Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Should this atheist group be permitted to have their banner hung with the nativity display in Pennsylvania?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23288 points ) December 8th, 2011

Even as an atheist, I read the proposed banner and cringed… I wouldn’t want them to hang it up. However, the original article (posted by a local news station), suggested that this group wanted to hang the banner on public property in place of the nativity. I wasn’t fond of the idea, not at all.

Other articles I’ve found, including this one clarify that the group wishes to hang an atheist banner along with the nativity scene. After I thought about it for a moment, I realized that this is a powerful statement. People are outraged, of course, and threatened to remove the banner if it is put up (although the mayor says that the banner is offensive and won’t be placed.)

I think that it speaks greatly of the hypocrisy in people fighting to be able to keep the nativity scene, and are furious that atheists want to take it down… or add a bit of their own display, yet people in support of the nativity display would be furious enough to consider physically removing an atheist banner.

What are your thoughts?

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334 Answers

rojo's avatar

This is a difficult question. Had the banner stopped with the first sentence, I would have said “go for it”.
I need to think on this some more.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The idea of the banner doesn’t bother me, however, the final sentence on the banner “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” is a direct attack and should not be included. The first part, “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.” is an appropriate sentiment to express the atheist view.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I hate the banner. I think it’s way too provocative, and I don’t think it helps our image. Personally.

I have grown to love the idea, though. But, as it stands, it isn’t getting the message across, as I’m currently being attacked because I suggested that it should make people think about why they are so angry that someone else wants to hang something “offensive,” while being offended that their religious display is offensive.

Holy shit, the whole thing is so tangled, it’s obscene.

zenvelo's avatar

The atheists should hang their banner, but somewhere else.

But the City should not have a Nativity scene. There are lots of non sectarian decorations. My church puts up a creche, there is no need for a city to do that.

Geez, we’re in the 21 st century. I thought we’d got past that.

wundayatta's avatar

Love it!

JilltheTooth's avatar

And, BTW, why add the banner to the nativity display? Why not have it in another area? Towns that have (for example) Nativity displays and giant lighted menorah displays don’t have them incorporated into each other. Maybe nearby, fine, but not, essentially, calling into question the validity of each other. If they’re going to promote beliefs, why not follow the same guidelines?

digitalimpression's avatar

Why can’t people just have their beliefs and leave everyone else alone? I don’t get it. What harm is a nativity scene doing? Why replace that with this clearly hateful sign? All beliefs aside, this is one of the reasons I can’t stand atheists.

Sunny2's avatar

This is all a result of high unemployment. People are angry and have too much time on their hands. To rain on a religious holiday parade serves no purpose except to spread bad feelings. I think we atheists should choose a day to celebrate our non-religion instead. I could be a day of banners and marching, of non-religious singing and speeches. Oh yes! Speeches about the glories of non- belief and solidarity. How about a day in August? I don’t think that’s taken (in the U.S. at least). We could have new traditions of food and color schemes.
Seriously, I think the banner is a bad idea at this time.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I am an atheist, and I think the banner is ridiculous. However, I also don’t think the city should be erecting a nativity scene. It’s not their place to do that. If some local group wants to do it on private property, fine.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Curious as to why this group is considered “atheist” when the sentiments they display are clearly “anti-theist.”

digitalimpression's avatar

@dappled_leaves So if a majority of the town is ok with it (being that it is a 50–60 year old tradition) we should take it down because of some toddler-esque atheist? Preposterous. Lord I hate the way this country is going….

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JilltheTooth good point. I didn’t look into the group, at all. I know nothing about them.

marinelife's avatar

It is the fact that they want to publicly belittle religion that I have a problem with.

I do not think that creche belongs in public space.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@digitalimpression Separation of church and state… it’s your law of the land, not mine.

digitalimpression's avatar

@dappled_leaves That’s like quoting the law to take a stuffed bear out of a toy store. It doesn’t make sense regardless of the technicalities. That’s part of the problem with this country… an increasing number of people lack the ability to use the old noodle.

wundayatta's avatar

@marinelife You could turn that around and say that the Christians are publicly battling atheism. @digitalimpression the same thing. Tradition does not make something right. Majority rule does not make something right. Innocuousness does not make something right.

I’m sure there are people who find the nativity scene as offensive as the people find the atheism sign. The only reason why most people don’t see it that way is the pull of tradition. Most people believe that if it is tradition, it is ok. That reeks of hypocrisy to me, but people want to make nice, and I understand that in the real world, not making waves is more important than sticking up for what is right, especially if what is right is offensive. People then use the offensiveness to not have to take an unpopular position.

Hell, I’m as full of hypocrisy as the next person. I’m not anxious to get my head cut off. So I wouldn’t stand up for the sign if I lived in that town even though I really do love it!

Blackberry's avatar

Regardless of what the banner says, it’s the principle that matters, and that’s why it is wrong to not let them put it up. I would like to know if they would let it be put up with just the first sentence, though. Telling someone their mind is enslaved won’t help such a public cause. That’s like Neo telling you your world isn’t real lol.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I think their phrasing could be a bit more “embracing” and still be on point. But that’s not really the issue. Since it seems “officials” feel the need to be involved, in my opinion, they can only allow both to be displayed.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@digitalimpression I guess we will have to disagree that it doesn’t make sense… the nativity scene is clearly offensive to that group, as it would be offensive to me, and appears to be offensive to some others who have posted on this question.

Saying that they should keep the nativity scene because it’s “tradition” tells me that this has nothing to do with common sense.

rojo's avatar

I think that the banner as written is direct attack on the beliefs of others while the nativity scene is an expression of a specific set of beliefs.
Which brings up the question: What kind of physical display, similar to a menorah or creche, could an atheist/antitheist group put up that would express their beliefs?
As an apatheist (I term I learned on this site!), I don’t mind nativity scenes as long as I am not forced to go and look at them. They make people happy and I cannot find fault with that.

Blackberry's avatar

And one could also say they are offended at the pale white Jesus as well. It’s offensive to history majors lol.

digitalimpression's avatar

Clearly I’m wasting my time here. I’ve said my piece. Apparently a figurine of a woman with a baby is tearing this country apart. It’s surely not the people who would see it removed to put up a sign saying they don’t like figurines of women with babies.

The sign is clearly, and irrevocably a direct attack. I can’t speak any longer with someone who would defend it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@digitalimpression My first response here was to say that the banner is ridiculous! Please do not put words in my mouth.

digitalimpression's avatar

@dappled_leaves What are you on about? I didn’t refer to anyone in my last post.. if that’s what you’re.. on about.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t know many atheists that are “offended” by the nativity scene. I know I’m not. I just think there is a proper place for such a thing. I would be far more offended by the banner, if it were to go up as it stands. I don’t like it. It’s provocative and combative.
The concept, however, I think speaks volumes.

ragingloli's avatar

Absolutely, without a doubt.

Leanne1986's avatar

I agree with @rojo. The banner is an attack, the nativity scene isn’t. I have no problems with atheists expressing their views like they did on some of our London buses. There was nothing hateful about the messages on the buses and, as a theist myself, I even found them quite uplifting.

The banner makes atheists look worse than the Christians they are trying to belittle and, I personally, don’t know a single atheist who is that spiteful.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I personally don’t like the idea of the banner being with the nativity scene and agree that it seems like an attack. In the article I read, it said the town is putting up the same nativity scene and Christmas decorations that it has been putting up for 50 years now. To me, that says a lot about the town and seems like the banner may not just come of as an attack to Christians, but to others in the town that have enjoyed these decorations for the last 50 years.

Blackberry's avatar

@digitalimpressionWhy can’t people just have their beliefs and leave everyone else alone? I don’t get it.

Well, the atheists are trying…....but they can’t put their banner up….....Would you let them put it up if it was just the first sentence? Or maybe without the last sentence?

rojo's avatar

@Blackberry if it were up to me, I would probably let them put it up, all the while wondering why they thought that this did anything positive for their cause. I don’t like it but there are a lot of things I don’t like and tolerate

Facade's avatar

My immediate reaction is to question how anything positive can come out of putting up that banner. It just seems mean-spirited and unnecessary.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Facade I feel the same way. I think that specific banner would be disastrous.

Blackberry's avatar

@rojo I thought of a good question: due to atheists being a minority, what they’re doing is seen as a cause. While it seems that nativity scenes all over the place are not? I think they are both causes, and one is being treated better than the other because of the majority. The christian cause isn’t do so well, either (Rick Perry commercial).

What if the atheists want to start their own 50 year ‘tradition’ (no longer a cause then, I guess).

GoldieAV16's avatar

I think it’s important to note that the group was INVITED to submit a banner. I think it’s quite lovely, and does nothing to detract from the Christian messaging that the town is endorsing.

http://ffrf.org/news/releases/ffrf-sends-solstice-cheer-to-ellwood-city/

When did we become so afraid of ideas? How is the idea of religion being a myth a threat to anyone or anything?

marinelife's avatar

@wundy The creche display does not publicly belittle atheism the way that saying religion is superstition publicly belittles those with faith.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@GoldieAV16 ohhh, that changes things a bit. Nothing that I read suggested that the banner wasn’t the group’s idea. Thanks for that link.

syz's avatar

You know, it’s funny how we like to say that this country was founded on the ideals of religious freedom, when what we really mean is “Christian” freedom. (How many cities do you see that decorate for the season with menorahs?)

As an atheist, I say adhere to the rule of separation of church and state, and then do whatever ever the hell you want to on private property. Let people believe (or not believe) whatever they want, and stop being dicks by trying to force your own version of what’s “right” down everyone else’s throats (be it religion or non religion).

As an atheist, I can sympathize with the urge to strike back – I get harassed, belittled, and inundated in religious claptrap every day of my life. So why not give back some of their own medicine? But really, why must so many be so jerkish? Leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.

rojo's avatar

@Blackberry I agree they are both causes but the christian one says this is what we believe while the banner says this is what we believe and you guys are full of crap.
As I asked earlier, what kind of, lets say non-banner, display could they come up with to express their beliefs? Or is it non-beliefs?
@GoldieAV16 Interesting that they were invited. Would not happen in my town. Shows a little more openmindedness that the mayors statement about that not going up on his watch.

Facade's avatar

@GoldieAV16 But still, why not just put up a banner that says Happy Winter Solstice or something similar? That alone seems to do a good job at getting their message across. What’s the point of putting up a banner to tell religious people their beliefs are silly other than to be mean-spirited? Christmas is a holiday celebrated by most Americans, religious or not.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A nativity is relatively quiet and peaceful. It doesn’t try to force anything down my throat. That banner is forcing their views on me. Screw em. Any son of a bitch that tries to force their views on me is going to get a kick in the balls.

Blackberry's avatar

@rojo What they could possibly use as something other than a banner is kind of trivial. I don’t care if they made a statue of Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Richard Dawkins, maybe if they were secular humanists, they could use that symbol. But the point is they should be able to put up whatever it is (unless it has an patent direct insult, but that banner as an insult is debatable).

syz's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Really? If a nativity scene is “quiet and peaceful” are you somehow suggesting that a banner is not? “Any son of a bitch that tries to force their views on me is going to get a kick in the balls.” – and if I say that your nativity scene is just that, some Christian forcing their views on me? Do you not see the hypocrisy?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I shouldn’t be allowed to Fluther on days that I haven’t had any coffee. It feels too early in the day to start this kind of discussion.

@Adirondackwannabe I agree that I don’t appreciate anyone cramming their beliefs down my throat, and I’m not a fan of this banner, but I think that @syz has a point. The banner isn’t doing anything except asserting a belief.

