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You Whiny Sniveling Little Atheists Are Pathetic!

Okay, so here is the story:

In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Brewer, (D AZ, Dec. 12, 2011), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an Establishment Clause challenge to the Arizona governor’s proclaiming a “Day of Prayer.”  The court held that plaintiffs lacked standing because they were not injured by the governor’s proclamation, saying:

Plaintiffs provide affidavits to establish they turned off the television and altered conversational habits to avoid the topic of religion or the day of prayer….  Plaintiffs, however, do not explain why their alleged injury is different than injuries in other Establishment Clause cases in which the plaintiffs did not have standing, such as the President’s day of prayer proclamation. Essentially, Plaintiffs seek a ruling obliquely holding that injury sufficient to confer standing exists under the Establishment Clause where government action is covered in the news or the subject of a social conversation. The Court declines to depart from Establishment Clause case law on this ground. Plaintiffs have not shown injury beyond “stigmatic injury” or feeling like an “outsider.”

The East Valley Tribune reports a few more details on the decision and reactions to it:

“Gov. Brewer’s proclamations proclaim a day of prayer, and one proclamation encourages all citizens to pray for God’s blessings on our state and nation,” the judge acknowledged.

“Though ‘encouraged,’ no one, including plaintiffs, is obligated to pray,” Silver wrote. “Nor are plaintiffs forced to alter their physical routine or bear a monetary expense to avoid a religious symbol.”

At best, the judge said, those challenging the governor’s actions have incurred a “stigmatic injury” or “feeling like an outsider.” None of that, said Silver, gives them the right to sue.

Attorney Marc Victor said his clients are weighing whether to seek review from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or file a new lawsuit in state court. He said there are similar requirements to separate church and state in the Arizona Constitution.

In a prepared statement Brewer praised the court, calling the lawsuit “a futile attempt to stifle an American right and tradition.”

“Citizens of every race, background and creed have been coming together in voluntary prayer since our nation’s founding, and will continue to do so against this organization’s best efforts,” the governor said.

Press aide Matthew Benson acknowledged that not everyone believes in prayer. But he said that does not mean his boss is doing anything unconstitutional.

Let’s get this straight.  The atheists are suing because they had to turn off the television to avoid the topic of religion or news announcements about the Day of Prayer.  They had to alter their conversation to avoid the topic of religion. This made them feel like “outsiders”.

Oh, boo hoo.

You whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous cowards.  You have the audacity to tell us Christians that we are “weak” and that our religion is a “crutch.”  You are supposed to be so “courageous”, venturing forth boldly into the existential mystery of being alone, facing with stoicism the nothingness that awaits you at death, priding yourself on your realism and self-reliance. You are a bunch of feeble fakers.

Yes, you are outsiders. Go start your own damn country.  This one was started by Christians, you puerile dimwits. It is Christians who established and largely Christians who fought and died to maintain the freedoms you enjoy. And Christians are still the majority. Apparently your vaulted belief system doesn’t equip you to handle being in the minority. That’s interesting, isn’t it? After all, this was and is a societal situation valiantly handled by millions and millions of Christians who suffered — and currently suffer — real oppression, violence, torture, economic deprivation, and cruel deaths.  But you have to go through turning off the TV once in a while and so your precious puny feelings are hurt. How delicate and frail your mental architecture is!

You are a pitiful joke. Trembling over the mere mention of God. Running like babies to court because of your brittle feelings. “Oh, but judge, but judge, I saw a cross and I just can’t stand it.”  “I heard someone say ‘Merry Christmas’ and it hurt my feelings.”  “I just can’t sleep knowing there is a manger scene at the courthouse.”  “The sight of the Ten Commandments makes me wet my pants.” Now we see how inadequate and feeble you really are. Rage, therapists say, is the flip side of helplessness. And so we see your rage against religion in the public square for what it is: a product of your own insubstantial internal resources. Go look at yourself in the mirror if you can bear the pathetic, contemptible sight of yourself. Our merest martyr shows you to be a wimp – fourteen-year-old Kizito of Uganda singing hymns while being burned alive. But you, you anemic, lily-livered worms – you quail at pushing the off button on the remote! Hah!


Mary Kochan, former Senior Editor of CatholicExchange, is Editor-in-chief of CatholicLane.com.

Raised as a  third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Mary worked her way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to enter the Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday, 1996.  Mary has spoken in many settings, to groups large and small, on the topic of destructive cultism and has been a guest on both local and national radio programs. To arrange for Mary to speak at your event, you may contact her at kochanmar@gmail.com.

  • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

    That’s the way it is. However the truth is that Modernism is crashing and not because Christians are gnawing at its foundations. This thing they prefer to call “Postmodernism” is nothing but the apoteosis of Modernism. This is the great failure. The edifice has been crumbling for decades. The USSR is gone and they can’t blame Christianity for that. They fell because they were useless. A system capable to knock down Moscow’s Cathedral but uncapable to make blue jeans. I know a few brilliant Atheists but the intelligent ones don’t last long. They convert once they take in enough technical or scientific knowledge. Hey! I understand relativity and I am fluent in four languages, and I am still a Christian. Where is the necessary ignorance required to be religious? Yet every time I find an Atheist that is brave enough to hear my first question I never get a satisfactory answer. For example “Where did the information required to make flat representation or a tridimensional cell come from? How did the hundreds of protein chains required to build the blueprint of a cell actually ‘imagined’ something that never existed before?” It is an honest question but watch the responses: even if the person asked is honest and well educated there is never a clear answer. The most clear and honest answer I got was “I don’t know but I don’t like religion.” Yet they prefer to curse in the darkness… oh well.
    Good article. It had to be written.

    • jamesm124

      To Mary Kochan and Carlos Caso-Rosendi

      Mary:

      I agree that the above is a ridiculous complaint to have and in no way justifies legal action or really action of any kind. That said, I think some perspective could be offered. I am sure you would certainly agree that religious symbols of all sorts are frequently presented in media and pretty much where ever you go. As an atheist, I have absolutely no problem with that. Diversity of culture is one of the beautiful things I enjoy about the world. I would personally advocate more presentation of religious holidays and beliefs from a vast array of belief systems. I think a change in that direction would be a big step towards promoting understanding and acceptance. I understand your outrage that people would attempt to sue for the inconvenience of avoiding religious messages if it is their prerogative to do so.
      At my university, we have a campus chapel that advertises membership and posts religious sentiment all over the common areas of campus. Again, I take no issue with this, it’s simply interesting. However, recently there was an advertising push for an atheist congregation which posted the following message in washroom stalls and on some city busses: “there probably is no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” I was pretty happy to finally see my views posted in a public place. I’ve always been relatively quiet about what I believe for fear of offending someone religious. This gave me courage to feel proud of what I believe. Why did everyone else get to see their beliefs in advertising when I previously hadn’t? Now I could!
      The sentiments from the religious community were not so understanding as I had been towards their advertisements. There were protests everywhere. Religious people approached students as they left their cars in the university parking lot asking them what their beliefs were and if they would sign a petition to remove the advertisements. These were not even students! I remember one lady yelling about how the atheists would rise up and tear down the entire establishment if these advertisements were not stopped.
      Soon thereafter, all posters were removed.
      Mary, this is the perspective I offer you. The comfort you feel from having your beliefs present in mainstream media is undergoing a reduction, and I do feel sorry for you. The public presentation of my beliefs, however, gets shot down upon mere mention. I, therefore, never feel the comfort you feel at the mention of Christmas on television. This might provide you with some understanding of why some people have chosen to lash out at your beliefs. It’s a case of “if I can’t, then you can’t either.” Is it right? No. But you probably shouldn’t label us as pathetic, whiny and sniveling.

      Carlos:

      I entirely disagree with your statement that the intelligent atheists don’t last long. Converting after taking in enough scientific and technical knowledge is the greatest contradiction I have ever seen. First of all, I would like to say that religion is not a matter of fact, but a matter of feeling. You feel that things are the way the bible tells you, but you cannot say that they are based in fact. Feelings are strong, and they are important, but they rarely overlap with scientific and technical knowledge. Secondly, people who do accumulate any significant level of scientific and technical knowledge know that ignorance does not justify slapping on an “explainable by magic” sticker. It is true that the deeper you delve into science, the more you realize just how much we don’t know, but I have never seen this as a reason to resort to religious beliefs. It is simply motivation to push further to acquire the best answers we can. Scientists would never have come to any major discoveries if all of the “intelligent ones” stopped after taking in enough technical or scientific knowledge and attributed all things to the creator. People would still think that the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around us. Your “first question” for the brave atheists is of abiogenesis, which is rather clever because there is no complete and accepted theory on the subject yet. Your question is the equivalent of asking someone why apples fall to the ground long before Newton sat below the tree. The best and most honest answer would be to say that we don’t know exactly how, but saying “god did it” isn’t a very productive way of finding the answer. As for abiogenesis, in my undergrad, I wrote probably my favorite review paper of my degree on the subject. I encourage you to look at some of the research being done. Extremely interesting. My favorite hypothesis isn’t the more accepted RNA-world hypothesis, but rather the protein first model. I have to stop myself here because I’ll end up regurgitating my entire 5000 word paper onto this forum if I continue.
      So, I think that now the most clear and honest answer you’ve ever gotten is not “I don’t know but I don’t like religion” but instead, “I don’t know but religion won’t give you a good valid explanation either.”
      Are there other questions you like to pose to atheists?

      Cheers.

      • jamesm124

        I should add that I mean no disrespect. I simply came across your article and I felt that there were aspects of the topic that deserved exploration.

        I hope you both are enjoying your holidays. Merry Christmas.

        • jamesm124

          I really wish I could have a response from Carlos on this. Oh well.

  • Jann FritzHuspen

    “Start your own damn country!”

    Guess what,”whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous cowards,” it won’t be a democracy because HISTORY SHOWS THAT NO DEMOCRACY HAS EVER BEEN SUSTAINED except in those countries with a Judeo-Christian foundation!

    You just can’t have it both ways. Maybe you’d like the new Egypt instead (see today’s article A Predictable Fiasco).

    • Min

      I feel like it should be pointed out that the Roman Republic lasted approximately 500 years. The USA is fairly young as far as countries go, being roughly 230 years old.

      If anything, history has shown that /no/ government is permanent.

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    I find the phrase “stigmatic injury” in this context to be oh-so-ironic. If these folks are feeling pierced by nails for their faith maybe they should offer their sufferings up to … whom?

  • W2LJ

    Right on Mary! Thanks for expressing what so many of us feel!

  • Mary Kochan

    In fairness to all the unbelievers who are not lawsuit-happy whiners, I thought I should share this email exchange:

    Ms. Kochan,

    I am an atheist. I’m also a lawyer. You’re right: the lawsuit was pathetic. Plaintiff’s claim doesn’t come close to the legal standing required to show a cognizable injury.

    You’re wrong, however, to lump all non-believers in the same boat as the weak crackpot who filed the lawsuit and suggest that we form our own country. Freedom of religion; freedom from religion. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. I know how important belief can be in someone’s life. I see faith sustain my mother. So I don’t understand the minority of atheists who want to rid the world of religion. But knowing plenty of non-believers (more, I suspect, than you), I can assure you such people are the minority. The rest of us are perfectly happy to let you have your churches and your faith.

    I wish you well. I hope you can find some love in that heart of yours for people who are different from you. Plenty of us atheists would give you our coat and our tunic and walk not just one mile with you but twain. We’d just do it out of the goodness of our hearts and not because we thought we’d go to Hell if we didn’t.

    Bless you, and Merry Christmas to you and your family,

    P—

    Actually, P—. I expected to hear from someone like you and I’m glad I did. I’ve known plenty of decent unbelievers in my day. But the rest of you are being made to look pathetic by a rabid few – kind of like we Christians are often made to look bad by our fringe nut cases. I hope you enjoy the holidays with your family as well.

    And in the interest of increasing understanding – fear of hell is low on the list of Christian motivations with love of God and fellow men as well as appreciation for God’s grace and goodness ranking far higher.

    Blessings,
    Mary

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Mary, you are charitable to accept at face value the claim of the spurious lawsuit. To me it seems that the atheists are trying to use the courts to make atheism the official national religion. They will sue on the slightest grounds, or on no grounds at all.

    In Chapter 2, paragraph 7 of “The Education of Cyrus” Xenophon says the Persians “Punish whomsoever they find to be bringing an unjust accusation.” Oh, if only we Americans could do that.

