Tag Archives: Christianity

Nightline serves up some crap cake to atheists

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The ABC News program “Nightline” broadcast a segment on atheist Edwin Kagin Friday night and from the framing and word use it was one of those “look at the scary atheist” stories. I can’t say that I am surprised since most people hate atheists and what they don’t believe.

The story started out on the crap side with the intro from host Cynthia McFadden:

The group we are about to meet are not among them (believers). They not only disbelieve they are waging a WAR against on religion and mockery is often their weapon of choice…

After hearing that violent wording no wonder some minds slammed shut.

The rest of the piece went the same way and as blogger Paul Fidalgo put it:

But I didn’t know how bad it could get. Dan Harris and those responsible for his report on Edwin Kagin, in-your-face atheism and “de-baptism” should be ashamed. The entire piece is a seven-minute finger wagging at those mean atheists. The questions to Kagin pretty much never move beyond variations on “don’t you think you’re being really rude?” Kagin and those with him at the de-baptism ceremony are portrayed as nasty, callous jerks who are out to hurt feelings for the sheer joy of it. Plus, they drag out the subject of Kagin’s fundamentalist son, I suppose to serve as some kind of foil, as if you say, “How come your son is a man of God and you’re such a jerk?” Harris even pulls the “what about Stalin” canard.

Nightlines atrociously bad report on atheism

I agree with Paul. I wasn’t expecting a hand job like the believers get all the time in the news in similar profiles but at least Nightline could have been less dickish about it.

Of course the cowardly faction of atheists and freethinkers will come out and blame Edwin and the others in the profile for giving atheists a bad name as if atheism should only be about puppy dogs and rainbows. They fail to see the bias in the overall reporting. Television can even make Mother Theresa look bad if they wanted to. (It seems commenter to Paul’s blog are doing what I feared – blame the victim).

ABC decided to focus on Kagin’s de-baptism show and turn it into a negative practice which it really isn’t. Like one of the people interviewed said the difference is believers take it seriously. Edwin also said that if someone is secure in their faith then they shouldn’t be bothered by his mockery. He’s right and the same should go for the tisk-tisk atheists who cave into the whims of believers for the want of being liked.

The other bit in the report that pissed me off was the tag at the end when McFadden ended the segment with:

“the blurry line between free speech and poor taste…”

Uh, no there isn’t a line, blurry or otherwise. Free speech has nothing to do with taste because taste is subjective while free speech isn’t.

Here is the profile if you want to see it:

Edwin Kagin profile on ABC’s Nightline 07/16/2010

Not Just About The Words

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In the past week, Michael Newdow, the man who lost his lawsuit against “under God” in the pledge of allegiance on a technicality, lost his lawsuit concerning the use of the words “In God We Trust” on US currency. The federal judge based his decision on a previous case from the early 1970’s that upheld the words on the currency. Using Aronow v. United States, the court ruled that the motto is a “secular motto” having only a spiritual, psychological and inspirational value.

The topic came up with some co-workers who were upset that Newdow was making a big deal out of some words. What is more disturbing is that even some of my atheist friends make the same complaint. They tell me that Newdow’s efforts make believers hate us more and it is a waste of time to raise these complaints.

It all reminds me of the time I had to explain, to another friend, why such words about God go against all that this country is suppose to stand for and why it is harmful. I used a sports analogy. This one may not make sense to people outside of Ohio.

Imagine you live in a small town in Ohio and are a huge fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The majority of the town as well as the elected officials are bigger fans of the University of Michigan. Every football season the town council issues a resolution in support of U of M in their annual battle with Ohio State. Before council meetings the members lead those at the meeting in singing of the Michigan fight song. You find out that the council and the majority of the town either were born in Michigan or went to the University.

You complain that they are showing unfairness to non-michiganders. The council says they are only celebrating their U of M heritage.

While it is true, in this case, that such actions to confer special status for a group of people doesn’t “harm” people left out it does institutionalize separate classes of people. The “state” uses its time and tax payer dollars to give special attention to a particular group of people who happen to have something in common. Such actions ignore the plurality that is inherent in our democracy and that plurality makes those actions suspect.

