I knew they were around here somewhere »« Friday Cephalopod: Hovering, with tentacles coiled

I support the Freedom From Atheism Foundation

Despite the fact that they don’t understand atheism and are full of misconceptions, I have no problem with the Freedom From Atheism Foundation (well, they could have been a little more creative with the name).

This Easter the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) posted another offensive, and historically inaccurate, sign touting Jesus as "a myth." However, did you know an organization exists to counter the FFRF and other intolerant atheists? If you or someone you know has been the victim of militant, confrontational atheism then the place to turn is the Freedom From Atheism Foundation (FFAF).

It is not inaccurate to call Jesus a myth, and I do understand that many people would find that offensive. But aside from that, I am happy to agree that atheism should be kept out of the public square, if religion is also excluded.There’s this principle called secularism that I think is a good idea, and the only way to accommodate a religiously diverse community.

They are confused in another way, though. They keep insisting that atheism is a religion, which means that what they’re actually campaigning for is to exclude one specific religion from society. That makes them rather hypocritical when they claim the Freedom from Religion Foundation is an organization focused on restricting religious freedom in our society, because it seems that their goal is all about restricting religious freedom. It also mischaracterizes the FFRF, which supports your right to believe any silly thing you want, it’s just that you don’t get to impose your beliefs and practices on others.

But otherwise, sure, I think it’s just fine to ask that debates about ghosts and spirits and gods be kept out of public events which are trying to get practical, real-world tasks done.

Comments

  1. Steve LaBonne says

    This is a typical example of people (in this case, adherents not only of religion but of the quasi-established religion in this society) being unwilling to confront their own privilege.

  2. ernezabet says

    Ok PZ, I’m confused. I read the link and found nothing tolerant about that organization. Seemed to be just xian crying they are so mean to us good god fearing folks so we must stop their Freedom of Speech. Also, let’s throw in some hate with if THEM took over they would get rid of us xians.

  3. says

    Handed a gilt-edged invitation to argue why jesus isn’t a myth, they tone-trolled. Now, if that’s an inauspicious start, my name’s not Phineas Barnum!

  4. says

    My take on PZ’s post was that he supports FFAF’s right to exist, which is far more courtesy than they are willing to extend to us. One should take the high road, after all: the air is cleaner, the view is prettier, and it is much easier to piss on the people who are beneath you.

  5. sigurd jorsalfar says

    It’s nice to see that the religious finally have an organization of their very own that helps them support and spread their faith.

  6. consciousness razor says

    It is not inaccurate to call Jesus a myth, and I do understand that many people would find that offensive. But aside from that, I am happy to agree that atheism should be kept out of the public square, if religion is also excluded.There’s this principle called secularism that I think is a good idea, and the only way to accommodate a religiously diverse community.

    But otherwise, sure, I think it’s just fine to ask that debates about ghosts and spirits and gods be kept out of public events which are trying to get practical, real-world tasks done.

    Maybe I’m reading you uncharitably here or I’m in a bad mood today, but I don’t think that’s a realistic request. Secularism certainly is great, but for one thing, we’re not the ones who need to agree with each other about that. Secularism also doesn’t mean that in the public square, there’s something wrong with “confronting” each other with our ideas about reality. We can’t give up on people with false beliefs; and even if some never will change, sweeping it under the rug simply isn’t a solution to this problem. (And that doesn’t seem to be what you’ve ever wanted to do anyway, which is what makes this such a strange statement.) It doesn’t just go away if we pretend it isn’t there lurking in the background, or if it’s not made explicit in some kind of idealized “debate” wherein some kind of political task supposedly gets done. (That’s rare enough as it is, even when religion isn’t involved.)

    I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot of people think the existence of gods (and souls) is the most wonderful, most Earth-shatteringly important fact imaginable. That’s probably somehow an understatement, because they’ll say it’s not even imaginable. The point is, that’s just how big of a deal it is to some people. Truth and meaning and morality and consciousness and life and death and existence itself depend on it. It is such a supremely perfect and powerful fact about reality that being utterly absurd is only one more argument in its favor, and everyone knows better than to argue in its favor anyway (or, apparently, to argue against it). It will do that for us somehow. It will do everything for us that we require, because it cares.

