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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:28 PM

The New Atheist Movement Should Care About Poverty

Walker Bristol
Posted: 02/02/2013 2:17 pm

When new atheism emerged at the beginning of the millennium, perhaps the quickest stereotypes to flank authors like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins were "elitist" and "self-satisfied." Many in today's atheist movement -- the collection of organizations and activists working to build a culture safer for nonbelievers, combat dogmatism and in some cases eliminate religion itself -- would dismiss these stereotypes as a baseless smear campaign by their adversaries. We value truth and think we're right about something -- which hardly seems different from the attitude of many believers. That itself doesn't mean we consider ourselves "superior" to them.

There's something toxic, though, that permeates this movement, something that may well inspire and support the stereotypes that have lingered for years. The atheist movement, in composition and purpose, has in the last decade failed to demonstrate a meaningful dedication to fighting economic inequality and building a safe space for nontheists regardless of their socioeconomic class. Despite all their talk of building a better world and upholding diversity, contemporary atheism and humanism's most prominent authors and leaders have been suspiciously silent on the topic of poverty. This limits the movement's ability achieve universal compassion, and renders it unattractive to those who don't occupy a comfortable spot on the social hierarchy.

What's even worse: the atheist movement's implicit dismissal of class inequality greatly hinders its ability to build meaningful and sustainable partnerships with other moral communities, either as a function of or a result of this disregard. It creates distance between organized atheism and religious groups that are predominantly composed of the underprivileged. Without these partnerships, the idea of building "a better world" is not only unachievable, but incoherent.

The last decade is peppered with blatant examples of outright classist language and motivation that has directly distanced the atheist movement from peer religious communities. Richard Dawkins has an affinity for referring to the "educated elite" (as he does in The God Delusion) or to "elite scientists" in discussing atheist demographics--essentially, he appeals to the fact that because those in the overclass of academia share a particular view, those below them ought to strive towards it as well. In doing so, he implies that they might too achieve some sort of enlightened intellectual prosperity that these privileged elite scientists have been graced with. Atheists today allege that the stereotypes discussed earlier are leveled purely out of the insecurity of the religious position. Yet, it seems they are rather an indictment of the movement's narrow, upper-class focus, which both ignores and marginalizes the underprivileged who haven't access to the same educational opportunities.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/walker-bristol/the-new-atheist-movement-poverty_b_2606959.html

104 replies, 6770 views

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Arrow 104 replies Author Time Post
Reply The New Atheist Movement Should Care About Poverty (Original post)
rug Feb 2013 OP
longship Feb 2013 #1
rug Feb 2013 #2
longship Feb 2013 #4
cbayer Feb 2013 #5
rug Feb 2013 #6
cbayer Feb 2013 #3
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #63
cbayer Feb 2013 #65
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #69
cbayer Feb 2013 #70
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #72
cbayer Feb 2013 #74
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #77
cbayer Feb 2013 #85
Cassidy Feb 2013 #7
cbayer Feb 2013 #8
rug Feb 2013 #13
Thats my opinion Feb 2013 #51
chervilant Feb 2013 #54
tama Feb 2013 #98
Warren Stupidity Feb 2013 #9
tama Feb 2013 #11
dimbear Feb 2013 #10
rug Feb 2013 #15
dimbear Feb 2013 #16
okasha Feb 2013 #18
tama Feb 2013 #21
cbayer Feb 2013 #22
dimbear Feb 2013 #26
okasha Feb 2013 #27
dimbear Feb 2013 #33
okasha Feb 2013 #36
dimbear Feb 2013 #40
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #48
okasha Feb 2013 #86
dimbear Feb 2013 #94
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #64
cbayer Feb 2013 #39
dimbear Feb 2013 #41
cbayer Feb 2013 #42
dimbear Feb 2013 #43
cbayer Feb 2013 #44
dimbear Feb 2013 #45
cbayer Feb 2013 #46
dimbear Feb 2013 #47
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #49
cbayer Feb 2013 #50
dimbear Feb 2013 #56
cbayer Feb 2013 #60
dimbear Feb 2013 #62
Meshuga Feb 2013 #79
dimbear Feb 2013 #80
Meshuga Feb 2013 #81
okasha Feb 2013 #89
LeftishBrit Feb 2013 #91
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2013 #82
dimbear Feb 2013 #92
okasha Feb 2013 #87
cbayer Feb 2013 #88
dimbear Feb 2013 #93
okasha Feb 2013 #99
dimbear Feb 2013 #104
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #66
cbayer Feb 2013 #73
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #78
cbayer Feb 2013 #83
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #96
madrchsod Feb 2013 #103
edhopper Feb 2013 #12
rug Feb 2013 #14
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #67
rug Feb 2013 #68
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #71
Silent3 Feb 2013 #17
okasha Feb 2013 #19
Silent3 Feb 2013 #20
okasha Feb 2013 #30
Silent3 Feb 2013 #31
okasha Feb 2013 #32
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #35
LeftishBrit Feb 2013 #61
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #75
cbayer Feb 2013 #23
Silent3 Feb 2013 #24
cbayer Feb 2013 #25
tama Feb 2013 #34
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #76
cbayer Feb 2013 #84
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #95
Phillip McCleod Feb 2013 #97
cbayer Feb 2013 #100
jeff47 Feb 2013 #28
cbayer Feb 2013 #29
Warren Stupidity Feb 2013 #37
cbayer Feb 2013 #38
Thats my opinion Feb 2013 #53
Deep13 Feb 2013 #102
Thats my opinion Feb 2013 #52
jeff47 Feb 2013 #55
tama Feb 2013 #58
Thats my opinion Feb 2013 #90
LeftishBrit Feb 2013 #57
rug Feb 2013 #59
Deep13 Feb 2013 #101

Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:46 PM

1. Talk about painting with broad strokes.

However, having written that as a post title, there are some secular movement factions who worry some of us. Most prominently is the rather large proportion of libertarians in the movement. But even this group's opinions span diverse opinions.

The secular movement is just like all others. People believe different things because it's human nature to do so. Once one realizes that inescapable fact, one stops wringing ones hands when people in a movement disagree. DU is a great example of that.

I am not surprised by this article; I just must respectfully disagree with much of it.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:48 PM

2. I haven't read anything else from him.

This is where he's coming from.

Walker Bristol is a progressive writer and student activist. Currently studying religion and politics at Tufts University, he is the president of the Tufts Freethought Society and the communications coordinator for the Foundation Beyond Belief. Additionally, he is a panelist for the blog NonProphet Status, a conversation on atheist-interfaith collaboration.

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:53 PM

4. Well, apparently he is doing activism here.

I can support his goals, but think the strategy he's using may not work out too well. I'm more for positive activism than shaming, which this seems to be, albeit somewhat mild as these things can get.

I may be wrong about his goals, though.

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:53 PM

5. Lol. This wasn't here when I started posting my reply.

But I think it's important enough to post twice.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 04:04 PM

6. It's magic!

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:52 PM

3. Important to note the bio on this writer

Walker Bristol is a progressive writer and student activist. Currently studying religion and politics at Tufts University, he is the president of the Tufts Freethought Society and the communications coordinator for the Foundation Beyond Belief. Additionally, he is a panelist for the blog NonProphet Status, a conversation on atheist-interfaith collaboration.


It give me great hope to see this kind of leadership emerging from the non-believing organizations.

Great hope.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 07:59 PM

63. i found the entire thing misguided and obsequious.

 

did i mention 'wrong'? we aren't encouraged to participate. sometimes we are flat-out rejected, which would never stand for a religious group.

http://atheism.about.com/b/2010/04/01/mississippi-aclu-rejects-controversial-atheist-donation.htm
http://www.examiner.com/article/american-cancer-society-refuses-500-000-from-atheists

otoh i used to volunteer with food not bombs and they are all business. no time wasted saying grace.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #63)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:13 PM

65. That's your opinion, which is fine.

The ACLU now pursues multiple causes in conjunction with atheist organizations, by the way. It's decision four years ago was wrong and they have formed a rather strong alliance with American Atheists since then.

The American Cancer Society has also joined with atheists groups since the blow up three years ago.
http://www.thedaonline.com/news/student-org-promotes-secular-unity-1.2975723#.URL-96Wlo20

I'm not saying there haven't been problem, but the times they are changing.

I've worked with secular and religious organizations in which no grace was said. And others were it was. Makes no difference to me, as long as they are doing something for the common good.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #65)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:27 PM

69. i'm definitely pro-forgive and forget but i'm also cautious about coalitions

 

the problem is religious privilege and how even many liberals don't see it because they enjoy it. it's similar to white males i suppose. it keeps getting in the way in coalitions, and then the atheists are blamed for not letting it slide. i hope things are changing but i'll reserve judgement until later.

let's see.. wheres that waving smiley i keep seeing.. oh here it is.. guess i'll figure out the code's here one of these days. hey i got an avatar finally so that's something.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #69)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:29 PM

70. I understand religious privilege and am glad to see that non-believers are gaining ground

in this country.

