Atheists File Another Suit Over Ground Zero Cross

Atheists File Another Suit Over Ground Zero Cross March 11, 2014


American Atheists have filed suit to block inclusion of the ground zero cross in displays at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

An earlier lawsuit against use of the cross in the memorial was tossed out of court. The basis of that suit was the extreme trauma atheists experience when they view a cross. This suit is filed on the grounds that there is no projected monument for atheists at the memorial.

Perhaps we could have an empty box for atheists. Since modern atheism is a militant unbelief system in nothing, expressed as nihilism, what else would represent it?

As for atheists who died in this tragedy, and atheists who helped in the rescue and clean-up, we should list their names and give them the respect they deserve. But there is no reason to erect a memorial to nothing.

More to the point, the ground zero cross is a historic artifact. It is part of the actual history of 9/11. Are we to re-write history and edit out those portions which might accidentally pertain to Christianity? Is that the new interpretation of the First Amendment?

Most people were horrified when Muslim extremists blew up ancient statues of buddha a few years ago. The ground zero cross is just as much an artifact of history —albeit, more recent history — as those buddha statues were.

Atheism has become a dogmatic unfaith of sorts. It insults those who disagree and seeks by all means available to silence opposition. There is a tyrannical underpinning to the overbearing insistence that no one anywhere can include artifacts which might have linkage to established Christianity in public displays. There is also a tyrannical underpinning (and a good bit of what is either extreme ignorance or deliberate misinformation) in proclaiming loudly, rudely and incessantly that any elected official who uses the name God in their converse is violating “separation of church and state.”

I personally have lost count of the number of times that zealous Christian bashers have tried to censure my speech and writings, or to direct my votes as an elected official, by this ruse.

Suppression of other people’s free right to speak of their beliefs in public, or vote according to their conscience, is tyranny. Using verbal hazing and bullying tactics to silence people of faith is also tyrannical.

Atheists advance the idea that any artifact, statement or idea that has its aegis in Christianity is, by their overbearing and tyrannical definition, a violation of what they call “the separation of church and state.” By the logic of their arguments, the militants who blew up the buddhas were right to do so. I suppose we should also remove the Thunderbird from the historic insignia of the 45th Division.

From 4New York:

A group of atheists is seeking to stop the 9/11 museum from displaying a cross-shaped steel beam found among the World Trade Center’s rubble because they say it is an endorsement of Christianity, and an appeals court heard arguments in the case Thursday.

A judge last year tossed out a lawsuit on the cross, rejecting the arguments of American Atheists, which sued the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s operators in 2011 on constitutional grounds, contending that the prominent display of the cross constitutes an endorsement of Christianity, diminishing the contributions of non-Christian rescuers.

The 17-foot-tall steel beam was found by rescue workers two days after the terror attacks. It is scheduled to be displayed among 1,000 artifacts, photos, oral histories and videos in an underground museum that will also house the staircase workers used to escape the towers as well as portraits of the nearly 3,000 victims and oral histories of Sept. 11. The museum is still under construction and scheduled to open this year.

Edwin F. Kagin, a lawyer for the atheists group, said the cross “violates the First Amendment because atheists are not represented equally.”

My friend Kathy Schiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, has an inspiring story about how Christians in the community of Stratton, OH are staging a private resistance to this type of bullying. I think we should all take a page from their book.

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50 responses to “Atheists File Another Suit Over Ground Zero Cross”

  1. What a bunch of pain in the behinds. They have nothing to do but file crap like this. If they don’t like don’t visit the museum. It was an artifact from the rubbish, pure and simple.

  2. I was there. That cross is brought comfort to me and so many others. It was a fact of that hellish site. For that reason alone, it belongs in the museum. This lawsuit is so terribly misguided. The people who are bringing it have no understanding or compassion for those of us who were victims.

  3. “But there is no reason to erect a memorial to nothing.”

