Category Archives: Oklahoma

Let’s talk about the measles outbreak in Texas

If you haven’t heard about it, head on over here, but be sure to come back! Read up on the situation? Good. Let’s discuss.

This subject is important to me because Oklahoma has been put on “measles alert” due to our close proximity to Texas. My kids have been immunized so I probably won’t have to worry about it, but Tulsa is a very religious city with several “megachurches” and a lot of people who believe anything they read on Facebook. It could be a real problem.

My personal view on vaccinations is this: there is not enough solid scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism and other problems for me to jump on that bandwagon. Also, my girls have been vaccinated for chicken pox, so they’ll never have to worry about getting them. My chicken pox experience happened in first grade. It’s one of my earliest memories, and it’s full of pain and discomfort. I had chicken pox eve.ry.where. On my eyelids, inside my mouth and nose, in unmentionable places. They were awful, and I remember feeling like I was dying. My girls will never have to go through that thanks to vaccines. So, there’s that.

I realize that vaccines are unnatural, but so is the food that a lot of parents (including me, yes) feed their children. You think GoGurt was on the menu for Grok’s kids? Not so much. Driving isn’t natural. There are a lot of things we do, like going to the hospital when we break a bone, that aren’t natural. But these things improve our quality of life.

The thing that makes me angriest about anti-vaccinators is that they are putting their children at risk because of their religion. I’ve known people who refused medical treatment for a child whose condition could be greatly improved by being treated. It’s just not fair to the child. I can’t imagine doing anything but what’s best for my child. Faith healing, as it’s called, is just plain child abuse in my book.

Do you vaccinate? Why or why not?

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

Tolerance is defined by Dictionary.com as

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Acceptance is defined as

2. favorable reception; approval; favor.

I don’t like the word tolerance. There’s something about it that makes me think “putting up with” or “dealing with.” Saying, “I’m tolerant of Islam,” is like saying, “I put up with Muslims.” I know that this is probably not what most people mean when they say they’re tolerant of religious people, but that’s what it sounds like to me. We tolerate the heat here in Oklahoma. We tolerate our neighbors who like to fight in the street every weekend. We tolerate things that are irksome, but that we must suffer through because we live on this planet.

And, acceptance, while a bit more favorable, is still a fine line. I don’t agree with Christians, but I accept them as human beings and I realize they have a valid opinion. I don’t accept when they try to force their beliefs on me or force their arcane laws into government, but I understand why they want to live their own lives the way they do. I don’t accept (or approve of) their religion. But I do accept them as people, and there are many Christians I love. I teach my children that religious people have a set of beliefs by which they live their lives, and that ours are different, but I make sure my kids know that loving people is the most important thing they can do in this world to show acceptance.

Tolerance, with it’s inclusion of permissive, says “I’m allowing this to occur.” Acceptance, with its inclusion of approval, says “I approve of this.” So, am I tolerating Christianity or accepting it? I’m tolerating the religion while accepting the person as equal. That’s the only definition that makes sense to me. I would never treat a Christian as lower than myself. I would never try to take away their basic rights (to marry whomever they please, to pray where and when they want, to worship). But because their beliefs pretty much require them to force their religion upon other people, I cannot approve of it. I believe it’s dangerous to do so and it goes against the reason and logic I’ve used to get to where I am now.

Christians, on the other hand, don’t tolerate or accept. Now, there are some exceptions in Christians who believe in equal rights, but many in my neck of the woods believe other religions (or lack thereof) are Satan’s way of stealing god’s flock. They believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that bad people make. They refuse to tolerate it, and many refuse to accept them as equal people. This, to me, is where Christianity is failing.

Webster’s online also defines acceptance as: “to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable […]” This is the definition I like. Christianity is inevitable, and atheists tend to treat it as such. However, we watch out for our freedoms. We watch out for those whose lot in life is not as easy as others. We stand up for the basic rights of those who are being oppressed by particular groups. We don’t accept Christianity in terms of approving of it, but we know it’s not going away. We know we must keep a watchful eye.

Christians – homosexuality and other religions are inevitable. Not everyone believes as you do, and thinking everyone eventually will is silly. You can be a watchdog, but you can’t force people to live by your beliefs. Attempting to do so makes you a bigot. You think you’re not a bigot, but you are, no matter what your motivation.

What are your thoughts on tolerance vs. acceptance? Are they different? What are your feelings toward religion? Do you accept it, or tolerate it, or a combination of both?

Bullying and Unconditional Love

One thing I’ve mentioned before is my concern that freethinking children growing up in Oklahoma might experience bullying or exclusion because they question faith. I’ve recently started having conversations with my oldest daughter abut different family types – adopted kids, blended families, families with two mommies or two daddies. I have specific reasons for wanting her to understand different family types, which I will elaborate on at another time. It’s just important to my husband and I that she understand that not all families have a mommy, daddy, and two girls, and that not all children “were in the mommy’s tummy” and that sort of thing.

So we were having one of these discussions yesterday, talking about how sometimes two mommies or two daddies fall in love and want to adopt children to love and care for. My daughter said, “Mommy, I know who I want to marry.  I want to marry a girl, and I want to find a baby to love.” It was very sweet, and I explained that she has lots of time to decide who she wants to marry and whether or not to raise children. I told her now is the time to have fun and be a little girl, which she seemed very relieved about.

But this conversation brought up a fear in me. I’m afraid for her. We’ve talked about this before and she’s mentioned she “loves girls” and things of that nature. I realize she’s only 6, but I also realize there may be something to this. Some kids realize they are homosexual or bisexual at a very young age without actually knowing what it is. Honestly, whether she is gay, bi, transgender, or whatever, that’s not what worries me. I love her and she’s my child and that’s that. What worries me is what she will face while growing up in a conservative town and state. What worries me is that she’ll grow up in a place where people think love is only possible between and man and a woman, and anything else is sinful. I have experienced some pain due to “coming out” as an atheist, but nothing like what I imaging many gay people experience when telling people who they are. I worry I won’t know what to tell her.

So my approach is this: to love her. Loving her unconditionally will show her she is worthy of love. It will show her that there are people in this world for whom sexuality, gender, or skin color do not factor into a person’s potential to be loved. No matter who she is, who she was born to be, she will be loved. I know bullying and peer pressure will happen at some point because of something, whether she’s gay, not gay, a band geek, or the popular kid, but showing her she is worthy of love, affection, and success is probably the best thing I can do to build her confidence and help her combat it in the future.

Just some random thoughts from a mommy who wants her girls to grow up in a world filled with love.

 

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. 

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.

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.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Wants Us to Pray for Rain

That’s right, our lovely right-wing governor is requesting that Oklahomans of “all faiths” stand together in prayer with her to end the drought.

One lovely Tulsa resident was quoted to say, “It’s the bible belt that’s what we do, we pray.” Right, because everyone in Oklahoma is a Christian. Geez, people, have you no sense of what’s around you? Beyond this being a blatant intermingling of church and state, and beyond the fact that rain is controlled by weather patterns and many physically measurable scientific factors, the thing that truly gets me is how oblivious these people are to the fact that not everyone believes the same way they do. As an atheist in Oklahoma, I find this disturbing and frustrating. We cannot control the rain. There are more important things to be concerned about that we can control.