We Will Pray
For You Always
Cam Pearl

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Cam Pearl"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 1:54 PM

Your practice of a superstitious ritual will not harm us one whit.

However, we are curious and must ask, why? Why do you do this? What do you expect to accomplish? And please explain to us how it works. We have never understood how a person can, simply by thinking or talking, effect situations beyond one's physical reach.

Also, we insist on knowing why you would go so far as to inform us of your activity? Do you, by telling us this, intend to communicate to us that you think you are in some way superior to us that you feel you must not only pray for us, but announce to us that you are doing this?

Finally, we agree with the Jesus character in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 6, who allegedly said:

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[5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 

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We feel that activities such as superstitious ritual -- along with other vices such as masturbation, recreational drug use, and the discussion of racist sentiments -- are best done in private where they will not bother innocent bystanders who might be offended by such activities. My editorial column "Prayer As Intrusive Outburst" explains why this is our position.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Cam Pearl
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 12:34 PM

Again: I have no quarrel with you practicing these rituals within the privacy of your personal life or with other like-minded people. I am baffled, though, as to why you would announce this fact to me. While I cannot be sure of your motives, the effect of your action feels, from our end, to be a form of denigration. The strong implication is that you feel you are somehow superior to us and that you seem to be expressing to us either that you wish us to come over to your view or that you wish to notify us of the superiority of your ways (a form of denigration). That's what it feels like from this end.
 

Herein lies my Number One complaint against the Christian religion: This concept you call "The Master of the Universe" has somehow convinced you to surrender not only your human autonomy, but your human compassion as well. Without your human autonomy, you no longer make decisions based upon what your own mind can discern is good and right, but any sense of human compassion is forfeited in the interest of the tribal totem of "The Master of the Universe."
 

This can be very dangerous, as we have seen throughout the history of such religions as ancient Judaism, medieval Christianity, Islam, and many forms of modern Christianity, particularly those forms of fundamentalist Christianity in the United States that are indistinguishable from racism in that there is portrayed one and only one set of beliefs that are deemed true and the rest of us need to be set straight or relegated to second-class citizenship. Since we are not part of the elite (they say, though in so many words), our decision-making processes are not to be trusted. At the same time they deny that they think this way. But they do think this way, otherwise they would not be trying to change the rest of us to their point of view, and they wouldn't be working so diligently toward legislating their morality into public law, thus requiring all of us to be like them.
 

Meanwhile, when we question why they want us to be like them, they often insist that the objects of their fantasies are "more real than that light bulb in that socket" (so said a Mormon Missionary pointing to the lamp in my living room during the early 1990s, who, when pressed, told me that I could not understand -- that is, verify -- unless I, too, practiced his religion). However, when confronted with someone like me, someone who has gone on record as being willing to consider convincing arguments in favor of believing that such claims are true, every single apologist either comes up blank or resorts to dishonest rhetorical technique. I have encountered no third category of religious apologists. I have patiently listened to thousands of people try to explain to me why I should believe that their claims are true, and I am still waiting for that one individual to make a convincing case (even a remotely convincing case, which would not itself cut it for me, but I have yet to hear an even remotely convincing case for believing that gods exist).

Every single religious apologist has either flat-out come up blank or has resorted to rhetorical trickery, thereby coming up even more vacant than the others in that they apparently have felt that they must lie to me in order to convince me of the truthfulness of their schemes.

The baffling part of all this is exemplified by another e-mail that came in this most recent download which included your letter to us. This person, a Christian, would insist that you are not a real Christian, and would base this opinion solely upon your use of the language "Our Lady speaks to her Divine Son and moves him." This person has gone on record as insisting that "Roman Catholics are not considered Christians."

Herein is an example of one of our most serious objections to the claims that religions such as these are truthful: they each insist that their own religious scheme is true, but that all the others are false. Based upon your message here, we would venture to speculate that you would place this other Christian on your prayer list as well, perhaps in the hopes that this person will likewise magically be changed over to your point of view.

