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An Attack on Christianity

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of the other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 5th, 2008

I do not often find that the social issues that get Bill O’Reilly worked up are worth my attention. But I am troubled about a situation that he has highlighted involving religious displays in the State Capitol of Washington.

Last year the Alliance Defense Fund took time from their anti-gay activities to sue the State of Washington over Christmas displays. As a consequence, a policy was established to allow use of public space to sponsor a display, regardless of belief.

This year three displays went up: a “holiday tree”, a nativity scene, and a statement by an atheist organization.

That in itself does not bother me entirely; I support the accommodation of diverse views. I am, however, bothered by both the language of the placard and its placement next to the nativity scene. The statement says:

At this season of
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
may reason prevail.

There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

This is not an endorsement of atheism; rather, it is an attack on religion, most specifically that religion next to which it was placed. Those who placed the sign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, make no pretenses that this was not an attack on a Christian holiday nor do they apologize for the hurt and anger that they have caused Christians. In fact, they portray themselves as the victims.

In an interview with Fox News, the co-president had this to say:

DAN BARKER: If there is going to be a nativity scene that’s pro-Christian, which basically insults those of us who are not Christian, by telling us we’re going to go to hell unless we bow down before that Baby Jesus, then we want an equal time, too. We want a place at the table. We want to show America that we, atheists and agnostics, are here, too.

A statement of belief is not equivalent to a position of hatred and attack on others.

Nor do I think that the atheist organization is the victim here. The existence of a nativity scene is no more an insult or attack than a Sikh wearing a Dastar is attacking Muslims or the lighting of a menorah is an attack on Buddhists. That others observe that which I do not has nothing to do with me and I have no right to insist that they do so in secret nor does society have an obligation to respect my attack on them.

Many atheists are content with their conviction of the order of nature and the limitation of existence to that which can be observed. And they really don’t much care whether I agree.

But these particular atheists, like some others that I have encountered, are not interested in allowing disagreement. These evangelical atheists view the existence of anyone else’s religion as an attack on their own religious beliefs. It is not enough that each person determine whether to believe and that each religious viewpoint be respected, or at least allowed. No, rather than coexistence with religious faith, they want to attack religious faiths and those who practice them.

Ironically, this is very similar to the tactics and language employed by some religious opponents to gay civil rights. Those who are recoiling from the anti-Christian behaviors of this group includes, no doubt, many of those who made statements about gay marriage that were astonishingly similar.

The anti-gay marriage campaigns were full of those who indignantly demanded that gay people not have marriage because the mere existence of such marriages was at threat to their family. It was not enough that they had their own marriage, rather they insisted that mine not exist.

I think that our society would be better served if each of us allowed room for the other.

I am entitled to equality under the law, including marriage rights. But I can also respect those who disagree and I do not insist that my wedding be at their church. And while they can believe that I will burn forever in eternal torment, this does not entitle them to place placards next to the best man at my wedding.

This sort of religion-by-attack only escalates. Each slight is answered by a larger attack until the whole of society is embroiled in a nasty culture war.

Already, Ken Hutcherson – always ready with words of hatred and contempt – is threatening a response to the FFRF:

Redmond pastor Ken Hutcherson of the Antioch Bible Church called an 11 a.m. news conference Friday. The Olympian reports he’ll place his own pro-Christian sign in the Rotunda to mock atheists.

I think it is time for Washington State to establish rules that those seeking to display their religious positions are banned from attacking others. Tolerance does not include those who refuse to show it to others.

Further, I think that they should demonstrate some connection to the season. Perhaps the atheists could find a time of celebration, maybe the birthdate of a leader in freethought or a season in which there were fewer traditional mythologies. They can hardly expect to be taken with credibility when they oppose myth and mystery at the time of the Winter Solstice.

Comments

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rdm
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

An atheist declaring that there is no god is no different from a christian declaring that there is a god.

I don’t see the problem whatsoever.

If the atheist statement is an “attack” on christians, then christian statements are all attacks on atheists.

Really, let’s try to be more accomodating.

homer
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with rdm- it is apaprently alright for Christians to push their religion onto non-Christians. How do you think Muslims feel when they drive by the Nativity scene?

KipEsquire
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

“The existence of a nativity scene is no more an insult or attack than a sikh wearing a Dastar is attacking Muslims or the lighting of a menorah is an attack on Budhists [sic].”

If you honestly believe that a nativity scene in a taxpayer-funded government space is not an insult to American Jews, then you simply do not understand the concept of “Christianity.”

Wow. Just wow.

Andres
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

If you want to see an insult, then you will see an insult even if it is not there. Why are we looking so hard to feel offended? I think part of the explanation can be found in Berne’s book called Games People Play, particularly the game called “Now I’ve Got You…”.

There should be no problem whatsoever, over a mere inconsequential sign nonetheless, unless there is definite action taken to arbitrarily limit somebody’s rights in favor of somebody else’s. That is the issue, and addressing it requires us to stop viewing our personal point of view as so adamantly and violently correct that it deserves to be imposed on everybody else.

IMO, life is too short for this nonsense.

Andres.

Emily K
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

Seriously. Jews are attacked in every gospel (mostly with the euphemism “Pharisee,” and anybody worth their Kosher salt knows Pharisees are our direct ancestors). The 4th gospel (“John”) does nothing but talk about how damned we are, and how much like the devil we are. The Christian scriptures are filled with separatist elitism. Nobody is worthy except people who believe a man is G-d and mystically died to somehow relieve sins. Not even all people called Christians are worthy. Maybe they could post signs that say Matthew 27:25 or John 8:44.

Turnabout is fair play.

Evan
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

Um, yeah, I’m with every other commenter on this one.

This is standard Christianist victim mentality paranoia, and I’m quite surprised to see it posted on this blog.

Evan
December 5th, 2008 | LINK

Excuse me, that should have said “surprised and disappointed to see it posted on this blog.”

Lynn David
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

The mere mention of atheism is anethema to many Christians. Atheism is seen as Satanic by many. So what would you be saying if a nice Satanic religious group decided to put up a display next to the Christmas ones?

Honestly…. the placard by the atheists was rather tame. But this just goes to show why governmental places should not be made places of worship by the erection of religious monuments or iconography, especially when such is emblematic of a specific religious holiday.

Elliot
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Maybe this is none of my business, but what is all this religious and non-religious crap doing at the state capitol in the first place?

Maybe someone has forgotten, but this is a secular nation. We don’t need any displays regarding religious ideologies in our government buildings. It will only serve to make it seem that the government is endorsing whatever is on display, when there should be no government opinion on any of them.

