Category: Christianity


[via atheist-community.org]

I came to know who Tracie Harris is by watching her frequent appearances as one of the co-hosts on the excellent Austin-based TV show The Atheist Experience, and more recently listening to her on the also great Godless Bitches podcast.

Just now I stumbled across the comic strip above, which I immediately wanted to re-post here. Wanting to properly credit it, I tracked it back to its source, and it was really cool to discover Tracie is the author, and that there is a whole collection of her work at the Atheist Community of Austin site. If you liked this one, go check out the rest of her stuff!

Reporter: “You were trailing most of the game, but you were able to come back in the final minutes for the big win. Can you tell us how that felt?

Quarterback: “Well, first of all, I’d like to remind everyone that there is no God, and that everything that happend on the field tonight was the result of purely human endeavors, accomplished through a perfectly natural mix of some good genetic luck, a ton of hard work and the ingenuity of some brilliant minds. So nobody’s prayers were answered, and rather than thanking a nonexistent God, I’d like to thank my teammates and coaches, and all the other actual real people who helped make this happen…”

The Orange Crush defense of 1977. I was five years old, and I remember it well.

After all, I had the entire Orange Crush can collection on my bookcase. For those too young (or disinterested) to remember, that was a popular orange soda at the time, and the Denver Broncos adopted its name for their dominant defense, where Lyle Alzado and Randy Gradishar were the heroes of the team, overshadowing quarterback Craig Morton. That Broncos team would be the first to reach the Superbowl, only to fall to the Dallas Cowboys.

From then on there wouldn’t be another real bright spot until 1983, when Denver drafted the young Stanford hotshot John Elway. After a rocky start, he soon changed the ethos and the future history of the team by making it his own, a transformation crystallized by “The Drive”, Elway’s epic AFC Championship performance in which he commandeered a 98 yard comeback victory against the Cleveland Browns.

That was January 11th, 1987. Seven months and three days later, on August 14th, Tim Tebow was born.

In all my years of Bronco fandom, from 1977, through the early Elway peaks and disappointments, through their two Superbowl victories which finally came to pass in the late 90s, through all the ups and downsthe team and its fans went through over the decades, I never knew two things:

I never knew the political affiliations of John Elway or any other Broncos player.

And I also never knew their religious beliefs.

In Colorado, John Elway was a universally acceptable hero to the state. Had he used his status to promote a personal, and divisive political and/or religious agenda, it would have tarnished his legacy, as well as the ability of lifelong, loyal Broncos fans to enjoy the sweetness of those two Superbowl victories without any trace of bitterness or awkwardness.

Fortunately for all Broncos fans, and for Elway’s good standing in history, he played only one singular role as quarterback of the Denver Broncos: Quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

Unfortunately for all Broncos fans and NFL fans who do not subscribe to Tiim Tebow’s personal brand of Christian fundamentalism, or who simply value the arena of sports as an apolitical and areligious realm, he has chosen to play a dual role. One aspect of his chosen role is as Quarterback, but the other is as Proselytizer-in-Chief of the Denver Broncos.

By adding that religious dimension, by inappropriately abusing his position of privilege to wear the Broncos uniform, using it as a platform to advance his personal evangelical agenda, he has stolen from us not only the chance to appreciate him solely as an athlete, but also the ability to unambiguously, unreservedly support him as the leader of our team. (He has also deprived himself of the opportunity for his career as a professional football player to be evaluated primarily by his accomplishments on the field, but as this is his own problem, I won’t concern myself with it further here).

The U.S. military has a very sound policy regarding what political actions its members can and cannot engage in. The policy does not completely prevent people from engaging in partisan political activity, but where they are allowed to do so, they are specifically required not to be in uniform, and not to be engaged in any capacity as an official representative of the Armed Forces.

One important (and obvious) reason for this (another being that it is most likely unconstitutional) is that the U.S military does not selectively represent and defend only Democratic Americans, or only Republican Americans, or only Libertarian, Green or what have you Americans; it stands for and protects all Americans, and as such its members (politically opinionated and active as many of them are) are required, when officially representing the United States, to keep on a good game face and conduct themselves in a manner which is not divisive or alienating, and which does not mistakenly create the appearance that the political views of individual members of the Armed Forces represent the official stance of the nation which they serve.

When it comes to politics – and religion – professional sports leagues and franchises would be well served to follow suit.

