If the Evansville Crosses Are OK’d by a Judge, Get Ready For a Secular Art Exhibit, Too

The city of Evansville, Indiana, recently approved the public display of 30 eight-feet-tall polyethylene crosses along the riverfront. The church that wants to erect the Christian symbols says that they’re not intended to promote Christianity; they are to be interpreted as an art display, because the crosses will be painted and decorated by the church’s Bible-camp kids. Plus, the exhibit is only temporary, scheduled to open on August 4th and to close just 12 days later. No biggie, right?

I’m not so sure. In my post about the initiative, I concluded

There’s a certain nose-thumbing aggression about erecting dozens of downtown crosses as tall as a room; and there’s an unmistakable whiff of chutzpah in the twinkle-eyed assertion that they’re works of art rather than three-dimensional billboards for Jesus. If the legal departments of the ACLU or the FFRF feel the same way, we haven’t heard the last of this.

This week, the ACLU did indeed get involved – by filing a lawsuit against the city.

Two Evansville residents on Tuesday asked a federal judge to block the city’s plan to allow a local church to erect 30 eight-foot-tall crosses decorated by Bible school children on public land along the Ohio River.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit on behalf of Chris Cabral and Nancy Tarsitano in U.S. District Court in Evansville. ACLU attorney Gavin Rose said the plaintiffs, who are not related, both live near the popular riverfront greenway where the crosses are to be displayed for two weeks in August.

The ACLU believes it has a strong case. Rose pointed out that

“… the Supreme Court has consistently held that displays of religious symbols on public property violate the separation of church and state when a reasonable person looking at those symbols could conclude that the city was endorsing religion in general or a particular faith.”

But the city’s attorney, Ted Ziemer, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Evansville previously allowed displays of all manner of painted animal statues and drew no complaints, he says. (Deliberately or not, Ziemer sidesteps the central point: that those other exhibits were not an apparent endorsement of religion.)

Beyond putting out a press release, the ACLU has been amazingly tight-lipped about the affair. (I put in six or seven phone calls this week, both to the Indiana office and to the organization’s New York headquarters, and got no response.)

I did, however, hear back from Rebecca Markert, an attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I had asked her if, legally speaking, it made any difference that the display of crosses was only temporary. Markert said no: the Establishment Clause applied equally to temporary exhibitions of religiosity and permanent ones.

“It’s illegal for a government to put up a sole display of a nativity scene — also an inherently religious symbol — on public property. Those displays are temporary as well. There is also case law that prohibits the government from erecting crosses as part of Christmas displays. In our view, a display of a powerful, sectarian symbol such as the cross on public property is illegal.”

I also asked Rebecca whether she’d be mollified if the city made it clear that other faith and non-faith groups may erect large temporary symbols on Evansville’s streets, too.

In that case, she said, FFRF would apply for a permit to create its own display: “We did submit an open records-request to determine the policy and procedure for that scenario. Should that be the end result, FFRF will put up something to counter these crosses.”

Her group has reached out to the ACLU of Indiana to offer any assistance with the current lawsuit.

But not everyone interested in this case thinks that legal skirmishes are the way to go. I’ve been e-mailing with Evansville resident Zac Parsons, a humanist and a reader of this site. He’s more of a bridge-builder than a scorched-earth warrior, and he even took the time to go meet some of the people behind the crosses initiative. He likes them a lot and blogged about it:

“The spirit behind these statues is as genuine and pure as it gets. I’m still not sure whether I support the statues or not, but [post-visit] I feel much more informed about the people involved in this story. … No matter what, I hope that the next steps will involve calm, rational discourse about the appropriate place for religious icons in a community’s public spaces, and that Evansville can be a shining example of the ideals of Interfaith in action.

Parsons added in an e-mail to me that

“While the ACLU getting involved was inevitable, I don’t see it as peaceable, long-term solution. However, I am glad that the two individuals who coordinated the filing of the lawsuit have stepped forward. I’m trying to reach out to them to get some more background on their goals with the lawsuit. Perhaps we can broker a meeting between the church members and the litigants to discuss what would be best to do on behalf of the community.”

But most people who cared enough to weigh in on the issue don’t seem to see it that way. They want no part of the crosses. Poll results published in the Evansville Courier & Press aren’t even close: of 5,390 respondents (and counting), 4,864 are opposed to the display. That’s 90 percent.

Then again, this matter is not a popularity contest. A judge is going to decide whether the crosses will become a reality. If the verdict is yes, other groups should feel free to start making their own exhibits.

Consider this your cue, atheist artists and designers. Got ideas for a secular sculpture show in Evansville? Share them in the comments!

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Christopher Borum

    Fashion a bunch of 20′ “A”s and have Camp Quest kids paint them. Art, voila!

    • B

      I say in stead of “A”s it should be a bunch of giant “I”s, each one placed between a pair of crosses.

  • Donatello

    That poll was pharyngulated, it makes no sense to use it as a measure whether residents of Evansville want this display or not. http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/06/23/big-ol-shameless-liars-with-a-poll-for-jesus/

    • randomfactor

      And it made no sense BEFORE pharnygulation either. Which is the point.

    • velveteenRabbit

      hahaha, thanks for that! I was totally startled by those poll results…. thinking to myself… in INDIANA??? lol now it makes sense.

    • Terry Firma

      Thanks for the link, that does help explain the lopsided result. Note, however, that my post says the poll respondents were “people who cared enough to weigh on the issue.” It didn’t say “citizens of Evansville.” I just checked my ass, and it is sufficiently covered! ;-)

      • islandbrewer

        I just checked my ass, and it is sufficiently covered! ;-)

        Good! I would hate for you to offend my delicate sensibilities! *fans self and clutches pearls*

  • Lina Baker

    “Got ideas for a secular sculpture show in Evansville?” Statues or busts of Darwin, Hedy Lamar, Xenophanes, Diagoras of Melos, Étienne Dolet, Voltaire, Confucious, Jean-Paul Sartre, Carl Sagan, Douglas Adams, and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton. And they can be decorated by the kids from Camp Quest.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      And how about Gene Roddenberry?

    • randomfactor

      I think that’s a mistake. The central theme of the bad project is variations on a religious symbol which enhance the symbol. I’d rather see something like chalkboards, each with a different scientific formula or diagram painted on them. F=MA. Pi, Phi, and e. The musical scale. Archimedes’ spiral. (Alas, they couldn’t be real chalkboards, since they’d attract Christian graffiti. Something coated to be graffiti-proof would be nice.)

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      A whole bunch of torture devices, painted prettily by children. The rack, wheel, iron maiden, and crosses belong together. Possibly execution devices like the electric chair (not really electrified) and guillotines (also non-functional).

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    I understand Zac’s wish to be a “bridge-builder.” I wish we didn’t have to go after stuff like this tooth and nail, too, but if we ignore it, it just gets held up as an example that this is a “Christian nation.”

    “The spirit behind these statues is as genuine and pure as it gets.”

    I glanced at his blog, and I still can’t quite figure out what he means by this. I don’t think anyone thinks that the erection of Christian symbols isn’t generally intended in a “genuine and pure” way. Christians put up these symbols because to them, the symbols have a very deep and profound meaning. But that doesn’t make it right to do it. The problem is more that Christians genuinely and purely don’t get the problem, which is that having crosses or Ten Commandments monuments or whatever erected on public land gives the impression that the government is endorsing a particular religion. It really doesn’t matter if the intent is “nose-thumbing” or “pure.” It’s simply not right, and towns will go right on doing this sort of thing if the ACLU and FFRF don’t argue about it.

    • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

      Hi MargueriteF,

      I appreciate the tone and thoughtfulness of your response. It could very well be that we are in agreement on this.

