Memo to Atheists in America: Don’t Ignore Islam

I wish I’d watched Cristina Rad‘s video Raping Islam before posting about how little attention atheists direct towards Islam. (My only defense is that there’s so much amazing content out there, and so little time!)

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In the comments of my previous post, many mentioned their fears of being lumped in with the extremist bigots who hate Muslims because they’re dark-skinned fer’ners or that we’ll inadvertently lend credence to what they’re saying. But if we don’t speak up for fear of being associated with bigots, we leave the bigoted voices to be the only ones being heard in opposition to the damage done in the name of Islam. While Cristina acknowledges this concern in her video, she doesn’t let that stop her from ripping into the Koran’s allowance of rape.  At best, the Islamic holy book prohibits raping the widow of relatives, but makes it clear that raping captured slaves is perfectly allowable.

Another theme for holding back was that Christianity plays a much bigger role in our lives here in the US (where I expect most Friendly Atheist readers live) than Islam does. As Claudia eloquently put it:

Jupiter is far more massive than the moon, but the moon is much closer and thus creates the tides. While Muslim fundamentalists are clearly dangerous, the average American or European atheist will be far more affected by laws and attitudes stemming from the much tamer but much closer Christian fundamentalists. Please understand that people relate more strongly to those things that affect them personally.

I imagine that’s how many people in the UK felt before large numbers of Muslim immigrants moved in and set up sharia courts and fundamentalist religious schools. We shouldn’t wait until Muslims are affecting Americans because who knows when they might…. wait… didn’t… didn’t Muslim extremists already affect American lives…? Oh yeah, that’s right, they did. On September 11th, 2001. Yes, Jupiter is farther away but what if it were to change course and head straight our way? It would demand our attention, just as Islam does today.

Do not think that I’m suggesting all Muslims are terrorists; I’m not. I’m saying Islam affects us, here in these United States. And, yes, all of the things fundamentalist Christians are doing in the US right now are serious and cannot be ignored. I’m not asking you to pay less attention to those issues. I’m ask those of you who are engaged in the atheist/humanist/secular/skeptic movement, those of you who are activists at any level, to take this as one of your issues, to pay attention to what is done in the name of Islam. Pop into r/exmuslim now & again and share interesting threads on your Twitter or FB feeds.  Read the Koran and Hadith so you can know more about the what the texts actually say. Watch more of ZOMGCrissvideos on Islam. Speak up for reformist Muslims when you see them.  Encourage “moderate” Muslims to speak out against fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.

And if you want to help ex-Muslims specifically (while learning more about Islam), donate to Heina Dadabhoy‘s Kickstarter “A Skeptics Guide to Islam.” All remaining proceeds will go into an emergency fund for ex-Muslims in crisis.

About Ericka M. Johnson

As a lover of science and reason, Ericka M. Johnson has an affinity for evolutionary biology and is the president of Seattle Atheists. She revels in any opportunity for a thoughtful debate on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (especially over a pint.) Follow her on twitter @ErickaMJohnson

  • Daily Fail

    Please don’t back up your points by linking to the Daily Mail, they’re like the Fox News of the UK.  They’re racist, sexist, classist (and any other ‘ist’ that you can think of) – I wouldn’t believe them if they told me the sky was blue without going outside to check. 

    • rufus_t

      THE DAILY MAIL SONG – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI
      “Dan & Dan”

      Royals on the first page, swine flu and road rage,
      Find Maddie, foreign baddie, put him in a big cage,
      Bureaucratic red tape, Facebook gang rape,
      Gordon out, Dave in, before the country caves in.
      Ian Huntley gets his own Jacuzzi and a gym in jail.
      It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail.

      Bring back capital punishment for paedophiles.
      Photo feature on schoolgirl skirt styles,
      Binge Britain, single mums, pensioners, hoodie scum,
      Oversexed and under age, foreign stories half a page,
      Criminals get Marks & Spencer vouchers when released on bail.
      It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail.

      Ban this gay smut. I’m not racist but….
      Car crime, knife crime, hang-the-cheating-wife time.
      Pop stars take drugs. Teen boys wear hoods.
      Sports stars have sex. Bears shit in woods.
      Brussels politicians want to stop us drinking English ale.
      It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail.

