8th December 2008

“Until I am deafened by the chorus of Muslim clerics demanding equality for woman and the end of the barbaric practice of stoning, I will remain convinced that it is incompatible with Western liberalism.”

Mariella Frostrup

6 Responses to “8th December 2008”

  1. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    Of course Islam has shown itself to be largely incompatible with Western liberalism. Even the most liberal of Muslim scholars seem to insist on the Koran being the literal words of Allah.

    Much of Judaism and Christianity, on the other hand, has been and continues to be quite compatible with Western liberalism, despite the bullshit espoused by the religious right, Christian fundamentalists, biblical literalists, and proponents of creationism/intelligent design (many Christians of this variety might not even consider me Christian). I am a Christian theist of the liberal/moderate/progresive/whatever-label-you-wish variety and often find myself at the very least sympathetic to and often in agreement with the atheist point of view (as I understand it), at least in it’s political manifestations.

    For instance – and referencing yesterday’s AQOTD quote and posts by antitheist and TM on “attacks on religion”- I live in Washington State and perhaps you have heard of the latest little “religious” controversy in my neck of the woods. Each year at Christmas a nativity scene is set up in the capitol building in Olympia. This year, however, an atheist group (I don’t know their name) was able to set up an “atheist display” directly adjacent to the “normal” nativity scene. This display consisted of a printed sign saying something to the effect (I am heavily paraphasing here) that “there is no god nor angels nor demons” and that “religion hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” This group jumped through all the legal hoops that any group would have to go through to set up any kind of display. A few days after this sign was set up it was stolen! Two days later it was returned – to a radio station! – and now sits once again in the capitol building adjacent to the nativity scene, now with a sign attached to it that says “Thou shalt not steal!!!” The “story” was picked up by the idiot Bill O’Reily of FOXNews, who has taken it upon himself to take us Washingtonians and our govorner to task for ruining Christmas, among other criticisms. Most of our local news stations are reporting numerous emails complaining about the decision to display such an “offensive” sign. Our govorner has stated quite publically and clearly that any and all “religious groups” (!), as long as they meet the proper legal requirements, are perfectly within their rights as citizens of the United States to display whatever “religious opinions” they wish on state property.

    Personally, I find this whole incident amusing!

    Most Christians I know have no problem with this sign being displayed and feel that the only way to remove it would be to remove the nativity display as well. Most Christians I have read about, however, seem to see this sign as an “attack” on their faith and/or God.

    While I applaud the gov’s legal integrity, her assumption that atheism constitutes a “religious opinion” betrays her failure to understand the issue. In my opinion.

    I wonder who stole the sign. Atheists? Christians? Pranksters? If pissed off Christians, why return it? Perhaps atheists thought they could get more publicity out it by stealing it and returning it (this suggested by my atheist friends). And whose idea was it to place “Thou shalt not steal” on the bottom of the returned sign? Sarcastic atheists? Smug Christians? Funny pranksters?

    You are the atheists – what do you think? Is this helpful to your “cause”? An “attack” on religion? What? Do you find nativity and other religious displays “offensive” or merely “unfair” or just “stupid”?

  2. Antitheist Says:

    Your answer lies within your statement.

    I am offended by people who enjoy the freedoms this country offers, and then refuse to abide by the very freedoms this country was built on. Freedom of Religion. First, the separation of church and state. Second, taxation without representation.

    To the first, there is no true separation!
    To the second, churches do not pay taxes!

    That nativity belongs in church, where people who believe these superstitions are free to view it. NOT in a public place, where many faiths (or the faithless) must come to conduct business. The capitol building in ANY & EVERY state should only be displaying artifacts dealing with government, not religion, especially not any specific religion.

    I am offended that every piece of money I carry says “In God We Trust” but I can’t have any made that says “god lives with the tooth fairy and Bigfoot” OR “god is a myth” OR any other anti-religious quote.

    I am offended because the state I live in has a law on the books that will not allow an atheist to hold public office! (there are about 7 states with that law).

    I am offended when religious people fly planes into buildings killing many innocent people because of their beliefs.

    I am offended because churches do not have the burden of taxes, leaving that burden to the working class, including atheists.

    Attack, you betcha! Religious folk think they are entitled because they are use to living in their comfort zone. They display their beliefs openly in public thinking it is ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ because they have been doing it for so long.

    Turnabout is fair play. If you think it doesn’t harm anything to post the ten commandments in the schools, fine, then lets also display parts of the Koran, the Torah, the book of Urantia, etc… and then post something from the FSM (Pesto be upon him) as well as an important atheist quote from someone like Lincoln, Paine or Einstein.

    Your local government is wrong for allowing ANY display on government property!! I will FIGHT for my freedom and I will FIGHT to remove the tax exempt status of churches and I will FIGHT to have religious words removed from our money and I will FIGHT to keep MY government separate from ANY & EVERY religious affiliation.

    Attack!!! Attack!!! Attack!!! Until this battle is won!!!

  3. Tony Pro Says:

    I’m with you!
    Wish I had more time to respond.

    On taxing religion: I love the idea but admittedly, I’m biased and would love to see all religion die, the sooner the better, but, I can’t figure out how it could work. We would really have to remove tax-free status from all organizations, unless we could somehow split religous org. from others.

    I think we as atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, skeptics, need to somehow unite. The orginizations I see started are few and maintain very little following, based on the ?5-10%? (I hope they pin this down on 2010 census) of population which really is huge. If we have a 20 or 30 million following then where are you?

