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Politics and Religion
Posted: 15 October 2007 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Yes, I recite the pledge when I work in the classroom at my daughter’s school and I just skip the “under God” bit. A few people have clearly noticed, but nothing has been said.

I guess I don’t feel offended by religion per se, and I’m one of those annoying humanists who doesn’t go along with the popular sentiment that antagonizing the religious is good for us or anybody else. Oh, I’m happy to be confrontational wheh I see religion in places it doesn’t belong, like government and public schools. But I’m not offended by prayer. I kind of like the idea of communal ceromonies and rituals, of taking a moment as a group to acknowledge how cool life is and how lucky we are to be here, or how small we are and how little control we really have over the universe, and so on. I don’t happen to think there’s a god to talk to, but if that’s the form other people’s recognition of these things takes, it doesn’t particularly bother me.

I did, however, recently have a stomach turning experience with our local school and religious parents recently. After a long and painful period of illness (brain cancer) an young girl (7) in our school died recently. Her family are evangelical Christians, and they clearly could only cope with the experience by perversely making it all sound like part of God’s wonderful plan, and imagining that death is only temporary anyway. Fair enough. I don’t have any better advice for how to deal with the death of one’s child. But then the group of Christians who had been coordinating the community help for the family posted a message on our discussion list after the girl died, talking about all the miracles that had occurred. The doctors said she probably wouldn’t respond to treatment and wouldn’t live more than a few months, but when they treated her and she survived about a year, God got the credit, not the doctors. And they trotted out all these coincidences (“God called me to come to your house today, and lo you needed laundry done so God was clearly directing his children to where they were needed”, stuff like that) as examples of how the whole episode was a confirmation of gods greatess and compassion.

The idea is so repugnant to me that I want to object, as I’ve done on the list before when people were recommending homeopathy and crap like that for preventing a cold going around the school. But it’s not exactly religion in the public school, and there’s no question I would only make myself (and my child) a loathed pariah for even suggesting that these were just BS rationalisations people made up to make a sensless tragedy less painful. It’s just a reminder that even in the liberal bastion of No. CA, and a co-op charter school populated by lefties, this craziness and delusion is taken for granted by most people, and socially unacceptable to challenge. *sigh*

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Posted: 15 October 2007 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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mckenzievmd - 15 October 2007 12:11 AM

...there’s no question I would only make myself (and my child) a loathed pariah for even suggesting that these were just BS rationalisations people made up to make a sensless tragedy less painful. It’s just a reminder that even in the liberal bastion of No. CA, and a co-op charter school populated by lefties, this craziness and delusion is taken for granted by most people, and socially unacceptable to challenge. *sigh*

Oh, that was a heavy sigh.  I think you can take heart in the fact that you regularly question things on your daughter’s school discussion list.  At least you’re (hopefully) encouraging people to think before they write.  The story of the little girl who recently died at your daughter’s school is also heart-wrenching.  I can’t imagine how people cope with this sort of tragedy and I can understand (and concur) with your inclination not to get into an argument over this sort of topic.  Since there are obviously religious families at your school, you can be sure that something else is bound to occur sooner or later where it will be more appropriate to step up and be heard. 

I wonder if your daughter has had more questions about God and death since her classmate’s death?  Such difficult life experiences for a 7-year old. 

Vanessa

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Posted: 15 October 2007 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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We haven’t really had many questions or discussion about what happened. Since we usually try to reassure her, when talking about dying, with the fact that it is far more likely to happen to people a lot older than her, I wondered if she might have some anxiety seeing it happen to someone her own age. But I also find that such big ideas sink in and get processed over extended periods of time, so she may just not have had enough time to generate her own reflections and questions.

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Posted: 15 October 2007 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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The last time I checked, there’s supposed to be a separation of church and state, but those lines seem to be blurred more and more.

This is one of my “hot buttons”.  And it’s one of the reasons I joined Americans United (for Separation of Church and State) - to insure the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (most notably the 1st Amendment) are upheld and not destroyed by the Religious Right. http://www.au.org/

I just don’t know what I would say if someone asked me about God or my religious beliefs

First, I would say that I am a patriotic American and firmly believe in supporting the Constitution of the United States.  I believe all religions and non-religions should be protected equally and I do not wish to say that I favor any one at the expense of others. cool smile

Then, I would say that if by religious beliefs you mean “What is my moral compass?”, I would then explain how I believe in the Golden Rule, not judging someone by their belief system but rather what they stand for and the rest is a personal conscience issue.  I believe the main fear of an Atheist in government is that they are unprincipled and have no morals.  With no fear of hell, how can you possibly care about right and wrong?!  Don’t let them get away with that. angry

No lies.  No half truths.  But also not getting painted into a corner.  I suppose I could have said all this by just saying: Let ‘em know you’re a patriot and let ‘em know you have a solid moral character.

