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May 24th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

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Raleigh, North Carolina (CNN) – Back home, they erase their Internet histories, look over their shoulders before cracking jokes and nod politely when co-workers talk about church.

But in a hotel ballroom here on a recent weekend, more than 220 atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers let it all hang out.

The convention was called “Freedom From Religion in the Bible Belt,” and it was part celebration of skepticism and part strategy session about surviving in the country’s most religious region.

They sang songs about the futility of faith, shared stories about “coming out” as nonbelievers and bought books about the Bible – critical ones, of course.

“Isn’t it great to be in a room where you can say whatever you want to whomever you want without fear of anyone criticizing you for being unorthodox?” asked Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as he opened the two-day convention.

The Wisconsin-based foundation co-sponsored the event with the Triangle Freethought Society, which draws its members from this state’s tech-heavy Research Triangle.

The nonbelievers came from as far afield as Ireland and France, but most described themselves as refugees from the heart of the South - atheist anomalies amid fiercely devout friends, family and neighbors.

We wanted to know what it’s like to be a nonbeliever in the Bible Belt, so over the course of the weekend we asked some of the folks here to share their secrets.

They had a lot to say, and some of their advice overlapped, but we came away with eight top tips. Some said they wished they’d had something like this list when they began their foray into religious infidelity.

So, without further ado, here’s a “survival guide” to being an atheist in the Bible Belt:

You may be lonely, but you aren’t alone

Not so long ago, every other letter sent to the Freedom From Religion Foundation would begin something like, “I’m the only atheist in Nebraska … “

It’s still lonely being an atheist in rural America, says Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation’s co-president, but there are plenty of skeptics and nonbelievers in God’s Country – if you know how to find them.

Even the most religious states like Mississippi and Alabama have secular meetup groups, although many keep quiet and require long drives to attend.

Gaylor’s favorite story about the secretive lives of Bible Belt atheists involves two neighbors in Georgia whose jaws dropped when they saw each other at an atheist gathering. Each had assumed that the other was a good, God-fearing Baptist.

“They were afraid to speak out," she says, "because they didn’t want to be stigmatized.”

Gaylor recommends looking online for atheist support groups in your area; and be sure to search for related terms as well: agnostic, freethought, skeptic and nonbeliever.

It’s no fun debating fundamentalists

Bart Ehrman doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who backs down from a fight.

The University of North Carolina scholar often seeks them out, regularly debating the Bible and early Christianity with evangelicals and other experts.

But Ehrman told the atheists gathered in Raleigh not to bother arguing with fundamentalists.

“You can’t convince a fundamentalist that he or she is wrong,” he says.

Their theology is a closed system, according to Ehrman, and their social bonds with fellow fundamentalists are too tightly knit to admit any wiggle room.

“You can point to any contradiction in the Bible and it just doesn’t matter. They will either find some way to reconcile it or say that even if they don’t understand it, God does.”

Technically, the term fundamentalist refers to a movement of 20th-century Protestants who rejected modernity and clung to a literal interpretation of the Bible.

But Ehrman has a different definition: “Someone who is no fun, too much damn, and not enough mental.”

People will think you worship Satan

Many Americans don’t actually know any professed atheists, according to surveys - which means they often seem to assume the worst about them.

Fewer than half of Americans say they’d vote for an atheist politician; a similar number say they wouldn’t want their children to marry a nonbeliever.

A recent study also showed that businesses in the South are more likely to discriminate against atheist job candidates.

“I don’t know what they think we are, Satanists or baby eaters or who knows what,” activist Todd Stiefel told the atheists gathered in Raleigh, “but it’s kind of scary."

A recent survey conducted for Stiefel's new “Openly Secular” campaign found that 20% of Americans can’t even define atheism. Far more don’t know what “humanist,” “freethinker” or “agnostic” means.

Behold, the six types of atheists

Based on “It Gets Better” and other gay rights campaigns, “Openly Secular” hopes to counter that ignorance by asking atheists to share stories online about their lives and beliefs.

“What we’re really trying to do is humanize us,” Stiefel says. “Frankly, most of the hate and distrust comes from misunderstanding about who we are.”

You don’t have to convince your friends, family and neighbors to accept all of your views, the atheist activist says. You just have to get them to accept you.

Sometimes it’s better to stay in the closet

After secular conferences like the one here Raleigh, many nonbelievers get so jazzed that they rush home and blurt out … "Guess, what? I’m an ATHEIST!!!"

That can be a really bad idea, says Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering From Religion.

It may help the atheist movement as a whole to share your lack of faith with friends and family. But it’s not always the best - or the safest - move for you, she says.

Recovering From Religion’s online support groups are filled with stories about people who lost their jobs, their kids or their spouses after coming out as atheist, Morehead says.

“It’s heartbreaking. People don’t realize how big a difference expressing their nonbelief can make.”

Recovering From Religion recommends having a plan in place before coming out as atheist.

“If you decide you’re a nonbeliever,” Morehead says, “you’re still going to be a nonbeliever in a year."

The group’s own 10.5-step plan includes creating a support network, declining to get into debates and preparing yourself for a “religious breakup” with friends and family. (The half-step assures budding nonbelievers they don’t have to be experts on atheism and points them toward educational resources.)

Don’t be the ‘office atheist’

Candace Gorham says her close family is accepting of her atheism - but she’s not completely “out” at work yet, and doesn’t know if she wants to be.

Gorham, who was raised in the black church, says religion is deeply embedded in the lives of many Southern African-Americans, and the borders between private and public spirituality often blur.

“I work for a black-owned company, and most of my supervisors are black females, and it’s just sort of OK for everybody to talk about God, or offer to pray for you,” says Gorham.

The 33-year-old is author of a new book called “The Ebony Exodus Project,” about black women leaving the church, which has pushed Gorham herself to become more public about being an atheist.

Recently, a co-worker told Gorham she had seen her talking about being an atheist on Roland Martin’s television show.

“I was like, Oh my God, shhh don’t tell anybody!”

A mental-health counselor who works with children, Gorham worries that people will stop referring clients to her once they find out she’s a nonbeliever.

According to a survey Stiefel presented in Raleigh, more than 50% of Americans believe atheist teachers and day-care employees - people who, like Gorham, work with children - are likely to face discrimination at work.

She knows it's only a matter of time until more of her office mates find out.

“It’s getting to a place where I don’t have a choice. I’m just going to have to be comfortable with it - but it does concern me.”

The Internet is your frenemy

A co-worker isn’t the only person who saw Gorham talking about atheism on television.

Her aunt read about the Roland Martin interview online, which led Gorham’s mother to call and ask if she is really an atheist.

The conversation went well, Gorham says, and her mother understands and respects her beliefs.

But the unexpected disclosure shows why many atheists cover their Internet tracks, even as they increasingly look for like-minded communities online.

Gorham says she used to delete her browsing history on her laptop after watching atheist debates and lectures online lest her husband or other family members find out her faith was wavering.

“I was still early in my deconversion and I wasn’t sure how he would perceive it,” says the Greensboro, North Carolina, native.

Others here for the conference said they keep two separate Facebook pages, one for friends and family and one for their secular communities.

“Facebook is my happy place,” says one middle-aged woman who made a nearly seven-hour drive to Raleigh from Crossville, Tennessee.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, teaches at public schools. She says most of her neighbors and co-workers are Christians.

“Crossville is a small Bible Belt community with churches on every corner,” she said, “and everything shuts down on Sunday except for Wal-Mart and the hospital.”

Most co-workers assume she’s Christian, but she joins as many atheist groups online as she can and keeps an anonymous Facebook page called “Within Reason.”

One recent post asks people to click “like” if they’ve ever been unfriended because of an atheism-themed status update.

Some people take Bible-thumping literally

Adults may face more real-life repercussions for coming out as atheist in the Bible Belt, but that doesn’t mean kids have an easy ride.

Kalei Wilson, 15, says she lost friends after trying to start a secular student club at Pisgah High School in Canton, North Carolina; and someone used a Bible to destroy her science project, leaving the holy book on her smashed model of the universe.

The blue-haired, nose-pierced freshman says she’s not the only atheist at her high school, but most of them are closeted.

“I didn’t want to come out at first,” Wilson says, “but in order to start the club I had to.”

In exchange for her openness, Wilson says, some students mutter "Jesus loves you” as she walks down the hall, and she regularly receives text messages with the greeting, “Hey, Satan.”

“I’ve lost friends because of it,” the teenager says of her atheism, “but they’re not real friends if that’s what they do.”

Have a sense of humor

For all the heartbreaking stories, if was there was a soundtrack to the conference in Raleigh, it would include a lot of laughter.

It seemed as if the atheists and freethinkers here had been storing their sharpest religion jokes for weeks, preparing for the day when they would find an appreciative audience at last.

“I’ve been living in the South for 13 years,” says Pat Meller, who came to Raleigh from nearby Greensboro, “and I’ve had to watch my tongue for just as long.”

So for two days, Meller and her kindred spirits cut loose.

They quipped about the folly of prayer, bought bumper-stickers calling the Bible a “Grim Fairy Tale,” and wore T-shirts proclaiming their belief in life before death.

Harry Shaughnessy, president of the Triangle Freethought Society, played the cut-up emcee for much of the weekend.

“For every activist-oriented event we have, we want to have three to five things that are just fun,” says Shaughnessy, whose group holds regular “Heathen Happy Hours” and meets for barbecues in each other’s homes.

At one point, the youthful 44-year-old donned a crown and a form-fitting, skin-colored costume to bestow Freedom From Religion’s “Emperor Has No Clothes” award on Steifel for his activism.

Perhaps appropriately for an atheist event, Shaughnessy’s get-up left little to the imagination.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Black issues • Church and state • Culture wars • Discrimination • Internet • Lost faith • Nones • North Carolina • Prejudice • Religious liberty

soundoff (4,807 Responses)
  1. basehitter

    There are an infinite number of ways to be wrong but only one way the be right.

    Science gets it right.

