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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Religion, Scams, and Heritage

I've worked with a lot of African-American women, single mothers struggling to do right, and Bible believers. (One thing that you learn about working with people of color is that, despite how they are portrayed in the media, they put up with a lot of discrimination and crap to this day, and don't raise enough hell about it!) While oftentimes I felt closer to these women than other white women because they've had to struggle, and because they tend to be more open with their thoughts and emotions than middle- and upper-class whites (and because there isn't the taboo about having a good appetite as that which exists among diet-conscious rich whites), one of the disagreements we've had is on the subject of religion.

This is a sore spot, because the church has been a locus for the Civil Rights movement, and for immigrants' rights and social justice movements. Definitely, I have felt more comfortable around activist pastors than the "suffering-is-good" pettifoggers, and I understand the sense of community that a church can give. I don't resent the church that I went to as a child; I had one of the kindest pastors in the world, and grew up surrounded by nice, kind people. What I do resent is the idea that, due to the sheer coincidence of having been raised a Christian, I have to be a Christian.

However, the encroachment of religion upon our secular democracy is giving rise to more and more corruption. This story in particular touched a nerve with me: an African-American minister and her daughter using religion and the language of race ("This is how the white man got ahead!") to draw in and scam other African-Americans out of their money. Unfortunately, with Bush's faith-based initiatives getting more and more funding, we are going to see more of this kind of thing.

A secular government is neutral to religion and exists to protect the rights of believers, too.


Blogger PiGuy said...

UFB. Like you, I don't like the special treatment for "Faith-Based Initiatives" and, at the heart of it all, don't feel that churches should be tax-exempt as they aren't truly non-profit in general. Wouldn't you think that a Christian Nation would feel obliged to pay for that title with Christian Money?

My mother, sister, and, to a lesser extent, my brother are all born again. While they have never tried to get me to join up, they simply can't resist sending me articles or quotes - especially sis and mom - that attempt to tie god to science or literature that they know that I like (Einstein and Tolkien quotes are their faves). In the case of Tokien, he was clearly Catholic but generally the Einstein and Jefferson stuff is taken completely out of context and I don't think that they've ever gone deep enough to know the truth about their views. And they always sign with something like "god bless". Mom's answering machine msg even ends with "...and have a blessed day." I hate that!

I feel your pain! You seem rather atheist. (hehehe)

October 25, 2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I am, rather! Hehe.

Now we're being called "atheist fundamentalists," check here. I don't feel this guy's pain.

October 25, 2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

Wow, that's really some food for thought.

I tend to think of religion pretty much the way I think of drugs: if you can do it without harming others then I don't think that it should matter what you do in private if it makes you happy. But I have to admit that, every once in a while, I wish that I could engage in a conversation with someone of the faithful persuasion and convince them of how unrational they are by believing but, like the author, I tend to think that it will only create more separation between me and the other person.

I'm not sure that I'm ready to be Dawkins-militant but I do agree with him pretty completely. I might be more willing if (more likely, when) ID shows up as an educational issue here in MD. Or if someone in the family tries to get me convert...

October 26, 2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

No, I don't provoke conversations, either.

But twenty years after telling me that she knew that my atheism was just a phase, my mother has started to talk a lot about church and God and everything, and the hideous megachurch that she goes to when she visits my brother in California, and there I sit politely trying not to roll my eyes. She’s approaching eighty and probably just forgot everything that happened after I turned eighteen, and she is obviously comfortable talking to me, so who is the intolerant party here?

And frankly, the description of the author of the pastor laying his hands on the people crying makes me want to retch. What is it with all the crying? and even we adults, we readers of Dawkins and Harris, we practiced reasoners and sincere pilgrims on the path of nonbelief, may find something in it that makes sense Well, it doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not struggling against my feelings here—I am simply and truly flabbergasted about what I see as a big to-do about nothing.

October 27, 2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

Amen, sister. Amen.

October 27, 2006 12:24 PM  

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