Archive for the ‘Secularism’Category

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reason

As you know, today is the national holiday celebrating the life and contributions of a truly great man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. MLKJ was a Christian leader who led a nonviolent movement to bring an end to discrimination and segregation against people of color in the United States. He also passionately protested for workers’ rights. He was assassinated in Memphis, TN.

Although many Southern Christians did not accept King’s message in his day, and many today still try to take holidays celebrating Civil War rebels like Robert E. Lee instead of celebrating the “communist” civil rights leader, it seems that most Christians have come to celebrate his achievements and usher him in as one of the great Christian leaders of peace and freedom in America.

While I have no doubt concerning King’s dedication to faith, I do feel quite strongly that many of his viewpoints, actions, and arguments come from reason-based ethics rather than the morality found within the Bible. The reason-based ethics he used undoubtedly helped to progress (or evolve) modern liberal Christianity into the form we know it today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is truly a figure any kind of humanist can appreciate.

The main point of focus will be Dr. King’s view of justice compared to what is actually written in scripture.

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16

01 2012

Manifesto of a Future Secular Mother

The world makes no promises, and the promises of people are unreliable. However, if all goes well, I’ll be a mother in seven months, and there are values that I want to give to my child. There are also values that I would like to protect my child from falling victim to. Although our current world can be a terrible place for all people, I do, with great sincerity, believe that it is on the brink of getting better. Helping to foster the next generation is a great honor and a humbling task.

1.Rejecting the Judgment Cult

One of the most important downfalls in life I hope to protect my child from is our judgment cult. When I say, “Judgment cult,” I do not mean merely America’s Judeo-Christian judgments and authoritarianism, but I also want to include the general unwelcome reception to new ideas, hard questions, and of making mistakes in general. This will be difficult on my part, as I was raised in a cult of judgment. Judgment is something that takes place in society, but, in my home, I want my child to be able to make honest mistakes and grow from them, to ask honest questions and learn from them, and to express even disconcerting ideas and build on them. I want my child to have a home that is a safe haven for mental and emotional growth, as peers and the rest of the world can provide an adequate amount of “judgment” for each person.

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15

01 2012

No True Christian – Ahlquist’s Harassers Just Weren’t! (Or were they? Screenshots)

After anyone repeats something disgusting that a Christian has said or done, a chorus of Christians rise to the call:

  • They’re not REAL Christians, or they wouldn’t SAY that!
  • They’re PRETENDING to be Christians!
  • That doesn’t represent Christianity! They’re just young/hateful/angry.
  • You judgmental atheists are just saying they’re Christians. No way!

The fallacy here, as many know, is called “No True Scotsman.” What does it take to show that a person is a Christian? What does it matter to other Christians, except that it shows Christianity does not, in fact, make one a good person?

The term “Christian” means, simply, a follower of Jesus Christ. One expects, perhaps naively, that a Christian knows the major parts of the Bible. One expects that a Christian goes to church. That a Christian prays and respects the prayer of others. The list can go on, but, most of all, since Christians admittedly are all sinners, a Christian is a person who claims to follow Jesus as the son of a Creator God and likely believes in concepts like Heaven and Hell.

So, on the front-end, it isn’t surprising that a number of people, after reading the vile harassment of Jessica Ahlquist by teenaged Christians (and some adults), began that same, tired song and dance: “They’re NOT REAL Christians!”

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14

01 2012

Why Christians Want Plaintiffs’ Identities – The Ahlquist Effect

One of the first questions asked by the media and residents in small-town religious disputes is, “Who is the offended complainer?” Some organizations, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, file complaints on behalf of anonymous parties within towns or cities. For instance, they’ve filed complaints against the town of Whiteville, TN (now a lawsuit) for an illegal cross placed atop a water tower, and they’ve filed complaints against schools that violate the separation of church and state by leading students in prayer or otherwise endorsing religion.

As a member of a community not unlike those where anonymous complaints have been filed, I understand the need and want for anonymity. Many people become nasty when their traditions, even if illegal, are threatened or called out for being wrong. Most Christians who demand to know the names of individuals who complain about their own town traditions make veiled threats to said-person’s safety without knowing the identity. They often claim that no one would really try to harm that dissenting individual–that they would just like to know that it isn’t “outsiders” meddling with their affairs and that they’d like to work it out.

But is that all that these Christians who demand to know names and faces really want?

Fast-forward to the case of Cranston High School’s prayer banner. The plaintiff? High school student Jessica Ahlquist. Since her name was made public, anyone who is curious about how a 16-year-old girl would be treated if she challenged her school’s religious tradition now knows the truth: It’s not that these Christians care where the plaintiff lives; it’s that they want to make sure that the religious idea of karma or the Biblical notion “reap what you sew” is fully carried out by their violent counterparts.

A few people actually made posts demanding that Jessica Ahlquist be dealt the hand that was “coming to her.”

