Interesting article about a study showing that religion might be counter-productive to crime prevention. This was posted by a reader on my 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime page. I’m glad people are finally acknowledging this, but I have a few complaints about the article, like how it implies that only criminals have distorted views on religion, as though the normal religious folks are in complete agreement. I’m sure the author and the researchers were being careful not to offend anyone, but this article tries to imply that this is not a symptom of a fundamental issue with religion, but rather a minor detail that’s not being handled properly in our prisons, but then fails to explain how religion actually has a positive effect. It quotes the study, “faith-based programs work best in reducing recidivism when done in conjunction with educational, vocational and life-skills training,” and this makes sense, much like how chicken-fried steak is great for weight loss when done in conjunction with vigorous exercise.
This is a website I just had to share because as an anarchist I believe in embracing whatever I can to shake up my beliefs, anything that makes me see things in a different light, and as an atheist, I have to be fair to the competition, so to be fair, here is an excellent example of a faith-based community that I could get behind.
You can also watch their intro video here.
This site is specifically focused on LGBT and gay issues within the church and does a great job of arguing that the homophobic attitudes do not reflect the true intent of religion, but more importantly it’s an example of a community that sees God as love.
So I’ve been thinking lately about that old phrase, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” and I’ve kind of noticed that certain people in our society actually use the exact opposite strategy–and use it quite effectively–to win arguments. Some people seem to go out of their way to make their “house” as weak and pathetic as they possibly can, so that they can throw as many “stones” as they want at others, without really having to worry about anyone throwing back because they know they would utterly destroy the person if they did. I find it so strange, but it seems as though some of the most emotionally fragile people in this world are the ones who throw around the most insults.
On an individual level, I think this happens subconsciously and the people doing it are unaware of their hypocrisy. However, I also think this strategy is being deliberately used on the political spectrum, and compassionate people are falling for it… and I think atheists tend to be some of the biggest suckers for this strategy… along with heterosexual men
Got a response on my Religion Promotes Crime page.
We all need to be open-minded and avoid being a bigot and an attitude of a doctrinaire.
As a free-thinker, I believe it’s one’s upbringing, surroundings, mind-frame, outlook and attitude that decides and determines one’s lifestyle and future.
Any Religion, for that matter, is not at all to blamed for all the evils that exists or are committed by individuals. As such, you cannot generalize on any count.
Every Religion, without any exception, teaches and preaches humanitarian values that lead to welfare of mankind and every society.
All Religions’ teachings are ethical and spread moralism.
God’s blessings on Patriarch Abraham, Lord Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Lord Buddha, Lord Zoroaster, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Baha’ Ullah, Lord Nanak Devji, Lord Mahavir!
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Bahaism, all are good Religions, leading you, ultimately, to the same God-Rabb-Elohim-Allah-Khuda-Yazdaan-Bhagwaan-Eshwar-Deo-Dei, all leading us to the same path of peace and propagating humanity.
Please don’t blame the Religions, blame your own misunderstanding and lack of awareness, your mental level, as you are unable to grasp and understand the true meaning and message of the Holy teachings of all Religions.
I shall do a treatise on this subject, later on, in more details.
Hope, for the time being, this shall be a food for thought.
God bless ye all!
And this is my reply:
Free thinkers decide their lifestyle and future based on facts, science, and real-world cause and effect, not on what they’ve been told or what makes them feel comfortable within their culture.
If I wrote an article about methamphetamine and point out that meth users statistically commit more crime, does that make me bigoted toward meth users? No. If I met a meth user and automatically assumed he was a thief, that would be bigotry on my part. I do not do that. I also do not automatically assume every religious person is a criminal. That would be bigotry. But simply pointing out logical cause-and-effect and showing statistics cannot be construed as bigotry. It’s a very manipulative argument that you’ve made, trying to paint yourself as a victim because real-world facts don’t match your world view. I am not under any obligation to ignore reality to make you feel better.
You say, “All Religions’ teachings are ethical and spread moralism.” but notice how you’ve offered not one piece of evidence to support this. Not one statistic about religious individuals, not one example of real-world cause and effect. Not even a personal anecdote. I could just as easily say “meth addiction promotes ethical behavior and moralism. Every meth lab, without exception, provides humanitarian values that lead to welfare of mankind and every society.”
That statement I just made has the exact same validity as yours because neither of us has offered a single piece of evidence.
A couple days ago I posted a Conversation I had with a Christian about God and the value of religion and I’m still thinking about it and hoping I didn’t notably hurt any feelings. I actually wrote to the Social IQ Lady, my favorite atheist blogger, and twelve hours later she’d written a thoughtful post about it. I asked her if it had been worth my time, but maybe what I was thinking more of is was it worth the hurt feelings? (It never occurred to me that the term ‘Dude’ could be derogatory but now that she points it out, it makes perfect sense.) Writing a blog post about a general concept is a lot different than arguing directly with someone because there’s no way to avoid the sense that you’re attacking and having a little battle.
