The bullies of baseball…

Even though it doesn’t feel like it for most Americans, spring really is almost upon us, and with spring comes baseball.  Unfortunately in this country, you apparently can’t attend a major league game (or even other kinds of games) without being forced to participate in a religious exercise or risk opening yourself up for harassment and worse.

Here’s how this particular bully pulpit works.  Usually around the 6th or 7th inning, the spectators are requested to stand for the playing or signing of God Bless America to “honor the troops”.  Typically, stadium managers trot out a sprinkling of uniformed service members to parade and wave on command, because SEE, it’s ABOUT THE TROOPS!  There is no good way to respond – either you refuse to stand at which time you get accused of “disrespecting the troops” or “dishonoring the United States”, or you cave into pressure and stand, even while knowing that this exercise is specifically designed to promote Christian patriotism in service of a Christian nation and the rest of us don’t matter.

And here’s a first hand account (mine) of how it goes in the stands from there.  I’m an Army retiree with almost 23 years of service and during the only major league baseball game I have ever attended, I refused to stand, not because I don’t respect the troops but because I will not be bullied into participating in religious stuff.  However, while I stayed seated, I was intensely uncomfortable and was aware that I was attracting some unwanted attention. After this so-called “honor” was completed, the previously nice lady next to me refused to speak with me or even look at me and the man behind me whispered nice things in my direction, such as “disrespectful bitch”.  And these people were showing restraint, probably because I was clearly with my husband, young stepdaughter, and elderly and disabled parents, but I’m aware of several other instances where worse was said and done to those who choose not to participate.

Granted, major league baseball is a private organization (or as least as private as any sports organization that receives tax subsidies and benefits can be) and that generally means they can legally sponsor any religious activities they choose. However, this particular religious exercise is a complete SHAM in that they claim to play God Bless America “for the troops” and yet this song bears no association with military troops and does nothing to honor any service members.

It’s time this practice was stopped and we need to let major league baseball know it.  Please sign and spread the below petition.

No more God Bless America at Baseball Games

Thanks!

Kathleen Johnson

VP, American Atheists

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About Kathleen Johnson

Vice President and past military director for American Atheists

  • f_galton

    That is a weird practice.

  • Paul Allen

    Sounds like you are just finding shit to complain about.

  • Surprise123

    First, thank you very much for your service.
    But, we are a nation in need of a common civic religion, a religion that imbues social capital and trust among people’s of divergent backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and ideologies. And, you want to not only take religion out of the public sphere, you now want to take it out of the private sector as well, and more importantly, out of one of the few common activities that forms our common identity, sport, a fellowship that forms a common feeling among Americans?
    How about instead of trying to exclude religion from the public (and now private) communal sphere), treating the song “God Bless America” with respect, standing while others are singing, and then coming up with your own pro-reason, pro-empiricism, pro-rationality baseball ditty, and asking others to join in?
    Why don’t you and other anti-religion atheists come up with your own song, a song touting Nate Silver’s baseball stats, the stats that separate the signal from the noise, the stats of rationality that have made America great? And, then, why don’t you atheists stand while singing, and give steely, suspicious looks to those who do not at least stand in respect during your communal performance?
    How about showing a little tolerance, a little creativity, a little communal endeavor, a little respect, how about joining in, instead of being the ideological puritans, the my-way-or-no -way, the naysayers in the room?
    Anti-religion ideologues worry me greatly. Not content with insisting on fair and neutral rules to ensure they, too, can erect displays championing their own values on public property, on public streets, they must now chase religion out from not only the public sphere, but from communal private events that generate societal social capital across ethnicities, across religions, across races.
    I really don’t know who’s worse: Dominionist Christians trying to claim that the founding fathers meant only that Christians were allowed to practice their faith, or anti-religion ideologues trying to claim that our primarily Christian – Deist – Freemason forefathers meant to exclude religion from the public sphere altogether, as well as to exclude it from private communal activities capable of bringing us together in spite of our diverse backgrounds, religions, or ideologies.
    There’s a number of reasons the French revolution turned out so very differently than the American Revolution. And, one of them was that French revolutionaries were hostile to religion, whereas American revolutionaries, heavily influenced by Deist, all-religion tolerating Freemasonry, in which every man was free to explore his relationship with God on his own terms, within his own conscience, were not.

