Tag Archives: Politics

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…

Still the Biggest Lie: Christians in the US are persecuted

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While cruising the Internet the other day, I came across a post by Adam Graham on his blog titled “Why You Can’t Trust the Left on Religious Freedom“.

In the post he talks about the recent case of a man in Afghanistan who is under threat of execution for converting to Christianity. Afghanistan, although free of the mega-zelots, the Taliban, still bases their laws on sharia, or Islamic law.

Graham takes another blogger to task for complaining about some religious conservatives from the US who complained about the persecution of the man. At one point he makes the statement

Wow, and like I said, that’s why you can’t trust the left with religious liberty. First of all, do I think Russ would ever do violence against religious people? No. But what it shows is that Russ takes a flippant attitude towards it.

Then he goes on to make some wild speculations if the “left” responded to some hypothetical situations of persecution.

1) All Evangelical Christians were rounded up and deported from the State of New York:

Predicted Liberal Reaction: Shows them for not supporting gay marriage.

2) Muslims in Detroit kill hundreds of Christians and burn dozens of churches to the ground:

Predicted Reaction: Well, when you don’t clearly support the Seperation of Church and State, that happens.

3) Christians Put in Re-Education Camp in California

Predicted Reaction: Call it Reparitive Theory for anti-gay bigots

If Russ reacts like this to the persecution of foreigners, why would he react any differently to the persecution of American Christians? Any persecution is not just facilitated by bloodthirsty regimes, but those who couldn’t care less about what those regimes are doing.

Why You Can’t Trust the Left on Religious Freedom“.

I had to respond to the post and the following is my comment I left on his post:

A lot of wild speculation and reaching for your conclusion. What is your definition of persecution? Persecution is persistent mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. Is is near impossible for a majority religion to be persecuted. My guess is when Christians complain of persecution in the US they are more likely complaining about losing their special status within the overall culture – like the debates over the 10 Commandments in court houses and “under God” in the pledge. It is simply a false complaint.

Equating real persecution like the article at the beginning of your post noted, and the political debate over religion having a special status in the US government is comparing apples and oranges.

It doesn’t follow that “you can’t trust the left with religious liberty” since the situations aren’t the same.

In the US, the persecution clearly is going against non-Christians and non-believers as Christians are struggling in their death grasp as the “chosen people” of this country deserving of special status and special rights.

Graham responded to my comment by saying that David Limbaugh, brother of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, wrote a whole book detailing the persecution of Christians in the US. (Persecution : How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity (2003)) Limbaugh’s book focuses on the political and legal debates over religion in the public schools and within the government. Real persecution is not mentioned.

Let me restate my point – the charge that there is persecution of Christians in the United States is false, it doesn’t exist. Like the “War on Christmas” it is an attempt at vicitimhood by the very people who are in power.

Being asked to cover up your cross at work is totally different than being told by a police officer to cover it after being stopped on the street and he/she indicates if you don’t comply you will be jailed or beaten. The first is not persecution while the former is. See the difference?

Also note that while you wouldn’t have recourse at work, since courts have ruled that the Bill of Rights end at the office door, the ACLU, yes them, would be first in line to defend your right to wear a cross while walking on the street.

There is religious persecution in the US but it is not toward Christians. Most persecution is directed at non-Christians and mostly Atheists. Here are some facts:

Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas prohibit an Atheist from holding public office. The prohibition is written in their constitutions and is in direct opposition to the US Constitution’s prohibition against religious tests for elected officials. Clearly those laws are illegal yet still on the books.

You can be fired or denied housing if you are an atheist and there is no legal re-course. Atheists and Muslims can’t be Boy Scouts or be leaders of Boy Scout units. Some states now require children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school even with the “under god” part.

A 1999 Gallup poll asked the question “If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be a ‘X’ would you vote for that person?” “X” is Atheist, Baptist, Black, Catholic, Homosexual, Jewish, Mormon, and Woman. The percentages were: Baptist 94% Black 95% Catholic 94% Homosexual 59% Jewish 92% Mormon 99% Woman 92% and Atheist…. 49%

When I revealed to my co-workers that I was an Atheist and Humanist they made snide remarks about not getting Christmas gifts and left tracts on my desk as a “joke”. I know some Atheist friends who refuse to let our Humanist group to use their full names or picture on our website or newsletter in fear of retribution from friends, family, and co-workers who don’t know they don’t believe in a God.

