I answer my detractors: Part I

A judge permitted this Catholic statue to remain on federal
land in Montana because it "does not reflect a religious purpose."

Every atheist who criticizes religion is criticized for those criticisms on two counts. (1) If you don’t believe in God, religion is none of your business. (2) You don't criticize every form of religion equally, so you're obviously ignorant of the diversity within the religious community. I will use my next two posts to address these criticisms.

To argue that the only people affected by religion are those who are religious is to display an astonishing degree of ignorance when not a day passes on which people who aren’t religious or who belong to the wrong religion are assaulted, beaten, beheaded, blown to pieces, censured, cursed, disowned, fined, fired, imprisoned, molested, ostracized, raped, ridiculed, run out of town, shot, stoned, taxed, threatened, or otherwise persecuted in the name of one God of Love or another. Granted, Moslems commit the worst of the atrocities, but religious oppression exists everywhere that religion exists. Even so, I’ll limit the rest of this post to the harm done by the dominant political face of modern American Christianity, primarily as it relates to federal and state government.

(1) In 1954 (the same year that “under God” was put in the Pledge of Allegiance, and two years before “In God We Trust” was put on money), Congress enacted 26 U.S. Code § 107. This law has been a boon to “ministers of the Gospel” because it exempts them from paying income taxes on their housing expenses. It has likewise been a boon to churches because they can get by with paying less to clergy. The rest of us currently pay an additional $700-million in taxes to make up the deficit. Why were members of the clergy given such a break? Because it was the era of the nuclear arms race and the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the government wanted to curry God’s favor while standing strong against “Godless Communism.”

(2) Churches avoid taxes by calling themselves charities. I say calling themselves charities because they enjoy significant perks over other charities, perks that cast doubt upon whether they really are charities. For example, unlike other charities, churches don’t have to pay an application fee to apply for their income tax exemption, and they don’t have to submit a yearly Form 990 to prove that they’re actually using their money to help anyone. Even in cases of obvious abuse, there is little the IRS can do because Congress enacted “heightened procedures” that make auditing a church so complicated that it rarely occurs.

(3) October 5, will mark the sixth annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a day on which approximately 1,500 pastors openly violate Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) which prohibits charitable organizations from engaging in political campaigning. These clergy invariably support conservative candidates and conservative causes, and many of them send videos of their sermons to the IRS, confident that the IRS will do what the government usually does in regard to the crimes of the church, which is to ignore them.

(4) To comply with IRS Code 501(c)(3), Congressional lobbying on the part of churches must be “insubstantial,” but churches are free to hold this rule in contempt because “insubstantial” isn’t defined, so the IRS finds it difficult to hold them accountable even if it had the will and a Congressional mandate to do so.

(5) Churches and church-run organizations get preferential treatment in regard to how they treat their employees. A church can fire you for holding the wrong religious beliefs, political alliances, or moral values. It can also deny you insurance benefits for birth control and abortion and, conceivably, for blood transfusions in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses and psychiatric counseling in the case of Scientologists, etc. Now, Christians who own businesses that are in no way connected to a church are claiming the same privileges in the name of religious freedom.

(6) Church leaders have long been given preferential treatment in criminal investigations, which is partly why child molestation by clergy is hard to prove. Another grave problem is that Catholic leaders commonly use the 700-year-old doctrine of “mental reservation” to justify lying to investigators.

(7) Christian lying in matters pertaining to state-church separation is so common as to be expected. For example, in 1964, a 51-foot cross was erected atop Skinner Butte Park, a public park adjacent to downtown Eugene, Oregon, where I live. In 1969, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the cross violated both the state and federal constitutions in that it represented government endorsement of the Christian religion. In 1970, the city held an election in which the cross was designated “a memorial to the veterans of all wars in which the United States has participated,” despite the fact that the cross hadn’t been intended as a war memorial, or that non-Christian veterans would no more want to be represented by a cross than Christian veterans would want to be represented by the Star of David. The cross was finally removed in 1997, 28 years after the Supreme Court ruling. Such cases happen again and again and again, year after year after year. The fact that so many Christians find it so easy to lie so blatantly about matters that don't even pass the straight-face-test, serve as a major reason for my distrust of Christian morality.