    You are not going to get these people to just politely pretend that this isn’t important to them for the sake of a properly-functioning society, because at least some of them very sincerely believe (among many other things) a properly-functioning society itself depends on it. Religions are going to fail miserably, on their own terms by losing all of their membership, before they ever let go of what they think is their rightful place in “the public square.” That’s a prediction I’m more than willing to make. Religions are not the knitting clubs that you wish they would be. And you know they’re not. As soon as it turns into that, it’s gone as a religion; then, maybe that new thing could have some useful function in politics. For now, we’re stuck with it being useless. Eventually, it’s going to fail. I think we can help it along.

  7. says

    @3ernezabet

    Ok PZ, I’m confused. I read the link and found nothing tolerant about that organization

    While the posts title is a little misleading, I don’t think PZ claims them to be tolerant in anyway. Just that he supports their right to exist.

  8. Gregory Greenwood says

    As usual, the title of this religious aplogia organisation is misleading – what they aspire to is freedom from the existence of atheism, and indeed of atheists. Make no mistake, if they had the power to do so they would make godlessness illegal and punishable by at the very least ‘re-education’ if not a good old fashioned burning at the stake.

    By all means take the high road and support their right to exist and spout their privileged idiocy, but never make the mistake of turning your back on them.

  9. qwints says

    I think it’s fair to say that some of the things groups like this allege happen at public schools would be worth fighting- teachers forbidding voluntary prayer during lunchtime being censored or taking away bibles – if they actually happen. My impression is that there are rare cases when administrators or teachers get the law wrong, but that such instances are always corrected upon criticism. The US isn’t a secular country that discourages religious expression, and I’m fine with that. It does have a secular government, and that’s what I see groups like this most trying to change.

  10. twas brillig (stevem) says

    yet another instance of religiots incapable of comprehending other ideas as NOT Religious; even rejecting religion is it’s own Religion. These poor people have been so warped by religion that anything NOT being a religion is inconceivable (to them). And then they mindlessly project the behavior of other religiots onto atheismists; hence the “militant atheists” phrase. And religion keeps teaching them that their religion is always persecuted by Others; with endless stories of Ceasars, and the Mayflower. So ANY opposition to their blatant displays is only Persecution and they HAVE TO make those displays to be brave; so to attack those displays or prevent them being displayed is a direct insult to their fee-fees. And that’s why it is not so unexpected for a “organization” to appear to help protect their feefees from those nasty atheists. And not so surprising their name is so “uncreative”; only nature that “Freedom From Religion” needs to be opposed by “Freedom From Atheism”. Creativity is not their strong suit, it could confuse all those poor people already befuddled with their feefees caused by those atheistics.

  11. ernezabet says

    @10JJ831

    No he did not claim tolerance, true. That was my interpretation, but I agree with @9 consciousness razor, and PZ has usually not tolerated this kind of BS. My interpretation again from all my reading here at Pharyngula. I love it when everyone is standing strong against fairy tales and myths. FFAF is nothing but a religious hate group period.

  12. raven says

    Well, look on the bright side.

    Much of the money donated to rightwing political and religious organizations, including their churches, is just wasted, siphoned off or scammed. There was even an article in Time magazine on this recently.

  13. raven says

    posted another offensive, and historically inaccurate, sign touting Jesus as “a myth.”

    A bit hypocritical here, but hypocrisy is a fundie xian sacrament.

    Why is calling jesus a myth offensive, but calling jesus a god that must be bowed to or you will fry in hell for eternity not?

    PS: It is a tribute to how effective FFRF is, that they have moved up on the fundie To Hate list.

  14. Gregory Greenwood says

    qwints @ 12;

    The US isn’t a secular country that discourages religious expression, and I’m fine with that.

    A quick point – secular societies do not work to prevent the expression of religious beliefs, but instead simply try to stop those beliefs forming the basis for public policy. It is the most concrete expression of the principle of the separation of church and state.

