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Category Archives: Hot Button

No, No, I’m Not Confused

Ahhh, something I didn’t see coming. I’m intelligent and “worldly” and a polite debater. I ask questions and I typically speak sense, especially on views that are “unpopular.”

Because of this, I, apparently, am just confused about my atheism. I can’t possibly be intelligent and have given the God-belief any real consideration.

I really hate to burst this bubble for some of you fine folks, but it’s that intelligence of mine that has brought me to where I’m at today. It’s that intelligence of mine that has prompted me to ask questions. To ask HARD questions. Because, the thinker in me wants to know. Because my sponge-like brain is ready for more possible answers to the why’s and how’s on the things that people do and believe.

Some think I’m too logical. And that’s okay. I’m rather at peace with how I am. I’m fully capable of being emotional, but I just don’t let my emotions lead my life. I acknowledge them and what they mean to me regarding whatever situation I may be in and move forward from there.

People remark to me that I’m one of THE strongest people they know. They admire that. I really tend to think that I’m just doing what’s necessary to keep moving forward in my life, but I’ve also been known to be a bit self-deprecating. Either way, people tend to value my opinion. That’s my general understanding of it when those people come to me to vent or to get advice about something. Shouldn’t this suggest that most see me as giving time and consideration to different aspects of things? That I think about and evaluate things on a reasonable level? That people believe my opinion is generally thought out?

I find it frustrating that people think that for some reason, I just haven’t given full consideration to my beliefs in a deity. Why would I skip over something as “important” as that?

Let’s break a few things down here.  I don’t believe in killing. I don’t believe in stealing. I believe in treating people with compassion and kind words. I believe in helping others. I believe in monogamous relationships. Aren’t these things part of the core “morals” or “values” instilled by religion? And haven’t I covered how I wasn’t indoctrinated into a religion growing up?

Please, let’s face the facts here that I am good without God. And that the only “purpose” for believing in a God is the aspect of eternal salvation, which I also don’t believe in. I don’t believe in a Heaven or a Hell. And really, my lack of belief should not harm anyone else because if Heaven is as perfect as it sounds, you won’t even know I’m not there when you get there. So, concern for my “salvation” should be left to me, not anyone else.

Religion is about recruitment in a way. One of the basic requirements for salvation is the absolute belief in God AND spreading the word of God. I’m sure that’s why so many feel the need to continuously push their beliefs and religious doctrines on others. And trust me, I do understand that for most people, it is meant with positive intentions.

But when you approach someone like me who isn’t wandering around completely lost in life; who, despite the bad things is still maintaining composure and forward momentum…when you approach me and make the strong suggestion that you know better what is going on in my own head than *I* do…well certainly I’m going to take issue with that.

So, I’m not like other atheists you’ve met. Good. Because there are MANY more like me. Perhaps most just don’t choose to publicly speak about it like I’ve chosen to do here in this blog, as well as on my Facebook page and Twitter.

In one of my previous “godless” posts, “Pit Bulls and Atheists“, I wrote:

Just as I surprised people with the information that I do in fact own pit bulls, I seem to continue to surprise people when they learn I don’t believe in any gods. Because I’m good. And it shakes their perception of what kind of person they think an atheist is, much as for many it shakes their perception of the type of people that do own pit bulls.

Just because I’m not like the atheists you’ve met in the past, doesn’t mean I’m any less of one. Sure, there are some opinionated assholes out there speaking their mind and belittling people in the process of arguing belief vs. nonbelief. I’ve seen them hard at work on the internet myself. But more often than not, fellow atheists/humanists/freethinkers/agnostics/etc. are just normal, everyday people who suffer from being THE least trusted minority in America. Seriously. We’re still people for crying out loud. We still have emotions and daily lives and families and responsibilities and are still working fervently to create a niche in this world of ours.

How are people like me, harming others? How does my lack of belief in a deity affect you? Why does it affect you? Your belief in a deity doesn’t affect me. Well, unless of course you’re physically or mentally harming others. Or if you’re making unjust accusations about people. Why is it a problem? Why do you insist that I can’t think for myself and form my own opinions if I’m so intelligent?

