A Response to Ben Carson

Apparently Ben Carson’s not quite understood what a secular institution means.

The US Navy  is meant to be a secular institution. It’s goal is to train young men and women to fire missiles and planes at things that need to go boom. Nowhere in this is the idea that these men and women must believe in a magical entity of any sort. 

So I don’t see why the US Navy makes special provisions for one religious group. I don’t see why followers of one particular god and one particular idea of that god get a bunch of free benefits and special treatment.

Many people in this country were shocked when the U.S. Navy recently announced the removal of all Bibles from military hotels under their control. This was in response to pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a well-known atheist group.

It is a secular group Mr. Carson. I understand you work for Fox and therefore accuracy and veracity are only passing fancies.

A secular group believes that religion should be a private affair and should not be encouraged by a public body in order to create a separation of church and state as religious governments tend to lean towards bigotry and totalitarianism. We see this in various quotes by the religious right who encourage the harassing of GLBT and try to enshrine legislative attacks on them or defences against prosecution. We also see this in attacks on the right to access to healthcare in women. The USA is a secular nation under attack by people who think it is perfectly acceptable to add Christianity to everything possibly because Christianity is seen as the norm and the USA’s secular values have become indistinguishable from Christian.

With a more multi-cultural society the USA has been forced to look deeply into it’s practices.

And part of that is removing all religious texts from Military Hotels or supplying all of them. Ben probably thinks this is an example of anti-Christian prejudice. I see no Vedas and Koran by that Bible. In any  case? You can have all religious texts available on request at the front desk. And are Christians so damaged by the lack of a free Bible? I find a lot of Muslims carry their Korans with them, are Christians so vexed by the weight of a Bible that they must be provided in all rooms? It’s a Bible, it’s not the Yellow Pages.

To you it may be harmless, but it’s your pet god that’s getting the free leg up. Not anyone else’s. Oh I am sure you think your god is the realsiest of all the gods, but the fact is that in our society we pay lip service to the notion that all superstitions of sufficient age and adherence are equally valid so that our society isn’t wracked by religiously intolerant fundamentalists. The only fair and sensible thing to do is to make the Bible an optional service.

The surprise is not the hypocritical stance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but rather the fact that an established bulwark of American strength and patriotism caved to a self-serving group of religious fanatics. The previous sentence may seem out of place if you don’t realize that atheism is actually a religion.

You used the word hypocritical. I don’t think it means what you think it means. Mr. Carson would surely be on our side if the religion being promoted was Islam and not his Christianity. The problem with Mr. Carson is the age old problem of “flag wavers”. See? The Flag Wavers just like waving flags. Anything’s a good opportunity to waggle a flag. Having a powerful Navy lets the USA waggle flags.

A lot less these days. Iraq kind of broke the will of NATO to war. A generation remembers what war is like and finds the flag waggling distasteful and useless.

And no Mr. Carson. Atheism is not a religion. It is an absence of religion. A belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power is the definition of religion. Atheism lacks the worship and belief in the superhuman controlling power. If we are going to define religion as whatever we feel like then we can redefine Christianity as whatever we feel like. Why  bother with reality when we can substitute our own.

Like traditional religions, atheism requires strong conviction. In the case of atheists, it’s the belief that there is no God and that all things can be proved by science. It is extremely hypocritical of the foundation to request the removal of Bibles from hotel rooms on the basis of their contention that the presence of Bibles indicates that the government is choosing one religion over another. If they really thought about it, they would realize that removal of religious materials imposes their religion on everyone else.

There are no gods. Your god is nothing special in terms of evidence for existing or miracles or magic powers. Sure, atheists believe that there is no god. We also think that everything has a natural explanation that can be understood via science.

Religion is merely an attempt to explain how the world works. It’s not a very accurate method of doing so. But it is an attempt. Science is a much better way of doing so. It works by observation and experimentation to find out how our world works. Science’s track record is phenomenal with success after success. So much so that in order to be relevant, religion had to place their gods in a special place where science is banned. Where no science can detect this fantastic creature.

