Rick Warren Hates Atheists, Like Me

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 14:18

Left-wing pressure seems to have dubious effect, so here are some right-wing atheists upset with Rick Warren:

Too bad Rick Warren isn't so open-minded. After his over-hyped and intrusive interviews of Obama and John McCain this last August, the best-selling author of A Purpose-Driven Life disclosed to his congregation at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Ca., the one kind of person he couldn't vote for. "I could not vote for an atheist because an atheist says, 'I don't need God,'" Warren preached, according to the Los Angeles Times. "They're saying, 'I'm totally self-sufficient by [myself].' And nobody is self-sufficient to be president by themselves. It's too big a job."

It's hard to decide which is more laughable: Warren's conception of the presidency or of atheists. Unfortunately, both conceptions are widespread among Americans.

I second that. Warren posits atheists as people who are openly thumbing their noses at God--sort of like people who recognize there is a God but who just refuse to bow to "His" authority. As with many Americans, the notion that some people simply fail to believe in a self-conscious power that exists outside the laws of nature doesn't enter into the equation. Further, being an atheist isn't even a rejection of something--it is merely a failure to make an assertion. I always hate it when I have to answer the question "well, why don't you believe in God?" The burden of proof doesn't rest with me. God is a positive concept that must be proven, not an obvious construct that must be disproven.

More in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: Rick Warren Hates Atheists, Like Me

Now, atheists, like the LGBT community, are not as numerous as evangelicals. The most recent poll I could find on the subject showed 78% believed in "God," 14% believed in a "universal higher power," and only 7% believed in "neither" (1% was "unsure"). When you are an atheist, it is pretty obvious to you that you are in a small minority. Further, since many people, not only Rick Warren but often members your own family, consider your atheism as somehow an affront rather than just a personal lack of belief, to make life easier you do your best to never bring up religion as a topic at all. Just being left alone about it becomes both the short-term and long-term goal. I don't even like writing about it on Open Left, because I know that some members of my family read it.

I do have to wonder though--why are opposing equal rights for LGBT, and why are hating atheists, still tolerated as mainstream opinions in America? The only reason why someone like Rick Warren represents "bringing people together" rather than hatred of multiple large minorities in America, is because hatred of atheists and homosexuals are tolerated. Maybe people like me haven't done a good enough job of demanding that we be allowed to be open about our views and not hated for them. For one, it isn't difficult to succeed in life while still being an atheist. For another, it isn't difficult to hide your views in situations where they might cause you problems. Further, you don't want to be associated with the atheists that attack religion in general, and you really don't want to start arguments with people.

However, as atheists, it is probably time that we stopped being withdrawn about our beliefs. Our public image is lower than even that of homosexuals, for example. The reason it is lower is because they fight for their rights and they fight for inclusion. We atheists don't. If we are all working together to try and end homophobia as a tolerated, mainstream position worthy of the inaugural benediction for a Democratic President, then we should probably work to make intolerance of atheists unacceptable, too. When we start excluding certain groups, it has the potential to spill out over into all groups, as Natasha wrote yesterday at MyDD.

If I am not speaking up for my owns rights to tolerance and inclusion, how can I speak up for others? A lot of the problem is probably my own damn fault, because I have never bothered to even ask for inclusion and tolerance of my beliefs. So, let me start with this: I am an atheist, there is nothing wrong with my beliefs, you are not going to convert me, and so you are going to have to live with it.

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You may not believe in God (0.00 / 0)
but God believes in Himself!

Or something like that. I don't know, it was on a bumper sticker I saw one time.

amen! ...err... i mean... (4.00 / 1)
what if I am atheist AND gay? Double whammy!  

You (4.00 / 1)
are in line to be the mayor of Hell City.

[ Parent ]
7th circle here i come! n/t (4.00 / 2)
honestly, a whole bunch of hot sweaty gays in one place doesn't sound too bad!

[ Parent ]
Atheism (4.00 / 3)
We've still got a long way to go on this one.  We (liberals) have done a good job promoting tolerance for non-Christian religions, but some of this effort actually backfires against atheists.  By putting all believers into a single category, we leave the non believers out.

Each step at a time, I guess.

The fact that right wing atheists like Hitchens (4.00 / 1)
and Sam Harris are dominant, doesn't help your cause any.

My blog  

I never realized Harrs was right wing. (4.00 / 1)
I know he absolutely hated Sarah Palin, but so did Hitchens. Hitchens is only really right wing on the war though. They both endorsed Obama.  

[ Parent ]
I don't see this (4.00 / 3)
First off, whatever you think of them, Harris isn't right wing, and Hitchens arguably isn't either.  Anti-Islam doesn't equal right wing.

And they may or may not help atheists' cause, but perception of them as right wing is a trivial factor, and I'm sure actually helps with some right-wingers.  Anyway, this is off the point.  The fact that some members of a group are jerks doesn't justify hatred of the group.

