Atheists and the 9/11 Cross

***Update***: On Monday, July 25th, American Atheists and select individuals filed a complaint (PDF) against people involved with the WTC memorial.

The lawsuit has begun…

Days after 9/11, in the middle of all the rubble, there were steel beams from the World Trade Center everywhere. Some of that debris looked like a Christian Cross and, at a time when people were looking for any sign of hope, that did it.

The person who found the giant cross put it this way:

“I saw Calvary in the midst of all the wreckage, the disaster,” Frank Silecchia recalled Saturday. “It was a sign … that God didn’t desert us.”

I know, I know… It’s not really a “sign.” If God didn’t desert you, where was God when the buildings came crashing down. I’m thinking the same thing. Moving on, though…

That cross is now going to become a permanent exhibit at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. But not because it represents Christianity…

… for all the religious fervor surrounding the cross, it will become part of the museum because of its history at ground zero, not because of its Christian symbolism, museum officials said.

“It’s powerful because it provided comfort to so many people — it is a part of the history of the space,” said Joe Daniels, president of the memorial foundation.

He said steel girders made into other makeshift crosses, Stars of David and possibly some Eastern religious symbols would also become part of the museum, which will open in 2012 and will be primarily underground at the site. The memorial will open this year, on the 10th anniversary of the attack.

Let’s get a few things straight.

1) The cross itself isn’t a miracle. That’s how the buildings were made — with steel girders crossing each other. If you found them in the shape of a perfect circle, maybe that would be worth an eyebrow-raise. Two steel girders hitting each other at a right angle? Not so much.

2) The cross was a symbol of hope for a lot of people. Not atheists. Not non-Christians. Probably not even all Christians. But a bunch of Christians found solace in it and it took on a life of its own. (Kind of like the “Seven in Heaven” phrase stuck to a particular group of first responders who died that day.)

Brian Jordan, a friar in residence at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in New York, is being completely disingenuous when he says:

“This was a symbol of hope for all faith people,” he said. “This is not meant to put one religion over another, that’s not the point at all. We needed friendship and support and that cross was a stimulus to provide that support.”

Right… as soon as he points me to the Muslims who saw the T-shaped girders and found Hope, I’ll take him more seriously.

3) When the memorial opens, the cross will join other religious symbols as exhibits.

That last bit is the part that’s confusing. If they’re including the cross exhibit as a symbol of hope, why bother with the other religious symbols at all? It’s not like a Star of David was found in the wreckage and given the same reverence.

If they want to memorialize the fact that we were all united that day, regardless of our faith, or that people of all faiths (and no faith) died that say, then they should include symbols for all belief systems, including Islam and atheism, By cherry-picking only a few religious symbols, the meaning behind why they’re there is not-at-all clear.

American Atheists is pissed off and they’re opposing the inclusion of the Cross in the WTC memorial, even threatening to file a lawsuit:

This cross is set to be included in the official WTC memorial. No other religions or philosophies will be honored. It will just be a Christian icon, in the middle of OUR museum. This will not happen without a fight.

We love this country, and our constitution. We honor the dead and respect the families, which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died to get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity’s does not deserve special placement just because THEY think the girders look like their religious symbol.

We will pay for our own memorial of equal size inside the museum, or the museum will not include the cross. Equality is an all-or-nothing deal.

It helps to get the facts straight and AA has some things wrong. Officials have said other religions will be represented. They’ve also said the Cross isn’t there to honor the dead Christians. It’s there as one artifact that helped some people grieve. (Whether you buy that explanation or not is another story…) In any case, it doesn’t help AA’s case to go after memorial officials because they think dead Christians are worth more to memorial officials than dead non-Christians.

All that said, I think Dave has a point. If the officials want to include religious symbols in the memorial — for whatever reason they claim — then why reject an atheist memorial of equal size, donated by AA? Atheists died on 9/11 and they were among those saved others.