Take them all down.

neil h
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I think the reason that the FFRF are being so vociferous on this issue is precisely because the nativity display is in a government building. Presumably they would have no problem with it being in a church or a private building. The ‘equal access’ suggestion could get very silly – would you really want displays from every single religion so that none would be left out? How would Ken Hutcherson feel about a Wiccan or Pagan display next to the Christian one?

Talking about celebrating science as an alternative, the New Humanist are doing a series of short podcasts for advent with different people talking about their favourite scientists and philosophers. The first one features Stephen Fry

http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/12/advent-podcasts-day-1-stephen-fry.html

HappyCat
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I haven’t put it outside yet, but I wonder how many people will get pissed off at my “Nativity Scene” You see, mine has two Josephs leaning over the baby jesus who is wrapped in a rainbow flag. Oh, almost forgot, there are Three Women on Camels too.

volpi
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

the atheist organization was wrong,but not because of the reason you give. it is clear that they are expressing their view about religion,and these are protected speech like the nativity scene. they are not attacking people,or condemning an action but only one particular belief.i admit that declaring the non-existence of god has the same problem of proving his existence,so the atheists are giving a proposition without rational basis.

CLS
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

My view is that none of the displays should go up. No tax funds should be used, even in the sense of providing state property, to promote private messages like this. But the idea that that statement is “an attack on a Christian holidy” is just silly. It is a blanket statement about claims of the supernatural during a period when holidays for more than one religion happen to fall.

There is nothing uniquely Christian about this period as the Menorah shows. And most of the trappings of this “Christian holiday” were borrowed from nonChristians — the trees, the yule log, the time of year, etc. Next, precisely how is that these “atheists…. are not interested in allowing disagreement.” Precisely how does that statement prevent, or attempt to prevent, disagreement? And since when is disagreement with a belief “to attack religious faiths and those who practice them.”

To criticize a belief is not to “attack” but to criticize. To disagree is not to attack but to disagree. To make a statement of one’s own belief is not an attack on another belief. You seem to take the view that stating a disagreement with a religion is to “attack” that religion.

Equality under the law is being preserved here unless you are one of those who denies that non-believers have rights. Your example of gay marriage doesn’t apply because placing a placard on public property is not the same as placing placards “next to the best man at [your] wedding”. You seem to say that during the holiday season for several religions (not just Christian) that any use of public property to disagree is someone an attack. So govt. sponsored speech for everyone but atheists is your view of “equality” before the law. Your view is similar to that of the Christians on gay marriage — everyone should have it but one group. And like the Christians you are demanding the state “establish rules that those seeking to display there religious positions are banned from attacking others” even when that alleged attack is saying you don’t believe. So an atheist is only supposed to have the liberty to express a belief that a Christian doesn’t find offensive — in other words strip atheists of their free speech. You argue that tolerance doesn’t include the right to disagree with religion because that statement is not intolerant. A statement of disagreement, without wishing to censor others, is not intolerant but you are. And whether you think this credible is immaterial. The right to say it exists as long as public property is used to promote a belief. Remove all the signs will solve the problem — until then equal access ought to the law whether you like, or fundamentalists, like it.

ZRAinSWVA
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I concur: what’s the problem? Either they are truly willing to accept any ‘holiday’ display, regardless of type, or they should take them all down. I support the latter: we have a secular government, and no displays should be allowed.

I would, however, be quite willing to develop a display for His Most Supreme Flying Spaghetti Monster, creator of all. http://www.venganza.org/

Dave
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

The FFRF’s placard is entirely inappropriate. The space in the capital’s rotunda was reserved for holiday displays, not statements of invective against others.

The winter solstice is the day when the sun makes its return. People were supposed to contemplate the birth of spiritual light in themselves as the light of day was reborn. The FFRC’s statement has nothing whatsoever to do with celebrating this ancient holiday. For that reason alone it should be disallowed.

What the FFRC has done is use the solstice as an excuse to insult those who disagree with their materialist and atheist views. Their statement is a deliberate insult to anyone and everyone who believes in a diety or dieties, or in an afterlife, or who practices any form of religion.

The people at the FFRC hate religion so much that their bile becomes too much to hold in during the December holiday season. Their placard was meant as nothing but a big “F*ck You!” to the state for daring to celebrate Christmas.

Not one of the previous commenters has dealt with FFRC co-president Dan Barker’s statement to Fox News about the creche, even though it explains so much:

“insults those of us who are not Christian, by telling us we’re going to go to hell unless we bow down before that Baby Jesus.”

That’s total rubbish. The birth of the Christ child is a symbolic scene same as that of the Buddha achieving enlightenment under the Bo tree. It contains no doctinal or dogmatic component whatsoever. Barker is projecting the hatred he suspects Christians have toward atheists onto the creche.

Richard Rush
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I appreciate the Freedom From Religion Foundation placing their statement at the Washington State Capitol. I am considering joining their organization.

As a member of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, I am fairly well informed about the relentless Christian campaign to utilize the power of government for promoting their “superior” beliefs while relegating others to inferior status. While Americans United is not an atheist group, they (and also the ACLU) do a great job of pushing back against Christians abusing the Constitution.

If Christians want to use their sincerely-held-beliefs and holy book as justifications for their superior status along with their assumed authority to control others, then I think they should expect a high level of scrutiny and investigation to ascertain the validity of their beliefs. Let them present their evidence instead of shutting down opposing views while crying about religious persecution and being under attack.

Happy Holidays!

Richard Rush
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Breaking News: The FFRC’s sign was stolen, but, thank a deity, it has been recovered. Full story: http://www.spokesmanreview.com/local/story.asp?ID=271290

Here’s the best part of the story:

“In an attempt to protect the sign, the Freedom from Religion Foundation had taped a small note to it that reads: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ “

Collie
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Here’s the thing: many atheists DO believe that religion does exactly what the sign states. A statement of belief is not an attack on Christianity. I can understand that you might feel upset about what you think this sign is saying about you, but this isn’t even an issue (except perhaps a personal one). Why was this posted

Jim Burroway
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I think that the more thin-skinned among Christians, of which there are many, would be outraged at any platform given to atheists, no matter the message.

The problem is this: atheism — by its very definition — only exists in opposition to a belief in a deity. No belief in deity, no need to even talk about atheism. It would be difficult indeed to talk about atheism without criticizing theists.

Atheism, by its simple expression, will always be seen as an “attack”, if you will, on all theistic religion. And, of course, all theistic religions including Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are, at their core, “attacks” on atheism. What else, after all, is the Great Commission but that?

I frankly don’t see the outrage that some have expressed. There was already a “holiday tree,” but of course, that wasn’t enough for those few Christians who insisted that the message didn’t contain enough Christian zeal. Every church in the land and every piece of private property can have its own nativity scene, but that will never be enough for the “No Christmas without Christ” crowd. So now we have a nativity scene on public property which is explicitly Christian — with all the baggage that goes along with it for those who aren’t filled with that same evangelical zeal.