(8) Many state governments favor the church. For example, Mississippi recently passed Senate Bill 2633 which requires schools to provide for prayer in classes and at school events. It also passed Senate Bill 2681, which requires that “In God We Trust” be put on the 216-year-old state seal, and that legalizes discrimination against homosexuals—or anyone else—in the name of religion. Mississippi doesn’t appear to care that the U.S. Supreme Court threw out school prayer in 1962 and that various federal laws prohibit either government or private enterprise from favoring some groups over other groups. For example, you can’t legally give discounts to those who bring their church bulletins to your restaurant on Sunday, nor can you refuse to rent an apartment to atheists or gay people. Unfortunately, such laws are commonly and openly ignored, particularly in the Bible Belt, and if you complain, you can expect your job, your property, your friendships, your person, and even your pets, to be at risk.

(9) Mississippi’s Senate Bill 2681 was named The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because religious people commonly regard any and all limits on their ability to force their religion on others as being a violation of their own freedom. When I was a boy in Mississippi, Scripture was used to deny accommodations for black people with the result that it could be difficult for a black person to find a place to eat, sleep, or use the toilet. The bigotry continues, only the faces of the oppressed have changed. I could give similar examples of laws from other Southern states, laws that are clearly meant to reward those whom the state considers desirable (Christians) while punishing those it considers undesirable (the rest of us). I think it likely that most politicians would agree with the first president Bush: “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots.”

(10) The church as a whole has consistently opposed the expansion of human rights. This was true when Native Americans were being forced onto reservations, and it was true during the time of slavery, integration, workers’ rights, women’s suffrage, Japanese internment, and the social reforms of the New Deal. It was and still is true in regard to the modern feminist movement, health care reform, abortion rights, homosexual rights, marijuana reform, and assisted suicide. Although some believers have been at the forefront of the struggle for human rights, religion as a whole has ever and always been dragged in the direction of freedom and knowledge while screaming Bible verses to support its ignorance and oppression. After all, the Bible abounds with verses that support genocide, slavery, racism, and sexism; and although it is silent on abortion, workers’ rights, euthanasia, assisted suicide, health care reform, the rights of children, and other advancements that didn’t exist when it was written; in America, at least, the church as a whole has never hesitated to claim that God opposed these advancements. 

(11) Where religion goes, so goes poverty, disease, crime, and ignorance. This can be seen by comparing the quality of life standards among religious versus non-religious countries as well as among religious versus non-religious states. I will grant that the presence of religion in an area that is crime-ridden and impoverished—aka the Bible Belt in this country—does not in itself prove that religion is the cause of these problems, but surely states in which the majority of the populace considers Christianity to be of major importance in their lives and who believe that they are under the personal guidance of God’s Holy Spirit should be able to get something right from time to time, that is if religion really is a salutary influence. Unfortunately, their contributions to world betterment are primarily limited to: sanitizing history textbooks; restricting labor unions; erecting religious monuments on government property; passing laws that force abortion clinics out of business; making sure that every public school student gets a free Bible; praying to Jesus at any and all public events; forcing biology teachers to teach “Intelligent Design”; gerrymandering voting districts in favor of Republicans; passing voting laws in favor of Republicans; trampling the rights of homosexuals and non-Christians; reducing or eliminating government benefits to the poor and disabled; and passing laws against passing laws that limit how much fat and sugar burger joints can put in their products. Those who favor such measures invariably consider Jesus and themselves to be on the same page about these and every other public issue. 

