Free Minds and Freakin' Awesome License Plates

Atheists are apparently coming out of the same closet as gays (it must be a walk-in!) and comparing their strategy to that of gay-rights activists, who in turn, have compared their struggle to the civil rights movement. Really, is nothing sacred?

The best part of the movement, however, has been the creation of faith(less)-based license plates...for obvious, err, reasons (Picture right ↑↑↑). And a New York Times article has oodles of numbers to show that atheists are on the up-and-up:

Nationally, the "nones" in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. In South Carolina, they more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent. Not all the "nones" are necessarily committed atheists or agnostics, but they make up a pool of potential supporters....

Ten national organizations that variously identify themselves as atheists, humanists, freethinkers and others who go without God have recently united to form the Secular Coalition for America, of which Mr. Silverman is president. These groups, once rivals, are now pooling resources to lobby in Washington for separation of church and state.

A wave of donations, some in the millions of dollars, has enabled the hiring of more paid professional organizers, said Fred Edwords, a longtime atheist leader who just started his own umbrella group, the United Coalition of Reason, which plans to spawn 20 local groups around the country in the next year....

Part of what is giving the movement momentum is the proliferation of groups on college campuses. The Secular Student Alliance now has 146 chapters, up from 42 in 2003.

At the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, 19 students showed up for a recent evening meeting of the "Pastafarians," named for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster–a popular spoof on religion dreamed up by an opponent of intelligent design, the idea that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them.

Whole damned thing here.

In 2005, Contributor Chris Lehmann discussed the tedium of dogmatic atheism. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum on Mitt "remember-that-guy" Romney's atheist bashing. Back in 2007, Radley Balko noted that most Americans would elect a president who was "Catholic, black, female, divorced, elderly, Mormon, or gay." But not atheist. And Tim Cavanaugh reviews The Atheist here. Prostrate before the Spaghetti Monster here. Earlier this year, Sullum blogged about my home state's atheist ban. Don't worry though, they're working on the problem.

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  • ||

    I'm hoping for the Pastafarians to get enough members that they can have a couple of schisms. Marinarians vs. Alfredans would be a good start.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Does this mean that atheist marriage is going to be legalized?

  • ||

    I'm a moral person than most theists I've met. The misconceptions and downright prejudice I regularly encounter gets downright tiring.

    I've often believed that agnostics, atheists and secular humanists should start voting their weight.

    Still, don't expect me to become a leader or even an active member of the movement. Compared to most of the planet, it really ain't all that bad being an atheist in the good ol' USA.

  • ||

    Make that "more moral person".

    Dagnabit, we need a preview function around here.

  • ||

    Marinarians vs. Alfredans would be a good start.

    With each receiving about 49% of the vote, the vastly unpopular Olive Gardenians gets the remaining 2% and thinks it holds the "balance of power".

  • Lester Hunt||

    As others have said, some of those changing poll results are surely due to an increased willingness to say (ie., to "admit")that one's religious preference is "none." It is very hard to believe that only %8 of Americans were "nones" in 1990. Very, very hard. Though as an atheist myself I concede I am prejudiced.

  • ||

    I live near an Olive Garden, and I fear that "unpopular" may be the wrong word.

  • robc||

    rah62,

    Based on the lines I have seen, the OGs hold a strong majority, sadly.

  • robc||

    Damn you Pro Lib!!!

  • Anonymous||

    I don't have enough faith to be an athiest.

  • ||

    Schism is a bad idea. I think pasta is best when it sticks together.

  • ||

    Man, I'm a libertarian and an Olive Gardenian (oh, how I love the breadsticks). I must be a glutton for punishment.

  • ||

    I'm not an atheist, and I don't have strong views on pasta. There is bad, mediocre, good, great, and genius pasta, as with most things.

  • LarryA||

    Really, is nothing sacred?

    I remember an old cartoon (Playboy?) where a couple of explorers (pith helmet types) were asking this question, while they watched the local natives bow down before a giant zero.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Atheist? Nah, more of an agnostic really. The question just really doesn't interest me. Do you here that Jehovah's Witness! I'm not interested IN YOUR WATCHTOWER BULLSHIT! DO YOU HEAR ME! STOP WAKING ME UP AT 7 IN THE MORNING!!!

  • ||

    Naga, I think if they could figure out how to let me sleep until 7, I'd be a believer. This agnostic was up at 4 today.

    Don't have kids.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Nick,

    I usually only sleep 4-6 hours anyway. Lately I've been managing 7-8 hours. Not sure what's up with that.

  • ||

    Naga stole Nick's sleep. Next he'll begin to eat his dreams.

  • ||

    Sounds like you figured it out. The JW's stopped coming around so early. Enjoy the sleep.



    "Are you prepared for Jehovah's return?"

    (Ice Cube slams door)

    "Half-dead mother fucker."

  • ||

    Right, SF! He's paying my 2 year old to drive me insane. It's brilliant, really.