It is logically near impossible for a majority group to be persecuted. I can only think of one solid example. Until 1990 in South Africa, whites holding power were the minority race in the country and they persecuted the Black majority.

But the facts don’t keep the religious right from claiming Christians in the US are being persecuted.

On March 27 – 28, Vision America’s The War On Christians Conference will convene at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The conference is not only the first to address growing attacks on Christians, but will include discussions of every aspect of the War on Christians, including — Hollywood, the news media, the courts and groups like the ACLU and Anti-Defamation League.

Besides celebrated conservative leaders like Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Sen. John Cornyn, Phyllis Schlafly, Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Tom DeLay, the conference will feature timely and informative panel discussions.

Conference to Include ‘Jews Confront The War On Christians’ Panel

So as you can see the Big Lie is used by political conservatives to scare their election base to the polls to solidify the majority power they already hold.

Further reading:

God Squad Review CXXVII (Atheist Persecution of Christians)

US ups pressure in Afghan Christian convert case

International Religious Freedom (yes an entire office in the US State Department devoted to reporting on religious freedom in the world except in the US)

Blackwell, Johnson, Parsley hit back at IRS complaint

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Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, Rev. Russell Johnson, pastor of Fairfield Christian Church and chairman of Ohio Restoration Project, and Rev. Rod Parsley, of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, hit back at a complaint filed with the IRS by 31 mainline clergy members over Johnson and Parsley using their churches to electioneer for Blackwell.

“You tell those 31 bullies that you aren’t about to be whupped,” said Blackwell, the secretary of state, who said that “political and social and cultural forces are trying to run God out of the public square.”

Johnson accused the complaining pastors of launching a “secular jihad against expressions of faith” and said, “We are not going away. We will not be intimidated.”

Blackwell tells pastors to ignore complaint(subscription req)

Another version of the article here

[I]n a statement issued by Parsley’s spokesman, Mark Youngkin, World Harvest said the “left-leaning clergymen” have no case — although they do seem to have “a political agenda.”

Laws of man, God obeyed, World Harvest Church says(subscription req)

Blackwell and Johnson made their remarks at an event at the Hartville Kitchen. It is the fourth of 10 planned meetings across the state by the Ohio Restoration Project to enlist “Patriot Pastors” and register voters who share its values, particularly its opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Johnson claimed: that “every statewide officeholder who supported” the ballot issue to ban same-sex marriage was invited to yesterday’s meeting. But, in the Dispatch article today, it noted that Blackwell was the only governor candidate invited. Betty Montgomery, another candidate, who supported the gay marriage ban, wasn’t invited.

Johnson said she wasn’t invited because she is “pro-abortion.”

And there you have proof that Rev. Johnson and Rev. Parsley are using their group to endorse one candidate and that my friends is a violation of the tax exempt status they enjoy for their churches.

I have no problem with churches encouraging their members to vote or to support an issue, like a ban on gay marriage (even though I wouldn’t agree on their position), but one thing a church can’t do is endorse candidates.

I have been involved with a tax exempt group for more than 10 years, the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, and we have had candidate forums at our meetings in recent years. One thing we must do is invite all candidates to speak. The rules don’t require all those invited have to show up – and most haven’t shown up – just that we don’t only invite candidates that share our point of view or particular point of view. That is what Johnson and Parsley have done with their meetings.

Johnson and others have suggested their actions aren’t any different than what African-American churches have done for the Democrats for decades. African-American churches have had Democrats and Republicans speak on occasions and those churches work hard on issues of importance to the African-American community, like poverty and hunger, but they have never made it a practice to tell a member who to vote for as religious conservatives have done in recent years.

Blackwell said other clergy members have backed Democratic candidates, pointing to a February 2004 photograph in yesterday’s Dispatch showing John Edwards — then a North Carolina senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination — being blessed by two bishops during an appearance at First Church of God on Refugee Road.

But Timothy J. Clarke, senior pastor at the church, said yesterday that any candidate who asks to appear at the church may do so — but that no candidates are specifically invited or endorsed from the pulpit.