    May 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Surrounded, as we are, by so many ridiculously complex and contradictory systems of delusion, why is isn't it acceptable to choose none and be entertained by all?

    May 26, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
  3. thefinisher1

    Atheism is basically a childish excuse for adults. Atheism needs to mature.

    May 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
    • thingsyouhaventthought

      It is actually religion that is the childish excuse. Religious people use their beliefs to assert their superiority and systems of morality on others then refuse to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions because "god told me to." They also use religion as a replacement for intellectual rigor and independent though. "Why think for myself when a god has done the thinking for me already?" Arrogance and ignorance are the trademarks of religious dogmatists. Who needs to mature, again?

      May 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You atheists hate it when people start questioning your atheism. In fact, atheists don't like it when people challenge their stupid atheism.

        May 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Boring troll is boring.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          I'm sorry, was there a question in your original comment? I didn't catch it. Do you actually have a meaningful response to my reply or are you just trolling because you have nothing better to say or do?

          May 26, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • basehitter

          What is there about atheism to be challenged ?

          May 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          If you want people to stop believing, where's the evidence you're right? When people demand you give evidence, you reverse it back to them saying "I don't need to give evidence!!!". You think you're right but hate it when others state it as well. Your atheism holds no higher position. It's just childish bull.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          I couldn't care less what people believe. It isn't my desire to dictate who should believe what. Unlike religionists, I don't require people believe what I do before I show them basic respect and human consideration. When people demand evidenced from atheists, all they have to do is point to the nearest science book. I don't think I'm right, I am proven right by centuries of repeatable, logical, empirical science. The higher position of atheism is that non-believers rely on provable fact that can be readily accessed for the purposes of understanding. Religionists shun fact in the name of belief in a convenient fiction. You believe in ancient fairy tells then have the audacity to call others childish.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • meatheist

          You religionists hate it when people start questioning their religions. In fact, religionists don't like it when people challenge their stupid religions.

          Yes, I am mocking you.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          I don't shun facts and science doesn't support your stupid atheism. That's your delusion because it makes you feel better about yourself.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          Science absolutely and undeniably shows that there is absolutely no need for a supernatural deity. Chemistry, biology, and physics clearly show that life and the universe exist without the requirement of an initial intelligence to set it all in motion. Mindless nature is the only force shaping us and the universe. Science throws the idea of god away because there is no need for one. The only need is from you, and people like you, who want to believe.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          That's YOUR interpretation of what scientists find. That's YOUR belief but you don't have guts to actually admit it. You're a spoiled little infant. That's how you act.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          LOL! If science has shown, in a lab, that life can arise from inorganic matter, that isn't an interpretation, that's fact. If science follows, step by step, the reversal of the easily observed expansion of the universe and discovers how it came to be, without the need for a god, that isn't interpretation, it's fact. If science can trace the lineage of all life, via DNA, back to our original ancestor billions of years ago, that isn't interpretation, that's fact. You choose to be deluded because you don't want to believe that there is no god. You won't accept fact because it goes against your brainwashed dogmatism. And the only person name calling and insulting here is you. The only person with no real argument is you. The only child here is you.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          You think there is no God NOT the scientists. Two very different things, kiddo.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          Here's something else right up your alley, kiddo:

          "When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, for instance, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people in an October 2006 Time magazine poll said they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept a contrary scientific finding." How's that for not shunning facts?

          May 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          They used to teach that matter was indestructible. That was a scientifically sound statement. In 20 years what we consider scientifically sound statements and theories may change as our technological advances increase. Science has baffled the human mind like that many times.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
      • thingsyouhaventthought

        Science has proven to me that there is no need for a god and, hence, no god. And, according to the most recent data I could find, only 33 percent of all scientists believe in a god. That includes all kinds of scientists, including doctors and social scientists who don't study fundamental questions of existence. A further 18 percent believe in a "universal spirit," whatever that means, and 41 percent do not believe in any higher power. When looking at the scientists who perform groundbreaking research in physics and biology, the number of non-believers/atheists jumps to 92+ percent. So, both me and most scientists (especially the ones probing the fundamental problems) know that there is no god.

        May 26, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      jesus is basically santa claus for adults

      May 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
      • basehitter

        Except Santa doesn't torture people forever for not believing in him.

        May 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • basehitter

      You believe an invisible magic man had an evil talking snake tempt a woman, made from a rib, to disobey him, whereby he punishes all future humanity, then later changes his mind and decides to lift his curse by impregnating a human woman with his son, who is also himself, then arranges to have himself tortured, killed, and raised from the dead, where sits at the side of his father, who is also himself, and if you believe all that, you get to live forever in heaven after you die, But if you don't, he will torture you forever.

      And you call people who don't believe that nonsense childish ?

      May 26, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You don't know what I believe so your assumptions is based on a lie.

        May 26, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • basehitter

          Then tell us what you believe.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
        • sam stone

          it's only a lie if they know what you believe and misrepresent it

          this is not the case here

          so, fini, fvck off

          May 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Nah. That gives you atheists some weird messed up satisfaction.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
      • basehitter

        @finisher who doesn't finish: That's nice, you tell us our beliefs are childish but don't have the balls to tell us what you believe.

        May 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
        • otoh2

          fini just sounds like a crotchety codger... you know, like the old grouch neighbor who won't give the kids their ball or frisbee back if it lands in his yard.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
    • meatheist

      Theism is a basically a childish excuse for adults. You need to mature.

      May 26, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
    • basehitter

      Not our job to prove your fantasies. That's your job.

      May 26, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
    • basehitter

      When you resort to name calling, it reveals your weak and loosing position.

      May 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
  4. jamesroyalty05

    the reason I believe in the Bible is this. It predicted that Babylon would rise and fall, it did. It predicted Medo-Persia would rise and fall, it did. It predicted Cyrus, 150 years before he was born would rule Persia and conquer Babylon, it happened. It predicted it would dry up the Euphrates River, it did. It predicted that the gates would not be shut, they weren't. The Bible predicted that Greece would overthrow Medo-Persia, it happened. It predicted that Rome would overthrow the Greeks, that happened. It predicted that the Roman Empire would be divided and never united again even by the seed of man which was the intermarriage of the royal queens and kings, it happened. It predicted that Europe would never be united though men would try to do that, and world rulers would try and accomplish that, that exactly happened. The Bible predicts that one day Jesus will come again. Let your heart be filled with hope. Let your life be filled with confidence that God is still in control of His world.

    May 26, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • In Santa We Trust

      Where specifically are those predictions in the bible?

      May 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • gumbythecat

        No doubt in verses totally unrelated to the "prophecies". Christians can make any verse mean anything they want it to. Delusion is a powerful thing,

        May 27, 2014 at 6:30 am |
        • kermit4jc

          sre..many Christians do that...but without context...like I see a lot of atheists in these blogs do with the Scriptures as well.....make up foolish arguments, trying to discredit the Bible without context and making up supposed contradcitions

          May 27, 2014 at 9:41 am |
    • ldavid69

      I predict that you are delusional.

      May 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The book of Isiah is written by several authors and spans at least two distinct periods of Jewish history. Chapters 40 onwards, wherein we find the "prophecies" regarding Cyrus, were written at a time that parallels Cyrus' reign.

      May 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Open your mind...most biblical prophecies have been fulfilled by man due to the fact that they are written and if they were not fulfilled yet, man would still work to ensure they do get fulfilled.
      This site will educate you on this: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Failed_biblical_prophecies

      May 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
    • rogerthat2014

      It's easy to right a book predicting things that happened in the past. You'll be right 100% of the time. Amazing isn't it?

      May 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
  5. thesamyaza

    same guide i give to Born again pagans well except we have a whole book

    May 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
  6. frankiesweep

    Should do a Mu slim survival guide. Call it. "Keeping your Head."

    May 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Perhaps the most essential survival skill is knowing that when the natives rub blue mud in their belly buttons, you'd best do it too with as much solemnity as you can muster.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
  7. jrs1972

    up here in new england atheists are normal, I don't even know anyone who goes to church and the few that you do see walking into one are all **well passed** retirement age, it's dying cult up here, thank !

    May 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Faith in God may or may not be on the decline, but religion certainly is.
      People all across the belief spectrum are finding the fire and brimstone style of religion distasteful at best.
      Condemning this and that from a fiery pulpit is a poor sales pitch.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
    • thingsyouhaventthought

      I love how you use your single location to represent all of New England. There are millions of church-going Christians in New England. And most of them are not ancient.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        According to Gallup, the New England states have the highest percentages of irreligious citizens in the US.

        May 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          I don't understand your point. The OP made out like the only Christians in New England were the very elderly and were very low in number. Christians in New England, as a whole, make up about 1/3 of the population, or about 5 million people.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • scififan32

          So? Even if they're lowest by region – you don't seem to be countering the same point.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The first part of OPs statement was that being irreligious in New England is normal.
          This is confirmed by the comparatively high number of religiously unaffiliated citizens in the region.

          At present, I can find no reliable data regarding the median age of Church goers.
          But I think the larger point is that in a setting where there is a higher prevalence of non-believers, people tend to give fewer sh1ts about their neighbours' religious beliefs.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          Actually, the point is quite clearly that the Christians in New England are elderly and that Christianity is dying out there. All from the experiences of one person in one area, translating his experience onto the entirety of the region. The fact that there are 5 million reported Christians in the area shows the falsity of the claim.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
  8. ardvrk

    Never try and teach a pig to sing or a Christian the error of their delusions.

    It wastes your time, annoys the pig, and who cares what happens to some dumb, ignorant deluded nutwhack?

    May 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  9. ardvrk

    If Christians were truly the "loving and accepting and compassionate" people that Jesus commanded them to be, then atheists wouldn't have to hide in fear.

    You Christians want to know why we hate and despise you? Besides your insanity, we hate that you persecute us. And then you snivel and cry like little babies when you are forced to reap what you've sown.

    Happy Holidays, hypocrites!