Like it is for many, there’s more to me than meets the eye. Remember that before taking the step out there to assume someone “needs” something. Find out first.

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Godless, Hot Button

 

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Disproving Christianity – It’s Religion That Gets Me

If you haven’t visited David McAfee‘s blog, you need to. He’s doing a pretty awesome series called “Atheists Coming Out” that’ll be worth your time reading, especially if you’re currently “in the closet.” He’s also a pretty cool guy and gave me the chance to read the second edition of his book, “Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings.”

Personally, all of my theist friends, if you want to better understand why I tend to reject religion, you need to read this book. It’s concise and in a neat format that makes following the topic quite simple. Let me go ahead and make a CLEAR distinction about this book (which David also reiterates), it is not about demonizing the Christian God. It’s about pointing out some specific things within the Bible that make it less than reasonable to consider following as a guidebook for life and/or morals.

There are a LOT of Christians who have not read the Bible. Hell, I haven’t. I’ve tried. The language it’s written in causes my poor brain to glaze over, which means I don’t get very far. So, I really commend those who have actually READ IT. One of these days I will. Or I might spend more time over at The Brick Testament to get a better understanding of the stories inside without my brain going caput. But that’s neither here nor there really. The point is that, if you haven’t read it, how can you really know if it’s the be all end all there is for you and how you should be living your life? Especially when it was written during a time when slavery, rape, and incest were acceptable things. We have FAR outgrown this book as a society. We’ve made intense advancements and have answered MANY of the mysteries that were alluded to in the Bible. Quite simply, we’ve grown up.

Or…well…we SHOULD have.

If you need or feel the intense belief to have a personal God, that is FINE. I don’t mind the premise at all because, realistically, it doesn’t affect me. But….religions do affect me. Religions are running our country. Religions are trying to stifle new advancements by refusing to educate our children on scientifically tested theories (gravity has a “theory” too ya know, but you’re still pretty much planted in your seat aren’t you?). Religions are trying to regain control over women as objects. I am NOT an object. Religions are used as justifications for war and acts of hateful violence and death. I just…I can’t be okay with these things.

I may not have “God” in my life, but, considering all these things, I have no desire to believe in one. NONE. I was raised to be polite and punctual. It was instilled in me to do my best and to be GOOD. Not for a God, but because being GOOD is the right thing to do. I support knowledge. I support equality. I do not support oppression. I support people being free to do the things that make them happy as long as they are NOT harming others in the process. Is it really so bad that I believe in *these* things but don’t believe in a God? Does my lack of belief in a God automatically make me an untrustworthy person? Or will you still choose to judge me on my merits as a person and how I choose to treat other people?

I know I’m a good person because I feel good about being me. I’m there for my friends when they need me, I’m as helpful as I’m able to be, and when I really want something done, I DO it. I don’t pray. I do. I hate a lot of the premise that if I just pray hard enough, something will happen or come through for me. It’s just too passive for my tastes. And if that offends you, my apologies. To each their own.

Anyway, as per usual, I can take one thing and run in a similar but different direction with it in no time flat. The main point here is that you need to read David’s book if you have an interest in discovering more valid reasons why I reject something that is so very much a part of many people’s everyday lives. Sometimes, other people have a better way of eloquently displaying the very things that explain why I feel the way I do.

So, what are you waiting for?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Godless, Hot Button

 

Offensive Intentions?

So, here lately I have apparently been pushing buttons on my personal Facebook page (which is much more highly trafficked than my “fan page“).

I’m the type of person that thinks a lot. But, I like to put my questions out there, publicly. I like ideas. I like understanding. I want to understand. And if you never ask questions, will you ever fully grasp the concept of things in front of you? Or the reality of the person you are standing next to?