      Cilimategate, petrol prices, potholes, credit crisis,
      Gypsies, Russell Brand, time we all took a stand,
      Modern art, where to start? Trash the lot of it apart
      From statuette of puppy, fifty quid plus P&P.
      Muslim women hiding stolen goods behind their veil.
      It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail.

      Poles paid to give blood. Immigration like a flood.
      Soft touch British Isles. Cancer from your mobiles,
      Cancer from your laptop, cancer from your root crop,
      Cancer from your shoes, from your dog, from your pen top,
      Immigrants arriving on an unprecedented scale.
      It’s got to be the case if it’s written in the Daily Mail.
      They never mince their words in the good old Daily Mail.
      It’s absolutely true because I gather all my views from the Daily Mail.

      • http://www.facebook.com/shanine.m Shanine Buller

        The good old daily fail lol

    • ErickaMJohnson

       I didn’t notice that Hemant had added the link until you mentioned it. My source for the use of sharia courts and fundamentalist schools comes from other sources. I’ll update the link shortly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/shanine.m Shanine Buller

        They have a form of them for disagreements and divorce etc, but they are NOT legally binding. 

  • rufus_t

    One thing that the Daily Wail article doesn’t make clear (that it really should) is that the only sharia courts in the UK are courts of arbitration rather than courts of law. Both parties have to agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision before the proceedings begin, and if either side doesn’t believe that it’s going to be treated impartially then they’re hardly going to agree.

    There is some precedent to this, it’s hard to find out exactly when the London Beth Din (Jewish court of arbitration, also certifies resteraunts as being kosher etc) was established, especially as their records archive was destroyed in the blitz.

    The understanding that exists is that if the court of arbitration actually tries to enforce the imposition of any settlement that is actually illegal, it would become a criminal matter, where the only courts are secular, the ruling of the court of arbitration would be struck down, and every person who might feel that they didn’t get the result that they wanted from the sharia court would immediately appeal it to the secular courts. The decisions from the sharia court would be rendered so worthless that the court itself would be rendered useless.

    There a few of what might best be described as islamic raving nutjobs in the UK (the many organisations of Anjem Choudary being the obvious examples, he starts an innocuous sounding group, grows a following spouting bigotry that crosses the legal line in the UK, gets proscribed (i.e. banned) under the Terrorism Act 2000 and then returns to the start of the cycle), but given that the Muslim population of the UK is less than 5%, no-one really takes them seriously as a threat to overthrow a local council, much less the government.

    • hoverFrog

      I don’t believe that we should have Beth Din arbitration courts either. We have one law of the land for everyone or at least that’s how it should be. The point being that if two sides end up in civil court over a disagreement then it can be pointed out that prior agreement was reached in Sharia or Beth Din court and that will influence the magistrate’s decision just as if a contract had been produced showing agreement. That might seem fine on the surface but Sharia courts heavily discriminate against women for things like inheritance so any agreements that come out of them are unlikely to be considered fair in a secular society that does not permit discrimination.

    • ErickaMJohnson

       Sharia courts deal with arbitration of issues most intimate to people’s lives, issues like divorce and child custody. In practice, they don’t give a level playing field to the people who are participating and most often work against women. Opting out can be difficult of you’re part of an insular community that pressures you to comply.

      There have been similar problems with community based “arbitration” in orthodox communities in NYC. The infrastructure of the community upholds those who are in power even when they’ve raped a child.

    • Noadi

       Religious based arbitration courts can use religious law only as far as it doesn’t conflict with common law. I may be uncomfortable with them but as long as their decisions are within the law people have the right to use them. Same goes for schools, religious groups have the right to set up their own schools so long as they aren’t using public funding for them.

  • LesterBallard

    I like it when Christians say things to atheists like”why don’t you go to Muslim websites and criticize them; you’re afraid”. I ask them why they don’t go to Muslim countries and proselytize. Go martyr yourselves, assholes.  

    • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

      I agree with your statement and sentiment but the problem is: some actually do go to Muslim countries and proselytize – and some actually do get martyred for it.

      A lot of us atheists go as well – most are atheist in Medecins Sans Frontieres, for instance. But it is true that there are a lot of Christians who do go and risk their lives for a cause.

      And the fact that you recognize that it is dangerous to go to many Muslim countries and do this, and that it mostly isn’t dangerous to go to “Christian” countries and do this, says volumes without you even having to say it. Doesn’t it.