    Wearing a cross in public would be fine in a functional secular society, demanding that prayers be held before all government meetings or during the school day would not.

    Strictly speaking, given the specific injunctions against the establishment of a church and forbidding the use of religious tests to achieve high office in the US consitution, America should be a secular state. Unfortunately, much time, effort and money has been expended to subvert that aim and propogate the myth that the US is a christian nation.

  15. raven says

    allege happen at public schools would be worth fighting- teachers forbidding voluntary prayer during lunchtime being censored …

    That probably never happened. The school investigated it and couldn’t find anyone.

    And the girl was the daughter of Tod Starnes’ publisher. Tod Starnes is a pathological liar who makes up stories about xian persecution and PZ Myers for…Fox News.

    Most stories of the fundies are lies. Lies are on of their three main sacraments.

  16. twas brillig (stevem) says

    [sidetrack alert]
    I should have watched the 11pm News last night, the newsblurb promoting the 11, said something about the current outrage, by the local Catholic church, over some Satanic Mass at Harvard (no less) and how the Church was trying to fight such outrageous behavior. I wish I had seen that story instead of just flipping over to The Daily Show for my daily Fix of satire. I only have the blurb, but it seem to kinda fit this thread, so there ya go.

  17. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    If you or someone you know has been the victim of militant, confrontational atheism…

    *Rolls on floor laughing*

  18. twas brillig (stevem) says

    “…historically inaccurate,…”
    And their history is ACCURATE? How? I don’t think they see that “History” has this other word embedded in it: STORY, and that has completely bamboozled their concept of “History”.

  19. qwints says

    Gregory Greenwood @17,

    I think a distinction can be made between secular countries and secular governments. Laïcité as practiced in countries like France or Turkey results in restrictions on individual public religious expression that would be intolerable in the US.

  20. Alex says

    @Thumper

    I think the translation of “being the victim of militant, confrontational atheism” is “being reminded of the fact that the US constitution, and atheists, exist”.

  21. sugarfrosted says

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure the word myth necessarily implies a story being false. (I mean it is, but…)

  22. says

    @twas brillig #19 – This? Archdiocese assails plans for black mass by Harvard group

    The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has condemned plans by an independent student group of the Harvard Extension School to stage a historical reenactment of a satanic ritual that mocks the Catholic Mass.

    The group, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, says its reenactment of the so-called black mass is intended as an educational activity to provide history, context, and the origin of the ritual as part of a student-led series exploring different cultures. The group said the event, planned for Monday, is not designed to insult religious traditions.

    That reassurance did not mollify the archdiocese, which on its Facebook page issued a statement expressing “deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a ‘black mass’ on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.”

    Make extra popcorn.

  23. magistramarla says

    Horde – Hubby told me to come here to vent, and this seemed to be a good thread for it.
    I’m disabled, and I can no longer drive, which is a real pain for someone who is only 56.
    I signed up for Via Trans, which is transportation for the disabled run by our local bus company. I’ve found that when I’m picked up by an actual bus, the service is great, but when I’m picked up by one of the vans operated by the contactor, Star Shuttle, the service is crappy.
    Yesterday, after waiting in front of the building where I have physical therapy for nearly an hour, I was picked up by a van twenty minutes late. I always have to make sure that I’m waiting early, since if I’m not outside waiting, I’m counted as a no-show. I then endured the ride from hell.
    The driver asked if we could pray together for gawd to heal my disabilities. I politely told him “No thanks, I’m not religious”. That set him off. He spent the entire rest of the trip proselytizing.
    He ranted about evolution and kept telling me that if I didn’t shape up I would be sorry when I died and met jesus. He also claimed that everyone, including Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus were going to meet gawd and jesus and know their sins just before they went to spend eternity in the pits of hell. He claimed that the state of Texas was Christian and that the people here weren’t like those Muslims that only want to kill people. He also claimed that he had been sent by gawd to pick me up and save my soul.
    I begged to get out of that van at any bus stop, but he wouldn’t let me out. I could have ridden any bus for free with my Via Trans card and waited for my hubby at a bus stop. Hubby called to tell me he was home, and I asked him to meet me at the corner, but the guy still wouldn’t let me out. I really didn’t want him to take me to my house. I wound up getting out of there right in front of the house and promptly fell on the curb.
    I called Via and made a complaint against that driver, but I also canceled my upcoming rides with them. It might be more expensive to call a taxi or the really cool rideshare company called Lyft to take me to medical appointments, but it will be worth it. At least those drivers are prompt, courteous and reliable.
    It seems to me that anyone should be free from religion on public transportation and that the driver was horribly unprofessional. I’ve put up with being picked up very early or very late. I’ve put up with a driver who refused to drive me with my service dog because she was afraid of him. I’ve tolerated other passengers who were praying or singing hymns, but this was the last straw. I had just endured and entire day of testing and treatments at the university center the day before, so I still felt weak and vulnerable yesterday. My physical therapist had made sure that I had a gentle workout, and I really needed a calm day. That driver ruined everything that all of my therapy had done for me that day.
    Vent over, but I’m not sure that I feel much better.