    May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
  10. kev2672

    Oh the persecuted atheist...give me a break. If they are so persecuted then why do they run around suing anyone who "offends" them. Give me a break. Most atheist i read on the internet and facebook are generally the most mean spirited people you will ever encounter. They have little to nothing to offer in the way of discussion except cursing and calling names.

    May 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
    • kev2672

      And if you don't believe it then scroll through the comments here and tell me who is mean spirited and persecuted.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
      • nepawoods

        God is good, and he's sending all non-Christians to suffer for eternity in a lake of fire.

        Now what were you saying about "mean spirited" atheists?

        May 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • scififan32

        But there are atheists who like to pretend that there is no such thing as religious persecution, or that people who hold religious beliefs aren't censored either.

        Atheists can be just as evangelistic and anti-freedom of speech as any religious fundamentalist. I've seen both groups practice the same types of intolerance – one isn't being persecuted any more than the other is.

        Atheism is a belief system just as any other type of "system" – it can be taken to its extremes as well. No one was ever guaranteed to be free from ever hearing someone else speak about religious thought – they're protected from being forced to ascribe to religion. Yet certain segments don't interpret it that way and mistakenly believe that any passive exposure to religious thought is an affront to their rights – that isn't true.

        May 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Again, atheism is not a "belief system". Yes, there are atheists who are vocal and annoying, but atheism by it's very definition is nothing more than a lack of belief in god. It astonishes me that believers just can't seem to grasp that extremely simple point.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • scififan32

          Sorry, but YES, atheism IS a belief system – people who insist that it isn't aren't being honest. The article itself even lists 6 different "types."
          I'm an agnostic – don't mistake my laying down some reality about atheism as me being "anti" anything.

          By very definition – it means you don't ascribe to the idea of a higher power of any kind – it is NOT defined as a "lack of organized thought" on the subject.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • dandintac

          You can stomp your feet, wring your hands, and insist over and over again–"Atheism IS a belief system! It is it is it is"–and that will not make it so.

          Do you consider a lack of belief in fairies a belief system? A lack of belief in elves? Why would you carve out an exception for a lack of belief in gods?

          And how do you make a "system" out of a single answer to a single question? Do you call every single thing you do not believe–a "belief system"? How in the world do you do this and still believe yourself to be rational (assuming you do)?? I simply cannot fathom this line of thinking. I think it has nothing to do with reality, logic, or evidence. It is simply a stubborn meme. It's what you want to believe, so that you can put atheism on the same level as theism, and hold yourself as superior to both.

          May 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          As you no doubt are aware, Atheism is simply no belief in gods. That is it. There is no 'extreme' or 'fundamental' positions.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • scififan32

          False- there are people who do carry extreme political positions in atheism. Do some googling. This isn't an invention.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          At least seven states–Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas–have in place const.itutional provisions that bar atheists from holding public office. One state (Arkansas) even has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial.
          Is there a parallel for insti/tutional discrimination against the religious in the US?

          Thank to the examples set by Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the American Family Association (AFA), more than 100 firms specializing in cases dealing with religion are filing lawsuits asserting that schools are infringing on their religious rights.
          Between 1990 and 2000, there were more than 6,000 attempts to remove literature from Public School libraries.
          These attempts a censorship came primarily from Christian fundamentalists.
          The ACLU says "the greatest threat today comes from the fundamentalist right, with its ideological hostility to other religious or philosophical systems, to hom.ose.xuality, to se.x education, and indeed to the basic idea of secular education."

          May 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • scififan32

          You're an example of what I'm discussing – thanks for chiming in! The political arm of atheism. Confirmed.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • dandintac

          "But there are atheists who like to pretend that there is no such thing as religious persecution, or that people who hold religious beliefs aren’t censored either."

          I have yet to encounter such a being, anywhere, ever. At least one that denies historical persecution of Christians, or Christians in other countries. Having said that, I haven't seen a trace of real Christian persecution in this country in my lifetime. Nor censorship of Christian speech by governmental authority. Please provide examples if you feel otherwise–ones I can verify. Usually when Christians claim this, what they are really referring to is when they are denied the "right" to shove their beliefs down the throats of the unwilling, such as forcing kids to pray at school. Sorry, but me slamming the door in your face when you come knocking and waving a Bible in my face is not "censorship" or "persecution".

          "I’ve seen both groups practice the same types of intolerance – one isn’t being persecuted any more than the other is."

          Really? Christians are in the vast majority in this country. Please docu-ment this. Please docu-ment this persecution so we can all examine it and compare it to actual persecution. For example, are there any states where a Christian can't hold office? Are there any Christians kicked off the basketball team for praying before a game when the rest of the team was not doing so? Please docu-ment this alleged persecution.

          "Atheism is a belief system just as any other type of “system” – it can be taken to its extremes as well."

          How is it a system? It's a single answer to a single question: "do you believe God exists". If yes, you are a theist, otherwise you are an atheist. How can that be a "system"???? How can it be taken to extremes???? It's like "do you believe in fairies"? Is that too, a "system"? Can that be taken to extremes? Do you call "extreme" as simply speaking out? If so, is Christianity an "extreme" too? Or is there a double standard at work here?

          May 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • scififan32

          "Having said that, I haven’t seen a trace of real Christian persecution in this country in my lifetime"

          Wow. I'm an agnostic – but this is the most naive statement I've yet read on this thread. How old are you? Honestly – if you have never witnessed it, you haven't been around with your eyes opened.

          System – read posts by Doc Vestibule – the political faction within atheism is very highly organized and just as vehement and outspoken as the fundamentalist religious groups.

          You're an example of the type I'm discussing – people in denial that this happens to everyone – that atheists aren't alone in how they "feel" about being confronted or excluded. IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. Even believers!

          May 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          "False- there are people who do carry extreme political positions in atheism. Do some googling. This isn't an invention."

          Not with atheism as the prime mover......

          maybe more of a twisting of the facts as opposed to an invention eh?

          May 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          "A" = Lack of
          "Theism" = belief in gods
          A + Theism = Lack of belief in gods.

          It is a negative statement that describes only what one doesn't believe.
          It is akin to calling females "aphallic". While the term is technically correct, it in no way describes what a woman is.

          Political ideology, educational attainment, general intelligence, level of @ssholishness – none of these things are defined by a lack of belief in gods.

          Just as most Christians aren't bigoted pr1cks, most non-believers aren't frothing at the mouth goons with a persecution complex. Unfortunately, the biggest blowhards on either side tend to be the ones who set the parameters for discussion by virtue of being the loudest.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          And for the record, I'm a Canadian living in what is arguably the most multi-cultural city on the planet.
          Some of our elected officials may be religious, but we expect them to act as Humanists, not religionists.

          I've also spent some time living with Americans from all across your country (at a US military base in Europe) and learned first hand that a public admission of non-belief, even in passing, can have serious social consequences.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Vic

          The system is an equal opportunity server at the disposal of everyone, regardless of who the majority is. Now, the difference lies in who is exploiting the system more whereby they further their cause in opposition to another, e.g. Roe vs. Wade, 'Evolution of Species' in Public Education, Proposition 8, DOMA, etc.

          As far as what is an atheist, here is what I believe:
          http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/atheists-in-the-bible-belt-a-survival-guide/comment-page-5/#comment-3017267

          To me, it seems like Atheism is only in theory, by definition, while non-existent in reality, just like 2-D objects.

          And no, there is no double standard at play when it comes to Christianity since it is a bona fide Faith and not a logical negative state of another.

          http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/atheists-in-the-bible-belt-a-survival-guide/?hpt=hp_t3&replytocom=3018410#respond

          May 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
        • Vic

          Please discard the at the bottom, a typo.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
        • Vic

          Please discard the hyperlink at the bottom, a typo.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • tallulah131

          No, scififan. Atheism is not a religion. It doesn't matter how many types of atheists a particular author or study decides to name. Their list has no bearing on reality. Your opinion has no bearing on reality. You are just trying to complicate something which is incredibly simple: There is only one type of atheist. An atheist is a person who does not believe in god(s). That's it. That's all there is to it.

          Atheists participate in organizations and or behaviors if they chose, but they do so as individuals. There is no "atheist dogma" or any commonality specific to atheists beyond not believing in god(s). It's very simple. It's very easy to understand. I'm sorry that you are too obtuse to comprehend, but that is your personal failing.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
        • Vic

          BTW, I forgot to mention, Naturalism, aka Materialism, is a doctrine, hence a belief system. That's the reality of the theoretical Atheism.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Vic: Atheists don't believe in god. That's it. That's the single commonality between all atheists. That is the reality of atheism, no matter what you invent or claim.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Vic

          Have you seen this article:

          "The belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a 19th-century ideology."

          http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/28/science-move-away-materialism-sheldrake

          May 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          That article sounds an awful lot like psuedo-science to me.

          @Vic,
          If atheism doesn't exist then how can it also be materialism?

          May 26, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • Vic

          No, I haven't. I'll check it out sometimes.

          Science itself started out as philosophy, that's why Physics is called "Natural Philosophy." Also, Empirical Science presupposes Metaphysics, but not a lot of people have that in mind.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
        • Vic

          What I am saying is that real Atheism seems to be only in theory while in practice what people call Atheism is actually Naturalism, aka Materialism, which is a doctrine, hence a belief system.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
        • tallulah131

          This is the headline and the subhead from the article:

          "It's time for science to move on from materialism
          The rigid 19th-century orthodoxy should be challenged to allow broader interpretations, as Rupert Sheldrake argues"

          According to Wikipedia: Sheldrake argues science should incorporate alternative medicine, psychic phenomena, and a greater focus on holistic thinking. [Sheldrake, Rupert (2012). Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery. New York, NY: Deepak Chopra Books.]

          So basically, it is a bunch of pseudoscience.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Hey Vic? I am an atheist because I don't believe in god(s). That is the ONLY thing about me that the word "atheist" defines. Everything else about me needs other words to describe, because atheism only covers One. Single. Concept.

          Will you please make an effort to understand that?

