Category Archives: Bigotry

There’s no such thing as a memory hole.

Father Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest, wrote a rather ridiculous screed against atheists on his blog. When atheists began to respond to him and challenge his bigotry, he deleted the post and replaced it with another one where he threw a whiny tantrum about how the atheist trolls were being mean to him. When people continued to challenge him, he deleted that post as well, hoping it would all fade away.

Well, it won’t. This is the internet.

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Atheist group duplicates church billboard’s message–and is denied for being “offensive”

Over at Hemant Mehta’s blog Friendly Atheist, an interesting little storm has begun brewing. Back in August, the McElroy Road Church of Christ in Mansfield, Ohio put up a billboard with a surprisingly atheistic message:

ting-mce

Not shown: overwhelming sense of irony

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I get e-mail, too

Early last month, PZ Myers over at Pharyngula posted a link to a survey by a radical anti-gay group (maybe it’s just a single person? I can’t tell) asking silly questions about whether the government should force companies to hire gay people, and things like that. To fill out the survey, you had to enter an e-mail address, so I put in one of my throwaway ones in the hope that I’d get some entertainment out of the things they send to their mailing list.

I was not disappointed. Here are a few samples of the rantings and delusions of Eugene Delgaudio, probable closet case and founder of a group called Public Advocate of the United States.

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We’re dangerous!

We can always count on Republican politicians to give us clarity! Today, the GOP presidential candidates (sans Rick Perry, who was apparently off fighting wildfires) met in South Carolina to hold a forum where they shared their views on various subjects. Newt Gingrich said something that has had remarkably little coverage in the mainstream press, save for this one story:

At a GOP candidates’ forum in South Carolina, Gingrich maintained that everyone, especially a president, needs God’s help in “a world where evil always lurks.” He added that someone who faces serious issues without praying “would be a person who totally misunderstood the nature of life and who would be dangerous holding a major office.”

Apparently, it’s still okay to say stuff like this about atheists. Well, then, I guess we can just ignore Article 6, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution!

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Good to know you can disregard the Constitution as much as you like and still be considered a serious candidate so long as you believe in a god.

Texas can’t catch a break.

When it comes to its education standards, Texas has had a lot of bad luck these last few years.

Whether they were contending with a willfully ignorant dentist whom Texas Governor Rick Perry somehow thought was qualified to chair the State Board of Education (SBoE) and who decided it was his job to stand up to the experts on the subject of evolution, or debating how to keep radical ideologues from revising the social studies curriculum to take emphasis off of the influence of the Enlightenment on America’s founding fathers and “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority,” advocates for good education have had their hands full for quite a while.

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Subliminal Christianity and Racism

According to the latest post on Hemant’s blog,

a study published by Baylor University researchers finds that “Priming Christian Religious Concepts Increases Racial Prejudice” (PDF).

Basically, the researchers presented subjects with subliminal flashes of words, purportedly to test their ability to detect and differentiate between words versus non-word letter groups seen for only a brief period of time (less than 100ms). Some subjects saw neutral words, like butter or house, while others saw words associated with Christianity, such as Christ, faith, Bible and gospel. They then ran the subjects through a battery of situational questions designed to determine their degree of hostility towards the African Americans in the situations.

Kate Shellnutt summarized the conclusions quite nicely on HoustonBelief:

Researchers offer some possible explanations for why these Christian terms have such negative effects. They can cue fundamentalism or political conservatism, which can isolate “out-groups,” or echo the notion of the Protestant work ethic, which has been connected with anti-Black attitudes, the study said.

The researchers didn’t draw any larger conclusions from this (i.e., that most Christians are racist or anything quite so extreme), though they did insist it was causal rather than correlational.

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If God be for us, what is forbidden?

Romans 8:31-33 says:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

I’ve often thought of these verses whenever I hear about the latest hypocrisy and theocratic nonsense to emerge from the fundamentalist Christian set. To believers and to atheists, they have two very different meanings. For most of the believers I know, it’s a source of comfort. It means that no matter what the world throws at them, God will be on their side, offering defense and protection. It’s reassurance that God is obviously willing to do anything to help them out, since he’s willing to sacrifice his son (himself) for our sake.

