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This should have been dealt with at the same time as youth membership.

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  • Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
    Just curious what the you guys think would happen or would have happened if the BSA allowed atheists membership status but kept the duty to god requirement for rank advancement ?
    They could do that, but they would still be discriminating on the basis of religion, so I don't think much of anything would change. If they did that years ago, they'd still lose public schools as chartering partners.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
      Just curious what the you guys think would happen or would have happened if the BSA allowed atheists membership status but kept the duty to god requirement for rank advancement ?
      It would really depend on what was meant by "Duty to God"? The BSA Guide to Advancement says the following (pg. 33):

      The Boy Scouts of America does not define what constitutes belief in God or practice of religion. Neither does the BSA require membership in a religious organization or association for membership in the movement. If a Scout does not belong to a religious organization or association, then his parent(s) or guardian(s) will be considered responsible for his religious training. All that is required is the acknowledgment of belief in God as stated in the Scout Oath, and the ability to be reverent as stated in the Scout Law.
      Note, there is nothing about "belief in a higher power" or anything like that. Just a lovely circular argument of: we require a belief in god, but we don't define what that is. Basically what the above says is that all questions about belief in god and duty to god are left to the scout, his family and religious community (if any). Which I believe is how it should be. If a scout believes they are doing their "duty to god", then they are. And it looks like an atheist is just as capable of doing that as any theist.

      So to answer your question, what would happen if the BSA allowed atheists? Not much would change. Except that some people would have to have a better understanding of what "respects the beliefs of others" really means.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
        Just curious what the you guys think would happen or would have happened if the BSA allowed atheists membership status but kept the duty to god requirement for rank advancement ?
        Personally, I have always believed that something very similar to this would make the most sense.
        For those who believe ... You cannot evangelize if you are preaching to the choir.

        Young men and women, particularly in the age ranges served by the Scouting program are looking to find themselves and their place in the world. This includes what (or if) they believe.

        In my early 20s, I went through a phase of what would best be described as atheism. While I had spiritual leanings, they were not the traditional concept of a personified supreme being, and I lacked the background and references to give context to my beliefs. I was also on the staff (Program Director) of a summer camp, and when our traditional vesper's leader was unavailable, I was the one out there, leading the songs and providing the inspirational messages.

        I felt more hypocritical than usual, being out there - leading others in what I barely believed, but by the end of that service, I had found a very new sense of myself and my place in this world. I have since done much more extensive theological research and looked to better understand what my religious beliefs are - and continue to do so.

        Maybe part of the decline in religious identity, aside from a more 'progressive' social and political environment - may be that by not belonging to organizations like Scouting, and instead only being exposed to television, radio, and video-game media - our young people cannot be exposed to the wonder and grandeur of nature, or to the good examples that those who actually practice their faith provide.

        Let the atheist youth join, let them be exposed to true wonder and to good examples - will it reach all of them? By no means. But how many to we have to reach to make it worthwhile? How many houses do the door to door evangelists/missionaries get turned away from before the first person even listens to their spiel?

        Scouting offers a good experience, for the youth, and for society as a whole. The more we can reach, the better everyone will be. If we cut ourselves off from the ever increasing percentage of the population that do not identify with a religion or its values, we will eventually drop below a critical mass, and the program will die the slow death. If we make the youth make decisions that they are not yet ready to make, they will leave, and again we will die.

        The cub scout program, I think, approaches this in a good way, for those who are committed in their beliefs - they are done with the requirement. For those who are not, the program progressively asks them and their families to evaluate the role of religion or spirituality to advance. The Boy Scout program can be similarly implemented with increasing importance on the Reverence of the Scout as they approach their Eagle.

        As for adult leaders ... as long as they are otherwise a good leader, a good role model, and are not actively discouraging the Scout from the Scouts own exploration of beliefs ... I don't care if they are an athiest. They to may come to re-explore their own beliefs (as I did) when exposed to the wonders of the world around us, and to the examples of others around them.

        Comment


        • So we should let atheists in, so we can evangelize them, eh?

          Excellent.....

