Is it Ethical for the Free Thinking Community to Bite Our Tongues and Allow the Religious to Stop Progress?

I wrote an article against Kissimmee Florida’s City Council’s attempt to put “In God We Trust” on their city seal. The day after the article was written the Kissimmee City Council decided to quash the motion and their attempt to make their town a mini theocracy ended. A few days later, a man from Georgetown, Texas named Dave Atkinson wrote me a series of emails on the topic. His comments summarize the fear that many atheists have about being tolerant of even the nicest religious ideas. He left me asking myself; is it more damaging to society to refuse to confront religious ideas or to greet them with hostility?

The first email from Destructive Dave, as I call him, arrived on August 8th. At first he does not sign his name at the bottom of his emails.

To: LaRae
From: Dave
Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 2:23 PM

LaRae Meadows, you are an over educated idiot. People like you should be kicked out of the country, in the near future that might be possible. I cannot wait until that day..............

To: Dave
From: LaRae
Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 5:54 PM

You have such a problem with the fact that I've read the constitution and know the history of this country that I should therefore should be kicked out of the country? That makes perfect sense. You know who should stay here? People who love the country enough to not read the constitution, not understand its founding and have no education. Sounds like a winning plan. You inspire me to think less, understand less and be more of a patriot for doing so.


PS. What is the appropriate level of education? At what point does someone become "over-educated" to participate in discussions important to the future of their country?

To: LaRae
From: Dave
Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 5:57 PM

remember the day will come, and we will look for you...........................................

To: Dave
From: LaRae
Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 6:07 PM

Are you threatening me? I'm terrified. Or are you speaking to me of the rapture? If you are speaking of the rapture, you obviously haven't read the book that explains what will happen. You won't look for me, nor will god. You'll go to heaven and I'll stay here. Bummer. All the "over-educated idiots" will be here on a bigot and Christian free earth. Sounds like everyone wins! Oh, and let me add........................................................................................................................................ as that seems important to you.

Best Wishes on the Rapture,

At this point I became interested in who was writing me and I Googled his email address. I wanted to know who I was talking to and if I should be worried that he might actually try to come for me in the future(not a concern anymore). I found out his vital statics and a bit more. It is also right about here that I lost my patience.

To: LaRae
From: Dave
Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Let me get this correct, you are a Christian, and you are against having "In God we Trust" on a city seal. It sounds like you are the enemy within- that has too much time on her little hands. Without these words the US is already on her ride down hill and will continue to fall into the hands of the people that will take away your rights to setup web sites like yours-yet you fail to recognize this. That's what I mean about being over-educated with very little common sense. I know you struggle with this as do many people; you lack the ability to get the big picture- you simply run your pie-hole and should be in the kitchen cooking something to eat. You truly must be from California, a state that is about to go bankrupt with the world's 5th largest economy? Gee wonder how that happens, must be that your people out there lack common sense- to balance a budget? We can go back and forth forever but you are still an educated idiot with too much time on your hands. The majority of people will keep “In God we Trust”- even on our money and no matter how much you protest this, it will continue to stay there. So blog and blog but “In God we Trust” will remain and people like me will be your opposition….........

To: Dave
From: LaRae
Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 7:57 PM


I know how to read books - even the bible. Important books are good to read. Not just books though, I suggest reading important historical documents, like say, the Constitution. It's obvious that LBJ High School didn't teach you enough.

You might consider picking up a history book and see what happens when you combine religion and government. It's happened over and over again in the world, with deadly results.

Our founders, who gave us the right to be free from religion in our government, knew what they were doing. They took the time to become "over educated idiots with too much time on their hands." You cannot love your freedom to practice your religion if you do not understand that the separation of church and state is what allows you that freedom.

You don't have the right to make the government adhere to your religion. No one does. Your right is the opposite. You have the right to go to the government and be free from religion. So, no one can force you to pray to Allah, Zeus or chant a Buddhist chant. I'm sure you don't want to go to the city council and pledge allegiance to the flag, under Allah, do you? I don't think you'd want the government in your church, would you? Once a cucumber becomes a pickle, it can never be a cucumber again.

Yet, you demand that the rest of society pray to your god, that you violate their right, a right you so freely enjoy. This separation protects everyone else from having to pray to your god, against their will, when conducting the business of government or participating in government. My rights aren't protected by letting zealots force me to pray to their god, it takes my right to separation of church and state away.

