Another Look at the ‘War on Religion’

Inspired by some ridiculous Ben Stein meme containing more of the popular “I’m a poor repressed religious person in America” crap, I decided to do some quick research. It took all of two minutes to see if, in fact, religions were being scarce in the US.  If you look at the chart in this link, (the source of which is Wikipedia) America is still mostly religious people, mostly still Abrahamic…the religions have just shifted. The number who identify with no religion have grown, but are still only 16% of the total US population.   So really if I hear one more repressed [Christian/religious person] whine I might. Just. Explode.

You know, Ben, I was with you on the Christmas tree thing.  Who cares what they call them? I am an atheist, however if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I quite heartily wish them the same.  We still celebrate the love and family and spirit of Christmas season and put up a Christmas tree in our home.  (Did you know the Christmas tree was actually a pagan symbol of Yule anyway?)  I don’t care who erects a nativity scene or who has a Menorah on display.

What I take issue with is the assertion that you are “pushed around” because of your religion; it sounds kind of like so many sour grapes that religion is no longer top dog in public arenas (schools, etc) in America.  That’s about as bad as saying white people are tired of being “pushed around” by affirmative action. They just hate that the status quo is changing and it’s no longer acceptable to force others to conform to their way of life.

Stein allegedly claims:

” I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.”

As to the  “decline (1)” in Christianity in the past few years, it has dropped from 78% to a “paltry” 71% .  *sniff*  My heart breaks for your plight.

The United States still remains home to more Christians than any other nation, with roughly seven-in-ten continuing to identify with some branch of Christianity.

The fact that the majority of Americans still identify as Christian does not, however, negate the idea that the church is not supposed to have a role in government. What I would tell Ben is, this whole country is neither atheist NOR Christian. It’s SUPPOSED to be free.

Not even gonna touch the idea that disasters happen because we “took God out of schools.” That is utter, baseless tripe. There have always been natural disasters. Used to be “God had a plan” or “the devil” caused the disasters. There always WILL be disasters, only you want to tell me now it’s because not everyone wants to have to pray to your God in school?

As to in very transparent inference that kids have no morals without religion, that is also so much bullshit. You don’t “need” God for morals. You need compassion and empathy, and plenty of people have God and still no morals, just a fear of the “consequences” of afterlife. If you ask me, THAT is what’s missing in todays’s society. CONSEQUENCES.

Okay, anyway, I know I’ve written about this before, but I guess it always gets me stoked up again to see people passing this shit around, all like:

images (1)

No!  And even a billion people “liking” it won’t make it true.   

This article could be so much longer, but I will end with this:

Can you pray in peace?  Can you worship in public? Do you have to worry about being arrested or killed or harmed by identifying yourself as religious?

Okay, so stop whining.

Oh, and hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. 😉

 

 

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“Relentlessly” Stupid

So some “Christian” person sent his widow neighbor a letter after she and her kids decorated the yard with rainbow solar lamps.

The letter went like this:

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Disgusting that people would call themselves Christian after engaging in hateful behavior like that letter. Religious people that think being gay, or being trans (like Caitlyn Jenner,) is “an abomination under God” make me laugh. No, you know what is an abomination? Priests that try to fuck little kids while the church covers it up. Just saying, maybe you should complain about stuff like that and leave these people alone.

There’s actually a Go Fund Me  campaign now to help this lady paint her whole house in rainbows to piss this bitching neighbor off.  (It’s great.)  See, normally, I’d say if someone spends THAT much time worried about what someone else is doing with THEIR OWN yard, that complaining person needs to get a life.  The same would go for someone retaliating in this manner (painting a house just to piss off a neighbor)…except this “Christian” dude opened the door on this and now this plucky widow is gonna close it on his stupid face! Good for her and her kids, and shame on him for trying to take away a widow and her children’s joy because “gay” rainbows offend his delicate sensibilities.

Bad Manners, Bad Meme, and Bad Grammar….

Some brilliant person has done it again…another bad meme on Facebook, and people are passing it around…

Tea Party United

Tea Party United/faithfamilyfreedom.com

I’m not offended at all by people saying “Under God…”

I’m offended that some of them are being such assholes about trying to shove it in EVERYONE else’s faces. Yet they resent having the same thing done to them.

