May 21, 2018

Arguing Against Church-State Activism

Church of St Mary Magdalene, Caldecote
Church of St Mary Magdalene, Caldecote (Photo credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors - camera busted!)
Not surprisingly, most of what I write here at Atheist Revolution reflects my opinion on the subjects I address. That is how blogs generally work, after all. And yet, I do sometimes try my hand at writing posts from perspectives other than my own or that take positions with which I disagree.

Why would I do such a thing? I find that writing something from a perspective other than my own sometimes helps me to understand the subject on a deeper level and check (through the comments my readers leave) whether I have done service to the perspective or missed something deemed critical by those who hold the perspective. In this way, I think there may be some benefit for those advocating a position to try their hand at arguing against the position. If nothing else, such an exercise ought to help one make sure that one understand the other side and is not merely responding to an inaccurate stereotype of the other side.

With this in mind, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the most common arguments made by atheists/secularists/humanists against taking action to address church-state violations (i.e., secular activism). Many of the posts I have written here or read on other atheist blogs seeking to inspire members atheists, secularists, freethinkers, and/or humanists to take action on specific church-state violation are met with opposition from at least a few self-identified atheists/secularists/freethinkers/humanists. This leads me to believe that there are arguments from within our own communities against church-state activism. Since I frequently advocate for such activism, it might be informative to examine the other side.

May 18, 2018

Christians Demand Right to Hate

sacramento water towerDuring the whole Don Imus fiasco in 2007, many questions were raised about how best to balance freedom of speech with the language of intolerance. I'm still waiting for the meaningful dialogue the mainstream news media repeatedly assured us was coming. 2007 seems like a long time ago, and I can't recall much productive discussion of this important subject.

Roughly a month after Imus was fired, we had another much less publicized example of why these questions are so important to consider. According to Austin Cline, Christians in Sacramento, CA, were upset over the decision of San Juan High School principal, Dave Terwilliger, to prohibit Christian students from wearing t-shirts in school telling their LGBT classmates that they are going to hell (update: link no longer active). Stop at let that sink in for a moment. They were upset that they could no longer wear t-shirts threatening their peers with hell.

It seems that these Christians decided to frame this prohibition of hateful t-shirts as a threat to their religious freedom. Does this mean that intolerance is a core part of the Christian religion?

May 17, 2018

Good Deeds and Christianity

"The most important endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions..." ~Albert Einstein

In every religious discussion I've had with a Christian, one point inevitably comes up. I've encountered a few variants, but it tends to go something like this:
By criticizing religion and focusing on all the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity, you are forgetting about all the good deeds for which Christianity is responsible. You are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Christianity has been responsible for some awful things, but we must not forget the many positive outcomes.

No More Christian Proselytizing for One Louisiana School District

The South End of Louisiana State Route 23

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Louisiana bring us news of a recent legal victory in the form of a consent decree in Webster Parish that will end a practice that never should have been happening in the first place:
Webster Parish School District will no longer subject students to school-sponsored Christian prayer, proselytizing, and other religious rituals under the terms of a consent decree approved Friday by a federal judge.
While this is undeniably good news, I can't help feeling disappointed that it took a federal judge to stop this practice. I'm also disappointed that a child and her family had to go through everything I'm sure they had to go through to put a stop to this nonsense.

May 16, 2018

Humanists Who Want More Atheists to be Humanists

Civility SavesPretend for a moment that you are liberal who plans to vote for Democratic candidates in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. It would be nice if others would join you and support the candidates you will support, wouldn't it? Perhaps you can persuade some people to do just that, making it more likely that the candidates you support will win their races.

What do you suppose might be the most effective way to persuade others to support the candidates you support? Perhaps you could engage in childish name-calling against those who are likely to support other candidates. It is difficult to imagine that this would be an effective tactic and almost impossible to imagine that it could be your most effective approach. If anything, it would likely be effective in doing little more than energizing the other side to vote against your candidates.

What else might you try? If you value reason and aspire to be more rational, you might consider making a persuasive argument. That is, you might let others know about your preferred candidates and make a compelling case for why they are preferable to other options. Tell us why you support them and why it might be in our interest to do so too. Not everyone has succumbed to the disease of political tribalism; some people can be reached.