An old Negro preacher prophesied that I would preach someday. This is that day.

First, I want to thank you religious/spiritual people who read this blog because, ironically, it has primarily been your emotional support that has enabled me to go ever deeper into what it is about religion—specifically Christianity—that has led me to hate it so much. In enabling me to do this, you have touched me more deeply than you can know. What little regard I have for your religion, I have because of you. I’ve long heard that the journey is just as important as the destination, and this is what I’m feeling right now because of my gratitude for the kindness of my readers.

I’m not looking to bite anyone’s head off—after all, only a very few of you have ever tried to bite my head off—but I have a question that I really would like your thoughts on. I’m going to refer you to two fairly common stories, those of: Jessica and Damon. Pick one or both, and tell me, where are the good religious people when nonbelievers are being abused for standing up for what they believe? By “good,” I mean the ones who: (a) obey the laws regarding religious observances and displays, (b) believe vicious behavior in the name of God is reprehensible, and (c) consider it their duty to defend their religion against those who use it as a weapon to attack science and violate human rights. I’ll tell you in advance what I think, and then you can let me know if I’m close.

I grew up white in Mississippi during the 50s and 60s. My area was notorious for its racial oppression, yet very few of us got up in the morning with a smile on our faces as we anticipated another day oppressing black people. When the Freedom Riders came, it took relatively few racists to burn the crosses, blow-up the churches, murder people, and so forth while the rest of us sat home watching banana-juggling monkeys on The Ed Sullivan Show. So, why didn’t we protest the violence? Two reasons. One was that the Klan scared us too (I mean, hell, they killed people), and the other was that we saw them at a gut level as our protectors against those who were trying to force change upon us—sort of like junkyard dogs, a bit over the top but good boys nonetheless. Because we could neither embrace the Klan nor reject it, we became a silent party to its evil. This is how I see the good people among Christians and Moslems, in particular, today.

Do I feel anger toward you silent believers? Yes, if I think about it, but I mostly think about other things, the things I see in you that I respect. I just wish you could find the courage to do something about the forces that have co-opted your religions. At the very least, you could speak out for people who are persecuted, even when you disagree with them. You could also oppose oppressive laws as well as the governmental neglect of laws that protect people from oppression, and you could write letters to the newspaper reminding other religious people that they claim to worship a God of love rather than a God of spit, threats, slanders, assaults, and vandalism. To outsiders, it appears that the only religious people who have any real influence in this country are the ones who, if they had their way, would swiftly enact punitive laws against all kinds of people, nonbelievers being just one of them.

As for those among you who have your heads so far in the sand as to consider religion a personal matter, I would say that as long as:

churches are harboring molestors;

nonbelievers are being run out of their homes;

children are being threatened with hellfire and disowned by their families;

school science classes are being supplemented with mythology under the pretense of presenting “all sides of the issues”;

school administrators are ignoring the law by distributing Gideon Bibles, putting religious plaques on walls, and holding prayers at ball games, graduations, and other school ceremonies;

and teachers are giving out religious tracts, leading prayers before tests, and assigning Christian specific projects, all in America, and all in the name of Christ, Christianity, at least, is not a personal matter. (In point of fact, I don’t think any religion that’s worth a damn is a personal matter. If your religion/spirituality doesn’t inspire you to act from an advanced level of enlightenment OUT IN THE WORLD, how is it anything more than an indulgence—or an evil?)

You and I are both under assault. You’re just further down the religious right’s hit list than I. Militant Christians interpret your mainstream Protestantism, your Buddhist meditation retreats, your seasonally-based Wiccanism, your New Age centers of spiritual power, your Kumbaya Catholic masses, and your Native American beliefs about animism, as a weakness if not the work of Satan. Your existence depends upon preventing them from obtaining ever more political power, so where are you, and why don’t you speak out? You know that the oppressors don’t represent you. At best, they represent your fear, and, atheist though I am, I must say that fear is most unworthy of you.

If none of what I’ve written rings a bell, and you’re not about to read articles from infidel magazines, then I pity you because your religion is but a comforting escape, and if this is the case, how can you have any confidence that Christ—or whomever—is going to prefer you to me at the Day of Judgment? Do you really think it’s as easy as crying out, “Oh, Lord, forgive me my sins for I accept you as my Savior,” and letting the rest of the Bible go? Is that what you read in II Timothy 3:12, and is that what those first Christians did; you know, the ones who were burned, boiled, stoned, flayed, crucified, mutilated, thrown over cliffs, and eaten by lions? Are you going to stand alongside them someday and tell Christ that you’re his follower too despite the fact that the only thing you ever did to show it was to go to church on Sunday and buy gifts for a poor family at Christmas?

