How Many Secularists and Non-Secularists Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Poobah Self Disclosure: I’m an atheist. You may be a Christian…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

America is an unhappy place these days. Opposing forces not only bludgeon each other bloody, but as Mitch McConnell recently announced, they make it a political priority to wipe out their opposition like Genghis Kahn scorching the earth of the steppes. Nowhere is this fighting as pointless and picayunish as in the Secular v. Non Secular Death Cage Match.

As a rule of thumb Republicans are the logical home of the stupidly religiously zealous. Folks like the Family Research Council, Glenn Beck, and loopy Michele Bachmann trumpet vuvuzela the superiority of the God-ed while practicing the most shockingly unchristian behavior against the ungod-ed. Even their captive audience of soft-headed, opportunistic political drones have trouble with them – especially when they stop donating money and votes.

The religious zealots have a huge David and Goliath thing going on. “Dear God, give me a slingshot and guide mine rock into the eye of my Godless oppressors, the libruls.”

But fundamentalists have no lock on the asshat zealot market. Stop by a Jesus Freakery and read the comments. Go to a Atheisterie and the words seem plagiarized from the same source, “You’re a know-nothing asshole who’s a traitor intent on wiping out what crumbs of democracy we still have left.”

And one more similarity. Almost all the over the top bloviation mentions how much anyone who disagrees is some sort of hate-filled, brainless zot – as though we’re all Little Georgie Shrubs.

Most Christians are reasonably sane and the same goes for the secular crowd. All the reasonable ask is a bit of wiggle room because they’re entitled to it. They want to go to church (or not), put up the occasional Christmas Holiday tree (or not), and be safe from the incessant yawping of people who would staple the 10 commandments to everyone’s forehead or consign religious gatherings to a dank cellar with the lights turned out – sort of an ecumenical Gitmo.

But out there on the dark edge of Firebase Freedom lurk nuts to the left of us and nuts to the right of us, as unreasonably pissed about the, “In God We Trust” motto as they are by the, “Christians über alles and the hell with anyone else” brigade.

The balance between freedom of religion and freedom from religion is delicate and a very narrow gap. One person’s “absolute” freedom is another’s horrible shackle.

As with all Constitutional rights, we don’t get to vote on them or change them at will to suit our fancy. However, there’s nothing wrong with a legitimate argument about where the line lays. But, meanness for the sake of meanness is meaningless, rude, and counter-productive.

So everyone, let’s kiss and make up so we can go back to something important, like hating Congress and the President.

You know, something useful.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

How Many Secularists and Non-Secularists Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Poobah Self Disclosure: I’m an atheist. You may be a Christian…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

America is an unhappy place these days. Opposing forces not only bludgeon each other bloody, but as Mitch McConnell recently announced, they make it a political priority to wipe out their opposition like Genghis Kahn scorching the earth of the steppes. Nowhere is this fighting as pointless and picayunish as in the Secular v. Non Secular Death Cage Match.

As a rule of thumb Republicans are the logical home of the stupidly religiously zealous. Folks like the Family Research Council, Glenn Beck, and loopy Michele Bachmann trumpet vuvuzela the superiority of the God-ed while practicing the most shockingly unchristian behavior against the ungod-ed. Even their captive audience of soft-headed, opportunistic political drones have trouble with them – especially when they stop donating money and votes.

The religious zealots have a huge David and Goliath thing going on. “Dear God, give me a slingshot and guide mine rock into the eye of my Godless oppressors, the libruls.”

But fundamentalists have no lock on the asshat zealot market. Stop by a Jesus Freakery and read the comments. Go to a Atheisterie and the words seem plagiarized from the same source, “You’re a know-nothing asshole who’s a traitor intent on wiping out what crumbs of democracy we still have left.”

And one more similarity. Almost all the over the top bloviation mentions how much anyone who disagrees is some sort of hate-filled, brainless zot – as though we’re all Little Georgie Shrubs.

Most Christians are reasonably sane and the same goes for the secular crowd. All the reasonable ask is a bit of wiggle room because they’re entitled to it. They want to go to church (or not), put up the occasional Christmas Holiday tree (or not), and be safe from the incessant yawping of people who would staple the 10 commandments to everyone’s forehead or consign religious gatherings to a dank cellar with the lights turned out – sort of an ecumenical Gitmo.

