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Count me out: CFI statement on NYC Islamic Center
Posted: 30 August 2010 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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I thought CFI was committed to at least secularism and the advancement of rational, science based reason.

It is the problem some of us have is the idea that this is the same thing as:

In doing so it should continue to use any outlet it can for the prevention of theistic headquarters, and places of worship.[/qote]

Promoting secularism (keeping religion out of government and public policy) and promoting science and reason is NOT the same thing as trying to abolish religion and prevent people from building churches! It is this kind of confusion that the original statement promted and that prompted the objections to it.

Go quietly if you want to leave. Cohesion and support is what holds an organization together.

Nobody likes bickering, but I think the danger of insisting on the kind of “go along with the group or just go” that it sounds like you’re recommending is a lot greater. A collective that truly serves the whole requires not only that we sometimes put up with actions we don’t agree with, but that we also put up with and even respect opinions of other members we don’t necessarily agree with. Remember, we at CFI (and those of us in unions, for that matter) are the “whining” minority in America right now, and our ability to make things better is contigent on the majority not adopting the “love it or leave it” atitude towards us dissenters.

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Posted: 30 August 2010 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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I don’t know. Religion is bad. Let religion automatically enjoy the rights accorded to it under the US Constitution. I don’t think it makes much sense for us here to go around actively campaigning for religion and it’s rights.
I can think of better targets for humanist compassions.

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Posted: 30 August 2010 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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I’m glad for ya. I believe in egalitarianism too. I like liberty.
OK now that that is done….Are you serious? In what framework? In what context? What is “The United States” in this discussion? Seriously?
I’m not an outcast. You shouldn’t be an outcast!
Enough of this equating humanism with United States ideals on democracy and liberty!! The 2 do not even share the same universe.

Wow!!

Ok, for me, and how I’ve always understood this organization, the principles this country stands on matter: Our Constitution is an Enlightenment document.  Yes, 240 years ago, the Founders were un-egalitarian slave holders (not all).  But the ideals in it are the ones I respect. 

You say that humanism and religiosity clash.  Fine.  But the point of the discussion was should CFI have written such a release?  I contend that, since CSH/CFI has always been an organization that defended the Enlightenment ideals. it should stand behind the Muslims building the center.

I don’t care if someone practices a religion.  To quote Jefferson: It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg.  I don’t care if the Muslims at Park 51 are raving lunatics preaching hate (they aren’t).  We have plenty of xian churches like that.  Whatever.  Our laws are simple: government doesn’t get involved in religion. 

Government is the central focus of this discussion.  The opponents of the community center are wrong.  And as secular humanists, we have to stand with the Muslims here.  We defend their right in order to defend ours. 

The CFI press release says that no religious buildings should be anywhere near Ground Zero.  But that’s wrong.  To tell any group “You don’t belong here” is wrong.

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Posted: 30 August 2010 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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There seems to be a lot of conflating of the two press releases. I think we should make clear distinctions.

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Posted: 30 August 2010 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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A friend of mine asked what he should believe about god.  I told him he should believe whatever makes him happy which reflects my highest ideal.  Now, someone might say,  “how can you advise people to just believe whatever makes them happy, should they believe in Santa Clause if it makes them happy?”  I go back to the idea advanced by ancient greeks on that point.  The greeks offered that a moral person would enjoy moral actions. I offer the most enlightened state will take only happiness in knowing what is real.  In this case, I do not want you to pursue facts that make you unhappy, I want you to be only happy with the facts that present themselves.  If your suffering for those facts that I know are true then there is no morality in thrusting them upon you.  The engagement one should take with Islam for example is not how come you’re wrong, but how come you are not happy in a world without god?

I have no expectation that will go all that well with fundamentalist; however in the meantime one must recognize that the highest ideal I hold is not to “the truth”, but to the individual pursuit of happiness.  And, many people will come and go from this earth with a pursuit of happiness that I find to be unfortunate.  Now, some people say religions, and fundamentalist Islam in particular imping upon pursuit of happiness. But, I don’t really go in for second and third order effects.  If an action is harmless unto itself than that is that.  Make no mistake when I perceive direct harm to any individuals right to pursue their own happiness I will resist mightly. Some people have said that is great but Islam will not return the sentiment in kind.  And to that, I say, “to our own selves let us be true.”

