Church puts Pat Tillman on a Christian cross for Memorial Day

I nearly destroyed my television set. Right now, I want to destroy a television network. Fuck everything about this.

pat-tillman's-memory-dishonored-on-memorial-day

Watch this report about Barbara Morris’ church-driven memorial to the troops.

[UPDATE: Channel 14 did the right thing and re-edited the story without this cross, and the reporter apologized. Barbara promised to remove Pat's cross from future displays. No word on whether she'll check the religious preference of the rest of the heroes she's honoring, or why she included Pat Tillman - who wasn't stationed at Fort Bragg.]

Cornerstone United Methodist Church not only got Pat Tillman’s rank wrong, but they put his fucking name on a fucking cross. But then some asshole at Channel 14 recognized Pat Tillman’s name, and did an extreme closeup (seen above). CALL THEM NOW – 919 882 4040. Demand an apology and the footage removed.

I had trouble getting in touch with anyone from Cornerstone United Methodist Church. Perhaps you will have better luck – their contact information is available.

fayetteville-woman-fucks-shit-right-up

FYI: there are politicians out there trying to make christian prayer an official part of every military funeral for veterans from my home state – Texas.

I haven’t been this angry in a very long time. If I die – don’t let this happen to me. Use any non-violent means necessary to prevent this. Spread this message any and every way possible NOW.

About Justin Griffith
  • http://www.floridahumanist.org EllenBeth Wachs

    This is so wrong on so many levels. The assumption that ALL were christian is crap. The assumption she has the right to do this on behalf of others is crap. I am angry as well. Not as much as you have a right to be but damn angry.

  • MJKelleher

    Yes, the assumption is wrong, Wrong, WRONG. However, there appears to be another Patrick D. Tillman, who was a Spc. and stationed at Fort Bragg. (According to Wikipedia, Cpl. Tillman was at Fort Lewis, WA.)

    http://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/oef/profiles/tillmanpatrickd.html

    Call off the dogs, she may be right.

  • Jasmyn

    If anything happens to my husband and they even attempt a prayer just because he’s from Texas, I will flip the hell out with rage. Mandatory prayer is so disrespectful for people who don’t want it. It’s great for people that are into that, but horribly presumptuous to think it’s important to everyone.

  • shouldbeworking

    I fired off a (for me) a polite email informing them of the dishonour they showed to Corporal Tillman. I hope someone at the church can understand printed Canadian. I’m not going to bet on it though.

  • Kristy

    MJKelleher – that link you posted (http://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/oef/profiles/tillmanpatrickd.html) IS the atheist Pat Tillman. I can only assume you were joking when you posted that. If not, please provide a source for your claim that this is indeed another Patrick D Tillman.

  • Alverant

    So what about the non-christian soldiers who have died for this country? What kind of gravestones do they get? I see pics of Arlington Cemetery and see row upon row of crosses. It’s crazy to assume every one of them was christian. You’d think there would be a few jewish graves mixed in there too for example.

  • MJKelleher

    No, not joking, but didn’t look closely enough. I saw a different rank, only noticed one of the reports had Pat in WA while the other had a commenter mention being from Ft. Bragg… jumped. Mea culpa, carry on.

  • Justin Griffith

    THIS IS THE SAME PERSON. I DID VERIFY ALL OF THIS BEFOREHAND. Sorry for all caps but I’m trying to type with clinched fists.

  • Gonzo

    Alverant….see http://www.flickr.com/photos/bencavataro/3297734765/ for an Arlington Jewish grave marker.

    And these are the markers the VA has authorized for use.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs_emblems_for_headstones_and_markers

    Note USVA emblem 16

  • Steve
  • MJKelleher

    My apologies, Justin. FWIW, when I went to the tv station’s link again (to get the time stamp for an email I’m writing to the church), it notes that the story was updated at 6:52 pm and the video clip no longer includes the cross with Pat’s name. Someone there, at least, listened.

  • Alverant

    Gonzo #9, I was talking about the shape of the gravestones being crosses, not the symbols marked on the stones. But thanks anyway.

    (I also notice a lot more variants for christians than other groups.)

  • Evan Donovan

    I am the reporter who did the story on the memorial garden.

    First, I want you all to know the story has been edited to remove the video showing the cross bearing Patrick Tillman’s name.

    Second, in case you did not see the story in its entirety, I want to make sure you all understand that the church did not make the crosses. Barbara Morris started this memorial garden 4 years ago in her backyard simply as a way of honoring the men and women who served at Fort Bragg and died in Iraq or Afghanistan. I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance. She was approached after Memorial Day last year by a member of the church offering to hold the memorial garden in the church’s yard, simply because it was more public than in her own yard. Barbara is not even a member of the church.

    Third, Tillman’s rank is listed as both ‘specialist’ and ‘corporal’ in multiple places online. I have a call out to Fort Bragg to clarify the relationship between the two ranks. I will also attempt to verify whether Tillman spent any time at Fort Bragg, since that is the idea behind Barbara’s garden. It is, in that sense, organic: people will ask her to add a name because they live nearby and their lost loved one spent time at Fort Bragg.

    I can assure you there was no malice on Barbara’s part. She actually addressed Tillman’s name specifically to me yesterday, saying that “someone asked her to add his memorial because he trained at Fort Bragg”. I could not verify this independently online, and the PIO’s office was not available to confirm yesterday. Regardless, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to tell her to remove it, whether he trained there or not.

    Finally, while I can somewhat understand the frustration, this blog post, your attacks on Barbara and me, and the reaction thereafter is quite violent. You are making many assumptions about my and Barbara’s motives and religious beliefs–at least some of which, I can assure you, are completely wrong.

    Justin, I believe News 14 covered the Rock Beyond Belief concert, and I have wanted to contact you for follow up since I moved to the area earlier this month to introduce myself as the new reporter in Fayetteville. I will call you shortly.