Blackberry's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe The nativity could be offensive to someone who actually realizes no one in that scene is white. I could say it’s offense to re write history like that, but I don’t care. We can choose to be offended by a lot of things. We could say television enslaves minds, and no one would take offense to that like they would to saying it about religion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@syz A nativity is relatively benign to me, it’s not telling me “There’s no religion” or really asserting anything. Although Blackberry has a really good point. Let me chew on it a little more.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe could it be “benign” because you’re just used to it? Atheism and anti-theism in the public eye is a relatively new concept. People aren’t used to running into messages like that, but aren’t they just as benign as the nativity or a cross? I think it may just be startling to see it so openly, because I’m not sure that has ever been done before recent years.

syz's avatar

Sure it’s benign. It’s also largely the most symbolic of all symbols of the Christian faith (except perhaps the cross). If you take the Christian message away, it makes absolutely no sense. It exists during Christmas for no other reason than to promote Christianity. It is not a neutral symbol.

Personally, it doesn’t bother me to see a nativity scene. I frankly don’t care and think all of the hullabaloo is stupid, as well as all of the hysterical cries of an “attack on Christmas”. It’s all a bunch of crap. But if you refuse to admit that it is Christianity being “forced down the throat” of everyone else who happens not to be Christian (not just atheists), then there’s no point in continuing this discussion.

wundayatta's avatar

@marinelife We don’t know what the motivations are for putting up the nativity scene, and we don’t know if they want to belittle atheists or not because there are no words. However, the symbols speak loud and clearly about the predominance of Christian ideology and the threat that ideology is for people who are not Christian.

It is disingenuous at best to think that there is not a kind of war between the religions, and all of them do not like the atheists. Every public symbol; especially symbols that are publicly sanctioned, is a beachhead in that war. The atheists might be overt about it, but no matter how much everyone will deny it, the nativity scene is every bit as offensive, no matter how innocent it looks.

I would say that in the spirit of the season, no one wants to look beneath the surface of this scene. We have enough strife already. The economy is hurting so many. Why make trouble? Why be provocative? Why attack?

The attack is already there, only the people in the majority don’t see it. Hell, a lot of people in the minority don’t even see it. Does that mean that those who do see it are wrong? I hope that we haven’t gotten to the point where personal opinion is invalidated due to majority rule, but that is the reality of life, in my opinion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Great points. It could also be my background makes a farm scene peaceful for me, so I might see it a little different. I just get pissed at people that tell others that their views are wrong

Blackberry's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf The first time I saw an atheist advertisement in public, I was taken aback as well. I was just surpised that people were “allowed” to finally do this, and I felt good that maybe there was a social change moving along due to that small amount of tolerance coming up.

@wundayatta I agree this is trivial and there are other things to worry about, but the discussion came up so we might as well address it. And I’ll probably forget in day, but I’m not doing anything at the moment lol.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe when you strip it all away, I don’t think there is a difference. The opposing viewpoints are so starkly different, it’s impossible not to assert your own without suggesting that the other is wrong. It works both ways.

This is real.
No, it’s not.

Both of those statements have the same effect, ultimately.

@Blackberry I still haven’t seen one in person.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Still wondering how “this”: “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” promotes anything remotely positive. Where does the actual Nativity promote such negativity? I’m not talking about atrocities that have been committed over the generations in the “name of Christianity”, most of the Christians I know abhor the connection with such heinous acts, and I’m willing to bet that most of the Christians in that town do so as well. Vilifying entire groups (and really, what did the Zoroastrians do to piss off that group anyway?) is hypocritical, and I would think that someone in their group would have seen that.

Facade's avatar

@syz I guess I see the nativity scene as benign as well, but that’s probably because of my upbringing. It doesn’t come to mind that people are trying to promote Christianity and bash every other religion by putting up a nativity scene; it just reminds me of Christmas.

Brian1946's avatar

I think they both should be allowed to put up displays/banners that insult each other. ;-p

However, for the sake of brevity and order, the replies in any subsequent banners should be limited to things like, “It is NOT!” and “Yes it IS!”.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JilltheTooth again, I don’t like the wording of the banner.
I just would see absolutely nothing wrong with suggesting that religion is a myth. Period. I don’t think it’s any worse to say “this isn’t real,” than it is to say “this is real.” I don’t agree with “This isn’t real, and you are worse off for believing it.” That’s not the same.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ll agree that the nativity shouldn’t be on public property. They’re fine for churches to put up, but the wording on the banner isn’t anything that contributes anything positive.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I may have misunderstood, but I didn’t get the impression that @wundayatta thinks this is trivial, at all. In fact, I got the opposite impression. Wundy, could you clarify?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf : I was simply taking that sentence as a whole, but I think their point is well made in the first few sentences: “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.”

Blackberry's avatar

@Brian1946
Atheists: “Nuh-uh”
Christians: “Uh-huh”

@JilltheTooth It is definitely not a tactic to get people to listen, so that’s why I agree it’s useless for getting a point across. The first thing someone does when attacked verbally is assume the defensive position.

It depends on the person, but I don’t think this is objectively offensive, it’s just that many of us are sensitive about something. The actual sentence is just callous, but callousness isn’t offensive in itself. There is still a christian out there that could read that and not think twice about it I think.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JilltheTooth right, yes, I agree with you. Sorry, I may have gotten myself mixed up. :)

El_Cadejo's avatar

I see the atheists here as being extremely douchey…. If you don’t believe fine whatever, but the banner is doing the same thing so many atheists complain about themselves. Pushing their views in a aggressive manner. They just as easily could have made the same points about thinking with reason without coming off like assholes and giving atheists a worse name than we already have.

Leanne1986's avatar

This is why I appreciated the London bus message. By saying “There is probably no God” the message wasn’t claiming to know anything is a fact and didn’t attack the religious for their beliefs at all. In my eyes, this message was far stronger because, ultimately, it was just saying we all need to chill the fuck out. It was the bigger person in the Religion vs Atheism row.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@uberbatman : Yeah, kind of my point with the “atheist/anti-theist” thing. Unfortunately, so many here that claim to be atheists are fervently anti-theist, and give all a bad name. It’s a shame, it ruins a lot of what otherwise might have been good discussions.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

By “here,” are we talking about the people who made the banner, or Fluther?

El_Cadejo's avatar

both :P

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yes, the line between atheist and anti-theist is often very blurry.
I don’t think of myself as especially anti-theist, but after having an inbox full of messages like “your a sick person!” and “this is God’s country!” it comes out a little bit. Just a little.

Facade's avatar

I wonder what these atheists are trying to accomplish in putting up this banner? They had to have known that it would just seem like an attack. What if Christians put up a nativity scene claiming Jesus as the one true savior at the displaying of a Jewish or Muslim celebration? There’s no point other than to call out another religion. I don’t see the reason for one religion to attack another.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Facade I think it only seems that way because the message they chose is so provocative. As linked above, the town invited them to include their banner with the display.

I think the concept was to make people consider why atheists (and anti-theists) are uncomfortable with religious displays on public grounds. Because a banner like that is bound to make (most) theists a little uncomfortable. It forces the tables to be turned to show a point. Yes, it does come off as bashing, and it is bashing… but I think the idea was to just make people think “wait, this is exactly what they’re bitching about.”

JilltheTooth's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf : I was actually referring to Fluther, there… To be fair, I have no objection to anti-theists saying their piece along with the rest of us, I just think it’s kind of unfair to the atheists to be hiding in their slipstream.

everephebe's avatar

America is at its best when it is truly pluralistic.

Theism does not belong on public property, and if it is… Opposing views should be free to express themselves. The banner is fine but should probably end one sentence earlier than it does. I think the Nativity scenes belong on Church property not on State property. What’s offensive to me is the fact that Ellwood City and the Mayor not separating Church and State, which is bad form in my opinion.

marinelife's avatar

@windy That’s why I said this: I do not think that creche belongs in public space.

augustlan's avatar

The message in the banner seems unnecessarily hurtful. As an atheist, I would not support that message. That said, the nativity scene does not belong on city property, period. I thought we’d already established that a million times over the years.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the atheist/anti-theist group never thought this banner would be approved. I think their real goal is to get the mayor to remove the nativity scene rather than be ‘forced’ to give an equal stage to the atheist message.

CaptainHarley's avatar

This sort of aggressive, in-your-face type of public discourse is unacceptable, whether from athiests, muslims, or christians.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @everephebe – however, conservatives have used your argument in support of putting creationism along with evolution, in support of considering god when drafting abortion legislation, etc. I don’t hold these equivalent but for people whose lives revolve around god, they are seeing the public space overtaken with ‘secular discourse’ – so of course everyone freaks out when the ‘only’ (supposedly, they forget our politics are permeated with christianity) exhibition of religion (like the nativity scene) is then dirtied by even MORE secular discourse. It’s understandable, they’re seeing less and less for religion to be considered in the public arena.

Many people disagree that theism doesn’t belong on public property. Many think the fact that there is a separation of church and state favors the atheists (try to figure that out but many make that point). I guess I’m just trying to deal with the intensity of the response in the direction of groups that do banners like this. I don’t like some of the wording on the banner, I don’t think it should go up. I think something like is should, though and it shouldn’t bother anyone. I don’t think these atheist groups represent me or that I have to apologize for their actions, ever. That’s not how it should be.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Blackberry : Using the word “enslaves” is inflammatory.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

wundayatta's avatar

There are messages and then there are what we think of the messages (individually or collectively). The nativity is a message. It is a multitude of messages. It is whatever the people who put it up wanted to convey (which is probably different for each individual involved) and there is also the message each individual receives. I might see the nativity as a message of conquest and colonization (or worse) and others might see it as pastoral and hopeful.

Similarly, what the atheist sign says and the message the atheists intended is one thing. What people get out of that message and their opinion about the validity or offensiveness of the message are another thing.

What does free speech mean? What does free speech on public property mean? Do we need to allow everyone who wants to put up a sign of a work of art to express their point of view? Do we allow only those who are opposite poles have their say, as if this is political speech and each major party gets equal time? Or do we say that no one can put their opinion on public property. It must be displayed only on private property?

A lot of people have complained about the offensiveness of the message. @CaptainHarley called it aggressive, in-your-face. I can certainly see how he could come to this point of view. Still, once we start censoring messages only to those that are acceptable, what has happened to free speech? And how can we know whether something is offensive or not? Do we need to take a vote?

Personally, I don’t mind nativity scenes even though I’m not religious. I also don’t mind the atheists’ sign because I share the sentiment (and anger, to some degree). But what I think doesn’t matter. We need to decide these things on principle, not public opinion. If we don’t decide them on principle, then our rights as Americans mean nothing. We have not guaranteed freedom of speech. We subject freedom of speech to the court of public opinion.

I think we have to open up the public space to all speech, even hate speech, or close it to all. Anything else is unfair.

Blackberry's avatar

@JilltheTooth Meh, I guess so, but I hate semantic debates :/

sleepdoc's avatar

Nevermind….

keobooks's avatar

I think that they shouldn’t make a banner about religious people being small minded. To me, this would be like if the Christians added a banner on the creche that said “All of you godless heathens will burn in hell for eternity’

I think it’s sad that people want to ban creches in public places. I thirnk that it would be awesome to see all sorts of people getting to put up their beliefs during the biggest holiday season of the year.

I don’t think the city should PAY for creches or religious things, but I think that they should allow anyone to rent out public property for any holiday display that they want regardless of creed, religious or lack of religion.

