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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:25 am 
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Interesting...

This started off as a piece on the blasphemy challenge but developed into a longer piece on something that I think the blasphemy just may end up being the tip of the iceberg of.

Now some of you will no doubt to choose to respond to the blasphemy challenge and ignore the rest of my essay, which is just fine, but I want to make it clear that I don't think that the main thrust of my essay stands or falls on peoples opinions on the merits of the challenge.

http://www.blasphemychallenge.com

Now you could perhaps dismiss this as a college level stunt, nothing more than a collection of spotty youths taking advantage of the opportunities that the new mass media provides to create some cheap controversy and public exposure that will blow over by next Monday. Maybe that is all true, but then again it may also be the slow beginnings of something that has been slowing stirring into action since 9/11 and the hold over the white house that the Christian Right has held since the election of a favoured son.

Maybe this can be categorised as the latest development in a conscious raising movement by a group that is increasingly discontent to remain mostly disorganised, private and underground. A group that historically been categorised by a series of Big Lies and enduring fables. A series of lies and fables that has been allowed to endure by a historically unwillingness or inability to have the kind of consistent public platform to debate, expose and explode those lies and fables.

If you wonder what the effect of those lies and enduring fables have had on this group remember that prejudice against any minority by the majority has always been perpetrated and defended by a Big Lie.

With Women it was that they were the weaker sex and mentally unformed. Also that they should cover themselves because they cause men to lose control and perpetrated original sin.

With Blacks it was that they were savages, less evolved, less civilised and less intelligent.

With Homosexuals it was that homosexuality was a life-style choice chosen by immoral people.

With Atheism, the Big Lie is that Atheists are ammoral and have no moral character or basis, are nihilists and/or pessimists, and are less trustworthy.

In each of the groups listed before Atheism real advance in the recognition and acceptance of the groups has occurred in recent decades but only after a vocal "coming out campaign" where the sub-groups got organised, got noisy, made their own platform and made their case.

In each case they were accused of being trouble-makers, of being radicals, of representing something that was outside the moral majority of a particular time and place, of being deeply offensive and tiresome, of being “UnAmerican”. All the same things are now being said against Atheism now that in America it is finally getting organised properly, using the mass-media tools at its disposal and taking advantage of the backlash against the extreme, fundamentalist and powerful Christian Right that has had a lot of say in the last six years through its privileged access to the white house and powerful propaganda tools such as talkback radio and Fox news.

The catalyst for Atheists in America finally getting properly organised apart from the new media revolution combined with the charged religious atmosphere since 9/11 may also have been the series of polling that was done last year which revealed that Atheists were the most disliked and distrusted minority in America and that an open Atheist was more unlikely to get elected to be President of the United States than a devout Muslim or open homosexual. These results may have been part of the final straw that broke the camels back for some of the prominent Atheists in America.

The unease that Atheists have felt over all of this has been crystallised and channelled in a way familiar with the stories of the other previously ostracised groups. That is, a small number of hard-hitting, even extreme members of their communities have released books and films and gone on speaking tours where they have openly and explicitly defended and promoted their communities views and values in the strongest possible way, airing views and giving a voice to many of those closet atheists in America who are frustrated into silence by living in families and communities who they fear will ostracise them if they come out as avowed atheists. Over the past year, those strident, unashamed voices for Atheism have started to appear and in the case of two of the leading lights; Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, their respective books made No.1 and No2 concurrently on the American bestseller list. Now I have been critical of both of these characters in the past, and some of those criticisms remain pertinent, but I wonder if they are not serving an important historical purpose in the form of the raising of public consciousness in a similar way that the Pankhursts did for the women’s movement, that Malcolm X did for the Black movement, and that Stonewall and Peter Tatchell did for the gay movement (in Britain). That is, providing strong, controversial voices that though often polarising and simplistic get themselves heard and their communities issues on the table, leading to a situation where softer, more nuanced, more considered voices could take up the baton for the acceptance of their on a platform where they could finally be listened to and appreciated. It is in this context that I would place the Blasphemy Challenge and the Rational Response Unit no matter what your personal response to some of the messages left on the challenge or the overall approach taken.