[ Parent ]
Are they libertarians? (0.00 / 0)
The one political viewpoint that I hate more than any other is hardcore libertarianism.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Not at all. (0.00 / 0)
Hitchens took the neo-con position on the war because he is anti-Islam. Other than that, I don't know of a single other conservative or libertarian belief he holds. Sam Harris has a similar anti-Islam streak. I'm not defending that, but to call them conservatives or libertarians is inaccurate.

[ Parent ]
Hitchens eagerly volunteered info (4.00 / 2)
to Ken Starr and the Republican Coupmeisters during the late MonicaMadness.  To this day his CDS is barely distinguishable in its consistency and intensity from the RW mouth-foamers.

But it seems something of a stretch to call him generally "anti-Islam", a charge which might be on firmer ground with Harris.  Hitchens struck me during the Iraq War runup as more anti-Saddam.  But who knows -- he's a very peculiar fellow who's gone through some political shape-shifting in the past decade.

Re unhelpful atheists:  Dick Dawkins, with his very jagged edged and sneering language towards religious believers, and from yesteryear Madeline Murray O'Hair with her humorless, abrasive and inflexible mindset.

Iow, the atheist side needs to really improve their PR posture if they want to make gains in the political arena.

[ Parent ]
I haven't really followed Hitchens for long. (4.00 / 1)
He is somewhat enigmatic, so I've probably oversimplified his actual positions.

I completely disagree that Richard Dawkins is unhelpful. Reading his books and PZ Myers blog Pharyngula really pushed me into the atheist fold. I had what I considered a "crisis of faith", but their writings convinced me that I had no crisis at all. I think they are wonderful, and Dawkins is generally much more polite than people give him credit for.  

[ Parent ]
Hitchens subscribes to Hitchensism (0.00 / 0)
It's all about him.

[ Parent ]
A measure of hatred (0.00 / 0)
I'll have to ask: which category is getting killed/maimed/attacked due to the normalization of hatred by people such as Warren?




Here's a table from 2007 by the FBI; a bit of the data:

Victims, by Bias/Motivation:
Anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc. 8
Sexual Orientation (category):1,512
Anti-Male Homosexual 890
Anti-Female Homosexual 197
Anti-Homosexual 375
Anti-Heterosexual 27
Anti-Bisexual 23

So if you base hatred of a group on hate crime statistics, it seems that atheists are hated about 1/3 as much as... heterosexuals. And yes, I know that when you normalize it for relative population sizes, it's actually closer to 4x as much. That's still lower than any of the other categories here.

I think that at the present time, fighting for Atheist rights is still a very low priority for me. Once there are consistently over 5 black female Senators in the U.S. senate, at least one of whom is openly Lesbian and married to another woman, I'll think about changing that.

Depth v. Width (4.00 / 1)
Hatred for atheists is wider, I think (more people feel comfortable voting for homosexuals, or their children being friends with a homosexual, than they would re: atheists), while racism, sexism, and homophobia are much deeper.  Hence the violence against gays, women, racial minorities, etc, and nothing besides a dislike of nonbelievers.

[ Parent ]
more then dislike (4.00 / 2)
I think it is easier to hide being an atheist, but once it is out in the open people still react with intensity.

I remember watching a youtube a couple years back, of a mother slapping her son b/c he told her he didn't believe in a god.  It freaked me out.

If I thought people would only dislike me, I probably would be more open about my religious beliefs.  But I think I have a legit reason to be wary living in a evangelical area.

I just wish people would understand that it is not a choice.  You can't fake faith.  (Boy, that sounds familiar, eh?)

[ Parent ]
Good Point (0.00 / 0)
"Dislike" was a poor word choice; I completely agree with your clarification here.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (0.00 / 0)
I'm a bisexual atheist.

I have never been uncomfortable or worried about informing people that I'm an atheist. The worst that's ever happened to me is to get a weak attempt at conversion (which, as I'm also a former minister and I've also studied the Bible academically, I can always poke large holes in - sometimes ones that the would-be converter will agree with). This is true even when I've been in LA, TX, or for the years I lived in central Pennsylvania.

I have often been uncomfortable informing people that I'm bisexual. There are multiple cases where I'm pretty certain that if I were wearing an "I'm bisexual" t-shirt at the time, I would have been assaulted. Even people I'm good friends with often think that bisexual somehow means poly-amorous, which of course it doesn't.

So from my personal experience, attacking bias against atheism gains me little, particularly in comparison to attacking bias against sexual orientation, gender, sex, or skin color.

Of course, the above has a caveat - I'm a sample of one. If you can provide statistics to the contrary, I'll be happy to change my opinion.

[ Parent ]
You are completely missing the point. (4.00 / 2)
So from my personal experience, attacking bias against atheism gains me little, particularly in comparison to attacking bias against sexual orientation, gender, sex, or skin color.