Those who use the public square to evangelize have no room for outrage against others who use the same public square to evangelize.

And if a few Christians were offended by a reminder that religion has at times been used to “harden hearts and enslave minds,” — and assumed that the message was a unique indictment aimed solely at Christianity — well then maybe the message just hit a little too close to home for some people.

Jason D
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, I’m normally inclined to agree with your points, but this time your headline proclaims your bias – front and center.
“An Attack on Christianity”.

Here’s what the placard says, again, so we don’t have to scroll:
” At this season of
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
may reason prevail.

There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.”

Lets run a checklist:

Jesus? – Nope.
Satan? – Nope.
Christmas? – Nope.

So how is this an attack on Christianity? Gods exist outside of Christianity, as do devils, angels, heaven and hell. They may go by different names, but the concepts are pretty much the same. There are Angels (known as Tennin annd Tenshi) in Japanese mythology.
Wikipedia even notes in the first paragraph of it’s Angel entry(bold is mine):

An angel is a spiritual supernatural being found in many religions. Although the nature of angels and the tasks given to them vary from tradition to tradition, in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, they often act as messengers from God. Other roles in religious traditions include acting as warrior or guard; the concept of a “guardian angel” is popular in modern Western culture.

How arrogant of you to presume that this is an attack on Christianity, if anything, it’s an attack on Theism.

Besides which, most every religion has as part of it’s core beliefs that they are right and everyone else is absolutely wrong either out of ignorance or spite. Christianity is no different. I fail to see how turnabout is suddenly not fair play.

Dave
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Jim,

You are asserting, then, that the FFRC’s sign wasn’t a big “Fuck You!” to the state for celebrating Christmas? It sure as hell has nothing to do with the winter solstice.

Christmas trees and creches are not attempts at evangelization. The only attempt to evangelize was the FFRC’s.

And how does Timothy feel about you considering him a “thin-skinned” Christian?

Rick
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Statistically, atheists are reported as being trusted less than adherents to any of the major religions in America. So, I am not surprised in the least at the hissy fits Christians are throwing at such a humble display of anti-theism. They apparently loathe people like me. The question is, why oh why do they care if others do not believe? Is their faith so fragile it cannot withstand a message endorsing reason? They do not own December. They have not yet secured a copyright on the month. The real issue seems to be that they are unwilling to share it with us.

David
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

The core isssue here is the difference between explicit content and implicit meaning/interpretation.

The creche/nativity scene may generate a negative interpretation for some people, there may be argument over its implicit meaning, but the explicit content is itself neutral – a family, human birth, witnesses (wise men and shepherds) to the birth of hope. Normally, nativity scenes do not included explicit pejorative statements about anyone or anything.

The atheist statement explicitly denigrating other people’s beliefs. Had the statement left it at: “There is only our natural world” – people of faith would have had no sane basis for complaint. But the final sentence is not only a extreme generalization that is wrong because of its universal scope; it is hate speech.

To some people, religion has been all kinds of terrible things, but for others, it has been the foundation for the highest expressions of compassion, artistry, insight, and liberation. However, the same is true of atheism. Regimes associated with atheism have committed terrible attrocities in the world, but, so have regimes dressed up in religion.

The closing sentence of the atheist statement slanders the millions of people of faith who sacrificed to end slavery and racism, the millions of people of faith working today to end homophobia, the people of faith who have sacrificed to fight poverty and disease and injustice.

The problem is not spirituality or atheism, but fundamentalism and dominationism, which can infect any idealogy, belief system or culture.
Fundamentalism has repeatedly contaminated science, the arts, medicine, politics, as well as religion. But we do not discard or vilify those other areas of human thought and endeavor in total, when faced with fundamentalism in science or theatre, art or literature, medicine, music, or agriculture.

The atheist statement was an example of fundamentalist atheism, as Fred Phelps and Prop 8 are examples of fundamentalist Christianity, as al-Quaeda is an example of fundamentalist Islam, and as those rare GLBTQ people who have gone too far at protests (for any gay rights issue) or as the Black Panthers, and other extremes are expressions of fundamentalism as well.

What this brouhaha really shows is that some atheists are just as prone to coercive, degrading, abusive expressions of their beliefs, as some people of faith are. Rather than ban expressions of belief, we would be better served by banning coercion, degradation and abuse in any form.

Timothy Kincaid
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Jim,

The advantage we have here at Box Turtle Bulletin is that we come from differing viewpoints. And so this is one of those times we have to disagree:

Atheism, by its simple expression, will always be seen as an “attack”, if you will, on all theistic religion. And, of course, all theistic religions including Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are, at their core, “attacks” on atheism.

I do not believe that the only expression of Atheism is in the form of an attack.

I believe, for example, that atheism can say, “I believe that there are no dieties and that man is best served by a system of ethics based on the common good” or “I believe that a life lived free of ancient unquestioned commandments allow for a better world”.

Unlike the absolute declaration that religion “hardens hearts and enslaves minds”, these statements are not an attack.

Timothy Kincaid
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D,

I started to indicate that it was an attack on religion but the statements of the organization clarified that they specifically wanted to attack Christianity.

I’m not sure why a Menorah was not on display this year. It was in the past and played a role in the legal battle.

Timothy Kincaid
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

David,

Thank you. You expressed my point more eloquently than did I.

Priya Lynn
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy said “A statement of belief is not equivalent to a position of hatred and attack on others.”.

By the same token the atheist statement that religion “hardens hearts
and enslaves minds” is merely a statement of belief. The Christian statement that non-believers are going to hell can be by the same token considered to be a position of hatred and attack on others.

You cannot seperate the nativity scene from the Christian dogma that non-believers are going to hell, that is part and parcel of the whole religion. The atheist statement in comparison is far less of an attack and hateful than that.

Timothy Kincaid
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

The Christian statement that non-believers are going to hell can be by the same token considered to be a position of hatred and attack on others.

Which is why I would adamantly oppose such a statement being made at the Capitol. And which is why the Christians who placed the nativity scene did not make such a statement.

Each year the Governor of California issues a proclamation of support for the various gay pride parades and festivals in the state. And we expect that our fellow citizens are able to separate pride parades from the inappropriate behaviors of some members of our community. In a similar manner, I am perfectly capable of separating out a nativity scene from the dogma of some of Chistians.

Priya Lynn
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, whether explicitely stated or not its well known that its part of Christian dogma that non-believers are going to hell. Admittedly some christians make a tepid show of distancing themselves from this dogma, but not in such a serious way as to remove the references to hell from their bible – clearly they’re not sincere about removing eternal damnation from their religon. Thus any christian display contains the indirect threat that non-believers will be eternally tortured. That’s just as much, if not more, of an attempt to get rid of atheist beliefs as atheists are attempting to get rid of religious beliefs. Both are fair in a free society.

