Hating Religious Expression

In today’s Reporter, Rachel Diech whines:

Is it just me or is it every time I read The Reporter’s editorial section, there’s always someone spewing rants about God?

It’s just you. God and religious values are a recurring topic every now and then, but you’ll need more than that if you want to characterize them as “spewing rants.”

I’m so sick of Christians forcing their beliefs down my throat. Can we just give a little bit of a rest when it comes to religion, please!

What the heck were you expecting from a page labeled “Opinion”? Its entire point is for people to express their OPINIONS. Religion is something people have OPINIONS about, for and against. Disagree with specific beliefs? Write about it. But unless you’re willing and able to offer more than vague crap, your complaints are nothing more than bigotry.

If I wanted to be preached at about God, I would go to church. I don’t want to read it in my newspaper.

Get off your high horse and grow up. Maybe church would do you some good…

Atheists Crying Wolf, Part 1

A while back I took on charges of anti-atheist bigotry leveled against an Illinois lawmaker by atheist blogger Alonzo Fyfe. Beyond that, Fyfe claims a whole host of things amount to prejudice against poor, innocent atheists:

(1) A sitting president said that atheists are not fit to be judges – and the statement can still be found on the
White House’s own web site.”[W]e need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God. And those are the kind of judges I intend to put on the bench.”

(2) We have atheists who stand and feign support for a Pledge of Allegiance that says, “As far as this government is concerned, atheists (those not ‘under god’) are the moral equivalent of those who would commit themselves to rebellion, tyranny, and injustice for all.”

(3) We have a national motto on our money and going up in more and more places in this country that says, “If you do not trust in God, you are not one of us.”

(4) Atheists are routinely blamed for everything from terrorist attacks to school shootings to hurricanes to the Holocaust.

(5) On this latter point, there is a movie that will officially debut around the country on April 18th that is making a blatant attempt to link atheism to the Holocaust.


I intend to show that these victim-centric interpretations are wrong, and that, when not distorted by atheist activists, none of them constitute bigotry against those who don’t believe in God. My case will be divided into three posts: this one on atheism and the judiciary, a second on ceremonial references to God & religious symbolism, and a third on atheism and violence.

(1) “[W]e need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God.” President Bush is right, and if a statement like this is enough to send Fyfe flying off the handle, methinks he needs to re-read the Declaration of Independence, brush up on American history, and take a couple deep breaths.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” So says the Declaration of Independence, the guiding light of American governance. Examples of the Founding Fathers echoing and elaborating upon this sentiment are abundant. John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government assumes men to be “the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker.” The concept that our rights come from God was a sharp departure from prior conceptions that rights originated either from government or from cultural lineage. Its implications are powerful: it divorces human rights from intellectual, physical, or racial superiority, or from bloodline. All individuals deserve equal treatment simply because they are human beings. Accordingly, under this conception of God-given rights, government becomes a servant of the people, rather than the master.

If one believes in judicial originalism, that the purpose of judges is to faithfully glean and apply the original meaning and intentions of a law, then why wouldn’t it be legitimate to consider a potential judge’s understanding of the Framers’ conception of rights? A judge who sees our rights as God-given understands that he doesn’t have the authority to thwart them by judicial fiat, no matter how much he might think his personal views on any given case might be better. I, for one, think that sort of humility is highly desirable in a public figure, especially one wielding the power of an unelected, unaccountable, lifetime position.

Granted, the Constitution
prohibits faith-based legal disqualifications from public office, and Bush didn’t propose any. But that isn’t the same as the individual in charge of choosing a candidate—the executive making his appointments or the voter casting his ballot—having a preference for the type of ideas which he or she believes can best serve the office. Unlike skin color or sex, religion and atheism are ideas (or the absence of particular ideas) with implications relevant to society. Therefore, it’s reasonable for people to use them as criteria when judging potential public officials. Surely many atheists think believing Christians are less-than ideal officeholders, as is their prerogative. I’d passionately disagree, of course, but it’s not bigotry to take religion, or lack thereof, into consideration. Then again, perhaps the actual goal isn’t tolerance, but rather to insulate one’s worldview, via intimidation if necessary, from critical evaluation by the people.
By all means, atheists like Alonzo Fyfe should have equal opportunity to seek public office. But that doesn’t mean they get to pretend the philosophical foundations of the nation never existed, or to exempt their ideas from public consideration.

