On Atheists & Censorship

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Democracy on  | 7 minutes | 7 Comments →

I was on an atheist website the other day when the following remark caught my eye:

Why is it that the only blogs which seem to moderate dissenting comments are Christian ones?
-Yunshui, on Superstition Free

That's one of the most inaccurate claims I've heard in the blogosphere, by far! Granted, there's no authoritative study on who censors speech more between atheists and believers, so of course people can only address this question from their own personal experience along with what they've heard from others, which makes our judgments subjective. Still, it's obviously beyond denial that Yunshui has seen a significant number of believers censor speech, else that comment wouldn't have been made.

Don't get me wrong: I agree that a significant number of believers practice censorship; I've seen it with my own eyes. This thread at DefCon is a perfect example, where the Desert Pastor deleted questions from PhillyChief, along with a supporting comment from SI, yet for some reason allowed Gideon's disparaging remark against PhillyChief to remain, even when DefCon's own "rules of engagement" state that "demeaning" or "insulting" comments will not be tolerated. Apparently, demeaning or insulting comments are tolerated, when made against atheists. So yes, I concur with those who point out that believers are prone censoring others, and I concur that it stinks.

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My Response To Jack Waldvogel

Posted in Legislation, Religion, Responses on  | 3 minutes | No Comments →

Dear Mr. Waldvogel:

I read your recent letter to the Petoskey Public School District, and as both a native Michigander and a believer myself, I'm concerned. While I understood the point you made about Thanksgiving, may I suggest that you've possibly compared apples to oranges? You asked,

..if God can be inserted into Thanksgiving either directly or indirectly, why must we refer to Christmas Break as the Winter Holiday Break?

Granted, the Pilgrims at Plymouth certainly believed in and thanked God, but there is nothing in the concept of gratitude that necessarily entails or precludes religious beliefs, so the word Thanksgiving can effectively convey a secular purpose. Christmas, on the other hand, does not share such luxury of neutrality: the word itself contains a specific reference to a specific member of a specific religion – that not all Americans or Michiganders share.

You said,

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What If A Creationist Did This?

Posted in Atheism, Legislation, Religion on  | 3 minutes | 6 Comments →

While reading a recent Chronicle feature by staff writer Jill Tucker, I quickly learned that Gary Healy teaches mathematics at John Muir Middle School in San Leandro, California. I also learned the teacher discovered a package of religious flyers in his mailbox one day, with a note asking to distribute them to his students.

Healy was shocked and refused to distribute the flyers, which were ostensibly for a Bible-based support group dealing with issues related to peer pressure. Tucker reported that at day's end the flyers remained on Healy's desk, so, at least for that day, Healy directly broke with official district policy, which maintains that flyer distribution for non-profits occurs on an all-or-none basis. I was really hoping to catch some crank gassing online about how this is a heroic response to an outrageous moral evil that should be addressed in the name of the separation clause, but to date I haven't found any. 

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Posted in Religion on  | 1 minute | No Comments →

A Fundamentalist is someone who holds to the five fundamental doctrines of Christianity, being 1) The inerrancy of Scripture; 2) The virgin birth and deity of Jesus; 3) Redemption through grace; 4) The physical resurrection of Jesus; and 5) The authenticity of Christ's miracles. Points 2-5 are undoubtedly supported biblically; however, depending on how one interprets the pertinent terms, Point 1 can cause an awful lot of confusion.

A Fundamentalist is not necessarily a person who interprets every word of the Bible literally, although some Fundamentalists do interpret every word of the Bible literally. Biblical literalism is not necessarily synonymous with biblical inerrancy. Whereas the issue of errancy deals with the truthfulness of the author's intended message, biblical literalism deals with the literal interpretation of certain passages.

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Separation of Church And State

Posted in Democracy, History, Legislation, Politics, Religion on  | 4 minutes | No Comments →

In 1802, representatives of the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to Thomas Jefferson inquiring about his refusal to follow in the footsteps of presidents George Washington and John Adams, who declared religiously-based national holidays of fasting and thanksgiving. Jefferson’s response referred to a symbolic “wall of separation” between religion and the state, a phrase that finds expression again and again in the debate over the extent religion should play in the public arena.

The institutions of religion and government have been noted in most every world civilization since the inception of recorded history, and for better or for worse most all societies have attempted to marry the two. Whereas Muslims and Jews, for example, both operate under systems of government that could be defined as theocratic or God-centered, one of the fundamental attractions to theoretical American democracy was its refusal to go this route: enter the outdated concept of religious freedom.

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