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Welcome to The Secular Gospel According to Jess! In this blog you’ll find everything from cartoons that make me laugh, to quotes that inspire me, to stories of my own personal experience when it comes to dealing with religion and pretty much everything in between. The title of my blog is intended to be ironic, as one doesn’t often hear the word, “gospel”, associated with secularism, but my intent is to preach, for lack of a better word, what I think gospel should really be about: love, rationalism, fairness, equality, human rights, science and truth. Enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Atheist Blogroll

My blog has been added to The Atheist Blogroll! You can see the link below. The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit the website below!

I highly recommend it, it's a great resource! The only bad news is now I have no life due to so much amazing reading material.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why criticizing religion is not disrespectful.

Religion should not be exempt from criticism because it is very unlike things we typically refrain from criticizing (gender, sex, race, ethnicity, height, weight, looks, ability). Those things are innate to a person and are not a telling of a person’s character. You know the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Religion is not part of the cover, it’s part of the pages. Religious garments and jewelry aside, you cannot tell a person’s religion just by looking at the person. Religion is of the mind; it is alterable; it is a belief system, like an ideology or world view. We don’t hesitate to criticize or challenge someone’s political belief, especially if we find it unjust and can reason why. Debating political views is extremely common, but debating religion is “offensive”? Pointing out inconsistencies or errors in someone’s belief system is not insulting and it is not disrespectful any more than talking to them about their interpretation of “Fahrenheit 451” is. Criticizing the religion is not a personal attack on the person’s character or personality, it’s a criticism of the belief.

Re-blogged from

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thank you for not littering your mind.

A Jewish dilemma...

My wonderful and hilarious Jewish friend told me a joke tonight that perfectly described the peculiarities of considering oneself a Jew. For one, the inability to resist a good bargain, and two, the absolute refusal to eat pork.

"A Jewish dilemma: A ham...on sale."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear Red States...

Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware,that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the
Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a
bunch of single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens
back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to
their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you
success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, CalTech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and theUniversity of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,

Blue States

Saturday, April 16, 2011

He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear?

Ricky Gervais on why he's an atheist.

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -­- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”

This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)

When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”

But what are atheists really being accused of?

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.

I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.

One day when I was about 8 years old, I was drawing the crucifixion as part of my Bible studies homework. I loved art too. And nature. I loved how God made all the animals. They were also perfect. Unconditionally beautiful. It was an amazing world.

I lived in a very poor, working-class estate in an urban sprawl called Reading, about 40 miles west of London. My father was a laborer and my mother was a housewife. I was never ashamed of poverty. It was almost noble. Also, everyone I knew was in the same situation, and I had everything I needed. School was free. My clothes were cheap and always clean and ironed. And mum was always cooking. She was cooking the day I was drawing on the cross.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my brother came home. He was 11 years older than me, so he would have been 19. He was as smart as anyone I knew, but he was too cheeky. He would answer back and get into trouble. I was a good boy. I went to church and believed in God -– what a relief for a working-class mother. You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So bring them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-­‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-­‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.

But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.

Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.

Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.

So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f— you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine.

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Possible results of conservatives in power?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Only God Can Judge Me"

In December of 2007 I lost my younger brother, and in an effort to immortalize him, I had the Hebrew meaning of his first and middle names tattooed on my body in Sanskrit, as he was very interested in Buddhism. His first name across my lower back, below my bikini line so it is not visible, and his middle name down my spine, starting at the nape of my neck and going upwards towards my hairline. The one of my neck is visible if I happen to be wearing my hair up, but it is hidden otherwise, or if I am wearing a turtleneck or collared shirt.

The Hebrew meaning of his first and middle names, respectively, are "healer" and "God is my judge." In the past few years, I've had several people ask me what the Sanskrit letters mean, particularly the ones on my neck, as they are more visible.

When I tell them that it says "God is my judge," most people ask if I'm religious. Clearly, I'm not, but I can still appreciate the message.

Religious people often talk about "letting He without sin cast the first stone." This assumes that judgment should be left to God/Jesus, as He is the only one who is free from sin. Christians believe that God sent Jesus to die FOR our sins, to relieve us of them and to offer us salvation. If this is true, then Christians should leave the judgment to God/Jesus.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the religious do most of the judging themselves, and perhaps the worst part about it is that they judge what they cannot understand. I suppose we are all guilty of this to some degree, even the non-religious among us, but the major difference I see is that most agnostics and atheists that I've come into contact with at least TRY to understand that which they judge.

I wish that any religious group that preaches the ideas behind "only God can judge me" and "let He without sin cast the first stone", took its own advice.