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The obstacles in the atheist civil rights movement

To try to distill what everyone’s saying over at Almost Diamonds, where a post on how deferential atheists need to be in society today ended up spiraling out into a larger discussion (as such conversations are wont to do) on whether reasonable theists are getting caught in the crossfire, the problems here as I see them are fourfold. This was originally going to be a comment in that thread, but it grew to mammoth proportions so I figured I needed a larger stage for it.

First, the mere knowledge that a person is an atheist is considered an affront against certain religious persons. This is as though simply by being able to live a non-religious life proves that one can be a good person without being a good Christian, so the religious who ascribe to the thought that people cannot be good without also being Christian need to project an air of superiority, of animosity, or of outright evil to reconcile this good atheist with their worldview. We have seen this innumerable times where we are painted as incapable of loving, lacking any kind of moral compass, or in possession of a nihilistic worldview. All of these smears are hate-filled invective that cast us as subhumans, and, if allowed to be taken to the next step, could result in violence against atheists. None of these aspersions are resultant of any evidence, and all of them are derived from a need to cast us as “others”, and subhuman.

Secondly, these religious folks are extraordinarily loud ones, and extraordinarily fundamentalist. They are the public face of the group, and are the ones you find most often running from blog to blog telling atheists that they’re inhuman unless they find God. These are the ones with which we clash daily. They are also the ones that cause us to say “religious” and “theists” as broad-brush statements. The interesting thing is, they are also the folks that go from blog to blog — two recent examples here include Zdenny and Daniel Maldonado — and jam their religions down our throats. You’ll hopefully notice by now that I never visit religious people’s homes (e.g. websites), and take a dump on their front porches, so to have them do likewise to me is galling, to say the absolute least. The only times I engage with theists are when they approach us where we discuss our daily lives and our belief systems with our peers, and tell us that our science is fallacious because their Revealed Truth said so a few thousand years ago.

Thirdly, not every theist is as irrational as the people who are actively trying to abridge our rights, however they are also not stepping up to the plate when people say things like “atheists are worthless fuck stains and should die”. They do, on the other hand, get the vapors when someone dares to suggest that all religious folks feel the same way. In the thread over at Almost Diamonds, you’ll see a so-called reasonable theist jump as soon as he realizes Lou gets paint on him in his characterization of religion as a whole as damaging to human rights. I know a number of very reasonable theists who are able to reconcile their belief systems with the universe as it exists and as science has come to understand it; and this is fine. As an agnostic atheist I do allow for the sliver of possibility that something “caused” all this; I just don’t feel the evidence as presented at the moment by theists is compelling (or even truly amounts to anything worth considering in fact). So, to those that do not directly attempt to abridge the rights of gays, the faithless, women, or any other group that is not WASPy enough for their liking, I apologize in advance when you get tarred with the same brush as the whackjobs, but if that’s the case, then you’re obviously not doing enough to distance yourself from said whackjobs. Get in the fight or get out of the way!

Fourth, the religious who are more temperate of atheism are providing cover for the extremists by suggesting every time one of us gets upset that we’re being unreasonable in our targeting. The big problem is, that religion is the direct cause of the more intemperate entities’ belief systems upon which they hang their prejudices. So, as a direct result of believing that the Bible is absolutely true, people’s rights are abridged unjustly. To those of you who believe in any part of revealed scripture as absolute truth, regardless of which parts you believe, I’m afraid that you’re close enough that, as I said in point three, you’re going to get some paint on you. If you believe a god incarnated as a man in order to commit suicide and resurrect himself to appease himself and redeem you all by blood sacrifice by proxy, then you’re unfortunately already believing in six or seven things that have no direct evidence and are lending credibility to the whackjobs who think Leviticus gives them an excuse to hate on gays and midgets and fortune tellers and shrimp. And these whackjobs are the same folks that are responsible for every misconception about atheists that exists and is propagated today.

