Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

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Should the Ft. Worth T have rejected the 'Good-without-God' ad as Dallas DART did?

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Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by TexasBlue on Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:02 pm

Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say

Gordon Dickson
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dec. 03, 2010


A small group of African-American church leaders says it will proceed with plans to boycott Fort Worth buses starting Monday after the area's transportation agency allowed a group of atheists and agnostics to buy ads on the buses that will read: "Millions of Americans are Good Without God."

However, members of the Fort Worth chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference say they recognize that a large number of bus and train riders have no other way to get to work and if the bus is their only option, they should ride it.

"If you don't have another way to travel, we don't want you to lose your job or miss school," said the Rev. Kyev Tatum, chapter president and pastor at Friendship Rock Baptist Church in south Fort Worth. "We're simply asking, if there's any way possible, to avoid riding the T."

The group hopes that people of all denominations and ethnicities join the boycott and that businesses that care about putting out a pro-Christian message will avoid advertising with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.

"Everybody is appalled at this attack on Christian values," said Ricky Garner, pastor at Unity Baptist Church in southeast Fort Worth and also a board member of the Christian group.

T officials said Friday that they expected nothing out of the ordinary Monday and that all bus routes and the Trinity Railway Express will operate as normal.

"People will ride," said Tony Johnson, T executive vice president. "We will have the same number of buses, running at the same times, running on schedule."

Mayor Mike Moncrief chimed in on the issue late Friday, saying he wants the city and the T to hold a joint meeting to discuss the T's policy on accepting religious ads.

"I totally disagree with their decision to allow these divisive ads on the T buses, and will express my concern to the appropriate individuals," Moncrief said in a statement.

The mayor also pointed out that the T is an independent entity not directly funded by the city -- although eight of nine board members are appointed by the City Council, which also approves the annual budget.

'Reason for the season'

The "Good Without God" ads are expected to be visible on T buses as soon as Monday, officials said. So will counterpoint ads reading "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," bought by churches that aren't part of the boycott.

The T has gained national attention this week for becoming a public forum for the debate over the existence of God. Other agencies, including Dallas Area Rapid Transit, have policies against accepting religious ads to avoid such a firestorm.

The "Good Without God" ads were bought by the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, a local chapter of the United Coalition of Reason, which wants to place similar ads in other cities as well.

T spokeswoman Joan Hunter said it's her understanding that an unidentified donor helped the churches raise the money for their ads. She said the T was careful to ensure that both anti- and pro-religion ads were charged the same rate.

Rider reaction

So how do regular bus riders feel about the debate over God's existence being so prominently displayed on the buses?

Tina Badger, who is homeless and has slept at the Union Gospel Mission on East Lancaster Avenue for the past month, was stunned to learn of the debate. She said many riders were unaware that, come Monday, they may be riding on buses bearing the "Good Without God" message.

When told of the boycott, Badger said she would like to participate but can't afford to miss any leads in her job search.

"I'm very uncomfortable with that," she said while waiting for a bus near T headquarters. "I don't like it, but I don't know what I can do about it."

But Ronald Swearengin had another take. The Fort Worth man, who is unemployed and was also riding the bus in search of a job Friday, said he is a man of faith but is not concerned about the ads.

"The T can't discriminate against one religion over the other," he said. "If you are strong in your faith, it doesn't bother you what's written on the side of a bus."


Last edited by TexasBlue on Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by TexasBlue on Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:02 pm

Original story here.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:12 pm

What's good for one is good for the other. I would only sympathise if they were rejecting Christian message. At the end of the day, if you can't stand people disagreeing with you publicly then go find a cave to live in.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by TexasBlue on Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:31 pm

For me, it's not like they're endorsing atheism. They're just making a buck on them.


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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by dblboggie on Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:46 pm

I think the ads are simply meant to attack Christians. It's not like they are addressing the systemic suppression of the rights of atheists and agnostics or some other pressing problem like that.

There was no real need to do this and the sponsors of the ads knew that it would spark a controversy. It is simply sticking a finger in the eyes of the religious just for the hell of it.

I'm an agnostic and I have never felt threatened or discriminated against or ever felt a need to defend my right to be agnostic. Nor am I so insecure in my agnosticism that I feel it necessary to proclaim to the world that I don't need God to be good. I proclaim that through my actions, not my words.

I have no beef with the bus company running these ads, that is their right, and as Matt rightfully points out, if they aren't banning Christian ads (which they are not), then fair is fair.

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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:08 pm

dblboggie wrote:I think the ads are simply meant to attack Christians.
I see nothing in them to suggest that they are specifically targeting Christians. Being atheist has until recently been something that one has been made to feel embarrassed about and in a country like yours that wears its faith on its proverbial sleeve, I imagine that in some areas atheists might feel like they are being silenced not through laws, but through social pressures - hence the comment about isolation.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by dblboggie on Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:33 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I think the ads are simply meant to attack Christians.
I see nothing in them to suggest that they are specifically targeting Christians. Being atheist has until recently been something that one has been made to feel embarrassed about and in a country like yours that wears its faith on its proverbial sleeve, I imagine that in some areas atheists might feel like they are being silenced not through laws, but through social pressures - hence the comment about isolation.

