The Memory of the Dead Matter More than Your Faith

I got into a conversation with a redditor called Wannabebunny and I heard a story, I am posting it here with his permission because I think people should hear and listen.

He has a story to tell, a story which is emblematic of a variety of problems with religion, atheism and group think.

Firstly? Belief in a god does not make you a good person. All it does, is provide you with a hard code of good and bad so you don’t have to think about your actions. Your actions may not be good from the perspective of another.

Secondly? Atheists are discriminated against, in many  places religion drives life and is so entrenched within it that the very idea of an atheist is a declaration of war. We always bring up Islam as an example with many countries calling for the death of Atheists and the UK recently giving asylum to an atheist from Afghanistan.

Thirdly? People have declared us to be an acceptable target.

What happened to Wannabebunny is completely unacceptable. Many Christians would deride the actions of the man in question  and declare them as “un-Christian”,  but one cannot claim that what happened was solely due to the man in question being a complete bastard.

Wannabebunny’s father died recently. He passed away on the 29th of December 2013 and had his funeral on 2014. Now these are stressful times for the best of us and it’s a period where religion and atheism often clash because we atheists often have to bite our tongue with regards to religion and our beliefs.

Wannabebunny’s father was an atheist too and he had planned for his death. His family had requested a non-religious secular service in keeping with his wishes. We all want that right? Sure we may tinge it with the most known aspects of our cultural past butt we still want it to be secular for all to enjoy.. I know one of my readers (Guy Otten, The Mancunian Humanist celebrant who met me last year) does some great work as a Humanist celebrant by officiating  secular ceremonies.

The Funeral Home was John Gray and Co. in Bangor. County Down, Northern Ireland.

And the Funeral Director did not live up to the standards needed from his profession by allowing personal beliefs to dictate his dealings. To begin with he straight up does not want to do a secular service. He made a big fuss over how highly irregular such a thing is which should be news to Mr. Otten. Secular services are nothing new. Upon insisting, he quietened down.

After the planned service, the Funeral Director announced that he would like to say a few words which puzzled people. Funeral Directors may compare the service an announce and usher other speakers but rarely do they actively participate.

The ceremony stopped being secular. The funeral director’s speech was religious in nature and tasteless if I were to describe it at my most benign. But what did the damage was the line

“David was not a believer, but now that he is dead he knows the truth, he is with god being judged now”.

At this point Wannabebunny stopped the service and considering this was a funeral in Northern Ireland where a large number of people would hold a strong cultural and political affinity based on religion was incredibly polite in halting the religious speech with “My father didn’t believe in your god and asked for a non-religious service, could you respect that”.

He wrapped it up, but the bitter taste had already set in.

One can postulate if the funeral director would have brought up the Christian god at a Muslim, Jewish or Hindu wedding, hey may have. See if you cannot respect the wishes of atheists then what hope do other faiths have of being respected in a time of tragedy, sorrow and need.

At the best of times such a diatribe would be considered in poor taste and insulting to those who are not religious or are of a different faith. But during a funeral is a complete insult. It’s a total inability to keep your religion to yourself in even the most inappropriate  of places. We would hold the atheist to the same standard, we do not get on stage and say “There is no god, no heaven and Kevin (all my hypothetical situations occur to a Kevin) is not partying with angels!”. Such would be considered inappropriate yet we see a religious person deeming fit to insert his beliefs into people.

If you want to help and you want to make a difference to the beliefs of David and indeed Wannabebunny then please.

Do not harass the funeral director. I hate it when people send hate mail to me even though I think it’s a sign that I ask the “right questions”. We must be better than this cretinous creep who failed basic human decency while passing Bible class. But I fear sometimes we are no different.

Religion does not make you a moral person, thinking about your actions on others does. And this is the prime example, yes there are moral religious people. But these are moral because they think about what their actions mean to the people around them and their effect on those they love.

Maybe Wannabebunny will get some justice out of all of this. But as you know and may have realised, the more religious people criticise what we do, the more I feel like showing them up.

