Tag Archives: christ

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays?

22 Dec

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays? This is debate that flairs up every November-December in America.

On the side of “Happy Holidays” you have people and businesses who are trying to appeal to the greatest number of customers. On the side of those who take offense to “Happy holidays” and prefer “Merry Christmas”, you have Christians who feel that “Happy Holidays” is an attack on their beliefs. Some on the “Merry Christmas” side have even gone so far as to call for a boycott of businesses that say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” I’m not sure about your locale, but you can often find people driving around with the following “Keep Christ in Christmas” car magnets.

It should come as no surprise that I feel that the “Merry Christmas” crowd is acting like a bunch of angry children. Let’s examine the rationale behind why a person might say “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” :

The idea behind “Happy holidays” is simple. There are several holidays celebrated  in the month of December. Since it is not easy to tell just by looking at someone what their religion is, it is a polite way of saying “I wish you well in whichever of the several holidays you will be observing.” It’s nice, it covers everybody, and doesn’t discriminate.

Now, for the “Merry Christmas” people who take offense to “Happy Holidays” their reasoning is some flavor of the following reasons:

I celebrate Christmas, therefore my holiday is the only holiday that really matters.

This is my country, founded on my religion, and everyone else should bow down to the superiority of MY holiday.

You can have your little Hanukkah, or Solstice, or whatever, but normal people like ME celebrate CHRISTmas!

To say “Happy Holidays” is to spit in the face of that majority’s cultural tradition! It’s an attack on my religious freedom [read as: freedom to oppress, marginalize, and belittle those of different faiths]!”

Now someone who takes offense to “Happy Holidays”  might not hold every aspect of the above self-righteous rage, but their reasoning ultimately stems from one of the above mentioned examples.

When someone takes offense to “Happy Holidays” or any other attempt to include others of differing viewpoints in the seasonal celebrations, they truly are acting like a spoiled child throwing a temper-tantrum. I’m sorry if you feel uncomfortable by the existence of people with differing views. I’m sorry if you can’t stand the thought that your holiday might not be superior to, and deserving deference from, all the other holidays going on during this season.

Grow up.

Feminized Christianity?

18 Oct

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the Obion County fire department in Tennessee that responded to a 9/11 call just to park their trucks on the street and watch as a family’s house burn to the ground, taking everything they owned and killing three of their pets, all because the family didn’t pay a $75 fee. Well the loving, moral, and “pro-family” people at the American Family Association came out to express how not only did the fire fighters do the right thing by doing nothing, but that doing nothing was the Christian thing to do!

You see, according to the American Family Association, the problem with any Christian who would recoil in horror at the fire department’s inaction is they, and their version of Christianity, has been “feminized.” AFA writes:

“In this case, critics of the fire department are confused both about right and wrong and about Christianity. And it is because they have fallen prey to a weakened, feminized version of Christianity that is only about softer virtues such as compassion and not in any part about the muscular Christian virtues of individual responsibility and accountability.”

Individual responsibility and accountability? How does that fit with Jesus coming to bail you out for your sins? But that’s not the point I wanted to focus on. Despite the entire post by the AFA being offensive and insulting, I think their view on gender is particularly insulting to both men and women. It’s clear they think femininity is deficient. While they call it the “virtue of compassion” , it’s framed in a way to mean “vice of compassion.” But what can you honestly expect from an organization that actively works to re-enslave women? Secondly, their position is offensive to men in that it dictates that to be a man is to be a compassionless brute. That’s right. Real men don’t give a shit about any other human being except themselves and Jesus. To help others is a sign of feminine weakness! This is all obviously bullshit, but I’m wondering: when did characteristics like empathy, compassion, and concern for others become sexualized? Why is it that those traits are either masculine of feminine? Secondly, who the hell arbitrarily decided to categorize them hierarchically so that the famine was bad and the masculine good?

