A very good atheist

Mitch Kahle is a good atheist.

In the year since Mitch Kahle moved back to his native Michigan, he has been able to compel Ottawa County to remove a sign bearing Psalm 19:1 from a public park; transform a 48-foot tall cross into an anchor; and convince two school districts to block a minister from holding religious services during the lunch hour at public schools.

I mean, he’s a really good atheist. Look at the reactions he gets.

Kahle is an agent of hate, Brandon Hall told The Detroit News. He’s a belligerent bully who is trying to bring his disturbing, hateful agenda to Grand Haven.

Everybody knows this is a Christian place, not a Muslim place, not a Hindu place, Matt Kooienga, a pastor at Harvest Baptist Church said during the meeting. We don’t have to lock our doors. The reason for that is we’re Christians.

How is it that a dirtbag can come into a community and cause so much controversy and destruction? asked Rick Phillips. These carpetbaggers need to be driven from our community.

I don’t see how asking the community to enforce the laws of their state and nation makes him a bully. These small towns tend to get a bit ingrown (trust me, I know), and it’s good to have someone point out that they are part of a larger community, and that their parochial ways may be in conflict with bigger standards.

As for what kind of place it is…nope, it’s not a Christian place. It’s a part of the United States, which is a secular nation. It is part of America, which contains citizens who are Muslim and Hindu. This is the America of a thousand sects, where splitting old religions is not quite enough and we spawn brand new ones, like Mormonism and Scientology. This is the America in which the “nones” are the fastest growing group. This is the America where we have a constitution that says government may not promote or interfere with religion.

I live in a small rural town, too, and it’s true that you don’t really have to lock your doors (we do, anyway), but it’s not because of Christianity. It’s because it’s a small place and everyone knows everyone else, and strangers — especially strangers who are poking around the neighbor’s doors and windows — are going to be regarded with instant suspicion. The Jews and Hindus and Muslims (the few that are living here) are going to be just as attentive and solicitous as the Christians.

And meanwhile, the crimes that do go on routinely, the wife-beatings and drunk driving, are carried on by good white Christian men, who will be given an admonition by the good white Christian police, and their sins might get a side-eye in church on Sunday, but otherwise they’ll be overlooked by every good white Christian pastor enumerating the pleasures of living in a rural paradise.

If they’re going to drive out the destructive carpetbaggers, I guess they must have a plan to return the town to the Indians.

So bravo, Mitch Kahle. Keep giving them hell.


  1. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    “Dirtbag — bully — carpetbagger.” Just feel that Christian love.

    You’re right: someone calling out violations of your Constitution is refreshing; but the responses to him are dismaying to say the least.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, stopping the Xians from bullying the non-Xians. Xians are being persecuted. WAH…*snicker*
    They obviously don’t understand what a secular state means.

  3. says

    Love this guy. But how is he being so successful? The whole town seems to be filled with Xians, which usually means they do whatever they want regardless of the law. I followed the link to a Detroit News story but there’s no info on why his methods are so effective (legal eagle? personality?). Curious if anyone knows.

  4. freemage says

    Kan: At a guess, he’s attacking the low-hanging fruit–the most blatant church/state violations, and it sounds like there’s a lot of them. And it’s likely that the town’s legal counsel knows that, so when he shows up with a complaint, they tell the city leaders exactly what’s going to happen if they go to court–they’re going to lose, and they’re going to pay for the privilege of losing. Now, eventually, there will probably be some movement to resist at any cost, but until then, he’s getting a fair bit done.

  5. Al Dente says

    What many Christians don’t realize is that separation of church and state benefits them. They believe that if the US becomes a “Christian Nation” that their brand of Christianity will come out on top. That might not be the case. In England under Queen Mary Protestantism was a capital offense and 283 Protestants were executed, most of them burned at the stake. Later, after the Glorious Revolution in 1668, Catholics could not legally hold political office, be army officers or inherit land. It wasn’t until 1829 that Catholics could be members of Parliament or even vote. Jews in England didn’t get those rights until 1858.