Your avatar is one of my favorite characters, by the way.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #70)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:31 PM

72. who is your avatar? i don't recognize it.

 

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #72)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:36 PM

74. Why that's the famous Wallace and Gromit!

If you have not seen their cartoons or their movies, you have missed out.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #74)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:43 PM

77. well if you like opus but you chose them then maybe i should check it out

 

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #77)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:49 PM

85. There are three shorts and one feature - all wonderful. The shorts are streaming on Netflix.

Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures
1996
TV-G
3 Episodes

Average of 1,455,571 ratings: 3.8 stars
Animator Nick Park's most beloved creations -- the unflappable, cheese-worshipping Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit -- come to life in this collection of three adventures: "A Close Shave," "A Grand Day Out" and "The Wrong Trousers."



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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 05:04 PM

7. Critique without reason

Sure, it would be great if atheists would solve poverty, bring peace on earth, and radically alter our disasterous relationship with the environment. In the meantime, if we could get more people to use more of their reason, skepticism, and available facts, some of us believe that more rational and moral behavior would be very likely to follow.

Of course it is always easier to spew opinion than to research facts. This author, Walker Bristol, for one should try to use facts instead of selective quotes and popular prejudices.
Listen to Richard Dawkins' response to the pope, for example, to hear someone stand up against the uncaring powerful. Note that the number one group of loaners on kiva.org, with nearly $10,000,000 loaned so far is "Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics,..."

Atheists do the right thing because it is right, not because we think we will escape hell or buy a ticket to heaven. Just because it is right.

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Response to Cassidy (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 05:17 PM

8. Welcome to the religion group, Cassidy.

Kiva.org is a great organization and it's wonderful to see that it is supported by both non-believers and believers who appear to be working cooperatively. I hope we see more and more of this.

IMHO, most people do the right thing because it is right. But there are both theists and atheists who do the *right* thing because they believe there will be some kind of personal secondary gain.

In terms of the article, I am glad to see some of the larger secular organizations talk about their purpose and mission. They are growing rapidly and have an opportunity to do some great things. This would be of value to the world as a whole and to the cause of decreasing discrimination towards and increasing the visibility of those not affiliated with a religion, whatever they call themselves.

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Response to Cassidy (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 09:19 PM

13. It would certainly be more interesting.

As it is, it ends with a statement of nonbelief. And that statement is not necessarily based on reason, evidence or any of the myriad other traits attributed to it. There may be as many reasons and paths to disbelief as there are nobelievers. After all, once you say you do not have belief, that topic is exhausted.

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Response to Cassidy (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:27 PM

51. Why do athiests--or others--do the right thing?

“Atheists do the right thing because it is right”?
Somewhere from an old logic class I remember something about circular arguments. I’m trying to puzzle out what you mean. Where is there any definition of the right thing? Does it come out of the air? Is that just the way the universe is put together? Who says so? Have historically there been those thinkers and ethicists who managed to move toward definitions of what is right and good? Who were they? Most of nature operates by the rule or claw and fang, and the common norm is “where’s mine? Why isn't that "the right thing"?

Why are peace, justice, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, caring for the nobodies etc. etc. the right things? In history it is clear that these ethical norms have most often been defined by some religious thinker—Jesus for instance. They have not come out of the thin air. Somebody has thought and written about them, and that is how norms get concretized

So what makes the right thing to do the right thing? What about your experience? Have there been any persons or idealists in your background that define the right and the good? Or have you just made them up with no personal or other impetus. I agree that people who obey ethical laws to get into heaven, or any such nonsense, are not ethical committed. They are just law-abiders and usually narrow and unjust. If atheist—all of them? do the right thing because it is right—that’s a mighty expansive statement that won’t bear much good solid light.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #51)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:06 PM

54. Christopher Hitchens' god is Not Great

would be a good resource for you.

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Response to Cassidy (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 04:24 AM

98. We all probably agree

 

that any single religion or all religions together are incapable of doing that, and that secular contribution to ethics is also necessary.

On the other hand, even though there is much overlap between Dawkins' etc. "angry" atheism and materialist philosophy and metaphysics, atheists who believe in materialism are totally unrealistic if they expect everybody else to start believing like they do, and that belief in materialism or materialism as ruling ideology will solve poverty, bring peace on earth, and radically alter our disasterous relationship with the environment.

