Atheists Removing Crosses

In Utah, when highway patrol officers are killed on the job, they are memorialized by a cross. It doesn’t matter what religion the person is or if the person is an atheist. A cross is put up. On government property.

According to Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Nigbur, “We chose the cross because the cross is the international sign of peace, and it has no religious significance in it.”

No, a dove is a symbol for peace. A blue ribbon is a symbol for peace. Or maybe even the Y in a circle.

A cross symbolizes Christianity.

And you probably figured out where this is going. Some atheists would like to see the crosses removed. They filed a lawsuit in December, and while it’s still going to court, they lost a motion today to have the crosses taken down before the trial gets started.

There’s no way of making this request without coming off as mean-spirited, cruel and like stereotypical atheists. Others may say: It’s just a cross and we’re honoring the fallen troops. Who would be so mean as to try to stop that?! Only the mean atheists.

One article on the case had a place where comments could be made. Read them. They’re appalling. Is that supposed to be Christian love? To hear that atheists need to disappear entirely? Nearly every comment shows people relying on emotion instead of reason.

I understand this all seems petty for most people and certainly there are more important things to be worried about in the world. But let’s talk about why this suit has some merit.

  • The family is not picking out the religious symbol. The Utah Highway Patrol Association automatically puts up a cross endorsed by the state with a logo. This is taxpayer money funding one religion over all others.

Near where I live, there’s a stretch of road where a horrible accident happened a couple years ago around the fourth of July. Every time I drive by the area, I can see the crosses that the family put up on the side of the road. And I have no desire to take that away. No one should. It’s the family’s way to grieve.

But in this case, the family isn’t part of the process. If they wanted to put a cross up themselves, wonderful. As one atheist commenter wrote, he’d be fine with that as long as he could put a giant atheist symbol next to it (presumably if an atheist officer had died) without hassle. The atheists in the lawsuit are simply asking for a non-denominational symbol.

  • That said, it’s illegal in Utah to put up roadside memorials, period. According to Utah Law (here and here), private groups cannot put up monuments or memorials adjacent to Utah State Highways. Even private citizens who put up these memorials will have them removed if they are on government property.

Personally, I’m trying to understand why the families are opposed to removing the crosses on the grounds that the locations of them are sacred ground. The bodies are buried elsewhere… Still, the atheists filing the suit are not opposed to memorials being put up. They just ask for a neutral symbol.

How do we fix this? Don’t make the symbol automatically be a 12-foot cross. Let the families decide what they want (like at Arlington National Cemetery). And take the Utah Highway Patrol logo off of the symbols. Let the courts decide if any memorial should be placed on the sides of highways at all and leave it at that.

Keeping the crosses as they are could lead down a slippery slope of government endorsing Christianity. Somewhere, a line has to be drawn. The best solution is to keep government neutral on these issues. Let the families do as they wish.

[tags]Utah Highway Patrol, memorials, crosses, Christianity, atheism, atheists, American Atheists, symbol, Jeff Nigbur[/tags]

  • Natalie

    I agree, but I do think that the issue is larger than this. There really needs to be a larger separation of church and state. Unfortunately, I can’t really see that happening any time soon.

  • Drakim

    Whenever I talk to christians that claim that the crosses “aren’t hurting anybody”, I ask them if they thing a family should be alowed to put up a large statue of satan, or a giant hand with a rather rude gesture.

    And guess what? Nobody has ever said yes.

  • Raghu Mani

    Hemant,

    I’ve been lurking on your website and Off-the-Map for a while and this is my first post – so let me say a few words about myself. I am an atheist from India who has lived in the US far the past 15+ years and while I generally support the actions of atheist groups over here, it is in cases like these that I find myself in vehement disagreement.

    Yes, Church-State separation is probably being violated but this is hardly a government imposition of religion on anyone. The police officers who died were all probably Christians anyway and their families would have no objection to using the cross as a memorial for them. In this case, as with the pledge of allegience, I see no imposition of religion here. It would be different if a non-Christian officer’s family sued over using a cross as a memorial – that I would support.

    Even though there are a fair number of non-believers in the US, we are still a minority and every time we sue, it gets people to resent us. Suing over stuff like this does not advance the cause of atheists at all, and reinforces the negative impression the religious community has of us. Let us reserve our “ammunition” for those cases where there is a real imposition of religion going on (you documented one of those on your blog less than a month ago) instead of wasting it on cases such as this.

    Raghu Mani

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Raghu– Welcome and thanks for the comment. I disagree with a lot of your points, though.

    The police officers who died were all probably Christians anyway

    Why would you think that? Believe it or not, there are non-Christians who are police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. I think you know that, too.

    You said you would support a non-Christian family if they sued the state. But do we really have to wait to have another dead officer to change this requirement? If you’re willing to see the crosses changed if another family sued, let’s just fix the issue before it gets to that. We’re asking for the same result. Personally, even if an atheist officer died and the family sued for the same reason, I doubt they would have much sympathy.

    And yes, non-believers are a minority. But we’re well over 30,000,000 strong, perhaps even double that according to one study (http://www.secular.org/constituency.html). Regardless, unless people understand what the issues are for us, we won’t be heard at all. The case you referred to on this blog (http://friendlyatheist.com/2006/07/09/discrimination-story/) was an important one. Yet, I guarantee almost no one has heard about it.

    Does it make us look good? No, it doesn’t. But I don’t think there are many cases at all that would. We don’t get the option of picking our battles. We have to take them as they come. And since this is a violation of church and state, we must respond to it.

  • jim

    Raghu– Welcome and thanks for the comment. I disagree with a lot of your points, though.

    The police officers who died were all probably Christians anyway

    Why would you think that? Believe it or not, there are non-Christians who are police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. I think you know that, too.

    I agree with Hemant on this one Raghu and as he knows am really into Jesus. But I have never understood why the state put up crosses where people died in crashes nor on what legal basis they could even give permission to anyone to erect any kind of distraction. It is a distraction to dirvers and I assumed someone would eventually bring this up.

    But – Here is something this reminds me of that I have been trying to get across to Christians for some time. Think carefully about the issues you want to go to the mat over since it will be on the basis of those issues that you will be perceived.

