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Nov 08 2013

We can treat the great majority of the people equally

Ron Lindsay objects to the way the plaintiffs’ attorney in Greece v Galloway briskly threw the atheists under the bus.

Roberts was asking whether the concerns of atheists had to be considered in
determining whether the prayer practice is constitutional. And, incredibly, the plaintiffs’ attorney responded, “We’ve excluded the atheists.” (Transcript, p. 46.) In other words, to all atheists: Your concerns don’t matter. You’re not part of the community. You’re a special case and your constitutional rights are limited. Or, if you prefer blunter language, eat shit.

What Laycock said really is rather tooth-grinding.

We can treat the great majority of the people equally with the tradition of prayer to the almighty, the governor of the universe, the creator of the world -

Yes but you can treat all the people equally by skipping the putative tradition of prayer at a government function altogether. Treating just the great majority equally isn’t what you should be doing here.

Back to Ron’s post.

CFI, joined by other secular groups, filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court, arguing that the reasoning behind the Marsh decision is fundamentally flawed. The Marsh court assumed invocations would not be divisive. That has proven not to be the case, especially as the country has become more religiously diverse, including a growing segment of nonreligious individuals. There have been a number of protests involving various local bodies when members of minority religions have offered invocations—or when atheists were allowed the opportunity to open business with solemn secular remarks.

You know what they should start doing? Showing a film clip of the earth seen from space, with inspiring music. Let that be the invocation.

I’m serious. They want to start with solemnity and reminding everyone that this matters. Ok then, do it in a way that really is relevant to all of us.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And one of the plaintiffs is an atheist!

  2. 2
    Anthony K

    Jeez, but Ron Lindsay’s really divisive. We’re all a team here; can’t we all get along and ignore the systematic slights against some of us?

  3. 3
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    We will not know the outcome of the case until June. But we have already learned something from yesterday’s argument. The argument serves to remind us that despite all the progress that has been made for the nonreligious, despite our increase in numbers, we still have a long way to go before we’re considered worthy of equal consideration, even by our sometime allies.

    Yes, Ron Lindsay, I know how infuriating that can be.

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    So, Ron Lindsay and the CFI want the prayer leaders to shut up? Okay, but just don’t ask them to also listen, because that would be inexcusable.

  5. 5
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Well, most of us are equal, but some are clearly more equal than others.

  6. 6
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    we still have a long way to go before we’re considered worthy of equal consideration, even by our sometime allies.

    Crap, there goes another Ironyometer. I wish you folks would add Irony Level warnings, apparently with special attention to those rare circumstances when a leader of an atheist group opens his mouth.

  7. 7
    Eamon Knight

    You know what they should start doing? Showing a film clip of the earth seen from space, with inspiring music. Let that be the invocation.

    Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” soliloquy comes to mind (one of the very few things that I, as an atheist, consider to be “spiritual”).

  8. 8
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    In other words, to all people who want to be free from sexual harassment and assault from their colleagues who work at CFI: Your concerns don’t matter. You’re not part of the community. You’re a special case and your ethical rights are limited. Or, if you prefer blunter language, eat shit.

    I agree with Ron above, but he has a lot of nerve. He threw Karen under the bus.

  9. 9
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    OMG, I love you guys so much. I’ve been feeling fairly… defeated lately, due to the events in the Atheoskeptical Sphere, but then I read comments like these that GET IT so much, and it reminds me that there are still a hell of a lot of good people out there.

    I certainly don’t want to make Ophelia uncomfortable, since she still has a fairly cordial relationship with Ron Lindsay, but his unwillingness to get it annoys the living crud out of me. As well as certain other “we’re all allies” “it’s just disagreement” “you should follow these harassers on Twitter, because fuck their victims, amiright?” atheist leaders.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Eamon – that’s partly what gave me the idea, I think.

  11. 11
    Al Dente

    I managed to shut off prayers at a meeting by reading Matthew 6:5-6 (NIV):

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    And then calling the Chairman who was doing the praying a hypocrite for not following his god’s words. There was a spirited discussion which included “the Devil can quote scripture to suit his purposes” and “if you want to pray then do it on your own time.” The question was finally put to a vote and a majority of people decided they didn’t want to hear prayers at a secular meeting. So the public praying was ended.

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