Have you ever noticed how evangelicals and fundamentalists tend to randomly sprinkle capitalized non-proper nouns into their written nonsense?
"...am persecuted because I stand up for my Beliefs! I am a Strong Christian, a Bible-believing Warrior for Christ! I am not of the World, but none of those Atheist understand my Worldview. They cannot know what I am talking about anyways..."
Sigh. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught in a real life conversation about the Worldview of fundamentalists (did you see what I did there? ;-)), you can even detect the random capitalization in the word balloons above their heads via inflections in their tones as they say certain words.
(This essay was first published in an older blog in 2004 before Christian fundamentalism cured me of religion.)-->
I used to have no problem with religion. I am a regular (moderate, mostly cultural) Catholic church-goer myself. I understand how important it is to most people to belong to a religious community. Religion is important to a lot of people, but something about the insistent fervor of public religiosity in the past few years is disturbing. As a private obsession, extreme religiosity is an individual's personal business, but when people start forcing their religious obsessions on the general public, I find that I object. A lot.
Today, I had an appointment with a new eye doctor. In his waiting room there was only one choice of reading material: the Bible. I've been noticing Bibles in business settings a lot lately - in dentist and orthodontist offices, too - so I wasn't surprised to see one there. It was the absence of any other type of reading material at all that seemed a little weird. Not to mention that it seemed rather pointed. I suppose there are people who like to read Bible verses while waiting for an eye exam or a teeth cleaning. I've never given it much thought before, but I felt like I was being forced to think about it today.
I have a few household things to take care of before I can finish the posts I am working on today. So, for your viewing and listening pleasure I am linking to a great little NPR Morning Edition piece on iceberg beer made in Quidi Vidi*, Newfoundland**. These brewers are putting the fun back in Newfoundland!
Quidi Vidi Brewing Co.
As a public service - not to mention to make it worthwhile for people to read my blog; hey, it's educational! - readers should know that it is still much too early for this season's icebergs to be present off the southeast coast of Newfoundland. They are rarely sighted as far south as St. John's (and Quidi Vidi is in that same area) until late April, May and June. During those months the place is lousy with them.
Now, go and tell all your friends! Not only are you now more knowledgable about a place that is universally mistaken for the mythical New Finland, but you can tell them about delicious ice cold beer (for reals!)!
* Yes, the reporter does pronounce "Quidi Vidi" correctly, when she says what sounds like Kiddy Viddy.
** No, the reporter does not pronounce "Newfoundland" or "Newfoundlanders" correctly when she says what sounds like Newfinlin. Newfoundland sort of rhymes with understand, and the "found" is pronounced "fun". So Newfunland is the correct way to pronounce the name of this amazing place.
The Friendly Atheist discusses just one example of the hard reality for openly atheist people in the world. A bus advertising campaign to let atheists know that groups of like-minded people actually exist made headlines last year in the UK and in North America. There was a furor as angry religious groups protested that the atheist ads should be banned because they were "offensive". Here is one of the ads:
Several weeks ago, psychologist Richard Wade hypothesized that the reason why advertising campaigns for secular, humanist and atheist groups have sparked such heated "controversy" - both in the real world where the ads are displayed and on the interweb where they have been discussed - is not because the ads themselves display any objectively "offensive" content, but because the very idea that atheists existat all and dare to make that existence known is what offends the religious majority.
To test this hypothesis, Richard challenged atheists to come up with an ad that is as inoffensive as possible, simply signing it "brought to you by local atheist group" or similar. He provided some helpful (photoshopped :)) examples like this one:
In the ensuing discussion, some people pointed out the depressing fact that even an inoffensive billboard featuring puppies would likely be twisted by religious critics into something else. Most likely any attempt at making an obviously inoffensive, appealing billboard would be decried as yet another "example" of atheist sarcasm or trickery.
The NEPA Freethought Society seems to have agreed with this concern and in an attempt to avoid any misunderstanding, they submitted the billboard design below:
It merely names their group. And yet, COLTS (the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) in Pennsylvania) rejected the ad. The same bus company runs regular ads for local religious groups and churches, but refused to accept an ad from an atheist group which simply says "Atheists."
Is it any wonder that there are so few people who are openly atheist in a culture which rejects the very notion of our existence? A recently published study found that the most distrusted group in America is atheists - we are considered even less trustworthy than rapists in some circumstances! A New York Times poll taken in 2007 shows that the most unelectable group in the country is - you guessed it - atheists. A whopping 63% of people polled said they would not vote for anyone who does not believe in a god.
But never mind polls and studies (after all, who ever believes that musty, dusty studies and research have any bearing on their reality?). In spite of this evidence of real and growing discrimination against atheists, any theist will tell you that there is no problem at all for atheists in our culture. More important, if the damned atheists would only shut up and stop being so arrogant and pushy, there would be far less division and social unrest right now!
Atheists are so universally reviled that even an American president, representative of all* of the citizens of the United States, felt free to publicly castigate atheists. We are the one group that anyone can discriminate against with impunity. Atheists are accused of being arrogant, pushy, divisive and responsible for all the ills in the world: why would any reasonable person be eager to come out and be plastered with all of these labels?
* According to George H W Bush, atheists should not rightly be citizens. See what he did there?
Slate has an article online discussing Rick Santorum's now infamous remarks last Sunday on ABC's This Week. It is well worth reading. This man is appalling. With his "anti" stance on so many solid American values, such as the separation of church and state, he is sounding distinctly un-American.
The comments below it are a little worrying, but we all have to get used to that eventually, don't we? Amazing how remarks that were almost unimaginable (among sane people, at least) are now an everyday occurrence, at least on the internet.
But even more worrying, the Catholic Santorum shares the determination
of fundamentalist, dominionist Protestant Christians to transform the
United States into a Bible-based Christian nation answerable only to
God. Where have we seen theocracy like this before? Oh yes.