Christian persecution

9 Aug

From time to time I hear somebody, either in person or on this blog, bring up the fact that the early Christians were persecuted by the Romans. This is true. Whether you believe in the religion or not, it is a historical fact that the Romans did horrible things to Christians. Since the formation of the church Christians have used the persecution they suffered under the Romans to say “Look! Look what we went through for our lord and savior! We were butchered whole sale and fed to lions for the amusement of Pagans!” I remember going to vacation bible school where some of the camp counselors would dress up like Roman soldiers and roam the halls of the church. Sometimes they’d bust into our little activity and tell the children that they were all going to die for being Christians. We had to respond by saying that Jesus is the son of god and we’d gladly give our lives for him. (Remember, we were elementary school kids) At this the camp couns….. er, “scary Roman soldier” would be shocked by our courage and we would “save” him. (But I digress)

Yes the Christians initially suffered horribly under the Romans, but I have a problem with modern day Christians trying to use this as an excuse or proof that their claims are somehow valid because they suffered. Here’s the thing. according to the story, Jesus started teaching sometime between 24 and 26 CE, when he was in his early 30′s. The Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, along with the entire Roman empire with him, in 312 CE. If we go with the earliest date, 24 CE, that’s a period of 288 years that Christians were open to persecution.  Yes 288 years seems like a lot, but when compared to the length of time other people were persecuted, it’s nothing special. What Christians seem to fail to grasp is that while they were being persecuted, so were a handful of other people. The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE, after the Christians came onto the scene. It was not just Christians. In fact, the Roman empire was persecuting and killing people centuries before Christianity was invented. They did not build the great arena’s specially for Christians. They were there long before. Even the cross, a symbol of a horrific and slow death, was in use long before the Romans ever nailed Jesus to one. Doing that to him was not giving him special treatment. They did it to thousands of slaves in the Spartacus rebellion almost two hundred years earlier.

The thing that really upsets me is how Christians who like to point out their persecution under the Romans just stop there. They leave out the bit about Emperor Constantine converting to Christianity, about Christians taking over the Roman empire from within. They leave out the part about how they became the Roman empire! Once that happened, the persecution of Christians by Romans stopped. The part that they really love to leave out is how they then turned around and started persecuting their old persecutors. (I guess “turn the other cheek” applies only when you’re the under dog, other wise you’re doing god’s will) Once in power, the Christians went about defacing art work, destroying temples, and forcing conversions under pain of death.

They continued the grand old tradition of killing Jews and burning their temples. After all, they were the Christ killers. (Or at least until the Catholics changed their minds about that almost 2000 years after the fact) At the height of the church’s power (also the darkest period in the “dark ages”…coincidence?) the church encouraged the wholesale slaughter and persecution of Pagans. Teutonic knights, warriors for Christ, hunted down Pagans through Germany and slaughtered entire villages.

Since that wasn’t enough, they invaded the middle east so they could persecute Muslims. Contrary to their modern equivalent, medieval Muslims were a lot more tolerant. Christians could live and practice their faith in Muslim territory as long as they paid a tax. (Much more business savvy than slaughtering them) As if all this bloodshed was not enough, Christians then turned in on each other for new people to persecute. The waged entire crusades against people who were “the wrong type of Christian”. (Google Waldensian crusade for example) This in fighting and persecution went right on up through the 1700′s. Remember why the pilgrims left England? It wasn’t that England was an atheist country, far from it, they were just the wrong type of Christians. What many Christians don’t know is that the bloodiest war in human history, up until that machine gun was invented, was the 30 year’s war, fought between Catholics and Protestants. It depopulated Europe. The death toll couldn’t be matched for another 300 years until we figured out how to mow people down with automatic fire.

But enough of the history lesson. The point is Christians have persecuted a lot more people since their faith took hold than when they were the minority in Rome. The worst part is when the people who bring up the persecution of Christians by Romans try to imply that Christians are still being persecuted. Really? Try being an atheist for ONE day. Don’t just pretend quietly. Be as open about it as you are about your Christianity. Say it out loud like you’re proud. (God will know you’re pretending for the sake of an experiment so you won’t go to hell) Just try it, see how other react and treat you differently. By the way, atheists have been persecuted by everyone since man created god, so we’ve got a couple of millennia on Christians.

***As an end note I just want to make something clear. This is all just an observation. This post is not intended to be an excuse or evidence that Atheists are correct in not believing in a god. That would be doing the same thing I lament Christians for doing when they point out their suffering under the Romans. The problem with these types of arguments “who was persecuted more” “who killed more” etc is that they try and establish validity through a body count. I’m not sure how you can discuss the past without making it seem like you’re trying to keep score. Regardless, these things happened and they should be open to discussion.