  • Alverant

    Gonzo, Also I might have been thinking of other cemetery too. All the pics I saw of Arlington had rounded headstones. But I know I saw pictures of a military cemetery somewhere that was nothing but crosses.

  • http://robinlionheart.blogspot.com/ Robin Lionheart

    @Alverant (#11)

    Arlington gravestones are not shaped like crosses, but like slabs. See Gonzo’s photo or . Any photo you’ve seen of “rows upon rows of crosses” was of a different cemetery.

  • http://robinlionheart.blogspot.com/ Robin Lionheart

    @Alverant (#11)

    Arlington gravestones are not shaped like crosses, but like slabs. See Gonzo’s photo or the photo on Arlington National Cemetery’s Wikipedia page. Any photo you’ve seen of “rows upon rows of crosses” was of a different cemetery.

  • Alverant

    (sorry for not having one long post)

    I checked google images for pictures of military cemeteries and the ones with just crosses are in foreign countries. However they are maintained by the US military (since they’re our dead). I did spot a disturbing caption, “Busy Military Cemeteries Keeps Customers Satisfied”. I’d rather see military cemeteries be relatively inactive thank you very much.

  • Salmo

    “I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance.”

    Well, that’s rather the problem, isn’t it? They ARE of religious significance. Anyone got that Cuttlefish poem handy?

  • joy

    There are a few cemeteries that have row after row of cross markers, like this: http://www.123rf.com/photo_2323838_luxemburg-military-cemetery-crosses-and-mounument.html

    Google image “military cemetery crosses”, and you’ll see a variety of results, so it’s not just one place that has them.

  • http://robinlionheart.blogspot.com/ Robin Lionheart

    @Alverant

    Perhaps you were misled by a photo of a European cemetery attached to this e-mail attacking the ACLU, falsely claiming they want to remove nonexistent Arlington crosses: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/cemetery.asp

  • Alverant

    Evan Donovan, how can you say, “I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance” with a straight face? It’s a religious symbol unique to one religion. If it doesn’t have religious significance, what would happen if the crosses got replaced with say a six pointed star that happens to look like the Star of David?

    As for the reaction, I don’t see any violence here. Only justified outrage that a christian symbol was used for non-christian soldiers then told “oh they meant no offense”.

  • bobo

    I agree with Evan Donovan’s comment above.

    You are way out of line, Justin. I’m an Atheist, just like most people that read this blog.

    That little old lady, in her heart and mind, is doing something to honor our veterans. She’s doing that in the best way she knows how. She probably has no idea that Tillman was an atheist.

    And for the record, were I to die today, and my mother or other person wanted to honor me in this way, I’d be OK with it. Me being memorialized on a cross doesn’t change what everybody already knows me to be.

    Your language, demeanor, and violent attitude does nothing to help the movement, and quite frankly gives me pause when I think about supporting RBB.

    ———Justin’s edit below———

    First of all:

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/yRNxiPVZ69Q?

    Second of all: I specifically requested a non-violent response in case of my death. Do you think I’m just paranoid about that possibility? Do you know how many death threats I get from ‘concerned Christians’?

  • Alverant

    #21 So you’re saying it’s OK to assume everyone is christian if they mean well. And since when does asking for an apology equate to a violent attitude?

  • A. Noyd

    Evan Donovan (#12)

    I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance.

    Do you have any idea just how inane that sounds? A cross is a Christian symbol, and whether or not Ms. Morris meant the crosses to say something about the beliefs of the soliders in life, it’s absurd to pretend that it’s not meaningful to go around putting the names of non-Christians onto crosses at a memorial. Imagine if the memorials were in the shape of six pointed stars or crescent moons. Would you really be so daft as to argue that those don’t have an religious significance?

    Finally, while I can somewhat understand the frustration, this blog post, your attacks on Barbara and me, and the reaction thereafter is quite violent.

    Violent? Get some damn perspective. War is violent. Getting told off for disrespecting the memory and beliefs of atheist soldiers or helping spread that disrespect—however unintentional!—doesn’t even come close to qualifying as violence.

  • Peter Dunning

    Why should we be surprised by this audacious falsification of Pat Tilman’s identify. When a self-professed christian does something really bad, they say “he/she is not a real christian”. So Pat Tilman, a person admired for giving up his safe and lucrative sports career to place himself in danger for his country must, in their eyes, be a christian. If they don’t do this, they look like they are admitting the possibility that an atheist can be good.

  • bobo

    I nearly destroyed my television set. Right now, I want to destroy a television network.

    THAT is violent.

    #22. We need to put this into perspective. It was ONE person. A little old lady wanting to honor veterans. No need to call her out in such an impolite manner.

    There are much better ways to confront people about things.

    i.e. Don’t be a dick.

  • http://robinlionheart.blogspot.com/ Robin Lionheart

    I, too, assume Barbara Morris was not malicious, merely thoughtless.

    I wrote to her ( bunnybarb33@aol.com ) politely saying she probably did not realize how disrespectful her crosses were, asked her to take down her cross with Pat Tillman’s name (and any other non‐Christian veterans), and suggested she make a public apology.

  • MJKelleher

    Evan Donovan:

    She was approached after Memorial Day last year by a member of the church offering to hold the memorial garden in the church’s yard, simply because it was more public than in her own yard. Barbara is not even a member of the church.

    Once the church allowed the memorial garden to be put on their property, it’s their responsibility as much as Ms. Morris.

    I can assure you there was no malice on Barbara’s part.

    I’m sure not malice, but a hell of a lot of assumption of what can be called “christian privilege”. The assumption that everybody’s Christian, and if they’re not, well, it’s still ok to use a christian symbol in connection with them. If you haven’t yet, I’d suggest you look up video clips of his brother, Richard, at a memorial service and in at least one interview afterwards.

    bobo:

    And for the record, were I to die today, and my mother or other person wanted to honor me in this way, I’d be OK with it. Me being memorialized on a cross doesn’t change what everybody already knows me to be.