Illustrating this point further is a comment Richard Dawkins made about his highly successful and recent tour of America where at one point he literally went into the heart of the beast and was accosted for almost an hour in a Q and A session dominated by Liberty University students (Jerry Falwell’s outfit) who came at him from almost every conceivable angle in an effort to upturn his Atheism. The electrifying effect on the rest of the audience by Professor Dawkins unapologetic and rigorous defence of Atheism at every turn points to the value of having a ‘big beast’ of Atheism crystallise and justify the beliefs of every closet or defensive atheist in America.

http://richarddawkins.net/home

As an aside, I think every theist worthy of the name should do themselves a favour and seek out a leading light on atheism at least once in their lives. I remember talking to an impressive dean from Cambridge University who said that going to listen to Bertrand Russell denounce God and defend Atheism did not ultimately make him change his beliefs but it did improve his opinion of Atheism and Atheists immeasurably because he was finally able to understand and even appreciate the Atheist position.

It may seem strange that I am defining the struggle for public acceptance of Atheism as a social issue in the same way as gays, women, blacks, jews and catholics once struggled for the acceptance and recognition. However, given that Atheism is apparently the most disliked and distrusted group in America and is demonised and caricatured in a way that makes Atheism almost the last acceptable prejudice in America (apart from gays where the battle is only half-won), I do think that characterising the struggle that Atheists face in America and the way they are beginning to respond to it, as a social justice issue. Until such times as Atheists are given a similar public platform as theists on debates that impact on them, when they are no longer demonised or ostracised, and when a Atheist candidate for President or Congress doesn’t have to lie and cover up their Atheism, then hopefully such cheap but conscious raising stunts as the blasphemy challenge will no longer by required to make their point and having Atheists present on media panels and Capitol debating religion with their theist counterparts will become as commonplace as it is in other parts of the developed world. As an example of the importance of having a reasoned Atheist voice represented in the media was highlighted by Dawkins as part of the media coverage on the blasphemy challenge, a lot of which highlighted the lack of sympathy and understanding in the US media on Atheist perspectives and motivations in most of the other coverage. (Fox news predictably won the most hyperbolic, overblown piece of media coverage).

http://richarddawkins.net/article,644,Richard-Dawkins-interview-with-Paula-Zahn,CNN

http://www.blasphemychallenge.com/mediacoverage.html

Finally, I would say that the Rational Response Unit and similar American Atheist groups are providing an outlet for young Atheists to link up, form relationships and come out of the closet together, which if nothing else is an important social development for young Atheists, sceptics and free thinkers in a country where coming out in the wrong geographical location can have serious social and employment consequences.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:00 am 
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I very much support atheists and agree that there is a stigma against atheists which must be addressed and overcome.

However, I must say I find it deeply alienating to hear atheists comparing any prejudice they face to the civil rights struggles of women, minorities, and gays. Indeed, the first time I heard atheists make the comparison a couple years ago between gays and atheists...I understood (and from then on respected) how alienating it can be to African-Americans when homosexuals compare the gay civil rights struggle to the Black civil rights struggle.

I think it is natural for the most recent group struggling for acceptance to point to those who have come before, as the earlier group's struggles are now belatedly recognized as legitimate. However, members of the later group often clumsily make two mistakes. First, they equate their less severe struggles with an earlier group's more severe struggles. (A classic example is the attempt of some gay people to equate "separate but equal" civil unions to the "separate but equal" facilities that African-Americans were forced to use, when frankly, there is no comparison between the two situations.) Second, they assume that the struggles of the earlier group are over.

Demo, I feel that you are doing both of these things in your post.

In essence, "open" atheists face an unfortunate stigma which perhaps leads to an inability to participate equally in the public discourse. I appreciate what this is like, as each of the groups you highlight - women, blacks, homosexuals - have faced, and continue to contend with, a similar stigma, which is why none of these groups are proportionately represented in the public discourse. However, each of these other groups have faced, and in the case of gays continue to face, legalized discrimination. Gays and racial minorities have faced and continue to face physical violence simply for being who and what they are. Atheists do not face anything comparable.

Perhaps - perhaps - anti-atheism is the "last acceptable prejudice [to voice publically]" (other than homophobia, which is alive and well in the nation's discourse and legal codes). But racism, sexism, and homophobia continue to harm the lives and hinder the social progress of American racial minorities, women, and gays. If you wish to identify yourself as a member of group that is harmed by majority "lies and fables," then you would do well to avoid the "lie and fable" that these other prejudices and their devastating effects have ended, simply because it is deemed less politically correct to voice them openly.

