Sic semper tyrannis

Doyd was 92. Whenever I phoned, his wife would answer and tell him it was me. “Hello, my friend,” he would say as my heart leaped for joy. Well, that’s over. Never again.

I would hate funerals anyway, but I hate them a lot more when they’re religious funerals, and Doyd’s was about as religious as they get. Did the pastor actually believe that all of Doyd’s friends were conservative Christians, or did he just not care? Was that why he opened the service by saying, “We are gathered to proclaim Christ crucified…” [Silly me, I thought we were “gathered” to bury Doyd.] And is that why everyone was instructed to recite the Lord’s prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed, and to make other Christian professions of belief? It’s one thing for someone like myself to have to remain silent through an occasional avowal of faith, but I had to remain silent through the entire service because there was literally nothing that I could repeat in good conscience.

I think that being an atheist is like being deaf in that people don’t make a point of excluding you, but you are excluded just the same. In America, I am excluded every time the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, or “God Bless America” is sung, or prayers are said at otherwise secular events, or my fellow jurors take an oath with one hand upon a Bible, or I am taxed to support religious groups, or I am forced to use currency that contains a statement of religious belief. At every turn, I am expected to either participate in religious ritual, or to remain respectfully silent during religious ritual.

To better understand how this feels, imagine that all of this worship was directed at Allah. How would YOU (I’m assuming that I have no Moslem readers) feel about saying “One Nation Under Allah,” as part of the Pledge of Allegiance, or watching your president take the oath of office on a Koran? How would you feel if your money contained the words “In Allah We Trust,” or your tax dollars went to Moslem clergymen and Moslem charities? When you attended a city council meeting and was instructed to kneel toward Mecca, would you be okay with that, and would you instruct those who complained that they should “live and let live,” which is how some of you have instructed me?

There is no cow more sacred in this culture than a respect for religion, yet there is no corresponding obligation on the part of the religious to respect those of us who hold opposing views. And, to tell you the truth, I think this whole thing about respecting one another’s religion is just so much politically correct hypocrisy anyway because each of them thinks that they’re at least a shade closer to god than the rest, and even this is only true for the ones who don’t think the rest are going to hell in a hand-basket.

This situation in Florida where a preacher is planning to burn Korans on September 11. No matter what you think about whether that’s a good idea, tell me this. Do you respect Islam? Government officials are forever assuring us that Islam is a “religion of peace,” yet every time I turn around, Moslems all over the world are doing the same thing that Christians all over the world used to do (and will probably do again someday), which is to say that they resort to intimidation and murder when they don’t get their way. Truly, there is no complaint too trivial to inspire them to violence, and I don’t just mean one or two nutcases—I mean millions of nutcases.

Indeed, it is precisely because Islam is anything but a religion of peace that the U.S. government is putting so much pressure on that preacher to call off his book burning. For my part, I hope he goes through with it. Let’s put the cards on the table. Let’s show everyone who is naïve enough to maintain any illusion about the peacefulness of Islam exactly what happens when a citizen of the United States exercises his Constitutional right to burn any book he pleases. I would just like to see him throw in a few Bibles and top the pile off with an American flag and assorted other symbols of tyranny. If god doesn’t like it, then how about letting god stand up for himself for a change? He has been allowing his representatives on earth to murder one another to no avail for thousands of years, so how about we all step aside and give him a chance to get off his duff, and, well, if he can’t get off his duff, then, just maybe, he has no duff. Just maybe, he’s not even real.


Dion said...

All three of the Abrahamic religions continue to kill. All are blood thirty... power hungry... my religion is best rabble. The Iraqis and Afghans probably look to the American war machine as a Christian instrument with Zionist backing. The blow-back will be a dose of Shock n Awe coming back at America. I'm feeling anxious lately.

ellen abbott said...

I've always thought that religion was the worst thing that happened to humans.

Skepticat said...

I stand with those who say that people deserve respect but beliefs deserve none. I do not respect Islam, Christianity or any other religion. I'd be happy to see them all go the way of the dino - to see humanity throw off these shackles of superstitious belief.

These people have a right to their beliefs but we have just as much right to mock and debunk those beliefs. I think the First Amendment right to free speech is far more valuable than someone's perceived "right" not to be offended.