The reason I like the Social IQ Lady so much is because she’s found a way to be mostly positive, avoids anything that’s purposefully insulting, but still manages to make meaningful atheist points. Most other atheist sites I’ve found either dilute their message, or resort to insults and accusations of evil. I used to read BlagHag, but after elevatorgate 2011, I couldn’t handle the nastiness anymore.
One major reason I never revived my previous website was because it had become so negative. It was marijuana-focused and atheism was a side-issue, so most of my readers came looking for info about weed, then the religious ones got offended by some of my articles and would say nasty things, then I would try to show my superior writing skill by out-insulting them. Then the next person would see those posts and it would serve as an invitation for more nastiness. (Ironically my first website started as a celebration of God and faith but it turned into anti-religious nastiness.) I’m doing a whole lot better with kalinbooks. I can’t think of any point where I’ve been purposefully hurtful, though in a lot of ways I’m saying things that are more harsh than I did on my previous site. I have not received one death-threat since I revamped this site in 2010 so I’m not doing too horribly.
But still, I’m so negative all the time. While i don’t say anything deliberately hurtful, all my posts seem to be about what’s wrong with things. I talk about police brutality and all the things that are wrong with criminal justice. I talk about atheism, but instead of focusing on the benefits of mental freedom and equality, I focus on the ways religion has harmed myself and society. I really want to write a series of posts about my vision of a Utopian society and outline how humans could live peacefully without laws and religion. I have so many ideas in my head, but instead I just attack our current society without offering alternatives
I keep thinking about another negative post I want to write about Ted Bundy and how reading a couple books about him cemented my anarchism, explaining how criminal justice inspired him to kill and how the police helped him get away with it.
But there’s a part of the Ted Bundy post I need to remember to include. Most people don’t know that he actually volunteered and worked tirelessly at a suicide hotline, saving possibly as many people as he killed… but even fewer people know about the story of one of the women who got away.
Ted Bundy, in the midst of his killing years, stopped to pick up a young female hitchhiker. Once she realized he had lied about where they were going, he admitted that he intended to rape and murder her. Something about her state-of-mind, however, was different than his other victims. Perhaps the situation was so surreal that her brain somehow skipped over the fear. Instead of screaming and crying and calling him names, she started talking to him like a person, asking him about his childhood, about his motivations, about how he feels when he’s killing people, and how he thinks his victims feel. Despite the fact that he was about to brutally murder her, she remained relatively respectful and continued calmly talking to him about the situation until finally he pulled off to the side of the road, told her that she’d earned his respect, and let her go.
Part of me wants to ask how it’s possible that someone can admit to a random stranger that he’s a serial killer and the cops still can’t bust him, but what’s really important in this story is the fact that one woman did in a half hour conversation what millions of dollars of criminal justice could not, and the key to her success was the fact that she respected him, despite what a monster he was. This is the kind of thing I want to talk about on this site, those beacons of hope, and the fact that so few people have faith in these days, that every person, no matter how evil or insane, can still be reached through communication and compassion. I have no idea if I’ll succeed.
Whew… I’m so very sorry that I have to do this, but I must. Today I’m posting a conversation I had with a Christian Facebook friend.
I made him cry.
I think this conversation illuminates a few interesting things. First, is the fact that ethnocentrism is an inherent and integral part of the Christian religion.
Another is how Christianity justifies violence, and how Christians systematically turn a blind eye toward the suffering of others, particularly when it’s caused by their own religion. Watch for the parts where I basically get him to admit his support for killing in the name of God.
You may also note the common religious strategy of bombarding opponents with catch-phrases and creative ways of saying God is wonderful, while evading any topic that is difficult for them to address.
I feel pretty bad that I made him cry, but after reading back through this, I realize I stuck to compassionate verbal strategies. I don’t change my argument to save people’s feelings, but I never say anything purposefully designed to hurt. It’s not okay to let someone tell lies simply because the truth hurts but it’s also not okay to purposefully insult them. I think I did a good job maintaining that balance.
Oddly enough, this guy is a huge fan of my writing… or was. How that happened I have no idea, but to give an example, this is the first message he ever sent me on Facebook, about a year and a half ago:
I know it is my duty 2 celebrate ur lordship sir. I’ve been 2 ur site & i’ve known wht it weigh in term of knowledge, more greese 2 ur elbow sir. Sir, hw i wish i could b like u, nt necessarily become a poet like u but i want u 2 mentor me in ways & hw i can improve on my self in writing. Ave had some articles 2 my credit, bt i think as a father & my mentor there would b ways u canmake me improve on my self. My name is G, an engineering student in 1 of nigeria university. Thanks sir.
Note that he’s an engineering student, and apparently a published author, as in, he’s not a crazy street-person. But he did ask me to be his mentor, so I guess he kind of asked for this.
So without further ado, here is the unedited conversation. I made comments in red.
Nudity! Y should u take dat job sir?
I like porn and it’s an awesome company
they definitely treat us better than any company I’ve worked for before
and surprisingly it’s the most professional company I’ve ever worked for
Havent God being faithful enough? Is sinful sir, detestable in God’s sight.
are you joking?