          Comment


          • And vice-versa.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Merlyn_LeRoy View Post
              And vice-versa.
              I suspect that is the real fear. Associating with a non-believer is a threat to their child's faith. Very similar to another's "gayness" rubbing off on their child.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
                I suspect that is the real fear. Associating with a non-believer is a threat to their child's faith. Very similar to another's "gayness" rubbing off on their child.
                Had plenty of athiests in my youth fellowship, and although we made inroads into each other's world views, I don't think we undermined them. If fear of conversion were a real issue, there was more of it over LDS and the like. On the other hand, I had plenty of Christian (and later Muslim) friends who saw athiesm as a scourge undermining the fabric society ... the gateway drug to communism. (As if the capitalism was the very stairway to heaven.) And that's the association that BSA makes: patriotism = devotion to religion.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                  On the other hand, I had plenty of Christian (and later Muslim) friends who saw athiesm as a scourge undermining the fabric society ... the gateway drug to communism. (As if the capitalism was the very stairway to heaven.) And that's the association that BSA makes: patriotism = devotion to religion.
                  The idea that "atheism = communism" I think is one of the main components of fear of atheism. It's why in 1956 congress replaced "E pluribus unum" with "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the US. And also why we added the phrase to our paper money and added "under God" to the pledge. In the 50s communism (and therefor it's companion atheism) was seen as an existential threat to the American way of life.

                  Of course, now that the threat of communism has subsided, these anti-communist elements have been co-opted by those on the religious right that are fighting against religious pluralism in the US ("This is a Christian nation", "Freedom of Religion only applies to Christians", "swearing an oath on the Quran undermines American civilization", "I'm sick and tired of hearing about separation of church and state", "atheists shouldn't be considered citizens", etc.). So we won't be seeing "under God" removed from the pledge of allegiance any time soon.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

                    The idea that "atheism = communism" I think is one of the main components of fear of atheism. It's why in 1956 congress replaced "E pluribus unum" with "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the US. And also why we added the phrase to our paper money and added "under God" to the pledge. In the 50s communism (and therefor it's companion atheism) was seen as an existential threat to the American way of life.

                    Of course, now that the threat of communism has subsided, these anti-communist elements have been co-opted by those on the religious right that are fighting against religious pluralism in the US ("This is a Christian nation", "Freedom of Religion only applies to Christians", "swearing an oath on the Quran undermines American civilization", "I'm sick and tired of hearing about separation of church and state", "atheists shouldn't be considered citizens", etc.). So we won't be seeing "under God" removed from the pledge of allegiance any time soon.
                    We were right to fear communism because of its inherent atheism, among other valid reasons. (And I don't think our opposition to Marxist states has subsided - North Korea and the PRC continue to be antagonistic to our country.) Atheism may not = communism, but communism sure does = atheism. I've toured the museums of atheism that the Soviets erected at great expense to mock religion, and have read the turgid minutes of the international atheist conferences the former USSR funded, and read the literature of the Soviet state's official organization for promoting atheism, "The League of the Militant Godless," which was just as crazy as it sounds, but very well funded. The Soviet government was obsessed with atheism. I interviewed a Russian emigre who was surveilled and harassed for years without explanation by the KGB. He wasn't openly political, and couldn't figure out why he had been targeted by the regime. He was finally brought in to KGB headquarters to be interrogated, and he learned that they thought he was (illegally) studying karate, and they were worried that he might thus be trying to introduce Buddhism into the atheist state. (He actually had never studied karate in his life and had no interest in it, or Buddhism - he still has no idea why they thought he did.)

                    If you remove the historic role of God in people's lives, it creates a vacuum that the state is happy to fill. As devotion to God (or even gods) acts as a counterweight to the power of the state, atheist governments will oppose it - as we see, the PRC continues to try to exercise control over its churches.

