An Invitation to Moderate Religionists and Atheists to
Cooperate With Each Other in the Best Interest of our Survival as a Species
Let's be friends.
If you are a reasonable person and you agree bullying is unacceptable, please continue reading.
Those of us who value our civil liberties, people of reason, both atheists and moderate religionists do not want our country to become a theocracy. It's time we join in peaceful efforts to resist the takeover of our country by people of unreason.
Moderate religionists and atheists should not be fighting with each other. We need to combine our efforts to confront the bullies who want the great American experiment to move beyond the control of dynasties, theocracies, dictatorships and monarchies to fail.
I admit we have our differences. These differences are however not so great in the larger scheme of things.
I will come clean here. Do I think our species and our universe would be better off without religion, superstition, and scriptures that prescribe morality? Yes!
Do I think, along with Dawkins, that it is child abuse to brain wash children to believe religion, superstition, and scriptures are true and that these give us an accurate basis for our origins and our morality? Yes.
Do I think imagination, fantasy, and fairy tales should be banned from our various cultures and our cultural heritage? No.
Do I think there will ever be a universe devoid of religion, superstition, and scriptures that prescribe morality? No.
Do I think people of faith should be denied their right to express their beliefs? No
Do I think they should be allowed to use tax money to express their beliefs on public tax supported properties? No.
Do I think religious people should be allowed to express their beliefs in their churches, on privately owned property, in privately owned places of business? Yes.
Do I think religious people should be allowed freedom of speech? Yes.
Do I think all people should be allowed to criticize the beliefs of others? Yes.
So what then is a mission upon witch people of reason, both religious moderates and atheists, can agree?
I will skip the very important history upon which this country was founded as a secular nation, and will get to why this secular nation is so very important for the survival of our species.
Our only hope for getting along with one another is the separation between church and state, and we can be allies in this endeavor.
I offer this very important quote from Richard Dawkins. "Reciprocal cooperation is the best survival strategy for our species." Whether you are an atheist, or a moderate religionist, it would be hard to dispute this survival strategy.
Message to moderate religionists, atheists are not your enemies.
Message to atheists, moderate religionists are not our enemies.
It takes time for social changes to evolve. Atheists and religionists need to be patient with each other. While we may not agree on a supernatural cause for our existence, we probably agree more than we disagree about other things.
Politically we can be allies.
We need your help, and you need ours. Won't you join us in our efforts to claim our civil liberties? Fundamentalists and fanatics of all religions have been bullying us far too long. We cannot afford to remain quiet and complacent while right-wing evangelicals continue the insidious takeover of our nation, and fundamentalist Islamists, threaten us with their religious jihads.
I just read "Behind the closed doors on C Street". "The Family which has counseled Sen. John Ensign lives and prays as a fundamentalist group with power at the center of its agenda." (Las Vegas Sun, July 19, 2009)
Never mind the Ensign scandal. That's small potatoes when you understand the special interpretation of Christianity this group of highly influential Congressmen and Senators unabashedly and unapologetically subscribe to. No, I didn't leave Congresswomen out. They do. No women allowed at "The Family" housed in an old convent on C street in D.C. When they make reference to 'the family' they are not talking about the biological family, they are talking about the relationship between themselves. They are the family to which the refer.
These guys don't care about abortion or gay marriage. They are far more interested in power, power they can garner by supporting the agenda of the religious right.
I quote from the article, "There they forge "relationships" beyond the din of vox populi (the Family's leaders consider democracy a manifestation of ungodly pride) and "throw away religion" in favor of the truths of the Family. Declaring God's covenant with the Jews broken, the group's core members call themselves "the new chosen."
I just watched the movie "Constantine's Sword". It is a must watch for all who support the separation of religion and government. The book and the documentary are written from the prospective of James Carroll, a Christian man
When religious fundamentalists, Christian or Islamic, insist on imposing their consciences on the rest of us, when they sabotage science in our classrooms, when they insist on stonewalling stem cell research, support pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions from doctors, dictate abstinence only sex education, deny women the right to their bodies, coerce our children to apostatize, yes, apostatize by saying words they do not believe, under god in the pledge, use our public squares, tax supported properties, to promote their Christian evangelical agendas by displaying crèche's, crosses and stone monuments to the ten commandments while denying others a right to the same privilege and hold public school graduations in Christian churches despite the protests of non Christian students and their parents, we must protest.