          May 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • Vic

          I said this many times before, IMHO, one of the colossal mistakes the Scientific Community has ever made is disregarding Metaphysics. Quantum Physicists are humbled by "consciousness," many of which believe Empirical Science cannot venture into it and describe the feat as formidable.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Science deals in fact. That's why metaphysics and other pseudosciences aren't invited to the party.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • Vic

          To recap:

          As far as what an atheist is, here is what I believe:

          http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/atheists-in-the-bible-belt-a-survival-guide/comment-page-5/#comment-3017267

          Practically, it seems like what people refer to as Atheism is actually non-Theism and/or anti-Theism, hence Naturalism, aka Materialism, etc.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
        • Vic

          To the benefit of all:

          Here is some of the greatest mysteries scientists are dealing with:

          Theoretical Physicists believe that this physical reality is not really physical at the quantum level, and that consciousness is required for the physical to manifest.

          The infamous Double-Slit Experiment shows that an electron behaves like a wave when not observed and manifests and behaves as a particle when observed by a conscious observer. Fascinating.

          Which leads me to cite this:

          [
          “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a Spirit vastly superior to that of man.”

          "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."

          "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that , compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

          Albert Einstein
          ]

          May 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
        • tallulah131

          You have made it abundantly clear that you can't comprehend what an atheist is Vic. No need to belabor the point.

          May 26, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Here is a nice discussion of the "Double Slit" experiment so clear up the misconceptions that Vic stated.

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/12679/in_double_slit_experiment_of_t.html

          Also, Vic left out a very important word when he stated "Theoretical Physicists believe that this physical reality is not really physical at the quantum level, and that consciousness is required for the physical to manifest."

          That very important word is "some" which should go at the very beginning of his statement. Apparently, honesty is not one of those christian virtues Vic embraces.

          May 26, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Vic,

          "Once more the old man is co-opted in the cause of God. Einstein clearly didn’t believe in a personal God, and said so many times. He called himself an agnostic, but I think he was, like David Attenborough, just a nonbeliever who didn’t like the term “atheist.” They could, for instance, have used this quote from Einstein:

          “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.”

          or this one, in reply to an atheist who was worried about news reports that Einstein was conventionally religious:

          “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

          (https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/huffpo-science-section-engages-in-dishonest-quote-mining/)

          May 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
        • dandintac

          Wow. I'm an agnostic – but this is the most naive statement I've yet read on this thread. How old are you? Honestly – if you have never witnessed it, you haven't been around with your eyes opened.

          I notice you did not provide a schred of evidence for your contention. Trying to call names is not evidence. I'm 50 by the way. My sister and I have worked with refugees fleeing REAL persecution in other countries. It is you who are naive if you call anything you've seen here persecution against Christians. No one has yet to provide a schred of evidence for this supposed persecution. BTW–I don't believe you're agnostic.

          "System – read posts by Doc Vestibule – the political faction within atheism is very highly organized and just as vehement and outspoken as the fundamentalist religious groups."

          I notice that you didn't address how a single answer to a single question can be considered a "system". Certainly atheists can be vehement and outspoken–so what? One can find vehemence and outspoken people on anything under the sun. How does this make atheism a "belief system?????????"

          "You're an example of the type I'm discussing – people in denial that this happens to everyone – that atheists aren't alone in how they "feel" about being confronted or excluded. IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. Even believers!"

          Oh, I deny none of this–never did. But presumably you are above all this–right? I deny that atheism is a "belief system". I deny that there is any current widespread, real persecution of Christians in this country–quite the contrary usually.

          May 29, 2014 at 1:13 am |
    • archtopopotamus

      Pot meet kettle.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • nepawoods

      Do you understand the concept of "random sample"?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "They have little to nothing to offer in the way of discussion except cursing and calling names."

      Well, #$&% you too, Mr. Poopy Pants!

      May 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • tallulah131

      I'm guessing that kev here did not actually read the article.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • kudlak

        I'm guessing that he hasn't read any articles in this entire blog if he's claiming that atheists never make any good arguments. Obvious troll.

        May 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
    • dikelmm1

      so, you extrapolate your one experience to all others in the South? And of course Dallas is a city where the real religion is the love of money, Or am I extrapolating?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • steelontarget

      Most--christians--i read on the internet and facebook are generally the most mean spirited people you will ever encounter.

      I'll spare you the proof by quoting countless pages of bible proving this point. Even the beloved character Jesus was an @ s s at times.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • ardvrk

      WAAAA! Someone said Happy Holidays to me and that makes me persecuted!

      NOT LIKE THE PERSECUTION WHEN WE CHRISTIANS BURNT PEOPLE AT THE STAKE – but it really hurts when someone says HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and yesterday I bled to death 59 times because someone said Happy Hoidays to me with their atheist War on Christmas and I've been PERSECUTED, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

      May 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
      • kudlak

        What kind of loon would be saying Happy Holidays in May?

        May 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • bthornell618

      Why so mean-spirited kev?

      As an atheist, I think the biggest difference I notice between myself and right-wing Christians is that I agree with Jesus on some things, whereas they have abandoned the teachings of Christ and prefer to play god themselves, using crosses and mangers to try to convince us that their blasphemous desire to do evil is divinely inspired. Personally, I prefer the philosophy of "love your neighbor as yourself," and "judge not that you be not judged. Yet many who support the Tea Party Cult pretend that Christ wants them to judge, persecute, and deny rights to those they hate in his loving name.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      @kev2672,
      You do understand that litigation can be used to protect one's rights, don't you?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • skytag

      More proof religion makes people stupid. Sorry, but the idea that every instance of discrimination can or would result in legal action is just stupid. If that's your argument you have no argument.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      kev: perhaps that is in response to the arrogance and mean spiritedness of the believers.

      May 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Nothing quite like painting people with a broad brush. Shall we compare all Christians to the ones posting here?
      We're not quite the ones suffering the persecution complex here...we're not the ones going to soliders funerals and protesting or screaming outside of abortion clinics or screaming 'God hates fags' and then when confronted for the outright hate and lies, they cry foul and yet somehow we should just shut up, go back to our corners while Christians try to ensure they're god isn't forgotten? I'm sorry but the respect Christians demand will be given when they stop the arrogant, hate and start giving respect.
      I stand for equal rights for all. I believe everyone has the right to do with their body as they wish providing they are of age (18) to make those decisions. I believe everyone has the right to love whoever they wish-be it male and male or female and female or hetero couples. I believe everyone has the right to happiness and that happiness is strictly determined by them...what makes me happy, may not be the same for you.
      Christians like to pull this great divide...if you're LGBT-you're sinning and in extreme case, as is evident on this blog, they are wished away from society-as if that will stop them from being born; if you've been raped or simply had an 'oops' and you want to abort-Christians cry baby murderer-not once thinking of the potential future of that child. They tell us we're going to hell for not believing. They tell us that evolution is false and they don't want it taught to their children and yet when confronted with vast amounts of evidence that shows them where they wrong, they scream foul and get all child like.
      Point being, that you obviously haven't read through this blog if you think we're the ones hating.

      May 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
  11. crashtx1

    What a stupid story. I live in Dallas, and we have all kinds of religions and cultures here. Nobody cares if you go to church. If this lady is getting hassled it's probably because she acts like a freak.

    May 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Tell that to Rick Perry.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Well, gosh, since you didn't experience it, it must not be happening, right? Or maybe since it's not happening to you, it's not important, because you're the important one here, right crashy?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      @crashtx1,
      "If this lady is getting hassled it's probably because she acts like a freak."

      Ah, blame the victim. I see.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • scififan32

        Well, not every person who just says they are a victim is a true victim when it comes to being exposed to cultural thoughts and ideas. There is a difference between being told you can't work somewhere unless you're Catholic, for example, and then passing a Catholic Charities booth at a public fair and asked a question as you walk by, then claiming harassment. One is not the same as the other – and yet there are thousands of people who confuse the two as being equal offenses. This is the problem.
        And it happens on both sides of the coin – but I've yet to see the organized atheists admit to any misinterpretation.

        May 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          I'm not sure where the Catholic Charities example came from, but @crashtx1 said, "because she acts like a freak" which is very reminiscent of telling a r.a.pe victim that they deserved it because of the way they were dressed. (I'm not comparing the magnitude of the offense, but the logic of the accusation.)

          May 26, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • skytag

      It wasn't a story about Dallas.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  12. lookatuniverse

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.” [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    May 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
  13. auntiekale

    Sky Faeries doling out eternal life...snake oil salesmen?

    May 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
  14. barkomatic

    As an agnostic, I don't run around trying to convince religious people that their beliefs are false. In NYC one doesn't have to be "in the closet" about not being religious - but I don't know how I would get by in the South where Christians are aggressive about getting you to waste time in their church.

    May 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • scififan32

      The agnostics survive, even in the south. It's true that there are certain small towns where it may be more difficult to fit in socially because the church "is" the social glue of that small town – but it's not the huge problem all over the region as the article implies. Those places are the towns where even the different denominations of the same Christian branches have trouble socializing because of how small and tightly knit everyone is. It's easier to claim orthodoxy when staying away from "blasphemy" just means not attending your presbyterian friend's picnic. Larger cities don't have that problem.

      May 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
  15. graphicstyle7

    It's hard to be tolerant of other's beliefs, but it can be done. Me? I don't believe there's a big, white guy with a beard telling us what to do with an obscure, somewhat annoying book from 2000 years ago. Even if it's all true, he's annoying and manipulative to say the least. I would prefer this not be my god.

    BUT, I know lots of people who believe and who get by every day by believing, and since they are good people, I really don't want to get in their face and hurt their feelings, and hurt myself as well, since it's always amazing to me how human nature makes even the most "tolerant" of us "intolerant" in certain situations.

    It's a huge and amazing universe, barely understood by us humans. I let others have their beliefs, but I want to have mine as well.

    May 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I don't believe there's a big, white guy with a beard telling us what to do with an obscure, somewhat annoying book from 2000 years ago. And I'm a Christian.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • Science Works

        Well Dala had an oops – here is the direct url okay.

        http://www.salon.com/2014/05/26/neil_degrasse_tyson_vs_the_right_cosmos_christians_and_the_battle_for_american_science/

        May 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I don't really care about the Cosmos TV show vs the religious right. Fox TV vs Fox News? If a science show makes money, they'll put it on tv. If a religious right show makes money, they'll put it on tv.

