Columnist to Atheists: Stop Being Mean with Your Billboards

Regina Brett of The Cleveland Plain Dealer is very unhappy with the recent slate of atheists billboards.

Don’t believe in God?

Join the club.

That holiday message is brought to you by your fellow atheists.

Yes, the atheists are recruiting.

I checked out the ads that the Freedom from Religion Foundation posted on its website. One billboard shows a woman saying, “Keep your theology off my biology.” One featuring comedian Julia Sweeney says, “OMG, there is no god!” Cartoonist and ex-Mormon Steve Benson says on his, “I freed my mind when I left God behind.”

They’re catchy, like those abstinence T-shirts that show a baseball diamond and read, “I gave my word to stop at third.” Maybe the ads are meant to mock Christians. If so, that’s unfortunate. It reinforces the stereotype that atheists are arrogant, smug people who think they are smarter than religious folks.

Some atheists are harsh in their portrayal of believers, calling God an imaginary friend. They call religion a virus, a hoax that brainwashes people. Well, the truth is, some brains need a good washing.

… One billboard shows Santa saying, “Yes Virginia … there is no God.”

That’s just mean.

I don’t know what qualifications Ms. Brett needed to get her own column, but they couldn’t have been much. She’s wrong about the facts and mistaken about her opinions. (There’s not even mention of an attempt to get in touch with reps from the American Humanist Association of the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get their side of the story.)

Most of the billboards that atheists have put up are not about “recruiting” anybody. Atheists are already out there — our numbers are in the millions so matter how you want to slice the demographics. Many of the billboards’ messages reach out to those atheists to simply let them know they’re not alone. That’s what the “Join the Club” billboard is all about. It’s not about “converting” people to atheism — it’s about getting the people who are already atheists to mobilize and connect with one-another.

Even if they were attempting to create atheists, so what?

Evangelical churches proselytize on campuses. They have TV stations designed to convert you. They have entire genres of music and books and video games (generating millions of dollars a year) dedicated to getting people to believe in a god.

We put up a few billboards asking people to reconsider their faith, sharing our own beliefs about religion in the process and there’s an uproar?

Yes, I know.

How. Dare. We.

Look at the wording on that AHA billboard: “Consider” Humanism. Consider.  Think about it. Mull it over.

That’s the least threatening “recruitment” attempt you will ever see.

Meanwhile, Ms. Brett doesn’t seem to have a problem with the Christian threat that if you don’t buy into the Jesus myth, you’re going to be burning in hell for all of eternity.

Check out one of the FFRF ads:

Damn, that Kendra is *so* mean.

And look at this one!

Katie, stop mocking those Christians!

Those are among the billboards that Ms. Brett condemns.

You know what? God is an imaginary friend. Religion is a virus. Religion is a hoax. Religion does brainwash people (even if Brett seems to think that’s a positive thing).

It’s about damn time we get the courage to say so.

And if your feelings get hurt because some atheists are honest about god’s (lack of) existence, that’s just too bad for you.

What’s funny is that Ms. Brett ends her piece with a call to be good “for goodness sake.”

Maybe in all that research she did, she missed the American Humanist Association ad from 2008:

What did Ms. Brett say about the atheist ads again…?

It reinforces the stereotype that atheists are arrogant, smug people who think they are smarter than religious folks.

Here’s smug for you: When it comes to matters of faith, we are smarter. We’re the honest ones. We’re not the ones making up stories. We’re not the ones offering false hope.

We respect people so much that we want to tell them the truth.

Ms. Brett’s problem is that she can’t handle the idea that atheists are just becoming more vocal.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    Challenging the status quo. We’re such assholes.

  • http://www.distant-angel.co.uk Kris

    I always found it ironic to be called arrogant by people who believe that their god made the entire universe for them …

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    Frankly, if your faith is only good and workable when no one is contradicting you – let alone openly criticizing you – then it’s not worth much, is it?

    This is not to say stubborn insistence that a given faith is the One True Path, despite any evidence or logic to the contrary, is of value.

    But it seems to be quite common that Christians whine about their faith being ‘taken away’ as if it were a lollipop torn from their grasp. And anyone can do it, apparently – the secularists (whoever the frack they are); activist judges; and those despicable, mean atheists.

  • http://www.1up-games.com sanjuro

    Kendra looks like Hugo Weaving. I’m not sure how relevant this is.

  • SpaceMonkey

    “We respect people so much that we want to tell them the truth.” – What a fantastic philosophy. Brilliantly said.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    “I don’t know what qualifications Ms. Brett needed to get her own column, but they couldn’t have been much.”

    You’d be amazed ( on second thought, no you wouldn’t) at who writes for some of these publications.
    Many years ago, my ex got a job freelancing for a weekly rag due to cronyism, and she barely has the ability to construct a single sentence, much less an article. Despite this fact, she continues to make money by writing.
    If anything, moronic screeds like this should encourage talented young writers in our crowd to get into journalism. If asshats like this can break into the business, so can you. Do it, do it now.

  • Danish Atheist

    Yay, Hemant! Well spoken!

  • Carlie

    Regina Brett did jump into the comment section to defend atheists against a charge of being self-centered, so there is that.

    Have to love that first comment, though – “Nothing good comes of being an atheist. Remember what happened to Madalyn Murray O’Hare?”

    Um, yes. She got murdered by Christians. Your point was????

  • JD

    There’s a point when the argument boils down to special pleading. You can’t prove there is a god, and you can’t prove that the god you say exists is as you say he/she/it is and you can’t disprove any other religion. Even if god exists, I don’t think most of the mainstream religions have it figured out.

  • mthrnite

    There’s a fine line for us.. same as with any other minority that the Christians don’t approve of. There’s more of them, and they have bigger guns. We have to have finesse on our side to be effective, or we’ll be branded as “uppity negroes” and then the gloves come off. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that’s what I’ve seen with my homosexual friends, my “Mexican” friends, my pot-smoking friends, etc.. The secret word is “stealth”, we can’t afford to go in all guns blazing. Where should the line be drawn? Well, that’s a matter of some debate, to be sure. Backlash is a bitch. ..and yeah, I’m a wimp.

  • Phoebe

    Some of us are just tired of all the lies. Religion claims to KNOW what it cannot know, so it is a lie. And LYING to people is mean.

    Religion, which is a lie, claims you are going to be tortured for all eternity if you don’t believe the lie. That is WAY BEYOND mean.

    It’s been high time for us to stand up for the Truth, to stand up for kindness and honesty. I love the atheist/humanist billboards!

  • Nick Andrew

    I posted this at the Cleveland site, but reposting here so it doesn’t get lost in the muck or deleted as these sites often don’t care about posted comments.

    It’s mean to write “There is no God.” ? How precious can you get?

    Why is it so hard for Christians to understand that their propaganda is everywhere, it permeates everything, from state-sponsored religious holidays to childrens’ school education, causes denial of well-established science; they’re in school boards, they’re boycotting companies who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry CHRISTmas, they’re in the Pledge, the courts assume you want to swear on a bible, they’re in the hotel rooms. Christian evangelism permeates the military. They’re in marriage; they’re politicking in California against homosexual rights.

    So atheists put up a billboard which says there is no God, and it’s the atheists who are mean bullies?

  • Simmering

    Awesome post. Thank you so much.

    Meanwhile, Ms. Brett doesn’t seem to have a problem with the Christian threat that if you don’t buy into the Jesus myth, you’re going to be burning in hell for all of eternity.

    perfect.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    I think that it is absolutely wonderful that these billboard posters are getting people talking about them. This is exactly what they are for: to invite debate. So we don’t all agree. That’s fine. Really, it is fine. They don’t have to drop their beliefs and we don’t have to change ours. We all just need to accept that different beliefs exist without condemning others simply for holding them.

    We can condemn people to what they do of course but not what they believe.

  • Claudia

    I would like to offer an open challenge to the legions of reporters who admonish us for being so mean:

    Give me an example of an atheist/humanist ad that reaches out to atheists/humanists and isn’t “mean”.

    I dare you.

    They should just admit that it’s our existence they find “offensive”. This isn’t new. Gays are told they are throwing their sexuality in people’s faces because they want to, you know, exist openly. Anything that acknowledges that many of us see no conflict between nonbelief and happy, moral lives is by definition “offensive”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    mthrnite, I think you misunderstand the full reason why we can’t go in with guns blazing (are you seriously calling these signs that?). You only gave half the reason and not the one that stops us, frankly.

    Bottom line, we do not wish to and will not become the oppressors instead of the oppressed. We feel we can find a way to fight oppression without becoming as hateful as those we fight against. Without becoming them.

    The thing is, unlike fanatics of any ilk, religious or otherwise, we tend to respect the rights of those who disagree with us. We tend to only get up in arms when they trample on our rights — as Ms. Brett is trying to do here. She is trying to shut us up. Which rather makes me wish I had the money to sponsor at least one billboard. If I had Bill Gates’ money, they’d spring up all over the goddamned country, especially in the Bible Belt and I’d make sure to have one at the nearest possible sight to the paper that printed this vile hate screed and, if possible, Ms. Brett’s home.

    I often preach caution as you suggest but when someone shuts us up is not the time to bow to their bullying. I often preach against anti-theism and I hold by that. I do not wish to punish the innocent along with the guilty but I think we should hold no punches back when going after the guilty. We just have to make sure to fight an attack on our rights or a bigoted statement such as this one by defending our rights legally and by speaking up against screed’s like Ms. Brett’s.

    As for your uppity negroes analogy, yay for uppity negroes. They are the reason blacks have the rights they have today. Yes, they were freed with assistance from abolitionists and free states and a whole freaking war fought over the issue but they would still be slaves today if they had not stood up for themselves. If there had been no uppity negroes to sit quietly at a lunch counter or march on Selma, there’d still be segregationist separate but equal crap. So, yay, for uppity negroes. I celebrate, admire them and raise a glass in a toast to them all. And owe them a debt of gratitude because by demanding their rights as human beings, they have also protected mine.

    Yay, also for uppity Mexicans and gays and pot-smokers and — one you glaringly left out but is obviously quite important to me as I am one — women.

    Yay and three cheers to them all! They are what makes our culture wonderfully diverse and who keep it so free.

    So if I’m an uppity Atheist, yay! I’m also, btw, a BITCH and proud of it. Same reason.

  • http://www.samradford.com Sam.

    You know what? God is an imaginary friend. Religion is a virus. Religion is a hoax. Religion does brainwash people (even if Brett seems to think that’s a positive thing).

    Here’s smug for you: When it comes to matters of faith, we are smarter. We’re the honest ones. We’re not the ones making up stories. We’re not the ones offering false hope.

    Let me start by saying that I’m a Jesus person. Let me quickly state that I have no issues at all if atheists want to put up billboards. I get frustrated when people (usually Christians) get upset about these things. What’s the big deal?

    I will say that whilst some Christians would take on incredibly derogatory tones towards ‘non-believers’, I hate this; it doesn’t remotely resonate with what I understand to be the way of Jesus. That said, there are an awful lot of Christians who, like me, hate this. It is so easy to create caricature Christians (and atheists) but that is never helpful nor mature.

    And that’s why I’m disappointed with the two sentences I’ve quoted. I always enjoy reading your posts but they seem to be becoming less ‘friendly’ and more, well, fundamentalist really. An awful lot of people have chosen to embrace faith in God for reasons that have an much intellectual basis as those those have chosen to believe in the non-existence of God.

    I’m ok with you believing that my faith in God is an ‘imaginary friend’. I’m ok with you believing that religion is a virus and a hoax and a brainwashing institution. I’m ok with you believing that you’re smarter and more honest and not offering false home. I’m ok with all that. But here’s what sucks wherever I see it: arrogance.

    I hate arrogance amongst Christians and I hate arrogance amongst atheists. I stinks. It isn’t ‘friendly’ and it doesn’t help move us forward towards creating a world where peoples value and acceptance is based solely on their being human rather than their preferences (religious, sexual, or whatever).

  • http://www.unitedatheistsofamerica.com J Murray

    Bravo. Keep up the wonderful work of exposing the nonsense and representing the voice of reason.
    It is so important that closet-atheists know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to respond to insanity with logic and facts.
    Lack of faith in a fictional, supernatural being is not arogance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    LOL, reading the entire article, she actually has some good suggestions for more signs:

    Use the Woody Allen quote: “If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.” Or George Carlin, who said, “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.”

    I’d prefer they quote Einstein, who said, “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

    I’m no fan of Woody Allen but those are good. Perhaps we should do Ms. Brett a “favor” and pass those along to our organizations.

    It also appears she wants to squelch free speech for all. She says towards the end that we shouldn’t be subject to Jesus is the reason for the season either. Seems she’s willing to sacrifice that to get rid of those pesky, uppity Atheists who are making her think too much and make her little head hurt.

    Okay. I admit it. That last sentence was mean.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I say the billboards are a good thing. They won’t convert people who are emotionally heavily invested in Christianity but they do state simple truths that will help in the generational struggle for getting the truth out there and de-stigmatized. We need to expose all the prevailing myths of our time such as the following:

    1. Atheists are selfish and arrogant. Its really Christians who are selfish and arrogant with their belief that they have a personal savior that kind of walks around with them, protects them, and sees to it that they have eternal like and spend eternity with the creator of the universe. And everybody else is damned…
    2. Atheists are immoral. Anyone who bases a system of morality solely on what some people happened to write down a couple of thousand years ago needs to question if they they even understand what morality is.
    3. Atheists are smug. Why is admitting that no-one gets any special privilege after you die smug? Christians are the smug ones who think they will be receiving some kind of life-perpetuating grace after they die and others will not.
    4. Atheists think they are smarter. All atheism really proposes is a lack of a god belief in answering questions such as “How did things start?”, “How do things work?”, “How will things end?”, and “Why?”. It is Christians who always seems to have a answer for everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    Sam., I am applauding your comment.

  • http://www.stumpanatheist.com Rev. Ryan Benson

    You guys, I’ve said it before…like it or not, THIS IS THE REALITY WE ARE DEALING WITH.

    I know Hemant has said we need to take all angles (“accomdationist” and “confrontationalist”), but I think we need MORE friendly atheists out there. Christopher Hitchens is a rock star and I love him, but if we all try playing his smug role, we’re going to hit a plateau, fast.

    I do agree, however, the billboards should not be offensive…but that just shows you how sensitive people are about their religions before they pull into their shell and call us arrogant.

  • Robert W.

    Carlie,

    Remember what happened to Madalyn Murray O’Hare?”