    For the record, my mother and family know right well that I’d not be ok with such an “honor”. Ms. Morris had no way of knowing the Tillman family’s preferences, and obviously took no trouble to find out – again the assumption and privilege.

    As for the violence in the reactions – anybody hear about the cross being burned down? Somebody accosted or assaulted? :crickets:

  • Justin Griffith

    @26 – this is all I ever suggested / did myself.

  • RustyBrainpan

    I am an atheist, but I really don’t understand such outrage about this. If it were the government creating a memorial where everyone was represented by a cross, I’d be upset. This was the action of one woman whose intention seems very honorable. She may have used crosses for everyone out of naivety. I don’t know, but I doubt she was trying to imply that all soldiers are Christian. And I doubt she has the time or resources to check the religion of every soldier for whom she was creating a cross.

    Not every Christian who inadvertently implies or assumes that most people are Christian has an agenda. Some people really are not all that well educated about the diversity of beliefs in this country. When I encounter someone like that, I prefer to educate them as kindly as possible rather than attack them. Some are open to dialog and very interested in what I have to say. Others aren’t.

    As someone who has had members of his family in nearly every war the U.S. has fought with several of them dying in combat, I appreciate Ms. Morris’ attempts to memorialize our fallen veterans, even if she may have gotten some of the symbols wrong.

    Pat Tillman was a Specialist when he was killed, but he was posthumously promoted to Corporal.

  • Nathaniel Frein

    Mr. Donovan, I cannot sit here and give you the benefit of the doubt given the rather large controversy surrounding Cpl. Tillman’s funeral. A quick Google search would have shown you that feelings are already sore over his treatment by people looking to push a Christian worldview.

    The fact is that Mrs. Morris did something thoughtless and rather callous. This man gave his life for his country and for his brothers in arms. We owe it to him to credit him that he did so as an Atheist, not as a Christian.

    Your ability to sit here and say that a cross has no religious significance is ridiculous. The cross represents one of two things: Christ’s crucifixion, or the brutal Roman method of public execution. How do you think a Jewish or Hindu servicemember would feel about such a memorial?

    Mrs. Morris touched a very sore nerve. She may have done it unintentionally, but you do not blame a person for being distressed if you step on his broken toe, do you? The response should be to apologize and fix it, and take home a lesson that perhaps your worldview needs a bit of enlarging?

  • Nathaniel Frein

    We talk about Mrs. Morris’ naivety as if it is an excusing factor.

    It is not. It is evidence of the Christian privilege that permeates our society. It is time for people to learn that their cross is not a universal symbol.

  • Christopher Petroni

    Your language, demeanor, and violent attitude does nothing to help the movement, and quite frankly gives me pause when I think about supporting RBB.

    Speak for yourself. I understand Justin’s reaction entirely and agree with it.

    Language and demeanor? If you are able earnestly to suggest that Justin’s reaction is somehow more offensive than some old lady assuming a soldier is a Christian just because he’s a soldier, you are on the wrong side of this one. Good intentions are irrelevant. Intent is not magic.

  • Justin Griffith

    @29

    This was the action of one woman whose intention seems very honorable. She may have used crosses for everyone out of naivety. I don’t know, but I doubt she was trying to imply that all soldiers are Christian. And I doubt she has the time or resources to check the religion of every soldier for whom she was creating a cross.

    Pat Tillman was never stationed at Fort Bragg. He was included because she simply wanted a soldier who was a famous dead hero to parade around.

    Pat Tillman was a Specialist when he was killed, but he was posthumously promoted to Corporal.

    She is quoted as having started this memorial in 2008 – four years after Pat’s death. So it’s okay for her to posthumously DEMOTE a fucking hero?

  • Christopher Petroni

    She may have used crosses for everyone out of naivety. I don’t know, but I doubt she was trying to imply that all soldiers are Christian.

    Then she evidently didn’t see anything wrong with using an unmistakably Christian symbol to honor people that she knew may not have been Christian. That’s enough right there. It’s an example of the unearned privilege Christianity enjoys, and it’s downright rude.

  • bobo

    Interesting that my first comment was edited with snarky BS.

    Fuck you, Justin.

    Rock Beyond Belief gets zero support from me now. As well as your foxhole atheists.

    I give a significant amount of money to secular charity every year. I will specifically go out of my way to be sure none of my money ends up benefiting you in any way.

    There is a right and wrong way to treat people. Being a dick toward a little old lady is just bullshit.

    Unsubscribed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnAKieffer John Kieffer

    Just talked with the TV station; they’ve updated the video and the disrespectful Pat Tillman reference/memorial image is no longer in it. That church and that church lady in the video makes me want to puke … they are using the deaths of American service personnel as a cheap fucking gimmick to promote their church, their stupid crosses and make it appear that only Christians are fighting and dying. How repulsive and disgusting. In fact, come to think of it, that church does not need to remove Pat Tillman’s memorial, we must demand, instead, that it be changed from a cross to a big red A that not only says “ATHEIST” on it but “RANGER” as well. Then call Ch.14 and have them cover how the church “so kindly” corrected the so-called “Religious Preference” for this fallen US Army Airborne Ranger. If they won’t, make that the story. Checkmate motherfuckers.

  • Christopher Petroni

    There is a right and wrong way to treat people. Being a dick toward a little old lady is just bullshit.

    Just what does her being a little old lady have to do with it?

    I give a significant amount of money to secular charity every year. I will specifically go out of my way to be sure none of my money ends up benefiting you in any way.

    You don’t agree with Justin’s manner of handling this one issue, so you’re going to make sure that one of the most significant efforts to help atheists in the military doesn’t receive your money? Just who’s being the dick here?