  • ||

    I remember an old cartoon (Playboy?) where a couple of explorers (pith helmet types) were asking this question, while they watched the local natives bow down before a giant zero.

    Pedant alert! It was an "N".

    Gahan Wilson was the cartoonist. He is one of the greats. A great collection hier. My fav hier.

  • ||

    You laugh now, but in a couple of years, when Naga runs out of money to pay the kid, you'll go right back to sleeping normally.

  • ||

    JW,

    You me'ed up the links.

  • ||

    Sounds like you figured it out. The JW's stopped coming around so early.

    Whadido, whadido?

  • Mad Max||

    'These groups, once rivals, are now pooling resources to lobby in Washington for separation of church and state.'

    Do they want to revoke their own tax exemptions?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Nick,

    Sorry about the sleep my friend. But if it's any consolation my life is great! Babes, bucks, I got it all. Now if you excuse me I gotta go para-sailing with movie stars.

  • ||

    D'oh! I feel nothing but deep, rotting shame now.

    Hier

    and

    hier.

  • squarooticus||

    The misconceptions and downright prejudice I regularly encounter gets downright tiring.


    The downright overuse of the word "downright" is downright tiring. :-)

  • ||

    Should've said "plumb tiring."

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    It's downright disappointing that you switched from "downright" to "plumb tiring".

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I don't know if I'm atheist or not. Still, it always warms my heart to see religious types get pissed off.

  • ||

    I don't want atheism to ascend, I just want theism to decline.

  • ||

    I feel nothing but deep, rotting shame now.

    Don't worry. That usually passes in four or five years.

  • Glistening Lamb\'s Marrow||

    Moving Language forward:

    http://www.downtownjournal.com/index.php?publication=downtown&section=51&story=13635&page=65

  • ||

    tedium of dogmatic atheism



    Yes. It's tedious to call atheists dogmatic. Also tedious? The phrase "fundamentalist atheist."

  • ||

    Worship _this_ :-)

    http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/pub/s?f=PRN/prnpub&page=1&xtag=PRN-prnphotos-80981&redir=detail&TAG_ID=prnphotos080981

    CAPTION: "The Truth" by Painter Michael D'Antuono which will be unveiled on President Obama's 100th Day in Office at NYC's Union Square. (PRNewsFoto/NOAH G POP FAM)

    LOCATION: NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES

  • ||

    In 2005, Contributor Chris Lehmann discussed the tedium of dogmatic atheism.

    Dogmatic anything is tedious.

    Appy polly loggies to everyone who may have aleardy pointed this out in the (unread) earlier comments.

    That is all.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    you know what is tedious? Groups like "Secular Student Alliance" or "Secular Coalition of America". I have one very, very limited belief in common with you people; stop forming groups for Chrissakes.

    I mean, how do those meetings go?:

    OFFICIAL: I hereby call this meeting of the SCA to order. First, the clerk will confirm the minutes from last week. Does anyone have any changes?

    MEMBER: Uh, yes, last week, we passed the Resolution "God(s) suck", not "God(s) blow". "God(s) blow" was two weeks ago.

    OFFICIAL: OK, thanks for that. Hearing no other changes, let's go to new business. The Chair on Atheist Affairs.

    CHAIR: Yes, this is resolution #3 "We Heart Reason" and resolution #4 "God(s) is/are a poopyhead(s)"...

  • ||

    I personally find the false-dichotomy between "atheism" and "agnosticism" to be fairly tedious and tiring.

    The two concepts are orthogonal. Agnosticism is about knowledge; i.e., whether or not we can _know_ if there is a god. Whereas, atheism is about belief; namely, atheists do not _believe_ in a god.

    So all you half-steppers saying you're "agnostic" as opposed to "atheist", ask yourselves if you believe in god or not. If you don't, then face it: you're an atheist.

    Atheism is not necessarily the positive belief that god _does not_ exist, merely the lacking of any specific belief in god.

    Sheesh, I get so tired of having to explain that everywhere...

  • Xeones||

    Dogmatic anything is tedious.

    This.

    Self righteousness is self righteousness, whether based in religious belief or the lack thereof. I'm no atheist, but i avoid organized religion these days for that reason.

  • Mad Max||

    Isaac,

    ATHEIST: Down with the cowardly agnostics!

    AGNOSTIC: Down with the arrogant atheists!

    ATHEIST: Accept the truth, infidel!

    AGNOSTIC: Up yours, fundamentalist!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Isaac - the reason that irritates people is because it's basically stating you cannot be certain about anything. If you want to be an agnostic about knowledge, fine by me, but it's possible to know things, as far as I am concerned.

    I mean, I suppose you're agnostic about green goblins too, right? And China..I mean, how do you like, know it's really there, man?

  • ||

    So all you half-steppers saying you're "agnostic" as opposed to "atheist", ask yourselves if you believe in god or not. If you don't, then face it: you're an atheist.