    Um, yes. She got murdered by Christians. Your point was????

    Do you have a source for this? It was my understanding that O’hare was murdered by somebody in her organization for money. Specifically gold that she had stashed away.

  • Erin

    I live in Madison I get to see these on the buses quite a bit, I love it! The “Biking, Baking, and Sleeping in on Sundays” was on a billboard across from My apartment for a while, it was very cool.

  • Robert W.

    Claudia,

    They should just admit that it’s our existence they find “offensive”. This isn’t new. Gays are told they are throwing their sexuality in people’s faces because they want to, you know, exist openly. Anything that acknowledges that many of us see no conflict between nonbelief and happy, moral lives is by definition “offensive”.

    As a Christian I would say that this is a very broad overstatement and making a blanket stereotypical accusation against Christians. Most Christians reach out to non believers in love until they are called stupid and ignorant.

    Yet when Christians talk about their faith including the portion about hell, atheists are quick to point out they are being offensive and hateful.

    As for the gay rights movement, I disagree the problem is that the Gay community simply wants to exist openly. The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle. In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different.

  • http://therightatheist.blogspot.com Hortensio

    Dunno, I can’t bring myself to get too worked up about this. Ms. Brett seems broadly sympathetic to atheists, for example:

    It bothers me that atheists are unfairly portrayed as unpatriotic. The men who signed our Declaration of Independence believed in Divine Providence, but they didn’t declare these United States of America to be a Christian nation. It might be full of people who call themselves Christians, although a stunningly high percentage don’t always act the part.

    Yes, she’s wrong – very wrong – when she says that atheists are mean to post billboards saying that there is no god. The idea that atheists are mean to declare their beliefs while theists are polite to declare theirs is extremely hypocritical.

    But she doesn’t even appear to favour open displays of religion either:

    I’m a big believer in blind faith, but those of us who believe in God shouldn’t be blind to those who don’t. We don’t need “Heathen’s Greetings” rubbed in our noses any more than atheists need “Jesus is the reason for the season” rubbed in theirs.

    She strikes me more as someone overly concerned about offending people than someone looking to push atheists down. So yes, I disagree with a lot of what Ms. Brett wrote, but I can’t really say that I feel too upset or threatened by it either.

    *shrug*

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    @ Robert W. said:

    Yet when Christians talk about their faith including the portion about hell, atheists are quick to point out they are being offensive and hateful.

    Would it help to say that the things Christians believe are hateful and offensive? Because they are. The very idea that an all-knowing deity knew before he created humanity that a majority would not worship him in a certain way, and decided that they’d be eternally tortured for failing to do so, but decided to create them nevertheless so he could receive adulation from some — yeah, that’s offensive. So is the idea that gay folks are immoral for loving people of their own gender. Hateful, offensive, evil ideas. So, yeah, many of us would like Christians to change their beliefs.

    And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that atheists are categorically considered evil and damned in Christian theology, for the simple fact that we don’t believe in Christ. My bible says that’s a nonstarter, so whatever good we do or no matter how good we are, we are by definition “sinners.” And I, for one, don’t particularly appreciate the label.

  • Lauren

    As for the gay rights movement, I disagree the problem is that the Gay community simply wants to exist openly. The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle. In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different.

    What?!? Reject my fake, bogus religion and treat real human beings with the acceptance and equality that all living things deserve? Psssshh, gays are immoral and so are you.. you godforsaken atheists!! How dare the…….

    Seriously though.. who else read the comments on that article? I think it’s true that the greatest argument against Christianity is the typical 5-minute conversation with a Christian. It really makes you realize how important education truly is.. seeing quite a few young earth creationists over there. Yikes!!

  • Claudia

    @Robert W. let me be more specific. When I say “they” have a problem with us existing, I don’t mean all Christians or religious people, by any means. Sam above strikes me as a perfect example of the kind of religious person I have no problem with at all (hi Sam :-) ). I’m more referring to people who write articles calling us mean or arrogant merely for proclaiming our own existence. True, some billboards are more confrontational, but over time I’ve noticed that there is no such thing as a billboard benign enough to not have us called “confrontational”. For some religious people (though by no means all) there is no declaration of nonbelief that they don’t find offensive, so that the only possible conclusion is that they find the fact we are open and unashamed offensive.

    The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle.

    I’m going to ignore the use of the term “lifestyle” to describe a biological trait. This statement is untrue on many fronts. No one is asking the religious to change their private religious rules. What they are asking is for equal civil rights. Catholics can’t divorce. I think this is silly but they’re free to do it, as long as they don’t try to make divorce illegal. When you impose your private religious views via civil courts you are saying that people have to obey your religious law whether or not they belong to your religion. I have a big problem with that. That’s not to say that I’m going to be perfectly happy with the views on homosexuality expressed in many churches even if they stay out of the law. I’m not, but just as I find the views of many Muslims about women wrong while recognizing their right to have those views, I can do the same for the backwards views on homosexuality.

  • Alex

    Well said, also the following quote might be appropriate:

    The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. -Ann LaMott

  • http://www.siouxlandatheists.org Dana

    Considering the alternatives, I will gladly remain arrogant, smug, and smarter than most of the world’s population ;p

    We ran the Santa ad locally last year…wooo that was fun. This year we think we’re taking out a Fesitivus ad and listing our top 10 grievances (faux pas committed by local, state gov officials, and of our really intrusive church – Cornerstone- which has been in the news alot this last year). I am mean :)

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    @Sam.:

    What you mistake for fundamentalism is a simple yes/no proposition. For an atheist, there is no in-between, no maybe.

    That’s not the same as fundamentalism, which is expressed in religious circles as strict adherence to a set of principles – such as the bible being the Word of God inerrant, the Earth only being 6,000 years old, and so on.

    Right now, my faith is like a lucky rabbit’s foot. It sits in my pocket with a bunch of other junk. It doesn’t necessarily inform my worldview or give me special insight. While I occasionally rub it for luck, the rational side of me knows it’s a bunch of hooey.

    Some day, I’ll get to the point of taking it off the key ring and replacing it with something else. A nice thumb drive, perhaps, or an LED flashlight, both of which have far more practical value.

  • http://www.savingthrowtodisbelieve.com Mandi

    This is pretty much off topic… but does anybody know where I can get that fabulous “Godless Goddess” t-shirt?

  • science101

    How dare we speak our minds or be vocal! Just unbelievable. So sick and tired of these people.

  • Edmond

    As a gay man, I have to respond to Robert W.’s claim that the problem between Christianity and the gay community stems from us wanting Christians to “shelve” their belief system and “accept” homosexuality.

    This is completely wrong. It stems from (some, or many) Christians’ drive to hijack our country’s legal system and turn it AGAINST gay people, when A) they have no right to do this, as it would mean transforming religious law into civil law, and B) they have no CALL to do this, as recognition of same-sex marriage will not infringe on their own marriage rights, and I’m pretty sure their own bible does not ask them to go out and file referendums and initiatives that control other people’s lives.

    Christians are not bent on forbidding Muslims to marry, although being Islamic is against biblical beliefs. There is no nation-wide Christian movement to legally ban divorce, or force people to tithe, or legally uphold any number of Christian tenets.

    We do not ban the consumption of beef in this country to accomodate Hindu beliefs. We don’t forbid owning a dog to accomodate Muslim beliefs. Christians will (and should) be forever free to disapprove of homosexuality, but they should NOT be free to spread that disapproval into the civil arena where I will be forced to live according to their dogma. If I am permitted by the government to marry my partner, Christians will be forced to do NOTHING different in their lives.

    The fight for legal, civil recognition of gay rights is a STRUGGLE for us, and it is a struggle BECAUSE of Christian obstructionism. This is not their fight, and they need to get out of the way.

  • http://politicsandpucks.blogspot.com Mike Brownstein

    Nicely put! We haven’t really been nearly as mean as some of the evangelist recruiting tools!

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Robert W.

    In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different

    I don’t know what the “homosexual lifestyle” is but I bet its fabulous. My gay friends seem to have a pretty similar lifestyle to me. Fewer of them have children so there is less staying at home with the kids but the way they live and the way I live are not that far removed. They are just people, they don’t have two heads and they won’t bite (unless you ask).

    No-one is asking you to change your beliefs. Just don’t try to force them on other people. Don’t impose what you think on people who think something else. Not unless you can demonstrate real harm being done unless you do.

  • Chelsea

    I love it when you get fired up, Hemant.

  • Chris

    @Mandi,

    FFRF website has them.
    http://www.ffrf.org/shop/

  • Samiimas

    An awful lot of people have chosen to embrace faith in God for reasons that have an much intellectual basis as those those have chosen to believe in the non-existence of God.

    So you’re a polytheist? You believe that every single god ever believed in by any religion, from Allah and Shiva to Zeus and Lord Xenu, is real? Because otherwise it would mean that you think you’re god is real and has an ‘intellectual basis’ while those other gods are made up bullshit. That would be arrogant of you and we know how terrible it is to be an arrogant person who thinks he’s right and other religions are completely wrong…

    Yet when Christians talk about their faith including the portion about hell, atheists are quick to point out they are being offensive and hateful.

    I agree Robert, theirs nothing offensive about hell. While we’re at it if Richard Dawkins were to start arguing that every single non-atheist should be put in a government camp where they’re brutally tortured 24/7 and kept alive for centuries with advanced medical technology solely so they could be tortured even longer as punishment for their choice not to embrace atheism it wouldn’t be ‘offensive’ or ‘hateful’.

    As for the gay rights movement, I disagree the problem is that the Gay community simply wants to exist openly.

    Gee I wonder if this is going to lead to him saying it’s gay people’s fault that Christians take away their rights…

    The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle. In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different.

    If you think interracial marriage is a sin you are a bigot

    if you think gay marriage is a sin you are a bigot.

    Explain why one of these is true and the other isn’t, or explain why it’s not bigoted to oppose interracial marriage. The person opposing interracial marriage considers it a sin in exactly the same way you consider homosexuality a sin. I know you’ll try to change the subject by claiming racism was never supported by the bible *it was* so let’s pretend he’s from some other religion.

    Also I’ve already pointed out in a previous thread that no church has ever been forced to marry a gay couple any more than they’ve been forced to make women priests. So don’t try lying about that again.

    As for the actual article we’re commenting on: Doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s always been bloody obvious to me that an atheist is only considered ‘polite’ and ‘friendly’ when they’re silent.

  • http://gmail.com D.Finney

    If atheists are smug toward the faithful it’s because their propositions are so remote from observable reality as to be unworthy of serious consideration. We’ve attempted to illustrate this point using various analogies – the orbiting teapot, fairies, pink unicorns, Sasquatch – and although they always decry these comparisons, they have failed to invalidate them. That they cling fast to their beliefs in spite of this failure to justify them may be why some question their intelligence. For that matter, studies have shown that generally, the more educated, the less religious. You can’t argue with the numbers.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    @ hoverFrog said:

    No-one is asking you to change your beliefs.

    Actually, I am. I would love if Robert and his co-religionists would alter their beliefs to incorporate more humanistic values. But I’m only interested in changing minds through the power of persuasion, not government fiat.

  • Secular Stu

    And that’s why I’m disappointed with the two sentences I’ve quoted. I always enjoy reading your posts but they seem to be becoming less ‘friendly’ and more, well, fundamentalist really. An awful lot of people have chosen to embrace faith in God for reasons that have an much intellectual basis as those those have chosen to believe in the non-existence of God.

    That last sentence is simply wrong. I realize you may find me unfriendly or arrogant to say so, but it’s the truth.

    Usually when believers accuse atheists of being arrogant, it’s because those atheists don’t mince words about god being a myth, about religions being false. Atheists are expected to be circumspect about their opinions, but believers aren’t. Or they’re both wrong and to avoid being arrogant you need to subscribe to the fallacy of the middle ground. (Obligatory.)

  • Danish Atheist

    Mandi, I was wondering about that too :p

  • http://www.youratheistneighbor.blogspot.com keystothekid

    Perfectly said. I hope she see’s this post you’ve made.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Sam

    But here’s what sucks wherever I see it: arrogance.

    The question is , is what Hemant says true?
    Is religion a hoax? Even if Christianity is true (some version of it) – most religion would still be a hoax ? (and no Christianity is not compatible with Islam, Hinduism , Buddhism ,Jainism, etc)
    Even if Christianity is true, don’t Christians mostly not provide a choice to their children and do their best to *brainwash* them?
    Is it arrogance to state this?

  • Troglodyke

    We do not ban the consumption of beef in this country to accomodate Hindu beliefs. We don’t forbid owning a dog to accomodate Muslim beliefs. Christians will (and should) be forever free to disapprove of homosexuality, but they should NOT be free to spread that disapproval into the civil arena where I will be forced to live according to their dogma. If I am permitted by the government to marry my partner, Christians will be forced to do NOTHING different in their lives.

    BRILLIANT. Thank you for wording it so well.

    If the Xtian bible was the governing document of this country, Xtians would be within their rights to make laws regarding it, and we’d have to live by them (those of us who chose to stay).

    Since the Xtian bible is NOT the Constitution, one is free to hold whatever personal god beliefs or nonbeliefs one wishes, but one is NOT free to impose “biblical tenets” as law upon the rest of us. Period.

    I do not understand why so many believers cannot grasp this simple fact.

  • leeloo

    just had a friend on facebook post a picture of the billboard “why believe in god? just be good for goodness sake” with the caption: LOL awesome logic there, how does that work for people who want something and dont want to work for it? i would just kill somone and take there money, its GOOD FOR ME!

  • Deepak Shetty

    Robert W.

    The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle. In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different.

    You have extremely ignorant views. Do you really think this is what the struggle is about? If so I suggest you spend some time reading up on this issue.

  • Drew M.

    Edmond, your post is awesome. Thank you.

  • Will

    Firstly, I’m an atheist and a humanist. Secondly, I read her article. While she does make mistakes about recruitment, etc. I think she makes a pretty decent point. Believers and non-believers usually have the same values. I think this ongoing argument between who has better morality is just getting to be ridiculous. There are crazies on both sides of the fence, but that shouldn’t stop those of us in the middle from joining together in a conversation for better understanding. I dismiss the New Atheists in much the same way that I dismiss the Fundamentalists. I prefer to stay away from hateful vitriol. Seeing people on an individual basis for who they are is much more important than blanket judgements based on what religion or belief system they subscribe to. I think your coverage of her article was a little unfair.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Believers and non-believers usually have the same values.

