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  #11  
Old 02-23-2013, 10:03 PM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Maybe it's not true in Vegas, HMA. If so, great!

But not every place in America is the same. My daughter goes to a fairly conservative but PUBLIC school (in an area with a significant Mormon and Catholic population) and if I were "out" as agnostic we would be ostracized from school functions. My daughter would probably not have to deal with backlash from the teachers but most definitely from the other students/families. Any teachers there would have difficulty being anything other than some variety of Christian, and even Jehovah's Witness is not dealt with well. If it were known that a teacher did not believe at all?? There are parents who would make teachers' lives miserable by constantly complaining to administration about them and requesting their children be moved to different classrooms. I have not lost my job over being a non-believer but I have definitely had to deal with an unpleasant, even hostile work environment because of it. And this is CA, which is supposed to be more on the liberal side of things. Where my partner lives in TX, it's even worse, and if we are able to move there I am seriously considering homeschooling my children due to how "religious" and "scientific" education are treated in that state.

Among the three of us we have an ex-Catholic, an ex-JW, and an ex-Baptist (who still pays lip service to avoid being ostracized by his family). We have a wide range of experiences, so how about you don't try to tell me what I have or have not experienced as a non-believer?
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  #12  
Old 02-23-2013, 10:11 PM
HappiestManAlive HappiestManAlive is offline
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Wow - touchy much?

I have lived all over the country. I have lived in areas where non-believers are ACTUALLY actively ostracized and even persecuted to some extent. I have experienced this from both sides of the coin.

Try reading my last post again, this time without your victim glasses on.
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  #13  
Old 02-23-2013, 11:10 PM
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I don't say that "atheists are picked on;" I just state what my own personal experience has been. I actually experienced more ostracizing and/or harrassment when I was a faithful member. I was trying to fit in, in a world where I was not meant to fit in. I had some nasty run-ins with church authorities. When I finally realized I was fighting a losing battle and got myself out of the church, people seemed to forget I had ever been there, which was a good thing, because I didn't want to be bothered by the church anymore.

I think that situations are different in different towns and localities. Some may favor one particular religion over others. Albuquerque is kind of a nice place to live because it seems to have a place for just about all religions. True, there are no "atheist church buildings," but that would be quite a crazy thing to see anywhere, wouldn't it?

I don't think TGIG was being touchy, she was just pointing out what her experience is in the place where she lives. Some people do object to atheism, in more than just philosophical terms. And yes, some atheists do too much looking down the nose at believers.

As for Utah, I still visit there regularly, as I have tons of relatives (including my parents and some siblings) there. I would say that Salt Lake City has become pretty cosmopolitan religion-wise, but Highland is still pretty deeply entrenched in Mormon favortism; I know this because friends and siblings I have there have given me first-hand accounts of the pressure exerted on them. And there are tons and tons of LDS church buildings in Highland. So someone is attending. I imagine Salt Lake has more of the Jack Mormons. I won't speak too much about other Utah cities, but I reckon that many of them are still deeply (and actively) Mormon.

The thing is, though, it doesn't really matter that much to me how much of this or that religion (or belief system) resides in which place. Like you said, it's not like Baptists are standing at the corners with guns pointed at us. I am free to be an atheist, and I guess if I find myself in a situation where atheism will be frowned on, I probably just won't tell anyone that I'm atheist. Let them presume what they will.

By the way, I should clarify (from my above posts) that I have two "atheist friends" in Utah: one who is largely atheist, the other who is completely atheist. The "largely atheist friend" keeps it on the down-low. The "completely atheist friend" has come out to family and church leaders. Sorry if that created any confusion.

The "largely atheist friend" has had times when he was "accidentally outed," and he did not enjoy the experience that resulted. We're talking mostly psychological persecution from family members. I know it happens because it did happen. Somehow he has gotten everyone to calm down by acting more like a believing church member (attending church, etc.).