      I absolutely share your belief that many (most?) Christians genuinely and purely don’t get the problem. It’s great that that the ACLU and the FFRF have gotten involved, it truly is. But it doesn’t help Christians to understand the problem (IMHO), at least not to the level that it could be with calm, rational conversation bathed in a spirit of empathy.

      It’s nothing close to easy, but it’s one of the highest aims of humanity, and humanism at its best.

      The easiest way to close someone’s mind is to stand in opposition to them in any manor other than love.

      • Kodie

        “Dear Christians,

        Please stop shitting on the Constitution.”

        Love,
        Kodie

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I disagree, actually. Some people respond best to gentle, kind, compassionate persuasion. Some people respond best to the shock treatment of ridicule (of ideas, not of people). The very idea that people might think religion, or even their particular religion, is not wonderful can be a life-altering event. Every movement, everywhere, has “nice” members and “mean” members, and they both serve valuable purposes. If we were just “nice” about monuments to a single religion on government property, we’d never get anything done. We need the “mean” people, the ones willing to go to court and put their alienation and hurt on display, to get things to the point where a conversation is even possible. Otherwise, we just get shut out altogether.

      • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

        I tend to agree with Feminerd, Zac. It would be wonderful if we could always open people’s minds with gentle, courteous, rational discussion, but sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. The problem is that a lot of people’s minds are already nailed shut, and polite discussion isn’t going to pry those nails loose. Sometimes a fight is necessary, unfortunately.

        • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

          Hi again,

          I think that I am doing a poor job communicating here. To be clear, I AM in support of the ACLU and FFRF getting involved, even if it just sets a polarity for secularists.

          I just feel that there is also room (and need) for a more open approach that takes a more empathic view on “why” these crosses would be considered a good thing for someone who cares about his or her community.

          My thoughts are coming out a bit jumbled, but here’s another one: I can’t think of an issue that I’ve changed my mind on through someone else fighting me on it. When I finally did change my mind, it was through my own exploration, where I did not feel threatened or the need to be defensive. Am I way off here? Can you help me to see how a fight is going to change any hearts and minds?

          Thanks again for the amicable discussion. As you can guess, it is quite important to me. :)

          • Kodie

            I find it really difficult to understand why they are so anti-America. They have been led to think this is their freedom, but it’s not. How do we lead these CHRISTIANS to a place where they have empathy for anyone but themselves? I’m convinced they play polite, and they play dumb. “Oh, we didn’t know anyone would mind, why would anyone mind? It’s a beautiful symbol of love and forgiveness” and oh, fuck that shit already. I realize people’s trap minds are hard to change, but letting them build a series of torture devices on public property, like, letting them, with all their beautiful fucking intentions, just say no. Just say, “No, you can’t go that far.” If they can’t figure it out, if that makes them hate atheists, if that means they are all persecuted about their freedom of expression, they’re still in the wrong. Why should this be our burden to pussy-foot around their tender feelings?

            As for

            I can’t think of an issue that I’ve changed my mind on through someone
            else fighting me on it. When I finally did change my mind, it was
            through my own exploration, where I did not feel threatened or the need
            to be defensive.

            Knowing this about yourself, you should know better when it happens in the future. As for these “pure love” and “bathed in empathy” thickly-padded, slow-moving gestures, they think ZERO about anyone else. They have ZERO empathy for anyone else’s freedoms. I don’t care if we shut it down and they pout and they learn nothing. That’s just the way it is, and that’s that. Your language isn’t mixed up, it’s just way too soft. You want to sneak up on it and give it a dozen roses just for having good intentions. I do not think it’s possible to have a gentle AND productive conversation about the crosses with these people. Because the children will be so disappointed! They are absolutely incapable of understanding the English language with regard to their privilege without crying persecution, so I would just not indulge these children. This is how they describe god – god doesn’t answer prayers like “this” or “that” because he knows what’s best for us. In this case, we know better than they do. They are listening to some other chatter propaganda about their freedom of expression and how persecuted they are if we don’t let them have their way. It’s the tough love. Tell them god said it didn’t seem like a winning idea, and see if they just accept it and pray.

            • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

              I think that maybe we won’t agree on how to approach this. If you truly “don’t care if we shut it down and they pout and they learn nothing”, then we are coming at this with different values. I want to learn something, and I want them to learn something as well.

              • Kodie

                I used to want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony too, but I guess I don’t anymore. At this point, the law is the law, and shame on all these people for not knowing it by now. They get by on the same faux ignorant, selfish, passive-aggressive attitude for decades and dare us to confront them, and then they get pissed when we do, and then we have all these atheists say we should, some say we should just find something more worthy to care about, be polite about this stuff and try to find some middle ground. The middle ground is they don’t put these crosses on public property and get away with thinking there’s nothing against the law about that.

                I know people get defensive when you come at them, why do you think I’m so defensive now? They keep crossing the line. No time they get pushed back over the line have they learned what is absolutely unconstitutional about crossing it, and they just keep coming up with new ways to ignore the law as if it doesn’t apply to them. Elected officials have some nerve helping them ignore the law like that as well. It is damn time to just shake them. If they can’t stop breaking the law, just unbreak it for them, no commentary, just “no, you can’t put that here.” You can put them all on your front lawn, but you can’t put them in the park. The park is for everyone, and people who aren’t Christians live in your town, they live everywhere in America. It’s not some liberal outside group coming to take your toys away, it’s people in the community contacting an agency so they don’t have to fight these bullies by themselves and endure likely harassment or worse.

                I have given up on them understanding, but I see you haven’t yet. I am not sentimental about their intentions, that just doesn’t matter, it’s an appeal to emotion.

                • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

                  Hi Kodie,

                  In my opinion, intentions matter a great deal. If your intentions are pure and your execution is poor, then the execution can be adjusted. It seems that you and I disagree on the intentions of these folks.

                  It is my understanding that these people want to love and serve the community that we share. It is also my understanding that the folks that brought about the lawsuit want to love and serve the community that we share as well.

                  I’m not opposed to the lawsuit, I just want to pursue another path that I believe will have a greater long-term effect.

                • GCT

                  Intention isn’t magic. If their idea of “lov[ing] and serv[ing] the community” is pushing their religion on others in a bigoted and illegal way, then too bad. No civil rights movement has ever won by being polite.

                • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

                  I’m sorry if it’s coming across that I just want to be polite. What I want is for our community to be respectful and empathic. If you are right and these folks are simply bigoted, then it will be evident, and the negative response will be deserved. But if they want to pivot and change the nature of the display to better serve the community, then shouldn’t that opportunity be explored?

                • GCT

                  I have no problem with being respectful when it’s merited. Ideas that are illegal and privileged certainly don’t deserve respect. Whether the people pushing those ideas are intentionally bigoted or simply exercising their religious privilege doesn’t really mean that much when it comes to the effects that are felt by those who are not part of the privileged majority.

                  I understand what you want here. You’re looking for a way to be amicable with your neighbors, and I get why. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. If you honestly think you can talk sense to them and get them to see why what they are doing is offensive and illegal, then that would be the best outcome and I wish you the best of luck.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            It’s important to all of us, I think :)

            I, too, change my mind through my own exploration and when I didn’t feel threatened or defensive. But the new ideas to consider- those sometimes came through yelling, er, “debates” with friends and family. I didn’t change my mind then, during the argument, nor directly afterwards. But after a few days I’d sit and think about it, and think about what they said, and what I said, and maybe concede to myself some of their points. I’d go do additional research to try to shore up my points for the future and maybe wind up changing my mind.

            Without the initial shock of the argument, I never would have considered the new ideas in the first place. A polite, let’s agree to disagree approach just wouldn’t have made any impact, because it suggests that both approaches are equally valid and correct. Sometimes, that’s not true, and the act of standing up and saying “no, you’re just wrong” is a necessary aspect of both personal and social change.

            • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

              OK, I think that I’m hearing you on this.

