Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hate is Hate




 The following letter to the editor was printed in our local Folio Weekly August 14, 2012 edition.


Chick-fi l-A Supporter
To: Denise M. Reagan, Editor

First, let me congratulate you on becoming the new editor of Folio Weekly. I’m sure you’re finding it exciting and most challenging as well.
Anne Schindler’s spark will also be missed, I’m sure. I appreciate seeing my testy opinion letters appearing for reader reaction from time to time among a sea of differing views. As you stated, the president and chief operating officer of Chick-Fil l-A, Dan Cathy, offended the gay community by expressing
his biblical stance on marriage [Editor’s Note,
July 31]. However, as I see it, his words in that
Atlanta radio interview express exactly what
mainstream Christianity believes. God’s way
always leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle
with a better ultimate outcome.
I can’t believe that the highly respected
John Delaney, UNF president and former
Jacksonville mayor, would write a letter to
The Florida Times-Union “supporting the
gay rights ordinance based on the teachings
of Jesus.” What kind of Bible and strange
teachings of Jesus is Delaney referring to?
Certainly not found in my King James Version!
[The destruction of] Sodom and
Gomorrah was merely a fireworks display
compared to what we’re provoking the
Almighty to do. God has said, “I will tread
them in mine anger, and trample them in
my fury … for the day of vengeance is in my
heart, and the year of my redeemed is come”
(Isaiah 63:3&4). In the meantime, I’ll be
among the thousands enjoying Chick-Fil-A
nuggets. Hope to see you there sometime,
where God is always smiling.
William H. Shuttleworth
Jacksonville

When I finished reading that I was pissed. Then I was sad. Then I was pissed some more. Then I wanted to write back in response to the letter. But my new job has me so stressed out and tired that I did not find the energy to write back before the next printing of the paper completed. So I decided to write my response here.

Not- so- Dear William Shuttlebutt:

I am shocked and sad that you could actually think/believe that your “mainstream Christianity” is so mainstream that you could write something like this to a local paper and expect that everyone believes the same way that you do! Your letter is so full of contradictions and stupidity that I hardly know where to begin!
First of all: Although this may come as a shock to you, not everyone is a Christian. Not everyone believes the crazy irrational way that you do. There are many different religions and views in this country, in our world, and even in little old Jacksonville, Florida. Just because a few idiots at your church agree with your bigoted, narrow-minded views does not mean that everyone does!

Second of all: How do you believe (and try to force the rest of us to as well) that a god who is willing to “trample in his fury” [you imply anyone who is gay] is also a fair and just god and who is “always smiling” on people because they choose to eat greasy chicken from a chain restaurant whose owner uses his ignorance and stupidity to bring in business is anything close to fair or Christ-like?

Third: Although I do not share the religious or political views of John Delaney (most of the time) I can tell you that he is right in this case. You don’t have the right to twist and interpret [your] bible to make sure it lines up with your ignorance, hate and lack of love for others. In fact, if you were following the teachings of Christ, you would not support a man or his business who so obviously hates a group of people simply for being who they are. It is not “strange” to want equal rights for all people. It is strange to think you can speak for Jesus (who never said a word against LGBT people if you read your holy book) and it is strange that you feel so strongly about this that they only way you can make  a stand for your odd views is by continuing to eat greasy chicken and write to the paper about how right you feel you are. Do you not see how stupid, bigoted, angry, hateful, judgmental and hypocritical you sound? Not sure your Christ (if he existed at all) would approve of your attitude! You can take your "healthier and happier lifestyle" and shove it!

Sincerely,
Lori (bisexual atheist who believes in equal rights for all people, whether you like them or not.)

 Rachel Maddow said it best! Equal rights should be automatically granted to all people. Our right to live freely and share the same privileges of heterosexual couples should not be up for vote by bigoted, homophobic haters who hide behind their holy book and have no idea how ignorant they are to people who use their brains. 




Sunday, June 24, 2012

You have questions? I have answers!

I recently received this series of questions on my Facebook wall and thought it would be a good idea to share the answers here. Thanks for asking them, Shane, and I hope I have answered them clearly enough.

Hello Lori. 

So far from what I can discover on your blog, Lori, is that you haven't been an atheist for an extended period of time. I like to ask new atheists a few questions to see how much in common I have with them. Perhaps you can ask these questions of your readers.


