Category Archives: Church And State

How to Deal with Religious Bullying and Spiritual Abuse

My oldest daughter, L, is now in the 3rd grade. Recently she brought home a Chick tract, which a girl in her class brought to give everyone in the 3rd grade. The tract is a “comic” designed to appeal to kids and get their attention, turning the story into the story of how to be “saved by Jesus.” Never mind that the school is allowing the tracts to be passed out to the entire grade (and probably the entire school)! That’s a battle I want to fight. But I digress.

L says this girls bugs her regularly because she knows L doesn’t go to church. It turned into bullying in my view when L asked the girl to stop talking to her about it and the girl refused.

I decided to look up the website on the back of the tract for some background information. I won’t post it here, but let’s just say this girl’s dad is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. His website claims that the “power of Jesus” healed his mental illness and it can “do the same for anyone.” Yikes. Shit just got really real.

My husband and I told L to respond like this: “I’m not interested, so please stop talking to me about it.” And if the girl refuses, we’ll take further action. We were clear with L that she should not respond hatefully, nor should she tell the girl that she’s wrong or try to engage in any kind of argument with her. As we often tell her, you can’t argue with stupid. Probably not the nicest way to put it, but just look up a religious Facebook or YouTube comments argument and you’ll understand.

Anyway, it’s been about 2 months since the last time L came home saying that this girl was bothering her, so it sounds like the kid got the point.

The moral of the story? Respond firmly, but kindly. It’s not this little girl’s fault that her dad is pressuring her to bully. But, I hope L can help her understand it’s not ok to do so.

Two posts in one day…I must be coming down with something…*cough*…

Bee

Oklahoma Lawmakers Think Birth Control ‘Poisons’ Women’s Bodies

Let’s just get this out in the open. I am hopping mad over this situation. I flew into a rage on Facebook, where I saw the ThinkProgress article posted. Then I went over to the Tulsa World and read the story of this man, Senator Clark Jolley (R-Edmond), who is “morally against contraception.” Here’s what I have to say to Mr. Jolley – get your religious beliefs out of my government!

His constituent, a “natural family planning consultant and women’s health researcher” (yeah, right), a cardiologist named Dr. Dominic Pedulla, believes that birth control “poisons women” and that women are “worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are.” What kind of an idiot takes this man seriously? Mr. Jolley, it appears. And nine other people on the Business and Commerce committee. Someone please explain how contraception is related to Business and Commerce!?

Would you like to give Mr. Pedulla a call? Here’s his practice phone number: (405) 947-2228.

So this Mr. Pedulla believes that women are defined by their ability to have children. I have two kids, and I love them very much. I love being a mother and I love everything that comes with it. But motherhood does not define who I am. It is not the only thing that describes me. I certainly don’t feel deprived because I’m no longer having children. Actually, I feel more suppressed and poisoned when businessmen with no regard for science and fact try to make decisions about my body! I wish for just one minute that someone would force these men to do something that takes away their freedom. They have it so easy.

“Studies show that women using contraceptives consider pregnancy more unwanted than wanted, he said.” You’re damn right, Mr. Pedulla! We choose whether or not we want to bear children. We choose to use the available options to plan our families. We choose when, where, and how we have our children. This is our right as women, and you are trying to take it away, and put more power into the hands of large corporations by allowing them to deny coverage. I don’t agree with Catholic organizations denying coverage, but I understand it. Allowing any company to opt out of providing proper care for women and protecting a woman’s right to choose how to plan her family is morally wrong.

The problem is that they’ve lumped abortion in with contraception in this measure, and these are two fundamentally different things. Contraception prevents abortions, and studies have shown this! Denying abortion coverage is one thing, but contraception is a basic female need these days.

I fear for my girls’ future. I fear for their ability to make choices for themselves. We must stand up to these two men, and we must not let this pass. The problem is that I have no experience fighting lawmakers and I have no idea how to go about it. Tips and advice? I really want to be involved in taking this measure down. It’s unacceptable, and it’s time for this to stop. If you have ideas for what can be done, I’d love to hear them!