Well, the reason I singled out Christians (which perhaps I shouldn't have), was based on what Terry McDonald of the Coalition of Reason said in that other article on this. He said: "I'm not unhappy it's running during Christmas. Why do Christians own December? There were people that said this may cause a problem. That doesn't bother me."

This sounds deliberately confrontational and such an attitude does tend to give the thing a distinctly anti-Christian feel.

And like I said, I've been an agnostic forever, and I have never felt as though I were being silenced by social pressures or anything else for that matter - and I live in Bible-belt country. I think the image you have of America is one that is not entirely in line with the reality on the ground. I know a lot of self professed "Christians" who are only nominally "Christian" and certainly don't hold my agnosticism against me.

I have nothing against atheists or agnostics, and it's fine that they have their own club, but I see no constructive reason for running ads that stick a finger in the eye of those that are religious. They are quite free to do so of course, but I don't see it achieving anything positive. That's all I'm saying.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:57 am

dblboggie wrote:This sounds deliberately confrontational and such an attitude does tend to give the thing a distinctly anti-Christian feel.
Christmas - a pagan celebration hijacked and rebranded as Christian - that we are being constantly bludgeoned with the idea that we must not forget the original meaning... not the actual original meaning, but the rebranded plagiarised meaning, the festival of a belief system that was violently oppressed by that a religion that claims to have a monopoloy on love and peace. I see no more appropriate time to remind Christians of what they have always sought to destroy - unbelievers and pagans - and that we are still here despite their best efforts to rewrite history.

dblboggie wrote:And like I said, I've been an agnostic forever, and I have never felt as though I were being silenced by social pressures or anything else for that matter - and I live in Bible-belt country.
I never said everywhere, and I never said all over the bible belt either. But if you lived in a different area you might have felt differently. Perhaps where Becky Fischer had her Jesus Camp, or where they have forcibly removed Harry Potter or Philip Pullman books from schools, or where Fred Phelps holds sway, or where creationist myth is being taught alongside or perhaps in place of evolution in science classes.

This persecution of Christians is a myth designed to foster an emotive response and the only tragic thing is that people still believe it after 2000 years. When the bully plays victim, we need to open our eyes and see that it is simply wailing that they no longer have special rights. Equality's a bitch, ain't it?

dblboggie wrote:I have nothing against atheists or agnostics, and it's fine that they have their own club, but I see no constructive reason for running ads that stick a finger in the eye of those that are religious.
And the type of ads that say "believe in God or go to hell" are constructive? This might to you seem like fighting fire with fire but I see it more as an appeal to those who might feel intimidated at being surrounding by people like Fred Phelps and are afraid to speak out for whatever reason.

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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by dblboggie on Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:55 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:This sounds deliberately confrontational and such an attitude does tend to give the thing a distinctly anti-Christian feel.
Christmas - a pagan celebration hijacked and rebranded as Christian - that we are being constantly bludgeoned with the idea that we must not forget the original meaning... not the actual original meaning, but the rebranded plagiarised meaning, the festival of a belief system that was violently oppressed by that a religion that claims to have a monopoloy on love and peace. I see no more appropriate time to remind Christians of what they have always sought to destroy - unbelievers and pagans - and that we are still here despite their best efforts to rewrite history.

I don’t get this. Who cares if a formerly pagan holiday has been rebranded as a religious holiday? How does this infringe on anyone’s rights? It certainly doesn’t infringe on mine. I stopped celebrating Christmas as soon as my kids were grown up and gone from home. I don’t hang lights, put up a Christmas tree, or hang so much as a single Christmas card. I don’t shop for gifts, and don’t get gifts. And you know, I’ve never been attacked, had anyone try to destroy me or oppress me or even had anyone say squat to me about my lack of Christmas spirit. I opted out of the Christmas experience, save for a couple of parties, and have experienced no negative impacts whatsoever.

I’m sorry Matt, but I just cannot muster the energy to wave my fist in the air against those self-righteous Christians for “hijacking” a secular holiday. It’s just not something that has any impact on my life in any way.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:And like I said, I've been an agnostic forever, and I have never felt as though I were being silenced by social pressures or anything else for that matter - and I live in Bible-belt country.
I never said everywhere, and I never said all over the bible belt either. But if you lived in a different area you might have felt differently. Perhaps where Becky Fischer had her Jesus Camp, or where they have forcibly removed Harry Potter or Philip Pullman books from schools, or where Fred Phelps holds sway, or where creationist myth is being taught alongside or perhaps in place of evolution in science classes.

You know, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the people of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – a major metropolitan city where these ads are running – are not living in the shadow of Becky Fischer’s Jesus Camp, or have any problems with Harry Potter or Philip Pullman (whoever he is) books in schools, or gives a rat’s ass about Fred Phelps (whoever he is). I’ve visited the Dallas/Ft. Worth area a time or two over the years, and I think I’m pretty safe on this assumption. And just so you are clear on this, creationism is not being taught in any public schools last time I checked. However, evolution is being taught in public school science classes.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:This persecution of Christians is a myth designed to foster an emotive response and the only tragic thing is that people still believe it after 2000 years. When the bully plays victim, we need to open our eyes and see that it is simply wailing that they no longer have special rights. Equality's a bitch, ain't it?