    • Plutosdad

      Oh yes, instead of not alienating people, you think a better solution would be to just add another song that alienates OTHER people? Don’t try to respect others, instead piss off more people. Your solutions is “two wrongs make a right” Not exactly a good thing to do to others.

      • Surprise123

        You really think an Atheist-inspired song touting the benefits of stats at a baseball game is going to alienate non-Atheist baseball fans, quite possibly the most stats obsessed fans there are?

        “Don’t try to respect others…” Is your idea of “respecting others” putting forth a petition to prevent them from participating in a communal song at a baseball game simply because it has the word “God” in it?
        My idea of respect is….showing respect, even if I can’t join in due to beliefs that form my identity. You don’t like a song because it has the word “God” in it? Sit down and ignore the stares. Better yet, stand, but don’t sing. THAT shows respect.
        I’m beginning to suspect that extreme atheist ideologues are incapable of or unwilling to generate social capital based upon positively affirming their own values: they need to make themselves pariahs by attacking the most beloved traditions of the religious everywhere, whether in the public or the private sphere, thereby generating ill will, and thereby creating enough animus against atheists in general to tighten social cohesion among their in-group.

        • Plutosdad

          Here is a good article on why you are wrong, and why everything good that has nothing to do with God is actually atheist (most of us are not anti-theist, we are “a” theist) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2014/01/atheism-is-not-boring-and-void-of-traditions-its-liberating/

          Also, try googling “atheist donations rejected”, “atheist volunteers rejected” etc to see why it appears we don’t do much. You’ll see we do try, but too many christians don’t want to even be around us.

          Besides, I’m not sure why “being sensitive to other people” is somehow bad or not improving social capital.

          • Surprise123

            What is YOUR definition of Atheism? A lack of belief in a God or Gods? The belief that a God or Gods categorically do not exist? Or a lack of belief in the supernatural, or…?

            Thank you for the link. Finke writes good stuff. But, I quess I could only accept his premise that everything good that has nothing to do with God is actually atheist if I understood better what he means by atheism.
            Plus, I think it a little presumptuous (and, not very evidenced based, for that matter :) ) to presume that every piece of art, every piece of music, every example of architecture, every bit of literature created by a self-designated religious person without religious themes is by default, atheist. I mean, it’s quite reasonable to presume that even some works without obvious religious themes were inspired by an antipathy to the artist’s own religion.
            I guess, if we could go back in time, we should ask the artist what inspired him. Was it love of Jesus Christ, Allah, or Budda, was it stories from the Bible, the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, was it the warm flesh of a bosomy woman, was it personal tragedy or loss, was it righteous anger over some injustice, or was it upset that one’s own religion placed so many restrictions on natural, instinctual impulses?
            Patrick O’Brien, the great, great novelist of the Aubrey – Maturin novels based upon the British navy during the Napoleonic wars once said that the artistic process of writing was mysterious to him. He was not able to logically analyze how and why he wrote so damn well. That sounds right to me.
            I think it incredibly presumptuous of us, unless religious themes or themes touting empirically – tested reality are clearly evident to claim that this work or that was inspired by a particular religion or even atheism.
            Moreover, it’s just not very scientific to do so. :)
            I’ve heard that atheists donations and volunteers have been rejected by some organizations and religious groups, and that makes me VERY angry. Keep trying, though….you might just eventually get through…as the openly atheist vestry member at my church realized. We (and the we includes him) love his contributions to OUR church. And, if a local Atheist group wanted to donate their time, efforts, or money to our homeless outreach…come on down.
            .

        • UWIR

          “I’m beginning to suspect that extreme atheist ideologues are incapable of or unwilling to generate social capital based upon positively affirming their own values: they need to make themselves pariahs by attacking the most beloved traditions of the religious everywhere, ”

          It’s quite hypocritical for Christians to insist on injecting religion in everything, and then complain about atheists having a problem with it. If you’re so concerned about “social capital”, why don’t you come up with some secular ways of generating it, rather than relying on institutions that promote anti-atheist bigotry? This blaming the victim is offensive. Atheists don’t make themselves pariahs, society makes them pariahs. And it’s the traditions that are attacking us.