    Some believers have some values in common. Its the ones where the values arent common that the disagreements occur.

    There are crazies on both sides of the fence,

    Can you name some of these crazies on the atheist side (and their worst offences)?

    I dismiss the New Atheists in much the same way that I dismiss the Fundamentalists.

    Sigh.

  • AnonymousSM

    As I put it once the other day (and I know I’m biased) and I really like how the slogan flows:

    “A defense of my freedoms is not an attack on yours.”

    I also like it since someone pointed out it’s a good argument against DADT.

  • Claudia

    I dismiss the New Atheists in much the same way that I dismiss the Fundamentalists.

    Please give an example of:

    - A restriction on civil rights that the “new atheists” wish to impose based on their religious worldview.

    - A special excemption that “new atheists” want for themselves but not for people of other religious worldviews.

    - Name any incidents in the past, say, year or two, involve atheists killing people on the basis of their religious worldview (emphasis added here because we all know where this usually goes).

    - Name a view that atheists wish to see imposed into public school teaching that is not based on evidence but a faith-based worldview.

    When you’re done casting about for some examples, and are ready to admit that they’re all child’s-play if you replace “atheist” with “fundamentalist” then maybe we can discuss the equivalencies between one group and another.

    [edit]: I should note that, as far as a huge proportion of theists are concerned, an atheist humanist who finds their way onto atheist blogs is a new atheist. I have yet to see an atheist define themselves as a “new atheist” except with huge dollops of irony or when wearily addressing insistent reporters. There is a legitimate debate to be had about messaging, community and tone, but we’re all part of the same hated minority as far as the real fundamentalists are concerned.

  • Heidi

    +1 to the Edmond fan club. That was indeed awesome. :-)

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    leeloo

    LOL awesome logic there, how does that work for people who want something and dont want to work for it? i would just kill somone and take there money, its GOOD FOR ME!

    Hows does that work? Umm, sort of like how Xtian societies do it. We pass laws against theft & murder and catch & punish the people who do it.
    Or do you think god, like a supernatural Superman, reaches down, snatches up the bad guys and takes them off to his Fortress of Solitude?

  • http://quichemoraine.com Mike Haubrich

    As a Gnu Atheist, I wish to object that anyone finds me fundamentalist. I don’t require anyone to do things the way that I want them in order to hasten the Second Coming of Someone.

    The problem between the gay community and most Christians is that the gay community wants the christian Community to accept the gay community by shelving their religious beliefs against that lifestyle. In other words, drop your religious objections to the homosexual lifestyle and change your beliefs, not just accept that mine are different.

    You needn’t shelve your beliefs, you merely need to recognize that they are your beliefs and not universal moral standards upon which to base laws on civil rights. It’s that simple. No one wanted to force the Proposition H8′ers in California to like gays, just to respect them as fellow Californians.

  • Robert W.

    This is to everyone who replied to my comment responding to Claudia’s post referring to the gay rights movement:

    If you believe that the gay rights movement is limited to same sex marriage and simple equality in civil laws you are mistaken or deliberately misrepresenting the goals of the movement.

    The goal is far more then that. As stated:

    In a 1987 speech to the National Press Club in Washington, homosexual spokesperson Jeff Levi proclaimed,

    We are no longer seeking just a right to privacy and a protection from wrong. We also have a right — as heterosexual Americans already have — to see government and society affirm our lives.

    Further, as stated by Marshall Kirk and hunter Madsen in their book “After the Ball”:

    “The agenda of homosexual activists is basically to change America from what they perceive as looking down on homosexual behavior, to the affirmation of and societal acceptance of homosexual behavior.”

    Thia includes calling opponents to this view bigots:

    if you think gay marriage is a sin you are a bigot

    Samiimas’ comment right out of the playbook

    That agenda has gone into the public schools with books such as “Heather has Two Mommies” or “Gloria Goes to Gay Pride” being given to young children is far more then simply the right to marry. It is the total societal acceptance of their lifestyle and behavior, including the religious community, not just the government.

    This was recognized by Justice Scalia in Lawerence vs. Texas where he wrote:

    Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.

  • Jeff

    That’s right, Robert. The gays are out to get you. Be afraid; be very afraid.

    Idiot.

  • Robert W.

    That’s right Jeff, intolerant to someone elses’ beliefs after ignoring the evidence,

    Bigot

  • edwords

    How about a new billboard for Cleveland?

    “With friends like God, who needs enemas?”

  • Steve

    A homophobe quoting the homophobic, moronic vitriol of another homophobe. How rich…

    I hope that opinion comes to bite Scalia back in the ass when Perry vs. Schwarzenegger makes it to the Supreme Court. He really painted himself into a corner, though he’ll probably find some “creative” way to weasel out of it.

  • Robert W.

    Steve,

    A homophobe quoting the homophobic, moronic vitriol of another homophobe. How rich

    Name calling in response to the obvious evidence I present to support my statement regarding the gay rights movement- how juvenile

  • Daniel

    Robert could you please supply some more facts regarding progressive movements and what all they encompass. Perhaps you could call out one speech from 1913 to represent the entirety of the suffragettes. Or perhaps you could comment on the the singular mindset of the abolitionists throughout the 19th century by a single statement made by William Lloyd Garrison. The point is Robert there are differing goals within any movement some aim higher than others. Is it too much to hope that one day in the future gay people might enjoy living in a society without a stigma attached to there lifestyle? Or would that offend you in some way? Perhaps you believe that gay people want more than that? Do you think they want to make you gay Robert? Because that seems to be what your afraid of. That given half a chance the “gay movement” will set out on a recruiting mission to turn you and everyone you love into homosexuals. Is it a slippery slope Robert wherein if we allow men to marry each other all of your self restraint will erode and you’ll be left twirling glow stick and riding the caboose at a circuit party? Just asking.

  • BrettH

    Robert W,

    Granted, Steve might not have said that as politely as he could have, but it wasn’t just name calling. There was a legitimate concern there, that one person who views a specific group of the population as immoral for no reason other than their religious beliefs is using the fact that some other person has the same prejudices as some sort of support. Whether your justification is valid or not, the fact that some other person shares it is not further support. Justice Scalia is an expert on the law, but not on homosexuality or morality.

    Also, I’m not familiar with Jeff Levi, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that what he was trying to say was “I’m glad that Christians (recently) stopped beating us to death, but now we’d like to be treated like people.”

  • Robert W.

    Daniel,

    No I don’t think homosexuals are out to recruit me or anyone else that I love.Nor am I afraid of that. What typical argument are you going to pull out next-that I’m secretly gay? That isn’t the case either. But it is the typical argument. Call those that oppose the gay rights movement and stand up for their own beliefs bigots, homophobes, etc…

    My comment is simply this- despite what some of those that commented here, it is obvious that the gay community wants Christians to change their beliefs despite what the bible says about homosexual behavior. So much for religious freedom in this country. At least Everyday Atheist was honest enough to admit it.

    Brett,

    There was a legitimate concern there, that one person who views a specific group of the population as immoral for no reason other than their religious beliefs

    Since when do Christians not have the right to call certain behaviors immoral based upon their religious beliefs?

  • bernerbits

    My comment is simply this- despite what some of those that commented here, it is obvious that the gay community wants Christians to change their beliefs despite what the bible says about homosexual behavior. So much for religious freedom in this country. At least Everyday Atheist was honest enough to admit it.

    And it is obvious that many Christians want atheists and homosexuals to change their beliefs and accept Jesus as their personal savior. So what? If you wanting to change our minds is not infringing on our rights, then neither is the gay community and their supporters wanting to change your mind infringing on your rights.

    If ever there was a “typical argument” as you so smugly put it, it’s the argument that gay people desiring acceptance is somehow a violation of your religious freedom.

  • BrettH

    Robert W,

    I think you misunderstood my point (because you only quoted the first half). I do happen to disagree with you, and I do happen to think you should change your mind, but I figured you feel the same about my beliefs and we weren’t going to convince each other of anything in this forum. I was actually saying that mentioning the Scalia quote was meaningless, because on matters of morality, faith, and probably homosexuality you are equally qualified to comment and his expertise didn’t help (or hurt) your argument since it deals with law. I’m sure Ginsburg has something on record that agrees with me, but that isn’t relevant either.

  • http://www.harvardhumanist.org Jonathan Figdor

    Me quoting someone on your site: “And that’s why I’m disappointed with the two sentences I’ve quoted. I always enjoy reading your posts but they seem to be becoming less ‘friendly’ and more, well, fundamentalist really…”

    Welcome to the dark side of New Atheism. I knew it was only a matter of time…

  • Samiimas

    Call those that oppose the gay rights movement and stand up for their own beliefs bigots, homophobes, etc…

    Exactly like how those opposed to interracial marriage are bigots.

    My comment is simply this- despite what some of those that commented here, it is obvious that the gay community wants Christians to change their beliefs despite what the bible says about homosexual behavior. So much for religious freedom in this country. At least Everyday Atheist was honest enough to admit it.

    A.People opposed to interracial marriage are bigots.

    B.People opposed to gay marriage are bigots.

    You know both of those are true and you refused to address my point because you’re a sniveling little bigoted liar who knows you have absolutely no logical argument for why A is true but B is false.

    your argument boils down to: “WAAAH! PEOPLE CALL US BIGOTS JUST CAUSE WE HATE GAY PEOPLE!”

    Fuck yes I will. You think homosexuality is sinful, wrong, evil. You think we are inferior to straight people. You are a bigot.

    Once again if you disagree actually explain how I’m wrong and how your different from someone opposed to interracial marriage. Don’t dodge the point like you always do.

    Since when do Christians not have the right to call certain behaviors immoral based upon their religious beliefs?

    My uncle is a racist, er, ‘thinks interracial marriage is a sin’ and everyone calls him a bigot and a moron until he shuts up and goes away.
    my uncle hasn’t had any of his rights taken away and neither have you, stop whining.

  • Samiimas

    You know what? I’m fucking sick of this. Robert, if you ignore my entire post at least answer this question:

    When gay marriage is on the ballot in your state are you going to vote to legalize it?

    If you answer anything but yes we’ll know that you do hate gay people and we can put this whole pointless discussion aside.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Robert W

    We are no longer seeking just a right to privacy and a protection from wrong. We also have a right — as heterosexual Americans already have — to see government and society affirm our lives.

    Government affirming = No discrimination against people based on sexual preferences including marriage. What exactly is a problem here?

    Society affirming = No stigma attached to people based on sexual preferences. No one can make your church or you do this though. (Just as noone can make the Catholic church say divorce isnt a sin). This is no different from a non-whites desire to not be treated as a second class citizen. What is the problem here?

    I thought you were going to provide evidence how the gays (and the straight people who support gays) were going to force the church to conduct gay marriages and appoint a gay pope or imprison people who think being is a sin or something like that? read up some more divergent views instead of merely reading people who confirm your biases

    And are you really quoting Scalia? The guy who thinks the cross is a secular symbol, just so he can erect it on government land? really? this is your expert?

    And bigot = a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
    Which seems to fit you very well.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    Jeff Levi proclaimed,
    “We are no longer seeking just a right to privacy and a protection from wrong. We also have a right — as heterosexual Americans already have — to see government and society affirm our lives.”

    As a straight man do you believe that government and society affirms your life and grants you the right to marry?

    “The agenda of homosexual activists is basically to change America from what they perceive as looking down on homosexual behavior, to the affirmation of and societal acceptance of homosexual behavior.”

    In plain English this simply means that gay people should be accepted as equals.

    That agenda has gone into the public schools with books such as “Heather has Two Mommies” or “Gloria Goes to Gay Pride” being given to young children is far more then simply the right to marry.

    You’re right. It is about placing people who live lives that are outside of the traditional nuclear family on a par with with the mainstream. It is about looking at the kid in the playground with two mommies and saying “That’s different but OK.”. It is about knowing that someone is gay and not feeling threatened by the fact.

    It is the total societal acceptance of their lifestyle and behavior, including the religious community, not just the government.

    Yes, all of society needs to be involved in a societal shift in attitude. Sometimes the government legislates first and society follows but most often it is the other way around. Society is changing. Gay people are just like straight people except in the gender of the people they love.

    I think that you feel as if you are being attacked and there is some kind of insidious agenda at work to turn everyone gay. I hope that I’ve outlined how this isn’t the agenda but that the agenda is about society accepting that gay people exist and are part of our communities.

    Some people are gay, get over it.

  • Pete

    Robert W. Says:My comment is simply this- despite what some of those that commented here, it is obvious that the gay community wants Christians to change their beliefs despite what the bible says about homosexual behavior. So much for religious freedom in this country. At least Everyday Atheist was honest enough to admit it.

    Since when do Christians not have the right to call certain behaviors immoral based upon their religious beliefs?

    Robert i think you miss the point.The anti-gay attitude pushed by many Christians for ages using their bible,has helped cause a type of universal hate towards gay folk, that has spilled out onto the streets and even ended up in many gay folk being bashed and beaten to death.The anti gay attitude pushed by many Christians for ages by use of their bible,has helped the hate of gays to form that is even causing bullying in schools that has lately ended in some youth suicides.

    How would you Christians like it if the anti-Christian attutude ended in bullying that started causing your children to start committing suicide.How would you feel if the anti Christian attitude got so bad,it ended in the Christians being the ones getting bashed to death on our streets.

    Now you wouldnt enjoy that would you .And we do understand that.And i`d say almost all of us atheists here would also be totally against it ever happening.Now why cant you learn to try and be as understanding as that for lives of the gay folk also.

    Nobody is trying to turn you Christians gay.Nobody wants an attitude promoted that ends up with Christian becoming hated so much they get beaten to death on our streets.We dont ever want to see Christian kids start committing suicide through bullying.

    But i suggest maybe it is you that will end up bringing the type hate back upon yourselves ,if you decide to keep on keeping up with all the nasty anti gay attitudes.

  • Pingback: Oh no, we have different views than you! « The Secret Atheist

  • hipopotamo

    Wow. So rich a thread I dont’t know where to begin…

    @Claudia Are you a proffesional writer? I love how you so coherently express your ideas. I think you nailed the difference between we “noisy” atheists and retrograde fundamentalists. Too bad that debate with theists usually never lasts long enough to get to the part in which we are able to show the reasons behind our assertions.
    So I will gladly keep my smug and arrogant labels, since usually I’m called smug for dissenting or for (gasp) citing science!