For every example of religious bullying I have given in this post, I could have given scores of others, but how many does one need to be convinced that the dominant political face of American Christianity isn’t dedicated to loving ones neighbors but to controlling them? As with Moslems who favor Sharia law, it is a form of Christianity that aims to curry God’s favor through purification, and the purification of the masses can only be conducted through intimidation, coercion, and violence. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me,” and millions of his American followers have taken such divisive verses to heart at the expense of his more salutary sentiments. Oddly enough, American Christianity seems unaware that its own values have changed radically over the last several decades. When I was a boy—in the ‘50s and ‘60s—many if not most Christians believed that divorced people were unfit to teach or preach; that God opposed racial mixing (much less interracial marriage); that a Catholic president would do whatever the pope ordered; that it was appropriate to refer to people born out of wedlock as bastards their whole lives through; and that the Bible forbade gambling, tattoos, and anything that was sexually explicit. They used Scripture to prove that blacks were inferior to whites, that homosexual sex should be a felony, and that women shouldn’t wear a man’s pants or take a man’s job. It might be claimed that America’s God is “the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” but his values and demands have changed radically over the decades, especially as they affect behaviors that younger Christians regard as acceptable.

The current political and social climate is a mixed bag for atheists. On the one hand, religion is becoming increasingly allied with government, but on the other, the population as a whole is becoming increasingly secular. As I see it, the reason that American Christianity has become more militant since the attack on 9/11 and the election of a black president with an un-American and un-Christian name, is precisely because of its decreasing popular support. I wish I could say that we’re seeing its death throes, but the religious climate can change rapidly and dramatically. If global warming should continue to cause crop failures, massive forest fires, and frequent large storms of one kind or another; or if terrorists come up with more devastating ways to attack us; or if tension with Russia or China becomes a serious threat; maybe we’ll go back to the hyper-religious McCarthy era. I’ve seen enough changes occur at such a fast and unexpected rate that I don’t trust anything to last or to be predictable, whether its for good or ill.


Paula Kaye said...

I do not consider myself to be a religious person, but I do believe in God. I also believe in his son Jesus. However, with that being said, I do have a ton of questions. I don't know that God is such a loving and non- vengeful God or this world wouldn't be in the mess that it is in. That is explained to me that God provides and man ruins. But What I do believe in is that Everyone has the right to believe however they want to believe. I am tolerant of most people's beliefs. I can be tolerant of people's lifestyles. Doesn't mean that I accept them or believe in them.....just means I can be tolerant

kylie said...

i cant, for the life of me, understand why Christians think all of that stuff is acceptable except to say that they are all human and subject to the failings of their humanity.
on the subject of poverty etc being associated with religion: i was taught that the introduction of Christianity into a person's life would transform the person, reduce the behaviours that held them back and possibly result in increased wealth/ social standing etc. it was explained to me that this socio-economic improvement was not to be expected but was often a nice by-product of a life of faith.
in the case of my grandfather it was true: he was the son of a violent alcoholic but he never touched alcohol and he was a kind, loving family man. of course, many people make a deliberate choice to go against the dysfunction of their past so i guess you could say that Christianity made no difference there but my grandfather credited his faith and succeeding generations have benefitted by the cycle being broken.
anyways, i guess i just told you all of that by way of saying that i still believe that wholehearted faith can be redemptive in an holistic way. very few are wholehearted though

Lee Johnson said...

Excellent list Snow, including a few I hadn't considered in that light.

I might suggest a #11, namely that religious organizations (mainly the Catholics) have used their tax free status to buy up hospitals and drive others out of business. These religious hospitals then force Catholic medical practices on the surrounding population and force doctors to violate their Hippocratic Oath in favor of Catholic teaching. For example, if a woman is hemorrhaging during early pregnancy, the appropriate treatment is an abortion to ensure the safety of the woman, but a doctor at a Catholic hospital is forbidden from even suggesting this treatment, let along performing it.

Lately, Catholic hospitals have started using their sizable profits to build fitness centers, testing labs and other facilities which can undercut and bankrupt even more secular businesses.

Stephen Hayes said...

Atheistic governments have historically been low points in history, but sometimes I wonder if Karl Marx was write when he wrote: religion is opium for the masses.

lotta joy said...