    For example awhile back – maybe even now somewhere in the midwest or south – Christians would out up yard signs stating their belief in the ten commandments. Frankly for any thinking person they may have well said
    “Dont take away my two car garage and my house and my retirement plan- Keep America safe by keeping it like me – A Christian”

    How lame – That has nothign to do with following Jesus -

    I suggested that instead they put up yard signs saying somethign like

    Want Prayer – ask me
    Need food- ask me
    Need to visit – I’m available

    So while I agree in principle with Hemants take on this issue I think atheists need to do a better job of thinking harder about how they are perceived by the public they seek to influence. On that point I am with you Raghu

     

  • Raghu Mani

    Jim and Hemant,

    Thanks for responding to my comments. I really don’t want to turn this into an argument because, chances are, you’ve seen all these points of view anyway – however, I would like to add one thing that hopefully clarifies where I’m coming from.

    A while ago there were two church-state lawsuits that were in the news – one was Newdow’s lawsuit about the pledge and the other was the one about Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore putting up the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. I remember talking to a lot of religious people (Christian and non-Christian) about it and, without exception, all supported the latter lawsuit and opposed the former (it goes without saying that none of the Christians I talked to were of the Pat Robertson variety). I also noticed that pretty much all of them had formed a bad impression of Michael Newdow.

    As far as I am concerned, the spirit of the law is far more important than the letter of the law. In this case (and in the pledge case) the letter of the law is probably being violated but I do not see it as an attempt to impose a specific religion (or religion in general) on people. Given how little we have to gain in such cases and how much we have to lose (the potential loss of support from even religious moderates), I come to the conclusion that they are not worth fighting.

    There are plenty of cases worth fighting (they come up all the time) and I think we can well afford to pick and choose.

    Raghu

  • Siamang

    Well, the problem is, “we” atheists aren’t a block or a cabal. If “we” decided that Michael Newdow was bad for the movement, how could we stop him?

    Newdow is an iconoclast. He’s arguing his own case, so he needs no lawyer’s fees. He’s not being supported financially by any group of atheists that I know of, and even if he was and he lost that support, he’d just go right on.

    I think the same thing with this case… even if we wanted to stop it, we couldn’t. Even if 99% of the atheists in the country disagreed with it, we can’t stop it.

    I’d actually point out THAT part of the question to anyone complaining.

  • Raghu Mani

    Siamang,

    Well, the problem is, “we” atheists aren’t a block or a cabal. If “we” decided that Michael Newdow was bad for the movement, how could we stop him?

    Agreed – and I have pointed this out numerous times to believers who seem to think that the whole atheist community talks with one voice.

    Newdow is an iconoclast. He’s arguing his own case, so he needs no lawyer’s fees. He’s not being supported financially by any group of atheists that I know of, and even if he was and he lost that support, he’d just go right on.

    Newdow might well be an iconoclast who will do what he pleases regardless of what anyone says – however, a lot of other people filing such cases do look to the atheist/freethought community at large for support and if 99 percent of that community disagreed with a particular lawsuit, it might give them pause.

    However, the point is moot. Most atheists in the US do seem to support the idea of litigating every case where a violation of church-state separation occurs – instead of the pick-and-choose approach that I favor.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    Raghu

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  • http://www.brentrasmussen.com Brent Rasmussen

    Hemant,

    I am the atheist in the comments section of that UHP cross scandal article. I wrote about this on my own blog here:

    Evil Atheists In Utah

    The reason why I wrote about it on my own blog is that maybe only about 50% of my comments seemed to get approved by the site comment moderators.

    I’ve always known that there was a general feeling of animosity and unease towards atheists here in our country, but even an old, hardened atheist like myself was shocked at the naked hatred and bigotry displayed in the comments section of that article.

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Brent– Thanks for the response. Those quotes are frightening. One of the things atheists can do is just let our opinions be heard. The more people hear from us, the less “scary” we become.

  • JD

    Yes, we should have greater separation of Church and State … we should jail people for speaking of Christianity in public; for displaying crosses; for carrying bibles; for putting Christian symbols on buildings and cars; for saying the name of Christ in public, especially when they are officials.

    Children should be put into re-education camps if they demonstrate any support for Christians, and they should be monitored for life to see if they are public dissidents or potential progrostenators of religious expresssion.

    Yes, we should even consider isolation Christians into separate zones of property for monitoring and create a lottery for random interrogation and re-education.

    Atheism is the way – the only way for humans to survive, for nothing has ever come from atheism in the way of harm to humanity and social values. Yes, there have been errors, and America needs to look beyond these errors, for those were the past, and this is the new land of a god-free zone.

    Hail Atheists everywhere! We shall cleanse the earth of these ridiculous vermin of fanstasy!! This is a Jihad! A faithless and Godless Jihad!! For this is reason and logic in it’s finest prose. Science and intellect shall be rid of Religion and shall never be influenced by it again!

    Oh … wait … this has happened before, and this is America. If any of this is done, then it is vile censorship and revocation of true freedoms, for it is a dictatorial approach to only approved expressions by those that claim the authority of that expression. How can it be constitutional to ban any semblance of reasonable expression, to favor those that don’t prefer it?

    To restrict the beliefs of one in the public arena of expression, is to revoke the freedoms of that individual. If you justify this as “reasonable and logical”, then you support an unconstitutionally anti-religious view of expression, and not the true point of free expression of speech or religion. It is opposite of the Bill of Rights intent regarding freedom of religion, not to mention against the appointed Furhor of Atheism, Thomas Jefferson – A unitarian that believed in God and promoted religion and the philosophies of Christ, but was not willing to declare any single sect of Christianity to the appointment of the sole representation of our National Religion. As Christ, Jefferson and many others knew that through the hands of man, religion and politics were too easily usurped for power and personal gains of the individuals or groups weilding that powerful position.

    Most of the founders may have eluded to faults of the leaders of the religions (many self appointed and outside of doctrine), but rarely to the reason for those religions.