    BTW, RBB doesn’t benefit Justin. It benefits atheists in the military in general.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001682409207 margaretwhitestone

    I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance.

    Of course they are. They are the symbol of Christianity.

    But there’s a very easy way to prove that they’re of religious significance, and to whom they’re significant. Challenge a cross that’s sitting on public land. Wait and see which group starts howling and lobbing threats.

  • Christopher Petroni

    And I fell into using a gendered insult. Apologies for using “dick.” Bobo’s use doesn’t justify my throwing it back.

  • Justin Griffith

    Fuck you, Justin.

    Rock Beyond Belief gets zero support from me now. As well as your foxhole atheists.

    Happy Memorial Day folks.

  • http://www.floridahumanist.org EllenBeth Wachs

    @29

    This was the action of one woman whose intention seems very honorable. She may have used crosses for everyone out of naivety. I don’t know, but I doubt she was trying to imply that all soldiers are Christian. And I doubt she has the time or resources to check the religion of every soldier for whom she was creating a cross.

    Pat Tillman was never stationed at Fort Bragg. He was included because she simply wanted a soldier who was a famous dead hero to parade around.

    Pat Tillman was a Specialist when he was killed, but he was posthumously promoted to Corporal.

    She is quoted as having started this memorial in 2008 – four years after Pat’s death. So it’s okay for her to posthumously DEMOTE a fucking hero?

    Yes this!! and Bobo – I don’t think Justin will fucking miss your subscription. This little old lady has subscribed in your weasel ass place!

  • http://www.floridahumanist.org EllenBeth Wachs

    How the fuck can you say a christian cross is not christian with a straight fucking face?

    How can you possibly say the “little old lady” wasn’t trying to christianize every soldier? For real??

    What planet are you on?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnAKieffer John Kieffer

    The reporter in that story, Evan Donavan, wrote in a comment above:

    “I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance.”

    My response:

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ???

    I just about threw my laptop across the room when I read that.

    Okay, I’ve settled down now. Mr. Donavan, what religion, if any, comes to mind when you see a cross on a building or on someone’s necklace, or on the cover of a book, etc; please select one answer: a) Buddhism b) Islam c) Christianity d)Judaism e) None of the above f) All of the above

    I am not kidding about this: I would really, REALLY be interested in your answer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mmatheists Drew

    There is a documentary about Pat Tillman called “The Pat Tillman Story”. I strongly recommend that you watch it because all of the events surrounding his death, before and after, are FUBAR of the highest order. Stunning and sickening, and time well spent.

    I’m glad that the news story has been altered, and I’m glad Barbara has had the chance to hear from the atheist community, hopefully most constructively, to understand just what it means when crosses are used to memorialize something. The only thing to do at this time is say, “Whoops” and move on as Justin and #26 tried to suggest.

    The only person deserving any ire is the motherf*cker who whispered in Barbara’s ear and asked for this memorial (assuming it happened as reported) because that person probably knew better. I would just love for that person to explain to Pat Tillman’s family why they suggested it. You’ll understand after you see the documentary.

  • Priscilla Parker

    Ignorance of something is NOT justification of offensive behavior. Whether she (Barbara) was aware of how her actions demeaned Pat Tillman and his family is moot, it did.

    Justin has fought long and hard to get the deserved recognition of atheist service members. If you don’t like his approach, which has obviously been very affective, put your money where your mouth is and see if you can do better but don’t get an attitude about it.

    To say you don’t support the foxhole atheists? WHAT THE FUCK? Childish!!!

  • redmann

    Bobo and RustyBrainpan, your accommodatist attitude does not solve the problem of such unconscious religious privilege. This women apparently just assumed that it was OK to use a cross for the purpose of remembrance of dead soldiers. Either she lives in a cocoon of ignorance or she is just arrogant. Either way, not pointing this out just allows it to continue. The religious will never doubt their sense of privilege unless it is long and loudly pointed out to them, even then most of them will deny it. Kissing their spiritual asses will not advance the cause of rationality one iota. Hopefully it might make the not yet brain dead question their beliefs.

  • Evan Donovan

    UPDATE:

    I have spoken with Barbara. She has received a number of emails via the church’s reverend, and she intends to remove the cross tomorrow morning.

    Regarding my comment, I meant only that I did not believe the crosses were of significance to the memorial itself, i.e. it was not church-based since she started it herself, in her own yard, and wasn’t thinking of each soldier’s religion. But I cannot/should not have addressed that, because I cannot speak for her.

  • http://irrelevantprocess.blogspot.com mxh

    Putting an atheist’s name on a cross after their death is just like Mormons posthumously baptizing people into their religion. Even if they do it because they honestly believe they are doing a good thing, it is wrong.

  • Nathaniel Frein

    That’s the problem, Evan. She wasn’t thinking of the Soldier’s religion.

    Mrs. Morris lives in a society that allows her to worship the denomination of Christianity she feels is right. This is a chance for her (and you) to learn that other people feel that their own faith (or lack thereof) deserves as much respect as her (or your) own.

  • Alverant

    Evan Donovan

    If it is not church-based, then why does it take place at a church? I hope you can understand the problem people would have when they see a church supporting a woman who’s acting as if all soldiers who died in Iraq were christian.

    Did Barbra say what she was going to replace the cross with by chance? I may be a little paranoid but I wouldn’t be surprised if she decided some petty revenge or “accidentally” did something offensive again. And what’s going to happen next year? Will she fix her mistake or leave Tillman off the list and not honor his sacrifice at all?

  • Justin Griffith

    Evan Donovan is not like other reporters. He called me directly – and he genuinely meant the things he said in our discussion. A lot of that will never come forward.

    I took him to task for things his post did not address, and he continues to at least give a shit even this late in the evening.

