Literature In Public
G. Wesley Bennett
Not long ago, after many years of searching for the truth, I ultimately settled upon the idea of positive atheism and have never felt so focused and free. I am currently reading the book Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith. Over the past few weeks [it often takes me a while to get through books because of other things I do in my spare time] I have been noticed carrying the book around my place of employment, so I can get some reading done on breaks. I have had many people act extremely uncomfortable even reading the title of the book and they have asked me about my beliefs. Needless I have "come out of the closet" as far as publicly affirming my positive atheist beliefs. It is a unique experience in our western Christian dominated culture. Up to this point [and for the past 15 years] have have been well liked and even respected at my place of employment, but lately it is evident that my proclaimed "unbelief" has [at the very least] made previous friends and co-workers uncomfortable and in some cases generated sorrow for me now that I have been lost to the religious cause. However, I proudly proclaim my atheistic belief because I see no other way of "enlightening" others if I continue to disguise my true opinions.
Recently I sent an e-mail to a columnist in Atlanta adressing a Circuit Court ruling concerning school prayer, and I thought it might be of some interest to you. The 11th Circuit ruling in July painfully displays the inability of the highest educated in our country to distinguish between religion and non-religion. The court stated: "The cleansing of our public schools of all religious expression inevitably results in the establishment of disbelief -- atheism -- as the states religion." Atheism as all educated individuals should know is not a religion. It is a "disbelief" of religious principles. Religion is defined as "a belief in a supreme being, a creator, a god." Since Atheism denies the existence of a god, and proclaims the absence of belief, it does not meet the necessary condition to be defined as a religion.
Our public schools, whether it be in Florida, Georgia or Alaska, should present a "neutral" territory to our nation's young. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs and the school environment [including school related activities] is an inappropriate forum for displays of religious orientation. The intents and purposes of our schools is to provide the requisite knowledge to "make one's way in the world" -- meaning, being given the skills and training to become productive and contributing members to his or her community, state or nation. Religious beliefs are too "debatable" to be considered requisite knowledge for a person to become a contributing member of society and the controversial nature of those beliefs is sufficient grounds to exclude such beliefs and practices from our schools.
G. Wesley Bennett
From: Positive Atheism <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 4:10 AM
One way to express what you were saying is to say that by their definition for atheism, the guy who fixes your Volvo is atheistic in that his religion is not relevant to fixing your car. It is easy to see that this form of "atheism" is not what they fear, and it is only in this sense that the schools are "atheistic": the schools are religiously neutral, and rightly so.
Philosophical atheism, on the other hand, exists only to counter the claims of theists.
A copy of Smith's book is guaranteed to turn heads. Other great head-turners include books about the Inquisition and the witch-hunts. Talk about making people twitch!
Just recently I got on a bus and sat next to a young woman with a large leather-covered "WWJD" Bible in her lap (this I noticed out of the corner of my eye -- you could hardly miss it, the thing was so huge). I opened up my pack, fished pulled out a copy of Positive Atheism, and began reading it. I know she saw it because her relaxed state vanished and she began to fidget. She adjusted her Bible and then opened it up and started to read it.
All this means to me (at all) is that yet another person was exposed to an atheist who did not subsequently lean over and bite her head off.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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