Republicans, are you listening? As long as you pull crap like this, you will never win me over. Ever. 

An Atheist Parent’s Thoughts on Tragedy

Well I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen enough anti-atheist status updates on Facebook to last a lifetime. It’s so bad, in fact, that I’ve decided to clean up my friends list a bit and weed out the bigoted, offensive people who are claiming that godlessness is the reason for the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary.

What we really should be discussing is the early detection of mental illness and access to health care, not gun control or religious affiliation. While I do think gun control does need to be discussed, that is not the issue here. The issue here is that a deranged person committed a horrendous act, and no one knew he was that mentally ill. Or if they did, they did not help him get help. But the religious folk I’ve known for years and have tried to stay friends with via social networking have decided to make ill-informed and ignorant remarks about how they think not allowing prayer and religious worship in schools is the cause of school shootings. I’ve had enough, and I publicly and politely asked my friends to refrain from insulting me. Basically they’re saying that because I don’t believe in their god (or any god), I am capable of murder. They are saying that I’m evil…yes, one “friend” actually said I’m evil.

And Christians wonder why we get so angry! They wonder why we see religion as harmful. It’s harmful because it excludes. I’ve never told my Christian friends that they’re stupid or ignorant for believing what they do. I’ve never tried to convert them to my way of thinking. I’ve never told them they don’t matter to me because they believe differently from me. Christians, this is why we’re angry. You are so blinded in your faith that you fail to see that other people do not, and will not ever, believe they way you do. You fail to understand that we are still people, and good ones. We love, we give, and we help. But because we don’t believe mythology is reality, you call us evil sinners and say we are going to burn in hell.

These tragedies are only going to drive the two sides farther apart. I didn’t even have time to grieve for the loss of lives because I was too consumed by the hatred and ignorance being spouted by Christians online, but I felt morally obligated to try to combat it. I’m just shocked that people don’t understand the real issue and are so quick to place the blame on something completely unrelated.

Atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers, we have to stand together. We need to do good things as a unit. We must fight for freedom of religion, and the lack of it. We must speak out for reason and logic. I am tired of being quiet. The world needs good examples of freethinkers doing good things and making a difference in the world, and I will no longer stay silent, even if it means losing friends.

The Election and the Church

It’s time for me to weigh in on the 2012 Presidential Election. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? I am, but only to a degree. Several well-written blog posts have popped up that discuss the churches’ role politics. One of the more interesting ones appeared on my Facebook feed this morning. It’s a Christian blogger, but you may want to head on over and read it. Then come back. Promise you will! I’ll wait. It opens in a new window. Also, you don’t have to read all the Jesus stuff at the bottom. I’m talking about her sections on the various groups of people. I know it’s hard for atheists and agnostics to read about Jesus stuff.

Grieving and Hope After the Election

What do you think about this post? Her statistics are the same ones I remember learning in my social issues class last spring. I believe she’s right. The church has been on a power trip and has aimed to oppress these groups, perhaps without even realizing it. The things she talks about in this post are the things that are driving people away from the church. I personally don’t think much will change. I think the right will go more right while the left goes more left.

One thing is for sure, though – as long as long as Republicans keep aligning themselves with religious extremists, they will continue to lose supporters. I was hoping for a Republican candidate that had good ideas and well-rounded values. Instead, I got Nutty McNutjob and Liar VanLiarson. I’m not given to calling names, but those sounded fun. :)

All that being said, I think Jen’s blog post is a good one and that all Christians should read it. I think it’s time for the church to wake up to the reality of the harm they’re doing. It may not happen across the board, but if even a few Christians can be a voice for reason and love in their churches, then maybe it will get better. Not that I’m advocating that the church needs to gain members. I’d love to see them lose people in droves. But there will always been people who stay, and families who stay. Maybe those people can learn to treat people with respect.