    The Second Continental Congress, in 1775,resolved unanimously to request the colonies to join in a common day of “publick humiliation, fasting and prayer, so that “we may with united hearts and voices unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins, and offer up joint supplications to the all-wise, omnipotent, and merciful Disposer of all events; humbly beseeching him to forgive our iniquities, to remove our present calamities, to avert these desolating judgments with which we are threatened.”

    TAKE THEM TO COURT! SUE THE CONGRESS WHICH DECLARED US INDEPENDENT!

    But wait, President Abraham Lincoln needs to be sued as well! What an outrage. When “a joint committee of both Houses of Congress” requested Lincoln to “recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God . . .” Lincoln dared to issue the proclamation of “the last Thursday of September next as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation.” The proclamation is dated August 12, A.D. 1861.

    OUR NATION WAS FOUNDED IN PRAYER, PRESERVED IN PRAYER, and as shown in Roosevelt’s prayer for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, SUSTAINED IN PRAYER.

    My Fellow Americans:

    Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

    And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

    Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

    Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

    They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

    They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

    For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

    Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

    And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

    Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

    Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

    And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

    And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

    With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

    Thy will be done, Almighty God.

    Amen.

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944

    • PorkyPine

      Atheism is not a religion, nor cannot be a religion, not even a “state religion.” Atheism is the absence of belief. It cannot, like any actual faith, be forced.

      The idea that an extremely small minority can somehow “force” the “national religion” (which doesn’t exist, anyway).

      Of course, there’s a foundational flaw in the argument itself: Not declaring a “Day of Prayer” would not in any way promote, endorse, or otherwise encourage atheism. A day of “Celebrating the Non-Existence of God,” on the other hand, would.

      Refraining from mentioning something does not endorse the opposite. That’s pure silliness.

      • fishman

        However public ally banning the exercise of normal human activities tacitly gives credence to the idea there is ‘something wrong’ with it.

        What effect does it have on our legislators to be told they cannot express their faith in any official communications? ( Christians only mind you, no one was told they couldn’t wish people a blessed Hanuka, because that would not be PC.)

      • Ashley Briscoe

        Yes atheism is a religion.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Well said Mary, and commentators. Ted, good choice of historical documentation. Let me add the oft quoted passage from President Geo. Washington’s Farewell Address:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Persons are known by the company they keep. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is in the company of Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Second Continental Congress.

    The “Freedom from Religion” atheists, who brought the suit against Governor Brewer, keep different company: Lenin, Stalin, and other failed dictators who slaughtered millions of their own people.

    One might speculate as to which group appeals most to President Obama.

    Here is Governor Brewer’s statement about the court decision: “I commend the U.S. District Court for dismissing this baseless lawsuit for what it is – a futile attempt to stifle an American right and tradition. This was not the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first failed attempt to put an end to recognized days of voluntary prayer, and it may not be its last. But citizens of every race, background and creed have been coming together in voluntary prayer since our nation’s founding, and will continue to do so against this organization’s best efforts. I thank the Court for allowing Arizona to continue
    commemorating this important right and custom.”

    • PorkyPine

      You’ve started from a common false premise: “Atheists include dictators who slaughtered millions.”

      While this is true, it fails to acknowledge the fact that atheism is not a belief system around which one builds a morality or a motivation or, well, anything else. Atheism is the absence of belief, nothing more, nothing less. As such, suggesting that it “leads” to anything is a non-starter. There’s nothing in common to group around. Unless you believe that they killed millions in the name of “Not God,” which would really just be another name for some kind of deity. There’s nothing there, for them, to be killing over.

      Following that: “One might speculate as to which group appeals most to President Obama.”

      I would imagine the National Day of Prayer (which some atheists also attempted to stop) would render him in the former group, and any suggestion to the contrary is willful ignorance.

      • Mary Kochan

        You’ve started from a common false premise: “Atheists include dictators who slaughtered millions.”

        While this is true…

        So it is not a false premise, it is a true premise. Thank you.

        • PorkyPine

          Fair enough, I mis-spoke.

          However, the point was made in everything following it which you maturely ignored.

          “Keeping company” suggests “identifies with” or “holds common ground.”

          The common ground is, in this case, utterly irrelevant. And the suggestion that this common ground IS relevant is very much a false premise, from which many start.

          Honestly, you remind me of a lot of the obnoxious-type atheists I’ve known, who are more caught up in being tribalistic and “us” vs. “them” and “scoring points” and being “better” while only managing to make yourself look like a self-righteous, contentious jerk. You keep saying, “I don’t mean all atheists,” and yet, you agree here on this point–or else you just felt the need to catch an error in phrasing I made and feel superior by pointing it out.

          • Mary Kochan

            Look, that is not the point. You start out by trying to dismiss what TK said by saying his premise was false then you said it wasn’t. Now either you want to agree to the premise and disagree with the conclusions, or you don’t want to agree with the premise. it is really hard from what followed to figure out what your argument is exactly beyond, “yes, some atheists are murderous tyrants who have killed millions, but we aren’t all like that.”

            We already know that.

            And besides, you raised better issues in the very irenic private email discussion we had wherein I told you that I appreciated your thoughts and would be responding at length to them in a future article. So don’t come on here and try to bait me into some piecemeal discussion of it. I am not out to score cheap points. These are serous topics that should be addressed in a serious and thoughtful way with a sustained discussion that needs a better venue than a combox.

          • jamesm124

            People kill people; not Atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, Islamics, or any other specific grouping based on a belief system. And for the record, I believe a lot more dictators who have slaughtered millions have been of a religious creed. Pointing out murderous individuals who are atheists is about as productive as pointing out murderous individuals with beards or white socks. Nothing about the atheist perspective condones murder. The dictators you speak of are mentally ill and could have just as easily justified their murders with the wishes of a deity. Incidentally they rejected the belief in god. I find that fact irrelevant. If you attribute murder to lack of belief, you are no different than people who attribute murders to religion. It is a pointless, cyclic argument that is extremely prejudice.

          • Mary Kochan

            I’m answering you at what is currently the bottom of the comments.

        • PorkyPine

          I’m not here baiting you. I was responding to the extremely rude commenters you had here, except that on occasion you also made comments.

          I would have responded here in the first place, except CatholicLane was insisting on a “Captcha” entry without actually rendering one.

  • cherish439

    Do you really hope to convert the soul of an atheist by insulting them into seeing the truth? Such profanity as is displayed in this blog is detrimental to the message of Christ, part of which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Would you use such language when sharing the Christian message? Would you insult your neighbor who is an atheist in such a manner as is displayed in this text? By associating this article with the Catholic church in any way, shape, or form, it gives atheists a perfect example of how un-Christlike church followers have become. If anything is a pitiful joke, it is this blog.

    • Mary Kochan

      cherish439, please grow up. Love is not some kind of simpering doormat, “look how nice I am” thing. Jesus was loving the Pharisees when he called them “offspring of vipers” too. Sometimes it is tonic for habitual bullies to get their own poke in the nose. You’d be surprised how many atheists are talking to me about this and do “get” my use of rhetorical hyperbole in the piece. And how many recognize that they do have among them some whiny law suit-happy brats.

      Besides, that’s hardly my usual style. Try reading the rest of my articles and you’ll see.

      FYI: I use the words “damn” or “darn” maybe once or twice a year and I don’t mean just in writing; I mean AT ALL. So you can believe my use is very judicious.

      And finally, this is not a blog. It is an online magazine with over two-hundred writers and thousands of readers.

      • cherish439

        Mary,

        In what way exactly would you like me to “grow up”? I am an adult Catholic but insults will neither inspire me to read your other literature nor persuade me to recommend this online magazine. There are extremists in any group of people and I believe that I have found the outer margin of extremism in your “rhetorical hyperbole”.

        • Mary Kochan

          Ok, fine. Have a good night.

          • dennis49

            That’s it, Mary. Run away like the whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous coward you are…

          • Mary Kochan

            Now, Noel, I know you will be unhappy with me approving this comment, but I figure that in the spirit of Christmas we can’t leave a poor troll out in the cold.

  • Marella

    Wow, I thought it was atheists that were meant to be angry and bitter. What a furious rage you have worked yourself into! I thought the separation of church and state was a well established principle in the USA. You do realise that if there was a vote to decide the religion of America the Catholics would not win, don’t you? There are far more Protestants than Catholics and they’d outlaw Catholicism as quick as they could, just before all the different denominations started fighting amongst themselves as to who had the truth.

  • Skwerl

    Ms. Kochan’s post was written with the mentality of a fourth grader calling names on the playground. Isn’t it funny how none of the atheists I know would allow themselves to behave that way? Once you start with the ad hominem attacks, it pretty much signifies that you have nothing intelligent to say.

    I wish the author peace and hope she manages to rid her heart of hatred.

    I also find it amusing and interesting that you folks need government recognition for your conversations with gods. Does a deity listen better if the President intermediates?

    • Theodore Kobernick

      It’s hilarious to find Skwerl blaming Mary for an ad hominum attack, when Skwerl opens up by saying Mary has “the mentality of a fourth grader.”

      What’s that? An ad feminam attack?

  • Mary Kochan

    Jamesm124, totally got what some people here (like Skwerl) don’t get: that if you are not a whiny, law suit-happy athiest who is always touting his or her intellectual superiority over believers, then this article doesn’t apply to you. Then again, if the shoe fits, wear it.

    It is as rididulous to say it doesn’t apply to ANY atheists as is to say that there are no bigoted ignorant Christians.

    In private conversation with several atheists responding to this article, I have received similar thoughtful responses, Jamesm124. I am collecting them and considering them and I’ll be writing more on this topic in January. Thank you.

  • Skwerl

    Mary, you said “the atheists” in your post. Not *these* atheists, or *some* atheists, but *the* atheists. Are you saying that only *some* atheists are outsiders who should go start their own country?

    So if you meant something other than what you plainly wrote, you might want to go reword your message. What you’ve written simply sounds like bigotry.

    Theodore, atheism is a religion the same way bald is a hair color. What most atheists want is a secular government, not an atheistic government. They are not the same thing.

    • Theodore Kobernick

      “Atheism is a religion the same way bald is a hair color”???

      Oh, Skwerl, you’ll have to find a different little witticism. I am pretty much bald. But I do not sue to prevent hairy persons from displaying their heads in public places. In fact, I have NEVER heard of any baldy sueing about this sort of issue.

      But you militant atheists strive hard to suppress expressions of Christianity. You are intense, and your burning sense of self-righteousness exceeds even that of American Puritans — who at least accepted that non-Puritan communities had a right to exist.

      I don’t know who authorized you to speak for “most atheists” but apparently you think you can do so. I suspect that most atheists are content to let us Christians have our silly nativity scenes and such. They have better things to do than to try to convert or suppress us.

      Oops! I could write more, but I’ve just been notified that the Freedom From Baldness Society has filed a suit demanding that when we baldies appear in public, we must wear wigs. Sorry, I have to turn my efforts toward defending my right to expose my scalp.

      p.s. I enjoy your amusing efforts to think.

      • PorkyPine

        I have no idea why I’m even typing this. But let’s do it anyway, because I’m bored and feel a weird compulsion to try to show people other points of view.

        1) ““Atheism is a religion the same way bald is a hair color””
        You either don’t understand the analogy or are willfully pretending ignorance.

        The comparison is irrelevant to whether people with hair (or belief) do or do not display their hair (or belief).

        The analogy is to try (often futilely) to explain that atheism is not another religion. It can’t be. You don’t have “blondes, brunettes, redheads and balds.”
        Because bald is not a grouping of hair color. It can’t be and it never will be, because there’s no hair there to group. It’s a cute little analogy because there’s a kind of physicality. If you shaved all the hair off people, you could make massive mounds of each hair color, grouping it all together. If you wanted, you could even separate it by shades, like sects and denominations of religion. But when you come to anyone bald, you can’t shave the hair off and group it: it’s not there. There’s nothing there to group. There’s a commonality in the lack, but that’s as far as it goes. There’s no consistent colour.

        If you understood this, then you are being disingenuous and just kind of a jerk.
        If you didn’t, hopefully now you do.

        2) “Hairy persons” were not sued to prevent their heads from being displayed in public places. “Hairy persons” were not sued. A government official was sued for proclaiming national hair style day from a government position. Bald people are inherently excluded from this, because they have no hair to style. And the *government* excluded them. Not “people with hair.”

        3) Skwerl may or may not be a “militant” atheist, but you have no evidence I can see to support this claim. Not here, anyway. There is no “militancy” present. Prove it, or don’t use name-calling to serve unnecessarily divisive ends.