It’s also not just about asking the questions, but being receptive to the responses. And allowing someone their chance to speak their mind without being belittled. If you really want to understand, you won’t attempt to change their mind. You continue asking questions to better understand their position. And likewise, you politely share how you may feel differently. And of course if you agree 😉

Most of the time, discussions go VERY well on my links and status updates. And it’s such a pleasure to be able to talk to people and better understand why they feel the way they do on certain subjects and to gain insight to the positions of both parties. Even abortion debates have gone smoothly! Try that on for size on your own page and see what happens! 😉

The other night, however, I made the mistake of sharing a friend’s question. It was basically asking why more of the human population DOESN’T consider our own surplus population issues when considering having children, yet we’re pretty clear on controlling the surplus pet population issues.

Between friends with very specific opinions and less of an “in-depth reason” behind the original inquiry, the whole thread fell to the wayside. Parents took offense to being questioned about why they had kids at all, and those with concerns for our population who HAVE made the decision NOT to have kids apparently came off as “dry” and uncaring about other opinions.

I was actually accused of focusing on the negative at one point, privately. And that there was hope for me that one day I would find the “good” in life. Talk about confusing poor ol’ me who tries like hell to keep positive as much as possible! Yikes!

So, Sunday’s events have lead me to make this post here to help better explain my inquiring mind, I suppose.

Do I ask questions, share things, or post things to intentionally get a rise out of people? No. I post things for a few reasons, some of which are: better understanding who I am, clarifying my beliefs, simple humor, and to make people THINK. I want people to ask questions. I want people to tell me their beliefs and what they mean to them. I want people to show me they have an opinion on something, even if it differs from mine! Prove to me that you’re human and that you can think. Prove to me that something matters to you enough for you to say something about it. Prove to me that you know enough about whatever it is to have the opinion you hold so strongly. And be brave enough to ask ME questions if you don’t understand *my* position on something.

I’m not a close-minded person. I love learning knew things, and that includes how and what people think on a variety of things. Now, not all counter arguments may sway my personal positions on things, it’s still good to know. And for those things I didn’t know, thank you for telling me!

As we all know, it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. I really try my best to respect other’s beliefs and opinions. But, there are many times that I KNOW I have inadvertently offended someone because of the general nature of the things I choose to share with others, be it my own words in conversations, inappropriate things I’ve found on the internet, links to hot topic items, etc. I can’t make all of you happy! And ya know what? I’m not even going to try!

I do need folks to realize a few things about me though so that it may, perhaps, shield some of the “hurt feelings” that are likely to come up.

  • I think and talk a lot and I generally love milling about the “tough” topics.
  • I have a sarcastic sense of humor which leads me to also find humor in things that are potentially offensive to others. Because of this sense of humor, I have many others with a similar style and just sometimes simply can’t resist sharing things for their benefit.
  • I can be very direct and “to the point.” I’ve been told this makes me look like a hard ass. And I’m okay with that. Just realize that it’s not really me being a hard ass as much as it is an attempt to get clear and concise answers the first time around.
  • On the surface, it may appear that my opinionated nature is set in stone. Nope, not at all. Present an alternative view that I may not be aware of and I’m completely willing to revise my original standpoint.

With all this being said, I hope any new visitors that come along realize that while it may appear that I try intentionally to “start sh*t,” that’s not the case. My intentions are in initiating discussions and helping others to learn about differing viewpoints. And maybe to help those people firm up their own opinions on a variety of subjects. It’s ALWAYS good to know where you stand on something. I don’t censor people. I don’t belittle people. I try my best to encourage thoughtful discussions. Why? Because I want to hear what YOU have to say. So, get on it. Voice your opinion. Because whether you believe it or not, some people DO care.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Childfree, Godless, Hot Button, Uncategorized

 

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Pit Bulls and Atheists

Owning and rescuing pit bulls prepped me for “outing” myself with my disbelief in a divine entity such as “God.” As I mentioned in my previous post, “Did You Judge Me?“, “Changing the public’s perception of a specific term does not happen through silence. It happens through demonstration.”

See, being a pit bull owner has been relatively taboo for a while, however, progress is being made to change those perceptions. But, because of it’s “taboo” nature, pit bull owners get judged just as much as the dogs themselves!

Pit bull owners and atheists have to have thick skin to put up with frequent discrimination. Let’s look at a few examples.

