One man’s immorality is another man’s religion, even if the immorality of that religion is pointed out by atheists. It’s common for religious adherents to sometimes act immorally – and sometimes hypocritical – despite what their religions supposedly teach. The same is true for atheists and what they believe. People are what they are, sometimes inconsistent, narrow-minded, and disagreeable.
But, there’s the message and then there’s the way you deliver the message.
Backyard Skeptics, an organization that bills itself as, “Where humanists, rational thinkers, atheists and agnostics have a place to explore the world without religious dogma,” plans this weekend to rip pages out of the Bible they believe portray immoral biblical law.
The message that the Bible has passages that are immoral is a valid topic for discussion. Some reasoned discourse on biblical questions like these would be welcome in an era when understanding one another is limited to how loudly you yell at your opponents.
But Backyard Skeptics Director Bruce Gleason says, “We’re not there to burn the Bible or desecrate. There are plenty [of] verses in the Bible that if you did any of those things today, you’d be thrown in jail immediately.”
True, some of those things would get you arrested, convicted, and maybe even sent to death row. But, Gleason’s claim that he isn’t there to “desecrate” the Bible rings hollow. Most Christians would beg to differ that ripping pages out of their holy book isn’t desecration and they aren’t the only ones.
Muslims understandably weren’t so pleased when renown nutcase and “clergyman” Terry Jones thought toasting marshmallows over an open fire of burning Korans would be a fine thing. In fact, Jones’ justifications weren’t all that different from Gleason’s. “Jesus would not run around burning books,” Jones said last year, “but I think he would burn this one [because He disagrees with it].”
And interestingly, Gleason’s protest engages in what Christians might call evangelism, but with a secular twist. “We want to make this a better world for secular and humanistic values,” Gleason said. “We don’t believe prayer works. We don’t believe religion adds anything except a sense of false hope.”
I believe Christians often rely too heavily on martyrdom. It’s their constant screed they’re an endangered species being systematically rubbed out by the forked-tailed devils around them. That’s an outrageous debating point for a group that makes up 75-80% of the American population. It’s nothing more than needless antagonism toward people who don’t believe what they believe…just as atheists ripping pages out of a Bible make their motives suspect.
Jugheads Doomed to Hell
And it’s not that theists don’t engage in their own intolerance. Atheists are probably one of the groups most singled out by theists. At least Muslims believe in some God, even if many Christians believe Allah is a mere pretender to the throne of higher power. Believe in yourself and you’re some sort of jughead doomed to Hell and sucking the faithful right along with you – a sort of reverse Rapture.
This isn’t a Constitutional issue. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that desecrating books or flags, or almost anything else is free speech and on that I agree with them (as long as that freedom is doled out equally for all). After all, they only ruled the speech free, not that it wasn’t ill-advised or provocative.
No, this is a matter of communicating beliefs. Dueling billboards that promote God or atheism? OK. Handing out information about your beliefs? OK, as long as you don’t tag along trying to convert me when all I want is a nice walk in the park. Ripping, burning, pissing on, or otherwise disrespecting someone’s belief symbols is intrusive, insulting, provocative, and needless.
In other words, it’s a hell of a way to rally people to your cause.
The Omnipotent Poobah, aka Jack Koeneman, is an atheist.