        4) Are you kidding? Do you know anything about religious history in the U.S.? Catholics in particular have suffered endless discrimination since the states were colonies? Heard of the Act of Toleration–and its repeal? The statutes prohibiting Catholic settlers? You’re dead wrong about Puritans. Sorry.

        5) There is no “conversion” or “suppression” in any of this. Again: the relevant element is government involvement.

        6) Your efforts would be amusing if they involved thinking. Apparently, they do not.

        PS: No, I’m not concerned with name-calling at this point. You’re a pompous jerk, and you will never be anything but if no one tells you.

        • Mary Kochan

          Forget the hair entirely. Define your terms. Give us a definition of religion that includes Buddhism and excludes atheism.

          • PorkyPine

            First:

            Not all strains of Buddhism are religious. Some are a compartmentalization of the philosophic aspects.

            In root, though, ideas like karma and reincarnation distinctly require faith in that there is no (clear) evidence of their existence. That’s the nature of faith, and its strength for those who have it: it holds to ideas that may or may not be the actuality by conviction and strength of will.

            Atheism is the absence of faith, the absence of belief–but not even in general. It’s the absence of faith or belief in a higher power.

            The *only* common element is that lack. There is no grouping. The only reality is “All atheists do not belive in a higher power.” It goes no further than this.

            All religious Buddhists believe in, if not all the same things, at least some set of things, usually some interpretation of a cycle of suffering and rebirth.

            Those who identify as Buddhist without the religious components, are or are not religious on separate grounds (such as being Christian, Jewish or atheist with a Buddhist philosophy).

            The point is that, I (and everyone else) can’t assume anything about a fellow atheist other than he or she does not believe in God. Technically, we can’t even assume he or she denies God. That would be a specifically described set of atheism, known as “strong” atheism, gnostic atheism, or positive atheism (amongst other terms). We can’t guess anything about morality (or absence), motivation or anything else. The absence of a central morality, philosophy or belief system means that it encompasses the totality of all that do not fit the bill of “theist.” Moral, immoral, kind, cruel–everything.

            The reason for analogies about hair, is that, in my experience (and that of others), the tendency toward belief in the majority leads to the assumption of denial, and of, necessarily, an existence being denied or ignored.

            For me, there is no God. I don’t claim to hold the absolute truth, but it’s easier to try to understand how someone would feel if they think otherwise when I’m adding on top of no belief.

            But if you think there IS a God, well, how easy is it to understand that my subjective understanding of the world is that there simply isn’t one? It’s not another description of God, it’s not a rejection, as for me there’s no God there to accept or reject at all. My understanding of the world is simply devoid of an intrinsic component of yours.

            That’s why it isn’t a faith. That’s why it isn’t a religion. It does not define any aspect of my life. I do not go to a church of Atheism, or anti-pray, or anything else. My life consists of all the things yours does, but without any of the religious elements. The space is not taken up with something else (equivalent, anyway)–there are no rituals, no practices, no actions, no nothing, because it is simply an absence. Nothing more and nothing less.

          • jamesm124

            Well said, PorkyPine. I think that your analogy is fitting and your explanation of why atheism is not a religion is spot on.

            I do, however, feel that there is room for people who have similar opinions to congregate and discuss them. This, I think, is as close as atheism comes to being a religion. About as close as being a Republican comes to being a religion.

            Theodore, I find your comments to be inflammatory and ignorant. Your inability to comprehend a metaphor is not justification for labeling PorkyPine as a joke. Also, in reference to one of your earlier posts, the fact that a prayer was offered and success was achieved does not signify a causal relation in any way. D-Day happened as it happened and could have happened in absence of prayer. I cannot say that it would have, just as you cannot say that it wouldn’t have. Please, if you do not have a concept to offer or an actual path of reasoning why someone’s comment is invalid, save your prejudice for your self.

        • Theodore Kobernick

          Poor Porky. You have made yourself a joke.

          You object to Mary because her “original post is filled with personal attacks, lacks charity, fairness and respect.” [Dec. 18] You tell me, “Don’t use name-calling” because I classed Skwerl as a”militant atheist.” But in the same post you call me “kind of a jerk”; but then you reconsider, and decide, “You’re a pompous jerk, and you will never be anything but, if no one tells you.”

          Porky, it’s your backside you’re showing, not mine, and not Mary’s.

          Pertinent is your comment of December 17, where you suggest of Mary, “you clearly wish to be poked in the nose.” Ah, Porky, you may be right. But don’t close your eyes to the fact that when you chose to abuse people in your writing, some of those people will nail you in return. But you get all discombobulated (an UNPOMPOUS synonym for discomfited) when it comes back at you.

          Your thinking involves a lot of self-contradiction; and your attitude invites people to pick apart your undigested thoughts.

          But it’s nice to know that you read CL.

          • Mary Kochan

            Ted and Porky, I welcome both of you continuing in this discussion as you wish, just please do not address one another any more. No ideas are being advanced here. Thanks.

  • Mary Kochan

    Over half of the article is spent establishing the context and precisely who I am talking about. The cowards in the lawsuit — and of course any of their sympathizers who make similar whiny complaints.

    Like I said: if the shoe fits…

  • goral

    An atheist’s prayer – Thank God there’s no God.
    May God forbid the possibility of there being a God.
    But if there is a God, then may God protect us.

    Nihil sine Deo!

    Mary, your article is simply superb, including the
    “profanities”.

  • Parasum

    “You whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous cowards.”

    What happened to the Golden Rule :( ?

    • Mary Kochan

      The Golden Rule does not prevent you from giving a habitual bully a poke in the nose.

      • PorkyPine

        So, when do we get to give you a poke in the nose for this bullying post?

        If you are treating others as you wish to be treated, you clearly wish to be poked in the nose too!

        • Mary Kochan

          Has reading in context become a lost art?

          • believeinreality

            How very ‘Christian’ of you, Mary. The way you call names to others who don’t share your beliefs is beyond ignorant.

  • believeinreality

    Additionally, at least this matter was handled through the court in an appropriate manner. What about the Christians vandalizing the Atheist’s billboards? Are they that threatened by a differing view that they are reduced to juvenile acts and being “whiny, sniveling, and pathetic” ?

  • Emanuel84

    “This one was started by Christians, you puerile dimwits. It is Christians who established and largely Christians who fought and died to maintain the freedoms you enjoy.”

    I would take that word “Christian” with a grain of salt.
    It was also those “Christians” who annihilated countless numbers of native Americans when they came here, then those same “Christians” were responsible for the death and enslavement of millions of Africans.

    Those very “Christians” continued to persecute Africans and Native Americans for hundreds of years – and some still do.

    Those “freedoms” that were supposedly fought for? Well…these “Christians” also fought (and continue to fight) very hard to take some of them away or restrict them (makes them more privileges no?) from everyone on the basis that they don’t consider them “Christian”. If these “Christians” had their way, well its possible we’d have a “Christian” version of Sharia Law, complete with stoning, beheading and all hosts of atrocities for various “crimes”. Of course not included in these crimes is any crime against anyone not American and not “Christian”, in that order.

    So I’m going to go ahead and call “bullshit” on the premise, because nothing I have stated is very “Christian”, so they’d have to be something else. I was raised Christian and it’s nothing like anyone I grew up with would do nor would Christ himself. If I was still a practicing Christian, there is no way I would associate myself with those people. I have a really really hard believing that if Christ was indeed watching all that has taken place in his name, he would associate himself with you people.
    A wolf dressed as a sheep who manages to make a “meh” sound is no sheep.

    Someone also mentioned that, was a “national” religion established, all you “Christians” would probably begin fighting amongst yourselves to promote the interests of your own cults…I mean sect. It’s already the case that there is tons of in-fighting calling each other cults etc.

    Oh and…just a side question. How many television shows have been cancelled (or boycotted by advertisers) because of the “non-whiny” “Christians”?

    So please, give me a break and the Atheists as well.

  • noelfitz

    Mary,
    CL is a brilliant forum, and you have first class articles, so I am loath to disagree, especially with your articles. But living in Europe gives me a different perspective from that many American have.
    You wrote “The atheists are suing because they had to turn off the television”. I disagree, the anti-religion atheists have a much more serious agenda. They wish to remove religion completely from the public sphere. Threatening be sue and suing puts individuals, companies and communities under pressure, so to avoid hassle and the possible loss of time and money it may seem preferable to go along with those against religion. Hence put up a “holiday” tree rather than a “Christmas” tree.
    We are not against “puerile dimwits”. It is a serious issue, not “a pitiful joke”. To underestimate the enemy is never wise.

    Carlos,
    You wrote “The USSR is gone and they can’t blame Christianity for that”. JP II played a major part in the downfall of the USSR.

    Jamesm124,
    your post is clear and expressed with courtesy and respect. I welcome post such as yours here.
    I am reminded of Napoleon and Laplace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Simon_Laplace) ‘Someone had told Napoleon that the book contained no mention of the name of God; Napoleon, who was fond of putting embarrassing questions, received it with the remark, ‘M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.’ Laplace, who, though the most supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered bluntly, Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (“I had no need of that hypothesis.”)’.
    It is not the job of science to give theological explanations.

    Theodore,
    Thank you. You express my points clearer than I can.

    Robert,
    thank you for your scholarly contribution.

    PorkyPine,
    thanks for your contributions. Your opinions have certainly provoked interest.

    Cherish439,
    You have a valid viewpoint.

    Skwerl,
    I consider your post lacks respect. I would prefer to see all posts that lack respect, especially for named individuals, being excluded. I welcome here the views of those who differ from me, provided they do not have vindictive attacks and are expressed without ill-will.

    • PorkyPine

      Noel:
      Do you–I don’t ask this with condescension, to be clear–recognize that, first, these lawsuits are generally ignored in this country? Some are acknowledged, it’s very true. But many are thrown out.

      There is no “pressure” in this country when we are a tiny minority. Note that Christian billboards and signs remain up in privately owned locations without any qualms or pressure. Atheist signs are removed, protested against, and generally disallowed.

      The exceptions are in government buildings, or publicly–ie, by the United States of America–owned land. Those are supposed to be and represent all the peoples of this country, and they are not to establish any religion.

      As a side note: the pressure in this country comes from certain segments of Christianity. Under threats of boycott for saying “holiday,” many businesses are actively putting “Christmas” back into advertisements. Some already did, but were criticized anyway, because no one bothered to check. This is a reality.

      The problem is there’s a tendency to conflate “religion” with “Christianity,” and “Christmas” is either secular and homogenized or it’s Christian. It can’t be both religious and not specifically Christian. Ergo, it’s also an alienation of Jews, Muslims, religious Buddhists, pagans and anyone and everyone else who resides in this country. “Holiday” includes everyone, as it makes no explicit mention of any specific religion or religion at all. Why is that so offensive? It INCLUDES Christmas.

      Of course, the real irony, is now you’re doing the same thing: “Why! I have to call it a HOLIDAY tree!”

      Why, you whiny, snivelling…

      But it’s not your tree. It’s OUR tree. Ours AND yours. Why can’t it be named to include everyone? Why is your existing majority supposed to rule over all minorities by sheer force of will? Is the phrase, “tyranny of the majority” new to you?

      There are reasons for government–government, mind you, which is often mistaken for “the public square”–to remain secular. Some religions (including Christianity) often recognize this, but even beyond scriptural elements, when government involves itself in religion, it’s poison to both of them. Unless you neuter any religion in government into oblivion–not specifying a number of Gods, or whether prayer is the thing to do or not, who you’re praying to, so on and so forth–it’s going to have to choose a specific one, or at least a range.

      Any range, by necessity, excludes atheists–but we can even set that aside. Again, if you don’t strip away any and all specificity, you exclude other believers of different stripes.

      It’s lose-lose.

      As a sidenote: it is absolute mystifying to me that people take issue with anyone name-calling while endorsing this post. Hypocristy of the highest order. Or at least simple tribalism–”She’s one of us and I agree with who she’s name-calling, so it’s okay!”

      Delightful.

      • Mary Kochan

        Explain please how it is your tree as well as ours.

        First, let me ask if you are at this moment familiar with the history and symbolism of the Christmas tree. I don’t mean that you strat Googling for information right now, I mean in your own head at this moment: What do you know of how this tradition come to be?

        • PorkyPine

          It’s in a government building, of the people, by the people for the people. If it’s only “yours” and for some of the people, then it has no place in that building. It belongs in privately owned places. Which can be happily publicly visible, of course.