Pit Bulls Atheists
“Those dogs are evil!” “Atheists are evil!”
“You gotta watch out for those dogs. You can’t trust them.” “I don’t trust atheists.”
“You own a pit bull? Aren’t you worried?” “You don’t believe in God? Aren’t you worried?”
“But, this dog is nice! It can’t be a pit bull!” “But, you’re so nice! You must believe in something!”
“Only people with bad intentions want those dogs.” “Atheists have bad intentions because they don’t have God to guide them through right and wrong.”
The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone petting your dog that it is a pit bull and they draw away. The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone you are godless and they draw away.

Think I’m overreacting? Definitely not. Misinformation about both of these things coupled with misplaced or unjustified fears breeds this exact kind of ignorance. Yep. I said it. Ignorance. Refusing to learn more about something you fear or that you don’t understand and choosing to believe any fear-based drivel that is hand-fed to you instead of thinking for yourself, that’s ignorance. 

When I first got involved with pit bulls, I realized that not everyone liked them, but I had NO idea that the hatred was so deep with so many people! My family and friends didn’t squish up their faces in concern when I told them, but acquaintances or those in in work-related relationships couldn’t help but raise some of these questions with me. And it happened so often enough that I just started laughing and being matter of fact about the facts that, “no, I’m not worried they’re going to eat me. I still have all my fingers and toes don’t I?” Most would brush it off and move on, others would ask a few more questions, and then a few would comment how “cool” it was and that it was totally unexpected that me, of all people, had pit bulls.

Isn’t that a curious observation? “I didn’t see you as the type that would own pit bulls.” Well…that’s part of your problem then isn’t it? 😉 See, ALL types of people own pit bulls. Naturally you’ve got those who are ill-intentioned, but the reality of it is, MANY “normal” people own pit bulls. And you’d never know because many of these people who do own them actually care for their dogs and make the effort to treat them as any other pet dog – a valued family member.

Many people ask me, “But, why pit bulls?” Well, why not? They are an extremely human-friendly breed. They are active and versatile. They’re easy to train and ready to do whatever it is to make you happy. They are clownish and have a zest for life that is contagious. They’re also a short-haired breed who, compared to other breeds, is on the quiet side. No, really! When you first walk into my house, if the dogs are in their rooms, you wouldn’t know I had them!

It was aggravating at first to have to deal with all the curious, but ridiculous, questions. “Oh they’ll turn on you! Aren’t you worried? Oh no! You have them around kids? Don’t they eat babies? What about that locking jaw of theirs?” and on and on and on. Let’s set a few things straight on this. No. Pit bulls do not “turn” on people at some magical age for some magical reason that no one knows. A temperamentally sound pit bull will NOT bite people. After some of the abuse I’ve seen handed to these dogs, you’d damn sure wished they would have bit the person who treated them so wrongly! *sigh* And as for pit bulls and kids, they’re GREAT together when everyone is properly supervised. And that’s with ANY breed of dog. Don’t let the child torment the dog! And also teach the dog (any dog!) proper behavior when playing. I could go into a novel about this topic so for now, here’s a link to read instead about “Preventing Bites” from Safe Kids Safe Dogs. Anyway. They also don’t have a “locking jaw.” What a misnomer. The skeletal structure of a pit bull is the same overall as other breeds of dogs. They don’t have a special key to operate…Where this may have stemmed from however is that they are a breed with a “bite and hold” nature. Compared to smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians who tend to have a “bite and release repeatedly” nature 😉 Other breeds with a similar bite and hold grip are German Shepherds and Rottweilers. So, yes for some it may be scary still, but you have to remember that breeds of dogs were originally bred by humans and for a reason. Pit bulls were NEVER bred for human aggression. Dog/animal aggression does NOT equal human aggression either. The way dog fights were orchestrated, any dogs showing aggression towards people were killed or removed from breeding programs. They posed a danger to the people in the ring and that was simply unacceptable.

*deep breath* I’m trying hard not to go off on a big slew of pit bull education, I promise! For now anyway 🙂

As you can see, there are a bunch of questions and fallacies surrounding pit bulls and their ownership. Even their history. People will take one bad story and let it form their entire opinion of an entire breed of dog, and that’s without even having met one first hand!

