Just Say No To Freedom Of Religion

Mitt Romney. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi (CC)

Mitt Romney. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi (CC)

The inimitable Christopher Hitchens says the taming and domestication of religious faith is one of the unceasing chores of civilization, at Slate:

A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled “free exercise of religion”?

No, I am not. Take an example close at hand, the absurdly named Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More usually known as the Mormon church, it can boast Glenn Beck as one of its recruits. He has recently won much cheap publicity for scheduling a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. But on the day on which the original rally occurred in 1963, the Mormon church had not yet gotten around to recognizing black people as fully human or as eligible for full membership. (Its leadership subsequently underwent a “revelation” allowing a change on this point, but not until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.) This opportunism closely shadowed an earlier adjustment of Mormon dogma, abandoning its historic and violent attachment to polygamy. Without that doctrinal change, the state of Utah was firmly told that it could not be part of the Union. More recently, Gov. Mitt Romney had to assure voters that he did not regard the prophet, or head of the Mormon church, as having ultimate moral and spiritual authority on all matters. Nothing, he swore, could override the U.S. Constitution. Thus, to the extent that we view latter-day saints as acceptable, and agree to overlook their other quaint and weird beliefs, it is to the extent that we have decidedly limited them in the free exercise of their religion.

One could cite some other examples, such as those Christian sects that disapprove of the practice of medicine. Their adult members are generally allowed to die while uttering religious incantations and waving away the physician, but, in many states, if they apply this faith to their children—a crucial element in the “free exercise” of religion—they can be taken straight to court. Not only that, they can find themselves subject to general disapproval and condemnation.

It was probably the latter consideration that helped impel the majority of American Orthodox Jews to give up the practice of metzitzah b’peh, a radical form of male circumcision that is topped off, if you will forgive the expression, by the sucking of the infant’s penis by the rabbi or mohel so as to remove any remaining blood or debris…

[continues at Slate]

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  • David Frost

    You know it is funny how people like Christopher Hitchens refer to anyone with any belief in anything as a “bigot.” This is the definition of what a “bigot” is….

    : a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    I do realize there are plenty of bad religious people out there and that some beliefs can have some strange rituals and customs that can be highly repulsive…sometimes even illegal. But lets put something into perspective…this notion that all religious people are stupid, uneducated, highly conformist, repressive, mean hearted, hate science, abusive toward children, warmorgering, racist, etc. while all atheists are all intellectually brilliant, freethinking, freedom loving, further scientific exploration, etc. is a cognitive “generalization” and a half. Because there are a very few theists that are that messed up (some are and end up with a lot of attention thrown at them, but most aren’t), and athiests aren’t all perfect clones of Einstein either. All and all though, I am deeply concerned by anyone that believes that “Freedom of Religion” needs to be replaced enforced atheism (whether that be social or political enforcement). There is a lot to be learned from various belief systems and to just stamp a rejection sticker on all of it without at least learning or being open to various ideas is a terrible waste of knowledge.

  • David Frost

    You know it is funny how people like Christopher Hitchens refer to anyone with any belief in anything as a “bigot.” This is the definition of what a “bigot” is….

    : a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    I do realize there are plenty of bad religious people out there and that some beliefs can have some strange rituals and customs that can be highly repulsive…sometimes even illegal. But lets put something into perspective…this notion that all religious people are stupid, uneducated, highly conformist, repressive, mean hearted, hate science, abusive toward children, warmorgering, racist, etc. while all atheists are all intellectually brilliant, freethinking, freedom loving, further scientific exploration, etc. is a cognitive “generalization” and a half. Because there are a very few theists that are that messed up (some are and end up with a lot of attention thrown at them, but most aren’t), and athiests aren’t all perfect clones of Einstein either. All and all though, I am deeply concerned by anyone that believes that “Freedom of Religion” needs to be replaced enforced atheism (whether that be social or political enforcement). There is a lot to be learned from various belief systems and to just stamp a rejection sticker on all of it without at least learning or being open to various ideas is a terrible waste of knowledge.

    • David Frost

      …and here is a beautiful article written about the subject.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/17/opinion/oe-allen17

    • A Bad Joke

      Bravo sir, bravo.

    • Haystack

      “All and all though, I am deeply concerned by anyone that believes that “Freedom of Religion” needs to be replaced enforced atheism (whether that be social or political enforcement). ”

      That’s not really what I took him to be saying. He seemed to be talking more about the limits of freedom of religion, such as when Christian Scientist parents let their kids die because they don’t believe in medicine.

      That having been said, his general attitudes aren’t really of the kind I want to be associated with as an atheist.

      • David Frost

        true…thats understandable. I don’t have a problem with things like authorities prosecuting people like LDS forcing teenaged girls into forced plural marriage and the like, or sending preasts guilty of child molestation to prison for a very long time if you like that response better, but questioning all rights for someone to freely choose to believe in something that can’t be scientifically proven is going towards another extreme entirely and thats usually what I see happening (I would love it if I am absolutely wrong as far as the message because being in a state of anger isn’t a good way to be).

        I have no problem with atheists as long as they can co-exist with the rest of humanity without a lot a lot of put downs and inflammatory remarks. I have a lot of people in my life that are atheists, the ones that cause me to become annoyed and speak up about it every time I see the opportunity are highly militant and evangelical about it, the ones that I like and am close friends with are very tolerant towards theists…they just don’t see where theism is for them,

  • David Frost

    …and here is a beautiful article written about the subject.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/17/opinion/oe-allen17

  • gemmarama

    christopher hitchens:

    “His departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the “tepid reaction” of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini’s issue of a fatwā calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie. The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy and his vociferous criticism of what he called “fascism with an Islamic face”.