Some atheists argue that there should be a library or cache of religious material at the check-in desk of a hotel from which any guests could order a Bible, Torah, or Koran for their reading pleasure. No favoritism would be shown through such a system, and those who reject the idea of God would not have to be offended.

This is like saying there shouldn’t be certain brands of bottled water in hotel rooms because there may be guests who prefer a different type of water or are offended by bottled water and think everybody should be drinking tap water. The logical answer to such absurdity would, of course, be that the offended individual could bring his own water or simply ignore the brand of water he does not care for.

Except one requires water to survive while the Bible is not required. People don’t die because they don’t read the Bible.

And water is real. But I am unaware of “H2O” fanatics.

And as one is aware? The offended Christian is perfectly capable of bringing his own Bible without requiring the hotel to provide. If a Hindu can do that, a Christian can do it.

As a nation, we must avoid the paralysis of hypersensitivity, which prevents us from getting anything done because virtually everything offends someone. We need to distribute “big boy” pants to help the whiners learn to focus their energy in a productive way. We must also go back and read the Constitution, including the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion. It says nothing about freedom from religion, and in fact, if you consider the context and the lives of those involved in the crafting of our founding documents, it is apparent that they believed in allowing their faith to guide their lives. This has nothing to do with imposing one’s beliefs on someone else.

And by anything done you mean “Bibles in Hotels”? Ah yes. Big Boy Pants.

Mr. Carson. Ecoute Bien S’il Vous Plait.

You are privileged. You live in one of the richest nations on the planet. Your live in a place where half the people eat processed garbage because that’s all they can afford while the other half drive expensive cars to the gym. You live in a place where people eat till they hurt. You live in a place where people drive to the Grand Canyon to watch a movie about the Canyon in an IMAX theatre next to the Grand Canyon. You live in a place where it is perfectly legal to shoot an unarmed black man in the street because you were scared he may be a thief.

The only reason you demand a lack of sensitivity is because you aren’t affected directly by the situation. If the biggest fucking problem in your privileged fucking life is whether or not your imaginary friend’s operating manual is available in hotel rooms run by a secular organisation then you are privileged. You need to wear your big boy trousers and get the stick out of your arse and listen.

Your god is not special. He is just another imaginary being that we have to respect because if we don’t little old ladies will faint. Grow up. Your security blanket and imaginary friend aren’t needed to live a life and it is frankly shocking that you expect the world to cater to your silly belief. You need to grow up and realise that just like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, your Jehovah is not real. Neither is Osiris, neither is Allah and neither is Vishnu. You stamping your feet going “nuh huh! He is totally real!” is just childish. So is the whole “my imaginary friend has a black belt in karate” vibe you have going about how your imaginary friend is more real than other ones.

This may not be imposing your beliefs on others but it is demanding a special right to normalise your particular superstition as a “reality”. I bet in your mind you think that the Bible should be placed in Hotel Rooms unlike the Gita or the Koran because unlike those the Bible is “real”. Newsflash? It’s no different from their books. The only reason you want yours to be the ONLY book available is because you think yours is more real. Hence the double standard. The others have to adjust with you while you get to do what you want? That isn’t the definition of equality. That’s the definition of “Christianity is the Status Quo, all of you need to adjust with us”.

Those of us who do believe in God can hope and pray that at some point secular progressives will come to understand that they must abide by the same rules with which they attempt to control others. There is nothing wrong with the philosophy of “live and let live.” America was designed to be a free country, where people could live as they pleased and pursue their dreams as long as they didn’t infringe upon the rights of others. By continually broadening the scope of an “infringement” on the rights of others, the purveyors of division will succeed in destroying our nation — but only if we continue to cater to their divisive rhetoric.

In “a god”. Many people believe in their “God” hope and pray for a world where they aren’t inundated by the religious trappings of Christianity as a norm while their religions are portrayed as evil.

If you have no problem with any book in the hotel then I am sure you would have no qualms if they gave a Koran. Or would this be a situation where you accuse the hotels of being Islamofacist terrorists and demanded a Christian Boycott of them? You would blame Islam and Obama and talk about creeping Shariah Law.