Newdow explained the difference in a television interview when he compared the words “under God” in the pledge to the past practice of having separate water fountains for whites and blacks in the South. He noted that blacks still had water and the water was the same as what the whites drank but the practice was ended because it treated a group of people unfairly.

Or how about the debate in some southern states concerning the display of the Confederate flag on state property. It is claimed that it is just flag celebrating history but to others it symbolizes the entire era of slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed the Confederate loss in 1864.

This isn’t about removing “God” from the public square – never has been. It is about holding our elected officials to the spirit of what it means to be neutral in a religious context. Singling out a specific sect for special treatment and recognition laughs at our democracy and makes a farce out of claims to be “only celebrating our heritage”. You never see a government (local, state, of federal) trying to single out any other sect but Christianity for special treatment.

Newdow’s fight against “some words” has some big implications and is neither trivial nor waste of time.

Restore our Pledge of Allegiance

Restore the Pledge.org

Pledge Project

Newdow Loses “In God We Trust” Challenge; Pledge Case Still Pending

Supporting Religious Liberty = War on Christianity?

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This past week the Air Force Academy released a report on an investigation of religious intolerance at the school. Reports had included a top officer claiming if cadets didn’t believe in Jesus they would go to hell and some cadets referring to another as a “filthy Jew”.

The Air Force investigating team “found a religious climate that does not involve overt religious discrimination, but a failure to fully accommodate all members’ needs and a lack of awareness over where the line is drawn between permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs.”

The report commends progress at the academy during the past two years, but notes that commanders and supervisors still need more explicit guidelines regarding religious expression.

Anyone who doubts the wisdom of this recommendation need only read the report’s section describing the investigating team’s meeting with 16 coaches. Several seemed utterly at sea in terms of how and whether they can discuss religion, with one saying “he leads his team in prayer and invokes Jesus’ name regularly.”

AFA report: critical but fair

Most of these government investigations lead to blathering and posturing in Congress as each party tries to capitalize on the results. It happened this week when Rep. David Obey (D-WI) offered an amendment to the military appropriations bill calling on the secretary of the Air Force to “develop a plan to ensure that the Air Force Academy maintains a climate free from coercive intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing” which was what the report recommended.

Most reasonable people would see Obey trying to uphold religious liberty but instead, as is the usual GOP motive, Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused the Democrats of waging war on Christianity. He said on the floor of the House:

“The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. It continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Like moths to a flame, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.”

Hostettler’s remarks are for lack of better words – damn stinking lies. There is no war on Christianity in America. No one is trying to “eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage” (whatever that means). Obey’s amendment was to support religious liberty at the school – nothing more.

If Hostettler’s remarks were off the wall, another Republican made even more shocking remarks:

Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, said: “I, too, am a Christian, and one of the basic tenets of my faith is that I must share that faith. I am instructed to go and tell. And the going and telling of that involves looking someone face to face and explaining the tenets of my religion, one of which is a heaven and a hell.

“If I were to do that at the Air Force Academy, then I could be accused of abusive and coercive proselytizing and be charged, and that is not the case.”

Obey angrily rejected that claim, saying the issue was coercion by officers and supervisors, not religious free speech.

“No one is objecting to anyone trying to talk about religion,” the Wisconsin Democrat said. “What they are objecting to is the malicious and mean-spirited attacking of other people for the religious views that they do or do not hold.”

In the debate, Hostettler also suggested that “proselytization” really means “forced conversion” to Christianity, and that no such “proselytization” has occurred at the school.

Air Force Debate Turns White Hot

No, Rep. Hostettler, “proselytization” doesn’t mean “forced conversion”. It is the “going and telling” someone about your faith even if they don’t want to hear it. It is the act of telling someone about your faith and trying to convert them which is what the officers and supervisors did at the Academy and what the Air Force report found.

Military members have a right to express their religious views but not in a coercive manner as happened at the Academy.