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Oryoki Bowl
February 03
Quaker buddhist, kinda quirky, loves cooking and knitting and movies. Dr Who fan, Scandinavian-aquarian and cat lover. Would love to be paid to travel around the world and write about local healing cultures. While eating and drinking and dancing. One day I will have a health cruise in the fjords.


OCTOBER 13, 2010 1:18AM

Freedom of Religion and from Religion

Rate: 17 Flag

I went to a politically oriented meeting tonight, the first for me of what I hope to be many.  It's been a lot of new lately.  

I have long been desiring of making more connections with people who have social and political concerns, not based on fundamentalist ideology but based in reason.  Weekly, I see the result of what happens when people don't learn to think for themselves, or make rational decisions, or make educated guesses.  Or just informed opinions.  As a physician, it is my job to redirect them in the ways that help them with their health, hopefully unpeeling the mask in front of their eyes.  Their bad health problems didn't happen to them, they are the product of a series of bad decisions coupled with bad information, genetics, and their environment.  With some rare exceptions, there is actually a lot you can do to get healthier.  But it almost always involves you changing your view.  

So, meanwhile, back at the rally, it was for the kickoff party for the Arizona branch of the Secular Coalition of America.  This is a lobby group that brings forth the concerns of the nontheistic communities.  We hear about the Christian Right, the Mormons, the Catholics, etc, constantly foisting their religious agenda on our system of laws.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Constitution explicitly states the separation of church from state.

There were great speakers.  The first, one of the first openly gay elected officials in Arizona, she was clear, rational and concise.  To the point, she gave many eloquent examples of the way that church groups have gained favored status over others with respect to what should be secular decisions.  Like zoning laws and tax exemptions.  Particular inroads that have been made, chipping away at our Constitutional right to protection from religion.  

The second, our national rep in Washington.  He also gave clear, specific examples of how religious organizations have been given many legal exemptions from standards and practices compared to secular members of society.  And the dangers of allowing this constant favored status not only erode the foundation of our country, but also endanger children (amongst others).  

I didn't come here to tell people to stop believing in God.  I wanted to bring light to the fact that many here on Open.Salon and elsewhere feel helpless, voiceless and not represented because they are not affiliated with a church as their identifying group.  That they may be atheist or agnostic or even theistic but still want our secular constitution to remain religion free.  I want to work and live in a world where I don't have to go along with the group to keep my job, where my tax money doesn't give preferential status to groups that identify people to shame and hate, where my government makes decisions based on reason and ethics, not religion.   Where humans are treated equally, whenever possible, with compassion.  Where children are not victims of parental belief systems, and where adults are allowed to choose their choices.  I wanted to let you know, there are others out there, totally normal happy healthy functioning members of society who do not believe in God and who want a voice in government.  

I found these groups through the local Meetup, but there may be other ways.  I am glad I can finally connect with actual other people, meeting in public and talking, instead of having to find solace solely through the internet.  With that, I may be able to also go to the local version of the Stewart and Colbert Rally for Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive (mwhahahahah).  I have found a group that meets to discuss key issues that affect us, and why they are morally and ethically and politically important for all.  

If you think you can't or shouldn't get involved, that there is nothing that you can do, then the fundamentalists may have won.  Don't let that happen, just start showing up.  You can figure it out once you get there. 



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yep, yep, yep. It's going to be a tough season, but someone's gotta do it. May as well be you... and me. AND ALL YOU OTHER PEOPLE READING THIS. Don't let the fundi's take us down the rabbit hole folks!
The orientation of the country, despite the constitutional guarantees, is lopsidedly towards the religious. Democracy is oriented towards the majority opinion. As an atheist from the time I started to think about things at the age of about three or four I have had had interminable discussions with religious people who find logic and merely practical thinking totally unacceptable. It's oil and water. The best we can hope is not to be hung from the nearest lamp post. Religious people live in a different dimension. Just yesterday I read that the Pope decried computer virtual worlds because it divorced people from reality. I find that comically amusing from somebody totally immersed in the fantasy of religion but I doubt the Pope could see the point.
"I want to work and live in a world where I don't have to go along with the group to keep my job, where my tax money doesn't give preferential status to groups that identify people to shame and hate, where my government makes decisions based on reason and ethics, not religion."

It's hard for me to understand how anyone could have a problem with such a basic statement. Shouldn't it be plain common sense? And isn't this sentiment the whole point of the United States in the first place?

I admire what you're doing.
I have found that, for me, active involvement in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accomplishes this and with reap punch. Orgs like yours and ACLU are and are always needed in America as counterweights and to protect the Constitution. R.
You go!

(I live in Canada, where this is not much of a problem.)
I'm with you all the way. Organize to keep fundamentalists where they belong, in the dark.
I do not think I could have said it better than Gabby.
and just because I will have a picture of a Jesus bag in one of my blogs does not mean I am one of them..:)
I bought it at a dollar store..:) BUT I have a clear mind unlike some of these other people you see on TV. :)
Rated with hugs
You've made some excellent points. I'm not religious myself, but most of my friends and family are affiliated with a church of some kind. Truly spiritual and God-loving people are wonderful, but there seems to be a larger and larger group of people who use God as a way to bully and intimidate and achieve political power and status. Those are not Godly people.
Jonathan- they actually mentioned that some, but that this is an active lobby group for the nontheistic community. It means that it is their primary directive, their mission, to address the special concerns of those who do not believe in God or who care to have that be part of government, while the ACLU covers many things.They are facing powerful lobbies from other sides, like the Christian Coalition. It is not an either or, but it doesn't cover all the same territory.
"where children are not victims of parental belief systems".. that little phrase bothered me. What belief system would you rather 'children' (usually meaning someone under 18)..be victim of? Hmm. No one approves of the crazies in any circle, but a parent's responsibility is to teach all aspects of life, including spirituality, to their children.
Some of the frightening stories included how Christian daycares do not have to meet any of the safety guidelines that secular do, and they are no subject to inspection. Sad stories of children dying from neglect or being "forgotten" or found covered in feces, and nothing happening. Frightening stories about how multi million dollar megachurches are allowed to put massive for profit business centers on their tax sheltered, church zoned properties, like spas and ice cream stores. We forget these days the problems of GW's approval of faith based treatment and other "do-gooders" collecting federal funds while practicing bigotry and brainwashing- with no credentialing system to back them up.
Cindy- specifically the case the rep mentioned last night was of a girl who died from a massive, painful brain tumor because her mothered believed in faith healing and denied her medical care. That is only one example of many cases where this is true. Specifically, finding out that a school receiving federal funding had a curriculum of children watching video tapes, mostly of bible stories, rather than actual classroom instruction with real teachers teaching. They may have a possibility of choosing their own life when they reach 18, if they make it to 18, but the development of critical thinking skills usually is closed off in the earlier teens and is dependent on reaching a series of steps of problem solving.
Yes, Ori, I respect and understand the distinctions and the non-overlap.
Religious nuts think the Founders were religious nuts too. As Ben Franklin put it, "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
I am a church goer...a "believer" if you will, and I see every point you make to be both logical and important. I would not wish to diminish ANY voice in a country where every voice should matter....no matter what "filters" we apply to each other.
Well thought out and articulated. You are a delight to read.