Lack of Respect

Cartoonist Don Addis hits the target yet again:

addiscartoon.jpg

(via Freethought Today)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Freedom From Religion Foundation, FFRF, Christian, Jesus, cross[/tags]

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com Odgie

    If you really think that is an accurate depiction of Christian/Atheist interactions, then you haven’t been reading the comments on your own blog.

  • I like tea

    Of course it’s not accurate as a generalization, Odgie. That said, the dynamics on this site are more an exception than a rule. The cartoon is completely accurate in its portrayal of fundamentalist zealots.

  • http://enklabloggen.blogspot.com/search/label/Written%20in%20English simple z

    Hmmmm…..you call this blog ‘friendly atheist’ ;)

  • Robin

    It’s perfectly accuratre, I think. We atheists are continually battered by certain members of the religious right, who continually berate us with exactly the terms the bigot in the ‘toon uses. And then, when we point out the flaws in their positions–and there are many–the predictable reaction is exactly what you see played out in the second panel.

    Now, there are Christians who don’t engage in this behavior. And a lot of them read and post on this blog–and Hemant’s site is all the better for it. But they are a minority. Make no mistake about that.

    • Bjj_210

      They are NOT the minority….. They are the VAST MAJORITY except you never hear from them !!! Simply because we are the people who are not causing any confrontation with anyone and continuing our own beliefs and not imposing them on anyone else !!! I was sent this link by an atheist on facebook who initiated a religious debate by disrespectful means. I am by no means an overly religious person but I do have beliefs and the one thing that pisses me right off is when people try to impose their beliefs on me !! Believe whatever the hell you want and I will do the same….. People think religion has caused conflict !!! In fact it is the intolerance of people for other peoples beliefs that has caused conflict… not religion itself !!   

  • Maria

    I’m pretty friendly usually, but I do feel that way with some people, especially lately, and especially with conservative religious.

  • http://enklabloggen.blogspot.com/search/label/Written%20in%20English simple z

    Maria
    But the comic strip doesn’t say “conservative religious”,
    it only sports a man with a cross,
    could be any christian, according to the pictures.

  • (((Billy)))

    Simple z says:

    But the comic strip doesn’t say “conservative religious”,
    it only sports a man with a cross,
    could be any christian, according to the pictures.

    I think that the label “conservative religious” in this case would be superfluous. The more liberal individuals and denominations are rarely (yes, I know I am generalizing) the ones to call atheists “Blind Idiot, Rat Fink, Pervert, Commie, Blasphemer, Immoral Creep and Scum of the Earth.” Yes, according to the picture, it could be any of the multitude of christianities from liberal to conservative, progressive to fundamentalist, Unitarian to Southern Baptist. But the words, to me, at least, paints the label ‘conservative’ (not to mention fundamentalist, christianist, dominionist) quite adequately.

  • Disciple of “Bob”

    I disagree that it could be “any christian”. Almost by definition, it could only be the sort of Christian who would behave as depicted in the cartoon, and I’m sure you can think of at least a couple of real-life examples.

    As an aside, let’s try not to get too worked up over cartoons.

  • http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com/ TPO

    When I first saw this over at Freethought Today I got a good chuckle out of it. It’s still funny and oh so true in many instances.

  • Joseph R.

    Simple z
    I don’t think the comic needs a label on the religious person. The fact that he is beating someone over the head with his cross is label enough for me. (I know not all religious people are as intolerant as the person depicted in the cartoon)

  • Siamang

    it only sports a man with a cross,
    could be any christian, according to the pictures.

    I don’t agree… it could only be a Christian who hurls those epithets at atheists.

    It asks the question, quite vividly, if some of those pleading for respect are people who show us respect, or if they just don’t want atheists to stand up for themselves or argue back with as much force as they get.

    I actually think that sites like this are the antidote to problems like we see illustrated in the comic.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    It struck me that this cartoon could have just as easily been drawn the other way, perhaps with an atheist beating a Christian over the head with a copy of “The God Delusion” and spewing words like “Irrational! Blind Faith-head! Child Abuser! Fundamentalist! Jihadist! Idiot!” etc. And then demanding respect and claiming persecution by the religious when the Christian lashes back.

    Perhaps a better approach would be for both sides to lay down their bludgeons and their vitriol and actually treat each other with human dignity and respect right from the start. Or even take to heart the advice someone once gave to love one’s enemies and treat well those who persecute you. Otherwise I don’t see much hope for the cycle of verbal (and sometimes literal) violence to ever actually end.

  • grazatt

    MikeClawson simple z Odgie I think what the cartoonist is trying to say is that the work of Dawkins etc is mild in comparison and is a reaction to what your kind have been doing for the past 2000 years. But that is just a guess!

  • Siamang

    I don’t know what the cartoonist has on his mind, but I look at it this way.

    In the first panel, the believer is using the cross as a weapon. I take this as meaning the part of religious belief that has the ability to harm others. It doesn’t have to be anti-atheist, it can be anti gay, anti woman, anti condom use…

    To me, that symbolizes faith-based arguments for behavior harmful to others.

    In the second panel, notice that the atheist isn’t hitting back. Instead he’s attempting to break the weapon. To me that symbolizes using reason to puncture the harmful arguments. This is an atheist saying “now wait a minute… how can you use this to argue against gay marriage… are you really making an argument, or are you just justifying your bigotry? What are your logical arguments and we can discuss them… but leave your “god says it, I believe it, that settles it” excuses out of this.”

    To take Mike’s reversal… okay please let’s reverse it. The atheist is hitting the Christian over the head with Dawkins’ book, saying “faithhead” “child abuser”… etc. Then in the second panel, let’s say the believer takes the book and “breaks it” by looking in the book and critically taking apart Dawkins arguments and showing them to be specious!

    I’m actually FOR Mike’s reversal! That’s what discourse should be! The Atheist would never and should never say “Woah, woah, woah… have some RESPECT, don’t attack my volume of the Holy Dawkins!”

  • Mriana

    For some reason I don’t find that comic funny. I find it rather sad. :( I don’t know why, but it gives me feelings of sadness.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    If you doubt the reality of the cartoon, you have only to read the Catholic journal “First Things” every once and awhile. Pretty much every other article is about how atheists are dragging us all back towards the Holocaust… but then whining about how atheists need to be more subservient and beg the forgiveness of religious folk that they can’t yet share in their wondrous beliefs.

  • Chris

    I find it to be hilarious! Everyone seems to be analyzing it…but for me, I literally laughed out loud! :-)

  • J Sveda

    That cartoon is hilarious, thank you for posting it :)

  • joshua

    Now, there are Christians who don’t engage in this behavior. And a lot of them read and post on this blog–and Hemant’s site is all the better for it. But they are a minority. Make no mistake about that.

    hmm… well that’s odd, seeing as how fundamentalist Christians number only about 190 million- a mere fraction of the over 2 BILLION Christians in the world. wtf, atheists don’t believe in science either? can’t do a Google search?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    When you really get down to it, the only thing the theist really has is the symbol. If you break it, he/she has nothing.

  • grazatt

    Bad that was a really good post, thank you!

  • Steelman

    I figured it was a member of the Westboro Baptist church battling a dogmatic, Randian Objectivist.

    It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :twisted:

  • Robin

    It struck me that this cartoon could have just as easily been drawn the other way, perhaps with an atheist beating a Christian over the head with a copy of “The God Delusion” and spewing words like “Irrational! Blind Faith-head! Child Abuser! Fundamentalist! Jihadist! Idiot!” etc. And then demanding respect and claiming persecution by the religious when the Christian lashes back.

    Perhaps a better approach would be for both sides to lay down their bludgeons and their vitriol and actually treat each other with human dignity and respect right from the start. Or even take to heart the advice someone once gave to love one’s enemies and treat well those who persecute you. Otherwise I don’t see much hope for the cycle of verbal (and sometimes literal) violence to ever actually end.

    I’d like to respond to each paragraph of this post separately.

    What the cartoonist was responding to is the fact that there are literally millions and millions of Christians who believe in what the religious nutjob in the cartoon believes. They’re in every level of our society, and they feel perfectly comfortable in spewing their anti-atheist rhetoric with impunity. What Dawkins did in “The God Delusion”, and what Dennett, Hitchens, Harris and Mehta are doing with their books is to encourage non-believers to do exactly what the atheist in the ‘toon is doing. Standing up to the B.S.