I’m sorry 4 i went offline. It was wht u said dat sacred me 2 d pt where my phone fell & scattered on ground
I’m serious it doesn’t worth it sir
what’s doesn’t worth it?
you’re serious that you think porn is wrong because god told you so?
religion kills countless people and porn hurts no one
Note: I said this in the heat of anger. What I should have said was that the porn industry hurts fewer people than the advertising industry where I worked previously, or the fast food, automobile, oil or military industries.
No matter hw much they r saying God is still nt on their side
a woman was murdered in the name of God on the front lawn of the home where I grew up
Note: I say a few crazy things about my personal experiences. I assure you, I did not make any of them up. I actually knew the guy who killed this woman and you can read one story I wrote about him.
to use God to push twisted moral values when so many people are killed in the name of God and so much hatred in the name of God you have no right to judge others in God’s name
the concept of God causes such an insane amount of harm in our society
have you read my article, 22 ways religion promotes crime?
I’m nt judging sir. D scripture only says we should offer r body as a living sacrifice 2 d lord. Porn dont justify dat sir
I’m an atheist dude
I used to be a Christian but it almost killed me
God is nothing but a delusion dude
No sir, i wil check dat out rht away sir
hey sorry if I get all defensive
god is just a touchy subject for me
Sir, i’m a living testimony dat God is real. I died wen i was operated on jan 9 2012. I say Jesus christ wit my eyes, sir, i saw heaven, sir, God is real
how many times have you seen god?
10nk God 4 taking bk 2 life. Sir dont let anybody deceive u Jesus is real sir
how many times have you talked to him?
Sir, he reveals himself even everyday 2me 2ru d scripture, bt after my coming bk 2 life. I only saw him 1s more again in my dream & he spoke 2 me
so you’ve seen him twice?
did you at least thank the doctors who actually saved your life?
Sir is there any thing i could do 2 convince u?
Like I told you I used to be a Christian
Note: Admittedly this could be a little misleading. There was a two-year period of my life where I accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I wasn’t actually involved in any church or organized Christianity and my personal religion was very non-standard but everything I tell G about my experiences are completely true.
if you have only seen God twice that’s not much proof for me
I saw God hundreds of times
God spoke to me and told me all sorts of amazing things
he told me to do stuff
I spoke with God on a daily basis
so I know all about your kind of experiences
I died bt lived again by His grace. I fell @ d sight of His glory, its a revelation i would shear until death take me again
are you listening to what I’m saying?
did you thank the doctor at least?
U r making me 2 cry now
the doctors most likely studied for years to be able to bring you back to life.
but we need to face reality and you will be better off in the long run if you hear the other side of the story
I’ve found that life can be so much more magical without God than with Him
Pls sir trust me. I mean wht i said, God loves us. He told me dis over & over again
yeah, He told me too
He also told me that Satan had invaded the Christian religion and had corrupted the Bible and poses as God and that the only way to escape it was to become atheist
but that was all just my mind playing tricks on me
Hey, I’m sorry if I upset you, man, but I have to keep it real, ya know
Sir tell me u r only displaying ur talent & i wil belive u
not sure I understand
Tell me dat all is just joke, & i wil hold bk my tears
no, I’m sorry it’s not a joke
I know it’s painful but you must remember that God does not hold a monopoly on goodness and kindness or the human spirit
just because he’s not real doesn’t mean there isn’t truly amazing and wonderful things in the world
If Anyone could be real even more than my parent, God has always been real. He meant it wen he died 4 us. Is sin He could nt behold. Dat is y he seems so far bt times
When you think about evolution and how all the laws of the universe interact and how we all came here threw billions of years, it’s pretty darn amazing
Ok, I know you feel that way, but you’re not really making any actual arguments. You’re just saying that you believe in God using different words
And none of that justifies the harm caused by religion
D scripture says we conquer d dragon by d word of r testimony, haven u read dat?
I read the first 27 chapters and it was so racist, sexist and hateful that I couldn’t handle it anymore
have you read my bible commentary?
I go through all 27 chapters and make comments along the way
U mean d scripture?
we’re talking about the Bible,right?
Sir, do u think there could b any architectural work without d maker?
Hw much more d design of dis world?
There could be an abstract maker but it’s unrealistic to think that priests and the authors of the Bible could actually understand Him
and it’s unrealistic to think that any creator has a direct hand in anything that happens on earth or in human affairs
Do u think all just came up my chance? Dont u think there is a makes behind dis?
That’s what makes evolution so beautiful
there are natural laws in the universe that have played out to create what we see here
you can call that God if you want, and that’s reasonable
but the religious God is so far away from that that you can’t justify a specific religious God by arguing something so abstract
D Lord is in Spirit & those who worship Him do so in spirit. U can never understand God 4rm d flesh view, it is d spirit dat reveals Gods secrets 2 his ppl & could only be understood by his ppl sir
Can you ever respond to any of my actual points?
I mean, you’re just finding different ways of saying God is magical
U cant justify wht is of spirit by d flesh sir
then why does that spirit cause so much harm in the world?