But out there on the dark edge of Firebase Freedom lurk nuts to the left of us and nuts to the right of us, as unreasonably pissed about the, “In God We Trust” motto as they are by the, “Christians über alles and the hell with anyone else” brigade.

The balance between freedom of religion and freedom from religion is delicate and a very narrow gap. One person’s “absolute” freedom is another’s horrible shackle.

As with all Constitutional rights, we don’t get to vote on them or change them at will to suit our fancy. However, there’s nothing wrong with a legitimate argument about where the line lays. But, meanness for the sake of meanness is meaningless, rude, and counter-productive.

So everyone, let’s kiss and make up so we can go back to something important, like hating Congress and the President.

You know, something useful.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

How Many Secularists and Non-Secularists Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Poobah Self Disclosure: I’m an atheist. You may be a Christian…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

America is an unhappy place these days. Opposing forces not only bludgeon each other bloody, but as Mitch McConnell recently announced, they make it a political priority to wipe out their opposition like Genghis Kahn scorching the earth of the steppes. Nowhere is this fighting as pointless and picayunish as in the Secular v. Non Secular Death Cage Match.

As a rule of thumb Republicans are the logical home of the stupidly religiously zealous. Folks like the Family Research Council, Glenn Beck, and loopy Michele Bachmann trumpet vuvuzela the superiority of the God-ed while practicing the most shockingly unchristian behavior against the ungod-ed. Even their captive audience of soft-headed, opportunistic political drones have trouble with them – especially when they stop donating money and votes.

The religious zealots have a huge David and Goliath thing going on. “Dear God, give me a slingshot and guide mine rock into the eye of my Godless oppressors, the libruls.”

But fundamentalists have no lock on the asshat zealot market. Stop by a Jesus Freakery and read the comments. Go to a Atheisterie and the words seem plagiarized from the same source, “You’re a know-nothing asshole who’s a traitor intent on wiping out what crumbs of democracy we still have left.”

And one more similarity. Almost all the over the top bloviation mentions how much anyone who disagrees is some sort of hate-filled, brainless zot – as though we’re all Little Georgie Shrubs.

Most Christians are reasonably sane and the same goes for the secular crowd. All the reasonable ask is a bit of wiggle room because they’re entitled to it. They want to go to church (or not), put up the occasional Christmas Holiday tree (or not), and be safe from the incessant yawping of people who would staple the 10 commandments to everyone’s forehead or consign religious gatherings to a dank cellar with the lights turned out – sort of an ecumenical Gitmo.

But out there on the dark edge of Firebase Freedom lurk nuts to the left of us and nuts to the right of us, as unreasonably pissed about the, “In God We Trust” motto as they are by the, “Christians über alles and the hell with anyone else” brigade.

The balance between freedom of religion and freedom from religion is delicate and a very narrow gap. One person’s “absolute” freedom is another’s horrible shackle.

As with all Constitutional rights, we don’t get to vote on them or change them at will to suit our fancy. However, there’s nothing wrong with a legitimate argument about where the line lays. But, meanness for the sake of meanness is meaningless, rude, and counter-productive.

So everyone, let’s kiss and make up so we can go back to something important, like hating Congress and the President.

You know, something useful.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

How Many Secularists and Non-Secularists Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Poobah Self Disclosure: I’m an atheist. You may be a Christian…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

America is an unhappy place these days. Opposing forces not only bludgeon each other bloody, but as Mitch McConnell recently announced, they make it a political priority to wipe out their opposition like Genghis Kahn scorching the earth of the steppes. Nowhere is this fighting as pointless and picayunish as in the Secular v. Non Secular Death Cage Match.

As a rule of thumb Republicans are the logical home of the stupidly religiously zealous. Folks like the Family Research Council, Glenn Beck, and loopy Michele Bachmann trumpet vuvuzela the superiority of the God-ed while practicing the most shockingly unchristian behavior against the ungod-ed. Even their captive audience of soft-headed, opportunistic political drones have trouble with them – especially when they stop donating money and votes.

The religious zealots have a huge David and Goliath thing going on. “Dear God, give me a slingshot and guide mine rock into the eye of my Godless oppressors, the libruls.”

But fundamentalists have no lock on the asshat zealot market. Stop by a Jesus Freakery and read the comments. Go to a Atheisterie and the words seem plagiarized from the same source, “You’re a know-nothing asshole who’s a traitor intent on wiping out what crumbs of democracy we still have left.”