Ephilei
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

First amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . .”

Including any religious words or symbols for the state and by the state is “respecting an establishment of religion.” It’s illegal. Why not leave the capitol undecorated as the rest of the year?

I’m a Christian and I’m not so worried about atheists as I am about other Christians. We’ve had a bad record of oppressing each other and since I’m generally in the minority, I’m always on guard.

Piper
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

wow, as a christian, at first I was very offended by the atheist sign. But, after sitting calmly and looking at the entire thing(as a Washington resident) I think that as a nation that allows freedom of speech this sign should be left remaining. Throwing a fit only makes Christians look bad, and as Ken Hutcherson is soo good at doing that, Ill let him go.
My religious beliefs are in direct opposition to it, but to argue and yell at the sign would only prove the point that religion has hardened my heart and brain, and it hasn’t. It has opened my heart and brain.

I also agree that atheism isn’t always an attack on Christianity, I have several family members who are atheists, and our beliefs are able to live in comfort with each other easily. I understand that any direct attempt to evangelize to them will push them away, and they understand that any attempt to argue with me is only going to frustrate them, because we have different ways of looking at the world.

In closing, I am truly sorry to those who have felt that any belief in Christianity is a direct attack on them. But as it is MY Holy book, I can choose how to interpret it for myself, and I am under no obligation to see hell in the same way that fundamental Christians do. And I do take offense at the idea that I am held to their interpretation in the way that I must represent my religious view to the world.

Now, my cat just got fixed and it is time to go pick him up, so I must depart. I will check back, but not soon, as my first worry right now is him and his comfort. Thanks for being so respectful everyone, I love this forum, as everyone is really respectful of each others views.

Dave
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

“any christian display contains the indirect threat that non-believers will be eternally tortured.”

Priya Lynn,

I think you really need to read my first comment above. You are engaging in the same sort of mental projection as Mr. Barker and his fellows at the FFRC.

As I said in my comment, “The birth of the Christ child is a symbolic scene same as that of the Buddha achieving enlightenment under the Bo tree.” Neither the Christian nor the Buddhist symbol contains any doctrinal or dogmatic component at all. The same is true of the symbolic meaning of the winter solstice.

A religion is fundamentally a coherent system of symbols. All of the dogmas that various sects of a religion develop over time are additions. They may help elucidate the symbols’ meaning, or they may hide it. But they are not the essential reality. The fact that many believers don’t understand this is not an excuse for non-believers to further the misunderstanding.

David
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Priya

“You cannot seperate the nativity scene from the Christian dogma that non-believers are going to hell, that is part and parcel of the whole religion. ”

Wrong.

The modern concept of hell is not particularly biblical, actually. And the idea that non-believers are going to hell, while it is currently a dominant thread in Christianity, is not held by all Christians, and, it is not the theme of the nativity.

You may not be able to separate fundamentalist spin from the nativity story, but, others are able to draw such a distinction, and more importantly, live it. Your particular spin is not everyone else’s reality.

The nativity is not about sin, but about promise. That’s a message that applies outside of religion as well, for any infant has the promise to make the world at least a little better.

“By the same token the atheist statement that religion “hardens hearts
and enslaves minds” is merely a statement of belief.”

No. It is negative judgement, a statement of condemnation, one that attacks the character and nature of billions of human beings. It parallels the anti-gay rhetoric of Fred Phelps in its exageration, abusiveness, and dishonest. It is in fact as much as judgement as “non-believers are going to hell”. Thus you condone one degrading judgement (“hardens hearts and enslaves minds”) as acceptable belief, but criticize another (“are going to hell”). That is unethical and lacks integrity.

As you complain that any expression of Christianity insinuates ‘are going to hell’ – so too, any expression of atheism insinuates ‘faith is a delusion’. Unless you are willing to silence all expressions of atheism, no matter how polite, because of their intrinsic insinuated message, you must allow for polite expressions of Christian beliefs, despite whatever insinuations you insist are intrinsic.

Frankly, your dismissal of any person of faith who does not do as you command, changing their beliefs to suit you, comes across as pure fundamentalism.

David C.
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

As a by the way, this same “display” has appeared in the Wisconsin Capitol for 13 years now:

http://ffrf.org/news/2008/reasonsgreetings_madison.php

Zeke
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I’m with Ephilea. I’m a Christian and I’m WAY more concerned about the attacks on Christianity that I see from the likes of Phelps, Robertson, Hagee, Perkins, Dobson and the the rest of the Hee Haw gang than I am from atheists.

I must admit that I’m not feeling a whole lot of sympathy for my fellow Christians who are feeling so “attacked”, “violated”, “abused”, “discriminated against” and “bullied”. Christians have “manos sucias” (dirty hands) on all these fronts right now so their cries for pity are falling on “oídos sordos” (deaf ears) with me.

Phil
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

No, rather than coexistance with religious faith, they want to attack religious faiths and those who practice them.

That’s only true if you believe that stating someone is wrong is an “attack” on them.

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

David said “The modern concept of hell is not particularly biblical, actually”.

Don’t try to play me for a fool David, that’s utter bunk. The bible repeatedly refers to burning lakes of fire and tossing people into hell. The concept is entirely biblical. Just google Jesus hell. The concept of hell may not be the theme of the nativity but it is a theme of Christianity which the nativity brings up. The two are inextricably linked. While some Christians claim to not believe that non-believers go to hell they still print and promote a book that says that very thing – its not very convincing.

David said “No. It is negative judgement, a statement of condemnation, one that attacks the character and nature of billions of human beings. It parallels the anti-gay rhetoric of Fred Phelps in its exageration, abusiveness, and dishonest. It is in fact as much as judgement as “non-believers are going to hell”.

Not even close. You can’t compare a statement that someone has a character flaw with one that says they deserve eternal torture. It most certainly does not parallel Fred Phelps who states that gays should be executed and deserve eternal torture, it is a mere statement of someone’s shortcomings isn’t remotely comparable.

David said ” Thus you condone one degrading judgement (”hardens hearts and enslaves minds”) as acceptable belief, but criticize another (”are going to hell”). That is unethical and lacks integrity.

Wrong. I said both statements are fair in a free society. That is not condoning one and criticizing another. You lack integrity by assigining to me something I did not say.

David said ” Unless you are willing to silence all expressions of atheism, no matter how polite, because of their intrinsic insinuated message, you must allow for polite expressions of Christian beliefs, despite whatever insinuations you insist are intrinsic.”.

Once again I said both statements are fair in a free society, stop assigning motives to me I do not hold.

David said “Frankly, your dismissal of any person of faith who does not do as you command, changing their beliefs to suit you, comes across as pure fundamentalism.”