God and religion has caused so much hate and violence in this world, how can you justify it just because it makes you feel good?
particularly when you have no idea how wonderful and amazing the alternative
I’m so much happier and more successful since I became a full-on atheist
GOD is nt an author of confusion. Ppl confused His word. He is faithful 2 his word, ppl just labelled Him a liar(also 4 dat reason he was crucified). Even up 2 dis time, d veil dat tag Jesus as a corrupt & unreal person stil covers ppl’s eyes & can only be taken away if 1 turns 2 God
why can’t you answer any of my questions?
how does it justify all the hate?
About ur sudden wealth sir, it only last in dis world, bt nt d world 2 come. Apostle Paul said & i quote: wht shall separate me 4rm d love of God, is it money?
I am a much better person since I became an atheist too
again, why can’t you answer my question?
Who told u sir dat God cant provide all there, He said & i quote: i can do exceedingly above all u can ever think of. Is cos u r nt patient enough 2 wait on Him. He can do it only if u r among His sons
God repeatedly told me I was the second coming of Jesus
and told me I had to become an atheist because that was the only true path to God
why should I believe you over God Himself?
Note: Again, this actually happened to me. I’ve never talked about it because it’s so insane. Obviously now I realize it was just my mind and inflated ego playing tricks on me.
besides, you still haven’t answered my question?
What actual, real-world benefits do we see from religion that can justify all the hate and violence that comes from it?
Being hated cos of Christ is nt something strange. D scripture says we dont ave an high priest(JESUS), who dont share in r weaknesses. If u r slapped cos of Christ, rememces jesus was 1s slapped, if u wept cos of Christ remember He 1st wept 2
Are you sure you’re not an automated bot?
You’re not actually responding to anything that I say
I’m trying 2 respond sir
you haven’t shown me how religion actually benefits anyone
GOD dont kills nt 2 say he would send his believers 2 hate others. D gosple is a good tiding. Its should never b 4ced on anybody. We only live it as God help us.
Christianity is nt a religion sir, is a way of life
Can you not see how ridiculous you’re being in terms of your approach to this conversation?
Christianity dont captivates, it only liberates
every time I try to make a point you just spout out catch phrases and different ways to say that christianity and God are magical without ever explaining why or how or give any real-world statistics or examples
you need to really think for yourself
Sir i told u, d gosple is d mind of God. D holy spirit only reveals it 2 God’s ppl 2ru d spirit. Hw do u want me 2 explain dis much better without d help of d spirit making u 2 understand, i’m helpless in dis case, cos i dont ave power 2 save or make d God’s mind 2 b understood. Its God himself dat draw ppl nearer 2 Himself. All wht i was saying & ave said all ave their basis in d scripture. Hw else do u want me 2 say it sir
so you’re basically just saying it’s magic and I should have faith? You reject the notion that there is any logical argument for christianity or belief in God?
No! GOD is nt a magician, sir, until His word became flesh in u, i fear dat even if i talk till 2morrow, u might stil b thinking dat its magical.
you’re saying God is not a magician?
yeah, you can’t convince me just by repeating catch-phrases and repeatedly telling me it’s wonderful without offering any logical arguments
if you believe there are logical arguments for religion and God, can you make one of them here for me?
Sir, i am an engineering student, & i was thought logic & philosophy. Bt after being thought all dis, i could see dat its just a wisdom of dis world. INFACT, God dont think dat way. No wonder d scripture said He uses d foolishness of dis world 2 confound d wise sir.
Sir, i discarded dis wisdom cos 2ru dis i know i could become wise. Apostle Paul said & i quote : let God be right & every other person be wrong
you haven’t made any logical arguments
why can’t you just answer my simple question?
what has religion done for society that justifies the harm it has done?
I told u sir. Stop classifying xtianity as a religion, is nt a religion, is a way of life. Call every other thing a religion bt nt xtianity
& i stand 2 tell u dat it has never done any havoc 2 mankind & wud never done it until Jesus returned bk
Is there any u know & could share wit me sir?
any harm from Christianity I could share with you?
Logic & philosophy wont take u anywhere sir. Is a wisdom of dis world
do you not remember me saying that a woman was murdered on the front lawn of my childhood home in the name of Jesus?
did you read the statistics on my page about how 99% of all violent criminals come from religious households?
are you not aware of how many wars are motivated right now as a result of christianity? Why do you think my country wants a war with Iran so much? it’s because we’re %75 christian and we hate them for being muslim.
Sir, anything dat happened 2 Christ is a replica of wht would happen 2 us. Christ died 4 us, we should be ready 2 die 4 him 2. Honestly, she had a glorious death.
Note: I believe he’s saying that the torturous death of Christ is a replica of hell if we don’t believe in the Christian God. At first I thought the last sentence was referring to Jesus, and it was a typo that he called Him a ‘she’. However, G talks in leetspeak but actually doesn’t have a lot of typos. Now I think he was actually saying that the woman murdered on the front lawn of my childhood home “had a glorious death” and that she “should be ready 2 die 4 him 2″.
You just made the claim that Christianity has not caused any harm in this world. Are you still standing by that claim?