    Atheism, though lacking the acknowledgement of a deity, is united in it’s belief that there is a greater sense of reason that brings together many for a united cause. This is “religion: as defined in the sixth definition of Websters Dictionary, and is a legal acknowledgement of the IRS for organized religions, and is no more or no less priveledged to the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. To propose removal and restriction of the publics’ right to public display that symbolizes a religion or many religions, is to propel the religion and unity of atheism over all others. This creates a defacto creation of law that is freedom from other religions, in favor of your own. This also is a view rejected by the founders.

    So, which fuhror will you vote for in 2008 to represent the Atheist movement? Remember, it is unconstitutional to apply a religious test to qualify to any office of the government, and that includes whether or not they are religious. Equally, except through distortions using lack of definitions only, no man or woman elected or appointed to office can be restrained from their beliefs and rights of free expression, by constraining their speech — unless you are a communiist atheist that beleives that your speech is ultimately free, while those of religious views are not.

    Peace

    PS: Like the claims against “religious” people, isn’t it ironic how the same actions of atheists are glossed over – er, more like completely ignored, when they commit the same actions (ie – selective text to justify claims, etc…). Looks like the same problems that plague any organized “religion”, also claim victims to any organization. why? Because it involves “people”. Claims of greater intelligence do not equate to superiority. Most claims are simply escape clauses to avoid reasonable dialogue or debate.

  • Terry

    Atheists have no “actions” that are the same as theists. Without theists, there are no atheists. You force our existence with your pressure to make this nation a “Christian Nation.”

  • txatheist

    JD said

    So, which fuhror will you vote for in 2008 to represent the Atheist movement? Remember, it is unconstitutional to apply a religious test to qualify to any office of the government, and that includes whether or not they are religious.

    Yet in at least 7 states atheists can’t hold office. I know the TX Constitution states one must acknowledge a supreme being to hold public office.

  • ED

    JD, you miss the point entirely…this is not an issue of “the big bad atheists” preventing some POOR GRIEVING FAMILY from posting a cross WHERE THEIR HUSBAND/FATHER/DAUGHTER/WIFE was KILLED.

    This is a case of the state government unilaterally deciding that everyone gets a christian symbol. Its more along the lines of your ridiculous exaggeration of atheism, except with camps to make kids Christian.

    Atheists are not a united group, but on the whole, I’ve not heard of many atheists complaining about ANYONE’s free expression, just expression by the government for a specific religion because, call them crazy, they LIKE the constitution. Christians, on the other hand, are generally grouped, and are, to be honest, the first to complain when somethign doesn’t go their way. Millions of dolalrs going to faith-based organizations, and ther’es a ‘war on christmas’? Even your poorly thought out message, JD, is an example of that, because you are exaggerating and completely ignoring the point, which doesn’t speak well of your position, but hey, there’s someone saying something about how christians aren’t always the best, so you gotta speak up, righ? Even if you’re wrong. To paraphrase another statement I heard recently “My religion, right or wrong” is much the same as saying “My mother, drunk or sober”.

    Oh, also, Atheists aren’t Commies, any more than Christians are Nazis (Hitler considered himself a christian)

  • justin

    i dont know where the hell to draw the line anymore. when is something violation of church/state? I wish there was just a website to go that was infallible and said something. oh well

  • Richard Wade

    Justin,
    It is frustrating, but we have to use our own judgment. There are plenty of websites, institutions and individuals who claim to be “infallible” on whatever they claim. Beware all of them, even the ones you at first agree with.
    Hemant argues well over the principles of the thing, and Raghu Mani argues well over the pragmatics of the thing, and they both have great merit, and I find myself agreeing with both, and not knowing what I would do if I lived in that Utah town. Then a third person misses the point entirely with absurd straw man arguments, and that kind of rubbish might push you or me toward one of the more reactionary extremes, but that would probably not be helpful. So we have to use our own limited, flawed judgment. Principles or Pragmatics? It’s easy for one to say, “Go fight the battle,” when one isn’t going to be doing the actual fighting, and it’s also easy to say, “Aww, it’s not worth it,” when it isn’t one’s own personal freedom being stepped on.
    So you have to draw the line, lightly, where it makes sense for you. Keep an eraser handy, and get used to ambiguity and dilemma.
    Sorry if I come across as the wise old sage. I’m just as confused as you.

  • Sparrowhawk

    JD, I’m going to assume that was some kind of attempt at a really clever tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic diatribe against atheists, but I think you’re just creating a straw man to argue against. I can’t speak for all atheists (as I’m sure you can’t speak for all Christians), but I personally do not want ANY restriction on the general public’s right to believe in and express any religion they want.

    I read a lot of comment pages like this and I can’t recall reading even ONE comment from an atheist that advocates the stifling of the people’s freedom of religion in our country. What most of us want (and what anyone who values the constitution should want) is to prevent the state from using public funds to endorse a religion. Trying to paint atheists as people who want to segregate Christians or stifle their free speech…well, that’s just highly dishonest and I think you should be ashamed.

    Remember, politicians may swear in on a bible, but they’re swearing on the bible to uphold the constitution…not the other way around.

  • Siamang

    Sparrowhawk,

    JD’s not going to read that. I’ve learned that every single one of the “JD types” who post here are only interested in spouting their diatribe and then leaving before they might learn something.

    We welcome them all, one by one, but then they all leave after offloading their vitriol. They either can’t take what we might dish out, or they’re afraid that they might find calm, intelligent, loving, friendly people here who happen to be atheists.

    It’s our lot to take their abuse and calmly turn the other cheek. Someone famous once said something like that, but his name escapes me from time to time. Maybe it’s because his followers seem to have forgotten something important too.

