Secular humanism vs. religion debate grows in TN

Jul 24, 2012 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: The Tennessean

Critics say secular humanism is itself a religion; Secular Coalition's efforts intensify church/state debate

A growing number of Americans couldn't care less about God.

About 19 percent of Americans are part of the "Nones," or people with no religious affiliation, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. That’s up from 16 percent in 2008 and from 6 percent in the 1990s.

The growth of the Nones is one reason the Secular Coalition for America is organizing local chapters to lobby in Tennessee and other states.
Comments
1 - 14 of 14 Comments Last updated Jul 25, 2012

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#1
Jul 24, 2012
 
The Knox County Commission held a hearing last week about whether to make opening prayers for their meetings a formal, written policy. The one member who dissented was described as very emotional in the local paper, and none of the public comments in opposition were reported at all--not even that there were any. The hearing was a formality anyway--the decision had already been made. So much for the democratic process.

We've still got a long road ahead of us, folks.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#2
Jul 24, 2012
 
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#3
Jul 24, 2012
 

Judged:

1

Quote:“The atheists don’t want beliefs about God to influence public policy,” he said.“But they do want their own beliefs about God’s nonexistence to influence public policy.”
What nonsense. Atheism isn’t a set of beliefs, it is simply non-belief in god. Anyone who doesn’t believe in a god is an atheist. That says NOTHING else about them. Atheism is a term pertinent only to religion and atheists generally aren’t interested in religion, only where religions infringe on public policy or the health of society. The problems start when people politicize religion, or are prejudiced at heart against people who lack any ‘beliefs’...
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/ghwbush.h...
http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php...

Quote,“Richard Dawkins, is hostile to religion and sees religious people as stupid”.
I would like to see where Prof Dawkins has ever called any religious person stupid. People write this, but they do not substantiate it. Prof Dawkins points out the flaws in religion and the obvious harm and tribalism involved. If that makes people feel stupid or that he is hostile to them, that speaks for itself.

Quote,“Talisse said he doesn’t think religious people are dumb. He says they are just wrong.”
Or in the strongest terms I have heard from Prof Dawkins,“deluded”. Would it be better if nobody spoke in defence of sound education in British schools?..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15226421
(Whole science classes in some Muslim schools in the UK have left school with no ‘belief in Darwinism’ and quite convinced of ID or Creationism).

And the “Jefferson” thing isn’t relevant today. In Thomas Jefferson’s day, one wouldn’t dare to be openly atheist. There was no internet or 24-7, real-time, communication by which one could communicate. One had to conform to religious dogma of some kind or people instinctively reacted to someone so ‘different’. Clearly atheists existed then, but they had to be very careful. A residue of this problem still exists.

Religionists cannot expect to be respected by people they openly despise or disparage. Atheists cannot respect belief in god any better than religionists can respect a belief in pixies or Santa Claus. One can respect the person, but not necessarily their beliefs. Some people believe in one race is ‘better’ than another, that gays are ‘curable’, or that child mutilation is acceptable. We cannot always accept or respect one another’s beliefs. We can and should still respect one another.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#4
Jul 24, 2012
 
NightSerf wrote:
All I wish to say about the update is that it seems quite obviously to me that religionists should meet before the meeting and not even wish to waste the time of people uninterested in their ‘devotions’.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#5
Jul 24, 2012
 

Judged:

1

EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>All I wish to say about the update is that it seems quite obviously to me that religionists should meet before the meeting and not even wish to waste the time of people uninterested in their ‘devotions’.
it should cost them a lot of money to defend a lawsuit. the case is perfectly clear. the policy is Unconstitutional. I bet even CJ Roberts could see that, and that should make it 5-4.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#6
Jul 24, 2012
 
havent forgotten wrote:
<quoted text> it should cost them a lot of money to defend a lawsuit. the case is perfectly clear. the policy is Unconstitutional. I bet even CJ Roberts could see that, and that should make it 5-4.
It's hard to say how the Court would rule. The Senate and the House in Washington open each day's session with a prayer from their respective chaplains as do many state legislatures, a tradition that goes back to the nation's founding. Yesterday's House payer was as follows:

"Creating God, we come together today in a simple prayer. May we be who we are created to be, reflections of Your image. May we live as we know we should, as caretakers of creation. May we participate in the purpose of life, as companions to God and to one another. May we truly embrace the equality of humanity as ‘‘self–evident'' and know that just beneath the surface of disagreement, conflict, discord, and even violence and death, there is a deep river of grace, love, and forgiveness that truly binds us. May this stream of eternal presence be solace for any pain in our lives; but, more importantly, inspiration and hope of reconciliation and peace in personal relationships, in our Nation, and throughout the world.