          • Surprise123

            “…why don’t you come up with some secular ways of generating it?” Because, I’m not a secularist? That’s up to the secularists (which, I presume, include Atheists).

            “This blaming the victim is offensive.” Yes, assuming the victimhood mantle is certainly one way to generate social capital…among members of your own in-group, that is, if among no-one else. The problem with Atheists in America though, is that they have such stiff competition: Native Americans who died as a result of exposure to European diseases, ethnic cleansing, and outright genocide; African Americans who were extracted from their homes, sold into chattel slavery, and then experienced Klu Klux Klan terrorism, and Jim Crow Laws; and Japanese Americans, who were interned in concentration camps during WWII without due process, on suspicion they were spies.

            I guess a case could be made that Atheists associated with Communism in the 1st half of the 20th century were spied on, persecuted illegally, and blackballed in Hollywood. Unpleasant certainly, but hardly the stuff that Native Americans, African Americans, and Japanese Americans experienced en masse. And, then, of course associating with the virulently anti-religion Atheism associated with early to mid-century Communism puts one in the fine company of Stalin and Mao. So, THAT is problematic.

            The non-Communist Atheists of today? They’re forced to tolerate a song with the word “God” in it that honors their nation and the troops that fought and died for it. The horror, the horror. A trip to a baseball game, a PRIVATE communal event, mind you, that one would presume, for Atheists, is now like a descent into the heart of darkness.

            And, instead of very reasonably coming up with their own song about their own values (stats, empiricism, reason, skepticism) and how they’ve “blessed” baseball, America, and the troops, and requesting of the MLB that their song be played alongside “God Bless America,” they petulantly issue a petition demanding “No More ‘God Bless America at Baseball Games.”

            Has there been discrimination against Atheists in our country? Absolutely. Do they help their cause by erecting faux “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and faux Satanist displays in city halls; demanding that a steel beam cross found by Christian salvage workers at the World Trade Center be excluded from the 9/11 museum because it had the whiff of religion; or petitioning that the “God Bless America” song that honors America and the troops be silenced at baseball games? You tell me.
            Yes, society has made Atheists pariahs, and now that Atheists are out, are far more tolerated, and, in some instances, even celebrated, some Atheists are, for some inexplicable reason, bound and determined to keep that pariah label.
            I wonder if the inability to create social capital has anything to do with some Atheists’ lack of concern about what non-Atheists think of such petulant, juvenile actions?

          • UWIR

            “Because, I’m not a secularist?”

            A secularist is someone who thinks people should be treated with equality, even if they do not follow the majority religion, and people of the majority religion should not get special treatment and get to bully other people. So, either you don’t understand what secularism is, or you just admitted to being a bigot.

            “Yes, assuming the victimhood mantle”

            Anyone who doesn’t agree that it is inarguable that someone who was called a “bitch” for not engaging in a religious ritual is a victim of bigotry is a bigot.

            “The problem with Atheists in America though, is that they have such stiff competition”

            So, from victim blaming to Oppression Olympics.

            “They’re forced to tolerate a song with the word “God” in it that honors their nation and the troops that fought and died for it.”

            I have ALREADY EXPLAINED how you are misrepresenting the issue, so you’re a liar.

            “they petulantly issue a petition demanding”

            The petition doesn’t demand, it requests, liar.

            “demanding that a steel beam cross found by Christian salvage workers at the World Trade Center be excluded from the 9/11 museum because it had the whiff of religion”

            Another lie.

            “I wonder if the inability to create social capital has anything to do with some Atheists’ lack of concern about what non-Atheists think of such petulant, juvenile actions?”

            When the non-atheists in question are lying, bigoted jerks, it’s understandable that atheists have little desire to concern themselves with what they think. I don’t find it “juvenile” to complain about people being disrespectful, and it speaks to your bigotry that you disagree.

          • Surprise123

            “A secularist is someone who thinks people should be treated with equality.”

            From freedictionary.com:
            sec·u·lar·ism (s k y -l -r z m) n. 1. Religious skepticism or indifference. 2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.
            Nothing about people being treated equally in that definition. What’s the authority for yours?
            And, as we are all well aware of the horrific oppression under the secularist state, the former Soviet Union, how can you conflate treating people with equality with secularism?