Well, as a straight white male who can fake Christianity for the rest of his life I guess I don't need to give a fuck about anybody.

Do you really think this is about statistics? Greta Christina is also a bisexual atheist and she ably discusses and fights for both causes. This isn't an either-or issue. And it definitely isn't an issue of whoever is more threatened by violence somehow wins and really deserves attention.

[ Parent ]
To me, it is. (4.00 / 1)
I'm under-convinced that there is significant hatred towards Atheists. My personal experience has shown none; the other atheists I've known personally have complained about none, and the best statistics I can fine show essentially none.

Once again, I consider this a question of allocation of resources, not what's correct. This does not mean that, for example, if you created a pro-Atheists rights action that I'd oppose it or even not join in. I support equal rights, regardless of religion or lack thereof. It does mean that despite being an Atheist, I'd be unlikely to create any of my own.

[ Parent ]
Fair Enough (0.00 / 0)

And of course the link Chris provided in the entry above.  They definitely are mistrusted more, but there is a much lower chance of violence.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps an apples to apples comparison would help. (0.00 / 0)
In other words, comparing hatred of Atheism vs. hatred of other religions. Using the same methodology as above (and indeed, the same data source:

Anti-Jewish   1,127
Anti-Catholic 70
Anti-Protestant 67
Anti-Islamic 142
Anti-Other Religion 148
Anti-Multiple Religions, Group 66
Anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc. 8

If we use this data as a measure of hatred, Atheists are, after weighting by population, hated about as much as Protestants - and less than any other religion. Before such weighting, they're far less than any other religion.

[ Parent ]
Missing My Point (4.00 / 2)
The "deepest" end of the hatred for non-atheists is much, much worse than for atheists.  Hence the lower violence numbers.  That's not what I was talking about.  Atheists are super-unlikely to be elected because half of Americans would not vote for one even if they agreed with all their political views.  And per the link I provided above:

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society...

     Atheist: 39.6%
     Muslims: 26.3%
     Homosexuals: 22.6%
     Hispanics: 20%
     Conservative Christians: 13.5%
     Recent Immigrants: 12.5%
     Jews: 7.6%

I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group....

     Atheist: 47.6%
     Muslim: 33.5%
     African-American 27.2%
     Asian-Americans: 18.5%
     Hispanics: 18.5%
     Jews: 11.8%
     Conservative Christians: 6.9%
     Whites: 2.3%  

[ Parent ]
Sorry that I missed it. (0.00 / 0)
I think that the questions here are poor for this determination, but there are also significant problems with the FBI crime statistics (most likely, violence against Atheists is more under-reported than most other religions - surprised that no one else mentioned that yet).

I'll have to think about it. You may be correct.

Do you have a link to the actual study?

[ Parent ]
If athiests developed a culture (4.00 / 2)
and became constantly visible, then their attacked stats would rise significantly.

Jeff Wegerson

[ Parent ]
The good old Oppression Olympics. (0.00 / 0)
I guess you totally agree with Huckabee's gays haven't had they skulls cracked in enough to get full civil rights then. They should get back in line and wait behind blacks. I'm sorry but 1500 violent assualts doesn't stack up to centuries of slavery followed by lynchings and Jim Crow. But, women probably still win since they've been second class citizens in almost every culture for at least millenia.

We can fight more than 1 kind of oppression at once, and we must fight more than one kind of oppression at once.

[ Parent ]
Please (0.00 / 0)
Fight against oppression as you will.

I oppose oppression against Atheists; after all, I am one.

To me, this is a question of priorities, not a question of what's right.

[ Parent ]
The priorities stuff is just bs. (0.00 / 0)
Chris never once said that fighting anti-atheism sentiment should be a top priority. He said it was something we should be done. So if you weren't disagreeing with what was actually written then I don't see how your point is relevant at all.

[ Parent ]
I think you're correct (0.00 / 0)
I thought I was responding to a particular point Chris made, but upon re-reading his original text, it seems that it was a mis-interpretation on my part.

My apologies for the confusion. Next time, I shouldn't post after having not slept for 40+ hours.

[ Parent ]
No worries. (0.00 / 0)
I agreed with your general point that discrimination against gays leads to much more violence, but I had been assuming you were arguing that the whole discussion was an unworthy distraction. Get some sleep.

[ Parent ]
Many religious people are inherently defensive (4.00 / 4)
and it kind of makes sense that they would be. If you're Joe Biblelover, or whatever, you have invested a lot of yourself in the idea that God is up there, has a plan for you, will reward you in the after life, etc.

When Joe meets someone who is an atheist, the message that Joe gets is: "You are a fool for investing yourself in something that doesn't exist." And honestly, doesn't this kind of follow from atheism? It's not that the atheist is necessarily thinking any of this, or that he feels negatively at all towards Joe (though he very well might). It's that the atheist's belief system not only contradicts Joe's, it tells him that his life is a huge mistake.