          If either one stops making money, they will take it off tv.

          All religious people I know have very little problems with the Cosmos show. Some scientists don't care for it from what I've heard.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Science Works,
          Regardless of the context here, an interesting article, thanks.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • kudlak

        Dalahäst
        The Bible "somewhat annoying"? How did you define what kind of Christian you are, and what kind of God you follow, then?

        May 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I don't define it by someone's misunderstanding.

          I define it by how I live my life. Faith without works is dead. This is a new process for me so I make a lot of mistakes. But I have good ideals to follow. The evidence points to this being a good thing in my life. So I do what is best for me, and let others do what is best for them as long as they are not harming others.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          So, you are a Christian denomination all onto yourself, with your own personal creeds and idea of God?

          If that's the case, and nobody else shares your exact same experience, how do you know that you're not deluded?

          May 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • new-man

          kudlak,
          Dalahast is correct, and I think you misunderstood his point.
          It was the OP's (graphicstyle) premise that they're not a believer and therefore "don't believe there's a big, white guy with a beard telling us what to do with an obscure, somewhat annoying book from 2000 years ago"

          Dala repeated the OP's opinion and asserted even as a Christian he doesn't believe those claims either.
          As a believer in Yahweh Elohim – the God of the Hebrews I agree with Dala and the OP. God is not a big white guy with a beard telling us what to do with an obscure, somewhat annoying book from 2000 yrs ago.
          The OP is VERY wrong in their idea of who God is, and that's what Dala is agree with – God is none of the things the OP described.
          I think you will agree as well.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No, I'm in a community with other believers. I even belong to communities with non-believers that help me. I also have help from God.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          new-man,

          Yes, thanks.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • kudlak

          new-man & Dalahäst
          Yet, that's how people use to view God, and the people before them likely viewed God another way, and so on, correct?The people living a hundred years from now will probably have another view of God, and the people 500 years from now yet another idea, if anyone is still thinking of him anymore, that is. If those ancient people were wrong, you all could be as well, and none of you may even be right in thinking that God is real. Isn't this a clue that God may just be an idea that changes with people's imagination?

          May 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
  16. Dalahäst

    Our government is secular. Or at least we strive to have it be that way.

    I am not secular. I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

    My government recognizes my right to hold such a view, because of rights endowed by our Creator.

    Our secular government is not the Creator. Nor does it endow me of those rights. The secular government just recognizes them.

    Happy Memorial Day! God Bless America.

    May 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • igaftr

      If you are not secular, where are you from, and how did you learn English, and learn to use our technology.

      Claiming to not be secular, is to say you are not from this world.
      It amazes me what people will convince themselves of. This guy has convinced himself he is not from this world....oh wait, that's right...he uses different definitions for commonly used words than anyone else, so no one really knows what he is saying anyway.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I am definitely of this world. I am an earthling. Aspects of my life are secular. But many of my experiences are not secular. Lots of people recognize this in different ways, like the expression: mind, body, soul.

        May 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
        • igaftr

          "But many of my experiences are not secular."
          So you imagine.....

          May 26, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Or, so you imagine I imagine.

          This life I have, it does not come from you. You can judge your own life. And deem what is best for you. I will exercise my Const.itutional right to believe my life is sacred and has meaning that secularism can not provide me.

          Again, secular government good. Declaring everything in my life is secular isn't happening. I've experienced spiritual truths, that for me personally won't allow me to believe that life is purely secular.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "Our secular government is not the Creator. Nor does it endow me of those rights. The secular government just recognizes them."

          "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instltuted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

          Notice first that they make no mention of whom they believe the "Creator" to be as most of the founders were deists, otherwise it would have read "endowed by Christ". Also note where the power is derived to secure those rights, yes, thats right, not from any God or gods, but from "the consent of the governed".

          May 26, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I know. And I agree with all those points.

          But it certainly does not make any mention of secularism. People on here saying any belief that isn't purely secular must be hidden in my house are not maintaining the spirit of the Const.itution.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey Dala you mentioned him earlier no ?

          THE BATTLE FOR SCIENCE'S SOUL
          The real reason conservatives are freaking out about Neil deGrasse Tyson: He's laying bare their worst hypocrisies

          http://www.salon.com/

          May 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Thanks. I generally agree with what he has to say in regards to teaching the subject of science. As do most religious people.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • Doris

          Dala: "People on here saying any belief that isn't purely secular must be hidden in my house.."

          Is anyone really saying this? It, of course is not the same thing as saying that religious exercise should stay out of government exercise which James Madison, father of the Const!tution and Bill of Rights, was so committed to. In the end he didn't even like the idea of Congress having chaplains.

          As far as "soul" goes, I guess I've experienced a bit of metamorphosis myself in that regard. All of my Aretha Franklin CDs are now converted to mp3s.

          Have a happy Memorial Day, Dala.

          =====

          "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

          Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

          –John Adams, from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)

          May 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          "The consti.tutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." –Thomas Jefferson:

          May 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          When I ask religious persons to keep their religion at home, in their Church and in their private lives I simply mean to keep it out of the government for as soon as any brand is injected into governance that is by definition establishing one religion over another which is specificly forbidden by the constltution. There should be many privately owned buildings with 10 commandment statues in front of them on their property and likely some Satanic Churches that have their goat headed statues in front of their places of worship on their private property. There should not even be a debate as to whether to allow a satanic statue on public property whether it's a courthouse or the capital building because the answer should be "Of course not! No religion gets to place any of their religions sacred symbols on land owned by everyone." But instead we have the debate because Christians believe they are above the law and above the constltution and have injetced their brand of religion into the publics space and now other groups want the same pedestal the Christians have been awarded. And because of that Christias now believe they are under attack. I mean, it would be laughable if it wasn't actually happening. Keep your religion where it belongs, not "hidden" but respectful of all other faiths and none, accepting them as equals instead of trying to label anyone who doesn't worship your God as irrelevant.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm a Christian and they infringe on my rights, too. And there are non-Christians that do such things you describe, too. I bet if atheists became the majority, everyone would feel the same way you do about Christians about atheists. There is nothing magical or special about atheists that would prevent them from being corrupted with power.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • Doris

          Indeed, neverbeen. Every right comes with a responsibility to your neighbor. Your jurisdiction may allow you to fire off certain kinds of fireworks, but I doubt they give you the right to aim them at your neighbor's homes.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "I bet if atheists became the majority, everyone would feel the same way you do about Christians about atheists."

          I think there is a misconcepton on the side of the religious who think that atheism is being promoted by the removal of religious symbols from public spaces. This is not true. Religious freedom and the secular government should be like a blank canvas where everyone gets to take their privacy awarded by the constltution to paint whatever picture of life you like as long as you don't paint over someone elses picture. Just because atheists like to leave the canvas of their spirituality blank does not mean that they are getting an advantage when the governement provides a blank canvas to everyone. Atheism is not being promoted by that but creativity and individual freedom is what is being promoted.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I don't have that misconception you describe.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Then why do you believe that is atheists were the majority people would feel the same? That is the misconception I believe you have. It would not be the same, it would be a blank canvas for everyone to enjoy and be creative with their own piece. Removing all of the religious symbols and influence out of government would improve religious freedom and liberty for all, even the Christians who would no longer have to childishly defend their inequality as they do now.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I think it is a human phenomenon. It has nothing to do with atheists. Put any group in power, and most likely there will be minority groups that are persecuted or feel like the rulers hold viewpoints they don't at all believe in.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Doris

          neverbeen: "Removing all of the religious symbols and influence out of government would improve religious freedom and liberty for all"

          Indeed, neverbeen.

          "Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

          The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State."

          –James Madison

          May 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          "The future and success of America is not in this Const.itution, but in the laws of God upon which this Const.itution is founded.”
          — James Madison

          May 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          “Our const.itution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”
          — John Adams

          May 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • Doris

          It is important to note that the God of the Deist of Adams' time was quite a bit different from the God of the Christian fundamentalist today. The Deists of that time generally believed that the Creator God did not play an active role in people's lives. Many of them refuted the supernatural aspects of the Bible and the divinity of Christ. The key Deists that played a big hand in forming the Const!tution were known to adopt Deism more and more as their lives progressed. It's therefore important to note when they said or wrote things about their beliefs and in what context. For instance, saying or writing something ceremoniously aimed at their const!tuencies is quite different from what they said or wrote in regard to their feelings about the Const!tution, law and religious involvement.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I never said Adams was a Christian fundamentalist. The nation and the founding father's were predominately Christian. The Christians appreciated Adams and Jefferson. They still do today.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • obidonkenobi

          Look to Europe for examples of what atheists would do if they had the majority and were in power. European countries are superior to the U.S. in almost every metric – how nice!

          May 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Cool!

          May 26, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • bostontola

      Our secular government does more than recognize our rights. It defined them, it protects them, and it endeavors to enforce them.

      The rights defined in the US Consti.tution, Bill of Rights, and US Law are consistent with parts of the bible, but it happily conflicts with other parts.

      The creator term is not in the Consti.tution where our rights are defined. The SCOTUS does not rule on items based on the Declaration of Independence, it's the Const/BoR. Not one case can be found where the authority for the holding in that case was the Declaration of independence.

      Also, the creator term was purposefully used in lieu of the god term. The laws of physics could be the creator.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        The laws of physics could be the creator. Or it could be God. It is in the hands of whatever created us. Not the government.

        May 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • bostontola

          It could have been a God, but which one? Was it sentient? Did it have purpose? Who knows.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          That is not for the government to decide. It is a secular organization.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • kudlak

          It could be magic, or the Matrix too, but the time to actually believe that it's one of these things is when the evidence surfaces. Otherwise, you're just wildly speculating.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • nepawoods

        "Our secular government does more than recognize our rights. It defined them, ...

        The creator term is not in the Consti.tution where our rights are defined."