Interestingly, one cannot honestly flip this argument to paint the strident atheists as capable of the same — the more strident atheists are not engaged in abridging people’s rights, only in pushing back the encroachments on the separation of church and state, and in directly affronting the religious in hopes that mocking them might open some of the wafflers’ eyes as to how ridiculous the whole philosophy is. Mockery and an attempt to maintain the secular political system for all parties involved does not amount to abridging anyone’s rights. Also, since atheists are in the minority, and this is indeed a civil rights cause wherein atheists need to speak up and be counted and by our numbers win some justice, if the so-called New Atheists win over anyone on the fence, great. If the so-called accommodationists win over anyone, great. If the reasonable theists show the extremists as being merely extreme and the concept of religion (fictitiously based as it is) as being viable, then these reasonable theists are unfortunately as much a part of the problem as the fundies.

So what are the solutions to these problems? How can the solutions be enacted without unfairly punishing the innocent theists? Or can any such injustice be avoided at all? Please remember, we are fighting to be heard, to be understood, and to be accepted as human beings with all the same capabilities and rights and obligations as those of you that are in the majority. The parallels between other civil rights movements are obvious, and the dangers are as palpable to me right now as I’m sure they are/were to any gay or black or women’s rights activists.

Comments

  1. says

    As the “so-called reasonable theist”, I’ve only got one thing to say, which is in response to this comment:

    … then you’re obviously not doing enough to distance yourself from said whackjobs …

    For most of the posters there, the only thing that would allow me to suitably distance myself, is to become an agnostic or atheist (perhaps a deist). Is this your solution? It doesn’t seem that there are any “innocent theists” in your line of thought above. Like I said, perhaps deists are innocent enough, but certainly not any theists. Since they all believe something which lends credibility to the whackjobs, they’re just … the enemy.

  2. says

    No, a reasonable way to distance yourself from the people who earnestly believe that scripture supercedes empirically derived evidence, would be to point out to these people where they are demonstrably wrong. Actively. I see it done all the time at How Good Is That, where a number of theists are more than willing to step up to the plate and put people like Zdenny in their place for spewing hate-filled rhetoric. I don’t know that you don’t do this, however I do know that there are theists/deists that I know that honestly believe in science but can’t bring themselves to defend atheists against biblically derived lunacy. I have to wonder if it’s because you also sympathize with this lunacy, at the same time as you sympathize with other parts of the Bible that you believe to be correct.

    At that, how do you know which parts are correct and which aren’t? Is there a Cliffs Notes version that you can provide me, that says which books are literally true and which ones are fictitious? Can you prove the ones that you believe to be literally true, are in fact literally true, or are you just guessing based on what you’ve decided to pick-and-choose about it? Do you do the same with science, where you pick and choose which parts of science are acceptable and which ones you can’t even countenance, even though all of science is so intertwined as to be impossible to excise chunks of it without replacing it with something that better fits the evidence? Likewise, why are you so quick to defend people who believe the whole of scripture to be the truth from those of us who believe the whole body of human knowledge as derived from the scientific method to be much much nearer the truth?

    I’m sorry I can’t stay up at the moment to see your answers to this, but I’ll get to it in the morning. It’s been a long day.

  3. says

    I’m sitting here, trying to figure out the best way to provide answers to your questions. I can guess that they will probably prove wholly unsatisfactory to you. In my almost forty years on this planet I’ve spent a sizable portion of time trying to figure out what I believe and why I believe it. It’s not as if I’ve taken my belief in God, whole cloth, from someone else and then just run with it. Like most people I know, I’ve struggled with that I was taught and what I have experienced. I’ve disagreed with some things, and thought that other things were spot on. There are things I know in life are true, and there are things I know in life which are demonstrably false. I still struggle with belief, but have come to realize that I don’t need certainty, and that my doubts are just fine.

    When it comes to my faith, I’ve tried to look at Scripture in ways that I think are reasonable and consistent. Who wrote the text, who was their audience, what is the time period, what style was it written in … I believe that these questions, and others, provide a good basis for interpreting what Christians call “The Bible”. I believe that the certain texts of the Bible have a message to say, even if they are not “literally true”. I didn’t read Aesop as a child and think that turtles and hares held an annual race, but I did realize that slow and steady can certainly win the race. I guess you might call this “pick and choose”. Sure. If that makes you happy.

    As for science, I find it perfectly acceptable. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to “excise chunks of it” and would be mortified to realize I ever have. Especially given my profession. I’m not sure how much further I even need to expound on this question. It’s almost akin to a “have you stopped beating your wife?” line of questioning.