          • Surprise123

            “Anyone who doesn’t agree that it is inarguable that someone who was called a “bitch” for not engaging in a religious ritual is a victim of bigotry is a bigot.” Didn’t quite follow your reasoning here. But, you assume that the “disrespectful bitch” comment was a product of religious bigotry, versus a product of patriotic bigotry…based upon absolutely nothing. Did the recipient of the comment ask her rude neighbor whether she was upset by disrespect to the troops or disrespect to God?

          • Surprise123

            I am a bigot. I am very biased. The thing is, I think 99% of our population is, too, but they’re just not willing or able to see it.

            And, one of my personal biases? Virulently anti-religion atheists who believe (not based on empirical evidence, mind you) that ALL religion everywhere at all times is bad, those who want to exile religion completely from the public AND private sphere, and force it into the tiniest corner possible — the four walls of people’s homes, and the embattled four walls of churches, mosques, and temples.

            You know who are some of my heroes? Atheists who do not make a virulent anti-religion stance the cornerstone of their Atheist identity: Katherine Hepburn, the Amazing Randy, Alain de Botton, the writer of “Religion for Atheists.”

          • UWIR

            Paul Loebe: Just to clarify the rules of this blog: when a lying, bigoted piece of shit shows up to post comments full of dishonest misrepresentations discussing how little concern they have for the basic human dignity of anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and it’s really the fault of the oppressed people for daring to ask for respect in the first place that they are oppressed, do you consider it against your commenting policy to talk in blunt terms about what lying, hateful, disgusting bigots they are?

          • Surprise123

            Do you see what’s going on here? I’m attacking your automatic assumptions, your closely held beliefs, and you’ve now reacted much like that women who said “”disrespectful bitch” did: you’re circling the wagons, you’ve identified me as the enemy and now you are trying to ensure that I don’t pollute the nest.

          • Surprise123

            Yes, Paul Loebe controls this blog, and what may and what may not be stated . And, if I hear from him that my comments are unwelcome, I’ll limit what I have to say to protect your sensibilities or leave altogether.

          • Surprise123

            “the oppressed people for daring to ask for respect in the first place” Let’s keep things in perspective. The oppression: experiencing rude comments and hard stares from your neighbors at baseball games, NOT because you’re atheists, but, most likely, because people interpreted your reluctance to stand as disrespect for the troops. Focusing on such minutia

            You’re the ones automatically assuming that people are being rude to you at baseball games upon your identity as Atheists…without evidence mind you.

            What if, instead of trying to silence “God Bless America” at baseball games, you conduct an empirical experiment: Wear Red White and Blue wild clothing, hats with mottos that clearly indicate patriotism, love for the U.S.A and the troops, but remain seated during “God Bless America.” And, then wear Red White and Blue wild clothing, hats with mottos that clearly indicate patriotism, love for the U.S.A and the troops AND your atheism (perhaps “Atheists for the troops,” “Atheists for America” written all over them), but remain seated during the “God Bless America” song. And, see the results.

          • UWIR

            “The oppression: experiencing rude comments and hard stares from your neighbors at baseball games, NOT because you’re atheists, but, most likely, because people interpreted your reluctance to stand as disrespect for the troops.”

            The rude comments were in response to not standing, and the not standing was a result of atheism, therefore the cause of the comments was atheism.

            And you can’t have it both ways. Either:

            A) The fans are being unreasonable.

            B) The fans are being reasonable.

            If A) then the fans are responsible. If B), the ballpark is responsible, by creating a situation in which animosity against atheists is a foreseeable consequence.

            Also, you listed a bunch of instance of atheists supposedly juvenile, in which there were various other types of oppression.

            “And, if I hear from him that my comments are unwelcome, I’ll limit what I have to say to protect your sensibilities or leave altogether.”

            My question was motivated by the fact that the proper characterization of your behavior is quite critical, and I want to clarify to what degree I can be frank in discussing your behavior.

            “Do you see what’s going on here? I’m attacking your automatic assumptions, your closely held beliefs, and you’ve now reacted much like that women who said “”disrespectful bitch” did: you’re circling the wagons, you’ve identified me as the enemy and now you are trying to ensure that I don’t pollute the nest.”

            No, you’re not attacking my assumptions, you’re lying, and you’re expressing bigotry.