P.S. I spoke the truth in the title of this post. Truly Westbrook knew me better than I knew myself, but he wouldn’t have guessed in a million years what it was that I would someday preach.

43 comments:

Elisabeth said...

A great sermon. snow, and one I resonate with. Hypocrisy abounds. I have trouble with a man here in Melbourne who several years ago elected to shoot dead a security guard at a medical clinic where he believed doctors practised abortions because of his concern for the unborn foetus. If human life is sacrosanct doesn't that include the already born as well as the unborn and yet to be born.

The history of horror in the likes of the Klan is painful to remember.

Thanks, Snow.

OneOldGoat said...

Well, Snowbrush, good post. One that is sure to cause me to think for a long, long time because some of the stuff you proposed are the very same things that prevented me from buying into religion until a relatively older age.
You ask where we are? Us good Christan people? I can only speak for myself and I would hardly call myself 'good' anything. I'm trying to deal with, stand up against, prevent abuse at a very basic level. Given that like everyone else, I only have 24 hours a day and a lot of that energy is dealing with immediate concerns. At this point in my life, I would hardly call myself a Christian Warrior and I think there are a lot of people in the same boat. I do what I think I'm supposed to do and what I feel is morally right. And I am ashamed to say it, much has nothing to do with what I've learned in the bible because I really haven't read that much. But I do know that there is a great possibility that had I grown up in Mississippi in the same era, I likely would have reacted in the same manner as the other adults. I am sure that it makes me a very bad Christian but I have a hard time being on one side of the fence or another; of seeing anything as totally right or totally wrong.
Like I said Snowbrush, I certainly can't speak for anyone else. I'm not sure why things happen in the crazy ways that they do but as you read in an old post of my own, it all sort of clicked for me and I'm riding on faith now. Would I stand up for something I believe in? I sure would and I sure do. Would I give my life for something other than my kids and parents? Well like I said, I'm not entirely sure if I'm the best Christian.

OneOldGoat said...

Oh and (sorry for an addition), I don't feel that my religion is comfortable shoe or a shield for me. Honestly? It was an old Baptist preacher when I was very, very young that scared the crap out of me. I think that your 'preaching' may just be more beneficial to believers and nonbelievers alike than you think :) You cause us to think and to ask ourselves the tough questions that we don't like to answer. Thanks and have a great weekend - Old Goat

Snowbrush said...

Elisabeth, I must have made 20 changes since you were here. It's like I wrote last time, I'm slipping a little, either that or I'm publishing too quickly.

Old Goat, I added a sentence to my first paragraph right after you were here, and it's an important one. Here it is: "What little regard I have for your religion, I have because of you." I didn't put it in sooner because it didn't occur to me sooner, as obvious as it now seems.

Kay Dennison said...

Evil exists because good people -- whether of faith or not -- remain silent. It's been that way since time immemorial Most folks, religious or otherwise, haven't the cojones to stand up to the status quo.

I've tried myself and found myself standing alone against the world and it's frustrating and lonely road.

Snowbrush said...

"I've tried myself and found myself standing alone against the world and it's frustrating and lonely road."

Yet, Jessica and Damon did it. They weren't trying to prevent anyone from exercising their religion. They were only trying to keep it separate from taxpayer-supported institutions and functions, and for THIS, they were abused! If someone believes that government/religion entanglements are bad, they support actions to prevent it; otherwise, they reject actions to prevent it. But it's not THAT some people reject it, but the WAY they reject it. Many Christians appear to be of the notion that love and justice and obeying the law are all well and good unless they're dealing with people who hold other opinions, at which time all bets are off. There simply isn't any comparison between the sort of oppresson and personal-attacks that they engage in and the behavior of atheists. Atheists are not trying to oppress anyone.

The Elephant's Child said...

Thanks Snowbrush: And education as always. I had not heard of either Jessica or Damon until this post and read their stories in increasing horror and anger. Not only do I hope that I would be able to stand up for my beliefs as they have, I also hope that it is not necessary.