    Lastly, why am I so quick to defend people who believe the whole of scripture (I assume you are basically referring to fundies here)? Where the fuck did I say anything of the sort?

  4. says

    I really think you are failing to see the big picture. Secular countries like North Korea, Russia and the Muslim countries have killed millions and I mean millions of Christians. The fact is that those faiths are very dangerous because they result in the murder of innocent people in the name of perserving power.

    Christianity is not about power; rather, it is about love. In America, I really don’t know of anyone be it Atheist or Muslim who have been killed by Christians. The reason that Christianity in the US has been tolerant is because democracy takes the hands out of corrupt politicians who sometimes abuse their power. The people being guided by the love of God preach that you are to love your neighbor as yourself. This doesn’t mean that everyone is strong in their knowledge of God’s Word, but it does mean that society will correct itself because their is a standard of truth that everyone acknowledges. Slavery is a great example of Christianity correcting an injustice which was lead by wilberforce and martin luther king.

    I just disagree with the whole argument you made because the evidence supports just the opposite. I think you are just not willing to consider the evidence and have these feelings of insecurity about atheism that you attempt to justify…

  5. says

    The atheism civil rights movement is an illusion. There is no positive movement; rather, I would call it a negative movement that seeks to discriminate against people who believe in God.

    Atheist are not willing to allow society to express the common will and this is wrong. The fact that atheist don’t believe in God should not mean that everyone should not believe in God. I see a number of atheist who are trying to force their will politically rather than being tolerant of people who have different beliefs.

    While you and I disagree, I can honestly say that I support your right to free speech and freedom of the atheistic religion; however, atheist don’t support mine. If I was a politician who was elected by the people and I decided to have a prayer breakfast, atheist would be mad about it because I was praying with other people which by the way is something that Christians do.

    Atheism as a civil rights movment is really about intolerance of people of faith. Christians have toleranted atheist in the U.S. since its founding; however, secular countries are not tolerant of Christians at all and that is just historical fact.

    One of these days your eyes will open to reality….

  6. says

    I’m allowing Zdenny’s otherwise permanetly moderated comments here only because they are illustrative of a fundie theist that has been trolling my place for a good long time. I just want to see what happens.

  7. says

    Thomas said (emphasis mine):

    I guess you might call this “pick and choose”. Sure. If that makes you happy.

    Did you intend to type that? I’m assuming that you did, since that is what ended up in your reply.

    Since when did the happiness of any particular atheist have a bearing on whether or not you choose you believe some parts of the Bible™ as literal, yet disbelieve other parts. Do you also uphold the notion that Leviticus 20:13 provides good insight into how to live your life, yet completely ignore Leviticus 20:9?

    Jason’s happiness (nor my own) has nothing to do with it. You’re either picking and choosing, or you’re not.

  8. says

    Denny said:

    Atheism as a civil rights movment is really about intolerance of people of faith. Christians have toleranted atheist in the U.S. since its founding; however, secular countries are not tolerant of Christians at all and that is just historical fact.

    You fail on so many levels… and I don’t have time at the moment, but I will.

  9. says

    Here is proof: Check out the link

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=633214

    Instead of Atheist just being silent while other exercise their freedom of religion rights; they want to force Christians not to be authentic.

    The Constitution says that we should not make a law regarding religion; however, it does not outlaw freedom of religion.

    Atheist confuse the two and think that praying in public is equal to a law; however, that is not a law at all; rather, it is Christian leaders exercising their freedom as individuals to be authentic as Christians in public.

    Atheism is built on intolerance of people of faith as demonstrated by the link. They refuse to allow Christians to be authentic and are wanting to stop Christians from being who they really are.

    Atheism is a threat to our freedoms of speech and freedom of religion rights which atheist constantly are trying to take away from Christians. You only have to see what happens to those in North Korea, Russia, China, Thailand, Iran, Syria, etc… to see that Christians have alot to be concern about.

  10. says

    Thomas, that’s okay, I do see you as otherwise reasonable. Where I have seen you leap to the defense of theists, however, is in DuWayne’s (ill-mannered — that’s his style) conflation of religion and the fundamentalists that emerge from it. I happen to agree with DuWayne, that without organized religion and the jackasses who see a cynical opportunity to profit from it and control people with it, then fundamentalists would be few and far between.

