Jeffrey Jackson, a reporter for the Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN), tells the story of Bill Kass, a former Catholic who started the Rochester Area Freethinkers:
“I always got myself in trouble by asking the wrong questions,” [Kass] said.
And the answers he was given — answers such as “some things are not meant to be understood” — did not satisfy him. Then, when his parents divorced and his mother was excommunicated from the Catholic church, Kass, as a teenager, found it even more difficult to accept the beliefs of those who said that God loves him and yet condemned his mother to hell.
There are some telling quotations about the group:
… Occasionally, there [are] those in attendance — “militant atheists,” Kass calls them — who will want to combat organized religion. But the key to the group, he said, is respect.
“We’re not organizing marches to burn down churches,” he said.
Instead, the group stresses tolerance of people’s beliefs or disbeliefs.
“We wanted to be able to meet people who the first question out of their mouths was not, ‘Have you found a church yet?’” Kass said. And, he said, he wanted to find similar families so that his kids would realize they were not alone in not professing a religious faith.
What’s the response from people who know Kass?
“A co-worker the other day told me she feels sorry for me,” Kass said. The co-worker proceeded to say that all unbelievers were “evil,” adding, “except for you, Bill.”
Ugh. Those comments usually get ignored by most people. But replace “unbelievers” with “blacks” and you realize what a backhanded compliment it is.
(Thanks to Bjorn for the link!)