      • LesterBallard

        Yes, some do. And it’s a worthless cause. And some of them do actual, practical good, but it’s always connected to the bullshit. I’ll go as far as to say, just my opinion, that if they, most of them, had to choose between doing the practical good or doing the bullshit, they would choose the bullshit.

        • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

          I agree. I just think it’s best to stay away from criticizing them for not doing that sort of thing when some of them actually do. Like I said with the idiotic ultra orthodox yesterday: there are better things to criticize them for (that was in reference to saving a fruit tree).

  • Lee Miller

    “Rape in Islam”, not “Raping Islam” . . . but it’s an awesome video.

    • ErickaMJohnson

      I expected the title of the video to be Rape In Islam as well but she simply named it “Raping Islam.”

  • Roger Pfister

    “Learning more about Islam” and the Islamic ‘world view’.

    http://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Disrupted-History-through-Islamic

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I really think that articles like this confuse things. Several things are being conflated here.

    Religion is dangerous because it interferes with critical thinking. This is purely on an individual level, although too many uncritical citizens is bad for any society.

    Islam, as an institution, is no more dangerous than Christianity: no danger at all. I don’t care if Islam supports rape; so does Christianity. All religions maintain idiotic dogma, mostly derived from the behavior of societies hundreds or thousands of years ago. It is up to society as a whole whether to tolerate or accept these religious ideas. I don’t blame Islam for trying to create Sharia courts; if it succeeds in a place like England or the U.S., we should not blame it. We should blame the secular system that allows that to happen. In healthy secular states, neither Islam nor Christianity create any problems. Christians and Muslims may, however. But the problems these people create has nothing to do with their religious dogma at all, and everything to do with their inability to think critically.

    In the U.S., our current danger is not from Christianity. It is from a shift in pubic opinion that might make us less secular. That shift is not the fault of the religion, but of individuals with bad ideas.

    I fight against Christianity (and to a lesser extend, other religions) because I think it is morally corrupt, and leads people to behave badly. I fight against theism because the same mindset that allows it to exist is responsible for a lack of critical thinking. And I fight against anything that makes states less secular because I don’t think we’re better off as societies with nonsecular states. These are all separate fights, against different things, that have different impacts.

    • ErickaMJohnson

       Lack of critical thinking is one of the core problems with religions, certainly. I’m calling for people to also pay more attention to the version of dogmatic faith and not-thinking-critically that most often wears the label Islam.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Understood. But my point is that Islam isn’t the problem. The problem is one with any society that allows religion to dictate its legal policy. With a well structured society- democratic and secular- it doesn’t matter how crazy or nasty any particular religious dogma is, since it will not have significant impact on how things operate.

        • ErickaMJohnson

          Your critique is a semantic one. We pretty much agree here. Would you have preferred I used the title “Don’t Ignore What’s Done In The Name of Islam”? 

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            But semantics are important. There is no reason for atheists to pay any attention at all to religion. I would have preferred if you used the title “Anti-religionists: Don’t Ignore Islam”.

            Atheists don’t believe in gods. It is inappropriate to assign to that viewpoint any particular view on religion, other than considering it to be based on false assumptions.

            Anti-theists believe that theism is harmful, and argue against it.

            Anti-religionists believe that religion is harmful, and argue against it.

            Finally, there are those who believe that nonsecularism in government is harmful, and argue against it.

            While all anti-theists and most anti-religionists are atheists, I think most atheists are neither. And both theists and atheists are to be found arguing against nonsecularism in government.

            Simply being atheist is not justification to pay attention to Islam, or any other religion. Confounding atheism with anti-religion in this way corrupts the very idea of atheism (just as the odious “New Atheism” does).

            • ErickaMJohnson

              Read what I wrote again. My call to action is aimed at atheists, humanists, skeptics, and secularists.
              And enough with the “atheist just means you don’t have a belief in god, not anything else” business. You’re not reading this blog if that’s all atheism is to you. We wouldn’t bother with an atheist movement if there wasn’t anything we needed to respond to.

              If people don’t want to do what I’m suggesting, that’s fine. I’m not making demands, I’m calling to action those of us who care about issues where faith affects our lives.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                And I agree with the call to action for humanists and secularists, since this matter overlaps their beliefs. But not atheists and skeptics, in general.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001479218576 Optimistic Lad

        my sister, i want to ask you , 
         Who started the first world war ? Muslims ??

