Re: Bible Class Taught
In Virginia Public Schools
Larry Foster

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Larry Foster"
Subject: Re: Bible_Class_Taught_In_Virginia_Public_Schools_9684
Date: Wednesday, September 06, 2000 2:44 PM

Let me tell you how their illiteracy can impair your practice of a peaceful religion:

Kennedy was right about state and church. Se have many quotations from him in our Quotes section, and dedicated about a half a page to him in the August issue of our magazine. Your freedom to teach Jesus as a peaceful figure is guaranteed only if you grant the KKK members the right to teach Jesus as a violent figure, and only if you grant me the right to teach that he is entirely fictional. The way to try to solve these differences is through peaceful discussion that is unimpeded and unenhanced by the government. We must require that the government leave us alone when it comes to religion, and that includes prohibiting government and government workers from advocating or suppressing any religion (or the lack of religion).

If you try to take away the others' right to advocate their own viewpoints (and to teach those viewpoints to their children), then you will eventually lose your right to see Jesus in the way that the Bible reveals him to you. This is not right, but this is how it always has happened, and Kennedy and Grant and Madison and Jefferson and Adams and Paine all saw this, and worked to protect everyone's religious liberty by supporting two concepts: (1) everybody has the perfect right to practice whatever religion they think is the correct religion -- or no religion at all, if that's what they think is right; (2) the government, including all on-duty government workers, are prohibited from advocating or repressing any religious viewpoint -- or religion over the absence of religion -- and the government, including all on-duty government workers, are prohibited from penalizing anybody for holding any particular religious viewpoint -- or for holding no religious viewpoints.

The only reason we even have to talk about this is because one particular religion, Christianity, dominates our culture. Christianity is an evangelical religion in that the Christian god requires its followers to try to convert others to its faith. Therefore, many people who are in a position of trust flagrantly violate that trust by giving Christians advantage with the government agencies, using their position to try to convert people, and using their position to discriminate against members of other faiths or members of no faith. Further, many Christians in positions of power have actually enacted policies and laws granting advantage to Christians and disadvantage to non-Christians, or policies which serve to advocate or advertise for the Christian religion.

If government agencies and entities are allowed to establish the Christian over other religions (or no religion), then what is to stop them from establishing a sect of Christianity over the other sects? So, if we allow governments to establish Christianity, the next step is the risk that the sect seeing Jesus as violent may become established and the sect seeing Jesus as peaceful may become marginalized, disadvantaged, or even outlawed.

Thus, whatever your views on Christianity (and I assume your citizenship is in Heaven and that you're just a sojourner here on Earth), I think your best bet is to fight this move to Christianize America with everything you've got. This is the only way to ensure your right to teach others about the peaceful Jesus in peace.

Finally, if I drive the Klan underground, then I do not have free access to study their viewpoints in order to bolster my philosophical case against them. I might miss that one enticing line of reasoning they have -- that one little hook that could conceivably grab my son into that movement. I would rather know everything I can about them so I can present the facts to my son and (hopefully) give him enough ammunition to make a wise decision when they approach him in the ballpark or at school or even during coffee after church. If I suppress the Klan, I remove myself from access to their teachings and cannot make as strong a case against them, a case that could save my son from being hooked into their movement.

I say this because last year I wrote an article on the World Church of the Creator, a racist group, and the only way I could log onto their website to find out what they were saying was to hack my way in. In fact, someone else did the hacking for me because I lack those skills. Otherwise, because their website had been censored, this information was unavailable to me. Because I got this information anyway (and only by sheer luck did I get it), I was able not only to contact them and ask them questions but to write a very strong argument against the group that included some of their unique hook lines.

So, freedom not only ensures your freedom, but it also ensures your ability to access information to make informed decisions and to write informed arguments that will help others make informed decisions (or do their own research).

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Serving those without theism for five years

Graphic Rule

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.