I can’t speak for the U.K., but here I can attest that Christianity is very much under attack by groups like the ACLU and others. Our constitution is being deliberately misinterpreted by these organizations to push the free exercise of religion as deep underground as possible. This isn’t about Christians wanting to be “more equal” it’s about allowing them the rights they are guaranteed under the constitution and our laws.

And I don’t think that it’s a tragedy that people still believe in Christianity, or any other religion for that matter. Mankind is funny this way. Some people, no matter how educated they may be, will not accept the premise that there is no God. There are some very, very, intelligent and highly educated people who yet believe in God, and even some who profess an affiliation with this religion or that. Hell, some of the professors I have had in school are religious and even attend church. I was the only openly agnostic class member in my Western religions class, and not only did I get an A from my religious professor, she made a special note thanking me for my contributions in class room discussions, because I was very open about the many contradictions in the religions we covered. I never felt bullied by any of my openly religious classmates or the professor. The only mild objections I got were from the lone Muslim member of the class, and that was nothing.

This is very much a part of that human nature that I frequently talk about. Some people just need to believe in something bigger than themselves, it’s how people are hardwired I guess. It brings them some comfort in what can often be a chaotic and bewildering world. Just because you or I do not feel a particular need for a transcendent deity to cope with life doesn’t mean that others don’t.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I have nothing against atheists or agnostics, and it's fine that they have their own club, but I see no constructive reason for running ads that stick a finger in the eye of those that are religious.
And the type of ads that say "believe in God or go to hell" are constructive? This might to you seem like fighting fire with fire but I see it more as an appeal to those who might feel intimidated at being surrounding by people like Fred Phelps and are afraid to speak out for whatever reason.

I have never, ever, seen an ad that said “believe in God or go to hell.” And even if I did, so what? Who cares? Certainly not me! The kind of people who would put up such an ad are very few and far between. Every movement has its nut cases.

The thing is, the vast majority of Americans are religious. Why deliberately antagonize them with ads at Christmas time (hijacked or not) that they are going to find offensive? What is gained by this? Do you actually see this as an effective appeal that would make atheists and agnostics less fearful of speaking out? And what are they going to speak out about? Is someone picking on them? Are they being accosted and being told to convert or die? Has someone even said they could not be an atheist or agnostic? Is there anyone making them dress a certain way, or wear a label of some kind that identifies them as an atheist or agnostic? Are there certain places they are not allowed to frequent because of their disbelief? The answer to all of these things is a resounding no!

So, if they are not being harassed and hunted down or in any other way having the natural or legal rights infringed, then why on earth launch an ad that they know full well is going to bring scorn down upon them? A scorn that would have otherwise remained unexpressed and would have absolutely zero impact on their lives.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the reason for this ad campaign. It serves absolutely no useful or meaningful purpose that I can discern.

If these atheists and agnostics are this insecure in their disbelief, I would submit that their money would be better spent on seeking out a mental health professional rather than starting a needless fight.


The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:

ROFL I just noticed this sign, didn't see it when I started my response. Wonder how Katy Perry feels about this... Snicker

But this is just a sign outside a church somewhere. It's not like they're plastering it on buses and having it trotted about town. And besides, it's no skin off my nose. Hell, it's great just for its entertainment value. As an agnostic I'd like to think that I'm above taking offense at a religion's beliefs.

You know, I realize that it might tick off some atheists and agnostics that the religious are so sensitive about what they see as impious expressions against their deity, but that is just to be expected. These kind of people are not operating on an entirely rational level when it comes to their religion. But as atheist and agnostics, we should be bigger than that, we are operating on a rational level. Rather than picking a fight with them, we should just shrug such things off as long as our own personal rights and liberties are unaffected.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:51 am

dblboggie wrote:
The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:This sounds deliberately confrontational and such an attitude does tend to give the thing a distinctly anti-Christian feel.
Christmas - a pagan celebration hijacked and rebranded as Christian - that we are being constantly bludgeoned with the idea that we must not forget the original meaning... not the actual original meaning, but the rebranded plagiarised meaning, the festival of a belief system that was violently oppressed by that a religion that claims to have a monopoloy on love and peace. I see no more appropriate time to remind Christians of what they have always sought to destroy - unbelievers and pagans - and that we are still here despite their best efforts to rewrite history.

I don’t get this. Who cares if a formerly pagan holiday has been rebranded as a religious holiday?
Now that that pagan holiday has moved from Christian piety to secular indulgence, it is those who initially hijacked it who are kicking up a stink at the impiety.

dblboggie wrote:How does this infringe on anyone’s rights? It certainly doesn’t infringe on mine.
There is more to this than individual liberty when the sort of propaganda being churned out by these people is borderline hate speech. I am offended that people keep repeating a myth that because I do not go to church and actually take some enjoyment out of this time of year that I am some kind of unfeeling, greedy slave to consumerism who leads an empty life. I find it strange that you find the mild message on the side of a bus an "attack" on Christians but you are not bothered by the above because it doesn't affect your freedom?