Yesterday there was a car ahead of us with this bumper sticker: If you don't know Jesus, ask me and I'll show you THE WAY"

I said "Christians have to be THE MOST bigoted, egotistical people I know. We should have a bumper sticker saying "FOLLOW US TO McDONALDS. WE'LL SHOW YOU THE WAY" That would make as much sense.

The statue actually looks as if Jesus is being mugged and robbed at gunpoint, which is very appropriate, since it's standing on government property.

kylie said...

i have to say here that even though i acknowledge that Christians get stuff wrong more often than they should, i get really offended when we are all put in the same basket as bigoted/egotistical/hypocritical etc.
it is considered really poor form to make those kinds of prejudiced and generalised judgements about other groups but for some reason it's open slather on Christians.
In my view that makes the commenter as bad as the Christian they seek to judge

Snowbrush said...

"That is explained to me that God provides and man ruins."

As the saying goes, "Man glorifies God and excuses him forever." More to the point, perhaps, is that horribly sad and tragic things happen millions of times every moment of every day despite the best efforts of humankind to prevent them.

"i was taught that the introduction of Christianity into a person's life would transform the person"

No doubt some people are the better (for themselves as well as for others) for getting religion.

"These religious hospitals then force Catholic medical practices on the surrounding population"

I really don't know where our own local Catholic hospital stands on all this. I do recall that there was a recent and notorious case in Ireland that brought to a head in that country the fact that many women die every year because of the refusal by Catholic hospitals to perform abortions even when it is the only way to save the mother's life in cases in which the baby is certain to die or be deformed anyway.

"sometimes I wonder if Karl Marx was write when he wrote: religion is opium for the masses."

Which way do you lean?

"I said "Christians have to be THE MOST bigoted, egotistical people I know."

Many are, it is true, but I was reading my latest FFRF magazine today when I came across a letter by an atheist who was looking for advice about whether to attend an Episcopal wedding. Some of those who offered opinions suggested that she not, and I thought, come on now, if you love someone, you go to their wedding--don't you? I mean, really, are you going to be dirtied by hearing a prayer or seeing Jesus in a stained-glass window! Surely, weddings and funerals are occasions when people of goodwill show tolerance for the values of people unlike themselves.

"i get really offended when we are all put in the same basket"

I can relate because people do it to atheists too. It's always a challenge to generalize without making the generalization so broad that it constitutes bigotry rather than reasoned argument.

Linda said...

My ex-husband who was and is a minister had a salary that was taxed. Then, he had a clothing allowance, book allowance, travel allowance, housing allowance (when we bought our own house), yet he paid no taxes on that money.

However, he decided we should get free lunches for our three children because we were eligible under the base salary. We fought. I asked him how people would think of us when we could afford new cars; girl scout and boy scout uniforms and fees; Swim team fees and travel and swim suits: community theatre fees so they could act and their costumes; summer pass to the pool; baseball for the older two and the uniforms; tap and ballet lessons for the two girls and the shoes, taps and costumes; eventually private lessons in a city 50 miles away; have parties for large groups of people; go to Mexico and travel to his parents up North; movies; rink roller skates (not rented) weekly roller skating; bowling ball and bowling team for son and for me.

I tried to tell him that people would lose respect for us and that I knew people would talk. He did not care about all that he told me. However, I refused to agree.

He was audited one year because he did not fill out taxes to pay what we owed. He spent several weeks falsifying a travel log, using a variety of pens and pencils so it would appear as if written over a year. He forced me to sign the new information. I know, I could have refused and he would have suffered the consequences and he would have lost his job. It was a problem for me either way.

It was a problem because most of the church knew what he was doing. But, they would have to fire him and it would have still been all MY fault.

Elephant's Child said...

I don't like being pushed into the atheist basket, but fit better there than in most other generalisations. And fundamentalist anything scares me.
As best I can I try and be tolerant of other people's beliefs but I am not a believer, and not likely to change that any time soon. And don't appreciate people trying. Or criticising my morals (or rather, telling me I can't have any).

rhymeswithplague said...

Please don't be offended by what I'm about to say, but:

He's baaaaack.

One of two things must be true: Either your health has improved and you're back in "fighting form" or you're not getting better and realize your time is short.