          I admit, I am referring partly specifically to the hullabaloo about one tree in particular: the Rhode Island “holiday tree,” so named by the state government, which led a bunch of alleged “Christians” to sing “O, Christmas Tree” over a children’s choir to rudely register their indignation.¹ Of course, the governor had correctly laid out the issue:
          “If it’s in my house, it’s a Christmas tree, but when I’m representing all of Rhode Island, I have to be respectful of everyone. Now we can get back to next year’s budget … with pleasure.”

          That said: without googling? My immediate response would be to mention its pagan origins, and its appropriation by Christians, which means it’s not just “your” tree even in concept.

          However, I had *already* googled it recently to find the origins hotly in debate, with some of suggested origins being:
          1) Medieval plays about Christianity, where evergreens were used to represent the Tree of Knowledge (some suggesting decorating it with apples eventually became red bulbs, but that’s just a guess)

          2) St. Boniface, who decided to be a jerk to Germanic pagans by cutting down one of their religious symbols and telling everybody to use evergreens as Christian symbols in their homes from then on. Which seems like a pretty awful, jerkish tradition to follow.

          3) Indeed the possibility of the trees decorated in some pagan cultures being co-opted.

          But, again: the tree is either secular and for everyone, and represents a non-religious holiday, or it’s Christian-specific and doesn’t belong in statehouses, because it only represents part of the population and there’s no reason to represent only part of the population in the first place–even moreso when no other major holidays are used to represent other religions or belief systems. Or the absence thereof.

          ¹True story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/12/rhode-island-tree-dispute-heats-up-at-lighting-ceremony.html

          • Mary Kochan

            PokyPine, my apologies, I did not see this comment in moderation earlier. They system put it there because of the link.

            The histry of the Christmas tree is very well established. it originated from an evergreen tree used in medieval morality plays also called “mystery plays” because they told in story the Christian “mysteries” (i.e. things revealed by God about salvation history). Since the plays were in winter around Christmas, an evergreen tree with an apple hung on it was used to represent the tree in paradise. Later on ornaments were added to tell the story on the tree itself and the trees started being used apart from the play. Then the addition of sweet treats for children and lights were added. The entire tradition grew up completely originally within a Christian culture.

            Over time the various attributes developed their own symbolism. The tree was connected to the wood of the Cross and the wood of the manger and being evergreen with eternal life. The lights represented the Light of the World, Jesus. The star or angel on top connect with the biblical narrative of the nativity. Catholic did appropriate the tree, but from Protestants, not pagans.

            Those who try to connect it with paganism might be confusing it with the “Yule log” which does come from pagan tradition. There is not another tradition that decorates a tree with lights at this time of year. At least not in the West.

            Would you call a menorah a “holiday candelabra?”

        • PorkyPine

          [Due to nesting, I cannot directly reply to your other reply]

          I did actually mention the exact history to which you refer: it was my first-mentioned possible origin (though I mostly found that, when I originally looked into the subject, that there is not a complete consensus on this or any other origin).

          And no, I would not call a Menorah a “holiday candelabra” for the simple reason that Hannukah has not achieved cultural penetration to the point that it is celebrated near-universally in this country, unlike Christmas. Again, I have Christmas lights up. Plenty of Jewish people celebrate Christmas. There are whole secular components.

          But this is a two step issue in the first place.

          You’re arguing in favour of all “holiday trees” being called “Christmas trees” in a “call a spade a spade” sense.
          Which is the first step: whether the trees are religious in nature.

          Okay, let’s go with “they are.”

          Then, step two: they have no place in government buildings. The government should not be involved in religion, nor should religion be involved in government.

          I’m willing to go with having them in government buildings if we accept them as secular symbols, which, in many ways, they have become.

          But, again, it’s two steps:

          They are either religious or not.
          If you wish them to be religion-exclusive, they should not be in government buildings. If you insist on them being allowable in government buildings, they must not be religious.

          • Mary Kochan

            Thank you. You have very nicely clarified the issue over which we disagree. I would argue that they certainly are religious AND in fact explicitly Christian AND not that they belong in government buildings (as though they must be there) but that if a community wants them to be in their government building they have every right to have them there. This will take several more steps than just two.

          • Psul

            First time reading here, so I clearly don’t have the full context. I just wanted to discuss one point in Mary’s reply above:

            “I would argue that … if a community wants [Christmas trees] to be in their government building they have every right to have them there.”

            This, to me, suggests that the fundamental disagreement is not about what to call a decorated tree, but (as per the original lawsuit) about the role of government in balancing the wishes of the majority and the minority.

            When you say “a community”, Mary, what do you mean? If you mean (A) “the entire population of the community” (which I don’t think you do), then there is no chance of any trees in government buildings, as one group or another will always protest. If you mean (B) “any relatively clearly defined group within the population (eg a Christian community, an evangelical community)” then do you agree that every other community should be allowed to use the government buildings for their religious symbols? Should we have a menorah up in the town hall? Should we light up the courthouse for Lailat al Miraj or Diwali?

            If, however, by “a community” you mean (C) “the majority of the community”, then we fundamentally disagree on how a government should act. If the government obeys only the wishes of the majority in the community, then justice for the minority becomes difficult to achieve. To be absolutely clear, I emphatically agree with democratic voting and representation. But politics that promotes the majority while ignoring the minority is a short step away from hegemony and oppression.

            To illustrate, let’s say that the majority of the community tell the government, “we want a Christmas tree in town hall, and we want it called a Christmas tree”. I can easily see that same majority saying “and no other religions are allowed to have their holiday symbols in government buildings, because they aren’t the majority”. And then “actually, we would prefer that they don’t have religious symbols in public places at all. Or publicly visible”. I hope that I am showing (without too much exaggeration) how quickly the freedom of the minority can be eroded by the unchecked will of the majority.

            That, to me, is why the drafters of the constitution prohibited the establishment of state religion. They knew that it had caused untold suffering in England (eg in the 1500s) and didn’t want that type of persecution of the minority, backed by government, to exist in their country.

            So, Mary, my question is this – when you said the quote above, did you mean (A), (B) or (C)? Or feel free to point out that you meant (D) – none of the above.

          • Mary Kochan

            I mean C in the case that the community is majority Christian. And I mean B in the case that the Christians, while not being in the majority, are the largest religioius population. I realize that this privilges Christainty, but I don’t believethat privileging it is the same as establishing it.

          • Beth

            Psul wrote:
            When you say “a community”, Mary, what do you mean? If you mean (A) “the entire population of the community” (which I don’t think you do), then there is no chance of any trees in government buildings, as one group or another will always protest. If you mean (B) “any relatively clearly defined group within the population (eg a Christian community, an evangelical community)” [or] (C) “the majority of the community”, then we fundamentally disagree on how a government should act. If the government obeys only the wishes of the majority in the community, then justice for the minority becomes difficult to achieve.

            Mary wrote:
            I mean C in the case that the community is majority Christian. And I mean B in the case that the Christians, while not being in the majority, are the largest religioius population. I realize that this privilges Christainty, but I don’t believe that privileging it is the same as establishing it.

            ~~

            By that logic, it would be perfectly fine and Constitutional to “privilege” Caucasians, because they are in the majority, as long as we don’t “establish” them as the “master race” (just to toss a phrase out there). If the majority ruled, we’d still have “whites only” signs at swimming pools and public restrooms.

            This is why the Constitution protects us from not only an established religion, but also a privileged one. To put it in the simplest terms possible, it’s just not fair.

          • Mary Kochan

            I disagree that the Constitution protects us from a privileged religion. But that is too big a topic to get into right now.

  • Mary Kochan

    Noel, that was the actual claim in the lawsuit, ie. that was the harm they claimed. I could find all kinds of other implications in their actions, but I dealt with them at their word: that they considered it to be “harm” requiring legal redress that they had to turn off the TV and avoid the topic of religion in conversation.

    Sometimes you can get just as far simply taking them at their word. They show up the ludicrousness of their position quite well themselves.

    And I am not excluding any posts even if they are very inflammatory. At least I haven’t so far. I have approved every comment regardless of the viewpoint. Even those of you who are angry with me or do not think much of me, I appreciate your willingness to offer you opinion. I received dozens of emails from Christians who applauded this article and thanked me for finally saying what so many of them feel. I wish more of them were willing to come on this public forum and say so.

    There is not a single person who has commented here that I would not give personal aid to in a matter of urgent need and you know what — I will bet you that the same thing is true of each one of them regarding me. We are all Americans. I trust that we all care about this country, too.

    • jamesm124

      I’m actually Canadian.. just a side note. :)

      • Mary Kochan

        Last I heard that was in North America… :-)
        If we approve that pipeline so you can sell us oil will you keep more of that arctic air to yourself?

        • jamesm124

          Really? You don’t want our cold air?

          • Mary Kochan

            Well, if you could save it up until July or August and then send it, that would work out fine!

            When my daughter walks outside and it is freezing, she will say, “I see those Canadians are at it again.”

  • Mary Kochan

    Jamesm124, you said: “People kill people; not Atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, Islamics, or any other specific grouping based on a belief system. And for the record, I believe a lot more dictators who have slaughtered millions have been of a religious creed. Pointing out murderous individuals who are atheists is about as productive as pointing out murderous individuals with beards or white socks. Nothing about the atheist perspective condones murder. The dictators you speak of are mentally ill and could have just as easily justified their murders with the wishes of a deity. Incidentally they rejected the belief in god. I find that fact irrelevant. If you attribute murder to lack of belief, you are no different than people who attribute murders to religion. It is a pointless, cyclic argument that is extremely prejudice.”

    Now, let me ask you IF you know why Christians bring up this point. You hinted at it, but really, can you explain what is the historical context for it?

    • jamesm124

      The historical context for why Christians point out murderers who are atheists? No, I can’t say I know, specifically what you mean. I imagine they like it though because it highlights that godlessness leads to moral decay? If it’s a WWII reference, I stand by my point that religion or the absence of it actually had little to do with it. Mental illnesses perhaps, or the experiences of the individuals, but not atheism or religions.

      • Mary Kochan

        No, that isn’t it, jamesm124, but it is a good guess.

        For a century, atheists claimed that if they could just get rid of religion we would have a paradise of peace. The academic left in the West was so convinced of the truth of this that they resisted for many years accepting that the atheistic communist government of the USSR was systematically starving entire populations to death. Malcolm Muggeridge was one of those who broke the story, which was censored by his publishers, so committed were they to atheism and communism (we might as well just call it atheistic communism, because that was how it identified itself).

        So for multiple generations atheists claimed that violence, tyranny, mass murder, coercion of consciences etc. was attributable to religion and this “opiate of the people” had to be gotten rid of in order to establish the utopian worker’s paradise
        This is what Christians are responding to in pointing out the mass government murders in communist countries.

        • jamesm124

          Was it the atheism that caused the wrong doing, or was it the communism? Or was it the people in government who decided that oppression and murder was an effective mode of government? I think it was much more likely their chosen mode of government that instigated the insanity that manifested there. I think that the concept of freedom of and from religion is a concept that must be explicitly present in a properly functioning society. Unfortunately the problem was that they forgot the ‘of’ and went only with freedom ‘from’ religion. They also decided that the best way to make everyone the same and equal was to force atheism. Forced atheism is no better than forced religion. However, in their case, forced religion would intrinsically present a force above government that wasn’t conducive to their plans and ideas.

          In the past religion has been used as a tool to control people. Is that the base intention of it? Probably it isn’t, but some atheists might say that it was, citing the reasoning that in a primitive society, there is an infinite usefulness associated with a system of control that offered rewards for good behavior and punishment for bad that never actually costs the ruler any real bother. Regardless, faith and religion has been used to control countless millions over the course of history. Is religion itself responsible for how it is often used? No. People will find ways of manipulating each other both in the presence and absence of religion. Some might find parallels between this line of thought and the line of thought that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. I would disagree because I think that if used properly, religion has a generally positive impact. It is an effective way of communicating a way of living that is good and fair. Guns throw projectiles that inflict damage upon their targets.

          My point is that all that history has shown us is that atheism and theism can both be used to aid and accompany oppression. Attributing oppression to atheism is the same as attributing oppression to religion. I see no benefit or usefulness in either mode of thought.

          When Christians point out atheistic involvement in response to the mass government murders in communist countries, they are just inviting similar criticisms in instances where god has been used as a tool for oppression.

          Again, a pointless, cyclic argument.

