You Ain’t From Around These Parts, Are Ya, Son?

You know, I really wish we could, Mike … I wish we could.

Michael’s Essay: Could Atheists please stop complaining?

Michael Enright is a writer for CBC Radio.  In his essay for the Sunday Edition, he describes how atheists have had their say, and now they should sit down, be quiet, and … well, I guess let the vocal Christian minority in this country try to inflict their interpretation of the bible on everyone else, stifle science, and demand people to believe in things just because they’re told to.

He starts his piece with a short description of Richard Dawkins, whom he describes, in essence, as the de facto leader of the atheist movement; in short, if we were a religion, he would be our pope.  Where Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, and David Silverman fit into the picture, I’m not sure.  He then described for us what he sees as the “problem” with atheism and atheists:

It’s not that atheists don’t believe in God. That’s fine. It’s not against the law. Atheism is a coherent system of beliefs arrived at, I am sure, after some very serious and sober consideration.

Pope Richard I and his first edict.

While we’re talking about problems with respective worldviews, let’s start with the one I have with a lot of believers under the mistaken impression that atheism is something more than a lack of belief in a god.  It’s not.  It’s one position on one issue, and there’s nothing more to it.  Granted, it might lead one to adopt other beliefs or philosophical positions as a result, but that’s up to the individual and can fall anywhere on a very wide spectrum.

Atheists are not being prosecuted or silenced.

I think you mean “persecuted”.  To your point, no we aren’t being persecuted, at least not here in America.  It’s not against the law to not believe in God.  It is legal for us to vote, hold jobs, buy and sell products, own land, run for office (well, mostly), and do everything believers do in this country.  We can walk the streets without fear of getting beaten or shot.  On the other hand, depending on where we live and how conservative our family is, we may be subject to harassment in the workplace or in school, ostracism by our neighbors, or abandonment by our parents even before we reach the age of majority.  Much of this is done with a fear for our “souls”.  The rest is usually done by people itching for a way to feel superior to someone else.

It’s 2013, and we still have to deal with ignorant crap like this.

With the exception of Muslims – with whom we’re tied in some of the metrics – we are the most distrusted “religious” demographic in the country.  This is due in part by decades of our government and media portraying the Soviets – our Cold War enemies – as “godless communists”.  It’s not as if we enjoyed equal footing before this, but decades of having that sort of propaganda drilled into your head is bound to make an impression on anyone.

They are lovingly tended by media interviewers, me included, and their nuanced arguments are politely acknowledged.

Yeah … it was here when I first read the article I realized you’re not American.  Should have seen it sooner.  Look, it may be true that atheists are allowed air time on some of the popular media outlets, but to suggest they are “lovingly tended” is, to put it succinctly, horseshit.  Why should they be when the majority of viewers is Christian?  Maybe if they’re on the left-leaning MSNBC, they’ll be handled with kid gloves and given the chance to explain their positions without being called to task for having a chip on their shoulders, but on Fox News they’re usually put on to be yelled at and berated by people like Bill “Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out” O’Reilly.  Seriously, when their “nuanced arguments” are little more than desperate pleas for the state, local, or federal governments to follow the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, there’s a serious problem.

And the hosts, like you do in the title of this opinion piece, usually ask if they will kindly stop complaining.  Hell, Dana Perino told our kind to get out of the country for suggesting “under God” should no longer be our Pledge of Allegiance.  After all, we’ve been doing it for decades … well, at least since the 1950s … and the majority of the public is Christian and they don’t mind, so why should anything change?

The problem to me is that they won’t shut up about it.  The public, endless public profession of atheism to me reflects a whiny, whinging self-pitying narcissism.

Then you’re either not paying enough attention or too intellectually lazy to find out why atheists are so vocal … again, at least in America.  We have to be or else our laws and our educational material will be negatively influenced by fundamentalist wackos.  Seriously.  Look at what’s going on in Texas right now.

Atheists – specifically the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists – are primarily responsible for pursuing legal action to make sure state and local governments follow the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution and stop putting monuments to the Ten Commandments on the front lawns of their courthouses or public schools.  We are also active, along with members of the scientific community, in preventing Christian mythology from being inserted into our children’s science textbooks and put forth as legitimate science.

Yet somehow, we’re the bad guys for our efforts.  We’re “destroying decades of tradition” if we get schools to stop their religious benedictions, and we’re “blind followers of the religion of evolution” when we want real science in science textbooks.  We can’t win.  Unfortunately, it’s this kind of activism that plays into the hands of people like you who think we’re just a bunch of whiners; however, If the alternative is letting Christianity become further institutionalized in this nation, then that’s a price we have to pay, bad publicity and all.

So Mike, I’ll make you a deal.  We will, as you put it, whisper our assertions as if we were in a library or a church … provided from now on Christians follow Matthew 6:6 and do the same thing.  No more legislation of Christian morality (i.e. hormonal contraception, Plan B, abortion “fetal pain” crap).  No more creationist nonsense in public classrooms.  No religious monuments on public land.

And above all else, no wailing, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and crying “PERSECUTION!!” every time you guys are finally told, after years of favoritism, that you have to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Talk about a group of people who need to shut the hell up.

Then … and only then … will we stay quiet.  And maybe at that point I’ll even consider taking your complaint seriously.

This entry was posted in Atheism and Personal Life, Atheism and PR, Freedom from Religion, Religion and Public Life, Society Marches On and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You Ain’t From Around These Parts, Are Ya, Son?

  1. CHope says:

    Oh, Senator Jason, that was a stupid article, glad you addressed it!

    This is my second time living in Tennessee. The first time was in Nashville and I currently live north of Memphis. When I first moved to this state the second time I was still a Christian, but probably a liberal one by the locals’ standards. I have spent time throughout the US and the UK, I have even lived in Texas. I have to say, Tennessee makes Texas look liberal. Yeah, that’s how bad it is here. I can’t go to a gifted program meeting for my son at his public elementary school without hearing about how good God is and cutesy poems about him. I can’t watch a kids’ community (no Church leagues) soccer game without hearing someone talk about gays, Obama and sex education or their Church and its meetings. People bring this stuff up out of nowhere!

    It could be worse, I could be Black living in this country. I once read an article on an ex-Christian web-site by a Black business woman in NYC. She lives among Blacks and Hispanics and wrote about the Jesus preaching and evangelizing on public transportation. She also wrote about the Black business men and women meetings that were filled with references to God and prayer. I spent most of my childhood and some of my single years in southwest Georgia and I admit, the Christian influence was even more prevalent among Blacks than Whites. That’s saying a lot because that’s where “Facing the Giants”, “Fireproof” and “Courageous” were created.

    • Being a New Jersey native, I can’t even begin to comprehend how my life would have turned out had I grown up there instead of somewhere a little more level-headed in its religious outlook. Keeping in mind testimonials (so to speak) like yours, I find it even that much more insulting that Enright would have the balls to tell us that we should be the ones to keep quiet.

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