                    There's no doubt that atheism was an integral part of communism in all its forms, and increased the savagery of atheist governments in the 20th century. But atheism does not require communism to be fundamentally anti-humanistic, as we have seen from the examples of Plutarco Elías Calles's governmental war against the Cristeros, the French Revolutionist's genocide against the Vendees, and nutbags like "The Reverend" Jim Jones, an admitted atheist who said he created the People's Temple as a sham religion to lead people into atheism, and wound up killing over 900 people in Guyana in the 1970s. People who call themselves Christians but who do not act in a Christian ethos may do some horrible things, but the body count for atheism, and secular anti-religious movements in general (in the National Socialist case) in the 20th century outweighs that of the total of every religious war in history. As the statement attributed to Dostoevsky said, without God, anything is possible.

                    On the supposed Christian horror of religious pluralism that you claim, there may be some people like that, but I don't know any and I hang out with people from all kinds of faiths. Most Christians are more than happy to let people of another faith lead a prayer at a public meeting (as SCOTUS just okayed), as long as you accord them the same freedom to practice and proclaim their faith as they desire. The people who object to prayers in public, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise, are usually atheists.

                    I'm all for the concept of the Separation of Church and State (a phrase that exists nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution), if we understand it to mean that the goverment can't establish an official religion, and that the government also can't intrude on American's rights to live their lives according to their own religious faiths.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                      We were right to fear communism because of its inherent atheism, among other valid reasons. (And I don't think our opposition to Marxist states has subsided - North Korea and the PRC continue to be antagonistic to our country.)
                      I'm not claiming that "opposition to Marxist states has subsided", however I am claiming that the perceived level of the threat in the US from communism has subsided. Very few people are afraid of a US "communist takeover". We are decades past the McCarthy hearings, and not sign of them coming back anytime soon.

                      Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                      People who call themselves Christians but who do not act in a Christian ethos may do some horrible things, but the body count for atheism, and secular anti-religious movements in general (in the National Socialist case) in the 20th century outweighs that of the total of every religious war in history. As the statement attributed to Dostoevsky said, without God, anything is possible.
                      Wait, are you saying that the Nazis were an atheist movement? Yes there were atheists in the Nazi leadership (I believe Borman was rather militant about it), but there was also a strong religious aspect to the movement (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity for one example). To blame the evil of the Nazis on atheism is real stretch.

                      I find the idea that atheist are somehow inherently evil or more prone to evil to be itself an evil idea. it's right up there with "Muslims are naturally drawn to terrorism" or "Jews can't be trusted", or <insert bigoted statement here>. That appears to me to be what you are saying. If I am misreading you (which is very possible), then please don't take this as an attack on you.

                      Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                      On the supposed Christian horror of religious pluralism that you claim, there may be some people like that, but I don't know any and I hang out with people from all kinds of faiths. Most Christians are more than happy to let people of another faith lead a prayer at a public meeting (as SCOTUS just okayed), as long as you accord them the same freedom to practice and proclaim their faith as they desire. The people who object to prayers in public, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise, are usually atheists.
                      I agree with you that most Christians have no objection to religious pluralism. But there are people on the religious right that are fighting against it. And it includes people that believe that atheism is some how un-American and that atheist shouldn't have the same rights as theists. There are lots of people fighting to either establish or maintain Christianity's privileged position in society. And yes, there are many Christians (including some on the religious right) that are fighting against it.

                      Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                      The people who object to prayers in public, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise, are usually atheists.
                      And I'm going to call big time BS on the idea that only atheists object to government sponsored public religion. I'm not an atheist, but if my local court house put up a big slab with the 10 commandments, you bet I would be loudly protesting (as I believe most of the people in my church would also - we've done it before). Separation of Church and State is one of the corner stones of freedom of religion in this country. The idea that only atheist complain when it's stepped on is absurd.