    …he was attracted to the foreign policy ideas of some on the Republican right that promoted pro-liberalism intervention, especially the neoconservative group that included Paul Wolfowitz.[55] Around this time, he befriended the Iraqi dissident and businessman Ahmed Chalabi.[56] In 2004, Hitchens stated that neoconservative support for US intervention in Iraq convinced him that he was “on the same side as the neo-conservatives” when it came to contemporary foreign policy issues.[57] He has also been known to refer to his association with “temporary neocon allies”.”

    i suppose he might’ve been drunk at the time, but still…

  • gemmarama

    christopher hitchens:

    “His departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the “tepid reaction” of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini’s issue of a fatwā calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie. The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy and his vociferous criticism of what he called “fascism with an Islamic face”.

    …he was attracted to the foreign policy ideas of some on the Republican right that promoted pro-liberalism intervention, especially the neoconservative group that included Paul Wolfowitz.[55] Around this time, he befriended the Iraqi dissident and businessman Ahmed Chalabi.[56] In 2004, Hitchens stated that neoconservative support for US intervention in Iraq convinced him that he was “on the same side as the neo-conservatives” when it came to contemporary foreign policy issues.[57] He has also been known to refer to his association with “temporary neocon allies”.”

    i suppose he might’ve been drunk at the time, but still…

  • A Bad Joke

    Bravo sir, bravo.

  • Haystack

    “All and all though, I am deeply concerned by anyone that believes that “Freedom of Religion” needs to be replaced enforced atheism (whether that be social or political enforcement). ”

    That’s not really what I took him to be saying. He seemed to be talking more about the limits of freedom of religion, such as when Christian Scientist parents let their kids die because they don’t believe in medicine.

    That having been said, his general attitudes aren’t really of the kind I want to be associated with as an atheist.

  • Gregory

    I find it fascinating. Yahweh has stricken Hitchens with cancer and yet, he continues his blathering “religion is bad” stuff.

    I love the logic of atheists. Here’s an example of their “critical thinking” in action:

    Last week I had a pizza delivered to my home. The pizza was burnt, but also cold. Since this pizza was bad, I am never having pizza delivered to my home by any pizza place ever again. Because if one pizza was bad, then they all must be.

    Also, oranges aren’t orange. This is because one time a few orange trees were affected by a disease that turned some of them purple. Therefore, all oranges are purple.

    Or how about this: On Sept 11, 2001, a terrorist group called Al Fredo or something flew some planes into some buildings in the United States and these terrorists claimed their motivation was they were doing the will of Allah. Therefore, Islam is an evil religion and all Muslims are terrorists.

    Or how about this: Here is a banana…it has a peel on it. Therefore, all bananas have peels. (Peels the banana.) Look, there is no peel on this banana, so it must be true that bananas do not have peels.

    Not only that…it is also true that for all human history, going back to before the big, black monolith first hummed at our hairy ancestors, that all delivered pizzas were bad, all oranges have always been purple, Muslims have always been evil terrorists and bananas have never had peels.

    Also, in a later version of Star Wars, Greedo shot first. This means that the earlier version of Star Wars was wrong and of no merit and that in truth, Han Solo never shot first. Makes sense doesn’t it?

    No, it doesn’t.

    Religion is not bad because atheists can point to a few examples of people using religion (like they use patriotism and nationalism,etc) as their excuse to do bad things.

    And Han Solo goddamn well did shoot first matershaggers.

    fiat lux

    • Simiantongue

      “I find it fascinating. Yahweh has stricken Hitchens with cancer and yet, he continues his blathering “religion is bad” stuff.”

      Are you absolutely sure it was Yahweh? Are you sure it wasn’t the thousand other gods that Hitchens gives little credence to? Ha ha. What a coincidence that you happen to have been born in the right country with the right parents where the one true god was the correct one. You lucked out there. The one god that has stricken Hitchens with cancer no less. How fortunate for you that your passive aggressive hateful tendencies can be played out on your behalf by an omnipotent being that always seems to have your exact perspective and sensibilities. Striking those you both hate with cancer.

      The rest of your screed was a straw man wrapped in a smelly red herring. Why would anyone look to a theist to see what an atheist thinks? From your very first example you can see you cannot think outside the theistic box. I’ll let you in on a secret about atheist pizza. It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.

      • Tuna Ghost

        These conversations usually make me want to kill myself (or everyone else) but your DiGiorno line has made it tolerable. Thank you sir/madam

    • TheWrongStuff

      I find it fascinating that your first inclination to an Op-ed article was to attribute the authors disease to the self righteous indignation of a so called god whom, by the by, has been thoroughly discredited as a sentient and self actualized entity by orthodox Gnostic beliefs derived from Judaic systems.

      I further enjoy the blathering argument of all religious types who, fearful of the wrath and reprisal of their forgiving and all loving god, to insert the presence and will of god into any space between an argument that cannot be immediately explained by math and/or science.

      I hold further, without denying the absolute existence of a super entity, that it was not given to feeble man to know the mind or will of god in this life and to assume otherwise is pretentiousness without parallel.

    • Haystack

      Or how about this…One atheist is kind of dickish, so you post a lengthy rant about how stupid they all are…

    • David Frost

      Thats a great way of explaining it!

  • Gregory

    I find it fascinating. Yahweh has stricken Hitchens with cancer and yet, he continues his blathering “religion is bad” stuff.

    I love the logic of atheists. Here’s an example of their “critical thinking” in action:

    Last week I had a pizza delivered to my home. The pizza was burnt, but also cold. Since this pizza was bad, I am never having pizza delivered to my home by any pizza place ever again. Because if one pizza was bad, then they all must be.

    Also, oranges aren’t orange. This is because one time a few orange trees were affected by a disease that turned some of them purple. Therefore, all oranges are purple.

