Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beware of Islamic Turkeys

As an Atheist, why should I care that a friend on Facebook just posted this as her status?

Butterball Turkeys are 'Halal Certified". This means that during the killing of the turkey a Muslim religious official (or a recording of a Muslim religious official) offers the turkey 'in the name of Allah'. I have personally called Butterball and USDA to confirm and this is true. If you would like to do the same, call Butterball Corporate at 1-919-255-7900. I spoke to Linda Compton, Director of Consumer Relations. They will try to pass the buck to USDA (1-888-674-6854), but USDA only requires a religious official as part of their halal certification. They do not dictate what they say.

Why should I care? The Christian is scared her Butterball Turkey is Islamic. And observant Muslims can't eat the Butterball Turkey unless it's Halal. BOTH are nonsense to me, what do I care?

And yet I do care.

Which bothers me more - the Christian friend and her ilk who think Jesus would never want them to eat a Halal Turkey (despite Matthew 15:11: It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.) or the Muslim (or Jew, for that matter), who thinks his food has to be extra-specially-blessed in order to eat it?

I'm going to have to go with the Christian in this case. I'm sure this same Christian friend would eat food prepared and prayed over by a neighbor who was Catholic. Or Mormon. Or Jewish. It's only certain religions that are unacceptable.

The arguments I've heard from Christians against the evils of Halal are that it requires a cruel way of killing animals - never mind that the same method is required of kosher meat - and that Halal requires a spoken prayer to God (and the Arabic word for God is Allah - for some reason, people have HUGE problems that Arabs use an Arabic word for the God of Abraham - but no problem that the French call him Dieu - how come that isn't a problem?), while kosher killing doesn't require any spoken word (just a series of very specific rituals that are each and altogether meant to praise their God - but apparently, specific, deliberate movements done as a praise to a God is okay with the Christians; its just spoken words that are ENTIRELY unacceptable).

What does preventing observant Muslims from getting to eat a Butterball Turkey on Thanksgiving accomplish, I wonder? If we eat a Butterball Turkey, do the terrorists win?

Another day to celebrate being an Atheist! And more Butterball Turkey for me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Abby's religious bias: dangerous?

I usually like Dear Abby. But today, her column included this advice:

"then I recommend you talk to Donny's mother about finding a Big Brother for him, through her religious denomination."

I am always ticked off when she says something like this, but I was particularly ticked off today, so I wrote her this:

Abby, so often you give advice like this, but surely you know that not everyone is a member of a religion, and not every community of faith has the capacity to handle various personal, family or marital problems? There are *millions* of Atheists in the USA, and so often, your advice would be useless to these millions of Americans because you so often refer to a community of faith as a way to address some problem.

Every time you give this advice, I wonder about the person you have given it to - what if they are an Atheist, like me, or part of a church that just provides sermons and some music, with a religious instructor who has no idea how to handle various family or personal issues beyond, "Pray" - or has some kind of twisted view that women should submit to their husbands, believes there's a religious basis allowing husbands to beat their wives and children, etc.?

I personally know so many women who went to the leaders of their community of faith regarding problems they were experiencing in their marriage, with their children, with their parents, with siblings, etc., or regarding emotional issues or conflict, and who were given absolutely lousy advice as a result.

It's time for Abby to start referring to qualified nonprofit organizations, health care professionals and mental health care professionals when people write to her regarding these problems! If she wants to add some kind of line at the end about, "And, in addition, if you are a person who believes in a religion, you might find strength in a community of faith - but don't use that as a substitute for getting qualified help," I'd be okay with that - I wouldn't be crazy about it, but at least it would be preceded by helpful advice!