As much as I hate to quote Karl Popper all the time (well I don't actually) but "If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." It might seem like a bit of a paradox but we shouldn't tolerate intolerance, no matter how mild it might seem.

dblboggie wrote:I stopped celebrating Christmas as soon as my kids were grown up and gone from home. I don’t hang lights, put up a Christmas tree, or hang so much as a single Christmas card. I don’t shop for gifts, and don’t get gifts. And you know, I’ve never been attacked, had anyone try to destroy me or oppress me or even had anyone say squat to me about my lack of Christmas spirit. I opted out of the Christmas experience, save for a couple of parties, and have experienced no negative impacts whatsoever.

I’m sorry Matt, but I just cannot muster the energy to wave my fist in the air against those self-righteous Christians for “hijacking” a secular holiday. It’s just not something that has any impact on my life in any way.
And nobody is physically preventing people from going to church. Nobody is firebombing churches in the name of Richard Dawkins. Christians are not being lynched for their faith (except perhaps for sectarian reasons by other Christians). Churches are not being forcibly closed. So, pray tell where is this oppression of Christians?

dblboggie wrote:You know, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the people of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – a major metropolitan city where these ads are running – are not living in the shadow of Becky Fischer’s Jesus Camp, or have any problems with Harry Potter or Philip Pullman (whoever he is) books in schools, or gives a rat’s ass about Fred Phelps (whoever he is). I’ve visited the Dallas/Ft. Worth area a time or two over the years, and I think I’m pretty safe on this assumption. And just so you are clear on this, creationism is not being taught in any public schools last time I checked. However, evolution is being taught in public school science classes.
This isn't just about one city and you know those things are going on.

dblboggie wrote:I can’t speak for the U.K., but here I can attest that Christianity is very much under attack by groups like the ACLU and others. Our constitution is being deliberately misinterpreted by these organizations to push the free exercise of religion as deep underground as possible. This isn’t about Christians wanting to be “more equal” it’s about allowing them the rights they are guaranteed under the constitution and our laws.
Please give examples of these "attacks".

dblboggie wrote:And I don’t think that it’s a tragedy that people still believe in Christianity, or any other religion for that matter.
I never said that, I said it was tragic that people fall for the myth of the victim complex of the Abrahamic religions.

dblboggie wrote:The only mild objections I got were from the lone Muslim member of the class, and that was nothing.
Well that does not surprise me, their religion has yet to undergo a renaissance and they are not used to criticism. At my University, when a collection of atheists wanted to create The Secular Society, only two groups objected. The Evangelical Christian Union and the Islamic Society.

dblboggie wrote:I have never, ever, seen an ad that said “believe in God or go to hell.” And even if I did, so what? Who cares? Certainly not me! The kind of people who would put up such an ad are very few and far between. Every movement has its nut cases.
Even so, you were quick to say how offended you were on behalf of Christians at the mild bus message yet when it is the other way around you don't care. One rule for us, another for them?

dblboggie wrote:Why deliberately antagonize them with ads at Christmas time (hijacked or not) that they are going to find offensive?
Nobody really concerned that we are offended at the sort of messages that get displayed on churches (such as the one I posted at the bottom of my last post)? Are Christians the only ones permitted to register their disapproval of something and we must keep silent in order to stop them imagining that they are being attacked from all corners?

dblboggie wrote:What is gained by this?
As the article says, to appeal to those who feel uncomfortable about the lack of belief, as well as the overt religious displays in your country (far more than over here) to say "hey, its ok not to believe in this stuff". Is that really so offensive?

dblboggie wrote:Do you actually see this as an effective appeal that would make atheists and agnostics less fearful of speaking out? And what are they going to speak out about?
What is wrong with making our voices heard when religious expression is everywhere and rammed down our throat? Again, you seem to be suggesting that they have more right to free speech because they are the majority.

dblboggie wrote:Has someone even said they could not be an atheist or agnostic? Is there anyone making them dress a certain way, or wear a label of some kind that identifies them as an atheist or agnostic? Are there certain places they are not allowed to frequent because of their disbelief? The answer to all of these things is a resounding no!
Come back to me when the first openly atheist Senator or President is elected in your country.

So, if they are not being harassed and hunted down or in any other way having the natural or legal rights infringed, then why on earth launch an ad that they know full well is going to bring scorn down upon them?[/quote]
This advert is very mild. Why are you so determined to take offence on their behalf at every perceived slight yet defend their bigotry?

[quote="dblboggie"]ROFL I just noticed this sign, didn't see it when I started my response. Wonder how Katy Perry feels about this... Snicker

dblboggie wrote:But this is just a sign outside a church somewhere. It's not like they're plastering it on buses and having it trotted about town. And besides, it's no skin off my nose. Hell, it's great just for its entertainment value. As an agnostic I'd like to think that I'm above taking offense at a religion's beliefs.
Yet you take offence on behalf of the other side at this very mild bus message?