    Or how about this: On Sept 11, 2001, a terrorist group called Al Fredo or something flew some planes into some buildings in the United States and these terrorists claimed their motivation was they were doing the will of Allah. Therefore, Islam is an evil religion and all Muslims are terrorists.

    Or how about this: Here is a banana…it has a peel on it. Therefore, all bananas have peels. (Peels the banana.) Look, there is no peel on this banana, so it must be true that bananas do not have peels.

    Not only that…it is also true that for all human history, going back to before the big, black monolith first hummed at our hairy ancestors, that all delivered pizzas were bad, all oranges have always been purple, Muslims have always been evil terrorists and bananas have never had peels.

    Also, in a later version of Star Wars, Greedo shot first. This means that the earlier version of Star Wars was wrong and of no merit and that in truth, Han Solo never shot first. Makes sense doesn’t it?

    No, it doesn’t.

    Religion is not bad because atheists can point to a few examples of people using religion (like they use patriotism and nationalism,etc) as their excuse to do bad things.

    And Han Solo goddamn well did shoot first matershaggers.

    fiat lux

  • Simiantongue

    “I find it fascinating. Yahweh has stricken Hitchens with cancer and yet, he continues his blathering “religion is bad” stuff.”

    Are you absolutely sure it was Yahweh? Are you sure it wasn’t the thousand other gods that Hitchens gives little credence to? Ha ha. What a coincidence that you happen to have been born in the right country with the right parents where the one true god was the correct one. You lucked out there. The one god that has stricken Hitchens with cancer no less. How fortunate for you that your passive aggressive hateful tendencies can be played out on your behalf by an omnipotent being that always seems to have your exact perspective and sensibilities. Striking those you both hate with cancer.

    The rest of your screed was a straw man wrapped in a smelly red herring. Why would anyone look to a theist to see what an atheist thinks? From your very first example you can see you cannot think outside the theistic box. I’ll let you in on a secret about atheist pizza. It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.

  • Baritone

    The inimitable Hitchens arrogantly presumes the right to tell other people how to live.

  • Chrissie55

    The possible wrongs of believers (eg, Jehovah’s Witnesses not permitting a blood transfusion for their child) can be over-ridden by most countries’ laws.

  • Chrissie55

    The possible wrongs of believers (eg, Jehovah’s Witnesses not permitting a blood transfusion for their child) can be over-ridden by most countries’ laws.

  • TheWrongStuff

    Unlinke religion which assumes the right of the individual to determine for themesleves what path to follow?

  • TheWrongStuff

    I find it fascinating that your first inclination to an Op-ed article was to attribute the authors disease to the self righteous indignation of a so called god whom, by the by, has been thoroughly discredited as a sentient and self actualized entity by orthodox Gnostic beliefs derived from Judaic systems.

    I further enjoy the blathering argument of all religious types who, fearful of the wrath and reprisal of their forgiving and all loving god, to insert the presence and will of god into any space between an argument that cannot be immediately explained by math and/or science.

    I hold further, without denying the absolute existence of a super entity, that it was not given to feeble man to know the mind or will of god in this life and to assume otherwise is pretentiousness without parallel.

  • Haystack

    Or how about this…One atheist is kind of dickish, so you post a lengthy rant about how stupid they all are…

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Point being. ‘free exercise’ of religion is almost never wholly free…and that in a country like the US where Christianity gets a free pass for a wide variety of lunacy. The illusion that religion is or should be free of laws that prevent gross abuses is just that…an illusion. If a persons form of of worship harms no one and intrudes in no way upon the freedoms of others…then they are largely free by default…but its established as both historical and modern legal fact that religions which transcend the boundaries of widely accepted moral and legal practice are NOT free…because their actions so deeply offend the sensibilities of rational persons.

    Hitchens cites a series of worst case examples…each of which shows that a line is drawn in the sand of the average soul…and that most religions cannot cross this line without backlash. For all the recent complaints regarding sharia law, one rarely sees the people complaining leaping forward to suggest an immediate reversal of all ‘blue laws’ and deregulation of all ‘dry counties’ that came into being during tent revivalist times and which impose by law the views of a single religion upon all people dwelling in those areas.

    Using the rule of thumb that a religion should be free only inasmuch as it harms or intrudes upon no one save its members, and even then forbidding such extremes as slavery, child rape, polygamy, murder/suicide etc…and if we must value everyone’s freedom equally…then laws which have no value beyond the religious connotation that a victimless sin is being prevented should be struck down and left in history’s dustbin.

    I’d happily agree that Hitchens is an arrogant prick…but he’s in good company alongside those he opposes.

    • Daniel W

      The problem with your arguement about the complaints of enacting Sharia Law in the US vs striking down the “blue laws”:
      In many instances the Sharia laws are at odds with the state and federal laws(i.e. stoning of adulterers etc). Additionally, the arguement to enact it in the states is they would only applicable to muslims, which, again is at odds with federal and states because laws are “common” laws to be applied to all equally.
      Conversely, “blue laws” are really nothing more than zoning laws and business laws. While it is true that influence of these laws may have been rooted in a common or predominate religious beliefs. They are actually controlled by the local population directly or by elected representation. If a local population is largely of one prominate religion it is reasonable to assume that they as individuals might still agree as a group to regulate zoning and business in their area in a particular way.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Point being. ‘free exercise’ of religion is almost never wholly free…and that in a country like the US where Christianity gets a free pass for a wide variety of lunacy. The illusion that religion is or should be free of laws that prevent gross abuses is just that…an illusion. If a persons form of of worship harms no one and intrudes in no way upon the freedoms of others…then they are largely free by default…but its established as both historical and modern legal fact that religions which transcend the boundaries of widely accepted moral and legal practice are NOT free…because their actions so deeply offend the sensibilities of rational persons.