Have you ever had a President who was or who admitted to being an atheist? We are at least reasonably comfortable with politicians and others in the public eye who are atheists. Which does not, as Elisabeth pointed out, mean that we are free of religious hypocrisy or prejudice. Which is sad and frightening.

Snowbrush said...

"Have you ever had a President who was or who admitted to being an atheist?"

Heavens no. A 2006 University of Minnesota study revealed that atheists are the most despised minority in America, so the odds of one becoming president--or even being seriously considered for president--are nil.

Gallup Polls has, from time to time, specifically asked Americans if they would vote for an atheist for president. Here are the numbers who have said "no" over the years:

February 1999: 48%
August 1987: 48%
April 1983: 51%
July 1978: 53%
December 1959: 74%
September 1958: 77%
August 1958: 75%

Again, the odds don't look good.

Teddy Roosevelt was quoted as referring to Thomas Paine (a founding father of this country) as "that dirty little atheist." Since Paine was a deist, Roosevelt not only showed his bigotry but his ignorance.

While George H Bush was still vice-president, he held a news conference in Chicago, on August 27, 1987, at which he was asked the following by Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist News.

Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?

Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.

Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Sherman : Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.

The Elephant's Child said...

Ouch.

Snowbrush said...

"Ouch."

I couldn't remember much about the University of Minnesota Study, so I looked it up. Here's one of the "questions," followed by the answers:

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society...

Atheist: 39.6%
Muslims: 26.3%
Homosexuals: 22.6%
Hispanics: 20%
Conservative Christians: 13.5%
Recent Immigrants: 12.5%
Jews: 7.6%

The Blog Fodder said...

Any religion or subset thereof will seek a monopoly, the same as any other business. Any religion that gains sufficient political power to become THE majority will use any means at its disposal to eliminate competition. It is not the religion so much as the power structure within which wants to consolidate and maintain its hold on power.

At the moment in America and in Canada too, the religious right, fundamentalist protestant, is on a political rise. People are drawn to it for the same reason people were drawn to the Taliban in post-Soviet-invasion Afghanistan.

Where there is economic scarcity, groups will attack each other based on perceived differences. Leaders of religions take advantage of that to encourage attacks based on religion. The greater the scarcity the more ferocious the attacks.

"God" however you view He/She/It is not to be argued with and if He/She/It is on your side, well anything goes. If the entire earth were all one religion or none, we would attack each other based on some other criteria.

Such as your "vision of American society".

Deb said...

Can I just say how much you inspire me? Just to get that out of the way before I comment. Wow.

"Religion". Ugh. It's such a negative word to me. I've been bashed by 'so called Christians' time and time again. I'm in a lesbian marriage, and in the past, my partner and I started attending a church. We sat next to my co-workers (who were having pre-marital sex - not in the pews of course but in a loving relationship lol) one was divorced with kids. (Two sins right there - if your ex isn't deceased, you are not allowed to remarry in the eyes of "religion".) I sat next to another person who loves shrimp scampi. Leviticus says that eating crustaceans of the sea is an abomination to God.. and so is homosexuality. But if you read deeper into Galatians, Jesus had abolished the old law that our sins are washed away. If Christians don't believe that the old law was abolished, then there was no need for Jesus to die for us.
“But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. **For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”**

That one sentence says it all: {“For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”}

Then you have this passage:

“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ-and not because we have obeyed the law. ***For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.***” ~Galatians 2:15-16

I think the most important thing is that we have a personal relationship with God -- not religion. Religion is a bunch of set rules BY people who think they are holier than thou. Sorry for the long comment, but this got my noggin thinking..............

rhymeswithplague said...

First, a little housekeeping (proofreading):

There is no "z" in "prophesied"

Those things on the wall are not religious plagues, they are religious plaques

That out of the way, let me just say:

You would have made one hell of a preacher!

Pardon the gratuitous expletive...

In my own humble, non-judgmental opinion, Jessica's parents seem to be "good" Christians. Damon's parents, unfortunately, do not. They ought to love and support their son regardless of his beliefs.

You are exactly right. All of us, even good Christians, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. II Timothy 3:12 is not a command to be followed but more a statement of what to expect. In that respect, you and Jessica and Damon are more Christian than the comfortable, so-called Christians. I'll tell you what, II Timothy 3:12 doesn't bother me half as much as Revelation 3:15-16.
I'm still trying to live out my faith every day in the way I treat others, even when this puts me at odds with how many Christians think and act. No one knows what a day may bring forth. I may still have to die for my faith.