Believe me, I will celebrate the entry of non-religious (and religious non-Judeo-Christian) perspectives into the American public discourse. I believe that accepting this diversity of views is extremely important for our society. I firmly believe that anything that chips away at society's willful disregard of deviants-from-the-norm (including racial minorities, gays, and non-religious/ideological minorities) is a good thing. However, I feel that unnuanced comparisons between the prejudices that different minorities face, such as those you are drawing, stand to alienate the other groups being named and do little good. (And, FTR, I think the gay rights movement is the chief culprit in recent years in the unnuanced comparison saga.)

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Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:06 am 
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nerdanel wrote:
I very much support atheists and agree that there is a stigma against atheists which must be addressed and overcome.

However, I must say I find it deeply alienating to hear atheists comparing any prejudice they face to the civil rights struggles of women, minorities, and gays. Indeed, the first time I heard atheists make the comparison a couple years ago between gays and atheists...I understood (and from then on respected) how alienating it can be to African-Americans when homosexuals compare the gay civil rights struggle to the Black civil rights struggle.

I think it is natural for the most recent group struggling for acceptance to point to those who have come before, as the earlier group's struggles are now belatedly recognized as legitimate. However, members of the later group often clumsily make two mistakes. First, they equate their less severe struggles with an earlier group's more severe struggles. (A classic example is the attempt of some gay people to equate "separate but equal" civil unions to the "separate but equal" facilities that African-Americans were forced to use, when frankly, there is no comparison between the two situations.) Second, they assume that the struggles of the earlier group are over.

Demo, I feel that you are doing both of these things in your post.

In essence, "open" atheists face an unfortunate stigma which perhaps leads to an inability to participate equally in the public discourse. I appreciate what this is like, as each of the groups you highlight - women, blacks, homosexuals - have faced, and continue to contend with, a similar stigma, which is why none of these groups are proportionately represented in the public discourse. However, each of these other groups have faced, and in the case of gays continue to face, legalized discrimination. Gays and racial minorities have faced and continue to face physical violence simply for being who and what they are. Atheists do not face anything comparable.

Perhaps - perhaps - anti-atheism is the "last acceptable prejudice [to voice publically]" (other than homophobia, which is alive and well in the nation's discourse and legal codes). But racism, sexism, and homophobia continue to harm the lives and hinder the social progress of American racial minorities, women, and gays. If you wish to identify yourself as a member of group that is harmed by majority "lies and fables," then you would do well to avoid the "lie and fable" that these other prejudices and their devastating effects have ended, simply because it is deemed less politically correct to voice them openly.

Believe me, I will celebrate the entry of non-religious (and religious non-Judeo-Christian) perspectives into the American public discourse. I believe that accepting this diversity of views is extremely important for our society. I firmly believe that anything that chips away at society's willful disregard of deviants-from-the-norm (including racial minorities, gays, and non-religious/ideological minorities) is a good thing. However, I feel that unnuanced comparisons between the prejudices that different minorities face, such as those you are drawing, stand to alienate the other groups being named and do little good. (And, FTR, I think the gay rights movement is the chief culprit in recent years in the unnuanced comparison saga.)


I understand your criticisms Nerdanel, and to a certain extent I have anticipated them. However I would say that drawing parallels between aspects of earlier group struggles to gain public acceptance and understanding and a regular place at the table on central and local government policy, decisions and media debate is completely feasable.

Drawing parallels is not the same as asserting that it is exactly the same. It is true that Atheists are not persecuted in the same manner as Blacks as Gays, but the degree of persecution is not where the parallel lies between Atheists and Blacks and Gays.

The parallel between Atheists and Gays is that coming out at work or in the public domain risks serious jeopardy of your future employment prospects, and at home, especially highly religious parents, it can mean ostracisation from your community and immediate family. Like with the gay community, public Atheists are under-represented in American society and public life because many choose not to come out for fear of the stigma if they did.