    Hitchens cites a series of worst case examples…each of which shows that a line is drawn in the sand of the average soul…and that most religions cannot cross this line without backlash. For all the recent complaints regarding sharia law, one rarely sees the people complaining leaping forward to suggest an immediate reversal of all ‘blue laws’ and deregulation of all ‘dry counties’ that came into being during tent revivalist times and which impose by law the views of a single religion upon all people dwelling in those areas.

    Using the rule of thumb that a religion should be free only inasmuch as it harms or intrudes upon no one save its members, and even then forbidding such extremes as slavery, child rape, polygamy, murder/suicide etc…and if we must value everyone’s freedom equally…then laws which have no value beyond the religious connotation that a victimless sin is being prevented should be struck down and left in history’s dustbin.

    I’d happily agree that Hitchens is an arrogant prick…but he’s in good company alongside those he opposes.

  • David Frost

    true…thats understandable. I don’t have a problem with things like authorities prosecuting people like LDS forcing teenaged girls into forced plural marriage and the like, or sending preasts guilty of child molestation to prison for a very long time if you like that response better, but questioning all rights for someone to freely choose to believe in something that can’t be scientifically proven is going towards another extreme entirely and thats usually what I see happening (I would love it if I am absolutely wrong as far as the message because being in a state of anger isn’t a good way to be).

    I have no problem with atheists as long as they can co-exist with the rest of humanity without a lot a lot of put downs and inflammatory remarks. I have a lot of people in my life that are atheists, the ones that cause me to become annoyed and speak up about it every time I see the opportunity are highly militant and evangelical about it, the ones that I like and am close friends with are very tolerant towards theists…they just don’t see where theism is for them,

  • David Frost

    well I am a “theist.” I have friends from every range of belief and disbelief you can imagine…..I never try to force anyone to believe or not believe in anything….only keep and open mind and continue to learn. I realize we aren’t all like that, but we also aren’t all forceful about it either.

  • TheWrongStuff

    2 relevant facts:

    1. Religion is an institution of man employed to organize and control. Members partake and participate according to the superstition / tradition of their “chosen” belief. The participant’s lives, actions, reactions, etc. are directly influenced both voluntarily and involuntarily by the presence of these teachings, fellow members, and leaders. Many time’s this influence operates on a measurable subconscious level.

    2. nearly immediately after the loss of the primary figure of all major religions the followers were required to acquiesce to the rules and regulations of the system belaying the teachings of that systems leaders explicit warnings to the contrary; placing their faith in the system as opposed to themselves and their god…or whatever.

    The machinations and manipulations of religious institutions are a microcosm of the duality of humanity. We seek to submit while trying to conquer. We seek peace by pursuing war against those who would disagree or deprive. If god exists above man then religion must exist below as it is a creation of man. One we use to confine our true will and decrease the measure of our potential.

    Unfortunately for non believers, these practices, which resemble partially functioning insanity to a disinterested third party, also affect their lives. It is therefore highly practical for a non believer to speak publicly regarding their disapproval of the influence of such perceived insanity as to regulate or check its unassailable influence upon their lives.

    The inability of individuals to accept a dissenting or even highly hostile opposing opinion to the point of derision and base behavior is a reflection of those individuals attachment to the system of their programming as opposed to the actual teachings and the power that faith in something greater, as opposed to something created by ourselves could bring.

    So sayeth the Sheppard.

  • David Frost

    If your point that you are trying to make is that we are all controlled and closed minded..your mistaken.

    Yes there are many theists like that, but not all. I once saw a documentary film on abortion (I’m not getting into that debate, I’m just forshadowing what I’m about to say) where this one woman was saying that the once a person believes in a religious belief system they loose all creativity….well lets put this into perspective. She was making a broad statement that supposedly included myself (experimental artist/musician, former seminary student, and protestant), Antonio Vivaldi (classical composer, former seminary student and devout catholic), J.S. Bach (classical composer and protestant) C.S. Lewis (writer and theologian), and on and on, while she basically works as a nurse, which takes an education but I don’t see how she can lecture anyone who really is involved with more creative aspects in society what is and is not conducive to creativity.

    Richard Dawkins wrote in his book “The God Delusion” that he would like to see the ten commandments revised with his own version of the ten commandments. One that I remember the most was “enjoy your sex life.” This is very interesting because since I am a young married man….I do. Again I am not oppressed or repressed, I just am just monogamous as opposed to promiscuous.

    I once saw an atheist video on youtube proudly proclaiming “if your an atheist you never have to think if a loved one dies in a car wreck, you didn’t pray enough.” I don’t think that way now, and really never have, I just believe things happen to shape and mold people into something better. In that respect I handle greif well.

    I saw another video at one point saying that atheists are more open minded because they are willing to read Harry Potter books and christians aren’t…well you got me there, I don’t read Harry Potter books, but what they got wrong was that that isn’t due to religous reasons, instead more like the fact that I’m one year away from 30 and like more age appropraite books on things like politics and social issues. Actually I am a huge fan of the horror genra, and the only thing I make an effort to aviod is pornos.

    When you said the following;

    “Unfortunately for non believers, these practices, which resemble partially functioning insanity to a disinterested third party, also affect their lives. It is therefore highly practical for a non believer to speak publicly regarding their disapproval of the influence of such perceived insanity as to regulate or check its unassailable influence upon their lives.”

    My question to you is why don’t you just live your life your way and just not go to church? Plenty of people do that…they are fine. Since when did christians come busting down your door in the middle of the night and forcibly dragging you into church when they heard you didn’t believe?

    Oh and another thing, when you said the following;

    “The inability of individuals to accept a dissenting or even highly hostile opposing opinion to the point of derision and base behavior is a reflection of those individuals attachment to the system of their programming as opposed to the actual teachings and the power that faith in something greater, as opposed to something created by ourselves could bring.”