A generic god does not represent everyone

14 Jun

Yesterday I met with a local Americans United for the Separation of Church and State group. We had a city council woman as our guest speaker. She was there to explain why she thought it was necessary for the city council to open each meeting with a prayer, despite the fact that this is blatantly unconstitutional and another near by city was just sued for this. (The city lost, it went up to the supreme court and they refused to hear it, so the 4th circuit court’s ruling stood)

Despite having a lawyer background, she was woefully uneducated in the history or church/state issues. She kept trying to tell us it was just a generic higher power, no specific god, that they were praying to, and thus it was not state endorsement of religion.

No. Sorry, you’re wrong. Here is an example of christian privilege in action. She just assumed that she was the norm and that everyone else had a god, even if they sometimes differed on what faith. We asked her, “What about those without a religious faith? What about Atheists or Agnostics?” She was confused by this and did the little song and dance all politicians do when they obviously have been proved wrong yet want to save face. Atheists and Agnostics hadn’t even crossed her mind when she crafted this legislation mandating prayer at every council meeting.

Acknowledging a generic god is still an endorsement of religion. No, it is not like saying “Jesus Christ is our lord and savior”, but it’s not much different. For starters, the government is taking a stance on the question “Does a higher power exist?” By answering in the affirmative they alienate all of the non-religious citizens. After stating that  a higher power exists (for which there is no more evidence other than “faith”) the government then goes on to call it “god”. God is singular, as opposed to “gods”, and is also masculine, as opposed to goddess. This then alienates everyone else who does not believe in a single masculine god. Trying to claim “Oh, but we don’t mean singular masculine, we mean anything” does not work because we already have words for that. One could say “Dear god-gods-goddess-goddesses”, but even then you are still managing to offend everyone.

The whole point of the first amendment is to keep government from doing exactly this. Just don’t even approach the question “Is there a higher power?” The moment you do a can of worms is opened. This lady, ignorant of the dangers and the illegality of her actions, introduced mandated city council prayer. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, she’s trying to save face by being as inclusive as possible. In the “all or none” doctrine she’s going with “all”. (Or at least claims she is. She kept only mentioning churches that she had sent invitations to. Again, christian privilege where by “religion” she automatically assumes christian churches).

The city of Charleston fell into this trap. The found that despite telling the visiting ministers they could not mention anything specific, they would often slip up at the end saying “in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” Also, the idea that the legislators honestly mean to include everyone is a flat out lie. In their heart of hears they do intend to represent the single, masculine christian god in their prayers. This was evident when a secular humanist was invited to give the invocation at the Charleston City council. Over half of the council members walked out in protest. The non-religious are not citizens apparently…

The problem with calling Atheism a religion…

26 Apr

Sometimes people will try and claim Atheism is a religion during a debate in an attempt to discredit it or move the burden of proof. It also comes of as “See, you’re no better than me!” which is not very flattering to your own cause. Besides the fact that Atheism is as much a religion as “off” is a TV channel, this line of reasoning has some implications that the person using it would not enjoy.

IF Atheism was a religion, then it would be subject to all the same privileges Christianity enjoys. Atheists could build tax-exempt houses of un-worship. All our Atheism related transactions would be tax-exempt. Atheists could get off work and out of school for Atheist holidays. If Atheism was a religion, we could able to demand that people stop attacking out tenants, we could put non-bibles in every hotel room, we’d have politicians begging us and pandering to us for our votes, we’d have statues erected to Atheism, we could even have an un-sabbath. As a religion we could demand unconditional respect be given to us based on our lack of faith.  Basically, if Atheism was a religion we would be entitled to every kickback other religions get. The person saying “Well you’re a religion too!” never takes this into account. They just want us to have all the negative stuff that goes with being a religion, without any of the societal privileges.

Atheist resistance

20 Apr

So living in Lynchburg Virginia, home of “9/11 is god’s punishment ” Jerry Falwell and his penitentiary of brainwashing and bullshit, “Liberty” “university”, religious stuff is all over town. Every other car either has a LU sticker, the christian fish magnet, or “Not I, but Christ” sticker. The local stores are also almost entirely owned by the LU octopus. Falwall and his ilk even have their own section in walmart that sells only LU gear, along with religious books.