However, I think the messages should be positive and not judgmental of others.

wundayatta's avatar

@keobooks Who is to decide what a “positive” message is?

fundevogel's avatar

Well I for one don’t think the sign goes far enough. It’s about time we brought the war against Christmas to the streets. Who’s with me?!~

CaptainHarley's avatar

@fundevogel

No, not against Christmas, but how about Ramadan? : D

wundayatta's avatar

Yikes, @fundevogel! Do you have a taste for suicide??? Or rather, does your ironic self have a taste for ironic suicide?~

Jaxk's avatar

This whole thing is ridiculous.The banner does not promote anything but rather attacks. The message is targeted and demeaning. the nativity scene is not. What possible offense can you see in a scene of a baby sleeping in the hay surrounded by animals and people. Trying to make this seem offensive is the height of hypocrisy.

As for the atheists being asked for input, this wasn’t what was anticipated. Your boss may say he welcomes your input but if you go in and call him an asshole, the reaction will be less than positive. He’s probably looking for something more substantive and less insulting.

This is exactly why we have such a divide in the country. People don’t seem to be able to express thier views without attacking each other. Try addressing your point without the attacks and you may find a more receptive audience.

Blackberry's avatar

@Jaxk The nativity scene can be offensive. It just isn’t because we’ve seen it for decades. But I agree with the rest.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Obviously, the group is just trying to make a point. They don’t believe anyone’s religious views should be on display by the state, so they submitted something that would definitely not get displayed in order to foster discussion regarding the issue of whether or not anyone else’s views should be displayed by the state in the news.

As it stands, however, I think they’ve gone a bit far. Almost any non-theistic message would have done the job, and so an antagonistic message like this simply gives ammunition to those who would cast them as devils in their grand morality play. It’s politics as usual: everyone playing to their base, no one trying to compromise.

sleepdoc's avatar

OK, I will try again. I typed a response above but just found I was expressing what I was feeling. First off let me say I believe in letting others believe (or not believe) and worship (or not worship) however they would like.

I guess for me the troubling issue here is demeaning someone else in the support of your beliefs. I mean it isn’t like a group of faith hung up a sign that said “Those who don’t believe in God are heartless and incapable of grasping the concept of God” and then this sign was hung in response answering “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds”.

Maybe the bottom line for me is I wish we could all have tolerance for others whether the viewpoint we hold could be viewed as the majority or minority, popular or unpopular.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@sleepdoc Well said. Respect me and my belief or I’ll put a cap in your ass.

Jaxk's avatar

@Blackberry

What exactly is offensive about a nativity scene? Or for that matter a menorah. or a statue of Buddha for that matter? If the only way to express your belief is feigned insult, you’re really reaching.

rojo's avatar

Tolerance, along with compassion and understanding, is a practice in short supply these days.

TexasDude's avatar

I dislike proselytizing in all of its forms.

That said, this registers extremely low on my give-a-fuck-ometer.

Facade's avatar

@Blackberry Exactly. It’s moved from being exclusively Christian to being just a part of Christmas. I agree with @Jaxk.

Jaxk's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe

You may have missed the Tolerance part. :-)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jaxk I’m trying to work on that. But I get annoyed easily.:)

Qingu's avatar

They absolutely should be permitted.

That’s an entirely different question from asking whether it’s a good idea. I think the answer to that question is no.

wundayatta's avatar

Hmmm. Of course the nativity scene is completely innocuous. So, of course, is building a mosque in spitting distance of Ground Zero.

Oh wait. Some people think the mosque is the equivalent of saying “fuck you.” No. No. I can’t imagine anyone would ever think the nativity scene is the equivalent of saying “fuck you.” Can you?

Qingu's avatar

I will say that while the nativity scene itself isn’t particularly offensive, the implication of the nativity scene is. Here is this magic baby who is born of a virgin and who, as anyone even remotely familiar with the religion knows, we are all expected to have “faith” in or else burn in hell for our sins.

How is that less offensive than publicly calling a dumb belief what it is: a superstition? It might not be as in-your-face, but the underlying message is there and it’s worse.

mazingerz88's avatar

Agnostic here. I kept reading the atheist’s banner over and over again and the more I read, the more less provocative it became. It’s a statement of perceived fact just as those believers who put up the nativity scene is merely stating and expressing their own perceived fact.

This has nothing to do whether the nativity display and the atheist banner are offensive or not, imo.

For sure, the atheist banner would ruin the message of the nativity display yet it seems atheists are giving no quarter in this case when it comes to public displays. I sense a method to the atheists madness here. Bad publicity is still publicity.

Can’t help to wonder, what if the nativity supporters let the atheists banner be displayed? Is there a chance it would backfire, portraying atheists as despicable? Jesus was up to the challenge of persecution, why can’t they?

@ANef_is_Enuf I do understand the cringe inducing factor. The banner could easily be construed as antagonistic. Personally, I think they should wait for their turn to display it.

fundevogel's avatar

If the city knew what was good for it it would scrub all message-driven holiday decorating in public spaces and stick with bells and holly. Let private groups and people handle the other stuff on their own turf.

The holidays are supposed to be about good cheer and love for your fellow man. Lets not screw it up competing over who can get their views publicly sanctioned by local government.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

So it’s not the nativity scene but rather the fact the some people put more stock in it than you doi, that bothers you. The fact that some put a supernatural connotation to the scene even though you do not. It is not the scene that bothers you but rather the belief of others, is what you find offensive. Is that about it?

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, huh? I utterly fail to see how you have arrived at that conclusion based on what I said.

To be perfectly clear: I find the content of Christian theology offensive, because it is a cult that encourages dishonesty among believers, and threatens unbelievers with hellfire and torture. This shouldn’t be very hard to understand. I’m assuming you feel the same way regarding other cults. The nativity scene is an emblem of that cult’s theology.

I would feel the same way if Aum Shinrikyo wanted to put up an important scene from their own convoluted theology in public view… because Aum Shinrikyo is an offensive cult. It has nothing to do with the popularity of said cult.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Qingu
I know you have reprimanded me on the site before, for beliefs that I hold. And I can’t stop you, but I don’t know what about what I believe is harmful to you. Maybe I am not as enlightened to the natural world as you are. But since my beliefs (cause although I believe in a Christ in the sense of Christendom, I don’t believe that “not having faith” means “burn(ing) in hell for our sins”) are different that yours am I really offensive to you?

Qingu's avatar

@sleepdoc, I guess I should say that I’m not personally offended by that belief or any belief really. I’m hard to offend.

I’m just saying there’s a double standard here, where Christians say the following is offensive:

“Your beliefs are false.”

But can’t understand how others would think the following is offensive:

“You deserve to be tortured forever in hell because of your beliefs.”

Facade's avatar

@Qingu I don’t recall the people who put up a nativity scene saying “You deserve to be tortured forever in hell because of your beliefs.”

sleepdoc's avatar

@Qingu Gross generalization on Christians, but ok if that is your belief.

Qingu's avatar

@Facade, isn’t that the whole point of the baby in that scene being born? His birth means we no longer have to sacrifice animals to Yahweh in order to be saved from burning forever in hell. Unless you don’t believe in him—then you still deserve to burn.

I mean, are you saying that the nativity is just this nice pastoral scene with a baby and some wise men hanging out and has nothing to do with Christian theology? That’s like saying a right-twisted swastika is just a cool geometric pattern and has nothing to do with Nazis.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

We must be using different definitions of dishonesty. I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion.

Qingu's avatar

I’m actually quite certain we have different definitions of dishonesty, based on your discourse history on Fluther.

Facade's avatar

@Qingu If someone decides to read that much into it, that’s exactly what it means. But most reasonable people notice pretty decorations and don’t give them a second thought. Others look for things to criticize for the sake of making noise.

Qingu's avatar

Do you feel the same way about the confederate flag? Just a pretty decoration?

Facade's avatar

@Qingu Of course not. I don’t feel the two are comparable.

fundevogel's avatar

Interesting conversation.

I think I can safely say two things on the matter:

1. No one puts up Nativities thinking, “boy howdy, I’m sure glad Jesus was born so I don’t have to go to hell with all those unbelievers”.

2. Theologically Jesus’ birth has no meaning without the threat of damnation.

So what now? If Christians use the nativity without recognizing it’s relationship to damnation there is an implication that the doctrine that gives it meaning isn’t so central to Christians as it once was. Which makes you wonder…if Christianity is moving past original sin and damnation for all but the saved, where is Jesus’ role in the religion? If damnation isn’t inevitable why was Jesus born and why did he die?

Qingu's avatar

@Facade, it sure seems like they’re comparable. There are people who proudly display the confederate flag as a symbol of their “cultural heritage” and play coy and deny it has anything to do with, you know, the heritage of violently seceding from a democratic union to ensure chattel slavery remained legal.

Displaying the nativity scene, a central symbol of Christianity, and then playing coy and denying it has anything to do with the content of Christianity, seems pretty comparable. And just as disingenuous.

sleepdoc's avatar

@fundevogel

Your point on the theology of the role of Jesus is well taken. And in the interest of not diverting the thread to a discussion on my beliefs, I will just leave it at that.

Facade's avatar

@Qingu I’m not denying it; I’m saying it’s harmless. Those atheists shouldn’t be anymore offended than anyone should be if in the midst of religious symbols. But I guess the issue is that the nativity scene was on public ground, which I don’t understand, but whatever.

judochop's avatar

Heck no that banner should not be allowed to hang with the nativity scene. What’s the point of putting it there? Does the church get to hang banners at atheist gatherings? Why do people want to try so hard to ruin it for others? This isn’t two hate groups we are talking about.

wundayatta's avatar

@judochop Your opinion is not unanimously shared. Do you think other opinions should be taken into account?

judochop's avatar

Fanatics on any level are ridiculous.
I think all opinions should be heard but some folks are sounding a bit mighty. Can somebody please explain the point of having the banner there? Is it going to make the atheists feel better or just smirk?

jaimuffin's avatar

I think so because well it is our rights as americans to express ourselves . It’s in our amendments.

Lightlyseared's avatar

No. It’s basically just being childish and it makes me ashamed to bo an atheist.

Jaxk's avatar

About 85% of the world has a religious affiliation. Less than 15% have no affiliation (atheist, agnostic, etc.). In the US we have managed to tolerate Christian symbols along side of other religions without much problem. For some reason, the Atheists can’t stand to let others believe what they will. They have to actively denigrate the beliefs of others. Why is that?

Jews don’t post banners that say Jesus is a lie. hell even the Muslims don’t try to denigrate Christians here in the US. Why are the atheists the only group so disposed? And I find it interesting that they don’t attack other religions, just the Christians. Throw them to the lions.

If you want to display your beliefs, there is no problem. If your belief is only designed to denigrate others, keep it to yourself.

Joker94's avatar

I don’t have two fucks to rub together about hanging that banner, but hang it somewhere else. Hanging it up with a nativity scene is just blatantly assholeish.

flutherother's avatar

The group is called ‘Freedom from Religion’ but they seem obsessed with religion. Why can’t they just leave the nativity scene alone. What is a nativity scene anyway but the image of a family. Who could object to that?

syz's avatar

@Jaxk “the Atheists can’t stand to let others believe what they will.” You’re painting with a broad brush, buddy. As I (for example) stated earlier, I don’t give a flying fig what people choose to believe, but I’ll sure as hell fight for their right to believe it – and that includes those who don’t believe in Christianity (which is a hell of a larger group than just atheists).

“They have to actively denigrate the beliefs of others. Why is that?” How about the billboards, banners, commercials, leaflets, flyers, phone calls, and other intrusive methods that religious groups have bombarded me with my entire lifetime in an effort to “convert” me? What about those people ringing my doorbell at 9am on a Saturday who literally tell me that I’m going to burn in hell because I don’t believe exactly what they believe? What about an asshole running for president that flaunts his religion daily?