Milton (the poet) said,

Thousands at His bidding speed
and post o'er land and ocean at His gait;
They also serve who only stand and wait.

You have hit the nail on the head and given me much food for thought today. I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

rhymeswithplague said...

Your picture at the top is perfect, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment....

OneOldGoat said...

Old Goat, I added a sentence..."What little regard I have for your religion, I have because of you."

Sorry to have helped you with that then. I didn't realize that I had to power to influence anyone let alone promote more disregard to 'my' religion.

I am only telling my story about how I am trying to make sense of my life, world, and beyond and certainly anything that I write should not sway anyone.

Jumping back into my rabbit hole -

Goat

Charles Gramlich said...

The thing about it is, man, religious folks are still just human. And humans are a pretty scared, weak bunch. I've been helped by religious people. Also been hurt by 'em. Hypocrisy does bother me, but pretty much all humans are hypocrites at some point, whether it's about their religious believes of something else. For the most part, I find that people are OK when you are dealing with them one on one, but whenever it becomes a social scene the bad stuff begins.

Marion said...

Ahh, Snow, you've gone and done it again. There is so much in this post; yet again, I find myself mulling over it in my mind, finding explanations and some understanding of what drives religious people to do the terrible things they do.

So sad to read about Jessica and Damon...and yet, these same people who ostracized the two would insist freedoms are all.

I cannot understand unkindness. I just don't get it. xx

PhilipH said...

How many 'gods' and how many religions have there been in the last 5000 years?
The ONLY one I would subscribe to is the Sun God! Without that flaming star there would be NO religion - there would be no human being.
This alone tells ME that all religion is as big a 'bah humbug' as Xmas and Santa Claus.

Snowbrush said...

"I didn't realize that I had to power to influence anyone let alone promote more disregard to 'my' religion."

Goat, I meant just the opposite, and it wasn't inspired just by you but by several of my readers.

Rhymes, thank you ever so much for correcting my almost comical misspellings. I used to be a good speller, really I did, but I'm not so good as I used to be, and the darn spell-check on my computer keeps turning itself off. You recognized the painting. I debated using it because what it represented to me was someone being pulled under by evil in this life, which wasn't Michelangelo's intent.

I just got up to put the dog out, and the dog is back in, so I'm off to bed again.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Dear Snowbrush

I've been lurking on your blog for a while having found it via blogrolls on several cancer survivors' websites. I find much what you say interesting.

I remember reading Carl Sagan's "A Candle in the Dark" on the sidelines of a soccer game. I might as well been reading child porn when a few soccer parents realized what I was reading. The book is something I am sure you would enjoy though I susp
ect you have read it.

"That's by that ATHEIST right?"

Anyway, read http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204301404577170733817181646.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Although this article mainly addresses the growing divide between the classes, it does mention how 'secularism' is on the rise particularly among the 'lower' classes so there is a bit of hope though the author clearly does not find this a good thing.

OneOldGoat said...

Charles Gramlich just wrote what I was trying to say. Thanks.

Beau's Mom said...

I will go out of my way to stop abuse even though I'm too old and frail to win a fight that might last too long.

But I will not defend a person who knew they were sticking their arm in a hornet's nest.

Today I had to run a political gauntlet of people waving signs in my face and yelling ELECT RON PAUL.

There is a difference between putting yourself in the position of possible retaliation (after all, the world IS nuts) versus being an innocent bystander and getting whacked.

Kick a dog that is just sitting there, and you'll have my boot up your ass.

Kick a dog that is attacking you, and the scenario (for me) changes.

"Religious" people rarely notice the ten commandments posted at most court houses until one athiest or 'other' religion has a fit over it.

As long as no one INSISTS I I pray, then it's my right NOT to pray, and I don't care whether they do or not.

When it becomes a requirement, then I'll raise hell. Not before.

Snowbrush said...

"The thing about it is, man, religious folks are still just human. And humans are a pretty scared, weak bunch."

