(examiner.com) - Over the last few years, various atheist and skeptic groups have started posting billboards, banners, and other advertisements all over the country. In response, many Christians are taking it upon themselves to steal or deface them. The most recent incident was in Virginia, where a Freedom from Religion Foundation banner was stolen. The press release title is telling: “Another FFRF solstice banner disappears.” All told, FFRF placed 12 banners in December 2012. Five of them were stolen or vandalized. (That’s 42%.)
Another atheist group in Roanoke, Va, placed four signs. Two of them were vandalized. In May of last year, an American Atheists billboard made it one day before it was vandalized. A Fresno, CA atheist billboard lasted all of three days. This kind of thing has happened in North Carolina, New Jersey and Portland, to name a few.
Of course, the public is outraged, right? Freedom of speech is sacred, right? Well, maybe not so much. In fact, if the media and blogosphere are to be believed, it’s the atheists’ fault for speaking something so unspeakable. The idea that there are atheists out there who would dare to mention their beliefs? Intolerable. Said one blogger,
Never would I encourage vandalism, but in this case I think I’ll let it slide. Atheists have been vandalizing my beliefs for years, so it’s about time the shoe was on the other foot…
People who say things like “Atheists vandalize my beliefs” are silly people.
by Hemant Mehta
(patheos.com) - In response to the increasingly hostile (and yet incredibly important) online atheist community, where we’re seeing written attacks on anyone and everyone who ever disagrees with you about anything ever (“There’s something wrong on the Internet!” syndrome), nearly two dozen leaders of national non-theistic organizations have joined together to release an open statement addressing the problem.
To many, this will all seem like common sense… and it is. Yet, even in our community, reasonable dialogue is hard to find and humanity is often missing from our humanism. I’m sure some bloggers will inevitably think this applies to everyone but themselves, but those of us who spend a lot of time in the online atheist world (as writers, commenters, or readers) know that a lot of the people who think they’re part of the solution only end up making the problem worse. Personally, I’ve found the best course of action to be avoiding the whole world of drama altogether, but others see that as tacit support for one side or the other. The problem isn’t caused by any one person or even a small group of people. But, together, we can at least work to make the online climate a little more hospitable.
This statement is a starting point. A place of common agreement. The signatories want to help make things better and they should be commended for that. Now, let’s see how the online world responds.
read the statement here
I am glad to see this being addressed in a more visible manner. A community that thinks it is free of criticism is not thinking rationally.
I feel that the on-line atheist community really needs to step back and do some self-reflection and the points contained in this statement are a good place to start.
(NPR) - The big demographic story out of the 2012 presidential election may have been President Obama’s domination of the Hispanic vote, and rightfully so.
But as we close the book on the election, it bears noting that another less obvious bloc of key swing state voters helped the president win a second term.
They’re the “nones” — that’s the Pew Research Center’s shorthand for the growing number of American voters who don’t have a specific religious affiliation. Some are agnostic, some atheist, but more than half define themselves as either “religious” or “spiritual but not religious,” Pew found in a recent survey.
They are typically younger, more socially liberal than their forebears, vote Democratic, and now make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population. Exit polls suggest that 12 percent of voters on Election Day were counted as “religiously unaffiliated.”
“This really is a striking development in American politics,” says Gregory Smith of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. “There’s no question that the religiously unaffiliated are a very important, politically consequential group.”
The religiously unaffiliated voters are almost as strongly Democratic as white evangelicals are Republican, polls show.
Rene and Anna Chouinard, who have three children, have been fighting with the board for more than two years to have an age-appropriate publication — Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist — distributed to Grade 5 students.
The couple, who are humanists and follow a religion-free way of life, took their case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on Aug. 20 and were granted a hearing on the issue. While no date has yet been set for the proceeding, the tribunal allowed the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Canadian Civil Liberties Association to act as interveners in two-days of hearings.
The fight began after the Chouinards’ refused to sign a consent form for their daughter to distribute Gideon International Bibles at her school.
They then unsuccessfully sought to obtain permission to distribute Just Pretend, citing other groups should be allowed to have their publications distributed in Niagara schools as well.
“This is a solid decision by the tribunal that is good for society,” Rene said after being granted a hearing. “We would like to see religion completely removed from the classroom.”
He said the Niagara school board should focus on education and not religion or other issues.
The Chouinards alleged they were discriminated against “due to creed” and that no material from non-Christian religions were solicited or distributed in the district.
“If they allow Gideon Bibles in the schools, then why can’t other groups distribute their material as well,” he said on Tuesday. “This is not fair for people who may believe in other religions.”
He said Jews should be able to leave Torahs and Muslims their Koran in area schools.
It’s funny how as soon as other materials, besides Christian materials, are to be distributed that the school districts clam up and no longer say that they are simply distributing material based on who wants to distribute.
Funny indeed. Kind of like that Louisiana congressperson who flipped out and retracted support for school vouchers after they found out people can use them for Muslim, as well as Christian schools.