Neurology etc. Western science is gaining much better understanding of empathy, compassion etc. and ability to educate and train those qualities, supported also by "hard" evidence. To change our civilization and keep on adapting to environment, we as people need to change and evolve. Develop global level of in-group identities and empathy, compassionate skills to respond to suffering of others and self, etc.

Just because it is right.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 06:12 PM

9. we are too busy killing god.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 07:43 PM

11. 101 uses for dead cat is Lounge topic, but...

 

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 07:32 PM

10. It would be a much greater service to humanity to convince the underprivileged religious that their

condition stems from their religion. Now that is not a partnership, my friends, that is (I suspect) a hostile takeover, but it's the row to hoe.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 09:25 PM

15. The greatest service is to convince them their condition is the result of concentrated capital.

Only a fool would claim that poverty is the result of religious belief and not the result of economics and the manipulation of state power by the economic elites. And it is those same elites that will laugh while people squabble over religious beliefs and nonbelief.

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Response to rug (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:33 AM

16. It's hard to see the chain of causation. We mostly know that where there is much religion

there is much poverty. It could be divine revenge, but I'm inclined to indict religion for encouraging irresponsible reproduction.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:04 AM

18. So let's be clear on this.

Native American Reservations, African American urban ghettos and Appalachia are among the poorest areas in the US because religion has encouraged their populations to reproduce irresponsibly?

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Response to dimbear (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:23 AM

21. What is not hard to see

 

(if you keep your eyes open) is the relation of how money is created and controlled and poverty created by artificial scarcity, which is created by monetary power.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:34 AM

22. Actually, the findings support that there is more religion in places with the most poverty,

but lend no credence to your hypothesis at all. It appears that people turn to religion when their lives become desperate because they find some solace, refuge, hope and asylum there.

Lack of access to family planning and subjugation of women are responsible for what you label as "irresponsible reproduction" in impoverished communities, not religion.

Man, you are really digging recently.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 06:05 PM

26. Interesting responses. You've heard it all before, it's old news, you know it's true, but

you trot out set answers to brush the (uncomfortable) truth aside.

Here's the thing. It's complicated. The core of poverty is irresponsible reproduction. The engine that drives that is religion. Look at a globe.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 06:44 PM

27. So you can't respond to any of the objections

to your statement.

Here's your second chance.

Why did poverty exist before overpopulation?

What constitutes irresponsible reproduction by a people who came within a hair of extermination?

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Response to okasha (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:52 AM

33. I gather we're back to the Native Americans here. As you very well know, their

poverty arises from the fact that the Christians took away much of their land.

That's why, when you turn to your world globe for enlightenment, you don't see Native American nations among the poor religious nations. You do see many others, which it pleases you to ignore.

Remember this thread is about asking atheists to do something about poverty. Their most effective first step: educate people away from religion.





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Response to dimbear (Reply #33)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:40 PM

36. You have refused to answer either question.

You claim that poverty is due to overpopulation. If we are extremely generous in our parameters and begin with the migration of rural populations into cities concurrent with the Industrial Revolution, overpopulation has existed for less than 300 years. Poverty, on the other hand, is borne out by the archaeological and historical records as far back as either can reach. So:

Since poverty existed for thousands of years before overpopulation, therefore cannot have been caused by overpopulation, what did/does cause it?

The other question applies not only to Native Americans but to other marginalized ethnic and cultural groups. What would constitute "irresponsible reproduction" in any/all of these populations that have been brought close to extermination?

Hint: The answers to these questions are frequently if not always identical.

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Response to okasha (Reply #36)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:35 PM

40. A remarkable claim. Overpopulation has existed for 300 years.

You must have alternate explanations for what occurred at Rapa Nui or at Tikal.

Overpopulation means that there are more people than the land can comfortably sustain. It has existed practically as long as people have.
Using your world globe, point out nations where it is in check. What do they have in common?


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Response to dimbear (Reply #40)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:16 PM

48. And she runs away....

How expected.

Well done, dimbear, well done.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #40)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:00 PM

86. Given your references to several different areas of the world,

I assumed that you were attempting to discuss poverty/overpopulation as a global phenomenon. It appears so again in your later posts. However, to address Rapa Nui and Tikal:

Rapa Nui's (aka Easter Islands's) population crashed because of destructive environmental practices. The inhabitants deforested the island, erosion set in, and between the two they could neither exploit marine resources nor raise sufficient crops. The "overpopulation" occurred because of degradation of resources, not "irresponsible reproduction." In its later stages, "overpopulation" of the island was efficiently reduced by European-descended slavers.