I should add that I think this should apply across the board to all expressions of divisive religious or political views, including those I happen to agree with. Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, for example, has a lot of mostly liberal political views that I tend to share. But although his opinions would be more palatable to me than Tebow’s evangelicalism, I would oppose just as much his promoting them in his capacity as an official representative of the NBA.

Nash remains wildly popular in Arizona, the Southwest’s bastion of conservatism. How? Simple. He keeps his progressive views separate from his basketball career and his role as the public face of the Suns. He understands what it means to be a professional. You will never hear him (as Tebow incessantly “Tebows” and praises his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”) endorse gun control or a more humane immigration policy. As an action which would alienate a significant segment of Phoenix fans who just want to enjoy some basketball and support the team, it would be inappropriate, unfair and divisive for him to do so.

Likewise, it should go without saying that the Denver Broncos are not the “Denver Christian Broncos”, the “Denver Broncos for Christ”, the “Evangelical Denver Broncos”, or even (despite the bumper stickers asking then why are sunsets orange and blue?) “God’s Own Denver Broncos”. They are the DENVER Broncos. And they are there for ALL the people of Denver and Colorado. Not just those who happen to have the same worldview as Tim Tebow.

Imagine if, after a game, an NFL quarterback actually dared to say the (fake) quote at the top of this post. Can you imagine the outrage? Fox News would immediately be running a 24-hour smear campaign to get him fired. All the pundits and talking heads, all of ESPN’s experts, all of CNN’s celebrity newscasters, to a person they would all be screaming their outrage at how offensive and disrespectful such a statement is to all of those with deeply held religious beliefs.

In Tebow’s case, however, they pretty much rounded up the wagons to encircle him with a ring of protection (if not, as in the case of Fox, outright promotion) of his “rights” to preach and proselytize his religious propaganda while working in his official capacity as a Bronco.

But please, let’s keep in mind that while a server at Denny’s has the constitutionally guaranteed right to tell one of his or her customers to fuck off, Denny’s also has the right to fire that person, as well as to establish rules of appropriate and inappropriate behavior which their employees must adhere to if they want to keep their jobs.

Does Tebow have the “right” to speak his mind? Of course, but that does not always make it right, appropriate, or tasteful to do so. And when, as the highest profile representative of a massive sports franchise backed loyally by millions of people, he engages in activities which alienate, infuriate, bother or otherwise turn off a huge number of fans who have been lifelong supporters of that team, well, it just ain’t right.

Unfortunately, I think we must, until we get indications otherwise, ssume Tebow won’t “see the light”, and will continue to prioritize his selfish personal religious agenda over the better interests of the entire Broncos fan base (as Dr. House said, “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be religious people.”).

And so, I would urge the Broncos, and all professional sports teams for that matter, to institute a policy, modeled on that of the military, to require their players to refrain from engaging in overtly religious and political activities while in uniform and/or while officially representing their organization. To demand that their players respect the uniform, which not only represents their team, their league and their sport, but also represents the noble ideal that the world of sports might always remain one of the few last spheres in which people of differing religions, political views, backgrounds, or any other imaginable differences which might otherwise set them apart, can meet on neutral ground in a spirit of friendship and peace, and just… play.

Then I, and everyone else, can shut the hell up about all of this and just watch the damn games with no reservations.

[Note: I started writing this in December but due to a busy January did not find the time to finish it until now. Obviously, since Tebow and the Broncos got punted out of the playoffs weeks ago, this post has lost some of its currency and cache, but I hope it won’t have lost its relevance in the bigger picture of sports, religion and politics.]

In this short but excellent video, youtuber DarkMatter2525 highlights the absurdity of the “if God revealed himself to us it would violate our free will” claim.

 

I’m no artist, but when I saw this tweet by David Silverman, President of American Atheists (click the link to see the picture he posted), I was inspired:

Atheists don’t Tebow, we Thinker. http://pic.twitter.com/W2yjJYgb

Needless to say, I put my immaculate MS Paint skills to work, and did up this rough, simple, but hopefully to-the-point picture. I hope you like it:

Apparently the faith of believers is so strong that they have to suppress secular voices and abuse governmental powers to reinforce religious privilege and favoritism in order to keep it intact:

Pennsylvania Town Rejects Atheist ‘There Are No Gods’ Banner in Holiday Display

Published December 03, 2011

| Associated Press

ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. –  A western Pennsylvania mayor refused to include a banner from an atheist group that says “there are no gods” as part of a holiday display that includes a Nativity scene, which has been erected annually on city property for decades.