1. When you out-grew your need for faith did it emotionally hurt you? Did you mourn the passing of your faith? The short answer is yes. I did feel hurt emotionally. I did mourn the loss of my faith. Losing my faith hurt for many reasons. One of the most painful things was losing the support and close relationship I had with my family. I am not sure I will ever regain that. Even recently at a family gathering I felt like an alien or, more appropriately, the black sheep, when everyone had to pray over the meal and many conversations revolved around church. I just don’t have much in common anymore with my flesh and blood family. I love them all very much, but I feel that being an atheist has put a huge wall up and I am not sure it will ever come down. Outside of my family issues, I also feel that when I started reading and seeing that I just did not believe in a deity any more, I went through what I feel was mourning. I often felt angry (if you read my blog you can see evidence of that), depressed, went through some denial, and in general felt a huge upheaval happening inside me emotionally. Change is sometimes painful. My entire world view began falling apart. I had to rethink things like the afterlife, morality and so many other things in which I believed. I firmly believe the change and emotional turmoil I experienced (still experience at times) was normal and I would not ever go back to blindly following a faith, god or religion without concrete evidence. I think it is important to note that I feel like a more fulfilled and complete person now, without faith in a god, than I ever did when I was religious, Religion and faith, for me, caused doubt, distrust, lack of questioning authority, feelings of confusion, and I was in a state of constant unhappiness and darkness. I felt that my core belief of treating other humans with love was NOT a part of Christianity. I feel Atheism more closely aligns with my core values. (See question number 5 for more elaboration on this)

2. What were the key factors for you to conclude that neither god nor gods exist? This is a tough question for me and is really the main reason I wrote this blog. There were several factors and the transition was gradual as I began reading and studying different religions. When I attended classes to obtain my degree, I learned about a variety of different religious views and cultures. Learning these things made me begin to question things like: Who has the “real” God” and who are we to say another religion is wrong and ours is right? I also began to see that there were hundreds of thousands of different branches of different types of religion and most of what I experienced and saw was people locking themselves into a certain doctrine- based on the way THEY interpreted their holy book- and then they would surround themselves only with people who felt exactly the same way and criticize and belittle anyone who didn’t. That seemed very “un-Christ-like” to me and I began thinking a lot about things like…who really is right? The conclusion I came up with is that religion is a crutch that people use to exclude others. Many religious people also twist the Bible around to cater to their own fears. The way some christians (and other faiths) treat people treat LGBT people is a prime example of this. I do know that many people use religion as a way to feel comfort about death and to feel closer to loved ones who have died. They find it easier to believe the people that they love are waiting for them in heaven. I understand that, to a point, but I also I think there is a time when people need to grow up and face the reality that when we die, we are gone. It is natural and the way it is supposed to be.
Another factor that turned me away from religion and god was the fact that rich people had a god who answered their prayers. Poor people didn’t. Kind of like Santa Clause. Santa likes the rich kids. But the poor kids? Screw them! Same idea here. Rich people have everything they need, simply because they are fortunate enough to have the money to buy it. But they say things like “Thank god! We got a new car this week,” But that same god neglected to make sure that the homeless family in downtown Jacksonville got food. When you ask religious people about this they say ignorant things like “god works in mysterious ways.” Well, your god is an ass hole then! This kind of thinking led me to believe that there is NOT any evidence of an all-knowing, all-powerful GOOD deity, because if there was, he/she would be kind and not allow bad things to happen to innocent children.

3. Now that you're an entity that values reason over faith how has your life improved? How has your person-hood evolved? I feel that my life has improved because I no longer worry about things like heaven, hell, or an afterlife. I do not worry about which religion is the right one to follow. I follow none of them. I feel free and happy to be able to wake up each day- glad that I am still an inhabitant of the earth and I can make a difference every day in THIS life. I have taught my kids to question everything and to read and study on their own and to value evidence and logic. I do not blindly believe everything I am told. If I question something, I research to find answers. I read a variety of books, blogs and articles and feel that I am constantly evolving and learning more about the world- based on science and reason- not on what I was told as a child or on what an outdated book tells me to do/be.
4. For the sake of argument let’s say we both decided that the individual written about in the Bible named Jesus existed. If you could converse with this person now what would you ask him? Hey Jesus, what’s up? :) Can you believe this crap? These crazy nuts in this day and age are using your name and influence you had to have an excuse to be ass holes! How do you feel about that? What would you REALLY do? Haha!