        Who started the second world war ? Muslims ??
        Who killed about 20 millions of Aborigines …in Australia ? Muslims ??
        Who sent the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ? Muslims ??
        Who killed more than 100 millions of Indians in North America ? Muslims ??
        Who killed more than 50 millions of Indians in south America ? Muslims ??
        Who took about 180 millions of African people as slaves and 88% of them died and was thrown in Atlantic ocean ? Muslims ??
        No , They weren’t Muslims!!! First of all, You have to define terrorism properly… If a non-Muslim do something bad..it is crime. But if a Muslim commit same..he is terrorist..
        So first remove this double standard then come to the point !
        now the woman and their rights :) good i want to ask every woman, do u feel that you are cheap, tool for sex, every day with bad man??
        the woman in islam is like a diamond, so she is covered, she is not tool for the sex, the one man who can touch her it is her husband, and the woman covers her face when she goes to market , etc the places in which there are men, so she doesnot cover her face before her brother, father, husband, i am proud taht i know who is my father, and my grand father, :) and the bad traditions dont represent islam, 

        watch this link :
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0f5gsG__II
        Comparison between Western and Muslim Women

        then this :
        http://youtu.be/K-5Zp_oy6n8

        The woman in Islam المرأه في الاسلام

        • ErickaMJohnson

          Pointing out atrocities done by members of other religions does not absolve Muslims of the evil they’ve done in the name of Islam, or because Islam gave them a free pass to do evil.

          Oh, and by the way,  Muslims did take millions of people from Africa, forcing them into slavery.

          Why didn’t Allah tell Muhammad that slavery should be forbidden, that marrying a child should be forbidden, that treating a woman like property is forbidden?

          And no, I am not a cheap tool of sex any more than my partner is. We come to sex as equal partners and enjoy each other’s body with full consent and love. You seem to think only women can be objectified but you are quite wrong. A man’s body can inspire just as much lust. Think on that the next time you allow your body and face to be seen outside of your home by people who aren’t family members.

          If women are like precious diamonds who must not be seen by men’s lustful eye, do not cover the women’s body. Cover the men’s eyes. If the lust resides in men, it is their responsibility to take precaution.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Furthermore, in looking at the underlying ethics of religions, it’s worth distinguishing things done by members of those religions for their own purposes, and things done specifically in the name of religion. That shifts the numbers around considerably.

            When a Christian or Muslim robs a bank, it doesn’t tell us much about the ethics of their respective religions. When they blow up a church or mosque in the name of their god, however, that’s a different story.

          • Boneslittle

            And also,Muslims fought for Hitler

  • Isilzha

    I thought such things already existed in the US.  I know Jewish women are forced to adhere to Jewish laws and customs during a divorce.  I thought the divorce was settled by lawyers according to Jewish law and then the agreement was taken before a judge.  Of course, a woman could choose to insist on secular divorce proceedings, but then she’d likely get shunned by her family, church and community.   I’m pretty sure several religious communities in the US operate like this to some extent.  What about the Amish?  They’re a very closed society.

    • ErickaMJohnson

       Yes, you’re quite right. Those are also awful.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Jewish divorce is like Catholic divorce.  Yes, you can be secularly divorced.  But if you want to remarry in the Jewish faith, if you want children of subsequent marriages to be considered Jewish by birth, etc., you must have a get, or a religious divorce, just as if you are Catholic and wish to remarry in the church, you must get your first marriage annulled. 

  • Octoberfurst

     I really enjoyed the video & she made some excellent points. But I must admit that there is a part of me that is uncomfortable with people denouncing the Koran. Why you ask? It’s not because I fear offending Muslims. It’s because I don’t want to appear to be siding with the raging anti-Muslim bigots in this country. When I see demogogues like Pam Geller trying to whip up hatred and fear of Muslims and trying to get Mosques banned and claiming that all Muslims are potential traitors I just seethe inside.  Muslims make up only about 1% of our population and it would be very easy for bigots to create a climate of persecution towards them. I refuse to be a part of such nonsense.
      But, on the other hand, fundamentalist Islam IS dangerous. In many Islamic countries if a woman is raped she is prosecuted as if somehow the rape was HER fault!   Child brides are common in Muslim dominated lands and in places like Afghanistan under the Taliban girls were forbidden to go to school.   And as we all  know even QUESTIONING  the Koran in Muslim countries can get you a prison term or the death penalty. So yes Islamic doctrines must be confronted.
       So while the threat to freedom in this country is coming from the Religious Right we should not ignore the problems with Islam.  But how to do it without appearing to side with the bigots is the question. I think Cristina Rad’s approach is a good one. Find an area in the Koran to focus on–rape—and ask Muslims why they believe this. The fact that she also approachs it with a wonderful sense of sarcastic humor  is helpful too.