    There are two points I would like to make toward this. First of all, what right do you have to tell someone else how to live? To me that is “magical thinking,” much more so than I possess anyway. I believe the only person you are in direct control over is your own self. Second of all, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate scientific advancement as much as any hardcore atheist would, but this issue that science can not progress at all until only atheists exist in the world is pretty ridiculous.

  • David Frost

    Thats a great way of explaining it!

  • gemmarama

    whilst i am basically sympathetic to your position (and also, contradictorily, to the wrong stuff’s), a few points:

    1) perhaps a number of our great artists throughout history were indeed motivated by their religious devotion (or at least by the financial resources made available to them by the church – see michelangelo et al) to create their masterpieces, but “creativity” has a broader spectrum than merely the arena of fine art. what exactly is “uncreative” about being a nurse? i’m sure nurses have to think creatively quite frequently in their work. besides, how do you know how this woman spends her spare time outside of paid employment? art and creativity should permeate every level of society, not sit as artefacts gathering dust in museums .

    2) “enjoy your sex life”. you say you do but because you are married. this implies you would not if you were not married. your enjoyment of your sex life is therefore conditional on your entering of the religious institution of marriage. dawkins commandment is unconditional, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with a bit of promiscuity…

    3) the world is hideously unjust. last week a dear friend of mine died of cancer at 27. i do not believe this happened to shape and mould his friends and family into something better. you handle grief well because you have a religiously-prescribed coping mechanism in place to help deal with it. the rest of us have to face up to the reality of the indiscriminate cruelty of life.

    4) religion has an effect on the rest of us: when the previous “leader of the free world” and his cronies were evangelical christians actively trying to bring about the apocalypse; when a person without religious affiliations would still find it impossible to be elected president of the united states; when abortion doctors live in fear for their lives; when couples who want to express their love with a legal contract (crazy, but hey) are not permitted to do so because they are of the same sex; and all over the world, where half the population are kept barefoot and pregnant whilst the other half are engaged in fighting various zany conflicts either brought about or fuelled by some kind of ludicrous argument about who’s god’s the biggest and the best…

  • David Frost

    True…Yeah I see what you are saying.

    1) I will admit I do get a bit stuck up about that sometimes about that stuff, when you think about it I have made an entire life and identity for myself by being really involved in marginal art fields, and from what feedback I get, I do well. But, like the usual stereotype when it comes to that sort of thing, I’ve been labeled a pretty weird and eccentric guy my whole life. I’ve had plenty of situations where me and some type of socially minded individual got into an argument because they tried to change me because they thought it would help me. I get really defensive about that, because as things sit now, I think I know what is best for me far more than any person out there. I think most people are doing what is best for themselves as much as they can, some take some bad directions but all in all that tends to be the case

    2) Actually I’ve never been into loose women and one night stands, and since I’m also a straight edge I don’t live in a manner that makes me get invited to many raging parties. A while before I got married I had a couple monogamous unmarried situations like that, but generally I’m too much of a germaphobe to catch anything and too impoverished to pay child support. Plus I was pretty much a loner. So I still didn’t feel oppressed back then.

    3) We both have two different ways of handling grief, and I see where you might like your way, but I like mine too. Not all of that is due to my beliefs either, I grew up with with people that I was close to dying early on in life. My best friend a while back commited suicide. My first job where I no longer got paid under the table was cutting grass and vacuuming floors in a funeral home. Plus I’m a military vet. After a while you just learn that death is a part of life.

    4) Although George Bush claimed to be a christian, I have my doubts. His behavour was nothing close. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I vote for the other side…but I know quite a few people that feel that way. Although there are a few lunatics that are homocidal toward abortion doctors there is actually a whole spectrum of views on that one but most of us don’t wake up in the mornings and think to ourselves “wow…I’d like to kill an abortionist today.” The same goes for gay rights, there are a few positions on that one but I don’t know anyone that sets out each day to torment gay people, actually most of us that I know would defend a gay person with our lives if we saw a hate crime taking place. Fred Phelps and his family are a different story, but I think of them in the same way I think of George W. Bush. Where you end up hearing a lot of this anger and rage from christians is because the sanctity of human life is very serious to us, and so is the most important ritual that we believe anyone will ever go through, marriage. So certain issues become emotionally heated topics. As far as fighting on who is right, being that immature doesn’t go very far, but some people still insist, again that isn’t everyone. I hear you on fighting poverty worldwide though, far more needs to be done on that level

  • gemmarama

    1) my point is that every human being is a potential artist, not just self-professed “creative types”. true creativity is about more than making tunes and pictures.

    2) “loose women” – i don’t know where to start with that one. you might as well say “sluts” and be done with it, cos let’s face it, all women who are interested in casual sex are sluts, right? it’s not just a choice between marriage and empty one-night-stands, there’s a whole other world of sexual experiences out there, kiddo…

    3) i don’t really have any problems with this one.

    4) just because you have faith doesn’t mean you should feel the need to act as some kind of apologist for the evils of organised religion. the points i made are still valid examples of how your religion affects the rest of the world.

    “Where you end up hearing a lot of this anger and rage from christians is because the sanctity of human life is very serious to us…”

    - so the sanctity of human life is apparently not as serious a matter to non-christians?

    “…and so is the most important ritual that we believe anyone will ever go through, marriage.”

    - and i’m sorry, that’s just delusional. marriage was invented as an economic contract (must i refer again to “the invasion of compulsory sex morality” by wilhelm reich?). it was about the buying and selling of women. there is nothing sacred, or indeed romantic, about that.

  • David Frost

    1) I was agreeing with you thereas far as non artists being creative as well. But then I was going off topic a bit and was just trying to say that I have a lot riding on that so thats a touchy topic for me. If someone said that atheism inspired them to be there most creative self, I wouldn’t argue with them about it, I just don’t feel that way myself. That being said I just wish the respectfulness was mutual.