When our highest ranking governmental officials support the restriction of our civil liberties by appointing right wing conservative judges to our supreme courts and giving religion--evangelistic Christian religion--special privilege by creating and supporting faith based initiatives, and our highest ranking military leaders proselytize their "rapture" agenda to our troops, we must use our laws and our votes to fight back.
I don't need to tell you, my moderate friends that supporting the separation between government and religion is in the best interest of moderate, reasonable religionists as much as it is in the best interest of atheists.
Let me begin by clearing up a few misconceptions many theists, even moderate theists have about atheists.
Atheists have been called militant. If atheists are perceived as militant, it's because we are confrontational in response to unreasonable religious zealots. But rest assured that atheists have no agenda to use physical force or coercion to impose their beliefs on others. The term militant does not apply. In a secular nation we would be quite content to just live and let live. I think you, my moderate religious friends would also be quite content with a live and let live kind of nation.
And, what is "new" about the new atheists? Nothing really. Robert Wright, Huffington Post, accuses the so called new atheists of being right-wing war mongerers. He jumps to the conclusion that because Dawkins and Harris state the world would be better off without religion that these guys want to kill all the religious zealots.
How far from the mission of the new atheists is this? It bears repeating, "Reciprocal cooperation is the best survival strategy for our species." Does that sound anything like kill everyone who disagrees with us?
Let me assure you we are still the same people. We still have a clear moral purpose. Our outlook is not dictated by what was "writ from above," but by doing the right thing for its own sake.
Many believe atheist means against theism. Not so. Atheist means not theistic, just as asymmetrical means not symmetrical. It doesn't mean against symmetrical.
Evangelical bullies have declared war on reason. They have disingenuously used certain words to discredit science and atheism.
For example, 'faith' is a powerful bully word that evangelicals use to discredit atheists and scientists. A seemingly harmless little word is used to deceive and control. School board members accuse scientists of having faith in evolution. In one step, with one little word, they position evolution and creationism/intelligent design in the same science classroom, each having equal status.
Evangelistic Christian politicians have achieved an end run around the establishment clause by calling religious people, "people of faith". Hence we have Bush's "faith based initiatives," as opposed "religious initiatives".
There is a similar problem with the word 'theory.' Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. Those who would discredit science purposefully use the term in its vernacular sense, a conjecture or an opinion. Evolution becomes just another theory and the 'theory' of Intelligent Design garners equal footing with Evolution in science classrooms, as though the truth or falseness of a scientific fact could be determined by popular vote.
There are credible scientists who are also religious men and women. Some of them however push to include Creationism/Intelligent design as a scientific theory alongside evolution by natural selection. Their proposals are rejected not because these scientists are religious but because Creationism/Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. It is not based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. It is rather, an idea, a hunch. It is not science.
Some critics believe the influence of the religious right is waning as Bush's popularity has sunk. However, just recently, Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas shilled for the movie "Expelled," the one where Ben Stein claims proponents of Intelligent Design are expelled from the ranks of serious science.
Huckabee, and other right-wing politicians think the truth of scientific facts should be determined by popular vote.
And, Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson, is doing just fine, thank you. Make no mistake. Regent University has an evangelistic agenda. It was founded in order to produce Christian leaders who will change the world. The University, which includes a law school accredited by The American Bar Association in 1996, openly teaches strategies to use the law to promote an evangelical agenda.
Many graduates are choosing to pursue politics and taking jobs in Washington. Since 2001, 150 of the university's students have worked in the Bush Administration. Many prospective candidates for the presidency are pledging their allegiance to Robertson and his powerful base: Former Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, recently spoke at the University, and Rudy Giuliani was scheduled to speak there until he dropped out of the race for the presidency.
Michael L. Weinstein and Davin Seay, "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military," show evidence that high-ranking military officers use their power to coerce recruits to attend evangelical, rapture-pushing religious services. I guess they think Christian soldiers armed with a passionate belief that God is on their side and hyped up to kill Muslims make better killing machines.
There is of course another possible motive for proselytizing in our military schools and boot camps. Evangelicals believe Rapture cannot occur until the Jews have secured the Promised Land. They believe that helping the Jews to achieve their goal to secure the Promised Land could speed up the Rapture.