                      Yes you can find some idiot, loud mouth atheists out there. But the vast majority just want the freedom to follow their spiritual path without getting hassled. Without getting indirectly dumped on at a city council meeting, or fired from their job for their beliefs, or have their children singled out for ridicule by some self-righteous school official, or to feel proselytized at by various representatives of the state, or bared from participating in state sponsored civic activities, or .... Basically they want the same freedoms we all want.
                      Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 05-16-2014, 10:03 PM.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post
                        Wait, are you saying that the Nazis were an atheist movement? Yes there were atheists in the Nazi leadership (I believe Borman was rather militant about it), but there was also a strong religious aspect to the movement (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity for one example). To blame the evil of the Nazis on atheism is real stretch.
                        I am probably better acquainted than most with Hitler's views on religions. If you review the writings of the "Positive Christianity" movement as the Nazis used it, it was hardly Christian and was pagan - in the sense that religion was to be used to bolster the power of the state, an essentially pagan ethos of the Roman Empire. It also attempted to remove the Jewish base of Christianity. Hitler himself, in his private statements to his followers, saw Positive Christianity as a useful tool for suborning the traditional power of Christian belief in Germany, but did not believe its precepts himself and did not see Jesus as divine - hence, he was not a Christian. He despised Catholicism (despite being nominally raised in its tradition) as much as he did Judaism, hated the Pope and the German bishops, despised the remnants of the Evangelical Lutheran movement that opposed him (men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer) - hardly a Christian movement. Few of his followers were proponents of the Positive Christianity cult, but like him, they saw it as a useful mechanism to subvert traditional morality. More than a few higher ranking Nazis were pagans, and wanted to see a pagan revival under the Reich, but Hitler himself disparaged the idea. He did allow the pagan Himmler to create a sort of "X-Files" group that investigated alleged crimes against witches in Germany's past, but Hitler himself thought it was a waste of time.

                        If you actually read what I wrote, I characterized the Nazi movement as a "secular, anti-religious movement," which it clearly was, not atheist. Like the atheist states, it could not brook any competition for the loyalties of the German people from the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition, and like all collectivist, totalitarian movements of any origin, saw the will of the Party and the State as uncontestable.

                        The "Positive Christianity" movement was a state-sponsored attempt to subvert and control religion, just as the People's Republic of China is attempting to do now with "approved" state-certified churches.


                        I find the idea that atheist are somehow inherently evil or more prone to evil to be itself an evil idea.
                        As do I. But then, I didn't write that, you did.

                        All men are inherently fallen, in my worldview, and there are good and honorable atheists just as there are hypocritical and evil Christians. The philosophies of the various strains of atheism are morally wrong as well as juvenile, from my perspective, but that doesn't mean that the people who are holding them need be.

                        it's right up there with "Muslims are naturally drawn to terrorism" or "Jews can't be trusted", or <insert bigoted statement here>. That appears to me to be what you are saying. If I am misreading you (which is very possible), then please don't take this as an attack on you.
                        I notice that you write views that I did not express and that I do not hold, then for some reason write, "That appears to be what you are saying," then magnanimously suggest that if you are wrong in thinking that I did actually say that, that I shouldn't consider your misquotation of me to be a personal attack.

                        Rather than respond to that verbal lunacy in the spirit it deserves, can I suggest that you re-read what you just wrote, think it over, and then consider whether you would counsel the Scouts whom you mentor to use that style of argument when discussing a point of contention, and whether you would want someone else to use the same low method of arguing against you.

                        I agree with you that most Christians have no objection to religious pluralism. But there are people on the religious right that are fighting against it. And it includes people that believe that atheism is some how un-American and that atheist shouldn't have the same rights as theists. There are lots of people fighting to either establish or maintain Christianity's privileged position in society. And yes, there are many Christians (including some on the religious right) that are fighting against it.
                        Thanks. "The Religious Right" is a buzzphrase that is commonly used today by many in political debate, but it's essentially meaningless other than as a catchphrase to designate people whom the left doesn't like, but who evince some level of religious (Christian, specifically) belief. If you mean Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and that the behavior shouldn't be condoned or encouraged even as the individual should be treated with compassion, you are including the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King as a member of "The Religious Right." If you mean people who believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, you are including Christopher Hitchens, George Orwell, and Jack Nicholson as members of "The Religious Right."