I know I asked visitors to earmark (or try to earmark for ASTI and I am planning to carry with me as a donor so that some good will come. Wannabebunny’s father was a giving man who wanted to help children who are disabled. I offered to donate money earned in his name so my donation to ASTI will go under Mr. Wannabebunny’s father’s name in addition to everyone at A Million Gods who reads and donates.

It will go to help women and children harmed by cruelty and chance.

If you wish to donate to ASTI you can go here directly or if you wish to add to my fundraiser, I have not yet started fundraising, you can either donate (mark it on Paypal as a donation to ASTI for the AMG Nepal Dealie) and I guarantee I will put it towards the Nepal fundraiser or you can wait and donate when I have my fundraiser page set up.

While we condemn this funeral director’s poor human touch, we must also demonstrate a better one.


  1. ildi says

    I stated specifically, on-topic, that I supported your friend’s angry reaction to the funeral director. I even stated that I thought he handled it just right. I also stated that I think anyone’s being angry at the funeral director is/was completely justified. My argument is and always has been about the degree of that anger.

    I know, what’s with all the hatin’? Such a reasoned, measured position! Oh, wait…

    I have to admit that I am gobsmacked at how remarkabley, jaw-droppingly upset, reactionary, and hysterical some of you folks are about such minor, such utterly minor issues. Molehills and mountains.

    Sheesh. Talk about first world issues of empty content? Fuck. Ya’ll take the cake.

    I stubbed my toe last week. Can I sue someone, or maybe I should write an endless rage-post on some blog somewhere and rage tears all over it.

    Big fucking deal. Grow the fuck up and deal with reality, for a change.

    …the blogs are alive with the sounds of trolling, with crap they have flung for a thousand posts… ohohoho…

  2. Pitchguest says

    Do I have to? I would rather maintain the hilarious status quo of you lot complaining about freedom of speech and bans when you have pro-actively banned me from your charming site.

    Because all I see are excuses and things that effectively make it harder to go read your atheist forum as someone who doesn’t live in the USA or the UK, knowing that we have to effectively dance through more hoops to get to your tour de force of free speech.

    I don’t wish to give out my IP address and in any case I move around a lot so it would require repeated requests. I can simply utilise an IP re-route and access your site if I wish to read what you guys write about us. Keep the ban, at least it will stop you from parading yourselves as champions of free speech knowing that you pro-actively banned people and judging from past interaction, I am quite within my rights to think that all the excuses you lot have provided are precisely excuses to extricate yourself from some sort of idiot shenanigans.

    So no thanks. Just going to use a proxy to check out your site and confirm my deep dark fears that you guys don’t like FTB, are angry that I said something or shouting cunt at each other because it’s amusing.

    Do you realise how moralistic and whiny you sound? Most likely it uses a rudimentary spam filter and some IP addresses indirectly get caught. Some regulars have fallen victim to this as well (people who don’t live in South Asia), but was quickly sorted out. Not to be rude or anything, but you sound a bit paranoid, mate. I mean, the difference between FtB and the Slymepit wasn’t the existence of spam filters, was it? I thought it was the difference between getting to speak your mind and getting to partly speak your mind because if they don’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, you’re gone.

    Is that commonplace within the ‘Pit, you think? I mean, you must have gone there at some point what with the many “mail” posts quoting verbatim from the ‘Pit and how you (personally) seem to have an idea of the climate, so you can’t be wholly unfamiliar with it. Or are you going by purely third-hand accounts? The Slymepit being, like most other forums, a place with many different people, many different ideas, some which will clash with the other people and so on and so forth. So it’s not as cut and dry. But you seem to have an handle on it, so you must’ve visited it before (or at least seen others visiting it). The reason I’m asking is, well, I just don’t want to accuse you of being full of shit.

    If you don’t want to visit the ‘Pit, or post on the ‘Pit, then just say that. Not this dancing around the subject, or the excuse of you being visciously pre-emptively banned which is probably just an unfortunate collateral damage in spam prevention.

    (And as a matter of course, as we are still on the subject, do you honestly think Lousy Canuck (the person responsible for web related issues) did not implement a spam filter for this website? Do you honestly think one of the people who champions the sodding Block Bot as an application for “the greater good” did not implement a fucking spam filter? For this website? You’re living in a dream world, mate.)