It's the first law of this country. Along with the freedom of the press, it was so important at the founding of our country that the founders put it in the first law. The first one. They didn't wait until 2 or 3 or 4. Even though they had such diverse ideas about religion - all the way from atheists to devout Christians, they could agree that their religious ideas had no place in government.

You seem scared that storm troopers are going to go and gas a church and lock the doors so you can never enter again. No one is taking your right to pray away, no one is stopping you from going to church, or praying at home, or by yourself. Could you please show me one single example of a Christian being told they couldn't pray - except as a government agent?

Today, our mixing of religion and government has damaged our country. I think a man who hails from Georgetown, Texas, the state with the highest teen pregnancy rates, teen STD rates, one of the highest crime rates and per capita poverty rates should see what religion is doing to the government of his state. While you wave the morality flag and the religious high ground, you commit acts of terrible negligence against your citizens. So while you're going around, worrying about our state, you allow your state to wallow in griefs that could be fixed if you just learned something about how humans behave and what actually works.

Yes, California is in a terrible budget problem. Mostly because we pay more in taxes to the fed then we take back. States like yours take our money to pay for your religiously driven neglect, while giving more to charity, volunteering more, giving our citizens a better quality of life, producing most of your food, giving most of the industry start up money for the country, inventing more and housing most of the brains of this country. I'd put my bankrupt over-educated-idiot California citizen against your meagerly educated religious citizenry.

People like you don't deserve to live in this country. You suck up its rights, do nothing to protect them, try to erase them from other people while giving yourself lordship over them. You think you know what's best but you don't take the time to learn. That isn't what America is about. If you took the time to become a slightly less uneducated backwater hick from America's intellectual dumping ground, you'd see the value of the separation of church and state.


To: LaRae
From: Dave
Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Mrs. california-Larae,
You’re a real nice piece of work that should stay in cal because that is where you belong, history is one of my favorite subjects, loved it in college. I am proud to be an educated Hilly Billy, and I am very aware of what the constitution says and very aware of what can happen if state & church get too mixed. I still believe that you have too much time on your hands, and you need another hobby instead of protesting "In God We Trust". To research me must mean that I got under your skin, your lecturing me is actually kind of funny and means that you are not used to getting any opposition to your web site and statements. No matter what you say your educated state will go bankrupt and ours will survive, with all the amenities that go with it, crime, pregnancies and STD's. On the other hand your bleeding heart state will fail in the near future and all your efforts will have been in vain; thus, "In God we Trust" will remain. Sounds kind of neat. Come on you know that all democracies’ have a life expectancy and usually end up in dictatorships, regardless of what is done- remember "Rome"- Julius, etc. You appear to be a young lady that believes that your protest will lead to something- (change) and that you will have made a difference, but in the end it is out of your hands- just like mine. Most people just read your protest and kind of feel sorry for you, and the people that agree with you-- because the high probability that Kissimmee will add “In God we Trust” to their logo- will be successful - and you probably cannot stop it- regardless of your effort. Therefore you should embrace it- and this will make you feel better inside, your quick anger and detail of me means that you are obsessed with this activity. Being so obsessed about not having “In God we Trust” written on anything “state” will cause you to have health problems in the end. I make a motion that you support “In God we Trust” and you will be spiritually enhanced. Your present status will leave you unhappy and unsatisfied……….


To: Dave
From: LaRae
Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 8:18 PM
Mr. Georgetown Texas Dave,

The day after I wrote the article, Kissimmee quashed the motion to add "in god we trust" to their logo. The mayors office wrote me personally to tell me they aren't doing it anymore. So, you are wrong, yet again. I'm not surprised. It seems to be a theme. So yes, what I did mattered, gave me joy, and didn't change a thing because we have a separation of church and state. I just defended it as we all have been called upon to do.

I find it deeply horrifying that you know what happens when you mix religion and government and you still want to do it. You know it's wrong and you want to do it anyways. You know its results: unchecked power, killings, murders, war, famine, fear, hunger, tyranny and yet, you still want to do it. You know history has judged such nations as monsters who must wear badges of shame and disgust for generations, and you advocate to do it anyways. That is the textbook definition of a sociopath.

You are a perfect example of why people like me are scared of religious folks. When you think the end is coming, when you honestly believe it will happen in your lifetime, your priority isn't preserving this world or ensure peace or freedom for your people. You can do whatever you want because it won't matter when the Apocalypse comes. Honor - who needs it? Duty - for idiots. Morality - I'll just repent when Jesus comes. What does it matter that your behavior is both criminal and harmful when you know you are with god and the world won't be here anyways.