People do the same thing with those that identify themselves as “godless.” It’s an odd and disturbing shift to watch. I, fortunately, have not experienced the in-person rejection as others have yet. At this rate though, I think people would learn quickly that if they did, I might laugh at them for their silly behavior. I’ve seen them do it with the dogs. They’ll be getting kisses from such a cute and friendly dog and maybe even be so far in as to be giving belly rubs. Then they’ll ask the million dollar question, “what kind of dog is this?” Now, not everyone withdraws immediately (or at all!). But there are a select few that are still so trapped by a fear that they will get up and move away from the dog immediately, likely believing the myth that they turn suddenly and without reason or warning.

My time living and breathing pit bulls helped to prep me for the continued discrimination that would abound once I realized the true nature and reality of my godlessness. And not necessarily discrimination towards me but perhaps to continue to be that voice to educate, as I did and still do with talking to people about the true nature of pit bulls.

Just as I surprised people with the information that I do in fact own pit bulls, I seem to continue to surprise people when they learn I don’t believe in any gods. Because I’m good. And it shakes their perception of what kind of person they think an atheist is, much as for many it shakes their perception of the type of people that do own pit bulls.

And ultimately, that’s what I’m here to do. Face your fears and ask your own questions. Get to know me and get to know my dogs. Test the truth behind your perceptions.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Godless, Hot Button, Pit Bulls

 

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My Path to Godlessness

This should be rather simple really. I don’t have a long history of indoctrination from the church or family members. In reality, I really lucked out to grow up in a home where discovering myself was put before any religious beliefs. That I was afforded the freedom to think and grow for myself and learn what best suited me.

Today’s post was inspired by David G. McAfee, a secular blogger who has taken on the task of posting a new series: Atheists Coming Out. I, frankly, think this is fantastic. There is strength in numbers and I just KNOW there are more atheists and freethinking types out there. Hell, I’ve already been witness to personal confessions from others when I did finally make it obvious what my beliefs on God(s) were. And there are many that are scared of the repercussions from making it known. Loss of friends, being shunned by family members, being otherwise ostracized by their peers. I hope that by adding my own story to the mix of many more that are about to make light, will help others find the peace and maybe even comfort in finally “coming out.”

As stated previously, I didn’t really suffer the effects of indoctrination. I was actually baptized once. I remember going to a Sunday School class and during this class, the adults in charge asked the group how many of us had been “saved” and to those of us who hadn’t if we wanted to be “saved.” Well…I sure didn’t want to die! Being “saved” sounded like the right thing to do, so I agreed. From what little I remember, there was talk about accepting the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart and being young and impressionable, I did. But, I didn’t FEEL any different. I didn’t feel like my life had changed. I didn’t feel anything really.

I went about my time being a “good child.”

There was another instance too where my friends and I decided we wanted to go to church. The bus would come by and pick us up and off we would go. I seem to remember my mom being a little reluctant about it initially but I do think this was more out of concern for my safety than anything.

So. Off we go one Sunday morning to church. I remember that we sat in the main congregation for one portion of our visit. Whatever the sermon was about, I remember distinctly the word “Hell.” And not so much that it was a bad place, but because in my house, it was a bad word! I also remember when the collection plate came around. I’m seeing this money on this plate and thinking to myself, “oh no, I don’t have anything for that…” and just passed it along to the next person. Overall, it was a very uncomfortable feeling for me and I abandoned the idea of going again.

I went to a Catholic church once with my friends as a teenager. I even went to another Baptist church with one boyfriend around age 15. And a different one around age 16 or so. And each time I’ve felt out of place. The churches themselves typically leave me feeling very uncomfortable. Even as an adult and going to weddings, I find myself struggling with feeling like I shouldn’t even be in one. So, I’ve since made a concerned effort to avoid them altogether.

Another point that should be noted from my upbringing is that I immersed myself in metaphysical things. I dabbled in New Age practices, read and practiced both Pagan and Wiccan rituals and even some basic “white magic” (that’s the good kind for those not in the know). I read up on astrology, tarot card reading, palm reading, handwriting analysis and a host of other divination practices.