    Christians aren’t being persecuted by atheists in the US. But atheists, agnostics, and other disbelievers are being persecuted by Christians. We see it every day, with “In God We Trust” on our money, right-wing nutjobs (who are very well-respected by a large segment of our population) trying to amend the constitution so that people like me can’t get legally married, trying to outlaw abortion, etc.

    Sure, YOU might not be doing that, but there are lots and lots of other people who are, in the name of Christianity.

    And you’re right…it’d be nice if the vitriol were put aside. But I certainly don’t see the majority of Christians doing any such thing. And I don’t see them doing so anytime soon. (Do you?)

    Only one state over from me, in Wisconsin, the same Christians I’m talking about (and are lampooned in the ‘toon) managed to pass their ugly anti-same-sex marriage amendment. To get it repealed will take a lot more effort–and votes! Why aren’t the majority of CHURCHES, MOSQUES and SYNAGOGUES in Wisconsin start to campaign for the this amendment’s dismantling? Let me tell you why. Because the majority of Christians, Muslims and Jews are hunky-dory with that law.

    What that is, is simply this: an imbalance of power. And satire is a powerful tool to fight that.

    The cartoon was satire.

    There’s a reason why monarchs and despots and the people in power used to lock up political cartoonists and satirists. Being made ridiculous, being turned into the butt of a joke—that’s politically disempowering. This is something, I think, both of us can agree on. The Christianists ought to be disempowered. They deserve disempowering. Richly.

    And any little cartoon that tries ought to be published, re-published, in as many places as possible. Maybe even nailed to the doors of their churches.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    The Christians in this argument seem to be proving the cartoon by their reaction to it. It’s a cartoon. It’s funny. Why don’t Christians have a sense of humor?

  • http://www.ineedtothink.com Seavee

    Well put Robin.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    And you’re right…it’d be nice if the vitriol were put aside. But I certainly don’t see the majority of Christians doing any such thing. And I don’t see them doing so anytime soon. (Do you?)

    No, but why let your reactions be determined by their bad behavior? Why let them have that power over you?

    I’m not making excuses for the bad behavior of Christians. I’m just suggesting that there is a better way of handling it than simply returning more of the same. The most effective, long term response to persecution, IMHO, is love.

    I take as my guide the words of Martin Luther King Jr. (which are based of course on the words of St. Paul in Romans 12:14-21):

    I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many white sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councillors, and too many Klansmen of the south to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-co-operation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is co-operation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.’

    I don’t doubt that atheists are still a persecuted minority. And yet I think you’d agree with me that they are still not nearly as persecuted as African Americans were just 45 years ago. So if Dr. King’s approach was successful in overcoming even greater injustice back then, I think atheists might do well to adopt similar methods in their own struggle today.

    And yes, I apply all of this same advice to Christians as well. I would that we too learn to respond to our own “enemies” with love rather than Bible-bashing and namecalling.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    In the first panel, the believer is using the cross as a weapon. I take this as meaning the part of religious belief that has the ability to harm others. It doesn’t have to be anti-atheist, it can be anti gay, anti woman, anti condom use…

    To me, that symbolizes faith-based arguments for behavior harmful to others.

    In the second panel, notice that the atheist isn’t hitting back. Instead he’s attempting to break the weapon. To me that symbolizes using reason to puncture the harmful arguments. This is an atheist saying “now wait a minute… how can you use this to argue against gay marriage… are you really making an argument, or are you just justifying your bigotry? What are your logical arguments and we can discuss them… but leave your “god says it, I believe it, that settles it” excuses out of this.”

    To take Mike’s reversal… okay please let’s reverse it. The atheist is hitting the Christian over the head with Dawkins’ book, saying “faithhead” “child abuser”… etc. Then in the second panel, let’s say the believer takes the book and “breaks it” by looking in the book and critically taking apart Dawkins arguments and showing them to be specious!

    I’m actually FOR Mike’s reversal! That’s what discourse should be! The Atheist would never and should never say “Woah, woah, woah… have some RESPECT, don’t attack my volume of the Holy Dawkins!”

    If we interpret the cartoon that way, then I’m all for it too.

    Though “would never”? Well, not in those words of course… but quite honestly, some reactions I’ve seen here to criticism of Dawkins et al. does come across that way to me.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com Odgie

    All that I said was that I didn’t think the cartoon was accurate, and that the comments section of posts on this site often prove my pont. Sorry if that makes anybody feel “beat-up” on.

    Wasn’t it a couple of days ago on this site that everyone got in such an uproar over a cartoon where a little girl concludes that God exists because of the beauty of the world? You all are reading too much into all of this stuff.

  • Siamang

    Though “would never”? Well, not in those words of course… but quite honestly, some reactions I’ve seen here to criticism of Dawkins et al. does come across that way to me.

    If you’re talking about me it’s because I have an allergic reaction to strawman/weakman arguments.

    It’s why I take on anti-evolutionists: I don’t want believers unwittingly colluding with anti-theists. There are strong arguments for God, and weak ones. The weakest ones (IMO) are those which argue for the impossibility of humans and chimps sharing common ancestry, or that dinosaurs and humans lived together in the town of Bedrock.

    I’m like, COME ON! That’s too easy! It’s too easy to disbelieve THAT version of Christianity. Give me your best arguments, not your worst!

    I imagine I don’t make much sense to people sometimes. I just feel that truth is sometimes worth getting the best out of an argument, and not just defeating the weakest assertions of your conversant.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    I would that we too learn to respond to our own “enemies” with love

    And may I add compassion.

    Personally, I don’t like the in-fighting among Christains, between Xians and Muslims, nor do I like the fighting between the religious (be they Muslim, Christains, Hindus, or Jews) and the non-religious. It can all get pretty violent and I find it very troublesome. There is a better answer and truly feel it is love and compassion, but at the same time, we can’t allow ourselves or anyone else to have beliefs imposed upon them. We don’t have to do it with violence though.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    It’s why I take on anti-evolutionists: I don’t want believers unwittingly colluding with anti-theists. There are strong arguments for God, and weak ones. The weakest ones (IMO) are those which argue for the impossibility of humans and chimps sharing common ancestry, or that dinosaurs and humans lived together in the town of Bedrock.

    I’m like, COME ON! That’s too easy! It’s too easy to disbelieve THAT version of Christianity. Give me your best arguments, not your worst!

    I imagine I don’t make much sense to people sometimes. I just feel that truth is sometimes worth getting the best out of an argument, and not just defeating the weakest assertions of your conversant.

    I’m totally with you there. That’s why I was totally embarrassed (for both sides) by the “Cameron/Comfort vs. the RRS” debate. That was pitting our worst against some of your worst.

    I appreciate the exhortation that Brian McLaren gives about not comparing our best to the other side’s worst. Very often I feel like that’s exactly what both sides are doing (even here at “Friendly” Atheist).

  • Robin

    No, but why let your reactions be determined by their bad behavior? Why let them have that power over you?

    I don’t “let them have that power over” me. They DO have that power. They have the power to enact hateful laws, which they WILL use, given the opportunity. Against me, and people like me.

    How would you recommend I respond, when the religious zealots do everything in their power to dismantle the relationship Michael and I share. When they pass laws that make it impossible for our relationship to be legally recognized? To prevent us from visiting each other should one of us be hospitalized? To try to force us back into the closet?

    With “love”?

    Sorry. That doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s exactly what the people like the Christianist in the ‘toon are hoping–and praying!–for. That we’ll simply be nice, and respectful, and passive while they trample all over us.

    And, it’s important to note here, that while Martin Luther King was certainly non-violent (definitely a good example), he wasn’t afraid of being called “uppity”, or “a rabble-rouser”. In short, he called a bigot a bigot, and didn’t equivocate or apologize for it. Jesus did that, too, from time to time. I hear he got a bit upset with some moneylenders…

    The ‘toon speaks truth to power. And sometimes, to make that point, you need to put a little venom in your words.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    How would you recommend I respond, when the religious zealots do everything in their power to dismantle the relationship Michael and I share. When they pass laws that make it impossible for our relationship to be legally recognized? To prevent us from visiting each other should one of us be hospitalized? To try to force us back into the closet?