  • http://www.myspace.com/jasonshoots2004 Jason

    I am not really sure what to say here, I read somewhere towards the top or somewhere? About someone saying something like “christian love” and the cross. I first like to say if anyone happens to be a christian here (besides me) about a year really strong now. Thanks to a couple of really great couple of people. No names to mention yet, ( but you might have heard of the program). Let me clear up “Christian Love” the cross is a sacrifice for us humans on earth. It is something that was done by one “real” person (human) 2000 years ago jesus christ. Which wsa god in human form to be born of a virgin birth, conceived supernaturally through the holy spirit of god. Just like all of us that has a spirit inside this body, god needed a body to. He just couldn’t come down from the heavens (supernatural world) and appear to us. The cross is a sacrifice for “all”, I know that alot my say the whole bible is SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND right. And how can any of this be real it sounds not real. If you really exam your studies, now I am not asking anyone to go to a church or become a christian. But look at the old testament which reflects earthly stuff and New testament which reflects spiritaul. Maybe you think that hell doesn’t exist, so if it doesn’t where do all the murders and rapists go. Let me ask this “Does anyone here have a, “Conscience”. Do you know that it is wrong to, lie, steal, commit adultery acts outside of marriage or cheat on a loved one (not saying anyone has). But when you do something wrong you know it right? Your conscience tell’s you. Conscience means from the greek world, Con- meaning “with” and science is knowledge is. I know you say I still don’t believe in hell, that’s like saying ” I stand in the road and don’t believe in trucks, but that won’t change reality”. A friend that I know of said this, “BANG!” The theory of evolution of the coca cola can. “Billions of years ago, a big bang produced a large rock. As the rock cooled, sweet brown liquid formed on it’s surface. As time passed, aluminum formed itself into a can, a lid, and a tab, millions of years later red and white paint fell from the sky, and it formed itself into the words “Coca Cola… 12 fluid ounces.” Of course, my theory is an insult to your intellect, because you know that if the coca can is made there must be a maker. If it is designed, there must be a designer. The alternative, that it happened by chance or accident, is to move into an intellectual free zone.
    Also if you want to know if god is real besides looking outside your window and seeing the blue sky, clouds, sun, and stars how can anything explode and line itself up so perfectly and be made so cool looking. Just like us look at our eyes they have over a million light sensitive beams and everything that make them work properly and the human body is created with such incredabile design. So let me ask you when you die, whenever your time is up and we all shuold remember that it could be at anytime our lived aren’t guaranteed, you see the news and in the paper people die everyday and 150,000 die in this country everyday. So when is your time up!? Now let me say I am not asking you to become religious or go to church or read a bible. But just hear me and think about your soul, what if your wrong? Your playing russian rhoulette with your life. So let’s look at something and maybe you’ll know what happens to you after you die? Let’s look at moral standard of being ” a good person” the first question is have you ever told a lie? (small lie, big lie no matter what it was about) it still is a lie right, just like someone murders someone one-time does that make them a murderer. Of course, so if you lie what does that make you? You might say something like “human, sinner, or not a good person” more precise if I tell a lie what does that make you? ” A liar, right” so next is have you ever stole anything (regardless of value) You might say “no” of course I say humm.. I don’t believe you, you admit that you are a liar. So you say ok maybe once when I was young or something. And next question, you heard it say “thou shall not commit adultery”. I tell you (jesus said) for those that may be of isalm here, the prophet jesus said that if you look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. So think about this, I know you say “I don’t believe in god” but when you die your soul has to go somewhere and you’ll have to face a holy god on judgement day. And if this is all true christianity your not going to have eternal life. As it reads in “Hebrews, 9:27 – And it is appointed to men once to die, but after this judgement: So as you see by god’s moral standard of being good we are not we have all broke the law and disobeyed god. He gave us this world, air, family, and everything else. I know maybe you say I prayed to god and nothing happened? Ok well why is that, well as it reads in “Romans 3:23, For we all have sinned and fell short the glory of god”. It took one man to bring death, disease, and all to us, and another to save us not to save us from hell itself. But to save us from judgement day that god has appointed to deal with. The bibles say those that are sinners and never acknowledge their sins, that means to admit to god that your are not a “good person”. God know’s your heart, it is like this what if for one month we do a study and put a little chip beind your brain and it recorded all your thoughts and feelings (what know one knows about you) what would they think about you then? Shocked! You say right, that is what god see’s and he knows what you do and that will all be let out on judgement day nothing is hidden from god. So if you really want to “believe” you have to confess with your mouth that you lied, stole, committed adultery, and covetted and everything you have done wrong that is considered evil in god’s eyes. God created us with his image and that means (spiritually) and you think anyone that creates anything would want to destroy their creation. So now think about this god isn’t just a god of wrath (being just) he also cares so he already proved his love for us and has gave us a chance. See god came down from the heavens, jesus christ to be born of a baby and to die for us, for what we do wrong in our lives that’s why for god to hear your prayer you have to let the great big wall of sin down. And admit to god you have broken the law, and in mercy to save you from god’s wrath put your old life away and make jesus christ the lord and saviour of your life. See it is Repentance (that means not just having a change of mind) but turning away from sin anything that causes you to do wrong) and have faith. And through Christ you’ll be perfect and god will then allow you into eternal life because someone has paid our fine for us. You can’t buy it, and we don’t deserve it but god is giving it to us. Even if you are, I hope I say this right homosexual this was made for you too. See we are all born with a homosexual nature, we are all born with sin as I said from romans 3:23. It is just that the lustful desires of sexual temptaion that you give into. So, please I URGE YOU TODAY!!! For your life and soul If you care about your family and if your married with kids also. before you go to sleep tonight or sooner to. Cause you never know when your life will end, come to god TODAY! And ask him to please forgive you, and turn away from all your sins. Cause if you die in your sins it may be too late and then god has to give you what you deserve. Hell is real, or murders, rapists go free and god doesn’t care. So it must be real, cause those that don’t repent and acknowledge jesus as their saviour. And if you say what if someone lives way out somewhere and never heard the name jesus christ, well what about this does not everyone have a conscience. It is natural, when you lie it tells you. You get this heart breaking feeling and don’t understand it at first so you don’t pay attention to it. All christians aren’t perfect and a real christian know’s what sin is when the law is comfronted to them. Psalm 19:7 “The law of the lord is perfect, converting the soul”.Romans 7:7, Paul said ” I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, you shall not covet”. See we are saved not by the law, but by god’s grace and love for us, if he didn’t care we would not be alive today you think? God is supernatural, you may never see him but he is forever there’s no time to god. Just eternal, (like how someone describes our galaxy) it goes forever. Sometimes god doesn’t let you see, so today don’t wait PLEASE!!! Humble yourself and ask god to forive you from what you have done, and the present and maybe the future. And make Jesus christ your lord and saviour of your life. Ok I think that is enough sorry if I took alot of space, I just began typing and couldn’t stop. I hope maybe this may make sense to you at least think about this.Thank you all for this time and if nothing happens with this message and you do nothing with it I thank you from my heart so much.