Clarke said he will pray for candidates, as seen in the photo, and that he will endorse issues. But he never uses the church to back specific candidates, he said.

“Whenever candidates of any party worship with us, my statement always is, we do not endorse candidates from this church,” Clarke said. “I encourage my members to vote; I do not tell them how to vote.”

In many cases African-American churches have a tradition of political activism because the church was really the only place African-Americans had for building their community due to segregation laws on the books for decades and outright racism in traditional main stream political structures. As long as they don’t tell members who to vote for I don’t see an issue with it.

Tom Brokaw looks inside Christian Evangelicals

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screencap of Tom Brokaw interviewing Pastor Ted Haggard
Tom Brokaw interviewing Pastor Ted Haggard during NBC news special

Friday night I was surfing TV and came across the end of a special program on NBC hosted by Tom Brokaw called “In God they trust: NBC’s Tom Brokaw goes inside the world of Christian Evangelicals”.
Continue reading

Religion doesn’t make you politically smart….

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It seems that Texas has become the first state to become a theocracy. On June 5th, Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation in a church school gymnasium amid shouts of “amen” from backers who just as well could have been attending a revival. Rev. Rod Parsley, a Columbus, OH televangelist, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, and Texas religious right leaders looked on, happy.

The Governor signed 2 bills. One further restricts late term abortions and requires written permission from parents when a minor requests an abortion and the other bill bans same sex marriage.

Perkins said he sees nothing wrong with signing legislation at a Christian school, and he pointed to a consistent theme of the bill-signing: Forces are at work to exclude the religious-minded from political and civic debate.

Texas Governor Mobilizes Evangelicals

No, Tony, they aren’t. I should know because at our last meeting of the “Dark Forces” we decided not to exclude religious people from political and civic debate. Even though we are sick to death of hearing you and your kind spout off consistently about being a victim. It seems to me, listening to your own propaganda, that you got President Bush re-elected.

Which is it Tony? Are you a victim of these “Dark Forces” or are you in fact directing the policy of many state governments, the White House, and Congress. I think a reasonable person would see it as the later.

One also needs to question the overall competence of a Governor who would use such an “in your face” method to sign a couple of bills. It would take a mentally challenged person NOT to connect the dots on the location and the topic of the bills. A good politician is subtle when going for an obvious manipulation of a particular voting block.

In the same story telling about the bill signing had this as well:

It’s a gamble the governor seems willing to take. Last month, he spoke to about 500 pastors in Austin at a meeting of the Texas Restoration Project, which plans to register 300,000 new “values voters” in Texas and elect candidates who reflect their conservative views.

In the private meeting, Perry championed promotion of spiritual values on the public square.

“One of the great myths of our time is that you can’t legislate morality,” the governor told the ministers, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press by his campaign.

“If you can’t legislate morality, then you can neither lock criminals up nor let them go free. If you can’t legislate morality, you can neither recognize gay marriage nor prohibit it. If you can’t legislate morality, you can neither allow for prayer in school nor prevent it,” he said. “It is a ridiculous notion to say you can’t legislate morality. I say you can’t NOT legislate morality.”

If his statement doesn’t piss off us reasonable people then it might be funny, but far too many religious right folk and the people who sniff their ass, throw out this red herring as an indictment against seculars and other freethinkers.

First of all, none of us have said “you can’t legislate morality”. We may have said “you can’t legislate the Bible.”

Our laws are our collective morality as a society. What the right want and have wanted for over 30 years is to impose their revealed morality on everyone.

No one disputes that murder and stealing is wrong. We wouldn’t have a society if we didn’t all believe that, but it is something else to say abortion or gay marriage is immoral. A belief that is nothing more than a belief in one’s religion.

Abortion is more difficult because a potential human is involved, but gay marriage doesn’t physically harm anyone. We do understand that while child pornography is wrong (harm to the child), a guy getting porn off his Internet connection harms no one.

The religious right want to restrict our liberties. They want to know what you do in your bedroom. They want to restrict what you can read and see in the media. They don’t think you are good enough to make your own decisions about actions that harm no one and they don’t want you to have any input either.