The Memorial Officials owe the public an explanation of why they’re including certain religious symbols over others. Without that explanation, they’re just fueling speculation that is bound to get out of hand as the tenth anniversary of the tragedy draws near.

American Atheists (and any other church/state separation group) needs to be very careful about how they approach this issue. Just like the “Seven in Heaven” street sign, they’re treading on very thin ice and they have to make sure they’re addressing the legality of including certain religious icons (and not others) in the memorial. They have to do that without denigrating Christians who saw more in that cross than just steel. Sure, you could mock them, tell them it’s not a miracle, and dismiss their entire mode of thinking, but that’s a separate issue than the one AA wants to be focused on right now.

If they’re not careful with their sound bytes and press releases, this is quickly going to turn into a story about how atheists are attacking “Christians who lost their loved ones on 9/11.” That’s not what this is about. AA needs to do everything in their power to not confuse the issues.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://profiles.google.com/tbourqueulc Thomas Bourque

    ‘If they’re not careful with their sound bytes and press releases, this
    is quickly going to turn into a story about how atheists are attacking
    “Christians who lost their loved ones on 9/11.”‘

    It’s probably going to end up that way.

    • http://irrco.org Ian

      Almost certainly.

      Not to mention “Atheists can’t stand the cross so much they want it removed from memorials”, and so on.A bit of wisdom and common sense wouldn’t go amiss at AA. And someone with real PR experience.

      • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

        Not all PR is friendly PR, and it shouldn’t always be as such. What they’re doing is rude in the short term, and possible very damaging in the long term. Personally I think they should fight this one through all the way.

  • scipio1

    Again you nebbishes automatically concede, allowing the religionists to frame the debate.  I guess y’all are happy with getting stepped on.  With this attitude, get used to it.   Wait, you already are.  My bad.

    • Anonymous

      It seems you’re unfamiliar with the concept of choosing your battles.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VTJKKD3UCFRVFX6B65U43B4NRU Joe

    Does ever not end up that way?  No matter what atheist’s say, everyone who is not an atheist will argue that we are angry, insensative, and unAmerican.  There can be no logic that will ever convince people like that.

    • Miss Coconut

      No real logic, that is. These people think they’re being logical, after all.

    • vnectar

      Especially if we go about it by threatening lawsuits.  Wonder why AA didn’t try the “here, we’re donating an atheist symbol to the museum” tactic first and wait for a negative reaction before getting all worked up over this.

      • Ashleymoltzan

        I really like this. This seems to be the friendly atheist response. I would just donate an atheist symbol to the museum. I’m rather aggravated about all the lawsuits. No wonder atheists don’t look so good in the media.

  • http://dramatic-exaggeration.blogspot.com/ WhiteJM

    I’m sure the talking heads are quite capable of making up their own sound-bytes without reality’s help.

  • NCBill

    There were many such memorials around Ground Zero until the clean up started. I’m not surprised that some survived. As a Atheist I chose to ignore it and continue on. Did have the satisfaction of having several ignorant christian’s  removed from Medicals examiners site for there stupid comments about the Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist victims. “If they had know jeebus this wouldn’t have happened!”

    • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

      Curious as the J-man / God didn’t do a particularly good job of saving Christians from the attack. I guess this was all part of ‘his’ plan…

  • Anonymous

    It is obvious they are going for the generic “religious” beliefs and a “cross” represents that. If the memorial takes any tax dollars – I think the port authority still owns the land too – then they have to let in all religions. The only to view it as generic is if you don’t see the obvious Christian privilege.

    If the believers want a cross memorial they can place it on the grounds of St. Paul’s Chapel.

  • Anonymous

    Once again the U.S. government takes something that could bring us together as a nation and they instead use it to drive us further apart. 9/11 showed how religion can be dangerous and divisive, but they insist on continuing to privilege religion in spite of this.

    • Anonymous

      The US Government doesn’t seem to be behind this memorial.  Maybe NY, NJ and NYC are, financially.  It’s hard to be certain.