  • txatheist

    Jason,
    Jesus didn’t come for me even if you think he did. I don’t need to accept him and if there is a god he better be able to explain why someone wrote such a bad book about him…the bible. I was in the military and I don’t want a cross going up in a veterans cemetary for me….that’s insulting to me and my service. I understand the bible, that’s why I am an atheist. Hopefully murderer and rapists are caught and go to jail and get help before being released. According to your book I go to hell and my biggest crime is speeding but a murderer goes to heaven if he repents? Illogical to me. Saying hell or god or the tooth fairy doesn’t exist isn’t remotely close to saying I deny physics and a large truck hitting me. We see physics everyday…not hell or your god or the tooth fairy for a very good reason. You don’t understand the big bang or evolution. Keep an open mind and read up on it. If your god was a designer my Dad wouldn’t have bad back. I’d have the strength of an orangutan, the distant vision of an eagle, the night vision of a cat, the leaping ability of squirrel and the smell of a dog for a truly good design. You are playing russian roulette with the xian god over Zeus or Allah or Isis or Mithra. I just believe in one less god than you. There is no judgement day and no soul. Those are ideas within your religion and that’s the only place they exist… in your head. I deny god because god is only a myth. If you choose god that is your choice but I am content being an atheist and nothing in the bible is going to change that. I read the bible and that’s why I’m an atheist to some degree.

  • Siamang

    TX,

    I suspect “Jason” is a christian spambot.