    Huh? Nothing? No atheists are on the defensive not the offensive!
    We have beliefs. They are based on trust, not faith.
    Faith is a belief without evidence. Trust is a belief based on evidence and probabilities.
    Back to the original subject, should religious symbols define who we are, all of us?
    There were people at ground zero. They helped to look for potential dead people and possibly rescue some who survived. Why should christians be given special privilege in being the heros? Where is the acknowledgement for those who are not christians. Muslims, yes, muslims also participated. I do not promote the religion of Islam (or the religion of christianity) but our government ought not to promote christians with a huge monument to them unless we also acknowledge that others also should be commemorated. All our countries heroes or none should be thanked and commemorated.

  4. ‘Atheists advance the idea that any artifact, statement or idea that has its aegis in Christianity is, by their overbearing and tyrannical definition, a violation of what they call “the separation of church and state.” ‘ Only those artifacts that are religious (regardless of religion) in the public square are subject to a violation of “the separation of church and state.” The 9/11 beams (“cross”) are on public land bought and paid for by each and every tax paying citizen. Those citizens should not be required to undermine their own belief systems in public in support of a majority rule. The public land and buildings should remain neutral to ensure equal access to all. If you went to a courthouse in a mostly Muslim area with a large sculpture of the Koran or Mohammad or such, would you as a Christian feel that while wearing your cross necklace, you would receive a neutral, unbiased judgment? No one is trying to stop you from displaying your artifact, etc. You can display it on your own private property or your Church’s property and no one is trying to stop you from doing that. In-fact, many an Atheist would fight for your right to do just that. One wonders about the Christian religion and belief system being so flimsy and unable to stand on it’s own without government support.

  5. I’m a pretty rabid supporter of separation of church and state and probably with the atheists 99% of the time on that point. In this case however, my gut tells me that the cross, in the context of an expansive and varied 9/11 display, is probably constitutional.

    For me, a key test is whether the object is intended or perceived by a reasonable person as a government endorsement of religion. In virtually all other high-profile cases involving the Ten Commandments display, the Mount Soledad cross etc., the answer is obviously yes. They were erected and/or defended with the express purpose of saying “this is a Christian country, deal with it.” In this case, we have an object which does have historical significance as a touchstone of the tragedy and really one of the only upright and distinct pieces of structure left in the rubble. It’s an iconic and well-known visual memory of the event from news sources.

    Sure, it gained that role in no small part because many people inferred a message of divine providence or Christian faith from it. I’m not so sure that in itself is enough to violate the establishment clause. I think the determining factor is in how the cross is presented. In the context of all the other things, I don’t see a problem displaying it and noting the fact that it inspired many people of faith. On the other hand, if it’s allowed to become a shrine or dominates the narrative of 9/11 as a sort of call to faith, then it’s problematic if it’s a tax-supported entity.

  6. I regret to have to inform you that the guillotine was originally introduced – as a painless method of execution – in the Pope’s kingdoms, decades before a certain Dr.Guillotin brought it to the attention of the French government for the same reason. Since then it has been used as the standard method of execution in France until 1972, by which time governments of all colours including Catholics had made plenty of use of it. Your irony is misplaced and any atheist worth his salt would make a mockery of it. And the trouble is that if you had not tried to indulge in the standard ill-informed right-wing depreciation of the French Revolution, you would have had a very good argument. Organized atheism did indeed prove quite extraordinarily murderous in the twentieth century, from the execution squads of Spain and Mexico to the death camps of Siberia and Cambodia. Just pick the right symbol.

  7. I’m an atheist, and I’ve been fighting a losing battle to try and get my fellow nonbelievers to stop supporting this pathetic vendetta.

    Long story short, I don’t want people to get the impression that atheists think that the worst thing that happened on 9/11 was that rescue workers put up this cross.

  8. I love the idea- but would expand upon it:

    How about a “Memorial to Atheism Public BBQ”- a four-out-of-six sided empty firebrick box that people can place a grill on top and light a fire in? And then have a picnic?