Again, I think the banner is in poor taste, and I wouldn’t have supported it. But before you go excoriating an entire group of people, I’d ask that you look at the issue from both sides.

everephebe's avatar

The Perry Strong video got 215,955 217,441 218,646 219,101 + dislikes, makes ya proud to be on the internet.

judochop's avatar

@jaimuffin you sure are right. It is your constitutional rights to hang the banner. Just as it is the right for Nazis to gather alongside gay rights rallies. I’ll defend your right because I have the same right and its a beautiful thing to have however…. And this is directed directly to those who want to hang the banner, what exactly are you going to accomplish by putting it there? Your constitutional rights? Hoorah, you win. Welcome to America! Where at the expense of others feeling like shit, you yourself can walk away feeling good. You’re right. Hang the banner.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, amazing how you conflate “tolerating beliefs” with “constructing religious monuments on public land.”

Amazing also that you fail to see how displayed beliefs can, in fact, denigrate others. For an obvious example: the Westboro Baptist Church.

@flutherother, @judochop and others, the reason the atheists are doing this is because the nativity scene is on public space. They wouldn’t hang the banner in a privately owned church.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, the same question can also be asked: what do the Christians accomplish by building a nativity scene on public land?

YARNLADY's avatar

I do not support anti-Theist messages.

judochop's avatar

Oh I dunno, historical value? Stories? Family? Representation of the biggest fucking holiday on Earth?

Qingu's avatar

Why on public land?

Also, “family”? WTF? You know, believe it or not, the word “family” cannot simply be appended to any and all Christian-themed things like a verbal tic.

Jaxk's avatar

@syz

I did paint with a broad brush. Probably not appropraite for all. The public face of atheism is an attack on Christians. And to be honest, I’ve never had anyone show up at my door and tell me I was going to burn in hell (except my mother).

Facade's avatar

@Qingu I don’t think a lot of people think about the whole public land/private land thing. I know I don’t.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu not true. The nativity is representative of family, how is it not? Also back to representing the largest holiday on Earth. What about that? And on public land…I don’t care if Atheists want to hang banners on public land. I just have a huge problem with them hanging it with the nativity scene. I think it makes Atheists look like a huge group of inconsiderate assholes. Hell, hang one down the road but with the nativity scene? You can’t possibly think that that is cool…

wonderingwhy's avatar

@flutherother @judochop What is a nativity scene anyway but the image of a family then why not make it non-religious representation of family? Why intentionally put something up that without question has a clear religious connotation?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

It’s Christmas. I’m sure that burns your ass but it is a national holiday. The message of the atheists can be communicated without denigrating the message of others. Public land only means it is open to all of of us, not that it can only be used to ridicule others. All other beliefs seem to be able to coexist. It’s only the atheists that feel obligated to destroy everyone else.

wundayatta's avatar

@judochop So coolness and inconsiderateness and tradition all justify the limitation of speech rights in your opinion? No, wait. Because you are in the majority, you get to run things.

This is exactly the problem with the nativity scene. It does symbolize so much more than what you innocently describe. It is entirely about power and about running the country. You say it is about being considerate, but that is disingenuous, even though you don’t now and won’t ever recognize it.

All this seems pretty unAmerican to me. So many things in our history have been traditional, and everyone uses that as an excuse to continue the old patterns: slavery, keeping the vote from women, and on and on. The nativity scene as the sole representative of thought on Christmas is not at all cool. I don’t care what kind of speech goes up against it.

Qingu's avatar

News flash: members of non-majority religions do in fact feel “denigrated” by the nativity scene.

And while Christmas is a national holiday in a certain sense, I find it surprising that you’re advocating what sounds like a theocratic sense. Something tells me you would not react the same to Muslims buying and using public land to stage a symbolic stoning of Iblis.

DominicX's avatar

Oh please. This group wants to do this for ATTENTION. This isn’t about them feeling offended by the Nativity scene, this is about them wanting attention for a volatile sign. The only instance in which this banner would be appropriate is if a Christian banner that said “Non-believers are fools: turn or burn” or something along those lines. The banner is certainly more offensive than a Nativity scene (and I am an atheist who does not mind Nativity scene AS LONG AS public menorahs, Hindu effigies of Vishnu, etc. are all also allowed). I’m about equality across the board. You allow offensive religious banners, you also allow offensive atheist banners. You allow Christian symbolism, you also allow Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist symbolism.

Countering Christian symbolism with an offensive banner, however—those are not on the same level.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, as always, I am amazed by Christians’ double standard with sensitivity.

Nativity scene on public land: iff you’re sensitive to it because you’re a non-Christian and feel marginalized or beaten over the head with theology, why, you just need to get thicker skin.

Sign that says religion is false on public land: OMG HOW INSENSITIVE HOW DARE THEY.

wundayatta's avatar

@DominicX The nativity scene is for attention, too. What’s the difference?

Leanne1986's avatar

@DominicX I just fell in love with you a little bit!

judochop's avatar

May I please ask all the Atheists in the room what really is the problem here?
Is it the right to hang a banner over the nativity scene?
Is it because the nativity is on public land?
Is it because the “family” represented in the nativity is Christian?
Is it because it is the largest holiday on this planet?
The last time I checked Atheists have every right that any religion has on this planet in the USA.
Feel free to hang a banner, but why above the nativity?
Feel free to rep a different family in a scene that is not Christian or claiming any historic value.
Feel free to view December 25th just as any other day of the year.
No one is stopping any of this from happening.
Bottom line is that hanging the banner over the nativity scene is an attack, a passive aggressive attack. It would not win the hearts of anyone but your own. It is selfish and self centered and is about as classy as Westboro protesting outside the docks of return ships bringing soldiers home.
Hate all you want but why shit on Christmas? Am I missing something? Would I go to a public square during a gathering of witches (which happens where I live) on Solstice to offer them Bibles? The answer is no, I smile when I pass by because they can freely express their religion without someone jumping down their throat, trying to ruin it.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Qingu
How about your double standard in this thread. You paint all Christians with broad strokes, yet when @Jaxk does the same and @syz makes a comment about it being broad stroked, you don’t advocate on the behalf of @Jaxk and say it is ok for him to lump all Atheists together.

Qingu's avatar

It’s because the nativity is on public land, @judochop. I don’t think any atheists would want to go into private churches and put up banners saying the church’s religion is false.

I find it obnoxious that you’re comparing the banner to Westboro Baptist in terms of classiness. You really think the statement “Your beliefs are false” is as classy as “You are a fag and should burn in hell?” Why do so many Christians have trouble understanding that there is at least a slight difference between being told “you are wrong” and “you deserve to be tortured forever”?

Qingu's avatar

@sleepdoc, that’s a pretty silly point to make. Though if you want me to make it, I don’t really care much that Jaxk has painted broad strokes about atheists.

judochop's avatar

@wundayatta before you misquote me again…What I asking is if you really think it is cool to hang a banner over the nativity scene? Why not down the road? Are you cool with the church stomping over your bushes and placing a cross below your Atheist banner? Why would you be? Why is it, just because we are in America that I have to be considerate of everything I disagree with? I am cool with the banner, I am cool with Muslims stoning whoever the hell they want. I am cool with Westoboro and Nazis protesting all they want. I just don’t see why people feel so compelled to mix them…I already said, hang the banner but why do so in a fashion that attacks Christians?
@Qingu “Your beliefs are false.” is as classy as :You are a fag and should burn in hell”
Sucks to be told like that huh? Sucks to be classified with a hate group. I am sorry that I see your banner as nothing but an attack on Christians. Concerning your “slight” difference between being told you are wrong and you deserve to be tortured forever….Well to me it just sounds like fanatical bullshit. You want to tell me I am wrong for believing what I believe in yet I am not standing over you telling you that you are going to burn in hell. You might as well be standing on the sidelines with Westboro, the Nazis and every other form of hate that is allowed in this country because anyone that wants to tell me I am wrong can pretty much piss off. I believe what I want to believe. Have I attacked your Atheist theory at all other than, hang your banner down the street?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I really don’t have a problem with what Muslims might want to do. I think you’re misreading my point. Think Christmas display. I’m not religious but I love the Christmas songs, trees, displays. If you have a point you want to make, make it. Just don’t denigrate the season for everyone else. If Christians wanted to put up a banner denigrating Mohamed during Ramadan, I’d feel the same way.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, if you believe that, then I would suggest you have no idea what class is.

Or hate. According to you, telling someone “you are wrong” is an act of hate. Which would make Jesus—who, as we know from the Bible, was not shy about telling people they were wrong—among the most hateful people in history.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@fundevogel & @Qingu

You do greatly err, neither knowing nor understanding scripture or God.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, my point is that if you want to use public land to promote your beliefs, don’t act like a crybaby when other people use public land to promote their beliefs.

If Christians would like to not be subject to atheists’ beliefs about the validity of their religion on public land, they should stop promoting their beliefs on public land as well.

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, tell me what I’ve misunderstood about Scripture and God. I can’t wait to have that discussion with you.

wundayatta's avatar

@judochop I don’t want to put up with the Christian bullshit any more than you want to put up with Muslim bullshit. The nativity is insulting to people who don’t share those beliefs. It is arrogance of the highest form. Oh. And it’s on public land. My land! I have to make space for it.

Well, if I have to make space for it, why can’t they be comfortable with me hanging my message on my land? Why do you get the rights to it? Who made you God? This is America where we have freedom of religion, not a state religion. We have freedom of speech. We can criticize whatever or whoever we want.

Yet you think Christians are special. They don’t have to follow those rules. They can put their nativity scene on public land, and banish anyone else to somewhere down the road. On private land, presumable. Typical attitude of the righteous and those in the majority who don’t see how they should bother to tolerate minority opinions.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

There will be no discussion between you and me, and especially not on belief or faith. Why would you want to discuss ANYTHING with me, since you obviously already have all the answers?

judochop's avatar

@Qingu Oh boy….Let’s not debate the Bible because I highly doubt you know much about it. According to me telling someone they are wrong is hateful? Well yes, when done openly in a public manner with things such as signs and banners when infact they are not hurting anyone or even doing anything wrong. Is it healthy to hang signs up? None of the Atheists in this room has addressed the point to hanging it up? What do you hope to get out of it by the sign being there? I’ve asked this now three times and no one has answered it. At this point the argument is going in circles.

wundayatta's avatar

@CaptainHarley Excellent question! Why would we discuss anything? Probably because it is not a discussion. I think people are not talking to each other, but to those others who do not write anything, but do read things.

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, yeah that went about how I expected it to go.

May I suggest sticking to copying and pasting screeds you find on your chain e-mails? Because you don’t seem capable of making and defending points here yourself.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

How exactly is that banner ‘Promoting’ your belief. It meerly promotes division.

judochop's avatar

@wundayatta Um, you are gravely misquoting me yet again. I have zero against Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Witches, Buddhists or folks who practice Vu Du. I condone their beliefs because I live in America and I am a true American. One who believes that everyone has the same right. I am not saying don’t hang your banner, I just think it is pure bullshit to hang it over a nativity. Will you answer this, why not hang it across the street or down the road ON PUBLIC LAND!

judochop's avatar

Wait….Was the banner going to be hung before there ever was a nativity to be placed? Am I missing something here? Because @wundayatta seems to think I’ve said Christians are special and have more rights than anyone else.

CaptainHarley's avatar

[ Laughs @Qingu ] You always have had problems getting me to take the bait. : )

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, actually I studied the Bible throughout college. I was a religious studies major.

And again: by your standards, Jesus was being hateful when he told the Pharisees that their interpretation of the Bible’s codes of cleanliness were wrong. Jesus was being hateful when he told the zealots they were wrong to stone the woman accused of prostitution. Jesus was being hateful when he said it was wrong to use his father’s temple as a place for moneychanging. And so on, and so on.