  • Anonymous

    AA seems to be operating under the idea that all publicity is good publicity and that may even be true… depending on what your motive is. I have a speculation to offer about that too.

    As nonbelievers grow in number, there’s increasing competition among the various national secularist groups for new members (and consequently greater influence). I think AA may have made the calculation that even if, in the short term, an action like this may result in a negative perception of atheism, in the long term it increases AA’s visibility among it’s target demographic, and will resort in greater numbers of atheists thinking of it when deciding to join a secular group instead of its competitors.

    This is, of course, just speculation on my part and I offer no value judgement about the wisdom of this kind of tactic.

  • Mrs. Melton

    The attacks were an attack of religious violence. The absence of the towers is a memorial to the religion and politics of radical Islam. It is a negation, a negativity, that is as powerful a symbol for jihadists as can be imagined. Yet what you’re getting your knickers in a twist about is a presence–a memorial to the religion of the Judaeo-Christians who created it, who found comfort in it, who lost loved ones in it, whatever. I can’t claim to understand this–I’m a tenth-generation freethinker very far outside such supernatural thinking. However, when atheists get more angry about one religion’s symbols than the other, I have to think it’s not atheism at work, but something far worse. 

    • Nathan Palo

      It doesn’t violate the seperation of church and state for outside parties to have religious motivations. It is a violation of church and state if we have religious motivations.

      And what makes you think we don’t object to the attacks on 9/11? We do, thoroughly and constantly. It just isn’t controversial, because we all know it is wrong.

      But when we object to something people like, then it is noticed, even though we are still correct.

      Two wrongs don’t make a right. And if you have one major wrong, and a minor wrong, they are both still wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

      You misunderstand.

      Would you have no problem if the memorial remembered all the “men” who died at Ground Zero?

      If you object, I could say that “men” are representative of “everybody”… but only if you don’t recognize the male privilege that exists.

      Christians assume a cross means something to everyone, and that it’s not exclusionary by its very nature.

    • Erin W

      I’m sorry, “Judaeo-Christians”?  The Christian cross is a symbol of worship for Jews now?

  • alex

    Frankly, though AA has the law on their side, and the morally correct position (in my view) I think this will only fuel an Athiest witch hunt. I don’t think any good can come of this, whether they win or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Why don’t they just nail the remains of a 9/11 victim to the cross while they’re at it.

    • Drew M.

      That is so fucking wrong that I laughed for about a minute straight. Well played!

  • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

    My first thought is that putting this up is a big ol’ fuck you to muslims, with a dichotomy of muslims vs christians. 

    What it SHOULD be is american’s versus terrorists; it should be about us rebuilding, a symbol of american strength, endurance, and grace in the face of all that hit us. For historical perspectives, there should be a picture or 10 of the various beams – all in a single small display with a description of how they got there. Only then could I happily accept a little exerpt about christians finding hope here. 

    Instead, they give us what appears on the the surface a butchering of what the history was, or what it meant to us. 

  • Fraser Januchowski-Hartley

    Why not include the “cross” in a general exhibit – it was there (unlike some of the other symbols they will be displaying), some people were inspired by it. Trying to expand the number/type of people inspired by it is disgusting, and there is no way it should be a centerpiece of the memorial. That would be a concern – if the memorial was specifically and exclusionary religious in nature.

  • Dan W

    Why do there need to be any religious symbols at a 9/11 memorial? That would just serve to make this more divisive than it needs to be.

  • Nathan Palo

    Depending on how it is done, it might be acceptable for them to include a cross. If they are including a museum, with factual information about the attack, and the subsequent rescue operations, they can include it as something that was noticed and used as a symbol of hope. They would have to be very careful to not give it disproportionate attention, but it was something that people found solace in, so it is appropriate to cover it as a historical event.