    2) basically what I was trying to say is that I was never a casual sex type. Maybe that was a bad choice of words, but looking back on the discussions that I used to have with people that were more into that…I wasn’t really being hateful or judgemental about it toward them, but I can remember plenty of times were they gave me a hard time about me living my life my way.

    3) yeah thats definitly a topic where most people have thier own way of dealing with it.

    4) I know what your saying about the sanctity of life thing, I was just trying to explain that is the reason a lot of us get emotional about the abortion debate.

    Marriage, at least to me, was a lot of things, least of which was a piece of paper.

  • gemmarama

    i’ll agree to disgree with you on a coupla things and leave it here, before we get onto issues so contentious that this thread will spiral out of control… you’ve got your head screwed on ok for a god-botherer… ;-)

  • Daniel W

    The problem with your arguement about the complaints of enacting Sharia Law in the US vs striking down the “blue laws”:
    In many instances the Sharia laws are at odds with the state and federal laws(i.e. stoning of adulterers etc). Additionally, the arguement to enact it in the states is they would only applicable to muslims, which, again is at odds with federal and states because laws are “common” laws to be applied to all equally.
    Conversely, “blue laws” are really nothing more than zoning laws and business laws. While it is true that influence of these laws may have been rooted in a common or predominate religious beliefs. They are actually controlled by the local population directly or by elected representation. If a local population is largely of one prominate religion it is reasonable to assume that they as individuals might still agree as a group to regulate zoning and business in their area in a particular way.

  • Tuna Ghost

    These conversations usually make me want to kill myself (or everyone else) but your DiGiorno line has made it tolerable. Thank you sir/madam

  • Tuna Ghost

    It should be noted that in almost all cases the harmful effects of the more extreme beliefs are capable of being overridden by state or federal law (abuses toward children, forcing underage teens to join polygamous marriages). The others are annoying (evangelicism), or baffling (self-flagellation), or ridiculous (all of Scientology), but still legal. I’m not sure what could be gained from limiting the rights of expression other than making a minority more comfortable at the expense of a majority.

  • Tuna Ghost

    It should be noted that in almost all cases the harmful effects of the more extreme beliefs are capable of being overridden by state or federal law (abuses toward children, forcing underage teens to join polygamous marriages). The others are annoying (evangelicism), or baffling (self-flagellation), or ridiculous (all of Scientology), but still legal. I’m not sure what could be gained from limiting the rights of expression other than making a minority more comfortable at the expense of a majority.

  • TheWrongStuff

    Im astounded that you even bothered to reply. Your argument takes completely out of context every point that I made to the point of willful ignorance and yet underscores it perfectly. As an aside before beginning; if only not going to church alone would satisfy my requirement that the insanity of religion as an entity be hoisted from this earth and that its influence be removed from the decision making process altogether. In your mind, the inclusion of religious “thought” to temper governance is commendable, in my mind it is the spark of insanity. And Christians knock on my door weekly…extremely rude behavior.

    That being said, your obvious attachment to your particular delusion, labeled as you chose, has caused your mind to offer up an extremely flawed and baseless argument. I never once assumed the right to tell another how to live their life; I merely provided my analysis of the attached individual’s inability to accept dissenting opinions for which you have provided significant evidence. I never stated anything in relation to being atheist, pro-science as a means to human evolution or alluded to any such point. Once again, your mind seeks to defend your attachment belaying your own reasoning that control is in the hands of the individual alone; which is also completely anathema to religious practices in general.

    The fact that you do not read Harry Potter books or watch porno is an aesthetic preference, not a religious choice. Viewing it as otherwise is another sign of your systematic psyche deconstruction developed as a result to your attachment to an inherently flawed system of control. I say control as opposed to thought because in my observations religion very rarely encourages free thought without a stringent level of control.

  • Hahgah

    I am very strongly against restricting peoples choices and actions. As much as I hate religion and as poisonous as I think it is, I’m not entirely comfortable with forcing people to believe one thing over another. On the other hand I am quite against teaching false beliefs to children, they don’t deserve to be brought up with anything but the absolute truth. If all the current believers kept believing what they did but didn’t pass it on to their kids or other children I’d be fine with that. The thing is even though people have their rights to choose how they live their life, it is the difference between undisputed facts and ancient bullshit that was only created to provide temporary answers for questions we did not yet have the technology or intelligence to answer. So when people try and spread false ‘alternative’ answers to what we now know, and potentially discriminating beliefs, I have a big problem with that. I think some way of helping it slowly die out is best.

  • Hahgah

    I am very strongly against restricting peoples choices and actions. As much as I hate religion and as poisonous as I think it is, I’m not entirely comfortable with forcing people to believe one thing over another. On the other hand I am quite against teaching false beliefs to children, they don’t deserve to be brought up with anything but the absolute truth. If all the current believers kept believing what they did but didn’t pass it on to their kids or other children I’d be fine with that. The thing is even though people have their rights to choose how they live their life, it is the difference between undisputed facts and ancient bullshit that was only created to provide temporary answers for questions we did not yet have the technology or intelligence to answer. So when people try and spread false ‘alternative’ answers to what we now know, and potentially discriminating beliefs, I have a big problem with that. I think some way of helping it slowly die out is best.

  • TheWrongStuff

    Unlinke religion which assumes the right of the individual to determine for themesleves what path to follow?

  • David Frost

    well I am a “theist.” I have friends from every range of belief and disbelief you can imagine…..I never try to force anyone to believe or not believe in anything….only keep and open mind and continue to learn. I realize we aren’t all like that, but we also aren’t all forceful about it either.

  • TheWrongStuff

    2 relevant facts:

    1. Religion is an institution of man employed to organize and control. Members partake and participate according to the superstition / tradition of their “chosen” belief. The participant’s lives, actions, reactions, etc. are directly influenced both voluntarily and involuntarily by the presence of these teachings, fellow members, and leaders. Many time’s this influence operates on a measurable subconscious level.