          • Mary Kochan

            You have it backwards because it isn’t the Christians who started this entire line of argument. How is it you can say we are “inviting a similar criticism” when the first salvo in this was fired, and fired, and fired, for nearly 100 years by atheists. Didn’t you read what I wrote? I was laying out the history of the argument.

            How old are you, may I ask? I asked PorkyPine the same thing. He is in his 30s. It seems that the entire 20th century has gone down a black memory hole with his generation. Do you know anything about the cold war? Stalin, Lenin, Mao? Have you read Marx? Orwell?

            The other point you are ignoring is that atheists in the West insisted on the contrary for years and even engaged in systematic repression of the evidence that the atrocities were going on. I’m sorry; I know this makes me sound like some kind of old fuddy-duddy — but what are they teaching in history classes nowadays?

          • jamesm124

            I understand what you are saying that I have it backwards, but I perceive this entire aspect of the argument to be cyclic. Through the cyclic nature of it, any argument made for one side can be equally applied to the other as the circle rounds. Regardless if it was the atheists or theists that started arguing this point, it should stop. In this thread, it was a theists who began speaking of atheism’s tie to murder and tyranny. My goal was not to perpetuate the argument further, but to halt it by showing that it is cyclic and cannot have a productive end.

            I did read what you wrote. I understand the basis of where the comment came from. I just see the comment as irrelevant and harmful to both points of view. I say that it invites criticism because bringing up the topic causes those salvos you speak of to be launched from both sides.

            As for my age, I am not at peace with expressing that fact as a part of this discussion, but as you requested it: here it is. I am 23. I spent only a little time in school learning about the cold war. We spent far more time examining current political issues around the world and Canadian history. In my personal time, however, I have spent time learning about those figures. I avoided specifics about any of them in my reply in order to avoid squabbling over discrete historical details.

            I cannot speak for the individuals who decided to repress the information. I can probably guess at their motives, though. You and others in this thread are using that knowledge as ammunition against atheism. Do you disagree with my position that this argument of involvement of religion and atheism in oppression has little to do with atheism and religion and everything to do with the people involved and their motivations? I think that there are a lot of people who would like to use the information you present to say that it proves atheism is bad and that atheists are bad people. I’m not saying that you are, I’m simply saying that many would. Do you think that if the tables were turned and there was some use of Christianity to oppress the people of the USSR that there would not be theists defending and repressing the facts?

          • Mary Kochan

            You are thoughtful. Let me answersome of what you wrote briefly and I will go into more detail in some future article.

            “You and others in this thread are using that knowledge as ammunition against atheism.” No, that is NOT our point (anyway, it isn’t MY point). That is why I GAVE the history of the argument. We aren’t using it as ammunition against atheism; we are using it defensively against the claims of atheism to be able to produce a superior society based on reason IF Christianity can be eliminated. The Christian perspective is very different — man is not perfectable in this life and any attempt to create a “perfect society” will inevitably result in tyranny. Eric Voegelin would be the guy to read on this.

            Christianity has never had as its objective the elimination of atheism! But athiests HAVE organized to eliminate Christanity and this within living memory (in fact even currently happening) and when they couldn’t re-educate them out of faith, they decided to take the shortcut of simply eliminating the Christians.

            “Do you disagree with my position that this argument of involvement of religion and atheism in oppression has little to do with atheism and religion and everything to do with the people involved and their motivations?”

            I would put it a little differently — human tendency to sin, including the motivation to wield power over others is inherent in human beings. It is for this reason, that power — regardless of who holds it — is dangerous. Therefor a society that will safeguard human rights and dignity must have very robust protections for the weak so that the strong do not oppress them. Now, this perspective — that the weak deserve protection and that a just society will be devoted to their protection is a distinctly Judeo/Christian perspective. It is a perspective that for 2000 years Christians have been sowing into the soil of men’s hearts. It is precisely this perspective that Nietzsche (“God is dead”) felt had weakened the human race and should be eliminated. He held that life rightly belonged only to the strong and he disdained Christianity for having elevated the weak. Naziism and eugenics were direct descendents of his atheistic philosophy.

            I am not saying that atheists “are bad people.” But atheism has cetain implications. And one of those implications is that our human relationships are based on POWER instead of LOVE. The same was true of Ayn Rand who was an anti-communist atheist. So it isn’t just the communism that leads to that conclusion. You might insist that you are not like that. You don’t wnat to exert power over others and you desire relationships built on love, trust, and friendship. I would take you at your word. But Nietzsche would mock you and say that the only reason you think this way is because you have been steeped in a culture that is still running on the fumes of Christianity and so you absorbed these weak Christian ideals that he thought would someday disappear to be replaced with a hearty paganism that celebrated the strong man.

          • jamesm124

            The religious obviously feel the sting of having their beliefs slandered by association with historical atrocities. Again, I see how showing that absence of religion leads to atrocities is a perspective worth expressing.

            What I really don’t agree with is your assertion that perpetuation of basic human moralities is dependent upon your religion, and that my moral compass and sense of what relationships should be is a product of religious influence. I find that to be unfounded and offensive. Even when you strip human beings down to their most basic level, we rely on each other for survival. We need to act in a moral way in order to have interactions that are conducive to group survival. Your assertion that “the weak deserve protection and that a just society will be devoted to their protection is a distinctly Judeo/Christian perspective” is arrogant. The existence of people who are not Christian that disagree with that philosophy does not found your belief that the idea is uniquely Christian.
            If the moral guidance of the Bible was written without references to god or a higher power, the lessons could still be imparted on the readers. Religion might have been the way that messages have been relayed through the generations, but if delivered in another medium, they would not decay and wither. People who subscribe to higher moral standards will do so even in the absence of God or Christianity, just as people with low moral standards will do as they do with or without the Bible. Religion is not morality. Morality can be upheld in a philosophy void of theistic views. Many Chinese philosophies accomplish this rather effectively. The ideas that help people have relationships based on love are NOT Christian in nature.

            People who do not share your beliefs are not automatically predisposed to power based relationships. Absence of belief in god does not mean absence of love for other people. Understanding that is absolutely necessary for people to live together peacefully.

            I do not think any society can function with all people having identical beliefs. Problems occur whenever a single set of ideas is held above others and everyone is expected to believe in them. People need to be allowed to believe what they believe and should have freedom to explore all ideologies and belief systems. I see intolerance and prejudice towards any of those beliefs as counterproductive towards a functioning society. I think all belief systems should have the right to express themselves in an open public forum including those pertaining to atheism. Government represents us all, however, and since it cannot fairly represent every set of beliefs, it should not support or forsake any systems. I like the position that PorkyPine has put forward that as long as symbols can be made secular they can have a place in association with government. I don’t think, however, that if a community ‘agrees’ to have religious symbols in their government facilities that it makes it ok. That does not offer much fairness to the minorities of other religions and of course, the atheists we’ve been talking about this whole time. If equality is the goal, that is probably the most sensible way to get there.

          • Mary Kochan

            “What I really don’t agree with is your assertion that perpetuation of basic human moralities is dependent upon your religion, and that my moral compass and sense of what relationships should be is a product of religious influence.” That wasn’t my assertion. It was Nietzsche’s. I didn’t say I held it. I give more credit to natural law, but Nietzsche didn’t believe in that.

            “People who do not share your beliefs are not automatically predisposed to power based relationships.” I didn’t say they were. I said: “one of [the] implications [of atheism] is that our human relationships are based on POWER instead of LOVE.” Now it is atheistsTHEMSELVES who came up with that. Just go into any university and start sitting through classes in Woman’s studies or fill-in-the-blank studies (there are dozens of them) and they all define relationships that way and they are all atheistic in their premises. Power relationships (dialectics) is the lens through which every relationship is analysed in these classes.

            “Absence of belief in god does not mean absence of love for other people.” Of course it doesn’t. But the definition of “other people” apart from belief in God is less than what “other people” really are, which tends to distort in greater or lesser degrees HOW love is expressed to them. As a common example: it is a violation of love of two human beings to allow a woman to kill her unborn baby. Christians know that because we know WHAT that woman and her baby really ARE. That discernment of how those beings are properly loved is much more easily confused by someone who fails to recognize what they are.

            “Problems occur whenever a single set of ideas is held above others and everyone is expected to believe in them.” Yes, but merely because a single set of ideas is held above others, DOES NOT mean that everyone is, or has to be, expected to believe in them. The two clauses of your sentence are not necessarily united.

            There are different kinds of “fairness” and “equality” and not time to go into this further right now.. but thank you and stay tuned.

          • PorkyPine

            “we are using it defensively against the claims of atheism to be able to produce a superior society based on reason IF Christianity can be eliminated.”

            There are no claims of “atheism.” Atheism cannot make claims, because, again, it’s not a cohesive group.

            And the Nazis eliminated groups centered around atheism and communism, as they celebrated and endorsed Christianity–however symbolically. Hell, Hitler was a self-described Christian and at the least used a false front of Christianity to appeal to the German people. But what does that prove?

            Nothing, of course.

            What Hitler and Stalin and others wanted was not “atheism”: they wanted worship of the state, to hold the state over all else, to let nothing take a higher precedent. That was the danger of religion to them. So the real opponent of Christianity or religion has nothing to do with atheism–atheism is a stepping stone.

            The real enemy is extreme nationalism. And sometimes, things like Kim Jong Il and the relentless quest for self-aggrandizement, becoming the state and becoming worshipped for it.

            “Now, this perspective — that the weak deserve protection and that a just society will be devoted to their protection is a distinctly Judeo/Christian perspective.”

            No, it isn’t. You brought up Buddhism before, and the Buddha was live hundreds of years before Jesus, and the Noble Eightfold Path encourages “right” action and “right” words, which are all about avoiding harm and celebrating the well-being of all life.

            “But atheism has cetain implications. And one of those implications is that our human relationships are based on POWER instead of LOVE.”

            No, it doesn’t. There are no implications from atheism except the absence of belief. There is no cause for this claim except under the assumption (as mentioned above, incorrect) that love-based (if you will) morality stems only from Judeo-Christian teaching. And it doesn’t. You have no basis for this, nor do you have basis for the accusation that anyone who claims atheism bases their relationships on power. Mine aren’t. They are the furthest thing from it.

            “But Nietzsche would mock you and say that the only reason you think this way is because you have been steeped in a culture that is still running on the fumes of Christianity and so you absorbed these weak Christian ideals that he thought would someday disappear to be replaced with a hearty paganism that celebrated the strong man.”

            Who cares?
            I sure don’t. I doubt james does either. Nietzsche is not some amazing figurehead for atheists. He’s someone who was debatably atheistic (yes, it IS debated), but that’s it. Do you tremble in fear that any self-identified Christian figure might condemn or sneer at any belief you believe defines you as Christian? Why are you quoting and referencing him at us like it has anything to do with anything? We are not calling ourselves “Nietzscheists.” It would almost be like quoting various members of other religions and their condemnations of this or that and saying, “But he/she would take issue with you, and he/she also believes in a higher power!”
            Seriously, don’t bring him up again. His philosophy was his philosophy. It was his philosophy, not his atheism.

            “f course it doesn’t. But the definition of “other people” apart from belief in God is less than what “other people” really are, which tends to distort in greater or lesser degrees HOW love is expressed to them.”

            Prove it, or don’t ever repeat it. You have no idea, because you have no experience of ‘apart from belief in God,’ so you’re speaking from pure conjecture.

            “Christians know that because we know WHAT that woman and her baby really ARE. ”

            Which is why some Christians disagree with you?
            There’s no way on *earth* I want to get into a discussion about abortion, but this statement is patently false as a universal one. It’s a generalization of Christians that is inaccurate.

            And, for the record, I loathe Ayn Rand and her selfish nonsense. I know far more Christians than atheists who like her Objectivism, oddly enough. Despite her clear objections to Christianity.

            “Nazism and eugenics were direct descendents of his atheistic philosophy.”

            Neither is a descendant of atheism. Atheism does not lead to anything. That’s the entire false premise–and yes, this one’s definitely false, and I’m sure of what I’m saying–that you’re standing on.

            You’re see-sawing on stating it openly, but everything you reel out suggests that “Atheism leads to…” and you have no real proof of this.

            Let me reiterate: the communists of the USSR and the Nazis wanted the State to be worshipped, not atheism. They wanted religion out so nothing would compete with their power over everything else: atheism was a tool for power. Not the reverse.