Anyway, I do know many conservatives who have a really bad attitude about atheism. Kind of an atheist = liberal = godless commie type of thing. My father and his wife are two of the people who have the worst attitude to belief systems not their own. On the positive side, my mother and her husband are very active in the church, but are also very tolerant towards other people's beliefs and orientations.
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  #14  
Old 02-24-2013, 06:33 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is online now
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Just wanted to add my two cents...I have enjoyed reading this conversation.

I consider myself a "little a" agnostic (since for some the term Agnostic implies a dogma that not only does the person not know whether or not there is a god but that such knowledge is, in fact, "unknowable" - which implies a level of "belief" that I don't have.)

I very strongly suspect (in the 99+ % range) that 1.) there are no gods/goddesses 2.) there is no afterlife 3.) there is no such thing as soul - because I, personally, have never seen or experienced anything that could be considered evidence to the contrary. However, should such evidence come to light I would not be dismayed or distraught in any way - I've been wrong before, I will be wrong again - no matter.

"Free Will" is a concept that I have a MUCH harder time conceptualizing - having made a "choice" in a given circumstance, it seems to me that - as a being that is the sum total of my thoughts and experiences up to that point - I could NOT have chosen differently. (Even if the decision is left up to a random event - the toss of a die for example - I ended up being the person who would let a die toss determine my decision.)

I have a slight affinity for the concept of "karma" - not in the sense that the "universe" is somehow keeping a tally of our actions but in the sense that if you are kind to people, then they reciprocate by being kind to others, and the world (which I am also inhabiting) is a kinder place as a result. Win-win-win.

Some of the "existential questions" that I am exposed to through my reading/studies don't seem like questions to me (I read a lot in the area of secular buddhism) - often implying underlying assumptions that I don't hold (Why, for instance, should there be an answer to the the question of "Why are we here?" "Why do we exist?" "Why can I think?" the fact that we are, we do, we can does not imply, to me, that there is necessarily a "reason" for this.)

In my private/personal life I am happy to discuss/debate these sorts of concepts exhaustively. I am fascinated by the very concept of "faith" and how people come to that state that seems so very foreign to me (despite having attended church/Sunday School "religiously" for the first 18 years of my liife).

In my public/professional life I avoid the topic or let the underlying assumption of Christianity slide, giving a non-committal or vague response...unless I am asked directly. In which case I answer gently but accurately.

It amuses me that when "Christians" I talk to assume that I "turned away" from the church due some "bad experience" I must have had. Nope, it just never seemed to "add" anything to my existence, the concept of "God" always seemed so unnecessary, it didn't change anything for me, I wasn't going to behave any differently if there was some "magical sky-wizard" scrutinizing my every move. There was no epiphany, no pain involved. The people I went to church with for 18 years were, for the most part, GOOD people, the people that weren't "good" were just humans failing to live up to their own expectations, not mean, not monsters.

Ethical behavior does not require a warden to enforce the "rules."

JaneQ
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Last edited by JaneQSmythe; 02-24-2013 at 06:36 AM.
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  #15  
Old 02-24-2013, 08:22 PM
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Good post; I always think of morals/ethics as something we do for the sheer sake of doing good -- or for the good feelings we derive from doing good. We are in a sorry state if we won't do good unless we get a Heavenly mansion for it (and/or are saved from Hell). Just as we outgrow Santa Claus as a reason for good behavior, I trust we also outgrow the need for a Cosmic Policeman as the reason for good behavior.
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  #16  
Old 02-25-2013, 05:57 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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I dunno HMA, maybe I am, are YOU touchy much?

I find it interesting that you say this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappiestManAlive View Post
I have lived in areas where non-believers are ACTUALLY actively ostracized and even persecuted to some extent.
AFTER saying this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappiestManAlive View Post
Atheism is misunderstood in the same way the Wicca and Satanism usually is. Beyond that you aren't facing persecution. You aren't denied jobs, cast out of social functions, harassed by police or having your civil rights violated.
Looks like a little bit of backpedaling to me. But then your post had a bunch of absolutes and "this is the way it is, and I know what I'm talking about!" types of statements, which is what I was reacting to. You're welcome to talk about what you've experienced, as others here were doing, but I don't have to passively accept you telling me what I've experienced. I'm well within my rights to call you on it and I chose to exercise that right.