Furthermore, it is likely to be seen by more people if it is on a busy highway.

dblboggie wrote:You know, I realize that it might tick off some atheists and agnostics that the religious are so sensitive about what they see as impious expressions against their deity, but that is just to be expected. These kind of people are not operating on an entirely rational level when it comes to their religion. But as atheist and agnostics, we should be bigger than that, we are operating on a rational level. Rather than picking a fight with them, we should just shrug such things off as long as our own personal rights and liberties are unaffected.
I have always been of the philosophy that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If the religious cannot take criticism then they should not be dishing it out.
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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by dblboggie on Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:37 pm

Matt, I just want to preface this response so that it is taken in the spirit in which it is meant.

Throughout your response, you seem to have assumed that I was taking personal offense at these bus ads. I just want to assure you that I take no offense at them in the least. I could care less about these ads.

I was just taking the opposition position, as I have traditionally in religious debate, where I have engaged in it at all. Honestly, I see your point about the Christian response, and they are being just a tad thin-skinned at the atheist’s free expression of speech, but I can hardly say I am surprised about that.

Anyway, I just wanted you to have this information before embarking on dismantling my reply. This isn’t personal for me; this is just a debate, a strict pro vs. con exercise.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:
The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:This sounds deliberately confrontational and such an attitude does tend to give the thing a distinctly anti-Christian feel.
Christmas - a pagan celebration hijacked and rebranded as Christian - that we are being constantly bludgeoned with the idea that we must not forget the original meaning... not the actual original meaning, but the rebranded plagiarised meaning, the festival of a belief system that was violently oppressed by that a religion that claims to have a monopoloy on love and peace. I see no more appropriate time to remind Christians of what they have always sought to destroy - unbelievers and pagans - and that we are still here despite their best efforts to rewrite history.
I don’t get this. Who cares if a formerly pagan holiday has been rebranded as a religious holiday?
Now that that pagan holiday has moved from Christian piety to secular indulgence, it is those who initially hijacked it who are kicking up a stink at the impiety.

But of course they are. They’re religious and see the holiday as a religious one. How is this surprising in any way? I’ve heard this message for most of my adult life. It is a perennial favorite of Christians. I just don’t get what the big deal is. I personally could care less who lays claim to the holiday. I don’t need a special day set aside to observe a fictional deity. I don’t need a special day set aside to observe anything. I don’t even celebrate my own birthday, why would I care who claims the winter solstice in the name of Jesus’?

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:How does this infringe on anyone’s rights? It certainly doesn’t infringe on mine.
There is more to this than individual liberty when the sort of propaganda being churned out by these people is borderline hate speech. I am offended that people keep repeating a myth that because I do not go to church and actually take some enjoyment out of this time of year that I am some kind of unfeeling, greedy slave to consumerism who leads an empty life. I find it strange that you find the mild message on the side of a bus an "attack" on Christians but you are not bothered by the above because it doesn't affect your freedom?

As much as I hate to quote Karl Popper all the time (well I don't actually) but "If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." It might seem like a bit of a paradox but we shouldn't tolerate intolerance, no matter how mild it might seem.

But we are not extending unlimited tolerance to Christians. There are many things Christians and Christian churches may not do under our laws, and they have no secular power at all. Their sole source of power is the belief of their parishioners; and that is tenuous at best.

Now, sure, the message on the busses is mild indeed. It doesn’t defame God in anyway that I can see, and perhaps they shouldn’t be so sensitive to the expression of another’s free speech. And I guess you could indeed say that this is just a tad too intolerant on their part. Free speech does cut both ways.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I stopped celebrating Christmas as soon as my kids were grown up and gone from home. I don’t hang lights, put up a Christmas tree, or hang so much as a single Christmas card. I don’t shop for gifts, and don’t get gifts. And you know, I’ve never been attacked, had anyone try to destroy me or oppress me or even had anyone say squat to me about my lack of Christmas spirit. I opted out of the Christmas experience, save for a couple of parties, and have experienced no negative impacts whatsoever.

I’m sorry Matt, but I just cannot muster the energy to wave my fist in the air against those self-righteous Christians for “hijacking” a secular holiday. It’s just not something that has any impact on my life in any way.
And nobody is physically preventing people from going to church. Nobody is firebombing churches in the name of Richard Dawkins. Christians are not being lynched for their faith (except perhaps for sectarian reasons by other Christians). Churches are not being forcibly closed. So, pray tell where is this oppression of Christians?

Sure, Christians aren’t being thrown to lions or being martyred in arenas, no one is burning down their churches or denying the right to attend church. But these are the only ways in which religion is manifested in a society. There are many, seemingly small, incursions on the free expression of religion that have been taking place for decades, and have been increasingly prevalent in the past decade or so. Things that used to be common place have been under attack, nativity displays in public places, Christmas trees in public places and even some private businesses, religious symbols on local, and state seals, even attacks on home bible studies, and many, many other examples of the attempt to eliminate any reference to religion in the public square, because a statistically non-existent number people are so utterly intolerant of religion that they wish to ban any sight of it from the public square.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:You know, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the people of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – a major metropolitan city where these ads are running – are not living in the shadow of Becky Fischer’s Jesus Camp, or have any problems with Harry Potter or Philip Pullman (whoever he is) books in schools, or gives a rat’s ass about Fred Phelps (whoever he is). I’ve visited the Dallas/Ft. Worth area a time or two over the years, and I think I’m pretty safe on this assumption. And just so you are clear on this, creationism is not being taught in any public schools last time I checked. However, evolution is being taught in public school science classes.
This isn't just about one city and you know those things are going on.