Everyone has a live and let live philosophy, what that doesn’t mean is letting one group of people receive special treatment for no reason apart from “the majority are this group”.

Your actual statement is you don’t think that Christians receiving a special privilege over other religions is an infringement, you think that is an acceptable norm. This is called bias.

Liberty and justice for all has worked extremely well for an extended period of time, and there is no reason to upset the equilibrium by endowing the hypersensitive complainers in our society with more power than everyone else. Thankfully, the Navy quickly realized its mistake and restored the Bible to its lodges. Maybe now we can deal with the real issues that threaten our safety.

No it didn’t. For the majority of American History, Liberty and Justice for white people who were considered white. If you were Polish or Irish? You weren’t as white. But heaven forbid you were Black. Mr. Carson has forgotten that for the majority of American History, “liberty and justice” was for only white people. Even today the quality of liberty and justice for people of colour within the USA is of an inferior quality to that available to white people.

This is an issue of great importance. What this shows is how naive an individual is who thinks that Christianity in the USA is some sort of endangered species despite every single advantage Christians are entitled to. It also shows the history of privilege within the USA, where white people can conveniently forget the atrocities of the past when it suits them and pay lip service to Liberty and Justice.



  1. says

    I don’t see why the US Navy makes special provisions for one religious group

    Wouldn’t it make more sense if they made special provisions for Kali worship, or worshipping Mars or Odinn or one of the other gods that specialize in violent recycling.

  2. tuibguy says

    They refuse to understand that no one is offended by the Bible itself, it is just a fucking book. Or maybe they do get it, but like to feel persecuted and so they claim that secularists are offended.

    I am offended by people who think that Christianity is an exception to the First Amendment, and that is all. I am offended by people who won’t bother to read James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” to understand the reason for the First Amendment.

  3. Brent says

    Thanks for the detailed reply to Ben Carson.

    I have to believe that this guy is a complete puppet, however. If he actually enters the race for President in 2016, I suspect his religious beliefs will come under some very close scrutiny. I would be willing to bet that none of his former co-workers at Johns Hopkins ever saw him pray before a surgery case, heard him beg off working on a Sunday so he could go to church, etc. In other words, I suspect that he will turn out to be a religious fraudster of the first magnitude, a non-believer masquerading as a believer.

    When has he turned out to quote scripture by naming chapter and verse, the way any deeply religious person would do? And when has he said anything different from the usual cray-cray from the people appealing to the far right crowd? I’m thinking he shows himself to be Herman Cain with an MD in the near future…

  4. sosw says

    Semi-OT, but a few years ago I stayed at a hotel where instead of a Bible, there was a flashlight. That could be taken as an apt (although undoubtedly unintentional) metaphor for science…

    Having done a decent amount of traveling, this is one of the few times something like this stuck in my mind (I also remember finding a Bible and a Buddhist book, but don’t remember where or when).

  5. Rich Woods says

    @sosw #5:

    The last hotel I stayed in had problems with the electricity supply all weekend — a flashlight would have been very welcome indeed!

  6. colnago80 says

    It should be pointed out that Dr. Carson is also a creationist who rejects evolution. As I have stated previously, surgeons don’t have to know much about biology to perform their tasks. They’re like automobile mechanics in this regard. Automobile mechanics don’t have to know anything about the physics of internal combustion engines to work on your car’s engine.

  7. plainenglish says

    Jack Henry Abbott (In the Belly of the Beast) understood the importance of the presence of the Bible. He had one in his cell in prison and he used it by soaking it in the toilet, dropping it into a pillow case and using it to whoop somebody who had offended him. Now, there’s a real-world use for the Bible that is quite honest and symbolically reflects how the Bible is used to shame, blame and hate others in our world.
    Thank-you for this very clear response to Dr. Carson.

  8. culuriel says

    How exactly are people free to practice their own religions if they’re not free of others’? Dr. Carson doesn’t seem to understand that he has no freedom of religion unless he’s free from other religions. Or maybe he does, but he thinks only Christians should be free from other religions. Everyone else must put up with his religion in their bedrooms, science classrooms, and secular hotel facilities run by a government entity.

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