Once again the statement that religion hardens the heart and enslaves the mind isn’t remotely as offensive and fundamentalist as the statement that non-believers are going to be eternally tortured. Not in the same league at all and its part of YOUR bible that ALL Christians hold dear. You want to make an honest effort to renounce the idea that Christianity means non-believers are going to hell remove those dozens of references to hell from your bible and distinguish youself from those christians that do believe that by changing the name of your religion to “new Christianity” or some such thing. Until then any claims that you don’t hold to the idea that non-believers will go to hell are totally insincere.

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

David I should also point out it is rather ironic that you should attempt to equate atheists with Fred Phelps who IS A CHRISTIAN and who gets his hateful ideas directly from a literal reading of YOUR bible. You have far more in common with him than atheists do.

Piper
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Priya Lynn
I myself wouldn’t compare anyone to fred phelps, , but his meaning there was that there are fundamentalist atheists just like there are fundamentalist Christians. And, he doesn’t get his ideas from a literal reading, as some of my friends also are literalistic and would never say the things he says. Phelps gets his ideas by picking and choosing those messages that talk about the anger of God while skipping those that talk of Gods love.

And P.S. on the two statements above I think that I will have to agree to disagree with you. The nativity scene did not shove out the idea that nonchristians were going to hell. If that is the message you get from it, then that is not the fault of the nativity. Yes, one of the themes of conservative Christianity is that nonbelievers are going to hell, but to ascribe that to all believers is simply wrong and rude.

I feel that you aren’t going to take anything I say positively. maybe I’m wrong, I hope so, but Priya Lynn it is not up to liberal Christians to take out passages from the Bible. We choose to interpret them differently. You have no right to order our beliefs, just as we have no right to order yours. But please do not lump us in with conservative Christians when you make judgments. in my Christianity hell is a removal from the presence of God, and as I also agree with Jurgen Moltmann when he says that a loving God will send no one to hell,, I actually believe that Hell is empty, whatever it looks like. So I’m guessing that’s not very much of a hell for you. Please stop saying that all Christians hold the conservative view! It gets REALLY old.

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Piper you all share the same bible which clearly states non-believers are going to a hell of eternal torture. Until you change this your assurances to the contrary aren’t very convincing. If you want your doctrine to say a loving god will send no one to hell then put your money where your mouth is and publish your own bible that removes all the statements that say your god will send people to hell. Otherwise your assurances that no one will go to hell are done with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

The nativity scene doesn’t shove out the idea that non-believers are going to hell, but that idea is implicit in its association with Christian doctrine and the bible. How many innocent children are given gospels at Christmas and admonished to read them. Millions of children have their innocence and peace of mind robbed from them when they read they will be tortured for the thought crime of not believing in Jesus. You can’t expect children to read about lakes of fire, wailing and gnashing of teeth and expect them to believe that’s not what’s really meant by the words witten there. This is child abuse. As I child I suffered from these religion inflicted nightmares as did many children I know. How many countless children are you going to rip the innocence from before you take responsibility for this bible you give to them? Spare me your claim that this isn’t your responsibility, it most certainly is.

Fred Phelps most assuredly does get his ideas from a literal reading of the bible. The bible clearly says non-believers will be cast into a lake of fire. It says clearly in Leviticus that if one lies with a man as with a woman they must be put to death. Nowhere in the bible does it recant this order. I give Fred credit for being far more honest about what your bible says than Christians like you are. If you can’t accept the ugly parts of your bible than its up to you to renounce them and stop reprinting and distributing bibles that contain such horrors.

TheRadicalRealist
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

This comment has been deleted due to numerous violations to our Comments Policy. This kind of abusive language will not be tolerated in this forum. Continued profanity WILL result in this commenter being banned. — JB

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Radical Realist just set the atheist cause back 10 years.

TheRadicalRealist
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

This comment has been deleted due to numerous violations to our Comments Policy. This kind of abusive language will not be tolerated in this forum. Continued profanity WILL result in this commenter being banned. — JB

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

How very childish and counterproductive of you radical “realist”.

Emily K
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Have any Jews gotten pissy about the stupid atheist sign? Because I would think that they (we) would be more concerned about the Christian one, since those kinds of christians are just foaming at the mouth waiting for an excuse to “share” the gospel. Besides, the educated among us (let’s face it it’s most of us) know that the Holocaust as it occurred could not have happened in an atheist nation.

Malechi
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Look – I gotta agree with Radical here – with all the fundamentalist, evangelical crap the christians throw about – who cares is they’re offended by a sign in a window. I mean – what ever happened to turning the other cheek? (Or is this just another case of selective memory?)

I’m also really pleased to read the bulk of comments posted on here are against this article in principle – as an Australian we look up to the US kinda like an older brother – (ok, like a strange older brother). This time though, I think you guys really have it right.

Keep up the good fight people!

John
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Too bad someone didn’t put up a display extolling the virtues of the Separation of Church and State. They might have included the Constitution in their display. On the cautionary side, they could have included images from the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Witch Trials of Salem, the Iranian Revolution, the Taliban, and other religiously motivated government endevors that led so so much bloodshed and human suffering.

Malechi
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

please excuse my typo – it should read…

‘who cares IF they’re offended by a sign in a window.’

Jody Wheeler
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

David, your argument is ridiculous, bordering on the disingenuous.

>The nativity is not about sin, but about promise.

It’s about the birth of a Savior to redeem a fallen, corrupt world, not the Feel-good Summer Movie about Mary, Joseph, baby Yeshu and their cavalcade of cheery barnyard friends.

Corruption, sin, and evil are the foundations on which the Nativity myth resides (and leaving out several thousand years of syncretism which got it there.)

While I enjoy the cheer and goodwill celebrated present the Yuletide season, the foundations of the Christian part of it — fallen humanity needing to be redeemed by a Savior — is highly, highly offensive.

It’s also why in public spaces, during seasons such as this, we either include notes, displays and comments from everyone in the community or no one.

SuprKufr
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

Jody Wheeler, I agree with you entirely. The core of the Christian message is the gospel, which states that every single human is born just as bad and worthless as John Wayne Gacy, and that only the torture and murder of a perfect and innocent human being could be the proper human sacrifice to make up for it. If that extremely common and completely misanthropic idea doesn’t amount to “enslaving minds”, then I don’t know what does.

A nativity scene celebrates the birth of the human sacrifice. That’s why the nativity scene offends me and deserves a forceful response, ESPECIALLY if the nativity scene is on government property.

Priya Lynn
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

Good points Jody and Suprkufr. The nativity represents the threat of hell more directly than I had initially thought.

SuprKufr
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:46

Eternal punishment, eternal torture, hell. The words of Christ. That’s “justice” for non-Christians according to the Bible.