No, I do not know these things are going on and I see no mention of them in the local or national news (which I watch every day). I sure there are sporadic and isolated examples of these things, and there are certainly a few religious nut cases out there, but in the great big scheme of things they amount to less than nothing.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I can’t speak for the U.K., but here I can attest that Christianity is very much under attack by groups like the ACLU and others. Our constitution is being deliberately misinterpreted by these organizations to push the free exercise of religion as deep underground as possible. This isn’t about Christians wanting to be “more equal” it’s about allowing them the rights they are guaranteed under the constitution and our laws.
Please give examples of these "attacks".

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:And I don’t think that it’s a tragedy that people still believe in Christianity, or any other religion for that matter.
I never said that, I said it was tragic that people fall for the myth of the victim complex of the Abrahamic religions.

Ah... sorry, quite right, that is what you said.

I’m not aware of this victim complex you are referring to. I do know the Jews, as an Abrahamic religion, have a very valid claim to historical victim status. But I am not aware of a similar claim to victim-hood inherent in Christianity. Sure, they went through their own period of persecution early on, but that had pretty much been settled by 300 CE, or thereabouts.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:The only mild objections I got were from the lone Muslim member of the class, and that was nothing.
Well that does not surprise me, their religion has yet to undergo a renaissance and they are not used to criticism. At my University, when a collection of atheists wanted to create The Secular Society, only two groups objected. The Evangelical Christian Union and the Islamic Society.

The two one would expect to have objections, small surprise there.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I have never, ever, seen an ad that said “believe in God or go to hell.” And even if I did, so what? Who cares? Certainly not me! The kind of people who would put up such an ad are very few and far between. Every movement has its nut cases.
Even so, you were quick to say how offended you were on behalf of Christians at the mild bus message yet when it is the other way around you don't care. One rule for us, another for them?

No, you misunderstand, I am not personally offended. I could care less. I was simply presenting the opposition position since no one else was. And, as you know from previous debates, I see a valid role for religion in society. And I am hardly the only agnostic or even atheist who has taken this position. Many philosophers and even non-believing rulers have expressed this view of religion as a necessary civilizing influence on mankind.

As for the one rule for us, another for them, atheists have attacked the display of religious symbols in the public square as personally offensive to them. So I guess you could say this is a war between these two forces. One seeing the increasing secularization of society as a bad thing, the other seeing religion as – whatever the hell they see it as.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Why deliberately antagonize them with ads at Christmas time (hijacked or not) that they are going to find offensive?
Nobody really concerned that we are offended at the sort of messages that get displayed on churches (such as the one I posted at the bottom of my last post)? Are Christians the only ones permitted to register their disapproval of something and we must keep silent in order to stop them imagining that they are being attacked from all corners?

No, not at all. But I see nothing positive to be gained by making it a public fight, that’s all. I mean, sure, they are quite free to do this, and I personally say knock yourself out, whatever floats your boat. But don’t pretend there’s some moral or societal good to be gained here because there is not.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:What is gained by this?
As the article says, to appeal to those who feel uncomfortable about the lack of belief, as well as the overt religious displays in your country (far more than over here) to say "hey, its ok not to believe in this stuff". Is that really so offensive?

It’s not offensive to me. But then, I’m not a Christian. Apparently many Christians and others do find it offensive. I’m not really sure why, there have been atheists and agnostics for as long as there have been religions. Hell, many Catholic prelates have been agnostics. Of course, they didn’t openly proclaim this for all to see, but in many cases it wasn’t something that was a secret to those in the know.

I don’t know, I guess I just don’t see the point. I don’t need another’s reassurance to be agnostic. If I were that wobbly about who I am, I think I’d be seeking professional help and not spending the money on an ad campaign.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Do you actually see this as an effective appeal that would make atheists and agnostics less fearful of speaking out? And what are they going to speak out about?
What is wrong with making our voices heard when religious expression is everywhere and rammed down our throat? Again, you seem to be suggesting that they have more right to free speech because they are the majority.

No, they don’t any more right to free speech than anyone else. I just don’t see what is gained by picking a fight with people who are religious. It would be one thing if atheists and agnostics were actually under attack and our rights were being infringed; I’d be first on board to wage that fight. But we aren’t under attack. I can do anything a religious person can – and actually much, much more... Snicker

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote: Has someone even said they could not be an atheist or agnostic? Is there anyone making them dress a certain way, or wear a label of some kind that identifies them as an atheist or agnostic? Are there certain places they are not allowed to frequent because of their disbelief? The answer to all of these things is a resounding no!
Come back to me when the first openly atheist Senator or President is elected in your country.