In fact, I have not said so before, though I thought it when it first came up: principles are meant for exactly these situations.  The situations in which everyone has a case.  That is exactly the time you should look to your ideals.  If you are going to win nothing according to some other people then make sure you win at least the moral high ground by your own measure.  And, what is the point of all this debate on “rights” and “moral actions” if you will abandon them the moment something troubling happens. 

I am an unequivocal atheist, yet at this point I feel like building that damn Mosque myself.

[ Edited: 30 August 2010 06:07 PM by qutsemnie ]
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Posted: 30 August 2010 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Melody - 30 August 2010 03:01 PM

There seems to be a lot of conflating of the two press releases. I think we should make clear distinctions.

They should do the well considered thinking before they make a press release, instead of what appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction to current affairs. Knee jerk reactions almost always come off badly… better to come in later with a well thought out position, than to rush to judgment and spend precious time backpedaling while pulling your foot out of your mouth and other orifices.

[ Edited: 30 August 2010 07:23 PM by asanta ]
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Posted: 30 August 2010 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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asanta - 30 August 2010 07:21 PM
Melody - 30 August 2010 03:01 PM

There seems to be a lot of conflating of the two press releases. I think we should make clear distinctions.

They should do the well considered thinking before they make a press release, instead of what appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction to current affairs. Knee jerk reactions almost always come off badly… better to come in later with a well thought out position, than to rush to judgment and spend precious time backpedaling while pulling your foot out of your mouth and other orifices.

I’m not aware that anyone is arguing that.

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Posted: 31 August 2010 03:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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asanta - 30 August 2010 07:21 PM
Melody - 30 August 2010 03:01 PM

There seems to be a lot of conflating of the two press releases. I think we should make clear distinctions.

They should do the well considered thinking before they make a press release, instead of what appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction to current affairs. Knee jerk reactions almost always come off badly… better to come in later with a well thought out position, than to rush to judgment and spend precious time backpedaling while pulling your foot out of your mouth and other orifices.

In a sense they reacted but it would be more accurate, I think, to say that they don’t see the problem. Telling other people that their churches are inappropriate crosses an important social line. If open Michael DeDora’s topic “Future of Humanism” on the religion forum, you’ll see an essay by Ron that begins with this statement: “Properly understood, humanism is not a religion.”

It’s the same problem. Each person understands religion for herself. Telling people that their houses of worship aren’t appropriate and that their religion isn’t a religion is presumptuous. I suspect the Membership Committee discussed the release before it went out. So there was a content problem. What troubles me is that they all did it, apparently. It concerns me that they’re all politically tone deaf, apparently, and oblivious to this specific problem.

So how does this myopia affect Humanism? Obviously it sets us up for unnecessary and unproductive conflicts with the people who already don’t agree with us, which is most of the country. That’s OK when we’re standing up for an important value or principle. But what is behind the sense of urgency in calling someone’s beliefs and practices “inappropriate,” as opposed to saying that we think centers based on reason are more beneficial to society; or in pontificating on the “proper” understanding of religion? It’s as though some among us are being driven by a primal need to categorize: fit it into the box to make the world simpler so we can deal with it. Well, then, what’s the point in being a Humanist? We have no credibility in our claim to reason and objectivity if we’re going to overcategorize and generalize like that. So it also sets up internal conflicts with people inside Humanism who see the problem.

And now that I read CFI’s second press release, it’s still stinko - not as bad as before, but bad enough. They write: “All religions share a fundamental flaw: they reflect a mistaken understanding of reality. On balance, CFI does not consider houses of worship to be beneficial to humanity, whether they are built at Ground Zero or elsewhere.”

That’s not true. Ethical Culture does not share that fundamental flaw. In addition, it opens us to criticism when people see how we treat each other within our ranks, and can then rejoin that they’re getting along better than we are, so who are we to preach? As the great philosopher the widow Paroo said in “The Music Man,” “But darlin’, when a woman has a husband and you have none, why should she take advice from you, even if you can quote Balzac and Shakespeare and all them other high-falutin’ Greeks?” A statement like that reflects a strain of tunnel vision within our ranks: reason isn’t the only means of seeing reality. There are elements of intelligence that come from emotion and experience. A statement like that makes us look foolish.