                        If you insist on characterizing people who do not share your political beliefs by their religious belief, how is that better than the same behavior you decry, when you fashion rhetorical sock-puppets that say, ""Muslims are naturally drawn to terrorism" or "Jews can't be trusted", or <insert bigoted statement here>? Can you not simply disagree with someone without characterizing them by their faith?

                        The prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens regularly produced diatribes against Muslims where he said just the sort of things you just wrote, and was a strong supporter of George Bush for the Iraq War. Would you describe him as a member of "The Atheist Right"? (A title Ayn Rand, perhaps, deserves.)

                        And I'm going to call big time BS on the idea that only atheists object to government sponsored public religion. I'm not an atheist, but if my local court house put up a big slab with the 10 commandments, you bet I would be loudly protesting (as I believe most of the people in my church would also - we've done it before). Separation of Church and State is one of the corner stones of freedom of religion in this country. The idea that only atheist complain when it's stepped on is absurd.
                        Well, the Big Courthouse - the Supreme Court of the United States of America - has a bas-relief picture of Moses delivering the Commandments prominently displayed, as many SCOTUS decisions have noted. You're welcome to go to D.C. to protest, but it is clear that the Commandments are a cornerstone document that have had a strong influence on western law and jurisprudence. Should we eliminate all references to our western and national heritage just because it has a Christian origin? (Goodbye, Corpus Christi, TX! Goodbye, Cappucino! Goodbye, Croissants! Goodbye, St. Paul, Newark, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, et al!)

                        Yes you can find some idiot, loud mouth atheists out there. But the vast majority just want the freedom to follow their spiritual path without getting hassled. Without getting indirectly dumped on at a city council meeting, or fired from their job for their beliefs, or have their children singled out for ridicule by some self-righteous school official, or to feel proselytized at by various representatives of the state, or bared from participating in state sponsored civic activities, or .... Basically they want the same freedoms we all want.
                        I don't think many atheists feel there IS a "spiritual path," as materialists deny the existence of the spirit or spiritual things, nor aught else but matter and energy. But, most atheists - the vast majority, in fact - are what has been termed "Low-Church" atheists - those who simply don't believe in God, or never had a religious tradition, and couldn't care less about the concerns of those for whom atheism is a high calling - the "High Church" atheists, who haunt religious websites, never miss an opportunity to take a shot at religion in the comments section of any article, who demand atheist "chaplains" in the military, who form their own atheist "churches," who stuff the ballot box to obtain lotteries to prevent Nativity scenes from being displayed in Santa Monica, who style themselves "Brights," who consider Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris to be secular saints, who attend nerdy "Rationalist" conventions, and who generally consider it to be part of their mission in life to attack statements of religious belief.

                        For the first group, which probably constitutes 80% of the 7% of the American population who identify as not believing in God, I got no quarrel. I hope they come to belief, but really, they just don't care if a man erects a cross to honor our war dead in Death Valley or in the 9-11 museum. The "High Church" atheists define themselves not as lacking a religion, but by being in conflict with religion. That's obviously their right, but they should be surprised if most Americans resist their nonsense (like trying to erect a creepy statue of Satan with a young child on each side in Oklahoma to mock Christians, or trying to hold a Black Mass with a consecrated host at Harvard, all done by self-professed atheists who are aping satanist tropes) and push back in the marketplace of ideas, as well as legislatively. You can't flutter your hands and cry out that you're offended and that the other team committed a foul when you're spending much of your time pitching at the other team's head...
                        Last edited by AZMike; 05-17-2014, 05:55 PM.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                          Well, the Big Courthouse - the Supreme Court of the United States of America - has a bas-relief picture of Moses delivering the Commandments prominently displayed, as many SCOTUS decisions have noted.