    He deserves some recognition despite his ignorance of our plight – simply because he’s a journalist who is not so jaded that we may as well have been talking about county fair pumpkin sizes, or dull city hall re-districting. He swung and missed – but at least he swung.

    I’m not about to excuse his report for failing to realize that 100% crosses does not make an accurate ‘memorial day story’… but I am willing to have a conversation after the fact.

    Thanks for coming here (and reaching out to me via phone) to take the heat, but don’t expect anything other than more of it in this particular thread. We’ll talk.

  • lulzie

    Hero? lol

  • http://Www.eselby.com Ed Selby

    Wow, this is a perfect example of “pick your battles”. The anger, vitriol, and even violence expressed by so many of you is what gives us all a bad name.

    No malice or dis-respect was intended. And if some of you have actually SEEN The Pat Tillman story, you will know that his beliefs or non-beliefs were not for public consumption. He was a soldier, a hero, and a great man. He was honored with the other fallen, and only the dickish side of the atheist community has made it n issue.

    Let it go, folks.

  • Justin Griffith

    @53 most of us – including the person who wrote this article – espoused a specifically non-violent attitude towards this situation.

  • ChuckV

    I just sent a very polite email to the Reverend at the church. I’m hoping a few nice words mixed in with other’s anger works out.

  • Tracy

    As a fellow atheist who is easily saddened by Christians effort to impose their beliefs… I am not offended by this at all.

    I think this was a misunderstanding, and the woman behind it had nothing but a kind heart.

    To be honest I think all of the outrage is making us athiests into what society “thinks” we are.

    Food for thoug

  • ChuckV

    reading some of the comments I missed before, I don’t think Barbara fully understands it. Mr. Donovan says she will remove the cross tomorrow. I assume that will be only Tillman’s cross. I don’t think she understands that there are many others. Removing just one does not solve that.

  • Christopher Petroni

    The anger, vitriol, and even violence expressed by so many of you is what gives us all a bad name.

    Christian privilege is what gives us a bad name. Too many Christians dismiss or condemn atheists just because they are atheists.

    Anger is a proper response to unthinking exhibitions of Christian privilege, well-intended or not. Intent is not magic. And assuming that putting a soldier’s name on a Christian symbol without regard to that soldier’s actual beliefs is a paradigmatic example of Christian privilege, as well as deeply offensive to that soldier’s sacrifice to his/her secular nation.

    To be honest I think all of the outrage is making us athiests into what society “thinks” we are.

    Exactly what does society “think” we are, Tracy?

    If they think we’re “angry,” I think they’re right. And we have every reason to be.

  • N. Nescio

    I am curious about the flexibility of the definition of “violent”. Several individuals commenting here, including Mr. Donovan, used that word to describe SGT Griffith’s reaction to what he perceives to be a highly offensive imposition of Christian privilege on the part of Ms. Morris, Cornerstone Church, and Channel 14. I share his offense.

    I would like to take this time to remind those using the word “violent” as an accusation against SGT Griffith to have a look at actual language calling for violence: http://jesusfetusfajitafishsticks.blogspot.com/2012/01/ahlquist-screenshots-if-by-christian.html

    Forcefully disagreeing with the misguided and privileged actions of a “little old lady” (what the hell does that have to do with anything anyway?)

    IS NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME THING as calling for people to inflict physical damage against Ms. Morris OR the memorial OR anybody who supports it or disagrees with SGT Griffith’s stance.

    I challenge Mr. Donovan and the others to get a grip.

  • A. Noyd

    Tracy (#56)

    To be honest I think all of the outrage is making us athiests into what society “thinks” we are.

    What, that we’re people who are tired that the best-case-scenario treatment atheists get from the Christian majority is being erased by the well-meaning? That we find erasure especially ironic when it happens to an atheist soldier on a day set aside for memoralizing soldiers? That we want people to realize this sort of presumption doesn’t happen in a vacuum? That the intentions might mitigate the offense if it was a one-off thing rather than, in effect, yet another thoughtless reinforcement of the notion that “there are no atheists in foxholes”—a view so common there are atheists who buy into it?

    To be honest, I think you should be more outraged. But if you don’t want to be, then don’t. Just don’t tell others we should fear being seen as angry because people who already don’t listen to us might keep dismissing us.

  • Mark

    Just how Pat and his family didnt want to be made into a martyr as a “great Christian American” he probably wouldn’t have wanted to be a martyr for Athiets either. And to make him into some outspoken atheist hero seems a bit presumptive and hypocritical on your part. You guys are doing the same thing she is! Its pretty amusing how you all fail to see that. He probably wouldn’t give a shit about the cross with his name, probably a little more about the ineptitude of the men he was with that accidentally killed him and the government lying to public about it.

  • Tony

    Evan Donovan:

    I do not believe the crosses are of any religious significance.

    If that’s the case, then you don’t know much about religious imagery. Are crosses in a graveyard the only type that lack religious significance? What about crosses in church? What about crosses around the neck? Please explain how a cross in church or around your neck can have religious significance, yet that significance is not present on graveyard crosses.

    bobo:

    You are way out of line, Justin.

    Care to explain *how* Justin is out of line. From where I sit, he’s perfectly justified in his anger. In one breath, the attempt to honor Pat Tillman is completely negated by associating him with human sacrifice.

    Your language, demeanor, and violent attitude does nothing to help the movement, and quite frankly gives me pause when I think about supporting RBB.

    What violent attitude?

    Justin is mad.

    There is no indication that he has a violent attitude. In fact, just the opposite, as he’s indicated.

    An argument could be made that people like you, who are worried about *tone*, do nothing to help the movement. Sometimes being nice isn’t called for (and no, that’s not a call for anything violent). Sometimes it is. There’s no foolproof method that can reach everyone.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Evan Donovan

    Just to explain why people are so angry:

    At the moment there is a definite move to evangelise the military, and part of that is by minimising the presence and contributions of atheist soldiers.

