Dear Catholic League, Again

Charlotte Catholic High School

I’ve addressed the Catholic League in a prior post, which amounted to a disappointing lack of action from an organization that seems to be content in its role as a repository for outdated views on the world and society.  I really wish they would have contacted me.

In the absence of a good story to tell about Catholic visitors, let’s talk about the religious freedom to discriminate.  Catholic League’s Bill Donohue makes inconsistent and ignorant claims about a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a teacher against a Catholic school.  The teacher is a gay man who got married, was so happy about it he posted about it on Facebook, and promptly got fired.  You know, for being married.

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Beliefs Are Not For Voting

Believing in God

If I could summarize this post in one sentence it would be this:

Your personal beliefs are not what’s good for the country.

Let me clarify. A belief system is personal, subjective, and evolving. The things you believe aren’t necessarily the things your neighbor believes. Often, the things you believe aren’t the same as the person sitting next to you in your church, mosque, temple, or support group. You may feel strongly about a topic or issue but it would be incredibly arrogant for you to assume that everyone else does – or should. When you hold a personal belief it’s virtuous for you to live your life according to that belief but it’s evil for you to try to force others to do the same, regardless of your intentions.

Merriam-Webster defines “belief” as follows:

  • a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true

  • a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable

  • a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone

Notice the word “feeling” used in all of these definitions?  Feelings are personal and cannot be objectively shared across an entire population.  Your feelings are fine when they stay inside of your personal bubble but you should not attempt to extend that bubble to other people – especially when they don’t want to be inside your bubble, no matter how safe and warm you think it is.

Your beliefs are formed by your personal experiences in life (or opinions you’ve adopted from other people with or without justification), which shape your feelings about the things you encounter. It’s easy to see that other people have lived different lives with different backgrounds, different family dynamics, and different experiences than you. Knowing that, why is it so hard to see that your beliefs don’t apply to them? It doesn’t matter that you feel your beliefs are correct and it doesn’t matter whether you think your beliefs make sense. There will always be someone out there who disagrees because they’ve formed their own (often incompatible) beliefs on their own life experiences and most likely feel that theirs are correct and make sense.

The things you believe now aren’t the same as the things you believed when you were five years old or 15 years old because you’ve matured and learned more about how the world works since then. 15 years from now it’s entirely possible that your belief system will have changed – sometimes in drastic ways.

Your vote doesn’t just affect you. Think about that when you think about voting. If your primary concern is which candidate shares more of your personal beliefs than the other, you’re using the wrong criteria for your decision. You should be worried about which of the candidate’s beliefs are going to make it into his or her policy and how that policy will affect the citizens (not just the religious ones) of this country and people around the world.

Stop being selfish with your vote.

Dispelling Egnorance

There’s a guy named Michael Egnor who has a blog he calls “Egnorance.”  I’m not making this up.  Anyway, he recently wrote a post directed at JT Eberhard asking a crapload of questions in the hopes that he’d be able to highlight how stupid he thinks the recent court decision on the Cranston High School prayer banner is.  Nevermind the guy isn’t an expert on the Constitution and nevermind he’s not a judge — he just has a really strong opinion on how wrong the experts on the matter are.  Well, because I’m bored and because it irritates me that these types of challenges sometimes go unanswered I’ll pick his post apart and address all of his questions to the best of my ability (JT already did).

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Jessica Ahlquist, Patriot

I haven’t weighed in on the Cranston prayer banner ordeal yet, but I’d like to take a moment to recognize this young lady as a true patriot and an American hero.  Jessica Ahlquist took a stand, not for her beliefs, but for the beliefs of every person in this country against an overwhelming tide of ignorance and hatred.  She saw a divisive, sectarian prayer hung in a public school and asked that it be removed so that students and educators of all faiths (or none) could feel equally represented and respected.  Jessica knew that this country was not founded on Christian principles but a desire to get away from an oppressive religious regime and allow everyone the freedom to choose what and how they’ll worship.  Jessica knows this.  Christians do not.