    @edmond kudos on your little paragraph on bigotry and separation of state and church. This is what people in Mexico should be reading with the recent legalization of gay marriage in Mexico City (imagine the uproar in this largely Xian country, oh the infamy!)
    What people should get from your excellent post is: “Not because I don’t like it, it should be illegal”.

    The rest of my thoughts about your post are reflected on my last paragraph:

    @robert I’ll admit that I am made very uncomfortable by the “gay lifestyle” (using your words here). I also strongly believe that Mexican country music is moronic. You can call me prejudiced (what is it about a gay couple that makes me uncomfortable?) and you can call me stupid (Can’t you see that Mexican country is the most sublime art expression ever?). But you cannot call me a bigot. Why? Because I confer no MORAL judgement on my opinions. There is this big difference between “I don’t like it”, “I don’t agree with you”, and “You’re wrong and going to hell because of it”. If you’re going to assert that something is MORALLY wrong you better be prepared to support that with good arguments, else, I’m afraid, you’re a bigot. And unfortunately, arguments from faith are not good arguments.

    So, the “gay movement” wants to make the “lifestyle” mainstream and widely accepted? How does that forces you to “drop or change” your beliefs? You are free to believe they are still going to hell. You are free to believe they are wrong in their ways. You are free to still don’t like them. You are even free to keep complaining.
    Me, I hope that gays becoming “normal” will help me get thru my prejudice. Honestly, they are the least of my problems. I still have to deal with Mexican Country music

    Cheers from the hippo

  • Jeff

    @bernerbits: And it is obvious that many Christians want atheists and homosexuals to change their beliefs and accept Jesus as their personal savior. So what? If you wanting to change our minds is not infringing on our rights, then neither is the gay community and their supporters wanting to change your mind infringing on your rights.

    If ever there was a “typical argument” as you so smugly put it, it’s the argument that gay people desiring acceptance is somehow a violation of your religious freedom.

    This is absolutely correct.

    Robert W., when you begin posting comments protesting all of the televangelists telling us we’re going to hell for all of eternity for not accepting your sky daddy as our personal savior – then you’ll have some credibility.

    But you won’t – will you? – because your position is based upon divine revelation, while ours is based upon sin and our own rebellious nature. Because the fucking Bible tells you it is.

  • Rollingforest

    For the last forty years the battle has been between those who say that America is a Christian nation and those who say that we should be tolerant of other faiths. Now the Atheists come along and become vocal. They certainly don’t believe that America is a Christian nation, but they also don’t believe that religion should be spared criticism in the name of tolerance. This puts their philosophy against both that of the Fundamentalists and that of those pushing for tolerance. That is why the Atheists get so much flak for talking about their views.

    If we are to teach people to think outside of religion, then it needs to be done in stages. Hardly anyone goes directly from Fundamentalist to Atheist. Fundamentalists sometimes become Evangelicals. And Evangelicals sometimes become Mainline Christians. And Mainline Christians sometimes become Liberal Christians. And Liberal Christians sometimes become Agnostics. And Agnostics sometimes become Atheists. We can not have a ‘one size fits all’ strategy for dealing with these groups. We need to cater our arguments to fitting the concerns of each group and move them down the conveyer belt. For example, talking to a Fundamentalist about whether they can prove if God exists is mostly a waste of time. Instead ask them if they think Anne Frank is in Hell for being Jewish or if Gandhi is in Hell for being Hindu. Then ask them if they can see that people in other faiths aren’t trying to be against the Christian God, but are just believing what they’ve always been taught. If they never have a chance to hear about Christ, should God punish them for it? (it usually helps if the person asking these questions is believed to be a Christian, regardless of what they really are. If an Atheist asks a Fundamentalist these questions, the Fundamentalist will often write it off as just Atheist trickery.) Asking these kind of questions will start a person down the conveyer belt that eventually will cause them to lose their faith, though this process can take several years and usually requires more than just one person in their life pushing them along.

  • Deepak Shetty

    This puts their philosophy against both that of the Fundamentalists and that of those pushing for tolerance.

    I dont think this is completely accurate. The word tolerance can have different meanings ranging from “do not criticise or ridicule” to “do not threaten violence” to “do not pass laws against”.
    So saying “this puts their philosophy against those pushing for tolerance doesnt quite represent the whole story.”
    Most atheists would be satisfied with
    a. No laws preferring religion or making a special case for it (including tax exemptions etc)
    b. The right to criticise, ridicule, make satires on , not respect any symbol of any religion, commit acts deemed blasphemous (so long as no one is physically harmed).
    The point of contention usually with reasonable religious people/accomodationist atheists seems to be b).

  • Samiimas

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to wake up this morning and discover that Robert fled the thread and never responded. Well not that shocked…

  • Robert W.

    Samiimas,

    A.People opposed to interracial marriage are bigots.

    B.People opposed to gay marriage are bigots.

    You know both of those are true and you refused to address my point because you’re a sniveling little bigoted liar who knows you have absolutely no logical argument for why A is true but B is false.

    Both of those are not necessarily true. Your premise is wrong and if you think that they are both true, then you are a bigot.

    Most of those who oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds do so based upon solid and clear statements in the Bible calling homosexual behavior a sin. My opposition to same sex marriage ( and yes I will vote against it if it comes up for vote in my state) is based upon my religious views. Just as I will vote against pro choice laws for example.

    There are no such biblical statements against interracial marriage and those who attempt to say there are go against standard interpretations of certain old testament passages talking about cultural issues not racial.

    Further, the passages against homosexual behavior in the bible is talking about just that, behavior. The Bible doesn’t talk about sins based upon race.

    So try as you might to equate the two
    you can’t logically do it. But I can understand why you would try, because it allows you to try and say all Christians hate gay people. Which is simply not correct.

    It certainly isn’t the case with me. The fact that I support the traditional views of marriage and my religious convictions regarding homosexual behavior does not mean I hate gay people. Replace gay with adultery and I would say the same thing about the behavior.

    Hoverfrog,

    “The agenda of homosexual activists is basically to change America from what they perceive as looking down on homosexual behavior, to the affirmation of and societal acceptance of homosexual behavior.”

    In plain English this simply means that gay people should be accepted as equals.

    Not exactly the same thing. Treating people as equals does not equate with accepting all of their behavior as being equal. From a Biblical standpoint, all people are treated as equal, but their behavior isn’t. A person who commits adultery is committing a sin, whereas a person who is true to their martial vows is not. That doesn’t mean that the religious community should be forced to accept adultery as being equal to a faithful marriage.

    Hippo,

    So, the “gay movement” wants to make the “lifestyle” mainstream and widely accepted? How does that forces you to “drop or change” your beliefs? You are free to believe they are still going to hell. You are free to believe they are wrong in their ways. You are free to still don’t like them. You are even free to keep complaining.

    Actually I would disagree with that. Calling people who disagree bigots and homophobes, identifying their opposition as hate speech, not being tolerant of Christian believes on the subject is all an attempt to have Christians change their beliefs and silence them. A good example of that is the most recent post regarding the southern poverty law list of anti-homosexual organizations being identified as hate speech. The next step is to start calling this opposition hate crimes in an effort to punish it. Its a small step from where we are now.

    All of these comments have proven my original point to Claudia. I appreciate the dialog.

  • Jeff

    I notice you didn’t respond to my point.

  • Claudia

    @hipopotamo I’m actually a scientist, not a writer at all, but thank you for your very kind words.

    While I’m at it I should add that sometimes we have visceral reactions to things without the need for an underlying prejudice. I say this because I’m pretty squeemish about watching lesbians making out (though gay doesn’t faze me at all), and I’m entirely certain it’s not about some underlying value judgement. My upbringing was so gay-positive that I was a teen before I found out homophobia was a thing. When I see two women getting hot and heavy (hugs or little kisses aren’t a problem at all) I really want to look away, despite the fact that I fully acknowledge this is my problem, not theirs, and I would never demand any different from a lesbian couple than any other kind of couple.

    Perhaps you were brought up with a lot of homophobia and that’s made you squeemish about gays, but maybe not. I agree that exposure will probably help you get over some of it. Still, you explicitly said you don’t attach any moral judgement to your feelings. If you don’t like watching boys kissing the same way I don’t like latino love songs, and you don’t allow this feeling to affect your treatment of gays or your support for their civil rights, I think you can safely call yourself non-prejudiced.

  • Claudia

    Replace gay with adultery and I would say the same thing about the behavior.

    That’s a very interesting point Robert. There are many different behaviors that the Bible considers sinful. Your opposition to gay marriage means that you find Biblical prohibition a sufficient criteria for prohibition in civil law. As such would you support the following:

    - The outlawing of divorce.
    - The legalization of slavery.
    - The prohibition for any commercial transactions on Saturday (or Sunday, why quibble).
    - The outlawing of marriage between atheists, Muslims, Hindus etc.
    - The illegality of any non-Biblical religion.

    These are to name a few. Your bible does not recognize my right to marry a man, because I’m an atheist, and a marriage without god is no marriage at all, is it? At least according to the Bible. So do tell, would you support the outlawing of all non-Christian marriages and the illegalization of divorce? Or is your willingness to impose Biblical principles via civil courts just restricted to the gays?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Robert,

    If you create a society where it is difficult to sin by enacting bible-friendly laws won’t that make it difficult for God to properly judge us? Wouldn’t it be better to have a society with maximum freedom (as pertains to sins such as homosexual behavior) so that people can fully exercise their free-will to demonstrate to God whether or not they have what it takes to get to heaven? Are not you actually going against God (by playing God yourself) by being willing to vote for propositions to ban same-sex marriage? What was that first commandment again…

  • Samiimas

    Most of those who oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds do so based upon solid and clear statements in the Bible calling homosexual behavior a sin. My opposition to same sex marriage ( and yes I will vote against it if it comes up for vote in my state) is based upon my religious views. Just as I will vote against pro choice laws for example.

    There are no such biblical statements against interracial marriage and those who attempt to say there are go against standard interpretations of certain old testament passages talking about cultural issues not racial.

    From my very first post:

    I know you’ll try to change the subject by claiming racism was never supported by the bible *it was* so let’s pretend he’s from some other religion.

    Don’t pretend like you didn’t read that. You were completely aware that I’d already explained why ‘da bible hates gay but not black people so they’re different’ doesn’t count, unless you’re going to argue no religion has ever existed or ever possibly could exist that was racist. You just chose to ignore that because it’s inconvenient to you.

    Not that any of this matters since you already admitted you hate us gay people. Every single one of us knows that if someone voted to take civil rights away from Christians you would be screaming that they hate Christians, don’t lie and try to claim otherwise.

    I’m done wasting my time with this pathetic lying bigot. Fuck you Robert, I’m going to have equal rights eventually and theirs nothing you and the rest of your bigoted cult can do to stop it.

    PS: How long until someone whines about me being rude and mean even though I’ve never argued his civil rights should be restricted in any way? Real restrictions on civil rights, not his pathetic “If gay people have equal rights people will call us bigots” whining.

  • Robert W.

    Claudia,

    That’s a very interesting point Robert. There are many different behaviors that the Bible considers sinful. Your opposition to gay marriage means that you find Biblical prohibition a sufficient criteria for prohibition in civil law. As such would you support the following:

    - The outlawing of divorce.
    - The legalization of slavery.
    - The prohibition for any commercial transactions on Saturday (or Sunday, why quibble).
    - The outlawing of marriage between atheists, Muslims, Hindus etc.
    - The illegality of any non-Biblical religion.

    Not at all. What a strawman argument. You are taking my statement out of context. I made that statement in the context of talking about behavior, not the person.

    My opposition to same sex marriage is based upon Biblical principles, but that is not necessarily the basis for the civil laws opposition to it. Until when has same sex marriage ever been recognized in a secular society as the same as a marriage between a man and a women? When has civil law ever recognized it as such in this country before a couple of court opinions less then five years ago? Marriage has always been recognized even in secular society as between a man and a woman. For example, in the atheist Soviet Union, was same sex marriage allowed?

    By the way, the Bible would recognize your marriage even to an atheist, muslim, hindu etc. Give me a quote where it wouldn’t.

    Jeff,

    Robert W., when you begin posting comments protesting all of the televangelists telling us we’re going to hell for all of eternity for not accepting your sky daddy as our personal savior – then you’ll have some credibility.

    Sorry for the oversight. Your comment makes no sense. Since when does my standing up for my religious beliefs destroy my credibility? Just because you don’t agree with those beliefs?

    Jeff P.

    Since when does passing a law mean that everyone will follow it? If that was the case then we would not need prisons. People will exercise their free will to accept or reject God regardless of the civil laws that are passed. Gos has laid out His expectations in Bible. Regardless of how free a society is with its civil laws, free will is still there.

    Nice try folks. But I do believe in the separation of church and state. Which includes the freedom of religion not just the freedom from religion.

  • Robert W.

    Samiimas,

    You are rude. That much we agree on.

    Not that any of this matters since you already admitted you hate us gay people

    Never said it and don’t.

    Every single one of us knows that if someone voted to take civil rights away from Christians you would be screaming that they hate Christians, don’t lie and try to claim otherwise.

    I would be screaming that they are violating the first amendment if they were taking away the freedom of religion. It would not take that to show that you are a bigot and hate Christians. That has already been clearly shown.

  • Jeff

    Your comment makes no sense. Since when does my standing up for my religious beliefs destroy my credibility? Just because you don’t agree with those beliefs?

    The fact that you don’t see the relevance of the analogy pretty much proves everything we’re saying.

    Another brainwashed robot-for-Jesus. I’m done here.

  • sven

    @ Robert W

    My opposition to same sex marriage is based upon Biblical principles, but that is not necessarily the basis for the civil laws opposition to it.

    So would you say your view of biblical principle is the result of your personal opinion, or is it the other way around?
    And you keep talking about the bible, which one is it? The protestant bible, the mormon bible, the catholic bible, or some other kind of bible?

  • Deepak Shetty

    Robert W

    but that is not necessarily the basis for the civil laws opposition to it.

    What is the basis then?
    Your examples are that basically it has always been this way. Which is a nonsensical reason because then you should be pushing for polygamy and indeed for the abolishment of marriage – and you should also be pushing to bring back slavery – or admit that we make progress and we make our laws to reflect that.

    On marriage between believers and non believers

    2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    Source
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_the_Bible_say_about_inter_religion_dating_and_marriage
    Doesn’t sound like you really read your bible.

  • Claudia

    My opposition to same sex marriage is based upon Biblical principles, but that is not necessarily the basis for the civil laws opposition to it. Until when has same sex marriage ever been recognized in a secular society as the same as a marriage between a man and a women?