Hundreds of people turned out to support the mayor’s decision to go ahead with the display Friday, which also includes symbols pertaining to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and secular symbols, including Santa Claus, a snowman and a Christmas tree.

The city about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh added secular symbols to the display this year after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained last year that it amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

Seeking to head off a similar challenge, the mayor also invited the Madison, Wis.-based group to contribute something to the modified display, so the group mailed a sign that read: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Mayor Tony Court said he’s yet to receive the banner in the mail, but he refuses to add it when it arrives. “It violates the First Amendment. It’s endorsing atheism,” he said, adding that the crGeche “is a statue. It’s not a doctrinal statement.”

This mayor must have some moon-sized balls to actually invoke the First Amend ment in the name of religious suppression.

The tactics employed by the defenders of religious privilege: Never surprising, always (like their unfounded claims) unbelievable.

I’ve been trying to write this for over two months. I never know where to start. The reasons why I’m an atheist now aren’t exactly the same (though they overlap) as the reasons I left the faith I was brought up in. My adult understanding of why I value evidence based belief above all other forms is better thought out, more deeply analyzed, and rooted more in rationality and naturalism than my more emotionally based adolescent rejection of religion was.

Yet when people on twitter or at bars ask me, “Why are you an atheist?” or “Why don’t you believe in God?”, the questions I feel they’re really asking are, “Why don’t you believe in my religion?” and “Why don’t you believe in my God?” I suspect that, for the most part, they’re not as interested in hearing about my views on the irrationality of faith-based beliefs as they are about my personal experiences. After all, they’re experiencing religion in a personal way right now, and so the question is an attempt to understand how it is feeling, viewing, and thinking about life from a non-religious perspective. What experiences led me to this (happily) godless life? What was my visceral reaction to abandoning all notions of gods and embracing a worldview in which religion and the supernatural hold no sway? How could my life possibly have any meaning, how could I feel complete without God? How could I possibly not believe in the first place?

This seems to be the more pressing nature of these questions, and so I’ll start at, or near, the beginning, in my early childhood, when the church’s own actions sowed the seeds of my atheism. [Note: There isn’t enough time or space for me to complete my story in a single blog post, so this will be part 1 of several.]

I was raised in the Christian faith by parents who were both ministers. Yep, I’m a double P.K. But to be clear, they were not overbearing regarding religion when I was a little kid. Both were (and are) progressives, both participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Both embraced more a modern, liberal ministry and were, in their own respective ways, pushing to modernize the church.They weren’t fundamentalists, and I wasn’t beaten over the head with a Bible. As a very young child things were, for the most part, pretty loose on the religion front.

But as far back as I can remember, I always hated going to church. It was boring. I hated having to dress up in the uncomfortable child-suit with the clip-on tie. My father was the preacher so everyone knew of me, and I was always intimidated by all the strange strangers (and often stranger familiars) who wanted to make sure I knew how cute (or whatever) they thought I was. To me, the services were little more than an exercise in alleviating boredom until those final bells rang and harkened my freedom to go outside and play. Mostly, it was just a thing I had to do when I’d rather have been doing something else. The dullest, most annoying time of the week.

But all this seemingly harmless malaise turned out to be the calm before the big storm hit that nobody had seen coming.

Before I continue, I need to say here that I do love both of my parents, and that anything harsh or critical, or even just personal I say regarding my folks is not intended to publicly throw either of them under the bus (in fact, maintaining their anonymity with regards to my blogging is a big part of why I write under a pseudonym), but only because it would be impossible for me to tell my story in a complete, cohesive way if I were to eliminate certain critical aspects of it. I can’t get personal about myself without, to some extent, getting personal about them, too. And so:

It turned out that my father was gay. This was made known nearly simultaneously to my family, the congregation and (as soon as the press got wind of it, which was quickly) the public. All hell broke loose. In one fell swoop both my family and the church were torn apart. I was too young to understand what really was going on, but I knew it was important because the kids at school were talking and asking me about it, and things were getting ugly at home. It was a big deal.

The church fired my father. The congregation divided, a significant percentage of it leaving with him to form a separate, more accepting alternative church. At the time, I was pretty much on the level of, “Okay, I guess I’m going to this other church now sometimes, too.” Adults did their own things for reasons beyond my comprehension. Like most kids, I had no interest and no choice but to roll with it.

