The assault on atheism
From early on in the Nazi Party’s history atheism was clearly marked for elimination given its relationship to socialism and communism – the ideological competitors of National Socialism.
“And now Staatspräsident Bolz says that Christianity and the Catholic faith are threatened by us. And to that charge I can answer: In the first place it is Christians and not international atheists who now stand at the head of Germany. I do not merely talk of Christianity, no, I also profess that I will never ally myself with the parties which destroy Christianity. If many wish today to take threatened Christianity under their protection, where, I would ask, was Christianity for them in these fourteen years when they went arm in arm with atheism? No, never and at no time was greater internal damage done to Christianity than in these fourteen years when a party, theoretically Christian, sat with those who denied God in one and the same Government.”
(Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered at Stuttgart, February 15, 1933) Continue reading
Next up to take on Richard Dawkins is the Guardian’s Anne Karpf. She begins:
If Richard Dawkins had his way, a fair number of you and, as it happens, me, would be had up for child abuse. According to him, that’s what religious indoctrination of children by their parents is. And if you can sue for the long-term mental damage caused by physical abuse, he argues, why shouldn’t you sue for the damage caused by mental child abuse?
If you accept Dawkins’s characterisation of religion, you’d probably agree. Religious parents, to him, are Mr Dogma and Mrs Bigot: they terrify their kids with tales of eternal hell, fire and damnation, when – that is – they’re not carrying out female circumcision or coercing them into forced marriages. Flat-earthers the lot, they’re brainwashers, fanatically opposed to science and rationality.
Isn’t it curious that we tolerate the stereotyping of religion in a way we’d never abide with race, religion [sic] or gender? I certainly don’t recognise myself in this caricature.
Hmmm in fact Karpf is the one doing the misprepresenation here. Continue reading
The Church of England website Religious Intelligence reports that the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev Graham Dow, (yes he who blamed Britain’s floods this year on pro-gay legislation) is now suggesting that the tragic murder of Liverpool schoolboy Rhys Jones is the direct result of the country’s low religiosity.
In an open letter to his diocese he wrote that
“the Government has highlighted respect as a key issue which our society faces in the hope that this will bring about change. But respect will not come just by talking about it….I was in discussion recently about these issues with someone who declared herself to be an atheist. Her answer to the problem was education. Proper education, she insisted, will direct people in right paths.
Note that he specifies that she was an atheist
When I said to her that she was ignoring the Christian history from which our values have come, I could see her anger was beginning to rise. Many people think like her – that better education will solve the problems.
But that ignored the fundamental Christian truth that we are by nature sinful and need to be changed – on the inside, says Bishop Dow.
And to ignore the Christian faith is to ignore the way to inner change….People do not like to hear that so much of what we cherish in our society has come with our Christian history and that by ignoring Christian faith we are undermining the very values we want to keep.
Not only does this opportunism make the Bishop sound like he’s playing the worst political games with a terrible event but it’s untrue – religious belief actually correlates with high murder rates (not to mention abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published in the Journal of Religion and Society in 2005).
Firstly we have Dinish D’Souza. He’s not at all happy with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris and responds to their descriptions of the harm caused by religion with counter-claims that actually atheism is behind history’s mass murders. This is also the man who just days after the Virgina Tech high school killings rather insensitively decided it would be a great opportunity to attack atheists for apparently not doing anything, which drew this sensitive response from an atheist professor at the college). In short he’s pretty rabid in his hatred for atheists.
Anyway he’s now laying into Pat Condell, who although quite witty and charming is pretty hardline in his attacks on religion – on his website he states: “Hi, I’m Pat Condell. I don’t respect your beliefs and I don’t care if you’re offended.”; The trouble is that Condell and D’Souza are almost a perfect match, confirming the very worst they see in each other’s beliefs. The video post of Condell that D’Souza includes on his site responds to the angry ‘burn in hell’ comments he has received from earlier videos and so the cycle continues. Continue reading
An Associated Press report claims Military officials in Iraq are investigating allegations that an Army specialist is being harassed for being an atheist but said Saturday that they cannot find an officer the soldier has named in a federal lawsuit.
Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit against Maj. Paul Welborne and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. It alleges that Welborne threatened to pursue military charges against Hall and to block his reenlistment because he was trying to hold a meeting of atheists and non-Christians in Iraq.
The suit also alleges that Gates permits a military culture in which officers are encouraged to pressure soldiers to adopt and espouse fundamentalist Christian beliefs and sanctions activities by Christian organisations, including providing personnel and equipment. It also says the military permits proselytising by soldiers, tolerates anti-Semitism, placing of religious symbols on military equipment and allows the use of military e-mail accounts to send religious rhetoric.
Hall has also alleged that he had been harassed and threatened on blogs with being killed by friendly fire for filing the lawsuit. Some postings on military-related blogs have been critical of Hall, with some people wondering how atheists can claim religious freedom if they practice no sanctioned faith. One individual, posting under the name “Hidog,” suggested Hall put on an orange vest and carry a sign “Bong hits 4 Allah” through the streets of Iraq, “because apparently, your Bill of Rights trump your CO’s (commanding officer’s) orders.”
But others said the U.S. Constitution protects “freedom from religion,” and defended Hall, adding that they were glad he spoke up against the pressures from some Christians.
Chicago’s Daily Herald reports that the home of a local outspoken atheist was vandalised with eggs tossed at the house and cars, and crosses and religious words scrawled in chalk on the driveway.
A church bulletin also was stuck on the front door.
The incident comes days after Rob Sherman‘s daughter, Dawn, led a successful effort to have the song “God Bless America” yanked from Buffalo Grove High School’s homecoming celebration. Dawn Sherman is a freshman on the student council.
The vandalism likely was the retaliatory work of youngsters, police Sgt. Mike Millett said – since it came on the heels of the school incident and because one of the chalked words, “Jesus,” was misspelled. adsonar_pid=440757;adsonar_ps=1066704;adsonar_zw=300;adsonar_zh=180;adsonar_jv=’ads.adsonar.com’;
The Boston Globe’s cover story the Nonbelievers reports that “an increasing number of young people in America – and adults around the world – don’t believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion.”
In describing the growing confidence and popularity of atheism and humanism in the USA, the report includes encouraging signs such as Lori Lipman Brown, director of the the Secular Coalition for America who says “When I’m on right-wing radio or Christian radio, I no longer hear people say as much that I’m immoral or liable to commit murder,” she says. “Now, it seems, they acknowledge it’s possible that I could be a good person.”
It also quotes Epstein’s belief – shared by the O Project – in the importance of looking to build links with religious compatriots, a belief that has seen him criticised by fellow atheists and humanists.
“On his blog at Harvard, Epstein wrote that he hopes atheists avoid vilifying believers as they have disparaged atheists. “I don’t even have a problem with all the people who are blogging about me right now and slamming me as some kind of representative of ‘appeasement,’ ” he wrote. “We want to be treated as equals? Let’s raise hell about it, fine, but perhaps think twice about slamming me so hard as some kind of Uncle Tom (I definitely heard that one on a few blogs) if I want to speak for myself, and for the millions of atheists and Humanists out there who actually *like* and care deeply about a lot of religious people and don’t feel the need to hurt their feelings in addition to disagreeing with them.”