    2. nearly immediately after the loss of the primary figure of all major religions the followers were required to acquiesce to the rules and regulations of the system belaying the teachings of that systems leaders explicit warnings to the contrary; placing their faith in the system as opposed to themselves and their god…or whatever.

    The machinations and manipulations of religious institutions are a microcosm of the duality of humanity. We seek to submit while trying to conquer. We seek peace by pursuing war against those who would disagree or deprive. If god exists above man then religion must exist below as it is a creation of man. One we use to confine our true will and decrease the measure of our potential.

    Unfortunately for non believers, these practices, which resemble partially functioning insanity to a disinterested third party, also affect their lives. It is therefore highly practical for a non believer to speak publicly regarding their disapproval of the influence of such perceived insanity as to regulate or check its unassailable influence upon their lives.

    The inability of individuals to accept a dissenting or even highly hostile opposing opinion to the point of derision and base behavior is a reflection of those individuals attachment to the system of their programming as opposed to the actual teachings and the power that faith in something greater, as opposed to something created by ourselves could bring.

    So sayeth the Sheppard.

  • David Frost

    If your point that you are trying to make is that we are all controlled and closed minded..your mistaken.

    Yes there are many theists like that, but not all. I once saw a documentary film on abortion (I’m not getting into that debate, I’m just forshadowing what I’m about to say) where this one woman was saying that the once a person believes in a religious belief system they loose all creativity….well lets put this into perspective. She was making a broad statement that supposedly included myself (experimental artist/musician, former seminary student, and protestant), Antonio Vivaldi (classical composer, former seminary student and devout catholic), J.S. Bach (classical composer and protestant) C.S. Lewis (writer and theologian), and on and on, while she basically works as a nurse, which takes an education but I don’t see how she can lecture anyone who really is involved with more creative aspects in society what is and is not conducive to creativity.

    Richard Dawkins wrote in his book “The God Delusion” that he would like to see the ten commandments revised with his own version of the ten commandments. One that I remember the most was “enjoy your sex life.” This is very interesting because since I am a young married man….I do. Again I am not oppressed or repressed, I just am just monogamous as opposed to promiscuous.

    I once saw an atheist video on youtube proudly proclaiming “if your an atheist you never have to think if a loved one dies in a car wreck, you didn’t pray enough.” I don’t think that way now, and really never have, I just believe things happen to shape and mold people into something better. In that respect I handle greif well.

    I saw another video at one point saying that atheists are more open minded because they are willing to read Harry Potter books and christians aren’t…well you got me there, I don’t read Harry Potter books, but what they got wrong was that that isn’t due to religous reasons, instead more like the fact that I’m one year away from 30 and like more age appropraite books on things like politics and social issues. Actually I am a huge fan of the horror genra, and the only thing I make an effort to aviod is pornos.

    When you said the following;

    “Unfortunately for non believers, these practices, which resemble partially functioning insanity to a disinterested third party, also affect their lives. It is therefore highly practical for a non believer to speak publicly regarding their disapproval of the influence of such perceived insanity as to regulate or check its unassailable influence upon their lives.”

    My question to you is why don’t you just live your life your way and just not go to church? Plenty of people do that…they are fine. Since when did christians come busting down your door in the middle of the night and forcibly dragging you into church when they heard you didn’t believe?

    Oh and another thing, when you said the following;

    “The inability of individuals to accept a dissenting or even highly hostile opposing opinion to the point of derision and base behavior is a reflection of those individuals attachment to the system of their programming as opposed to the actual teachings and the power that faith in something greater, as opposed to something created by ourselves could bring.”

    There are two points I would like to make toward this. First of all, what right do you have to tell someone else how to live? To me that is “magical thinking,” much more so than I possess anyway. I believe the only person you are in direct control over is your own self. Second of all, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate scientific advancement as much as any hardcore atheist would, but this issue that science can not progress at all until only atheists exist in the world is pretty ridiculous.

  • gemmarama

    whilst i am basically sympathetic to your position (and also, contradictorily, to the wrong stuff’s), a few points:

    1) perhaps a number of our great artists throughout history were indeed motivated by their religious devotion (or at least by the financial resources made available to them by the church – see michelangelo et al) to create their masterpieces, but “creativity” has a broader spectrum than merely the arena of fine art. what exactly is “uncreative” about being a nurse? i’m sure nurses have to think creatively quite frequently in their work. besides, how do you know how this woman spends her spare time outside of paid employment? art and creativity should permeate every level of society, not sit as artefacts gathering dust in museums .

    2) “enjoy your sex life”. you say you do but because you are married. this implies you would not if you were not married. your enjoyment of your sex life is therefore conditional on your entering of the religious institution of marriage. dawkins commandment is unconditional, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with a bit of promiscuity…

    3) the world is hideously unjust. last week a dear friend of mine died of cancer at 27. i do not believe this happened to shape and mould his friends and family into something better. you handle grief well because you have a religiously-prescribed coping mechanism in place to help deal with it. the rest of us have to face up to the reality of the indiscriminate cruelty of life.

    4) religion has an effect on the rest of us: when the previous “leader of the free world” and his cronies were evangelical christians actively trying to bring about the apocalypse; when a person without religious affiliations would still find it impossible to be elected president of the united states; when abortion doctors live in fear for their lives; when couples who want to express their love with a legal contract (crazy, but hey) are not permitted to do so because they are of the same sex; and all over the world, where half the population are kept barefoot and pregnant whilst the other half are engaged in fighting various zany conflicts either brought about or fuelled by some kind of ludicrous argument about who’s god’s the biggest and the best…

  • TheWrongStuff

    Im astounded that you even bothered to reply. Your argument takes completely out of context every point that I made to the point of willful ignorance and yet underscores it perfectly. As an aside before beginning; if only not going to church alone would satisfy my requirement that the insanity of religion as an entity be hoisted from this earth and that its influence be removed from the decision making process altogether. In your mind, the inclusion of religious “thought” to temper governance is commendable, in my mind it is the spark of insanity. And Christians knock on my door weekly…extremely rude behavior.