Eventually though, as attractive as some of the mysticism in those things seemed at the time, there was still this cloud hanging around me that made me feel…”off kilter.” Like it still wasn’t right. I felt uncomfortable. And even at this time, I hadn’t rejected the Christian God. I actually accepted that there was more than one and that it was an individual’s personal choice on what brought them comfort and answers for life. After realizing that the metaphysical really didn’t do much for me either by way of any form of spirituality, I had finally realized that I was bothered by the rituals meant to express love and gratitude to a God or Gods that I couldn’t see and connect with. It felt empty and a waste of time. I concluded that I believed in a “higher power” and that was enough for me. No church. No rituals. No rites to recite.

I carried the “higher power” belief with me for a while, but mostly really just avoided talking about religion with people. I have to admit that when I was younger, “atheist” just sounded bad. And likewise, people made atheists out to sound like revolting people hell bent on creating chaos in the world. The Christians I was around tossed it in line with Satanism. *shrugs*

Many years go by. I don’t bother questioning my beliefs much. I do start noticing horrible things happening as a result of religious beliefs. And the seed of doubt is further planted. Still, I immerse myself in other things, mainly my involvement in running a nonprofit pit bull rescue organization. That was a full time job! It wasn’t until just recently, within the last few months that I’ve finally realized my true standpoint on religion and where my beliefs lie.

See, I’d gotten out of a long-term relationship in 2009/2010. I went from a two-income household to a single-income household. I struggled a LOT during that time. And eventually decided I wasn’t doing the dogs or the public any favors by keeping the rescue in operation. It was time to let it go. In November of 2011, I let go a four year “hobby” of mine, one that deeply filled the heart and soul with a fiery passion. Sometimes though, things like that have to happen when you realize the original goals are no longer being met and you’re threatening your own personal well-being at the same time.

A common question I was being asked when talking to new people was, “well, what do you do for fun?” And you know what? I had absorbed myself in the rescue so much that I didn’t have anything to offer! The realization of that left me a bit sad. It even made me want to apologize to my ex for neglecting him, which no doubt I did. So, not really knowing where to turn to meet new people, or even to delve into my own interests (what WERE they??), it dawned on me that one place many others meet new people is at church. Well…church was obviously out of the question for me. This in turn reminded me of BeliefNet.com. Many years ago, while I was still in high school and shortly after my family had gotten internet access, I remembered fooling around with the Belief O’Matic on their site. Basically, you answer general questions regarding your thoughts and beliefs surrounding God, and it gives you a list of the top religions you may most closely identify with based on similar values. I figured it was time to turn to the Belief O’Matic again, just to see.

I still remember that the first time around, I had Theravada Buddhism on the list as well as Secular Humanism. I read on the Buddhism at the time, thinking that was kinda cool, but I still really didn’t side well with it. This time around though, I checked out the link giving information on Secular Humanism. I’d never heard of Humanism before and the name sounded kinda…wishy washy maybe? But, what the hell right? It’d come up a second time so it really must be real and something I should at least look at. Basically, it’s the belief of being good without God, and perhaps a more “socially acceptable identity” than just simply referring to oneself as an Atheist.

With this new found information, I searched the trusty ol’ interwebs for information on a local organization and tada! We have the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, founded in 1994 for Charleston area atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other “godless” people. After joining their group and interacting with the other members, it finally felt *right* to me. Intelligent people with a drive to “be good” for the sake of being “good.” There’s so much beauty in that! We aren’t required to submit to a God or perform any other “rituals” in an effort to show appeasement to a God. We can be good because we’re human. That certainly feels to me a better path than being “scared” into goodness by threats of Hell, Satan, and God’s Wrath. And it actually makes me feel better about being a person.

I feel it’s also fair to go ahead and note that if you do believe, so be it, just so long as it doesn’t harm yourself or another person. I have no problem with your belief. What I do find problem with is allowing that belief to infringe on the happiness of other people. The persecution of others. But all that, I’ll save all that for another blog post. I think I’ve rambled plenty tonight 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Godless, Hot Button

 

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