The parallel between Atheists, Women and Blacks, like with Gays (to draw the broader bow I was making) is a pervasive but invalid doubt over the intellectual and/or moral character of these groups and a number of unsubstantiated claims about the activities of these groups. In the case of Atheists in America it has often been asserted in my company, even by liberal Christians, that they perceive Atheism itself to be an "extreme", "un-social" and "anti" position. We are often portrayed as being responsible for eugenics, Nazism, Communism and the moral decay of society through the promotion of rampant capitalism and a materialist culture. None of these claims would matter very much if Atheists had regular access to public platforms and public office as public Atheists to help educate the public and expose the myths for what they are. However it is still true that an Atheist couldn't get elected as town dogcatcher in most parts of America and are one of the most unpopular minorities in America. Therefore Atheists have begun to go through a similar conscious raising effort as women and blacks did when they had to overcome similar obstacles after they had won their civil rights. As blacks and women came to realise, it isn't enough just to win the right to vote, it is also important to be represented at the upper echalons of political office and public life and to further erode the public myths that create every-day obstacles for the individuals of these groups. They then re-organised themselves for that next step and that is where I draw most many of the parallels between those groups

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:07 pm 
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Democritus wrote:
Therefore Atheists have begun to go through a similar conscious raising effort as women and blacks did when they had to overcome similar obstacles after they had won their civil rights. As blacks and women came to realise, it isn't enough just to win the right to vote, it is also important to be represented at the upper echalons of political office and public life and to further erode the public myths that create every-day obstacles for the individuals of these groups. They then re-organised themselves for that next step...


Then, I think that is what needs to happen in the US to people who are convinced Atheists. There is no visible organization in the US like the British Humanist Association in the UK. If you are an Atheist, and yet also a deeply moral and even spiritual person, you have nowhere to turn, really. So you drift. Maybe you become a Unitarian, even.

Belonging to a church or a temple or a mosque fills the need for community, purpose and belonging for many people. It gives them that vital connection with other people...which is the thing that makes us all human. A connection on some deeper level.

It seems that the BHA does this in the UK. Perhaps they should reach across the Pond to like-minded people in the US.



Edited by Prim 19 Feb 2007 0641 PST to fix quote codes

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:32 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
Democritus wrote:
Therefore Atheists have begun to go through a similar conscious raising effort as women and blacks did when they had to overcome similar obstacles after they had won their civil rights. As blacks and women came to realise, it isn't enough just to win the right to vote, it is also important to be represented at the upper echalons of political office and public life and to further erode the public myths that create every-day obstacles for the individuals of these groups. They then re-organised themselves for that next step...


Then, I think that is what needs to happen in the US to people who are convinced Atheists. There is no visible organization in the US like the British Humanist Association in the UK. If you are an Atheist, and yet also a deeply moral and even spiritual person, you have nowhere to turn, really. So you drift. Maybe you become a Unitarian, even.

Belonging to a church or a temple or a mosque fills the need for community, purpose and belonging for many people. It gives them that vital connection with other people...which is the thing that makes us all human. A connection on some deeper level.

It seems that the BHA does this in the UK. Perhaps they should reach across the Pond to like-minded people in the US.


The USA has like minded groups to the BHA and offers similar community services such as weddings, funerals and baby-namings for humanists and atheists. However the profile is very small because they get little of no media and public exposure and though they have many high-status patrons amongst their ranks very few of these patrons have outed themselves as Atheists and Humanists and therefore do not act as conduits to greater profile for these groups.

Also, in comparision to its European counterparts organised Humanist and Atheist movements are newer, less developed and understandably more strident in their approach.



Edited by Prim 19 Feb 2007 0644 PST to fix quote codes

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:34 pm 
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Wishes he stall had admin powers so he could fix confusing quotes

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:53 pm 
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As an atheist myself, and someone who's been friends with mainly atheists for a while, I have a bit of an issue with the idea that atheists are a group. Atheists have no unifying beliefs, philosophies, practices, or just about anything else. This makes any unified rallying seem silly in my mind. That said, if there is any anti-atheist discrimination (something I have seem next to no evidence of), yes, it should be fought.


And nel, it is to me the insistence that we shouldn't draw parallels that bothers me. It usually sounds like a "your discrimination's not as big as my discrimination" game, like if whoever is the most discriminated against wins. All I usually hear, including in demo's post here, is "If discriminating against blacks, gays, Jews, and women is wrong, so is discriminating against atheists." which is an perfectly valid parallel to draw.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:59 pm 
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yov and demo --

Let me back out of the atheism context for a moment and give examples of quotes that I have heard that I have found deeply problematic.

- black people equating anti-black racism in 21st century America to the Holocaust. This always causes my head to explode. There is no doubt that racism still exists, and there is no doubt that anti-Semitism and racism are "equally wrong," so to speak, but there is a clear and huge difference, in my mind, between the individual acts of racism (normally camouflaged) that occur in 21st century America and the wholesale genocide of disfavored groups by Nazi Germany.