This line:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatGirlInGray View Post
We have a wide range of experiences, so how about you don't try to tell me what I have or have not experienced as a non-believer?
was a direct response to your statements about what non-believers do or do not experience in this country. Admittedly, there was attitude in that line, but no victimization. The rest was just a statement of fact. If you have, as you say, lived places where non-believers are actively ostracized and persecuted, then it shouldn't be that difficult for you to wrap your head around the idea that someone on this forum has experienced it to some degree or has a valid reason to worry that it could happen.
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  #17  
Old 02-25-2013, 06:29 AM
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Well-said; there is a difference between describing one's own experiences, and between assuming that those can be extrapolated into shoes one has never walked in.
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  #18  
Old 03-07-2013, 09:24 PM
Utopian Utopian is offline
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Oh yeah, come to think of it I probably could have guessed what 'Latter Day' implies. As for 'Saints', who are they supposed to be? Perhaps there are a few PRAISE JESUS! LDS salesmen who aspire to the title.
Holy shit! (apt) These people sound like bonafide nut jobs. Especially his family. How ever did a country that showed so much promise fall so far? (I might have mentioned a theory on that earlier that precicely because The US was (or should that be 'were') founded as secular which allowed for an all out religious hard sale scramble).
'Faith is a crock'
It always gets me that religions use the fundamental weakness that the belief is completely unfounded by calling the necessary denial/ignorance 'faith' and insisting that it's a positive trait.
Re: Sexuality and my parents; (ugh, you see? Those two words have no place being so close to eachother!) I used to laugh at my fathers homophobic digs when I was little and when I was a bit older I was homophobic (even though I knew full well I was a bit of a batty boy).
After my own barrage of epiphanies, I went from not saying anything to speaking out in 'their' defence. In the mean time I'd already come out to my closest circle of friends (though most of them turned out to be a bunch of wankers).
These days I keep my business to myself bar a small few but will debate openly (even with my family) about sexuality discrimination and racism. I even had one about recreational drugs. My dad would often tell us that dealers should be 'strung up' and how nothing good ever came from drug use. Ha! Then he'd go and put on a jazz record.
Dawkins said something along the lines of 'I'm agnostic about god as I'm agnostic about fairys'.
The inspiration to play and hear music comes and goes I find. The same can be said about any art (for me at least). Perhaps one day you'll randomly find yourself sat in front of a piano and 3 hours later you'll still be hitting keys.
'...my wife and for my "poly wife," '
Now, here's an interesting point that I'd imagine has popped up on this forum more than once. Poly marriage rights. I wonder how much of a legal headache it would be to decriminalise it. What exactly is in our way here? Also, I think it's important to specify what we're talking about. Firstly, as with gay marriage, I don't think church leaders should be forced to marry anyone. Secondly, I don't think that church leaders should have any autority to legally marry anyone as church and state should be separate. Thirdly, I don't know precicely what marriage entitles (and it varies from country to country of course) but how would it translate to a poly marriage? Would it need to even? Perhaps a poly marriage only needs to be a collection of marriages.
As for children, I'm a bit extremist perhaps in my view that our rights to procreate need to be conditional. Over population and dysgenics/stagnation are among those subjects that need addressing yet few have the balls.
I think the last two subjects deserve their own threads so I'll stop here.
Re: Lacking an afterlife. I'm motivated by the thought that it may well be possible in the future to create an afterlife (or an extension to it). A collective of consiousnesses. Minds converted to AI or brains in jars - whatever. All swimming around in lsd and dmt...
...ha ha ha! I was wondering where to start with 'happiestmanalive' - there are enough studies to support the viewpoint that Atheists are persecuted in America but thatgirlingrey saved me the bother for which I'm greatful.
...then hma does the equivalent of clutching an imaginary handbag and going 'oooooh'.
In response to Kdts ...where are we ... 3rd to last post, there is in fact an Atheist church in London somewhere and I think there are others. I may even go this coming Sunday. A celebration of existence, science/philo talks, charity events, stand up comedy and live music. It sounds awesome!
I would also agree with you kdt that the world is not short of people who look down their noses at others regardless of their beliefs on theology but I think you are too amiable for your own good sometimes. Mr 'I don't mean to be insulting but...' is clearly not a very nice person.
It's terrible that your friend feels that he has to go against his beliefs and pretend to be religious but at least they don't tend to burn people anymore.
Hi Jane, I used to consider myself agnostic (little 'a') but now consider myself a de-facto atheist (little 'a'). It was not a shift in belief, only in semantics. Technically, I'm both agnostic and atheist ('as agnostic about god as I am the tooth fairy' I believe Dawkins put it) but if we interpret agnostisism to mean unsure and atheist to mean firmly in the belief that the notion that a supernatural being exists that created everything and spends its time listening to prayers and suchlike* is a notion not worth entertaining until there is cause to do so then - and I don't want to tell you what you are or aren't but from your description, our position is identical.
I believe only a fool believes they know implicitly that there is no god, tooth fairy or flying spaghetti monster but until there is cause to consider them, best leave them in the fiction section.
Ooh, the much neglected question of free-will. Did I bring this up earlier? Jane, I think you hit the nail on the head again; there seems to be no reason to believe in free-will as we are purely circumstantial entities.
Jane Q Smythe, you sound like a sane person. I'm so excited to virtually meet you.
I concur with you and Kevin both; belief in divine repurcussions should not sway a person to change their attitude. A good Christian might risk Yahwehs wrath and go 'fuck you God, I will not take my children to the town elders to have them stoned to death. What kind of depraved lunatic demands something like that?'
A good atheist would just bypass the lot.
ThatGirlInGrey, please waste no more time or energy on HMA. It's upsetting that there are people like that in the world but don't let it hurt you. I find peace in the thought that now is seemingly the most enlightened time on this Earth and that the trend has always been progressive. It gives me hope that the human race will eventually grow up. Perhaps the most enlightened minds of today are equal to the most neglected minds of tomorrow.
Peace and titilation.
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  #19  
Old 03-07-2013, 10:41 PM
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Re:
Quote:
"Oh yeah, come to think of it I probably could have guessed what 'Latter-day' implies. As for 'Saints', who are they supposed to be? Perhaps there are a few PRAISE JESUS! LDS salesmen who aspire to the title."
Well let's say the LDS church is big about having its own special terminology for things. Basically, they are defining the word "Saint" as being any member of the church. Probably in concert with the idea that the LDS church is the "only true church;" hence, LDS members are "extra special."