    That being said, your obvious attachment to your particular delusion, labeled as you chose, has caused your mind to offer up an extremely flawed and baseless argument. I never once assumed the right to tell another how to live their life; I merely provided my analysis of the attached individual’s inability to accept dissenting opinions for which you have provided significant evidence. I never stated anything in relation to being atheist, pro-science as a means to human evolution or alluded to any such point. Once again, your mind seeks to defend your attachment belaying your own reasoning that control is in the hands of the individual alone; which is also completely anathema to religious practices in general.

    The fact that you do not read Harry Potter books or watch porno is an aesthetic preference, not a religious choice. Viewing it as otherwise is another sign of your systematic psyche deconstruction developed as a result to your attachment to an inherently flawed system of control. I say control as opposed to thought because in my observations religion very rarely encourages free thought without a stringent level of control.

  • David Frost

    True…Yeah I see what you are saying.

    1) I will admit I do get a bit stuck up about that sometimes about that stuff, when you think about it I have made an entire life and identity for myself by being really involved in marginal art fields, and from what feedback I get, I do well. But, like the usual stereotype when it comes to that sort of thing, I’ve been labeled a pretty weird and eccentric guy my whole life. I’ve had plenty of situations where me and some type of socially minded individual got into an argument because they tried to change me because they thought it would help me. I get really defensive about that, because as things sit now, I think I know what is best for me far more than any person out there. I think most people are doing what is best for themselves as much as they can, some take some bad directions but all in all that tends to be the case

    2) Actually I’ve never been into loose women and one night stands, and since I’m also a straight edge I don’t live in a manner that makes me get invited to many raging parties. A while before I got married I had a couple monogamous unmarried situations like that, but generally I’m too much of a germaphobe to catch anything and too impoverished to pay child support. Plus I was pretty much a loner. So I still didn’t feel oppressed back then.

    3) We both have two different ways of handling grief, and I see where you might like your way, but I like mine too. Not all of that is due to my beliefs either, I grew up with with people that I was close to dying early on in life. My best friend a while back commited suicide. My first job where I no longer got paid under the table was cutting grass and vacuuming floors in a funeral home. Plus I’m a military vet. After a while you just learn that death is a part of life.

    4) Although George Bush claimed to be a christian, I have my doubts. His behavour was nothing close. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I vote for the other side…but I know quite a few people that feel that way. Although there are a few lunatics that are homocidal toward abortion doctors there is actually a whole spectrum of views on that one but most of us don’t wake up in the mornings and think to ourselves “wow…I’d like to kill an abortionist today.” The same goes for gay rights, there are a few positions on that one but I don’t know anyone that sets out each day to torment gay people, actually most of us that I know would defend a gay person with our lives if we saw a hate crime taking place. Fred Phelps and his family are a different story, but I think of them in the same way I think of George W. Bush. Where you end up hearing a lot of this anger and rage from christians is because the sanctity of human life is very serious to us, and so is the most important ritual that we believe anyone will ever go through, marriage. So certain issues become emotionally heated topics. As far as fighting on who is right, being that immature doesn’t go very far, but some people still insist, again that isn’t everyone. I hear you on fighting poverty worldwide though, far more needs to be done on that level

  • gemmarama

    1) my point is that every human being is a potential artist, not just self-professed “creative types”. true creativity is about more than making tunes and pictures.

    2) “loose women” – i don’t know where to start with that one. you might as well say “sluts” and be done with it, cos let’s face it, all women who are interested in casual sex are sluts, right? it’s not just a choice between marriage and empty one-night-stands, there’s a whole other world of sexual experiences out there, kiddo…

    3) i don’t really have any problems with this one.

    4) just because you have faith doesn’t mean you should feel the need to act as some kind of apologist for the evils of organised religion. the points i made are still valid examples of how your religion affects the rest of the world.

    “Where you end up hearing a lot of this anger and rage from christians is because the sanctity of human life is very serious to us…”

    - so the sanctity of human life is apparently not as serious a matter to non-christians?

    “…and so is the most important ritual that we believe anyone will ever go through, marriage.”

    - and i’m sorry, that’s just delusional. marriage was invented as an economic contract (must i refer again to “the invasion of compulsory sex morality” by wilhelm reich?). it was about the buying and selling of women. there is nothing sacred, or indeed romantic, about that.

  • David Frost

    1) I was agreeing with you thereas far as non artists being creative as well. But then I was going off topic a bit and was just trying to say that I have a lot riding on that so thats a touchy topic for me. If someone said that atheism inspired them to be there most creative self, I wouldn’t argue with them about it, I just don’t feel that way myself. That being said I just wish the respectfulness was mutual.

    2) basically what I was trying to say is that I was never a casual sex type. Maybe that was a bad choice of words, but looking back on the discussions that I used to have with people that were more into that…I wasn’t really being hateful or judgemental about it toward them, but I can remember plenty of times were they gave me a hard time about me living my life my way.

    3) yeah thats definitly a topic where most people have thier own way of dealing with it.

    4) I know what your saying about the sanctity of life thing, I was just trying to explain that is the reason a lot of us get emotional about the abortion debate.

    Marriage, at least to me, was a lot of things, least of which was a piece of paper.

  • gemmarama

    i’ll agree to disgree with you on a coupla things and leave it here, before we get onto issues so contentious that this thread will spiral out of control… you’ve got your head screwed on ok for a god-botherer… ;-)

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