    I'm an apathetic agnostic. I don't care if god exists or not.

  • stuartl||

    So all you half-steppers saying you're "agnostic" as opposed to "atheist", ask yourselves if you believe in god or not. If you don't, then face it: you're an atheist.

    I thought the difference was that agnostics just want to avoid trouble. Saying you are an "atheist" all too often is an attempt to have useless 3 hour argument.

  • Anonymous||

    I don't want atheism to ascend, I just want theism to decline.



    Like they say: when people don't believe in a specific thing, they'll believe anything. The problem usually isn't man's conception of their God as much as their conception of their fellow man. Setting aside why they believe it: if they think it's worth subjecting those beneath them to rudeness, taxes, legal sanction, beheading, or destruction, then they're going to try to do it.

  • Elemenope||

    but it's possible to know things, as far as I am concerned.

    In the style of Samuel L. Jackson:

    "I provide the belief, the universe provides the truth, and Mr. 9mm here, he provides the motherfucking justification."

  • ||

    Since when are Pastafarians considered atheist?

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster is as legit a diety as any of the other gawds.

  • T||

    And China..I mean, how do you like, know it's really there, man?

    Well, technically speaking, I don't know China is really there. However, the rest of y'all seem pretty convinced so I'm willing to play along with the joke.

    Besides, all that crap I buy at Wal-Mart had to come from somewhere.

  • Untermensch||

    Worship _this_ :-)



    Please, please, please tell me this is someone's idea of a bad joke? If not, I may have just lost my faith in everything except the stupidity of this world.

  • ||

    that license plate obviously meant Reason Magazine, need to get one

  • jtuf||

    From the linked story in the New York Times, it seems that social stigma is the main complaint of Atheists and Agnostics. While I agree that people should be civil to Atheists and Agnostics, we're not exactly talking about a separate school system, which blacks faced, or a forced stay in a pyschiatric hospital, which gays faced.

    The Church of All Worlds, a Theist group, spearheaded legal equality regardless of religion half a century ago when they fought for non-profit status in the courts. Atheists and Agnostics who belong to a registered group actually enjoy the same legal protections as any Theist. "Nones" on the other hand face regular discrimination, because they don't belong to any registered group. Ironically, this is the problem Ayn Rand warned us about when she objected to basing rights on group equality rather than individual freedom and equality. On the one hand, I'm glad to see more people getting equality under the law and a recognition of their rights. On the other hand, I would rather build reform on the concept of individual universal rights than on the creation of yet another protected class.

  • jtuf||

    The Angry Optimist, I subscribe to the Baysian concept of degrees of belief. When there's not much evidience either way, it makes sense to believe 50% in one theory and 50% in the other theory. In other words, to stay skeptical and reserve judgement until you have more evidence. Based on my past life experiences, I believe in G-d 70% and disbelieve in him 30%. I believe in green goblins 1% and disbelieve in them 99%. I believe in China 99% and disbelieve in it 1%. These figures are rounded to the nearest whole percent for simplicity.

  • dhex||

    i sort-of lead a small cadre of somewhat-militant agnostics, sometimes.

    our motto is "we don't know and neither do you".

    :)

  • MNG||

    "you know what is tedious? Groups like "Secular Student Alliance" or "Secular Coalition of America". I have one very, very limited belief "

    I'm not sure about that TAO. There are a host of government policies that could be said to impact an atheist differently than a theist, so I'm not sure why forming an interest group around this is any different than most others.

  • ||

    When there's not much evidience either way, it makes sense to believe 50% in one theory and 50% in the other theory.



    I can't tell if you're joking but this is nonsense. Your default starting position for the existence of anything without much evidence is 50/50?

    I believe in G-d 70% and disbelieve in him 30%. I believe in green goblins 1% and disbelieve in them 99%



    I presume the absence of evidence for the existence of green goblins pushed your number down to 1%. Exactly what positive evidence pushed your belief in God up to 70% from your 50% starting point?

  • dfd||

    What the hell is jtuf talking about? By your own silly 50/50 standard you should believe in green goblins 50/50 since I haven't seen anyone disprove them or really offer any evidence that they don't exist. What possible evidence are you basing your 99% disbelief on? Do tell. Likewise, there is about equal evidence on the existence of God and goblins and you suddenly jump to 70%. Please enlighten us on the additional evidence that has turned up for God and the evidence that has turned up against goblins.

    But I second the question to those "agnostics" -- are you also agnostic about green goblins? If so, it's a pretty meaningless agnosticism, and if not then where is the difference with the equally evidence lacking claims of God?

  • ||

    it's basically stating you cannot be certain about anything

    How did you get from "cannot know about the existance of God" to "cannot be certain about anything"?

    Secondly, knowing whether or not China exists is at least verifiable/falsifiable, whereas the existence of God is not. Besides, my point was not concerning the validity of the agnostic position, merely about the nomenclature surrounding the subject. I personally am an atheist by virtue of Occam's Razor; the existence of God is not necessary to explain the existence of life, the Universe and everything.

