In the context of human history there has been well over 10,000 gods throughout .When a person of faith can answer why they don't believe in the other 9,999 Plus other gods just tell them that is why I don't believe in yours
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It's a warm fall morning near the Texas State Capitol's south steps, and there's a fight brewing.
"Don't be an idiot!" a man shouts at a small crowd making its way up toward the Capitol. He is David Stokes, a self-described "street preacher" from Houston, arrived specially in Austin for the occasion. He's in his late 40s or so, wearing jeans, a green T-shirt and mirrored sunglasses. The first thing that really draws the eye, though, is the enormous sign he's carrying.
"WARNING," it reads, in five-inch high orange letters. "Drunks, homosexuals, abortionist [sic], adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, witches, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU."
"Walk away from atheism!" Stokes cries at a couple of college-aged women. Instead, they're walking determinedly toward it, trying not to make eye contact. They make it safely past and up the leaf-lined path toward the Capitol, where they join 400 or so other atheists, agnostics and skeptics gathered for the first day of the Texas Freethought Convention.
With the exception of Stokes, the mood around the Capitol steps is festive. The crowd is set up in portable lawn chairs or standing on the grass in the shade of trees, listening to a tall, broad man at the podium. He's got a pencil-thin Fu Manchu mustache and the sort of hat that Indiana Jones might wear, which is keeping his nearly waist-length hair in check. He's wearing a gray suit and a bolo tie, outfitted at the throat with a black scarab beetle clasp.
Apart from the suit, he looks like a roadie for a terrifying metal band. In fact, he's Aron Ra, a popular "YouTube atheist" from Garland, with more than 60,000 subscribers tuning in each week to hear his shows.
"Atheists aren't the problem here," Ra says, referring to the United States. "For one thing, we'd never force impressionable minors to recite a daily mantra that there is no God, because we're not the ones imposing our views onto other people's children. It's not the atheists impeding medical research either. Neither are we the ones who are against free or affordable health care, nor are we the ones trying to minimize or criminalize women's health care."
The religious right is dragging the United States down, Ra says, and Texas perhaps fastest of all. "I've been to the European continent, and I've been to the Australian continent," he says. "And I can tell you from experience that overseas, the academics don't remember the Alamo. They don't talk about NASA. They're laughing at our lamentable politics."
But there's hope, Zach Moore says a moment later, as he takes Ra's place at the microphone. He's another Dallas atheist, a mild-mannered guy in his 30s with blond hair and a neat goatee. That hope, he says, lies in "the nones."
He's referring to the recent Pew poll that has had atheists everywhere buzzing. It shows that the number of Americans who say they're "unaffiliated" with any religion is rising fast: Around one in five Americans now describe themselves that way, up five percentage points in the last five years. For people under 30, the number is closer to one in three.
"My son and his young friends are going to be raised in a different culture than the one we grew up in," Moore tells the crowd. "That youngest generation, the one in three who are unaffiliated — for our children, it'll be more like half. You're starting to make a difference." Everyone cheers.
"We have the intellectual high ground," he adds a moment later. "We have the moral high ground. And it's only a matter of time before we have the cultural high ground too."
As more speakers take their turns onstage, Stokes, the street preacher, gathers his courage and starts to make his way forward. He and his sign wade into the crowd.
"Darwin was a dummy, bro!" he shouts toward the stage, to general merriment around him. A kid in a "Got Science?" T-shirt snaps a picture with him. Aron Ra stands beside Stokes and poses for a few photos with fans. Everybody strikes more or less the same pose: a huge grin and a big thumbs-up, right next to the words "HELL AWAITS YOU."
Stokes starts to make his way back down the path just as Richard Dawkins, the famous British atheist, starts to deliver his keynote speech.
"You are becoming a real force to be reckoned with," Dawkins tells the crowd. "Although there's no sign politicians have woken up to that fact."
Meanwhile, Moore and his wife, Andrea, have paused for a break. They're pushing their 10-month-old son Patryk in his stroller around a little fountain a few yards away from the crowd. Stokes walks past them, his sign still aloft. Moore and Stokes catch each other's eyes.
"Which way to the fiery furnace?" Moore inquires pleasantly.
"You're standin' in it," Stokes growls back.