And one more similarity. Almost all the over the top bloviation mentions how much anyone who disagrees is some sort of hate-filled, brainless zot – as though we’re all Little Georgie Shrubs.

Most Christians are reasonably sane and the same goes for the secular crowd. All the reasonable ask is a bit of wiggle room because they’re entitled to it. They want to go to church (or not), put up the occasional Christmas Holiday tree (or not), and be safe from the incessant yawping of people who would staple the 10 commandments to everyone’s forehead or consign religious gatherings to a dank cellar with the lights turned out – sort of an ecumenical Gitmo.

But out there on the dark edge of Firebase Freedom lurk nuts to the left of us and nuts to the right of us, as unreasonably pissed about the, “In God We Trust” motto as they are by the, “Christians über alles and the hell with anyone else” brigade.

The balance between freedom of religion and freedom from religion is delicate and a very narrow gap. One person’s “absolute” freedom is another’s horrible shackle.

As with all Constitutional rights, we don’t get to vote on them or change them at will to suit our fancy. However, there’s nothing wrong with a legitimate argument about where the line lays. But, meanness for the sake of meanness is meaningless, rude, and counter-productive.

So everyone, let’s kiss and make up so we can go back to something important, like hating Congress and the President.

You know, something useful.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

The Hell With Atheists After the Foxholes

Many people say, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” As a practical matter this obviously isn’t the case, but the Army’s new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program (CSFP) implies it should.

The mandatory program measures soldier fitness in a variety of dimensions to help them cope with the rigors of combat. It’s spiritual dimension has a wealth of information for believers. However, it  implies that only believers need or can be helped in this dimension. In short, non-theists need not apply.

There’s nothing wrong with measuring and grading this dimension. It is critical to overcoming battlefield trauma. Whatever gets you through the terrors of war is great. But grading and providing solely religious-based feedback can demoralize non-believers and deprive them of helpful information in much the same way DADT chose to simply ignore the presence of gays. Non-theists are similarly marginalized.

Clean Toilets or Go to Chruch?
And, this ignoring of other than religious – more often than not non-Christian points of view – is larger than this program.

As a young airman in basic training during the 1970s everyone was offered two choices each Sunday – attend church or stay in the barracks and clean toilets.

Hmm…clean toilets or escape the tedium of 24×7 training for an hour singing and laughing with friends? Which shall I choose?

To the Air Force’s credit, the services were non-denominational and mentioned God only once or twice per service. There were two prayers, both of which were generic enough to interpret in any way, including as a non-theist statement. Services were comprised of signing vaguely religious, up tempo, and “modern” songs. To escape cleaning toilets with a toothbrush most atheists saw it as a good trade.

Nods to religion for the rest of my Air Force career were limited to my dog tags – which you could label as atheist, any religion, or not applicable. I entered “Granitellism” a faux belief that race car driver Andy Granitelli was God because he could pick up a screwdriver covered in oil. It didn’t cause an eyebrow to flutter.

It seems there has been a steady movement backward since those days.

In addition to CSFP, the Air Force Academy has suffered a long-standing bias against all but Christians and despite several Pentagon attempts to change, it continues. Individual unit commanders sometimes cross the same line and chaplains – which in my day did more social work than God’s work – have upped the ante.

Service members sometimes refuse to attend nondenominational services conducted by Islamic chaplains or vice versa. The Navy has squabbled over building mosques on large bases. National cemeteries banned atheist and multi-theist symbols on graves until recently because they “offended” the religious.

Unreasonable Demands?
Generally speaking, non-thesists haven’t made unreasonable demands for accommodation just as gays haven’t. When services build chapels and mosques there isn’t a clamor for an atheist house for contemplation. Asking for a symbol on a veteran’s grave is hardly a big thing. But, the CSFP goes a step beyond.

By refusing to include non-theists in CSFP the Army denies help to those service members, even though they remained atheists while in the foxholes…arm to arm with straight, gay, and minority soldiers.

The military is all about releasing some individuality to serve a greater purpose, a non-religious purpose. The Army used to call this, “An Army of One”. It degrades the contributions of non-believers because they didn’t give up an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution, and at least nominally by military training.

It’s simply wrong for the military to tout individual rights during training while denying those rights when the bullets fly.

After all, bullets don’t have an opinion about God.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

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