As an atheist, I read it differently. It’s essentially saying that anything a believer does is justified and above repute; that since God is the one who justifies actions, non-believers have no right to question anything a believer does. I’m pretty sure that some believers see it this way, too – specifically, the kind of hardcore fundamentalists who are just slightly closer to the sane end of the spectrum than Fred Phelps.
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If a response is beneath you, don’t respond!

A few months ago, a pretty ridiculous anti-atheist article was published in Portland State University’s student-run newspaper, the Daily Vanguard. The same article was just reprinted by the student newspaper at the University of Oregon, the Daily Emerald. It’s a real gem, for sure:

Hmm, let’s see…I could either listen to someone pushing their religion on me, or listen to you aggressively espouse how not to believe. Either way, guilt is involved and, sadly, you come off a hell of a lot more like a pompous and arrogant bastard!

I can just bet that the author is so busy patting himself on his hypocritical back that he hasn’t seen the furor this has raised. But that’s not what this post is about. The article is practically a parody of itself, and can essentially be summed up as “I don’t want to hear you, so shut up”.

This post is about the response by the University of Oregon’s campus atheist group, the Alliance of Happy Atheists. Continue reading

Should the Boy Scouts be allowed to recruit in public schools?

It’s always interesting to me when I run into a situation that I have to reconsider for the first time since becoming an atheist.

A mother in King, North Carolina recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Winston-Salem Journal:

On the second day of school, a representative from the Boy Scouts of America came to my son’s school to recruit new members. My son came home so excited, and cried when I had to tell him no. I feel he is too young to understand BSA’s homophobic and discriminatory policies, so I told him we already had too much on our plate. The BSA is prejudicial (it doesn’t accept atheists or agnostics) and homophobic (no gays allowed). My son will never be a Boy Scout and I wish that I had been notified that valuable learning time was going to be spent promoting a homophobic hate group.

Recently President Obama made a 15-minute speech to children about working hard and staying in school. I got a verbal message from the teacher, a note and two calls letting me know about the speech.

Is the president’s message that scary? Why does a positive message from the president require so much parental warning, while a discriminatory organization gets free rein to recruit during the school day with zero parental notification?

From now on, I expect notifications of future speakers at my son’s school and the topic of discussion. I expect a verbal message from his teacher, a letter from the principal and two auto calls. I would also like the opportunity to send in a signed note to excuse him from said speaker.

The BSA, in case you didn’t know, has official anti-LGBT and anti-nontheist policies, which have led to Eagle scouts being stripped of their awards and scout leaders being removed from their positions.

I’m an Eagle scout. I received my award from a scout troop where religion and sexuality were never discussed. Maybe there was an undercurrent of religion in some of the things we said (like the Scout Oath, which mentions doing duty to god and my country), but apart from the routine recitations it was never really raised as an issue. (Come to think of it, that’s kind of surprising, considering that I grew up in a pretty conservative area of Michigan…)

But I know that troops do exist where just believing in the wrong god (e.g. being a Hindu) is enough to keep you out. And I’ve seen dozens of cases of scouts and scoutmasters having their awards and positions stripped away after publicly coming out of the closet.

So it’s clearly not enough for me to apply my own personal experiences to this issue. If I say that it’s okay to allow some scout troops into schools since not every scout troop discriminates on the basis of sexuality or religion, it would be equivalent to saying that since not all Christians are like Fred Phelps we should allow the more accepting groups to recruit in schools.

I can see the mother coming at this question with two different approaches:

  1. She doesn’t want her kids to be potentially indoctrinated into anti-LGBT, anti-nontheist beliefs.
  2. She doesn’t want to support an organization that discriminates the way the BSA does.

From the first viewpoint, it would seem a bit hasty to prejudge the practices of a local troop based on the policies of the national troop. The second viewpoint recognizes that things like membership dues and subscriptions to the Boy’s Life magazine would be giving financial backing to a group with an official policy of hate, and I absolutely agree that such discriminatory groups shouldn’t be given the platform of the classroom to seek new sources of income and new members.

Now I’m torn between turning in my Eagle badge to officially renounce the BSA and keeping it to pad my résumé…