            “But, you assume that the “disrespectful bitch” comment was a product of religious bigotry”

            No, I logically conclude that it was the product of bigotry.

            “based upon absolutely nothing.”

            Look, jackass, just because you don’t find my reasoning sufficient, doesn’t mean it’s nothing.

            “Did the recipient of the comment ask her rude neighbor whether she was upset by disrespect to the troops or disrespect to God?”

            If the woman is so wrapped up in her own privilege that it didn’t even occur to her that someone might have a problem participating in a religious song, then she’s bigoted against atheists. If you shoot a bullet into a crowd, and it kills someone, you’re guilty of murder, even if you didn’t know that it was going to hit someone; you knew that it could hit someone, but you didn’t care. This disregard for consequences is called “depraved indifference” This woman has a depraved indifference towards atheists.

            “Nothing about people being treated equally in that definition.”

            Sure there is. “religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs”: the government shouldn’t treat people differently based on religion. Look, I asked you why you weren’t trying to create social capital in a way that doesn’t exclude atheists. Your response clearly indicated that you don’t care about whether atheists are excluded.

          • Surprise123

            “The rude comments were in response to not standing, and the not standing was a result of atheism, therefore the cause of the comments was atheism.” I don’t follow your reasoning here. Those issuing rude comments, your neighbors at baseball games, could have just as easily assumed that your reluctance to stand during “God Bless America” was because you were not American or you were un-patriotic Americans and unwilling to honor American troops.

            If the woman is so wrapped up in her own privilege that it didn’t even occur to her that someone might have a problem participating in a religious song, then she’s bigoted against atheists.” Is that a reasonable statement? What percentage of the population is Atheist? I know that the number of “nones” has risen considerably in our country, but how many are willing to state or indicate out and out that they are Atheist? How many Atheists wear identifiable Atheist signifiers in public? Don an armband with the atomic “A” prominently displayed? Wear T-shirts that say “Religion: you KNOW it’s a myth”? Sing communal songs at baseball games that extol the virtues of empiricism, skepticism, and stats, and how they’ve “blessed” America and the troops?

            Unless you’re willing to undertake an empirical experiment, wear wildly patriotic clothing with “Atheist for America and the troops” emblazoned across it, and see the results, I don’t see how you can “know” that Atheism in and of itself ALONE caused the rude comments.

            Besides, isn’t making such an assertion claiming that only one type of Atheism exists? An Atheism that is so hostile to religion and religious practices that its adherents are unwilling to stand respectfully when their fellow religious Americans sing songs that not only mention God, but that express love of their own country and appreciation for their own troops as well?

            Moderate or ecumenical Catholics, Jews, and Muslims are able to show a modicum of respect for practices associated with the mass delusions, the religions, of others. Aren’t there moderate or ecumenical Atheists out there willing to show a modicum of respect for religious mass delusions and manifestations, while still holding on to their own mass delusion (that the “Good” in this life — the afterlife being non-existent — is PRIMARILY achieved by eschewing belief in supernatural deities and a supernatural moral code)?

            “Sure there is (vis-à-vis the assumption that “People being treated equally” is inherent in the definition of secularism, which is 1. Religious skepticism or indifference. 2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education).”

            I really don’t know what to say. We, obviously, are both able to look at words in a definition and come up with two very diverse meanings. Besides, secularism, based on the two definitions above, does not preclude horrific oppression against the religious in the public OR private sphere. See Kim Jong Ill’s North Korea, in which a Christian possessing a bible can be imprisoned or even executed, as a “Secularist” state in which “People being treated equally” does not apply.

            “Look, I asked you why you weren’t trying to create social capital in a way that doesn’t exclude atheists.” I am. I’m encouraging Atheists to forego juvenile demonstrations of faux belief in “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” and Satanism, as well as petitions intended to silence the singing of “God Bless America” at baseball games, activities that ACTIVELY damage any EXISTING social capital Atheists might have. And, I am encouraging them to positively affirm their identity in the public and private spheres, activities which ENHANCE their social capital among the general public (by respectfully standing — but not singing — during “God Bless America” at baseball games, while wearing red, white and blue t-shirts emblazoned with “Atheist for America and the troops; or requesting that, along with “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land,” or “Empirical Stats Bless America” are sung during the game. And, I ask that while positively asserting their own Atheist identity, they don’t suppress positive, ecumenical affirmations of identity of the religious in the public or the private sphere..