                          It also has seventeen OTHER lawgivers that you failed to mention. Moses is just one of many:
                          North wall: Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius and Octavian.
                          South wall: Justinian, Mohammad,
                          Charlemagne, King John, Louis IX, Hugo Grotius, William Blackstone, John Marshall, Napoleon Bonaparte


                          Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                          The "High Church" atheists
                          You read Vox Day? That's hilarious if you do.
                          Last edited by Merlyn_LeRoy; 05-17-2014, 08:05 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Merlyn_LeRoy View Post

                            It also has seventeen OTHER lawgivers that you failed to mention. Moses is just one of many:
                            North wall: Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius and Octavian.
                            South wall: Justinian, Mohammad,
                            Charlemagne, King John, Louis IX, Hugo Grotius, William Blackstone, John Marshall, Napoleon Bonaparte
                            Sweet. So we agree that one of the main sources of our code of law is the Judaeo-Christian tradition, then. There is no problem with displaying the Commandments in any court in the country. We did not receive any judicial tradition from Baphomet, so we can safely ban the Oklahoma atheist statue.

                            You read Vox Day? That's hilarious if you do.


                            No idea what that is.
                            Last edited by AZMike; 05-17-2014, 10:06 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                              So we agree that one of the main sources of our code of law is the Judaeo-Christian tradition, then. There is no problem with displaying the Commandments in any court in the country.
                              The courts don't agree with you. Why display ancient laws that contradict our laws, anyway?

                              Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                              We did not receive any judicial tradition from Baphomet, so we can safely ban the Oklahoma atheist statue.
                              You don't understand free speech, or the issues involved. Your statement is irrelevant.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                I am probably better acquainted than most with Hitler's views on religions. If you review the writings of the "Positive Christianity" movement as the Nazis used it, it was hardly Christian and was pagan - in the sense that religion was to be used to bolster the power of the state, an essentially pagan ethos of the Roman Empire.
                                I am not an expert on the religious views of the Nazis, but anti-Christian and pagan is not the same as anti-religious. My point was that while Nazism can be describe as anti-Christian, it wasn't anti-religious as it had a religious aspect to the movement.

                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                If you actually read what I wrote, I characterized the Nazi movement as a "secular, anti-religious movement," which it clearly was, not atheist. Like the atheist states, it could not brook any competition for the loyalties of the German people from the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition, and like all collectivist, totalitarian movements of any origin, saw the will of the Party and the State as uncontestable.
                                I'm still not seeing how it was an anti-religious movement, but clearly you do. I guess when I read "secular, anti-religious movement," I get a different idea in my head then you do. Isn't language wonderful?


                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                "I find the idea that atheist are somehow inherently evil or more prone to evil to be itself an evil idea."

                                As do I. But then, I didn't write that, you did.
                                True, you did not use those words, but it did look like you were implying it.

                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                There's no doubt that atheism was an integral part of communism in all its forms, and increased the savagery of atheist governments in the 20th century. But atheism does not require communism to be fundamentally anti-humanistic, as we have seen from the examples of Plutarco Elías Calles's governmental war against the Cristeros, the French Revolutionist's genocide against the Vendees, and nutbags like "The Reverend" Jim Jones, an admitted atheist who said he created the People's Temple as a sham religion to lead people into atheism, and wound up killing over 900 people in Guyana in the 1970s. People who call themselves Christians but who do not act in a Christian ethos may do some horrible things, but the body count for atheism, and secular anti-religious movements in general (in the National Socialist case) in the 20th century outweighs that of the total of every religious war in history. As the statement attributed to Dostoevsky said, without God, anything is possible.
                                Here you appear to be saying that it was the atheism of the communists and these other groups that allowed them to be such monsters. With phrases like: "But atheism does not require communism to be fundamentally anti-humanistic,..." and "...but the body count for atheism, and secular anti-religious movements in general (in the National Socialist case) in the 20th century outweighs that of the total of every religious war in history." I think it is fair to read that you are implying "atheist are more prone to evil".

                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                All men are inherently fallen, in my worldview, and there are good and honorable atheists just as there are hypocritical and evil Christians. The philosophies of the various strains of atheism are morally wrong as well as juvenile, from my perspective, but that doesn't mean that the people who are holding them need be.
                                Fair enough.