Also, I'm with kylie on the putting of us all in the same basket as bigoted/egotistical/hypocritical, etc.

Also, as we used to say on the playground at recess, when you point your finger at someone else you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.

Also, PeeWee Herman's famous line: I know you are, but what am I?

Nothing personal, mind you.

Re-hashing the same stuff does get old after a while. At some point in life each of us needs to run out of axes to grind.

Joe Pereira said...

Well put Snow - when you list Christianity's flaws in that way it further reinforces my view on just how rotten ALL religions are and how dangerously gullible and ignorant are its followers.

possum said...

Excellent post as usual, Snow.
But I must say this, based on MY own experience, for reasons other than pregnancy or birthing situations, the care in Catholic hospitals has been far superior to the "general" hospitals I have known. But I'd never admit to being an atheist in one of them!

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't realize tax exemption only started in 1954. I thought it was older than that.

Snowbrush said...

"he decided we should get free lunches for our three children because we were eligible under the base salary."

At least he didn't commit the sin of pride--ha.

"I don't like being pushed into the atheist basket"

Peggy has been an atheist for a long time, but it was only in the last month that I heard her say, "I'm an atheist." I don't recall the context in which she said it, but I was pleased because I never could understand why she didn't say it when it was so obvious that that's what she was. I think that a lot of people just don't want to carry that label because it's the target of so much hatred.

"I'm with kylie on the putting of us all in the same basket as bigoted/egotistical/hypocritical, etc."

Some of the so-called New Atheists divide believers into two camps: those who are active oppressors, and those who passively support the oppression. I think there's some truth in this because I've so often heard statements like, "I don't think that Theo van Gogh should have been murdered, but he brought it on himself by insulting Islam." Nope, you don't bring on your own death when you criticize religion, but there IS the common feeling among religious people that all religion should be accorded an outward show of "respect" whether it's their religion or someone else's religion simply because it IS a religion. In this way, the religious community as a whole does passively support religious evil. For example, where is the theist who has a blog that opposes oppressive religious laws as I have done in this post (with the possible exception of the laws that discriminate against homosexuals). I rather doubt that you will find more than a very few because it is extremely rare to find theists who see the oppression of nonbelievers as their problem. After all, the people doing the oppressing are at least standing up for God, and standing up for God is surely better than criticizing God like those damned atheists do. All that said, it is never fair to intentionally make insulting generalizations about EVERYONE in a group, especially a group so large and diverse that it includes most of humanity, and so I NEVER intend to do this, but it's hard to criticize a group at all without sometimes appearing to do this. Surely, you will agree that it is fair to make generalizations about MOST of the people in a given group? For example, if I read a well-conducted survey in which the majority of evangelical Christians say they favor "enhanced interrogation," i.e. torture, then I think it's fair to say that the evangelical Christian community favors "enhanced interrogation," i.e. torture. Surely, some evangelicals are opposed to it, but they're not the ones who reflect that prevalent values of the community to which they belong.

Also, as we used to say on the playground at recess, when you point your finger at someone else you have three fingers pointing back at yourself....I know you are, but what am I?"

A reasoned post deserves a reasoned response, yet you resort to playground twaddle and then try to distance yourself from it by saying that it's not personal. If there's an equivalency between the oppression of people in the name of religion and my criticism of the oppression of people in the name of religion, I beg you to tell me what it is.

"Re-hashing the same stuff does get old after a while. At some point in life each of us needs to run out of axes to grind."

First, please tell me specifically what I have rehashed in this post? Second, I take your implication that I should stop criticizing religion to suggest that my criticisms aren't valid because otherwise the implication would be that it's wrong to continue to criticize ongoing oppression, yet I rather doubt that you would say to any other victim of oppression that, having brought up the matter already, it's time to let it rest and accept that things are as they are.

Snowbrush said...

"Well put Snow"

Thank you, Joe.