  • Jason

    Understanding to people who don’t believe in god and why a cross should not be put up at a grave or memorial site if they didn’t believe in a god. That would be an insult, just like when an offering is made to a person when another person offers a “FREE” gift. It say’s in the bible “The Preaching of the cross is foolish to those that are perishing” So believe me when I say on here to all of you “I myself” don’t want to convert anyone to christianity or to believe in god. That’s the work of god, and if you don’t believe then all I ask for you to do is to consider this for a moment? Do you want to die anyone? Well hopefully no one wants to die, and think about this for a moment and don’t listen to me, but listen to your conscience. If you know or may not know the word conscience comes from the translated word from greek word “with-knowledge”, and see the word “con” means with and “science” means knowledge. So let me ask you this question how many here have a conscience? Hopefully all of you, and how is that conscience come about. Could it be society driven or come with in us already. If you say it is based on society, ok look at this sceniaro “you have a man that doesn’t associate himself with the world and lives out in a shack way out in the country and that’s how he grew up never been around society. And he doesn’t know how society works. And as he grew up as a boy he had parents who beat him, and his dad drank all the time. So he to became abusive, let’s say that happened because he never knew of society’s ways. So he see’s so much violence in his growing up to a man, and one day he decides to go into town to get to know a few people and try and figure out this society thing. So he does and meets a beautiful woman and she notices him and they start talking she thinks he is a nice guy (not right away) they become intiment or anything just friends and so they continue for about 6 months or almost a year and they get close as friends and like each other company and she teaches him how to be more social and such. So they begin a relationship and about 3 years go by and they get married, and now there’s a commitment there with her be bound to him by marriage he starts to become more social with the guys at the bar and they all play pool and he’s out late nights drinking, playing pool and she begins to doubt her marriage to him cause he begins to loose what she thinks interests, and she tries to speak to him about it (but of course while he is still drinking) so the alchol is still in control of his mind. So in his mind he hears what he thinks is “nagging” and so much and doesn’t see her hurting (if he was sober, he may? ) so this goes on for about a month and then she comfronts him again and this time she has a suit case and she decides to leave for awhile until he can see what he is doing and maybe he’ll come around. So his heart begins to beat faster and he get’s nervous and he’s not thinking and they get into an argument about her leaving. He doesn’t remember the first conversation with her because he was not in his right mind he had been drinking and he was indulging in his alchol, (worshipping his alchol more than his wife) pleasing her. So as they are yelling without thinking what he is saying and his sorrundings because he has been again drinking and his hand swings at her face and without at first meaning to (acting on impulsive). He is now just seen what he has done, except now it is too late he committed his first crime (civil crime) abusive towards his wife the one who loves him and he tries to hard to apoligize, but she is still leaving until he decides to get help and get cleaned up and maybe, just maybe she might give him a chance. But he doesn’t want her to leave, he jumps in front of the door and she tries to get out anyway she can. But he grabs her and begins to pin her down to the bed until she say’s she won’t leave. So she doesn’t and with a arm that get’s free she is able to reach a lamp on the night stand to hit him with hit so he will get off of her so she can get out. Now he is really upset and really not thinking cause the heart is beating faster. So he without thinking runs to a kitchen and looking for something to stop her and sees a big knife at first he is only thinking about scaring her with it and just as she runs towards the door the knife is in his hand is swung into her chest (and remember this he was drinking, and about almost two times over the blood alchol limit. So she dies and now what, he disposes of her body about five or so miles away from the house and cleans up the house of all the blood. About two days go by and her co-workers hadn’t seen her at work. So they go over to her house where her husband answers the door with a beer in his hand and saying (with a high voice) “What do you want”. Her co-worker ask if has seen or heard anything about his wife, and at first jumps on them for asking the question. So with that they leave and they get a weird feeling about something that doesn’t feel right about his attitude and where she has been. So they for some reason decide to inform the police about this and say that she has not reported to work for two days. So the police decide to look into it and they comfront the husband, and he uses profanity with them and is argumentive with them. And he thinks they have judged him and yet they only asked a few questions. They get suspicious and decide to end it there and check with the friends again from her place of employment about her and would she just up and leave, what kind of person was she. So they decide to get a police warrant and search the home. They get it and go to the house and search and see her suitcase packed with clothes in it, and her purse with keys and wallet. They think this doesn’t make sense why would someone leave and leave this here? They ask the husband more questions and again he’s argumentitive so they place him in handcuffs for their safety and his. And they ask him questions, away from his home. Yet he hasn’t been charged or arrested just simply asking questions and asked to take a lie detector test. At first he doesn’t and swears at them and say’s I won’t take no F*****test. And they say ok that’s fine but we can get a warrant and arrest you, and as of now your a free person and simply just answering tests. So what’s the problem with that, so with respct they say that and being polite. So he thinks about it and asks about the test, and if he can leave after this. They say “yes” and we will let you know what’s goes on with the case and while they do the test a phone call comes into 911 and reporting a body in the camp grounds of a family camping park. The detectives are just about finished and they here about this and have to go. So one goes and check it out, get’s to the seen and from the description from the co-workers of the woman, he is convinced they find the woman. They call in the co-workers later on after they get done with the scene and askto identify her. And find out that’s the woman and they inform the husband “we think we found your wife” his eyes light up real big and within his eyes seems like what they might think could be fear with anger. So they walk him down to identify his wife if it is her, he at first breaks down out or guilt within his heart because he know’s what he done. The detectives don’t know that he is guilty yet, until they get the cause of death and how and where she could been murdered at. When they do about two days later they go to the home of the man, and find no one home there no vehicles there. So they proceed to the door and knock, just as they knock they see his truck and he see’s their car and panic’s thinking maybe they know, but still not yet. So they jump into the car and begin chasing him, the chase begins the detectives radio to dispatch about the chase and other offers here this and about a couple miles up the road a officer heres it and he gets out of his car with no other cars around he grabs the spike strips and lays them out and here comes the suspect at a high rate of speed not noticing the spike strips runs them over and when the tire burst it jerks the car and ends up rolling on it’s side. So then the officers approach the suspect with extreme caution and he is ok and not in critical shape, so the officers pull him out. And they place him in handcuffs and read him his rights, and then they ask him why he ran? The suspect is confused now, he thought they knew. Now he is there main suspect, so they question him with so many questions and eventually get him to give a DNA test since there was traces of blood that wasn’t of her on her shirt after two hours of convincing him because he ran he looks like their suspect. He says if I do this, would I not be charged with this, they say it is not up to us.That’s up to DA and jury if the evidence comes back not your blood then you can’t be charged with the crime of murder. But you will have a charge of fleeing from police and resisting arrest that’s it. So without thinking he says yes, and the detectives find out it is 100% is blood the DA gets the warrant to charge him with first degree murder. So what do you think is the man Innocent Or Guilty, I know this is long I didn’t expect this to be this long I just started typing and the words came coming? Remember this though the man grew up with abusive parents, and never until long into his adult hood experienced other people. Except his mom who did home school him some, and maybe a tutor that might be the only outside source. I wouldn’t call that society. So his the man still “Innocent or Guilty”. Does he know the seriousness of his crime? What do you think, are you able to judge someone else for a very serious crime. Think about this I think it was the mid 90′s there were 200,000 murders in the UNITED STATES. And about only 50% where ever solved and the other 50% unsolved they are a mystery to the law enforcement officers. So what if you (I don’t like to say this word) but (you) athiests who say you don’t believe in god and so many things in this that are a mystery and the universe how it goes on forever (eternal). You say there is no god, and all christians are wrong and crazy, maybe some the ones who claim to be christains but they live a life of lust, lies, and whatever else and they don’t seem to have much repentance doing it until sunday then monday they live in their sin. Do you think they are still a christian that is true that does sin knows it and his sin breaks his heart and that drives him/her (excuse me ladies, I am sorry) to repent. So if your right that means 50% of murders got away scott free and god doesn’t care and hasn’t appointed a day of judgement. Are you willing to gamble that with your soul, so before you say anything else about the world and how it began make sure you investigate both sides REALLY REALLY WELL. And listen to your conscience, does your heart ever lie to you. When you tell a lie, do you not know it is wrong, when take something that you did not ask for do you not understand it is not right. So think about what happens after you die, what happens to me. You will never see your friends again, and if hell is real which it is and Jesus talked more about hell in the bible than heaven. It is a place of torment, (much worse than any person would see if they were in the armed services) and knawling at the teeth, see what it means to be made in image of god so many think physical yet they forget god is supernatural and sometimes it doesn’t let you see physical it is about “Faith” anyone can say they “believe” but it comes down to faith from your heart. And truly being tired of your wicked ways and you want that all to be gone. Because if not then the wrath of god abides on you like it reads in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and we (all) fell short the glory of god” because the blood line of one man. Adam in the garden of eden, when he disobient to god. We were (our soul this means) was made perfect because of god’s supernatural power. A being that can create a universe so huge without ever stopping that means he is ( POWERFUL) and should be the greatest. He creates life, just like he did with himself in order for god to come to earth he needed a body so he had to be born so he came through the spirit to mary and supernaturally was conceived and grew inside mary ( 9 months) and when he was born he grew as a man (jesus christ) he came to uphold the law he gave us to live by. Not to dispose it to let us know how to live and it got documented and yes it may seem confusing to some but that’s because to the flesh the bible is foolish. It speaks in alot of parrables and to understand that you have to open your heat (your conscience) Jesus came to this word not to condemn this world and not to walk among us. His purpose was only to save us from ourselves cause we can’t save ourselves. Jesus came to die on a cross, and the blood of jesus christ was shed to cover our sins, just like in the old days when a lamb was sacrificed and the blood was used to cover sins. In that way jesus is referred to as the lamb, his blood covers us. So on judgement day we can’t say “I didn’t know, because you have a conscience” and you have a chance now! I am NOT BY FAR TRYING TO CONVERT ANYONE HERE, I JUST WANT YOU ALL TO BE OPEN MINDED AND LISTEN TO YOUR HEARTS. We don’t deserve it and couldn’t earn it. But if you accept it as a FREE gift god’s gace, that the blood of christ was for you. So through jesus christ god can forgive you. So we enter god’s kingdom not because are a “Good person” but because we are a “Bad Person” who has been forgiven by a very kind and loving god. So don’t die tomorrow and end up in eternity. You never know when his your last breathe,

    REPENTANCE = (Change of attitude, and you wish for the old to be gone) it bothers you so much you despise the wrong you do and means you will turn away from what causes to do wrong. And accept jesus christ as a personal savior for your life. Or you on judgement day will suffer from the most powerful being in this universe. And it says in Psalms “It is a Fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god”. So put your faith in christ and repent today! Be honest and confess with your mouth your sins, you don’t deserve it but IT IS FREE, if you mean it god will change your heart it may take awhile for some. It is kind of like when you get in trouble as a kid with your parents and you say your sorry for them to know you mean they have to see you change and not do it no more EVER right!! Yet you do get punished right, but with true repentance god can forgive you and he knows if your serious he see’s your heart. Thank you for reading this if you had and I didn’t know it would be this long. Thank you..