Skipping tracks to a brief aside. I remember a specific conversation with an elementary school friend which must have happened around two years later, given the friend and the school I was attending at the time. That friend was also a churchgoer. We left my house, were walking down the street, and started having what must have been an unusually profound conversation for our age. It went something like:

Friend: So, like, do you really believe in God and Jesus and stuff?

Me: Well, uh, I dunno. I mean not really. But I guess so. But I mean, I dunno.

From all I can recollect of my memories, I was never reverent, I was never devout, the faith that I had (if any) was severely weak, and although I can distinctly remember times when I sincerely wanted to believe, I really never was quite thoroughly convinced.

Back on the main storyline, where several years later I’m living alone with my mother (hopefully the divorce story is self explanatory) and, to her great frustration, developing the capacity to think for myself. As I grew into adolescence and, like most kids (although perhaps a little moreso) into a more rebellious attitude, she was growing stricter, more forceful, angrier and, at the worst times, emotionally violent. This tension wasn’t limited to religion or churchgoing, but those were the points around which it flashed the hottest.

And now we come to it.

By the time I was in high school, I’d developed the self awareness, the social awareness, and the reflective and analytical capacity to form a few opinions about the events which not only had shaped my life up to that point, but continued to dominate it on a regular basis.

The first, and probably most important: My father was a good man. He made all kinds of mistakes, to be sure. But the degree of castigation, ire, demonizing, shunning, betrayal by those he had trusted – or to put it more simply, the amount of plain old hateful bigotry – which not only was dumped on him by his peers but was essentially officially sanctioned by the church as they sacked him from his position and relegated him to second class status within their organization, was downright fucking despicable.

The second, and more urgent to me during my latter adolescence: My mother was a deeply emotionally troubled woman who no longer had the capacity to deal with me in a non-abusive way. As I write this now, I’m trying to put this in the most gentle, fair way I know how. But at the time I was an emotional trainwreck, fairly well tormented by her undermining of my dignity and self esteem at every opportunity she had, and her incessant attempts at severe, micromanagerial control over every detail of my existence.

And on Sundays I was made to go to church.

The sermons were all about the usual Christian stuff. The preacher said we should love our neighbors and accept those who are different than us, even as the church had hated and rejected my father. The preacher – my mother – said we should follow the teachings of Christ and try to be pure of heart, even as I knew well that she had done some pretty impure of heart shit that very morning before church.

The hypocrisy in the air was so thick I could practically see it. It was so rancid I almost could physically taste it. It was morally repugnant, and nauseated every corner of reason, rationality, and good sense in my brain. I could not have been more repulsed.

I was done with the church, and with religion in general. I had learned – correctly – not to trust any person who claims authority based on a self-professed assertion to speak for gods, or to be better trained in interpreting and espousing divine messages. I had seen the man behind the curtain, and he was a cheap, charlatan trickster – even if he truly believed himself to be playing The Great Oz with all good intentions.

And don’t get me wrong. I do not say my mother was, or many other members of the clergy are, lying about their beliefs. She did, and does, I’m sure, sincerely believe in the truth of every Christian message she has uttered. But having not only witnessed, but experienced and been on the shit end of the disconnect between  lofty religious claims of truth, love and beauty,  and the ugly, unacceptable, insipid reality which – in fact – belies them, I simply could no no longer believe or have faith in that, or any other gods, if I even ever had at all. The words rang hollow, the stories untrue, a big masquerade celebrating an illusion which no longer had any power over me.

I was an atheist.

[Note: It has taken me months to articulate this origin story of how I first became an atheist. There will be further installments picking up where this left off and culminating with why I am an atheist now. Hopefully this will be finished before 2013.]

Oh, Christians in the U.S. have it so rough.

Everywhere they look, they see their “right” to flex their majority muscle and discriminate against non-believers and other non-Christians being assailed.

They whine about the “War on Christmas”, when, every year, Christmas positively dominates the social, popular and commercial culture throughout all of November and December.

They cry about gender and sexual orientation rights being “shoved down their throats” (the phrase they usually use – I’ll spare the Freudian analysis for now), going so far as to legislate their “right” to bully gay kids.

The problem with all of this is that none of these so-called “rights” are rights at all. They are the benefits Christians have traditionally received from preferential treatment resulting from their majority position of power and the subsequent stronghold Christianity has over American society and culture.

And now that their privilege is being challenged by increasingly vocal minorities of nonbelievers and members of other religions, who are calling for a more fair and level cultural playing field, some Christians are quick and vociferous in playing the hurt feelings card and drumming up false allegations of anti-Christian discrimination.

