Tag Archives: bigotry

Blackwell blinded by religion

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On Monday, 8/28, Ohio governor candidate, J Kenneth Blackwell, held a big press conference to announce an endorsement by a group of Christian pastors. Normally that wouldn’t bother me – even Rev Russell Johnson being one of the endorsers wasn’t a surprise. He had been endorsing Blackwell on the sly for sometime. Pastors and priests should be free to exercise their rights as citizens to endorse candidates for elected office. As long as they are doing it as individuals and not using the resources of their church in support of the person or against the other candidate.

What bothered me was Blackwell’s press conference and the inferences he and others made as written in the local papers.

We are fundamental believers in the fact that the public square should not be stripped or scrubbed clean of religion or faith or God,” Blackwell said. “I will fight for the right of the nonbeliever to not believe, because we all have a right to be wrong.”

Pastors stand up for Blackwell – Columbus Dispatch 8/29/2006

Hmm, ‘we all have the right to be wrong’?

Talk about being arrogant. Blackwell plays good word games. He could have said ‘I will fight for the right of the nonbeliever to not believe, because we all are equal under the law.’ but instead he took the opportunity to express that his religious beliefs are correct and the non-believer is wrong. Had he said what I suggested above, he would be in line with government neutrality toward religious beliefs. It is not about being “right” or “wrong”. If we are equal under the law than our beliefs don’t matter and shouldn’t matter.

Also not to beat a dead horse but there is not an effort toward the “public square” to “be stripped or scrubbed clean of religion or faith or God.” That will never happen regardless if Blackwell is elected or not. As I have posted before the “public square” doesn’t equal “government”. Some of us, including the founding fathers, don’t want religion mixing with government in the way that Blackwell intends.

I think he’s better than President Bush at articulating Christian values and how that plays out in terms of policy,” said [Bishop Harry] Jackson, a Democrat.

Wow, Blackwell is more religious than Pope Bush. That is saying a lot.

That is the shell game Blackwell and his supporters are playing. They are playing the religion card and it is bad for Democracy.

Democracy ideally relies on elected bodies of power to create laws and govern the day-to-day affairs of the nation. Debate ensues and usually compromise is reached. Because these bodies are not unanimous and are not taking the cues from the same source generally a mutually beneficial and efficient solution is reached. Democracy in essence relies on compromise and debate of parties seeking the best interest of the nation.

The problem with church and government mixing usually means the issues begin to be defined not as fair or just, but as good and evil. Religion has a bad habit of making a black and white argument. Christians, Muslims and Jews see the world as a test and struggle to the souls of humanity for eternal reward to the believers and eternal punishment for the unbelievers. Hence compromise with those outside the group in power usually isn’t an option as they are not good or as good as the ones with religion. In essence, it is wrong to compromise with evil.

Religion and Government Should Never Be Mixed

Ohio has a unique constitution in that some rights afforded to its citizens are not as vague or as open to misinterpretation as the Federal constitution. Here is an example:

No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required, as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief….

Ohio Bill of Rights

I would be very interested if either candidate would support this constitutional right. I think Blackwell would have a tough time supporting it as his press conference made clear. Should we elect someone who can’t uphold even basic civil rights?

Now there is data showing most people hate Atheists

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American Atheists, in an article posted on their site on Saturday March 25th, discussed a report that will be published in American Sociological Review, by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

The research is part of the American Mosaic Project which monitors attitudes of the population in respect to minority groups.

Researchers concluded: “Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.”

Disturbingly, Atheists are “seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public,” despite being only 3% of the U.S. population according to Dr. Edgell, associate sociology professor and the lead researcher in the project.

A significant finding of the new study is that despite growing acceptance and tolerance of different groups within the religious community, Atheists are viewed as outsiders, “others,” who do not share a common community vision. “What matters for public acceptance of atheists — and figures strongly into private acceptance as well — are beliefs about the appropriate relationship between church and state and about religion’s role in underpinning society’s moral order, as measured by our item on whether society’s standards of right and wrong should be based on God’s laws.” The study found that conservative Protestants especially rejected the “possibility of a secular basis for a good society.” This, more than anything else, may be the driving factor placing Atheists outside the cultural mainstream in the minds of nearly a majority of Americans.

The Ultimate Outsiders? New Report Casts Atheists As “Others” Beyond Morality And Community In America

The report also talked about the relationship between Atheists and people’s perception of Atheism:

“Some people view atheists as problematic because they associate them with illegality, such as drug use and prostitution — that is, with immoral people who threaten respectable community from the lower end of the social hierarchy.” Presumably, this might be rooted in the claim that only religion can provide an authentic moral compass, and that without a deity (and the presumed punishment in an afterlife), people have little to lose by engaging in certain immoral, sinful behaviors.

“Others saw atheists as rampant materialists and cultural elitists that threaten common values from above — the ostentatiously wealthy who make a lifestyle out of consumption or the cultural elites who think they know better than everyone else.” In both cases, atheists are perceived as “self interested individuals who are not concerned with a common good.”

The debate over Atheists, Atheists and the issue of religion in civil society has been fueled by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Minnesota team devoted a section of their report to quotes from leading officials such as former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who in public statements invoked religion as a guarantor of freedom and human dignity. The 2004 presidential campaign witnessed similar rhetoric.

The study underscored the role of Atheists as “symbolic” of angst permeating American culture. “Negative views about atheists are strong,” noted the researchers, although “survey respondents were not, on the whole, referring to actual atheists they had encountered.” Instead, the Atheist is a sort of boundary marker distinguishing members of a wider policy from “others,” outsiders, those not sharing assumptions about morality and the role of religion. Religion is widely perceived as providing “habits of the heart,” and a disposition which includes one in membership within a larger community. Americans “construct the atheist as the symbolic representation of one who rejects the basis for moral solidarity and cultural membership in American society altogether.”

Very interesting reading and seems to prove some of the points I made in my last post about the myth of Christian persecution in the US.

For further reading:

What I’ve been saying all along…