    • ErickaMJohnson

      I understand the desire to not be associated with the bigots. That’s why we need to be deliberate with the language we use. When we speak against Islam, speak against specific problems like the abuse of Muslims. Emphasize that most of these problems are with the fundamentalist side of Islam. And be welcoming of mosques (they tend to be much more beautiful than churches) and religious diversity in general, as long as no harm is being done.

    • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

      I agree about Pamela Geller.

      But my question is: So you’re going to let real bigots determine what you can or cannot do that is right, and what you can or cannot fight against? You’re going to let them determine your actions?

      I’m not and I don’t.

      • Octoberfurst

         You make a good point Summer.  Thanks.

  • Noadi

    You said you don’t want to sound like you are siding with the bigots but you aren’t doing a very good job of it. Decrying arbitration courts that aren’t allowed to violate common law in their decisions and private religious schools and throwing in a cheap reference to 9/11. Sorry, just not buying it. You are holding Islam to a standard you don’t hold other faiths unless you also oppose the existence of  all Christian private schools and Jewish Beth Din arbitration courts.

    I’m not a fan of ANY religion, but I hold all religions to the same standards. One of those being that no faith should have more or less rights than any other. We currently have people in public office in this country who want to prevent any Muslims from having jobs in our government, others who outright declare that Islam should be illegal and all Muslims either converted to Christianity or deported.

    I certainly criticize how women and LGBT people are treated in Islamic countries and how they violate human rights, that is something that needs to be confronted and those countries brought out of the Middle Ages. Those are serious issues that need to be confronted but not by giving in to right wing bigotry and paranoia.

    • ErickaMJohnson

      I am holding Islam to the same standard as other faiths. I am opposed to fundamentalist Christian & Jewish schools because they are teaching hate. I’m also opposed to Beth Din arbitration courts for the same reason I’m opposed to sharia courts. While they typically stay within the law, they aren’t always fair and most often, the people getting the short end of the stick are women because they don’t have equal footing in the community.

      My reference to Sept. 11th is relevant. What happens with dogmatic Islam in other countries ripples out and affects us here. All dogmatic faith is dangerous and I’m asking Friendly Atheist readers to keep another form of it on their radar.

      • Shouldbeworkin’

        It should be pointed out that the people going to the sharia courts are doing so of their own accord, according to the article. If they are dissatisfied with the results, they can always still go to the UK courts. It appears to be similar to arbitration…

        • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

          That’s like saying that women in the UK who don’t want to wear the Niqab can always say no and have that fundamental legal right.

          And of course it always works out in their favor, doesn’t it.

          • Shouldbeworkin’

            “That’s like saying that women in the UK who don’t want to wear the Niqab can always say no and have that fundamental legal right.”

            They do.

            “And of course it always works out in their favor, doesn’t it.”

            You have evidence to the contrary?

  • Edward Starr

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Pat Condell here.  For some years now, he has been a candid and vociferous critic of Islam’s beliefs, its theocratic tendencies, abysmal stance on woman’s basic human rights, the jihadist mentality, and the imposition of sharia law on their congregations.   He has a YouTube channel. 

    • ErickaMJohnson

      Pat Condell is toxic. He’s more about venom and less about conversation. But it’s a conversation we need to have. Their are moderate Muslims and they can be our allies in making change happen.

      • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

        I was actually going to post a piece I had written about Pat today on my G+ stream, but I decided after almost posting it that I didn’t want to bother with arguing anymore.

        My take: I almost never, ever, link to Pat since many years because of the things he supports from time to time (Such as UKIP). And he sounds like Pamela Geller type of anti-Islam lunacy at times. However…I’ve lived and worked in Europe – specifically in France for two years. And after that, I have to say: I sort of understand where Pat is coming from.