Take Mathew D. Staver, chairman of the right wing fundamentalist culture war organization known as the Liberty Counsel. According to Christian Today, he

said that the [American Humanist Association’s] campaign was a crass attempt at restricting the religious freedom of Christians passionate about Christmas. As the birthdate of Christianity, he said no other holiday deserved more public worship. […]

Staver said his organization fights censorship of the holiday’s Christian traditions with its “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” now in its ninth year. The initiative educates society and businesses on the Christian faith, he said, ensuring they keep its part in Christmas intact through litigation if they don’t recognize believers’ right to religious freedom.

“People either censor Christmas out of ignorance concerning religious law or they worry they may offend someone else,” Staver said. “Retailers, meanwhile, should not profit off Christmas while pretending it doesn’t exist.” […]

Staver countered that groups like AHA shouldn’t analyze Christmas given they lacked compassion for its spiritual basis. This fundamental separation, he said, meant that they often disrespected the rights of Christians practicing their faith.

“I think a campaign like this shows how bankrupt the AHA is by trying to offend people by secularizing a holiday like this,” Staver said. “They have a right to their own viewpoint but the timing is very inappropriate. It shows how out of step they are from the rest of society.”

So what horrific action did the American Humanist Association pursue to “restrict religious freedom”, to “censor Christmas out of ignorance” in such a “disrespectful”, “bankrupt”, and “inappropriate way?

Well, take a look:

That’s right, they simply asked people not to discriminate against atheists.

As with all things pertaining to religion: Simply unbelievable.

Browsing through the #atheist twitter hashtag, I came upon this tweet by @LaurentRA:

Okay #atheists, where the hell is your raising a stink about this?? http://bit.ly/s4ghcS

The shortened url links to an absolutely horrific article in the Daily Mail on the beheading of a Sudanese man in Saudi Arabia for the “crime” of … “sorcery”.

Although I disagree with LaurentRA’s implication that atheists would generally not be outraged by this, I absolutely agree that we all should be. I urge you to read the entire article in all its gruesome detail, which literally turned my stomach and left me wondering if there is any Islamic blasphemic equivalent to “Jesus fucking Christ!”, which happened to be my first utterance upon reading the article.

I won’t presume to know LaurentPA’s exact reasons for directing the tweet at atheists, but there are common complaints, usually issued by the Christian faithful (“Christian” is in LaurentPA’s twitter profile description), that for various reasons – sometimes political correctness, sometimes bitterness at the faith in which people were raised, sometimes purely out of spite or animosity – atheists are “too hard” on Christian religions and “too soft” on Islam.

There may be a degree of truth to this. And there may be some good reasons as well as some bad reasons why it happens. One factor that comes into play is that Western atheists generally react most strongly against Western religions, which hold majority positions of social and political power in their regional societies. Atheists in Nebraska are legitimately more worried about Christians replacing actual biology with pseudoscientific creationism in school science classrooms than they are about the potential implementation of sharia law because, well, there’s a much higher chance of the former really happening. So in terms of immediate concerns most American atheists (and I see that LaurentPA is in Virginia) locate Islam on a less immediate orbit of concern.

That said, it is absolutely true that what concerns atheists about religion – the harm that it does to the well being of individuals and societies, to human rights and to prospects for peace and civility – should not be contained in a localized bubble, but should encompass a global awareness.

I’m reminded of the Bruce Springstein song, The Ghost of Tom Joad:

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

Whenever, wherever there’s a religious justification for beating down the human rights of individuals or populations, whenever and wherever people are dehumanized in the name of imaginary legends and ancient texts, all atheists who are humanists (and most of us are) should be there, ready to fight against them.

Fight against unjust beheadings in Saudi Arabia.

Fight against the religion-based oppression of women in Afghanistan.

But also:

Fight against unjust executions in Texas and Georgia.

Fight against the religion-based gender oppression (most specifically in the areas of reproductive rights and sexual orientation) in the United States.

Yes, LaurentRA, in terms of the harm which is being done by the religious these days, Islam probably wins first prize.

But that is no automatic exemption for Christianity, or any other religion which causes people to accept believing in things for no good reason with no good evidence, and therefore opens the door to people actually doing harmful things for no good reason and with no good evidence that their actions are, in fact, morally justifiable. For the most part:

Only the religious (especially Catholics) institutionally cover up child rape and protect the rapists.