    So your civil opposition to gay marriage has nothing to do with your Biblical dogma then? So why do you oppose the civil right to gay marriage? From the above it would appear that your opposition is based on mere tradition. You don’t want to recognize gay marriage because no one has ever recognized gay marriage. Surely you realize how poor an argument this is? Imagine trying to justify opposition to female sufferage like this. Since when do we consider the political opinions of females equal to those of males? This is an empty argument. Something does not become wrong (or right) as a law simply because of the amount of time that it has been in effect.

    So you’ve rejected Biblical authority as a good reason to impose civil law (incidentally, if you can cite where the Bible allows for civil marriage that would be swell. While you’re at it find me where it says it’s one man and one woman). The argument that it shouldn’t be legalized because it’s only recently been legalized is patently ridiculous. Any other reasons?

  • hipopotamo

    @Claudia we scientists are usually good writers (I write much better in Spanish he he)

    You’re right, I’m squimish at boys making out (though I like girl/girl, yes I know, typical male meh!) but as you said, that is my problem, not theirs. And I think that is the big difference. When you realize it is YOUR problem, not somebody else’s

    @Robert You impose MORAL judgment based on the Bible, and that is the problem. Your judgment is based on a writen book that you hold sacred. But not everybody holds sacred. It is fine if you believe what is on that book (or what you believe is in the book) but you cannot impose that judgment on me, nor make it law. Yo can condemn homosexuality as a sin, but you cannot make it civil law. You can condems adultery as a sin, but you cannot make it law (and condemn them to death, for example, as the Bible says we ought to do)
    You are free to argue as much as you want about your moral judgements, and that is fine.
    And people will call you names because fo you supporting those beliefs. And bigot is one of those names. Though.
    For being an atheist I am called ignorant, arrogant, blasphemous, stupid, closed-minded, hateful. Maybe some apply (I am 100% blasphemous, for example) but that is the way things are. Nobody is legally forcing me to shut up. And that is the crux of the matter.

    Cheers

  • Anna

    That agenda has gone into the public schools with books such as “Heather has Two Mommies” or “Gloria Goes to Gay Pride” being given to young children is far more then simply the right to marry. It is the total societal acceptance of their lifestyle and behavior, including the religious community, not just the government.

    I love how anti-gay detractors are always about 20 years behind the times. I mean, if you’re going to drag out the usual “scary gays are targeting the kids” propaganda, it would help to use examples of books that were actually published after 1991. I don’t think anyone’s read Gloria Goes to Gay Pride (in or out of school) since the early 90s.

    And seriously, Robert, the public schools are for all children. There is absolutely no reason for schools to ignore the fact that many students have LGBT family members. I grew up with two lesbian moms, and I attended public schools. Children deserve to feel safe and comfortable in a classroom environment. They do not deserve to have their families ignored by teachers when every other type of family is addressed openly. We don’t cater to racists by refusing to read books that depict interracial families. Why is it acceptable to cater to homophobes? Why is it okay to have children encounter a wall of silence surrounding their type of family, and only their type of family? Here’s a hint. It’s not okay. If you want your children in an anti-gay environment, send them to private school or homeschool them. Don’t demand that the public schools ignore children from minority families.

  • Claudia

    @hipopotamo, parece que tenemos mas de una cosa en común eh? ;-) A mi me parece que tu ingles es muy bueno, aunque ahora me explico porque tu nick está en español XD

  • Lauren

    I love that I am a part of the atheist community. Seriously, you all are amazing.

    Isn’t it weird how we all can recognize Robert W. as a homophobic bigot, but for some reason he is “blind” to it?

    It’s people like him that make it easy for us to assert are moral superiority. He sounds like an awful person.

  • Jeff

    It’s people like him that make it easy for us to assert are moral superiority. He sounds like an awful person.

    Lauren, the worst thing about Robert is that he isn’t the worst thing out there – not by a LONG shot.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    A person who commits adultery is committing a sin, whereas a person who is true to their martial vows is not. That doesn’t mean that the religious community should be forced to accept adultery as being equal to a faithful marriage.

    Can you not see a problem with this? If you want gay people to not commit adultery then you first have to allow their marriages to be legitimate. You won’t do this.

    Marriage has always been recognized even in secular society as between a man and a woman.

    That really isn’t true. There are countries that allow marriage between a man and many women and some that allow marriage between a woman and several men. Some societies also allow marriage between two males or two females. Some have age restrictions on marriage, some have none. Some limited marriage between members of the same race. Marriage is at least as old as recorded history, which means it is a lot older than your religion. Same sex unions existed in Ancient Greece, Rome, the Fujian region of China and even ancient Europe. Same sex marriage is recognised in parts of secular Europe today. As marriage. Some parts of secular Europe call it civil partnerships but it’ll change to name sooner or later.

    You don’t get to trot out the argument from tradition and expect it to be taken seriously and you don’t get to use it when it isn’t even true.

    I do believe in the separation of church and state. Which includes the freedom of religion not just the freedom from religion.

    Then religion has no part in secular marriage and secular marriage has no part in religion. Will you allow at least that secular marriage is between whoever the state recognises and is a matter between the citizens and the state and not a matter of religious faith.

  • Lauren

    our moral superiority

    Damn spelling errors..

    Jeff,
    I know.. I know he’s not the worst, but he’s bad enough.

    As the daughter of two mothers, I know well about anti-gay bullying. The schools that I went to were mostly white and mostly Christian. Even though I was not religious, I did make friends with many of the Christian children with whom I spent most of my time. When I “came out” that my mom was gay to two of my closest girlfriends they immediately turned their backs on me. That’s when all the rumors started. My peers who said incredibly hateful things to me, usually quoting scripture, tormented me. One time I was pushed against a blackboard when I stood up to a boy saying anti-gay things to me. My words led to his physical violence. I actually heard since that he did come out so I guess that’s why he was so angry. I found solace and compassion after my freshman year with a Jewish and non-religious group who remain some of my best friends to this day. I’m not gay, actually straight and married now, but it made my Christian peers angry that I had two mothers. It made them so angry that they took it out on me almost daily.

    It became apparent to me very early on that the religious were usually not the accepting, kind-hearted people that they claim to be. I immediately could relate the first time I heard Gandhi’s “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I think that those children who acted in incredibly ugly ways were most likely just a product of their environment. I mean, I don’t think children are born with that type of bias and hatred. Now that I’m older, I can especially recognize that it wasn’t really their fault because someone else had to put those ideas in their minds. They were too young to know better. The kids that gave me such a hard time though weren’t fundamentalists. In fact, I would say they came from families that are the very picture of moderate Christianity. I don’t regret that time in my life because it really made me into the freethinker that I am today. If Robert W. has any children, I hope for goodness sake that he does not turn them into the monsters that I had to brave through out my younger years.

  • Anna

    Lauren, I can relate! What bothers me most about our experiences is that people like Robert blame us or our parents for any prejudice we happen to encounter. Placing blame on the victim is all too apparent in the anti-gay movement. Kids of lesbians encounter homophobia at school? Too bad. It’s all those lesbians’ fault for daring to have kids in the first place. If they’d just shut up and pretended to be straight, then their kids wouldn’t have to live in the homophobic culture that the bigots helped to create and seek to reinforce.

    Since anti-gay detractors can’t advocate for shame and stigma anymore, they just want to make sure that LGBT issues are completely ignored in public schools, so that children encounter absolute silence from anyone in authority. This naturally leads to misinformation (at best) and hostility (at worst) from peers. I think as new generations come along, this will change. It’s already changing. There’s been a lot of progress since I was in school. The level of public awareness is so much higher and ignorance has dropped substantially, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done.

  • Robert W.

    Jeff,

    The fact that you don’t see the relevance of the analogy pretty much proves everything we’re saying.

    Your analogy is senseless. You didn’t even answer the question I posed to you.

    Sven,

    So would you say your view of biblical principle is the result of your personal opinion, or is it the other way around?
    And you keep talking about the bible, which one is it? The protestant bible, the mormon bible, the catholic bible, or some other kind of bible?

    As a Christian I base my values on Biblical principles. To the extent that my opinion is based upon my values then it would come from Biblical principles. As for the Bible, I happen to be a protestant, formerly a Catholic, never a Mormon. But I am aware that the Catholics, Mormons and Protestants use the same New testament where Paul talks about homosexuality in Romans so it makes no difference.

    Deepak,

    What is the basis then?
    Your examples are that basically it has always been this way. Which is a nonsensical reason because then you should be pushing for polygamy and indeed for the abolishment of marriage – and you should also be pushing to bring back slavery – or admit that we make progress and we make our laws to reflect that.

    The state has secular reasons for acknowledging that a marriage is between a man and a woman. One of witch as an example would be the propagation of a society and a way to standardize the norms of a culture to provide for procreation. Another could be for the preservation of a cultural institution that has served society well for centuries.

    I am all for progress, so how is allowing same sex marriage progressing the institution of marriage between a man and a women?

    On marriage between believers and non believers

    2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    Source
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_the_Bible_say_about_inter_religion_dating_and_marriage
    Doesn’t sound like you really read your bible.

    I know my Bible very well. The verse you are quoting is not a law for Christians to follow or even a moral code. It is a warning to separate yourself from evil for your own protection. It is not a prohibition nor does it say that to do so would be a sin. It is however very good advice in a marriage context to heed.

    Claudia,

    So you’ve rejected Biblical authority as a good reason to impose civil law (incidentally, if you can cite where the Bible allows for civil marriage that would be swell. While you’re at it find me where it says it’s one man and one woman). The argument that it shouldn’t be legalized because it’s only recently been legalized is patently ridiculous. Any other reasons?

    Morality in the Bible can coincide with the morality of secular laws and do routinely. Especially in our culture where our leasers for most of our history and the people who voted for them are from a Judeo Christian heritage.

    To my knowledge, the Bible doesn’t talk about the difference between a strictly civil marriage and a marriage in a church. Not surprising that it wouldn’t because marriages in that culture were done exclusively by Rabbi’s and would have been in the church (temple). It is clear however that a marriage is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2: 24 as one example) The state has determined that one man and one woman at a time is in the state’s best interest.

    Hippo,

    @Robert You impose MORAL judgment based on the Bible, and that is the problem.

    Most laws that deal with human behavior are imposing morality on others. Those that want to legalize same sex marriage are attempting to impose their morality on others. They believe that that behavior is correct so they should so everyone else should agree with it and thus allow it.

    Anna,

    And seriously, Robert, the public schools are for all children. There is absolutely no reason for schools to ignore the fact that many students have LGBT family members. I grew up with two lesbian moms, and I attended public schools. Children deserve to feel safe and comfortable in a classroom environment.

    From the comments you have made on this blog and in our previous discussions I view you to be a thoughtful and caring person. Your moms did a good job.

    Recognizing that there are LGBT families in our communities is perfectly okay. Indoctrinating children to say that this is a moral choice that they need to approve of is something else. There is no need for a five year old to have any indications of sexual orientations or desires.

    The same folks who are okay with this are the ones this are the same group who say that teaching children religion and about Christ is child abuse because it is indoctrinating them before they have a chance to make up their own mind.

    I suppose when that indoctrination is for a cause you believe in its okay.

    Lauren,

    Isn’t it weird how we all can recognize Robert W. as a homophobic bigot, but for some reason he is “blind” to it?

    It’s people like him that make it easy for us to assert are moral superiority. He sounds like an awful person.

    If you think that name calling advances your position then you are sorely mistaken. But if standing up for my beliefs makes be a bigot and awful person in your eyes then so be it. It doesn’t faze me in the least.

    And i guess how your intolerance and bigotted stance towards my belief system makes you morally superior?

    If Robert W. has any children, I hope for goodness sake that he does not turn them into the monsters that I had to brave through out my younger years.

    There is no excuse for the way you were treated as a child in your high school. If I saw my children treating you in a hateful manner I would have punished them for it. And no they didn’t grow up to be monsters.

    Hoverfrog,

    Then religion has no part in secular marriage and secular marriage has no part in religion. Will you allow at least that secular marriage is between whoever the state recognises and is a matter between the citizens and the state and not a matter of religious faith.

    As stated in this response, the state does have valid reasons to promote marriage as being between a man and woman. And actually between one man and one woman who is not biologically related and of sufficient age. I have already stated that my opposition are based upon Biblical principles, but the state’s opposition are
    secular.

    Same sex unions existed in Ancient Greece, Rome, the Fujian region of China and even ancient Europe.

    Please provide this source. And why are they no longer recognized?

  • MsAbominable

    I hate these billboards. They’re so confrontational! Stop shoving your literally god-damned cookies in my face, Katie! Can’t you see I’m on a diet, you insensitive heathen!?

  • Steve

    Please provide this source. And why are they no longer recognized?

    In the case of Rome (of which Greece was part of by then), because Christianity became the state religion and outlawed it in the Codex Theodosianus.

    Later, in Europe the Church was at the height of its influence in the 13th century or so. Before that, homosexuality wasn’t necessarily as frowned upon as bad as one may think.

  • Jeff

    @Lauren: It became apparent to me very early on that the religious were usually not the accepting, kind-hearted people that they claim to be.

    They rarely are.

  • Anna

    Robert,

    From the comments you have made on this blog and in our previous discussions I view you to be a thoughtful and caring person. Your moms did a good job.

    Thank you for the compliment. I do appreciate the fact that you have been unfailingly civil and polite during our discussions, even though we are diametrically opposed on many issues.

    Recognizing that there are LGBT families in our communities is perfectly okay.

    If you really mean that, then I’d say you are more forward-thinking than many of your fundamentalist brethren, who seem to feel that any mention of homosexuality by teachers or others in position of authority is not to be tolerated. Unless homosexuality is being condemned, they prefer to see the issue ignored entirely.

    Indoctrinating children to say that this is a moral choice that they need to approve of is something else.

    Ah, well, there’s the rub. What constitutes indoctrination? Does a teacher reading a book about a little girl with two mommies qualify as indoctrination? If so, is reading a book about a little girl celebrating Ramadan also indoctrination? What about a little girl with one black parent and one white parent? There are people who would oppose all of the books I mentioned because they object to the very idea of same-sex parenting, Islam, or interracial marriage, even if the story is matter-of-fact and age-appropriate. Heather Has Two Mommies (which you seemed to object to) is a simple story about a little girl with two moms who learns that “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” Is that indoctrination? Or is your real objection to the idea that children become aware of the fact that some of their peers have two mothers or two fathers?

