Public Funding Of A Mosque
Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your very interesting and well thought out articles. I must say even if I was a Christian I would find it hard not to question my faith after reading your articles (hang on!!! I would say that though wouldn't I).
I do have some general thoughts though. I believe Christians (and any other people that rely on various prophesies and books for there ideas), have a smaller comprehension of the world around them. They want everything laid on a plate for them. They especially do not want to say 'I don't know' or 'I guess we will find out sooner or later'. They want explanations for things they themselves cannot explain. Whether they should be blamed for this is another question.
'Brick wall' Chrisitians as you call them are infact the worst and they often resort to misguided ridicule to get there point accros (the more you find it humourous the more personel the attack gets). After various letters in the local paper I have decided I might give up my efforts to insert reason into there futile arguments as I now feel it is utterly pointless. Unlike America over here (New Zealand) Christian groups are by far the minority, recently in my home town (Hamilton) the rate payers voted by a 93 percent majority to fund the building of a Mosque in Central Hamilton. Despite this we got the same arguments appearing in the paper about this "sin" to this "Christian nation". The only annoying part is that because the Christians are such the minority they have organised themselves very well and they bombard the papers with letters to the Editor with their religious rubbish, and despite the editors futile attempts to end some of the religious arguments another one soon pops up. But I think it is fantastic our secular founded country is keeping its values rather than giving in to these fundies. Even our prime minister is openly secular, in her own words after being asked if she was a religious person she repleyed 'no. no not in the slightest'.
But I do see problems in atheism quarters as well (the recent alleged murders of two very prominent American Atheists (the O'Hairs I believe) only gave the fundamentalists more ammunition to decry our lack of morals, I did however feel obliged to mention various inquisitions which did in the end silence the debate). Atheist's also fail to look at the big picture. I have no doubt that something (definitely no higher being) created this "everything". Whether this "thing" has a conscience or not I am unsure. I would probably be described as an agnostic atheist, I know I cannot prove of disprove categorically of a God but I sincerely doubt the existence of any such being. As with you I am very close to my nana (I in fact live with her), she has a similar view on such religious matters as me (which I have realised is seldom found in old people these days). I do dread the day she dies because I admittedly do have a real fear of death, but I will deal with it when it comes.
I do intend one day visiting Portland and your little meetings, hopefully I will have a thesis in religious studies and maybe you might let me speak, but until then I will continue to struggle through this beautiful site, which can only be described as huge.
Anyway I better go 'Touched by an Angel' is just starting. (I do actually watch it, I like seeing the brainwashed look in the eyes whenever some of the angels talk about "God"). Anyway cheers on your great articles.
Member of New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Matthew Hughes"
Subject: Re: thoughts
Date: Sunday, January 07, 2001 7:05 AM
Your story about the public funding of an Islamic Mosque is a textbook example of why the State should be forbidden from either supporting or interfering with any religion. All the people of Thomas Jefferson's era (and Lincoln and Grant, also) thought that if something was illegal for any, that religion should not be an excuse to break the law. Thus, we see why it is wrong to fund religious groups from the public treasury, because the funding of a Mosque outraged the Christians. Unfortunately, many Christians do not see that to fund Christian endeavors is an outrage to all non-Christians.
I once edited the newsletter of an atheist group, and much of the material I wrote is still on the website (I own the rights to my writings, and choose to make them available. Now, though, I have left the group and cannot speak for them. I now work particularly on behalf of those who choose not to belong to any groups, but wish to be activistic in their atheism nonetheless. I sincerely hope that we, as individuals, will be able to effect changes in our communities. One way to do this is to continue to write to the editor of the local paper. When we do this, we are not speaking to the fundamentalists, but rather the rational thinkers among us. In the United States, it is refreshing to read a letter from an atheist. That some papers would even print such a letter is encouraging, because the fundamentalist, history revisionist viewpoint seems, at times to dominate the Forum section. Whenever I read such a letter, I am encouraged to keep up the struggle.
Things have gotten so bad here, that at times I feel like giving up (and Bush hasn't even been inaugurated yet, but Gore would have been just as bad). However, if ever there was a time when we all need to keep up the fight, it is now. Just because the fundamentalists aren't listening, doesn't mean we should not continue to speak out.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
people with no reason to believe
As usual your reply was inspiring. I have decided that I will endeavour to continue to write to the editor to express my views maybe more clearly. America needs more minds like yours. I do however have an open mind towards the mosque (I am unsure if it was Islamic, it seems there are more Africans go to it, but you would know more than me about that). The small group of people who go to the mosque are quite happy in their little group, they never do door knocking and not once have they forced there opinion on anyone I have met. In their "pastors" five minute response to the Hamilton ratepayers there was not one mention of their deity or its doctrine and not even any inclination towards anyone joining. They seem quite happy to go about there daily business and not even mention their religion. Due to the fact that I had not lived in Hamilton very long I know not why the Hamilton ratepayers voted to help fund it by 93 percent and who am I really to argue. maybe they did it to piss off the city's Christians who are becoming more extremely fundamental and obnoxious. Who knows. If I had been asked to vote I guess I would have voted against it on principle, but it really does not bother me. My opinion is I don't really care what you believe (you can believe in Puff the Magic dragon if you wish), but so long as you don't force it on me or use it to your advantage I couldn't really give a toss. Anyway thanks for your input, it was much appreciated, I will endeavour to continue to put across a secular viewpoint in the paper.
Sincerely Matthew Hughes
Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.