"I feel like I can finally take a deep breath," Dana says. She's in her 40s, with long blonde hair and a cigarette in hand. She sneaked out of the Texas Freethought Convention's Saturday afternoon session for a quick smoke, and is now curled up in a big wooden chair on the patio of the Austin Marriott, surrounded by an odd crew of fellow tobacco-hungry atheists: a Houston cabdriver in a Coheed & Cambria T-shirt; a very slim hipster-looking kid from Dallas; a cheery red-haired 911 call taker from an Austin suburb.
In the context of human history there has been well over 10,000 gods throughout .When a person of faith can answer why they don't believe in the other 9,999 Plus other gods just tell them that is why I don't believe in yours
Wow, Observer. You couldn't print one rubbutal to the anti-atheist rubbish printed this week? Perhaps there weren't any? Let me respond belatedly. Most warmongers, drunks, and criminals believe in a deity, and that is because most HUMANS believe in a deity. There is certainly no greater threat posed by atheists. In fact, quite the opposite. Atheists believe in the future, in protecting the environment, and in respecting all species. It is our duty to protect the earth, not sit around waiting for an apocalypse. We live and then we die, just like the great oak tree, the mighty whale, and the honey bee. We are not a 'special' animal. Yes, I'm partial to humans because I am one, and our brain is a wonder, but we're likely the most destructive, invasive species that has ever existed on this planet. This is an uncomfortable reality for all of us to live with. But I'll take reality over fantasy any day.
We believe in the natural world, not a supernatural fairy tale. Therefore, I find the atheists I know to be the OPPOSITE of self-absorbed. We're not some special species created by a deity that looks out for us and answers our calls. We don't get to defy the laws of nature and live forever while everything else dies. That would appear to be the height of self-absorption.
"WARNING," it reads, in five-inch high orange letters. "Drunks,homosexuals, abortionist [sic], adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves,atheists, witches, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU."
Sign me the fuck up! If there's a room full of drunk homosexual fornicators, that's the place for me.
Oh cool.. let's turn being non-religious into an annoying religious cult. Count me out.
Just go to church if you feel like you need to belong so badly.
Whenever people gather together for a common purpose, there's always some sociopathic Tea-Bagger type, angry at them for doing so.
I believe that my belief in not believing in the belief of not believing is as believable as one believing in the belief of not believing but one should believe that forcing the belief of not believing is better than just not believing at all. Ergo. If an atheist fall in the woods does he make a sound? God only knows.
As bad as humans are with religion, they are worse without it. Ben Franklin observed as much in his letter.Regards Bizworldusa
Right wing predators often say that humanity is bad and therefore, that humans have to do something bad (like be religious) in order to please them.
It's not a rational way of thinking - but its a mindset that dominates the Republicans and their fellows.
We should all be aware, that in the US, we have Freedom OF Religion, not Freedom FROM Religion.
A cornerstone of our country since it's inception has been Judeo/Christian values whether you like it or not.
In fact, contrary to the revisionist philosophy our constitution does not provide for a separation of church and state. The passage that applies is: "Congress shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion". Period....simply put, our federal govt cannot establish it's own religion (such as, at the time, the Church of England). This provided for Freedom of Religion. Oddly enough it leaves the door open for a state to establish it's own state religion....
Those who would argue that our founders intended it to mean a separation I have 2 questions: Why did they not just state that in the constitution (I am aware of Jefferson's musings as well as others) and why (if that was indeed the intent) did they include references to God in official documents as well as beginning govt functions with a prayer? Oh...and why is the Supreme Court building filled with religious symbolism? (ok..3 questions)
Do not get me wrong...personally I would prefer a separation but instead of just interpreting the constitution as we would like it to be, totally ignoring the actual words, we should put the appropriate words together, as a nation, and then pass an amendment. Taking the current approach is exactly the same as when the supreme court endorsed slavery, again, ignoring the words of the constitution.
Pardon me for being a constitutionalist.
If you choose to not believe...that's perfectly fine, but do not jam your non-belief down my throat.
God ordered you to pray quietly, in private, and behind closed doors. When you pray publicly like this, you are spitting in god's face.
Likewise, please don't shove your religious beliefs down my throat!
You need to go back and study the legislate history of the Establishment Clause. Congress considered several versions of the Establishment Clause before deciding on the most expansive version. Jefferson's phrase "Wall of Separation of Church and State" captures the legislative mood of the adopted versions of the Establishment and the Free Exercise Clauses. Jefferson's phrase is a legal term of art and the Supreme Court has explored it's meaning 15 times since 1879.
