Monthly Archives: March 2014

Fights worth Fighting

I’m not so concerned about the crosses that are left on public property, especially memorials in cemeteries throughout our nation. Many of these crosses are now a part of history, and while they are not inclusive, I don’t believe they’re particularly exclusive either. I think it’s a waste of time and money to take these issues to court; they also create a lot of unnecessary hostility between believers and nonbelievers.

Money is better spent, it seems, on pursuing more important issues in education and government that affect our future: keeping ID out of science textbooks, God out of the classroom, prayer out of public meetings and religious symbols off public property from this point forward.

With the growing number of Nones, no matter how diverse the group is, the consistent message is that Americans are rejecting religion. We want it kept where it belongs. So it is particularly irritating when a public official defies a judge’s order and opens a meeting with a sectarian prayer anyway.

Robin Bartlett Frazier, a commissioner from Carroll County in Maryland, opened last week’s budget meeting with a prayer that contained references to Jesus Christ, stating that “she was willing to go to jail to fight the preliminary injunction ruling.”

Take a seat because it gets better. The judge had given the okay to open with a prayer as long as it did not represent a specific religion. These words were approved for use: “…Lord God, our Creator, giver and sustainer of life, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Heavenly Father, Lord our Governor, mighty God, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, creator of planet Earth and the universe and our own Creator.”

But that wasn’t good enough. Frazier wanted to stand up for her particular brand of belief. She said, “We’ve been told to be careful. But we’re going to be careful all the way to Communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’”

Does she mean, standing up and saying no to government officials who think their superhero or their favorite team should be everyone else’s, too? Or maybe she would be happier (as I would be) if the judge just said no to any and all prayer. After all, there are special places for prayer, and they’re called churches, homes and heads. Yeah, a moment of silence would work, too.

I’m glad that Frazier will go willingly to jail since she’s basically given every American the finger in deciding that she and her belief system are above the law.

These are the types of issues we should be fighting.

Book Review and Labels

First, thanks so much to Lisa for her review of Growing Up Godless. She’s an intelligent writer and book reviewer, and it means a lot to me that she gave the book a thumbs up.

Second, with the popularity of Cosmos, I wanted to share this video with Neil deGrasse Tyson answering the question, “Atheist or Agnostic”? I understand his concern with labels, especially with the hostility between believers and nonbelievers. What are your thoughts? Does his stance help the secular movement or hurt it?

Pat Robertson Says Atheist Women Likely Raped

Well, I gave myself a nice big face palm when I saw this one. Thanks, LanceT for sending along the link.

Robertson says that atheist women were likely raped, and that’s why they reject god. It’s the devil’s work, you know. I wonder if this is true for men, too?

But the question asked by “Sandra” is what really gets me. Sandra wants to know why the atheist woman gets angry when the topic of God is brought up. Should she just abandoned her attempts at saving this woman?

Helllll-o. Surely, no one is that clueless.

No doubt the coworker is as irritated as the rest of us and just wants to be left in peace. (You know, the thing that Christians preach.)

But the most frustrating part is that we know Sandra could care less about what her coworker wants. A new recruit would be just the thing she needs to move her to the head of the heaven train.

So when your coworker says no, no, no, and you don’t respect her wishes, who’s the rapist now?

Family Matters

Well, I can only hope that the SCOTUS does the right thing tomorrow when it hears arguments from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood challenging the ACA on religious principles.  No, you should not be able to decide for and to judge your employees with your cherry-picked views on what your god or goddess would want. If Hobby Lobby has the money to throw away on lawsuits, it must charge way too much for its craftiness.

Onto other family matters….Like many of you, I try to remain tolerant to other’s beliefs. After all, we have relatives and friends, coworkers and neighbors who are of all different faiths, and we all want to get along. But every week, I receive emails about the frustrations of dealing with religious family members who are not very tolerant of our lack of belief.

Usually, it’s the grandparents, but sometimes there are issues with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles—even the other parent. I get that believers are encouraged by their preachers to save lost souls. I get that our parents are terrified they will look down from heaven and see us burning in hell. But these are their unsubstantiated fears, wants and desires, and our families need to understand that we don’t share them.

So, I’ll give one example, and if you’d like to add your concern or suggestion, please feel free to join in. Jessica is 9 years old. She is being raised by secular parents who have talked with her about God. (For example: “Some people believe in a man in the sky who is watching and listening to our every word. We don’t believe this. It doesn’t make sense, and there is no proof. Does it make sense to you? Why or why not?”)

Jessica’s maternal grandparents are devout Baptists, and they want to take her to church. It’s no secret they want her baptized. Jessica’s mom says, no, that’s not going to happen, but she knows her daughter adores her grandmother and wants to please her. And mom knows that having loving grandparents beats the hell out of having no grandparents.

So mom might want to agree to let Jessica go, letting grandma know that she will use this as a lesson for her daughter. Mom realizes that, in her town, Jessica will be up for recruitment by classmates as well as family, so it’s best to show her what religion is about.

It’s important that, when Jessica return home (or after church, if they all go together), mom and dad sit down and talk with her about the experience. What did she like about it? What did she not like? What did the preacher say? Does it make sense? When a preacher makes an outrageous claim (God is watching) that she wants others to believe, she must back it up with evidence. Did this preacher do that? What other things do people believe in that are not true? (Santa, the Easter Bunny, Ghosts, Bloody Mary) By questioning their daughter, mom and dad are empowering her to find her own answers.