Jessica Ahlquist, Patriot

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Atheism Sucks!

I saw a video recently from some kid who seems to have it all figured out.  His thought process is a lot like mine was when I was a kid: my parents told me what to think, I adopted it as my own, and I knew I was right.  His video is titled, “Atheism Sucks.”  Dislikes on this video currently outnumber likes 3,113 to 89.  You can watch it here:

[Video Removed: s7QXhGLZW00]

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Good Enough For Me, Part II

Inn a previous post I discussed the “good enough” mentality that most Christians have regarding their faith and the infallibility of the scriptures.  That post aimed broadly at the Christian faith overall but there’s a sinister implementation of this mentality I’d like to address now.  This post pertains to the “good enough” mentality regarding the Theory of Evolution.

Christian Descent of Man
"If any monkey pick up his cross and follow me..."

Above is a Christian parody of the Descent of Man illustration from a fairly well-written Revelife article on the Christian misunderstandings of evolution.  You may want to take a minute and read it.  This post will still be here when you get back.

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Lowering the Bar

Whenhen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god’s existence.  I had the Bible, my parents’ word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith.  I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn’t even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!

That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them.  What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions.  Those things that didn’t conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.

Christian evidence
Christian? Evidence? Hmmm.
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Dear Catholic League

JT Eberhard recently posted a story about an “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I, like many others, think this is a great idea! I’d love to have the Catholic Church send a few unsuspecting saps my way to try to justify the behavior and beliefs of the Catholic Church, its clergy, and the whole of Christianity. If you’re an atheist and you want to be adopted by the Catholic Church, you can fill out this contact form and let them know.

Come at me, bro
Seriously, Bring It!

Here’s my invitation:

Dear sirs,

I recently got wind of the “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue and want to congratulate you on such a wonderful idea! As an atheist activist myself, I’d like to let you know that I’m effectively orphaned from gods and as such up for adoption. Since no gods have contacted me as yet, I avail myself to humans to rescue me from my spiritual broken home and make me feel wanted again.

You see, I’ve personally been guilty of anti-Catholic bias. More accurately, I’m biased against all untestable, unfalsifiable claims to the supernatural and the people in leadership positions who exploit the gullibility of other human beings. It’s not just Catholicism, if you want to know the truth. It’s all forms of manipulation, greed, abuse, oppression, ignorance, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. It’s a bias against people who enable others to harm children by looking the other way. It’s a bias against those who avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming that a cosmic “good guy” forgives them unconditionally so long as they apologize telepathically. I’m most certainly biased and I think the only way for you to show me the light is to adopt me and put some real time and effort into helping me see exactly why all of this is OK. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

I suppose the worst that could happen is that I talk some sense into whomever you send my way and you lose a tither. In that case, you shouldn’t look at it so much as the Church losing money but as the world gaining one more rational, responsible, compassionate human being. I said before that your idea is wonderful and I mean it. Send us some Catholics! We love the challenge.

You can reach me any time at jon(at)willisweb(dot)com or via my contact form on The Wayward Willis, http://willisweb.com.

Yours truly,
Jon

If they get back to me (their contact form says they have a high volume of requests so they may not answer all e-mails), I’ll most certainly be posting up the results here. I doubt anything will come of this because the religious community seems to be all talk and no action but you’ll hear it here first. Stay tuned!

Respect for Respect’s Sake

I’ve been in a number of debates in person and online where emotions flared and the conversation eventually boiled down to a variant of the following:

Why can’t you just respect a person’s beliefs?

Here’s the problem with that: not all beliefs are created equal and not all are worthy of respect.  The person saying the above is usually emotionally invested in the beliefs I’ve questioned and is usually unable to present any rational reason for a person holding those beliefs in the first place.  What they’re really saying is, “Since I can’t defend my untenable beliefs I really wish you would leave them alone so I don’t feel like I have to!”

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