Also, the Establishment Clause has been extended to the states via the 14th Amendment and a state could no longer establish its own religion. Some religious parts of the early Texas Constitution that haven't been updated are now unconstitutional, are now just historical curiosities, and wouldn't be recognized even by a Texas State court.
Sandra Day O’Connor wrote a majority Supreme Court opinion in the 1980's that established that constitutionally acceptable religious symbols in federal and state government buildings are simply "ceremonial deism" not genuine religious worship. Basically they are just exercises to build respect for government institutions, something like the justices’ traditionally wearing black robs.
@Fausta Actually...no I don't. Been there done that. You pretty much missed the whole point.
Last I checked Jeffersonian correspondence was not part of the constitution and there is no addendum at the end of the Bill of Rights, nor the Constitution which says "see Jefferson's notes for further clarification".
The sentence "Congress shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion." is quite clear, concise, and understandable. There was no reason to seek further clarification by visiting Jefferson's writings (and other's) unless the meaning was not as desired. This has been precisely the case.
Jefferson also felt that the US should remain an agricultural society and should not become industrialized....should we also take some phrase from the constitution to mean that all manufacturing industries are unconstitutional?
The Bill of Rights was written by the 1st Congress of the US. The start of every session was a prayer. (and still is)
Regarding your Sandra remark...sure...but for some reason that did not stop the ACLU from forcing the removal of a statue representing the 10 commandments from an Alabama courthouse in the 90s, now did it? Nor does that apply to Boy Scouts not being able to use a city park in San Diego due to "separation of church and state".
Seems that we can interpret a simple sentence in the constitution or the bill of rights to mean pretty much whatever we want it to mean....
Just to give you some background, I have been researching the "Establishment Clause" since the Alabama incident...and I find the logic behind the interpretation to be disturbing. The intent is clear: It does not mean precisely what we wish it to mean, so we will interpret it our way, regardless...
@TheCredibleHulk Ok...how many different definitions that even remotely fit the context are there?
When you consider how/why people came to the colonies, most involving religious freedom or to avoid religious persecution in England the meaning is rather clear.
Granted, Jefferson was highly influential in the framing of the Bill of Rights, however it was the creation of the 1st Congress of the US as a whole...
If the intent was to "create a wall between govt and church" then why was it not worded more appropriately? Why is only one branch (Congress) mentioned? Why is it framed in such a narrow context? I can think of many ways to word it that would encompass the whole of the govt, including state govts, and extent as well.
When you consider that our Supreme Court ruled in favor of slavery (how many times?) because they chose to "bend" meanings to suit their agenda, I find this particular one just as disturbing.
I'd like to know how Zach Moore has acquired this status of "nonspiritual leader of the Texas Atheist Movement." I'm in Texas. I am Atheist. I move around all the time. I'm not part of any official movement. I'm offended by anyone claiming all atheists in Texas are moving under some leader like we're all a bunch of pansy sheep Moonies or something.
Atheism is NOT A FAITH! It's a doubt! I doubt your faith! That's it! Stop trying to mold us into something we're not! We are not even an us! Cut it out!
Every year around the this we are bombarded with religion. This article is a breath of fresh air. I commend you for not shying away from this or twisting or perspectives. As you can tell from the comments, Texas needs to know that we are here, we are growing, and we are NOT dangerous.
Ra lets us know "foreign " academics laugh at our "lamentable politics". Really? which European Country has a black President with Muslim antecedents? Which Asian country would even contemplate a black man as a leader?
But then again if you give yourself a moniker like Ra , you must be a deity unto yourself (Ra was ancient Egypts sun god) (br)As for men like Stokes, well they represent themselves and not God. They speak without authority and about mysteries they are unaware of..
Then the author draws conclusions regarding the no church affiliation. No affiliation does not mean atheistFinally the modern atheist societies of say the USSR were hellish. North Korea is another prominent example of hell on earth.
Hitler was an atheist and you may verify it by googling "You mean Hitler wasn't a priest" by David Shiflett.The Nazis killed 295 Lutheran ministers in east Germany (formally Prussia)
Authors such as Ayn Rand had a hellish view of life and some Christians have accepted this atheist's distorted view of society such as Paul Ryan
.and then we have this gem from the atheist site "Landover Baptist""Atheists are overweight. The stereotypes of typical Atheists are the trim, granola cruncher who jogs and plays racquetball or the vain hedonist, party-goer who worships only her full-length mirror, Recent studies have shown, however, that Atheists have become aware of these signifiers of their lack of faith. In order to blend in undetected with evangelical Christians, most Atheists now tend to be morbidly obese and will tell you, whether asked or not, that their enormous girth is the result of an undetectable thyroid condition and not the box of Little Debbie cakes they are holding."