  • Xanthippas||

    What was the point of this post?

  • dhex||

    How did you get from "cannot know about the existance of God" to "cannot be certain about anything"?

    you know how those fundies are.

    ho ho!

  • Paul||

    Atheism shouldn't be a movement. It shouldn't evangelize. It shouldn't make itself a victim, or compare its plight with the civil rights struggle. If it does, I'll no longer consider myself an atheist. Remember, I'm a libertarian, which means I don't join.

  • Untermensch||

    the existence of God is not necessary to explain the existence of life, the Universe and everything.



    Actually, that's begging the question. If there is a God, then God is (or might be) necessary for "life, the Universe and everything." If there is no God, then God is not necessary for that. But we really don't know enough to begin to answer whether God is or is not necessary to explain all that since we lack fundamental knowledge needed to answer it. The best we can say is, "based on my understanding and my assumptions, I don't believe God is needed." But if we're wrong in our basis for making those statements, then the conclusion is wrong as well.

    Note the reversibility of the argument as well. If someone said "the existence of God is necessary to explain the existence of life, the Univers and everything," you would be perfectly right in asking how they know that.

    It's sort of like Dawkins saying "we do know that, if there were a god, the universe would be very different from what it is." (Sorry I can't source the quote precisely. It's not exact, but I heard it on an NPR program where he was interviewed.)

    Well, no. If there is some sort of deity (posited as an empirical, but hypothetical, question) then this is exactly the kind of universe said deity would make (or at least it may be), regardless of what Dawkins things about it. If there is no deity, then Dawkins may have a point, but his point is only valid if you know the answer from the beginning. In other words, what Dawkins is really arguing is if he were a deity, he (Dawkins) would make a very different universe, so therefore there is no deity. His argument tell us nothing about what anyone other than Dawkins would or would not do.

  • ||

    Belief without evidence is something worth arguing against. I don't have much of a problem with these groups organizing to counter some of the stupidity that other groups argue for and get from government. But, I don't think that's all they'll do, and then I have a problem. I see no need to waste time trying to get the Ten Commandments removed from court houses. But they should fight against ID being taught in science classes, since it's not scientific.

  • ||

    Untermensch,

    Actually, that's begging the question.

    Ok, ok. I am not aware of any logically sound line of reasoning which necessitates the existence of a God. I made the mistake of assuming that such verbiage would be implied.

    With that said, even some of the more sophisticated arguments at best necessitate some outside source, but still do not lead to the conclusion of a full-on deity which can have anything meaningful said about it.

    When I say god is not necessary to explain reality, I mean everything we observe has so far either been well understood and explained by the natural sciences, or we have no reason to believe they can't be. Introducing a deity in the equation is at best pre-mature, per Occam's Razor:

    "The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory."

    This definition would directly negate your argument that it would make no difference.

    As for the Dawkins quote, I think this makes sense unless we allow for an incompetent deity. I believe his reasoning is coming from the "argument from bad design" which is usually a rebuttal to the classic "argument from design" (which is generally wrapped up as the so-called "intelligent design theory"). I would need to see the source or at least some context to be sure, however.

  • the innominate one||

    Florida's response:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/legislature/article995257.ece

  • Anonymous||

    "we don't know and neither do you"


    That's something I can almost get behind!

  • ||

    If you were black man in 1809 walking hand in hand with a white woman, you would have been lynched. If you were gay man in 1909 walking hand in hand with your male lover, you would have been beaten to a pulp. But if you are an atheist in 2009 walking downtown without a cross on your lapel, no one gives a shit. So stop pretending to be the victim. Sheesh.

    The presence of religion is not an oppression against you. A nativity creche in front of city hall does not oppress you. A mayor's prayer breakfast does not oppress you. The Ten Commandments on the wall of a judge's office does not oppress you. So stop acting like you're being crucified.

    If gays were like atheists, they would be suing heterosexuals for kissing on the courthouse lawn.

  • robc||

    I believe in green goblins 1% and disbelieve in them 99%....These figures are rounded to the nearest whole percent for simplicity.

    So, your belief in green goblins is greater than 1 in 200? Otherwise, 0% when being the nearest. :)

  • robc||

    Otherwise, 0% when being the nearest.

    Wow, joez law at work.

  • ||

    the innominate one,

    We've got around 100 plates now. Jesus is just the newest.

    I know that they've rejected plates before, but the whole process has to avoid viewpoint discrimination. If Jesus gets approved, then what about Zeus? And if Zeus doesn't get approved, the group who submitted the Zeus tag would have a cause of action against the state, right?

    It's like $60,000 just to submit a plate, apparently.

  • robc||

    Pro Lib,

    Not sure about your state, but many require a certain number of committed purchasers before it is approved. So, assuming it passed the obscenity filter, a Zeus tag would be approved with enough prepurchasers.