    With “love”?

    Sorry. That doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s exactly what the people like the Christianist in the ‘toon are hoping–and praying!–for. That we’ll simply be nice, and respectful, and passive while they trample all over us.

    And, it’s important to note here, that while Martin Luther King was certainly non-violent (definitely a good example), he wasn’t afraid of being called “uppity”, or “a rabble-rouser”. In short, he called a bigot a bigot, and didn’t equivocate or apologize for it. Jesus did that, too, from time to time. I hear he got a bit upset with some moneylenders…

    From MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

    So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?

    I agree that the appropriate response is not to simply do nothing. But do what? That is the question. But I think you’re confused about what it means to respond with love. Love is not about being “nice, respectful, and passive”. Real love is a challenging, world-transforming force in my experience.

    Here’s my question: do you love your Christian neighbors? Do you love them enough to want them to change, to become better, and not simply want them to lose?

  • Robin

    Here’s my question: do you love your Christian neighbors? Do you love them enough to want them to change, to become better, and not simply want them to lose?

    Well, considering the fact that I’m in a relationship with a faithful Catholic, and the fact that by far the majority of the people I love are quite religious, I’d have to say “yes”.

    And the love that I’ve experienced between myself and Michael has been a transformative experience for the both of us. We’re both better people, now that we’re in each other’s lives. And there are people who actively want to dismiss this as being “Perverted”, “Blasphemous”, and that we’re the “scum of the earth”.

    So, my question to you is this:

    What’s the appropriate response to people who hold you in contempt?

  • Rovakur

    Some may view the atheist in the comic as overreactive, but I don’t agree. Here is my interpretation (which is a bit psychoanalytically creative at times, but oh well).

    The first frame is completely allegorical of treatment atheists endure ad nauseam from fanatics, somewhat in the media, but especially in person (in my experience, that is; I’ve seen wanton negativity appear from nowhere).

    The other frame conveys the need for self-defence; in this case, the gloves come off. What does the wierd-X-shaped stick represent? Rinky dink, makeshift arsenal, which when properly disposed of doesn’t hurt anybody. :) I view breaking the stick as no more of a “bad” reaction than crushing the straw that had been used to launch spitwads.

    If you didn’t like the reaction, what other alternative would you have liked? The atheist turning the stick into board with nails, only to have the fanatic retort, “Be careful — you don’t know how to use that!”? :) Or, if the atheist puts up a shield (analagous, say, to ignoring it, which is passive enablement), there’s still discordant banging noise to contend with (not to mention it takes a lot of energy to keep holding it). It doesn’t make sense to take the stick (ammo) away, only to give it back if the fanatic promises to be nice from now on. (As the current occupant of the Oval Office once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” But I digress.)

    Kudos to Robin and Mike for their constructive discourse; that’s what I look forward to as I scroll through the comments.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Well, considering the fact that I’m in a relationship with a faithful Catholic, and the fact that by far the majority of the people I love are quite religious, I’d have to say “yes”.

    And the love that I’ve experienced between myself and Michael has been a transformative experience for the both of us. We’re both better people, now that we’re in each other’s lives.

    That’s great Robin! I’m really glad to hear it.

    And there are people who actively want to dismiss this as being “Perverted”, “Blasphemous”, and that we’re the “scum of the earth”.

    Quite honestly, I see the people who say this kind of thing as being the ones who are truly “perverted” (in the technical, not sexual, sense of the word) and “blasphemous”. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “scum of the earth”… I reserve that title (in a respectful sense) for these folks. :)

    What’s the appropriate response to people who hold you in contempt?

    If we’re talking about specific people (i.e. with names and faces whom you know and could potentially encounter in day to day life) and not just the faceless, generalized “they”, then I’d say the appropriate response is to do whatever you can to show them your humanity. Treat them well. Be nice to them when they are rude to you. Help them when they are in need. Bring them a plate of cookies. Strike up a conversation about something you share in common.

    In other words, worm your way into their lives with such an attitude of hospitality and friendliness to the point that they will become ashamed of their unloving attitudes towards you. Once they can put a human face to the “gay issue”, it will be harder for them to think and act the way they do. It’s easy for them to be hateful towards “those gays”; but it’s a lot harder to be hateful towards “Robin & Michael who are pretty nice guys and have always treated us with generosity and respect.”

    Much easier said than done, I know, and some people will not respond well no matter what you do. On the personal level I think you can only focus your energy on those who do have the potential to change, and simply feel nothing but pity and sadness for those who will not.

  • http://enklabloggen.blogspot.com simple z

    grazatt said,
    “MikeClawson simple z Odgie I think what the cartoonist is trying to say is that the work of Dawkins etc is mild in comparison and is a reaction to what your kind have been doing for the past 2000 years. But that is just a guess!”

    My point is: Why call the blog FRIENDLY atheist when it’s the same kind of christian bashing as everywhere else? What’s special?

    12 in a dozen atheist blogs are already like this. I thought this would include more dialogue so i linked to it.
    Hence the remark with “you call this blog ‘friendly atheist’ ;)”

    Otherwise, i usually read this blog with interest.

  • grazatt

    Well Hemant is friendly, it doesn’t mean every thing else here has to be.

  • Mriana

    Simple z, the truth is, many Christians, not all, do do this sort of crap and unfortunately, some atheists return it, sometimes just as cruelly- ie the UnRRS. I find it painfully sad that humans can be so cruel to each other.

    IMHO, belief or unbelief doesn’t matter. It’s what one does in life that is more important. There is one thing I can appreciate about my older son’s new found philosophy of Buddhism, even though I think it’s just as bizarre as any other religion, and that is, the gods don’t matter because they aren’t going to help you anyway. IMO, this is an admission that, yes, there are a lot of little invisible gods running around that humans created, but it doesn’t matter. Buddhist also include that you have to do things yourself, not rely on any of the gods to get through this life. I can appreciate that too.

    The point that I’m trying to make is that all of this bashing back and forth is just hurting each other and these manmade deities don’t matter. Actions speak louder than words and can do just as much harm as sticks and stones, irregardless of the old saying. It is far better to ask questions, no matter how offensive you may think they sound (of course a little tact helps too) than to live in ignorance of others. In the end, one won’t be remembered for the god they did or did not worship, but their actions in life. So many humanitarians are remembered for what they did and not for which deity they worshipped or did not worship. I could think of many where the focus is on their actions and not on their beliefs.

  • Joseph R.

    Can’t we all just get along.

  • Robin

    Treat them well. Be nice to them when they are rude to you. Help them when they are in need. Bring them a plate of cookies. Strike up a conversation about something you share in common.

    In other words, worm your way into their lives with such an attitude of hospitality and friendliness to the point that they will become ashamed of their unloving attitudes towards you. Once they can put a human face to the “gay issue”, it will be harder for them to think and act the way they do.

    Because I’ve been quite visible in the gay community, I run across these people a lot. And a lot of them are genuinely nice people, who don’t see their attitudes as being hateful.

    They call it “Hating the sin, and loving the sinner”. They’ll be the nicest people in the world to your face, but the moment you leave, they’ll be perfectly happy to sign that petition to ban same-sex marriage. Or abortion. Or any other of those other bigotries they justify to themselves under the rubric of “social conservatism”.

    Ultimately, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, Mike. I think, when confronted with the attitudes I see in the ‘toon, what the theoretical atheist did was absolutely morally justified; and he’s no longer obligated to respect the religion of his tormentor. And to point out the hypocrisy of his tormentor’s actions.

    And I would say exactly the same thing, if the situations were reversed. But that’s not the country we’re living in.

  • Siamang

    Here’s one…

    How about one guy is bashing people over the head saying “Gentiles stay out of the temple!” “You can’t bring in your own animal, buy this one instead!” “Change your filthy foreign money here at greatly inflated prices!” So they’re using their power as leaders of the faith to victimize people.

    And then the other guy breaks their tables, disrupts their marketplace and takes a whip and drives out their animals!

    And then the moneychangers say “Hey, have a little respect here, this is a temple!”