One more thought that I want to share publicly: I am so sorry for ever trying to force my beliefs upon someone. I was terrible to people. I chastised innocent people for listening to rock music, for saying curse words, and for watching pro wrestling. I was a terrible person, and I’m sorry.

Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

My child has yet to reach this age, but upon talking with a neighbor, I learned that Berryhill Public Schools, the school that my child will attend this fall, participates in a released time program for religious studies. I do not yet know in what grade released time begins, but I know that my children will not participate, no matter how “Constitutional” released time is.

If you are not familiar with release time, check out the Wiki. According to Wiki: “Released Time is a concept used in the United States public school system wherein pupils enrolled in the public schools are permitted by law to receive religious instruction. The principle is based on the constitutional right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

Everything I know so far about Berryhill’s released time program tells me it falls under the Constitutional guidelines in the Wiki. However, the neighbor informed me that kids who do not attend are ostracized. They are seen as outcasts and are bullied, and, according to the neighbor, the administration looks the other way at bullying in general. Scary stuff. The neighbor also says the “religious education” is held at a Baptist church. Always. There is no teaching of Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything other religion. The question for my readers – do you think it’s still Constitutional since only one religion is promoted? Based on the Wiki, it’s hard to say. I do believe it’s ethically wrong.

I also read some reviews of the school online, and one states that having their children in Berryhill is like having them “in a Christian school.” Great. Before we moved here, we asked everyone about the district. All said it was a great school. Now I know why. They do have good test scores, but their ethnic diversity is low, and obviously their religious makeup is mostly Christian.

My hopes for this school are not high. And if you’re wondering why I called the school by name, it is to serve as a way for researching parents in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas to be able to fund this information. I wish I’d known before we moved here.

The way to see by faith – Some Thoughts on Our Nation’s History

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
-Benjamin Franklin

One of my favorite quotes… Oh, and would you look at that!? It’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America! Even though Ben Franklin wasn’t an atheist, he rejected the Christian dogma of his time and found his god in nature and rationalism, typical of Enlightenment deists. I find this interesting because so many claim that America is a Christian nation and, by God, we’re a-prayin’ folk!

Well, America was and is home to many Christians, like founding father, John Jay. However, not all of our fearless fathers were Christian. John Adams was a Unitarian. Thomas Jefferson, like Franklin, believed in a deity, but he rejected Christianity as a whole and spoke out against the Catholic church. Jefferson once said, “to talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings,” regarding his view of god. James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” was almost solely responsible for the First Amendment and the laws governing the separation of church and state. And George Washington, though deist, publicly called for people of all faiths (and no faith) to adopt a tolerant mindset that would help Americans feel safe that they could believe or not believe whatever they chose.

So to those who say we are a “Christian” country, perhaps a course or two in history and the humanities will show you the truth about our origins. Americans are everything – Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Atheist, Wiccan, and Pastafarian. And every single person in this country should be allowed to believe and practice as he or she pleases as long as it does not a) hurt anyone or encroach upon someone else’s right to practice as they please and b) involve government agencies. Involving government agencies, meetings, and the like, only breaks down that which James Madison worked so hard to ensure – freedom of religion. Freedom.

Why is this so difficult for people to understand? Why must those who believe differently than you be the target of such hatred? Can’t we all just friggin’ get along?

City of Sand Springs Praying to Jesus Before Meetings

What do people not understand about the separation of church and state? It protects not only the non-religious, but also the faithful. It keeps that faith sacred and meaningful. It keeps the various faiths from being overrun by another. It prevents the government from telling a Christian that they must worship Allah, and vice versa. Why must people continue to bring their god into the government? It’s so simple to leave it out, yet people continue to invoke the Christian god before meetings and as a way of solving the difficult problems.

Check out this post by Beau McElhattan on the City of Sand Springs council meetings. Beau wrote an email to the mayor. I think I will do the same. Here’s a video of the prayer “in Jesus’ name.”

http://youtu.be/gtsLXRZgw_g

Come on, Sand Springs, get god out of the government. Not everyone believes the way you do.