Don’t pretend that we haven’t been hearing what Christians have been saying for decades now. Furthermore, don’t pretend that we can’t read the words of Jesus Christ and assume that he means exactly what he says, which is what one would assume from anyone who is both honest and forthright.

GG
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

Would anyone like to hear how I deal with signs or public displays that I don’t like?

I don’t look at them. If I happen to see something I dislike, then I simply cease to look at it.

Maybe more people should give my strategy a try!

SuprKufr
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

GG – I believe your strategy is called, “Ignore it and maybe it will go away.”

Rick
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_t6rV3U9ZEHM/ST1UvCEvHJI/AAAAAAAAO84/xek0Aa7Xo8E/s1600-h/OppressedChristians.gif

Mike Airhart
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

The Washington State Capitol holiday display appears to be a blatant attack upon Jews, Muslims, and others whose holiday celebrations were excluded from the display.

The display creates a false dichotomy. One is NOT limited to just three choices: anti-Semitic forms of Christianity, bigoted forms of atheism, and the pointless chopping down of trees that are needed to clean our air and avert global warming.

That display serves the political aims of fundamentalists and atheists, but no one else. It certainly does not serve the cause of constructive and diverse religious expression.

Timothy Kincaid
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

Mike,

You are factually mistaken. Neither Jew, Muslims, or “others” were excluded. In fact, it was in response to a Menorah display in previous years that the Christmas and other displays were allowed.

It appears that Jews and Muslims simply did not request a display.

I rather wish that they had. I personally find the centuries old tradition of lighting candles accompanied by specific prayers to be inspiring and a reminder that ancient wisdoms have much to contribute to a modern age. And while I know little about Muslim traditional observances, I think that I would probably benefit from such an experience.

AdrianT
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

What a pathetic, whingeing, whining article. No-one is stopping the self-pitying Timothy Kincaid from celebrating Christmas; the sign makes no call for censorship or suppression of other religious beliefs. It is simply offering an alternative message. You are not forced to accept it, or even look at it.

It is the author who cannot tolerate the expression of any opinion that differs from his own. It is high time religious people were made to provide real reasons for their beliefs, based on evidence, logic and observation. Just look at what people do in the name of ‘God’ – in Bali, Bombay, Beirut, Baghdad, Belfast… and in the USA, whether it’s pumping blood around the dead body of Terri Schiavo to indoctrinating kids with creationism in schools – it’s high time religious people were made to explain themselves for once.

That’s all people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers and Daniel Dennett are doing. And in a country where a half of the population thinks that the universe is 6,000 years old (and thus formed 2,000 years after the domestication of the dog) their message is needed more than ever. Long may they continue.

If people had less respect for religious opinion – then it would be easier to eliminate bigotry from any discussion. People who claim not only to know there is a mind at work in the universe, but that they know the mind of ‘god’ (which cannot possibly be known), even to the point of knowing his opinion about sexual positions – it is an obligation to treat such people with mockery and ridicule, as predicted by the supposed Jesus in Matt 10:22.

Those who regard such propositions to be ridiculous, are not likely to end up paying thousands of dollars to kooks like Exodus, NARTH and other businesses, who prey on people’s credulity, scientific illiteracy and fears of non-existent places like ‘hell’. That’s also why such organisations don’t work in Europe, where most people have no problem accepting the Theory of Evolution, and see religion as an eccentric pursuit.

Dan Barker’s excellent book ‘Godless’ – the story of how Barker went from fundamentalist preacher to atheist, is an excellent read – the perfect seasonal gift in fact :-) .

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

“It is high time religious people were made to…”

History is full of stories about those who decided that it was “high time” that others were “made to” do what the speaker demanded. Many of them, like AdrianT, did so out of their religious beliefs.

I can’t think of any that ended well.

Richard Rush
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

AdrianT’s full statement was “It is high time religious people were made to provide real reasons for their beliefs, based on evidence, logic and observation.” Although one may quibble with the term “high time,” I have to agree with that statement. Given that many millions of Christians feel entitled by their beliefs to exert absolute power and control over others, I think compelling evidence should be required to validate the truth of those beliefs.

Advertisers are not permitted to make claims about the factual merits of their products without some validating evidence. Yet, for example, ex-gay ministries are permitted to hide behind the special rights accorded to religion, and use bogus claims in order to take money from vulnerable people.

It is high time that non-believers in religious superstition come out of the closet and become a critical mass in order to hold the Christians accountable for their destructive practices. My general sense is that this is beginning to happen. I think that religious belief is a lot more fragile that commonly thought – why else would people feel so threatened by the FFRF sign at the Washington State Capitol?

AdrianT
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

Really Timothy, why should I respect ridiculous beliefs, when they are based on no evidence?

Why should your religious opinion be given special treatment, and be ringfenced from probing, examination, criticism and if needs be, mockery?

It is actually because people have been brave enough to do these very things – paying with their lives at the stake in some cases – that we have won the right to free expression and self determination.

Believe and say whatever you like, but the choice is simple: either have good reasons for your beliefs, or face the consequences – which may mean being insulted and mocked.

By complaining of ill-treatment simply because you are called to explain yourself is frankly childish.

David C.
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

Truth in Advertising should definitely apply whenever somebody is taking money for a service. “Gay-reparative therapies” suspected of being harmful should be prohibited by the FDA, and condemned by the appropriate medical societies.

Faith (n)
2 a (1) : firm or unquestioning belief in something for which there is no proof
   — Merriam-Webster Unabridged

My way of looking at the line between Church and State is that it divides what some would like to be true from what is so. When belief or Faith are used as justification for denying freedom and dignity to any group, that line has been crossed: Faith “works” on one side and not the other, but reason should function on both sides.

AdrianT
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

I really have to pick up on some comments left by David. Though, since this website has a habit of censoring comments it doesn’t like, may I start with a disclaimer. I paraphrase the introduction of the Age of Reason, written by Thomas Paine:

“You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” I stand by those words too, even though I despise religion.

DAVID: “To some people, religion has been all kinds of terrible things, but for others, it has been the foundation for the highest expressions of compassion, artistry, insight, and liberation. However, the same is true of atheism. Regimes associated with atheism have committed terrible atrocities in the world, but, so have regimes dressed up in religion.”

No regime has committed atrocities in the name of atheism. Getting rid of injustice, oppression and totalitarianism is not simply a matter of getting rid of ‘god’. Atheism does not lead to morality in itself. For example, people like Stalin (a former orthodox priest) modeled their societies on religious states: think of the leadership cult, Inquisition-style the witch hunts against dissenters, the disastrous economic miracles, state dogma. It is about basing beliefs on reason, and getting rid of ‘worship’. It is about basing your moral standpoints on the morality of John Stuart Mill, John Milton (born 400 years ago today incidentally), Thomas Paine; the attitude to seeking truth of Francis Bacon. Humanity has spent 5 centuries fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of enquiry, the right to self-determination, and at every stage, this has been met with fierce resistance from the religious.