"the care in Catholic hospitals has been far superior to the "general" hospitals"

Peggy works in a Catholic-owned hospital, but Catholics are no more represented there than in the general population. In other words, the hospital is Catholic-owned, not Catholic operated. Of course, Catholic policies would have to be observed, but this hospital is too much concerned with the making of money to do anything to attract attention unless their back was to the wall.

"I didn't realize tax exemption only started in 1954."

I was talking specifically not generally.

Snowbrush said...

I just added a paragraph (point # 10), and I'm tempted to add a dozen more, but the question becomes one of whether I want this to be a post or a book.

lotta joy said...

Kylie said: In my view that makes the commenter as bad as the Christian they seek to judge

There ya go. Don't know me from Adam, but I'm already labeled bad because my opinion is not acceptable by a christian - while I get lambasted hourly BY christians for not BEING one of them.

Having NO idea that I studied theology, was a minister, and heading for that certificate of gold in the sky when I figured out it was merely thousands of years of superstition and propaganda being pressed (not passed) from one generation to another.

I apologize to the masses because Kylie might be one of the christians I wasn't even referring to by name?

My opinion stands by her representation.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Always interesting Snow

kylie said...

lotta joy,
i do actually know you, i have read your blog many times.
what makes you think i was addressing you anyway?

lotta joy said...

The way you reacted. So, you weren't referring to me. Case closed.

Snowbrush said...

"Don't know me from Adam, but I'm already labeled bad because my opinion is not acceptable by a christian"

Like you, I wondered who Kylie's remark was aimed at, and thought it most likely that it was indeed you because you did generalize your remark to "Christians," implying that you meant all of them, which I'm sure you didn't given your relationship with your beloved husband and sister. It's hard to write about Christians and not appear to overgeneralize because to avoid it, one has to preface everything said with "some Christians," "most Christians," "many Christians" and so forth. This is why I try to make it clear that I usually have reference either to what I see as the dominant face of Christianity in America, or to the unavoidable failure of "faith" as a means of discovering truth. Because the latter does include all Christians, I regularly offend people, and I can understand that. I very much want us to remain friends, but since I see religion as a problem about which I must speak out, I can but hope that religious people might at least learn from me as one who presents a view that many of them would be otherwise unlikely to encounter.

"Yesterday there was a car ahead of us with this bumper sticker: 'If you don't know Jesus, ask me and I'll show you THE WAY.' I said 'Christians have to be THE MOST bigoted, egotistical people I know.'"

By the way, who was "us" in this situation? Wouldn't it have been you and Joe?

Rhymes, if I could rewrite my remarks to you, I would be less blunt. My frustration with you came from the fact that you ignored everything I wrote, and then suggested that in pointing out the faults of others, I forget that I too have faults. Yes, I have faults, but such faults as I have are irrelevant to the truth of what I wrote. Also, I was writing about religious oppression so there's no equivalency between my faults as an individual and the existence of massive and organized efforts to put Christianity in control of the government and in charge of other people's morality.

Linda said...

Actually, the sin of pride was one of his largest failings. However, he just thought as a minister, he should be given a free pass on rules that other people should obey. One day, I figured out he was writing a check for a tithe. He said that tithing doesn't apply to ministers.

He always had a way out of everything.

lotta joy said...

Snow, I was speaking to my husband. He's a Christian, but unlike most, allows me the right to voice an opinion without getting his Christian knickers in a knot.

rhymeswithplague said...

Sometimes the only way I can get through the day, Snow, is by ignoring everything you write. We all have "faults" and indeed, though you might deny it, "sins"....

Of course it is wrong to oppress people in the name of religion. Nobody's implying otherwise. But is it all right to oppress people if religion is not a factor? Speaking of being in control of the government, why don't you write sometime about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il? Just to let us catch our breaths, as it were.

Hey, I'm 73. I'm old, I'm tired. I don't want to spend my last years arguing with you, although you seem to thrive on it. You will probably not change the world all by yourself and neither will I. We can only do what we can and leave the rest with, dare I say it, God.

I would use the words "re-hashing" and "axes to grind" again but I don't want to be repetitive.

I think I need a sabbatical.

Strayer said...