    There is no need for a five year old to have any indications of sexual orientations or desires.

    Well, that’s a bit silly. There is overt heterosexuality present in all forms of children’s media. Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, and all the other Disney movies are heterosexual love stories. No one ever says that children shouldn’t be exposed to sexual orientation unless that sexual orientation differs from the norm. No one objects to a teacher reading a book about a heterosexual wedding to five-year-olds. No one objects to a G-rated heterosexual kiss in a movie. To say that children have no idea about sexual orientation or “desires” is disingenuous. Of course they do. It’s just that they are often only exposed to the heterosexual kind, and some people can’t stand the idea of anything else.

    The same folks who are okay with this are the ones this are the same group who say that teaching children religion and about Christ is child abuse because it is indoctrinating them before they have a chance to make up their own mind.

    Sorry, what? Who mentioned child abuse? I do consider teaching children to believe in gods indoctrination, but that has nothing to do with abuse, and that has to do with parenting, not public schools. As a parent, if you want to tell your children that homosexuality is wrong, you are free to do so. As wrong as I think it is, you have the right to teach your children what you believe. But it would be entirely inappropriate for a government employee (a public school teacher) to relay that same message to your children. And what does this have to do with anything? Separation of church and state is a different issue. Some parents object to Halloween on religious grounds, but I haven’t heard anyone saying that teachers need to refrain from Halloween storytime because some parents have a religious objection. I mean, you could go on and on with different examples of things that some parents dislike because of their religious beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in celebrating birthdays, but it’s not “indoctrination” for a teacher to read a book about a birthday party to her class.

    I suppose when that indoctrination is for a cause you believe in its okay.

    I don’t think schools should be telling children there is or isn’t a god, that one religion is true and another isn’t true, or that having a mom and a dad is better than having two moms or two dads, or vice versa. If you think that’s indoctrination, I don’t quite know what to say. I don’t think it would be appropriate for a public school teacher to tell her students that gods are make-believe, just like it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to tell them that heterosexual relationships are better than homosexual ones.

  • Steve

    Not to mention that kids learn about different kinds of families all by themselves. They talk to each other! A kid with gay parents will of course say that they have two mothers or two fathers. For them that’s perfectly normal and they might be surprised that other families are different. They also meet each others parents at school functions, sports, the playground or wherever.

    The point of having some sort of official education about the topic is to forestall negative reactions to that exposure. And that can be done age appropriately. No one needs to literally learn about sexual orientation. Just teach them that some kids of a mother and a father, some have two mothers and some have two fathers. Young ones will accept it and move on within a minute. They don’t have the hang ups of adults or teenagers.

  • Lauren

    Robert,

    I’m not sure how calling a pig “a pig” constitutes name calling, but I’ll allow it.

    Obviously, it doesn’t faze you what other people think about your belief system because it’s apparent that you don’t care about other people. It would seem you only apply the golden rule as you see fit.

    I could see if I said, “Christians are immoral and by my moral standards should not be allowed to marry or have children and do not deserve rights equal to those of non-Christians. If it comes up on the ballot, I will be voting against it.” You would be right in that I sound like a bigot. But your claim that me simply naming you as a bigot for making blatantly homophobic statements makes me a bigot and intolerant.. that’s some serious doublethink.

    Well, I’m glad you at least have a soft spot for the children, even the children that were raised in very loving, happy homosexual homes.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    Ah, well, there’s the rub. What constitutes indoctrination? Does a teacher reading a book about a little girl with two mommies qualify as indoctrination? If so, is reading a book about a little girl celebrating Ramadan also indoctrination? What about a little girl with one black parent and one white parent? There are people who would oppose all of the books I mentioned because they object to the very idea of same-sex parenting, Islam, or interracial marriage, even if the story is matter-of-fact and age-appropriate. Heather Has Two Mommies (which you seemed to object to) is a simple story about a little girl with two moms who learns that “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” Is that indoctrination? Or is your real objection to the idea that children become aware of the fact that some of their peers have two mothers or two fathers?

    I suppose the issue is the intent behind it. Public school teachers and systems are placed in a really tough position when any group tries to use them to teach a certain version of morality. That is certainly the argument for why religious views are kept out of the classroom.

    It seems to me that children can be taught to be kind to one another, to be courteous and to treat each other with respect without teaching them about God and Christ and without teaching them that it is an equally moral decision to engage in the homosexual lifestyle. The goal should be to teach them to be kind, respectful and courteous, not to accept all decisions as being equally moral. Those type of moral lessons are something that should be taught at home. For example, do you think that the school should undermine a Christian parents moral teaching of their child that the Bible says homosexual behavior is a sin by teaching them that those moral decisions are equally okay as heterosexual relationships?

    If it is not the role of the schools to teach religious based morality, then it conversely is not the role of the school to undermine that teaching. They should remain neutral all the way around.

  • Robert W.

    Lauren,

    I could see if I said, “Christians are immoral and by my moral standards should not be allowed to marry or have children and do not deserve rights equal to those of non-Christians. If it comes up on the ballot, I will be voting against it.” You would be right in that I sound like a bigot. But your claim that me simply naming you as a bigot for making blatantly homophobic statements makes me a bigot and intolerant.. that’s some serious doublethink.

    In all due respect, do you even know what the word bigot means?

    Disagreeing with your version of moral behavior does not make me a bigot. It makes me a person who disagrees with your moral behavior.

    Me believing that the state’s interest in preserving the marriage as being between one man and one woman who are not closely related and of a certain age is important and should be defended does not make me a bigot.

    If however you are of the opinion that in order for you to accept my religious beliefs or my opinions about same sex marriage they have to coincide with your moral behavior, then you are being intolerant and a bigot.

    You being a bigot is not from name calling. It is from not accepting disagreement and difference of opinion and being intolerant to another point of view.

    And i am still waiting for an explanation of how your intolerance and bigotted stance towards my belief system makes you morally superior.

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com/ pinkocommie

    Ugh. Ok. For the record so Robert W might – JUST MIGHT – be able to actually address some of the remarkably valid challenges to his beliefs that are being brought up:

    Wikipedia:

    A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs. The predominant usage in modern American English refers to persons hostile to those of differing race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, various mental disorders, or religion.

    Uh oh, no one likes Wikipedia anymore, so let’s get a dictionary definition in here as well:

    : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

    Robert – before trying to snarkily call someone out for not properly understanding what a word means, it’s a great practice to actually understand the word yourself. From these definitions, I’d say that if Lauren is a bigot (I don’t think so, but I could be wrong), you most definitely are one as well (I don’t know…but you kind of come off as one).

    So hey – back on topic – I would LOVE to know why interracial marriage (which is antithetical to biblical teachings) is OK while same sex marriage (also antithetical to biblical teachings) isn’t? If you’re going to take a part of something literally, doesn’t it make sense that you must regard the rest of it as literally true also, otherwise you’re very obviously just picking and choosing your so-called divine beliefs to match your own – dare I say it – bigoted beliefs?

    I’m glad you keep coming back, Richard. At some point, maybe you’ll get so tried from having to make incremental adjustments to your position in order to force your logic to work that you’ll realize that if you have to work as hard as you have been to keep your point even remotely valid, it’s no longer a valid point.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    At first, your words really made me angry, Robert, but then I asked myself an important question: what has Robert accomplished, here? You’ve come to a popular website full of non-believers who are deeply critical of Christianity and you’ve spouted off about your prejudices toward LGBT folk at length. In the process, you’ve given people good reason to continue to hold critical attitudes toward your religion. You’ve given a real, living voice to the negative associations that folks ascribe to your faith.

    Robert, if Christians such as yourself continue to speak of your prejudices, expound upon how your god and your religion support these prejudices, declare these prejudices to be moral, and attempt to forge your prejudices into law, your religion’s reputation will continue to deteriorate. I say continue to deteriorate because each generation of people contains fewer individuals who identify with Christianity. In a culture where each passing day leads to greater acceptance of LGBT people, the prejudices of people like yourself will deepen the growing tarnish upon your faith.

    So Robert, please tell us more about your moral perspectives on LGBT people’s relationships. Please tell us more about how you think same sex relationships are inferior to straight relationships. In fact, don’t stop at this website. Shout if from the rooftops. Speak of your prejudices proudly and publicly. I’m certain that condemning love will win you plenty of new converts, especially among younger people.

  • hipopotamo

    @claudia Ya veo que hay mucho más en común. Además de que tu nombre tiene significado casi cabalístico para mí. And that is a long story and I think I should go back into English, less the rest of the participants in this thread feel segregated by us the owners of the absolute truth hidden in the tongue of Cervantes.

    Roberth has touched on two of my favorite Bible conundrums: that of interpretation (this is absolute law, this is guidance only, this is literal meaning, this is only alegory) and that of how dated it is as to serve as a current moral standard (Civil/religious marriage was one and only in biblical times). This immediately goes into the argument of Bible errancy/pertinency, but I’ll let that be in order not to derail this thread.

    Now, to clarify my previous argument:
    Although it is true that the moral values of a society are a complex mix of the individuals beliefs and experiences, and the overall cultural and social environment, and that every individual has its own source and set of moral gauges, I still stand on what I said:
    Robert, you base your moral judgement solely on what is written in a book, and that is the road to bigotry. And the reason I call it bigotry is because in order for that judgment to be valid, such book must be considered by everyone as some kind of absolute truth, and that’s were the argument in favor of your position collapses (your position is based on prejudice, the very definition of bigotry).

    If I were to agree to outlaw gay marriage based on your interpretation of the Bible, by the same token I would have to agree to make it legal to marry a virgin girl I raped based on my interpretation of the Bible (remember, a neutral outside observer cannot favor your interpretation over mine, since no one has a claim on Absolute Truth). And then I would have to enforce laws based on the absolute truths of the Quran, the Torah and the Popol-vuh!

    I hope I have made it clear that laws should not be based on somebody’s absolute truth. Which means any current or future law can and should be subjected to questioning, and discarded or modified if we discover is based on mistaken premises.

    So, Robert, you based your argument on Absolute Truth. When pressed by Claudia, Deepak, Laureen and others you changed to an argument from tradition, which has been shown by previous commenters to be also an untenable position (you don’t want me to exemplify here, right guys?). Therefore my original position stands. And holding it, and expressing it doesn’t make me “mean”.

    Wow! I should go to sleep now. There is so much more on my mind but I think it would be largely off topic, so until next time!

    @Lauren
    By the way, and on the topic of no absolute truths, thanks Lauren for your wonderful story which has made me reevaluate my position on gay adoption (a hot topic in my city right now)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    Please provide this source. And why are they no longer recognized?

    Bret Hinsch – Passions of the Cut Sleeve: The Male Homosexual Tradition in China.
    Ovid – Metamorphoses.
    William N Eskridge – A History of Same-Sex Marriage.

    Did you know that 250 million people live in countries that recognise same-sex marriage? Marriage means different things to different people and cultures. I recognise that your marriage under US law is legal. Will you recognise that a gay couple’s marriage under Danish law is legal? If a Danish marriage is legal, or a Californian gay marriage is legal before the law was altered (which they are) then your argument that marriages have always been between a man and a woman is invalid. Clearly they haven’t.

    Why are gay marriages that existed in ancient times no longer recognised? The rise of Christianity seems like a good enough reason but equally the rise of Islam can take some of the blame. It is the imposition of cultural mores from a Middle Eastern, male centric, ritualistic societies onto other cultures through the spread of religion that has hampered the freedoms to live as you will. The “Holy” Roman Empire carries much of the blame for this as do the various Christian European nations with their expansionist policies from 800 to 200 years ago.

    You may have a different interpretation and I’d be interested in hearing it. History after all is not about absolutes but about understanding the evidence left behind.

  • Deepak Shetty

    the propagation of a society and a way to standardize the norms of a culture to provide for procreation.

    I didnt marry my wife to provide for procreation(though we might). I suspect a lot of people dont have procreation as their main priorities when they decide to marry. Considering the ever increasing population of the planet , having people marry (who can’t procreate) is a good thing. These people would also tend to adopt children , which is also a good thing, considering the number of children in orphanages

    Another could be for the preservation of a cultural institution that has served society well for centuries.

    Again this is nonsensical. The same argument could have been made for any traditional practice. There can be no progress and no change with this attitude. Surely the old south would have said that the practice of slavery served society well for centuries!

    I am all for progress, so how is allowing same sex marriage progressing the institution of marriage between a man and a women?

    Because it states that marriage is whenever two people want to do so rather than an arbitary , discriminatory, harmful standard. Surely if you are interested in this topic you have seen cases where denying the right to marry(and hence associated privileges) has caused harm to people? (whereas there is no case that providing the right has harmed anyone)

    The verse you are quoting is not a law for Christians to follow or even a moral code. It is a warning to separate yourself from evil for your own protection.

    Ah yes , ye olde its not a law defense – Its advice to not marry unbelievers. Then the only laws are dont kill anyone and love your neighbour(and the golden rule) per jesus . Why dont you just accept only those laws?

    Also note how you switched “unbelievers” into “evil”. It should tell you something about yourself.

    Oh and if reading from a book which has two mommies is indoctrination, I suppose you are all for banning sunday schools for kids?

  • sven

    As a Christian I base my values on Biblical principles. To the extent that my opinion is based upon my values then it would come from Biblical principles. As for the Bible, I happen to be a protestant, formerly a Catholic, never a Mormon. But I am aware that the Catholics, Mormons and Protestants use the same New testament where Paul talks about homosexuality in Romans so it makes no difference.

    You do understand that all christians have a different view of biblical principles, do you?
    What matters about the different bibles is that every age in history seems to interpret and change/add/forget parts of their bible as they see fit.
    You are doing the same thing, you are adjusting your view of biblical principles to your opinion about the time you live in.

  • Claudia

    @hipopotamo, Kabbalistic? You’ll have to explain that to me some day ;)

    @Robert, I’m afraid you have still failed to give a coherent argument of why you oppose the legality of gay marriage. Or rather, you have admitted it’s because of the Bible, but since you have been made aware that you aren’t exactly pushing for all Biblical rules to be inserted into civil law…

    - You’ve admitted that something being unbiblical does not constitute a reason in itself for it to become a civil law. Congratulations on that, by the way.
    - You’ve backed off your initial argument from tradition argument, which I suspect you made without thinking very hard beforehand how easy it was to dismantle.

