people will try to harm atheists for standing up for themselves, but you can’t find hope in simply relieving yourself of that responsibility.”

Be yourself

Evans said those atheists donning suits, hair tonic and a servile attitude toward religionists are only going to make it harder on the rest of the non-believers. “It’s not up to you to prove to them that you’re not what they think you are,” Evans said. “Too many atheists spend too much time out there trying to enhance their image. Be who you want to be and in the end you’ll still be a moral person. You don’t have to wear certain clothes to be a moral person, and when you try to hard you just come off like a used car salesman anyway.”

“Improve you for you, not for someone else and let your conscience be your guide.”

Evans said religionists, especially the judgmental types, have difficulty comprehending a moral atheists when they see one. “What’s confusing to them is they can’t find anything wrong and it scares them because it doesn’t fit with what they’ve been taught – it makes them question what they thought they knew,” he said.“We just need to stand up and not be afraid to be ourselves.” Evans added, “I get really emotional when I think about all this because it really is important to me as a human being to leave a legacy that benefits everybody as opposed to just a small group.” Evans lives in Oklahoma with his wife of nearly 30 years.

Catch American Heathen from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Central) Every Saturday at www.shocknetradio.com and be sure to check out his blog and get more information about RJ Evans and the whole crew at www.theamericanheathen.com.

No part of this interview may be reproduced in any format.

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