So, no, I don't believe the influence of the religious right is going away any time soon. And more to the point, I don't think their influence is going to go away all by itself.
I think we are at a tipping point. No, the sky is not falling, but we cannot sit complacently in the pot as the water warms by slow incremental degrees until we are cooked.
The last time we were in this dangerous position was during the cold war between the United States and the Communist USSR. This potentially catastrophic conflict was also infused with religious ideology. The bad communists were atheists, the good Christians were on the side of democracy.
During that conflict, Christians, especially in the United States, assumed that atheism was the problem. If you are old enough, you can remember the McCarthy era. This is when Christianity became equated with patriotism, when "in God we trust" became our national motto and "under God" sneaked into our pledge. During this time period Cecil B. DeMille donated stone replicas of the Ten Commandments to courthouses across the nation. This was a publicity stunt to promote his movie.
In reality, it was the immoral despotic leaders of Communist countries who were the real villains, the ones who sought to obliterate religion in deference to the absolute and unquestionable dogma of the sovereignty of the state.
There can be no mistake, however, that during and after the cold war the United States became fertile ground for the seeds of evangelical dominionist Christianity to grow and be nurtured. The religious right already has too much power in our government and it wants more.
What the Christian right doesn't realize is that it is an instrument in the hands of those who seek power, those guys over at C street, the ones who see themselves as above the very religion they seem to support. They see themselves as having been chosen by God to have power over the peons. A sort of trickle down theology.
I remember when I was one of the chosen, a person who was privy to the insights of the Jesuit priests who had one message for the privileged and another for the masses.
That's when I became an atheist. Hypocrisy is something I choke on.
The recent best sellers on atheism are being promoted extensively in the United States. There is a very good reason for this. The United States is the so-called most powerful and most in-your-face Christian nation in the world. Atheist writers have successfully demolished the 11th commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Criticize Religion," and replaced it with "Thou Shalt Exercise Reason over Righteousness," and I personally applaud their efforts.
Another reason why atheism is loudly promoted is because militant Islamists, the ones who are militant in the kill-the-infidels kind of way, are wreaking havoc all over the world. Oh my, that's an understatement.
Can you imagine a worldwide religious war fought with nuclear weapons?
Yes, atheists are in-your-face in defense of atheism. Only one that I know of, Christopher Hichens, might be considered militant. He, along with militant Christians, supported George Bush's war.
There is a very good chance that the militant Dominionists, the Christian Evangelicals, the ones who prophesy Rapture in the United States, and the militant Muslims, those who think their Allah has given an edict to convert the world to Islam for Allah, will drag us all into a never ending religious war.
Can you imagine a world wide religious war with nuclear weapons? When will we evolve beyond a tribe mentality?
When atheists speak out to hold the line on religions intrusions in our government, we are perceived as the bullies who want to deprive people of their right to worship as they wish. This is not the case. We have not voiced one single objection to religious displays at churches, temples, or mosques, on private properties, or on private business properties. We have made no attempt to restrict people from praying if they wish to do so. We simply do not want others to coerce us or our children into participating in their rituals. But you would think, from the volume of the ouch they shout and the victim stance they garner that we are advocating the complete muzzling of everything religious everywhere. Not so.
Every atheist I know would fight for the right of people of faith to worship as they please so long as they do not break the laws of the land.
Losing our civil liberties here at home is just the groundwork for creating a theocracy, an evangelical fundamentally Christian nation whose citizens can be hyped up for an all out war with Islamic theocracies, a mob mentality, a God's on our side lynch mob of us against them. Can you imagine a worldwide religious war with nuclear weapons?
So who are the real militants?
When atheists protest against crosses, crèches and monuments to the ten commandments displayed on public tax supported lands, when we use the law to confront "under God" in our pledge and prayer in our schools, and when we protest our tax monies being spent for faith based initiatives, we are trying to stop the senseless erosion of civil liberties for all citizens, the right to discuss and debate ideologies; yes, the right to criticize and yes, the right to freedom of conscience for all, and yes the right of people to worship as they please so long as they don't break the laws of the land.
I invite all you Moderates, religionists who are "people of faith," but also "people of reason," to join us atheists, "people of trust" but also "people of reason" in a movement to support our secular Constitution.
How about it?
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