    But I think it would be much better to make a simple, human memorial. Include the names of the victims, and the names of the rescue workers, and put up a small monument to mark the place and give people a spot to focus their remembrances when new buildings are erected.

    • Anonymous

      This is what I was thinking. Just because it’s religious doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not of historical note. Even if the country became 100% atheist tomorrow, something like that might be worth saving as a remnant of the time, a reminder of the culture. It’s something historians would have a distinct interest in.

      However, as Nathan mentions above, it has to be done very, very carefully. (And it doesn’t seem at all inappropriate to include other memorials in addition for equality’s sake.)

      I’m not sure I actually agree with adding it, mind. In the end this particular object is likely of very little import. But the historical argument isn’t completely without merit, and we ought to at least give it due consideration before immediately jumping to a lawsuit.

  • Bob Becker

    The girders are rubble.  If people want to invest this particular bit of rubble with religious significance, it’s their business.   

    Gotta pick our fights, guys.  This one is not worth going to the mat over. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

      So you’d also be OK with the memorial being dedicated to “all the men” who died at 9/11?

      • Bob Becker

        Will it really say all “the men?” Not “people”? Women died too. A lot of
        them.

        But to answer your question: yeah, probably, on grounds that going to the
        mat over this one has a very low probability of succeeding[ either legally
        or in terms of shifting public opinion] , and a good likelihood of angering
        many who are not in-yu-face Christers.

        There are times when it’s important to fight even if there is not a strong
        probability of winning. This doesn’t strike me a one of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have their Headquarters in Brooklyn, and they neither believe that the firemen are in heaven, nor does the Catholic crucifix have any significance to them (they believe the type of crucifixion historically used at the time of Christ’s death was a single beam of wood without a second crossing it).

    So THOSE Christians have no emotional connection to either of those things.

    But then, they believe that everyone’s dead at judgement day anyway… so… 

    • dog8myhmwk

      Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians because they do no accept Jesus as a deity.

      • dog8myhmwk

        but apparently they have the power to steal the t from not in my post – lol

  • Anonymous

    According to al-Qaeda and bin Laden 9/11 was a response to U.S. support of Israel, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq.  Part of the support for Israel is religiously motivated and much of the hostility that al-Qaeda have is based on a particularly violent interpretation of their religious texts.  Religion was certainly a powerful motivator for 9/11 but here we have a bunch of Christian morons who seem to have rather missed the point and want to push their religion as the comforting solution to their problems.

    Don’t they get it?  Honestly are they really that stupid?  Surely 10 years of war and bloodshed since 9/11 is enough.  Can’t they get it through their thick skulls that we have a lull in hostilities and an opportunity to reconcile our differences?  No, of course not.  They’d rather build an offensive monument to their righteousness and fuck what anyone else thinks.

  • Anonymous

    I’m fine with displaying it in a museum. It is a piece of history as it played out on that day. I’m not okay with it being part a memorial designed to honor all people who died on 9/11 because that is grossly improper.

  • Dan B

    Can they display the “cross” in the non-traditional direction? Upside down or sideways? Or at a 76 degree angle – something arbitrary. It IS just a piece of metal. Surley they can hang it in any direction. Perhaps it was the opposite direction when it was part of the building anyways….

    That I would be fine with.

  • Fester Sixonesixonethree

    American Atheists would do far more good if they would sue to include the Atheist symbol with the religious symbols. Instead they (again) act on knee jerk reactions and do more harm than good. AA’s coming off like a bunch of bullies and thugs. Again.

  • Red

    I’m fairly certain that the cross in question was cut out of the rubble, and away from the rest of the debris, by blowtorch wielding workers as a routine function of the salvage operation.  It’s not as if this ‘cross’ was formed solely from metal shearing apart as the buildings fell down.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a worker deliberately cut some of the pieces to specifically make a cross shape.