  • Mad Max||

    'The presence of religion is not an oppression against you. A nativity creche in front of city hall does not oppress you. A mayor's prayer breakfast does not oppress you. The Ten Commandments on the wall of a judge's office does not oppress you. So stop acting like you're being crucified.'

    Now, now, don't deprive the atheists of their precious victim status.

  • ||

    Now, now, don't deprive the atheists of their precious victim status.

    If he can manage to post again, we'll have scientific proof that unintentional irony to the point of rank hypocrisy, is not, in fact, fatal.

  • Elemenope||

    Hey Mad Max, you ever lose a job for being Catholic? Just curious.

    Brandybuck,

    Metaphors are almost by definition partially inapt. No, being an Atheist is not exactly like being gay or black. And, I agree with you to some extent that "oppression" is perhaps not the best way to characterize the way that Atheists are generally treated, once they are identified as such; it is less severe than the other examples you mentioned.

    And I agree that the mere presence of religion is not an oppression, and I could give a shit about creches and menorahs and Christmas trees. But when policy decisions are made on the basis of some special revelation that some special people think they have access to, is that a good way to run a republic?

  • Mad Max||

    'Hey Mad Max, you ever lose a job for being Catholic? Just curious.'

    Does it count if a university career advisor told me to leave certain information out of my resume - specifically, my founding of a prolife student group?

    Bear in mind that I'm not claiming 'oppression,' but responding the atheists' howls of same.

  • Untermensch||

    "The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory."



    Occam's razor sort of breaks down when we reach a certain point, however. Do we need a God to explain why anything exists at all? What happens if we assume there is a God? Doesn't that just push the question off to "Why is there a God?"? If we assume there is no God, then where did all this stuff come from? I really don't know of any answer to the fundamental question of existence that is logical. Here we go beyond logic. Present cosmology simply pushes the question off too since the Big Bang is the horizon of our knowledge and we cannot know what came before (we can only speculate). Occam's razor is no guidance when you reach the limiting cases like these since we don't have any way to approach a hypothesis and test the need for any particular inputs. At the point where you reach your statement about not needing a God to explain everything around us, you have entered the realm of philosophy, not science, and reach the point of the Dawkins quote.

    As for the Dawkins quote, I think this makes sense unless we allow for an incompetent deity.



    I'm not sure what the antecedent of "this" is in your quote. I assume (please correct me if I'm wrong) that you are saying Dawkin's position makes sense if we assume that we don't allow for an incompetent deity. I really think the "argument from bad design" make about as much sense as the "argument from design". Both are bad logic. What are confronted with is what is (as far as we can comprehend it) and if there is a God, then this is the universe that that God made; and if there is no God, then we have a universe that doesn't need a God. In neither case do we know (or have a way of knowing) which we're in, short of the deity revealing itself to us (something religious folks claim does happen, but which non-religious folks reject out of hand). We also have no way of assessing the priorities of said God (or no God) and knowing whether our ideas of what make the kind of universe a God would (or would not) make have any bearing on anything other than our own ideas.

    I suspect, although Dawkins did not elaborate, that his argument was the old one about if there is a God, then why is there suffering? If that's the case, again, we have left the realm of positive knowledge either way since we don't know anything about what a God would want. Maybe we're really trapped in a Manichaean universe ruled over by an evil deity who wants us to suffer, in which case we are in the appropriate universe for that deity... Maybe the God has something other in mind for us than we think and Dawkin's ideal universe would turn out to be terrible. We don't know, and, more importantly (and despite all pretense otherwise) can't know.

    My point really is that any statements, either way, about what is or is not needed to explain the universe do not flow from the facts themselves or from logic, but from something else. We may make up logical arguments about them, but if it were really a matter of logic, we would all agree. (For instance, this is why I think IDers are disingenuous at best: they ignore the evidence for evolution's role and argue that it doesn't exist. So they are being willfully blind.) The fact that two people can look at the same facts about the universe and come to completely different positions regarding the need (or lack) for a deity suggests that we have left the realm of science and entered something else. Each side will think the other one is stupid, but that's not because of logic or "proof." Think of it as Gödel writ large.

  • Mad Max||

    (In fairness, the advisor went on to say that perhaps I should leave the information on my resume, on the grounds that I wouldn't *really* want to have a job with a prochoice employer.)

  • dhex||

    max is right: leave the victimhood scripts to the neo-osirian death cultists.

    how much bigotry is there against atheists, anyway. is there an ADL of sorts recording this kind of thing?

  • Mad Max||

    'max is right: leave the victimhood scripts to the neo-osirian death cultists.'

    What part of 'I'm not claiming "oppression" went over your head?"

  • Elemenope||

    Does it count if a university career advisor told me to leave certain information out of my resume - specifically, my founding of a prolife student group?

    People can be anti-abortion rights and not be Catholic, so it sort of counts. It counts in favor of the point that there are acts of discrimination which are relevant which do not rise to the level of beating the shit out of and/or lynching people which are still relevant, but is a little off-point when dealing with the specific issue of religious bigotry.