    The latest “argument” is:

    Morality in the Bible can coincide with the morality of secular laws and do routinely

    Yes, but given that you’ve admitted that Biblical authority is insufficient, then you’ve effectively admitted that arguments against gay marriage must be made without the assistance of “because god says so”. So here’s the key: you have failed to make any such argument. You’ve said that a biblical prohibition can be backed by good secular arguments, on this I agree, but you haven’t actually mentioned any. Well, that’s not quite right, because you did mention procreation, but that’s a nonstarter unless you are willing to argue that infertile couples, or couples disinterested in children, or elderly couples, should not be allowed to marry. If procreation is the standard, then non-procreative couples should be grouped together. This doesn’t even count the obvious fact that it’s false that gay couples can’t be good parents, which Anna so obviously demonstrates.

  • Robert W.

    Alot to respond to so let me make it brief:

    Pinkocommie,

    So hey – back on topic – I would LOVE to know why interracial marriage (which is antithetical to biblical teachings) is OK while same sex marriage (also antithetical to biblical teachings) isn’t? If you’re going to take a part of something literally, doesn’t it make sense that you must regard the rest of it as literally true also, otherwise you’re very obviously just picking and choosing your so-called divine beliefs to match your own – dare I say it – bigoted beliefs?

    Cite me where interracial marriage is prohibited in the Bible? Also, how is interracial marriage between a man and a woman the same as same sex marriage?

    If you say that it is because they are marrying you they love, then how do you respond to all of the other state regulations on marriage that prevent people from marrying who they love?

    As for the word bigot, that was really my point. The usual tactic with somebody like Laruen is to call Christians who don’t believe in same sex marriage bigots yet they fail to see how they are intolerant to someone else’s views an are thus bigots themselves.

    Timberwaith,

    The study you cite is fascinating. And it does show a trend in this country among young people. Interestingly, that trend is fueled in part by the debate of homosexuality and the Christian stance on it. I view that as information to use on how to convey our message but i don’t certainly see it as a need to change Christian beliefs.

    Hippo,

    Although it is true that the moral values of a society are a complex mix of the individuals beliefs and experiences, and the overall cultural and social environment, and that every individual has its own source and set of moral gauges, I still stand on what I said:
    Robert, you base your moral judgement solely on what is written in a book, and that is the road to bigotry.

    This is an interesting point. I do base my moral judgment on this issue on my Christian beliefs and I do think that it is correct. Others obviously base their beliefs on this issue on their own moral compass. They are equally passionate in their beliefs. If the fact that we are equally passionate in our beliefs and are unwilling to change them makes a person a bigot, then I guess we are all bigots. Don’t you agree? I was only labeled first. But if we base laws on what everyone thinks is moral then we will have a civil law system based upon moral relativism and the whim of individuals, because everyone could say you can’t outlaw my version of what I think id moral. There has to be something outside of what the individuals think is moral. That would have to include the State’s interest, the interest of the common will of the people, the historical data of what has been best for society etc…
    And no you are not mean.

    Hoverfrog,

    Thank you for the cites. I will look for them. I agree with you that currently there are some countries that allow for same sex marriage. I think you would agree that this is a fairly recent development and not indicative of the history of mankind on this planet.

    As for the reasons you give for it not being allowed for years, I am sure that is part of it. I don’t know if Ancient Greece actually allowed homosexual marriage like we are seeing today or if homosexual relationships were common outside of marriage but I will do some research in light of your claim. But the bigger question is this- in history cultures sprang up and died throughout the millenium and in every one the norm was to recognize marriage as being an institution between a man and a woman with limitations. If same sex marriage was what should happen now, why do you think that societies throughout history have regularly and routinely rejected it as the norm?

    Deepak,

    You may not have married your wife for procreation and many couples marry without deciding to have children. However, that doesn’t negate the state’s interest in setting up a structure where marriage between a man and a woman is the institution that provides that purpose. It is also the reason why there are limitations on who even a man and a woman can marry, such as a close relative.

    Again this is nonsensical. The same argument could have been made for any traditional practice. There can be no progress and no change with this attitude. Surely the old south would have said that the practice of slavery served society well for centuries!

    Of course traditions change. When you are talking about overhauling a structure in society as basic as the definition of marriage then those reasons had better be extremely compelling.

    Because it states that marriage is whenever two people want to do so rather than an arbitary , discriminatory, harmful standard. Surely if you are interested in this topic you have seen cases where denying the right to marry(and hence associated privileges) has caused harm to people? (whereas there is no case that providing the right has harmed anyone)

    So its your position that two people who want to can get married should be able to get married just because they want to and the state has no say in it? For example- two cousins who are sterile and can’t have children, three men and five women, two people who want to marry solely for money so avoid immigration laws, etc…

    Ah yes , ye olde its not a law defense – Its advice to not marry unbelievers. Then the only laws are dont kill anyone and love your neighbour(and the golden rule) per jesus . Why dont you just accept only those laws?

    Also note how you switched “unbelievers” into “evil”. It should tell you something about yourself.

    If you are going to quote the bible in your arguments be prepared for proper Biblical interpretation. Yes some of the Bible is law and some is not still other parts are allegory. My interpretation of this verse is correct and not arbitrary. Also, the use of the word evil is correct in the context of the passage. Primarily it was talking about not associating with false teachers and idol worshipers which were considered evil and unrighteous.

    Oh and if reading from a book which has two mommies is indoctrination, I suppose you are all for banning sunday schools for kids?

    We will have a first amendment right to freedom of religion so no I am not for banning Sunday school. If a mom wants to read your child Heather Has Two Mommies at home that is her right. And if you want to call a christian parent teaching their children their beliefs indoctrination, then i suppose that mother is doing the same thing. Frankly, I don’t believe that a parent teaching their kids their beliefs is indoctrinating, I think that it is their obligation and their right.

    Claudia,

    @Robert, I’m afraid you have still failed to give a coherent argument of why you oppose the legality of gay marriage. Or rather, you have admitted it’s because of the Bible, but since you have been made aware that you aren’t exactly pushing for all Biblical rules to be inserted into civil law…

    - You’ve admitted that something being unbiblical does not constitute a reason in itself for it to become a civil law. Congratulations on that, by the way.
    - You’ve backed off your initial argument from tradition argument, which I suspect you made without thinking very hard beforehand how easy it was to dismantle.

    Claudia you are smart enough not to have misunderstood what i have been saying so please don’t try to intentionally misinterpret it. I have been very clear that I oppose same sex marriage based upon my Biblical beliefs. Civil and secular reasons which I have outlined also exist to justify the continuation of marriage being between a man and a woman. Those reasons, although not biblical in nature do coincide with some of the reasons behind the biblical principles, just like alot of our civil and criminal law do.

    The idea that I have abandoned the notion to tradition as being a valid reason is not correct. What I have stated is that the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman has served the needs of society well for centuries and that those that are trying to change that bear the burden of proving why it needs to be changed, with compelling reasons to show how society would be better served.

    So far I haven’t seen those reasons here other then we want to and should be allowed to marry who we love. As outlined above, the state has compelling reasons as to why even those who love each other as a man and women can’t get married in certain circumstances.

    I mentioned procreation as one reason. That reason is not defeated by the fact that some people marry and don’t have kids. The social structure through marriage between a man and a women is still preserved.

    I have enjoyed this discussion. I will be leaving to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    i wish you all a joyous holiday.

  • Claudia

    Claudia you are smart enough not to have misunderstood what i have been saying so please don’t try to intentionally misinterpret it. I have been very clear that I oppose same sex marriage based upon my Biblical beliefs.

    Err, I thought that was what I said. You oppose same sex marriage based on your religious beliefs but admit that Biblical prohibition alone cannot be the standard for civil law.

    Civil and secular reasons which I have outlined also exist to justify the continuation of marriage being between a man and a woman.

    Same sex marriage does not discontinue heterosexual marriage. You keep citing these secular reasons, but the only one you’ve actually come up with so far is procreation, which you yourself dismantle later in the comment. You say there are sound secular reasons to restrict the civil rights of gays and lesbians, but you have not provided those reasons. What are those reasons you keep talking about? You say the state should “preserve” marriage, but then the burden of proof is on you to show how same sex marriage is a danger to heterosexual marriage. Divorce strikes me as a lot more likely candidate for ending marriages, don’t you think?

  • Claudia

    Oh and Happy Thanksgiving :)

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Robert said:

    I view that as information to use on how to convey our message but i don’t certainly see it as a need to change Christian beliefs.

    I don’t expect you and your cohort to let go of your prejudices. Unless someone close to a person is deeply impacted by the prejudice in question, those who truly revel in their prejudice rarely change… and sometimes, not even then. Again, that’s OK, because the ugliness of your prejudices will be your undoing. Generation by generation, you’re loosing ground.

  • Hipopotamo

    Happy Thanksgiving to all from the River Hippopotamus!

  • Deepak Shetty

    When you are talking about overhauling a structure in society as basic as the definition of marriage
    then those reasons had better be extremely compelling.

    What overhaul? Straight couples are still free to marry. How do you not find actual gay people telling you of the harm and hurt they suffer, compelling?

    two cousins who are sterile and can’t have children, three men and five women, two people who want to marry solely for money so avoid immigration laws, etc

    Islam does allow first cousins to marry as well as polygamy. You can marry someone solely for the purpose of money and solely for the purpose of immigration (its immigration that gets denied , not the marriage). But your entire argument seems to be the state does this – well ok , when gay marriage does become law (and trust me it will) – Then I’d like to see what happens to this form of argument (because you’d then be arguing well the state shouldn’t do this!)

    Yes some of the Bible is law and some is not still other parts are allegory.

    And Robert W is capable of determining which is which. Well well what does it matter, believe that too!

    Primarily it was talking about not associating with false teachers and idol worshipers which were considered evil and unrighteous.

    Ah and you agree? all idol worshippers are evil?
    In any case it tells you “be not yoked(i.e. married) to unbelievers(including people who worship the wrong god) – whether law or advice it is wrong or do you disagree? If allegory what is it an allegory for?

    Frankly, I don’t believe that a parent teaching their kids their beliefs is indoctrinating

    Oh everything concerned with religion is not indoctrination , right?.
    Any belief fed to children without explanation or without choice is indoctrination. This ofcourse does not mean that a parent should not teach his/her beliefs , merely that the method used to teach such beliefs determines whether it is indoctrination or not.

    And one final religious argument
    If there really is an idealized version of Jesus (the love everyone , forgive everyone myth) then what would you rather say to him
    “I followed your rules to the letter , even if it meant that some people got hurt/harmed”
    “I disobeyed your rules so that i could help someone out and contribute just a little bit to their happiness”

  • Anna

    Robert,

    I suppose the issue is the intent behind it. Public school teachers and systems are placed in a really tough position when any group tries to use them to teach a certain version of morality. That is certainly the argument for why religious views are kept out of the classroom.

    See, this is the problem. I do not accept your declaration that the existence of my family is a “religious view” that needs to be treated with kid gloves simply because one religion has a negative opinion about it. There are hundreds of active religions, and there are thousands of things that go against someone’s idea of religious morality. Eating pork, dressing up for Halloween, and celebrating birthdays are all examples of things that are taken seriously as matters of religious morality by many people, yet we do not expect the public schools to treat any of them as controversial issues. I refuse to kowtow to anti-gay detractors and pretend that my family is oh-so-controversial and therefore the “intent” of the school needs to be taken into consideration. Dancing is considered controversial by some people, yet you don’t hear calls for public schools to refrain from “endorsing” it.

    Homosexuality is not religion. It’s something that members of one religion have an opinion about, but many members of that religion also have an opinion that the earth is 6000 years old. We don’t expect public schools to cater to every religious whim under the sun. If you want an environment where children are prevented from celebrating Halloween, served only kosher food, taught that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, or told that homosexuality is wrong, then you can find religious schools that will cater to those worldviews.

    It seems to me that children can be taught to be kind to one another, to be courteous and to treat each other with respect without teaching them about God and Christ and without teaching them that it is an equally moral decision to engage in the homosexual lifestyle.

    It’s really very simple. Children deserve to be treated equally. Children from same-sex households deserve to see their families acknowledged and recognized by teachers and curriculum, just like any other child. It’s not a “decision” that schools need to make moral pronouncements about. Just like some children come from adoptive families or interracial families, some children come from LGBT families. There is nothing wrong with the school presenting any of those families in a matter-of-fact way. There are some people who object to any kind of family that isn’t like theirs, but it’s not the job of the school to remain “neutral” simply because Joey’s family thinks Sally’s family is an abomination. Joey’s family might also think that the world is 6000 years old, but we don’t expect the school to remain neutral about the age of the earth.

    The goal should be to teach them to be kind, respectful and courteous, not to accept all decisions as being equally moral. Those type of moral lessons are something that should be taught at home.

    So you’re pleading for special consideration because you believe your deity has a problem with LGBT people. It’s not the public schools’ responsibility to cater to your every religious whim. There are moral lessons that are appropriate for elementary schoolers, such as “families are made of people who love each other.” There is no reason for a teacher to convey the impression that one kind of family is superior to another type of family. “All families are equal” is perfectly appropriate. Just like you wouldn’t expect a teacher to say that one religion is better than another, you would not expect them to say that one family is better than another.

    For example, do you think that the school should undermine a Christian parents moral teaching of their child that the Bible says homosexual behavior is a sin by teaching them that those moral decisions are equally okay as heterosexual relationships?

    Homosexuality is not a “moral decision.” It’s a fact of life. The appropriate role of the teacher is to recognize that students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and to make each of them feel safe, comfortable, and welcome in the classroom. There is no need for the teacher to say that what Joey’s family believes is bunk, but there is also no need to pretend that Sally’s family is controversial just because Joey’s family says it is. Sally and Joey should both be welcomed and treated fairly by the teacher, regardless of their parents’ religious or political beliefs.

    If it is not the role of the schools to teach religious based morality, then it conversely is not the role of the school to undermine that teaching. They should remain neutral all the way around.

    You can’t please everyone all the time. If teachers tried to remain neutral about every single person’s “religious based morality,” you wouldn’t be able to have a school at all. There is no need for teachers to go on the attack against students whose families have minority views, but at the same time, it is ridiculous to expect them to accommodate bigotry or unequal treatment because members of one religion demand it. If members of that religion feel so strongly that their children not be exposed to dissenting views and diverse opinions, they might want to consider private school or homeschooling.

  • sven

    If you are going to quote the bible in your arguments be prepared for proper Biblical interpretation. Yes some of the Bible is law and some is not still other parts are allegory. My interpretation of this verse is correct and not arbitrary.

