Daily dose of Cranston #2: Jim Forti

One by one they came to the podium to implore the banner committee to fight a losing fight paid for by their children’s future.  They deserve a rebuttal.

Jim Forti deplored the climate of aggression and enmity the pro-appeal crowd had maintained for Jessica Ahlquist.  Good for him.  Sadly, being nice does not make someone more reasoned, as this video reveals.

http://youtu.be/8xVjWhOpubo

He says…

“As a practicing Christian I believe I have been given a special gift…”

Oh?

“…and that is the wisdom to realize that there is someone far greater than myself…”

There are lots of people better than you, Jim.  There are lots of people better than me.  It doesn’t take a “special gift” to realize this.  Being a Christian does not make you special.

Of course, Jim was referring to god.  The special gift he’s referring to is his belief that god exists and that 2,000 years ago some guy rose from the dead.  A belief he has reached, as have all Christians no matter how nice, through gullibility, not evidence.

“…and a religious belief that teaches one important fact: to love and accept others as they are.”

Swell.  Of course, one doesn’t need religion to arrive at the conclusion that you should love your neighbors.  However, for the conclusion that love means depriving people of equality, or that love means not calling a doctor as your child dies, or that love means covering your spouse in a cloth bag, or that love means spending your children’s educational dollars to fight to have religious words on a government building, etc., those things all seem to require religion.

And since when is it moral to accept people as they are?  I think people who believe things for bad reasons should not stay as they are.  I think they can do better.  I think they should feel obligated to do better.  The people who oppose equality for gay people?  I want them to change.  The people who prioritize prayers on walls over proper education (people like Jim Forti)?  I want them to change, and I very much think they should.

“The most important words a Christian says and practices is simply “Love thy neighbor as you would want to be loved yourself.”  That, ladies and gentlemen of the council, is something to fight for.”

Those words in the bible, not unlike the prayer banner’s admonition to lose with grace, clearly have little effect.  Look at all the believers in the crowd, Jim.  Are they loving as they would like to be loved?

“It is the true reason to vote to appeal the decision, and I’ll explain.”

And how is the idea that you should love others as you would like to be loved under attack, such that you need to fight for it, Jim?  You never get around to telling us.

“I would ask those who really believe in the Christian faith not to belittle or speak in a cruel and hurtful manner to this young lady…”

But Jim, they do really believe.  And yet, it hasn’t made them better.  In fact, I don’t see how anybody could argue that it hasn’t made them worse.  Take every single person who supports this “neutral, non-prayer mural”, and every single person who has threatened Jessica, and you will find one quality that unites them all: the belief in Jesus.

Jesus fails at making people more loving.  It’s obvious.  So let’s not be in a terrible rush to give Christianity the credit for kindness, Jim.

“I think it’s fair to say that a mural, with words on it, could never hurt anyone.”

Words elevating one class of citizens over another when endorsed by a government that is supposed to serve all its citizens equally sure can!  What if the banner had said “Be happy there’s no god and no hell, so all our successes are the product of our own effort!”?  Would you be arguing for the school to lay off teachers and cut programs to fight for that banner because a mural, with words on it, could never hurt anyone?

“It has inspired thousands of people in the past and in the future will inspire more.  What’s wrong with that?”

Nothing is wrong with that.  Of course, nobody takes issue with that.  They do take issue with the fact that the state must stay neutral on matters of religion.  Eye on the ball, Jim.

“The real question is what is the fear about this mural?  Wouldn’t all of us agree that there a lot more things to be fearful of in this world, and if your real message, Jessica, is to better our schools and our nation, why not look at a cause that is truly fearful…”

I see, so concern about one issue, like her school breaking the law, prohibits Jessica from being concerned about other issues?  Because really, you can only care about one thing at a time.  Do you say to police officers “C’mon guys, why are you worried about thieves?  Don’t you know there are murderers out there?”

“The social media may be our greatest enemy so far…”

In the case of Christianity, this banner, and anybody who wants to bully Jessica from afar, I certainly hope it is. If someone talks about how god has it in for Jessica, it will spread like wildfire; if somebody makes a crummy argument about the banner, ditto.  Social media is fantastic at taking the option of bullying in private away from people.  It creates accountability, and that is anathema to lies and mean people.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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