May 25, 2018

Trump Tribalism and Faith

Make American Great Again hatI was watching the PBS NewsHour the other night, as I tend to do. While I'd never claim that they are beyond reproach with regard to what they choose to cover or how they cover it, I will say that they are my favorite daily news program on television. Anyway, one of their regular political commentators said something I found insightful - seriously depressing but insightful.

She noted that many supporters of President Donald Trump tune out or dismiss any bit of news that might lead a rational person to reconsider his or her support. Basically, Trump has permission to do anything he pleases without risking the support of a significant portion of his base. In their eyes, he can do no wrong. In many respects, this sounds an awful lot like religious faith. Again and again, we see "true believers" maintain their faith no matter what. True believers in MAGA appear to have decided that they will support Trump no matter what. I think this is dangerous. We cannot afford for any leader to be beyond question.

May 24, 2018

Separating the Content From the Creator

Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski (1968)Suppose there was a film that you had loved for years. It might not be your favorite, but it would easily make your top 10 list. You've seen it more times than you can count, and it has that rare ability to transport you to somewhere else. You might even have bought it at some point (yes, I know nobody but me buys physical media any more because of some sort of streaming nonsense of which I refuse to take part).

Now imagine that you were to learn that the director of your beloved film did something awful. I don't mean he or she said something you found offensive; I mean he or she did something truly horrific. And that pretty much means we can dispense with the "he or she" crap and just stick with "he," doesn't it? The guy's obviously got to be a straight White male, right? Probably even cisgendered. The bastard! But really, he's done some appalling things. Perhaps he's outed as a neo-Nazi who molests young boys while receiting Mein Kampf. He beats his wife, cons older adults out of their retirement savings, sexually harasses his employees, and was once spotted sitting comfortably while using public transportation (i.e., manspreading). The guy is a monster. No question about it.

May 23, 2018

We Have More Guns and More Christians

Jesus, Republicans and GunsSince the most recent incident of gun violence in the United States (I'm not going to bother to indicate which one since there will probably be another before I post this and several more between now and whenever you might be reading this post), there have been several memes circulating on social media from those advocating various measures to reduce gun violence. These memes vary to some degree, but the general idea is that the United States is not unique from other countries in terms of things like the number of doors in our schools, the use of Ritalin, violent movies and video games, mental illness, and so on. Where the U.S. is unique, the memes insist, is in the number of guns and the permissive laws around them.

It is a fair point. Civilians in the U.S. have far more guns than civilians in other countries, and our gun-related laws are far more permissive than many other countries. If having more guns in the hands of civilians and fewer regulations around them made us safer, this would have to be the safest country on Earth. Unfortunately, it seems that the "more guns" solution is about as effective as prayer when it comes to preventing gun violence.

But since I'm not really in the mood to think about guns or gun violence right now, I think I'll say something stupid instead. Besides guns, there is something else that the U.S. has far more of than any other country. In fact, I think one could probably find data that would indicate that we are at least as much of an outlier on this other factor when compared with the rest of the world as we are on guns. What is this other thing that we have so many more of than every other country? Christians.

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?