    I’m not even going to comment on the ‘cunt’ thing, because it’s just childish sniping. Beneath you.

  3. says

    A spam filter allows you to not comment. You can still view the site. Big difference from an IP access ban.

    Now here is the thing. You insist I must show you some faith but your entire “faction/group/bannerwagglers” has collectively decided to deride pretty much anything associated with FTB. In addition you have pretty much come to my blog and utilised a rather relaxed comment policy to basically force a comment policy.

    Then you cry wolf. For all I am concerned, the entire anti-FTB brigade have behaved deplorably and I saw little to no distancing from such behaviour.

    If me being clearly and obviously foolish in pointing out how ridiculous it appears that you invite me to read your forum on the basis of free speech and then “I cannot because of an IP Ban”. I assume it’s something sensible but I cannot put it past anti-FTB who have done some terrible things in the past.

    I read far back enough to notice your lovely stance on PTSD, Trust me, you guys are not the sort of people I want to talk to on your ground.

    Hell I don’t want to talk to you on my grounds and I forgot to put the damn “Stay on Topic/Safe Zone” marker on this post.

    The ultimate joke is a post on someone else’s tragedy has become all about your Slymepit. What a fucking joke. We cannot even show an ounce of solidarity with a non-American atheist.

    If you don’t like my blog and what I write…. top right corner of the screen. Click it.

    Our Spam Filter actually lets us go and dig people out of it. In fact the only person I know caught by my spam filter is PZ Myers.

  4. Pitchguest says

    We behaved deplorably? For all you are concerned? I kindly refer to your post regarding Rich Sanderson and the subsequent spurious claims you made about the ‘Pit, spurred by the commentariat you muster, as a counter to a behaviour I would call, if not deplorable, then what?

    You’re not exactly clean behind the ears either, Avi, so don’t pretend that you are.

    If you can’t see the site, let alone access it, then that’s not something to do with the spam filter associated with the Slymepit. You should be able to see posts just fine. All the spam filter on the Slymepit does is rescind your posting privileges, as is customary I believe to prevent spam. So if you can’t see the site at all, then it’s something else. Check your ISP. Or you can use a proxy, though given your reaction I imagine you won’t make the effort.

    As for “our” stance (or “ours”, individually, as we’re neither a monolithic structure nor a hivemind) on PTSD, it’s pretty much the same as yours, I think. Take it seriously. At least, that has been my, and many others’, view on the subject. But do tell: what *is* “our” stance on PTSD, and what is it about “our” stance that you find so disagreeable you don’t even want to talk to us on “our” ground?

    Going back to the spam filter, let me get this straight. You mock the ‘Pit because of its principles of free speech (which apparently is null and void when you don’t desire spam all over the place), but when someone gives you an option to “dig you out” of bangatory, you decline and say you would rather “maintain the hilarious status quo” of us “complaining about freedom of speech” while being pro-actively banned. (Which as far as I can understand about the restrictions applied by the rudimentary spam filter, is not true.) Then you say “Your” spam filter actually lets you dig people out of it? What? What’s the difference? If people can get involuntarily caught by it, on both sites, then what is the fucking difference?

    In addition, are you saying that the implementation of a spam filter contradicts someone’s principles of freedom of speech? Because the Slymepit has a spam filter, the views it has about freedom of speech goes out the window? In other words, are you saying that even though the Slymepit rarely bans anyone or prohibits posting from anyone regardless of their beliefs but FtB does and does so often, that just because the Slymepit has a spam filter FtB has a firmer grasp on freedom of speech than the Slymepit does? (Even though FtB also has a spam filter and also where IP addresses get unfortunately caught, like with PZ.) Is that what you’re saying? The Slymepit should remove its spam prevention software in order to not be hypocrites about freedom of speech? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Oh, and since we are so much about solidarity (when it’s not a “fucking joke”), I’m with Greg on this. The priest was an asshole, but it wasn’t “horrific” or “utterly cruel.” Of course people’s wishes should be respected (for the most part) and what the priest did was wrong from a purely social standpoint, but that’s over the top. The funny thing is that your friend dealt with the situation in a more calm and collected manner than the people here did, and probably in a more calm and collected manner than I would if someone who performed the service to *my* dad’s funeral just kind of subtly hinted that he was burning in hell. That should’ve been reflected in the comments, but I guess people decided to take it one step further. Ah, well. Such is life.