            “Your response clearly indicated that you don’t care about whether atheists are excluded.” Don’t my suggestions on how to enhance the positive social capital of Atheists in the general society refute that assertion?

            You shouldn’t see me as the enemy. The Atheist – ists, the virulently ant-religion Atheists who, instead of demanding that their own values and beliefs be represented fairly and neutrally, mock, suppress, and try to legislate away any and all assertions of religious belief and identity in the public AND private sphere, even positive ECUMINICAL ones.

            Atheist – ists are to Atheism what Westboro Church Baptists are to Christianity in America: destroyers of positive social capital in the general society vis-à-vis their own in-group.

  • Surprise123

    How about, instead of a negative, anti-religion, “anti-God-Bless-America Song” petition, how about a communal effort to come up with an atheist – friendly baseball song, a song that touts Nate Silver’s stats and how they “blessed” baseball, as well as other stats that have “blessed” America? Even better, commission a well-respected Country Christian songwriter to come up with the jaunty song – how’s that for spreading good will, and possibly opening the minds of conservative Christians to your values?
    Atheist activists are smart, they’re clever, they’re excellent at System 2 analytical thinking, they’re excellent at satire and mockery, but they suck at the whole wisdom thang. You shouldn’t be just anti-religion and anti-activities that generate social capital across ethnicities, across races, across religions, you should be FOR something.
    Be FOR stats, which are the very essence of empiricism. And, within the context of baseball, a sport in which many of the fans are stats – obsessed, what could be more fitting?

    • Spectrall

      How about “Take Me Out To the Ballgame”? That seemed to work just fine for a long time, until we decided post-9/11 that the military and religion needed to be injected into everything.

      • Surprise123

        As far as I know, “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” ALWAYS is sung at baseball games.

        “…until we decided post-9/11 that the military and religion needed to be injected into everything.” THAT’s a pile of hooey.
        And, other than the fact that the song chosen includes the word “God” in it, why is this the American Atheists fight? What aren’t they suggesting the first verse of the song “This Land is Your Land” instead? Why do they insist in making all Atheists pariahs in their own country?
        Are American Atheists inherently adverse to communal displays of patriotism, with or without references to God and religion?

        • godlessveteran

          How is this “god” shit in any way patriotic?

          • Ted Thompson

            Man, that phrase needs a picture!

    • UWIR

      “How about, instead of a negative, anti-religion, ”

      How about you stop lying about what the petition is?

      “You shouldn’t be just anti-religion and anti-activities that generate social capital across ethnicities,”

      Ostracizing atheists is the OPPOSITE of generating social capital. You are being very offensive by suggesting that it’s a good thing to promote patriotism among Christians by marginalizing atheists.

      • Surprise123

        It’s widely understood that Atheists are people uncomfortable with joining in: they are, for the most part, individualists.

        Perhaps this isn’t about the word “God” in the song, or the associated patriotism, perhaps this is about being expected to join in with a communal activity. Because, otherwise, the author of this article would suggest a less religiously overt song to replace “God Bless America.”

        “You are being very offensive” Aren’t Atheists usually the first to say that, under the 1st Amendment, with the right of freedom of speech, you have no right NOT to be offended?
        Atheists are fine with people expressing insults, they’re fine with people expressing pornography, they’re fine with people depicting violence vis-à-vis freedom of expression: but, they are not so cool with people expressing communally the expectation of joining in?
        And, not only are they, for the most part, adverse to “joining in,” they now want to make social cues vis-à-vis expectations of joining in verboten, even in the private communal sphere.
        AGAIN, WHY DOESN’T THE GROUP, AMERICAN ATHEISTS, SUGGEST A POPULAR SONG HONORING AMERICA AND HER TROOPS THAT DOES NOT REFERENCE RELIGION OR GOD? THE FIRST VERSE OF “THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND,” FOR EXAMPLE?
        What is this actually about? That the song has the word “God” in it? That the song is patriotic and honors the troops? Or, that those attending the baseball game, are, expected by their neighbors to join in?