    I am sure you are aware of the offense caused by the claim that “There are no atheists in foxholes” or that atheists can neither be “true citizens or patriots” – concepts which are heavily pushed by the religious right.

    Part of this is downplaying the atheism of atheists who have actually been in foxholes, or died as patriots. By using specifically Christian symbols to represent atheist soldiers this memorial plays into that, and makes life harder for atheists who are actively serving in the military right now.

    Further it is disrespectful to the wishes of Tillman’s very definitely atheist family. There is something distinctly distasteful about how Christians specifically tend to try to claim the honoured dead, and the horror of that is very real to atheists given issues like the Lady Hope myth.

    It is one of the reasons why Richard Dawkins proclaimed he wanted witnesses at his death, just to keep such shenanigans from happening to him.

    That this woman did this out of ignorance rather than malice does not change the effect her actions may have. Tillman was likely not the only atheist whose name got added to a cross, nor are atheists the only group who would have been treated that way.

    How many of those crosses have names of Muslim, or Jewish, or Hindu or even Wiccan soldiers? Tillman’s name came up because we know he was very definitively an atheist, whose family slapped down Christians trying to appropriate his name.

    What about all the other names that aren’t so well known?

    @Mark

    A call for basic honesty and human decency does not a martyr make. Tillman may not have wanted to be an “atheist martyr” but he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be a Christian one you fucking douche piece of shit.

  • Mark

    @Bruce How am I fucking douche piece of shit? That’s a little uncalled for… I’ll still try to engage you in a rational discussion anyways. Could please explain to me how your group on here isnt doing the same exact thing as the Right was doing by using his death to push their own agenda? I watched the clip of his brother at the funeral and he did mention that “Pat wasn’t that religious.” But that doesn’t mean he was some outspoken-atheist worthy of being the poster boy for your cause.. If there is more evidence that he was an atheist with strong views then please link it or tell me where I can find it. I’m not saying he was or he wasn’t but you are making assumptions about him and his views/beliefs just like the woman was with the cross.

    For the record we are on the same side here, as a Jew (non-practicing) growing in the south there wasnt much compassion or acknowledgment of anyother religions, so I definitley understand your frustrations but you guys are going about this with the wrong attitude (calling people fucking douches for voicing there opinions is a prime example) During the holidays when people tell me “Merry Christmas” I fucking smile and say “Happy Holidays” not “Hey asshole Im a jew!!” Yes, in a sense they are forcing religion on me but I don’t care, do you know why..??? Its because they are justtryin to be pleasant and wish me the best, they don’t need some condescending, jaded, arrogant dude biting their heads off. There is a time a place to voice your outrages and focusing them on a woman who only wanted to pay tribute to fallen soldiesr is obviously not worthy of such a reaction. A snarky blog post and any eye roll should have been enough.

  • Christopher Petroni

    Could please explain to me how your group on here isnt doing the same exact thing as the Right was doing by using his death to push their own agenda?

    Certain Christians were co-opting Tillman’s death to promote their religion. Ms. Morris did the same.

    Here in this thread, on the other hand, we’re merely angry that Christians co-opted Tillman’s death to promote their religion.

    This isn’t difficult.

    I watched the clip of his brother at the funeral and he did mention that “Pat wasn’t that religious.” But that doesn’t mean he was some outspoken-atheist worthy of being the poster boy for your cause.. If there is more evidence that he was an atheist with strong views then please link it or tell me where I can find it.

    He was an atheist. Watch the documentary “The Tillman Story,” or read virtually anything about Tillman on the Internet. Again, not difficult.

    Whether he had “strong views” (whatever that might mean) is irrelevant. Again, no one is co-opting Tillman’s memory for some “atheist cause.” We’re expressing anger at unthinking expressions of Christian privilege.

    During the holidays when people tell me “Merry Christmas” I fucking smile and say “Happy Holidays” not “Hey asshole Im a jew!!” Yes, in a sense they are forcing religion on me but I don’t care, do you know why..??? Its because they are justtryin to be pleasant and wish me the best . . . .

    And their intentions are irrelevant. Saying “Merry Christmas” to perfect strangers is yet another paradigmatic example of Christian privilege, and they deserve to be called out on it.

    There is a time a place to voice your outrages and focusing them on a woman who only wanted to pay tribute to fallen soldiesr is obviously not worthy of such a reaction. A snarky blog post and any eye roll should have been enough.

    Ms. Morris did not only want to pay tribute to a fallen soldier. She wanted to do so against the backdrop of her own religion, as if the heroism those fallen soldiers demonstrated is a Christian attribute by default. She co-opted their names to glorify her religion, whether or not that was her express intent. That is a worthy target of outrage.

    Besides which, who here has done substantially more than a snarky blog post or eye roll? We’re only posting on a blog. Some have sent emails (no indication that they were rude), and Ms. Morris has already agreed to take the cross down. No one threw any punches or threatened any violence (other than to TV sets.) Absolutely no harm resulted or was threatened. What’s the problem?

  • Thomas Sea

    Three points:

    Intent is not magic.

    Lack of research or understanding is not an excuse.

    Asking someone to stop disrespecting a dead soldier is not “dickish” or “making a martyr of them”

  • http://www.crosspointechurch.tv Student Ministry Yorba Linda

    It’s so sad to see the politicians playing like this over the dead. Those who died for the country never cared if they were protecting Christians, Jews or anyone else. So why label them now. They just need honor. Lets give them that.

  • Izzy

    Here is my 2 cents for what is worth.

    Ms. Morris shouldn’t just remove the cross, she should replace it with a non-religious marker bearing correct rank and name of Pat Tillman. He deserves that. If she thought he was deserving the memory before just the fact that he was an atheist shouldn’t make that any less deserving. I would even argue that by just removing she is making another statement that she only honors Christian fallen soldiers.