              I agree that an “agree to disagree” approach is also pretty fruitless. What I’m suggesting is an approach to break down what the ultimate goals of the crosses are (to serve as a monument of inspiration and hope) to the actual, unintended consequences (a feeling of domination of a shared, public space, without regard for others) that have been experienced by many in the community, as evidenced by the uproar and the lawsuit. I also think that it would behoove those opposed to the crosses to sit down with the folks from the church to hear their goals expressed “from the horse’s mouth”.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                That’s a good goal. I just … I don’t know. I get so tired and frustrated at that sort of engagement, when experience has taught me it doesn’t usually change anything. It’s still a good idea to sit down one-on-one or in small groups, to talk to people face to face about the whys and wherefores of the whole situation. I just don’t know that I care to do it. I’m glad you do, though.

                • http://www.zacparsons.com/ Zac Parsons

                  Yeah. I think that it’s the fact that it’s in my own community that makes me more concerned about a long-term solution. It’s too easy for me to be passive, especially when it’s in my own backyard.

                  Has your community gone through anything like this? I’m asking honestly. I really don’t have a roadmap for this. I’m just trying to empathize with both sides, even though I realize that I have my own take on this as well.

                  The nice part is that even if I fail to bring these folks to the table (it’s not looking promising so far), the lawsuit will continue, and the fight will be fought nonetheless.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Not this particularly, no. My high school had several close-ish calls with student-led prayer; it’s unlikely that particular administration would have allowed it, but there were always students pushing for it. I live in a suburban area attached to a major metroplex- this sort of thing just wouldn’t fly here.

                  It’s more just discussions with friends and family- the glazed look of “I don’t get it, why are you still talking about this, it’s not a big deal”.

  • oregon catholic

    LOL. American Atheists are starting to look and act more like the religion you are every day! Love your creed there on the side.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/06/behold-americas-first-monument-to-atheism/

    • C Peterson

      A monument celebrating or recognizing atheism is no more a mark of religion than a monument celebrating an event or person.

      And you’re posting this in the wrong discussion.

    • Gordon Duffy

      So, religion is an insult? Is that your point?

    • WallofSleep

      Yeah, I’m bored with my current hair color. I think I’ll run to the drug store and buy a bottle of hair dye, color: “bald”.

    • NoGodsBeWithYou

      Looks like a quote to me. A creed is something YOU duly intone every Sunday in church. Don’t know of any atheists who do that, myself.

      • oregon catholic

        Sorry, no. A creed simply lays out a set of beliefs. Kinda like “An atheist believes that…..”
        ROFL

        • sk3ptik0n

          A creed is a statement of belief, in particular a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community. -Wikipedia

          There also tons of primary sources in that regard, but this is a post, not a PhD thesis.

        • Michael W Busch

          An atheist believes that there is no god, or more generally no supernatural entities of any kind. That’s it. There is no such thing as an “atheist creed”, just a single-sentence definition.

          Different atheists have other beliefs, but those are not part of atheism (which is why atheism by itself is not enough).

      • Artor

        I must not fear.
        Fear is the mind-killer.
        Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
        I will face my fear.
        I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
        And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
        Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
        Only I will remain.

        • Michael W Busch

          And now you have me reading “oregon catholic” as “Orange Catholic”. Well played.

        • baal

          The world would be a better place if everyone followed this little bit of Herbert’s Dune series.

    • http://gadlaw.com gadlaw

      Yes indeed, being against religious symbolism on public property is exactly like a religion. What village is wondering where you are?

      • oregon catholic

        “We don’t want to establish this monument, we feel we need to
        establish it,” says American Atheists President David Silverman. “If
        [Christians] are going to have their religious statements made on public land, we’re also going to have our statements made on public land whether they like it or not.”

        Sounds like a religious anxiety to me with a little nah, nah, nah, nah, nah thrown in at the end. Heck, I’d sit on it!

        • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

          I’d sit on it too. That is, after all, its purpose:-).

        • sk3ptik0n

          It sounds like a good argument to me. Those symbols are wrong because unconstitutional as well as going against the commandment about graven icons, if I am not mistaken.

          If the Christians continue to want to flaunt their privilege by ignoring the law and imposing their religion on us all. In the name of “freedom of religion”, we can play the same game and see how strongly they believe in this freedom or religion they talk about so much.
          How long do you think our monument will remain undamaged? That will be another shining example of Christian tolerance.
          But you’ll be saying “what proof do you have they were christians?” I can’t wait.

          • oregon catholic

            I have no problem with the monument. I just think it’s hilarious how atheists are looking more and more like religionists.

            I can speculate that some church vandals are probably atheists but unless they are caught and investigated, you’d be right to ask the same question – “what proof…?

            Of course, it’s not like people haven’t been known to stir up sympathy by instigating crimes made to look like bias against their own cause.either.

            • C Peterson

              You confuse a philosophical viewpoint with a religious one.

              All religions are philosophies. Most philosophies, however, are not religions.

              • oregon catholic

                Maybe being religious myself I’m just better at recognizing all the trappings of a religion when I see one.

                • TCC

                  A lot of us have been religious before and recognize what religion is. Atheism ain’t it.

                • C Peterson

                  For somebody who claims an understanding of religion, it’s a little difficult to see how you could overlook the defining trapping of religion, the unreasoned belief in a supernatural deity. Without that, you can’t have a religion.

                • oregon catholic

                  That’s where you’re wrong and why atheists keep getting tripped up on the issue. Religion doesn’t require a deity.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Religion doesn’t require a deity

                  No, but it does require a series of claims about supernatural entities existing. Notice the difference between that and atheism?

                • C Peterson

                  Religion without a deity isn’t religion in any meaningful sense. Nobody can stop you from inventing whatever meanings you want for words, but don’t be surprised if you can’t communicate anymore.

                • Artor

                  Clearly that is not the case, despite whatever you imagine. We are not impressed by your efforts to torture logic and the English language.

                • Walter Comer

                  All human organizations look similar cause they all have humans in them.

            • baal

              “hilarious how atheists are looking more and more like religionists”
              I don’t want your religion on State property. <—that looks like a religious statement to you?

            • Rain

              I have no problem with the monument. I just think it’s hilarious how atheists are looking more and more like religionists.

              Gotta love the “own goal” of that! Still not a religion though. Nice self pwn though! Good one…

        • Carmelita Spats

          I’d sit on it too. It’s not “holy”. Religious anxiety? You have to be extremely superstitious to believe in “holy” things. The eucharist is not “holy”. When I’m in Mexico, I score consecrated wafers and bring them back to the States. I have a guy named Manny who will sneak the consecrated “bodies” of Christ out of Catholic churches for $15.00 bucks plus Percocet and cases of Mr. Pibb. We put the round little “bodies” of Christ into Mason jars which are then carefully stuffed into fanny packs. When we get to the States, we sell the wafers to a sadistic pedophilic Pentecostal preacher with one good arm and a decimated colon who feeds the wafers to his narcoleptic mother’s 17 cats. There’s no such thing as “holy”. Sit on the damn monument.

          • oregon catholic

            Do you think you shock me? You don’t. There is far worse in the world than what you describe.

            I’ll be curious to see how many of of the Friendly Atheists come out to challenge your hate though.

            • Crazy Russian

              Indeed. Catholic church’s treatment of women and children, for one thing.

            • DavidMHart

              I don’t think anyone is going to challenge Carmelita Spats’s alleged hate because a) it looks at face value like a silly made-up story, not a true statement about what she does to wafers, and b) even if true, the only entities ‘harmed’ by her action would be wafers, not people. If someone genuinely believes that the wafers are somehow more important than any other wafers just because a priest has said a magic spell over them, or that they somehow ‘are’ the flesh of a 1st Century Jew, then that person has a completely daft and absurd belief, totally unsupported by any evidence, and held in teeth of strong reasons to think it isn’t true… and mockery of the absurdity of the belief does not automatically equate to hatred of the person who holds it.