  • Miss_Beara

    If there is one thing that the Chicago Cubs does right, is that they do not do this. Only on Sundays before the Star Spangled Banner is God Bless America. During the seventh inning stretch is Take Me Out to the Ballgame, you know, a song that is actually about baseball.

    the previously nice lady next to me refused to speak with me or even look at me and the man behind me whispered nice things in my direction, such as “disrespectful bitch”.

    ‘murica.

    • Surprise123

      Being called a “disrespectful bitch” is admittedly, unpleasant. But, there is no constitutional prohibition against you expressing yourself by remaining seated during songs that mention “God,” nor is there a constitutional prohibition against your neighbor on the bench expressing herself by whispering bad things about you in response. THAT’s ” ‘murica.”
      What the author of this article is calling for is a ban on people singing songs that affirm their own identity, without directly attacking yours, but that still make you uncomfortable….during a private baseball game.
      And, I thought Atheists were supposed to be champions of the right to free expression? Or, is it only tolerance for free expression, as long as “God” doesn’t come into the picture?

      • Kathleen Duncan Johnson

        The problem here is not necessarily the playing of “God Bless America”. If it was done as a clearly religious exercise by a private organization, than no issue. But MLB doesn’t do that – instead, they disguise it as something else – supporting the troops, showing patriotism, etc. If they can’t be honest about what they are doing, than they shouldn’t do it. Besides, the dishonest aspect of it is disrespectful to nonChristian troops and it forces paying customers into participating in a religious or patriotic exercise or risk harassment or worse. What the heck does God Bless America have to do with baseball anyway? Not a damn thing…

        • Surprise123

          So, if the song in question was the first verse of “This Land is Your Land” versus “God Bless America” you would still be issuing a similar petition, asking that the MLB stop singing that damn song supporting the troops and exhibiting all that patriotism crap?
          You ask what does baseball have to do with supporting patriotism and the troops; I ask in return, what does atheism have to do with NOT supporting patriotism and the troops?
          What is this about after all? A protest about being forced to sit through a communal song that mentions God during a baseball game? Or, a protest against being forced to sit through a communal song that supports patriotism and the troops during a baseball game?
          If it’s the first, your petition should, perhaps request that the MLB use the more secular first verse of “This Land is Your Land” or suggest another song to replace or even simply accompany “God Bless America” that recognizes the analytical thinking, reason, and stats that have “blessed” baseball, America, and the troops.
          If it’s the second, why are the American Atheists submitting such a petition at all? I could see the American Pacifists submitting such a petition, or perhaps the American Quakers or the American Jainists, but the American Atheists? What’s up with that? And, aren’t there Atheists in the U.S. military who might want to be honored during a baseball game?
          I am VERY confused.

          • Paul Loebe

            You ARE very confused…ing. What? You make absolutely no sense.

      • Sven2547

        What the author of this article is calling for is a ban on people singing songs that affirm their own identity

        Disagreeing with something and asking them to stop is not “calling for a ban”.

        • Surprise123

          I don’t mean to quibble, but the title of the petition is “No More ‘God Bless America’ at Baseball Games.”
          It’s not about asking that they stop, it’s about demanding that they stop.
          Otherwise, a petition asking them to stop would be titled: “Please stop with the ‘God Bless America’ already: ‘God Bless America’ Hurts Atheist Soldiers.”

          • UWIR

            What are you talking about? The title is “The petitioners request that the playing of God Bless America at baseball games to honor service members or as a patriotic exercise be discontinued.”

          • Surprise123

            I copied and pasted the author’s words below:
            Please sign and spread the below petition.

            No more God Bless America at Baseball Games
            I was not able to access the link, and assumed that the words “the below petition” meant that the title of the petition was incorporated in the link.

      • UWIR

        “God Bless America” most certainly does attack the identity of atheists. And it’s not about people singing songs, it’s about being pressured into participating.

        • Surprise123

          ” ‘God Bless America’ most certainly does attack the identity of atheists.” I don’t understand. How does another in-group asserting their identity in a way that does not condemn you, that does not identify atheists as enemies, filth, or trash, IN THE PRIVATE COMMUNAL SPHERE attack the identity of Atheists?
          So, are you trying to claim that every communal (and, perhaps, individual?) assertion of religious identity is “threatening to your identity”?
          Are you going to try to prevent Orthodox Jews, Amish Christians, Sikh men, and Muslim women dressed in in their religious garb from congregating in the public or even private sphere?
          Are you going to make sure that Christians caroling their neighborhoods at Christmas can’t do so?
          Is it the COMMUNAL nature of their identity assertion? Is it the RELIGIOUS nature of their identity assertion that is so objectionable to you? Or, is it the expectation that you should join in, by at least standing during the song?