Go for it!

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Posted: 26 October 2007 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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First, I would say that I am a patriotic American and firmly believe in supporting the Constitution of the United States.  I believe all religions and non-religions should be protected equally and I do not wish to say that I favor any one at the expense of others. 

Then, I would say that if by religious beliefs you mean “What is my moral compass?”, I would then explain how I believe in the Golden Rule, not judging someone by their belief system but rather what they stand for and the rest is a personal conscience issue.  I believe the main fear of an Atheist in government is that they are unprincipled and have no morals.  With no fear of hell, how can you possibly care about right and wrong?!  Don’t let them get away with that. 


Like that a lot, stating that yor are an an American first and your relgious beliefs or non-beliefs are secondary to that thros a real curve to the fundies.

Gary

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All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 26 October 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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vanessa - 12 October 2007 04:41 PM

Do you think it’s possible for a politician to be successful and be non-theistic?  I know it would be anathema to the Presidential office not to end every state of the union address with “Good night and God bless”, but can we even hope to keep religion out of local elections?  A local school board candidate referred to her faith as a guiding principle for making decisions.  I guess I’m glad she did so I know not to vote for her, but she’s quite a popular candidate.  I’m actually interested in getting more involved in local politics, but I’m somewhat worried about my non-religious beliefs getting in the way of being elected. 

Vanessa

Yes I do and I have been, I did not run for public office byt was an elected union official, the trick is not to focus on religion but on the requriements and duties of the position you are seeking election to.  If you are running for schoolboard, as it appears you are, I would emphasize how you are going to attempt to improve the educational experience for the all students in your district with a view towards how these students are being prepared for a successful life in a changing economy after they leave school.

edited to correct typo that mismarked the quotation.

[ Edited: 26 October 2007 07:38 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 27 October 2007 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Our day may come. A part of it will be how well we present ourselves to the community, and show the community that we are not as we have been portrayed. We will truly begin to take off if we can demonstrate greater integrity than those outside our movement. That should be simple considering how low that bar is, but in fact it’s going to be hard.

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Posted: 01 November 2007 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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vanessa - 12 October 2007 04:41 PM

  A local school board candidate referred to her faith as a guiding principle for making decisions. 

You should have told her that school boards don’t have any jurisdiction over issues of religious faith.  Therefore, her articles of faith are irrelevant.  Unless, she’s a Satan Worshiper, or Calvinist, who intends to trespass upon the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.

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Posted: 07 November 2007 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I WON!!!!

I thought some here would like to know that I won my seat on Council!

So, in January, I will affirm an oath of office, either not placing my hand on anything, or else the NJ State constitution.  And so help me nothing!  There is a possibility that a former governor will “swear” me in.  Not confirmed, but when I met him (a friend of a good friend), he volunteered that he would do it.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to all here for their well-wishes and great advice.

Now, back to the debate!

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Posted: 07 November 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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HappyHumanist - 07 November 2007 12:23 PM

I WON!!!!

I thought some here would like to know that I won my seat on Council!

So, in January, I will affirm an oath of office, either not placing my hand on anything, or else the NJ State constitution.  And so help me nothing!  There is a possibility that a former governor will “swear” me in.  Not confirmed, but when I met him (a friend of a good friend), he volunteered that he would do it.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to all here for their well-wishes and great advice.

Now, back to the debate!

You’re kiddin’ me. Great news, HH!

Best of luck in the new position. Hope it goes great!

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Posted: 07 November 2007 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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vanessa - 12 October 2007 04:41 PM

A local school board candidate referred to her faith as a guiding principle for making decisions. 

Vanessa

Yep, and how is that any different than consulting astrology to make decisions? Or the Oracles? Or…....

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Posted: 07 November 2007 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Congrats HappyHumanist!  Just the thought tempts me to move into New Jersey.

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Posted: 08 November 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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The Thread:
Do you think it’s possible for a politician to be successful and be non-theistic?

One answer:

HappyHumanist  Posted: 07 November 2007 12:23 PM

I WON!!!!

Well done!  So far, so good.  Keep us posted.

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Posted: 08 November 2007 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Congratulations HappyHumanist!  :grin:

The real test is, can an admitted Atheist get re-elected.  Even if not, I think it is still worth the media attention to raise consciousness.

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Posted: 08 November 2007 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Thank you, all!!

It’s been a weird two days.  My mother asked me what I’ll do at the “swearing-in”.  I told her my plans, and that I do not have to “swear”, I can legally “affirm”.

I think retrospy’s comment on reelection is enlightening.  We will see.

Anyway, thanks all.  And Vanessa, give it a go!  Send me a private message if you want to communicate off the boards.

Linda

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