  • Bruce Gorton

    @Bruce How am I fucking douche piece of shit?

    Lets put it this way:

    Could please explain to me how your group on here isnt doing the same exact thing as the Right was doing by using his death to push their own agenda?

    You think that simply standing up for basic honesty is “just as bad as the religious right.” Your dedication to something as basic as honesty is trumped by your dedication to your masturbatory fantasies of tolerance.

    It is revolting that you cannot see the difference between the two, that you are incapable of noting the moral difference between a true, well known statement “Pat Tillman was an atheist” and the false one represented by that cross.

    It is disgusting that you cannot see the difference between asserting the true contributions of atheist members of the armed forces, and the deception represented by those crosses.

    That you cannot see the difference between “Atheist soldiers exist” and attempts to whitewash their atheism away.

    It is horrifying that you cannot see the difference between a religious person wishing you a happy Christmas, and that same religious person lying about the religious convictions of the dead.

    You cannot see the moral difference between telling lies and telling the truth and you think this inability marks you as somehow superior to others. You see this as somehow being enlightened.

    It does not, it marks you as being the exact opposite of enlightened.

  • Alverant

    OT slightly, this indicent to me is another example that christianity isn’t so much a religion but a marketing campaign. Their symbol is a cross which is a functional shape. We use it for telephone poles, building structures, upside-down sword, etc. So it makes it easy to pull a cross out of some building wreckage (like the WTC) and use it as proof of their religion. In this case the cross is easy to pound into the ground and the crossbar gives one a convenient place to write down a name. What other religious symbol has that kind of built-in multi-tasking?

  • http://www.facebook.com/HoldenSedan colinryan

    This is a really sad story. It’s another example of a fool christian stroking her own ego with a fucked up memorial to her own god induced inadequacies. I didn’t know who Pat Tillman was until an hour ago, I have learned from this page that he was a well known and respected man in a country that loves and respects men like this. Take a look at the cross that Barbara Morris made. It’s fucking horrible, If Mr Tillman was a christian he wouldn’t be honoured by that ugly piece of pre-school craft scrawled on by a blind five year old. The fact that he was a known Atheist shows Morris up for the fucked up hypocrite she is. If the tables were turned and a christian casualty was honoured as an Atheist the uproar from the upper levels religious right would be deafening!

    Pat Tillman died a hero and as such should be honoured as a hero.

    I live in Australia and our culture is very apathetic towards the kind of theism and militarisation that infects the USA.

    We do have very profound similarities though. I am always moved by the emotion and respect the USA shows towards those poor young soldiers who die in battle. I’m sure you’ve heard of our commemoration day, ANZAC DAY 25/April. A very important day when we remember the young men who forged our national identity, an identity based around the love and respect of your mates and the “She’ll Be Right Mate” statement of optimism.

    Solidarity fellow Atheists, don’t let the god bothering cunts get you down.

  • Makoto

    At Relay for Life events (which have their own can of worms with regards to religion, but I’m glossing over that for the moment), they respect and honor those who have fought cancer, and sometimes lost, with a simple bag, a bit of sand in the bottom, a candle inside, and the person’s name on the front. Completely non-religious, but still a powerful marker.

    This person could use non-religious symbols for all fallen soldiers, it’s not that hard. Then it works for all fallen soldiers, with no preference to any religion (and yes, the cross is very much a religious symbol). No need to remove a specific cross, because a non-religious marker would work just as well for him as all other fallen soldiers.

  • Otrame

    Dear Evan Donovan,

    Feel a little bit like you stepped in a fire ant nest?

    I am willing to believe that Ms. Morris did not stop to think about the fact that some of those people she was memorializing were not Christians. To us, you see, that is the problem. Your statement that the cross “wasn’t about religion” comes from the same assumption. A major focus to us is to change that attitude. It matters to us. If you want to know why, try this thought experiment: what would be Ms. Morris’ reaction if a

    Muslim person wished to honor America’s fallen soldiers in a similar fashion and did so on the grounds of a mosque by placing the soldiers names on symbols that represent Islam?

    I would also like to point out that there was no violence mentioned, anywhere on this blog at least, except obviously rhetorical threats to electronic devices owned by the person expressing their unhappiness. Your use of that word comes across as a deliberate attempt to make Justin’s (and others here) response to the story seem completely out of control and vicious. It was not. Now, it is possible that you, the station, the church, or Ms. Morris did receive threats of violence. Some atheists are childish creeps, just as some Christians are, but if that is what you are referring to, you should have said so in your comment. As a journalist, you should know better than that.

    If you are honestly wanting to understand where all those fire ants came from, I strongly recommend that you read Greta Christina’s book Why Are You Atheists So Angry?. If you don’t want to pay more it, a version of the first chapter is on her blog here on Freethought Blogs, but, truthfully, the entire book is very much worth reading for anyone who wants to educate themselves about atheists.

  • Nathaniel Frein

    After letting my thoughts cogitate on this for a bit, I think I might have a little insight as to why this is a big deal to so many people.

    I think there are a couple of reasons.

    First, we’re atheists. We do not believe there is an afterlife (because we see no evidence of one). For many of us, that means that our legacy on this earth after our passing is the closest thing we have.

    Cpl. Tillman was used here as an example simply because he is a known name. His legacy as both a proud warrior and a freethinker is known to many. What I think has been left unspoken is the thought of many other atheist soldiers whose names have been whitewashed and claimed by Christian imagery.

    We fight this battle here, with Cpl. Tillman’s memory, because when we are dead we cannot fight this battle for ourselves. It is only now, while we breath, that we can sit and say that this is not a fair way to treat our fallen brothers.

    I think this is the primary reason we’ve seen such anger in these posts (despite claims to the contrary, I’ve yet to see hate, or violence, or any less reasonable emotions. If you want to see examples of unacceptable responses, feel free to look at reactions to Jessica Alquist).

