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Feb 03 2012

Justin Griffith covered by Fox News and BBC: an exercise in compare/contrast

I could not ask for a more perfect bit of compare/contrast. The mainstream American media is stone-silent about Sergeant Justin Griffith of Rock Beyond Belief fame, with the obvious exception of Fox News. The only news you’ll get about this atheist-in-a-foxhole Stateside is the fact that one of the acts for Rock Beyond Belief once did a music video that included images of a church burning, in a song denouncing sectarian religious violence, and Fox News spun it all to hell and back as though it was military-sanctioned encouragement of violence against religions.

Meanwhile, across the Pond, the BBC has covered Justin and our shared fight asking if the US army can embrace atheists. Their answer is significantly more reality-based than Fox’s, of course.

Though the general public is not always receptive to atheism, the military itself offers a promise of acceptance.

Aside from recognised Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups, Fort Bragg has resources for other faiths, including Buddhists and Wiccans, a Pagan religion.

“The army really is a microcosm of the entirety of our nation,” says Benjamin Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg. “We serve the people, and we have an incredibly diverse population of people in the United States.”

I won’t note the irony of the spokesman’s name being Abel.

Outside of “culture wars”, people seem to be able to recognize and comprehend the plurality of the melting pot that is America. From within the borders of America, though, the only time people to acknowledge that we atheists even exist is to demonize us, and thus convince a gormless and gullible populace that we are out to destroy them. To wit:

“We felt it was entirely inappropriate for anyone to say your current religion is wrong,” Griffith told Fox News& Commentary.

So, why are you so anti-Christian? Why would you choose to burn people’s property to advance your message of aetheism? Why do you single out the Judeo-Christian God as your enemy when He is the only savior you may ever know? You are a hypocrite.

P.S. The fool has said in his heart, ”There is no God.”

Oh, snap. The Bible says that people who don’t believe in the Bible are fools. And Fox News says people who denounce sectarian religious violence are out to burn your churches. At least your sources for information aren’t, you know, getting any WORSE over time.

Our battle is not to eliminate religion, or to punish the religious. It is to establish that we exist, and that our existence is neither a threat to you nor an affront to your religious identity. That you, the theist, test your faith against us and fail to win us to your cause repeatedly is surely an ego blow, but we are every bit as human as you are — we have all the failings of humanity, all the foibles, and all the strengths; as do you. The one thing we “lack” is a belief in your specific conception of a deity. And yet, you lack belief in the deity of your neighbor, even if they claim the same religion as you.

The important bit about Justin’s story, which seems to be escaping many religious folks, is that he lacks a belief in any sort of afterlife. He does not believe his life is a mere proving grounds for an eternal reward. And yet he is willing to give his life for his country and for the religious folks who populate it.

And only a media outlet outside the country gets it.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    Fox isn’t a news channel, it’s a neocon propaganda organ.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    Not entirely unaware. :)

  3. 3
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Our battle is not to eliminate religion, or to punish the religious. It is to establish that we exist, and that our existence is neither a threat to you nor an affront to your religious identity.

    Establishing that outgroup individuals are happy, productive, and numerous is a threat to religion, both for countering Jesus-shaped hole assertions and demonstrating its redundancy. People who identify with vulnerable ideas make themselves emotionally vulnerable (not the atheists’ fault, but that’s how it will seem). No direct physical harm is intended, but people financially involved with religious institutions are threatened when their churches’ uncontested importance is challenged.

    In this, atheists would be as threatening as a mass influx of vocal Zoroastrians, except with the added affront to theism itself (the nameless generic God doesn’t apply to disguise cultural differences). Granted the threat is technically self-inflicted, but it’s dormant until outsiders announce themselves and break the monopoly/groupthink. Fox’s counterfactual programming similiarly survives on viewers not seriously acknowledging other sources.
     
    In the long term, there’s a related YouTube video of Sam Harris’ joke about making metaphysical claims when they aren’t socially protected.

  4. 4
    Justin Griffith

    Awww shucks ;)

    Thanks for giving a shit everyone. Seriously. I’d do Fox News again in a heartbeat. If we win over a single person as a result, it’s worth it compared to the crazies we lost long ago.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    But the BBC one is pure gravy!

  6. 6
    Hank Fox

    “Our battle is not to eliminate religion …”

    Heh. Not for YOU, maybe.

    Good for Justin, though! Atheism continues to make inroads into the mainstream dialogue!

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    CompulsoryAccount and Hank: then consider “elimination of religion” a flex goal. Or happy side-effect of showing that we are in fact healthy and happy without religion.

    Justin: you waded into the lion’s den, more than once and in more than one sense, and still came out with all your fingers intact. That’s worth noting.

  8. 8
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    then consider “elimination of religion” a flex goal. Or happy side-effect

    I think it’s misleading to say “Our battle is not to eliminate religion” which is calculated to downplay knee-jerk resistance in believers fearing for religions’ protected status when there’s probable collateral impact we’d look forward to but won’t mention.

    Especially when someone surfing will notice a massive membership overlap with skepticism activists, who oppose irrationality in general. An unqualified ‘our’ should be avoided in these matters at least.
     
    No need to engage in competitive doublethink with the religious using euphamisms. Elimination of the memes certainly isn’t the #1 goal, but it’s often not absent from peoples’ lists either.

    It’s like Mitt Romney saying he’d crack down on immigrants without exiling them; he’d instead try to encourage “self-deportation”.

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