        False. While the 'creator' term does not appear in the Consti.tution, it does appear in the Declaration of Independence in a context indicating the founders believe our rights are inherent, not a product of the Consti.tution.

        Also note that the founders actually considered not having a Bill of Rights precisely because they feared people would misinterpret it as you have, as granting rights or defining what they are. It was because of this that they added the 9th amendment, which makes clear that the Bill of Rights is not a definition of the rights of the people. The Bill of Rights neither grants nor defines rights, but only stipulates that the government being formed, and its laws, are prohibited from infringing on the already existing natural rights of the people.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      @Dalahast,
      Technically, the Consti.tution states "We the people... do ordain and establish...".

      May 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        And it guarantees religious freedom.

        May 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • bostontola

          Thankfully, yes it does. But I think his point was directed at your OP, where you say our rights come from a creator. The Consti.tution says our rights come from us, we the people agree to govern ourselves in the manner defined in the Const.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Of course it does.

          However, it does not "recognize" a "Creator" as a source of those rights.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          "The consti.tutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." –Thomas Jefferson

          How dare he! That is not secular.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          I don't know how Jefferson intended the word "sacred" in that quote, as today it often simply means highly regarded or extremely important but not necessarily holy or divine.

          Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions…therefore the
          proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an
          incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or
          renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges
          and advantages to which
          in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right.

          –Jefferson’s “Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom,”
          Adopted January 1786

          May 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. " – Jefferson First inaugural

          This use of "sacred" certain doesn't seem divine, unless the democratic principle of "majority rules" is somehow handed down by God, which would seem a bit self-undermining.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Of course it does.

      However, it does not "recognize" a "Creator" as a source of those rights.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Ok. And that is not the role of government to determine that.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      "sec·u·lar·ism noun
      : the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society"
      (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secularism)

      And by "public", I think it means governmental, as opposed to private parts. In other words, the separation of church and state, not materialism as seems to be the implication.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I'm 100% for secularization in government.

        Not for secularizing my life. I'm blessed to have a government that lets me practice my religion freely.

        My government is secular. My life is not. And I'm free to take my religion into government, education and other public parts of society. And as a Christian I choose to respect other people with their right to do so. I live that ideal out as a demonstration as to how I would want others to demonstrate that to me.

        My religion works well with this government.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          I'm not disagreeing with that statement. What I'm disagreeing with is the apparent implication that "secularism" is equivalent to materialism when, in this context, it simply means a separation of church and state.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The context of this conversation was in regards to igaftr statement that secular = reality. He directed that at me a few times. Some of the conversation fell onto another page.

          Ask him if secularism = materialism. That is what I'm trying to figure out.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          I meant in the context of the government and the Consti.tution, as in church and state and the separation thereof.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Do you think secular is basically the same thing as reality?

          May 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          I think secular refers to the non-religious and non-spiritual. While it likely indicates part of reality, whether it indicates all of reality is unknown as yet, however we don't have any evidence of anything else at this time.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
    • Woody

      "I am a spiritual being having a human experience.
      My government recognizes my right to hold such a view, because of rights endowed by our Creator" – Dalahäst

      Your government recognizes your right to hold such a view because of the SECULAR U.S. Consti.tution. The "endowed by their Creator" phrase is from the Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Consti.tution is the official law of the land. The Declaration of Independence was just that; a declaration to notify England of the intent to become a autonomous nation.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        The secular doc.ument recognizes the sacred aspects of life.

        "The consti.tutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." –Thomas Jefferson:

        May 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • Woody

          Jefferson made that statement in 1819, long after the Consti.tution was ratified. That was his personal belief, you know, freedom of speech, one of his First Amendment rights guaranteed by the Secular Consti.tution. Just to refresh your memory, the First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to peti.tion the Government for a redress of grievances"
          The Consti.tution protects your right to believe as you wish. Your god has nothing to do with it.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The purpose of the First Amendment is to bar the Federal Government from interfering with the freedom of religion in the United States. Congress may not establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion in America. Since the purpose of the First Amendment is to stop any abuse by the Federal Government against religion, this explains why the words "God" "natural right" "worship" or "conscience" do not appear. Rather than trying to promote a radical secularist philosophy, the most likely reason the framers did not use the word "God" in the First Amendment is because the subject is Congress.

          Most state const.itutions in that time did mention and credit God.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • Woody

          "The purpose of the First Amendment is to bar the Federal Government from interfering with the freedom of religion in the United States. " – Dalahäst

          The purpose of the First Amendment is also (among the other freedoms that it provides) to prevent the establishment of a state religion and the abuses of same which would inevitably follow.

          "..... the words "God" "natural right" "worship" or "conscience" do not appear." Congratulations, you're finally starting to get it. That's what a secular doc.ument, such as the U.S. Consti.tution, is all about.

          Funny that you should bring up quotes of Jefferson. Anyone who reads some of his private writings can probably decipher that he was a closet agnostic. Of course, in those days, anyone publicly questioning the existence of a deity would be committing political and social suicide. Jefferson was way too intelligent to get his dog in that fight.

          May 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
    • Vic

      Just a quick remark, given this discussion.

      In the case of the United States government, secularism is just a working platform but not a political one, nor is it a creed, as opposed to secularism in the case of other nations, e.g. Russia.

      May 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Yes. Good points.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
      • Vic

        Since its inception, the vast majority of the United States' people have Christians in the private as well as the public sectors, regardless of the non-political secular working platform.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
      • kudlak

        Vic
        The vast majority have also been white men, but would it be appropriate for politicians to say something like "This nation was built by white men"?

        May 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • tallulah131

        That secularism is the guarantee of our freedom. No one religion can be held over others. We are all equally free to believe or not believe as we choose and not be punished for it. (as long as our religion does not impede the rights of others.) I for one am grateful for that. There is nothing good or healthy about a theocracy.

        May 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • kudlak

        A secular government also protects the integrity of religion. If politicians can get elected from the pulpit, then they can also influence the pulpit in order to get them elected, correct?

        They do that now in awarding tax-exempt status only to some religions claiming it. That's the government in the business of giving advantage to some faiths over others.

        May 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • skytag

      "Our secular government is not the Creator."

      I hope you don't think that statement was profound.

      "Nor does it endow me of those rights. The secular government just recognizes them."

      It's meaningless to talk about rights without some entity to protect them. There is no "creator" granting rights. Rights are granted by a society when that society defines them to be rights and implements a mechanism to protect them.

      This is why rights vary from culture to culture and even in the same culture over time. History clearly shows us that there are no absolute rights.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        No, I don't it was profound. I'm trying to illustrate that life is not purely secular. Nor is a secular way of life an American ideal – except in regards to governing.

        May 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • kudlak

          Life may not be secular, but the government is supposed to be.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Our government's ideal is to be secular.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • skytag

          How does that claim "illustrate" anything? I think what you're really doing is use pseudo-intellectual claptrap to make it sound as if there is some logical basis for what you believe about rights.

          May 26, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There are plenty of logical, reasonable and able-minded people that hold views similar to mine. Your theory that it suggests mental illness is unfounded, unscientific and silly. Think about it: some of these people are more qualified to talk about these subjects then you. They get paid lots of money for it. You are qualified to post on a message board of a religion blog. That's about it as far as I can see. Anyway, yet ANOTHER claim with NO objective evidence.

          May 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          So, it's a failure then that it isn't?

          May 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No, I had an atheist agree with me that secular doesn't basically mean reality. Just because a few guys on the internet don't agree with me doesn't make my belief that life is not purely secular a failure.

          May 26, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          No, I meant a failure of the government to remain secular.

          I understand that the US military is also supposed to be secular, but that it has largely become overrun by evangelicals due to a big effort on their part to swamp the chaplain corp. Fine if you happen to be an evangelical Christian, but my Catholic cousin in the Air Force tells me that all the services and prayers on her base are evangelical. The military loathes to see a service person not busy so, if you don't want to go to the evangelical services, where they try their damnedest to convert you, you are assigned to clean the barracks, basically doing the churchgoers job for them. I ask you, is this fair to all service people?

          May 27, 2014 at 10:26 am |
        • dandintac

          Sounds like it's gotten a lot worse since I was in. I was in the Navy from 83-86. At that time, those who opted out of attending services just got the time for their own free use–even in Boot Camp–except that we weren't allowed to go back to bed. We did have to stand in ranks through prayers whether we wanted to or not at various ceremonies though. It didn't bother me at the time, because I still thought of myself as Christian, but it would annoy the heck out of me now, or if I was a different religion.

          May 27, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. I have never thought or suggested that it was fair. I've heard the military has taken great strides recently to include 'nones' beliefs. I'm not an Evangelical Christian so I would probably be right with your cousin on this.

          June 1, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • kudlak

      Dalahäst
      You have the right to say " God Bless America", but do those speaking for your government have that right?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Yes. They have the right to free speech.

        May 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        "God bless you and may God bless the United States of America," President Obama

        May 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • kudlak

          And that's his personal sentiment, which nobody should confuse as any kind of sign that it's anything otherwise, but people do.

          May 26, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right. Just like you've been sharing your personal sentiments with me.

          May 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
        • kudlak

          Yet, many people will choose to see such personal sentiments as validation of their belief that the US is a "Christian Nation". Obama is a politician, and he's probably just playing the numbers, right?

          May 27, 2014 at 10:33 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Laus Deo

          June 1, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  17. stickcharmerstickcharmer

    what song is playing at the beginning of the clip?

    May 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
  18. tsnorris1965

    Here is a survival tip for atheists: nobody gives a $h!t what you think.

    May 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      brilliant retort

      May 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Haha. Yes, in main stream American, most people really don't care.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
      • snowy2112

        Maybe where you live very few people care, but in parts of the South, revealing you're an atheist results in anything from frozen smiles an stares to people that you've worked alongside for years suddenly questioning your ability,m your integrity, your trustworthiness. "Christian" is assumed to mean "good person." "Atheist" means "bad person."

        It's messed up–but that's how it is.