After seeing Aron Ra ham it up on YouTube I have to agree. Atheists do have serious weight problems
.Let us conclude atheists have every right to protest, assemble and inveigh against religion. But like everything choices have consequences. The atheists states of the 20th century were not enlightened. In fact people who lived when atheists ruled have written such books as "Darkness at Noon"Most of the children of 20th century atheists have become Christians from Stalin's daughter Svetlana to Khrushchev's children. They were the atheist elite.From Svetlana on here conversion"It was there, in 1982, “on a cold December day, the feast of St Lucy… the decision to enter the Catholic Church came to me very naturally”, as she writes in her memoirs. This decision had been influenced by a long friendship/correspondence with an Italian Catholic priest and the support and kindness of a Catholic couple she had met in America.Svetlana writes that after her conversion “Only now I understand the wonderful grace that the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist produce, no matter what day of the year, and even on a daily basis. Before, I was unwilling to forgive and repent, and I was never able to love my enemies. But I feel very different from before, since I attend Mass every day.The Eucharist has given me life."
I take la Dulce Vita of catholic Italy any day over the dark noon of atheism.
@cedar_springs "Hitler was an atheist and you may verify it by googling "You mean Hitler wasn't a priest" by David Shiflett.The Nazis killed 295 Lutheran ministers in east Germany (formally Prussia)" So his numerous times claiming he was doing gods work and his insistence that every soldier in germany have "Gott Mitt Uns" or "God With Us" on their uniforms makes him an atheist? I never knew that my atheism made me a devout catholic.
did you read the srticle? You cite Hitler saying he had God with us on the uniforms but you dont source it
I sourced my statements
Oh heres what I found out about your statement
It predates Hitler
"Gott mit uns (meaning God with us) is a phrase commonly used on armor in the German military from the German Empire to the end of the Third Reich, although its historical origins are far older. The Russian Empire's motto also translates to this.'
"Nobiscum deus ('God with us') was a battle cry of the late Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Empire, used for the first time in German by the Teutonic Order.
nice try though
oh by the way Stalin gave a stately Dacha to the primate of Moscow. \
Even though he was a confirmed atheist he was looking to get a job as an orthodox priest
do some research before opening your yap
@cedar_springs @tcufrog @hentai.jeff I think atheists who espouse state-sponsored atheism are few and far between. Most desire a state that is completely neutral and does not espouse any sort of religious or anti-religious stance. Many also are advocates for rationalism, or even humanism, in all aspects of life. Atheism is merely resultant of rationalism/humanism. All of those failed social experiments cited above would not have passed the humanism test by a long shot.
You left out Albania, the first officially atheist state.
@godsux @cedar_springs @tcufrog @hentai.jeff
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;
The People's Republic of China;
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea;
The Socialist Republic of Romania;
The German Democratic Republic;
Of course, in fairness, there is the as yet untried atheist utopia of Ayn Rand.
@cedar_springs As a history minor, yeah, I didn't do any research you got me there /s. You'll forgive me for using wikipedia as a source but it's the most complete accord of this online, if you wish you can use their citations to go further http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler
Now, I'm no fan of YouTube Ra, never heard of the guy, but your snarky remarks on his weight seem quite unchristian.
Really, it's quite sunny and lovely where I am sitting. No god in sight, just this wonderfully complex universe.
They weren't my snarky comments, they were from an atheist site.
Loosing weight is salutary just ask the AMA. Your bad cholesterol drops, your blood pressure drops and your sugar levels drops.
It seems a lot of atheists ignore simple biological facts. from Christopher Hitchens to Madeleine O hare and her morbidly obese children to USSR Politburo fatties under Breznhev who died in short order of heart attacks
"“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Oscar Wilde
oh and according to some physicists your complex universe may be a hologram
enjoy your game
Pardon me, it wasn't clear in your post which words were yours and which were from the web site.
Also, I've seen more than my share of unhealthy believers, atheists haven't cornered the market on obesity by any means.
Let's look at this issue rationally for a moment: You posit that there is a God, but offer no tangible proof, other than your gut feelings and a book, written by men in ancient times and transcribed countless times over the centuries.
I posit that there is no God and offer no proof whatsoever.