"Atheist Ethicist" Should Rethink Blog’s Title

Atheist blogger Alonzo Fyfe is up in arms over a controversy in Illinois. It seems that, while debating a proposed public donation to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Democrat Rep. Monique Davis went nuclear on area atheist activist Rob Sherman:

I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy—it’s tragic—when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln, where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children […] What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous…It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat! […] You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Anybody who’s ever listened to Christopher Hitchens for about five minutes knows there’s at least a strain of atheism that is so “enraged in anything related to God, they want to fight.” I agree that atheist attempts to purge even the most innocuous signs of America’s religious heritage from the public sphere are attempts to destroy America’s foundation, and I suspect most atheists trying to rewrite history know better. Is disbelief in God dangerous? In activist form, absolutely. I’d even say the accusation that Sherman “believe[s] in destroying” is accurate, since
this is his idea of a good cause. However, it is stupid to suggest an atheist has “no right” to be part of the debate and decision-making process.

On
his website, Sherman reports that Davis called him to apologize:

Rep. Davis said that she had been upset, earlier in the day, to learn that a twenty-second and twenty-third Chicago Public School student this school year had been shot to death that morning. She said that it was wrong for her to take out her anger, frustrations and emotions on me, and that she apologized to me. I told her that her explanation was reasonable and that I forgave her.

End of story? Not for Fyfe: evidently the apology is
even worse than the initial comments:

She hears about a school shooting, and she immediate takes it out on the first atheist she comes into contact with. She says, “You believe in destroying” and “It is dangerous for children to even know that your philosophy exists.” Obviously, she is a victim of the prejudice that says that atheists and evolutionists have been responsible for every act of school violence since Columbine. This was no apology. This was actually nothing more than Davis admitting her bigotry, and slapping Sherman and all atheists again with the accusation that atheism was responsible for this student’s death.

What is this guy smoking? The original context of her explanation is crystal-clear: horrible news of yet another injustice against a child filled her with pent-up anger looking for an outlet, and she blew up in the face of a passionate disagreement, which just happened to be with an atheist. Presumably, had the docket been different that day, any number of different straws could have broken the camel’s back.

There is not a shred of substance behind this attempt to play victim. But then, it’s not as if Alonzo Fyfe really gives a damn about demagoguery—about scientists (and those backing them) actively working to disprove the Left’s global warming propaganda, he
says:

I consider those who funded and supported this campaign to be among the most evil people that this planet has hatched, easily comparing to those Nazis who not only knew about the Holocaust but actually participated in it. These people are willing to put hundreds of millions to billions of people at risk, and inflict tends of trillions of dollars, all for the sake of personal profit.
Peddling false claims about other people doing precisely the sort of thing the peddler is guilty of isn’t quite my idea of an “ethicist.”
UPDATE: Apparently I’m a bigot because I don’t think challenging the secular crusade is akin to making atheists second-class citizens. Heh.

What’s So Great about Christianity?

Currently I’m about halfway through Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, What’s So Great about Christianity, and it’s outstanding. Arguing from history, science, philosophy, and reason, D’Souza promises to beat the secularists on their own terms—and he does with flying colors. For Christians who want to defend their faith, atheists willing to put their beliefs to the test, or agnostics on a search for truth, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (For more, check out D’Souza’s debates with atheists Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens.)

Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins

Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled sounds eye-opening, and if this observation for Mariano at Atheism Sucks is any indication, it sure will be:

Now on to Prof. Dawkin’s ID promotion. Mr. Stein’s interview with Prof. Dawkins is something to behold—a feast sights and sounds, I assure you. For instance, Prof. Dawkins asserts that people feel liberated and relieved when they realize that God does not exist. Mr. Stein asks him how he knows that, he is after all speaking with an empirical scientist. Prof. Dawkins responds that he receives letters from people to that effect. To which Mr. Stein states that there are some 8 billion people in the world and asks, “How many letters do you get?” This is funny and even embarrassing but think about it: the sorts of letters that Prof. Dawkins receives to that effect are of a very particular sort having been written by people who were motivated to contact him in order to either thank him, or buddy up to him, or congratulate him, etc. This certainly constitutes a biased sample. This sadly short segment is peppered with Prof. Dawkins making authoritative pronouncements only to be asked how he knows that and being forced to admit that he does not.
Finally, he is asked how life could have originated presuming that God does not exist. He begins to explain Darwinian Natural Selection but is asked to back up to how life began in the first place. Taking a page straight out of Francis Crick’s atheist escapism playbook—he proposes Directed Panspermia. He lucidly explains, beyond any obscurity, that alien civilizations could have developed to the point of gaining the ability to seed life on earth. This is a theory for the intelligent design of life on earth. What then is the next logical question? How did life originate on that alien world? Prof. Dawkins explains that he believes that it was through Darwinian mechanisms.