But from our perspective, the various religions who act this way are virtually indistinguishable from one another, except in the most insignificant of details. All are loyalistic to their own creeds and work tirelessly toward either convincing others to join them or suppressing those who disagree with them.
 

Your particular approach would be benign had you simply kept us privately on your prayer list. Our only complaint is that you had the audacity to inform us of your activity, which carries with it the strong implication that you feel our ways of thinking are inferior to yours.

Meanwhile, I will go only so far as to point out to you why I will not join you in your viewpoint. This is all I will do, and I will not try to convince any religionist to deconvert to atheism. I grant to all religionists the presupposition that they each have reasons for believing, and I do not second-guess those reasons unless and until that person enters into my world and either tries to convince me to come over to their view, tries to denigrate me for my views in some way, or tries to legislate their views and force all of us to live up to moral precepts that are unique to religious faith.

The most unattractive aspect of your particular viewpoint is demonstrated in your announcement to us that we have been placed upon your prayer list. Besides this (and any similar) explanation as to why I would not join you, I will leave you be to believe whatever you wish to believe. My only action will be against someone who tries to force their viewpoints upon us either through legislation or trickery, besides our willingness to respond to any challenges raised by people who claim to have convincing arguments that they wish us to consider.

I constantly challenge those forms of atheism that denigrate religion: it's one thing to state why we are not religious or to fight religionists' moves to enforce their views upon us through legislation or trickery, but it's another thing altogether to actively denigrate religious people for their private faith. Our only business involving ourselves in any religious discussions with theists is when the theists intrude upon our lives with their religion.

I fear that we atheists will never make any progress toward ending the bigotry and injustices that are everywhere against us until we all clean up our act in this respect. Thus, I strongly encourage atheists to try to end this widespread bigotry against the most viciously despised and most widely denigrated group of people in the United States.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Cam Pearl
Subject: Re: Yikes.
Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 6:38 PM

That you would announce that you are praying for us, in the context in which you did, implies that we need something that we lack (because we're atheists) and therefore implies a claim of superiority. You are welcome to try to spin it how you will, but this is the implication of telling an atheist (about which one knows nothing else) that one is praying for them.

Had you known, for example, that I had taken ill, but did not know that I am an atheist, such an announcement, cloaked in the context of failing health, would be understandable. Had you known that I was ill and that I was an atheist, I would be tempted to call such an announcement thoughtless or perhaps even rude. My only hesitation is that atheists are such a widely and viciously despised minority in the United States and elsewhere that we cannot expect the common etiquette manuals to discuss doing such things as saying "Bless you" to an atheist who has just sneezed or telling an atheist "I'll pray for you." However, it is only common courtesy, and I don't see how this particular courtesy could be anything but intuitive.

But the context of my web presence is as an atheistic activist, and I can assume that you know nothing more about me than my atheism. Thus, whether or not you've thought this through, when you tell an atheist that you are praying for him or her, and it is clear that all you know about that person is the fact that they are an atheist, you are implying some form of superiority over that person.
 

We are a species of animal. Every species has a particular set of advantages (such as the cats' hearing) and ours happens to involve a larger neocortex, mouths that can form a wide range of sounds, and hands that can perform about twenty different functions. I still doubt that humans will survive the next mass extinction, and so in this sense we are at a disadvantage over the cockroach, who would probably survive even a nuclear holocaust, and will certainly survive the global warming that we probably have in store.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Cam Pearl
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Thursday, October 12, 2000 11:41 AM

What do you mean, I know where the question leads? Are you admitting, here, that what you asked is a trick question? designed to bait me into using language that can be misrepresented as expressing views that I do not hold? No. Been there. Done that. Never again! (Not if I can help it! And I've learned a few defenses over the years of fielding this type of question on our forum.)

No. This is the best answer I can give because it is the most accurate: it is the only honest answer I can give you, and I refuse to resort to trickery to make my case (I think my case can be made without it). My answer is honest because states only what I know and can verify, and it goes no further than that. It falls short of making assumptions and presuppositions that I would be unable to back up if called upon to do so.

