Tag Archives: godless parents

Guest Post: Women Beyond Belief

Friends,

Below is a guest post about an upcoming book on women and atheism. I look forward to reading the book after its release.

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“High school was difficult for me—I was so uncomfortable when people would ask me what church I attended or which denomination I was in. When I would tell them I was an atheist, they looked at me as if I’d committed an atrocity. “You don’t believe in god? Why?” I was constantly asked in school. When I told them my reason, they judged me. They questioned my morals and said they wouldn’t trust me, all because I didn’t believe in this transparent being called god. It was crazy, the questions they would ask me. If anything, I thought, I should be asking the questions. Why are they believing in a being that they can’t see, feel, or hear?

Not only was it tough as a teenager being an atheist, but being a black one made my life even tougher. The community I come from is very religious, and my sister and I were the only atheists on our block. They weren’t open-minded, so it was uncomfortable for me when they would talk about Jesus or god. Being a black atheist is like being an African elephant almost. I can count how many black atheists I know personally: me and my sister.” Taressa Straughter

Taressa Straughter was raised Pentacostal but gave up her religion as a teenager. She speaks openly about her atheism and was the recipient of a scholarship from the Freedom from Religion Foundation in 2015. She is one of 22 women who have written essays about their journeys away from religion in “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion” edited by Karen L. Garst. This book can be pre-ordered on Amazon and will be available in bookstores October 1.

Dr. Garst became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v.Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. “Will we never end the fight for women’s reproductive rights?” Garst stated. Once again, religion has influenced the laws of our land. Politicians cite their religion in supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues that are against women.

The first leaders of the New Atheism movement that arose after 9/11 were men: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. They came with backgrounds of science and philosophy. They launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon an Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time.

Dr. Garst wants to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. She states that “Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.” And she is right. More and more women atheists are speaking out. And as we all know, if women leave the churches, they will collapse. As more women leave religion, more children will not suffer the shame and guilt associated with most major religions.

She has received support with reviews by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other atheist authors.

We encourage you to check out Dr. Garst’s blog at http://www.faithlessfeminist.com and to pre-order this excellent book.

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Religious Liberty Exemptions, Lawmakers, and Stupidity

Many of you are probably sick and damn tired of hearing about Kim Davis, who has been made famous, or infamous, depending on your view, by refusing to follow U.S. laws and choosing instead to follow her imaginary  god’s law. She represents the problem that many of us have with a certain segment of Christians: they want to impose their religion, their beliefs, and their morality on everyone. It’s not enough that they believe stupid, unjust or irrational things; they want all of us to follow along as well. And if we don’t, well, they’ll bully us until we do.

So Davis doesn’t believe that her god thinks gay marriage is moral? Fine. In her next marriage (and by now surely everyone has heard that Davis has been married four times), she should not marry a woman. All of this has nothing to do with her job, which is to be the conduit of the law for fellow citizens.

The funny thing is, she doesn’t even realize that she is just following silly memes impregnated into her brain by religion, most likely by her pastor. God says homosexuality is a sin. Did she ask god, the same god who also says not to judge, not to usurp his powers? Of course not. She’s just caught up in the script of her church’s morality play.

And now we have the story of a Muslim flight attendant who was suspended for refusing to serve alcohol. Ms. Stanley converted to Islam two years ago, and her very subjective beliefs now affect her ability to do her job. Her god says that she cannot drink alcohol and neither should anyone else.

You know what? If the god of your imagination tells you not to marry someone of the same-sex or not to drink alcohol, good for you. Don’t drink; don’t have a same-sex marriage. But you cannot decide for others, and if it’s your job to serve others, and you cannot understand that you must separate your subjective judgments from your paid work as an employee, then find another job. If my god says I have to fast during a certain holiday, or that I cannot eat meat at certain times, and I work as a server, is it acceptable that I don’t serve food or meat during the times my god says not to? It may seem extreme but it’s the same logic. What if I convert to Religion X, and my god says that I cannot work on Wednesdays–and neither should my clients–because working too much is bad for the soul? Shouldn’t I receive the same respect for my beliefs that others want to give Davis and Stanley?

I sure hope that our lawmakers will not be like Davis’ husband, who said, “I’m just an old, dumb, country hillbilly, but I know God…” Once you allow citizens the right to claim religious liberty exemptions, you have created “micro-lawmakers”: you allow citizens who claim this exemption to make and change public policy according to their beliefs and their whims. That is not fair or just. That is not a democracy. Davis and Stanley are not choosing between their career and religion. If they don’t like their job functions, if they feel they are unable to perform, they can find another, more suitable job for their judgmental personalities. Or, like the rest of us, they can perform their jobs realizing that there are some things they don’t like but must do, as long as those job functions are legal and not causing harm to others. However, that requires a certain level of maturity, morality and cognizance that some folks don’t seem to have.

The two cases are a good springboard for a discussion with our kids. Whether it’s refusing to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill or issue a marriage license, should one person be allowed to affect or prohibit the lawful behavior of another? Isn’t this a gateway to more dangerous behaviors, such as: it’s okay to kill others when justified. You know, like bomb abortion clinics or shoot people who are of a different faith?

Let’s hope that our nation’s lawmakers see past this religious ruse.