The atheist might respond that this does not, in fact, follow; that the right choice for him is not necessarily the right choice for Joe. But Joe doesn't believe in God because it just happens to be his preference to be a religious person: he believes in God because he thinks God is really up there.

I'm not saying it's the atheist's problem; it's not. But I'm not really surprised that religious people sort of hate atheists.

(I am an agnostic, incidentally.)

But, it should be the same will other religions too right? (0.00 / 0)
We've been fairly successful getting people to believe in religious freedom, but getting people to respect a lack of religious beliefs is somehow harder. A Christian meeting a Hindu is also meeting somehow whose beliefs inherently say "You're a fool and you're most cherished beliefs are nothing but delusions." Don't get me wrong. It's great that people generally respect the rights of others to believe in different gods, but we need to take it one step further.

[ Parent ]
Not as much (4.00 / 1)
Because most people don't buy into their own religion that much.  Even most self-reported Evangelicals believe that all religions worship the same good.  I can't find that article I read years ago, but here is one complaining that Bush says all religions worship the same God.

Many religious leaders hate this, but that's how the people think.  As I mentioned above, this is largely due to great success of liberalism.  Ironically, it leaves atheists out as a natural result, if not exactly on purpose.

Now, if we can just convince people atheists worship the same God as well.  Which, quite honestly, is true.  (Everyone believes in Nature and the universe, it is the definition of God, etc. in question and the value of the word "God" itself.)

[ Parent ]
Agreed, but their still going to hell if they're wrong. (0.00 / 0)
Many Christians honestly  believe that non-Christians or the wrong kind of Christians are going to and deserves to be tortured for all eternity. Atheists don't believe anyone is going to be tortured for eternity, so why is it so much harder to get along with us?  

[ Parent ]
But (4.00 / 1)
a Christian probably feels pretty confident when it comes to him vs. the Hindu. The Hindu's beliefs aren't really based in anything more solid than the Christian's, so the Christian doesn't feel on the defensive. The Hindu's beliefs are exotic and weird and thus intuitively implausible.

The atheist just comes along and says: you all shouldn't believe in these fairy tales. He's got arguments, he's got reasons. He pokes at the little cloud of doubt that the Christian possesses. (Many Christians doubt, at times, the existence of God, period; I would wager that exceedingly few of them have doubts that they are simply worshiping the wrong God.)  

[ Parent ]
What does it mean to "buy into" one's own religion? (0.00 / 0)
I think it's really unfair to judge others' faith in those terms. I'm not a literalist, but why should I have to be?

       But, yeah, I'd agree with your conclusion. My atheist, sometime Buddhist sister made fun of me for years for going to church and only just found out my beliefs weren't that different than hers, i.e. that eternal life is a metaphor for the endurance of universe or nature.

[ Parent ]
a lot of people have a "belief in the act of belief" (4.00 / 3)
They don't really care what you believe in, as long as you simply announce that you "believe" in some "force". Hence why a lot of people take the "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual!" line of thinking. It's an easy way to avoid the rules of major religions, while still feeling like part of the club.

I think the reason why people tend to get so offended by atheists, is because of the idea they have in their heads that atheists "believe in nothing". Which sounds pretty horrible when you frame things that way, and leads to thoughts of antisocial mass murderers or something. So even though a Christian may disagree with a Hindu/Muslim/Jew, they still have the common bond of "belief in a powerful force".

Of course, atheists obviously believe in plenty of things. We just don't use invisible beings as a justification for those beliefs. But this is hard for people to understand, since atheists don't have as good of a PR machine like most religions do, lol

[ Parent ]
You've touched on another important point (4.00 / 3)
I have found that A LOT of religious people take it as a given that belief in God is the only reason people don't go around doing evil things. So while they don't agree with the Hindu or the Jew or whatever, they at least know that that person, like them, believes that God will whack them if they misbehave.

Whereas the atheist has no similar external constraints, so they don't trust him.

It's kind of disturbing, when you think about it: people who think like this apparently cannot conceive of just being good for goodness' sake.

[ Parent ]
That actually is really scary. (4.00 / 1)
On comment pages you'll actually run into theists claiming that they themselves would steal and murder is they were atheists. I doubt most of them actually would. But, it's sad that some many people think they would turn into sociopaths without religion.

[ Parent ]
Very true (0.00 / 0)
This is probably the most important point and the number one reason why people won't vote for an atheist.

[ Parent ]
One of the biggest myths we must overcome (0.00 / 0)
is that atheists are immoral. If we are immoral sociopaths, then it makes sense for others to condemn us. But if we are actually just as moral and act just as ethically as religionists (which research shows is the case), then there is no justification for condemning us.

