‘Tis the season

December 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm 4 comments

I’m torn when I see the atheist billboards that may be offending Christians.  On the one hand, the consciousness of the public needs raised.  They need to know we are here.  Without catching the attention of mainstream society, they forget about us.  And it’s too easy to imagine that they want to forget about us.

On the other hand, if we offend Christians at Christmas time, are we doing ourselves any good?  Granted, it reaches other freethinkers, doubters, brites and it supports and, perhaps, heartens them.

I hope the billboards, bus advertising, and other outdoor media are taken as an invitation to dialogue.   For the most part, they aren’t the most offensive statements that could be devised.  The advertising may have been ordered without concern or care whether anyone on the otherside of the cultural divide is insulted.  Fair enough.

We may be missing the opportunity to forge alliances across the lines.  Not all Christians are radical fundamentalists or evangelists.  I saw an enlightened young man in a short televised interview say that rather than pursue the course of the old guard, he wanted people’s lives to be better because a Christian lived in the neighborhood.  That sounds like the true Christian spirit to me, but not something we’ve heard from those who railed against atheists and humanists in the past.

I suggest we keep that young man’s ideal in mind.

At the same time, I also wonder if we have raised the public consciousness sufficiently?  We’re not like a racial minority.  We’re not openly visible.  And in some ways we’re farther behind the GLBT community in gaining respect.  Granted, our treatment hasn’t been as harsh in recent history.

There are now a few atheists in political office.   Perhaps there’s less job discrimination.  Or is it just easier for us to keep quiet?   The gays have been gaining ground in church–one area where I think we’ll always lag.   The gays have been in the TV sitcoms for years.  I don’t think we’re there yet.

Undoubtedly, Christianity holds sway in the U.S.  (I’m dumbfounded when I hear them say they are such a put-upon minority.)  As some kind of majority, they get their way.  For people of conscience, when they respect us, they’ll care that they haven’t been respecting our feelings and rights.

It seems to me that the question is, how best do we gain respect?    Are we still in the protest phase?  Do we need to march?  Are we in the awareness/consciousness-raising phase?  Or are we ready to dialogue?   It could be all the above depending on our target audience.

We need to maintain a dialogue (which could entail starting one).  I suggest we sidestep their fundies and dialogue with the Christians who want us to be happy they’re here.

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Enlightened is as enlightened does

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aimee Reed  |  June 24, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I found your site while studying “secular holiness”. I rarely reply to posts and debated on this one. To put this in a nutshell, I am a Texan Christian who for the past 25 years has been recovering from denominationalism and currently in a fellowship of believers who think outside of the religious box. I’ve worked as a staff member of various churches and as of the end of June have resigned my children’s pastor position of 5 years. I’m not wishy-washy in my belief of God, but I am very disillusioned with the religious concepts which are plaguing our country and have infiltrated other countries in the name of God. There is a group of ‘freethinking believers’ who would love to honorably dialogue with ‘freethinking non-believers’ without the intent to “convert”.

    • 2. Douglas Falknor  |  June 24, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Aimee you’ve presented us with our holy grail. I only have a second to answer before I have to run, but it reminds me of the news clip I read about a year ago of the Christian and atheist group that bused together to a service project. Similar to that event, that’s all we ask–to be talked to–civilly. (We bear much baggage, though.)

      Counter to that, I’m also reminded of the southern radio station that had an atheist on just to “ambush” him on the air. That attitude is certain to last a while, but I think we are turning a corner and we’d be so glad to talk…

      What’s on your mind…?

  • 3. Aimee Reed  |  June 25, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Mr. Falknor- First off, I seek your forgiveness on behalf of the radio station who showed dishonor to the atheist. That action didn’t accomplish anything good and actually was a display of ignorance on ‘our’ part. We are to live in peace so long as it’s up to us.

    As for your question of what’s on my mind, if you knew me, you would realize that’s loaded. Have you seen or read, “Lord, Save Me from Your Followers.”? (book/DVD) It’s really what catapulted my mind/heart (me) into breaking free from anything that links me to the religious system we call ‘church’ while still clinging tightly to my relationship to God. Paradigm shift to be sure! So, there’s a group of us who desire to ‘BE the church’ by being relevant in our culture without relenting our core beliefs.

    In our society we are extremely segregated. We may have more opportunities to be connected through internet but as followers of Jesus’ teachings we seem to only ‘connect’ with like-minded people, thus creating an incestural community which isn’t relevant to the world at all. So as I was thinking what I would want out of this kind of dialogue it hit me. I seriously just want you and your ‘people’ to know that ‘we’ don’t hate you. You are not our enemy. My heart is for your good. You are extremely valuable and valued. I don’t want to do or say anything to cause you harm. The political and religious systems are quite the opposite of what Jesus came to establish on the earth. I really wish they both would stop using His name and just go about their business, as that is what they both are.

    If we ever can figure out how to connect as a group my hope would be that we could just BBQ and hang out. If we need to do a service project to do that then that’s a great idea as well. I’m not into debating or arguing but I believe that fellowship and food is the key to anyone’s heart and natural conversations can flow from there. Maybe have some talking points or conversational starters and see what happens.

  • 4. Douglas Falknor  |  June 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Aimee, should I call you Ms or Mrs. Reed? You can call me Doug.

    All that you’ve said is music to my ears. I was never highly militant. (I still feel a small internal wince at the word “atheist.”)

    I was trying to think if I had really ever argued religion. A little I guess, but more around high school age than anytime since.

    My deconversion and other background events are on the blog; maybe you’ve looked at some. My daughter is an evangelical Christian; I think that story is there, too.

    We probably agree that society isn’t going to get anywhere arguing religion. Often as not, it leads to ill will and when in a debate setting, both debaters state the “party line” without a lot of wisdom being generated.

    My thinking has progressed to to the point that we can see extremists in every camp, those who choose to hate, and they are best turned out. People of good will don’t hate. And as you say, they can meet for the benefit of everyone.

    I might have to apologize to you for the book I just published so I should get it out in the open. (It isn’t the book excerpted on the blog.) It’s easier to find it on Amazon by searching “Douglas Falknor.” You can look inside that way–I’m not sure how much. It just went live on bookseller site about two weeks ago.

    I found my release from disquieted nonbeliever in changing the direction of the book. I eventually was looking for the explanation of why we have religion (as you might have guessed, I don’t think it’s the way most believers think).

    It’s a matter of divided scientific debate, but as I found in my research, it appears that religion was an evolutionary adaption so beneficial to humankind that most or all people who didn’t have it perished.

    I’ve gone on too long. Glad to ahve you. Perhaps we can get into secular spirituality?



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I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.

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