  5. ildi says

    The ultimate joke is a post on someone else’s tragedy has become all about your Slymepit.

    All your base are belong to us.

  6. johngreg says

    Avi, I really don’t like being misrepresented, misquoted, or lied about, so please allow me to clarify (one last time).

    1. I think the funeral director was wholly in the wrong, and should be censured for his actions.

    2. I think your friend was wholly in the right to be angry and to disapprove of the funeral director’s actions, and to censure him for them.

    3. I think your friend did precisely the right thing in his reaction towards the funeral director.

    4. I think you and anyone commenting here or elsewhere is wholly justified in disagreeing with, and being angry with the funeral director and his actions.

    5. I think you and some people here have blown the whole incident up and out of proportion and overreacted in a hyperbolic fashion, using words and phrases that are either meaningless, emotively excessive, or just plain over the top, such as “completely unacceptable”, “incredibly polite”, “complete insult”, “Absolutely horrifying”, “utterly cruel”.

    6. I feel that if anyone wants to disagree with me, that’s just fine — you have the right to react; you have the right to disagree; I have the right to react; I have the right to disagree, etc. But please stop misrepresenting, misquoting, or lying about me. And please stop derailing the discussion into topics of the Pit vs. FTB.

    7. No, I did not start the derailing from the original post topic into arguments about the Pit vs. FTB, or arguments about censorship.

    8. Yes, in defending myself against the misrepresentations of me, the Pit, etc., as presented in other commenters’s derails, I was guilty of extending those derails, and foolishly catering to the wishes of the derailers to derail from the original topic in an attempt to besmerch me.

    Lastly, I have a question. You say “Maybe Wannabebunny will get some justice out of all of this.” What do you mean, by “justice”? From your original post I got the sense that he already received his justice, in the sense that he got to censure the funeral director and the funeral director stopped his theist blather — or so I understand it from your original post. In other words, person A transgressed; person B censured; person A withdrew. Right?

  7. says

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  8. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Yeah, the slyme simply cannot leave FtB alone. It’s like crack for them, it looks like.

    And everywhere they’ve gone on the network, they’ve taken advantage of lax moderation to wander so far off topic and behave so atrociously that they, through their own behaviour, force stronger comment moderation and THEN they whine about their FREEZE PEACHES being taken away and misrepresented and boo hoo wah wah

    I’m amazed they haven’t started whining about Ogvorbis again, they bring him up everywhere and anytime to spread their poisonous lies about him and what he did.

    Good luck with your infestation, I find them too distasteful to read.

  9. johngreg says

    Gen, you’re derailing the dialogue.

    Stay on-topic: funeral directors overstepping their philosophical bounds.

    Thank you.

  10. abear says

    Gen said:

    I’m amazed they haven’t started whining about Ogvorbis again, they bring him up everywhere and anytime to spread their poisonous lies about him and what he did.

    I didn’t know you were a Slymepitter, but since you brought up the big O I guess you must be.
    Presumably, next you will start quoting the poisonous lies that Oggie tells about himself like a typical Pitter.

  11. John C. Welch says

    A spam filter allows you to not comment. You can still view the site. Big difference from an IP access ban.

    That’s because you are trying to create a narrative that makes you more special than you are, when the reality of it is, you just happen to be in a part of the world that gets blocked a lot, or, a lot of people on your netblock are either malware’d to hell and gone/are arsehelm hackers.

    Here, a basic lesson on the reality of hosting a server that is accessible from the public internet. If, like most web servers, you run your server on some flavor of Unix, usually Linux, you’re going to use SSH for a good chunk of your admin. It’s secure, and it’s low bandwidth. Even on a crappy dial-up modem, SSH is nicely functional.

    However, it’s also a route into your machine if someone can manage it. So you end up with a lot of IP addresses out of Asia/Russia trying to brute force their way into a root SSH connection so that they can take over your box, usually to add it to a bot network.