              • Fred

                To be honest there’s not much difference between Carmelita’s story and the Bible.

                Well aside from the fact that most people believe the bible with dead seriousness and see nothing wrong with the tales of genocide and rape, and failing to report a pedophile priest to the authorities.

              • oregon catholic

                Of course none of you will challenge it. It should really make no difference if you think it’s a made up story or not, so do I. It sounds like she’s about 12 years old.

                But the fact that you ignore and in some cases even justify the hate behind the words, her intent to BE hateful, is what matters and is what is so telling about character. That’s one of the reasons that so many people kind of shrink away from atheists. Because it so often has hate as a defining characteristic and you seem to have a kind of comfort with and tolerance for hate that is off putting.

                • Terry Firma

                  Sigh. We don’t hate God. It’s not possible to hate something that doesn’t exist. We do tend to have rather a lot of problems with millions of his ostensible followers.

                • Kodie

                  BE hateful about what? It’s about inanimate objects.

                • oregon catholic

                  I’m an inanimate object?

                • Kodie

                  Are you a communion wafer from a church in Mexico?

                • oregon catholic

                  Are you being intentionally obtuse? I guess that’s easier than having to actually address the support for her hate.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Carmelita Spats (whom I most often disagree with) is making a point that sacred objects … aren’t. There’s nothing special about communion wafers to non-Catholics. They’re just rather untasty crackers. Asking people to respect your holy symbol, when it’s a symbol of something we think is pretty silly, is asking rather a lot don’t you think?

                  It’s like asking you to respectfully refrain from ever criticizing Star Wars, ever, because Jedi is sacred to some people. You may not make Star Wars jokes. Never, ever dare touch a light saber toy, nor buy one for your kids, nor explain that it’s “just a story”, for that is insulting to the Jedi religion. How do you feel about that?

                • oregon catholic

                  Her story was directed at me, not communion ‘crackers’ (there is your hateful dig as well btw). Even though it was a big fail, her intent was to BE hateful toward me and try to hurt me by insulting my religion. It has nothing to do with the fantasy of the story as I’m sure you well know but want to ignore. And that’s the hate y’all are comfortable with.

                • Kodie

                  You are a fragile flower and your god doesn’t exist. Communion crackers are just crackers and don’t transubstantiate into anyone. Jesus did not come back from the dead or rise to a place called heaven to sit near his dad in judgment and eating a cracker in church doesn’t make it true. Putting the statue of the 10 commandments on a courthouse doesn’t make it true. Whining that your beliefs are “hated” and not given you the respect you think they deserve while you get to sit on benches and talk shit about atheists without having a FUCKING CLUE does not make your beliefs true. So go fuck yourself. Go eat a cracker. Go fill your pockets with the body of Jesus Christ and throw them at ducks at the lake for all anyone gives a shit. There was no “hate” for your beliefs stated or implied.

                • oregon catholic

                  There’s the hate I was talking about in spades. It’s kind of like watching an animal caught in a trap chew off it’s leg to get free.

                  Thanks for making my point better than I ever could have. Have a good day.

                • Kodie

                  Well you are being a stupid douche about reading comprehension, so have a good day feeding Jesus to the ducks.

                • Kodie

                  Pointing out your increasing delusions is not hate either you ninny.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Yes, the people here have made your point that you’re a raging, dimwitted liar for Jesus far better than even you did with your posts, which is saying something. Enjoy, dimmie.

                • GCT

                  Criticizing your beliefs is not the same as criticizing you. That’s your religious privilege talking, and it’s an attempt by you to make us shut up. No one is buying what you’re selling.

                • Matt D

                  Do you always show up places you aren’t invited, and then get mad and leave in a huff, child?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Um, I’ve seen them. They’re flour and water crackers, and they don’t look very tasty. Catholics I know say they aren’t very tasty, even the very devout ones who do think they’re sacred objects. I don’t see how that’s a hateful dig at anyone. Perhaps you could explain?

                  The story was quite rude, sure, and terribly disrespectful. That was the point. I wouldn’t have done it, probably, because it is rude and disrespectful, but that’s me. Why do you demand respect for your silly ideas?

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Angrums is pretending that “cracker” was a racial slur directed at him. Yes, he’s THAT stupid and faux-persecuted.

                • baal

                  I like to eat a number of things folks consider odd. Communion wafers are one of them. I haven’t had any in ages, however, as I can’t tolerate Masses any more.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Pffhahahaha! You’re claiming hate over the use of the word “cracker” because your wittle paranoia makes it out to be a racial slur. Jesus you’re stupid, even for a wannabe apologist.

                • DavidMHart

                  No one is insulting your religion, because religions are not persons with feeling that can be hurt. Religions are simply complexes of ideas, together with sets of behaviours that follow from believing those ideas to be true. People are separable from the ideas they happen to hold, and ought to be able to realise that.

                  The fact that you have trained yourself to perceive the criticism or mockery of some deeply wacky beliefs as a personal attack against you is not really Carmelita’s problem, and it would be a better world if we could all learn to take things a little less personally, especially when the beliefs that people are claiming offence on behalf of are so patently implausible.

                  You apparently find it psychologically discomforting that some people consider the idea of the alleged sacredness of Jesus wafers to be absurd, but it is a true fact about the world that many, indeed most non-Catholics do find it ridiculous – just like most Catholics find ridiculous the idea of Mohammed flying to heaven on a winged horse and having to bargain God down on how many times a day his followers have to pray, and you’ll just have to either get used to the fact that that is the world we live in, or produce good evidence that the wafers do in fact turn into the body of an ancient undead preacherman. But no one has the right to demand that no one else say things that you personally find psychologically discomforting.

                • Kodie

                  It was a response to you saying you would sit on a bench. Where is this hate you are inferring?

                • Kodie

                  Sounds like a religious anxiety to me with a little nah, nah, nah, nah, nah thrown in at the end. Heck, I’d sit on it!

                  I also think it’s an appropriate response to this, ya hypocrite.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  A dumbbell, perhaps, sure.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Actually, her intent was to mock your stupidity and obnoxious demands. But that’s okay, you paranoid theists are often unable to differentiate mockery from persecution or hate. It’s expected.

                • GCT

                  We don’t tolerate hatred, which is why we’re arguing with you.

                • baal

                  “We don’t tolerate hatred, which is why we’re arguing with you.”
                  I don’t see you GCT on the threads with Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee agreeing with atheists when we’re decrying their hateful anti-gay crap. So, to me, it does look a lot like you do in fact tolerate hatred.

                • GCT

                  Because I can’t be on every single thread fighting against every hateful bigot that means that I tolerate it? That’s an unrealistic stance. You’re not on every thread fighting against every bigot either. You may want to rethink this one.

                • baal

                  Point well taken, I think i had you and the other three letter acronym starting with G confused.

                • GCT

                  It’s cool. I figured it was something like that.

            • Kodie

              Challenge what hate? Smuggling wafers out of church and feeding them to cats is not an example of hate.

              • C Peterson

                Those crackers would be very unhealthy for cats. Taking them out of a church and making cats eat them amounts to animal abuse, which is arguably an example of hate.

                • Kodie

                  It’s not that unhealthy – the cats were fictional.

                • C Peterson

                  Let’s not forget, thought crimes damn you more effectively than real ones!

                • Kodie

                  That is true. I have a feeling these cats will turn out ok though. As far as their current circumstances allow, I think eating communion wafers is the least of their worries.

            • Fred

              Yes there is far worse in the world. Between a fanciful tale of smuggling the Eucharist across the border and the unthinking bullcrap you spout, there’s no contest.

              Congratz, you win!

            • baal

              “come out to challenge your hate”
              I’m easy to trip on the hate meter but Carmelita didn’t hate. She ranted. It’s a special form of over the top complaint / satire.

        • Walter Comer

          So any kind of organized activity is a religion?

