Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"They've taken God out of...."

You know what really kind of irks me?

Christians - really, any religion, but we're dealing with Christianity here in the US - claim to be honest and moral people. And I'll be honest, I'm sure the majority of you are, or at least make an honest effort to be. I have zero doubts about that at all.

But when it comes to certain issues, we hear the most bald-faced lies coming from the side of religion.

What has me going is this commercial by some Christian kids, and they pull out the same tired and generally untrue (or lacking the full story) tropes we've heard for a long time now, and I want to deal with them.

First, though, let me state this plainly. Yes, Atheists want God out of public schools. By that we mean nothing done by, in the name of, or publicly funded and dealing with, that school should have anything to do with religion. That means no pictures of Jesus, administration/teacher led prayer, displays of the Ten Commandments and the like. This also means no Judaic, Muslem or neo-pagan prayer, as well, by the way.

What does this not mean? Well, if you use the Bible to illustrate creation myths, alongside the various other stories, and you're using it to compare - it's being used educationally.

If you're a student and want to carry a bible, pray before you eat, etc. - go for it. And if anyone says you can't - barring being instructed not to because you're actually harassing others, but I'd give it a good, long look before supporting THAT - then believe it or not, this Atheist (and most others) would call them wrong.

If you're a teacher, you've got kind of a fine line to dance on. I, for one, don't care if you wear a cross pendant or tie-tack - tastefully - and don't draw attention to it. Generally, though, I'd say keep it in the lounge or somewhere private. And no, you can't suggest the students pray. And if you use material from Answers in Genesis as actual teaching material, you're not doing your job - barring using it to show how ill informed some people can be.

However, the way its portrayed by some groups is a far, far different picture - and a gross distortion and misrepresentation of fact. You'll hear that kids can't pray or bring a bible to school. If there's an actual public school that forbids this, they're wrong. Kids are absolutely allowed to bring whatever religious text they want, and perform their private religious rites (well, within reason, if you're supposed to sacrifice a goat you may be asked to do so off school grounds...) such as prayer whenever they want to, before lunch, tests, asking that other person out, whatever. No atheist really wants to prevent that. We may think it's silly to mutter at the air, but if it makes you feel good and doesn't bother anyone else, go for it.

Typically these Christians paint themselves as being persecuted. Now, think of that. Christians make up over 70% of the country - I believe the more recent number I'd heard was 74%, but don't (if you'll pardon the phrase) take that as gospel. If we were in an Arab country where they made up, oh, five percent, I could take this seriously. But the majority? Persecuted? Seriously? The idea is laughable.

What they usually mean by "persecuted" is that they're not allowed to bully others with their views and tell them they're wrong for being jewish, or atheist, or wiccan, or the "wrong kind" of Christian. There's this interesting disconnect in that they think they should be allowed to do so, which is basically persecuting others - but if they get told to stop, well, that's persecution.

Sometimes this will have a historic tone added to it with how the Pilgrims came to "escape persecution." What those mentioning this don't realize is that the reason the Pilgrims came here - not all colonists, as many colonies were business ventures - was because they weren't allowed to impose their far more rigid observances on the rest of the nation. Now, yes, England at the time still imposed fines on those not visiting the Church of England, had larger fines for independent services and the like - this is persecution. So what did the Pilgrims do when they came here? Tight religious control and insertion in everyday life... basically, they wanted the freedom, as it were, to persecute others. 

Some of the kids in the commercial I saw also mention being "bullied for being Christian." To which all I can say is, if they're the same insufferable twats they act like in the video, they're not being bullied for being Christian, but for being insufferable twats. If you make life miserable for others, they're going to turn around and do it to you. If you try to shove your religion (or anything else) onto others who aren't interested, and keep doing it, you're going to be unpopular. It's that simple. The solution isn't to stop being Christian. It's to stop being an ass about it.

And of course, they bring up sex education, with one kid calling it being forced to see pornography. First off, it's fairly obvious the kid has never seen pornography if he thinks fairly tame diagrams of "this is what makes up a reproductive system" - the internals, mind - are porn. A playboy centerfold would probably make his head explode. And second, there's a reason for sex education versus what these sort want - "abstinence only" education. In the areas that push abstinence? The kids don't know what's going on or have any information. And they invariably have the highest, not lowest, teen pregnancy (and, by the way, abortion...) rates. Kids go by what they hear from other kids (things like "you can't get pregnant if it's your first time," or "just pull out" - which... yeah, I don't see a teen really doing this successfully, and even then, all it takes is one sperm.) They need the actual facts and understanding of what's going on - thus, sex education. Really, we're trying to help you avoid attempting to sell your girlfriend's parents on her pregnancy being a 'virgin birth' after you fumble around.

What it ends up boiling down to is the same old lies and misrepresentations from the Christians - who, after doing this, should really not call themselves that.

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