    The problem is, this prevents the normal spread of religion as well. I don’t see it as a problem personally, as I feel religion itself is a way of putting filters in your head that don’t necessarily allow you to objectively view reality, but when someone like you comes into the picture, a theist who understands that science is the objective study of reality, I feel only slightly better about religion in general, knowing how many asshats it churns out. And in casting out the net to catch the widest amount of asshats, it is regrettable that you get caught too; but at the same time, if you hadn’t been indoctrinated into the faith, would you be talking about having to reconcile your faith with your doubts at all?

    Make no mistake, the people we are talking about and are upset about and fight with constantly, are the same people who are actively abridging atheists’ rights and actively smearing atheists in general; people like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Zdenny, etc. The people who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible as a whole, who believe that atheists are merely hateful, that Christianity’s appropriate role is in government, that secularism in government leads to evil, that Hitler was somehow a secularist despite being Catholic, that Stalin or Mao Tse Tung or Pol Pot committed mass murders because of atheism — people who will rush to blame atheism for all evil and who will simultaneously proclaim any Christian or otherwise religious person as No True Scotsman.

  11. says

    And yes, like Dan, I do feel that any attempt to “pick and choose” is a cheat. It’s a way of saying “well, this part of the Bible was meant for the people of the time, and doesn’t mean what it seems to mean, yet this other part is for us today and means exactly what I interpret it.” The problem with this is that it allows asshats to decide gays are evil but simultaneously not care about midgets or shrimp or touching pigskins (hello football fans!). The more granular and modular your faith is, the less like a faith and more like a game of Mix-and-Match it seems.

    That kind of nonsense also allows people to think that science as a whole, which is, again, the objective study of reality, can be likewise mix-and-matched. Of course, when you see how interconnected each field of science is with the others, someone picking one as acceptable and saying this other is invalid because it conflicts with their faith, is not only unconscionable to rationalists like us, but also galling on its face, because of the inherent conflicts between them. And what really gets my goat is when people like Zdenny say that science’s technological progress is fine but anything that suggests the Earth is older than 6000 years is false and ridiculous. This includes cosmology, biology, genetics, atomic theory, the theory of radiation, and the theory of gravity (which he often uses incorrectly to attempt to “prove” that we have “faith” in an unseeable force like gravity, yet despite there being no way to measure or prove that God had any kind of hand in the universe, we should give God the same kind of faith).

  12. says

    @ Thomas: “For most of the posters there, the only thing that would allow me to suitably distance myself, is to become an agnostic or atheist (perhaps a deist). Is this your solution?”

    For me the solution is not for you to necessarily change your beliefs, but your actions. Many moderate Christians sit idly by and let discrimination against non-theists happen and do not understand that “separation of church and state” is not the same as “forcing everyone not to believe in god”. If believing in god floats your boat, fine. If you get social/community and emotional benefit from being part of a church, fine.

    Rather my suggestion for a “solution” would be for the moderate Christians to stand up for us and fight for our mutual rights. We also have the right to congregate. We have the right not to be indoctrinated in our public schools and government buildings. We have the right to run for office. We have the right not to be discriminated against. But we’re not treated that way and the more we fight on our own, the more we’re seen as upstart “new atheists” making war. Moderate Christians could help us fight to be seen as the decent moral human being that we generally are, but they often don’t — and that for me is why they are guilty. It’s not anything particular that their doing, it’s what they fail to do.

  13. says

    Kimbo said: Many moderate Christians sit idly by and let discrimination against non-theists happen and do not understand that “separation of church and state” is not the same as “forcing everyone not to believe in god”.

    What people most often find surprising is that Catholics in the United States were among the first to struggle with the issue of separation of church and state. For example, for the longest time, the Protestant Bible was used in public school, and Catholics played a large part in getting that reversed (see the Edgerton Bible Case for example).

    Kimbo also said: Rather my suggestion for a “solution” would be for the moderate Christians to stand up for us and fight for our mutual rights.

    I agree wholeheartedly. As another example, I know that I appreciate that I can freely exercise my right as a christian. Today, I find myself in the majority* but tomorrow that majority could be Islam, and I know I would not appreciate being forcibly immersed in a faith I do not agree with. Therefore, if I wouldn’t want it done to me, I shouldn’t do it (or allow it to done to) others.