          • UWIR

            “God bless America” links patriotism with religion, in the context of atheists widely viewed as being not true Americans, and the pressure to participate seals the deal.

          • Surprise123

            Then create patriotic songs linking empiricism and science and skepticism to the “blessings” America has had, and request that they be sung alongside “God Bless America.”
            Or, why don’t you wear red, white and blue clothing emblazoned with “Atheist for America and the troops,” if you believe Atheism and Patriotism are not mutually exclusive?
            Why do you have to suppress the non-threatening religious practices and values of others, while refusing to positively assert your own practices and values?
            There may very well be a reason that virulently secularist states, states ruled by the dogma that belief in supernatural deities and a supernatural moral code is illegal (i.e. the former Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea) are so gray and lifeless. Is there a correlation?

          • Ted Thompson

            Succinctly, no. Stop being so intentionally daft. Of course it’s a private game. Of course they can sing whatever the hell they want. (I somehow doubt an Islamic prayer would receive the same consideration from the Christian constituent..) The point is that this is spectacularly exclusive of people of other faiths in the audience. I’m really sure the military folks wouldn’t give a damn what song was sung.

          • Paul Loebe

            Is this where I finally get to use the phrase “check your privilege” and mean it?

  • Stev84

    I’m not against this because it’s religious, but because it’s pseudo-patriotic, military worshiping BS. One can respect the military without praising and worshiping soldiers every five seconds. The only effect it has is that it leads to a militarized society.

    Then of course there is the irony of spouting more in(s)ane BS like “they fight for our freedom”, while bullying people into saying the pledge of allegiance, sing the national anthem or engage in such stupid rituals.

    • Surprise123

      America needs to bolster its civic religion, needs to bolster trust among people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions (or non-religions) beliefs. It was once a nation founded upon the very tolerant views of Deist – Freemasonry, a quasi-religion in which every man was able to explore his relation to God within his own conscience, on his own terms….and, that meant that the word “God” could mean as many things as there were people: it allowed people of very different belief systems to project what they wanted to project on the word — omnipotent sky father deity, unknowable spiritual force, spiritual ideal that human beings try to attain; but there now seems to be efforts in place to chase religious identity, spiritual identity from both the public sphere AND now from the private sphere (as this “Anti – God Bless America song” petition seems to indicate).

    • Jeff

      “The only effect it has is that it leads to a militarized society.”

      Wrong! It also has the effect of making social demigods of anybody who signs up for the military.

  • Boomer8238

    Call me old fashioned, but I’d never be opposed to ‘standing’ in deference to people who put their lives on the line to protect my country. (This is notwithstanding the controversy over should we be involved in our current conflicts or not. That’s a political issue.)

    But to stand and honor Solders, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Law Enforcement or Fire Fighters is simply a sign of respect for THEM… not necessarily how they are being used. I probably wouldn’t sing ‘God Bless America’, but I’d be happy to stand.

    • Paul Loebe

      As a war vet I would applaud anyone with the courage to not stand.

    • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

      The way the USA fetishises its military is deeply weird to me.

  • Mr. Two

    The Astros don’t do this either, though for a few years beginning after the 9/11 event they did. Now it’s back to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” followed by “Deep in the Heart of Texas”. Even though I was a Christian at the time, that song bothered me, and I was glad when they quit playing it.

  • UWIR

    ” in a religious or patriotic exercise or face harassment from other spectators by failing to participate.

    I think it should be “for failing to participate”.

  • R Vogel

    The ironic part of this, I find, it the general lack of respect people give to the playing of the national anthem. If they are in the stands they will stand, if they are anywhere else in the stadium they simply ignore it. Virtually no one under 40 removes their hat. I remember a video going around a little while back with kids playing at a base playground when colors started. The one yelled colors and they all stopped, faced the flag and stood attentive until the end. That is respect for the troops and flag that they serve! I am not an atheist, but I support and applaud your fortitude, Kathleen. Semper Fi!


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