    Let it memorialize not just the atheists who died in the blaze and collapse, but all the atheists in the middle ages who ended up burnt at the stake.

  9. I’m against religious displays except if they are on private property. The cross as a symbol of respect for the dead, like they erected at the Boston Marathon Memorial for the four people killed, seems to me to transcend religion. However, in that it is viewed as a symbol of Christianity in a manner that portrays Christianity as a national religion, I think displays of crosses have to be very selectively. I think in the case of the rescue workers drawing comfort and strength from a seemingly miraculous symbol, atheists have to be more reasonable. Having this on display does not automatically set a precedent for all religious displays to be allowed on public property.

  10. I guess I should sue because these’s no memorial for Cherokees. I’m sure Cherokees were there, but no one is acknowledging them. Not a word about Pottawatomies, either. I am irate! Forget the First Amendment. This is a 14th Amendment deal!

    What your argument ignores is that the ground zero cross is a historic artifact of that event. Atheists are attempting to turn this national tragedy into an expression of me/my/mine group narcissism. They are, as usual, trying to divide, bully and outshout; all to create a controversy on behalf of their useless system of nihilistic unbelief.

    As for atheists believing in “trust” as some sort of absolute, come work in politics for a while. You’ll get over that.

  11. “Are we to re-write history and edit out those portions which might accidentally pertain to Christianity?” – You actually hit the nail on the head with that question. The historical significance of Christianity to both America and Canada is threatening to the atheist goal of trying to marginalize and remove all relevance of faith in modern day life.

    I had the same type of discussion with atheists regarding a 60 some year old cross as part of a Memorial here in Canada that they felt was inappropriate for a public monument in a secular society. The historical significance meant nothing to them compared to their goal.

    The problem is, it’s applied arbitrarily. My own home town takes it’s name directly from Native American Spirituality. I pointed out that this was a far greater violation of any state-religious principle of seperation, but no one cares because of the historical significance of the name. The religious aspect is ignored because it is seen as non-threatening, where a cross to them is.

  12. This is not a courthouse, is it. It’s a historical museum, telling the story of what happened. Atheists want to censor history.

  13. You believe in evidence? Where is your evidence that any reasonable person would be cowed into believing in Christianity upon viewing a historical relic?
    You should start attacking all public art museums – most have religious art of one sort or another.

  14. The guillotine was used in the Papal states to execute convicted murderers, etc, and very few of them.
    In France the guillotine was used to kill thousands of innocent people. That is an enormous difference.
    But perhaps the Gulag would be a better symbol.

  15. But you yourself say that yours is a losing battle. So what should the largely-Christian public believe?

  16. The atheist groups who are pursuing these lawsuits frequently raise the “How would you feel?” argument, as in “How would you, as a Christian, feel if you had to look at a menorah, or another symbol from a different religion, every day?” My answer is that I would feel just fine. In fact, I might even enjoy it, especially if it is well-designed. If I disliked it, I would ignore it. The atheists who pose this question imagine that they understand exactly how a Christian would think and respond, when what they are actually doing is projecting their own biases and misconceptions.

    There is a World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland (near Washington, DC) in the shape of a cross, which I have seen for many years, and saw quite frequently while I was at the University of Maryland. It is a generic cross monument, not a crucifix, just concrete and stone, but it gives some distinction and personality to an otherwise drab industrial area where thousands of cars zip by each day. It is a memorial to the 49 service men from the county who died in World War I. Members of the American Humanist Society are apparently so offended by this plain cross that they have sued to have it removed, based on its location on National Park Service. I suspect that most of them have lived in the area for years, and are jumping on a bandwagon. I also note that they have not offered to contribute toward a replacement memorial for th

  17. The history was already altered when the Christians cut the actual cross, then blessed it, then altered the actual cross by carving Jesus into it. It is no longer the history of what was at that sight during the rescue operation or what happened, that has been altered, hasn’t it?”
    It is also part of the public land the court house is to allow someone whom might not have had the empathy of others to get the idea of what other people might face.