Is there a better kind of answer? Or do you wish for me to lie to you?
 

Oops! You did it again! (Yecch!)

You (once more) made a statement about what was going on within the privacy of my own mind. But (once again) you were dead wrong about what I was thinking. So, you're not only rude but you are a liar to boot.

Meanwhile, I told you what I was thinking: your question was loaded in that it made certain presuppositions that we cannot make, but that many who do not think their philosophical position through might be tempted to make.

I have thought long and hard about my philosophical position, adjusting it when I have discovered I was wrong about this or that.

I have also had to learn to adjust not only my viewpoint but my approach to discussing my viewpoint. This is a classic example of why many of us must be ever so careful about the language we use and the wording we choose. You used a very sloppy word "superior" which can mean any number of things (this trick is called Equivocation). I refuse to use imprecise language when responding to the Equivocation tactic, but will meticulously phase my answers so that they cannot be misconstrued and make me appear to say that I think something that I do not in fact think.

My reputation is on the line, here. I advocate truthfulness, and I just caught you trying to trip me into saying something that I might later regret had I not learned (the hard way) to choose my words very, very carefully. Anybody else might have made the mistake that I avoided.

You started this conversation in the most condescending manner imaginable by hurling one of the more degrading insults we atheists endure at the hands of theists. I have no reason to believe that my words will be repeated accurately by you -- just because of this insult. Now that you have misrepresented my thoughts, I really don't want to continue this discussion.
 

Trickery is not logic.
 

No. I recognized your fallacious use of the word superior and the fact that you were trying to trip me up into using that word in one sense in one part of the conversation so that you could change the meaning in mid-stream and then accuse me of having already admitted (through a different definition of the word) that you were right. So, to redeem the dialogue, I chose my words very, very carefully, and gave you the answer that I did because it is the only truth I know: I don't know any further than what I stated, and to go further would be speculation on my part. I refuse to speculate and call it truth.

We are a species of animal; we have certain advantages over other species; we have tremendous disadvantages over most. Should chimpanzee poachers go up for murder when they kill some little guy's mom just to make a couple of "monkey-paw" ashtrays? I'd support that idea, in fact, I'd support two charges because a chimp orphaned during certain periods of life is doomed to certain death. Is it right for me to kill vermin that invade my household and endanger my life? You bet! And very few other species would act differently.
 

This is extremely arrogant of you. The only way in which arrogant people have challenged my view of the world is when they have had enough power to keep me behind bars unjustly or cause me financial ruin through strong-arm tactics or through trickery. No arrogant person has ever inspired me to do anything except remain the wide-eyed, ever-inquisitive human that I am.
 

I just renamed it two years ago. If I rename it again, it will be because I have opted for the strong definition of the word atheism and I am not an overtly strong-position atheist. For now, I think the weak definition has the greatest historical precedence and the best etymological backing.

Besides, I really like the moral and ethical implications behind the idea of atheism, that one who calls theism falsehood thereby shows a powerful respect for truthfulness. To me, all morals are human morals, but some morals are represented by their advocates as being non-human -- and in many cases, these morals turn out to be inhuman. For me to admit that the human mind is the only source of morals is to place my moral footing on a higher ground than were I to claim a false source for my morality.

Meanwhile, you remind me of the Mormon missionary who was so convinced of his recruiting skills that he scheduled my baptism before we'd even got past the "Is there a god?" question.
 

I don't think so. I can take only so much of the style of patronizing you've dished out thus far in this conversation, and have reached my limit. I gave you several chances to begin practicing honesty and dignity with me, but you choose, instead, to justify your use of a loaded question rather than to apologize for it.