    • sk3ptik0n

      So, you are saying that religion is something to avoid and at best useful as in insult? I happen to agree with that. I just didn’t think that a good catholic from Oregon would have such a radical interpretation of it.
      ~~An EX Catholic from Rome.

      PS: This is the wrong thread.

      • oregon catholic

        I neither said or intended any such thing. Merely having a laugh at the irony of it and wanting to share it with you’all.

        I am actually all for atheism being declared a religious belief. It meets the main definition – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe – and has had far too loud of a voice in the public square trying to drown out the rest. It’s time you took your place with the rest of religion and learned to share.

        • martinrc

          how does a lack of belief in a single concept (i.e. not a set, but a single belief or disbelief) meet a definition that starts off, “A set of beliefs” . Atheism is a religion like theism is a religion, oh wait its not. There are atheistic religions (set of beliefs without a deity as part of them ex. secular humanism) and theistic religions (set of beliefs with a deity as part of them ex. Christianity), but atheism and theism are not religions on their own.

          • oregon catholic

            Ah, but atheism isn’t just lack of belief in a god or gods – full stop. Your lack of belief of necessity creates set after set after set of other beliefs that explain how you define reality and meaning. It also causes you to reject set after set after set of different beliefs that far more people than your own tribe say define reality and meaning. You are left with a whole set of dogma, the is and is not’s, that every atheist must accept in order to say there is no god. You can call it philosophy by any number of different names but that doesn’t mean it’s not a religion too with nogod at it’s center.

            • RobMcCune

              Ah, but atheism isn’t just lack of belief in a god or gods – full stop.

              That’s not a good place to stop because you’re wrong, lack of belief in a god or gods is exactly what atheism is.

              Your lack of belief of necessity creates set after set after set of other beliefs that explain how you define reality and meaning.

              Whatever my (or martinrc’s) lack of belief necessitates, that has no bearing on what other atheists believe.. The only common element all atheists share is their lack of belief in a god or gods, and you cannot define a religion based solely on what a group does not believe.

              You can call it philosophy by any number of different names but that doesn’t mean it’s not a religion too with nogod at it’s center.

              You’ve done nothing to show that it is, other than break the definition of religion.

              • oregon catholic

                I just did explain it but atheists are just so dogmatic that atheism isn’t a religion that it keeps you from seeing what others see clearly. It belongs in one of those sets of rejected beliefs I mentioned above.

                You define religion in a way that will exclude atheism but your definition is wrong and so your dogma is wrong. Your primary criteria of no belief in god does not exclude you from the religions of the world.

                • Michael W Busch

                  There is no “dogma” here. And religion is specifically defined such that atheism is not a religion (see my other comment). You don’t get to redefine words at will.

                • oregon catholic

                  I’m not the one redefining the overarching meaning of religion. I don’t pretend that how I personally define my religion is how other religious people personally define theirs. It takes a more liberal meaning to encompass all religion. I’m just pointing out that your narrow definition is an atheist definition that fits your dogma (I think you’re a little fuzzy on that word too) but not the larger meaning. But I understand that’s how you opt out of calling yourself a religion and why that is so important to atheists.

                • Michael W Busch

                  I’m not the one redefining the overarching meaning of religion.

                  Yes, you are. “Religion” specifically refers to sets of ideas that assert the existence of supernatural entities. That is the meaning of the word. Your saying otherwise is redefining the meaning of the word at your whim.

                  Note: some things have been referred to as “secular religions” – Maoism, Nazism, even sports fandom. But since they do not involve an assertion of supernatural entitites, they aren’t religions – although they may act similarly socially. Some of those social structures are specifically atheistic, but that again does not make atheism a religion.

                  It takes a more liberal meaning to encompass all religion.

                  Yes. And that meaning includes asserting the existence of supernatural entities – you can’t expand the meaning of religion any further without completely un-defining the word. That’s why atheism is not a religion – it’s a religion in the same sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby or bald is a hair color.

                  And “dogma” means “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true”, with the most frequent use being specifically the various dogmata of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

                  It is not dogma to say “religions asserts the existence of supernatural entitities; atheism does not; therefore atheism is not a religion”. There is no authority laying down a principle here. There is only the definition of the words, which are mutually-agreed upon symbols for two non-overlapping ideas.

                • smrnda

                  I know several religious people who disagree that atheism is a religion because there exists no consensus among atheists as to the type of things that define religions, and no real texts or people to go to as authorities. There’s no atheist Bible and no atheist Pope.

            • Kodie

              I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think you have that all backwards. Rejecting supernatural unsupported assertions leaves no other conclusion. People say there is a god or god does this or god wants us to do that, and I say “what kind of delusion are you under?” I can’t believe anyone, any adult, takes their religion dead serious. If they didn’t, I would not have to be an atheist; there would be nothing to be a- about. I am not an atheist as a way to describe the origin of the universe and life. I am an atheist because there are theists and they are ridiculous and believe in fairy tales, and try to steer our government away from reality and proven things in favor of appeasing their deity.

            • baal

              “of necessity creates set after set after set of other beliefs”

              Actually not really. First off, SCIENCE! (as said in the oingo boingo song) and the real world w/o supernaturalism gets you really far along. After that, you may have noticed an on-going debate over humanism or feminism or ‘no-ism isms’ or going on these boards. We are a diverse bunch (though generally leftist).

              And note that ‘set of belief’ doesn’t mean ‘religion’.

            • Chris_Lisi

              “…meets the main definition – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe –“

              The main definition is a shared set of beliefs by a group.

              Atheists do not have any shared set of beliefs regarding anything, other than lacking a belief in a god.

              Using your incorrect definition, then humanity is a religion, since all humans have beliefs about the cause, nature and purpose of the universe.

              And New York is a religion, because all New Yorkers have beliefs about these things.

              —-

              “…dogma that every atheist must accept in order to say there is no god…”

              No matter how many times theists repeat it, it is still not true: Atheism is not a belief that “there is no god.”

              Atheism is a lack of belief in a god. Some atheists happen to also believe there is no god.

              —-

              “that doesn’t mean it’s not a religion too with nogod at it’s center.”

              I know it seems strange for your world view to comprehend this, because your god is at the center of yours. But, for an atheist, the idea of a god is irrelevant, so it’s not only not at the center. It’s not anywhere in her world view.

              As an analogy, a foot fetishist might say, “A person without a foot fetish must have no-foot at the center of their sexuality.” No, for a person without a foot fetish, feet are nowhere in their sexuality.

              —-

              With regard to purpose, since you mentioned it, atheists may have any of a wide range of views regarding the purpose of life, including thinking it is without purpose.

              The fact that all of these beliefs do not happen to have a god involved with them does not make all these views one dogmatic belief.

              As an analogy, the set of all galaxies in the entire universe except for the Milky Way galaxy shares only the feature of not-being-the-Milky-Way-galaxy. That doesn’t mean that not-being-the-Milky-Way-galaxy is a central or important or defining or in any way relevant dogmatic feature of these other hundred billion galaxies.

        • seraphimblade

          Atheism just means one does not believe that one or more gods exist.

          There’s no other creed, no scripture, no nothing. Of course, some things might be common among atheists, such as rational skepticism, but they are not a requirement for one to be defined as an atheist.

          Atheism is in no way a religion. It’s like saying “I don’t own a car” is a model of car.

          • TCC

            Or a mode of transportation.

        • RobMcCune

          and has had far too loud of a voice in the public square trying to drown out the rest.

          So 2% of the population is drowning out the voice of the remaining 98%? I somehow doubt it. Can you give examples.

          It’s time you took your place with the rest of religion and learned to share.

          Isn’t that what the bench and column that you find so amusing is supposed to accomplish, the sharing of a public space?

          • Michael W Busch

            Note: the fraction of atheists in the US population is currently far more than 2%. It’s more like 5%-8%, with the fraction of variously irreligious being far higher (~20%). But your point still stands.