  24. mikeyb says

    My atheism sure is a weird religion. I get no rewards for being good, no comforts of an afterlife, no guarantees that evil assholes won’t do things with impunity with no justice, no guarantee that as a human we won’t ultimately fuck thinks up for our species and go extinct, no spelled out plan to guide my life by, no sky daddy to appeal to with prayers when I need help or even some cosmic force to pat me on the back when I do something nice. Instead I am accused of having absolutely no morals, actively promoting hedonism and immorality, or even worse being in league with the likes of Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot as well as having some secret repressed hatred for a sky daddy that I won’t admit that deep down I know exists. I don’t get it, where are the goodies for my belief in atheism. Where is my atheist bible and the atheist prophesies for a new grand atheistic age (I know Marx already did that and all atheists by default are guilty of what any atheist at any time has ever thought).

  25. busterggi says

    Marla, I don’t claim it will help you feel better but I’m including you in the prayers I’m not saying tonight.

    Faith can move mountains if you have enough explosives & heavy machinery.

  26. P. Zimmerle says

    They chronically understand the meaning of the word “myth.”
    Even if Jesus isn’t a historical person or based on a historical person (or even if everything they’ve said about him is real), his life is still the subject of a myth cycle by the Christian faith.

  27. says

    Magistramarla, If you’re comfortable doing it, it might be appropriate to talk to the police about what happened to you. I’m too tired to go poking through Texas criminal statutes right now, but the van driver’s behavior is in the general vicinity of how states define offenses like kidnapping or unlawful restraint.

  28. Scott Petrovits says

    When it comes to religion, these idiots take the phrase “faffing about” (or FFAFing about?) to new depths.

  29. Azuma Hazuki says

    “Lord, make these mine enemies ridiculous” — Voltaire’s prayer. It is being answered in spades. Just like nothing makes an atheist faster than reading the Bible, nothing damages the fundies’ cause like this kind of idiocy.

  30. hexidecima says

    To say that we should not point out lies in the public square is rather silly. To say that Jesus Christ is a myth is no more “offensive” than saying that slavery was wrong, that people of color are not second class citizens, and women aren’t just baby-making machines, that atheism isn’t a religion, etc. All of these things are to be countered for the nonsense they are. This is indeed a practical real world task that needs done and now more than ever. Keeping quiet about such things has helped no one, except those who want the lies to keep going.

  31. xavierninnis4191 says

    To give credit where it’s due, I was surprised to find the site allowing comments expressing dissent.

  32. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I was shocked, *shocked* last night, to see a PSA from Freedom From Religion Foundation with Ron Reagan proclaiming his “lifelong atheism” and concluding with “…not afraid of burning in Hell.”
    My only lament was that it was on Comedy Channel after The Daily Show. At first I thought it was a satire commercial, but it seemed real enough. Also amazed that he said his name twice, kinda emphasizing the Reagan part of his name. I assume that it is Ron Jr. of Ronny Raygun ancestry. If so, even more powerful message.