    Jason said: The problem with this is that it allows asshats …

    I’ve seen a whole lot of philosophies/outlooks on life/moral codes serve as justification in acting as an asshat. Agnostics, atheists, deists and theists alike are all human and all are prone to acting that way (or not acting that way as the case may be on occasion). What I object to is the broad condemnation (something you feel is unjustly leveled against you) of a lot of people who are simply minding their business and trying to get on with their own daily struggles.

    Jason said: Where I have seen you leap to the defense of theists …

    The reason I leap to the defense of theists is … because I am one! Naturally I would come to my own defense as I certainly don’t expect anyone else to do it for me. That doesn’t mean I have automatically leapt to the defense of all theists.

    As for ZDenny and those like him. Long, long ago I used to roam around message boards like Rapture Ready, Christian Forums, and CARM. To the people who populate those boards, Catholics are no better than atheists, and in fact are probably considered to be worse. I spent countless hours arguing and debating with them. I do not align myself with people like ZDenny because I know that even if I were to help people like him, once he succeeded in his task, I would be next. I don’t buy what he’s selling, and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve also learned that no matter what I say to people like him, it’s wasted time and energy. So if you you’re keeping him around at the moment to see what I will do to engage him, you’re going to be disappointed. What I can do however is ensure that my political (and that is what this all boils down to) actions are geared towards making sure the playing field is level for all people, regardless of their faith (or lack thereof), their race, their sexual orientation … and then hope that, if the time were ever to come where I need those freedoms once again, those people I helped wouldn’t turn their back on me.

  14. says

    Forgot about my footnote.

    *majority – I believe that fundamentalists only consider Catholics as a part of their “coalition” because they have found a more threatening target at the current time. It’s a case of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort of situation. I do not fool myself for one minute (as I said above) that if they ever were to succeed in their objective, I’d eventually be next. They’re no friend of mine.

  15. says

    I have to say it again, then — get in the fight, or get out of the way. I would absolutely fight for your right to believe whatever you want, and I’m glad you would also fight for my rights, but as soon as it comes to teaching children anything but real science in schools, or including one specific religion’s prayers or commandments in the justice system or in government, that’s where I draw the line. There’s a damn good reason church and state are supposed to be separate, and it’s not merely to keep fundies from abridging others’ rights — it’s also to protect religious adherents from being forced into a specific religion. And in protecting freedom of religion, it should by definition also protect freedom from religion — if someone chooses not to have a religion crammed down their throats, then they should be as free to NOT worship, as someone else is free to worship however they please. (ed.: Much of this paragraph is not specifically directed at you, Thomas, but at Zdenny.)

    The Catholics fought so hard because they are commonly viewed as following the Antichrist in the Pope, and are mistreated as such — until very recently, people were about as likely to vote a Catholic into office as a Black, gay, or atheist, so the fact that the Catholics have made in-roads into religious tolerance is absolutely laudable. I would likewise fight for them to have the same rights and freedoms as anyone else. As a rationalist, I do need to know that rational and science-derived knowledge is what’s imparted to our kids in school, and any religious stuff happens outside of the publicly funded school systems, but this is not a faith system. This is merely the knowledge that only scientifically derived human knowledge of how this universe works, is provable and maintainable, and self-correcting enough to make up for the fact that we humans don’t know everything (no matter how hard some of us wish we did know everything).

    I am certain you and I could have some excellent conversations on faith itself. And like I said in the original post, I am sorry that when we fight against the entrenched nutters that you get some paint on you as well. But you do realize that if your religious views conflict with science or with my freedom to be as much a part of public life as anyone else, I would fight with you just as hard as I would fight someone like Zdenny for whom “burden of proof” is a volleyball to bounce back at us.

    I admit I was indeed hoping you would engage with him on the parts of his comments that are easily demonstrably wrong and that encroach on your own freedoms as well, but if you’re not willing to do so because you feel like you’re being puppeteered into doing so, then I can understand that. It just means that now I have to correct the record on his lunacy again, myself, where I was hoping for a non-fundamentalist theist to point out the errors of his ways. The problem with my hoping you’d do so, is that he’ll undoubtedly claim you are a secularist — which is his broad-brush interpretation of anyone who does not believe everyone in the world should be Christian and Christian values should be implemented in government to the exclusion of all others. In other words, you’d be exposing yourself to the accusation of not being a True Scotsman yourself, which is sad.