So, yes, I agree with you and I know all too well what you mean about how being an atheist is like being deaf. Especially here in the South where "hearing" is seen as an especially virtuous thing.

kylie said...

i wonder why on earth some pastor thinks that burning korans is acceptable. what ever happened to "do unto others as you would have done to you"?
i find that type of Christianity moronic. and hypocritical.
and you're right, God can stand up for himself and if He doesnt exist none of it matters.


Simone said...

Hi Snowbrush,
I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of an Athiest at a Christian Funeral. I think if I loved the person who had just passed, I would respect his beliefs, as part of him. I would not take it personal, because this man's funeral was about him, not about you. (or me, supposing I was you). However, I also think that if you (OR I) did not believe in any religion or God, what was said, should probably just roll off your back (my back) as bunk.

Sometimes, for love and friendship, we just have to accept people for who they are, no matter what they believe.


kj said...

i can't agree with you, snow. perhaps because i wouldn't be bothered praying to allah because i am willing to pray to anyone as long as the intent is honorable.

and the religion of islam: well, i'm no fan of any religion, certainly not my catholic upbringing. but i respect tradition and i respect anyone's right to practice it as they wish, again, as long as the intent is one of 'do no harm.'

i deplore the symbolic burning of the koran, as i deplore the burning of the american flag or the christian bible. i deplore use of the 'n' word and i deplore when people let dualistic thinking make one group right and one group wrong.

okay, i'm hopping off my soapbox and heading to bed. you are going to get some interesting comments here. i hope i have the balance to read them!


Strayer said...

I had a friend who killed himself in the mental health system. He was no saint. He as a homosexual, raised an Adventist. He told his mother bathed him until he was 17 and dressed him in pink. But then he was denounced and ridiculed by his Adventist church, went to Europe, became a very successful hair dresser, got into drugs in Portland, very messed up man who finally killed himself. I went to the funeral. It was horrible. Not only did the SDA pastor make fun of Rob's profession but also of his sexual identity, then went on into an unrelated sermon. It's ridiculous, arrogant, disrespectful, egotistical. I left several messages at the Adventist church that night, as is my way when upset, condemning them to hell, and I wish there was one waiting for them.

I'm sorry your friend died. When was this? What an asshole arrogant preacher out of touch with even how to respect the dead.

The Blog Fodder said...

Snowbrush, I detest religious funerals too, where the preacher or priest uses it as an opportunity to lambaste the sinners.

In the last 8 years, I lost four people, very close to me. My parents, my wife Ella and my cousin. All deeply religious but the remembrance services celebrated their lives. The organizers carefully controlled the religious content because people in attendance were of many different beliefs.

On the other hand, when you are 92, you ought to be bale to go out any way you want, I guess.

I'm of two minds about Christian symbols as you complain about having to observe. In 1992, schools in St Petersburg were once again allowed to observe Christmas even as schools in Edmonton Canada were banned from it.

Not sure how I'd make out as a christian in a muslim society.

Natalie said...

Hmm......I am still feeling livid about my aunt's funeral. The Catholics moved in and took over and it didn't reflect her at all. I found it hard to be present and still throughout the service because it all seemed so bloody wrong.

Gaston Studio said...

People should be allowed to anything they want as long as it's legal and they consider their consequences. I don't personally think this pastor is considering the consequences and the consequences will be bad for America.

Think of how Al Jazeera will televise this... totally edited to assure fanatical Muslims that Americans are truely the demons they believe them to be.

This will put our serving military in further danger; do they really need further danger?

Robin said...

Snow, I usually steer clear of religous topics, but I agree with everything Simone said.... you were there to honour your friend's memory... I am sure his family was happy you made the effort.... your friendship was the most important thing to celebrate on that day...

I am glad you went.


♥ Robin ♥

Snowbrush said...

Dion and Ellen, I agree with you both.

Skepticat: "These people have a right to their beliefs but we have just as much right to mock and debunk those beliefs."

I deplore the notion that everyone is supposed to nod their heads piously upon hearing absurdities as long as those absurdities carry the title of religion.

KJ said: "i respect tradition and i respect anyone's right to practice it as they wish, again, as long as the intent is one of 'do no harm."

My friend, I will speak bluntly because I believe such liberal tolerance as you espouse has the potential to create more problems than it solves.