5. In your own words please tell me what does being an "atheist" mean to you? I know the word atheist has negative connotations to many people. But to me, being an atheist means that I am good and kind for the sake of being good and kind. I do not expect a reward in the afterlife. I believe I am a moral and ethical person who listens to my own instincts. If something feels wrong to me, I don’t do it. So far, this is working for me. I don’t have to follow a book to be a decent person. I just have to decide each day that I am going to try to make a difference, try to be kind and understanding to others, try to accept people and love them in spite of their flaws, try to give to people less-fortunate, try to continue to be a positive influence in the lives of my children, try to take care of the body I have, try to live this life to the fullest. I have always strived to live with what I call “the big picture” in mind. When I am lying in bed dying, whenever the end of my life is close, will I be able to look back and be proud of who I was and how I treated people? At this point, fancy diplomas, big houses, expensive cars, money in the bank, how far up the corporate ladder I climbed and many other things that seem so important in life just will not seem as important to me as leaving behind a legacy of goodness, kindness and love and knowing that I passed that on to my children. Am I perfect at it? HAHA NO! Some days I struggle. Some days I want to give up. But, I can honestly say that living life with the big picture in mind is a much healthier way to live than trying to score points with an imaginary deity in the sky.

I can think of more questions to ask but I think that is a lot to think about. I really am interested in reading your answers. I've been an atheist for 12 years now and I've never once regretted my decision nor have questioned my decision to disavow faith. You and I both share common experiences on our treks to becoming atheists.

Shane


Thanks Shane! I am glad you encouraged me to write in my blog. I always feel better when I write. :)






Sunday, April 29, 2012

Random Thoughts on "Attack of the Theocrats!"


Sometimes I really want to write in my blog, but I don’t have one cohesive, coherent thought. So, today I decided, so what? I am just going to write what is on my mind right now.

I just finished the book “Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms us all.”
Here are some awesome quotes from the book:

“If there is no God, no afterlife—indeed, if your life on this one small planet is infinitesimally short—then it makes you humble and it might inspire you to plan more carefully.” Sean Faircloth

I would also add that not worrying about an afterlife makes me feel free to enjoy this life and to take advantage of the time that I know I have here to be a good, kind, loving, decent person and to spend every day knowing that I will die. I do not try to be a good person because I fear being burned in hell or because I want a mansion in heaven. I want to be and do good simply because it is the right way to treat my fellow humans.

Here is another quote from the book along these lines from Steve Jobs:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Even though I have no idea what it feels like to know I will die soon, I have always tried to make decisions based on the “big picture” and tried to make sure to choose my battles carefully and see things from a “death-bed perspective.” When my oldest daughter was born, I remember having a conversation with my parents on the phone about how to raise her. They thought I should follow the James Dobson/Focus on the Family model and see my child as sinful from the beginning and make sure she was properly disciplined. I have always tried to live my life with the philosophy that life is short and I honestly try to use my own judgment and intuition as a mom, rather than listen to some dumb ass preacher who thinks that beating your kids makes them good. I have not been a perfect mom, but I can say that using this philosophy has worked for me and my kids. My kids have all turned out to be wonderful, kind, and productive members of society who have a good heart and who try to be good, moral and loving people. I raised them to think for themselves and I raised them to question things that did not make sense. I never wanted to teach them that just because someone claimed to be in authority over them, they had to “obey” them. I continue to believe that this has helped them to be confident and awesome adults who have their own mind and their own views.

“You will hear Rush Limbaugh complain about “special rights.” Fundamentalists tell us to fear the specter of special rights for gay citizens, though of course gay Americans aren’t after special rights—merely equal rights.” I won’t go on and on about this, but I am so tired of people trying to say that gay people are trying to get special rights. I am sorry that Rush is secretly gay and that is why he hates gay people, but it is not special rights to want the same thing everyone else has!!! Maybe one day Rush will come out of the closet and stop his ridiculous nonsense, but until then, I guess he has a right to say what he wants to say. I have a right to say he is an idiot!

