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Re: [FT-HUMOR] Re: George W. and Religion

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  • paul stoneman
    I just thought I d take a shot at posting it because it s something I ve felt for so long. Not a subject to be brought up at large gatherings. I read
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 9, 2005
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      I just thought I'd take a shot at posting it because it's something I've
      felt for so long. Not a subject to be brought up at large gatherings. I
      read Bertrand Russel's, "Why I Am Not A Christian", in my early twenties
      and it started the real ball rolling.

      paul

      -------Original Message-------

      From: FT-HUMOR@yahoogroups.com
      Date: 01/09/05 00:48:55
      To: Myqel1960@...
      Subject: [FT-HUMOR] Re: George W. and Religion

      The "Religion is the root of much evil" column by Ed Weathers is in the
      Memphis Flyer.

      http://www.memphisflyer.com/library/asp/print_friendly.asp?sID=2277&
      ArticleType=CONTENT

      See also the follow-up column ...

      http://memphisflyer.com/MFSearch/full_results.asp?xt_from=2&aID=2385

      THE WEATHERS REPORT

      How I learned that an unpopular opinion can speak for multitudes.
      ED WEATHERS
      5/30/2003

      THE ACCIDENTAL VOICE

      I recently declared in this space that I don’t believe in any god, messiah

      prophet, or afterlife. I further declared that I believe religion does more
      harm than good, and that presidents, prime ministers, and judges who promote
      religious ideas are dangerous to the world at large. Religion, I asserted,
      maims,
      tortures, kills and demoralizes. Religion is the root of much evil, I wrote,
      and it should be kept out of government.

      I had hoped that my Declaration of Disbelief would be read by the
      fundamentalists and evangelicals in Memphis and maybe elsewhere. I had hoped
      to push the
      preachers, smug as they are, up against a wall of questions and into the
      rare
      position of having to defend their beliefs against two-fisted skepticism. I
      had expected--let’s be honest, I had even hoped for--angry emails from the
      Bible-thumpers consigning me to hell for denying God.

      But that’s not what happened. The audience I had wanted to reach simply
      ignored me. I received only one email sending me to hell and telling me
      I’d better
      start praying to Jesus today if I want to save my soul. Either the old-time
      religionists were cowed by the brilliance of my arguments or they never read
      what I wrote. I don’t think they were cowed.

      Instead of hate mail, though, I began receiving something else: hundreds
      upon
      hundreds of emails praising me for what I had written! I got emails not just
      from Memphis, but from almost every state in the union, not to mention
      Canada,
      Brazil, England and Scotland.
      Somehow my column had made its way through the Internet to sites with names
      like “Internet Infidels,” “Atheist Parents,” “The Secular Web”
      “The Heathen
      Handbook,” “Freedom from Religion” and “The Freethinkers Forum.”

      Thousands of nonbelievers were reading my little screed, drinking it in,
      they
      said, as if it were the purest spring water, and many of them felt compelled
      to write to me. Their emails contained the same messages over and over:
      “Thank
      you for saying what needed to be said.” “You are so brave to write what
      you
      wrote.” “You have written what I have always believed and could never
      say.” “
      I’m sending your column to everyone I know.” “May I reprint your
      column for
      our local atheist group?” “I wish I could speak out as you have.”
      “When I
      told my [family/friends/coworkers] that I didn’t believe in God, I was
      [ostracized/cursed/ fired]. I admire your courage.” “I hope you don’t
      lose your job
      for writing what you wrote.” “I hope our support will serve as a small
      antidote
      to those heaps of ignorant derision you’ll get from the church-goers.”

      This has been an experience both heartening and discouraging. I had failed
      to
      reach the knee-jerk believers I wanted to challenge, which was disappointing

      But I had somehow succeeded in speaking for thousands of nonbelievers who
      are
      desperate for a public voice, which was rewarding. Yet in a way, that very
      success was also disheartening. Why didn’t those thousands of nonbelievers
      feel
      they had a voice of their own? What does it say about America today that, in
      a
      supposedly secular nation, there are millions of people who are afraid to
      say
      that they don’t believe in any god or in any life after death? What does
      it
      say that they can’t speak out lest their families and friends disown them?

      It says, I think, that the tyranny of the majority, as de Toqueville called
      it, is still a mighty restraint on free speech in this supposedly free
      society.

      I’ve learned some lessons from all this:

      I’ve learned that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you miss the audience
      you’
      re trying to reach. Sometimes all that matters is that you declare what you
      believe, as honestly and articulately as you can, because you might find
      another
      audience that needs to hear what you have to say.

      I’ve learned that when you speak frankly for yourself, you almost
      inevitably
      speak for thousands of others who need a voice.

      I’ve learned that even if you can’t change the world--just as I can’t
      unelect a president who blurs the distinction between church and state--it
      is useful
      to express your opinion, if only to give a sense of community to the
      like-minded who think they’re alone.

      I’ve learned that if you would find alternative ideas, you would do best
      to
      look in alternative media, like the Internet and the weekly newspapers.

      I’ve learned that strangers will worry about you (“I hope you don’t
      lose
      your job”) and wish you well just because they like your words.

      I’ve learned that what’s compulsion for one person is courage for
      another.
      It took no bravery for me to write what I wrote; I’m driven to write what
      I
      believe, come what may.
      But I understand better now the strength it takes for others to express
      unpopular opinions when job, family, friendship or simple social acceptance
      is on
      the line.

      And I’ve been reminded once more that such strength is the muscle of
      democracy.

      So whoever you are, whatever your opinions, I hope that you think hard,
      stake
      out your corner, then climb your platform in the bright light of full noon
      and shout your policies to anyone who stops to listen. So what if you’re
      greeted
      with catcalls and rotten fruit? If you believe that France was right and
      Bush
      was wrong about Iraq, say so aloud, though the mass of jingoists call you
      traitor. If you believe that the rich should be made to share more with the
      poor,
      and not vice versa, let everybody know it, though bleeding-heart liberals
      may
      be out of fashion this year. And if you have no god, proclaim your
      godlessness to the world, though you fear the mob will damn you forever to
      hell.

      Speak out, speak out, speak out. With the world as it is, silence is a sin.


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