        I mostly still don’t agree with a lot of it, but I understand it. And I understand why we American liberals don’t understand it in general, but I have to say that he’s not always wrong.

        I still won’t support UKIP, and I still won’t go around defending Geert Wilders or say that the “Ground Zero” Mosque has no right to be built, but I understand where he’s coming from.

        BTW, I not only lived and worked in France for two years (and speak fluent French), but I also lived in London for a while as well before that.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, orphan

    islam annoys me greatly for several reasons and i never fail to speak out about it when the topic comes up. there are parts i like for the artistic and cultural value, but essentially it’s very hard for me as a queer feminist to accept some of the uglier commands/claims. i also really don’t like the slavery part; “slave to Allah” this and “be a Perfect Slave for Him” that. i work with a muslim who prays all the time and is always reciting this sort of stuff. it’s disgusting. a deity that demands such slavery is not a good one, i think. 

  • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

    You know, I got flamed here the other day for basically saying the same thing in another post about Islam.

  • Johnston

    This article is like a breath of fresh air. As an atheist I always encountered resistance on atheist forums while criticizing Islam. I almost always ended-up being labelled as a “bigot” or “racist”. So I stopped commenting all together, seeing such a gross double-standard when it comes to Islam. The most frequent objection was starting as “yeah, but xtianity too blah blah blah”. WTF? So what?

    This fear some have of being labelled as a bigot while criticizing Islam is cowardice. Tolerating  intolerance is cowardice. It even strikes me as racist, some basically avoid criticizing because of Islam’s apparent “brown people” adherents – nevermind that arabs for example are not brown, and Islam is not a race. When it comes to this, they discriminate on the perceived race of these believers (“brown ppl”), so they’re… racists?  

  • Paul_Robertson

    What a disappointing dishonest attempt to whip up some fear of Muslims. Secular Britains have not been affected at all by the “Sharia Courts” which are more properly described as voluntary arbitration; throw in “fundamentalist schools”, juxtaposed with a gratuitous reference to 911 and all of a sudden we’ve got a portrait of terrorist training camps all over Britain. Is that right?

    • ErickaMJohnson

      Sharia courts do their damage most often to Muslim women and children. I wouldn’t expect secularists to have been harmed by them but I would expect secularists to be opposed to how they’re used to give disproportionate power to men in civil matters like divorce and child custody.

      All fundamentalists schools (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc) are bad. They teach children to hate and distrust people out side of their religion.

      My intention is not to whip of fear of Muslims. Read the rest of my post. What am I asking people to do?? I’m asking people to educate themselves and be better allies to moderate & reformist Muslims.

      • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

        Religious schools may be bad, but attending them is a fundamental right in the United States.  You might as well argue about whether or not the tide should come in.

        Look, in my heart I care about women being oppressed in religions, but this is not Pakistan.  There are options for people who do not wish to follow the faiths of their parents.  

        My primary concern as an atheist activist is to prevent people from foisting their religious beliefs on people who do not share them.  It is not to keep people who appear to *want* to be subservient to a deity or representatives of that deity or other members of their religious community.  If a Catholic woman wants to defer to her bishop, that’s her prerogative as a free woman.  Freedom includes the right to enslave oneself.  My concern is about preventing her bishop from denying access to birth control to women who do not share his faith.  

        • ErickaMJohnson

           I was very careful to use the word fundamentalist when talking about the schools I oppose. Specifically, I’m talking about fundamentalist schools (of any religion) that teach hate and use their religious status to bend or completely ignore rules about the health and safety of the children they’re supposed to be taking care of. Some schools allow children to be beaten. Some remain safe havens for child rapists. They wrap themselves in the “religious freedom” curtain so that no one from the outside can look in and see what’s being done.

          • http://profiles.google.com/tychabrahe Lauren Eve Pomerantz

            Honestly, you’d be accomplishing more by complaining about the quality of homeschooling by fundamentalist Christian parents.  It’s a much larger problem.  You’d be amazed what can qualify as a school in Texas.  I used to work as the tour coordinator for the California Museum of Science and Industry.  Part of my job was sending out tour brochures at the beginning of the year.  The number of schools that were listed as Christian Academy with two, three, or four students was frightening.