Taking it apart, in logical precise fashion. Great post Snow.

I finally said the words too, thanks to you, giving me the courage. Atheist, supreme nonbeliever. I have lots of Christian friends, some of whom seem to be admitting the wayward ways of their belief systems. This woman who tried to get her church people to help with 60 kittens and cats she found abandoned, and none would, but she did find me, she jokes about the Christian and the atheist teaming up. I like being called a heathen better. I get tired of people saying "I'll pray for you" as I help them, because I don't believe like them, so I'm rotten in their minds, as I help them, give to them of myself and my money and my time. Really funny. And tragic they're so blinded. I'm tired of the animal abusing Christians, the woman controlling religious segments, and even the out of this world Mormons who believe in magic glasses. But oh well.

Strayer said...

Religion seems like egotism taken to extreme. I asked a lot of questions in Sabbath school, when I was a child in church. Why would people get along up there when they don't here, I asked. Are we going to mess up heaven like we have the earth and kill all the animals and eat them and pollute the rivers like here, I asked. I was told as a child we'd wear gold crowns in heaven with a jewel for every soul we'd saved. How do you save a soul and save them from what, I asked, but got no answer. I don't like harp music, I said, and I don't want to wear a crown, I said, in Sabbath school. Do God and Jesus have sex organs, I asked, since they're boys and who is Jesus mother, is she dead or did God kill her because she didn't do what he said? Is the Holy Ghost Jesus dead mother, I asked, and who really killed her, I asked. no answer and later I was told to not ask questions that I should believe and that it was a sign of faithlessness to question. Now I don't believe any of them and think they think a great deal of themselves, believe they're so special they can do anything they want because they're covered.

Snowbrush said...

"I don't want to spend my last years arguing with you, although you seem to thrive on it."

I'm not much of an arguer, although I do like to have my observations validated when they're perceived as correct. Until your response that I'm now addressing, I never could tell that you thought that any of my observations were correct. I concluded from that that you were pretty much okay with the things about which I complained.

"Speaking of being in control of the government, why don't you write sometime about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il?"

It would be no more comparable than writing about the crimes of people with red hair. The difference is that I've yet to hear of anyone oppressing others in the name of atheism, whereas people often oppress others in the name of theism in the belief that it's pleasing to God. Besides, who said that Hitler was an atheist? As I recall, he was intent on replacing Christianity with the worship of the old Norse gods. Other than that, I only know that the Catholic Church--in which he grew up--liked him at first, and that it never did kick him out.,

"I think I need a sabbatical."

Part two of this effort concerns liberal religion, so I don't think it will bother you. In fact, I think you will agree with it. After that, maybe I'll write some cute stories about my cat. I would like that. It's just that I don't completely choose what to write about. Instead, I might write several possible posts about things that I feel compelled to write about, and then discard all but one of them.

"I was told to not ask questions that I should believe and that it was a sign of faithlessness to question."

There was a short piece in my most recent FFRF magazine about a kid who asked too many question to suit the priest who was teaching what I took to be his confirmation class. One day, the priest lost it, and said, "I hope you rot in hell." I'll bet they at least thought as much about you. I never asked anywhere near as many questions as you seem to have asked, but I still got in trouble. "Have faith and trust that God will explain everything once you get to heaven," I was told, but I needed the answers a lot sooner than that in order to have faith so that I would be able to get to heaven. Why do some question, and others don't? I know it's not always a matter of intelligence, but maybe it does always suggest an unwillingness to trust authority, at least about things that can't be independently verified. Of course, I initially believed that my questions had verifiable answers because I thought that preachers learned all the answers, and because it didn't occur to me that people would continue to believe without having the answers.

"This woman who tried to get her church people to help with 60 kittens and cats she found abandoned, and none would..."

I've never known of a church to do anything to help animals. I think it safe to say that, as an entity, the church regards animals as unimportant, probably because they aren't perceived as having souls (and therefore emotions much like our own), and partly because the Bible describes them as being put here for the use of the human species. Help a person, and you might save a soul from everlasting torment (or at least oblivion). Help an animal, and it will be forever dead in 5-10 years anyway.

lotta joy said...

