Making things right

You guys have probably heard about the story of Rev. Norman Hayes who was badly beaten by James Maxie, a self-proclaimed militant atheist (thanks LT for sending the original link).  And you’ve probably already heard of the Internet’s most friendly atheist, Hemant Mehta. But you may not know that Hemant offered to raise money to cover the medical bills for the pastor.

You might be thinking that the pastor may have said something to provoke Maxie, yet no words could ever justify violence. Mr. Hayes’ nose was broken in two places, and he had lacerations and bruising on his face. This is a painful and no doubt costly injury.

You might be thinking that Maxie has a criminal past, and he shouldn’t be a representative for atheism. This is certainly true. Maxie’s criminal history has nothing to do with his beliefs about god–at one point he was even a believer.

Unfortunately, until the day the godless are no longer looked upon with suspicion or fear, until we’re no longer a nation of “us” against “them,” we have to make right what others do in the name of atheism (or humanism or agnosticism).

If  a “militant Christian” had beaten and bloodied an atheist in the name of god, we would have expected some sort of censure from the Christian community, regardless of whether the perpetrator was a criminal or not. I would hope that Christians would do the same for an atheist victim.

So from one human to another my sincere apologies to Rev. Hayes for what he has suffered, and my thanks to Hemant for being a good spokesperson and for suggesting that we help offset the cost of the reverend’s medical bills.

Hayes’ son set up this page to donate if you want to help.


24 responses to “Making things right

  1. I agree. Though we fundamentally disagree, we are all one big human family. Violence between us will not solve our problems or create understanding.

    • @tmso I like that, “…we are all one big human family. “

      • Hmm, yes, well, I forgot to add…one big dysfunctional human family. But, yeah. My mother is a believer and I wouldn’t want anyone to punch her in the face. I would protect her with my life.

        I guess, we just have to reminded ourselves sometimes that ‘them’ is really just ‘us’ in a different suit.

        Admittedly, I, too, have a hard time keeping this perspective.

      • Maybe if we skipped a dessert or three…

  2. The ‘best’ caring is not limited to one’s own ‘tribe.’

    • @LanceThruster I think who we are is really defined by 1. how we treat the least of creatures (forgot who said that one) and 2. how we treat those we will never cross paths with again.

      • @Deb – Beautifully put.

        I like this gem too —

        “You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.” — Malcolm S. Forbes

      • One of my favorite golden moldies —

        “We’re here to get each other through this thing, whatever it is.”
        ― Mark Vonnegut

  3. I’ve heard of this kind of abuse going both ways. I’ve heard of Atheists attacking Christians. I’ve heard of Christians attacking Atheists. This causes a huge problem for Christianity, because in either case our religion seems to ignore what everyone in the world recognizes as “our fundamentals.” We are to be law abiding citizens. We are not to disturb peace. We are not to force ourselves on other people. If someone isn’t going to be receptive, we should know that its time to move along.

    Religion has been the cause of most wars that have happened in the world. It has led to more death. It has led to families breaking apart, divorce, murder, and many other terrible things that reveal humanity in its lowest. Religion was in the mind of the man who abducted Elizabeth Smart.

    Therefore, I personally think the act of “evangelism” should be done in a controlled environment. It should only be done with individuals who are interested, who are not offended by it, and it should be done by people who are mature enough to realize that its okay for other people to disagree with us. Intolerance is at the core of all the disputes from both sides. However, I think Atheists are only intolerant, because we were intolerant first.

    • @dqfan2012 Interesting comment. I know the conflict comes from churches telling the congregation that they must evangelize to be saved…

      • That’s interesting. I’ve visited churches that imply this kind of idea in the minds and actions of their congregation. This is a serious mistake, because Scripture teaches two things.

        First, work doesn’t earn salvation. Nothing that they do will earn any extra brownie points with God nor will the lack thereof endanger them of eternal punishment.

        Second, that those who do work are unprofitable in the work that they do. In other words, all the “extra” work that they think they do earns them nothing.

        I would avoid churches that teach such things. These things don’t convey the message of the gospel.

  4. This incident reminds me of another blog I follow written by a traveling American. One of her recent posts caused quite a stir because she wrote that ‘there are no Islamic terrorists.’
    Her point is that political [and I would add ‘mental health’] issues often get religious labels when it’s not the religion. This incident with the “militant atheist” sounds like a similar case of semantics. It just makes for a juicer, more sensational headline. IF he were a “Christian” and attacked the preacher, then religion would not have played in the story or headline so prominently (like recently when the man shot the preacher who he thought was having an affair with his wife.) From what I read in the story about this guy, he’s angry, abusive, combative, a sex offender — i.e. he’s one mentally/emotionally messed up fella. He’d have a militant personality whether he was a “Christian” or an atheist.

    • @Trishia Good points. Yes, I do think these sorts of stories make for “juicier” headlines. Thanks, too, for the interesting link.

      I do think that political issues get tied up with religion (and vice versa), though the Qur’an does have some verses that might incite believers. (IMO as a non-Muslim reading the Qur’an.) I think it would be best if no one turned to an ancient book on mythology as a moral guide. 🙂

  5. What a shame. In any group there are those bad apples that make the whole bunch look rotten. Glad to see other atheists reaching out to help. But what was almost more shocking to me, reading the Washington Post article about Mehta’s efforts, Mehta stated that it’s not uncommon for religious groups to refuse any help from atheists, and so far all his calls to Hayes and his church haven’t been returned. I don’t know why this surprises me. Seriously folks, is that what Jesus would have done???

    • Does everybody have their WWJD bracelets on? ‘Cause I was wearing my bracelet recently, and I was in the movie theater, and this guy’s cell phone went off — don’t you just hate that? Then he picked it up, ‘Hey, how’s it going? I’m in a movie.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey! Get off the phone!’ And he’s like, ‘Mind your own business.’ And I almost went crazy, but then I looked at my bracelet: what would Jesus do? So I lit him on fire and sent him to Hell. Daniel Tosh


    • @Angie. I know, right! He recently posted about a soup kitchen who refused help from atheists!

  6. Deborah you are right on many fronts especially the fact that violence is not a way to solve problems between men

  7. Let us not repeat the past mistakes of theists and resort to violence to support our position. Besides, militancy for atheism is like going to war over math.

  8. If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
    If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
    If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
    If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
    If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,

    If you can overlook when people take things out on you when,
    through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
    If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
    If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
    If you can conquer tension without medical help,
    If you can relax without liquor,
    If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
    If you can do all these things,

    Then you are probably the family dog.

    From the site “Yoga Dork’s blog”

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