        • Michael W Busch

          It meets the main definition – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe

          That’s not the definition of religion. Definition cribbed from a few different online dictionaries: “a religion is an organized collection of beliefs, culture systems, and world views that relate humans to supernatural and/or spiritual entities”. Notice the last one? That’s why atheism is not a religion.

          has had far too loud of a voice in the public square trying to drown out the rest.

          In the United States, atheism is not “having far too loud a voice” – there is still a very large amount of religious and specifically Christian privilege (as this Evansville case illustrates). You appear to be confusing “a secular government that endorses neither religion nor irreligion” with “atheists are drowning out everybody!!!”.

        • Fred

          You must be one of those stupid theists who redefine words into uselessness and then try to use them with their original meaning.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Definition of any Catholic apologist right there.

        • GCT

          I am actually all for atheism being declared a religious belief. It meets the main definition – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe…

          Wrong. Atheism is declared a religious belief for the purposes of equal protection under the law. One cannot have freedom of religion without also having the freedom to abstain from religion. Disbelief in god, however, is the only bar to actually being an atheist. If disbelief in god is tantamount to a religious belief, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

          …and has had far too loud of a voice in the public square trying to drown out the rest. It’s time you took your place with the rest of religion and learned to share.

          You should simply be ashamed of yourself for actually typing that out. Seriously? Learned to share? You are so stuffed full of religious privilege that it’s painful to watch. Religion has held and continues to hold a place in our society that is elevated over atheism, due to the type of privilege that you are expressing here. Read this blog for a few days and you will see countless examples of Xians pushing their religion on atheists and everyone else in this country, and trying to drown out everyone else’s voices. Apparently, what you really mean by telling us to take our place is that we need to sit down and shut up while you and your fellow Xians run roughshod over all of our rights. This is vile and disgusting of you.

    • islandbrewer

      Ooooh burn! That’s insulting to atheists, because religion is bad, and people who follow religions are stupid for following them, right?

      Is that how your reasoning goes?

    • Matt D

      Sure, we’re almost a religion, all that’s missing are outfits Liberace would find questionable.

  • Rain

    Off topic, but I was fascinated by that photo up there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Crosses

    Over 100,000 crosses! Yikes! :D

    • C Peterson

      It reminds me of Dan Simmons’s Tree of Thorns.

      • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

        The Shrike!

    • Fred

      It’s just the Christian version of the Harlem Shake.

      Rewind a few seconds and there will be just normal Lithuanian countryside with one lone cross kinda dancing around.

      • Rain

        Somebody should do that video, lol.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    A secular art display – how about we celebrate astronomy with a set of waxing crescent moons?

  • eric

    I think ‘its art’ may be the more defensible claim (compared to ‘its temporary’). AIUI if a city hires an artist and doesn’t give them specific limits, and the artist comes up with something that might be considered religious, it can still go through.

    However, when a church group comes forward with a proposal to have a sunday school class decorate 30 crosses, any reasonable judge has got to see that as a transparent attempt to sneak religion in through the loophole of artistic liberty.

  • Mick

    The Christians don’t give a stuff what happens.

    If the crosses go up and stay up then its a victory for Jesus (and his little workers get a free trip to heaven).

    If a judge stops the display the devil dodgers can play the martyr for months afterwards.

  • Daniel Brown

    If it’s not intended to promote Chrsitianity, they should have no problem painting something other than the one symbol that represents every branch of Christianity, right?

    They should also have no problem including non-Christian kids in the painting process – because it has nothing to do with Christianity, it’s only art. So all kids should be allowed to participate, yes?

  • Robster

    If the people supporting the cross’ erection were reminded that their revered stick is an ancient torture device, designed to kill people in a really unpleasant manner, they might reconsider.

    • oregon catholic

      I take it you don’t understand what it symbolizes do you? We are well aware what it is and what it was used for.

      • Michael W Busch

        We understand what it symbolizes. We just recognize that the whole dying-and-rising-god motif is baseless metaphor, and celebrating torture and killing is never a good thing.

      • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

        Over 3/4 of Americans are Xian of some stripe or another.

        Do you honestly believe that, with that level of Xian exposure in America, atheists in this country haven’t heard your fairy tale story of a man who was nailed to a tree and rose from the dead three days later, and had the symbology of this bronze-age myth explained to them ad nauseum?

        Are you sh!tt!ng me?

        • oregon catholic

          Since when did hearing equate with understanding? Everything that comes out of your mouths as you try to tell me what my religion means only proves it. The laughable thing is that it’s atheists who believe in a christian fantasy. It makes no sense to me why you expend so much energy to hate a caricature of something but there it is. I don’t care if you spent 30 years as a christian before turning atheist – it only proves the point.

          Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.

          • Michael W Busch

            it’s atheists who believe in a christian fantasy.

            That sentence makes no possible sense.

            It makes no sense to me why you expend so much energy to hate a caricature of something but there it is.

            Christianity is defined as a religion centered around the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who is claimed to have been the son of god and to have died and come back to life. That is not a caricature. It is a definition. And that is what we reject, because the claims of Christianity are false.

            Also, I personally don’t hate Christianity – it is an idea, and by itself is value-neutral. I hate the wrong actions people do for the sake of believing in the claims of Christianity.

            I don’t care if you spent 30 years as a christian before turning atheist – it only proves the point.

            That is the No True Scotsman logical fallacy, and proves nothing. People can have been entirely serious and believing Christians of any of the tens of thousands of sects and then become atheists – all that means is that they have realized that Christianity is wrong.

            • oregon catholic

              it’s atheists who believe in a christian fantasy.

              That sentence makes no possible sense.

              It makes perfect sense. The ‘christianity’ and the notion of ‘God’ that so many atheists love to hate is a caricature of the real thing and a fantasy made up out of your own misunderstanding. It bears some resemblance in form but almost nothing in substance.

              Likewise the people who leave christianity for the most part believed in a false or incomplete understanding as well and that’s why it fell apart for them. Usually, in my experience, when they suffered some kind of loss. It fell apart because deep down they believed that their religion was like a talisman and God wouldn’t let that happen to them – like loss and suffering wasn’t supposed to be part of the plan.

              • Michael W Busch

                The ‘christianity’ and the notion of ‘God’ that so many atheists love to hate is a caricature of the real thing and a fantasy made up out of your own misunderstanding

                You are wrong. Demographic data is quite clear on this: American atheists in general have a far better understanding of all religions than religious Americans do.

                It also is not necessary to have a complete understanding of a religion in order to reject it. It is only necessary to identify the basic claims of the religion and establish that they are either provably false or have no evidence to support them.

                Likewise the people who leave christianity for the most part believed in a false or incomplete understanding as well and that’s why it fell apart for them

                That is the No True Scotsman fallacy – i.e. “anyone who leaves Christianity wasn’t a true Christian”. It is not true.

                Usually, in my experience, when they suffered some kind of loss.

                You have experienced a biased sample, or – more likely – have misunderstood the reasons people you have encountered have left religion.

                A more representative case: I was raised Catholic. I left because I realized Catholicism was wrong, not because of any loss. This is the primary reason for most irreligious Americans becoming irreligious – it applies to the vast majority of Americans who left religion. Here is a reference: http://www.pewforum.org/Faith-in-Flux.aspx

                It fell apart because deep down they believed that God wouldn’t let that happen to them and loss and suffering wasn’t supposed to be part of the plan.

                No. People become atheists because they don’t believe in religion. When you do not believe in God, it is impossible to believe “God wouldn’t let that happen”.

                • oregon catholic

                  Book learning isn’t understanding and neither is sitting in a pew on Sunday. The question so many never want to ponder is why does someone else ‘get’ what I don’t? Why does someone else find joy and contentment where all I find is frustration and resentment.The easiest answer of course is to just say it’s all a fantasy and therefore that makes me the smart one to have figured it out. Hanging out in echo chambers where your conclusions are reinforced helps keep any doubt at bay too.