I should add that LDS culture is pretty low-key. Anyone who jumped up and yelled "PRAISE JESUS" during a church meeting would be silently frowned upon as inappropriate/obnoxious. The church's hallmark, in fact, is blandness, in my opinion.

Re:
Quote:
"Now, here's an interesting point that I'd imagine has popped up on this forum more than once. Poly marriage rights. I wonder how much of a legal headache it would be to decriminalise it."
A huge legal headache. Right now the battle being fought is to legalize same-sex marriage. And that battle has far to go before being won. Same-sex marriage is legal in a few states; that's all. Poly marriage isn't even on the table yet.

Re:
Quote:
"In response to KDT ... where are we ... 3rd to last post, there is in fact an Atheist church in London somewhere and I think there are others. I may even go this coming Sunday. A celebration of existence, science/philo talks, charity events, stand up comedy and live music. It sounds awesome!"
Well that's interesting. I might be curious enough to attend one meeting at least, if I were in the area.

Re: agnostic or atheist ... often a semantic question. I hold out about a 1% chance that some kind of God exists, so since I'm not 100% sure God doesn't exist, does that make me an agnostic? Well technically yes, but by and large I'd still call myself an atheist.

And just a thought in closing ...

Quote:
"No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God ... I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists."
-- attributed to George H.W. Bush, President of the United States 1989-1993
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  #20  
Old 03-08-2013, 10:02 PM
Utopian Utopian is offline
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... let me be the first to say :O .........
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