    But I do think there’s another, somewhat smaller reason to be disgruntled. The truth is, Mrs. Morris didn’t do anything to get to know Cpl. Tillman before she “memorialized” him. It makes me wonder if she’s looked up any of the soldier’s she’s “memorialized” for the past four years, of if she’s just using this as a way to say “Look at me! I’m being a proper patriotic citizen on memorial day!”

  • Justin Griffith

    FYI – I get a surprising trickle of violent threats. In no way is expressing anger or using swear words the same thing. Justified anger is not a useless emotion, clearly. It motivated me to do everything in my power to stop and fix this. The megaphone strategy worked within one hour.

  • scenario

    I tend to look more at the reaction after the fact. People do stupid inconsiderate things all the time without meaning to. If she is an 80 year old women, like many of my mother’s 80 year old friends, she doesn’t have internet, gets her new from the major networks and lives 40 years in the past. If she realized why some people were upset and took steps to fix it, I don’t have much of a problem with it. If she acted like she doesn’t understand why people don’t like it, different story.

    I have more problem with the news media and the church but at least the news did act fast.

    If you don’t have the internet or a smart phone and get all of your information from CBS, NBC and ABC evening news reports, how much would you know about atheists?

    Christmas is a secular holiday as well as religious. If you asked 100 people to name something associated with Christmas how many would say Jesus vs Santa?

  • http://www.myspace.com/ernestopablo dr.Erniepaul Izereckt

    He didn’t think B4 he went 2 work 4 the bleedin’ war machine,if he did he wanted 2 die….

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    Maybe we could send her a few cardboard A’s to use for atheists and advise her to pick 18% at random to get the distribution right.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    It would be far better to use a tombstone shape and not make assumptions. “The cross is not religious, anyway”–ha!

    How many death threats do you get, Justin? I hope you report every traceable one.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    Vehemence isn’t violence.

  • Christopher Petroni

    People do stupid inconsiderate things all the time without meaning to. If she is an 80 year old women, like many of my mother’s 80 year old friends, she doesn’t have internet, gets her new from the major networks and lives 40 years in the past. If she realized why some people were upset and took steps to fix it, I don’t have much of a problem with it. If she acted like she doesn’t understand why people don’t like it, different story.

    The problem, of course, is the unthinking display of Christian privilege in assuming there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with plastering soldiers’ names indiscriminately on a Christian symbol. I’d like to think I’d call my grandmother out for doing that, however well-intentioned she was. And she took steps to fix it precisely because people complained about it.

    If you don’t have the internet or a smart phone and get all of your information from CBS, NBC and ABC evening news reports, how much would you know about atheists?

    Perhaps not much. But she knows more now that atheists have made their anger known.

    Christmas is a secular holiday as well as religious. If you asked 100 people to name something associated with Christmas how many would say Jesus vs Santa?

    Why do you think the “War on Christmas” crowd gets so bent out of shape over Happy Holidays, to the point that they’re comfortable saying “Merry Christmas” to anyone and everyone they meet? HINT: It ain’t Santa.

  • scenario

    @82 That’s why I say I am more concerned about what they do after they find out someone is upset. I can see an old woman being clueless about how a name on a cross would be taken. Step one politely tell people we’re upset and why. If they fix it, fine, lesson learned. If they don’t, get angry.

    The vast majority of people saying merry Christmas are thinking more about Santa than Jesus. I don’t get upset at someone saying merry Christmas to me unless they get upset at my happy holidays to them.

    I reserve my true anger for the willfully ignorant. If someone shows they are willing to learn, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    First I wanna respond to a few things others have said.

    @EllenBeth Wachs (#42)

    This little old lady has subscribed in your weasel ass place!

    Hey, you just “DON’T mess with Granny, amirite?

    You rock.

    @Nathatiel Frein (#50) — Precisely!

    @N. Nescio (#60) — I agree. This blog post in which Justin expresses his frustration and anger (which he has every right to do!) is puppies and kittens compared to the shit that others have flung (mostly at women, for daring to have a voice.)

    Now, my two cents. I can believe that, as a little old lady, she wouldn’t be quite up on technology, and thus unaware of quite a bit. It’s a plausible explanation. What really clinches it for me is the fact that she is willing to correct her error. That puts her firmly in the “misguided but well-intentioned” camp, and I think we should be a touch more understanding about that.

    She made a mistake.

    We all do.

    Should we all be raked over the coals for our mistakes, with no regard for whether or not we’ve learned from them? I don’t think so…

  • Nathaniel Frein

    I’m pretty sure we’ve all moved beyond raking Mrs. Morris (and Mr. Donovan) over the coals.

    Now we’re just responding to the people who felt we were reacting with violence.

  • Liz

    In Pocatello, ID, every year at Century High School for Memorial Weekend they set up a “Field of Heroes,” where there is a named cross for every fallen serviceman/woman from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. No regard for any other beliefs besides the person who came up with the idea, since only crosses are used. It’s sad they force their own beliefs onto the people who fought for everyone to believe as they see fit, whether signified by crosses or not. It’s unbelievably disrespectful, but I doubt it even occurred to the organizers that not all of those people were christian.

  • http://www.floridahumanist.org EllenBeth Wachs

    WMDKitty says:

    May 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    First I wanna respond to a few things others have said.

    @EllenBeth Wachs (#42)

    This little old lady has subscribed in your weasel ass place!

    Hey, you just “DON’T mess with Granny, amirite?

    You rock.

    thanks, I needed that just about right now!

  • Justin Griffith

    I spoke to her yesterday – we had a wonderful conversation and I think you’ll all really like the news about this.

    She did not feel ‘beaten up by the angry atheists’. She said “oh no, what have I done? What would Pat’s MOTHER say?” More to come tonight.


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