(and do I have to move to Canada to scream it?)
I read the news sparingly. Reason? There’s enough doom and gloom in this world without my days being thrown out of whack by some plasticized TV journalist’s skewed view on all the happenings fit to broadcast. I don’t need to see a young luger’s tragic crash. I don’t need to see a killer whale indulge in a Sea World Staff Snack. My Google Readers suits me fine and I can click or skip as I please on a per-headline basis.
Hot out of the frying pan and into the brimstone and damnation fire this week is the current Presidential administration’s recent meeting with nonreligious advocacy groups on Washington’s sacred soil. White House Aides welcomed theSecular Coalition for America, a group comprised of “atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans,” to discuss the specific issues of child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives. This is a Presidential administration’s first-ever meeting with a group of “nonbelievers.” Not surprising since such groups were mentioned in his inaugural address.
I started some click-digging across the interwebz, intrigued to learn more about the matter. I stumbled across a well-written article from my hometown publishing behemoth (The Houston Chronicle). Brief and concise, I found myself at the end of the article and face-first into the comments section.
Holy shit. And even shit that isn’t holy.
Texas is a Red State. I grew up there and the majority of my family still lives there. It’s three notches in the Bible Belt whereas every other state can only claim one. Here’s some of the intellectual input from readers on the above article:
Go figure this fake and useless president would meet with a bunch of fake and useless sinners on their way to Hell.
oslama the muslum (sic) lover meets with other atheists
It is my understanding that next week Obama meets with Lassie.
Why not meet with everyone? I mean he’s met with Republicans and they’ve proven themselves to be idiotic. He may as well meet with the rest.
What a waste of a Presidency this is turning into.
I can’t deny that there were some well thought-out retorts to the epic fucktardery above. What amazes me most, however, is that one’s religious preferences dictate patriotism.
It’s a not-so-slippery slope if you look at the matter from other behavioral practices:
If I am a man and have sex with other men, I am engaging in homosexual behavior.
If I am a woman and have sex with other women, I am engaging in lesbian behavior.
If I live in America and I don’t believe in the Christian ideal of God, then I am a bad American.
Sing with me, kids – “One of these things is not like the other…”
What is it with the evangelical Christian sect that feels the need to decimate, denigrate and otherwise demean those who don’t subscribe to their thought process?
Not trusting myself to offer you a definition myself, the interwebz saved me again via Dictionary.com:
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
Let’s pay particular attention to numbers 2 and 6…If we consider that atheists and nontheists are dedicated to following a life that needs no deity as a guide and that there are a number of persona who agree upon living their lives in the same manner, would that not mean that we could assert that both atheists and nontheists are practicing a religion?
A recent hullabaloo in Illinois got me thinking. This Republican dude (William J. Kelly – candidate for Comptroller) in Chicago got himself a personal escort off the grounds of the Illinois state capital building back in December for removing a sign posted on its lawn by an atheist group. Incidentally, the group had gone through the proper petition procedures to have its sign placed on the capitol lawn adjacent to a nativity scene and this is the second year the sign has been lawfully displayed.
The exact verbiage on the sign reads: “At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Kelly states that the sign is “”hate speech,” saying it’s not right for a sign that “mocks” religion to be placed next to a Christmas tree and nativity scene.
Funny. He didn’t say anything about the aluminum Festivus pole also on display nearby on the Illinois State Capitol lawn.
I guess Mr. Kelly is against multiple ideologies being on display in one place. I’m betting he’d have a shit time at The Smithsonian.
All Sides Have Their Evangelists and I Don’t Like Penetration Toys
The hate (and ignorance) spewed in the quoted comments from the Houston Chronicle along with Mr. Kelly’s actions reinforce something I always knew: all sides have their evangelists. We’ve met the man-hating lesbian. The queen who can’t stand straight dudes. The Christian with the un-Christian lack of tolerance for other faiths. The Democrat who would skewer a Republican and vice-versa. We can’t even agree that sex is good on a universal scale because of the not-so-thin veil of shame afforded the issue by religion. I will say one thing, however:
You don’t see atheists and nontheists bombing abortion clinics and driving wars that last decades…centuries. And I’m not asserting that religion is bad. I’m stating that evangelism is one thing – the promotion and support of an idea set. However, zealotry is something else entirely. It’s driven by hate and fear. And it’s the zealots who speak the loudest (or at least get the most airtime due to their fanatical behaviors). I think it’s quite intriguing as well that here’s even news that’s linking atheism with IQ. Perhaps science has its place in the moral/sexual landscape more than the fundies would be comfortable believing.
What the current administration has done by meeting with nontheist and atheist groups is offer a different, more inclusive view of patriotism.