(Note: a comparison of American slavery and the Holocaust would be different, IMO. I wouldn't personally make it, but I think I could listen to it without finding it offensive.)

- gay people insisting that a "civil union" or "domestic partnership" status is equivalent to "separate but equal" public accommodations or "being made to sit in the middle or back of the bus." I don't think there is harm in noting that "separate but equal" institutions are being created - but I think there should be acknowledgment that it is not the same. Openly gay people are not being ordered to use different locker rooms, sit in a different portion of restaurants, attend different public schools, or sit in different places on public transportation - and quite frankly, we probably owe some of that to the Black civil rights movement. (If the gay civil rights movement had begun in the 1940s and 1950s, it would have been much more likely, IMO, that segregated facilities would have resulted.)

So no, I don't think it's a "Look at me! I win the most-discriminated against" fight (something that always annoys me), but I think it's a matter of acknowledging that each new group fighting for civil rights stands on the shoulders of the groups that have already begun the fight (and in most cases are still fighting.) And, I am suggesting that especially as we dialogue with the members of other groups who have experienced and/or continue to experience discrimination, we would do well to acknowledge explicitly where our situations differ as we highlight where they are similar.

Have you ever heard a gay person say, "Being gay is the new black"? (If not, Google it - you'll be surprised how many hits come up.) This wholesale equation is alienating and offensive to many African-Americans, as well it could legitimately be. These sorts of unnuanced assertions cause communication between minority groups to break down as one group feels that the other has no appreciation for their ongoing experience ("gay is the new black," for instance, implies incorrectly that being black no longer carries the experience of prejudice that it once did.) And those, I was suggesting, are unhelpful.

yov, I'm directing this more at you, in response to your, "It's the insistence that we shouldn't draw parallels that bothers me" - I'm hoping to explain which parallels bother me. I know that demo didn't say anything like, "Atheists are the new gays," so this isn't directly a response to your post, demo.

What I was reacting to most in your post, demo, were these lines:

Quote:
However, given that Atheism is apparently the most disliked and distrusted group in America and is demonised and caricatured in a way that makes Atheism almost the last acceptable prejudice in America (apart from gays where the battle is only half-won), I do think that characterising the struggle that Atheists face in America and the way they are beginning to respond to it, as a social justice issue.


Quote:
The unease that Atheists have felt over all of this has been crystallised and channelled in a way familiar with the stories of the other previously ostracised groups.


In these quotes, you clearly suggest that the prejudice that these other groups have experienced is in the past. "Previously ostracised"? Only anti-atheism and homophobia are "acceptable prejudices" in America? Not so at all! I'm not sure you understand just how alive and well these prejudices are. The bigots may have been forced into a closet, so they can no longer openly air their views. People don't like to think of themselves as prejudiced towards women and racial minorities (even when they are), so open hatred is frowned upon. (This is only true to a limited extent for gays - many people openly condone discrimination, whether justified on a bizarre "hate the sin, love the sinner" theory (aka, "There's nothing wrong with gay people if they act straight") or on a more open homophobia.)

However, in each case, the bigots have erected glass ceilings, refused anti-discrimination protections (or ignored them where they exist), stigmatized, and "othered" members of each of these groups - from their corner offices in the federal and state governments, the judiciary, law firms, boardrooms, hospitals, religious institutions, and so on. Each group is subject to violence; frankly, sexual violence against women is so par for the course that it is not even considered with other hate crimes against gays and blacks, for instance. There are areas where each group is perceived not to belong - powerful women are still not allowed to advance to the fullest of their potential in all aspects of the business world, and they are not even allowed to belong as full members to all the social institutions of the rich, elite set. The NY Times had an article just yesterday about how gay couples who are openly affectionate in public spaces (as straight couples are all the time, without a moment's hestitation), reasonably fear ridicule, hostility, and violence. And we all know that there are places where African-Americans are treated as though they do not belong. An African-American driving an expensive car is pulled over because he must have stolen it. Two African-American girls leaving an expensive store at the mall - well, of course they must be shoplifting! An African-American at a high-end restaurant - must be an employee or criminal, surely not a patron! Demo, these groups are not "previously ostracised," they are currently ostracised.

What I object to is not your drawing any parallel at all, but to your speaking as though the discrimination against these earlier groups has been addressed and redressed. It has not; the process has begun, but it IS a work-in-progress. I hope that makes my objection clear. I do not disagree at all with your main point about atheists being more well-represented in the public dialogue.

