That Religious Opinions
Should Be Respected?
Chester Twarog

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "CHESTER TWAROG"
Subject: Re: Resurrection Mythologies
Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 9:15 PM

Being one who doesn't care what others believe in the privacy of their own minds, I would only express my abhorrence for those views in light of the tendency of Christians to seek to inflict their religion on the rest of us. This would include their insistence that we respect their views, or accept their fiction at face value.

The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected.
     -- H. L. Mencken, in American Mercury, March, 1930

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
     -- H. L. Mencken, quoted from Not Church

So, to the extent that we can make it clear that nobody should expect us to respect their religious views (short of them bringing forth strong and convincing arguments showing those views to be true), I would go along with Mencken:

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.

True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy.
     -- H. L. Mencken, "Aftermath" (coverage of the Scopes Trial) The Baltimore Evening Sun, September 14, 1925

It is only in the context that they seek to protect their cherished views from public criticism that I would endorse the public criticism of someone's private views. If and only if people keep their religious views to themselves do they rightly protect their views from public scrutiny. Once those views are made public (and watch the Resurrection myth be made very public this Easter -- and every Easter season), and once somebody publicly insists that we take these narratives at face value and that the rest of us believe them to be literally true, then and only then do the stories become fair game to public scrutiny and the denunciation of anybody who finds those tales to be utter falsehood.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "CHESTER TWAROG"
Subject: Re: Resurrection Mythologies
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 1:52 AM

A closet atheist stays alive and retains work. This is not good, either.

The Johnny-come-lately Christian doctrine of premillennialism, that Jesus will return after a "Great Tribulation" in which the nation of Israel allegedly plays a role, is, I think, one of the main reasons the U.S. supports the nation of Israel. If we didn't, the Christian-American populace who believes in this blather (about 38 percent) would have conniption fits during the first week of each November.

The second reason, I think, is the memory of the Holocaust. Although there are more atheists in the United States than there are Jews in the world, we all know the outcry that would be leveled against anyone who would do or say anything against Jews or Judaism. That's one of the main reasons why even the most fundamentalistic of Christians place the prefix Judeo- before the adjective Christian when describing the values upon which this great nation of ours was allegedly founded. And many have bought this line -- swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. A recent and very poignant case in point would be Senator Lieberman's liberal use of this adjectival phrase, Judeo-Christian.. Don't say anything bad about religion; but in particular, don't say anything bad about Jews -- and be careful not to leave them out of the adjectival picture, either.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

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