    I get that it gave comfort to people who saw it.  What I don’t get is why this bit of what is essentially pareidolia should get special treatment.  It would be like trying to put a cloud in a museum because I saw one that looked like my grandmothers face on the day she died.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7GCOYVIHZLSKPC4QPK2OT2SVKA bryan

      for the record

  • Anonymous

    I also think this is an extremely stupid tactical decision on the part of American Atheists.   It would be much better to donate some symbol of American non-believers (perhaps a plaque with an apropos Jefferson quote or something like that) and push for its inclusion among the display of other religious symbols.

  • Anonymous

    I also think this is an extremely stupid tactical decision on the part of American Atheists.   It would be much better to donate some symbol of American non-believers (perhaps a plaque with an apropos Jefferson quote or something like that) and push for its inclusion among the display of other religious symbols.

  • Erin W

    Ah, yes, the good old non-religious religious symbol.  I mean, everyone takes comfort from Christian iconography, right?  The privilege blindness here is astounding.

  • jpmoney

     I suggest you all read the actual briefs filed.  It lists the option of having a display that has multiple religions artifacts as a possible out come.  One of the primary complaints levied though is the fact the curators and owners have prevented services/memorials by the plaintiffs for those that are non-christian though they allowed multiple christian memorials to take place.  So it’s not just the lack of other religious symbols, but more of a lack of inclusion on multiple levels.   This of course will be a shit storm, but it seems from the brief that the parties involved have tried multiple times of the last few years to be included with no response from the defendant, so really this is anything but knee jerk. 

  • frizzlefrazzle

     He said steel girders made into other makeshift crosses, Stars of
    David and possibly some Eastern religious symbols would also become part
    of the museum
    What, no Islam symbol?  Surely, outside of the terrorists, there were Muslims that died that day, too.  I mean, I know that by no means should a Mosque be built a few blocks away, but since we are making a museum out of this, with religious symbols, might as well include them all.  Surely no one would object to Islams representation.

  • Gibbon

    I still don’t understand why a cross is such a big issue in America. In New Zealand where I live, small white crosses are found along the roadside to indicate where someone has died in a motor vehicle accident. No body gets worked up about these little white crosses, so why do so many people get worked up when a cross is erected in any public place in America?

  • Grimwyrd

    I’ve seen a lot of people say that we shouldn’t fight about the “Seven in Heaven” and this “cross”. But the bottom line for me is that 9/11 was a religious act. It was a religious act that brought those buildings down, a religious act that killed all those people (including the “seven”), a religious act that created the rubble.
     
    Celebrating or memorializing this act (or the response to the act) in a religious manner is in such poor taste and bad form…that it makes me sick to my stomach. Leave religion out of the memorial and send the “cross” on the road or to some church or build a separate Chrisitan memorial.

  • Ulrike Dunlap

    They found a cross in the rubble? Wouldn’t that mean that he wants them to know that he had a hand in what happened?

  • Ronin_onthemove

    Ok. I am agnostic, which means I share some of the same DNA, but lets look at this with rational eyes. If the atheists want to be appeased, then just look at the empty space to the left or right of the cross, and that’s your memorial……

    Just saying……..

  • Carmen Zepp

    Doesn’t funding make a huge difference here? Everything I have found indicates that the museum has been privately funded. It hopes to get some federal funds, but so far (again, from what I can glean via google) it has not received any. So if it is indeed the case–that the museum is privately owned by a non-profit org.–then it has every right to put up whatever it wants to.

    (And even if it does, eventually, receive some federal funding, AAI would be hard-pressed to argue against it, seeing as federal funds are doled out to faith-based orgs all the time.)

    Sorry, AAI, as much as I like you guys, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here and the only result of this lawsuit will be additional mistrust of atheists–and FSM knows we don’t need any more of that.

  • Quesita

    Yeah.  I’m pretty sure you’re right.  That is how buildings are built.  It probably wasn’t a sign from God to give hope or comfort or to wave hello to the workers.  But it is harmless.  If you want to see a t, you see a t.  If you want to see a cross, you get to see a cross.  And it will certainly bring some people comfort. 

