Second comment: Rebecca doesn’t think the Cranston banner should have come down.

Our next comment comes from Rebecca:

I’m a Christian and I think that looking at the majority of us from the few that do the wrong thing is misleading. I, as a Christian personally hate it when other Christians shove their religious beliefs down other people’s throats, and they goes for all religious and that includes Atheism. I do not agree that the school should be focused to take down the mural, nor should prayers be forbidden in school. That disadvantages Christianity as a religion. If this was a discussion in terms of something that impacted non-Christians in a negative way then it would be something worth discussing. The responds from Christians on this issue though, is also appalling. Threating physical or emotional abuse towards someone who has a different view on life is wrong also. Jessica should not be focused to pray nor should she be a focus of a public Facebook attack using pray as a defence. However, trying to remove this mural is not a moral correct move on her part either. We live in a world where we must all be tolerant of each other, or hate crimes are just going to get worse.

There is a lot I thought Rebecca missed.

I’m a Christian and I think that looking at the majority of us from the few that do the wrong thing is misleading.

But you are all doing the wrong thing: you are all believing based on faith.  Sure, this causes some people to be tremendous monsters, and I’m not saying that all Christians are terrible monsters, but what I am saying is that all of them throw reason to the wind, and that is my gripe.  If you think I’m wrong about this, you may feel free to defend the truth of your personal claims about god.

After all, you admit in that sentence that there are bad Christians out there, shouldn’t your beliefs be more credible than theirs if you are to really say they’re wrong?

I, as a Christian personally hate it when other Christians shove their religious beliefs down other people’s throats, and they goes for all religious and that includes Atheism.

Atheism is not a religion.  It is, in fact, as far from a religion as you can get.  Saying atheism is a religion is like saying good health is also a sickness.

And I can actually understand when Christians try to shove their beliefs down my throat.  After all, if eternal torment is on the line, I’d expect nothing less from the compassionate.  It’s the Christians who believe I’m going to hell, who walk right past me without mutter so much as a syllable as if to say “Yeah, you’re going to hell, but if a conversation might save you, I’m sorry, that’s just too much hassle for me.  I got mine!”

Likewise, I feel it would be immoral of me not to combat unreason.  Most people have good intentions, but what makes most of the human-driven suffering in this world is well-intentioned people with inaccurate beliefs.  And because beliefs are the gatekeepers of actions, and our actions affect those around us, the accuracy of your beliefs in very much my business.  That’s not “shoving anything down your throat”, it’s holding you accountable.  What I am saying is “you’re wrong, here’s why.”  The message of religion is “believe like us, or suffer for eternity” and pushing for legislation that makes their faith above the law, or requires non-believers to abide by their wonky moral code.  One group is shoving their beliefs down the throats of everybody else.  The other group, my group, is finished gagging on it.

I do not agree that the school should be focused to take down the mural, nor should prayers be forbidden in school.

Nowhere is prayer forbidden in school.  Mandatory, government-endorsed prayer is forbidden, but students can pray until they’re blue in the face, and they do.

That disadvantages Christianity as a religion.

No.  You do not grasp the difference between censorship and neutrality.  Having a Christian mural on the wall, unaccompanied by murals for other faiths, is an endorsement of Christianity.  Not having it there, along with not having the banner of anything else, is neutrality.  Giving Christianity the same treatment as other faiths is equality, not a disadvantage.

If this was a discussion in terms of something that impacted non-Christians in a negative way then it would be something worth discussing.

Hanging up the banner of one religion conveys a message that Christians are somehow more special than others.  Our government, which is precisely what a public school is, is not allowed to treat one group of Americans as second-class citizens.  To quote Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (in Lynch v. Donnelly, which took place in Rhode Island)…

Protecting religious freedoms may be more important in the late twentieth century than it was when the Bill of Rights was ratified. We live in a pluralistic society, with people of widely divergent religious backgrounds or with none at all. Government cannot endorse beliefs of one group without sending a clear message to non-adherents that they are outsiders. 

Or this from Justice Hugo Black…

When the power, prestige, and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain.

That is precisely what the prayer banner did.  If you work for the government, such as in a public school, you cannot give sectarian religion precedence.  The “freedom” to marginalize others while serving in that capacity is afforded to nobody, and rightly so.

The responds from Christians on this issue though, is also appalling. Threating physical or emotional abuse towards someone who has a different view on life is wrong also.

Yes, yes it is.  But it’s wrong because it’s cruel, not because god said so.

However, trying to remove this mural is not a moral correct move on her part either.

Yes, it is.

We live in a world where we must all be tolerant of each other, or hate crimes are just going to get worse.

You seem to equate tolerating each other with staying silent while one group of students is marginalized or while Christians are flagrantly violating the law, as they were with the prayer banner.  Neither of those is ok, and lending them tacit endorsement in an effort to be tolerant merely makes you an accomplice, and a snooty one at that.

Telling other people they’re wrong is not intolerant.  Telling Christians to obey the law is not intolerant.  Insisting that our government represent all Americans, of all religions equally, is not intolerant.  Let’s not equate being tolerant of others with being tolerant of wrong doing or irresponsibility.

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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