DAVID “The closing sentence of the atheist statement slanders the millions of people of faith who sacrificed to end slavery and racism, the millions of people of faith working today to end homophobia, the people of faith who have sacrificed to fight poverty and disease and injustice.”

Are you implying that by saying that without faith, people like Desmond Tutu, would not be able or willing to do such good deeds? That potentially makes your comment all the more slanderous, and patronizing. Judging by the poison in the bible, I think it is more likely people like Tutu et al are doing good in spite of – not thanks to – their faith. How do you sort the good verses of the Bible from those recommending slavery, genocide, xenophobia, homophobia and suppression of women? If you use a guide outside of the bible, why call the bible a moral guide? None of Jesus’ messages is original in any case – least of all the ‘golden rule’. Frankly, you paint a far too rosy picture of religion, since 80% of regular church goers voted for Prop 8, while 90% of non-believers voted against. The bible was used to justify slavery by the Confederates, just as it was by the Anglican church.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that religion enslaves minds. Actually, look at the ultimatum of Matt 25:41 – ‘believe in me or face eternal fire’: one of the most evil, poisonous messages imaginable, that really is on a par with what the suicide bombers say. Many people are literally terrified into believing, or seeking salvation from ex-gay ministries – because they have been indoctrinated with this from a young age. Doing good to expect reward in an afterlife, or because you are terrified of the consequences of not doing good, is not morality.

If you’re going to claim that kind natured Christians are motivated by their faith to do good deeds, you must make that claim also for Hamas and Hezbollah; and the good work that the Nation of Islam and the Scientologists do to get people off drugs. Are we slandering them by saying their faith is poison? If not, why make an exception for Christianity?

What evidence do you have that science has been ‘contaminated’? If you have any, feel free to present it in a scientific journal – we would welcome this. Science is about testing hypotheses, building theories, which are subject to peer-review, falsifiable and based on the evidence. It’s a method for finding out what we know. The whole point about science is that there is room a better explanation, should one come along. Knowledge is cumulative. That’s why astronomy has replaced astrology, and chemistry has replaced alchemy. It’s why a 10 year old today could thrill Aristotle to the core by telling him about the heliocentric solar system. There is by definition no fundamentalism in science. E.g. if a rabbit fossil were to be found in pre-Cambrian rock strata, the theory of evolution would collapse. But every fossil found, has supported the theory. So it still stands.

The debate about science has been contaminated indeed – by pseudoscience, like intelligent design, reparative therapy (both religiously inspired) or homeopathy for which there is no evidence whatsoever. If anything, scientists are arguably guilty for not shouting out enough – for example, in refuting those who data-mine evidence to support religious ideology.

It seems your definition of ‘fundamentalism’ – is anything you find offensive. Could it be, that you don’t like the possibility you could be completely wrong about something you’ve always cherished? I don’t mind being proved wrong. But to compare atheists who make you question your beliefs with al Qaeda is not just crazy, but highly offensive – an insult to the memories of those slaughtered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on 9/11. Please tell me, how many atheists who are going to blow themselves and a train load of others to bits in the name of their non-belief?

Once we start banning uncomfortable opinions because they are ‘degrading’ – who is to judge what is degrading? Who is to decide which opinion may not be heard? Your Orwellian vision, Sir, is the slippery slope to theocracy, dictatorship and Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

AdrianT

“….since this website has a habit of censoring comments it doesn’t like….”

That is flatly untrue. This website removes comments that are in violation with our Comments Policy without regard to ideology or position. I recommend that you review it.

It’s my observation that the hardcore fundamentalist Christians who come here seeking to evangelize for their religion find it just as constricting of a policy as the hardcore fundamentalist Atheists who come here seeking to do the same. But it’s our policy and we’ll uphold it.

Jim Burroway
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

Re: Though, since this website has a habit of censoring comments it doesn’t like …

Let me be clear: The comments that I deleted on this thread, I did so because they contained unacceptable levels of profanity, which is a direct violation of our comments policy. I don’t care whether I agree with the comment or not. Profanity like that simply is not allowed here, nor is it necessary to make a point.

I would have deleted a comment like that even if I otherwise agreed with the opinion expressed — as I have on other occasions. It’s not the opinion that was censored, but the profanity.

We post links to our comments policy prominently above and below the comment form. The goal is to maintain a semblance of decorum. Those who abuse the privilege are either banned outright or moderated. We make no apologies for it.

Emily K
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

I have to agree with Jody and SuprKufr on the human sacrifice deal, and when they describe it so honestly, it reminds me why Christianity could never truly be combined with Judaism – no matter how much “Messianic Jews” would like to think otherwise. Christianity might have been able to absorb all of the pagan religions, but Judaism continues to stand on its own. Maybe that’s why they treat us – those who do NOT believe Jesus is messiah or a god – so vilely in their scriptures.

While I have very little faith in humanity all together, I do not believe that we are divinely inherently born into sin and darkness. G-d created us in His Image according to my religion, and when we learned what Good and Evil was and disobeyed Him, He didn’t abandon us, He taught us how to live good lives – it’s recorded in Scripture. Look, people can quibble all they want about the murder and wars and “vengeful deity” they see in the “Old” Testament but what I was always taught was that G-d = Love and that it’s easy to be a good person when you try to be a good person.

Simple. No bloodshed, ESPECIALLY no HUMAN bloodshed sacrifice (I don’t care if Jesus was supposed to be G-d, he was a human when he died and only a human being could shed blood) is needed to redeem anybody.

I also grew up believing that worship was personal and private, and to this day it’s how I feel most comfortable as a religious person. Maybe that’s why no Jews requested a public display, because it is a personal journey. Besides, placing a menorah in the window isn’t done to show off, it’s done out of tradition.

I would also like to add that I enjoy very much the lights and pine used to decorate for Yuletide. It gives me a warm feeling and helps make winter a joyous occasion rather than a cold bleak time.

GaySolomon
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

At its simplest level, atheism is merely the absence of belief in gods. Atheism is not a set of positive statements about the world, or our place within it. Some atheists may share some common world views, but not necessarily so. Consequently, it is a bit silly to expect atheists not to…”oppose myth and mystery at the time of the Winter Solstice.”

IMHO – Diginity and respect are owed only to individuals – not to religious beliefs.

I agree with AdrianT – it is “high time” that we asked our religious bretheren to justify and explain their beliefs. Far too much deference is shown to ideas that are very likely untrue.