                • Michael W Busch

                  What matter is not what people “get” from a religion. What matters is if the claims of the religion are accurate. And they aren’t. That’s why people leave religion.

                  That your beliefs give you “joy and contentment” does nothing to show that they are true. It just shows that human brains do interesting things.

                • oregon catholic

                  You have not a single tangible scientific proof that God does not exist (lack of proof isn’t proof as I’m sure you know) and yet you stake everything on it being true. That’s a religious faith right there.

                • Kodie

                  No matter how you build up whatever you believe in, it’s silly and a fairy tale until you provide evidence. You are a fool and I would be foolish to follow you, unless you make a better case than “atheists are big babies and I hate them!”

                • Michael W Busch

                  That’s a religious faith right there.

                  No, it isn’t. Saying “there is probably no god” is not a religious claim.

                  You stake everything on [there not being a god].

                  Pascal’s Wager is nonsense, and has always been so. Don’t use it.

                  You have not a single tangible scientific proof that God does not exist

                  Wrong. The trick is how you define “God”.

                  Some sort of Newtonian-prime-mover entirely non-interventionist deity could exist. But a god that never intervenes in the universe in any way is by definition indistinguishable from a god that doesn’t exist. So belief in such a god is equivalent to functional atheism – you should act the same way if such a god exists or not.

                  Any claim of a god that is supposed to interact with the universe in any detectable way is subject to investigation and falsification. In the case of the Christian god, we have quite abundant proofs that that god doesn’t exist.

                  E.g. The universe was not created as described in Genesis. There was never any Adam & Eve, never any Noah, never any Abraham, never any Moses. There was no fall and no original sin that would require blood sacrifice to redeem it. There is no evidence of a historical Jesus who was anything other than a normal human – and there is an argument that there was never any historical Jesus at all. There is no evidence of any miracles ever happening. Prayers to the Christian god do not produce any detectable effects. And Christians are no more moral than any other group of people.

                  I could go on, but I find that I am starting to repeat what I have said in earlier comments.

                • oregon catholic

                  Scientific arguments are a waste of time. I would think you’d know that by now. But it is a safe refuge from actual logic isn’t it?

                • Michael W Busch

                  Scientific arguments are the only way we have to gain accurate information about the universe. Logic by itself is useful because we can use it to construct accurate models of the universe. Science constrains the assumptions you are allowed to make in the logic underlying those models.

                  I also note your transparent moving of the goalposts:
                  You: “give tangible scientific proof”
                  Me:
                  You: “scientific arguments are a waste of time”

                  This indicates that you are not actually interested in having a discussion. The evidence available here is that you are just interested in loudly asserting things without regard to if they are true or not. Based on that evidence, I am not inclined to reply to you further unless you actually make the effort to correct your mistakes.

                • Kodie

                  You have nothing of substance to bring, so go ahead and make that science’s fault! You are trying very hard to prop up your imaginary deity with fail arguments that have no bearing on anything. Please tell us ALL ABOUT this “actual” logic that brings you to believe in god and get upset because someone wrote a story about communion wafers.

                • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

                  Yes, the science that allows you to post on the internet, develop drugs to combat diseases, and technology to fly in an airplane from Beijing to London is obviously a waste of time. Too bad science isn’t working so well for you.

                  If only your god had invented the internet, created life-saving drugs out of tic tacs, and instantly teleports people around the planet, then you’d have at least a little evidence that it exists.

                  It’s sad that you live in a technological age, an age with access to healthcare, eduction and really cool equipment, the like that this planets cultures had never seen before, all the result of science and scientific arguments, and you prefer a book filled with bronze-age myths that tell you tales of a god-man-zombie that rose from the dead because a talking snake tempted a woman and caused a downfall that your god, if he didn’t see it coming, tacitly approved.

                  You are a spoiled child who is blind to all the loving parent (science) provides yet yearning for and defending with your loud screams the absentee parent ( your god), who never was there and who never will return.

                • oregon catholic

                  You gave me no evidence, scientific or otherwise. You can’t, that’s why nattering on about science and evidence is a waste of time. Your lack of proof as proof is meaningless not only in discussions of God but in actual science itself. Give it up. Far better minds than yours or mine did centuries ago.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Really pathetic attempt to dodge the refutations of your points there.

                • Kodie

                  Staking everything on reality is not a religious belief. Staking everything (including an imagined afterlife) on a supernatural fairy tale is foolish and from here it’s easy to see it. You’re just really getting desperate with these petty insults and fallacious arguments, aren’t you.

                • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

                  Equally, you have not a single tangible scientific proof that Zeus or Odin or Krishna do not exist ( lack of proof isn’t proof as I’m sure you know) and yet you stake everything on it being true. That’s a religious faith right there.

                  See how that works? You have religious faith in Zeus and Odin and Krishna, not to mention the 10,000 other gods from mankinds past and present.

                  How about you provide the EVIDENCE, yourself, that your god exists?

                  I’ll even let your god help you. If he actually exists, he’d know what evidence would convince me to follow him. Pray to him and I’m sure that he’ll give it to you.

                  Unless you’re a liar and your god doesn’t answer your prayers.

                • DavidMHart

                  You have not a single tangible scientific proof that Huitzilopochtli does not exist. Or Zeus, or vampires, or unicorns, or Lord Voldemort. Yet you would not for a moment think that that was a good reason for thinking that any of those things are real. The null hypothesis in this case is that all of these things are fictional. Same with the biblical god.

                  In each case, it is up to the person who thinks that the Aztec gods, or the Biblical god, or the Greek gods, or vampires, unicorns or Voldemort, actually exist, to produce good reasons for believing that they exist. Otherwise the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all just made-up stories.

                  And concluding provisionally that they are all made up, unless and until good evidence is produced, isn’t ‘faith’ in anything like the same sense that religious people use the word when talking about their beliefs. Please stop trying to equivocate.

                • oregon catholic

                  ” I left because I realized Catholicism was wrong, not because of any loss.”

                  I’d say that was a pretty big loss right there.

                • Michael W Busch

                  I’d say that was a pretty big loss right there.

                  No, it was not. I applied the skills and knowledge of science to Catholicism, and realized how wrong it is. I traded endorsing wrong ideas for endorsing right ones. Not a loss.

                • oregon catholic

                  Well there’s your problem, or at least one of them. You might as well have been comparing apples and light (there isn’t even an analogy diverse enough to begin to capture the absudity of measuring God with science but I tried). Not only can’t you measure the same things with them, they aren’t even the same things in their essence, one being matter and the other energy. It’s a pointless exercise that anyone can see by using logic.

                • Kodie

                  It’s like comparing apples and imaginary friends. How about that?

                • Michael W Busch

                  Wrong. Anything that interacts with the observable universe in any detectable way is subject to scientific investigation.

                  Your logic is flawed.

                  one being matter and the other energy

                  Matter is a form of energy. Please go and actually learn science. Wikipedia’s articles are generally accurate and accessible, and their sources are listed.

                • oregon catholic

                  Well now you’ve jumped the shark, scientifically speaking, in your silly attempt to find something wrong with my analogy. You’re also straining at gnats while swallowing camels and I have much better things to do.

                  You really need a dictionary – go look up essence.

                • Kodie

                  Just because you’re sucked into a cult doesn’t mean you’re not too close to see it for what it actually is.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Quite the crybaby response there. So much for the strength of Catholic apologetics.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  es·sence [es-uh ns]
                  noun
                  1. the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features:Freedom is the very essence of our democracy.
                  2. a substance obtained from a plant, drug, or the like, by distillation, infusion, etc., and containing its characteristic properties in concentrated form.
                  3. an alcoholic solution of an essential oil; spirit.
                  4. a perfume; scent.
                  5. Philosophy . the inward nature, true substance, or constitution of anything, as opposed to what is accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc.
                  6. something that exists, especially a spiritual or immaterial entity.