Can you defend it in a logical manner or are you just asking us to have faith simply because God will torture us in the afterlife if we don’t?
Yes, i could stand by it 2 any lenght sir. Even 2 d laying down of my life 4 gosple sake.
so how can you justify the woman who was murdered on my front lawn?
are you saying she was evil and deserved to die?
Sir, i may b offline anytime cos my battery nw low, bt till then i’m still on
that’s how you get out of it?
She died 4 d best course. Do u know hw peter died? Do u know hw paul died? 4 crying out loud, r u saying they r evil? No! They r nt. They chose 2 did 4 d cause they belive so much in 2ru Christ Jesus
so you’re saying her murder was a positive thing because it was done by the Lord?
Ave told u dat God dont kills. If God could open ur eyes sir, u wil know dat there is no gain in gaining all dis world full of money & d rest bt lord God’s kingdom
But God told a man to kill a woman. That would not have happened if he were not a Christian
I mean wht is d essence of gaining d whole world bt lost 1s life
Are you saying it’s no big deal if people die because God is more important?
I don’t know why you keep talking about money either. I’m not a fan of money myself
I just want you to explain how you can justify all the killing and hate done in the name of God, or show me some kind of evidence that those examples of hate and murder are not the result of God
1s again sir, wen i’m talking about God here, i’m refering 2 Jesus Christ. I can only defend Him. Dont let anybody deceives u dat they were sent by him 2 kill. Its a lie. It happened 2 in d scripture. Every thing i was saying ave their paritutral bk up. I’m nt saying dis in my wisdom sir.
first of all, God does tell many people to kill in the scripture
second of all, God tells people to kill each other all the time
He once told me to kill someone
Note: I never went through with it, of course. Another little detail I’ve never talked about, though it’s one of the main reasons I fight so hard against religion.
Do you think each and every one of us is lying about it?
Let everyone be wrong, bt God only be right sir
and we’re back to the catch-phrases
Is nt God dat talked 2 u sir. Devil also talk 2 man.
Then why did they stop talking to me when I became an atheist
and why can’t the most devoted Christians never tell the two apart?
Dat is y u need d spirit of God 2 discern all other spirits
But the ones who have the strongest spirit of God within them are the ones most likely to commit horrible acts
Y did i love 2 talk 2 u wen i discoved who u r. I even cried bt love u more sir
Note: I feel bad for ignoring this statement, but had to press on because it’s necessary to speak the truth no matter how much it hurts. Ironically this is one of the few Christian fundamentals that continues to stick with me to this day. Thou shalt not lie… or as I interpret it, Thou shalt not evade the truth no matter how painful it may be, nor allow others to evade the truth.
And in the end, the devil comes along as a package deal with Christianity. By becoming Atheist you are rejecting the devil more than you are rejecting God
U r wrong sir
So you can blame the devil, but the devil is just part of the beliefs of Christianity, so it’s still the religion that is promoting the hate and violence
Sir…. Xtianity is nt a religion sir.
you said that before
but the muslim religion for example, is a religion?
Yes dat is muslim, dis is xtianity i’m talking about sir
so you think Christianity is a way of life but the muslims just have a religion?
We r nt serving dsame God sir.
do you know anything about how muslims live their lives or what they do on a daily basis?
They’re pretty similar in my eyes, but how can you say christianity is a way of life when other religions are not? Doesn’t that sound pretty pretentious to you?
Do you think other religions and belief systems don’t have every bit as much emotional passion as yours?
U can be dedicated 2 cause & dat could neva make u rht if u s wrong 4rm d onset, Jesus christ is d only name given 2 us dat could save sir
so you’re saying Christianity is the only true religion and all others are fake?
How can that not sound hateful to you?
Bt sir is nt a religno
yeah, okay, Christianity is the true way of life and can’t be considered a religion. I get that you feel that way
but the muslim people feel that way about their religion and think yours is the false one
they have spoken to God more than you, most likely if you have only spoken to God on two occasions
U no i 1s told u dat xtianity is nt a thing of 4s. Is either we accept it or leave it sir. No one 4ces anybody 2 belive in God. GOD only saves. I dont ave d power sir
countless people over the years have been forced to embrace Christianity
parents routinely force it upon their children
maybe you think Christianity shouldn’t be forced upon people but many Christians clearly do so
I spoke 2 God spoke 2 me 2ru d scripture everyday. Hw could u think d so called muslim could talk 2 an unknown God?
They know God every bit as much as you do
and to claim that they don’t is just racist in my eyes
Dat is where they Got it wrong. Gospel is a good news.it should nt b 4ced
But you said earlier that religion has not done harm
or I mean Christianity
How can they get it wrong if they are doing what they believe in their hearts God is telling them to do?
I mean, the man who murdered that woman truly believed in his heart that God was speaking to him and that he was doing the right thing.
