Margaret Doughty, an atheist and permanent U.S. resident for more than 30 years, was told by immigration authorities this month that she has until Friday to officially join a church that forbids violence or her application for naturalized citizenship will be rejected.
Doughty received the ultimatum after stating on her application that she objected to the pledge to bear arms in defense of the nation due to her moral opposition to war. According to a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by the American Humanist Association on Doughty’s behalf, officials responded by telling her that she needed to prove that her status as a conscientious objector was due to religious beliefs. They reportedly told her she’d need to document that she was “a member in good standing” of a nonviolent religious organization or be denied citizenship at her June 21 hearing. A note “on official church stationary [sic]” would suffice, they said.
Here’s how Doughty explained her refusal to sign the pledge:
“I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms … my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God … I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.”
* (For 27% info, please see kfmonkey.blogspot.com )
I’m pretty sure most of my fellow American citizens of my age slept through Civics class. Remember, C is average, so (and I know I’m distorting average/mean/median, so shut up for a sec, math pedants) half of my senior Civics class did worse than that.
And they can all vote.
Ponder that, for just a second.
Add into the mix that, at least in my school district, Civics classes (like Health classes) were handed out to sports coaches as a sinecure. (Strangely, most of my History classes from junior high to senior high were taught by veterans, but not Civics. Weird.)
I’m pretty sure that some of the wild insanity about President Obama’s gun control suggestions and Executive Orders are based on the (wrong) idea that the President has Ultimate Power to Ordain and Establish Stuff. Like an absolute monarch. Like a king.
I really wish these crazy people had watched more Schoolhouse Rock. (Maybe we can set up a Kickstarter to send them copies of the DVDs? Nah.)
I also wish that they had an actual understanding of the following words: Marxist, socialist, fascist, Nazi, Muslim, communist, atheist, Keynesian, and fishpickle.
(Ok, that last one is a favorite word of mine, and if anyone has a definition for me, I’d be grateful.)
I guess the overarching question is how to deal with a society that is 27% crazy? Any ideas are welcome!
A controversy initiated by a teenage girl over a prayer banner in a Rhode Island public school has gone “too far” according to the town’s mayor.
The teen, who is 16 and says she’s an atheist, has received threats and the city is paying hefty amounts of money in legal fees.
A Rhode Island judge ruled last week that a prayer mural at Cranston High School West needs to be removed “immediately,” but members of the community are fighting back by pursuing an appeal that would cost the city more money in a legal battle that has already racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
“I think it’s gone too far,” Cranston Mayor Allan Fung told ABCNews.com. “Our country was built upon civil discourse, not hate for one person exercising their constitutional rights.”
Fung said, however, that if it were up to him, “I would say, respect the judge’s decision and not take the appeal because, unfortunately, we could not afford these costs in these tight budgetary times.”
The teenager at the center of the controversy is junior Jessica Ahlquist, who has thousands of supporters on a number of Facebook pages, Twitter and her own website.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: High Priests, Holy Writ and Excommunications - How Did Humanism End Up Acting Like a Religion?
In February this year, there was a clash of Titans. In one corner, Richard Dawkins, former Oxford professor, Darwinian biologist, brilliant science writer, scourge of the sloppy, and above all the Platonic Form of Atheist. In the other, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, himself no intellectual slouch, acknowledged as one of the West’s foremost scholars of Russian literature. The issue at stake: are you for a world devoid of ultimate meaning or are you for a world infused with purpose? Are you, as Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth-century prime minister, asked, on the side of Darwin or of the angels?
Although Dawkins is fully committed to the exclusive disjunction — science or religion but not both — Williams would have been surprised and appalled to be forced to choose between the two.
And here’s the rub: I, like Dawkins, am a non-believer. Yet I, like Williams, refuse to put science and religion at war. This is partly because I do not think they have to be — I see them as asking different questions. But it is also because I think there is something socially and psychologically unhealthy about the course that the debate has taken, especially by those on my side of the fence. I do not think the faults are all on one side, but let me speak to the side to which I might naturally be expected to belong.
With the Dawkins-Williams confrontation, history was repeating itself. In 1860, a year after the publication of On the Origin of Species, the British Association for the Advancement of Science met at the Oxford University Museum. Darwin himself had long ceased to go to this kind of gathering, which was designed to explain and celebrate the achievements of science both to scientists and to the general public. He was always sick and had, moreover, grown to dislike the physical aspects of controversy — getting up and confronting opponents in person. No such qualms were felt by his most devoted and closest followers, the botanist Joseph Hooker and the anatomist and paleontologist Thomas Henry Huxley. They knew that Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection was going to be the topic of the day and that the critics were spoiling for a fight. In a way, it was a holy mission — the two knights out there to promote and protect the reputation of their sick leader. If only Wagner had been an Englishman: instead of Parsifal, we might have had Darwin.
No one was disappointed. The climax was the clash between the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce (who had been primed by the eminent anatomist Richard Owen), and Huxley, who was professor of natural history at the Royal School of Mines in London. Wilberforce, who was known for his oratory (not always favourably — his nickname was ‘Soapy Sam’), supposedly turned to Huxley and asked him if he was descended from monkeys on his grandfather’s side or his grandmother’s side. Huxley supposedly responded that he would rather be descended from an ape than from a man of learning who misused his talents to make a scoring point in a debate. Word got out later that Huxley said he would rather be descended from an ape than from a bishop of the Church of England. In short, everybody had a grand time, keyed up by the fact that Admiral Robert Fitzroy, the man who captained HMS Beagle when Darwin took his trip around the world in the 1830s, had become a fervent Evangelical. He rushed around the museum brandishing a bible and crying: ‘The book, only the book.’