                  I’m guessing you mean definition #1 or #5, with a slight possibility of #6. You argue that the basic, real, and invariable nature of God is energy, right? And that everything else is matter?

                  That just doesn’t make any sense. Matter and energy are merely two states of everything that exists. Matter can turn into energy and energy into matter; the equation E=mc^2 explicitly defines their relationship. The energy of anything is equal to its mass multiplied by the speed of light, squared. Indeed, the whole idea that energy can be neither created nor destroyed is predicated on the idea that energy can be bound into matter and matter be turned into energy. They aren’t separate “realms”.

                • TCC

                  If you don’t like the Wikipedia suggestion, might I suggest the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy? Good luck finding any philosophical treatment of “essences” in there, though.

                • ZeldasCrown

                  Gotta second Michael here. Remember E=mc^2? The entire point to this equation was the conversion between energy and matter. If one was to take a nucleus, add up the masses of the protons and neutrons individually, the mass will be more than the mass of the nucleus itself. That is, the sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole. The excess mass from the part is converted into energy forming the bond that holds the nucleons (the whole) together when the nucleus is made (or is released when these bonds are broken, which is the essence of nuclear power).

                  Plus, energy and mass can both be measured, so even if they were two totally separate things, saying that because our world is matter and can be measured, and that the effects of the divine are energy and thus cannot be measured is wrong-we do measure energy. Any God-like being would have to exist even further outside of our human experience. We can also quantify both apples and light, so if God was like light, we’d be able to measure/have proof of God’s existence. The analogy would be comparing apples and some object that doesn’t interact in any way with anything else in our world, which for all intents and purposes would render that object non-existing. So it’s basically comparing things that exist (with the definition of exist being something that is able to be quantified) with things that don’t exist.

                  Anytime someone puts forth an idea of how something works, or that some object exists (for example, stating that a new particle has been found-like the Higgs boson) the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Using the Higgs boson as an example, it didn’t play out as one person saying it exists, and demanding that since others can’t prove a negative, therefore it must exist (if this was how it worked, then the existence of the Higgs would have been proven the minute someone postulated its existence decades ago rather than this past year). No, it played out that the scientists at CERN published their results demonstrating positive proof of its existence. Same goes with proof of the existence of a God/God-like being.

              • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

                It makes perfect sense. ‘Islam’ and the notion of ‘Allah’ that so many Xians love to hate is a caricature of the real thing and a fantasy made up out of your own misunderstanding. It bears some resemblance in form but almost nothing in substance.

                Likewise the people who reject Islam for the most part believed in a false or incomplete understanding. Usually, in my experience, they reject Islam because they suffered some kind of loss. It fell apart because deep down they believed that their religion was true and Allah didn’t reveal himself to them – like loss and suffering wasn’t supposed to be part of Allah’s plan.

          • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

            “Since when did hearing equate with understanding?”

            Ah, the Courtier’s Reply. What makes you think my religious education didn’t actually lead me to an understanding that Xianity has no evidence to support the wild claim that a man died and rose from the dead three days later?

            ” Everything that comes out of your mouths as you try to tell me what my religion means only proves it. ”

            You do believe that a body reanimated, right? See, science really has something to say about dead bodies coming back to life.

            You do believe that the Earth was created before the Sun, just like it sys in Gnesis, right? Again, science, specifically astronomy and geology have something to say about the ages of the Earth and the Sun.

            You do believe that your god exists, right? Except where is the evidence that it does? Can you provide some?

            “The laughable thing is that it’s atheists who believe in a christian fantasy.”

            Projection much? No, it’s the Xians that believe in fantasy. Xians make outrageous claims with no evidence to back it up. You believe that Jesus rose from the dead. You believe that your god created the world in 7 days. You make claims you just can’t back up with any evidence, and atheists simply say “Bnllsh!t, we don’t believe your fairy tales.”

            The laughable thing is that it’s Xians who believe in a fantasy.

            “It makes no sense to me why you expend so much energy to hate a caricature of something but there it is.”

            It’s because the Xian belief is, quite frankly, a sh!tty belief. And the energy we expend is because you god-botherers can’t exist without trying to use the law to promote your sh!tty belief.

            When you stop shoving your religion into my life, then, and only then, will we stop saying “No!”

            “I don’t care if you spent 30 years as a christian before turning atheist – it only proves the point.”

            Ah, yes, the last resort of the Xian: the No True Scotsman fallacy.

            Too bad you haven’t actually provided any evidence for your god.

            “Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.”

            Yeah, about that. You’ve just claimed your god exists, loudly and proudly. Yet nothing to actually evidence said god. You should have provided that little bit of info. Frankly, that’s the least you could do. Give me the evidence and maybe, just maybe, it will create a new Xian. And don’t worry, your god should be able to get you the right evidence that will convince me.

            C’mon, what have you got to lose?

      • DavidMHart

        Proto-Christians could easily have devised for themselves some sort of ‘empty tomb’ symbol, or some sort of ‘risen Jesus’ emblem. Instead, they chose the cross. We are entitled to consider it a little gruesome that their most recognisable symbol doesn’t celebrate the claim that Jesus came back from the dead, but instead celebrates the way he was killed.

      • Artor

        Of course we understand what it symbolizes; a cult that worships death and suffering. It’s people like you who seem to forget that.

  • S Cruise

    Atheists should do a similar exhibit with crosses. Crosses decorated with:

    Pansies(free-thought),
    Rainbows(gays)
    Pagan symbols(pagans suffered because of the cross)
    Symbols representing women & witchcraft(women have suffered because of the cross)

    Symbols representing African, Indigenous peoples of America and the Caribbean(they suffered because of the cross)

    On the opposite side you could do the same but using a hangman’s noose instead.You could then have a sign between the two saying “What’s the Difference?”

  • Amazing Atheist

    How about 30 UPSIDE DOWN crosses.

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    I suggest thirty symbols from religions the pretty much nobody follows anymore. And some symbols of fictional religions as well, that would be good.

  • Artor

    My thought was gathering scores of baby dolls from thrift stores, painting them as zombies, and hanging them from each of the crosses. Or replicas of other torture devices; gallows, guillotines, bloody stakes, burning stakes, electric chairs, etc.

  • Kodie

    Stickers.

  • Guest

    A “secular art exhibit”? You mean like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers?

    Oh no! Wait a minute. “Sun” might make people think of Helios and flowers of Flora.

    What about Piss Christ? That had a cross in it. I bet the ACLU were all over that. They’d be bigots otherwise, wouldn’t they?

    Not to mention all those signs with “RIP” on them when someone is killed in the street. Not art, I know, but still.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      You’re not very good at this. Poor, dumb dear.

  • SkyDancer

    They make an interesting argument in that – where is the line between “art” and “religious endorsement”? For instance, what if a group wanted to create a giant version of “Piss Christ” or put up decorated up-side-down crosses as art. Is it the mere fact of using the cross symbol what makes it religious?

  • booandthebanzai

    How about we erect 30 ft letter “i”‘s between every other cross. There is no better subversion than this!

  • WoodyTanaka

    Sue them into bankruptcy. It’s the only way to be sure.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I’m not sure if that was intended to be a reference to Aliens, but I like it so much that way that I will assume so.

      • WoodyTanaka

        Yes it was. Good job.

  • baal

    Is that picture in the OP really what they put up on the greenway? It looks like the set of a horror movie.

  • cobalt100

    Those are so ugly and disgusting. How low will Christians go in order to impose their belief system on others? To counter their exhibit, I suggest that a number of cardboard or wooden caskets be constructed depicting their savior as being inside those caskets. lying in state. That should raise their shackles and get their blood pressure zooming to new highs.


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