Is It Respectful
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2001 1:09 AM
Subject: Thanks for having this site!
Thank-you very much for your site! Interesting, and educational. I had not really considered the bigotry towards atheists before. Being an atheist, I think I just became used to being in the minority.
After reading the letters you have received, I was shocked at the outright hatred towards atheism. Are people really that threatened by us?
I wish to share the following anecdote with you:
In 1997 I had to stand as a witness for the prosecution during a criminal trial. When it came time to swear on the Bible, I felt quite awkward. I respect the tradition of the courts, and I understand the need to remind witnesses of the importance of telling the complete truth, but I will not make an oath to a god I do not believe exists. I feel this way, not because I want to promote my disbelief in god(s), but because I have respect for those people who do believe in god(s) and the Christian Bible. In my opinion, to take their oath would be, in a way, disrespectful of the strength of their faith.
I was allowed to "affirm" to tell the truth rather than engage in an oath which means nothing to me. I wonder if theists understand that what I did was out of respect for their faith, not out of promotion of my own views.
Again, I deeply enjoy your site. I look forward to continued exploration of it.
Jon from Canada
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Thanks for having this site!
Date: Thursday, April 19, 2001 12:58 AM
I had not really considered the bigotry towards atheists before. Being an atheist, I think I just became used to being in the minority.
This is one of our main stated reasons for this project: to help atheists awaken to the fact that many of us have become accustomed to our "position" in life, and have stopped even thinking about the sheer injustice we endure from all sides.
I wonder if theists understand that what I did was out of respect for their faith, not out of promotion of my own views.
This is a precise expression of the brand of atheism we advocate. I know what it's like because I have been a faithful and devout Christian, and I have toyed with a few other faiths as well (but never became devout in any of the others).
When I was a Christian I felt similarly to the way you describe. The slogan on our money was cheap advertisement, an act of disrespect. Any "help" that the government gave to our cause was an affront to the dignity of our God, who could take care of Himself, thank you. Jerry Falwell's attempts to legislate morality that was uniquely Christian was tantamount to admitting that our God was powerless to change lives. I saw God's law as a gift -- guidance so that I would know how to live the best life possible for my situation.
The god-oath, to me, was the same thing: it not only cheapened the perceived dignity of God, but forced people to become hypocrites. My faith was special to me, and to reduce it to common law was very degrading and, in short, offensive. My faith was special because it was mine -- because it was a free decision that I had made -- because I thought it was the right thing for me to do.
I'm not sure I could relate to the thinking behind those who wish to force all of us to play by their exclusive rules.
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