  • MTran

    Siamang,

    I think the spambot just proved you to be right!

  • Richard Wade

    Now let’s be fair, MTran and Siamang. Jason mentioned that he came to these views only recently, just about a year ago. They’re all new and exciting for him, and he’s eager to share what he finds valuable. Maybe he’s a little long-winded, but let’s be fair.

    Jason, your latest message was 2,941 words long. Consequently, I didn’t read it all. I skimmed it. Your earnestness comes through, and that’s good. I don’t presume to psychoanalyze you, but I think much of all that you wrote was for you to hear more than for us to hear. As you settle more comfortably into your new beliefs, you will probably be able to sort out what is worth sharing with others and what is actually about clarifying and reinforcing things for yourself. Generally the shorter a statement, the more impact it will have. This message I’m writing consists of 166 words. If you can keep your remarks down to 300 words or less, you’ll have more effect.

  • Richard Wade

    Oh and for clarification guys, I don’t share any of Jason’s beliefs. I just enjoy discussions where people actually talk to each other rather than dismiss each other with negative labels.

  • MTran

    While I sympathize with your sentiment, Richard, I think that in this one instance, no-one has jumped the gun in making the conclusion of “spam”.

    It may appear that I have been “unfair” in my assessment of Jason, especially since I had not been formerly involved in the conversation. But I chimed in only after wading through much of what Jason had written, expecting to post a brief reply to one comment he made. When I saw his latest missive, however, I could only conclude that the kindest assessment of what I read was that it was deliberate spam, rather like the recent “Google” spammer who seems to have afflicted the site while Hemant is away for a few days.

    I’m more than willing to be proved wrong about Jason, by the way.

  • Richard Wade

    MTran, thanks for your remarks, and it could be that your first assessment was correct. I’m a newbie to this medium, and I can be naive. I guess we’ll see. He shares his first name with an insufferable troll who is infesting and degrading several threads over on the Washington Post On Faith site, and at first glance I thought, “Oh, no.” But I don’t think they’re one in the same.

  • MTran

    Richard Wade,

    Thanks for the response. We’re all newbies at some things and on some sites. I have found that it is very easy to be misunderstood on-line. Even though I know this, and have been misunderstood myself, I still make erroneous judgments about posters. My own writing style can, at times, sound overly formal or pedantic, and plenty of people don’t like that. Other people demand even greater rhetorical rigor. I figure, eh, I only have so much time and energy to devote to on-line discussions (same as everyone else). Your preference for fairness and civility, though, is a sound one.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com/2006/08/04/atheists-removing-crosses/ Avid Reader

    This knee-jerk reaction is what I feared and is the very thing that puts us in a bad light – religious folks LOVE it since it fits in with their view of us as angry folks looking for trivial things to bitch about. . Increasingly, the skeptical movement is being redefined as an anti-religious crusade. We seem to have forgotten that though we are a secular nation we are historically and traditionally religious. Over the past few years something has changed. Where once we would have said, “What a terrible accident” we now shout “The State is promoting religion by memorializing automobile deaths with a small cross.”

    Sagan, Gould, Darwin, Asimov and Einstein were all atheists AND popular with the public yet none engaged in religion-bashing. They accepted the fact that the vast majority are religious without rancor. Both Sagan and Gould fought the religion-bashing trend as ultimately unproductive; it only alienates and isolates us more than we already are. “There goes those nutty atheists, worrying about Nativity scenes at Xmas and tiny crosses for road victims.” It trivializes and defines us in a negative way..

    As far as I know no one has ever been converted by a coin with “In God We Trust”, seeing the Prez sworn on a Bible or eyeing a roadside cross. I’d hazard that up to now, 99.99% of the passerbys never gave religion a thought. I never did, focusing on the fact that someone cared enough to place a small, temporary memorial.

    PS -PLEASE, long-winded Biblical folks. Get a book on paragraphs and their usage. Also, quoting Scripture to someone who doesn’t accept or believe it is like a Muslim trying to convince you with Koranic verses. You’d say, “But I don’t believe that [particular god].” Well…..

    Avid Reader

  • MTran

    Avid,

    I think you will find plenty of atheists agreeing with you about avoiding needless, arguably pointless, battles. Still,I don’t see what anyone can do about “reeling in” the more agressive litigants out there. They aren’t under anyone’s control.

    One thing I have often found, though, is that when I take a look at the documents actually filed in the courts, the arguments are a lot more moderate or reasonable than anything we ever see in the media reports. Not always, though.

    You also said that earlier scientist atheists were well liked and avoided bashing religion. I used to believe that was a preferable approach myself. I no longer believe that. I am now convinced that someone must start kicking back at the religious extremists who have caused significant harm and threaten to do worse.

    What has convinced me that a more aggresive atheism is needed is the violence of 9-11, the resultant religious-based call for vengeance, the billions of tax dollars given to “faith” based entities, the billions of tax dollars “forgiven” (not assessed against) religious corporate entities and properties, the stranglehold on scientific / medical issues, and the erosion of public education in the name of religion. Add to that religious based violence by “anti abortion” assassins and venomous religious “demonstrators” who harass mourners at funerals for veterans.