I have given you all the dignity I have to offer. I have given you the dignity of answering your questions as honestly as I know how, and I have given you the dignity of refusing to allow falsehood and trickery to taint our quest for truth. And I have given you the dignity of initially presupposing that you seek truth -- though I now have reason to fear that your are trying to convince me of your position rather than us mutually offering up our positions for public scrutiny. Also, I have been unable to shake my initial suspicion that you feel somehow superior to me: you have given me no reason to cast doubt on this suspicion and have given me every reason to regard this not as a mere suspicion but as a high likelihood.

So, as far as I'm concerned, I'd like to be done.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 3:00 PM

I got the feeling you'd render that one into some way similar as this, representing as an accusation what was actually a question. I suspected you'd do this rather than to accurately portray the carefully wrought language I used each time I mentioned the word superior when responding to your social blunder of announcing to an atheist, a total stranger, that you are praying for him. I am beginning to see a pattern, here.

Meanwhile, I don't understand why a religious person would act this way (announce that one is praying for that person) toward a perfect stranger about whom that religious person knows but one thing: the person receiving the announcement is an atheist. I cannot for the life of me relate to any motive for doing this to someone. Behavior such as this is very condescending to say the least (look it up), and I consider it to be flat-out rudeness. I further suggest that one could make the case, based upon the context of your announcement to us and based upon who we are, that your behavior is more than just condescending and rude, it is the religious equivalent of racism. I will not go so far as to make that case here, though, I merely offer it as a suggestion because this is precisely what it feels like when theists who are total strangers announce to you that they are praying for you.

So naturally I wondered if your condescending behavior might suggest that you somehow (remember my precise wording, now) somehow may feel superior to me. This was not a statement but was a question. I qualify it with the word somehow because I cannot relate to the condescending attitude or behavior at all.

I am a freethinker and an independent spirit, and have never understood the clannishness that so often comes with religion. It makes no sense to me and I cannot relate to it, having been raised without religion and raised to respect all life -- not only in dignity, not only with awe and wonderment, but also with fear and trembling because childhood infections from an immunity problem almost took me out several times.

Thus I did not make any statement that you feel superior, but simply asked a question I had at the time: a question which was raised by your condescending behavior, a question which I think would naturally occur to anyone enduring such treatment. I subsequently described the implication of your behavior, the message you sent to us thereby.

I will repeat the initial question and subsequent thread here, but only because you have chosen to misrepresent what I said:

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Also, we insist on knowing why you would go so far as to inform us of your activity? Do you, by telling us this, intend to communicate to us that you think you are in some way superior to us that you feel you must not only pray for us, but announce to us that you are doing this?

 

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Later, I used the following language which likewise falls short of accusing you of anything, but merely expresses what it feels like to be treated the way you treated me, and what message you appear to be implying through your behavior:

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While I cannot be sure of your motives, the effect of your action feels, from our end, to be a form of denigration. The strong implication is that you feel you are somehow superior to us and that you seem to be expressing to us either that you wish us to come over to your view or that you wish to notify us of the superiority of your ways (a form of denigration).

 

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Finally, I stated that your behavior implies a claim of superiority on your part, that this is the message being sent, howbeit unwittingly, from your camp:

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That you would announce that you are praying for us, in the context in which you did, implies that we need something that we lack (because we're atheists) and therefore implies a claim of superiority. You are welcome to try to spin it how you will, but this is the implication of telling an atheist (about which one knows nothing else) that one is praying for them.

Had you known, for example, that I had taken ill, but did not know that I am an atheist, such an announcement, cloaked in the context of failing health, would be understandable. Had you known that I was ill and that I was an atheist, I would be tempted to call such an announcement thoughtless or perhaps even rude. My only hesitation is that atheists are such a widely and viciously despised minority in the United States and elsewhere that we cannot expect the common etiquette manuals to discuss doing such things as saying "Bless you" to an atheist who has just sneezed or telling an atheist "I'll pray for you." However, it is only common courtesy, and I don't see how this particular courtesy could be anything but intuitive.