And I believe I’ve answered your question. The point of the sign is to push back against christians who use public land to promote their beliefs. If they get to, then atheists also get to hang up a sign with their beliefs. And they did.

@Jaxk, I don’t really understand your confusion. “Religions are false superstitions” is the basic belief of atheists. Some atheists, like the ones who wanted to hang up the banner, feel like this is a belief worth getting out there. Sort of like how some Christians feel that their beliefs about a magic baby who was born of a virgin and died for our sins are worth getting out there. Both beliefs offend groups of people.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@judochop I don’t know what they hope to get out of it beyond obviously promoting their message. But I would imagine publicity and discussion are on the list too as the sign obviously could have been less dramatically worded. However when are messages such as ‘god does not exist’ and ‘religion is not good’ not going to be considered offensive and contentious however they’re worded?

wundayatta's avatar

@judochop They should hang the sign near the nativity because it is a conversation, because each has an equal right to the same physical space. They have to share, and that doesn’t mean one is on top of the other, but I think it is reasonable to put them next to each other. Both “statements” are equally antagonistic, although one is much more subtle in its antagonism (which is why people think it is innocuous). Both messages…. indeed, all messages must be treated equally in public space, and that includes the Klan’s message as well as the Communist message, whatever they might be.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Qingu Why is it that you always single out Christians? Although I am not well versed in all religions I know enough about Jews and Muslims to say they have their own version of “being saved” (to use the Christian phrase). And it does entail believing and living according to the structure of their faith. Maybe they feel as strongly against the display of the nativity as you suggest that these atheists do. I am not arguing the posting of a banner in support of a belief system, just saying I wish people could act with a bit more civility towards each other.

fundevogel's avatar

@CaptainHarley “You do greatly err, neither knowing nor understanding scripture or God.”

Don’t encourage me. I only read two books about Christianity this year as opposed to seven the year before. I’m trying really hard not bury myself in Christian theology as I am less stroppy when I’m not knee deep in ancient barbarism.

Qingu's avatar

@sleepdoc, I don’t “always” single out Christians. Years ago I used to participate on a Muslim forum before they banned me. I’ve also spoken out against Islam several times on Fluther, and I often speak out against Judaism on Fluther and with people I know, including my Jewish family. I recall not too long ago comparing the celebration of Hannukah to celebrating the Taliban’s victory against the Americans here on Fluther.

I tend to speak out against Christianity more often because the subject of Christianity simply comes up more often.

And I find your pleading for “civility” thin-skinned and somewhat hypocritical based on the, by your standards, completely uncivil contents of Christianity and the behavior of Christianity’s founder.

Jaxk's avatar

@wundayatta

The KKK may have the right to march down main street but they don’t have the right to do it on the same day as the civil rights march. A little reasonable consideration would solve this problem. If it were possible.

Qingu's avatar

Actually they do have that right, @Jaxk.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@sleepdoc I’m in no way answering for @Qingu, but you make a good general point about Christians being singled out. I suspect it’s as simple as they’re the majority religion (thus the biggest target and as a group most likely to have members which take offense or respond) in the US and that’s where stuff like this tends to bubble to the surface. If it was, let’s say India, I imagine Hindus would be the target. In reality I doubt they’re singled out to the true exclusion of others though.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu I can see your point regarding the “hate.” You are taking it out of text, manipulating my words and using them to twist the parallel. Jesus did not stand around with signs or placing banners up. I think there is a huge difference between the unwritten moral code and religious code. If Atheists feel that it is morally acceptable and responsible to hang the sign over the nativity scene then so be it, I personally feel that religion aside, it is morally asinine.
@wundayatta I totally agree with you. All messages should be treated with equal public space. I think ruling out religion and the non existence of religion on equal ground makes total sense. Seems like you guys win this round, congrats. I don’t care enough to keep arguing whether or not Atheists and Christians have equal public ground to stand on and make a mute point.
Shit, we should just cancel Christmas this year and all the years to follow. It’s a pretty lame message anyway, peace, hope and goodwill and all. Religion….psssht. Nothing but wars and corruption. Damn the man!

syz's avatar

@wonderingwhy Christianity is singled out because that’s the overwhelming source of symbolism, advertising, and proselytizing in this country. (Oh, and putting religious symbols on public property.)

Blackberry's avatar

.Sorry I’m late, everyone. I was running some errands.

After reading the answers, I see some different viewpoints: essentially, some see the decoration as a celebratory object, and others see this object with a meaning behind it due to history (and present meaning). And then there’s the insult.

I generally don’t care about this one scene in that little town, but my viewpoint is looking at a larger picture.

I simply feel it is disingenuous to assert that this is all fun christian time. I see these conflicts as a minority attempting to place themselves in a better place in this majority christian society.

We’re not crazy, we all know it is still difficult for some people to just be an atheist or muslim in America. I could write an essay about it. You can’t just step on someone for centuries and expect them to get up, wipe off and walk away. Yes, this is combative, but what do you expect?

In the larger context, some christians walking past the scene with that insult hanging up is not going to ruin their day. They will go home, bitch about it and let it die, but they will still be a part of the demograpic that won’t even elect an atheist “just because”.

I know this is more about the insult, so we can get into that. I do not agree with it, but let’s assume they put it up: how will this hurt you physically and mentally?

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, you’re right, Jesus did not use signs. (Probably because his followers were largely illiterate.)

He did however storm into a temple with a gang of followers and proceeded to start smashing things while shouting his beliefs about how the people in the temple were a “nest of vipers.”

I guess that’s not as “hateful” or “morally asinine” as hanging up a sign, though.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

Actually they don’t. They’d never get the permit.

Qingu's avatar

Ah, touche. Damn big government liberals!

If I may respond substantively: there’s actually two issues at stake. Or maybe even three.

1. Should a group have the right to promote their beliefs, even if those beliefs are offensive, on public land? (I would say yes.)

2. Should a group promote their beliefs in a provocative way? (I would say it depends on first of all on whether the beliefs are worth promoting in the first place, and second of all on whether provocation is a good strategy.)

Klan march on Civil Rights parade fails 2a, by the way.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu whenever you deem it possible to stay on point and focus on the issue I am open to continuing our debate however at this point you’ve been all over the map and have offered zero gain in persuading me to hang an atheist banner over my nativity scene this year. I still think the issue of morals is what’s really at hand. You feel the need to attack Christians. Godspeed my friend. I hope you have a big shield and large sword because some Christians can be really scary people sometimes.

vine's avatar

I wouldn’t mind the banner if it weren’t so excessive. The sentiment is excessive and the writing is melodramatic. ‘At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail’? Yikes. I can’t help groaning over the banner’s amateurish and ineffectual language. The authors seem to have framed this as a significant battle between reason and irrationality, but it’s really just an unfair reduction of religion (which may be mythic or superstitious but is nevertheless a whole lot more to people than simple myth or superstition) and a petty potshot at the holiday.

This is coming from an atheist who would like to see atheism ably and graciously represented.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I thought of adding that but in the spirit of Christmas, choose not to.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh @vine Now everyone’s a critic. We can have free speech, but it better not be excessive and it better not be melodramatic, nor amateurish or ineffectual.

Are these reasons to ban the speech? Is it ok to say they shouldn’t hang the sign because they don’t meet someone’s criteria for quality?

This is absurd! Where do these arguments come from?

You know what? That nativity scene is about as hackneyed and cliche as they come. Shouldn’t be allowed. Can’t they do something interesting? No? Well, it’s so clicheed it brings total shame on the town. Let’s trash the thing.

vine's avatar

I think you read further and more seriously into my response than necessary, @wundayatta. I was merely criticizing the method, not commenting on the legality of the banner or its being hung near the nativity scene, which to me is a non-issue because of course it should be allowed. But the banner is as stupid as the nativity scene is cliched, and if a group of atheists wants to be taken seriously then its signage should be composed accordingly. No?

Blackberry's avatar

@vine Minorities can’t just ask nicely for equal footing. Women, African Americans, Japanese Americans after WW2 etc.: sometimes you have to get a little loud. I wish the “99%” could simply go to congress and say “Hello, my constituents and I would really appreciate it if you could reenact Glass-Steagall and repeal the legislation that allows unlimited campaign contributions. Thanks for your time.” But it doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.

wundayatta's avatar

@vine Huh? You most certainly were criticizing the amateurishness of the message. That’s literary criticism, my friend. That was the main portion of your comment, and it left me with the impression that that was why you didn’t like the message and didn’t think it should be allowed on the public space.

vine's avatar

Again, @wundayatta, you seem to be putting words into my digital mouth here.

and it left me with the impression that that was why you didn’t like the message and didn’t think it should be allowed on the public space

Then you must read more closely next time!

CaptainHarley's avatar

On a somewhat related note, you cannot fully understand chrisitanity by simply reading about it. You cannot fully understand the bible without getting to know the author. Degrees and research are fine, but you cannot fully comprehend Damascus without walking the road to get there.

Blondesjon's avatar

As an atheist myself I am embarrassed by the way other atheists feel the need to push their message in a decidedly evangelical manner. I find this kind of chest thumping not only boorish but a bit childish as well.

My disbelief in any kind of gods, heavens, or hells is absolute and unshakable. A nativity scene, including God in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Christian Conservatives running public office are not going to change that disbelief. In fact, I think that 99.9% of folks who don’t believe in God are not going to have their mind changed by any of this.

So why the fuss?

The Fuss is the incessant need of a bunch of self-righteous, atheist do-gooders to try and shove their agenda down the throats of folks who don’t believe the same as they do. Sound familiar?

Give the Christians their Nativity and their Easter. If it makes you not believe in God better, you can have the other ten months out of the year to push your agendas.

Or you could become a heretical atheist like me and just live and let live, no matter what the other guy is doing.

Jude's avatar

@Blondesjon shuts ‘er down. :)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Sweet holy moly, nothing like the talk of atheism or gay rights to make the fangs and claws come out. However, should atheist be able to fly a banner, even if it is done in poor taste, SURE. The same as the KKK should be able to march in Harlem, gays can picket the BOA, or Muslims can have a masque blocks from Ground Zero. Freedom of speech is not always freedom of popularity, though many try to play it that way. Atheist wanted to fly a banner I thought was offensive, crude, or rude, I can choose not to recognize it, or be free to comment on it. I know what the true is for me, and ignoring it with a chuckle would most likely be the case, and pity those bamboozled by it. If we are going to live true to the Constitution, let it fly, let it fly, let it fly!

HungryGuy's avatar

It’s a tad provocative :-p But I’m a staunch supporter of free speech. I say if it’s on public property, and they allow the nativity scene, then they have to allow the atheist group their say, too.

fundevogel's avatar

@CaptainHarley “On a somewhat related note, you cannot fully understand chrisitanity by simply reading about it. You cannot fully understand the bible without getting to know the author. Degrees and research are fine, but you cannot fully comprehend Damascus without walking the road to get there.”

When do I get to dismiss someone I disagree with by telling them I have special information that they can’t possibly understand let alone dispute without first accepting my views without criticism?

Any who it’s a moot point, I’ve spent twice as much time being a Christian as I have being an atheist. What is notable is that I was groomed to be Christian by my parents and community from when I was small and malleable. I stopped being a Christian when I started evaluating why people hold particular religious beliefs.

There are two overwhelming factors determining a person’s religion:

1. their parent’s religion
2. where they live

It’s a classic case of “get ‘em while they’re young” and social reinforcement.

We’re taught to be religious when we’re young with stories. Parents and preachers don’t present their tots with Pasquale’s Wager or the Argument from Contingency let alone Tacitus. Those things don’t convert people. They are adopted later to prop up beliefs that were adopted uncritically and an uncritical age. For the most part anyway.