    (In fairness, the advisor went on to say that perhaps I should leave the information on my resume, on the grounds that I wouldn't *really* want to have a job with a prochoice employer.)

    I'm curious, were you going into an occupation where one's opinion either way would come up often and would be relevant?

  • ||

    "The presence of religion is not an oppression against you."

    I agree with most of this and dislike the victim mentality.

    But I do think that displaying the Ten Commandments in a courthouse is a problem... not a sign of discrimination, but a sign that there's something wrong with that court. The first two commandments are antithetical to the first amendment, and so have no place in American law. I can only see two or three commandments that have any place in a courthouse; the other 7 or 8, if put into law, would make for the worst totalitarianism the world has ever seen.

  • Mad Max||

    'I'm curious, were you going into an occupation where one's opinion either way would come up often and would be relevant?'

    Law. And I *have* interned for a "pro-choice" lawyer. She overlooked my heretical views.

    The entire legal profession, come to think of it, is tainted by the abortion-on-demand philosophy, which was underwritten by the highest levels in the legal establishment.

    I only mention this because of the assumption that I haven't experienced discrimination, hence I cannot understand the awful pain that atheists feel. The fact is, I've been an atheist myself, but never experienced discrimination for atheism.

    And of course there are pro-life atheists, like Nat Hentoff.

    'counts in favor of the point that there are acts of discrimination which are relevant which do not rise to the level of beating the shit out of and/or lynching people which are still relevant'

    While we're on the subject of prochoice violence, check out this site. I certainly can't claim to have been subject to the type of pro-abortion violence documented at this site, although of course my prolife organization was targeted for prosecution in the student courts - something so obvious that it pretty much counts as dog-bites-man, scarcely worth mentioning.

  • Anonymous||

    The first two commandments are antithetical to the first amendment, and so have no place in American law.

    Good thing we have the First Amendment to prevent Congress from ruling as if those commandments were legally binding. If the Judiciary would stop legislating from the bench, then that would cease the rent seeking all around.

  • ||

    "The presence of religion is not an oppression against you."

    I accept this only when it comes as a corollary to:

    "Not being able to tell people what to do is not a form of oppression."

    Argue, whine, wheedle, cajole, even harangue to a certain extent... but you make your beliefs into law and all politeness /tolerance /deference is null and void.

  • Mad Max||

    Just to be clear, the wrongfulness of abortion is apparent even to many atheists, as indicated by the following links:

    Home page of the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League

    The home page of Libertarians for Life, which was founded (surprise, surprise) by an atheist.

    The atheist Nat Hentoff, with one of his many denunciations of abortion

  • PIRS||

    "Jehovah's Witness! I'm not interested IN YOUR WATCHTOWER BULLSHIT! DO YOU HEAR ME! STOP WAKING ME UP AT 7 IN THE MORNING!!!"

    Strangely enough, it is because of Jehovah's Witnesses that I once again celebrate Christmas and Easter. I heard their arguments against these two holidays and asked myself "So, why am I against these holidays again?" I enjoy them now in the knowledge that they are evil, pagan and unchristian.

  • PIRS||

    Mad Max,

    I am a pro-life, pro-gay marriage, Ignostic, anarchist, hardore capitalist.

  • Mad Max||

    PIRS,

    More power to you!

    Feel free to talk about spiritual matters with your fellow pro-lifers, some of whom (so I am told) are theistic in their orientation.

  • Elemenope||

    The entire legal profession, come to think of it, is tainted by the abortion-on-demand philosophy, which was underwritten by the highest levels in the legal establishment.

    Suffused or tainted, I imagine the normative characterization depends on where one stands on the broader issues. Either way, you're certainly right that like most upper middle-class professionals, they do the social liberal/economic conservative skew.

    I only mention this because of the assumption that I haven't experienced discrimination, hence I cannot understand the awful pain that atheists feel. The fact is, I've been an atheist myself, but never experienced discrimination for atheism.

    And that is perfectly reasonable. It's hard to believe in something that one hasn't experienced personally. In my personal experience, while "groupings" bring out the stupid in all of us on a regular basis, I have not seen more irrational hatred directed with little provocation than I have seen of people talking about or to Atheists, because it is still socially acceptable to do so in many places. Some people get lucky and never experience situations or people which are readily identifiable as being hostile because of a religious choice or identity.

    Honestly I think that anti-Catholicism shares a similar pattern; it rarely rises to the level of *oppression*, but people will go to great length to make sure that you know they don't like you (as it is still socially acceptable to do so), and will impede you within the narrow bands of official discretion they possess.

  • PIRS||

    I thought the whole Catholic / Protestant animosity thing pretty much died in the United States?

  • Mad Max||

    'Honestly I think that anti-Catholicism shares a similar pattern; it rarely rises to the level of *oppression*, but people will go to great length to make sure that you know they don't like you (as it is still socially acceptable to do so), and will impede you within the narrow bands of official discretion they possess.'

