Canadian Lawmaker Draws Derision By Denying Evolution, Even From His Own Party

It’s a relief to find that Christian legislators in the U.S. aren’t hogging all of North America’s allotment of crazy.

When Ontario’s parliament discussed a new sex-ed curriculum for public schools today, tempers soon began to fray.

The morning question period was especially nasty — Education Minister Liz Sandals mocked McNaughton and other right-wing Tories saying they “want to make the teaching of evolution optional.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” thundered [Progressive Conservative Party] MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Essex). His heckle provoked groans and eye-rolling from some Tories and a death stare from [New Democratic Party] MPP Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo).

But it was just an ill-considered, spur-of-the-moment outburst, right? Well, maybe, Nicholls half-clarified afterwards.

The off-the-cuff remark during a heated debate over the new sex education curriculum landed Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Essex) in hot water with Conservative colleagues and left him ridiculed by others. … But Nicholls stood by his line when asked about it Wednesday. “For myself, I don’t believe in evolution, Nicholls told reporters.

I still have to hand it to our neighbors Up North: A guy like Nicholls can make an actual political spectacle of himself by declaring that he doesn’t think evolution is real. In American politics, they call that “Wednesday,” or any other day of the week ending in Y.

(image via Shutterstock)

Poll: Most Non-Believers Decry CIA Torture, While the Religious Are O.K. With It

Earlier this week, Rachel at Friendly Atheist posted about Bryan Fischer‘s views on torture. Fischer says that when the CIA tortured terrorism suspects, that was OK, because they did so righteously, just like the murderers in the Bible did their work to please God.

For my money, Fischer is the Ann Coulter of the evangelical set: someone with a big mouth, a tiny heart, and a propensity to spout outrageousness. I’ve always considered his views to be on the outer edge of what most Christians find acceptable. But it turns out that at least when it comes to torture, Christians are, overall, broadly in agreement with the man.

Over at MSNBC, Steve Benen scrutinized the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, and concludes:

While many might assume that the faithful would be morally repulsed by torture, the reality is the opposite. When poll respondents were asked, “Do you personally think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?” most Americans said the abuses did not constitute torture. But it was non-religious Americans who were easily the most convinced that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were, in fact, torture.

The results in response to this question were even more striking: “All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?” For most Americans, the answer, even after recent revelations, was yes. For most Christians, it’s also yesBut for the non-religious, as the above chart makes clear, the torture was not justified.

Atheists and agnostics are much more likely to condemn the gross, inhumane actions of the worst CIA interrogators.

[N]on-religious Americans were one of the few subsets that opposed the torture techniques — and that includes breakdowns across racial, gender, age, economic, educational, and regional lines. The non-religious are effectively alone in their opposition to torture.

[The poll results are] a pretty interesting starting point for a discussion about faith, morality, the law, and the limits of human decency.

In 2009, there was a Pew poll about torture that revealed more or less the same divide between religious people and non-believers.

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Gay-Friendly Kansas Minister Hears How One Christian Opponent Wants To Cut Her Head Off and Put It On a Stick

Could it be that some Christians are a greater threat to churches than the staunchest anti-theists? For Jackie Carter of Wichita, Kansas, the answer may well be yes.

Rev. Jackie Carter, a Wichita minister at First Metropolitan Community Church, says she has received death threats because of the gay weddings she has performed. The calls have been escalating since the state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down by a federal judge last month.

What do the threats entail? Carter quotes one:

I’m going to chop your head off and put it on a stick and carry it around the town square.”

She says the threats have led to vandalism that has included broken windows. The church has even stepped up security. “I’ve asked folks who support the church to help with purchasing cameras that we can have outside the building for the protection. We have a security company now.”

Carter says she wants to ignore the threats, but she is scared. “When you’re here and the phone rings, and there’s heavy breathing and two seconds later the doorbell rings and then somebody’s throwing rocks through the windows. All those things combined create fear.”

It hasn’t affected her resolve. Carter says that despite everything, she’s going to continue to marry committed couples, straight and gay.

Taliban Kill At Least 132 Children in Pakistan School Siege, Burn Female Teacher Alive

In an act of terror reminiscent of the 2004 Beslan massacre and the handiwork of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Taliban fighters attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan today, killing at least 132 pupils and nine teachers, including a female instructor who was alive when the attackers doused her in gasoline and set her alight in front of her class.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) has claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in revenge for an anti-terrorist military offensive. Spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said it was “just the trailer” to further attacks.

According to the New York Times,

The militants’ assault started at about 10 a.m., when nine gunmen disguised as paramilitary soldiers climbed the rear wall of the Army Public School and Degree College, a school of about 2,500 pupils, including boys and girls, a senior security official said. …

As Pakistani security forces responded, some of the attackers blew themselves up while others were killed by members of the army’s Special Service Group commando unit.

Desperate parents, meanwhile, rushed to local hospitals or gathered outside the school gates seeking news of their children. One of them, Muhammad Arshad, described his relief after his son Ehsan was rescued army commandos. “I am thankful to God for giving him a second life,” he said.

But at the Combined Military Hospital, the bodies of schoolchildren were lined up on the floor, most of them with single gunshot wounds to the head.

Also,

“They burned a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” [an] unnamed military source told the US TV network. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”

And:

According to a tweet by Omar R. Quraishi, an editor at The Express Tribune who has over 154,000 Twitter followers, “Some of the bodies brought to hospital during the Peshawar school attack have been headless: source.”

One expert on Islamist terror, Ahmed Rashid, said that

… the insurgents had various reasons to attack the school, one of which was to send a message to the supporters of Malala [Yousafzai], who advocates education for women and children. … Rashid also believes the Taliban targeted the school to demoralize the military.

The school, though founded to educate the children of army officers, has many pupils who come from civilian backgrounds.

(Image via Shutterstock)