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Ultimately, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, Mike. I think, when confronted with the attitudes I see in the ‘toon, what the theoretical atheist did was absolutely morally justified; and he’s no longer obligated to respect the religion of his tormentor. And to point out the hypocrisy of his tormentor’s actions.

    No, I don’t disagree with you on this. The atheist’s response (if interpreted in the way Siamang described above) is fine by me. But what would be wrong and counter-productive is if the atheist replied to the Christian with his own barrage of insults and violence.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Why call the blog FRIENDLY atheist when it’s the same kind of christian bashing as everywhere else? What’s special?

    I’ve been kind of wondering the same thing lately.

    Well Hemant is friendly, it doesn’t mean every thing else here has to be.

    I hate to say it because I like Hemant (and he lets me post here), but I don’t think this is really the case so much anymore either.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    Fwiw, Mike I have similar thoughts.

    I’ll note that the site I blog at is and continues to be more “friendly” than this site. Perhaps it’s because I’m aware that I post as a guest of a Christian ministry.

    Sometimes I’m frustrated, and sometimes I’m not always the friendliest version of myself… however I do try to stay on the friendlier side of the site norm when posting both there and here.

    See my posts recently on the site I blog at… especially my start at a multi-part series on the Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. I attempt and continue to attempt to change the tone of the broader discussion. At the same time, I understand that I have no desire to be an atheist “concern troll”. I do not see my function as fixing the “atheist movement”. I’ll call out a “low blow”, but I’d much rather recognize positives to promote than to harp on negatives… especially repeatedly.

    I’ll note that while the OffTheMap ebay atheist blog has been and continues to be more positive than this blog… its readership and participation has dwindled to a bare trickle, while this blog is among the top-read blogs in the atheist blogosphere… some days surpassing even Richard Dawkins’ site.

    Sometimes I think it might be wise to adopt a serenity prayer type of approach to the conversation. I recognize that I am working to attempt to set a better example. Sometimes I don’t myself live up to that example. Often the broader conversation does not follow my example. The relative popularity and participation of the ebay atheist blog and the friendly atheist blog tell me that maybe the conversation that most people WANT to have is the conversation they are having, not the conversation I would like.

    But I recognize that my secondary goal has been to change the conversation. My primary goal was always to help gain the tools to be able to discuss faith calmly, respectfully and in an articulate way that (when I want) doesn’t make enemies. This whole thing has been an excersize for me in learning how I can talk to my parents should my atheism come up, and should there be a conflict about religion… my parents aren’t the best “dispassionate discussion” types.

    If the conversation has provided me with these tools, then I’m learning what I wanted to learn. I can’t help but say sorry to you that sometimes when I push, somewhat I’m trying to learn what sets people off, and I apologize for making you a guinea pig sometimes! ;-)

    But anyway, sometimes I think it’s okay if the conversation isn’t what I’d like it to be. I think people are making the conversation they want. And if Greta Christina is right, and the anger we see in this discussion is necessary, then I’ll let her be right.

  • DLB

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I thought the cartoon was humorous. I got a little chuckle out of it at least.

    There is a big long response I could type, but I’ll sum it up with this:
    people misuse the cross in several ways, so this one is no more offensive than the rest of them to me.

    DLB
    -”Conservative Christian”

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I do appreciate your efforts at remaining friendly Siamang. And I have picked up on your increasing frustration. It is understandable of course. Anyway, thanks for maintaining a different tone at the OTM Blog. And you’re right, it does appear that more people prefer the controversy and negativity here than the friendliness over there. I don’t know what to say about that except that it seems to be typical of our whole culture these days. Polarization just seems to come naturally.

    As for anger, I see nothing wrong with it per se. It’s okay to be angry sometimes. The important thing is what you do with that anger, whether it becomes a constructive force or a destructive one.

  • Mike

    “What’s the appropriate response to people who hold you in contempt?”

    Don’t worry about it. Do what you believe is right and do it with a whole heart. If one day you look up and find that you have made a mess of things, then do things differently. Everybody should stop blaming everyone else. Even outside the realm of this particular conflict, people are rude. They are rude about money, and time and life and everything. Its just a fact. I don’t let people being rude to me stop me from doing what I believe I should do. I am a Christian and very happy in my own skin. I do my best to make this world a better place. Most of it has to do with helping people to see that they are special and have a purpose. I find people all the time; beat down people, hurt and damaged people. People with no hope and giving up on life. I do my best to encourage these people and show them that God loves them (first through love and sacrifice that comes through my actions and attitudes, before words) . I make mistakes with the best of them, but I have never, ever, ever bashed someone over the head with the Cross, or shoved it down their throat. (however, I have defended myself accurately when attacked) I believe if someone doesn’t want to hear you, then don’t waste your words.

    So, what is my point?

    Don’t judge Christians, or Christianity based on some peoples actions. (this is the basis for all prejudice.) Do you want me to judge all atheist based on the hateful, ignorant actions of some I have encountered before. There are “real” people and “pretenders” in every single social group in the known world. I am sure you know a lot of great atheist; wonderful people. As well, I know literally thousands of terrific people who are die-hard Christians. Of the Christians I know, I would say that less than 5% come anywhere close to that picture. And, I am not blind… My eyes are open to what people are really doing and saying around me. When me and my friends see pictures like that, we wonder to ourselves where these so called bible thumpers are. I have met only a few in my life. Maybe the effect they have on people is so great as to overshadow all the rest of us who are simply trying to live out a good life. What to do… there will always be pretenders.

  • Mike

    And one more thought. What exactly is being implied by taking the cross out of hand and breaking it? When the zealot attacks, he is using words and other forms of communication. So, the cross is allegorical. There is no actual cross to grab. Just ignore the fool. If it is at work, then file Harassment charges. Or if its too pressing, then file charges. Or, do what I do; Enjoy the show. Unless of course this is a call for social change. What are you asking to be done? That all Christians would never again be allowed to voice an opinion that is different than you want, or that says they don’t agree with something you are doing. Am I not allowed to have a voice as you are? Am I not allowed to disagree with any or all points of your belief as you do of mine? I don’t think you want something this extreme. I hope not. I pray not.

  • Mriana

    Mike, the way I say see it, as long as you don’t impose it on anyone, you can say whatever you want. I am not offended when someone says, “Bless you” or “God bless you” when I sneeze. In fact, I still say “Bless you” when someone sneezes and I don’t mean anything more than being polite/etiquette. I don’t say it in class or anything like that, BUT if someone does say it to me, I just say “Thank you.” I consider it the English equivilant to “To your health” or what have you.

    The difference is with this comic, someone is imposing their beliefs and it is quite irritating. I wouldn’t go as far as breaking anything though- not even them, but I would let them know or try to let them know, if I can figure out how to do it, that I don’t appreciate it. Sometimes though, it is difficult to figure out how to say, “I do not appreciate this.” In that case, I keep my mouth shut until I can figure it out.

  • http://preponderanceofpondering.blogspot.com/ Lobo

    Sometimes turning the other cheek only gets you slapped harder.

    Anyone ever notice that the so-called moderates are always the first to wag their fingers at an atheist who shows the slightest amount of backbone towards their fundamentalist brethren? You almost never see them wagging their fingers at the fundamentalists? Apparently it’s only rude if your talking about their religion.

    Go to any board or blog that has the fundy bent, and see if you can count on one hand how many moderates criticize the opinions of the fundamentalist posters.

    The comic would be more accurate if there was a person off to the side yelling at the atheist about showing respect.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    You almost never see them wagging their fingers at the fundamentalists?

    bullshit

  • http://enklabloggen.blogspot.com/search/label/Written%20in%20English simple z

    Guys

    in my country, Sweden, the matter is different, the other way around from the US:
    It’s considered childish, stupid, uneducated, and mean, to believe in anything supernatural (a God, a spirit, etc)
    So christian bashing has been a part of all my life, it’s a natural every day ingredient. I wonder what it’s like for you on the other side of the pond.

    The people who abuse and harass homosexuals in Sweden, are NOT pentecostals, baptists, catholics or whatever, from what i read in media reporting:
    it’s macho nationalists, no one else.

    But this is a different story, i know.