I have higher moral standards than you. I believe I have a duty to my co-citizens, my country and my earth. God or no god, we have a responsibility to the people around us to act with care and concern. I refuse to discard the greater good because some unsupported book from two thousand years ago has been taken to say that some day soon the world will end. The apocalyptic world view reeks of moral decay and it damages our country.

People like you don't deserve to live in America. You toss away your rights as quickly as you were born into them and strive to strip the rights from others who value them. It is repugnant.

Rev. LaRae Meadows

If you would like to use my title in the future it isn't Mrs. It is Rev. Please get it right or don't use it at all.

I am in fact a reverend of every church that will ordain me online. There are six. So I am a reverend six times.

To: LaRae
From: Dave
Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 9:49 PM

Mrs. Larae,
like I said your type needs to stay in cal/ny where you belong, your life is spent typing words and reviews, you may win a few battles here and there like in Florida but that does not mean that you have won. yes, you should be concerned, honestly. now we are getting to your real thought process behind your agenda "some unsupported book from two thousand years ago" that's all I needed to know because that is where your heart is and that is where you stand and that is who you are; and that is why you are easy to deal with...........................


Mrs. or Rev? it does not really matter now does it........................

To: Dave
From: LaRae
Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 10:44 PM
Mrs. davE,

I wasn't aware there was a hidden thought process behind my agenda and reviews. I wasn't hiding anything. You scare me. Your beliefs are dangerous. As long as I can, I'll defend the rights of all citizens, even while petty people misspell my name, threaten me and call me by the wrong title.

I will continue to "type my words and reviews" and making people like you face the consequences of your actions. Your beliefs are harmful to the world and to this country. You know what damage you are doing and you do them anyways. That is a disgusting snub at your own humanity and shows little regard for humanity as a whole.

There will come a day when you wallow in a puddle of your shame, just like your parents did about segregation, their parents did about equal rights, their parents did about suffrage and their parents did about slavery. I can say with all confidence that your day of reckoning will come long before mine.

- End Emails

Destructive Dave never wrote back. Much to his credit, he allowed me to have the last word. His disturbing emails inspired deep introspection on my end. I have been fiddling with my tolerance of theists for about a year. I strongly believe that people should have the right to practice their religions peacefully whenever and however they choose as long as they don’t try to use the government to promote their religion, but a democracy can’t be separated from the beliefs of its people.

I know that a self-governed country will always be influenced by its citizen’s personal beliefs. So, even if a government takes no official stance on religion, religion can still significantly influence the government. As history has shown time and again, when you allow religion to creep into government, the results are catastrophic to a particular group, or the whole society. Do we, as “over-educated idiots” neglect our country and society when we fail to confront religious beliefs as we would any other beliefs? Can we afford to allow these ideas to breed in our country, even though, by their nature, they are destructive? Do we encourage or entice the animosity toward non-theists when we treat such a vital part of their identity with no more respect than we would any other beliefs? Are we selfish when we consider our own personal treatment, bite our tongues and choose not to confront these beliefs?

Spelling was cleaned up in the emails.

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Comment by Joey on August 24, 2009 at 4:07pm
It depends on who you ask. Anyone you see crying about how New Atheists aren't helping will probably answer that we shouldn't oppose them because that might cause offense.
I suspect you're perfectly tolerant of most religious ideas. Tolerating something doesn't mean allowing it to go completely unchallenged, especially when it causes direct and demonstrable harm to society.

It's ethical for Leslie to keep her mouth shut if her situation demands it. I've had a gun pulled on me over an Evolve t-shirt and a Darwin fish removed from my car with (I guess it was) a baseball bat. If speaking up is likely to get you killed, the sensible thing to do is keep your mouth shut. (Not that either example or the myriad of other things have ever shut me up, but I'll be the first to admit I lack sense.)
Comment by LaRae Meadows on August 24, 2009 at 12:49pm
Leslie. Is it ethical to keep your mouth shut when their beliefs damage your society?
Comment by LaRae Meadows on August 24, 2009 at 3:32am
unholyroller. I am a terrible speller too, so it wasn't just him. Thanks for your comment.
Comment by unholyroller on August 24, 2009 at 2:03am
You shound not have cleaned up his spelling. It would have confirmed what an ignorant, bigited, dangerous, cretin he is. And as for your questions....NO....we should not!



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