Only the religious (including Christians) engage in “ethnic cleansing” (which is in fact, in practically every case, religious cleansing)

Only the religious (including Christians) mutilate genitalia (and yes, this includes circumcision).

Only the religious (including Christians) believe homosexuality is a sin.

Only the religious (including Christians) commit holy wars and genocides in the name of their gods.

And, LaurentRA, only skeptics (as, again, you describe yourself in your twitter profile) who fail to apply their skepticism to the theological realm remain theists. The only logical conclusion for skeptics who apply their skepticism to all aspects of their belief system is atheism. Skeptics require evidence, most especially in regards to extraordinary claims. And religions (including Christianity) make the absolute most extraordinary clams while providing absolutely no evidence of their veracity.

Atheism and secular humanism, on the other hand, are the only hope for a future in which we will see no more socially or nationally sanctioned executions or human rights abuses. Because the the only way the world will be free from the moral sanctioning of such crimes is to free itself from the fairy tales which people create to perpetuate them.

Harold Camping, made famous by his highly publicized campaign to prepare everyone for a rapture that never happened on May 21, 2011, has a lesser known doomsday prediction for… today! Yes, it’s October 21st (although the clock is rapidly ticking down), and once again the end of the world… well of course, it won’t fucking happen.

Here’s The Rational Warrior, aka Tombstone Da Deadman (check out his music and videos here and here), with some good advice for the rapture, as well as some other observations on religion and the Republican primaries:

 

Writing for the Christian Post, Joseph Perkins just put out an alarmist “Fear the atheists!” piece of tripe featuring the headline, “Ohio Church Under Attack by Atheist Group“.

Right off the bat, the poor, helpless Christ Cathedral Church is the innocent little victim “under attack” by the mean, bullying Freedom From Religion Foundation bad guys.

The most important thing to keep in mind through this story (and Perkins’ take on it) is that the opening “blow” in this “attack” was a simple exercise of freedom of speech by the FFRF, which was not specifically directed as a criticism of any particular church or religion at all.

It was, instead, a billboard with a very inocuous, positive atheist message reading:

“I can be good without God.” -Dylan Galos, Columbus student … atheist

If Perkins considers this to be an “attack”, he may be in need of a better dictionary.

Moving on, he begins his lament:

When Christ Cathedral Church in Columbus, Ohio had an atheist billboard removed from its property back in June, it thought it had heard the last from the billboard’s sponsor, the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation.

By at once acknowledging that Christ Cathedral engaged in trying to censor (which is to say, restrict the freedom of speech of) the FFRF, while also  using the negative “so-called” epithet to imply that working to attain freedom from religion is unnecessary and/or not the true function of the FFRF, Perkins completely fails to grasp the irony of his own contradiction. Censorship by a religious institution is religion curtailing freedom, so the FFRF is doing the necessary, and living up to their name.

He proceeds to his second paragraph:

But the [FFRF] found another way to attack the church. It sicked the Franklin County, Ohio Auditor’s Office on Christ Cathedral, claiming that the church was required to pay property taxes on the land on which the billboard stood, because it was used for commercial purposes.

“Claiming”? Sorry, but it’s the law. Chapter 5709.07 of the Ohio State tax code, titled “Exemption of schools, churches, and colleges”, states it quite clearly:

(A) The following property shall be exempt from taxation:
[…]
(2) Houses used exclusively for public worship, the books and furniture in them, and the ground attached to them that is not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit and that is necessary for their proper occupancy, use, and enjoyment [my emphasis]

So, in just one headline and two short paragraphs, Perkins has already shown indifference to freedom of speech, brushed off the notion that freedom from religion is a valid pursuit (even while providing an example of religion attempting to restrict freedom), and displayed disdain for the law requiring religious institutions to pay taxes on profitable property.

I’d continue deconstructing Perkins’ petulant complaints line by line, but it would be much too tedious. However, I can’t overlook one more assertion he makes further down:

The billboard featured the smiling image of a local college student proclaiming the atheist message: “I can be good without God.” It seemed more than coincidental to some that the pictured atheist student was black, just like Christ Cathedral’s pastor.

Even after overplaying the hurt feelings card so heavily thus far, he just can’t help jumping the shark and leveling a false insinuation of racism.

I would say that Joseph Perkins should be ashamed of himself, but he obviously has no shame to begin with.

You can read the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s news release and see a picture of the billboard at their website here.

Tax the churches.

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