    In sweden, most atheist blogs do their obligatory boring bashing every day and are tiresome because of their commonness, one can’t separate one from another, actually.
    It’s just wining every day, going on and on about “You believe the world is 6000 years old” and “A fetus is not a human being” etc etc
    I’m tired of this, because i have never ever thought the universe is younger than 13 billion years etc. European christians don’t recognize these accusations at all.
    And another thing: They seem to assume that ALL atheists are FOR free abortion: Such prejudice against their own kind!
    I know two swedish atheists who have told me that they absolutely loath the killing of fetuses.

    My point with the above mark was merely this:

    Insert a comic strip like the one above in a post, and you are bound to get comments with questions about the word FRIENDLY in your blog name.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    Yay Sweden, where the worst thing to happen to atheists is they run the risk of being common!

    I always side with the underdog. Don’t worry theists, when America is a majority atheist country (I’m guessing about the year 7230) I’ll stand with you against the bullying majority. I have no illusions that an atheist majority won’t be just as bullying as the American Christian majority is today, maybe even moreso.

    Mike said:

    There is no actual cross to grab. Just ignore the fool. If it is at work, then file Harassment charges. Or if its too pressing, then file charges.

    What if he is your father? Ignore the fool? What if he is your family? Leave them? What if it is your friend? Laugh?

    What are you asking to be done? That all Christians would never again be allowed to voice an opinion that is different than you want, or that says they don’t agree with something you are doing.

    I think what the author is asking to be done is that atheists stand up and realize they have the power to stop their mistreatment. I don’t think any atheists I’ve ever heard of have insinuated that Christians aren’t allowed to voice their opinions! What hogwash. Atheists are probably far more committed to free speech rights than just about any group in America!

    Mike, I STAND UP for your rights to speak your mind and your conscience. I applaud your free ability to say that I’m an idiot, I’m small-minded, I’m blind, I’m a fool, I’m a blasphemer, I’m hell-bound, if that is what your conscience tells you… PLEASE EXCERCIZE your rights, for your freedom is mine. Braver men and women than I have fought and died for that right, and I hold it sacred. I would never, EVER, in my life argue that you should not speak your conscience.

    Similarly, you must allow me to speak MY mind as well. Please can we have a discussion without this devolving into a false accusation that if I say that I don’t agree with you, it really means I think you shouldn’t have a right to say your ideas?

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Even funnier than the cartoon is the Christians – many claiming to be moderate – who are telling atheists how to be. Hey, you’re the majority. You have a president and most of the legislature on your side. Our culture is soaked in your theology so don’t give me that ‘persecuted’ stuff. You’re no more aware how you come across than a fish is aware of water.

    There’s nothing unfriendly about breaking a weapon that is used against you. And if you doubt the reality of the cartoon, read Ray Comfort’s blog, listen to the Pope, watch Bill O’Reilly.

    And yes, there is an actual weapon that Christianists use against unbelievers; it is their theology combined with US law. They want children to learn creationism in school. If the law permitted it, they’d have biology textbooks that said the Earth was created 6,000 years ago. They want to keep kids ignorant of sex (a dangerous ignorance if ever there was one) and force women to adhere to their religiously-driven roles. Gays they’d just as soon stay out of sight. And for some reason I can’t figure out, Christianism has gotten mixed up with invading other countries that don’t like us. On and on and on.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    What exactly is being implied by taking the cross out of hand and breaking it? When the zealot attacks, he is using words and other forms of communication

    Mike,

    The cross is “not meant to be taken literally” in either panel. Christians don’t really hit atheists with crosses (at least I don’t think they do), but some pummel us with hateful preaching. The atheist about to break the cross symbolizes standing up to the hate/disinformation.

  • Mriana

    Siamang said:

    Mike said:

    There is no actual cross to grab. Just ignore the fool. If it is at work, then file Harassment charges. Or if its too pressing, then file charges.

    What if he is your father? Ignore the fool? What if he is your family? Leave them? What if it is your friend? Laugh?

    I’m sort of having that problem right now with my mother- through a series of snail mail evangelistic material without an letter of explaination or “I love you” or anything attached. It happens every now and then, but lately it’s been a series, day after day. :( No, there is no cross to grab and even IF it was, I would be disrespecting my mother to act like that, but it would be nice if it would stop. Almost 42 y.o. and I don’t know how to tell my mother to stop without being disrespectful. Anyone else, I’d tell them to stop and not care about being respectful, because it’s not respectful to me. So those are good questions, Siamang. I’ve “turned the other cheek” by just throwing away the information, which is just Evangelical Fundamentalist propaganda with no psychological, scientific foundation. That’s not making it stop though. So what do you do when it’s your mother- the fundie and you- the non-theist? Maybe that is why the comic hurts me so much- because I live in the Bible Belt and my relatives are the worst of the lot. It’s bad when relatives do it and at the same time you believe in respecting your elders.

    Respecting your elders is not a necessarily religious. It’s cultural- or many cultures still believe in it, right down to the Native Americans. Things like this cause a Catch-22.

    HappyNat said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:16 am

    What exactly is being implied by taking the cross out of hand and breaking it? When the zealot attacks, he is using words and other forms of communication

    Mike,

    The cross is “not meant to be taken literally” in either panel. Christians don’t really hit atheists with crosses (at least I don’t think they do), but some pummel us with hateful preaching. The atheist about to break the cross symbolizes standing up to the hate/disinformation.

    No the cross could be religious propaganda even and the breaking of the cross could be the atheist sending it through the shredder or placing it in file 13. Trust me, I’ve done that a lot this week. :(

  • Karen

    And you’re right, it does appear that more people prefer the controversy and negativity here than the friendliness over there. I don’t know what to say about that except that it seems to be typical of our whole culture these days. Polarization just seems to come naturally.

    It has nothing to do with ‘these days.’ Controversy attracts attention and interest. It has been that way from time immemorial.

    Every columnist and editorial writer knows that the way to get readership is to say something that will challenge people, make some of them mad, make some of them say “Yes!” and make some others scratch their heads and say, “Wow – I never heard that before!”

    Write something nice, and “friendly” and bland that everyone will agree with and you’ll get a lot of “yes, I agree with you” but if everything is like that interest will quickly drop off unless you’re an extraordinarily entertaining writer that can maintain readership just on the strength of your storytelling. Very few people can achieve that, though the ones who can are wonderful of course.

    The reason this blog works so well (I had no idea the numbers were so high!) is that there IS controversy and yet the discussion tends to remain civil, if not always “friendly.” The fact that we have regulars here who are Christians, yet who are informed enough and committed enough to stay in the conversation, makes it work.

    If the FA readers were all atheists saying “yes, I agree” with everything Hemant posts it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting. The fact that we have debates and discussions in the comments – and they don’t typically devolve into insult-trading – keeps people coming back to read.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    No, there is no cross to grab and even IF it was, I would be disrespecting my mother to act like that…

    I most certaily would not. You need to flat out tell her that her behavior is unacceptable.

    About 10 years ago my mother started preaching to me and I told her that if she couldn’t keep it to herself, she would not be welcome in my home. She decided she would rather be friends with me than try to re-convert me. My in-laws on the other hand, can’t stop needling us about religion and so they hardly ever hear from my husband. We haven’t ex-communicated them or anything, but we do not visit them or talk to them much because we don’t want to be subjected to constant heckling.

    You don’t have to put up with shit just because it comes from your parents.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    I’ve “turned the other cheek” by just throwing away the information

    You should at least recycle. Why damage the earth further with that crap? :)

    Respecting your elders is not a necessarily religious. It’s cultural- or many cultures still believe in it,

    Respecting your elders (and I’d say everyone) is a nice rule to live by, but sometimes people get to a point where they no longer deserve respect. If someone continues to cross a line I have asked them not to cross they will eventually lose my respect. BTW, I’m in no way telling you how to react to your mother, just sharing my views on respect.

  • Last Hussar

    Surely the point is no one killed in the name of atheism. (No not even Stalin- persecution of the Church was against another powerful organisation, as all dictators do, not per se based on religeous point of view.)

    A collegue at work was telling me that her son who worked for a major world financial institution was basically told his lack of religeon would hold back his career. A number of US states/cities have laws banning atheists. President Bush Snr publically stated that Atheists are not (in his opinion) as patriotic.

    Placing Dawkins instead of the Cross is not an accurate analogy. There are no 24 hour Atheist channels, there is no public rejection like there is for Athiests. The US public, when surveyed, said they would rather vote for a Muslim than an Atheist.