You can’t just say after the fact that “Oh, well they got that all wrong,” and then not offer any reliable means for how we can get it right
They got it wrong sir
And Christians will continue to get it wrong, over and over and over
Because that kind of system is fundamentally flawed
GOD doesn’t ask us 2 kill
I completely agree
because God is not real
It is our emotions, which we interpret as God, which are telling us to kill
There are countless examples of people who have claimed that God told them to kill
See, both logic and religion can be used to justify kindness, compassion, teamwork, forgiveness, because those are things that have value and give us a real-world return on our investment.
Only God can give us an excuse to murder
Note: I think his battery ran out at this point.
Hey, I’m sorry if all this got a little heated. I know I get riled up sometimes, but as an Atheist I believe everyone deserves love and compassion no matter what their beliefs and I would never wish harm on anyone for it.
I read this article earlier tonight…
Despite the fact that they’re sticking up for the anti-religious perspective, this article frustrates me more than most on this website. I am definitely an atheist. If you look to the atheist section in the menu to the left, my Atheism category, or my article, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime, you’ll see that I don’t hold back nor apologize when attacking religion. However, I feel like this article and many of the comments below it are being unfair toward Christianity and even more unfair to the students. Granted, I don’t know the whole story of how the bill would work and I’m suspicious of anything that has lots of conservative religious support, but this article feels overly paranoid and fearful, claiming this bill will open up avenues of hate speech and religious indoctrination, and cause student conflicts. I don’t know. I say we should calm down about it. They claim this is religion pushing their views on us, but that almost sounds like the same argument the conservatives make about homosexuality… that simply allowing people to be who they are openly in public is synonymous with them forcing their lifestyles upon us.
From this article, the bill almost seems like a good thing, and seems like it has as much chance of bringing positive change as it does negative, while giving the students a little more power over their school assemblies. I’m not totally sure, of course, that I would support this bill if I was a Floridian. I would have to read more about it, and learn more about school policies, but as an Atheist, I think it’s important to say something when I think that the “war on religion” might not be playing fair, and make it clear that no matter how strong my atheist values are, and how much I believe religion is a virus, I do not support the censorship of anyone’s spirituality and don’t necessarily support the hard-line approach our public schools take toward religion.
From what the article says, the bill basically allows students to put together “inspirational speeches” that are allowed to include religious references and statements. The teachers and administrators aren’t allowed to edit or censor the student-controlled speeches, though administrators will be able to place wider guidelines, and like anything related to kids and schools, the parents and teachers have the potential of manipulating the kids, as though religious individuals are really good at controlling their kids. The bill supposedly has some hypocritical wording, but that’s kind of par for the course with government bills in my opinion.
One argument is that “The board could simply only allow Christian themed messages, which would alienate religions such as Islam and Judaism”. I think that while technically this is possible, we need to calm down and not jump to the conclusion that this is a Christian conspiracy to force themselves upon us. I think our society has gotten to the point where if administrators blatantly allowed only Christian speeches, enough people would protest to make it not worth their while in the long run, but if I’m wrong, simply banning all religious-related speech in schools doesn’t solve the underlying problems. It merely hides the issue. If this did happen and administrators refused to back down from these Christian-only policies, at least it would bring the issue out in the open and people would be forced to look into permanent solutions instead of just banning everything without thinking about whether or not that serves the greater, long-term good.
I’ve had lots of religious friends over the years and overwhelmingly it was my religious friends and the time I spent as a Christian that inspired me to be an Atheist. I have many, many gripes about religion, which you’ll see if you explore this website, but surprisingly them forcing their religion upon me on an individual level isn’t really one of them… sure, I don’t like most public policies put forth by religious organizations. (“In God We Trust” has no business on our money). But on an individual level, most religious people I’ve met have been very reasonable and respectful of everyone’s freedom of speech and from what it sounds like, there isn’t anything in the bill that specifically gives Christianity any more power than any other religion or non-religion.
I feel like censoring religion kind of gives it more power. We’ve pretty much banned religion outright from public schools, but somehow we have one of the most religious countries in the world. Censoring Atheism on the other hand, gives us less power, because Atheism makes sense while religion does not. If we allow everyone to speak freely and equally, without censoring the discussion afterward, I don’t see how opening up the lines of communication could be anything but good for the Atheist perspective, and would be good for everyone in the long run. Granted, the locals need to be vigilant that Christian administrators don’t enforce Christian-only messages, but I think the benefits would outweigh the risk of this happening, and people need to be vigilant with school administrators anyway, considering some of the policies they’re placing on our kids.
In High-School I was frequently forced to watch football propaganda, filled with lame pop music piped over crackly speakers with football players jumping through big sheets of paper and cheerleaders screaming about how our school was better than all the other schools. I was an Atheist in High-School, but I still would have preferred to see another student giving a religious speech he had written himself, over what we had in our spirit assemblies.
My junior year one teacher decided that everyone in the school had to say the flag salute so he enforced this every morning by getting over the speakers and forcing us to be a part of this. I always felt this was a form of worship that is every bit as dangerous as religion. They are blindly worshiping a piece of fabric that represents a nation that has a very morally questionable history and they’re doing it on a daily basis. Why are liberals not upset about this? To me this is a far more egregious affront to the personal liberties and viewpoints of students than is allowing a few of them to say some God-related words at an assembly.