    I know you guys are active, yet how efficacious are we while preaching to the choir on this site.

    I think I visit this site more for the accolades I’m more apt to receive, thank you all, and especially when you set me straight, because I’m always learning and that’s my true love.
    I say this because I spend most of my time on science sites, posting, and hopefully educating all the science bashers that are everywhere and woefully ignorant. This attack on science is steeped in religious dogma.
    I post there 5-10 times as much as here and get beat up by ignorance.
    Yes, I actually lose using reason, logic, and facts.
    I need your help. The world needs your help.

    I believe we really need a way to unite. We are fragmented almost to single entities. I know for 20 yrs. I’ve done my work all alone. Other organizations in large part succeed because of their numbers. We have numbers and I think we are failing to get through.

    We permit ourselves to be maligned (when will political correctedness come to our aid?).
    We have laws that impede us. This needs unification to change.

    In every school, every science, every business, is run and would fail if they chose to use faith or prayer as a means of success.

    United we could attack this word “Faith”, and pummel it into submission. Imagine us taking these empty churches and holding 2 hour meetings every sunday morning, where speakers, and scientists put on a live demonstration of what they do in REAL LIFE, educating everyone with their wisdom. I’d be searching for the church (maybe renamed the “surch”) closest to me that’d have a demonstration on asteroids, or genetics, or dictionaries, or what the hell, I’d love to hear one on “religions of the past”!

    I won’t hold my breath, but I am ready to unite.
    I’ll keep visiting for your ideas.

  4. Antitheist Says:

    My idea is a simple one. We need to fight one battle at a time, and show our numbers in so doing. The first step is to behead the snake by revoking the tax-exempt status. We unite by writing to our representatives in mass. I want to wait until February until all the new politicians are in place. Then request every forum and every website associated with atheism to request their subscribers to write EVERY DAY to their representatives demanding the revocation of the religious tax-exempt status. And YES, other not-for-profit organizations could be separated from this. It would include religions only.

    I will be writing a very concise form letter outlining the benefits to the government for taking this action. I will also be listing the URLs for finding the contact information for your representatives. If we all get off our butts and push for this one thing, we could gain a foothold. It is a place to start and a worthy goal for uniting us for a single purpose!

    Come February, I will be needing help in this crusade. We will gather the troops, and we will ATTACK, with intellect and common sense as our weapons.

  5. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    Too much to respond to!

    (1) I agree that no religious (OR specifically non-religious) displays should be set up in the halls of government or other public spaces. Even the most religious of America’s founders (not very many!) seem to have had this in mind.

    (2) You may “attack” my beliefs and the beliefs of other religionists if you wish. I for one will not take such “attacks” personally, but you may find those who might be sympathetic and even supportive of your politics may react dfensively if they feel they are being “attacked” rather than “reasoned” with. Fighting fire with fire tends to create even more fire, doesn’t much move the dialogue/debate/arguement forward, and can cause otherwise reasonable people to merely attack back with out thought. Perhaps this is what you want. There isn’t many things uglier than an angry, self-righteous, right-wing, fundamentalist, biblical-literalist (and therefore biblically illiterate!) Christian. That image alone can be an effective arguement against certain religious beliefs. I understand, of course, that atheists, etc…, have been attacked for centuries, but as the saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right” (I do not here intend to minimize the incredible violence done to non-believers throughout the centuries “in the name of Yahweh/The Father/Jesus/Allah”). I would suggest that atheists and freethinkers as well as reasonable theists endeavor to take the moral high ground and refrain from overt attacks on the personal faith of any individual and stick to the tenents of logic and reason, as TM suggests. I realize that many on this site would disagree with the notion that there is such a thing as a “reasonable theist.” In any case, truly rabid right-wing religionists will never listen to logic and reason anyway, so try seeking out political allies among those of us who are, in fact, in some sort of agreement with your political views.

    (3) As for the tax-exempt status of churches. Though I am sympathetic to the idea of “The Church” paying taxes, like TM, I wonder how this would work. “The Church,” per se, does not not have any “official” standing in American government. Rather, the Church exercises it’s power indirectly through the particular beliefs of individual members (who are not always nor inevitably in agreement with any “official” church theology). This influence is not always intended by every particular church. Removing the tax-exempt status of churches may result in the Church claiming for itself even more say in government policy as “The Church” rather that its somewhat limited, indirect influence through individuals under current policy. To antitheist: I would be interested in your efforts concerning your “consise form letter” – please post this letter on this site when you are able or provide a link to it when available.

    (4) For my part, I continue to challenge and oppose those within in my own church who suggest that atheists, etc…, are merely (a) practitioners of yet one more “religious” POV, (b) “fools” because they “say in their hearts there is no God,” and (c) do not deserve to have their “beliefs” posted in public spaces along side “our” own (yes, I understand that you do not, as a whole, claim to have “beliefs”).

    I believe there is room on this planet and throughout the universe FOR EVERYONE (but it may take a while for us to get this through our thick skulls).

  6. Antitheist Says:

    The simple reply is this Ox,

    We have tried reasoning with the theists, they can’t or won’t hear it. It has been the same for centuries. We need to make our case through the law. The LAW promises to deliver the separation of church and state. It is now time for our government to abide by the law. This must be DEMANDED by as many rationalists as possible in order to make a show of solidarity. We have tried reasoning since well before Thomas Paine wrote “The Age of Reason” without gain. A new tact is called for. As for the word ATTACK, it is the atheist who will now counter-attack, as we have been on the defensive for a very long time!