    Ah.. proper bible interpretation. For thousands of years this has been the reason for murder, torture, war and the splitting of churches. I´m so glad there is finaly a ´proper´ interpretation.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    I agree with you that currently there are some countries that allow for same sex marriage. I think you would agree that this is a fairly recent development and not indicative of the history of mankind on this planet.

    That depends on what scale you look at history over. On one scale marriage is a recent development. On another gay marriage was recently stopped and even more recently allowed again. If you just look at the last 1500 years or 500 years then yes same sex marriage is a recent development at least in the West.

    I don’t know if Ancient Greece actually allowed homosexual marriage like we are seeing today

    I think that this is rather my point. marriage has changed over the years. It is different in America today than it was even 50 years ago. To expect it to be the same 1000 or 5000 years ago is unrealistic. The latest and most recent change in the US is to allow same sex marriage. Don’t forget that the US is only 234 years old so it really is recent for you.

    But the bigger question is this- in history cultures sprang up and died throughout the millenium and in every one the norm was to recognize marriage as being an institution between a man and a woman with limitations.

    I thought that I’d already pointed out that this isn’t the case. In some cultures polygamy or polyandry is the norm. However you are right that man\woman monogamy is typical in many cultures. Of course the West tends to practice serial monogamy rather than lifelong monogamy but that is just another instance of the way that marriage has changed over the years.

    If same sex marriage was what should happen now, why do you think that societies throughout history have regularly and routinely rejected it as the norm?

    Putting aside the fairly obvious rebuttal that they haven’t all done this and so I don’t repeat the previous point about religious indoctrination viewing homosexuality as socially unacceptable I’d say that it might be an issue with numbers. Homosexuality is unusual. Gay couples make up something like 1 in 20 couples (it varies depending on the source) so gay couples stand out as different. You must know that for many people different is the same as bad. We have a name for people like that but I think it has been thrown around enough already.

    Well different isn’t bad just because it is different. I realise that this statement probably ranks somewhere in the top ten of obvious things to say but I really think that it needs pointing out. Gay people exist. They want the same as straight people do, to have society recognise them and not condemn them simply because they are different. I’m happy do recognise gay people and gay marriages. Almost everyone who has contributed to this post is. You aren’t.

    Your reasons so far have been:

    argument from tradition; and
    argument from authority.

    Traditions change and we don’t accept your authority. Do you have any legitimate reasons?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Oh I’ve also noted that you make the slippery slope argument too.

  • Hipopotamo

    @claudia, kabbalistic indeed, should we move to an esotheric forum so I can explain that without getting flamed for talking about serendipity and crazy coincidences?
    Happy Turkey day!!

    @robert I have been enjoying this discussion so much it is almost sinful (tongue firmly in cheek!)
    I completely understand that we are people passionately defending views.

    If the fact that we are equally passionate in our beliefs and are unwilling to change them makes a person a bigot, then I guess we are all bigots.

    This is where I differ. You are unwilling to change because you base your belief mainly in your (absolute truth) Christian text. You cannot let go of that belief unless you also let go of such text (or completely reinterpret it).
    On the other hand, I don’t have absolutes: I base my belief in some other moral compasses, e.g. the golden rule, the well being of anothers, my own selfish well being, utilitarianism, humanism, phylantropism, you name it.
    The difference is then that, as strongly as I defend my position, I am willing to change it, where new evidence were to appear.
    Is the stubborness to hold to a belief in the light of new evidence that makes a person a bigot.

    Example at hand:

    Mexico City aproves gay marriage and adoption,

    …I don’t like the gay lifestyle…

    …but “I don’t like it” is not enough to be against marriage, given the civil rights that these couples will gain (inheritance, debt sharing, etc)

    …so I accept marriage, but vote against adoption on the grounds of the safety and health of the children (pretty compelling reasons for me)

    … My friends call me intolerant, but I stand by my position, the health of the kids is paramount for me and is of more importance that the civil rights of gay couples, and I can cite evidence to support my position…

    … Along come happy people like Lauren, along come my gay friends and my closet gay friends, along come new studies on the sociology of gay couples with kids…all new evidence about the wellbeing of adopted kids…
    … I have new evidence. I cannot ignore it… for if I choose to ignore this evidence just to defend the position I like and I am comfortable with, then I am a bigot…
    …so, I am compelled to change my mind: Maybe gay adoption is not the problem, as much as the environment around it (yes I’m stubborn)

    But if we base laws on what everyone thinks is moral then we’ll have laws based on… moral relativism. …There has to be something outside of what the individuals think is moral.

    And that is precisely Claudia’s point. Civil laws are above and beyond any moral whim, that includes Absolute Truths!

    You don’t like gay marriage and neither do I to a point. You don’t like it because of your religious beliefs, I don’t like it because I find it icky.

    But neither of our reasons are enough for imposing on the civil rights of individuals. We have to come up with better, external reasons, that are enough from a State point of view, as you correctly say.
    So far you have not come with complete and sound reasons:

    Because the Bible says so is not a good enough reason…
    Because tradition says so is not a good enough reason…
    Because procreation is the main point of marriage is not a good enough reason
    Because most of the cultures have gravitated to a traditional marriage structure at one time or another is compelling, but also not good enough (see comments above)

    So far, you have not provided a good, secular reason to ban gay marriage.

    I like it that you are working hard with us here. Happy Turkey Day!

    @Lauren, Thanks for being (albeit unwittingly) the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back on my position on gay adoption (yes, I have eliminated the maybe)
    Happy Turkey Day!

    • Jerrydecaire

      But you don’t require EVIDENCE- like microwave background radiation for an inflationary universe but you need PROOF- to be there at the Big Bang itself to believe.

      The religious analogy to that is your unwillingness to believe in God is premised on your inability to shake his hand or to put him in a test tube or splice him for microscopic examination. There are many evidences for God in observer effects for immaterial consciousness, research showing that intention rearranges the brain, fine balances of the cosmological constants, teleological complexity-you can come up with all kinds of good reasons for believing but you won’t until he shakes your hand. And even then you would likely evoke Occam’s razor to write that experience off as a delusion as that would be the simplest explanation from a materialist’s POV. 

  • Lauren

    @timberwraith

    At first, your words really made me angry, Robert, but then I asked myself an important question: what has Robert accomplished, here? You’ve come to a popular website full of non-believers who are deeply critical of Christianity and you’ve spouted off about your prejudices toward LGBT folk at length. In the process, you’ve given people good reason to continue to hold critical attitudes toward your religion. You’ve given a real, living voice to the negative associations that folks ascribe to your faith.

    +1 to that.

    @Hipopotamo

    My family is the most important thing in my life, and I feel so lucky to have them.

    I’ve been busy in the kitchen all day preparing for the festivities! Meant to check in sooner, but there has been so much to do!

    Happy holiday to everyone!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. For those that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, happy November 25th. My parting shots before I start packing for my trip are the following:

    To atheists, always remember the audience and your intended purpose in posting or placing billboards. Don’t contribute to negative atheist stereotypes. To Christians, don’t get hung up with playing God yourself. Try living and let living and let God sort things out in the end. Be nice to atheists and let people who love each other get married if they want to. If there is a God and he doesn’t like it, then let Him deal with it.

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com/ pinkocommie

    Robert – If you want me to cite the lines of scripture that people used in the 50′s to try to argue a biblical opposition to interracial marriage, I can, but I suspect all that would do is inspire a stream of apologetics that are NOW used to explain these bits of scripture away. And that’s more my point. It seems, from an outsider perspective, that religious people tend to explain away the parts of the bible they don’t like (when it becomes obvious that no one is buying a literal interpretation especially) yet other parts which are equally ridiculous or easily explained by cultural phenomena of the time the bible was written aren’t explained away – they’re accepted in their most literal forms.

    So here’s my prediction – the LGBT community will continue to press for equal rights and over time they’ll get those rights. Once enough time has passed, religions that are anti-gay will eventually accept the fact that their bigotry against the LGBT community ain’t selling, and then suddenly we’ll see groups like answers in genesis and others pop up with shiny new web pages with equally complicated explanations as to why homosexuality was never actually forbidden in the bible in the first place. In fact, just like the issue of interracial marriage, the new spin will read that the only people who ever even claimed the bible said anything about homosexuality being forbidden will have been those nasty, subversive, evil secularists and Darwinists who are hell bent on painting nice, kind, devout fundies as horrible people.

    Obviously I’m using a pretty broad brush in this short little comment and I’m really not trying to beat a dead horse on the subject. You have your views and I have mine and that’s OK. What isn’t OK is trying to pass off beliefs that are based on an illogical source as logical or at all legally viable. Or fair. Let’s not forget how unfair it is to keep people from marrying the people they love.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • Pete

    Robert W said As for the word bigot, that was really my point. The usual tactic with somebody like Laruen is to call Christians who don’t believe in same sex marriage bigots yet they fail to see how they are intolerant to someone else’s views an are thus bigots themselves.

    Robert W is being slippery as rabbit running up and down rabbit warren`s.It is Robert that fails to see nobody is being intolerant of Robert christian view of having his choice to choose not personally being involved in a gay marriage.

    However Robert W is not happy with having his personal choices met.No Robert prefers to vote for law also to help prevent others being involved in gay marriage .Meaning Robert seeks to also rule on other peoples right to whom they marry

    Yet Robert W and his church group would not like it if in future laws were created that made his personal choice of hetrosexual marriage illegal.Robert W and his church group friends, would become very unhappy and tearful if one day Christianity became something thought as being illegal.

    Roberts church group would know the honest meaning of bigoted persecution then, that they make many Gay folk need to suffer from now.

    Sadly Roberts faith blindness cannot allow Robert to start to understand that this would only be a case of the shoe being worn on another foot for a change.

    Robert prefers to try forcing others into wearing the type of shoes he wouldnt like wearing himself ,yet still cant understand the meaning of bigotry.

    But never mind because as timberwraith has already pointed out ,Robert Ws type attitude is already helping slowly bring about the final demise of his own faith.

    If in time to come some of these type Church groups start to bleat loudly about existence of hatered and make suggestion of their own persecution.It will be laughed at by those of us who all know by now, it is the belief of these Church people that combined with use of law, have been used to promote hatered and persecution of gay people for very many years

    Im totally hetrosexual myself, but still Lauren and Anna, let me simply apologize that through the abusive mistreatment of Gay folk, you both experienced the effect of bullying.Thats seems so wrong.

    These blind Church bigots wouldnt ever start to understand the real meaning of this type of bigotry ,unless some new laws were voted for, forcing all Christians into need of also becoming involved Gay marriages themselves.

    Only then might they understand why they need not use laws, to try forcing their need of belief in hetrosexual marriage , on other folk.

    Only then might they start to understand how it is infact attitudes of their own hard line type of faith groups, that are indeed totally responsible for promotion of the universal gay hate that has then infiltrated our society and caused the death and bullying of many over the years.

    These people like Robert W, they all have the stain of much blood and abuse on their hands.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Pete said:

    If in time to come some of these type Church groups start to bleat loudly about existence of hatered and make suggestion of their own persecution.

    Conservative Christians are already doing that and you can see this reflected in some of Robert’s language.

    At the very least, conservative Christianity is a religion that is obsessed with controlling people’s sexuality and personal relationships. They see themselves as living in a world that is awash in satanic influence and brokenness. They view homosexuality, premarital sex, heterosexual cohabitation, divorce, and any hint of openness around sexuality as a sign of the world’s inherent evil and broken nature.

    Conservative Christians embrace the act of pushing back against this “wall of evil” as a natural part of their theology and they view it as their mission to save people from these sinful ways of living their lives. They see it as an act of kindness because they are rescuing people from the abyss of hell and damnation. Consequently, they see the use of tactics we would view as controlling and oppressive as legitimate and rightful avenues in exercising their mission to save others and protect their own people against satanic influence. Hence, they use the law, social institutions, and social conformity to restrict people’s access to birth control, restrict same sex marriage, discourage/eradicate sexual relations between people of the same sex, restrict women’s freedom and autonomy, and discourage children’s acceptance of LGBT peers. This is viewed as caring, Christian behavior that is intent on making the world a better place.

    Any pushback by the larger culture against conservative Christian efforts to control society is perceived as yet another manifestation of evil and brokenness. This pushback is an act against the wishes of God and Christ and consequently, is perceived as un-Christian. Put in another way, the culture’s rejection of social control by Christianity and Christian values is defined as an act of bigotry because it is perceived as a rejection of Christianity as a legitimate means of living. Given that their attempts to control society are also seen as efforts to protect their families and communities against evil, the larger culture’s tendency to push back against conservative Christianity is seen as an act of persecution. It is essentially the larger world trying to forcefully expose good Christians and their families to the perils of sinful worldliness.

    This is the kind of thinking that results from the belief that the world is filled with satanic influences, always trying to tempt depraved, weak spirited humanity from the just and righteous path of the one true God’s “loving” influence.

    • Jerrydecaire

      sounds like a great rant against religion but does nothing to smear God.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    This kind of thinking also results in an unavoidable polarization between believers and nonbelievers because nonbelievers, by definition, are guided by the influence of evil. We have given ourselves over to unclean ways of living. By our very nature, those who have actively and mindfully rejected Christ and God represent a living opposition to goodness.

    I want to make clear, however, that not all Christians engage in this way of seeing people and the world. Conservative Christians tend to, but other flavors of Christianity take a different approach.

  • Mike

    Do you realize how petty this comes across?

  • Kevin

    I like how the author proves atheists are jerks. I’m so sick of them saying shit like they’re smarter than us. They’re fucking ruining our country.

  • Kevin

    If I could kill atheists, I would die a happy man.

    • Kevin

      Okay, I overreacted. Some of my friends are atheists. But their egos and douchebaggery just piss me off. I’m sick of being bullied.

    • Kevin

      Holy crap I’m like bipolar today. I have no clue what’s going on. Please delete these comments I made. Please? I feel really confused.

  • Jerrydecaire

    Okay atheists, you’re smarter and more honest and yet are perplexed as to why people think of you as arrogant? Besides, that’s a broad sweeping generalization as there are many smart and honest people who believe. I honestly believe and I am honest enough to say it.  I’ll never be convinced that a complex colony of organisms that present as one mind and self-awareness and the subjective experience is a stroke of amazing luck. Go ahead and bet on a nag like that at the horse races but don’t think of me as stupid simply because I will not.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X