          • Mary Kochan

            PorkyPine, perhaps I should have said “atheists” instead of “atheism”, but then you would just come back and say well that is just some atheists, it doesn’t apply to me. if you want to deny that atheism has any implications or logical conclusion, I can’t do anything about that. It simply flies in the face of so much human history that I can’t even wrap my mind around the proposition. I really would urge you to go back and do some reading about the history of the 20th century. Read Solzhenitsyn. Read Dostoevsky.

            ALL states want to be worshipped.

            Just as some atheists deny the moral implications of atheism (thank God) so do many Christians either deny or fail to uphold the moral implications of Christianty. That does not mean those implications are not there. It just means that human beings are complicated and have very complex and mulilayered motivations.

          • jamesm124

            Thank you PorkyPine, I was going to have a lot of trouble putting that as well as you did.

            I’d like to draw your attention to the comment that seems to merrily sit at the bottom of this reply thread:

            “By the way, I intended the relationship between godlessness and morality to be inherently absurd and in no way agree with the position that they relate to one another.”

            I would invite you, Mary, to read through philosophical literature at the well established idea that god and religion are not morality. This was the first thing the prof in my 4th year philosophy course articulated to us. He intended it to ward off anyone who would, throughout the semester, attempt to draw religion or god into our discussion of the philosophy of morality. One might argue that without the influence of religion, an atheists views of morality could be even more clear than that of a theist. That argument is flawed and wrong, but only just as flawed and wrong as your assertion that morality is enhanced by religion. The presence or absence of religion has no influence on the goodness of a person and their ability to come to moral decisions.

          • Mary Kochan

            I am sorry, but your professor did you a great disservice in not acquainting you with many centuries of thought on this topic. That religion and morality are intertwined was accepted and their relationship explored by nearly all philosophers until the 18th century, and by a great many since then. Relgion in fact concerns man’s highest moral duty: his obligations to his Creator. I suggest you broaden your reading a great deal. Start with Plato, then Aristotle. Then we can start to talk.

          • PorkyPine

            “if you want to deny that atheism has any implications or logical conclusion, I can’t do anything about that. It simply flies in the face of so much human history that I can’t even wrap my mind around the proposition. I really would urge you to go back and do some reading about the history of the 20th century. Read Solzhenitsyn. Read Dostoevsky.”

            Seriously. Stop it. Prove it or stop.

            Prove how “I do not believe in a higher power” NECESSARILY leads to anything else.

            Don’t quote me so-and-so–I don’t care how famous, how influential, how literate, how *anything*–who came to that conclusion. Prove that it LEADS to that, inherently. Or stop saying it.

            You have no experience of this. None. Whatsoever. You are not an atheist. You cannot be an atheist, because you believe in God. Therefore, you have absolutely no grounds to make claims about an understanding of the world about which you have no understanding, which you have proven again and again.

            Yes, this is intensely frustrating, because you are telling me what my lack of belief leads to with absolutely no basis from which to decide it is uniformly representative.

            I can point you to the Bible to ask why it seems to me that you are not following Christianity because there are teachings associated.

            There are no teachings with atheism. None. You cannot point to any writer or author or speaker or friend or statesmen, man, woman, child, power—NOTHING.

            The problem–as always–is the implicit belief that atheism is denial. You think everyone starts from the proposition, “There is a God,” and then decides there is not.

            I never believed there was one. Not angrily, defiantly, it just didn’t fit with how I saw the world as a child, a youth, an adolescent or an adult. I saw how society worked together and against itself, people doing good things and bad things for others and for community. I saw animal life, living, dying, preying and being prey. I didn’t see a place where I thought something was missing. I still don’t. It doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong to think it’s there, it just means we see those things differently.

            This does not lead me to anything. It does not have an effect on my daily life, because my daily life includes no components whatsoever of God or religion (from my viewpoint) in terms of my thoughts or practices. I don’t spend any part of my day debating it internally. I live my life and I am friendly to people and occasionally I have arguments or rows, and I meet friends and lose friends and the days go on and on, and my atheism never has any real effect: because it is not a “void” to me. It’s not this big gaping hole I’m avoiding. If it were that, sure, it could have an effect. Then it wouldn’t be a lack, it would be a hole.

            It’s not a hole. All the little ends of my life meet for me. It’s messy sometimes, but that’s how it is if you don’t have the concept of something bigger tying it all together.

            It makes things way harder, I guess, because it means I don’t think there’s ultimate justice or punishment or anything except the will of human beings to try to be good, even when it costs themselves. I can imagine there are people out there who would then see no pressure to do it. But those people exist already–they’re religious and they aren’t. And they already do awful things to people.

            For atheism to lead me to something, it would have to be something. It’s like giving a name to anything I don’t believe in. I believe that, statistically, there must be some other life in the universe. I do not, however, believe any aliens have ever visited this planet.¹

            My lack of belief in that does not in any way or shape affect the rest of my life. Because it’s not, for me, denying the aliens that are actually there. There are no aliens for me to deny, as far as I’m concerned. So it doesn’t affect my thinking, or my behaviour, or my actions, or my words. Because it’s utterly irrelevant to the world I perceive around me and has nothing to do with the world I perceive.

            You will find that, if you do read many of those writers: they are often responding to a ‘revelation’ or ‘decision’ or defiance of a pre-existing notion. They once believed and now don’t, or they are reacting to “God” either as something they believed in once or something they used to believe in. That reactionary nature means that they are still responding to “God” as a factor–for them, some kind of big black hole, a void, that then has influence.

            God was not removed from my life, God was never there, as far as I’m concerned.

            So, no, your claims are baseless and nonsensical. You have no experience of this and are no authority on it by reading people who were published for OTHER REASONS commenting on it.

            And if you quote me any authors writing about atheism without being atheists–and most of the former-atheist books are people who were once angry about God, which I’ve been accused of so many, many tiring times I can’t count–it will fall on deaf ears, because if someone really and truly is simply an atheist, it does not lead to *anything.*

            Leads require sources. Actual atheism is not a source of anything. It’s a list of components of the world that is shorter than yours. It doesn’t have an “anti-God” in the same place you have God. That influence isn’t just not there, it’s not “replaced,” either.

            Our philosophies all come from elsewhere. Internal, external, societal–whatever. The lead to existential nihilism from atheism necessarily requires a reactionary approach. It requires, “But if there isn’t a God…”

            I don’t have that. I have, “Well, I don’t really believe there ever was one, yet the world has functioned this long without it as an actual influence. The belief has worked for some people, so, have at it. But the absence of, for me, any ultimate object of that faith means it was not necessary to cause all the good acts in the world. Those occurred anyway, with faith and intention, and some of that intention was from believers, some was not. Some good, some bad, from all groups. Therefore, the ultimate morality is decided by people, so we must decide on one that is beneficial for all, for if we all support and protect the weakest elements, then we only stand to gain, because I might, at any time, become a weak element. So might people I care about. So might people others care about.”

            Christianity does not have a lock on empathy (which I noted above), nor does atheism have a lock barring it.

            Empathy is the tool from which I work to respect believers and non-believers, and people in general. Putting oneself in the shoes of another, or at least trying to, does not require God. Understanding any of the above promotes protection of the weak, and has no need for God as an origin.

            Similarly, if I see that and recognize there is no ultimate justice or grace, then morality is critical and requires dedication, because no one will sweep up after us. No poor or weak people will be carried after we neglect them, because there’s no one else to do it. So we’d better do it.

            But, again: I never thought there was someone to sweep up after us. Atheism did not lead me to this–completely oppositional–viewpoint. Because I just looked at the world as I see it. And as I see it, there are people and other animals, there are plants and systems of physics and all sorts of other components, and I have to see how that all works together. Not “Without God,” because that was never a part of the system to begin with, with my understanding.

            ¹My intention here is to avoid obnoxiously condescending analogies about pink unicorns. I think those are stupid and just cause problems. But people do believe aliens have visited here, and I do believe aliens ought to exist–somewhere. Maybe nothing more than space germs or space worms, but still.

          • Mary Kochan

            It necessarily leads to subjectivity and relativism. It has already led you you into complete subjectivity whereby you are ready to deny any philosophicl and logical implications of atheism that you are not subjectively experiencing in yourself. IOW you are demonstrating the very thing you are arguing against. You should read Ludwig Feuerbach and probably Hegel, then Marx and Engels, his disciples, and Lenin, theirs. I wouldn’t normally recommend the poisonous atheistic philosophers — but you should read them.

          • PorkyPine

            It necessarily leads to things that you agree my experience is an exception to? But because I’m an exception it proves them? This isn’t logic OR proof. It’s utter nonsense.

            It can’t be proven because there is no way to prove this. You cannot tell me atheism “necessarily” leads to something without proof that in the end it does. And there are too many exceptions to “prove” that.

            Unless your “proof” is that variance itself, in which case you have mastered a new tautology:
            “The variance of ethical, moral and situation response to atheism proves atheism leads to ethical, moral and situational variance.”
            …Right.

            Good grief, I could say the EXACT same things about belief!

            I could number the various interpretations of the central Abrahamic religious texts, then the various iterations from the three major branches, THEN the iterations from the splits in those!

            Hey! Look! Relativism! Subjectivity!

            You’ve managed to describe the human condition! Everyone is relativistic in some measure, and *everyone* is subjective. If you believe in God, only God can truly be objective, still not people. Well, depending on your beliefs around the Trinity doctrine and similar points–which could say that Jesus was a man and was objective, I guess. But again, it’s talking about a sole exception, if even that exception would be given.

            Given *anything* to *anyone* there will be varying understandings and interpretations. They could have the greatest faith in the world and it would still happen. It HAS happened.

            Give me the “consistent,” “non-subjective,” “non-relativistic” interpretation of any word or teaching in the Bible and I could find whole groups of people who see it differently.

            I have no idea why I’m even typing anymore. Your mind is closed to a subject you have never experienced, yet you claim yourself a greater expert on it than two who are both experienced!

            The sheer arrogance is mind-numbing.

          • Mary Kochan

            I didn’t say you were an exception. I said you claim on the basis of your personal experience that there are no philosophical, intellectual, or logical implications of atheism. This in spite of nearly two hundred years of very deep and developed thought by hundreds of the world’s best minds about those implications ALONG WITH real world experience of those implications affecting billions of lives. All of this you deny with a wave of your hand saying that in your experience none of that is of any consequence and (again, because of your experience) cannot legitimately factor into a discussion of the topic. You ask for “proof” while denying that anything matters in the end but your personal experience; you are influenced by and regard no authority or experts.Maybe I was wrong in labeling your condition of mind subjectivism; perhaps it is solipsism.

            Nevertheless I thank you for your sincere contributions to the discussion. I have certainly learned from yours and James’ contributions and I think others have as well.

    • jamesm124

      By the way, I intended the relationship between godlessness and morality to be inherently absurd and in no way agree with the position that they relate to one another.

  • Beth

    You know, I thought I’d left religion behind, but after reading this article, I’m going to hop out of bed this Sunday morning bright and early, so I can get to church and meet people just like Mary Kochan! Gosh!

    • Mary Kochan

      We’d get on fine, Beth, I assure you, as long as you didn’t plan to sue my town for having a creche at the courthouse. In which case, see above.

      • Beth

        Really? Do you really think so? Gosh, that would be super.

        Yes, I love being around people that think that I’m a…how was it you put it? An “anemic, lily-livered worm?” I’d better wear a raincoat, because your Christian love is just raining down on me.

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    Mary – I don’t have the stamina for a row like this but I’m glad you and others do. Keep up the good work!

  • noelfitz

    Beth,
    you post reminds me of some poetry, but I cannot remember the source.

    “Be thankful tiny little worm,
    at least you’re better than a germ”.

  • Beth

    I would like to leave my sarcasm behind for a moment (sometimes I just can’t help myself, especially when confronted with such condescension) and make a couple of serious points.

    First, thanks to PorkyPine and others for trying to get their points across in a rational and calm way.

    Second, I believe the central premise of Christianity is to bring others to Christ, no? Especially evangelical Christianity, in which believers are charged to lead others to Christ. But I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that the main goal of any denomination is to convert others to Christianity.

    In that regard, Ms. Kochan has failed the central premise of her own religion. Failed miserably. In writing such an acerbic, angry message to atheists, she does not demonstrate any sort of reason for any of us to embrace her religion or any other religion. When I see posts such as this one, instead of thinking that the author has valid points and reconsidering my unbelief, I feel gratitude and relief that I was able to leave such judgmental attitudes behind when I left organized religion (I was raised in an Assembly of God church) and eventually any belief system at all.