But the context of my web presence is as an atheistic activist, and I can assume that you know nothing more about me than my atheism. Thus, whether or not you've thought this through, when you tell an atheist that you are praying for him or her, and it is clear that all you know about that person is the fact that they are an atheist, you are implying some form of superiority over that person.

 

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This was in response to your cryptic message, "A servant of servants claims no superiority to any one" which I took to be a denial, on your part, that your behavior was designed to denigrate atheists. Nevertheless, your behavior does denigrate atheists and I would still like an apology from you before we continue (either that or a convincing argument to the effect that I am taking this all wrong).
 

It is very reasonable to refuse to allow oneself to get caught in the rhetorical trap of a question that is (to give you the benefit of the doubt) at best poorly worded. I cannot answer your question the way you have worded it because of the problems I have with the word superior and your stubborn refusal, after four rounds now, to address those problems and recast your question.

I can only tell you what I think and I can only do that in the language that best describes what I think. Had you asked me if humans have certain advantages over our fellow-species, I would have said yes and no: we have certain advantages in some aspects of life and are at a severe disadvantage in other respects.

And, I don't think it is proper at this point in the conversation to give you the above-mentioned benefit of the doubt. I say this in response to your insistence that we follow some specific "logic" that you keep mentioning. No. I don't think this will happen until you agree to use precise language in your questions. I am not going to be led down any path because I got lazy in my thinking and decided to get sloppy with my language.
 

Will we get to the good ones? That depends on what you mean by "good ones"! If you mean pulling one over on me, I doubt it. If you want my respect, you'll need to respect at least one thing about me: I value truthfulness above all other moral qualities. This includes a mutual respect among truthseekers. I likewise place an extremely high value on dignity because it is this dignity (introduced into science during the Enlightenment and made into law with the founding of the United States of America) that has shown itself to best serve the needs of truthseekers regarding their quests for truth.

Meanwhile, the language, "Are you afraid to proceed openly?" strongly suggests that you intend to bait me. This language brings up memories of the gangs of young thugs at school who would surround certain of the more mild-mannered students and try to entice or intimidate us into doing something foolish. Here (again) you make presuppositions about me that are patently false: I am not afraid of anything when it comes to a discussion between two truthseekers.

In light of this, I do not want to engage in a dialogue with someone who so strongly suggests, in his language over the past several letters, that he is trying to "show" me something, trying to lead me down a certain path. I would be willing to explore questions on an even keel with someone who gave signs of seeking truth as I am seeking truth, someone who, like myself, would act as if we were equals in this endeavor, who would respect something as basic to truthseeking as a problem with the wording of a question.

But you have displayed no such signs and have made several indications to the contrary. The big key is your stubborn refusal even to address, much less accommodate, my problems with the wording of your question. The second indicator is your persistent mention of following logic -- as if this is something laid out in advance, with inevitable results and with no room for human error on either side. But the clincher is the goading and disrespectful language contained within what I hope will be the last paragraph you ever write to this forum.

So, as I have suggested in my past several letters, have a nice life. As far as we can tell, it's the only one we get.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Monday, October 09, 2000 10:56 AM

Quit trying to portray me as hostile and we can talk.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org> To: "Cam Pearl"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Monday, October 09, 2000 7:31 PM

To use the word superiority without qualification (without a clear and specific description of what aspects you call superior or in what ways you mean superior) is to ask a loaded question. In this sense, I suspect that you are trying to trick me into somehow assuming or stating that humans are intrinsically superior rather than simply superior in their own eyes.

Meanwhile, I think the answer I provided you explains my position quite well. Why do you continue to ask this question even though I have already provided you with perhaps the best answer I could give?

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Cam Pearl"
Subject: Re: Where did you go?
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 12:42 PM

I told you before what it would take to continue this conversation. I will post my thoughts in an editor's note when I get around to posting more letters.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Cam Pearl"
Subject: Re: Where did you go?
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 2:53 PM

Guess again.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Cam Pearl"
Subject: Re: Where did you go?
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 16:06:19 -0700

Like I said several times, I think you owe me an apology.