They will try to defend this aggressive (and grammatically challenged) piece of crap by claiming we are a “Christian nation,” and that there is a so-called “war on Christianity.”  Even if it were once true that our forefathers were Christian, it doesn’t mean things don’t change over time.  Even if one religion is a majority in a certain country, it shouldn’t mean they get to shit on other people, and this meme basically says “I don’t give a shit about your feelings, but you better recognize mine!”

But boy don’t they hate it when people do it to them… Suddenly it’s the “war on Christianity!”

And yet, you don’t see me making an aggressive meme out of my opinion or beliefs, all the while indicating that the feelings of others mean nothing to me (“You’re offended?  Too bad…”) and then prompting people to “share it.” Why does it have to be the whole nation under YOUR God?  Are you that insecure?  If you wanna believe it, fine.  You wanna include it in your pledge (it wasn’t in the original draft, by the way...)?  Go ahead.  Just stop your bullshit with trying to make everyone else do things your way.

Awww….you’re offended that not everyone in the country is Christian and therefore may object to being forced to say “Under God?”

Too bad…

Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

Put the “Mind” Back in “Your Own Business”

Pagan Yule was around long before “Christmastime” and was centered around the winter solstice…  So I really wish everyone would stop trying to bully other people into saying “Merry Christmas,” if they don’t want to.  If you celebrate Christmas and wanna say “Merry Christmas”, more power to you, but trying to force others to “put Christ back in Christmas” is just as bad as others forcing trying to force you to say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  As for Jesus being the “reason for the season,” no; the reason for the season is a physical, seasonal change in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun.  There is nothing in the bible that says Jesus was born in December, or more specifically, December 25th.  In fact, there is speculation because of some astronomical and cultural references, that he was born in the summer.

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History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. (source)

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:

First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8)

The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4)

Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then . . . to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism.” (source)

 

Not everyone is Christian, but we all deserve a “happy holiday.”  That is all.

Have a "cool Yule..."  Or a "Merry Christmas..."  Or... whatever!

Have a “cool Yule…” Or a “Merry Christmas…” Or… whatever!

Related articles:

https://alienredqueen.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/have-a-very-secular-christmas/

http://backporchtheology.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/the-war-on-happy-holidays/

Have a Very Secular Christmas?

So, I’ve been giving this some thought really probably ever since I had my child, but more so now that she is growing up and coming to an age where she’ll be able to anticipate the holidays and internalize some of the associated traditions and ideas.  As my regular readers know, I have what some might call a “crisis of faith.”  My heart wants to believe in a loving God, but my intellect and reason just don’t accept it.  And contrary to what some may say, wishing doesn’t make it so.

I am acutely aware of how my adult perception of Christmas and its origin has changed in relation to the hopeful magic of childhood Christmases past.   I was never what I would call “strong” in faith, but now that I have pretty much decided where I come down on the organized religion issue, I am unsure how exactly I want to represent Christmas to my child.  It’s certain that I do want to celebrate with my family in some way.  To me, right now, Christmas is mostly about family, togetherness, and love…  But why should we celebrate that in December instead of all year round.  I am fine with objectively explaining to my daughter, when she is old enough to understand (she is turning three next month) the reasons why the majority of people who celebrate Christmas do so (“Jesus is the reason for the Season” and all that jazz) but I do not feel inclined to raise her in a religion or even in a belief in a supreme being.  A large part of me feels that indoctrination of young children is wrong because it sets them at a disadvantage for later autonomous decisions regarding religion.   For example, had I not been taught as a child that I was supposed to believe in God, would I be so uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t believe?  

Then there is the “Santa question.”   We believed in Santa as a kid, and it was fun and relatively harmless, even when we found out he wasn’t “real.”  And yet,  I find I am loath to lie to my kid, even if it is a fun and harmless lie like Santa.  And yet regardless of what I tell her, I wonder how many of my friends and relatives and even random but well-meaning strangers  will thoughtlessly ask her if she’s “excited for Santa” this holiday season…

So I am left with the question of how I want to present the winter holidays to my child.  The only reason Christmas is even celebrated in December is because of Christianity’s attempts to combat or counterbalance the pagan holidays and rituals of excess practiced during that same season. (source 1, 2)  Basically, Jesus was not born on December 25th, and there is no date given in the bible for his birth, although certain astrological references lead some scientists to believe he was actually born in the Summertime.