Moreover, because we don't need god to tell us not to be greedy or violent or sociopathic and yet we are just as moral, then that which guides us (conscience, compassion for others, manners, good upbringing, whatever) is something useful to give to others. So this gets into the whole childrearing thing: conservatives tell their kids they'll go to hell if they don't act right. Liberals tell their kids to act right based on arguments about compassion, conscience, etc. When conservatives think no one is looking (including god), then they often feel fine about acting badly (and, in fact, may rebel against/act out their strict upbringing and act like jerks), but liberals have an internal voice telling them to feel compassion and to act well and no/few emotional wounds that drive them to act like jerks.

So the liberal/atheistic way works better for having people act well and for creating a civil(ized) society.

[ Parent ]
Awesome (0.00 / 0)

For what it's worth, this whole thread has been fascinating.

I used to say (as my uncle did) that I am Agnostic because I just don't care enuf to be Atheist.

That however, was always a lie, I am an Atheist, and probably have always been. Though, I did go to synagogue to pick up chicks when I was single :)

[ Parent ]
In the specific case... (0.00 / 0)
Often, those giving public/governmental religious invocations here in the US take care not to mention Jesus.  (Or at least, it's generally considered bad form and insensitive to mention him--something only nasty evangelicals would do.)

It's interesting to note that the number of people who believe in neither God nor Jesus is at least comparable, and may be larger than, the number who believe in God but not Jesus.

It would probably be something of a challenge for clerics to figure out how to give their little spiels without mention of God--but I think rising to that challenge would enhance the quality and ethical value of whatever it is they wanted to say.

[ Parent ]
Thanks Chris (4.00 / 3)
I really appreciate this.  My mom and dad think it's just a "phase" or whatever, not understanding that barring some pretty serious evidence, my mind will not change.  Thanks to some prominent atheist bloggers (PZ Myers for example) I try not to be too silent about it.  Us non-believers really do need to, at the least, be louder about how we belong in the public sphere.  I hope this post is the start of a trend here on OpenLeft :)

I find this quite fascinating... (0.00 / 0)
...having all along more or less assumed that the liberal blogosphere consisted primarily of atheists and agnostics.  Along with a few Episcopalians, Reform Jews, and Pagans who claim to believe in God but don't really.  :-)

I mean, wow, a "coming out" post.  Cool!  Go Chris!

I personally don't think of non-believers as a minority group in the traditional sense--I suppose because I've never been subject to any pressure or discomfort around the issue.  I do support the Secular Coalition for America and appreciate the organizations that work to increase visibility.

[ Parent ]
Egads! (4.00 / 2)
I'm still dealing with the shock that Obama would so unexpectedly be close to such a man!

I guess when Obama was called to Christ, the Big Guy told him Warren was A-OK, so how could a stinkin' atheist like me object?

If I did, Joe Biden would probably tell me this again:

I think the problem with a lot of elites in the Democratic party, quite frankly, is they communicate they don't respect people's faith.

Your post is reminiscent of Harvey Milk (4.00 / 2)
On this anniversary of Stonewall, I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. For themselves, for their freedom, for their country ... We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets ... We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives.

During the Prop 6 battle, the "establishment" wanted to put out campaign material about employers' rights, equality, etc etc, never mentioning the word "gay".  Harvey Milk said this was stupid, and he called on members of the LGBT community to come out to their friends and family, on the theory that if people know that regular everyday people they know are gay, they will be much more likely to support their rights.

John McCain <3 lobbyists

I remember when I "came out" to my family a few years back (4.00 / 4)
My brother, who is basically a cool person, told me that "oh well, I guess you're going to hell". Which, admittedly, kind of shocked me (even though I obviously don't believe in hell). And there would be a temptation to just say he's a hateful person. But he's just following the "logic" of his beliefs that he was raised to believe, so me just calling him a bigot and ignoring him wouldn't really change anything. I guess that's why I'm sort of conflicted on the whole Warren thing. I tend to be less "angry" at people who hold those views because of religious beliefs...I tend to feel sorry for them in a way. Which sounds condescending, but...meh. Most people don't "choose" to grow up with conservative religious beliefs, so I look at it from that perspective.

Another random story: I have "atheist" listed on my Myspace page. I have another family member who is my friend on there, and apparently they were surprised and told my mom about this (she already knows I'm a nonbeliever). So my mom brings it up one day and is all surprised, saying things like "Why do you have that on there? Shouldn't you take that off of there? That seems like it would be kind of embarassing?" So I would just calmly explain that I'm not ashamed of it or anything, and plenty of people glaringly display their Christianity, so why is it a huge deal when I say I'm an atheist. And we ended up talking about it.

Did I change her mind on god belief? Probably not. But she at least recognizes her son didn't instantly change into a demon simply because he's an atheist, so I guess every step counts. Or something.

"That seems like it would be kind of embarassing?" (0.00 / 0)
Wow, that just amazes me.  (Like I said above, I've never experienced any of that kind of pressure from any of my family members--or from anyone else really.  I guess I run in godless circles.)