  18. You should suppress Dante, Beethoven (“Brothers, above the canopy of stars there must live a loving Father! Will you kneel before Him, millions? Feelest thou thy Maker, world? Seek Him higher than all stars! Over the star-canopy must He live.”), Shakespeare (“But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice”), Goethe, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, Milton… what a joyless world. Well, you’ve always got Gene Roddenberry.

  19. Do you even realize what you are saying? it is that the mere presence of an object reminiscent of a cross would give you such trauma as to prevent you from entering a public space. Are you a man? Do you have the least self-respect? If you are such a total coward as to be prevented access to a public space by the presence of a cross, merely because it contradicts your belief, you don’t deserve liberty. No wonder you are trying to take it from others.

  20. Of course it’s still part of the history of that sight. The alterations themselves are part of that history.

  21. No disagreement from me. It is at the point that it was carved with Jesus that it ceases to be a secular historical object and become a religious object. When it became a religious object, then it should not be placed on public land or the public land should be given equal time to any and all religions. If I want a piece of the building that is just as large and shaped in what I think is the Flying Spaghetti Monster and it gave me hope during the WTC terrorist attacks, then there should be no reason to dismiss me or my historical religious object, after all it is public land.

  22. And one day atheists will face God that should be a very interesting meeting God bless them that they will open their eyes

  23. That’s arbitrary nonsense. It is part of the history of a terrible event. These lawsuits expose atheism for what it is.

  24. I’m not an atheist. I’m a pagan and a fairly religious one. As much as I find my own religious symbols to be inspiring, I would not want them displayed on public land or buildings even if we somehow ever get the demographic and political clout to do that someplace. To do so would insult the dignity and freedom of non-pagans and the collusion between the state and my own religion would inevitable compromise the religion. States which endorse faiths are never the junior partner in that collaboration. Not for long.

    Under the founding principles of our country and Constitution a person’s belief is between them and God(s), if any. Government has no legitimate role favoring one over another, not even in seemingly little ways. This ideal was fostered by Christians, long before atheists were a significant presence in Europe or the U.S. Government-religion entanglements led to a lot of death and lesser indignities, and all of the victims were essentially Christians of one kind or another.

  25. The difference between the naming of your home town and the cross is not arbitrary. In U.S. law at least, the distinction revolves around what degree each thing tends to project a government endorsement of religion. The naming of a town after a concept in an obscure, if not extinct, religion and language, probably wouldn’t strike most people as a sort of “love it or leave it” endorsement of native religion.

    The Cross? Well, that’s a very well known symbol in a religion which seeks to be expansionist and universal. Many partisans who fight for crosses on public ground openly argue for state endorsement or for a sort of primacy for Christianity in the public space. The religious aspect is “threatening” in the sense you say for that reason. I admit I don’t know much about Canada’s laws or legal doctrine on separation of church and state.

  26. Just like any group, not all atheists have the same opinion on everything anymore than all Christians, Jews, Muslims etc. have exactly the same opinion on something.

  27. The cross shape happened by accident—was just the way the beams happened to come apart and land as the building(s) fell. I’m sure many feel it was a “sign”. I have no problem with it being kept as part of what happened that horrible day. It isn’t the symbol of my beliefs, but it is what it is—beams in the shape of a Christian cross. No problem. Really don’t understand how it is “offensive”. A little different than someone putting it together from the beams found at the site and wanting it to be placed in the museum, IMO.