    I think most of us have no problem with those who are religious–I have several people in my life who I love very much that are deeply devout. (But you know what? They might think that YOU are going to Hell, Mary. They don’t think that whole idolatry thing is legit. Just sayin’.) I do, however, have a problem with my government–and it IS my government, not just yours–promoting and/or endorsing any form of religion. Am I offended when I see such displays? Not really, unless it is highly inflammatory and exclusionary. But I object to any such displays on government property because of constitutional grounds, just as I object to signs for political candidates on public property.

    Anyway, back to my point. If you want to embrace people and bring them into the “fold,” you’re doing it wrong. You just make people like me run the other way and celebrate the fact that we were able to get away from you in the first place.

    One more thing. You asked PorkyPine what they thought the meaning of the Christmas tree is, or originally was. I did not Google it, and I may be wrong about this, but I thought it began as some sort of Druidic/pagan celebration of nature. I believe they worshiped aspects of nature, and felt there were various spirits who inhabited the forests, glens, streams, and so forth.

    As someone who worships nothing, but feels great joy at the wonder and immensity of our natural world, I see our Christmas tree as a celebration of that beauty. In that sense, it is very much “our” tree, too.

    • Mary Kochan

      I will wait for PorkyPine to respond before talking about the tree.

      My goal in this article was NOT to “bring” anyone “into the fold” — it was to serve notice to the atheists who brought that suit and others who pull similar legal bullying stunts that Christians see them for the pathetic whiny cowards they are. Coincidentally the attorney general of Texas just served notice on them too and told them “don’t mess with Texas.”

      Noel, what you might not understand about from outside America is that these groups intentionally go after small towns. Because the budgets of all these towns are strained, they will often fold at the threat of a suit because they simply don’t have the money to hire the attorneys to fight in court. Right now there are atheists in WISCONSON suing a small town in TEXAS over its display. This is why the attorney general of the state has stepped up and said he will himself defend any Texas town that is sued. IOW, he will be their attorney; they don’t have to go through the expense of hiring one, so they don’t have to cave to the bullies.

      • dennis49

        That was a small-minded comment. If the Texas AG steps in, the citizens of the small towns are still paying for the legal defence. Apparaently, you don’t realize that the AG is paid by public taxes that is forcibly collected from everyone in the state. Oh, that’s right; you still believe that it’s manna falling from your heaven that pays for everything in the public sector. What an ignorant, whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous coward.

        • Mary Kochan

          The Texas AG is already on the payroll of the state and would be regardless.

          As for the issue of taxes: I have written on that pretty extensively over the years and anyone here who has followed my writing for a long time is laughing at that comment. I’m pretty well known as very conservative on the issue.

  • noelfitz

    Jamesm1124,
    You wrote
    “I stand by my point that religion or the absence of it actually had little to do with it.”

    I am pleased to read this, as Ireland seems much different from the US, which is essentially Christian/Protestant (WASP). Here in Ireland atheists are the enemies of Christianity, and it is claimed by some of them that many of the Nazi leaders were Catholics (Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Bormann, etc.).

    We non-US citizens should stick together.

  • Beth

    Noel, that seems familiar, but I can’t place my finger on it. As a microbiologist, I like it…but never underestimate the lowly bacteria! :)

  • noelfitz

    Mary,
    I agree you have not censored posts, as you have allowed mine to be published. But would you like to consider banning those that lack respect and courtesy? It can be very hurtful to be insulted in the WWW.

  • noelfitz

    PorkyPine,
    many thanks for your long and detailed reply to me.

    I think it is excellent and I agree with a lot of what you say

    First of all Ireland and the US differ, Here the atheists make a lot of the running, and we practising Catholics are in the minority (we feel), in spite of being over 85% Catholic with less than 14% practising.

    Recently a Jewish friend sent me a Christmas card, I replied wishing her a happy Christmas/Hanukkah. This festive season is celebrated by all, but it is essentially a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ.

    You write about the State being outside religion, but in the US I used to read “in God we trust, all others pay cash”. The oath of allegiance is “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation UNDER GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. The “under God” was only added in 1954.

    You conclude with:
    “As a sidenote: it is absolute mystifying to me that people take issue with anyone name-calling while endorsing this post. Hypocristy of the highest order. Or at least simple tribalism–”She’s one of us and I agree with who she’s name-calling, so it’s okay!”
    Delightful.”

    Did you mean “disagree”? I consider that all posts lacking charity, fairness and respect should be banned. Any point can be made without personal attacks on individuals or groups.

    • PorkyPine

      No, I didn’t mean disagree–Mary’s original post is filled with personal attacks, lacks charity, fairness and respect. But no one reacting negatively to negative posts from commenters seems to agree with this, and so it ends up appearing that her disrespct, lack of charity and personal attacks are tacitly accepted, one guesses because those responding without disagreement with it are in agreement.

      It is very frustrating to me to see someone say a bunch of nasty things¹ and then see it accepted and nasty responses decried.

      That said: “under God,” was indeed added later, and remains unnecessary. “In God we trust” was also added later. And you’re right, it is government-mandated that those be on there. Honestly, this isn’t right.

      Let me clarify that point: it isn’t that the government *isn’t* involved in religion, it’s that they *shouldn’t* be. More often than not, they are shown to be, and it’s usually with things like the above (or instance on the display of strictly named “Christmas trees” to represent a single faith in a statehouse, or the ten commandments in a courthouse [which includes enough specifically religious elements to make me extremely uncomfortable, were I to ever be judged in one]) that it’s shown to be nothing of the kind–and that, indeed, claims of persecution against believers are ludicrous, while claims of persecution or alienation of non-believers are utterly founded.

      As a side note: the celebration has been expanded and confused and partly secularized. Unless you’re going to insist that I take down the “Christmas lights” I have here at my home for my own enjoyment, and my (obviously, as I can’t do much about it internally) secular celebration of it need to stop, then it’s expanded culturally to be something else in addition, alongside or around the Christian celebration. This is where we can get into “Well, we can call it a holiday tree if we want to have it,” because there is then a greater cause to have one: it’s a more common celebration in that it is devoid of its religious elements. But that’s a lot of fuzzy grey area.

      Oh, and the woman I love is a Catholic Scot (native, not descendant), so, while it’s definitely not Ireland, I’ve heard some of the varying perspectives.

      ¹And let me just go ahead and lay this out more clearly, Ms. Kochan: your only form of address to the intended recipients of this screed are as follows
      1) “You Whiny Sniveling Little Atheists Are Pathetic!”
      This does not in any way suggest or specify a specific group of atheists. If someone reads this title with nothing attached, it *means* all atheists. There is no, “Lawsuit-filing” descriptor or anything else to suggest it is a specific group.

      2) “The atheists are suing because they had to turn off the television to avoid the topic of religion or news announcements about the Day of Prayer.”

      “The atheists” is the only phrase given to the subject of this sentence. It is not, “The atheists filing this lawsuit are only doing so because…” or anything else that makes it clear.

      • Mary Kochan

        PorkyPine, here is the thing: I didn’t think I should have to write “the atheists who are suing are suing because…” when the entire context is about the atheists who are suing! I spent over half the text of the article establishing the context which is the lawsuit that was thrown out. Yes, I broadened rhetorically it to include other similar suits. Also, as you can see from the email I copied above, other atheists (that wasn’t the only one I got) agreed that the lawsuit and the entire project of similar lawsuits is frivolous harrassment.

        However, I am unclear about your postiion. Do you think the suing atheists who are suing are right to sue? Do you agree they were harmed according to their claim?

        As for the title: There are three adjectives before the word atheists. Like I told somebody else on here: if you are not a whiny, sniveling, little atheist who goes around drumming up frivolous reasons to sue other Americans and who is always calling Christians weak-minded, then this article is not about you.

        As for the points you are making about the government and religion. I will reiterate what I said earlier: I have saved your email to me, which was very thoughtful and I really want to address it in detail later on. You raised a number of issues that I think it will take a series of articles to address — and will have to wait for into the new year for me to have time to give them the attention they merit. I hope you will be here for that further discussion.

        • PorkyPine

          I think they were right to sue, for reasons I have clarified elsewhere. I don’t think “harm” is remotely appropriate, but I think the “Day of Prayer” is wildly inappropriate as a government action. There is, as I told you privately, no religious or governmental reason for it. At all. All it does is suggest that the government itself endorses and is in favour of belief.

          That said: I think there is a responsibility in public writing to be very clear.

          Let me try to explain the reasons for it, and just start with a basic link for these purposes:

          http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a37/jdmakled6/FOXNewsFacebookPageDeathThreatsAgainstAtheists.png

          This. A friend of my (Christian) sister’s was once punched in the face as he was told, “Jesus saves!” for being an open atheist. Dead animals were left on his car.

          Billboards, signs, anything that openly admits or claims atheism is acceptable or okay are rapidly taken down, removed, defaced or receive death threats.

          Studies¹ often² show³ we are trusted less than *any* religious group with–as I’ve tried to painstakingly explain–no collective morality or immorality upon which to stake this.

          The reactions I posted that image of? They were also in response to a lawsuit.

          We are a minority. We do not have power. Two federal statesmen have been open atheists: one decades after his death, one Representative who served at least three terms before openly stating it.

          So our natural response to “You Whiny Sniveling Little Atheists Are Pathetic!” is to guess that, well, considering we’re a small group in the first place, and that’s the kind of response we generally get? If you aren’t specific, you probably aren’t intending to be. People find us untrustworthy, unworthy of office and, in the case of one former president, unworthy of citizenship or rights.

          If you note, though, even the people you mention emailing you and agreeing about the frivolity did so to say, “But we aren’t like them.” The implication of that is, “…despite what you seem to think.” It’s not clear to most, despite your feelings that it is.

          ¹Here, lack of belief in God adds up to the same amount of trust as the worst kind of scum the world can know: rapists. http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111201/bc_atheist_research_ubc_rapists_111201/20111201?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

          ²http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheistSurveys.htm

          ³http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/christianity/catholicism/survey-americans-prefer-muslim-president-atheist

  • noelfitz

    Beth,
    Thanks for your recent post.

    In a former incarnation I was a chemist, and I think we scientists should stick together.

    I fully agree with you that PorkyPine and others get their points across clearly and cogently in a rational way with respect and courtesy.

    You wrote:
    “If you want to embrace people and bring them into the “fold,” you’re doing it wrong.”

    I fully agree with you that personal attacks are counter-productive and have tried to make this point several times previously.

  • noelfitz

    Mary
    You wrote
    “Noel, what you might not understand about from outside America is that these groups intentionally go after small towns. Because the budgets of all these towns are strained, they will often fold at the threat of a suit because they simply don’t have the money to hire the attorneys to fight in court.”

    I fully accept this point that is why I wrote:
    “… the anti-religion atheists have a much more serious agenda. They wish to remove religion completely from the public sphere. Threatening be sue and suing puts individuals, companies and communities under pressure, so to avoid hassle and the possible loss of time and money it may seem preferable to go along with those against religion.”

  • Beth

    The “atheists in WISCONSON [sic]” Mary speaks of is the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national group that is based in Wisconsin. They file suits throughout the country when they feel that the Constitution is being violated.

    Mary, perhaps your point of this article was not to bring anyone into the “fold.” But your judgmental attitude certainly has the perhaps unintended consequences of driving people further away. I wonder if your god would be pleased with that?

    • Mary Kochan

      Beth, I appreciate your concern for the souls I might be harming. It is very touching.

      Sarcasm, aside. (I think you and I would really get on very well as we are both stong-minded and forthright and I like that in people.) I have already explained that I don’t think Christian love mandates being a wimpy doormat for the agents of political correctness.

      Thanks for the spelling correction — my husband who is from there would be laughing at me.

      • PorkyPine

        What about the sermon on the mount? What about turning the other cheek? What about giving the man who sues you your cloak as well?

        Those certainly seem like “wimpy doormat” things…if you choose to describe being kind to your “enemy” as being a wimpy doormat, at least.

        • Parasum

          “PorkyPine says:
          December 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

          What about the sermon on the mount? What about turning the other cheek? What about giving the man who sues you your cloak as well?

          Those certainly seem like “wimpy doormat” things…if you choose to describe being kind to your “enemy” as being a wimpy doormat, at least.”

          ## You got there before I did :) If I weren’t a Catholic, the post would probably have scared me off. It’s anything but wimpy to live as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount – in fact, it’s impossible. But Christians are called to nothing less. Paradoxical, but true. It takes great strength to be patient and kind, no matter what, so people fail – & pick themselves up again.