    Some commenters have suggested that it may offend the families of the Muslims who died in the WTC.   I don’t think so.  Muslims like Jesus quite a bit, but they sort of shake their heads over the whole cross thing because they don’t think Jesus died on a cross. Muslims have enough to be offended by these days. 

    As for the Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and Atheists and everybody else, it is a much-photographed piece of a building that once stood.  A building I spent a lot of time in.  Looking at it might make us feel a little closer to those who survived.  And those who didn’t. 

  • Quesita

    Yeah.  I’m pretty sure you’re right.  That is how buildings are built.  It probably wasn’t a sign from God to give hope or comfort or to wave hello to the workers.  But it is harmless.  If you want to see a t, you see a t.  If you want to see a cross, you get to see a cross.  And it will certainly bring some people comfort. 

    Some commenters have suggested that it may offend the families of the Muslims who died in the WTC.   I don’t think so.  Muslims like Jesus quite a bit, but they sort of shake their heads over the whole cross thing because they don’t think Jesus died on a cross. Muslims have enough to be offended by these days. 

    As for the Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and Atheists and everybody else, it is a much-photographed piece of a building that once stood.  A building I spent a lot of time in.  Looking at it might make us feel a little closer to those who survived.  And those who didn’t. 

  • Anonymous
  • Peter Fisherman

    Sign Petition: ” Protect 9/11 cross @ Ground Zero”
    The issue is that the atheists don’t want this “chance formation of the cross” in the 9/11 Museum. Does that mean the Metropolitan Museum of Art must remove all of the Religious paintings of notable artists down through the ages? That would  leave a very large portion of the Met in poor shambles. That would have to include the section on Greek Pagan Gods, which are religious artifacts too! This lawsuit is not a lawsuit on a Museum piece as is stated, it IS an attack on Christianity, and in my opinion all religions.
    As an art restorer in my past, I can say that the 9/11 Cross is being blocked from Ground Zero  Museum! Museums preserve  history.  Yes the Cross may be religious, but it is still part of the history, and the story of 9/11. Fr. Mychal Judge was highly regarded by the firemen. He was the Firemen’s Friar.  He remained with the firemen in the Towers, until their death. The Firemen who survived gave Fr Mychal Judge “Victim 0001″.  Fr. Judge and the Firemen were able to be courageous because of their belief in the Truth of the Cross.  Whether one believes in it or not, does not matter, that IS part of the history and story of 9/11. It is still part of our culture today.

  • Soo reneccs

    Heroic deeds arose on that historic 9/ll crisis moments,

    Heroes were made and forever lived in memories

    Of their loved ones they left behind and to

    Many they had helped to live another day.

    Myopics that have dreams of sacrificing themselves and
    innocent victims,

    Does hate justify the means?

    Principles and preferences are prerogatives,

    However, remember perceptions on causes/religions will rely
    on

    Reflections of the representing followers on how they displays
    to propagate it.         

    Like a black dot on blank white paper,

    Perpetually, people primarily always noticed and

    Focused on it first, forever remembered the permanent stain.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7GCOYVIHZLSKPC4QPK2OT2SVKA bryan

    To understand the establishment clause you first must understand those who wrote it. A good part of the founders were both post-enlightenment thinkers and Freemasons. At the heart, they were Deists, and not Christians in the modern sense. Although some thought of themselves as Christians, like Jefferson who wrote his own Bible to coincide with Masonic beliefs, their view of God is very different. He is the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Builder. Deists have a distanced view of God, but were still in awe of the wonders of Him. This is their position. Add that to the historical knowledge of the Inquisition, indulgences and the establishment of the Church of England, you can see why they chose not to have an established religion running the state. This is the mindset of the founders.    
    I don’t believe that the cross is part of an elaborate plan to institute a state religion, so the lawsuit fails to meet the arguement of the establishment clause.  AA needs to stop crying; atheist represent a small minority in this country and the world, much like democratic socialists and neonazis. They should not be given equal representation in the political world. (That’s why Germany’s Parliment is full of small gridlocking parties.) I’m not saying that they should not be heard, but just not hold equal standing. Anyway, why would it matter that anyone died or what symbols are raised in honor to them, they are just part of the random sequence of actions in this small part of the spontaneously created universe. Their death’s are insignificant…correct?
    As for me, I welcome the cross as what it really is.  John chapter 3