This kind of thinking bothers me for two reasons. One is that Christians, at least, claim to have the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, which would surely suggest that they should behave better than people who lack that comfort and guidance. The second is that it's the religious people who are the oppressors. Atheists--and other groups that are persecuted by Christians--couldn't oppress anyone if they wanted to, and I have never found one who did. Atheists truly don't care if you practice your religion, just so long as you aren't coercive about it. The one area about which they might disagree among themselves in this regard is the rearing of children, which is natural since many if not most atheists consider themselves to have been victims of their religious upbringing. I count myself among them, although my religion, restrictive though it was, was not in the league of groups like the Mormons or Jehovah's Witness.

Selma said...

The best Christians I know are those who combine ideology and action and don't necessarily define themselves as Christians. ie., they live as one would imagine a Christian would without preaching and judgement. Then there is my sister who can quote everything Jesus ever said ad infinitum but would walk past a dying man in the street if she thought he was a sinner.

I was raised as a very strict Catholic but no longer practise any kind of faith. My cousin, who was like a twin brother to me,was abused by a priest and as an adult committed suicide. I know the actions of one man should not demonize an entire religion but I don't think I'll ever be able to come to terms with what happened to my cousin. It is like a splinter of ice in my heart. I really appreciate your point of view and your thoughtful consideration of this topic.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

While I cannot stand the way the kids in your examples were treated, the one thing I dislike about atheists is... it seems to be the one time MINORITY rules. ONE person doesn't like it so 99 have to bow to their wishes??? To me, there is nothing wrong with asking folks to bow their head in prayer at a graduation and having a moment of silence for the non believers.

I've attended Catholic mass and Jewish temple and even Indian religious ceremonies, while I don't necessarily believe what is being said or prayed about, I was raised to be polite. I wouldn't expect them to change simply because I was there.

kylie said...

hmmmm and you just hit on the reason why i hesitate to identify as Christian: I can never live up to what i should be.

i have read this post and comments so many times and not known what to say so this time round i will respond to your comments on the Holy Spirit. i was born and raised in the church and i have known the dogma all my life but i guess i'm slow on the uptake because it is only now, at 40, that i have managed to catch a tiny glimpse of what the Holy Spirit can do.

It really is true that we are all human with very human frailties, lack of self belief or whatever it is that stops us from stepping out.

now that i have defended the lack of real passion on the part of many Christians let me say that there are many many many who just dont measure up in even the most elemental ways, they wear their "Christianity" as some kind of badge of righteousness, some kind of licence to act like they are better than everyone else. (It happens here in Australia but it seems to be particularly rife in the US.)
In my book these church attending fakes are as bad as any regular villain, if not worse because they lack the humility of the garden variety atheist/agnostic/secular person.

hahaha and i have to laugh at myself, i havent been judgemental here at all, now have i?

Snowbrush said...

"the one thing I dislike about atheists is... it seems to be the one time MINORITY rules. ONE person doesn't like it so 99 have to bow to their wishes???"

I don't know if you believe the majority should hold complete power over every aspect of life or just over religious observances at taxpayer supported functions, but there are countless examples of the majority doing dreadful things to members of such minorities as they considered a threat to their interests. In America, the Constitution and its various amendments have sought to prevent ochlocracy (the unbridled power of the majority) by supporting the notion that individuals have "inalienable rights" that the majority cannot ethically abridge. In recognition of this, the courts have commonly found that the kinds of oppressive activities that I referred to in this post are unconstitutional. Yet, I often receive email forwardings in which members of one minority or another are demonized for not remaining silent while the majority has its way, the implication being that anything short of uncomplaining acquiescence is undemocratic and therefore un-American.

The term "tyranny of the majority" goes back to Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" (1835). He considered it such a threat to freedom in this country that he used the term as the title of a section of his book.

rhymeswithplague said...

I learned a new word today: ochlocracy.

Snow, where does Joseph Stalin fit into your declaration that atheists couldn't oppress people even if they wanted to? I'm just sayin'.... You seem to have selective myopia, as do all of us, I guess.

As long as the world is divided into "us" and "them" there will be people trying to destroy "them".... There is no "them". All of us are in this thing called life together.

I know that Jesus said we should love our enemies, but I confess that I have not yet become overly fond of any radical Islamist jihadist terrorists who want to blow us up. Have you?

Snowbrush said...