  28. Such nonsense. Nobody who calls himself a pagan has any business invoking the separation of church and state – a wholly Christian concept that Athens and Rome never even thought of. All the chief priests of the great pagan cities, the hiereoi of Athens, the flamines and pontifices of Rome, were state employees, and in Rome the ultimate authority on all matters religious was the Senate. Mutatis mutandis the same was true of Germanic and Celtic tribes, where the chief priest of the tribe was either the chieftain himself – when Iceland was converted to Catholicism, the local priests kept their powers as chieftains and became effectively local lords, but with the obviously religious title of godhi, men of the gods – or by a druid selected, appointed and paid for by the king. And the reason for that is obvious: to the pre-Christian mind, the most important thing about the gods is their power, and the most important human activity is to keep the tribe, kingdom, state, empire, in good relationship with them. To please favourable gods and propitiate angry ones is one of the chief businesses of the state: when Hannibal entered Italy and put the whole Roman state into danger, there was a steady increase in religious activity, as the state authorities tried hard to find out which gods were angry at them and what should be done to propitiate them. There were even a few human sacrifices, something that in normal circumstances the Romans never did. And this is a universal principle: in any real pagan society, down to modern Japan, placing the nation on the proper footing with the gods is the chief business of the state authorities. The emperor of Japan is so religious a figure that the Portuguese missionaries of the sixteenth century interpreted him as a “Pope”, a chief priest, leaving the title of king to the Tenno or Mikado.

    The fact is that real paganism – not the silly self-indulgence of modern days – is simply unaware that any other view of the gods but its own might exist. Their reaction to meeting other tribes with different religions is synchretism, interpreting the gods of the others in the light of their own; so that the Germanic Thorr (Donner, Thunraz) with his hammer, became Hercules, and Odhinn/ Wotan/Godan/Wothanaz, even more improbably, became Mercury (Hermes), because he travelled between worlds, took the souls of the dead to the otherworld, and was a thief. Even more improbably, Krishna, whose many weapons included a mace, became Herakles, and Shiva became Dionysos. Greeks, Romans, Indians, Germans, never realized that they were meeting with something basically different from their own, and merrily imposed their own categories on their neighbours whether they fit or not. That is why, when they could not fit a new religion into their own categories one way or another, they savagely persecuted it. Toleration was wholly unknown to real pagans; they had never understood that it might even be possible.

  29. Seriously, Fabio? A person who calls him/herself a Pagan shouldn’t call for church and state separation? Jeez. I think kenofken is an American(correct me if I’m wrong, kenofken) as I am, and we most certainly can advocate separation of church and state. This is also the 21 century—and fortunately nothing stays the same–ideas and religions change (or should to some degree over time). Pagans today, just like other faiths, are not the same as they were at their inception–fortunately.

  30. Canada, as the child of England (aka the country with a state sponsored church), doesn’t have the same hang up with the “seperation of church and state” that America does, but in reality it’s not all that different.

    It just seems to me that the determining factor shouldn’t be about rejecting “The Cross” for being threatening, while lesser known religious elements are allowed due to their unthreatening nature. To treat different traditions fairly, it should be about judging instances on whether their historical and cultural importance balances out any religious connotation that might exist.

    There is a historical and cultural significance to the Ground Zero cross that exists independent of it’s religious significance. A government who wishes to highlight that is not automatically guilty of promoting religion. People easily recognize that fact when it comes to the example I provided about a place name, but when it comes to something like the Ground Zero cross they show a double standard. The historical primacy of Christianity in our countries shouldn’t work against it when judging items by their historical and cultural significance.

  31. In other words, you want to call yourselves pagan when you feel like it, and give up anything that is distinctive of paganism when it bothers you.

  32. I think we’re in general agreement on the principles that should be used to evaluate public display of religious symbols. As I’ve said, I think the Ground Zero cross clears that bar where its historical significance outweighs the non-establishment concerns. Most controversial public displays do not meet that bar, at least in this country. Public Ten Commandment displays grossly exaggerate historicity with a transparent agenda of promoting public religion. The same is true of almost all crosses on taxpayer-funded land. They are not historical artifacts whose shape is coincidental. They are deliberate promotions of a particular religion or set of religions that cannot be overcome by whatever other historical significance they may possess.

  33. Yes, I’m painfully American! 🙂 Midwestern, no less. Although I think we would do well to study the cultures and lives of our pagan forbears, we are not bound to follow or recreate every aspect of their civic or social orders.