                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                Thanks. "The Religious Right" is a buzzphrase that is commonly used today by many in political debate, but it's essentially meaningless other than as a catchphrase to designate people whom the left doesn't like, but who evince some level of religious (Christian, specifically) belief. If you mean Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and that the behavior shouldn't be condoned or encouraged even as the individual should be treated with compassion, you are including the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King as a member of "The Religious Right." If you mean people who believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, you are including Christopher Hitchens, George Orwell, and Jack Nicholson as members of "The Religious Right."

                                If you insist on characterizing people who do not share your political beliefs by their religious belief, how is that better than the same behavior you decry, when you fashion rhetorical sock-puppets that say, ""Muslims are naturally drawn to terrorism" or "Jews can't be trusted", or <insert bigoted statement here>? Can you not simply disagree with someone without characterizing them by their faith?
                                You are correct that the term "Religious Right" (as well as the terms "right wing", "left wing", "conservative", "liberal", etc.) are rather fuzzy, and especially when applying it to individuals often misleading. Most people are more complex than that. However I disagree that the term is meaningless or useless in every context. And how is it unfair to characterize someone by their faith when they themselves do the same? For a good working definition of "Religious Right" (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right):

                                Christian right or Religious Right is a term used in the United States to describe right-wing Christian political factions that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies. Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings and/or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.

                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                Well, the Big Courthouse - the Supreme Court of the United States of America - has a bas-relief picture of Moses delivering the Commandments prominently displayed, as many SCOTUS decisions have noted. You're welcome to go to D.C. to protest, but it is clear that the Commandments are a cornerstone document that have had a strong influence on western law and jurisprudence. Should we eliminate all references to our western and national heritage just because it has a Christian origin? (Goodbye, Corpus Christi, TX! Goodbye, Cappucino! Goodbye, Croissants! Goodbye, St. Paul, Newark, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, et al!)
                                I was referring to the ten commandments monument in Alabama (http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org....jsp?id=h-1525), placed by then Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore. Interesting that this same judge (who is Chief Justice again) says that the 1st Amendment only applies to Christians: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/0...ts-christians/ (he is now saying he was taken out of context, but you can watch the video yourself).

                                I'm not arguing against any public mention of religion or acknowledgement of the role religion has played in our history. What I do protest is when state actors do things that promote one religion over another or appear to be proselytizing on behalf of a religion. Such as a city putting up a city funded nativity scene up on the city hall lawn, especially when they don't allow a Kwanzaa group to put up theirs. Or when the Knights of Columbus are allowed to march in a city sponsored Christmas parade, but an atheist veterans group is not allowed because they are atheist. As long as the state isn't picking and choosing who gets to participate, then I'm OK with it.


                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                I don't think many atheists feel there IS a "spiritual path," as materialists deny the existence of the spirit or spiritual things, nor aught else but matter and energy. But, most atheists - the vast majority, in fact - are what has been termed "Low-Church" atheists - those who simply don't believe in God, or never had a religious tradition, and couldn't care less about the concerns of those for whom atheism is a high calling - the "High Church" atheists, who haunt religious websites, never miss an opportunity to take a shot at religion in the comments section of any article, who demand atheist "chaplains" in the military, who form their own atheist "churches," who stuff the ballot box to obtain lotteries to prevent Nativity scenes from being displayed in Santa Monica, who style themselves "Brights," who consider Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris to be secular saints, who attend nerdy "Rationalist" conventions, and who generally consider it to be part of their mission in life to attack statements of religious belief.
                                I have met several atheist that believe in a "spiritual path". A couple were practicing Buddhists (we don't pray because there is no-one listening) and one while identifying herself as an atheist I thought was more of an agnostic (but who am I to judge?). The term "atheist" covers many paths of thought. Some are clearly of the "I don't believe in anything unless I can see or touch it" materialist bent, but many others are not. One has to be just as careful of painting with too narrow of a brush when talking about atheist as when talking about theists.

                                Originally posted by AZMike View Post
                                You can't flutter your hands and cry out that you're offended and that the other team committed a foul when you're spending much of your time pitching at the other team's head...
                                The problem is when people perceive saying "I want the same rights as those Christians over there" as an attack on those Christians.

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