    As far as I can tell, the religious crazies in the US are eager to turn the US into a far-right “Christian” Taliban. Speaking softly has done nothing to stop the religious loonies. The honorable tolerance of religious freedoms has morphed into an evisceration of all other civil rights. So it seems that the only alternative is to start screaming. I wish the situation were otherwise.

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  • http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/02/27/are-evangelical-atheists-too-outspoken/ Avid Reader

    MTran,
    Thanks for the reply. I can’t get in missionary mode just to spread the gospel of atheism. Christianity spread early because of its message of hope and this was all done without quoting the New Testament. I’m not interested in a new Crusade to exterminate religion and replace it with another rigid system. The angry tone of the new evangelists may excite the “faithful” but as far as actually changing minds – forget it. People won’t change their mind if all we do is belittle, scream and holler how evil they are..

    Our point of views are different. The few areas where religious folks talk about science are irrelevant to the exponentially-growing body of data. I don’t feel threatened – I write and talk about my atheism all I want with no fear. Christians I know work, volunteer for Katrina, 911, the tsunami, raise families, have dinner parties, vote – in other words, except for their faith their lives are like my own. If your belief system impels you to help others who am I to criticize it?

    Much of the anger is resentment at the political success of the Right. The author of Freakanomics says it’s a decling base due to abortion and birthrates – who knows? I heard no protests when Clinton whined about prayer, redemption, God, “preaching to the saved”, etc. I’ve come to agree with Darwin who refused a request to denounce religion by saying that any such Crusade was wrong and that the best way to affect change was a gradual spread of knowledge.

    thanks for your comments
    AR

  • Siamang

    I’ve come to agree with Darwin who refused a request to denounce religion by saying that any such Crusade was wrong and that the best way to affect change was a gradual spread of knowledge.

    The spread of Darwin’s knowlege has been much too gradual for my taste.

    As Spencer Tracy noted in Inherit the Wind, we are marching backward. At some point one needs to speak up to stop this decline.

  • Trent

    i am not nearly as educated as many and i do not mean any disrespect.. I am a christian and …looking at the big picture … Christian rights seem to be becoming very limited.. Not aloud to pray in a public school, where i live you can not display merry christmas in a store, Atheist are trying to have in god we trust taken out, and are also tryin to modify the pledge of allegiance . What kind if since does this make. Does the word god really offend people when they see it on money. Does seeing merry christmas? if i saw happy hanaka(spelling i know) in a store it would not offend me one bit. If u see me in school praying, does that really offend you, im not gonna push my religion on you. as far as putting crosses up for fallen soldiers or police officer, ect i really dont see what the issue is. although i def. see where atheist are comming from i just do not see why this is going to the supreme court. We already got enough issues in the world for believers and non believers of any religion to be “bickering” over an “offensive symbol” seems a bit childish to me.. again i mean no disrespect your beliefs are your belief. And i appologize if it seems like i am narrow minded

  • Gary Charbonneau

    Atheist are trying to have in god we trust taken out, and are also tryin to modify the pledge of allegiance . What kind if since does this make. Does the word god really offend people when they see it on money.

    “In God We Trust” is the national motto of the United States per an act of Congress in 1956. The phrase “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance by an act of Congress in 1954. Both acts contravene the First Amenment to the Constitution of the United States, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” The reason why an atheist would find both acts offensive, aside from their unconstitutionality, is that their clear intent was and is to imply that one has to believe in God in order to be a good American, and therefore, that no atheist can be a good American.

    That is the sense it makes. Do you understand the point?

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Trent,
    No, I don’t think you are narrow minded. I think you want to understand and you want to be respectful, and those are very good things. What some atheists and also some Christians are concerned about is when public land, public property or public money is used to promote a particular religion over others. This is unfair to all the Americans who pay for all that as much as anyone, but who don’t share that religion. The Founding Fathers had their own various religious beliefs. Some had strong beliefs, some had hardly any, but they all remembered the terrible things that had happened in England and Europe when the kings and queens favored one religion over others. So the Founding Fathers said that their new democracy would allow all religions, and the government would not favor any and not deny any. The government was supposed to stay out of it. This was written in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    Unfortunately, there are always some people who would like to throw out the First Amendment so they could have their religion be the official religion of the country. They have tried doing this in little steps so that others would not get too alarmed and would not fight back. The acts that put “In God We Trust” on money and added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance were two examples of these little steps toward a government sponsored religion. This would not be good even for Christians, because if it ever happens then even Christians will not be able to worship in the way they want, but will be told how to worship by the government. When was the last time you completely agreed with everything the government does? No, I don’t think you would like it.

    Like you, most atheists don’t feel offended if they see “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” in private stores. That is the freedom of the store owners and conflicts over such things are silly. If school kids want to pray in public school, they should be allowed to do so during their recess when those who want to can, and those who don’t want to don’t have to. The problems there happened when prayer was being held during class time and everyone was basically forced to pray whether they wanted to or not. That was forcing religion down the kids’ throats and was not fair and was against their freedom to choose.

    So Trent I hope you can see that these efforts to keep religion and government separate are protecting your rights as a Christian as much as the rights of Jews, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus and atheists.

    We all must be free or no one is free.

    Thank you for asking about this. It’s important to everyone.

  • Trent

    appreciate richard, yes most of what you say makes sense, but somethings have been taken a little bit overboard. In middle and high school you do not have recess, when are you supposed to be able to pray? But other than that i pretty much see your point. I still however believe that this is a petty issue. Mabye because i am a christian and do not have to go throught the tribulations atheist have to when seeing words like in god we trust, and such. Thanks again though for clearing some things up richard

  • Darryl

    In middle and high school you do not have recess, when are you supposed to be able to pray?

    Let’s be accurate here. Most of the prayer-in-the-schools boosters are christians–folks that don’t need to prayer toward Mecca five times a day. So, let those kids pray before school, or after. This is a lame argument.

  • Richard Wade

    Trent, certainly the anger over these things gets overboard. I wish that both sides could discuss without the name calling and stereotyping. There are intelligent, sincere people in the dialogue but they get drowned out by the shouting, the sound bites and the political hay making.

    I stand shoulder to shoulder with religious people to keep us all free. The government on any level must never be our pulpit.


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