        I'm glad you live in a place where it doesn't matter, though.

        May 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yea. I have some atheist claim since I became a Christian I must be delusional, mentally retarded, insane, schizophrenic and idiotic.

          I've been called slur names. I've had people suggest I shouldn't enjoy the same rights they do.

          Not only can I imagine what some atheists go through – I can be compassionate with them.

          I don't live in a place like that. I just experience it online.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • skytag

          @Dalahäst: Choosing to believe in a God for which there is no objective evidence whatsoever isn't rational. This may not be apparent if you view everything from within the Christian bubble, but from outside the bubble it's obvious that there are just too many inconsistencies and things that simply don't make sense. I say this as one who spent four decades inside the bubble.

          You have chosen to embrace a religious narrative not because it is true or supported by objective evidence, but because you like it better than the alternatives. Had you grown up in another part of the world where a different narrative was widely held you'd almost certainly be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or a member of some other non-Christian religion.

          Even within Christianity there is considerable variation in what people believe and people "church shop" to find a version of the Christian narrative they like.

          Choosing to accept a set of religious beliefs as true facts simply because they sound comforting strikes me as evidence of a mental disorder. If I decided to believe leprechauns were real and devote my life to finding them to get some of their gold everyone would think I was nuts, but there is no more reason to believe in your god than there is to believe in leprechauns.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You don't even demonstrate rationality to me, so who are you to judge me on such a subject?

          I used to give those same packaged answers you just gave to me when I was in my "self-declared rational" bubble. Perhaps you should worry about your own self and not preach at me on a subject you don't appear to be qualified to talk about.

          May 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
        • skytag

          Dalahäst: Thanks for the personal attack. It's always nice to see Christians exposing what frauds they are by acting like jerks when someone presents an argument they can't refute. Sorry reality strikes such a nerve, but that's not my fault.

          It's an indisputable fact that over the course of human history human beings have created hundreds, possibly thousands of religious narratives that as a group have nothing in common. They've all had their adherents who were just as devoted convinced they were right about their religious beliefs as you are about yours.

          There has never been any objective evidence to support any of them, so how is it a rational choice to pick one, almost at random and decide to believe it?

          If you'd been raised by a Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, where 98% of the population is Muslim you'd almost certainly be a Muslim, not a Christian. Born and raise in another culture or time and you'd likely be a Hindu, a believer in the Norse gods, the Greek gods, the Egyptian gods, native American Indian gods or any one of hundreds of gods human beings have made up over the past several thousand years and you would have been just as convinced you were right then as you are convinced you are right now.

          May 26, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Um, you lead with personal attacks. By your own standards that makes you a fraud, too. And I don't mean this as a personal attack: you do not appear to be very rational. I know you really want to be, but I see evidence that you are failing to live up to that ideal.

          I was not raised by a Muslim family in Saudia Arabia. That is a cute analogy, but by your own standards is not objective evidence. You are basically just repeating a theory that Richard Dawkins popularized in the "God Delusion". It is philosophy, not objective evidence.

          There is no object evidence that objective evidence is the greatest standard by which to measure a truth. It is a theory of yours. I don't subscribe to it.

          You are projecting your experiences on me. You are speculating about why, what and how I believe. There is no rational way for you to know these opinions you are lazily attempting to state as facts about me.

          Go preach your speculative theories to someone else, I'm not buying it.

          May 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
    • benhoody

      If you are claiming to be a Christian you certainly don't sound like one, the word hateful Christian comes to mind when I read your comment.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
    • tallulah131

      tsnorris:

      Actually, the entire point of the story is that people do indeed care what atheists think, and will punish them for those thoughts. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • meatheist

      Some things like stupidity, racism, and religious belief, must unfortunately die of old age.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • uhhuhisee

      You bring to mind that catchy christian song "and they will know we are christians by our love, by our love. Yes they will know we are christians by our love"

      May 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
    • grumpy0ldman

      It's a good thing that most of the Christians I know do not share your kind of aggressive ignorance.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • skytag

      What kind of loser would care what you think?

      May 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  19. abigchocoholic

    Don't be a little candy ass scaredy cat. When an ignorant Christian tries to tell you aobut their lord or that they can look over and see their Jesus,

    you stand right there and laugh and their incredible stupidity and say "what? You believe in an invisible sky god? Kind of like how Muslim believe in Allah right?" And that ignorant Christian, after being laughed and told his emperor isn't wearing any clothes will go home and think about his belief system and sooner or later it will crack under the pressure of logic and introspection and he'll give it up.

    May 26, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • nepawoods

      Right – this religion (and many others) survived 2000 years because no one ever laughed at it before.

      May 26, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • worldlypatriotusaveteran

        I'm sorry, you have a very poor education regarding history of non-theists, atheists, and agnostics.

        Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 1844 – 1900

        Albert Camus, 1913 – 1960

        Alfred Nobel, 1833 – 1896

        Stephen Hawking, 1942 – Present

        Sir John Leslie (1766–1832)

        Linus Pauling (1901–1994)

        May 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • nepawoods

          Not sure what point you're trying to make, or how that list of names relates. (And yes, I'm quite familiar with them)

          May 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          What your point? That lists proves nothing.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
      • moxrox84

        Incorrect...Christianity survived because it expanded itself at the point of a sword.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • snowy2112

      You just described the worst way for atheists to act. It's every bit as bad as Christians telling us we'll burn in hell for not following Jesus.

      Belittling people is not the answer. Reason, rationality, compassion, and simply living our lives without feeling the need to boisterously preach to others is a much better example to set.

      May 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
      • crashtx1

        Again, nobody cares if you believe or not. But for many atheist that's not good enough, they enjoy the fight. So they use "tolerant" words like sky daddy, etc., and then if you mention that is rude, then they claim their made up hardship.

        May 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • tallulah131

          We get it, crash. Since it's not happening to you, you don't think it's happening. Thanks for your input.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • nepawoods

          It's also kinda rude to claim it's a good thing that all non-Christians will suffer in hell forever.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • skytag

          If I told people I really believed in Santa Claus they'd laugh at me. Ditto for leprechauns, vampires and unicorns. There is no more reason to believe in a god than there is to believe in Santa Claus, so it should come as no surprise that some people find the idea of believing in god to be silly and react accordingly.

          May 26, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • dandintac

          Crash,

          I get your point, and I do believe that different approaches are needed in different contexts. Having said that, there IS a place for ridicule when addressing ridiculous ideas, and belief in magic beings falls into this category. This is why many atheists use analogies with other magical beings. They ARE comparable–no evidence, mythical, explainable except through magic, and so on. In almost every respect, the God character is like other magical beings that have been claimed and are now understood to be ridiculous notions for adults to believe in this modern era. Hence the use of the term "sky daddy."

          Sometimes people are able to see the absurdity of the belief if ridicule is brought to bear on it. Now–I would never do this to, say, my old grandmother (before she passed away) in a nursing home, or at a Thanksgiving dinner with my religious sister, but if you participate in public debate, in a public forum–like this, or like the clip below, then you must risk ridicule–especially if your claims are ridiculous. When you go out where the lions roam, you better be brave and be prepared. Atheists are ridiculed at every turn–those who dish it out should expect it in return.

          Here's Sam Harris on the right way to do this. Some people are better than others. Some, like Sam, come across rational, others do it poorly and merely come across rude. Ridicule is a potent but subtle arguing tool, which not everyone can wield effectively.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22cYcsVPOok

          May 27, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
    • skytag

      Actually, if you caused him to doubt his beliefs he'll go home and do something to reinforce them, such as praying or reading his Bible.

      May 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
  20. mgauss7

    Those that push people into a faith remind me of the extremist Muslims that kill those that do not believe in Allah. Those that burn Christians inside their churches in Egypt (which is murder and a horrible thing) actually believe that they are saving their soul. Bottom line religion is beautiful until you start raping people's right to believe in whatever they want to believe. In the USA which is a majority of Christians the Christians get bossy and for example cops ask "are you going to church?" to parents that make mistakes with child sitting at home. I am a pluralist: I respect everybody's faith. Otherwise the extremists of any religion become pushy.

    May 26, 2014 at 10:50 am |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      I think religion should be like cigarettes and alcohol. You are allowed to sell them at licensed stores but they must be kept a certain distance from schools and are not available to minors until they reach 18 or 21. Then as adults they can choose to go buy a pack of smokes or a six pack of beer of whatever brands they want. But if a parent is caught furnishing their child alcohol and tobacco before that age they should be fined or jailed for child endangerment.

      May 26, 2014 at 11:12 am |
      • ptsloan

        I like that. Make it illegal for people to indoctrinate/brainwash children into a religion before they're 21. Works for me.

        May 26, 2014 at 11:20 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Brainwashing should be opposed. Indoctrination, though? I basically was indoctrinated into secularism through my public schooling.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:32 am |
        • bostontola

          Is it indoctrination to teach that Greek mythology is myth?

          May 26, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          Depending on what you mean by "secularism", it seems odd that you would be "Indoctrinated" in it.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "I basically was indoctrinated into secularism through my public schooling."

          Secularism: the principle of the separation of government instltutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious instltutions.

          You were "indoctrinated" into secularism? You were forced to believe in the principle of separation of Church and State? I mean, you were likely taught about our constltution which includes the 1st amendment separating Church and State here in America. Is that considered "indoctrination"? I would consider it education.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • igaftr

          since secular means of the world, basically REALITY, how were you indoctrinated into reality? You are of the secular world, you cannot be indoctrinated into reality, and nothing non-secular has ever been shown to exist.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • Dalahäst

          + since secular means of the world, basically REALITY, how were you indoctrinated into reality?

          Secular does not mean reality.

          Reality does not mean secular.

          That is kind of the indoctrinated mindset I used to have, that realty equals secularism.

          The dictionary doesn't support your claim, but does say this: Secularization refers to the declining influence of religion and religious values within a given culture. Secular humanism means, loosely, a belief in human self-sufficiency.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • igaftr

          dala
          I can see you are redefining words and terms again, so no point is pointing out where you are wrong. If you redefine everything, I guess you can't be wrong.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • Dalahäst

          + Is it indoctrination to teach that Greek mythology is myth?