Well, the fact that a supermajority of American’s, over 80%, self-identify as religious and profess a belief in Jesus, I would say that would be pretty difficult. But let’s be honest, how many of our 535 elected representatives do you think are actually religious, and how many do you think pretend to be because that seems to matter to the constituents they represent? I would give you big odds that there are more than a few atheists and agnostics in the Senate and the House. And I would bet that Obama himself is not really religious one single bit. In fact, he only joined Rev Wright’s church when he decided to run for public office.

Now yes, there are no openly atheist Senators or Representatives, but an open atheist is more than free to take a shot at getting elected, no one is stopping them. But as atheists comprise such a tiny minority of the population, their chances of getting elected are going to be pretty slim unless they made it clear that they would be willing to represent their constituents wishes on a variety of social issues. I’d vote for an atheist if their platform were one I could get behind.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:So, if they are not being harassed and hunted down or in any other way having the natural or legal rights infringed, then why on earth launch an ad that they know full well is going to bring scorn down upon them?
This advert is very mild. Why are you so determined to take offence on their behalf at every perceived slight yet defend their bigotry?

Again, please remember, I am not personally taking offense. This is not my fight. I am just taking the other side in this debate because no one else was. It’s what I do, I like debating.

And I am not defending their “bigotry” because it isn’t bigotry – it’s what their religion commands of them. They’d be pretty piss-poor Christians if they didn’t speak out against what they see as a grave sin. And as long as their speaking out doesn’t result in the infringing of the atheist group’s rights, then let’em rail. Seems like the bus company is doing the right thing despite the protest. No harm, no foul. Now, if the bus company relented to this pressure and treated the atheists differently, then we’d have something to be pissed off about.

dblboggie wrote:ROFL I just noticed this sign, didn't see it when I started my response. Wonder how Katy Perry feels about this... Snicker


I guess this was left in as an oversight.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:But this is just a sign outside a church somewhere. It's not like they're plastering it on buses and having it trotted about town. And besides, it's no skin off my nose. Hell, it's great just for its entertainment value. As an agnostic I'd like to think that I'm above taking offense at a religion's beliefs.
Yet you take offence on behalf of the other side at this very mild bus message?

Furthermore, it is likely to be seen by more people if it is on a busy highway.

Again, no... I don’t take offence at the bus message. I’m just being the voice for the other side. I am not taking this personally at all; I am just debating a position. However, a part of my debate does reference my personal feelings; this is the part where I state that I have no problem with religious messages. I just personally could care less; they are no skin off my nose... I don’t take them personally; I don’t feel offended or outraged at religious messages. This is what religions are supposed to do; it is what their bible tells them to do. As long as my rights and liberties are not being infringed, I could care less what messages they hang outside their churches.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:You know, I realize that it might tick off some atheists and agnostics that the religious are so sensitive about what they see as impious expressions against their deity, but that is just to be expected. These kind of people are not operating on an entirely rational level when it comes to their religion. But as atheist and agnostics, we should be bigger than that, we are operating on a rational level. Rather than picking a fight with them, we should just shrug such things off as long as our own personal rights and liberties are unaffected.
I have always been of the philosophy that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If the religious cannot take criticism then they should not be dishing it out.

Well to be fair, I don’t think the Christians see the bus ads as criticism, I think they see it as an offensive renouncement of God – which, if I recall, is a pretty serious sin to them, and they are making their disapproval of the ads known to the bus company. Now is it silly, sure, to you and me. But apparently they don’t think so.
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dblboggie




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Re: Boycott over atheist ads on Fort Worth buses will proceed, pastors say [with poll added]

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:07 pm

dblboggie wrote:Matt, I just want to preface this response so that it is taken in the spirit in which it is meant.

Throughout your response, you seem to have assumed that I was taking personal offense at these bus ads. I just want to assure you that I take no offense at them in the least. I could care less about these ads.
No I said you were expressing offence on their behalf. I think of all the people in your country, the religious right are perhaps the group who need the least defence. I always find it curious when people are willing to take or express offence on behalf of others particularly when it is a large group with no such qualms about sitting in judgement of others.

dblboggie wrote:I don’t even celebrate my own birthday, why would I care who claims the winter solstice in the name of Jesus’?
Well, you do seem to care when the left attempt to rewrite history. Snicker

But all joking aside, my point is that they are basically complaining that people no longer observe in the way they want, not the "original meaning" at all because they would also object to people marking it in the original meaning... and that would be yet again proof of how Christians are being oppressed.
dblboggie wrote:But we are not extending unlimited tolerance to Christians. There are many things Christians and Christian churches may not do under our laws, and they have no secular power at all. Their sole source of power is the belief of their parishioners; and that is tenuous at best.
I never said that, I said unlimited tolerance to bigotry. Why excuse bigots of a particular flavour but deal with others more harshly? To me a bigot is a bigot is a bigot.