I have no reason to believe that female "circumcision" is done with an intent to harm, or that little girls are married at twelve or denied an education with an intent to harm. Even when people are stoned to death for adultery, or buses are blown up by suicide bombers, the intent is not to harm but to make the world happier and safer in some idyllic tomorrow (much as when parents take their child to the dentist). As I see it, you come from a position that is as faith-based as any religion when you assume that your definition of harm is anywhere near universal, or when you suggest that it doesn't matter which "honorable god" people worship since they are all facets of the one true god. In regard to the latter, you (a) assume that there is one true god, and (b) you presume that you know the impetus behind other people's religions better than they do. For Islam, Mormonism, the church of my childhood, and many other religions, any religion but their own is "a loathsome creation of sinful man," "an abomination before God," and "a stench in his nostrils." If, knowing this, you have no trouble worshiping Allah, I can but leave it to you to do so.

KJ said: "i deplore when people let dualistic thinking make one group right and one group wrong."

Show me then where the Khmer Rouge, or the Spanish Inquisition, or the Nazis under Hitler, or the Communist Party under Stalin, or North Korea under Kim Il-sung, or Afghanistan under the Taliban was right. Please. I implore you. True, Hitler introduced the Volkswagen Beetle and the Autobahn, but I trust that you have things more substantive than that in mind, and I really would like to know what they are.

I've got to run, and will try to catch up with other comments later.

nollyposh said...

What about the Pope saying that a send off in a church should NOT be a celebration of a person's life!!! What ThA? What the hell (opps!) does he think his God put us here for in the first place anyway? To speak only when spoken to i guess? Sheesh! When it's my turn (again *wink*)i wanna be put on a small boat, out to sea and set alight and while the last of me is turned to ashes, for folks to sit on the sand and to have a few drinks and a bit of a larf about the silly things we did together X:-)

kj said...

snow, you are talking about ACTS and i am talking about PRAYER. there is a world of difference in my mind.

you can be damn damn damn sure that i agree with you about every aberration and horrible act you refer to here. i work in a field where i witness injustice and stupidity and neglect and abuse. i am hardly a bleeding heart liberal.

there is no need to feel badly about your comment to me, snow. i hope you don't.


Bernie said...

Hi Snow, I have no idea why I keep coming back here as I am very pleased to be Christian, I love to pray and I believe in life after death.....what I don't believe is that I force my opinions on anyone else. I am who I am and it is what it is.......I wish you peace Snow, you need some calm in your life, you deserve to be loved and you have a right to your beliefs.
Be well my friend and happy...Hugs

Stafford Ray said...

I came the first timer beacause dana sent me (she said you woudl like that) but returned because I sense a fellow traveller.

In court, swear your oath on 'The God Delusion' by Dawkins.
For your funeral, hire a good celebrant who will guide your frinds to speak to each other about you and so ease their grief without some idiot in a funny hat scaring the shit out of them with threats of what will happen if they don't subscribe to his particlar brand of myth or practice his rituals.

The pain you suffer is horrific and I just hope you can find a way out of that nightmare. Meanwhile take the pills. Pain was not sent by God to punish you, so there is no reason ro suffer if it is avoidable.

Mate, I might live as far away from you as is physically possible but i feel close to you. Truth is rare.

Joe Todd said...

Check out what the law in Afghanistan is for a Muslim converting to Christianity.. Always enjoy all your posts and good luck with the pain. I hope you are able to find something that really works

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have heard some people say that Islam is today where Christianity was during the Dark Ages. The implication is that Islam will get over it's current state of Inquisition and enter it's own Renaissance period. It's not too soon for me, anyway.

The IRA in Northern Ireland finally renounced violence as an instrument of change largely because the realized that it wasn't working, it didn't promote their cause; just the opposite. Again, some Terrorist Watchers are feeling that Islam is slowly coming to the same conclusion.

I think we need Dr. Phil to give the official response to Islamic terrorist attacks by asking them: "So how's that working for ya-all?"

C Woods said...

Hi Snowbrush,
So much has been going on in my life that I haven't been keeping up with my own blog, let alone yours. But glad to see you are still outspoken and entertaining.

Sorry about your dog. We just found out our cat has cancer, too. It is a vaccine-related sarcoma behind her neck where injections are given. Apparently it spreads like wildfire. We had the same dilemma, put her through painful surgery that will probably cause it to spread faster, or make her as comfortable as possible until she lets us know it is time to let her go. We chose the latter.

I'm always sorry to hear you are still in pain. I choose to hope medical science has developed relief for chronic pain. I hope you and your doctor can come up with a solution for you.