Rhymes said:

"Sometimes the only way I can get through the day, Snow, is by ignoring everything you write."

If your left hand offends you, cut it off. If you must diligently work to forget whatever you've read, then don't read it in the first place.

"I don't want to spend my last years arguing with you, although you seem to thrive on it."

I don't see where Snow invited any of us here to argue. Maybe there's an invitation in the footer that I missed. And I'm sure you gather more enjoyment from arguing than he, since you do it with great regularity.

"Speaking of being in control of the government, why don't you write sometime about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il?"

It sounds rather egotistical to tell anyone what they could be writing about on their own blog. unless Snow is going to your blog and telling you what to write about. Maybe I missed that.

I do agree when you say:

"I think I need a sabbatical."

And since arguing with Snow is not your cup of tea, a sabbatical is best obtained if you take a break from insisting ON arguing. Read posts that agree with all your viewpoints.

You can then return with renewed vigor from your sabbatical.

SNOW: I didn't intend to place myself in the self-appointed role of "comment moderator", but having to defend myself so much lately has caused me to "run block" automatically.

I apologize for my exuberance.

Strayer said...

Well, although I'm not a believer, I would think christian believers, who think a god, a higher species, has taken this great interest in a lower species, humans, I would think it would follow in their minds that they should behave toward species they consider lower, on the scale, as god thinks of them. So I would think they would love and help them and certainly not abuse animals. But nothing is logical, I realize, in Christian land.

Snowbrush said...

"I don't see where Snow invited any of us here to argue."

I guess it depends upon how one defines "argue." I have invited--even implored--people--Rhymes specifically--to offer reasons for his disagreement with something I've written, but I don't recall him ever doing so. What he does instead is to express unhappiness with what I write--in other words, an emotion as opposed to a rebuttal.

"But nothing is logical, I realize, in Christian land."

I've got to think about this, it being my assumption that, once someone's values and beliefs are taken into account, their actions follow in such a way that either confirms the sincerity behind what they say they believe or contradicts the sincerity behind what they say they believe. Maybe there are occasions in the Bible when animal rights and welfare are taken into account (for other than economic reasons), but I can't think of any. I recall God commanding that animals be sacrificed to him so that he might forgive sins (at least temporarily), and that animals be slaughtered in war. God also allowed Job's animals to be killed, and he drowned every animal on earth except for two of each species. Then there was the story of Jesus allowing demons to possess pigs, but I don't recall a single instance of kindness to animals based upon the fact that it was the right thing to do.

Snowbrush said...

"If you must diligently work to forget whatever you've read, then don't read it in the first place."

I thought I should add to what I've already said. I very much appreciate having Rhymes read my blog. He and Kylie, so far as I know, are the only two fervent (as opposed to nominal) Christians who do still read it, others having gone away mad. I've noted that atheists tend to only read the blogs of other atheists (on the subject of religion anyway); Christians, the blogs of other Christians; and so forth, and I LOVE having Christians read my blog. They do me a lot of good, and I hope I do them at least some good.

Snowbrush said...

"He and Kylie, so far as I know, are the only two fervent (as opposed to nominal) Christians who do still read it..."

I should have added the word "regularly" before "read it," as there are a few who drop by from time to time.

The Blog Fodder said...

Hi, Snow. thanks for tipping me off about this. I have been hit and miss in my blog reading lately as i spend a lot of time reading and trying to make sense of our current crisis situation.

I like your two kinds of Christians - the oppressors and the enablers. Timothy Snyder in his book Bloodlands: Europe between Stalin and Hitler also talks about the perpetrators and bystanders.

I am sharing this on Facebook.

Rob-bear said...

This is an interesting post. It tells me how differently churches are treated in the US than they are in Canada. But that is not a surprise; most Canadians think/feel very differently about religion than do Americans.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Rob-bear said...

P.S.: I must ask my friend the Blog Fodder whether he sees me as a oppressor or an enabler.