          BTW, thanks for the tone of your posts – atheists & Christians might get on a lot better, if both were always that polite. I totally agree with what noelfitz has said (including being from the UK).

        • Mary Kochan

          No, I don’t consider them wimpy. We call them the gospel perfections, in fact. However, they are not the only courses of action available. A person has to make a judgement as to whether in a given situation he is called to turn the other check or deck the person attacking him. The question for the Chrstian in our culture now is whether we have crossed the line from mere insults from unbelievers to real threats to our liberty and to the very existence of our country, such that turning the other cheek is not the right thing considering that responsibilty we have for others and the future.

          But thanks for asking.

          • Mary Kochan

            To further clarify: turning the other cheek cannot be the only possible recourse of action for a Christian otherwise there could be no Christian soldiers or law enforcement officers.

          • PorkyPine

            “The question for the Chrstian in our culture now is whether we have crossed the line from mere insults from unbelievers to real threats to our liberty and to the very existence of our country,”

            You do understand that that is ridiculous hyperbole, right?

            Christians, by, let’s say a 2008 survey, are 76% of the population. That is an absolutely overwhelming majority. Self-identified agnostics and atheists are 1.6%
            That decimal isn’t an accident. We’re *almost* two percent. If you throw in everyone who identifies without a religion at all, you’ve got a figure of about 15%. That’s less than 20% of the number of self-identified Christians. (just for fun, there are just under twice as many Catholics alone as there are generalized “non-religious” and about 50x the number of self-identified atheists)

            There are no threats to your liberty. There are no threats to your existence. Almost every single elected official–who determines policy, remember–identifies as one of you. The few who don’t generally identify as yet another religion.

            It’s mind-boggling the way anyone can suggest Christians are persecuted in a country where they are an overwhelming majority of the population and almost unexcepted definition of the government.

            You, and a lot of others, need to understand: this simply isn’t possible. It can’t happen. It won’t happen.

            No one has outlawed churches (some of whom campaign politically in violation of their 501(c)(3) status, with no one caring one whit), or praying, or anything else.

            What has been voted down? What has been successfully sued against?

            Involving those things in government.

            What has it been replaced with? Not a thing. No one declares there is not a God, or suggests one shouldn’t believe in God: those issues turn into points where it simply isn’t discussed, which harms neither believers nor non-believers. I cannot fathom why this is not preferable except to those who wish a total and completely hegemony.

            Yet, here we, as non-believers, are told, “stop whining” when elected officials happily imply that the state wishes to participate in religion, and we can quietly sit outside in the hall if we like–or put up with it.

            No one outlawed “Merry Christmas.” No one legally required “holiday” as a label for evergreens.

            Both of those are older than this discussion and came about to be inclusive, but they are railed against and *they have an effect.*

            I’ve read a great deal on this subject, mostly on my own time. I’ve received endless flak from believers who do not know me, often over issues about which they were ignorant, usually willfully as you can see here that I try to give all information possible to express my point. I have had fellow future teachers suggest that the risk of students being abused by other students is an acceptable one for re-instating *mandatory* school prayer.

            This is not about Christianity: this is about cultural control, because nothing in Christianity says that any of those things are important. All practice of Christianity is 100% legal, and half the things people get outraged about they actually aren’t supposed to do (I can only guess someone ripped Matthew 6 from most Bibles purchased in the United States) according to their own religion.

            Heck, the “Day of Prayer” is a little wishy-washy about whether it fits with Matthew 6. It’s not important to declare Days of Prayer. It doesn’t serve Christianity, it doesn’t serve government, but it definitely implies that those of us who don’t pray are unwelcome. However amicably that may be.

            But let’s be absolutely clear: 1.6% of the population couldn’t force atheism into national control if they tried–not without elected officials backing it up, or money or other power. And we don’t have it.

            This is intensely frustrating to me because even my socially open-minded Christian friends had a hard time grasping it. But it all revolves around the idea of privilege. You look at money and don’t think anything of it–it’s always said “In God We Trust,” or, at least for a very long time.

            I’m not one to rant and cry “harm” and “injury,” but even I know that if I look at a piece of money that represents the value imbued in it by the country of which I am a citizen, the antithesis of my beliefs are represented on all of them. And there are people who think it’s outrageous to suggest that it’s unnecessary for all children to be forced to declare the existence of God. Why do they need to? Why is not mentioning it in non-religious contexts so important?

            Christians are not under any threat in this country, at least not as a whole.

            Non-believers are implicitly second-class citizens in this country. It’s more subtle than some of the awful bigotry in this country, but that’s because no one really seems to care–the majority of people apparently think we’re automatically untrustworthy and no better than rapists anyway. It’s okay to hate people for being atheists. No one is concerned, because we’re a minority so, according to your own logic above: our feelings don’t matter.

            Well, we already knew that. This country makes that clear at most turns.

          • Mary Kochan

            PorkyPine, I do understand that what I said about liberty being under threat is something that I will have to prove. Also the point about a clear governmental purpose. I’m not going into the detail here — it is just impossible — but I assure you that I do understand the project as being to argue 1. that Christiantiy has been, and is, privileged without violating the establishment clause 2. to demonstrate that a clear governmental purpose is served by that privilege 3. to demonstrate that assault on that privilege threatens not only liberty but the existence of the country.

            G’night.

          • Mary Kochan

            I want to respond to you saying: “It’s okay to hate people for being atheists. No one is concerned, because we’re a minority so, according to your own logic above: our feelings don’t matter.”

            First of all, I don’t think it is ok to hate people period for any reason. I do think it is ok to hate and even limit certain actions (but everyone believes THAT). Second, you are correct that your “feelings” don’t matter — but MY feelings don’t matter either. We cannot run a counry based on feelings. We cannot so order a society so that no one’s “feelings” are hurt. Nor are “feelings” a basis for moral judgement. Law has to be grounded in morality and that morality has to be grounded in human nature, otherwise everything is arbitrary and once it is all arbitrary, the only criteria is power: Might makes right.

            Feelings language is opposed to the moral language of human rights; feelings language is manipulative rather than moral. Since the ancient Greeks, the Western undertanding of morality has placed reason (teleological reason, specifically), not feelings, at the helm, and all of our moral progress has stemmed from this. Please read Alasdair Macintyre’s After Virtue for a thorough discussion of these issues.

          • PorkyPine

            “Feelings” is an awkward shorthand, admittedly: the real issue is public perception and bigotry, which will not be resolved so long as we are rendered second class or unimportant, and placing religion unnecessarily into the government implicitly does this. If belief is endorsed near-universally by government, the non-believers are neither endorsed nor represented.

            The one time a government agreed that an atheist monument could be placed next to a Christian one on government grounds, well, first, the atheists who created it were jerks (who wrote condescending sentiments, which is of great frustration to me), but second, the response was, “Fine, we won’t put any monuments there,” and they removed both.

            If we cannot openly declare our lack of faith without immediately being considered unfit to lead (or worse!) something is wrong. And if government continues to use its power to stand on the side of belief (as opposed to taking no side) then this will continue.

            It encourages people to say things like, “Shut up, we have a National Day of Prayer, so *YOU* do not matter, and the government agrees.” Beyond, that is, feelings–completely don’t matter.

            Again, we have had elected officials suggesting we don’t deserve *citizenship* on the basis of lack of belief.

            This, also, feeds into why many, many people read your original post and took it as referring to all atheists: that’s what we’re used to hearing.

  • Mike Francis

    “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    Christian you ain’t.

    • fishman

      you misunderstand the word love. Which is more loving, to hospitalize a schizophrenic or to allow him to run around and hurt himself and other people? Which is more loving , to say meanness platitudes when someone does something stupid , so they never have a chance to improve and can continue hurting themselves and others or to call them onto the carpet and expect better of them the next time?

  • Mary Kochan

    Just to give everyone fair warning. I’ll be closing the comments on this article by Tuesday night. I think 48 more hours is quite long enough for this discussion and with my Marine coming home, I don’t want to be tied up moderating this article all week. Per my comments above, we will be revisiting the topic of religion and government from another angle in coming weeks. I will put a new comment on this article when the new articles go up, that way if you are subscribed to this thread you will be notified.

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Some atheists seem to think they can pull out passages from a Bible they do not believe in, and demand that we believers adhere to their interpretation of the passages. That’s exactly what’s done in a number of the comments in this discussion. Is it possible that when they accuse Mary of not being a Christian, they intend to praise her for being like them? No, I doubt it. It seems that they are upset because Mary won’t cower, and passively endure whatever insults and abuse they choose to throw her way. They think it is necessary for them to insist that she not do what only they have the right to do.

    Unfortunately, because atheists, as a group, have no “official” source of morality or ethics, evidently no one can call them to account for anything other than lawbreaking.

    • PorkyPine

      You realize, Mary, this is addressed to me, however indirectly? And that, in fact, I neglected to even indirectly further address any of Theodore’s comments as per your request?

      If you think I’m imagining this: only one declared atheist has commented and brought up scripture. That would be me. Mike Francis mentioned scripture, but made no other comment to clarify his own beliefs (and may or may not be a believer as a result). Cherish and Parasum are both self-described Catholics.

      That covers everyone who brought up scripture. So, the above post is to me. Or Theodore did not read all of the posts before commenting and assumed that everyone who did it had to be an atheist. PS: my basis for it comes from the Christians I know, not my own interpretations. If I could wrangle my mother or girlfriend in here, I would.

      Side note: It’s very possible to call me to account for my behaviour. People do it all the time. Because I don’t believe in deliberate or conscious, intentional harm to others as much as I can help it. I don’t like causing harm to others. I don’t like other people hurting or suffering. It’s bad for me emotionally and bad for society in general.

      Nothing here encouraged me to be polite or civil. But I tried and intended to be that anyway–even knowing I lacked the support of the article’s author, most of the commenters, and the website itself. I tried to do it because I believe it is the right thing and the helpful thing.

      On that note: @Noelfitz – thank you for being at least the most open-minded and civil direct responder to me.

      I don’t expect this one to be approved, but that’s fine. Just so long as you, Mary, see that Theodore ignored your request and I did not.

      • Mary Kochan

        It is very possible, given there are nearly a hundred comments, that he didn’t see it or that he lost track of who was saying what due to the complexity of the thread — notice he said “they”, so he is considering more than one commenter. And I do think tht atheists can be called to account via the natural law.

    • Mike Francis

      When you denounce another’s “vaulted” belief system and proclaim your own superior, you’d better be living up to it.

      “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

  • Michael

    I’m atheist and I love this article. I read through it as if the author was expressing hatred and it sounded brilliant. I read it again as satire, and got a laugh from every line. Good stuff Mary.

  • David S.

    Because no religious organization has ever complained about religion in government in the US. One of the earlier examples was when a Roman Catholic Bishop complained about Philadelphian schools reading from the KJV in 1842, an act that eventually lead to the Philadelphia Bible riots and the burning of St. Augustine’s Church. The friars then refused to meekly accept that they were outsiders, and demanded reparations from the city. How dare they?

    To the extent that this is a Christian nation, it is a Protestant nation; Papists have historically been as excluded as Jews, Muslims and atheists. The Ten Commandments that have been posted are always the Philonic division followed by most Protestants, not the Augustinian used by Lutherans and Roman Catholics. It’s funny how Baptists and Catholics rewrite history and act as if when this country was born, they were first-class citizens standing as Christians against the atheists and Muslims, when in fact they were second-class citizens, paying taxes to an established church in most states.

  • Corey

    Christians upset that outsiders are causing a commontion in their state…LMFAO…thats all Christians do, run around the country trying to get marriage banned for gays and sticking their noses in everyone elses business.

  • colibriverde

    All citizens have equal status under the law, so if you are going to have a “Day of Prayer”, you ought to have a “Day of Atheism”, and perhaps put up some inspiring posters with American flags and the words “National Day of Not Believing”. How well do you think that would go over?

    Some Christians feel that the idea of no establishment of religion is some kind of persecution because they feel entitled to greater status than everyone else.

  • Ashley Briscoe

    Yes atheism is a religion. You FIRMLY BELIEVE there is no God.Your FAITH is in science which is based upon “proven” facts until they are dis-proven again and again. But UNTIL its dis-proven you firmly BELIEVE your so called facts. Atheism is no less hypocrisy than any other religion. Most atheist aren’t even atheist they are ” Mad at Religion because of religious extremist” people.