To me, it's seems rather the opposite--sort of embarrassing that people would believe.  The claims made for are so... implausible.  It all seems held together simply by the peer pressure of other people claiming they believe in it.

[ Parent ]
Freudian slip (0.00 / 0)
"...the claims made for God are so..."

[ Parent ]
Religion causes war! Proof? There are no atheists in the foxholes. (0.00 / 0)

Jeff Wegerson

Yeah, yeah, but ... (0.00 / 0)

Jeff Wegerson

[ Parent ]
Oh cool. I didn't see the link at first. (0.00 / 0)

Jeff Wegerson

[ Parent ]
Do foxholes even exist any more? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Don't Give Warren the Satisfaction (0.00 / 0)
Rick Warren is a small man that does a little good on the fringes, and teaches and preaches a lot of bullshit and hate. The only thing remarkable about him is that large numbers of people follow/read him.

As a fellow non-believer, I refuse to care what he thinks. Now, when the day comes that I run for President (ha!), I'll happily make my case about why atheists/agnostics are no threat to the religious and civic culture of America, but I sure as hell won't do it through that man's church.

Obama is wrong on this deal, but we shouldn't make more out of this than it is. Obama is a man that sees a constituency that he can move a little in his direction -- that's all that this is about. Now, he may have to deal with some blowback in some of the various factions of the left, but I'm guessing he's not too concerned.

I look at it this way: in states where we need the votes, we have to fight the movement evangelical right; in states where our coalition is now big enough (including Colorado and Virginia!), we can essentially ignore those wackos and try and expand our coalition through outreach to moderates and those that want a politics more divorced from their churches than the reverse.

We are in the majority coalition in America now, not they. Chris, I think you are right to start advocating for the political rights of atheists/agnostics/non-believers/alternative believers/etc., but the fact is that our community has all their civil rights. I am pretty sure that there is a large number of these types of people currently serving in all offices across the land that give cursory lip service to religion to maintain the illusion, because it is easier. My guess is, were the right type of candidate to run, Americans would easily get used to the idea of a less religious President or whathaveyou.  

Obsession with Rick Warren (0.00 / 0)
just leads to more self-marginalization and a cult of victimization.
If a clergy of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or Methodist stripe had been chosen, whose churches believe the same thing that Rick Warren does, there would have been no furor at all. So all of this nonsense is a bit of PTSD response and the narrative of victimization. Is this the kind of stuff we're going to see on Open Left for the next eight years??

Time to out ourselves? OK. I'm an atheist too (4.00 / 3)
and so are a lot of my friends.  But they have to out themselves.  What Chris says is not untrue.  

After a generation or two your family gets used to it, even the couple of preachers therein around the table on Thanksgiving and Xmas, along with personal friends, believers and not.

But we do a poor job of speaking for ourselves, and shrink from drawing public attention to ourselves.  Since moving to Georgia from Chicago in 2000 I have lost jobs and income because believers didn't want to do business with me, and kept my irreligion under wraps to keep some work.  Nobdody defends atheists in public, in part because we seldom do it ourselves.  That does need to end.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

One of my biggest pet peeves is... (0.00 / 0)
That a lot of atheists are ashamed of atheists.

For example, though I like some of the work that the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy does, there's this undercurrent one gets from them that atheists need to prove themselves through good works. And why?

Why is that we refuse to repudiate the idea that religious people are the best people.

I've seen countless atheists poo-poo Dawkins (or any other outspoken atheist), saying that he's "too militant," always without any evidence, and with zero chagrin over what an incessant smear that cliche is.

It's all so elephant-in-the-room. In how many circles can one say, "well, the problems in the Middle East will never be solved until all the factions give up their fantastical beliefs"? Not very many, so generation after generation is cursed by the oppression of the other guy's god-given birthrights and such.

I recalled today a quote from Rick Warren that totally bummed me out, on the chance that it could be true:

All of the great questions of the 21st century will be religious questions.

Apparently the answer that "it's all a sick, sad joke, a vestige of our primitive roots and propelled by long-running con games" isn't enough to quench it. So very sad.

[ Parent ]
Great post Chris. (0.00 / 0)
The atheist movement has grown incredibly in the last few years, and we need more prominent people to actively proclaim their atheism. People are rarely attacked for their atheism, but that's because it is so easy to hide. Being a closeted atheist doesn't bring the same level of psychological torment as being a closeted homosexual. But, we are still assumed to be completely amoral, untrustworthy and depraved individuals.

Many theists argue that if they didn't believe in hell and or god, they would start killing and stealing. I sincerely doubt they would, since that would make them sociopaths, but it's disgusting how many people just assume that morality must come from religious beliefs.  