As we’re a nation filled with people with unlimited potential and the framework for people from many ways of life to ultimately succeed, the Obama administration has opened the doors of the nation’s capitol and offered a refuge for those who live well but don’t subscribe to the Christian ideal. Across all faiths (and lacks thereof) there are people who are infinitely comfortable in their own skin. It’s the lack of security in one’s own beliefs that drives people to lash-out at others for holding contradictory thought. I mean, hell – I’m not a fan of penetration toys but do I damn those who are to hell? (Straight to hell, no batteries included.)
Americans are Americans
Free speech – it’s protected. Whether you like the speech or not has no bearing on how protected it might be. As with the sign on the Illinois lawn, it’s bitch-slapping time: not everyone believes what you do. Thank. Fucking. God. And it has no bearing on how “American” we are. I asked my Twitter community: how do you feel patriotism and religion are intertwined?
“Personally, my beliefs or lack thereof have no bearing on my patriotism. I am a former United States Marine, proudly and honorably serving for 6 years during the Gulf War. (1989-2005) I served because I am a proud American, and I defended our rights as Americans to worship as we choose (or not) and to speak our minds freely.” – Tammy Colson @TLColson
“Well, we are a country founded on people who were fleeing religious persecution. Yet, we’ve become a nation of religious persecutors. Our laws are very similar to the Ten Commandments (don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t be a fucktard…). However, there is the whole separation of Church and State. Yet, the Pledge of Allegiance and all of our currency has “God” all over it. I think we are the best country to be a religious nut in, because you basically have the entire government backing you up. To be a religious nut, you are basically allowed to say, “God is responsible for man.” We send a guy to the electric chair with the idea that God will give him the real punishment. To be an atheist and say that “Man is responsible for man” would give the believers a fucking conniption.” – Dave Pennington
“The only way my atheism affects my patriotism is how the vocal minority tells me I’m un-American for not being Christian. This has less to do with atheism and much more to do with Christian evangelists shunning not only non-believers, but different believers as well.” – Grant Beery/@voteforgrant
I don’t feel that patriotism is aligned with Christianity or religious beliefs at all. There’s a beauty to the diverse beliefs that make this world a wonderful place and there’s a respect that comes along with both the right to believe and the right to not.
But it has me asking…
If There is No God, What Should I Yell Out During Sex?
Let’s recap what we’ve got so far:
America is, currently (and on currency) “One Nation, Under God” as that’s the dude in which we trust.
Those who don’t believe apparently have no place next to those who do according to some folks.
Some equate a lack of faith in the Christian ideal with the labels “fake” and “useless” and have something against Lassie.
- Spelling is not protected under the U.S. Constitution, especially for those who feel that hate is an appropriate weapon to use against their fellow Americans who don’t believe as they do.
I’m not big into blasphemy and frequently use phrases like “goddammit” and “Jesus Fucking Christ” (strung together as one word in heated rage or moments of utter frustration). It’s simply because I don’t believe in the myth of Christianity and place little value on names. But since the zealots think that not following Christian faith is immediate cause for revocation of my American Card, I wonder where I can hold my beliefs and work towards living a good life without the ever-present influence of “you’re going to hell” looming over my red head. Canada, perhaps?
And since yelling, “Oh, dear GOD!” is apparently right out, what would we yell out into the pillow when our head is pressed down into it and we’re this close to (oh, you know)?
I offer some suggestions:
“Ohhhhh, James Madison!” (via Martin Burns)
“Ohhhh, Flying Spaghetti Monster!” (via Dave Pennington)
“<bark> Oh, Dog!”
“Did you register to vote, lovah?!”
“Holy shit, if you’re Republican, I’m switching parties!”
But they just don’t have the impact of, “Oh, dear GOD!” do they?
If I can be tolerant enough to recognize that beauty comes in many forms and that every religion and mindset brings something of value to the table, why can’t others? We’re surrounded by intelligence and enlightenment from those who believe and chose not to and it has no affect on how they perceive their dedication to the place they call home. My other half was raised Catholic and still wears a St. Christopher medal around his neck with a scapular from his grandmother. Does it change the fact I love him? Not in the slightest. But he gets to see me at the rare moments I find religion.
End Note (and brilliantly stated)
“I’m not anti-religion, personally, but I do get leery when people go on and on about how they believe in a giant man who grants wishes – to me, it’s the equivalent of people who think the Easter Bunny really does drop those Easter Baskets off.
I think of it as a lack of faith in each other – we refuse to believe that people can do great good on their own, and ignore history. Thing’s aren’t perfect, but I’d much rather be alive today than say the Dark Ages.” Martin Burns/@WriterMoe
Special thanks to @darkheath who contributed his thoughts to this week’s column as well.