79 responses

  1. Priya Lynn
    December 8, 2008

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

  2. SuprKufr
    December 8, 2008

    “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.

  3. GG
    December 8, 2008

    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!

  4. SuprKufr
    December 8, 2008

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

  5. Rick
    December 8, 2008
  6. Mike Airhart
    December 8, 2008

    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.

  7. Timothy Kincaid
    December 8, 2008


    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.

  8. AdrianT
    December 9, 2008

    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 :-) .

  9. Timothy Kincaid
    December 9, 2008

    “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.

  10. Richard Rush
    December 9, 2008

    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?

  11. AdrianT
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  12. David C.
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  13. AdrianT
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  14. Timothy Kincaid
    December 9, 2008


    “….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.

  15. Jim Burroway
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  16. Emily K
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  17. GaySolomon
    December 9, 2008

    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.

  18. AdrianT
    December 10, 2008

    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

  19. SuprKufr
    December 10, 2008

    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.

  20. SuprKufr
    December 10, 2008

    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”

  21. Timothy Kincaid
    December 10, 2008


    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.

  22. Malechi
    December 10, 2008

    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!


  23. Robin
    January 13, 2009

    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?

  24. Timothy (TRiG)
    August 18, 2009

    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.


  25. Priya Lynn
    August 18, 2009

    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”

  26. Priya Lynn
    August 18, 2009

    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…

  27. Timothy Kincaid
    August 18, 2009

    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.

  28. Priya Lynn
    August 18, 2009

    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.

  29. Allan
    March 13, 2010

    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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