A Response to the American People...
...represented by a small sample of letters to the editor from around the country.
Well, this will be a first with two posts in one day, but I really wanted to briefly discuss the following letters that were submitted to various papers across the US. This is certainly not a statistically significant sample, but I feel that these particular mindsets are far too common for a supposedly enlightened and egalitarian society. We'll start with my favorite one from the Salt Lake City Tribune.
In his Dec. 27 letter, Steven Fehr says he believes President Bush is the worst president he has seen. Whenever I hear someone complain about the president, I ask them, "Do you pray for the president of the United States daily?" Is that too much trouble?
There used to be a custom of praying for our president. Perhaps too many people in the United States believe this would be mixing politics and religion. If the majority of the people are agnostic and atheistic, it may be that they are partly to blame for the problems we have. To think one man is responsible for the war and the problems we face in our nation is about as foolish as to not believe in the power of prayer.
We all share in the burden. We all need to live and teach the truths upon which our country was founded. The world is made up of two types of people: critics who are negative, fearful and have no plan, no vision, no faith, and authors who are positive, visionary builders. Which kind are you?
Vera B. Ivie, Ogden
See what I mean? It is coming out of Utah, but still...if George W. Bush's performance could be improved by talking to imaginary beings, I'm sure that any reasonable deity would have found it fit to respond sometime within the last 8 years. According to Ms. Ivie, we are not allowed to complain about our incompetent and intellectually-challenged president unless we pray for him every day. It's not that it's too much trouble-it's the fact that it is a useless endeavor to beseech nonexistent gods for anything, much less the improvement of the most idiotic president in history.
She then goes on to blame atheists and agnostics (haha appeasers!! Don't say we didn't tell you) for the societal ills that we face, erroneously claiming that we comprise "the majority of the people" in this country. That should be enough right there to prove conclusively that this woman is a brainwashed victim of religious indoctrination and subsequently has the well-worn persecution complex. Ms. Ivie should present some evidence for the power of prayer before she labels us as "foolish".
It is a perfect example of the kind of lunacy that infects religious people in this country. Her implication that atheists are negative and fearful, possessing no plan or vision, is downright offensive. She is right on one point-we don't have faith. Rational, reasonable people don't hold decisions based on faith in high regard. It's a pity the rest of the lemmings disagree.
From the Visalia Times-Delta
Mr. Reeves [Dec. 13] has made one mistake. He says that you never saw a marauding band of atheists demanding a woman be killed because she gave a wrong name to a teddy bear; nor an atheist bomb a health clinic. Nor atheists burning women as witches.
In fact, he implies that atheists never do any kind of violence or wrong things. He needs to remind himself that the Communists billed themselves as atheistic Communism and tried to take over the world and make it godless.
Ask anyone who suffered under Stalin and his successors just how benevolent that regime was. Ask the people in the Far East. They'll all agree that the Earth runs red with the blood spilled by atheistic Communism.
I wonder if that's why the Russian flag was red?
Not having read the preceding letter, I can't comment on what the author did or did not implicate, but assuming that he used the examples given here, it doesn't seem that he makes any such implication. It would be absurd to do so. Again, though, the argument is fallacious. The conflation of atheism with communism is made by those who have never read Marx, and furthermore, don't realize that the early Christian church was essentially communistic. Once again, people-Stalin and Pol Pot didn't want to eliminate religion to further an atheist agenda. They did it because as long as the populace maintains allegiance to a power higher than the state, their megalomaniacal fantasies will never be fulfilled. It was about power-not atheism. Gah. It's the new Pascal's Wager-just as commonly used and just as easily refuted.
Jan 02, 2008 04:30 AM
A year of celebrity atheists taking potshots at God
Ideas, Dec. 29
Stuart Laidlaw must be commended for picking up this topic and courageously confronting the ideas of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the loudest and increasingly shrill chorus of the "atheists club." The debate about religious belief, one of the most complex and fascinating phenomena on the planet, is not new. But behind unsubstantiated assertions (The God Delusion, Dawkins; God is not Great, Hitchens), sweeping generalizations and random anecdotal evidence, there's the unmistakable whiff of panic; they fear religion is on the march again.
There is an aggrieved frustration that they have been shortchanged by history; we were all supposed to be atheist rationalists by now. There's an underlying anxiety among atheists that atheism has not generated a compelling popular narrative and ethic of what it is to be human and our place in the cosmos. Where religion has retreated, the gap has been filled with consumerism and a mindless absorption in passing desires. Not knowing how to answer the big questions of life, we shelve them - we certainly don't develop the awe toward and reverence for the natural world.
This article aptly sums up their stance against religious education: "Insulting people and calling them child abusers for taking their kids to church rarely wins people over." Religion provides children with a deep sense of confidence from the teaching that they are each precious in the eyes of God, of reverence for their gift of life and of ethical bearings.
Dawkins's assertion is that no children should be exposed to religion until they are old enough to make a choice; anything else is indoctrination.
But this is quixotic: How can they ever make a choice without knowledge and how can they even have knowledge without running into an atheist's allegation of indoctrination?
Isn't the point that children should be encouraged to develop thoughtful, inquiring minds and a strong ethical framework - and that this is possible both with and without religious belief?
Javed Akbar, Markham
Mr. Akbar fills his letter with generalizations and assumptions about atheists, which he compounds by leveling the accusation that we are speaking up more fervently now because of "anxiety". There may be a form of anxiety as the impetus for our stridency, but it is not of the type that he claims. The anxiety that we deal with has more to do with saving humanity from this cancerous tumor that seeks to subvert scientific advancements, terrorize people with the specter of fiery pits designed to devour sinners and blasphemers for all eternity, and ultimately destroy us all. Sorry. We actually want to help people and save the world from this malignancy.
Regarding his comments on the religious indoctrination of children, his depiction of education about religion as a form of indoctrination that would be protested by these anxiety-ridden atheists is incorrect and misleading. If anything, the vast majority of atheists that I know would be supportive of introducing a world religions class into schools and would encourage people to study the various mythologies that have developed throughout human history. After all, that is the best way to demonstrate the absurdity of religious belief. Once the similarities of the predecessors to the Abrahamic god of war, Yahweh, and his bastard son, Jesus, are widely known, far fewer people will fall victim to the insidious mind control of religion.