    Now, blocking ssh root access is pretty simple. It’s literally one line in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

    PermitRootLogin no

    Doesn’t matter if they hit the right password or not, you can’t log in as root via SSH if that config is set correctly.

    But, the attempts eat up resources that should go to other things, and if someone hits you hard and fast enough, it can be a rather effective, if crude DDOS attack.

    And even a slow attack isn’t “slow”. For example, from today alone on one of my servers before I got iptables setup:

    untitled text 6:3: Jan 23 03:10:03 ve sshd[11367]: Failed password for root from port 17448 ssh2
    untitled text 6:6: Jan 23 03:10:08 ve sshd[11470]: Failed password for root from port 18140 ssh2
    untitled text 6:9: Jan 23 03:10:14 ve sshd[11472]: Failed password for root from port 18884 ssh2
    untitled text 6:12: Jan 23 03:10:21 ve sshd[11474]: Failed password for root from port 19879 ssh2
    untitled text 6:15: Jan 23 03:10:26 ve sshd[11476]: Failed password for root from port 21143 ssh2
    untitled text 6:18: Jan 23 03:10:30 ve sshd[11478]: Failed password for root from port 21892 ssh2
    untitled text 6:21: Jan 23 03:10:35 ve sshd[11480]: Failed password for root from port 22745 ssh2
    untitled text 6:24: Jan 23 03:10:39 ve sshd[11482]: Failed password for root from port 23590 ssh2
    untitled text 6:27: Jan 23 03:10:44 ve sshd[11484]: Failed password for root from port 24383 ssh2
    untitled text 6:30: Jan 23 03:10:48 ve sshd[11486]: Failed password for root from port 25165 ssh2
    untitled text 6:33: Jan 23 03:10:52 ve sshd[11488]: Failed password for root from port 25976 ssh2
    untitled text 6:36: Jan 23 03:10:56 ve sshd[11490]: Failed password for root from port 26758 ssh2

    That’s 12 attempts in a minute. Again, kind of slow, they can get really bad, i.e. hundreds or even thousands of attacks per minute. But my servers have better things to do than deal with this idiocy, so I start banning the IP. Oh, and where is this IP registered from?

    % Information related to ' -'

    inetnum: -
    netname: CHINANET-SH
    descr: China Telecom
    descr: No.31,jingrong street
    descr: Beijing 100032
    country: CN
    admin-c: WWQ4-AP
    tech-c: WWQ4-AP
    remarks: service provider
    mnt-by: APNIC-HM
    mnt-lower: MAINT-CHINANET
    mnt-lower: MAINT-CHINANET-SH
    changed: 20080514
    source: APNIC

    (this is all from a public “whois” search, so it’s hardly sekret info.)

    so what do I do? I block it.

    iptables -A INPUT -s -j DROP

    Now that address won’t work anymore on that server. I know, and I agree with, many admins who block entire countries, because their governments and/or ISPs can’t be arsed to deal with this in a productive fashion, that is, keep the little arsehelms from pulling this crap.

    If you happen to be in asia, and get blocked, well, that blows, but there’s actual reasons for doing it, and it’s not “just you”. I hate to shoot down your moment of self-important glory, but for lsuoma to specifically block your IP, he’d have to know that in advance. which would mean someone had provided it to him. If that’s the case, then you telling him the IP you’re using makes…

    zero difference.

    if this is the case, he already knows it, how else would he have blocked you? But since you think he doesn’t already know your address, and we live in the really real world, this probably isn’t the case. Occam is not your friend in that line of thinking.

    If he doesn’t, and you’re just caught in a netblock range, well, then as you say, there are ways around it. So therefore, the fact your ip is part of a blocked netblock has…no special meaning and again as you point out, there are trivial ways around this problem.

    For the record, I, and Lsuoma, and every other damned sysadmin on the planet hate that we have to do this. This kind of whackamole bullshit does nothing to make things work better. It provides no better service to our users/customers. It makes nothing faster or better, and takes time away from things that DO make things faster or better or both.

    But if we don’t do this, well, things can go to hell pretty damned quick.

  12. says

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me
    when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is
    added I receive 4 emails with the same comment.
    Is there an easy method you can remove me from that service?

  13. says

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

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