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If you hadn’t seen the clip of the Freedom From Religion Foundation on ABC’s World News Sunday, here you go! [tags]atheist, atheism, Freedom From Religion Foundation, ABC, World News Sunday[/tags]
Who is the preacher that speaks after Sam Harris? If he’s prominent I’ve never heard or seen him but I can’t keep up with those xians
I was disappointed in this segment, and somewhat angered by it.
Hemant, I’ve disagreed with you in the past about how far atheists ought to go in our depiction of ourselves. I see no reason why private freethinkers (notice the word “free”), speaking for themselves only, need to cater to anyone else’s sensibilities. However, I think you and I would agree that atheists should be extremely careful when speaking to the mainstream media, and make sure we stay on-message.
The unfortunate thing about the TV coverage of the so-called “atheist movement,” is that the reporters invariably present atheism as a threat. (For example: Here, the FFRF was finagled into proclaiming that they might cause a “fire in a forest.” While that’s, of course, only metaphorical, it doesn’t conjure up an image that we should be comfortable with.) Since we are NEVER given time to present a thoughtful, rational argument, we should respond only in a limited way to the specifics at issue.
The ONLY message in this segment should have been that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes an explicit prohibition against an establishment of religion by the government. Not “a” religion, but religion in general. A few choice comments on the thinking of the founders might have been appropriate. Responding to misleading questions was not. We’ve got to learn to refuse to answer questions like: “Is it true that you no longer beat your wife?” We should not allow the media to set the agenda.
Atheists should also be quick to point out that there is no such thing as an atheist “movement.” One can’t be a fundamentalist atheist because there are no fundamentals to atheism; the only thing we have in common is a non-belief in the supernatural. We have no churches in which to congregate and get our orders. Each of us thinks for him- or herself. There’s plenty of dialogue within the atheist “community,” but we have no formal commandments. Occasionally we join together for a cause — in this case, to keep government funds out of the hands of theocrats. But we most emphatically do not represent a movement comparable to evangelism, or any other religion. We are not trying to use the government to foster our non-belief. We are only trying to keep that non-belief protected constitutionally, as any philosophical system should be. We are not aiming for universal enlightenment in this day and age, because it’s an unreasonable wish. We are merely asserting that our elected leaders have no right to foist their supernaturalism upon us in the legislature, the courthouse, or the public classroom.
Exterminator– I was a bit disappointed in the segment, too, but more so because of the way the anchor kept saying “atheist” like it was a swear word (e.g. “These atheists say…”). His tone just made it seem like he was against FFRF from the start.
Of the many atheists I know who are in the public eye, Dan and Annie Laurie are among the better ones at presenting their views. They come across as firm in their beliefs, but gentle people.
I’m going to make an assumption (which you already knew, I think) that there was a lot of interview footage taken and most of it was edited out. There may well have been comments about the Founders’ beliefs and the Constitution but they may have lacked excitement. The more interesting soundbytes were left in by ABC.
Hence, the firecracker comment. Actually, that didn’t bother me. I think the metaphorical meaning of what Dan was trying to say came off easily enough. I understood what he meant, and I think others would as well. True, Dan could’ve sidestepped that wording, but in the moment, I think that was a good turn of phrase.
I agree with you wholeheartedly about the “no fundamental atheist” idea, though. We should be quick to point that out.
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I feel that people need to settle their differences in a way that doesn’t discriminate against everybody, but come to reason what is offensive to them and learn to deal with it. I agree that Christianity is a strong belief in God, could you imagine what our society would be like if their weren’t any Christian people in it. Just something to ponder upon.
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