          I don't think so.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Government – secular

          Life – sacred

          My secular government recognizes my right to acknowledge the sacred in my citizenship.

          I'm not a secular being. You have the right to be a secular being. And I have no problem with that. But our government guarantees that I don't have to accept that for me.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "+ Is it indoctrination to teach that Greek mythology is myth? I don't think so."

          So is it indctrination to teach that Christian mythology is myth? Or is there somehow a double standard?

          May 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You can indoctrinate people to believe Christianity is a myth.

          Or you can encourage them to search and decide for themselves. I was taught to keep an open-mind, be willing to hear new ideas and stay honest with myself. I was free to choose what made sense to me.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          dala, What objective evidence did you find that converted you from atheism (if you ever really were)? How did you evaluate all the religions and decide on christianity? How did you evaluate all the christian sects and decide on whatever protestant sect you have chosen? I doubt that it's a coincidence that your choice is pretty much what your family already believed.

          May 26, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • benhoody

          Sent from my iPad

          May 26, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I didn't believe there was a God, gods or any supernatural powers at play. That was my outlook for most my life.

          Do you think I wasn't a "real atheist"?

          May 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          dala, I have no idea whaty you perceive an atheist to be so wasn't sure what you were. I shouldn't have given you the easy way to avoid the questions: What objective evidence did you find that converted you from atheism? How many religions did you evaluate? How did you evaluate those religions and decide on christianity? How did you evaluate all the christian sects and decide on whatever protestant sect you have chosen? I doubt that it's a coincidence that your choice is pretty much what your family already believed.

          May 26, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Just imagine, the same steps and discernment you took to reach the conclusion that is satisfactory for you and your life is the same conclusion that I drew for mine. With that kind of mindset we can practice The Golden Rule.

          + How many religions did you evaluate?

          It is not about religion. It is about God and trusting that Jesus is the way to God.

          + How did you evaluate those religions and decide on christianity?

          I tested what they asked me to do in my life. I'm still testing them. God give evidence if you seek it.

          If you don't need something more and are satisfied with what you have, don't seek it.

          + How did you evaluate all the christian sects and decide on whatever protestant sect you have chosen?

          I'm interested in Lutheran theology and joined a Lutheran chuch. But I also belong to and serve at non-Protestant churches. Right now I focus on following Jesus and not worry about sects.

          It is more about evaluating myself, not others.

          Also, purpose is very important to me in my life.

          + I doubt that it's a coincidence that your choice is pretty much what your family already believed.

          Nope.

          May 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        That is kind of extremist, bossy and pushy. Kind of the opposite of what mgauss7 was describing. I like his ideal better.

        May 26, 2014 at 11:20 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Same should be applied to you. You cannot express your atheism anywhere except in the privacy of your own home. Wouldn't like that now would you?

        May 26, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • Dalahäst

          He would have a tough time getting around the The Consti.tution to do what he desires.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          I'm fine with that. I was indoctrinated in Christianity from as young as I can remember so there was no chance for me to speak up for atheism until I was in my forties and had done much of the research on my own. However, not being able to promote atheism or theism in schools does not mean they should not teach the peer reviewed and tested evidence for evolution in science class. Evolution is not a doctrine or an anti-religious belief, it is simply the best explanation for the evidence scientists can see and test as well as the best explanation for the fossils and record of ancient life we have uncovered so far.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:31 am |
        • Dalahäst

          9% of atheists say they are skeptical of evolution. So, yea, don't push atheism if you want to teach evolution. They have nothing inherently to do with each other.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • bostontola

          The concept of evolution doesn't come from atheism, it come from science.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • hotairace

          I'm ok with delusionals practicing their insane beliefs in the privacy of their own homes and their cult's clubhouses. Sonsenting adults only of course.

          Now, who is going to propose a const!tutional amendment?

          May 26, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I grew up in the Bible Belt and I was indoctrinated into secularism. I was openly atheist by the age of 16 or 17. It really wasn't a big deal. As I began to question my beliefs and why I held them I began to drift away from atheism.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Thankfully I have a 1st amendment right to say exactly how I feel about religion. Hooray! Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Religion should get no special platform from which to preach in our secular democracy. The fact that right now Christianity has been placed up on a pedestal in America is in direct violation of the constltution. This is born out in the ruling on prayer in local government meetings and statues dedicated to Christianity placed in front of court houses on publicly owned land. Since they are violating the constltution anyway, I don't see why a ban on indoctrination would be so hard to rationalize.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The oldest and largest Christian denomination in the world has no problem with evolution.
          In fact, other than the United States, there is virtually no debate regarding evolution's validity as a scientific theory.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Dalahäst

          The Const.itution guarantees me the right to practice my religion as a citizen. I don't have to keep it hidden in my house. Some of my ancestors risked their lives to move here so they could freely practice their religion, which was banned in their home country. And I will fight for everyone to have that same right I have.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • hotairace

          Doc, if I remember correctly. the pedophile-priest-protecting RCC us ok with evolution conceptually but doesn't believe it applies to mankind. In other works, ok for all plants and animals except us.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • igaftr

          dala
          "indoctrinated into secularism"

          How exactly were you indoctrinated into the real world? Secular deals with the actual physical world...not the cannot be proven to exist, or even slightly hinted at existing "spiritual" anything.

          you were not "indoctrinated", you ARE secular. As far as any can show, all that exists is secular, or imaginary.( and since the imagination is something that is secular, all that is imagined, is also secular, such as gods, spirits, ghosts , apparition americans etc...until someone can show these things to exist outside of what exists.

          May 26, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • otoh2

          hotairace,

          The Catholic Church has accepted evolution for quite a while now. Even waaaay back in the 60s I was taught that at one point in evolution "God" stepped in and gave humans a special "soul".

          May 26, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • MidwestKen

          @hotairace,
          I think the RCC's position is that while 'there are no inconsistencies between evolution' and the RCC, including the physical evolution of man, it does hold that man's spiritual nature is God-given, i.e. the human soul is 'implanted' by God into a physically evolved body.
          Although, I may be mistaken.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Our government is secular. Or at least we strive to have it be that way.

          I am not secular. I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

          My government recognizes my right to hold such a view, because of rights endowed by our Creator.

          Our secular government is not the Creator. Nor does it endow me of those rights. The secular government just recognizes them.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Pope Pius XII was the first Pontiff to say that Evolution and Christianity aren't necessarily at odds.
          John Paul II freely said that there was no conflict at all and evolution is as good a scientific theory as any.
          Benedict was the last to weigh in on the subject, saying:
          “They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such .Above all it does not answer the great philosophical question, ‘Where does everything come from?’ "

          So basically, there is still room for God as Creator because the theory of evolution addresses only the development of life on Earth, not abiogenesis.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • benhoody

          Yes, you can sure say that again, especially the ones that are filled with hate towards those who don't agree with them, can't get any more immature than that. That also goes for any so called Christian who spews out or harbors any hate toward those who don't agree with them.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • hotairace

          From catholic.com:

          "The Catholic Position

          What is the Catholic position concerning belief or unbelief in evolution? The question may never be finally settled, but there are definite parameters to what is acceptable Catholic belief.

          Concerning cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing. Vatican I solemnly defined that everyone must "confess the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing" (Canons on God the Creator of All Things, canon 5).

          The Church does not have an official position on whether the stars, nebulae, and planets we see today were created at that time or whether they developed over time (for example, in the aftermath of the Big Bang that modern cosmologists discuss). However, the Church would maintain that, if the stars and planets did develop over time, this still ultimately must be attributed to God and his plan, for Scripture records: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host [stars, nebulae, planets] by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6).

          Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.

          Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that "the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God" (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). So whether the human body was specially created or developed, we are required to hold as a matter of Catholic faith that the human soul is specially created; it did not evolve, and it is not inherited from our parents, as our bodies are.

          While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circ.umstances permits belief in atheistic evolution."

          May 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          "Our secular government is not the Creator. Nor does it endow me of those rights. The secular government just recognizes them."

          First, I don't know how that relates to indoctrination or not.
          Second, technically the consti.tution states "We the people... do ordain and establish..."

          May 26, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • hotairace

          Perhaps "Concerning cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing." will shut up the delusional that keeps on asking if atheists really believe the universe came from nothing.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          "I am not secular. I am a spiritual being having a human experience."

          Said the secular human IMAGINING more than can be shown to exist. Your imagination is secular as well, whch, as far as any can show, is where your "spirit" lives anyway.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not here on my power. I don't know who's power I'm living on, but I think it something more intelligent with the ability to give me a purpose in my life that secularism fails to provide me.

          I really believe life is sacred, not secular.

          I want a secular government.

          And according to the dictionary secular doesn't mean reality/reality doesn't mean secular. Who taught you that?

          May 26, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          I assume from your comments that you are saying that "secularism" is equivalent to materialism, i.e. the belief that the material world is all that exists, as opposed to just a separation of church and state. If that is the case, then I'd ask how exactly you were "indoctrinated" into that belief as a child?

          May 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The same way I was indoctrinated into Christianity. Somebody taught me about it and I was allowed to make my own decision. It is not like I was brainwashed, it was just teachings.

          Somehow I used to have a notion that the Const.itution was a secular manifesto. I'm not sure where I got that. But I don't believe that is true.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Secularism is the basis of the law of the land. It is the duty of schools to teach you secular rules so that you can be a law-abiding member of society.

          Your religion is your own. It is protected by law but does not decide that law. If you are taught your religion by parents because it is their religion, you are indoctrinated. This is the difference between education and indoctrination.

          May 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • magsmagenta

          There is no need to express a non belief unless someone else is expressing a belief. If believers did not constantly force the issue of belief on non believers there would literally be nothing to express. So your assertion that atheists would be unable to express their atheism in public if believers could not would be null and void.
          What you are talking about is forcing atheists to accept your assertions about belief whether they believe or not, what would the point be in that?

          May 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.