    Really? You don't say! :)

    'It's hard to believe in something that one hasn't experienced personally. In my personal experience, while "groupings" bring out the stupid in all of us on a regular basis, I have not seen more irrational hatred directed with little provocation than I have seen of people talking about or to Atheists, because it is still socially acceptable to do so in many places.'

    I'm not surprised that *open* atheists come in for a lot of criticism, especially from closeted atheists who feel some guilt that they don't have the courage of their 'out' colleagues. Much of the anger against open atheists is along the lines of, 'look, I don't believe in that crap, but why must you go out of your way to insult these misguided believers?'

  • Xeones||

    I thought the whole Catholic / Protestant animosity thing pretty much died in the United States?

    www.chick.com

  • Mad Max||

    'I thought the whole Catholic / Protestant animosity thing pretty much died in the United States?'

    It no longer poses itself in the same way. People with traditional theistic views - whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc. - come in for a lot of grief, and in some cases actual legal discrimination. I haven't been on the receiving end, myself, when it comes to *legal* discrimination. Not so far as I know.

  • PIRS||

    Xeones, I am aware of Chick, I didn't think more than .0000000000000000003% of the entire U.S. Population took them seriously.

  • dhex||

    "What part of 'I'm not claiming "oppression" went over your head?""

    none of it. i'm saying that as a death cult, christianity is far more at home with the language of victimization than a generally unaffiliated group of people who aren't particularly being victimized, the semi-real court of public opinion aside. besides, ricky dawkins looks far too hale and well-fed to even remotely carry across the language of victimization for an audience which is not deeply devoted to the concept in the first place. it may certainly be inconvenient to live in some places and deal with haranguing and heckling and the like, but that's a good argument for not living where villagers with pitchforks and torches do.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    The presence of religion is not an oppression against you. A nativity creche in front of city hall does not oppress you. A mayor's prayer breakfast does not oppress you. The Ten Commandments on the wall of a judge's office does not oppress you. So stop acting like you're being crucified.



    I certainly don't feel oppressed. I don't encounter aspects of frank bigotry, either, although I might if I ran for public office. I suspect it feels to me more often like you might feel living in Saudi Arabia or Yemen - surrounded by the trappings and shibboleths of an alien religion. I have more issues with attempts by religious individuals to pass laws against victimless sins. Blue laws, for example.

    Howver, I have to ask if you would feel perfectly comfortable in a town where muslim calls to prayer were announced daily from the courthouse lawn, along with muslim prayer breakfasts in the mayors office and a copy of Qur'an behind the judge's bench?

  • PIRS||

    I was going to link to the Cthulu Chick Tract Parody, unfortunately it was taken down for alleged copyright violations. Bummber, it was funny too. I hope someone has a copy to save for after the copyright runs out. This is another clear case of IP abuse on the part of Chick Publications.

  • Anonymous||

    Howver, I have to ask if you would feel perfectly comfortable in a town where muslim calls to prayer were announced daily from the courthouse lawn, along with muslim prayer breakfasts in the mayors office and a copy of Qur'an behind the judge's bench?

    Yes, that's a perfect analog to saying "Bless you!" after you sneeze, or setting up a nativity scene in front of a Church building, or praying for your salvation. Anyone who thinks you're wrong is part of the vast conspiracy to make you miserable. I'm glad you understand!

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Yes, that's a perfect analog to saying "Bless you!" after you sneeze, or setting up a nativity scene in front of a Church building, or praying for your salvation. Anyone who thinks you're wrong is part of the vast conspiracy to make you miserable. I'm glad you understand!



    Read the example again. I'm talking about religious symbolism on public property or at publicly sanctioned events, not church signs.

  • Anonymous||

    I'm talking about religious symbolism on public property or at publicly sanctioned event

    No, you were talking about Arabaic being on loudspeaker throughout a city (that's what passes for "muslim calls to prayer" in Europe).

  • Elemenope||

    I'm not surprised that *open* atheists come in for a lot of criticism, especially from closeted atheists who feel some guilt that they don't have the courage of their 'out' colleagues. Much of the anger against open atheists is along the lines of, 'look, I don't believe in that crap, but why must you go out of your way to insult these misguided believers?'

    There's certainly plenty of anger on both sides, from injuries both real and imagined. The only problem with such analysis is that it neglects one party being proportionately a great deal bigger and more powerful than the other.

    Really? You don't say! :)

    I do. I really think the new model in our society for how people will, due to grouping, be dicks to each other follows the mutation from violence, legal oppression, and open bigotry (the prior model, easiest on both sides to engage in for readily identifiable groups, such as race and sexual orientation) to less visible forms, such as it did and does with most modern anti-Catholic and anti-Atheist action.