  16. says

    Thomas –

    Whether they are your friend or not, whether you align with them or not – no matter how you feel about other theists , you are directly responsible for fostering a culture that allows them to enjoy a special status in our society. One that actually causes some outrage when the courts intervene and force parents to get their children essential lifesaving medical treatments, or when people like me suggest we need to get rid of religious exemptions for vaccinations. Status that decides it’s ok to use a great many socially maladaptive behaviors, as long as it is an aspect of one’s religious beliefs.

    On top of that, you are actively accepting that there are things that we can take on faith, rather than reason and evidence. You are actively accepting that there are some areas where the evidence that might contradict your religious beliefs, is simply not good enough – until it is and you pretend that your faith is perfectly reasonable, in spite of continually and repeatedly having to change what that faith means – what it is you believe, what it is, this dogma of your church. This sort of fuzzy thinking translates into other aspects of life too. Makes it easier to accept all manner of woo. And I honestly don’t give a flying fuck if you don’t do any of this – if your faith is so watered down by the evidence of reality as to render it meaningless. You are actively encouraging others who’s faith isn’t so watered, people who fall into everything I just described.

    And on top of that, you’re a fucking Catholic? What kind of sick fucking bullshit is that? So not only do you fall in for some liberalized version of Christianity, you also support an organization that is almost directly responsible for the insanely high AIDS pandemic that has ripped it’s way through a considerable percentage of the population of sub-Saharan Africa. You support an organization that has protected pedophiles for centuries and allowed them to continue to work in positions where they can victimize more children and who they are still actively fighting to protect from prosecution. You support an organization that is militantly anti-choice and anti-science. You support that, and somehow expect that rational people are not going to say something about it? And I hate to say it, but whether you consider yourself to be an ally of the sick fucking fundies we’ve also been discussing here, the organization you support does.

    I may accept and respect you as a person, if I knew you – I do have friends who are Catholic. But I have absolutely nothing but absolute contempt for your insane choice to support the sick and vile evil, that is the Catholic church. Pretty much decimates any credibility you have in this discussion, as far as I’m concerned.

  17. says

    ZDenny – Just for grins, North Korea isn’t secular at all. It’s built on worship of Kim Jong-Il, who is literally supposed to be supernatural.

    The Soviet Union killed millions… but y’know how many, perhaps most of them died? Starvation. And y’know why they starved? The leaders in Russia (and, later, China) opposed Darwinian evolution and went with Lysenkoism. Reality failed to match ‘workers science’, though, and millions starved in the resulting famines.

    Theism or atheism isn’t the real problem. It’s dogmatism. The problem is, so far as I can see, theism is a greater risk factor for dogmatism than atheism.

    Politicians hold prayer breakfasts all the time, too. That’s not a problem. It’s when they enact policies that specifically favor religion (e.g. federal employees get extra time off to attend religious services) that the objections come.

  18. D. C. Sessions says

    Interestingly, one cannot honestly flip this argument to paint the strident atheists as capable of the same — the more strident atheists are not engaged in abridging people’s rights, only in pushing back the encroachments on the separation of church and state, and in directly affronting the religious in hopes that mocking them might open some of the wafflers’ eyes as to how ridiculous the whole philosophy is. Mockery and an attempt to maintain the secular political system for all parties involved does not amount to abridging anyone’s rights.

    Not strictly true. If your religion requires you to control the State so that I can’t marry another man, or so that my daughter can’t have an abortion, or so that your kids are never exposed to heresies or any hints that people might behave in immoral ways — if any of these are true, then we have a direct conflict between your freedom to exercise your religion [1] and my freedom from your religion.

    The idea that freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion may be settled law [1], but it’s also far from a social consensus. You’ll see that exact objection (“Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion”) stated often on the Right. What with the echo chamber effect and the Republican Inquisition, it’s hard to tell how widely held that position is; suffice to say that it’s loudly held without contradiction in the ranks.

    And this is the party of Barry Goldwater? It’s a good thing Barry didn’t live to see the day.