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13

01 2012

A Matter of Conscience (Religious Freedom Commission pt 1)

Not long after claiming he will subpoena or arrest judges who do not fall in line with the religious right’s view of the Constitution, Newt Gingrich has revealed the commission that will be responsible for investigating such claims be they against courts or school. Newt Gingrich’s campaign has quite radically proposed an “On-day-one Executive Order” to create a Presidential Commission on Religious Freedom with the purpose of examining and documenting “threats or impediments to religious freedom in the United States and to propose steps for reaffirming and protecting the foundational principle of freedom of thought,conscience, and religious belief upon which our republic is built and thrives.”

On the surface, we all agree that free thought (and speech), conscience, and belief are important principles–and, indeed, principles this country needs in order to survive. The goals of Gingrich’s commission, however, are to claim discrimination based on one’s religious beliefs (for instance, against homosexuals) and other such “faith-based” actions are legally protected by the First Amendment.

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22

12 2011

What Does an Atheist Do on Christmas?

I’m sometimes stricken by the response of many Christians that atheists do not (or should not) celebrate Christmas–or whatever freethinkers like to call December 24-25–as though there is some sort of Christian monopoly on Christmas traditions and festivities. I assume that sort of ignorance comes from television or the fact that many people of other faiths, and even some sects of Christianity, do not celebrate Christmas. And, it is true, there are some atheists who prefer to do nothing on Christmas; however, most atheists partake in some sort of festivity on the secular, federal holiday.

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18

12 2011

Why Christians Need the War on Christmas

What is it about Christmastime that puts so many Christians on edge about the importance of their religion in American culture? Could the so-called War on Christmas be more of a blame-game for Christianity’s own failures than a war? Could Christians actually need the War on Christmas (and not just because the Bible told them they’d be persecuted)? How else could the paranoid position that there is an atheistic effort to stop all businesses from saying, “Merry Christmas,” and remove “Christ” from all things solstice come about?

Here is one woman who, weeks before children put on their Halloween costumes, recorded a trip to a store she plans to boycott (in following commands by the American Family Association) because it had too much “holiday” merchandise but nothing mentioning Jesus Christ:

After filing a complaint in 2010, the Freedom From Religion Foundation appeared to draw first blood by requesting that Ellwood City, PA cease to place a nativity scene in front of the municipal building or to add secular decorations around it along with a banner from FFRF. Currently, the city has added other legendary Christmas symbols, like reindeer, to the lawn but has refused to wave the FFRF banner. However, far from demanding that citizens remove all manger scenes or stop saying, “Merry Christmas,” they merely asked that citizens stop insisting that the government cater to their personal religious rituals.

One resident of Ellwood had this to say:

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04

12 2011

Pop Culture Atheism – Changing Stereotypes

In the 1977 novel Bridge to Terabithia, a fifth-grade boy named Jess becomes friends with his new neighbor: An intelligent, creative, talented, and athletic girl who also happens to be an atheist. Leslie of Terabithia is a lovable child, admired by the main character and unafraid to be true to herself. Her senseless death in the novel has tugged on heartstrings for nearly 35 years and also raised the question of whether God would send a little girl to Hell simply for not believing in Him. However, Leslie Burke isn’t the atheist of American Pop Culture, and, so, was never placed there. In fact,  in the 2007 film adaptation (which also did not gain extraordinary reviews), her atheism was downplayed to only non-Christian or deistic beliefs.

After all, with America’s mainstream understanding of atheism, how could a mature, well-adjusted child atheist with a Christian best friend be accepted? Characters with unexpected combinations of traits and beliefs take longer to become popular because they challenge well-established ideas and norms. This is true for atheists, for any religion, and for any other group people have opinions about. Characters which confirm and play on mainstream beliefs about the way the world and society work are far better for the wallets of writers and producers, so, if most Americans believe most atheists are out of touch intellectuals who exist on the fringes of society, then this is the way they’ll be cast.

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30

11 2011

One Nation Divisible?

President Obama supports the use of the words “under God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance and “In God we Trust’ on our currency. These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life, while we continue to recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans.

Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois , Official White House Response to Edit the Pledge of Allegiance to remove the phrase “Under God”.

If it wasn’t immediately obvious, we should all be able to clearly see the We the People petitions for the public relations stunts they really are.

To Joshua DuBois’s statement, that the inclusion of under God is needed to “represent the important role religion plays in American public life,” the following questions should also be asked:

  • To which Americans does religion play an important role in public life?
  • Why are those Americans being favored by the White House?
  • If the purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance is to “represent the important role” which certain practices and beliefs play in “American public life,” should we not also mention other aspects of culture such as shopping, pizza, or divorce?
  • Why must [atheist moment ahead] a fictitious God be inserted as “important” when most people can’t even decide what said God is, does, likes, dislikes, or if it exists at all?

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29

10 2011

God Wills It – From Winds to Rape

A Vow to be less politically correct, for the sake of victims

Not too long ago, a monstrous tornado whipped through much of the South, leaving many communities in shambles–or flattened. The destruction and loss of life was saddening, but, having a number of friends from across the various states, I became disturbed by “survivor” comments that began popping up on news stories and status updates online and in phone calls. One co-worker even asked me, “Don’t you have family near there? Are they okay?”

“Yes and yes,” I replied. “They got a little wind damage, but the tornado didn’t touch down on them.”

“Praise the Lord!” she replied. Read the rest of this entry →

18

10 2011