"May the deliberations and decisions of this day and all days take place in the spirit of common good, the spirit in which we are created.

"Amen."

The Senate's web page for the Chaplain's office reads as follows:

"Chaplain's Office

"Barry C. Black

"Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. The first Senate, meeting in New York City on April 25, 1789, elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first Chaplain. During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation. The role of the Chaplain as spiritual advisor and counselor has expanded over the years from a part-time position to a full-time job as one of the Officers of the Senate. The Office of the Chaplain is nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and nonsectarian.

"Duties of the Senate Chaplain

"In addition to opening the Senate each day in prayer, Chaplain Black’s duties include counseling and spiritual care for the Senators, their families and their staffs, a combined constituency of six thousand people. Chaplain Black’s days are filled with meeting Senators about spiritual and moral issues, assisting Senators’ staffs with research on theological and biblical questions, teaching Senate Bible study groups, encouraging such groups as the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, and facilitating discussion and reflection small groups among Senators and staff.

"In order to stay informed of the needs of the Senate community, Chaplain Black maintains a program with a volunteer liaison in each office to assist him. A member of his staff directs this program."

In light of this, it's hard to see how similar policies could not be followed on a local level.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#7
Jul 24, 2012
 
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
It's hard to say how the Court would rule. The Senate and the House in Washington open each day's session with a prayer from their respective chaplains as do many state legislatures, a tradition that goes back to the nation's founding. Yesterday's House payer was as follows:
"Creating God, we come together today in a simple prayer. May we be who we are created to be, reflections of Your image. May we live as we know we should, as caretakers of creation. May we participate in the purpose of life, as companions to God and to one another. May we truly embrace the equality of humanity as ‘‘self–evident'' and know that just beneath the surface of disagreement, conflict, discord, and even violence and death, there is a deep river of grace, love, and forgiveness that truly binds us. May this stream of eternal presence be solace for any pain in our lives; but, more importantly, inspiration and hope of reconciliation and peace in personal relationships, in our Nation, and throughout the world.
"May the deliberations and decisions of this day and all days take place in the spirit of common good, the spirit in which we are created.
"Amen."
The Senate's web page for the Chaplain's office reads as follows:
"Chaplain's Office
"Barry C. Black
"Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. The first Senate, meeting in New York City on April 25, 1789, elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first Chaplain. During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation...
"In order to stay informed of the needs of the Senate community, Chaplain Black maintains a program with a volunteer liaison in each office to assist him. A member of his staff directs this program."
In light of this, it's hard to see how similar policies could not be followed on a local level.
oh,I agree it is hard to be sure how the court would rule. I think it would be 4 - 4, with one or other of Kennedy or Roberts being the 5th, maybe for the city council. It would still cost them money to fight the case.
When I say it is clearly unConstitutional, I do not mean that the Court would see that clearly. I am amazed when this court sees anything clearly, with its new rightwing majority.
I have been at the opening of Congress many times, and the opening of a state legislature also, and mostly I try to wait outside until the prayer is over, because I find it objectionable as a matter of principle - though sometimes interesting in oontent, to see how they try to be helpful and noncontroversial.
As a practical person, I do not think we will ever completely disestablish all of the religion that has already been established. I think that taking away something that people have had for a long time - like words on marble buildings - will really set off the reactionary reaction, and cause such inflamed rhetoric that even ordinarily sensible religious people will flock to the Establishmentarian cause, in "self-defense" as they will see it.
I see the best hope of anti-Establishmentarian views in not letting new things happen to Establish religion - not in taking away things already permitted and habitual, and treated with a sort of patriotic-religious devotion that would make many people feel that it is "unamerican" to stop its observance. The pledge may be one of those things, even. despite its shameful origins in the Joe McCarthy era.
one of the really funny decisions of the USSCt is in a Rhode Island case, I think. They ruled that it was OK to have a nativity scene on public property if there was also along with it not only a Jewish religious symbol, but also a Santa, snowmen, etc. I call it the "reindeer escort" decision. I forget its real name!
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#8
Jul 24, 2012
 
so I admit I would not bet very much on the outcome. But my total lifetime bets are about $13.35, including a $10.00 raffle on a beautiful horse, with proceeds to the local EMS. I got a leprecaun lotto ticket in Missouri,bet on a horse to finish third that finished second, and won a nickel in a bet with a Congressman on a House vote outcome. and was generously allowed to win three bottles of strawberry pop, by betting for the Yankees whom I despised, soI would not feel so miserable when dodgers or Giants lost, in the l950's. I got to hear the perfect game on radio that way -
don larson. my bets are rare.

by the way, our Iowa Constitution does not permit the expenditure of taxpayers'money for religious purposes. various religious persons come to our state legislature to offer opening prayer - there is no paid chaplain. I wonder if the visitors get gas mileage......