When we first started I would stand for the flag salute. I was bitter about it, but I didn’t want to get in trouble. Then another student told me that he never stood for the flag salute, as a protest of the policies of the US government, particularly the drug war and foreign policy (Bill Clinton was bombing people). I started staying seated for the flag salute and what I found was that only a few people were put off by it. Some found it funny, and a couple found it offensive, but the overwhelming majority didn’t care one way or the other. The ones who found it offensive, however, for the most part confronted me about it in a reasonable and polite manner and I explained that I was opposed to military occupation and bombing of other countries and felt it was my moral obligation to avoid supporting that. For the most part this put their concerns at ease, and I don’t remember ever once getting hassled about it…
…with one possible exception. I had a class, coincidentally with this same buddy who also refused to stand, and the teacher would snap his fingers at us and give us rude looks. This lasted for maybe a week and finally we talked to him after class and basically told him he was fighting a losing battle and that if he pushed us on this we’d be filing a complaint. He backed down pretty much instantly and it ceased to be an issue.
My point is that rebellious individuals have options even if it does become overly Christian-dominated, as long as they are aware they have options. I think liberals would have their agenda better served in the long run by trying to teach students about the powers they really hold and teaching them to stand up for their beliefs and their rights instead of simply banning anything that has a possibility of indirectly infringing on their rights, while ignoring other policies that clearly and directly infringe.
For example, attendance policies. To make this issue a whole lot easier, simply lighten attendance policies, particularly when it comes to assemblies, and allow students the basic human right of getting up and walking out on a speech they find offensive. This, to me, is the root of the problem, and banning religion is merely a temporary solution to the underlying problems.
I agree that religion has no place in science class any more than it has in math (ever heard a teacher say “sometimes two plus two equals five if you pray really hard”), but trying to prevent any mention of it at all, I think, is counter-productive.
As one commenter pointed out, this could backfire on the Republicans… assuming this is motivated by a purely Christian agenda, which at first glance, I don’t believe it is. Students may, for example, vote for Pagan inspirational speeches… or for that matter, Atheist inspirational speeches. Why wouldn’t they? When I was in high-school I would have voted for anything that broke the monotony. Atheists are being censored in public schools too. They’re not allowed to get up and talk about the positives of not having a God any more than a Christian can talk about how much they love Jesus, so how can we be sure that some dedicated Atheist or Muslim kid, or for that matter, some kid who invented his own belief-system, isn’t going to be able to write a speech that can get voted in by the student body? Despite having a few students get offended in school, which already happens for a wide variety of reasons, I think it could actually be a good thing to open up these kind of conversations.
Today I got a response to a recent blog post, Why I Need to be Outspoken About Atheism, a short post I made about a few old friends who did crazy, destructive things because of religion. Since I get so few comments on anything other than my WordPress plugins, I figured I’d give Steve’s comment it’s own post.
I find your experiences horrifying as well, sadly I see that none of them disprove God but instead prove the easy degree to which human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction. While this happens in the name of religion, it also happens for many other reasons. Many of these reasons are intertwined within each other wealth, and the lack of it, respect, a sense of belonging, and the list goes on. Having grown up surrounded by those who believed everything from Satan to the idea that they were vampires who could go out in daylight, what I find is not that God does not exist, but that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction. The idea that certain books of the bible for example are literal truth is laughable, many are creation stories and myths the same as any other culture, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important, but the stories of Adam and Eve hold as much truth for me as the stories of Oberon and Titania. This does not mean that I doubt a higher power is responsible for the creation of my universe, only that the only human way to understand this is to be carefully grounded in reality. I am sorry that religion, and specifically the Christian religion has done you so much harm, it should never have happened that way. I would love to converse intelligently as I have often found that discussions with Atheists yield more religious truth than those who dub themselves, “believers,” because the believers never try to understand their faith, and outsiders see things differently. I hope you take this message in the spirit it was given, and I look forward to reading some of your work, your writing just in response to this comment seemed clear, concise and well thought out.
Thanks for commenting, Steve. I appreciate the attention.
My blog post wasn’t trying to disprove the existence of God. That’s a whole other topic which I tend to avoid. Many other atheist blogs are doing a great job of scientifically and logically arguing against the existence of God, but I feel those arguments frequently fall flat, particularly with non-believers, because God is largely an emotional issue rather than a logical one. I prefer to focus on the emotional benefits of Atheism and leave the proving and disproving to the scientists.
It’s true that “human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction” by many different things, but that does not excuse religion from doing it too. A drunk driver cannot argue that because sober people sometimes fall asleep at the wheel, he’s not responsible for endangering people’s lives. If you compare drunk driving statistics with my religion and crime statistics, you’ll see that a relatively small percentage of automobile accidents are actually alcohol related, while the overwhelming majority of crime in the United States is committed by people under the influence of religion. Why should religion get a free pass when we hold other things accountable?
This discrepancy is particularly obvious when you remember that alcohol companies do not tell the public that alcohol will make you a better person. They never claim that it’s necessary for a happy marriage or that non-drinkers have no morals.