AdrianT
December 10th, 2008 | LINK

My sincere apologies Timothy and Jim – that was unfair of me to claim you sensor opinions. I deserve to be horsewhipped for that comment.

Fundamentally yours ;-)

A x

SuprKufr
December 10th, 2008 | LINK

I think the principle that Timothy (and others) are standing up for is, “It is wrong to attack another person’s faith.”

I think that principle is detestable because it allows evil and falsehood to be perpetrated and spread in the name of faith.

Let me draw it up in a way that might hit home. Suppose I created a religion called, “All Christians eat babies.” Then I would walk up to Christians and ask them how many babies they ate and accuse them of lying if they denied it. If they complained about the way I treated them, then I would accuse them of attacking my faith.

Compare: Christians maintain that punishing gay people by word and deed is part of their faith, and claim that their faith is being attacked when people ask them to stop punishing gay people.

SuprKufr
December 10th, 2008 | LINK

Edit, because I know some people will bring it up.

SOME* Christians maintain that punishing gay people by word and deed is part of their faith, and claim that their faith is being attacked when people ask them to stop punishing gay people.

* meaning, “millions of”

Timothy Kincaid
December 10th, 2008 | LINK

SuprKufr

I think the principle that Timothy (and others) are standing up for is, “It is wrong to attack another person’s faith.”

You’re quite close. Actually, I would put it as “It is wrong to (ab)use equal access protections to make a direct attack on the faith of others during a holiday display in a state’s Capitol”. Legal, but wrong.

Just as it would be wrong for anti-gays to insist that the State of California put up placards accusing gays of dying 20 years younger and of all being child molesters next to any gay pride displays. Probably legal, but wrong. Fortunately, so far anyway, the anti-gays in California have not stooped to the level of the FFRF in Washington.

Malechi
December 10th, 2008 | LINK

Might I inject a foreign perspective at this point in the discussion…

It seems 2 me that the basis of the arguments here boils down to freedoms of expression – a freedom U guys bang on about constantly, (& why not!).

So either U support this freedom of expression – meaning in all it’s forms & universally for everyone, or U don’t.
I hate 2 say it, but U can’t have your cake AND eat it folks – either NOTHING is off limits – or no one can say anything about anything. Ever.
U simply can NOT start adding ‘conditions’ 2 fundamental rights such as this one – “Well U have the right to express whatever U like, as long as U don’t offend anyone” – because inevitably SOMEONE is gonna get offended!
Every persons point of reference is different – & that’s something that should be celebrated – not censored!

Inevitably there is no answer that is going to satisfy everyone – but bagging others for what they say or do, ultimately does NO one any favors. If ANYONE should know that – WE should!

Peace.

Robin
January 13th, 2009 | LINK

It is interesting to me that we all want to put lables on each other and define those labels. Aethists attack Christians. Christians attack gays. Gays..well…gays are too full of love. It all misses the point. We are people. Some people hate others and some people don’t. Some people care if others find their holiday/religious decoration offensive and others don’t. Some people want to censor others, and others don’t. All these different types of actions are committed by all types of people. In the end, we are more alike than different. I, as a Christian, do not care if an aethist claims my God does not exist. It doesn’t impact my faith, my beliefs, or my mission to tell others about my story of grace at all. I also don’t believe gays should be punished. I don’t care if I offend someone by saying Merry CHRISTmas because it is not my intention to offend, just as I am not offended when someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah. We all want respect and the assumption that our intentions are good. For me, turning the other check includes the case when someone insults my God or my faith. I don’t have to agree, but I don’t have to make it a civil case either. Can’t we all coexist without all of the drama?

Timothy (TRiG)
August 18th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t care if I offend someone by saying Merry CHRISTmas because it is not my intention to offend

Well, you should care. It has been said that it is the mark of the gentleman that he never insults anyone unintentionally. We should always be careful not to offend people needlessly, and the more so when we come from a place of privilege, as you Christians do.

Atheists are more vilified than gays are in American society. And Greta, who falls into both categories, has written many interesting blog posts about that.

You, Timothy Kincaid, say that this placard is an angry attack. Has it perhaps occurred to you that this anger is justified? What we’re seeing here is the standard reaction of a peeved Christian, the sort who takes “Do you have any evidence for that remark?” as an attack.

You also gave me the strong impression that it’s okay to disagree with the conclusions of the Mormon Church, but illegitimate to question the assumptions and logic which brought them to those conclusions. If I’m reading you right, your thinking must indeed be very confused.

That said, Pyra Lynn is wrong too:

Piper you all share the same bible which clearly states non-believers are going to a hell of eternal torture.

I suggest you stop telling people what they believe. It doesn’t work very well. Also, the Bible does not state hell (or anything else) clearly. The Bible is a confused nonsensical mish-mash, and people find all sorts of strange meanings in there.

TRiG.

Priya Lynn
August 18th, 2009 | LINK

Trig said “Priya lynn is wrong too:

Piper you all share the same bible which clearly states non-believers are going to a hell of eternal torture.

No, Trig, you’re wrong. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

“7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power”

Priya Lynn
August 18th, 2009 | LINK

And Trig, as to the bible “not stating hell (or anything else) clearly”:

Mathew 13: 41-42

41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Mark 9: 43-49

43And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

49For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

Matthew 5:22

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 23:33

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Luke 12:5

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him

Luke 16:23

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

————–

I could go on…

Timothy Kincaid
August 18th, 2009 | LINK

TRiG and Priya Lynn,

Please continue your conversation here.

It’s nice to keep all of the arguments together in one place for easy reference.

Priya Lynn
August 18th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy, the comments by Trig and myself related directly to the topic of and comments made in this thread, not the one you suggested. It’ll be very difficult for people to follow conversations that begin on one thread if they have to then jump to some unknown place in the body of another old thread with different conversations to do so – that’d make things very disjointed. Religion is bound to come up in a variety of threads, in fact you initiated the conversation on atheism and religion in this one, we’ll all find it more appropriate to let conversations flow naturally in their proper order rather than having debate bounded into a mishmash of a thread.

Allan
March 13th, 2010 | LINK

I agree 100% with the sign and their right to display it. Religions are not benign or a positive force for good. They are hotbeds of lies, hypocrisy and the theft of money.

[Year 'round]
may reason prevail.

There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

Facts cannot insult or offend unless one is in denial of truth. “Gods, devils, angels, heaven, hell” have remained invisible, with no evidence whatsoever for any of them, since forever on Earth.

Those who continue to abuse people’s fears by feeding them made-up crap like these should be jailed for being con artists and thieves. They must be attacked, but this sign is not any kind of attack, it’s simply a statement of “our” truth.

Don’t like being next to it? Hustle your ass somewhere else, honey. You will be accommodated, as all other religion-based nonsense is in this barbaric nation.

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