    When some one like Dawkins says “These are the observed facts, and this is where this mythology does not tally” he is some how aggressive and abusive. Yet Atheists have to suffer Theists constantly telling them they are wrong.

    The Christian in the cartoon isn’t literally hitting the atheist- that is a representation of the moral aggression atheist can suffer. The atheist isn’t literally breaking the cross- he is arguing against the things it represents. If you think that this cartoon is a verbatim representation of the writers view then you have completly misunderstood the point of the cartoon. It is an allegory.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Hey, you’re the majority. You have a president and most of the legislature on your side.

    No I don’t. My politics are not defined by my identity as a Christian. Just because the president and most of the Congress share my faith does not mean they are “on my side”.

    In fact, given that the majority of both Republicans AND Democrats are Christians, what kind of sense does it make to say that someone is “on your side” just because they are a Christian? Is President Bush “on the same side” as Hillary Clinton just because they are both Christians? I know the Religious Right has done their best to identify Christianity with the Republican Party (or vice versa) but they have failed. There are still plenty of Christians represented in all the different parties (for instance, I have voted for the Green Party in the last three elections), including whichever one you would say is on your side.

  • Mriana

    We haven’t ex-communicated them or anything, but we do not visit them or talk to them much because we don’t want to be subjected to constant heckling.

    My mother would me, which maybe alright since we rarely see each other and most of the time she calls me. It’s been almost a year since I saw her and that was at my grandmother’s funeral. That’s how rare it is- no shared holidays or anything like that. If she does call, it sometimes turns into the Inquisition. :roll: So, maybe it would not be so bad if she completely shut the door. Who knows, but you know it’s bad when a Christian friend sees this and can’t stand that my mother puts me through such crap. Even she says my mother is wrong in her behaviour. However, I think my friend is wrong in saying there is nothing I can do about it.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    BTW, I should clarify that the commenter “Mike” above is not me. :)

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    I would think that would be obvious, MikeC!

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool decrepitoldfool

    No I don’t. My politics are not defined by my identity as a Christian. Just because the president and most of the Congress share my faith does not mean they are “on my side”.

    If you voted Green I’m not sure they DO share your faith, Mike. But Christianists are currently wielding a lot of power. No one can hope to get elected without at least pretending to share common ground with them.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    If you voted Green I’m not sure they DO share your faith, Mike.

    But since I voted Green, at least one Green Party supporter does.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool decrepitoldfool

    OK Mike, you’re specifically exempted from being supposed to be the man bashing the atheist with the cross. You’re just defending those who do. Or are you?

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    OK Mike, you’re specifically exempted from being supposed to be the man bashing the atheist with the cross. You’re just defending those who do. Or are you?

    In what way am I doing that? Here’s what I specifically said just in this thread alone:

    Perhaps a better approach would be for both sides to lay down their bludgeons and their vitriol and actually treat each other with human dignity and respect right from the start.

    I’m not making excuses for the bad behavior of Christians. I’m just suggesting that there is a better way of handling it than simply returning more of the same.

    I apply all of this same advice to Christians as well. I would that we too learn to respond to our own “enemies” with love rather than Bible-bashing and namecalling.

    I see the people who say this kind of thing as being the ones who are truly “perverted” (in the technical, not sexual, sense of the word) and “blasphemous”.

    I don’t see how any of that be construed as “defending” atheist bashers.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool decrepitoldfool

    Let me see if I understand you correctly, MikeClawson; We’re equated with every kind of evil, and even legally discriminated against in places. We see Christian doctrine being used as a bludgeon against social justice (women’s rights, gay rights), environmental protection (a few Green Christians like yourself notwithstanding) to undermine science education and even to justify war. (The president said he consulted with God before invading Iraq) But when we speak up, start pointing out absurdities in Christian doctrine (which we’d never have bothered with if it had it not been jammed down our throats) your response is “Woah, there, calm down” and you start giving us some jive about loving our enemies. That’s part of your religion. To us it sounds like; “Sit back down and be quiet.”

    Greta Christina said it better than I can: Atheists and anger.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    your response is “Woah, there, calm down” and you start giving us some jive about loving our enemies. That’s part of your religion. To us it sounds like; “Sit back down and be quiet.”

    I’m sorry if it came across that way. Let me clarify. My response is “I want to help stop all that crap too; but I think there’s a better way to do that than by simply responding with more of the same.”

    What I’m trying to say is simply what Gandhi pointed out: that “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” just leaves the whole world blind and toothless. There is a better, more effective way to reach our goals.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool decrepitoldfool

    I knew Ghandi would come into it sooner or later. And you may have a point. I’ve tried to say something similar in the past and had my ass handed to me; that is not what I am trying to do to you.

    I do not think Ghandi had any great love for the British, he just made a calculated decision as to what was likely to work with them. It has not been demonstrated to me that any of the followers of the Christianist movement are swayed by reasoning with them. The best thing we can do is consistently point out BS when we see it, to limit their sphere of influence. How, exactly, does one “respectfully” say; “Your religion is a popular delusion”?

    I’m not pretending to be your friend here – I still think your religion is a popular delusion. But as a “moderate” Christian you have more to lose from Christianist dominance than even we do; your religion is being made a laughingstock and a threat to civilization itself by their politicization. Ask yourself; What does it mean to be a Christian after George Bush?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I think the correct response to this cartoon is HahahhaAHHAHHAhohoohoHOHHO. Ha Ha.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    But as a “moderate” Christian you have more to lose from Christianist dominance than even we do; your religion is being made a laughingstock and a threat to civilization itself by their politicization. Ask yourself; What does it mean to be a Christian after George Bush?

    You’re preaching to the choir. I think the wedding of the church with political power was not only the worst thing to ever happen to the church in the history of Christianity, it is also a betrayal of everything the message of Jesus was about in the first place.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool decrepitoldfool

    I think the wedding of the church with political power was not only the worst thing to ever happen to the church in the history of Christianity, it is also a betrayal of everything the message of Jesus was about in the first place.

    Yeah, as I understand the Christian message, that’s pretty accurate. It’s a grim situation.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    decrepitoldfool: “How, exactly, does one ‘respectfully’ say; ‘Your religion is a popular delusion’?”

    Look at some of your own posts for a demonstration, for a start. You do pretty well in the respect department.

    Offhand, I think the best way to do this is to say something like this:

    We’re all in the same boat. Our brains play more tricks on us than we’d like to believe, and they are not, and never have been, optimal tools for critical thinking. We make mistakes both individually and collectively, and religion happens to be one of those collective mistakes.

    Now plenty of people still won’t want to hear that, but it’s a darn sight better than the undercurrent of “I’m smart, you’re dumb or crazy” that permeates too much atheist discourse about religion.

  • http://preponderanceofpondering.blogspot.com/ Lobo

    bullshit

    So how many hours would you say you spend at fundamentalist sites telling them they should be less strident?

    Just curious.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Thank you JJR – I try but fail miserably when the other person is coming on like the preacher in the cartoon. I appreciate those like MikeClawson who can actually discuss. I guess he figures whether I go to hell is up to God.

    We’re all in the same boat. Our brains play more tricks on us than we’d like to believe, and they are not, and never have been, optimal tools for critical thinking. We make mistakes both individually and collectively, and religion happens to be one of those collective mistakes.

    Very nice – mind if I use that?

    it’s a darn sight better than the undercurrent of “I’m smart, you’re dumb or crazy” that permeates too much atheist discourse about religion.

    True. We’re human, though. All sides. Someone calls me a hellbound idiot, I don’t usually say; “Your viewpoint is interesting, let us have some International Coffee and discuss the finer points.” I am not made of stone.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    January 31, 2008 at 12:34 am

    You almost never see them wagging their fingers at the fundamentalists?

    bullshit

    Well, Lobo, I wouldn’t say Mike would get along so hot with Fundamentalists. He committed a horrendous sin- at least according to the ones I know. :lol:

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    So how many hours would you say you spend at fundamentalist sites telling them they should be less strident?

    Just curious.

    Used to be a lot more than it is now, once I realized that no one was listening.

    But is getting fired from a church for saying something like this good enough for you?