    • Anonymous

      Bryan, are you suggesting that rights can be trampled over simply because they belong to a minority?  You know that black people represent a small minority in America.  Should they also not be given equal representation?

      Anyway, why would it matter that anyone died or what symbols are raised in honor to them, they are just part of the random sequence of actions in this small part of the spontaneously created universe. Their death’s are insignificant…correct?

      Do you really consider their deaths to be insignificant?  Do you think that they are insignificant for their relatives and friends?  Do you think that your life and death are insignificant?  I suppose that is simply a product of a religious upbringing.  We atheists value life because we know that it is the only one that we have.  There are no second chances.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7GCOYVIHZLSKPC4QPK2OT2SVKA bryan

        Before you argue the slippery slope, I still do not see Christianity as the government religion, nor do I want to. The was a bit of tongue in cheek it my statements. First, I would hardly equivicate the treatment and history of blacks in America to the treatment of athiests. In fact, history shows that extreme beliefs, whether religious, political or cultural can have devistating and cruel impacts on society. Examples…the Inquisition, witch trials, the Holocaust , communist genocide, Congo tribal massacres, the list goes on.  People can be very cruel when they allow their beliefs to override the basic human rights of others, regardless of the reason.

        Why must tolerence mean that someone else must change their behavior. Christians can belive that the cross was a sign that God was present and would give them hope in darkest times. Athiests can look at it as a testament to the crazy beliefs of Christians. Have a sense of humor.  Noone has moved you to a work camp yet.

        Now, on the second subject, of course I find their lives of value. My statements were really a satire of atheistic beliefs. If there trully is no higher power, no reason for life, then yes, their lives and deaths have no meaning and are of no substance. That is not what I believe, but it was meant to question what others believe.  Hope that clears things up. 
        “A product of religious upbringing”…really? How close minded. For the record, I was raised Catholic. Never serious. Was and agnostic and am now what you would call a progress Christian. I am college educated, read a lot of history and will openly discuss any aspects of apolegtics that you like. Not trying to convert, only clear misunderstandings and pose arguements for the sake of pondering.

        • Anonymous

          I wasn’t arguing a slippery slope, I was demonstrating how distasteful your comments were by altering the group you were aiming your comments against.  It’s a useful way to see if what someone says is bigoted or not.

          Why must tolerence mean that someone else must change their behavior.

          When your behaviour is intolerant then if is the behaviour that must change in order to be tolerant.  Surely this is obvious.  Some Christians see some kind of symbolism in some fallen metal.  That’s great, I’m happy for you, just don’t foist your beliefs on others by insisting that the symbolism represents everyone.  It does not.

          If there trully is no higher power, no reason for life, then yes, their lives and deaths have no meaning and are of no substance. That is not what I believe, but it was meant to question what others believe.  Hope that clears things up.

          In what way is it meant to challenge what others believe.  Who believes this?  All you are doing is repeating a tired old cliche.  Why would you do this if you didn’t buy in to the stereotype?  For me and for some other atheists the idea of a “higher power” robs life of meaning.  If a Deuz Ex Machina is jerking our strings then we don’t really have a life of our own.  If we’re all just operating according to some divine plan then how are we responsible for our own lives?  How are the lives of others meaningful if they can be snuffed out at the whims of some capricious deity?

    • Relaxgerald

      The constitution protects the minority from the majority not the other way around.


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