I am a Baptist raised guy from a small town in West Georgia. Son of an evangelical minister, that somehow ended up back in The Bible Belt. I have more Reverends, Pastors, and Preachers in my family; than I do relatives with College degrees (I might even go as far as saying High School Diplomas). Went to church every Sunday growing up, and voluntarily every Sunday and Wednesday night throughout the majority of my teen years.
I am an Atheist. In the words of the late Douglas Adams, I am a Radical Atheist. This merely means that I go one step beyond not believing in a God, in that I am convinced there is no God. I've no agenda, or even a care as to what anyone else chooses to believe in. Only how they choose to believe it, when that method of believing pushes outside their home and mind, and into my pocket and the Government that oversees the country that I live in.
I am not an Atheist because I prayed for something and it didn't happen. I am not an Atheist because I don't believe a God can exist while there is so much pain and hate in the world. I am not an Atheist because of some traumatic experience I had when I was younger. I am not an Atheist because I want to rebel against my family and upbringing. The most religious of my family, and the ones with the strongest knowledge of the Bible, are the ones that are the most understanding and easiest to talk with.
I am an Atheist because I read the Bible. I am an Atheist because I chose to research, fact check, and verify the claims I was told to believe as a child. I am an Atheist because I have to be. It isn't a choice. I cannot choose to believe something I know to be a lie. I cannot force myself to shutdown the logical/rational parts of my mind, or my curiosity and that need I have to learn as much as I can about everything.
But I've gone on too long about that. I'll post another day about my road to becoming an Atheist. This blog is about something that I came across today, that really upsets me.
The American Atheists have filed a suit for for equal representation of all faiths [or lack thereof] at the 9/11 Memorial Site, or none at all.
American Atheists' Communication Director, Blair Scott appeared on Fox News' American Live with Megyn Kelly on Thursday 28 July 2011. Or at least that is when they posted the interview. An interview in which neither Megyn Kelly or Tim Brown ever acknowledge or respond to the fact that the law suit is not to remove the cross, but to either have all faiths represented or none. I cannot think of anything that would represent Atheists in the museum, but not allowing any other faiths to have representation within the museum is making a very bold, and incorrect statement about the United States of America. Not only do Megyn and Tim get very angry, and twist everything that Blair Scott said, but they introduce him after making very biased comments about the issue. They also conveniently had him on the phone, without video. But I will assume that wasn't intentional, and that the photo they used was Blair's choice, and not one they chose because the smile throughout such a serious topic made him seem pretentious (which he is not).
Shortly after this interview, Blair's voicemail and email was flooded with messages of hate and death threats. Even Fox News' Facebook page was flooded with them, and 18 of those were saved before Fox News deleted them all.
Some were much worse than others, including two from a young lady saying, "stupid atheists, I hope God kills them all." and "I love Jesus, and the cross and if you don't, I hope someone rapes you!" [punctuation mistakes were her doing, not mine]
Now, I am fully aware that these views do not represent Theists as a whole, or even those of Polytheists. They do, however, represent the views of those that are pushing for choices in this country that have a direct influence on my life. They push for our government to give a portion of MY tax dollars to religious organizations (mostly Christian).
Now lets talk about what Churches do with money they receive:
In 2007 it was reported that 33.4% of the estimated total giving of people to different organizations, went to houses of worship and/or Denominational organizations (that comes out to $103.32 Billion given to religion, just in case you were wondering).
That is a lot of fucking money. What is happening to this money? Well, let me tell you!
On average, 85% of this money goes toward the internal operations of its congregation. Another 2% goes toward overseas missions, and that last 13% MAY go toward helping give back to the community. These are just 2007. Do you think it has changed any since then? You know, seeing as how the entire country is hurting for money.
Sources: USA Today, Generous Giving.org, Church Stewardship & Tithing Report, and Google
Now let's take into account the survey taken by The University of Minnesota in 2006. This survey was published to the U of M website on 28 March 2006 (Hey! That's my birthday!) and found that Atheists are the least trusted minority in America. The full study was published in the April 2006 issue of the American Sociological Review.
I hate when people that go out of their way to find ways to say they are being discriminated against, but I hate it even more when the discrimination is clear and the ones that are discriminating against others are twisting words and accusing the discriminated of wanting to be discriminated against. Would you ever accuse a rape victim of wanting to be raped so they'd have something to complain about? I sincerely hope that answer is 'no.'
With that, I hope anyone that might accidentally, or purposefully, happen across this will see that placing a religious symbol for one religion into the 9/11 museum, is unconstitutional if all religions are not also represented in some way. Atheism is not a religion, and does not need anything to represent it in the museum, but we do need it to be made clear that this is not a country with one religion or set of beliefs.
America is known as The Melting Pot, but that is not the image we display anymore. Now, instead of showing our acceptance and diversity, we allow certain people to represent us as something we are not. As a nation with one religion, that abhors immigrants from poorer countries, and only cares about fame and fortune. I know this isn't who we are. I know it isn't who we want to be, but I fear it is who we are becoming.