Moving on to religion and how it is bad for women:

“According to a 2004 study, the most irreligious nations were the most likely to treat women and girls equally. The nations with the most sexist policies tend to be the most religious.” Sean Faircloth

This one seems obvious to me, but this book backs statements up like this with facts and statistics. Most religions, when examined closely, try to keep women down. I mean, read the Bible! It is full of verses that basically tell us we are second class citizens(or worse!). Preventing women from health care and giving them full disclosure to options available to them is the only way to prevent women from being thrown back to stone ages. Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and so many others worked hard to help women get the freedom to vote, access to birth control and many are still fighting for women’s rights today. Why would we want to let one religion’s beliefs from an ancient book tell us how we can live in this day and age? We don’t!! So we need to say NO to politicians who want to take away women’s rights and the right to choose what is best. We need to TRUST that most women are smart and capable of making their own decisions and we don’t need anyone telling us what to do with OUR OWN BODIES!

The most important message of this book is in the second half of the book where Mr. Faircloth talks about how we can make a change in our government and how secular governments needs to become the norm, rather than having our country run by extreme fundamentalists who: Hate women, hate gays, hate equality, and who think that blending religion and government is a great idea.

He suggests Ten Guiding Principles of a Secular America. “Our rejuvenated secular America will be guided by these moral imperatives:”

1) Our military shall serve and include all Americans, religious and nonreligious, with no hint of bias, and with no hint of fundamentalist extremism coloring our military decisions at home or abroad.

2) Any federal- or state-funded program, whether offering services domestic or foreign, that relates to reproductive health and intimate sexual decisions shall be based on science and public health, not on religious bias or the denigration of women or sexual minorities.

3) Health-care professionals shall fulfill their ethical and professional oath to address the needs of their patients, and they must do so with no hint of religious bias and in respectful service to the needs of the patients they are sworn to serve—or they must find another job.

4) There shall be no bias based on religion or lack thereof in any land-use planning or environmental laws, and discrimination based on religion or lack thereof shall be prohibited in any employment setting.

5) While marriage can be defined by a religion as that religion so chooses for the purposes of its internal ceremonies, our government shall never impose a religious bias on the definition of marriage.

6) When facing the end of life, all Americans shall be guaranteed control over their own bodies, without being thwarted by religious bias.

7) America’s youth shall never be subjected to religious bias in education. If there is one penny of government funds involved, there must not be one iota of religious bias or propaganda.

8) The composition of our Congress and legislatures shall include Secular Americans, and there must be no political bias against secular candidates

9) There shall be one consistent standard pertaining to the health and welfare of children, no matter the religion of a child’s parents, school, or child-care center. Religious extremists can do whatever they want to their own bodies, but children shall be treated as human beings, not as pawns to be sacrificed in the name of religion.

10) Medical, technical, and scientific innovation shall be dedicated to the health and advancement of our fellow citizens and must never be impeded by religious bias.

When you really think about it, doesn’t this make sense? There are so many religions and so many sects of those religions and so many people from so many different backgrounds, why would we think that choosing ONE religion and trying to blend it with our government is a good idea?

Feel free to leave your respectful comments. Any hateful comments or anything that is just plain RUDE will be deleted. If you feel the need to rant and preach, feel free, but you are better off going to a Christian blog where people will agree with your silliness. I don’t need you to quote the Bible for me- I have read enough of it in my lifetime. Thanks!

Hugs and love to all of you!

Get the Kindle version of Attack of the Theocrats here!

Faircloth, Sean (2011-09-13). Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All—and What We Can Do About It (Kindle Locations 2726-2727). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Justified Anger

I just finished the book “WHY ARE YOU ATHEISTS SO ANGRY? 99 Things That Piss off the Godless.”By Greta Christina. I was inspired to keep writing in my blog and to keep talking about my lack of belief and let others know the reasons I am ANGRY too! This book made me feel justified in my anger. As most readers of my blog know, I have dealt with a lot of anger in the process of writing this blog and coming to terms with the fact that I no longer believe in a god. Of any kind.

As I read Greta Christina’s book I realized that I have not been vocal enough yet about my feelings toward religion and the harm it does to people. So, even though I may be repeating things that other atheists already say so well, like Greta Christina, I still need to say them too! So I will continue to blog!

Here are the thoughts I have about the book:

1) I don’t need to feel guilty any more that I have a lot of anger toward churches, religion and the way I was raised. I can take this anger and channel it toward something useful. I can let others know how harmful religion can be. Great Christina points out that this anger is justified- and I agree- and says that we should use this anger to, in her words, “become a political force to be reckoned with.”