    [1] For instance that bit about keeping slaves and ripping out the hearts of unbelievers.

  19. says

    Thomas, you’ve decided not to spend your energy on the evangelical fundamentalists. Whatever. Your decision. You’ve got plenty of people in the way before they come for you.

    That doesn’t mean they don’t need fighting. That doesn’t mean the nonsense they spew doesn’t still need to be challenged. And instead, you want us to spend our time policing our words in such a way that you can’t “assume” we’re talking about you? This–this bit right here–is exactly why, yes, you’re part of the problem.

    Jason already said it, but I don’t think you were listening. Get. out. of. the. way.

    Zdenny: “Secular countries like…the Muslim countries”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Get a dictionary.

  20. D. C. Sessions says

    Secular countries like North Korea, Russia and the Muslim countries

    Poe’s Law on display.

    have killed millions and I mean millions of Christians.

    In a few more centuries, they might even get into the same order of magnitude as explicitly Christian countries acting in the name of Christianity.

    Christianity is not about power

    Tell that to the people of 17th Century Germany, just to start with. Yeah, yeah, “no true Scottsman” and all that.

  21. says

    Well said, Jason. Thank you for posting this.

    First, the mere knowledge that a person is an atheist is considered an affront against certain religious persons.

    I’m thinking of a very recent incident involving a T-shirt that demonstrates this quite plainly. Further, it’s interesting to me that to be considered a “militant/fundamentalist/extremist etc. theist” you have to go out and kill a few thousand people, whereas to be a “militant” etc. atheist all you have to do is use the F-word in a blog post. (Hell, sometimes you don’t even have to do that. Does anyone know if PZ has ever even dropped the F-bomb specifically? Coyne? Could you even imagine Dawkins dropping it? And yet…)

    As an agnostic atheist I do allow for the sliver of possibility that something “caused” all this; I just don’t feel the evidence as presented at the moment by theists is compelling (or even truly amounts to anything worth considering in fact).

    Funny that. I would fit any person’s definition of “Strong Atheist” (or whatever the current term is), and I’d say exactly the same thing.

    Get in the fight or get out of the way!

    Preach it, brother.

  22. says

    Edited “However, they do get the vapors” to read “They do, on the other hand, get the vapors” to avoid two howevers in close succession. And this only after I get quoted over at Stephanie’s. Sigh.

  23. says

    Jason said: And like I said in the original post, I am sorry that when we fight against the entrenched nutters that you get some paint on you as well.

    Having been involved in this discussion now which spans at least three blogs, I’ve come to a better understanding of the situation, if only to realize that people hold widely different views of who the “entrenched nutters” actually are. For some, I’m not. For some, I am. For some, I’m quite possibly worse. If I’m going to maintain a presence around blogs that discuss these issues, the burden is on me to figure out who thinks what.

    DuWayne said: And on top of that, you’re a fucking Catholic?

    You got it! Been married for two years now. But I prefer to call it “making love”.

    Stephanie said: Thomas, you’ve decided not to spend your energy on the evangelical fundamentalists. Whatever.

    Yes, I have decided to not engage fundies on the internet, having done so in the past and seeing it as wasted effort. Instead, I will make sure that my political activities (my letters to my politicians, my voting record, my legal contributions, etc) are geared towards ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), and sexual orientation, enjoys a level playing field in all aspects of their life. If that doesn’t suffice for you … to fucking bad.

  24. says

    Thomas said:

    Instead, I will make sure that my political activities (my letters to my politicians, my voting record, my legal contributions, etc) are geared towards ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), and sexual orientation, enjoys a level playing field in all aspects of their life. If that doesn’t suffice for you … to fucking bad.

    That works for me. I very much realize that we’re not on the same side when it comes to this issue, even though we share some common goals. I know that very few people honestly want this nation to become an Evangelical Christian™ theocracy. Unfortunately, any beliefs that the moderate Catholics (and other religious moderates) have in common with the Evangelicals/Fundies will be among those things that are ridiculed and trash-talked.

    Warning: I will personally be rather offensive by many people’s standards.

    Once the common goals are met, and the Evangelicals/Fundies are no longer an imminent threat to freedom, then things may be settled down enough that we won’t have any glaring issues between us to provoke further animosity.

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