Societal-level oppression is impossible for American atheists because their numbers are too low. However, I have never met an atheist who wanted to oppress religious people, although I can't say whether this was because they valued individual liberty too much or because they thought oppression would be counterproductive. As for Stalin, did he oppress people because he was atheist, a Communist, or insanely paranoid? I would suggest number three. You might recall that Lenin--and pretty much everyone else who knew him--was horrified by Stalin, and he only rose to power because Lenin died before he could be stripped of his position. When Stalin did take over leadership, his victims were often other Communists who were also atheists, and he had them killed because he wanted to eliminate any and everyone who he--in his paranoid fantasies--considered a potential threat.

Ideologues of any stipe are dangerous. But, Rhymes, atheism isn't an ideology, and this makes it exceedingly unlikely that atheists would oppress people IN THE NAME OF ATHEISM. Think of atheism this way. You're a Methodist Christian. This means that you don't believe in Allah, Ishtar, Brahman, or thousands of other gods. I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in these thousands of other gods either, but neither do I believe in your god. At its most basic level, this is all that atheism means. It doesn't mean that I'm smarter, kinder, or more fair-minded than you; it just means that I don't believe in supernatural entities. It's not a belief system anymore than not believing in ghosts is a belief system.

"I know that Jesus said we should love our enemies, but I confess that I have not yet become overly fond of any radical Islamist jihadist terrorists who want to blow us up. Have you?"

I don't put Christian radicals on one side of a line (the good side) and Islamic radicals on the other. To me, they're equally misguided and, when they have the law behind them, equally dangerous. I think it's common for Christians to forget that their religious predecessors tortured and killed millions of people, or at least to think of such crimes as something that's safely tucked away in the past and couldn't happen again. I have every confidence that mass murder and imprisonment could happen again because of the viciousness I hear from the Christian right. I listen to these Republican presidential hopefuls, and I'm horrified. I wouldn't put anything past these people if they held the kind of power that Stalin achieved.

rhymeswithplague said...

This horror that you speak of I associate with the radical Marxist Democrat left -- you know, people like President Obama's friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, in whose Chicago home he began his political career.

We thought beheading was safely tucked away in the past too until Daniel Pearl was killed on live television.

The Bipolar Diva said...

Hello my friend, you know my spiritual views and of my faith. I don't consider it religion because in my mind "religion" is binding and legalism. It holds people in bondage no mater the denomination, the belief, the dogma, etc.
But I will say I have the same contempt for the people that call themselves christians that trample on the rights of others, that's not our place. Yes I stand up for injustice no matter the origin. I think Matthew 7:1 pretty much sums it up. I'm not about to ever force my beliefs on anyone and I don't speak of them unless asked. I don't attend church because of the back biting and judgement I see from so called christians. they give people like me a bad name and I want nothing to do with them. I'm in no way proclaiming myself perfect, you know me too well for that and you know all of my imperfections. How could I dare judge someone else? How could I not stand up for the rights of others when I'm so liberal with my rights? How can I not love unconditionally, I admit, I do have a hard time with that one sometimes though. But who people are, or what they believe is much less important to me than their character no matter what path in life they have chosen. Am I even making sense here? I'm medicated to the hilt today and had to read your post three or four times to try to figure out what you were saying, not because of how you wrote it, but because my mind is foggy today. I hope I didn't miss the mark too much though.
With much love and respect my friend, with much love and respect.

Myrna R. said...

Wow. I tried reading all the comments then I think I lost track of your post. You sure can write well to stimulate thought. I thank you for that. You're a good preacher. You have good reason for your criticisms and I agree with many of them. I'm not religious and frankly I've been spending much time questioning much of what I thought was spiritual. I think many people are struggling to be sincere, others seem blind to the things they profess, which only serve to increase division.

Kerry said...

Very strong, Snow, very strong.

Snowbrush said...

"the one thing I dislike about atheists is... it seems to be the one time MINORITY rules. ONE person doesn't like it so 99 have to bow to their wishes???"