Since god is self-defined (0.00 / 0)
one can be both an atheist and "believe in god". Lets face it, a lot of Universalist/Unitarians are probably functionally atheists. So my own journey through the cultures of religion is probably not uncommon. My father was an out atheist and my mother was a closeted one. My fathers father was one described to me as a "free thinker", so there is a history in my family of atheism.

I was baptized in a Catholic church. I went to Methodist sunday school. Then when my father came back to work in Chicago with his brother selling religious goods wholesale to Catholic nuns to resell, it became necessary to attend a Catholic parish school so when the nuns asked where we went to school the answer would not cripple a potential sale. I really got into it, alter boy the works. But then in 8th grade I entered public junior high in preparation for a highly rated public high school. Instantly I went from alter boy to atheist. I stayed an atheist until senior year when my English teacher began putting doubts in my mind about atheism, so I became an agnostic. That lasted until I got into marijuana and LSD. Then the whole discussion became moot. "God", yeah, right, sure, whatever.  

Jeff Wegerson

Same-Sex Marriage (0.00 / 0)
Same-sex marriage is not a left versus right issue, although it's obvious that some would like to make it into one. Rather when the onion is peeled, what is found at the core of the issue is the question of equality.

It may very well be true that the majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. However, a much larger majority of Americans oppose discrimination. As the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in 2004, civil unions are not the constitutional equivalent of civil marriage. The court found that ordering a separate but equal civil union status would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion.

There are those who ask why would a civil union need equal protection if they actually did have the same benefits and rights of a civil marriage?  Let's say that two individuals of the same-sex are joined in a civil union rather than a marriage. One of these individuals applies for a loan, a job, or some place where such applications are necessary and in-depth information is required. If such an individual were to state that he or she is married, then it could be argued that a lie was commited on the application. If one states that they are joined in a civil union, then it gives those in a position of power to discriminate on the basis of one's sexual preference. By classifying all married couples as married regardless of sexual orientation, it lessens such possible discriminatory and prejudicial scenarios from occuring.

There are those who claim that the social institution of marriage and all its sanctity must be protected from same-sex marriage. Yet with many same-sex couples already tying the knot, how has any heterosexual marriage been damaged? If a heterosexual marriage can actually be damaged by a same-sex marriage, and it's sanctity hurt by a same-sex couple using the M-word, then I would suggest that the damaged heterosexual marriage is not worth the paper that it is printed on.

As I stated above, this issue is really about equality. Same-sex couples aren't asking for anything extra, nor do they desire special treatment; they just want fairness with the same considerations that heterosexual couples now enjoy.  As a heterosexual male, same-sex marriage in of itself serves me no purpose. But in the broader scope of things, I believe that none of us are truely free unless all of us are considered equal under the law. In the end, the question is not why a same-sex union needs to be called a marriage, but rather why not?

Unsure (0.00 / 0)
Count me in the 1%.

Its all about doubt. I can't choose any one single religion because doing so will require that I dis-believe all the other religions. I can't claim to be an atheist because, I'm not certain that one small human being living for such a tiny fraction of time can truly be certain that no "higher being" exists anywhere in the Universe.

I really don't know.

Even so, I feel empathy for my fellow human beings. But that's not why I support an inclusive and supportive society. At the root it's selfishness. I want to live a comfortable, stressfree life. My calculation is that the more I help others in my society, my world, to live a comfortable stressfree life, the less likely they are to look for ways to fuck me up.  I do not believe in altruism.

Everything I do, I do for myself.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

Atheists don't say they know... (0.00 / 0)
there isn't any higher power. They say there isn't any evidence for the specific higher powers claimed by theists. Atheism is just a lack of belief in gods. We are open to evidence to the contrary, but at this point there just isn't any evidence to justify a belief in any god.

[ Parent ]
Depends on the atheist (4.00 / 1)
There are some atheists just as evangelical {(caugh)Dawkins(caugh)}as the Evangelicals.

[ Parent ]
Not true at all. (4.00 / 1)
Dawkins has said almost verbatim what I wrote in that post. He has never claimed to know for certain that no gods exist and has always said that he would be open to additional evidence. He thinks it very unlikely that the evidence will come, but he has never ruled it out.

[ Parent ]
Let's clean up the term "evangelical" (4.00 / 1)
Dawkins is "evangelical" in the sense that he promotes what he thinks is right because other people should also think it is right.  In that absurd sense of interpreting "evangelical" then we can also say that every activist of any stripe is "evangelical"---gay rights activists are "evangelical" and evolutionary scientists are "evangelical."  Even Pepsi is "evangelical" because they promote a particular idea.  There is nothing wrong with promoting a belief you hold when you think the belief is superior to other, competing beliefs.  