What is the difference here? By definition, I have nothing to prove and the lack of evidence of your assertion just makes my position stronger, whereas, you have the burden of proof and the lack of evidence just makes your position weaker.
Also: If it is a hologram, so what?
I'm not sure what bothers me the most. The Atheist gathering to oppose Christianity, or the Christian dude waving a sign around that everyone is going to hell. It's only by the Grace of God that any of us ever make it to heaven, and it's certainly anybody's right to not only disagree with God's teaching, but to totally denounce Him. You see, my Christ that I follow had love and compassion for the lost. He actually had more harsh words for the religeous zealots than He ever did for the lost. I have to wonder what would have happened if he had showed up and passed out water, sandwiches, coffee, and said nothing. Just show love and compassion, and be there to give an answer if anyone wants to know why he did it. That's not underhanded or sneaky, it's my Jesus' way. We are saved through GRACE through Christ, not my posting hateful signs and yelling out in anger. Wake up church.
@cbrandon60 Sounds almost Buddhist
@cbrandon60 More Christians like you please!
You named two wars, and they weren't started because Stalin was an Atheist. They were started because Hitler, a Roman Catholic, was to quote him 'Doing Gods, will', in eliminating the Jewish people. Notice the Jews, are no different than you and I, but Hitler felt they were less than human, because of their religion. There are 123 wars, where not only was religion the at the forefront of the conflict, but it was the main driving force, and issue.
Glen you need to read David Shifllets article "You mean Hitler wasn't a priest" Hitler was biding his time to destroy Christianity.
"Hitler was indeed a baptized Catholic, but his rejection of the faith was profound. "My pedagogy is strict," he once explained. "I want a powerful, masterly, cruel and fearless youth... There must be nothing weak or tender about them. The freedom and dignity of the wild beast must shine from their eyes... That is how I will root out a thousand years of human domestication."That domestication, of course, was in large part due to the influence of Christianity. Hitler was blunter still on other occasions. "It is through the peasantry that we shall really be able to destroy Christianity," he said in 1933, "because there is in them a true religion rooted in nature and blood." His countrymen would have to choose: "One is either a Christian or a German. You can't be both."
""In West Prussia, out of 690 parish priests, at least two-thirds were arrested, and the remainder escaped only by fleeing from their parishes. After a month's imprisonment, no less than 214 of these priests were executed... by the end of 1940 only twenty priests were left in their parishes — about three percent of the number of parish priests in the pre-war era." The toll of murdered Polish priests would rise into the thousands; their Protestant counterparts (though a much smaller group) fared no better, with many members of the clergy perishing in the camps."
research, research, research
@cedar_springs @glenpearson According to Alan Bullock's, "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives," which I don't have in front of me and I haven't read in several years, Hitler respected Catholicism because of, and only for, its long historical tradition and stability, its strength and durability. He had absolutely no use nor respect for Protestants, who, he said, "sweat profusely when you talk to them."
Hitler also praised Christianity He still wanted to destroy it. As for Protestants Hitlers right hand man was a Lutheran, Martin Boormann. Goering was a Lutheran. 75% of the gestapo was Lutheran.
Goering's second in command was Jewish as was Julius Streicher's second in command. The two of them had it out in front of Hitler about Jews in their organizations. with Streicher losing and being put under house arrest.
The Admiral of the Bismarck's wife was Jewish,
Dont look for rational behaviour among Nazis.
@glenpearson Most historians and policy makers attribute Germany's drive to war to the crushing financial burden placed on it at the Treaty of Versaille. I have never seen any serious historical treatment of WW II that claimed that religion started it, except to say that exterminating some religions was a motivation in it. The fact that Stalin was engaged in war against religion is well-documented, particularly in his domestic policies. Stalin's destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a huge scandal, but one predicted, based on Stalin's contempt for religion.
@glenpearson Hitler was not representative of Christ's love or of most Christians. That is a weak claim. Anybody can say the words. He did, but did not walk the walk. You are correct though that facts should be correct.
@marcusmcspartacus blood libel is a jewish thing, catholics can't claim it. And voter support doesn't matter when the leaders of the church are constantly meeting with Hitler. It's not a false history at all, just one you don't agree with, fortunely history doesn't need you to agree with it, it just is.
@hentai.jeff @cbrandon60 @glenpearson
No it wouldn't. The communities with highest concentrations of Catholics showed the lowest voter support for the Nazis. This is false history and blood libel you are peddling.
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