I thought this statement a good bit even after I addressed it (somewhat less graciously than I might have done). I knew, of course, that people felt this way, and I want my blog to be open to diverse opinions, but that doesn't mean that I'm beyond being taken aback by some of you just I'm sure some of you are taken aback by me. One of the virtues that has always been an ideal in America--though seldom an actuality--is that no one need keep his mouth shut for reasons of race, gender, political convictions, and so forth. Surely, if freedom of speech is our ideal, then people who are in the minority--even the tiniest minority--have as much right to voice their opinions as anyone. To get angry at their viewpoint is one thing, but to suggest that they're wrong in expressing their viewpoint is counter to what I would consider the preeminent American virtue. I would add to this thought the observation that, if it is wrong for one person, however unpopular, to express his opinion, then what is to protect other people from the same fate? Another thought that seems important to me is that every reform movement that I can think of started with just one person or at most a small group of people, so to deny that one person the freedom to express his or her opinion is to stand in the way of change.

Snowbrush said...

"I don't consider it religion because in my mind "religion" is binding and legalism."

You live in the US too, so you know who Dr. Laura is, of course, but for those in other countries, she's an advice giving radio host who is an Orthodox Jew and, I would guess, a political conservative. Dr. Laura believes that spirituality has to be combined with religion because if you try to pursue it in the absence of a religion, what you end up with is a system of vague ideas unaccompanied by obligation, and therefore an indulgence rather than a pathway to God. If I saw religious people taking more responsibility, I might agree with her. For my own part, I draw little distinction between spirituality and religion. On the one hand, "spiritual" people are generally harmless, whereas religious people can be very dangerous indeed, politically and sometimes physically, yet spiritual people are hard to pin down. They tend to take a superficial smattering of beliefs from a lot of different places, and they're no more bothered by the absence of logic and evidence (other than anecdotal) than are religious people. I say this because both groups usually act as if I'm being insufferably rude when I ask them to provide hard evidence for what they believe. By way of contrast, a great many atheists are so given to logic and evidence that it's very hard to engage them on any other level. It is for this reason, I suppose, that I often prefer the company of religious liberals to that of atheists.

rhymeswithplague said...

Faith and logic are incompatible, I think. If something can be fully explained with logic, faith is not necessary).

However, neither faith and stupidity nor logic and stupidity are incompatible.

You heard it here first.

Snowbrush said...

"Faith and logic are incompatible, I think. If something can be fully explained with logic, faith is not necessary)."

If you extend logic to include verifiable evidence, then I would say that the only justifiable reason for having faith in someone would be a sound history of trustworthy behavior on their part. Faith that exists in the absence of such performance is simply wishful thinking.

ellen abbott said...

Wow. I'm sorry I missed this one. I don't know how it slipped past me. Excellent. that's all I can say, just excellent. Now I have to go back and read all the comments.

All Consuming said...

You're so talented you know. So eloquent. And brave too I think. It's brave to speak so strongly about something you believe to be true, especially when you know many of your readers will disagree. My fingers are sore as hell so not much from me I'm afraid and no posts either for the minute. Take care dearie xx

Stafford Ray said...

It seems many of us have a gene for religious belief (faith). I am not inventing this, there have been experiments that show the connection. Of course instincts do not necessarily have a direct link to fact, but they do effect our behaviour.
So, an Atheist or even a religious believer in evolution must ask; "In what ways does faith give the faithful a survival advantage?"
I have been giving this a lot of thought and the answers I came up with are not pretty.
You can e-mail me for a copy of a recently written essay on that topic if you like.

BerlinerinPoet said...

This is Heather from Ben Ditty's blog "Raving Moonbat" (I think?): Are these the links you wanted me to look at, because...it looks like the kids got some award for being Atheists? I'm not sure about the viciousness...it's too bad the young woman was removed from her school.

Ed Pilolla said...

boy, are you right. silence is the the partner of the complicit. it's one thing to have marauding gangs in the neighborhood that one is silent about. that's more than understandable. but we cannot be a christian nation and kill the number of people we do. all these alleged christians support these alleged wars and presto, what does that give us: death. the church is complicit with its silence, as they always have been, as are the conformists who hope going to church once a week will save them. but what else is new? forget the 'wars' for a moment. our healthcare system is anti-poor. our housing policies are anti-poor. we jail the homeless for being homeless by having anti-camping laws. people call themselves christians but do nothing to stand up for the poor. nothing. that's what jesus was all about. people are soft, myself included. thank god i'm not as soft as the conformists. that's why i don't go to church. i will not be associated with the scores of alleged 'christians.'

Ed Pilolla said...

i want to add there are a few religious groups that consistently stand up against systemic murder and oppression, like the quakers and catholic workers. but these are tiny numbers of people and the exception that proves the rule.