Blackberry's avatar

@Jude Not really. :/

@fundevogel Kind of like this?

fundevogel's avatar

@Blackberry That is appropriately unsettling.

Jude's avatar

Put up whatever you want. I don’t pay attention to it anyway.

Blondesjon's avatar

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all focused the energy we spend on trying to control what other folks believe on something constructive like world hunger, equal rights, and/or education?

In fact, I think I can list at least 50 things that are more worthy of the time and effort spent on ridiculous shit like this.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@fundevogel

For many years I was an agnostic humanist.

amujinx's avatar

Should it be permitted? Yes. Is it worded in a way I agree with? No. Personally, I would have made a banner that said, “Separation of Church and State?” and left it at that.

Too whomever it was who compared this to the mosque at Ground Zero: I was going to use that same analogy. Shame no one else seemed to want to comment on the correlation between this issue and that one.

fundevogel's avatar

@CaptainHarley “For many years I was an agnostic humanist.”

I’m not sure what you want me to take from that.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Blackberry . . . that’s why i’d dress up in a santa suit for you, my friend :)

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I am not offended by the nativity scene. I am offended at the hypocrisy of the people who would deny the atheist any kind of banner , but have no problem with breaking the law by having the nativity scene on state or federal property. I believe the law is clear on the separation of church and state. Although I’ve always thought that with a govt. of “believers”, separation of church and state is all but impossible.

MissAusten's avatar

I didn’t have time to read all the responses, but here’s what I think:

I would want to know if this particular group opposes ALL religious displays, or only Christian displays.

I also think they’re kind of being jerks about the whole thing. Why rub people’s noses in it? They can’t see they are doing more harm to their cause than good? Having a nativity scene isn’t the government telling people they have to be Christians. It isn’t even telling people they have to celebrate Christmas by worshiping Christ. It’s a display. Does it offend the Jewish or Muslim residents? Does it offend people who just do the Santa thing and don’t really have a religious opinion one way or another?

I don’t know. I think atheists should have an equal opportunity to display their lack of belief, but I think they’re being dicks about it. Yes, now they’re getting a lot of attention (hey, it works for toddlers too! throw a fit and people look at you!), but it’s such negative attention. In my mind, it’s pretty much on the same level as Rick Perry’s recent ad about the supposed war on religion.

saint's avatar

Someday, somebody will put up a display on government property that says “There is only one God, Allah,and Mohammed is his prophet”.
At that point, lots of people in the West will wish the government had stayed out of the religion business.

Qingu's avatar

I agree that the atheist banner is amateurish and stupidly worded.

They should have gone for something simpler and catchier, like this.

Seriously, I love that sign.

El_Cadejo's avatar

awesome sign.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@fundevogel

Whatever you please.

SavoirFaire's avatar

This conversation is starting to remind me of this. Apologies in advance.

Qingu's avatar

@MissAusten, if people like Rick Perry and, well, all Republicans want to pretend that there is a nefarious “war on Christians” so they can act victimized and oppressed… my policy is, why not give them a war?

Seriously. If you are going to cry about people at Walmart saying “Happy Holidays,” about gays serving in the military, about not letting teachers lead sectarian prayers during class, and about teaching science in science class, and call these completely innocuous things a “war on religion”—I say we might as well give them something to cry about.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, sorry I’m late in responding to the last thing you said to me, but: the issue of morals is the #1 reason why I feel motivated to attack Christianity and other religions.

The Bible, the book upon which Christianity is based, is among the most morally repugnant books ever written. If it were just a series of false myths, that would be one thing; the fact that it’s been the basis for multiple genocides, for misogyny throughout history, and for the hateful treatment of gays and unbelievers that continues today means that it’s something that’s worth opposing.

Though there are probably more effective ways to do so than that particular sign.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu It’s going to be a little weird for me to have to stand next to you and fight the war on Christians seeing that I myself am a Christian however if we are to be lead by folks like Rick Perry and the rest of the circus, well….I’m gonna have to load my gun and stand with you guys. Don’t worry, I don’t throw my beliefs around, only on the internet.

Qingu's avatar

I wasn’t thinking so much war with a GUN as, you know, pithy signs obnoxiously positioned and whatnot.

everephebe's avatar

@SavoirFaire The atheist Sistine Chapel would look more like this, I should think. Or so. But I think the best “atheist” artwork is probably the photography from Hubble or Webb, or microscopes. Not pooping catgirls.

cryptic47's avatar

To those that are crying foul that the banner is a direct attack on the religious’ beliefs, the nativity scene still makes you think about all that those people do say, whether they always put up banners that say it or not, though I’ve seen plenty of banners hung by Christians that directly attack others’ way of life. Telling people they’re sinners and will go to hell and that it’s wrong for them to live their life as they choose. It’s about time that atheists stand up and fight back. You’re crying over words that they put on a banner? Maybe we should follow the lead of the religious and start KILLING the people that disagree with us. Let us launch our own little crusade. You religious want to beat gays to death, blow up abortion clinics, fly planes into buildings, repress science and human advancement with fear mongering and guilt. How about we go to some churches and hang you from trees, burn you at stakes, fly a plane into your church? Why don’t we take EVERYTHING that you want in life away from you. Let us brainwash your children, and censor the truth, and impose our will. We can run a con operation too, and trick people into giving us money for salvation, then take that money and manipulate the course of governments by giving millions of dollars to the presidential candidate we want to see elected. Why don’t we wipe YOU off the face of the earth like you almost did Native Americans and the Jews (and yes Hitler was a CATHOLIC). We can burn your bibles, rape your women, stomp your babies’ skulls in. You don’t like the sound of that? Go read history and tell me that religion is an institution that should be protected, and tell me you’d like someone with an opposing view doing those things to you. Atheists want to change the world with banners, the religious choose genocide. So give up this Christians as victims bullshit. The days of our oppression at the hands of you psychopaths are coming to an end, by the middle of this century, non religious will outnumber the religious in this country. Enjoy your last generations.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@everephebe I have never seen the first one, that’s great. Also, OT, but someone only recently pointed out to me that there is a brain in that painting, which I never knew before. I don’t know if that is common knowledge, so, hopefully I didn’t just make myself look like an idiot.

Qingu's avatar

@cryptic47, er… that’s a bit much, don’t you think?

I mean, certainly such behavior would be in line with how the Bible says to treat unbelievers, but I wouldn’t lump all Christians together like that. Even though I’m guilty of doing that myself.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@everephebe Well, it is just a webcomic. I don’t think it’s supposed to be taken seriously.

everephebe's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Yes that is a highly intriguing theory, and I for one buy it. I learned about it from Stephen Fry via QI. Good stuff. Very savant and not at all idiot. :D

@SavoirFaire Yes yes yes. But I don’t even get the reference to pooping catgirls! Should I feel left out? = I wasn’t taking it serrriously. :p

SavoirFaire's avatar

@everephebe It’s a recurring theme in the strip. I try not to think about why.

cryptic47's avatar

@Qinqu You’re right it is a bit much, only problem is, all those things really happened. Just pointing out that people who are members of an organization with a history of such evil deeds shouldn’t be crying foul over ANY banner. And yes, I am generalizing and grouping ALL Christians into one category, because they all know the history of their organization, what they currently teach, what their bible teaches, and they’re ok with it. I don’t care how good of a person you are, I would treat you the same if you were a member of the KKK or the Nazi Party. You want to be a good person, stay away from criminal organizations, you’ll get no pity from me. And any of you that disagree that all Christians have blood on their hands, you’re spineless and won’t acknowledge history or common sense. Grow a spine and don’t be afraid to tell it like it is.

Qingu's avatar

I disagree that all Christians “have blood on their hands.”

I agree that the Bible says all those things, which is the main reason why I oppose it. I also agree that the Catholic Church is in many ways a criminal organization.

There is a huge gulf between that and blaming all Christians, today, for genocides and other atrocities committed by any Christian in history. That’s absurd. First of all, many Christians I talk to are appalled at what the Bible says. Once they accept that it actually says that stuff, they generally grasp for ways to rationalize it out of existence. Some Christians on Fluther don’t even believe in the Bible at all, and merely cherry-pick a few nice-sounding truisms from Jesus’ teachings and ignore and even criticize the rest.

Such Christians are not guilty of genocide, rape, and slavery. At worst they are guilty of dishonestly interpreting their scripture.

I would urge you to refrain from engaging in guilt by association.

everephebe's avatar

@SavoirFaire Yeah. Worst. Google. Search. Ever.

cryptic47's avatar

Then they’re not really Christians, why they call themselves that is beyond me. Are you saying it’s ok to be a Klansman or a Nazi so long as you don’t actually kill a black or Jew yourself?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@everephebe…. you really Googled that? :\

cryptic47's avatar

because let’s be honest, the church is a hate group. People like to say how they do so much charity work, yeah it’s called a front. The Klan contributes to charity also by the way.

fundevogel's avatar

@cryptic47 The only church I know of that is a certifiable hate group is Westboro Baptist.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 I will disagree that all Christians have blood on their hands. Anytime I raised a weapon during war, it was because of the man next to me and often times I am pretty sure they were Muslim.

everephebe's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Curiosity killed the pooping cat girl… ? Maybe kinda. I’m beginning to think I must be REALLY non-kinky. What’s wrong with “normal” sex people? :p Anyways yeah. I couldn’t figure out where this meme comes from. But I nearly did vomit trying to find out.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 because let’s be honest, the church is a hate group. People like to say how they do so much charity work, yeah it’s called a front. The Klan contributes to charity also by the way.
Oh buddy. The true church is not a hate group and you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. My Sister and Aunt are heavily involved in a Christian church and honestly the two nicest people on the face of the earth. They accept everyone as they are and they never ask anyone to change. My sister moved out of her home and back in with my mother and father so that she could spend what was her mortgage payment to help house homeless people. My aunt volunteer every single day in her community, literally every single day. I have never, ever heard one hateful thing come out of either of their mouths. This is just one example.
Were you hurt by the church in some way or form? Why would you think of the church as a hate group, unless you are tied to FOX NEWS? also, I think you are trolling.

Qingu's avatar

@cryptic47, I don’t really care who is a “real” Christian. The word’s definition is only important to me in the interest of clarity of conversation, not for some litmus test. I think most people who call themselves Christians would find the notion that they are not real Christians—because they don’t support genocide and slavery as outlined in the Bible—absurd.

To take your analogy, I don’t think it’s okay to be a Klansman or a Nazi, because the content of those ideologies is appalling. But I would distinguish between a Klansman who is perfectly cognizant of his ideology, who is aware and proud of its history, and some hypothetical Klansman who is completely ignorant about what the Klan’s ideology means, who knows little or nothing about its history, and who when learning of its history is appalled by it and proceeds to make excuses like “they were wrong but they were flawed men acting in an imperfect culture.”