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#9
Jul 25, 2012
 

Judged:

1

1

NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
It's hard to say how the Court would rule. The Senate and the House in Washington open each day's session with a prayer from their respective chaplains as do many state legislatures, a tradition that goes back to the nation's founding.....
James Madison:“Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U S forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment...?”-- Essay on Monopolies
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#10
Jul 25, 2012
 
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
James Madison:“Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U S forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment...?”-- Essay on Monopolies
thank you very much for that quote.

I am more upset by the use of chaplains in the military to indoctrinate troops with a particular rightwing version of religion - including people at the academies. one hears rumors that there is an ultra rightwing group at the air force academy, trying to take over the chaplain office there and in the air force.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#11
Jul 25, 2012
 
I'm a bit more concerned about the statement on the Senate Chaplaincy's page: "Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State." To me, this odd bit of doublespeak contravenes every modern SCOTUS ruling I'm aware of, yet the Senate let's it stand. I wonder who wrote it, how long it has been the position of the Chaplain's office, and whether it really reflects the position of the Senate as a whole.

Military chaplains don't bother me. Unlike our congressmen, soldiers are pulled hither and yon with no control or choice, and the believers in the military have a genuine need for the services that chaplains provide. They aren't there to indoctrinate or harass nonbelievers--I doubt that they have the time for that--but to provide counseling for the soldiers that are tailored to their religious beliefs and to conduct services for them. Without them I suspect a sizable proportion of the soldiers would not be able to cope with the stress that is inherent in military life.

From what I've read and heard, it is the military itself, mostly in the persons of the NCOs, that makes life hard for nonbelievers by finding ways to punish them for skipping religious activities. The old saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but most abuse of power that I've observed over the year has come from such low level managers and administrators as corporals and sergeants. I suspect that the will to oppress and suppress others is actually an impediment to advancement beyond a certain level in most power structures.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#12
Jul 25, 2012
 
nightserf - yes, some of the officers are making life difficult for nonbelievers,. but there have been interesting articles and even a book, I think, about the attempt of fundies to take over the chaplain positions at the air force academy in particular,. rapture types, even.

I would be for complete separation of church and state as an ideal, and only want to compromise to the extent necessary to prevent a virulent rightwing backlash. a few issues like gay marriage, and pledge of allegiance revisions, and other cultural issues will stir up the natives, so to speak, and get them to vote Republican. even now some of them think that Romney has business experience that is bound to make him good for America. Why didn't they just support Donald Trump in the first place, if they are that ignorant?

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#13
Jul 25, 2012
 
George Washington: “Among many other weighty objections to the Measure, it has been suggested, that it has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess.” --to John Hancock, then president of Congress, expressing opposition to a congressional plan to appoint brigade chaplains in the Continental Army (1777)

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#14
Jul 25, 2012
 
If there were no chaplaincy, the various branches would probably simply give most men Sunday mornings (or grant leave at other times for Muslims and Jews) off and not worry about what they did with their time. That would be better, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

Tell me when this thread is updated: (Registration is not required)

Add to my Tracker Send me an email

Type in your comments below
Name
(appears on your post)
Comments
Characters left: 4000
Type the numbers you see in the image on the right:

Please note by clicking on "Post Comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

14 Users are viewing the Atheism Forum right now

Search the Atheism Forum:
Title Updated Last By Comments
Atheism requires as much faith as religion? (Jul '09) 5 min Stilgar Fifrawi 224,476
What does "Atheism" mean? 9 min Patrick 28
20+ Questions for Theists (Apr '13) 12 min Patrick 395
How much faith it takes to believe in Evolution. 1 hr religionisillness 19
Atheism to Defeat Religion by 2038 (Apr '12) 2 hr Growupchildren 21,401
Our world came from nothing? 2 hr Growupchildren 245
The numbers are in: America still distrusts ath... Mon Liam R 21
•••
•••