            But again, you cannot control what people think or do within their own communities.  In the US, people have the right to hate and to fear.  If they want to create schools that teach hate and fear, they can, so long as they also teach adequate amounts of math and language arts.  You cannot oppose this without tearing down the fabric of the Constitution.  

            So pick a battle where you can actually accomplish something.

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    I’m sorry, but no, Islam isn’t really creating a huge problem for us in the US.  

    Yes, Islamic Jihadists attacked the World Trade Center in 2001 and 1993.  But that isn’t something that atheist awareness would have prevented.
    Here are some ways in which Islam has affected non-Muslims in the US: Muslim cab drivers refusing to carry service dogs of disabled passengers, Muslim cab drivers refusing to pick up mildly inebriated travelers at the airport, Muslim cashiers refusing the handle or scan bacon and other pork products for non-Muslim customers, and Muslims attempting to introduce educational products into public schools that were thinly disguised attempts to convert rather than educate students.

    All of these things were effectively managed by calling attention to them, by working with people like shop managers and those who issue licenses for taxi drivers, and by informing schools.

    We are aware of these incidents, and we have dealt with them, and we will deal with others as they arise.  But they are going to be few and far between, because Muslims for the most part don’t have a sense of privilege in the US.  Islam has never been the dominant religion here as Christianity has been since this nation’s founding, and no one automatically assumes that, for example, a meeting of a government body should open with a prayer, or that all children in schools should be forced to skip lunch because it is Ramadan.  (It should be noted that the taxi and cashier incidents I referenced above all happened in Detroit, where Muslims *are* a significant portion of the population.)

    And I hope that by the time there are enough Muslims in this country that they might consider that they have privilege, that there will be enough secularists to prevent any religious group from exercising privilege.

    • Justin Miyundees

      To quote Tupac, “THUG LIFE”.

  • Clamidia Staines

     Ooooooo!! I’ve never shagged a Fundamentalist!! Anyone who mixes ‘fun’ and ‘mentalist’ has got to be worth a jump! Visit me for racy adult humour at 3w’s clamidiablog (dot] wordpress [dot) com  (Clamidia Staines – Agony Aunt & Sexpert)  xx

  • Danielj1

    Christianity preserves life, Islam takes life if you fail to convert. Christianity invites, Islam demands you join them or else death be upon you. There is a big difference. Islam also demands death of homosexuals, christians, atheists and those who choose to leave them.

    • hoverFrog

      You are aware that the bible calls for the stoning of gays aren’t you? You have read about the Crusades and the Inquisitions, haven’t you? That Christianity exists largely within lawful, secular societies does not make Christianity inherently any more peaceful that Islam. It just means that their are better constraints placed upon it.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Bwahahah! You almost got me.  Whew!  That’s a good one…”preserves life” … you card!  

  • Vagabond

    For the sake of example: what would happen if Jupiter was thrown out of its orbit? The best case scenario is that it’d go floating in space; the worst case scenario is that it’d hit another planet; the catastrophic one is that it’d careen into Earth. Anyhow, the point is not what would happen if Jupiter is derailed, but how to derail it ‘properly’. That said, the problem is not with Islam, it is with Muslims. In this case, they are the orbit of Jupiter. To further my case, take this other amateur example. If you’re presented with a gun and a bullet and asked which one would you conceive as a threat to you? (note that here the bullet is not loaded in the gun nor the gun is loaded by a bullet, they stand alone.) For me, I’d see that the gun represents a real and quite bloody threat because it can be used to thoroughly smash my head, whereas the bullet can hardly match the efficacy of the gun on its own. Islam, in this case, is like the bullet and its adherents are the gun. Not surprisingly, the case is similar with any religion or ideology, they are like bullets who can’t stand on their own without being embedded in the minds of adherents, thus the latter resemble the gun. As I think of it now, though, it seems much more complicated than a simple allegory of a gun and bullet. Anyway, as long as there are Muslims there will be Islam. So, what is the solution you might ask; it is easy, just tweak the gun so that the bullet can’t be loaded in it and thus a certain death would be avoided. Only then do turn your attention to the bullet and ‘thoroughly’ smash it.

    Oh, and by the way, as the late Christopher Hitchens said, in one of his last appearances on video while addressing a young girl, “Don’t forget the love bit.”


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