I don’t know if there are any Klansman like that. However, that describes the majority of Christians rather well. And you ought to cut them some damn slack.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, I do think a lot of what is said in churches is hateful, especially towards gays, women, and apostates. I’ve read accounts of kids growing up in rural churches that sound basically like authority cults, and when they lose faith they are ostracized and bullied by their family and community.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@everephebe thanks for the warning.
@cryptic47 isn’t a troll, I know him, and I know that what he is saying is sincerely what he believes to be true.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu yeah, fanatics are shit-heads for a lack of better words. I have never stepped foot in to a church where I have heard anything hateful towards anyone. Seems to me, with all these folks having such a bad experience that perhaps they themselves or their parents should have been way more cautious of whom they listened to at the alter. I also, don’t really look the part of collared shirt and khaki pants america. I’ve got a beard, my hair is a mess sometimes and I am more tattooed than not, about 85% of my body. So in short, I do associate with gays, transgenders, atheists, witches (my cousin actually is the head of some large organization for witches), bikers, punks, anarchists and radicals. So if there were hateful things to be heard, I am pretty sure I would have felt something from the congregation. I never have….The only time I have to listen to hateful comments regarding the church, is from those who disbelieve or feel that there is something wrong with religion which I know makes sense but to say the church preaches hateful things???? Dang, you all went to some fucked up churches. I think it was Gandhi that said, “a few drops of poison does not make the ocean dirty.”

cryptic47's avatar

Good people don’t need the church to be good, but good people need the church to be evil, so why not get rid of the church? What would we lose? These acts are still carried out today, a lot of which by the leaders of the church at different levels. You’re still guilty for those acts if you follow those leaders. You don’t want the blood of their acts on your hands? Don’t call yourself a Christian. The church as an entity is a force of evil and their followers give them power, and money. Accomplices perhaps, but still guilty. The Westboro church is more overtly hateful, but I fail to see an important distinction between being openly hateful and doing it in secret. I doubt you’d find a single church that isn’t at least responsible for twisting the mind of at least one of their members into hate. So long as even just a few people are poisoned by the church, no good that comes from that church is relevant. As I said, good people will be good either way, but some good people are turned bad by the church, and that cannot continue. There is no good reason to keep around an organization that stimulates lies and hate, and a false fear that controls our destiny.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 Damn, I have no good reply to your last contribution to this quip. You sound as if you are fanatical. Any fanatic whether for the church or against, for war or against it, for the forest or for logging is so far on the other side of the fence that it really is not going to matter the length of the debate or the content of the debate.
If you and I were neighbors. And you had gotten a flat tire a few times over the past year and I changed it for you and while you were sick, I mowed your yard I am sure you would think nothing of it, other than we are neighbors. However, one day it is icy outside and I can’t stop my car in time and I hit your mailbox and then slam in to the corner of your car that is parked in the driveway. I am pretty sure all you are going to remember is the accident. I doubt, highly doubt that you’ve gone to much church and if you have, I would be deeply concerned with whom taught you the concepts of Christianity. Christianity is not about hate, not about money, not about war. It is the fanatics that use it to their advantage to take advantage of the weak minded families and individuals. I can say the same about general leadership. Anytime someone uses something to their advantage beyond the truth it is simple manipulation. Fanatics can’t be persuaded one way or the other, right or wrong. Your view on Christianity to me sounds like right wing conservative bullshit, sorta like Fox News. Sorry, I do not mean any offense but just as your views are harsh, my reply can’t be any lighter.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think many Christians are hateful “in secret.”

By “the church,” are you talking specifically about the Catholic church? Because I don’t see all Christian churches as a monolithic entity. Even among Catholics there’s a lot of diversity.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu being raised in an Irish Catholic church I must confess that once my grandfather passed, we were all pretty excited to not get in line anymore Sundays to drink the blood of Christ….Even spending as much time as I did in the Catholic Church I still never heard anything hateful with the exception of politics. My grandfather passed when I was 12. After the burial we started going to a friends church that just said they were Christian. I still to this day when I am home for visits walk through in boots and jeans and for the most part still get nods, hellos, hugs and handshakes from folks I’ve never met.
I know that religion can be evil. I would even go as far as to say that without religion, evil would not exist in the spirit that it does. I guess I am fortunate, to never have had a bad experience with religion. Not even during combat in the middle east did I ever once feel any hate towards it. The war with religion…I blame government and money. Neither of which have a place with God.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@judochop how would you feel about a priest saying that non-Catholics shouldn’t be in his church, that they shouldn’t even be sitting in a pew in front of him?

Qingu's avatar

I think my Judaism was much like your Catholicism. When I was a kid, my parents made me go to synagogue where we had to listen to prayers in Hebrew and sometimes sit through a (very boring and often esoteric) sermon. The few parts that I could actually understand, I never paid much attention.

Then I started reading the Bible, the book we were ostensibly reading in Hebrew, and I realized it was hardly any different than the Greek myths we were studying in school.

Then later, I read more of the Bible and realized it is the only religious text that actually commands genocide (Deuteronomy 13:12, 20:16, the entire book of Joshua). This was actually something I’m sure we read and recited and sat through a rabbinical explanation in synagogue—I just wasn’t paying attention.

I remember the rabbi as a nice man; I’m sure a lot of the people in the temple were cool and generous. But the content of the religion, of the Bible, is hateful and appalling.

judochop's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I would suggest that he ask God where he’d rather the people sit.
I do not consider myself Catholic any longer and I still go for walks in the grotto and talk with the sisters. I sometimes will even stop in and pray while the sisters are cleaning the church. The smell of pledge on the pews is comforting.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@judochop I’m just curious, because that happened to me the time before last that I was in a church. (Which is rare nowadays, I’ll admit.) Well, not to me, but, it was part of the mass. He actually went on about it for a good 10 minutes, at least. I was just trying to get an idea of where the line is drawn between being unwelcoming and being hateful in church.

cryptic47's avatar

You guys really like to divide things up that are exactly the same, by the church I mean all churches including the catholic church. Despite their differences, they’re all basically the same, so who cares. And what makes you think they don’t hate in secret? Also I wasn’t saying they always kept it a secret, just not as open about it as Westboro. Please don’t try to tell me that most christians aren’t disgusted by gays.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 tomorrow morning, I will have to go grab a photo of the church across the street from me. The gay church. The one that says gay on the front of it. I am pretty sure those Christians aren’t disgusted by “gays.”

everephebe's avatar

@judochop I just mean this is Pennsylvania we are talking about… :p

judochop's avatar

@everephebe I am just here for the donuts and coffee. Anything else is just Devils advocate. oh boy this is probably the wrong quip for that.

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everephebe's avatar

@cryptic47 Let’s play a bit nicer than that m’dearie.
@fundevogel I dunno I was just joking. I have family from Pennsylvania, and enjoy visiting.
@judochop Wait there are donuts and coffee? What? I’ve been missing out!

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
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fundevogel's avatar

For what it’s worth I’m always a bit surprised when I find out a gay person is also Christian. Though considering how many ways Christianity has been re-interpreted and re-invented it’s not exactly surprising that as our society becomes more tolerant so does the church. It’s just another example of the church evolving to stay relevant.

Dog's avatar

[Mod Says:] Please refrain from personal attacks.

cryptic47's avatar

Yes a gay christian is like a black klansman.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 You sound like you are internalizing this a bit. You are generalizing and you can’t really deny that.
Why don’t we just settle this over a scone and possibly a Broadway musical?
The real matter at hand is the banner anyway and I’d probably like it if it were a little bit more pastel and a little more heartfelt. Just to generalize.
fanatics are whom you are referring to, which you sound much like

As far as the church walking all over people, you only have yourself to blame for that. If you feel the church stepped on your grandfathers way of life then it is him who let that happen. There are bad churches just as there are bad teachers and bad people. Just because you are a Christian does not make you bad.

judochop's avatar

@cryptic47 yes a gay christian is like a black klansman.
seriously bro, facepalm.

cryptic47's avatar

Listen up, so you understand, this is a criminal organization. It doesn’t matter the individual personalities of its members. For countless centuries this organization has been responsible for countless crimes against humanity. ANY MEMBER of said organization, is an accomplice. Yes it is true that a lot of its members have been brainwashed since childhood, but what can you do? I’m not suggesting that anything even be done to these people, it’s the organization itself that must be dismantled. And even though it is so clever that you use the whole facepalm gimmick, so original, please enlighten me as to how there is a difference between a gay christian and a black man wearing klan sheets.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@judochop I don’t think it is fair to suggest that @cryptic47 is to blame for his grandfather feeling that he couldn’t be open about who he was, and still hold on to his faith. I don’t think it’s really fair to blame his grandfather, either.

cryptic47's avatar

You’re quick to label someone a fanatic, if I was I’d be tracking your IP address right now and paying you a visit. Don’t you fucking talk about things you obviously don’t understand. Gays stayed in the closet out of fear. We let that happen? We let something happen that started centuries before we were born? Are you out of your mind? He died in 94 before this progression of gay rights even got really going. He was afraid to lose the life he cared about because of the hate of these people you wrongly defend. He knew that he couldn’t have the life he wanted if he was honest about himself. You need to stop your ignorance now.

fundevogel's avatar

@cryptic47 Yes the church has done some shitty things. But you can’t hold all Christians accountable for that any more than you can blame the German population at large for the holocaust. A certain slice of the pie deserves blame, but that is all.

judochop's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf and @cryptic47 I don’t care what you do with your faith. That is your own business but you only have yourself to blame for not walking away from something that is harmful. The approach being taken by @cryptic47 is almost fascist.
I obviously have had different experiences with the church than he or she.
I don’t defend all Christians Cryptic. Slow your fucking roll with the personal attacks I can understand your passion but take a deep breath, it’s the internet. You do sound fanatical and you are generalizing religion. I do not represent all Christianity nor do I pretend to. I will stand for all religion and for all who have the gull to stand up for what they believe in.
The matter of focus that has been entirely lost now is whether or not it is okay for Atheists to hang a banner over a nativity scene. I personally do not care what you believe in but keep your fucking signs out from my religions nativity. It shows about as much class as Westboro walking alongside a gay rights parade. Moral code is what the real issue is and the morals that you preach could not be more wrong with the way that I feel and I am a Christian. So when you generalize and call my religion criminal, I am bound to get passionate about it and tell you that you are more than wrong. Don’t lump me in to your shitty view on religion because your apple tasted like shit.

Dog's avatar

[Mod Says:] Flames Off Folks!

Disagree without being disagreeable or move on to another question.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@judochop well, in that case, the nativity shouldn’t be on public property in the first place. I don’t think this group is attempting to erect their sign on church grounds, for example.

cryptic47's avatar

@fundevogel I wouldn’t make the comparison that all Germans are equal to Nazis, no more than I support our current government. Anyone who willingly followed Nazism is guilty. And aside from the fact that most Christians are brianwashed from birth, you really can blame all of them, they still willingly sign up to be a part of such an organization. I really don’t understand why people think it’s ok. I still stand by my comparison of someone joining the Klan or the Nazi party. Doesn’t matter what you as an individual do, you’re still a member of a hate group or a criminal organization. Why do they have to call themselves Christians, come up with a new name and be spared the stigma.

judochop's avatar

From now on I am going to call myself a Biblicalphobe. I am much like a Christian but because my Christianity offends some people, I had to change my views to accommodate their hang-ups.
Oh wait….That’s Fascism
At least I won’t be lumped in with all the others, oh wait…..I will be, just like all the others. Then we won’t have anything to worry about. We can all be the same.
Take care Cryptic. See you next thread. Welcome to Fluther.com

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Ugh, I’m a glutton for punishment. Why am I still here? :\

I don’t think that it was suggested that Christians choose a different name for themselves because Christianity is offensive, but that if a person identifies as Christian, and finds large aspects of their own religion offensive enough to disconnect from them as beliefs… that perhaps it should take on a new name, rather than be connected with some of the unpleasant history and text that are so often used to tear it apart in the first place.