You say that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction, and with that I completely agree. That’s exactly why I write these posts. Unfortunately the mere concept of God is a part of that fiction. (Well… in all honesty it’s not unfortunate for me. I love living in a world without God. These are our lives. We can be whoever we want to be and build ourselves up to whatever we might want for ourselves.) Once you believe in God, you open the door to any other kind of spiritual belief. If God is possible, anything is possible, so I don’t think it’s fair to imply that people who believe in witches or Satan are any crazier than someone who merely believes in God.
You may have abstracted your belief in God out away from your day-to-day life. You probably (just taking a guess here) believe in evolution, for example, but think it’s guided by a distant hand that doesn’t interfere directly with us, but nevertheless is looking out for us. That’s fine for you, and it may work for now, but unfortunately it legitimizes the next guy who comes along and believes in a more direct kind of God who talks to people and tells them to jump off bridges.
Take certain hard drugs like heroin or cocaine for example. The majority of people who use these drugs are responsible users, only doing it once every few years or just trying it out a couple times in their life. A coke dealer might point to this majority of people to legitimize what he does, but there’s always going to be the occasional person who takes it to the next level and seriously damages themselves.
The real question should be, ‘is it worth it?’ Does the benefit of something justify the risk and long-term problems associated with it? For things like heroin or cocaine, I think they most likely do not. From what I’ve witnessed in my life, religious people see little to no benefit from religion. They are not smarter; they are not happier; their relationships don’t last any longer; they’re not any better at dealing with grief or hardship; they’re not any more successful; and they’re not any better at maintaining their lives than anyone else. It’s just a different way of seeing life and people seem to defend it based on little more than it’s just how they’ve always seen things. Most don’t even seem to enjoy going to church. When something provides so few real, tangible benefits but then causes my friends and neighbors to jump off bridges and go on killing sprees, I say no; It’s definitely not worth it.
I found this page hilarious. Two competing churches putting up a series of reader-board signs, arguing with each other. I think this is a good demonstration on how inconsistent religion really is. Every church claims their way of looking at their religion is the only right way, and they can never agree, yet when arguing with outsiders, they all claim that they’re unified.
If all churches had the same attitudes that Our Lady of Martyrs has, I’d have a much more difficult time being an atheist, but unfortunately, most seem to be more like the Cumberland Presbyterian.
So this back-and-forth started with Martyrs putting out their sign saying “All dogs go to heaven” and the church across the street responded with “Only humans go to heaven read the Bible”. Now, I don’t know what the Bible actually says about this idea of pets getting into heaven, so I can’t argue it on that point, but on a purely emotional level, the idea that the cats and dogs that we love and include in our family aren’t deserving of the same afterlife is kinda disturbing. Considering the degree to which people love their cats and dogs, this seems emotionally and spiritually repulsive to me and is a wonderful example of how religion can strip a person of compassion and empathy.
Someone posted this on my Genesis Bible Commentary page and since I don’t get too many comments around here, I thought it warranted its own post.
I must confess that I have not read you commentary, just seen some of your pages while looking for something else.
But I was just wondering why someone who clearly does not believe in God go to such extreme lengths to proof it. Like someone building a plane to proof that a plane can not fly.
Just let go! If you carry on reading and studying like this you run the risk of becoming a believer! Enjoy your carefree life, I mean, if you are dead you are dead, why worry.
Hi Josua, thanks so much for stopping by and inquiring. It’s a fair question, but it would also be fair to ask a MADD member why they want to stop people from drunk driving or why an interventionist keeps trying to get people to go to treatment or why social workers are always trying to convince people to end their abusive relationships. Because we care about people other than ourselves.
You must understand, I’ve seen some pretty awful things happen in the name of religion, and I had some very intense, insane, and in retrospect, terrifying experiences during the couple years I was a believer. I also had a friend who put a knife to a woman’s throat over a religious disagreement. I had another who jumped off a bridge because Jesus told him he could fly. I’ve had two close friends (two that confided in me about this, anyway) who were depressed and borderline suicidal because they were convinced that God hated them and wanted them to suffer. I have seen enough affects from religion to know these are not just isolated incidents.
And finally, I had a next-door neighbor, whose family actually introduced me to God when I was a kid, who murdered six people in the name of Jesus in 2008.
It’s hard to see all this needless suffering and not want to speak up to try to make a difference. I feel sometimes like I could have saved those six people if I had just wandered to the end of the road and given my neighbors grief for what they believed. I was too respectful, or too shy or young, or just didn’t care. Maybe I never could have made a difference, but I’ll never know. I don’t ever want to feel like that again, so I decided that I wasn’t going to hold back in my fight against the insanity.
I totally respect and care about all the religious folks out there who are being victimized and don’t realize it, but I don’t feel obligated to respect a religion that promises to “draw people toward goodness” and pretends like it’s bringing communities together, then turns around and directly causes this much suffering in my friends and neighbors. I do, however, feel an obligation to speak the truth and help others avoid that suffering.