    History tells us that having one religion sect on top causes discrimination of other religions. What if President Romney, a Mormon, pushes Congress to outlaw coffee, which his God has declared to be double plus ungood? That might seem farfetched but that sort of thing has happened. In Iran, after the Ayatollahs took over, women lost many legal rights, hijabs were required, and the legal age of marriage was lowered from 16 to 9.

    Remember, Christians, there are over 6000 different flavors of Christianity. The chances are extremely good that a Christian America will not follow your personal sect.

  6. says

    Kinda related:

    GREECE’S new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, made history within hours of his victory by informing the Archbishop of Athens, very politely, that clerical services would not be required for his swearing-in ceremony. An avowed atheist who has nonetheless made a point of dealing courteously with senior clergy, Mr Tsipras lost no time in making known that his oath of office would be a secular procedure. It was also explained that when the whole cabinet was sworn in, a more junior cleric (but not the archbishop) would be invited to assist those who wished to take a religious oath. [Source]

  7. neuroturtle says

    These kinds of things remind me more and more of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. And that is goddamn terrifying. The majority of people do not want to live in that world no matter how much they think they do.

  8. Azuma Hazuki says

    To hell with the Parables; these people are apparently reading from a mashup of The Handmaiden’s Tale, 1984, and Dr. Strangelove, under the assumption that the latter is a sober documentary.

    I wish there were some way of insulating ourselves from this. These people hate reality so much they long for the apocalypse. They can’t stand reality and so they want to destroy it.

  9. TGAP Dad says

    I used to live in Ottawa county, and spent many days in Grand Haven. I can assure you, there is no place in this country (or any country for that matter) that is more infused with religion – especially of a single variety – than Ottawa county. Grand Haven isn’t even the worst. The small nearby towns of Zeeland and Hudsonville are far worse. When I last lived there, there was a huge dispute over a newly-opened Burger King which, as we all know, is open on Sunday. I’ve heard stories from friends of friends of people mowing lawns on Sunday, and getting dressed down by neighbors for working on a holy day.

    Believe me, this place desperately needs shaking up.

  10. hyrax, Social Justice Blood Mage says

    This is my hometown! I moved back ~18 months ago, after 10 years living elsewhere, and this guy is the best thing that’s happened here in… ever. I complained to the ACLU about the giant unconstitutional cross and nativity scene on city land, some years ago, and their response was basically “Yeah, we know, we’ll get around to it.” The kind of bullying and outright hate Kahle has gotten has been depressing, but the city council is (grudgingly) agreeing to respect the constitution.

  11. Ichthyic says

    But how is he being so successful?

    another guess is that it’s quite possible there are people in local government who entirely agree with him, but are rather shy about saying so, given that election might indeed depend on how “christian” they outwardly appear.

    …so they take advantage of the opportunity this guy represents.

  12. Island Adolescent says

    He used to live in Hawaii (I met him on a couple occasions) – he’s a great guy.

    There’s also this issue of qui tam, where if you sue on behalf of the US and you actually get a church or whatever to pay up, you personally get to pocket a good chunk of the money. So say if a church is using school grounds in an illegal fashion (only supposed to have use to it on Sunday, but they’ve been using it on Saturday for years), if you take the case to court and sue on behalf of the US and win you can actually make money this way.
    I have no idea whether Mitch actually earned any money in this fashion, but he has definitely taken cases to court where he had the potential to.

  13. Island Adolescent says

    I’d say the short answer of why he is so successful is because of just how proactive he is. He spends a lot of time on this sort of stuff. And by now with his experience he is REALLY good at it.

  14. Acolyte of Sagan says

    PZ, regarding those crimes and their perpetrators in your town: are you saying that the yet-to-be unmasked newspaper vandal is likely to be a ‘good, white, Christian man’?
    Or is this entire article just a ruse to throw the campus police off the scent?

  15. David Marjanović says

    ^ From there:

    County commissioners eventually returned from an hour in closed session with a decision to return the sign as part of a memorial for Titus Hager, who donated land to the park. Also included will be an informational sign letting people know the county does not endorse any religious views.

    That’s embarrassing.

  16. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Just saying the country ‘doesn’t endorse’ the message isn’t enough, based on previous similar cases (please don’t ask me for cites, I suck at looking for actual prior cases). In general, the only way out is the limited public forum (hellooooo, Satanists!) or take them down.