Do I take a more naturalistic or pagan approach, celebrating the time of year and nature’s cycles, and then maybe meld into it my feelings of family and tradition?  Would it make some people feel better if we celebrated the holiday but didn’t call it “Christmas?”  Guess it’s a good thing it’s only the end of July… then again, wasn’t Jesus born in the Summer? 😉

This is the optimal idea...

This is the optimal idea…

...and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

…and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

(Click here for more on why Christmas may be celebrated on the 25th of December.)

One Nation, 313.9 Million Opinions….

I’ve been embroiled in a pretty irritating (and endlessly ongoing) debate on social media lately, especially amid all the DOMA stuff and rampant, misinformed patriotism going on…

“One nation UNDER GOD!”  ‘Murica!

Was our nation founded on “biblical” ideas, or the idea of religious freedom?

As I research, it seems there are conflicting ideas at work even as the country was founded.  According to some sources, the country was founded by settlers fleeing the “tyranny” of the Church of England, for the purpose of being free to worship God how they felt fit.  SO in that sense, you could say the US was founded on biblical beliefs…

And yet, in OUR CONSTITUTION, it expressly states that

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; […]and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Apparently, the word “Christianity” does not appear in the constitution.  Now, I’m not sure about the word “bible.”  But when it comes to the constitution, a lot of people (conservatives…eek!)  are especially fond of quoting the part about the right to bear arms, but not so interested in upholding the “no law respecting an establishment of religion” part.

To word the initial question in a different way… was this country founded on religious freedom, or merely the “freedom” to be Christian?

And apparently the sad truth is that some states have constitutions that forbid atheists from holding public offices.  You have to declare at least a belief in God.  This seems to be in direct contrast to the  idea of separation of church and state posed at the federal level, and while I admit a fairly rudimentary knowledge of politics, it’s been ingrained in my head since grade school that the states were not supposed to pass any laws that violated federal law.  Somehow, there are many laws today that get around that somehow.

What I don’t understand is why it’s so difficult for anybody to just leave others alone.  Still there are some people that insist this country is going to shit simply because things are not being done their way, whether that be with religion infused into everything or because gay people are allowed to marry, or…whatever!

Now, I had been requested by a close friend to “research” this further before rendering an opinion.  While I don’t have hours to go through the constitution line by line right now, I’ll admit there seems to be conflicting ideas as to what this country is founded on, depending on where you look.  But… what I am not conflicted on is the idea that people have “adapted” both the constitution and the Bible to fit more into their modern lives.  Whether it be gun laws, laws and mores governing divorce, the use of birth control, etc, there are may passages that are interpreted only “loosely” or in a way that is more palatable to the morals we’ve actually internalized.  My point is, while either or both of these texts might be good guidelines for how to live your life, as society and the human species changes, ideas need to change with it.  For instance, the ideas of continuation of species, identification of parentage , reproductive survival, etc, may have been served better at one time by the ideas of marriage as between “one man ad one woman.”  Historically speaking:

In Comanche society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to obtain any benefit from marriage. But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. “In almost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the intensity of this competition. (wikipedia)

But now that model is not nearly as relevant, in an over-populated world where reproductive technology allows even single or infertile people to have children if they want.

Please don’t take this as an attack on religion.  While I do not personally ascribe to any, I would not deny someone else their beliefs. But for the love of God (see what I did there? ) stop trying to use it to write or keep laws for a nation that is not any one religion!  There are 313 million people in the US, and they don’t all think like you.  The real idea behind America is supposed to be that they don’t have to.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-meyerson/religious-freedom-in-americas-founding-moments-_b_1632067.html

 

EDIT: 7/18/13  This clears things up some, for me anyway.  http://inphasemag.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/separation-of-church-and-state-is-in-the-constitution/comment-page-1/