    My oaths are to the gods, not the Roman Senate or Emperors nor the political philosophers that guided them. They, like all other ancient pagan cultures, had many virtues worth emulating. Even the Church recognizes that. They also had terrible failings, and in the middle ground, a lot of practices that simply reflected the realities of times and places utterly different from the modern world. It should also be noted that the state/religion connection in ancient times was more complex than theocracy vs clean separation of church and state.

    Rome, for example, clearly did have a state religion, but it also displayed a toleration of other beliefs that was unheard of in Christendom until the Enlightenment and even more recently. Rome didn’t care what you believed or practiced so long as you gave nominal allegiance to Rome’s gods, which was a way of acknowledging Rome’s political primacy.

    My appreciation and support of church/state separation has more to do with my identity as an American and inheritor of Enlightenment philosophy than my religious identity. At the same time, I see a natural compatibility with modern paganism. We are not ancient pagans and don’t pretend to be, for the most part, yet we drawn on their spiritual legacy and concepts which spent 15 centuries or so in exile and near-extinction in the West. If there is anything we can learn from that experience, it is that no one’s interest is ultimately served by triumphalist enforcement of spirituality by political power. Modern Christians have the same lessons to draw upon, in the memory of the horrors of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and various other pogroms.

  34. That is not what I said. Are you telling me that the Catholic church is Exactly the same as it was when it began? NOTHING has changed? Absolutely nothing at all? Right?

  35. I think a point which I have tried to make and done rather poorly at conveying in this thread, is that atheism is neither here nor there to the underlying issue. Separation of church and state is not inherently nor exclusively an atheist cause, though atheists are particularly energized around the cause. Atheists, and professional atheists activists, can be shrill. They can be annoying individuals, or even straight-up jerks. That doesn’t help sell their argument, but the merits of their lawsuits exist apart from them. Separation exists in our form of government for a reason, and it benefits more Christians than atheists, and it benefits us all in the long run.

  36. You’re right, we basically agree. Installing a cross or the ten commandments on a public institution when there is no historic or cultural significance to the symbol is just bad religious messaging in my opinion.

  37. And you are a pagan. Surrrrrrre. “When I use a word, that word means what I want it to mean, neither more, nor less.”

    What a self-indulgent stance and attitude.

  38. Bullshit. Nothing essential has changed in the Church in 2000 years. The doctrine of transubstantiation can be shown to have been heard by Pagans as early as the reign of Nero – read FICTION AS HISTORY by the outstanding historian Glenn Bowersock, who is NOT a Catholic. The bishops as successors of the Apostles are fully present within two generations of Jesus, and Ignatius of Antioch has a view of the Episcopal office that is little different from the modern one – and his letters can be dated to the year 100. His letters also contain a hint of the supremacy of the episcopal See of Rome over all others, in that he, himself the bishop of great Antioch, treats all the recipients of his other letters with firm authority, but Rome with humility. Clearer evidence of the supremacy of Rome, and especially of the Papacy’s historical role as ultimate court of appeal, comes in the second century, when the heretic Montanus, condemned by another bishop of Antioch, appeals to Rome – and is condemned again, after which there are no more appeals. Baptism, lifelong monogamous marriage (a great oddity among the oft-married, oft-divorced people of the Roman age), organized charity, the Mass, the organization of the Church into bishoprics and presbyteries, the confession of sins, the professionalization of the clergy, all go back to the first century. The especially high role of Mary and belief in her virginity led in the first century to the expulsion of the Ebionites. Belief in the resurrection of the flesh, explicitly and repeatedly stated by St.Paul, led to the expulsion of Cerinthus. The very notion of heresy and that heretics had be excommunicated goes back with absolute certainty to the generation of the Apostles, with both John and Paul being especially harsh on it. Monasticism was in place by the fourth century at most – probably earlier, if there is in fact any continuity with the Jewish monasticism testified a couple of centuries earlier in the same region, Egypt, where Christian monasticism first appears. What is there now that was not there then? I can think of only one thing, clerical celibacy; and every Catholic knows that that is a matter of discipline, not dogma, which Church authorities may rescind if they decide to.