So as a way to stay sane and get some cheap thrills, I engage in a little Atheist resistance. First up is my car. When you’re stopped at a red light, that’s your 30 second chance to get a message out to the three cars behind you. (Assuming you’re in the middle lane)

I love these things. I change them out every so often, depending on what’s pissing me off that week. Sometimes it’s political, like pro-choice signs (which are a real hit in the area ~_^), but most of the time it’s religious. Currently I’m blasting the catholic church for their 2000 yr + child pedophilia scandal.

I figure the “liberty” kids in Lynchburg are constantly confined to their nice little clean bubble of rich, white, conservative christian fanatics, it’d be nice to jar them out of their comfort zone and make them realize they’re not the only game in town. If I have to sit in traffic and put up with their stupid signs, they can suffer my 1st amendment rights to mine. Yeah, some could argue that it might look a little trashy, but if nobody stands up and says something, they’ll think that everyone is just like them, and thus their beliefs will be all the further reinforced.

Secondly is pamphlets. In Lynchburg there are pamphlets all around. The LU kids stuff them inside beer cases, leave them in shops, in mailboxes, on dining tables, under your windshield wipers, everywhere. I’ve put a few of them up here on my blog, and they all say the same thing: You’re a rotten person that’s going to burn in hell forever unless you buy our product. So I decided to make my own. Here is one that I’m currently circulating:

Outside:

Inside:

I can’t make the picture any bigger, so incase you can’t read it, the outside when you first open it just says something like “Hey, you’re ok the way you are, you’re not a sinner, nor are you damned to some eternal punishment.” Then it goes on about how the pamphlet isn’t trying to get them to join anything, or give any money, unlike other religious pamphlets. The inside just asks 20 simple questions to get people thinking about their faith critically.

I get a real rush putting out these pamphlets. I have to be all ninja like so I don’t get caught. Sometimes I’ll sit down at a table with my stuff, wait a few minutes, and get up, conveniently forgetting to take the pamphlet with me. I love to put these in the religious books sections of book stores, there I can really hit my target audience.

The bumper stickers in the car give me a bit of a thrill, but not so much as sneaking around with pamphlets. I guess I just feel safer with a physical barrier between me and them. Though I have been honked at, shouted at, and flicked off before while sitting at a red light. (How christian, eh?) There have been times when I’ve nervously expected a bullet to come through the glass behind me and kill me, or for my car to be rammed, or for someone to throw something at my windshield. That’s all a thrill too, though it does make me wonder about my opponents when I have to worry about being physically attacked and they don’t. What do you think that says about them?

No reason to respect religion

15 Apr

Hold on. Before you flip out and write a million nasty comments, hear me out. This is a complicated issue so don’t just jump to conclusions.

So what do I mean by there is “no reason to respect religion”? Well, what is religion? Religion is a a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. A set of beliefs. People may hold these beliefs so strongly they would die and kill because of them, (unfortunately, some often do), but at the end of the day it is still just a belief.

So why respect a belief? Because they hold it so dearly? What if we applied this to something other than religion. Say someone had the belief that invisible mermaids held up ships to keep them from sinking. Can we disprove them? No. Do they have any evidence? No. Are there natural, alternative explanations that do not require the supernatural? Yes. Say this person believed as passionately about invisible mermaids as you might about your religion. Seriously, I know it sounds strange, but what if this person fervently, passionately, and emotionally believed in the existence of these invisible mermaids. Unshakable faith.

Would you respect their beliefs the same way you want others to respect yours? What if they attempted to pass laws that affected your daily life based off of their unshakable faith? What if they wanted to teach their beliefs in public schools that all children have to go to? What if they wanted to use your tax dollars to support their religious programs? What if they wanted to put up their religious monuments to the mermaids in public law buildings?

Would you respect their beliefs then? Would you show deference? I sure as hell wouldn’t. Now replace the mermaid analogy with your religion.

“But it’s extremely important to me and I’m offended that you don’t show respect! You’re being rude!”

Look, here is the important thing most people overlook. There is a difference between respecting a person’s unfounded beliefs, and respecting the person’s right to have them. You should respect a person for the human being they are, and respect their right to believe whatever they want, but just because they hold a belief very dearly does not mean you have to respect that belief.

Religion does not get a free pass. The ideas that comprise a religion are subject to the same scrutiny as any other idea. You have the right to hold those ideas, but you do not have the right to be free from criticism.

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