(Also, I apologize for the UScentrism in this post - unfortunately, I've not yet traveled to Europe and have not recently visited Canada, so cannot speak for how things are there.)

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:16 pm 
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Democritus wrote:

The USA has like minded groups to the BHA and offers similar community services such as weddings, funerals and baby-namings for humanists and atheists.


This is the purpose of the Cof E. I'm sure they can provide an atheist to officiate ;)

Quote:
Also, in comparision to its European counterparts organised Humanist and Atheist movements are newer, less developed and understandably more strident in their approach.


I've never experienced atheism to be strident in this country: with one well-known exception. He seems not to have understood his friend Douglas Adams' methods.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:47 pm 
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This is the purpose of the Cof E. I'm sure they can provide an atheist to officiate


I have been to a humanist funeral service for a secular Jew, conducted by a Church of England clergyman.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:01 pm 
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If you have a particular belief, and search for a group that shares that belief, and then fortify your belief by using that group to help define yourself... you will always think other groups or other majorities, or something is predjudiced against you.

The other side is true, of course... if you place people with specific beliefs into a group, you are far more likely to descriminate against them if you disagree with them.

It's one of our most natural Instincts to want to know "more, quickly." This leads us to try to identify things about a person and fit them into a set pattern where we can assume we know more about them than we actually do...

People are individuals... the moment you label them and make decisions based on that label... you're descriminating against someone...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:49 pm 
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I see your point, nel. I think we read demo's post differently but I will leave it up to him to clarify what he meant.

And I feel the need to reiterate that atheism is not a group. I assume that maybe some atheists have gotten together and formed some kinda group or something, though I'm not sure to what purpose. But atheists as a whole include an enormous range of viewpoints and have no real thing to tie them together (eg. remember that Buddhists are often identified as atheists). I personally feel about as much affinity to Mr. Dawkins as I do Rush Limbaugh.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:18 pm 
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This might be of interest: results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll on how race/sex/religion might affect people's vote for President. (Link to a blog post about it)

Quote:
Conducted 2/9-11; surveyed 1006 adults; margin of error
+/- 3% (release, 2/16).
Code:
If Your Party Nominated A Generally
 Well-Qualified Candidate For WH '08
Who Was ___,  Would You Vote For That Person?   
                                     
                          Yes No                 
Catholic                  95%  4%                           
Black                     94   5   
Jewish                    92   7   
A woman                   88  11         
Hispanic                  87  12   
Mormon                    72  24 
Married for third time    67  30   
72 years old              57  42
A homosexual              55  43   
An atheist                45  53


Polls like this are famously skewed, because people will lie to conceal socially unacceptable prejudices (and will then vote as they really believe). So the last-place finish of atheists might be because fewer people consider that particular prejudice socially unacceptable.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


Last edited by Primula Baggins on Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:21 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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It's so weird for me to see stuff like that when practically everyone I've been friends with since high school has been agnostic or atheist. Skews my perspective, I guess.

And :shock: at the divorcee thing - who cares!!?? I'd be curious to see how someone who's never married would compare.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:27 pm 
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Living in hope
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Some items on this poll were specific to particular candidates (Giuliani has been married three times; McCain is 72; Romney is Mormon). Judging from the numbers, quite a few people do care about some of these points.

These days I think someone who had never been married because they were gay would be better off being out. Other reasons for never marrying might actually worry the public more. :)

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:59 pm 
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Nerdanel

What on earth made you think that I was insinuating that prejudice against other groups had stopped? I wouldn't claim such a thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:11 pm 
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Demo,

In my most recent post, I highlighted the quotes that most caused me to read your post the way I did.

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I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:54 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Saying that the sun has previously risen in the west should in no way imply that it is still not doing so.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:18 pm 
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nerdanel wrote:
Demo,

In my most recent post, I highlighted the quotes that most caused me to read your post the way I did.


Yup, and they still don't suggest what you say they were suggesting.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:06 am 
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This is Rome

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Okay. As far as "previously ostracised," as long as you didn't mean "previously ostracised" to imply "not currently ostracised," then we are on the same page.

I continue to disagree with your suggestion that atheism is "almost the last acceptable prejudice in America."

As I agree with your main points and we are not substantively disagree on your minor points, I'll depart now for fear of doing violence to the carcass of the tragically deceased horse.

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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