Gee, Thanks JB

A pack of intolerant secularists has managed to get innocent religious content purged from a memorial service organized by the Wisconsin Department of Justice:

A religious hymn called “This Too Shall Pass” and a closing prayer by a Lutheran pastor will not be included in the ceremony as initially planned, department spokesman Kevin St. John said Friday…After a review, St. John said the department agreed the content was on shaky constitutional footing. “Rather than create the unintentional appearance that the state was endorsing religion or a particular creed, the department amended the program to exclude those parts,” he said. “We certainly wouldn’t want to have an appearance of a potential church-state violation overshadow the event.”

Hey Kevin—if you did the right thing, it wouldn’t be the DoJ “overshadowing” anything; it’d be the group of atheist thugs and their obsession. But the worst part of the story? These thugs “praised Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office for quickly addressing its protest.” Y’know, that’d be the JB Van Hollen who ran as a strong conservative who knows the law.

General Van Hollen, I supported you in the Republican primary. I worked for you in the general election. For what? For you to needlessly cave when faced with lawless attacks on America’s heritage? Well, if Paul Bucher wants to take another stab at the job, I’ll be watching….

Pro-Life Violence?

I’ve debated a number of folks of varying caliber on the ‘Net. Most recently, Thayne & G-Man have sparked a productive exploration of morality, religion, secularism, & abortion. I’ve also had some good discussions with Sean back during the Coulter Nation days and at Olbroad’s old site (by the way, this is her current site). On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve met some infantile commenters at The American Mind, the clowns of YouStinkLeft, (by the way, their latest brilliant question is—and I quote—“Why does Fox News want us to have a war with Iran?”), the unintentional hilarity offered by B&S regular Scott, and, of course, the Hacks4Rudy. But the sorriest I’ve encountered would be a truly-despicable fellow by the name of Jayce Commo. Since it’s impossible to have serious debate with the immature, bothering with them is usually a waste of time. But a recent post about Generations for Life on his aptly-named blog takes lazy guilt-by-association to such depths that I can’t let it go unchallenged:

I generally don’t have any problems with pro-life supporters, so long as they’re not
blowing things up, shooting doctors, or harrassing women. But a few things on the Generations site leave me feeling a bit uneasy…

Since the overwhelming majority of America’s millions of pro-lifers would never even consider violence, then Jayce doesn’t have anything to worry about. Indeed, according to the second of these three articles, one of the killers “was disappointed with the anemic response from pro-life activists, who denounced Griffin’s use of violence” (the article also says “Most mainstream antiabortion organizations distanced themselves from him.” I’d sure like to seem them try to substantiate the implication that any pro-life group which could legitimately be deemed “mainstream” either stayed neutral or embraced the killings.).

Anyway, the
article in question is an announcement for a couple protests of a new abortion mill in Aurora, Illinois (I was gonna call the article a “call to arms,” but as we’ll see below, you never know what phrases might trigger liberal bed-wetting). Jayce is mortified that teen pro-lifers “are determined to do everything they can to stop Planned Parenthood” (his emphasis). “I hope ‘everything’ doesn’t really mean everything,” he says, with no evidence whatsoever that GFL harbors even a shred of sympathy towards anti-abortion violence. Jayce then complains that GFL describes participants of Families against Planned Parenthood’s 40-Day Prayer Vigil as “Prayer Warriors,” because it sounds “way to much like these psychos at Army of God.”

The so-called Army of God supports killing abortionists. Take a look at what FAPP’s idea of a “Prayer Warrior”
consists of, and you’ll see it’s juuust a little different. Take a look at any serious pro-life organization, like the several on CFO’s “Fighting for Life” sidebar (whoops! Can’t say “fighting!”), and the difference between us and the killers is self-evident—to the fair-minded.