  39. I answered that above. But above and beyond that, there is the fact that you are talking through your hat. There is no organizational, intellectual or historical link of any kind between what you call modern paganism and the real thing. Modern paganism is the pathetically ignorant invention of people who don’t want to be Christian and don’t have the courage it would take to be Buddhist or atheist – both religions that demand a great deal of intellectual surrender. It is sentimental, claims to worship nature without ever stopping to wonder what it means. Matthew Arnold said what, but for human folly and obstinacy, have been the last word about “paganism” and sentimental nature-worship:

    “In Harmony with Nature? Restless fool,
    Who with such heat dost preach what were thee,
    When true, the last impossibility—
    To be like Nature strong, like Nature cool!

    Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more,
    And in that more lie all his hopes of good.
    Nature is cruel, man is sick of of blood;
    Nature is stubborn, man would fain adore;

    Nature is fickle, man hath need of rest;
    Nature forgives no debt, and fears no grave;
    Man would be mild, and with safe conscience blest.

    Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
    Nature and man can never be fast friends.
    Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!

    You and kenofken are nothing like any real pagans ever known to history – nothing, that is, like the unreformed tribal religions before they met with universal missionary religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. I would dearly love to see you take a lively ram to be sacrificed on the altar. I can just imagine you consenting to such natural pagan views as that some nations are above others, that slavery and war are natural and correct (you can find this in both Plato and Aristotle) and that women are naturally inferior to men. I can just about see you approve of the frequent pagan practice of paedophilia and ephebophilia. Yeah, right.

  40. You evidently did not read my answer to the end. I can sympathize with that: nobody enjoys the effort of ploughing through views they detest. But your ridiculous claim that Rome was tolerant is an insult to history. Long before Christiantiy was heard from, the Roman govenrment had suppressed the cult of Bacchus with a savagery and subtlety worthy of Soviet parallels. And the record on the persecution of Christians is what it is. The point is that the Romans simply did not realize there could be more than one religion in the world, and neither did any other kind of pagan. Each of them took for granted that the gods and practises of other tribes were basically the same as their own (only their own were somehow better). To repeat myself: The fact is that real paganism – not the silly self-indulgence of modern days – is simply unaware that any other view of the gods but its own might exist. Their reaction to meeting other tribes with different religions is syncretism, interpreting the gods of the others in the light of their own; so that the Germanic Thorr (Donner, Thunraz) with his hammer, became Hercules, and Odhinn/ Wotan/Godan/Wothanaz, even more improbably, became Mercury (Hermes), because he travelled between worlds, took the souls of the dead to the otherworld, and was a thief. Even more improbably, Krishna, whose many weapons included a mace, became Herakles, and Shiva became Dionysos. Greeks, Romans, Indians, Germans, never realized that they were meeting with something basically different from their own, and merrily imposed their own categories on their neighbours whether they fit or not. That is why, when they could not fit a new religion into their own categories one way or another, they savagely persecuted it. Toleration was wholly unknown to real pagans; they had never understood that it might even be possible.

  41. I respect people, Rebecca, not ideas. Those who respect ideas are always in danger of shooting people who have the wrong ones. Pagansister is a nice and basically good person who has, for some reason, cultivated ideas that can only be described as trash. The person is better, much better, than her ideas – and thank God for that.

  42. Politics, Rebecca? Try any kind of business. One good third of clients pay late, when they pay at all. And I could point out to you the exact group of stories that the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics stole from a proposal from a fan who was looking for work. I myself have let clients down so badly they never came to me again, partly through my own fault. People who keep their word no matter what can be counted, in any business or activity, in single figures.

  43. If staggering demonstrations of ignorance are “well said”, then I guess you’re right.