2) My anger will help me to be more active in other social movements as well. Like LGBT, feminism, race issues, women’s reproductive rights, etc…

3) I realized reading this book that I do NOT want to be one of the kinds of Atheists who are just like the fundamentalists and take a drastic approach and not allow people the right to free speech and a voice for their beliefs. I am going to try to be a more respectful person when I debate people. I find that Greta Christina is very convincing, in a very respectful way.

4) I am not an intolerant person when I voice my views against religion! I have been told this so much that I was starting to believe it! If someone says, “There is a magic sky daddy and he is my heavenly father and my family and you are hurting me for not believing in him” (well, maybe not those words, exactly, but someone said this to me on Facebook recently) I can say back to them, “Prove it! If you have an extraordinary claim, YOU have the burden of proof, not me!” People, please stop asking ME to prove that there is no god. If you claim there is one, you have the burden of proof. Great Christina says so! Also, when people tell me things like, “You have no absolute basis for morality without God, The Bible or religion, I can tell them that I AM a moral and ethical person and I am an atheist! I will also continue to do awesome things and show people that atheists ROCK!! Anyone who knows me knows I am a very compassionate, kind and helpful person who does far more good in the world than some conservative Christians who sit on their asses and judge me. I can work circles around them all! (Ha!)

5) I think it is really awesome that Great Christina mentioned that many atheists are not only angry for ourselves, but that we are angry at what religion does to other people. We are angry when we see the harm that religion and religious leaders have done to their followers. She says, “Atheists are angry because we have a sense of justice. Atheists are angry because we see millions of people being terribly harmed by religion, and our hearts go out to them, and we feel motivated to bloody well do something about it.
Atheists aren’t angry because there is something wrong with us.
Atheists are angry because there’s something right with us.”

Exactly! Thanks for always saying it so very well Greta Christina!


Here is my own personal list of top 10 reasons I am ANGRY.

1) I am angry that women are being taught by their church leaders every day that they are “less than” and are beneath men simply because they have a vagina. Grrr

2) I am angry when I think about children in my life that I love and adore being told they will go to hell and burn in the lake of fire forever if they don’t believe in the Christian God.

3) I am angry that the principal at Clay Hill Elementary School (Right down the street from our house) thinks it is okay to allow a local pastor to come on public school property and ask kids and parents to meet him at the flag pole for prayers. This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. If these people were Buddhist and wanted to lead prayers at the flag pole these very same people would pitch a HUGE FIT. Details of story here
4) I get angry when people tell me there is no way I can be a moral and ethical person. Some of these people KNOW me and know that I AM a moral and ethical person!!

5) I get angry when I find out that my ex-girlfriend’s mom said that she would never allow an atheist into her home- like we are some kind of demon or something.

6) I am angry that I calmly read Christian Bible verses and religious crap all day on Facebook and either ignore it or hide it because I love the people who post it. But when I want to post something about my atheism or being bisexual, I get told I should not put that on Facebook, or that I should focus on other things, or that I should consider giving their “god” a chance. Blah blah blah They have a right to say it. I have a right to get angry and say what I want back on MY FACEBOOK PAGE ,DAMN IT!

7) I am angry that I feel cut off from my parents and some siblings because I don’t believe in their god/religion. I miss feeling close to my mom and dad.

8) I get angry when I hear people use the Bible to hand pick verses that justify their hatred of LGBT people. I would rather hear someone say they hate gay people than to hear them say, I love the sinner and hate the sin kind of bull shit that comes out of the mouths of so-called “Christ-followers.” (p.s. either way I get angry lol)

9) I am angry that for the longest time, I have felt guilty about sex, and have had a difficult time coming to terms with my sexuality simply because I was raised to be ashamed of my body, to hide my body and to feel like I need to cover my body.

10) I get angry when I realize that I live in the Bible Belt and there are not many people who live around me that feel this way. Or are there? Come out!!!

If you have not read Greta Christina's  book, buy it today! It is so well worth the read and I am going to keep it on my Kindle on my IPhone so that when I get into a religious debate, I can whip out that book and say, “Well, Greta Christina says….” SO THERE!!

Here is a link to a video introduction of the book.

Here is a link to Amazon where you can buy the Ebook




By the way, I am aware I  have other "angry" lists and a blog about my anger. I wanted to write another one. Just call this blog my angry rant update.











Prayers at Work. Please Stop!

It has been a while. I guess all bloggers must go through stages like this. I write and write and write and then I feel drained. I get awa...