Speaking of facts, let’s take a look at some hard numbers. NARAL’s own statistics (
PDF link) cover both the US and Canada & are up to date as of January 1, 2007. Now, bear in mind that an organization which advocates killing children is certainly unlikely to have any qualms about cooking the numbers (when you’re in their line of work, you need all the sympathy you can get), but for the sake of argument, let’s take them at face value. So how pervasive is the anti-choice reign of terror?

– 7 murders
– 17 attempted murders
– 41 bombings
– 171 arsons
– 82 attempted bombings & arsons
– 574 fake anthrax letters
– 92,000 “acts of disruption” such as bomb threats & harassing calls

Assuming none of the other cases were counted among the “acts of disruption,” that’s a grand total of 92,892 acts of pro-life extremism covering both the US and Canada. That sounds like a lot, but bear a couple things in mind. About 99% of the acts come from the “disruption” category, and we should be wary of exactly what constitutes a “harassing call” in NARAL’s view—I highly doubt they only counted violent calls; rather, I’ll bet there are quite a few in that number which only consisted of arguing abortion’s morality and/or offering to pray for their forgiveness. Say what you want about the productivity or decorum of such calls, but they certainly can’t be described as malevolent in any way. What’s more, NARAL puts the bomb-threat number at 596, which means the overwhelming majority of the pro-life extremism in general, and of the disruptions in particular, consists of lesser acts.

As for the incidents of actual violence and genuine threat, each is inexcusable & deplorable, and no pro-lifer should tolerate them in any way. The good news is, the fanatics make up only a tiny minority of Americans against abortion. In contrast, how big is the real pro-life movement? Consider that Pro-Life Wisconsin alone
boasts the support of 14,000 families (and that many pro-lifers only belong to one of a state’s multiple pro-life groups given their differences on things like rape exceptions), and the serious, honorable pro-life movement easily dwarfs the unhinged.

So why does Jayce think
saying inflammatory things without evidence is ethical? Because “submission of moral authority makes anything possible, including murder…the lines between morality, martyrdom, and terrorism are blurring more each day.” Is submitting one’s moral authority to religious belief likely to make somebody violent? It can; I’m not aware of any Christian who denies that the Bible’s been used to justify horrible things, and we’re in a world war sparked by Islamic fanaticism. But “submission of moral authority” alone doesn’t create bad results; submission combined with bad teachings does, as does submission in the absence of reason—fortunately, most Judeo-Christians embrace reason wholeheartedly.

Moreover, if God-submission is to blame for all religious evil, then it deserves equal credit for all religious good. Believing that one is God-bound to do charity and oppose bigotry is just as powerful as believing that one is God-bound to kill. In fact, the secular should be thankful that believers overwhelmingly “submit their moral authority” to the former than to the latter (don’t believe me?
Click here to hear Dennis Prager’s interview with Arthur Brooks, author of Who Really Cares).

One more observation: why is submitting moral authority to something else inherently more problematic than the alternative: deeming oneself the highest arbiter of one’s morality? It seems to me the latter has its own potential to produce arrogance & rationalization. After all, Jayce’s atheism certainly didn’t keep him from smearing GFL without evidence.

Only someone suffering from religious paranoia could seriously construe the work of Generations for Life as blurring the lines between morality, martyrdom, and terrorism. Neither critical thought nor honest concern could possibly yield such a result. Whether it’s Jayce, Christopher Hitchens, or Sam Harris, some people just can’t escape their prejudices when it comes to religion. That’s a shame, and we can only hope & pray that they’ll someday grow up.

Around the Web

A few points of interest from around the Web (No, I haven’t forgotten about the blog or the work-in-progress case for life):

North Korea’s nuclear reactor
might have been shut down. Maybe some good will come out of Bush’s remaining years after all…

The parents of Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt
are demanding Jack Murtha be censured for prematurely accusing their son, among others, of atrocities in Haditha, Iraq. Hmm…I thought there was a word for conduct like Murtha’s…

Tension with Iran
heats up. Where’s PETA?

Jonah Goldberg provides
some interesting reading on the death penalty.

And
this is what passes for intellectual heft in the world of atheism. Sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be throwing away my crosses anytime soon.