Re: [FT-HUMOR] Re: George W. and Religion
- 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.
Date: 01/09/05 00:48:55
Subject: [FT-HUMOR] Re: George W. and Religion
The "Religion is the root of much evil" column by Ed Weathers is in the
See also the follow-up column ...
THE WEATHERS REPORT
How I learned that an unpopular opinion can speak for multitudes.
THE ACCIDENTAL VOICE
I recently declared in this space that I donât 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,
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
position of having to defend their beliefs against two-fisted skepticism. I
had expected--letâs be honest, I had even hoped for--angry emails from the
Bible-thumpers consigning me to hell for denying God.
But thatâs 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
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 donât think they were cowed.
Instead of hate mail, though, I began receiving something else: hundreds
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
Brazil, England and Scotland.
Somehow my column had made its way through the Internet to sites with names
like âInternet Infidels,â âAtheist Parents,â âThe Secular Webâ
Handbook,â âFreedom from Religionâ and âThe Freethinkers Forum.â
Thousands of nonbelievers were reading my little screed, drinking it in,
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:
you for saying what needed to be said.â âYou are so brave to write what
wrote.â âYou have written what I have always believed and could never
Iâm sending your column to everyone I know.â âMay I reprint your
our local atheist group?â âI wish I could speak out as you have.â
told my [family/friends/coworkers] that I didnât believe in God, I was
[ostracized/cursed/ fired]. I admire your courage.â âI hope you donât
lose your job
for writing what you wrote.â âI hope our support will serve as a small
to those heaps of ignorant derision youâll get from the church-goers.â
This has been an experience both heartening and discouraging. I had failed
reach the knee-jerk believers I wanted to challenge, which was disappointing
But I had somehow succeeded in speaking for thousands of nonbelievers who
desperate for a public voice, which was rewarding. Yet in a way, that very
success was also disheartening. Why didnât those thousands of nonbelievers
they had a voice of their own? What does it say about America today that, in
supposedly secular nation, there are millions of people who are afraid to
that they donât believe in any god or in any life after death? What does
say that they canât 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
Iâve learned some lessons from all this:
Iâve learned that sometimes it doesnât matter if you miss the audience
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
audience that needs to hear what you have to say.
Iâve learned that when you speak frankly for yourself, you almost
speak for thousands of others who need a voice.
Iâve learned that even if you canât change the world--just as I canât
unelect a president who blurs the distinction between church and state--it
to express your opinion, if only to give a sense of community to the
like-minded who think theyâre alone.
Iâve learned that if you would find alternative ideas, you would do best
look in alternative media, like the Internet and the weekly newspapers.
Iâve learned that strangers will worry about you (âI hope you donât
your jobâ) and wish you well just because they like your words.
Iâve learned that whatâs compulsion for one person is courage for
It took no bravery for me to write what I wrote; Iâm driven to write what
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
And Iâve been reminded once more that such strength is the muscle of
So whoever you are, whatever your opinions, I hope that you think hard,
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 youâre
with catcalls and rotten fruit? If you believe that France was right and
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
and not vice versa, let everybody know it, though bleeding-heart liberals
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
Speak out, speak out, speak out. With the world as it is, silence is a sin.
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