  • http://preponderanceofpondering.blogspot.com/ Lobo

    Used to be a lot more than it is now, once I realized that no one was listening.

    Quitter.

    Seriously, though. From your frame of reference, maybe the passive approach you advocate (yes, it is passive) fits in well with your view of the world. But it is inherently a christian perspective. As an atheist, I see no practical value in that approach. History is soaked in the blood of people who thought passivity was the way to deal with the zealots.

    If only the dangerous ones could be convinced to have a live and let live attitude. But the truth is that it’s not possible. The truth is that they aren’t interested in doing anything other than bringing everyone else to heel with how they want the world to be. Passivity does nothing but encourage them. The more you give, the more they want.

    You don’t really have any business telling atheists how to deal with our issues.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Active, non-violent peacemaking is not the same as passivity. Unless you want to claim that people like Dr. King were merely passive.

    But your argument does makes a good case for the War in Iraq for instance. No point in talking to our enemies peacefully. Might as well just bomb the shit out of them.

    And who says I’m just talking to atheists? My advice is for human beings in general, regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation… and especially for my own self, as I tend to need constant reminders to respond in love.

  • Claire

    But your argument does makes a good case for the War in Iraq for instance. No point in talking to our enemies peacefully. Might as well just bomb the shit out of them.

    Really, we can do that to our own government? I thought we were only allowed to vote them out (except Florida, where we can’t even do that).

    So there’s my flip comment in response to yours – did you really think that was what Lobo was suggesting? I suspect not, I suspect it was just the frustration talking.

    But still, I think some people are a little too steeped in the golden rule. Nice is good, but effective is better. I think what Mike advocates will work really well, with him and others like him. I don’t think it’s going to do squat with the ones trying to shoehorn their religion into our constitution.

    As far as Gandhi goes, either he was calculating in his choice of tactics, as decrepitoldfool said, or he was lucky in that he had the right opponents for his tactics. What tactics will work for us? I don’t know that any one single homogenized way will, but I don’t see that being respectful of those who insist upon unconditional respect for religion is going to accomplish anything except letting them, once again, frame the conversation and dictate the terms.

    So, for those that want to be ultra-nice, you all go right ahead, and I hope it works for you, truly. If and when I see a way that’s tremendously successful, I may change mine, but until we have something that works, I don’t see why your way should be the only way.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    So, for those that want to be ultra-nice, you all go right ahead, and I hope it works for you, truly.

    “Nice” really isn’t a very good way of describing what I’m getting at. Was MLK merely “nice”? Loving both the oppressed and their oppressors in a way that brings justice to both (while often also risking harm to yourself) is not merely “nice”.

    I guess the question for me is what is it that we are ultimately working towards and do our methods themselves contradict that goal? If our goal is respect, then we can’t achieve that through disrespect. If our goal is love, then we can’t achieve that through hatred. If our goal is peace, then we can’t achieve that through violence (whether literal or verbal). If our goal is to help others to change and become better, then we can’t achieve that by tearing them down.

    So there’s my flip comment in response to yours – did you really think that was what Lobo was suggesting?

    No, but the logic is the same. What he said is exactly the logic I hear others use for why we had to invade Iraq. “You can’t reason with those type of people. Only brute force is effective.”

    I’m curious though. Do other atheists here agree with Lobo’s opinion that peacemaking and non-violent resistance is “inherently a christian perspective”? Is loving one’s enemies solely a Christian virtue? Is there some reason atheists shouldn’t be “pacifists” (assuming that by “pacifist” we mean active peacemakers, not passive doormats)?

  • Claire

    No, but the logic is the same.

    No, it’s not. It’s a continuum, not a dichotomy. It’s not just a choice between doormat and psychotic. There are a thousand stops along the way between those two, and more than a few side roads, but you don’t seem to acknowledge that there is any other acceptable way but yours.

    If our goal is respect, then we can’t achieve that through disrespect.

    Why not? I look at the history of the civil rights movement, and what I see is disrespectful people standing up for themselves, refusing to be downtrodden any longer, and finally getting some respect.

    If our goal is peace, then we can’t achieve that through violence (whether literal or verbal).

    I remember the 60′s, and those anti-war demonstrations were not verbally peaceful, but they were successful, eventually.

    There’s more than one way to be the change you want to see in the world. When someone stands up to somebody trying to make his religion into law, I don’t care if he or she is respectful or not – all I care about is that they stood up. Your way is not the only way, and your arguments so far that it’s the best way are just not convincing.

  • Claire

    Do other atheists here agree with Lobo’s opinion that peacemaking and non-violent resistance is “inherently a christian perspective”? Is loving one’s enemies solely a Christian virtue?

    I think the first would come as a surprise to Gandhi.

    As for the second, it may be christian but why is it a virtue? It seems as pointless as hating them. I think knowing and understanding the enemy is a lot more to the point.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Wow! Lots of trade overnight.

    Mike Clawson: “But is getting fired from a church for saying something like this good enough for you?”

    Something very similar happened to me back in my Christian ministry days. But don’t worry, that had nothing to do with my eventually becoming an atheist.

    Lobo to MC: “You don’t really have any business telling atheists how to deal with our issues.”

    Forgive me for using your statement as a jumping-off point. An abstraction of that idea is that nobody has any business telling anybody how to be (not that it stops anyone). Being human comes with an automatic license to say: “You’re not in my skin so hush up”. But groups are not totally distinct. I’m an atheist- environmentalist- bald guy- bicyclist- science fan- bunch of other sets- person who therefore overlaps with a lot of complimentary and contradictory sets. Probably we all are. So “Us/Them” boundaries are very porous and a fanatic could be defined as someone who draws one boundary that supercedes all others.

    Claire: “But still, I think some people are a little too steeped in the golden rule. Nice is good, but effective is better. I think what Mike advocates will work really well, with him and others like him. I don’t think it’s going to do squat with the ones trying to shoehorn their religion into our constitution.”

    I reluctantly came to that conclusion myself some time back. I wanted to think better of humanity. I have still been dismayed by the fact that on many atheist forums, if you aren’t helping stack the bonfire then you’re a condescending dirty so-and-so, and the only two options are being ‘nice’ and flinging dung at the other monkeys. I don’t think we need to cede any ground to the Christianists, but they aren’t any more impressed by our use of the f- word than we are by their incessant scripture references.

    In fact, I have given up all hope of ever influencing the hard-core Christianists and now simply want to make it easier for people who are on the fence to see them for what they are. I think we should consider using less ammunition and take better aim. But if there were a perfectly effective tactic, we’d all be using it because the answer would be obvious.

    Ghandi’s tactics worked with the British because despite the monstrous things being done in a distant land by Brit military and corporate interests, British culture did enable individuals to realize how indecent it all was. His nonviolent tactics threw the atrocities into a particularly harsh light of comparison.

    Historical examples are a good source of inspiration but not necessarily as a guide. As Mark Twain said; “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” And some changes would have taken place sooner or later with or without the individuals who got credit for them. (Anyone who believes the Soviet Union would still be going strong if Reagan hadn’t said; “Tear down this wall!” please raise your hand) Civil rights have been credited to Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcom X, even George Wallace. In truth they probably all had a hand.

    One particularly dangerous development is the possibility of “respect religion” laws all over the world. The UN had some kind of resolution on the table about that, the Pope has been calling for everyone to “respect” religion (which I assume means don’t draw cartoons about it) and even Christianists in the US have been calling for limitations on free speech – but of course they only mean to restrict criticism of Christianity, not other religions.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Very nice – mind if I use that?

    Not at all. Go right ahead.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    February 1, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Active, non-violent peacemaking is not the same as passivity. Unless you want to claim that people like Dr. King were merely passive.

    I agree and MLK Jr. (another one of my heros) was hardly passive.

    Might as well just bomb the shit out of them.

    He did it again guys! :lol: I’m telling you, Mike wouldn’t be very happy among the Religious Reich. They’d be yelling at him to repent, IF they even spoke to him.

    And who says I’m just talking to atheists? My advice is for human beings in general, regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation… and especially for my own self, as I tend to need constant reminders to respond in love.