I didn’t know how badly the atheists on this site were suffering until I read what Dr. John G. Weldon had to say about their mental neuroses. What else can I say but…
Through self-deception atheists may truly think there is no God, or do their best not to believe in God, but it’s kind of like striking the earth with a hammer in order to send it out of orbit – a useless and hopeless endeavor. This isn’t an Alice in Wonderland world where we can eat six elephants before breakfast; this is reality where we must live in the world God made, not a world of our own construction. Unfortunately, as a number of psychologists have shown, atheists tend to exhibit neurotic tendencies and the reason seems obvious – because they push so hard against reality that it’s simply not emotionally healthy (see below).
…To be sure, it’s very hard to be an atheist, especially in the modern world, which may explain why so many atheists apparently have various forms of neuroses – the denial and constant need for suppression of reality simply runs too deep and eventually takes a toll, which logically leads to psychological problems.
…As one example, the noted existential psychologist Rollo May observed in The Art of Counseling, ‘I have been startled by the fact that practically every genuine atheist with whom I have dealt has exhibited unmistakable neurotic tendencies.
I simply never realized that atheism was a mental disorder before now, I sure hope you guys can get some appropriate therapy (by a member of the clergy?) and medication to alleviate your condition.
///you poor, poor dears…
While Fox News is always willing to defend the Christian cross, they have no problem attacking atheists who seem to have replaced Muslims and “illegals” as the personae most non gratae. So when Fox is able to combine their patented memes of persecuted cross with evil atheists, they’ve hit the meme jackpot. Last September, Fox had full guns blazing in defense of the placement of the “Ground Zero Cross” (a piece of a surviving steel cross beam, from the WTC, that became an object of Christian worship) at the Ground Zero museum. Martha MacCallum freaked out about this “iconic source of hope.” Brian Kilmeade fulminated against the atheists who want the cross removed from the museum. Eric Bolling ranted about atheists who wanted to take away a “symbol of hope.” Megyn Kelly did two segments in which she admonished atheists who are “making people upset” about something that “isn’t religious” but “part of history.” Yesterday, Kelly continued her cross defense in what could only be called a tale of two guests in that Kelly mocked her atheist guest while allowing her Christian guest to defame atheists. But this is straight “news” and not “opinion.” Right?
Kelly reported the backstory; i.e. that ground zero museum is “sticking to their symbol” asking a judge to toss out lawsuit which demands that the cross be removed. (Fact Check - they’re only asking for the removal until equal space is given for non-Christians) She showed a photo of the “unforgettable image” of two steel beams shaped like a cross, “an inspiration in the middle of a tragedy.” She noted that the cross is part of the museum and then raised her voice as she described how a nasty, bad atheist group has sued the museum over the constitutionality of the cross.
Religious apologists cannot entirely be blamed for claiming Albert Einstein as one of their own. He was fond of quoting “God” as a poetic metaphor, in rather irresponsible fashion although, to be fair in turn to Einstein, he couldn’t have anticipated the extent of today’s dishonest quote-mining. So it is good to see this letter, written shortly before his death, which should lay to rest, once and for all, the eager myth that Einstein believed in God. Along with various other sources, this letter finally confirms that Einstein was, in every realistic sense of the word, an atheist. When the letter came up for auction in London, in 2008, I made a futile attempt to buy it as a gift for the Richard Dawkins Foundation. I could offer only a small fraction of the eventual price, and even that was far less than the $3M now being asked as a minimum. I hope that whoever wins this auction will display it prominently, complete with translations into English and other languages.
From Einstein’s letter:
The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the privilege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolization. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.
The modern world bustles with magical thinking. Some of us pick up pennies for good luck, believe we missed a flight for a reason or become convinced that a computer tried to ruin our day by crashing.
In his new book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking, science writer Matthew Hutson argues that we’re all believers — even the staunchest of skeptics. The book isn’t a diatribe against irrational beliefs, despite Hutson’s admission of being an atheist and a skeptic since the age of 10.
“I started wondering why people adamantly believe strange things. I began to apply psychology and cognitive science to the question of how we find meaning in the world and how we decide what’s reality and what’s illusion,” Hutson said. “Embracing irrationality, as it turns out, isn’t always a bad thing.”
Wired chatted with Hutson about his book, how it changed him and what kind of magical thinking even über-skeptic Richard Dawkins subscribes to.
Sam Harris: The Christian Right, Radical Islamists, and Secular Leftists Agree This Atheist Is America’s Most Dangerous Man
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and other best-selling works of moral philosophy and anti-religious polemic, first began to wonder about life after death at the age of 13, after his best friend was killed in a bicycle accident. He looked for answers in books about the occult and eastern religion, and then re-invented the 1960s for himself, experimenting with psychedelics and traveling to India and Nepal to study with Buddhist meditation masters. In college at Stanford, Harris studied religion, philosophy, and neuroscience and concluded that nothing spooky or mystical happens after people die. The idea of an Omniscient Being who demands obedience from his followers in exchange for the promise of life after to death was crap—the kind of crap that starts wars, condemns hundreds of millions of people to ignorance, poverty, and disease and has a pervasive and dangerous effect on public policy.
An expert polemicist—funny, logical, fearless, and sometimes impulsive—Harris also possesses the rarer qualities of psychological suppleness and a willingness to admit when he’s wrong. The son of a Jewish mother and Quaker father, he engages with the experiential components of belief in a deeply personal way. At the same time, he shows little patience for religious Christian leaders like Rick Warren, who Harris eviscerated in a public debate, or for Islamists, whose religion Harris regularly maligns in a way that has led both to outraged accusations of bigotry and actual death threats. Harris is equally unpopular with secular leftists, whose dogmas and pieties he also finds loathsome—starting with their sympathy for fundamentalist political movements like Hamas and Hezbollah.