What makes some religionists truly "evangelical" in a more useful sense of the term is that they advocate the vacuous, horrible concept of "faith" or belief in a proposition when you do not have any good reason or evidence to have a belief in the proposition.  Our beliefs should be tethered to and scaled with the evidence.  If there is insufficient evidence to warrant belief, then we should not hold the belief.  We should not hold it because of a warm, fluffy-sounding term called "faith."  It sounds like a nice fuzzy word, but it invites all sorts of disaster.


[ Parent ]
atheists are "certain" about there not being a god (4.00 / 1)
just like how every single person is "certain" about thousands of other fictional beings don't exist.

But for some reason, whenever it comes to "god", then we apparently have to 100% explore the entirety of the universe just to have a position on the issue, when the same is not required if we were referring to Zeus. Or Sauron.

Of course, all sorts of people define god in all sorts of vague ways that can change how an individual responds to it. As far as some vague general force that may have started the universe, but has no effect on our lives? Then sure, I guess I'm "agnostic". I'd ask why do we need to call this "god", but whatever. But clearly, the vast majority of god belief refers to a super powerful invisible being that is concerned with the lives of human beings, has feelings and emotions, has specific rules for us to follow, and cares about who we have sex with. I'm pretty comfortable calling BS on that, and that's all Dawkins does.

If this type of weren't common, then we probably wouldn't be having so much trouble with gay marriage, abortion, global warming, etc. :P

[ Parent ]
this strikes me (0.00 / 0)
Like the old "Michael Moore = Ann Coulter" style equivalences.

Dawkins in outspoken and not obsequious or deferential toward religion, but religious people would be far happier under his vision of society than he would be under theirs.

[ Parent ]
Not all atheists agree with you, in my experience (0.00 / 0)
You seem closer to agnostic, in my opinion


But it is a fine line perhaps.

I doubt that I (or any human being, actually) could even recognize the "evidence" you require. Many theists would disagree, anyway. They see "evidence" of god everywhere they look. I admit that I have no real standing to judge which interpretation is correct.  Doubt is very powerful.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
I spend a great deal of time in the atheist-blogsphere.... (0.00 / 0)
I don't recall ever hearing or reading a prominent atheist saying they know there are no gods. Also, most of these atheists assume agnostics into their ranks, as unbelievers.  

[ Parent ]
My experience isn't on blogs (0.00 / 0)
its face to face with folks that self identify as atheists and they haven't been as accepting of my doubt as you. Of course they are not "prominent", so maybe that's part of the issue.

I really don't care what anyone calls me.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
"Hate" is a bit strong (0.00 / 0)
We're unpopular, yes.  Dismissed, pretty often.  Mistrusted, absolutely.  Looked down upon, sure.  But hated?  I'm unconvinced.

I get pretty much the same reaction to my vegetarianism as I do from my atheism -- a look that makes it clear that I'm being classified as a "wierdo", one of those activist liberals they see on the news at marches.

The thing is, though, I can live my life just fine.  Other than popularity contests, I can do exactly what theists do, and there are laws in the books making sure that's the case.  If I were to fight, what exactly would I fight for?  It would have to be something fuzzy like "acceptance", and that's not the kind of thing you can change by getting in people's faces.

IMO, the best thing to do is act like a normal person.  Be kind, and reasonble, and a good person, and don't hide the fact that you're an atheist.  Much like working for gay acceptance, the more we can just be visible but normal parts of society, the better off we'll be.

It's frustrating though in the same way vegetarianism is frustrating.  Just about every single person that looks at me askew because of my not eating meat is a hypocrite -- very few of them would be willing to look a cow/turkey/etc in the eye and slaughter it for their sandwich.  But out of sight out of mind, and I end up being the strange one.  Sigh.

Look at all the angst about Rev. Warren at the inauguration (0.00 / 0)
Now, what do you think would be the response to someone that did not include any prayers from any religion in that same event?

I daresay, the outrage would be far greater than not serving meat at the reception.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Don't feel alone---he thinks Jews like me and Stoller are going to hell (0.00 / 0)
As Jew, I am also personally offended that he would compare abortions to the holocaust. Why is that OK?

Beyond Iraq: A Time to Break Silence

Information (0.00 / 0)
I think that's part of the problem. I'm not silent about my a-religiosity at work (I live in my state's Bible Belt) with my co-workers, and periodically, we get a n00b who has no idea what an atheist IS.
My new boss asked me if anyone would be offended if we had a Christmas party, I told her, no, we're all Christian or atheist. She looked stunned and horrified, "Who's the atheist?" "I am." "Oh...I don't even know what one of those is!"
I obviously explained it to her.
I think that if we're more open about it, but subtle, we'll have better luck.  

[ Parent ]
comma ambiguity in title of post (0.00 / 0)
So, either you're saying you and Rick Warren hate atheists, or that you are an atheist and Rick Warren hates people like you.

Take out the comma and then Rick Warren only hates atheists like Chris Bowers. All other atheists are okay in his book.

Put "like me" in parentheses and I think you've got a winner.


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