I also think the statement that houses of worship are not beneficial to humanity is factually indefensible and politically suicidal. This statement is almost as bad as the first. Why was it so important to pass a categorical judgment on houses of worship? Why not just say that one element is disadvantageous to the human condition: the departure from reality and reason reflected by theistic narrative? If I’m ever fortunate enough to get a public forum to promote Humanism and I’m asked about CFI’s official statement, I can’t defend it. Quite aside from being disrespectful to most of humanity, the Membership Committee has put us all in an untenable position, potentially. A statement about the problems with theistic belief would not have been disrespectful but a categorical statement that the churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are doing more harm than good is; and it’s arrogant, especially considering that those institutions probably are doing more to help others than we are.

I spoke far too soon in calling the new press release excellent. It’s another stinker, as anyone who is ever pressed to defend it publicly will find out.

[ Edited: 31 August 2010 04:03 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 31 August 2010 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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qutsemnie - 30 August 2010 06:01 PM

A friend of mine asked what he should believe about god.  I told him he should believe whatever makes him happy which reflects my highest ideal.  Now, someone might say,  “how can you advise people to just believe whatever makes them happy, should they believe in Santa Clause if it makes them happy?”  I go back to the idea advanced by ancient greeks on that point.  The greeks offered that a moral person would enjoy moral actions. I offer the most enlightened state will take only happiness in knowing what is real.  In this case, I do not want you to pursue facts that make you unhappy, I want you to be only happy with the facts that present themselves.  If your suffering for those facts that I know are true then there is no morality in thrusting them upon you.  The engagement one should take with Islam for example is not how come you’re wrong, but how come you are not happy in a world without god?

I have no expectation that will go all that well with fundamentalist; however in the meantime one must recognize that the highest ideal I hold is not to “the truth”, but to the individual pursuit of happiness.  And, many people will come and go from this earth with a pursuit of happiness that I find to be unfortunate.  Now, some people say religions, and fundamentalist Islam in particular imping upon pursuit of happiness. But, I don’t really go in for second and third order effects.  If an action is harmless unto itself than that is that.  Make no mistake when I perceive direct harm to any individuals right to pursue their own happiness I will resist mightly. Some people have said that is great but Islam will not return the sentiment in kind.  And to that, I say, “to our own selves let us be true.”

In fact, I have not said so before, though I thought it when it first came up: principles are meant for exactly these situations.  The situations in which everyone has a case.  That is exactly the time you should look to your ideals.  If you are going to win nothing according to some other people then make sure you win at least the moral high ground by your own measure.  And, what is the point of all this debate on “rights” and “moral actions” if you will abandon them the moment something troubling happens. 

I am an unequivocal atheist, yet at this point I feel like building that damn Mosque myself.

Unfortunately many things make people happy at the expense of others. Building model airplanes…no. Strengthening the ranks of a worldwide organization based on mysticism and with clear cut unequivocal facts of violence and oppression? 
Don’t try to tell me what the good mosques and the bad mosques are for that matter. Just like I don’t want to hear what the good churches and the bad churches are.

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Posted: 31 August 2010 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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Anyone think of how the Muslims who were in the WTC on 9/11 feel about this issuse?  In the course of my job I had conversations with a couple of them shortly after the attack,  they were not happy with their fellow “Muslims.”

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Posted: 31 August 2010 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Is humanism plus power secular oppression of theism?

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Posted: 31 August 2010 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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garythehuman - 31 August 2010 02:29 PM

Group:

Anyone think of how the Muslims who were in the WTC on 9/11 feel about this issuse?  In the course of my job I had conversations with a couple of them shortly after the attack,  they were not happy with their fellow “Muslims.”

Everyone who is white doesn’t get blamed for Tim McVeigh, Jim Jones or Charles Manson’s heinous crimes. As an African American, I have been long fighting the tendency to paint us all with a broad brush, as have Jews, Native Americans and (pick your minority). I don’t know of any Muslim who did anything other than cry with the rest of us on Sept 11,2001. As silly as I think belief in the supernatural is, this who mosque/ cultural center issue has been whipped into a frenzy by those who have much to gain by demonizing and scapegoating a small portion of society that has few resources to fight back. The ‘One True Muslim’ keeps the same company as ‘The One True Scotsman’.

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