    It manifests in couching arguments in terms that might apply to a broader group (I don't hate Atheists, but anyone without a strong basis for their morality worries me // I don't hate Catholics, but bigotry against gays makes me sick), but attacking a disfavored feature of that group and attacking the feature instead of attacking the group directly. Where it steps from mere dishonesty into actual discrimination is when someone uses these frames as a heuristic for deciding things within their own officially designated discretion (such as when hiring or reviewing a person for promotion, or even the decision by a cop to or not to give a person a ticket instead of a warning).

    It becomes official discrimination when a supposedly neutral agent of the state (like the aforementioned cop) uses that heuristic to make his or her judgment calls with regard to their authority being applied to citizens.

    And good luck fucking proving it.

  • PIRS||

    "No, you were talking about Arabaic being on loudspeaker throughout a city (that's what passes for "muslim calls to prayer" in Europe)."

    They do that in Europe now? Honestly I had no idea. I mean, outside of that tiny piece of Turkey that is considered part of Europe obviously.

  • DADIODADDY||

    I would refer everyone to that famous Gahan Wilson cartoon the punch line of which was "Is Nothing Sacred?" the caroon was two prelates in mitres are talking while all the worshipers were prostrate in front of a large N

  • Tacos mmm...||

    No, you were talking about Arabaic being on loudspeaker throughout a city (that's what passes for "muslim calls to prayer" in Europe).



    And there's a firm line between a call to prayer from the courthouse lawn, and a benediction opening a legislative session?

  • ||

    People believe all sorts of things. All sorts. So to act like you are being especially mistreated because of your atheism is absurd. Yes, atheists get denied jobs or get fired just because they are atheists. So what? I've been fired for getting a letter-to-the-editor published advocating drug legalization. I've been asked, in violation of local law, what my political affiliation was during a job interview.

    Some people are going to hate you because of your personal beliefs or opinions. It's a fact of life. No amount of coercive state is going to change that. So grow a thicker skin and get used to it.

    The amount of abuse an atheist gets for not believing in God is trivial compared to the abuse a libertarian gets for not believing in the State.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This is another clear case of IP abuse on the part of Chick Publications.

    Huh. I'm not a lawyer but I thought that work would've been protected as fair use through satire. And it's damn funny.

  • Elemenope||

    I was pretty much with you up until:

    The amount of abuse an atheist gets for not believing in God is trivial compared to the abuse a libertarian gets for not believing in the State.

    I ROFL'd and then I cried. Are you serious?

  • Max Sterner III||

    You people are missing the point. The religious oppression occurs not so much in society at large, but in families. Think of the children (and I'm not saying this sarcastically)! They have to put up with whatever crazy shit their parents believe. Even when they are old enough to think for themselves, they are still economically dependent on their parents. And, more importantly, is the emotional bonds to family that could easily be lost if you made it a point to be proud of your beliefs. Though it is not like being lynched, in some ways lynching is easier than social alienation. At least lynched people have usually had their friends to go to after they are bloody, but not all atheists have even that.

    Using coercion of any means to force people to compromise their identity and be subservient to your view of things is oppression. We are all oppressed, some just more so than others. We are all oppressors as well. While having a nativity scene on a courthouse might not seem like a big deal, it is a symbol of a particular group. If you're part of a group that does not get its thing on the lawn, then the message is that your not as powerful as they are. Provided you wanted to get on the lawn and failed to do so, anyway. It's symbolic warfare, group against group. If you're on the losing side, and if whining will get you ahead, then no shame in whining.

    As individuals, we fight for ourselves by fighting for our groups. The whole point of government is picking the winners and making sure the losers know their place and don't try to start a war (in this case it would be called 'terrorism'). And because I seem to be on the losing side more often than not, I despise the government. I do not care about libertarian philosophies, equality, all that stuff. I'm just selfish, and think that if the government isn't run by me, than it's better there were no government at all.

    And further, I suspect that everyone is selfish like me. They just choose to wrap themselves in fancy -isms and religions to make it seem like they are more noble or something. And it is because of these selfish tendencies and rationalizations that libertopia does not exist. I hold that we are not libertarians because we have found the truth, nor are we jews or christians or druze or scientologiests because those things have it right. It has more to do with politics than truth. And even atheists are driven to unbelief more for the same sorts of reasons that others are inspired to believe in Gods and the supernatural than because of rational theological arguments.

  • engineer||

    "I was pretty much with you up until:

    The amount of abuse an atheist gets for not believing in God is trivial compared to the abuse a libertarian gets for not believing in the State.

    I ROFL'd and then I cried. Are you serious?"

    What's so funny? It's true. Hell, here in Georgia you'd probably get way more crap for expressing consistently libertarian views than for openly declaring yourself an atheist. I'd say almost anywhere in the U.S., failure to believe in the state will get you way more crap than failure to believe in God.

  • engineer||

    "At least lynched people have usually had their friends to go to after they are bloody"

    Uh, I may be mistaken, but didn't most lynched people end up dead?

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