This is what I suggest because, if we tell our children “no,” and grandmom becomes upset, our kids will feel responsible, and they will be caught in the middle. They also may grow more curious. So we want to educate our children; we want to expose and brush away the mystery of religion.

Is it right for relatives to pressure us or our kids to go to church? Of course not. Yet by the time they graduate from high school, many of our children will have been to church or to church-based activities with their friends. We need to make sure that they are not easy targets, that, just like discussions of drugs or sex, awareness helps them make better decisions. Talk to them early and often.

Kids are capable of reasoning things out. They will understand.

Down Syndrome

Lisa Morguess has done more to educate me about Down Syndrome than any other person or book.  I have known several moms with DS children, and yet, I never knew their struggles.

I’d like to share this wonderful post she wrote about World DS Day. I hope she will enlighten you, too. IMO, awareness is a huge step in making changes, and it’s a responsibility we all should share.

How to Spot an Atheist

Hi friends and fellow bloggers,

I thought I’d share with you an article I wrote, which is running on the OnFaith site today.

“Mark Levin SCHOOLS atheist caller”

Mark Levin reminds me of an old battered car with bad brakes and stinky exhaust. He’s noisy and belligerent and obnoxious.

In his list of qualities he’d like to see in the next Republican nominee, Levin includes “faith.” Yes, the next president should not be afraid to stand up and express his belief in God. And if you don’t like it, too damn bad. Levin will “school” you and tell you to shut the hell up (right after telling you how intolerant you are), just as he did this caller. Are you rolling your eyes yet?

Levin doesn’t understand that our founders gave citizens freedom of religion and freedom from religion, that no religious test was required for our leaders. He asks the caller how many times God is mentioned in the Declaration. You can see for yourself how many times God, church or religion are referenced in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Apparently, Levin doesn’t know himself.

I don’t have a problem with our president believing in God. If it brings her comfort to believe in a creator, if he holds out hope for an afterlife, fine. I just don’t want him or her to bring God to work. We don’t vote in a deity. We vote in a human. That human should be able to do his job without consulting God or Thor or his mum and dad. In fact, we shouldn’t even know if our leaders believe in God or not. That’s of little relevance.

While knowing a person’s faith is likely to inspire admiration in some Americans, it’s likely to repulse a growing number of us. (Ahem, Mitt Romney.) We don’t need to know your religion, your favorite past-time or if you believe in love at first sight. I don’t want to know what you do with your down time or if you get on your knees to pray at bedtime. I want to know instead: Are you competent? Are you honest with yourself and others? Will you do the right thing, even if it means you will face criticism? (Yes, every American should have access to the same healthcare they provide for their representatives.) Are you analytical, fair, diplomatic, wise? These are the qualities that will help all of us, regardless of what we do or do not believe.

Levin assumes that America’s founders had belief in God. But that’s quite an assumption—do we really know what our friends and family (and his listeners) believe about the existence of God, much less strangers who lived over two-hundred years ago? I’d bet that Levin is unaware of the atheists and skeptics living in his midst, perhaps even under his roof. I know some readers here can relate.

Levin may be shooting himself in the foot. As more of us move away from religiosity, we may perceive “a declaration of faith” as a declaration of weakness. Our president should not have to lean on his faith to do his job–or to get elected.

St. Patty’s Day & Other Things

If you’re interested in my book, Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids without Religion, it will be available April 1st.  Here’s the Goodread’s link, which is having a book giveaway. For any of you around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, there will be a book signing at a Dallas Barnes & Noble in mid-April. I’ll give more details later.

I wanted to send out a thank you to this blogging community, to everyone who shared something for the book and to those who have shared their experiences here, having struggled–as I have—with living in a religious town. Communicating with all of you has helped me feel a lot less isolated.  I hope it’s helped you, too.

Onto other religious things….Happy St. Patty’s day (especially to the O’Sullivan’s)!  I thought a little trivia might be fun. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

Do you know why it’s customary to wear green on this day? Green represents the shamrock, which St. Patrick supposedly used to illustrate the concept of the trinity to Irish pagans. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For us, it simply represents see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. (Ok. Maybe not.) Three has been a special number for thousands of years, representing triple deities to ancient religions and mythologies, and the Trimurti of Hinduism.

When I was a kid, I used to seek and find 4-leaf clovers, believing that they’d bring me luck yet unaware that the mere idea I was alive to pick them was my greatest luck. I’d pluck them from the stem and press them in a heavy book (ironically, the bible).

What do the four leafs symbolize? Faith, hope, love and luck. In a religious context, the fourth leaf is supposed to represent God’s grace. Funny that being lucky and being “blessed” are the same thing. I am lucky to be alive. I am blessed to have food and shelter.

If you were watching Cosmos last night, you realize that this fourth leaf is a mutation. (Not Intelligent Design, thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson!) And you also know that, if you were to pull that mutant plant out at the roots, you could grow more lucky shamrocks for yourself and your friends. Mankind has been unwittingly playing god for thousands of years.  Now that we understand this, God is quickly receding from humanity’s view.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends. We’re alone in this universe, but luckily, we have each other.