But, you continue to justify announcing to me that you are praying for me by ignoring what I said about it and ignoring my request for an apology. You do this when you justify praying for me (with which I have no problem) but you ignore the element of your coming on here and announcing to me that you're praying for me -- without knowing anything about me other than that I am an atheist.

If you had known me and known that I was an atheist and had announced to me that you were praying for me (for example) because you'd heard I was ill, this would be rude. But you announced to me that you are praying for me when all you knew about me was the fact that I am an atheist. This is bigotry. And, this is all I ever had to say to you.

Thus, in lieu of this apology, I have discontinued my participation in our dialogue.

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

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From:"Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: cjpearl
Subject: Re: FREE THINKER?? I think not.
Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 6:01 PM

Please stop writing to us.

This will be your final warning directly from us. We will take no more of this abuse.

You are rude and boorish at minimum, and we cannot hold a dignified discussion when one of the parties chooses to practice undignified behavior.

We are not here to argue for atheism over and against theism; this is not our mission at Positive Atheism, but is ancillary to our mission. What is more important to us than anything else is attempting to stop the bigotry and prejudice and wholesale slander against atheists. If you wish to argue philosophy with an atheist, I suggest that you find one who does this as her or his primary mission, and I wish you luck in finding one who will stand for the degree of indignity which you have heaped upon me.

You acted this way in your first letter when you announced to me -- out of the blue -- that you were praying for me. You knew nothing more about me than my atheism. This was no social blunder on your part, but was outright bigotry. Had you simply prayed for me without making this announcement to me, we would not be having this discussion. I have no problem with people praying for me (or casting spells or the like; to each her own); it is your bold, out-of-the-blue announcement to me that constitutes bigotry.

Your behavior is a textbook example of what we oppose. Go find someone who opposes theism itself, because you won't find that person here. We don't oppose theism, per se, we oppose bigotry perpetrated by theists against atheists and we oppose bigotry perpetrated by atheists against theists.

You are the intolerant, bigoted one in that you paint your ways as de facto superior to ours to the point where you come to us and try to set us straight. We didn't write to you, you wrote to us. We are not trying to change you, we have merely set the standards whereby we are willing to engage in further dialogue with you.

You are the intolerant, bigoted one in that you would stoop to using falsehood in order to see someone come to accept your point of view, rather than seek truth in all neutrality, agreeing beforehand to follow truth wherever it may lead. Every communication on your part has had the clear goal of seeing us come to your point of view, while we have clearly stated that we don't care what you believe.

Now, you are the intolerant, bigoted one in that you would go so far as to slander me in order to denigrate my point of view. I am not hiding from you, thinking you would prevail in an argument; I have simply put my foot down for the sake of dignity -- dignity for myself as an atheist, and dignity for atheists as a whole who suffer daily the very same kinds of indignity you have heaped upon me, and much worse.

The widespread bigotry against atheists must come to an end, and we've got to start somewhere. I choose to start my day off by ending my dealings with you. I will not pretend to hold a cordial, reasoned dialogue with someone who would act the way you have toward me.

I could not do this: my human sense of honesty and dignity prevents me from doing this. My conscience has not been scarred by the attitude that I am right or the attitude that I have God on my side or the attitude that I am doing God's work. I am a fragile, frightened organism living in a very hostile environment, surviving against all odds. I see my fellow-humans and members of other species in the same light.

I have explained all of this to you several different ways, and I stand my ground: for you to approach me and announce to me that you are praying for me, when all you know about me is my atheism, is pure bigotry. I insist that you apologize for making this announcement to me, and you refuse, so I have nothing more to say. Since you refuse to honor our previous conditions for further dealings with us, we will use physical means to prevent you from continuing your arrogance against us.

This is fair on our part because it is the same way we'd treat anybody, and is the way we have treated several people in the past.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
    people with no reason to believe
P.O. Box 16811
Portland, OR 97292
www.PositiveAtheism.org
editor@positiveatheism.org

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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.