dblboggie wrote:Now, sure, the message on the busses is mild indeed. It doesn’t defame God in anyway that I can see, and perhaps they shouldn’t be so sensitive to the expression of another’s free speech. And I guess you could indeed say that this is just a tad too intolerant on their part. Free speech does cut both ways.
Of course. Which is why I am not offended at messages outside churches unless they break the law. Attempting to stir up hatred of a certain group is against the law, no matter how you dress it up and saying "god tells me to think this way" is a poor way of excusing one's personal bigotries. Yet which are Christians making the most fuss about... Fred Phelps' "I Hate Fags" or this organisations "Millions of Americans are good without god"? You are more offended at the latter, seriously?!
dblboggie wrote:Sure, Christians aren’t being thrown to lions or being martyred in arenas, no one is burning down their churches or denying the right to attend church. But these are the only ways in which religion is manifested in a society. There are many, seemingly small, incursions on the free expression of religion that have been taking place for decades, and have been increasingly prevalent in the past decade or so. Things that used to be common place have been under attack, nativity displays in public places, Christmas trees in public places and even some private businesses, religious symbols on local, and state seals, even attacks on home bible studies, and many, many other examples of the attempt to eliminate any reference to religion in the public square, because a statistically non-existent number people are so utterly intolerant of religion that they wish to ban any sight of it from the public square.
Where are these taking place? Sorry, I require examples and evidence that they are part of a deliberate, sustained and organised oppression of Christian expression and not just a few isolated examples of individuals with emotional issues.

dblboggie wrote:No, I do not know these things are going on and I see no mention of them in the local or national news (which I watch every day). I sure there are sporadic and isolated examples of these things, and there are certainly a few religious nut cases out there, but in the great big scheme of things they amount to less than nothing.
Yet the individuals quoted in your examples above do not?

dblboggie wrote:I’m not aware of this victim complex you are referring to. I do know the Jews, as an Abrahamic religion, have a very valid claim to historical victim status. But I am not aware of a similar claim to victim-hood inherent in Christianity. Sure, they went through their own period of persecution early on, but that had pretty much been settled by 300 CE, or thereabouts.
As you state above a few isolated examples is thrown together to imply some sort of deliberate organised assault against Christians when it reality... assuming these things have happened... are probably just a few isolated incidents.

dblboggie wrote:I see a valid role for religion in society.
I do not in the 21st century, at least, not in the developed world.

dblboggie wrote:And I am hardly the only agnostic or even atheist who has taken this position. Many philosophers and even non-believing rulers have expressed this view of religion as a necessary civilizing influence on mankind.
Yes, "believing in belief" as Daniel Dennett calls it.

dblboggie wrote:As for the one rule for us, another for them, atheists have attacked the display of religious symbols in the public square as personally offensive to them. So I guess you could say this is a war between these two forces. One seeing the increasing secularization of society as a bad thing, the other seeing religion as – whatever the hell they see it as.
I'm holding judgement until I have evidence that this is a deliberate organised plot to destroy Christianity.

dblboggie wrote:No, not at all. But I see nothing positive to be gained by making it a public fight, that’s all. I mean, sure, they are quite free to do this, and I personally say knock yourself out, whatever floats your boat. But don’t pretend there’s some moral or societal good to be gained here because there is not.
Self-defence against those who spread propaganda against us should always be fought.

dblboggie wrote:It’s not offensive to me. But then, I’m not a Christian. Apparently many Christians and others do find it offensive.
Again... people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. It seems all they really want is the right not to be challenged while reserving the right to sit in judgement over others. And that is what this all keeps coming back to.

dblboggie wrote:No, they don’t any more right to free speech than anyone else. I just don’t see what is gained by picking a fight with people who are religious.
I still fail to see how such a mild message is "picking a fight".

dblboggie wrote:But we aren’t under attack.
Not violently but then there is the rhetoric. There is the widespread proclamations that we lead sad, empty lives. That we are materialistic and uncaring. Mild messages such as the one on the side of this bus is just ammo against such assaults from the pious who - as I have noted - whine about any criticism against them yet reserve the right to sit in judgement over others.

dblboggie wrote:Well, the fact that a supermajority of American’s, over 80%, self-identify as religious and profess a belief in Jesus, I would say that would be pretty difficult. But let’s be honest, how many of our 535 elected representatives do you think are actually religious, and how many do you think pretend to be because that seems to matter to the constituents they represent?
Yes because of the negative perception spread by Christians about atheists and agnostics. And you say we are oppressing them?

dblboggie wrote:Again, please remember, I am not personally taking offense. This is not my fight. I am just taking the other side in this debate because no one else was. It’s what I do, I like debating.
I guess you are misunderstanding me. When I said "taking offence" I suppose I meant "expressing offence".

dblboggie wrote:And I am not defending their “bigotry” because it isn’t bigotry – it’s what their religion commands of them.
Suicide

dblboggie wrote:They’d be pretty piss-poor Christians if they didn’t speak out against what they see as a grave sin.
And we'd be pretty piss-poor secular humanists if we didn't stand up against their bigotry.

dblboggie wrote:Now, if the bus company relented to this pressure and treated the atheists differently, then we’d have something to be pissed off about.
I can certainly agree with that. If it is their rule, it is their right so long as they do not make exceptions.

dblboggie wrote:As long as my rights and liberties are not being infringed, I could care less what messages they hang outside their churches.
Perhaps you might feel differently if you were homosexual or of the "wrong" Christian group in a given geographic location.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me


I'm not going to be around for the next few days so have fun with this one.
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