    Well, love is the greatest of these. No, I’m not making fun of you, Mike. It might not be much, but I have a point by point these things out to others. The Fundamgelicals that I know, would be ranting and raving about your “swearing” alone. However, love is a humanistic value. Don’t see much love going on with the Religious Reich.

    Claire said,

    I don’t know that any one single homogenized way will, but I don’t see that being respectful of those who insist upon unconditional respect for religion is going to accomplish anything except letting them, once again, frame the conversation and dictate the terms.

    No, Claire, but IF they were to stop and think, maybe they would realize non-theists aren’t as bad as they make them out to be. Although some extremists do need a good tongue lashing every now and then.

    MikeClawson said,

    February 1, 2008 at 3:11 am

    So, for those that want to be ultra-nice, you all go right ahead, and I hope it works for you, truly.

    “Nice” really isn’t a very good way of describing what I’m getting at. Was MLK merely “nice”? Loving both the oppressed and their oppressors in a way that brings justice to both (while often also risking harm to yourself) is not merely “nice”.

    In all honesty, I think MLK Jr made the oppressors look bad by instructing the Freedom Fighters not to fight back when they got hit with belly clubs and alike. It got media attention as the Lunch Counter people just sat there and suddenly got a beating without fighting back. It’s sort of up there with “he who gets the last laugh” only it wasn’t funny.

    If our goal is peace, then we can’t achieve that through violence (whether literal or verbal).

    Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
    Martin Luther King Jr.
    US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

    Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
    Martin Luther King Jr.
    US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

    Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
    Martin Luther King Jr.
    US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

    Of course, I’m preaching to the chior by affirming what you are saying, but others who don’t understand where MLK is coming from might get it.

    I’m curious though. Do other atheists here agree with Lobo’s opinion that peacemaking and non-violent resistance is “inherently a christian perspective”? Is loving one’s enemies solely a Christian virtue? Is there some reason atheists shouldn’t be “pacifists” (assuming that by “pacifist” we mean active peacemakers, not passive doormats)?

    To be honest, Mike, I see it quite the opposite with many Christians, esp those of the Religious Reich. They do not love others, much less themselves, from what I can tell. If anything, they want to drop the big bomb and “force” Jesus to return. Too bad they don’t realize that the only deity that will be decending from the sky, if they do that, is the BIG BOMB, and not Jesus or what have you. They can be some of the cruelest and the most oppressive people I’ve ever seen and that’s not talking about Muslim extremists.

    I think atheists can be pacifists and probably do it much better than the religious. If one were to study the Humanist Manifestos, they will see that Humanists adhere to pacifist ideas, but they are not doormats. They find other means to retaliate against violence and hatred, just as Gandhi and MLK Jr did. I think I mentioned the story about “Finlay’s Conversion of Thomas”? Well, apparently it made the papers in 1933. Finley, a very devote Christian, threaten to hit Thomas if he denied one more time there was a God, by saying, “Thomas, you say just once more that there is no God, and I will knock the HELL out of YOU!” The Christian decked the Humanist and the reported put it in the papers. Who came out looking better? Violence seems to be the method of choice with Christians who insist on converting people. Humanist can do it better and more peacefully. ;) I like Thomas. Never met him, but I like him!

    Claire said,

    I look at the history of the civil rights movement, and what I see is disrespectful people standing up for themselves, refusing to be downtrodden any longer, and finally getting some respect.

    Yes, but most did it with non-violent methods. Not violence. And Malcolm X started the School Lunch Program. He did not turn any child away on the basis of colour. If they were hungry, he fed them. So, even Malcolm had his methods of non-violence. He wasn’t all about violence, BUT he did not agree with MLK Jr about not defending ourselves if we are getting a beating. I hate to admit it, but even Malcolm had his good qualities.

    I think you’re missing the point, Claire. If you sudy the Civil Rights, I think you will find it was the Objectors to equality who were doing most of the violence. Oh yes, there were the moments like Watts and East St. Louis (I saw the one in E. St. Louy), but for the most part, it was peaceful on the protestors’ side. I’d go over MLK Jr’s philosophy too before you judge it to be wrong or what have you.

  • Claire

    Mriana said:

    I think you’re missing the point, Claire. If you sudy the Civil Rights, I think you will find it was the Objectors to equality who were doing most of the violence.

    Say what, Mriana? What point am I missing, and why are you conflating disrespect and violence? I mentioned the civil rights movement in reference to disrespect and how it doesn’t necessarily work against a cause. I never condoned or advocated violence, nor do I confuse it with disrespect. I’m not sure why you you are mixing them together in your response.

  • Mriana

    It sounded as though you didn’t appreciate pacifism for some reason, Claire.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    I think Claire makes a solid point.

    We all seem to mythologize Martin Luther King Jr as having won the civil rights battle with his tactics.

    That’s simplifying things to the point of being false. It’s like saying the cold war was won by Ronald Reagan saying “tear down this wall”.

    The truth is, there were a variety of actors and societal forces fighting the battle over civil rights. There were angry voices, mild voices, voices speaking disrespectfully and confrontationally and voices calling for brotherhood. There were even individuals advocating violence and in some cases acting violently. We cannot say that if history were to be rerun without Malcolm, without the Black Panthers, without the Watts riots, etc… that we would be standing here today having made the strides we have.

    I would like to THINK we would. I would like to AGREE that cooler heads always prevail without threat of force or without fear or without anger or without matching hostility with hostility.

    But I cannot say that I know that Martin and Malcolm weren’t precicely the carrot and stick that America needed at that moment in history.

  • Claire

    Not at all, Mriana. Some people have a gift for it, like King and Gandhi, and can do it effectively, and I think they were truly great, and the world is better for them. I just don’t like it when people try to tell me that by being what they consider disrespectful, that I am in some fashion trampling on the legacy of those people. I’m all about the non-violence, but I’m not going to be respectful of people who want to diminish me because I disagree. There isn’t just one right way to create change.

    Added on after seeing the comment above: yup, what Siamang said….

  • Mriana

    Siamang, I gave Malcolm some credit. I don’t think MLK Jr would have made it without some people like Malcolm and the Black Panthers encouraging Black Power. That was needed too, but I’m not so sure we could not have done without Watts and alike. The burning down of businesses and alike did draw attention, but it did a lot of damage too. At the same time, I don’t think the athlete who raised his hand in honour of Black Power should have had his metal taken away though. The idea that Black people do have power is an encouraging idea, IMO. In fact, I encourage the idea in my sons too, because there is a sense of pride and self-worth in the concept and I believe it is seen in men like MLK Jr, Malcolm, and yes, even Obama.

  • Claire

    As far as the original cartoon goes, do you folk who complained not recognize an editorial cartoon when you see one? Yes, it’s critical, yes, it has a point and an edge and a target, but that’s what an editorial cartoon does. It’s not “Peanuts” and it was never supposed to be.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I just want to say that loving, and yes, even respecting others doesn’t mean failing to confront injustice. You can oppose the evil and injustice done by others (whether the Religious Right or whomever) and still show them respect and love as human beings. Contrasting loving others with actively opposing injustice is a false dichotomy. We don’t have to act like the Christian in this cartoon in order to achieve our goals.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    But I cannot say that I know that Martin and Malcolm weren’t precicely the carrot and stick that America needed at that moment in history.

    Maybe, maybe not. But since I have to choose my own tactics, I know which one I’d rather emulate.

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  • Awesomesauce

    Woah!

    I know it’s thread necromancy to post here and very few will see my comment, but holy hell Batman!

    Why the long discussion about not returning violence for violence?

    The basher in the first block is using violence against the atheist sure. However, is the atheist returning that violence?

    Well if he was, wouldn’t he be attacking the person back instead of breaking the weapon?

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  • http://mcornwell.typepad.com MIke

    Would be a bit more violent with Muslim characters – probably a scimitar and a beheading with the same text.

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  • Lori Angel ?

    What a cartoon. I used to be a Christian-Catholic until I finally started questioning the meaning to life, and the meaning to this world, and etcetera. But the last question I asked myself was this:

    If this “god” created the world and the sky and the animals and EVERYTHING that is alive and here today, then; who made Him?

    It always gets to me, that little question. No one in the world really knows and probably no one will EVER know. So, that is why I am now an Atheist.

    Love,
    Lori Angel

  • atheistA

    haha what a perfect pic! ^^


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