I’m not saying that I agree or disagree, but I think those are very different interpretations of what was said.

cryptic47's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf thanks, I was getting tired of connecting the dots for him. Like she said, these people call themselves christians even though they don’t follow most of the bible or what their beliefs are supposed to be, therefore they are something else entirely. I could call myself a Martian, but I wasn’t born on Mars.

everephebe's avatar

Hey Dog I’m totally posting a facebook photoalbum soon of a few foodstuffs I’ve made lately, mostly breads of pure goodness. I realize this isn’t meta but… It’s either food or nazis from here on out, so I’m hedging my bets…Lurve.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

^I was waiting for that.

cryptic47's avatar

@everephebe Nazi Bread, it’s like Monkey Bread, doesn’t sound good, but it’s divine. Is it funny that I use that word divine?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I haven’t had monkey bread since I was a kid.

cryptic47's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I haven’t had it in years, but it’s really good. A fanatic wouldn’t even know what monkey bread is.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Deep breaths, buddy, deep breaths.

everephebe's avatar

@cryptic47 That bread sounds hairy. Hairy not being a slang term for something good…

I think divine can be a numinous term, and secular to boot. Now the word soul is a bit more tricky I think…

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It isn’t hairy. It’s fantastic.

cryptic47's avatar

@everephebe I thought you had to be black to talk about soul?

everephebe's avatar

No no no, that’s Soul ya talking about.^ Lowercase soul is a harder term to unpack as a poet/mystic atheist. I have taken to using the term quintessence. Can I, a baker, see some linkage to this nazi bread? Monkey bread I know, Nazi, not so much. I bet I’d prefer a good old Challah to it, says the quarter jew in me. The 75% goy agrees out of pure adherence to shtick.

everephebe's avatar

Demi baguettes? I think not! Next you’ll tell me there are nazi bagels. :D :D

Dog's avatar

:) It always ends up about food!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It beats the attempt to make it about pooping cat girls.

augustlan's avatar

Now I’m hungry.

SuperMouse's avatar

What is written on the banner is really moot as far as I’m concerned, as are the hurt feelings of the theists who read it and the feeling of intellectual superiority of those wrote the atheist message. As soon as the city decided to put a nativity scene on city property – even it if was 50 years ago – they invited others to share their different beliefs in the same forum.

Are most Christians really so insecure in their beliefs that a sign such as this would shake their faith? If your belief in God is on such shaky ground that you are threatened by this message, that is a real bummer for you.

The truth is that there is incredible arrogance on both sides of this discussion. There is arrogance on the part of people who argue that they are the chosen ones who know the one true way to God and one must believe the way they do or face an angry and vengeful lord. There is, whether the atheists on this sight like to believe or not, the same level of arrogance in the message on that banner. Just as I am sickened when I look at that scene and the intolerance it represents, I am sickened by the smug, condescending tone of the message on that banner.

Qingu's avatar

I’m pretty sure at this point that @cryptic, who registered for this site yesterday, is a troll. If he’s not, well, I never knew the caricature of “angry irrational atheist” actually existed.

Blackberry's avatar

@Qingu Lol! Yeah, I think that was my first time seeing an atheist troll.

Jude's avatar

@Qingu I wonder if it is a regular jelly using another name.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I already said, cryptic isn’t a troll. I know him, and he is serious… shocking as it may be.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think he’s a troll. Incendiary, perhaps, but not a troll. What is shocking is that he feels comfortable enough to share his analysis. It is an analysis that needs to be heard, but that even our most ardent atheist finds too strong for his taste.

Blackberry's avatar

@wundayatta Yeah, he definitely had salient points, but couldn’t understand that the entire institution wasn’t bad, although a lot of it is for various reasons. It’s unreasonable to expect religion and church to be completely wiped out.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Blackberry I have to disagree with that. I sincerely hope that humanity grows past needing both. It may take more time than we have, but I like to think it’s an attainable goal.

Blackberry's avatar

@dappled_leaves Yeah, I should have said “in our lifetime”. Who knows what society would be like then.

gravity's avatar

If I were an atheist why would I care what other people held as their faith? If I didn’t think it effected an afterlife or where they would end up after death, why mess with their beliefs? I have been on both sides. I was never an atheist I guess but was heavily in the occult and new age movement.

HungryGuy's avatar

@gravity – The reason atheists have a problem with people of faith is because people of faith often try to impose their faith on everyone through law.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@gravity I don’t believe this is about this group of nonbelievers ‘caring’ what others believe, they are just arguing that the religious display shouldn’t be on public ground.

cryptic47's avatar

I’m a troll because I signed up for this site yesterday? So then all of you were trolls the day you signed up? How has anything I’ve said been irrational? Sorry that you people don’t have the stomach to hear the awful truth. Look past what the mainstream media tells you, actually study history and current events, study religion, and that will make you sick. If you people actually knew anything, you’d be as passionately opposed to this as I am. Even a lot of atheists have it drilled into their head that these religions are a force of good, but they are not. Do you not understand that these people con weak minded people out of money, then they take that money and the sponsor politicians or run for office themselves, then using their fictional belief system as a guide, they pass laws that effect all of us. We’re essentially being forced to follow biblical law whether we are religious or not. Look at Rick Perry as the most recent example. His campaign is being funded by evangelist christians, and do you not think they would use that position of power to further their own religious agenda? Religious freedom stops when it forces itself on others, it is no longer protected, and the sooner that more people realize this the better. So stop trying to label me a troll and come up with an intelligent response that can prove me wrong.

flutherother's avatar

The ‘Freedom from Religion’ group are trolls.

Jaxk's avatar

@cryptic47
This thread was about religion not unions. You’re off topic.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What? Someone mension a Black klansman? With those hoods over their faces and golces on their hands, who is to say some self-loathing Black man did not sneak his way into the cross burning?

fundevogel's avatar

So, none of you have ever heard of Clayton Bigsby?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@fundevogel That was sad, a mockery, and somewhat insightful. Even in its mocking of white supremacy, it accentuated it. Imagine it wasn’t Dave Chappelle creating that, but Brad Pitt, or Taylor Lautner? There would have been a fire storm that would make the Oakland Hills blaze look like a weenie roast. George Clooney could not get away with a skit in which he plays a white supremacist hurling ‘N’ bombs by the minute. The US public would throw a rod, and blow a gasket. No white actor in the US would not take heat for doing something like that, and bashing gays, Asians, and Jews in the process.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@HC, just how long have you been lurking?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf @HC, just how long have you been lurking? Before or after I put my input in, about a 3rd of the way up? ;-)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

just curious. :)

fundevogel's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “That was sad, a mockery, and somewhat insightful. Even in its mocking of white supremacy, it accentuated it. Imagine it wasn’t Dave Chappelle creating that, but Brad Pitt, or Taylor Lautner?”

Then the joke wouldn’t have worked. You can’t make a joke about a black white supremacist without a black person.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@fundevogel Then the joke wouldn’t have worked. You can’t make a joke about a black white supremacist without a black person. I was thinking more in line if they wrote is as them being the “handlers” of Mr. Bigsby, I know them trying to play Mr. Bigsby they would have to put on Black faces, which they could have done, but then they might have gotten an even worse backlash.

You can have a movie like “White Guys Can’t Jump”, but if you had a movie created by white people that said “Black Guys Can’t Avoid Jail”, it might be a funny ass comedy but many would not see the humor in it, but some sinister motive.

fundevogel's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Frankly I don’t see how who plays the secondary characters matters, nor is this a case of a black man preforming material about black issues penned by white people. It’s Dave Chapelle’s joke, you could strip everything else away, and people would still know exactly what was going on.

I like material that addresses difficult subjects, that ridicules the stupidity and hatred of people. If you make it untouchable you grant it special status. Is this a joke that couldn’t have been made by a non black? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be made at all.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@fundevogel I like material that addresses difficult subjects, that ridicules the stupidity and hatred of people. I can go for that. I also think such stuff should be allowed to be made. As you said, Dave Chappelle can do it, and not het hosed for it, because he is Black, the message doesn’t get lost.

Is this a joke that couldn’t have been made by a non black? A non-Black person could have attempted it, but I think the joke would have never came out really. It would be like if I wrote a skit about some poor Jewish kid, who didn’t know he was Jewish and grew up a devout Nazi. When he goes camping and roasting weenies over the fire he is cracking jokes of roasting little Jew children. The whole funny scenario and the mockery of Nazis would be lost to most as I would be labeled an anti-Semite, and that the real reason behind the skit was to voice my anti-Semite views. If it were written by a Jewish person, hardly anyone would think there was a double meaning.

It would also be the same as if I wrote a skit of an atheist who went all day expounding the believe of no Deity or afterlife, but then goes in each evening in front of a shrine of lab beakers, and Bunsen burners and pray for strength to same those theist from themselves. I would be seen as mocking atheist because I am not one. If I were an atheist, no one would focus on trying to fine the double meaning in it.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central . . . If it were written by a Jewish person, hardly anyone would think there was a double meaning.

I think Larry David might argue that point with you.

gorillapaws's avatar

I didn’t read the whole thread, so forgive me if someone posted this. I can’t help thinking of this clip when I read the first couple dozen posts.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gorillapaws Meh. Everyone seems to think that being offended is PC bullshit right up until they’re offended.

Blackberry's avatar

So the question is: What is more offensive? Insulting one’s beliefs, or not allowing someone the opportunity to insult another’s beliefs. :P

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Blackberry It depends on the context. I have no problem with the fact that you can get banned for using certain words on Fluther. I would have a problem, though, if you could get arrested for using those words. Banned from Fluther ≠ violation of free speech. In my opinion, whether or not the Freedom from Religion group should be allowed to put up their banner does not turn on the question of whether or not their banner is offensive. Whether or not the banner is offensive seems only to be relevant to the question of whether or not it would be wise to insist on that particular banner. But what is wise is not coextensive with what should be allowed.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire so you didn’t laugh? at all?

fundevogel's avatar

@SavoirFaire “It depends on the context. I have no problem with the fact that you can get banned for using certain words on Fluther.”

I kinda doubt that. I’m not a heavy cusser, but I think I’ve used all of George Carlin’s words multiple times, and no one, not mod nor member has ever raised an eyebrow as far as I can tell. I suspect anyone banned for “using certain words” was actually banned for being a churlish jackanape.

augustlan's avatar

@fundevogel There actually are words we don’t allow here. We call them “insta-ban” words. All are hate speech, though, not cuss words. :)

zenvelo's avatar

It’s not just Pennsylvania, the same displays are happening in Santa Monica.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@fundevogel Uh oh, I think she’s talking about “jackanape”!

fundevogel's avatar

@augustlan hmm, well as a wordhound I’m kinda disappointed by that. I hate taboos. I guess there will be no discussion of the etymology or origin of racial epitaphs any time soon. It reminds me of when I wrote a review for Randall Kennedy’s book but was required by Amazon’s writing standards to never use the title of the book. There was much dancing around which was ironic since the book argued against categorically censoring the word in question.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@fundevogel That’s pretty funny.

augustlan's avatar

@fundevogel The words have to be used as hate speech. If one is used in a discussion about the word, it’s acceptable.

fundevogel's avatar

Oh, I totally misunderstood then. The banned users would have to be proper bile-spewing provocateurs after all.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gorillapaws I had a bit of a soft chuckle at one or two points, but I can laugh at things that I ultimately don’t agree with. I mean, Herman Cain is basically a one-man comedy act as far as I’m concerned.

Blondesjon's avatar

Here are some words regarding the Christian holiday from a very outspoken atheist that you all may have heard of, John Lennon.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear . . .

Blackberry's avatar

@SavoirFaire Yes, it would be great to split these two topics and get opinions on them separately. I’m personally more concerned with an individual’s preoccupation with being offended at language and words to the extent of enforcing “violations” (such as offending a group or individual).

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@augustlan We call them “insta-ban” words. All are hate speech, though, not cuss words. :) So, “boobs”, (when pertaining to breast), and “whore/ho” (_when pertaining to highly promiscuous women) is “hate speak”? ;-P

augustlan's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central We have never banned you for using those words, as you can plainly see by the fact that you’re still here. Depending on how the words you mention are used, they can be flame-bait, though.

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