Tikal's resources were exceeded because of an influx of refugees from warfare among other Mayan city-states. Unless you're going to argue that these refugees were an early wave of boomerang children, "irresponsible reproduction" does not apply.

The nations where population is "in check" are all white, former colonial powers. China is a semi-exception; it remains effecti9vely a colonial power.

Now, are you going to reply to my questions, or simply dodge again?

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Response to okasha (Reply #86)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 07:49 PM

94. We don't seem to agree on what represents irresponsible reproduction. It is having more

children than the land can support.

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Response to okasha (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:13 PM

64. overpopulation was one of the factors leading to the decline of mayan civilization

 

briefly, "All three of these factors--overpopulation and overuse of the land, endemic warfare and drought--may have played a part in the downfall of the Maya in the southern lowlands." http://www.history.com/topics/maya

circa 900 CE

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Response to dimbear (Reply #33)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:56 PM

39. Some of the most disenfranchised people in the world get food, shelter, medical care

and other life maintaining necessities from religious organizations. By *educating them away from religion*, you may be invoking a death sentence.

That is, unless, there is a huge uptick in secular organizations stepping up to the plate.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #39)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:38 PM

41. As I'm sure you understand ever so clearly, the problem is irresponsible reproduction.

Weaning people away from irresponsible reproduction isn't ordinarily fatal. I can't think of an instance.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #41)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:45 PM

42. The problem is multifactorial, as I am sure you understand.

It's not just "irresponsible reproduction".

Weaning people from irresponsible reproduction? Are you advocating for eugenics, letting only those of certain social status have children? If someone lives in an area with drought, famine, war, do you think they should be forced to not have children?

Do you realize that there are many, many religious organizations providing family planning assistance in impoverished areas? Do you think the massive problem with rape of girls and women in certain parts of the world is religiously driven?

Your position is simply untenable.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #42)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:05 PM

43. I'm trying to concentrate on the factor that's relevant to the OP. What can atheists do best?

Point out the root of the problem. Convince people that irresponsible reproduction isn't a sacrament, it's a mistake. We all know world history, we know it sometimes comes to force, but it wouldn't need to if suasion and reason could prevail. That's where the atheists can do best.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #43)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:10 PM

44. OK, let's talk about the subject of the article.

As I noted above, is secular organizations would step up to the plate and provide some of the services to the most in need that are currently being provided by religious organizations, perhaps you could move towards your goal of eliminating religion from their lives.

So, you are really making the case for atheists to get more involved in addressing poverty.

Reason to those who are starving or otherwise under siege is to find those who can help them. Giving up the only resources they have without any replacement is about as unreasonable as you can get.

You sound like you are talking about the worst kinds of missionaries -- those that just want to persuade desperate people to come to their side.

It also really does sound like eugenics.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #44)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:22 PM

45. I disagree that that is the worst kind of missionaries. The worst kind of missionaries are those

who come to save the natives and a few years later the missionaries' children own the place. But that's another story.

Atheists are a small minority even here, even smaller where poverty is most rife. They can't stage a big aid effort. But--since they are good at education, that's the effort they should mount. First point to make: have only a replacement number of children.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #45)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:32 PM

46. Well then, small numbers give you all the reason you need not to be active in areas where there is

need?

So, don't complain when others do it. Please, what a lame excuse. When a group is small, but wants to do something, they form coalitions. Your only goal, it seems, would be to tell people that their religion is the problem.

Atheists are good at education? What do you base that on? I don't think there is any correlation whatsoever. Atheists are good at lots of things, but I've never seen anything showing some kind of special talent in any particular area for either theists or atheists.

There are religious groups all over the world, as I said, teaching family planning and encouraging woman to take a more pro-active stand in limiting how many children they have. If you haven't seen it, take a look at "Half the Sky".

Again, your position is just untenable, dimbear.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #46)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:07 PM

47. It's your conclusion my only goal is education. I say, responding to the OP, that is the best

goal. Particularly from atheists, usually in the van of reform. It is somewhat galling to me, at least, not speaking for all atheists, that efforts against poverty which would be meaningful are routinely opposed by religious organizations. If they are making the problem worse constantly, it is disheartening to those whose efforts could really try to solve it.

Religious organizations continue their foolish pro-reproduction stances at their own peril and at the peril of the world. When push comes to shove, those religions can be (should be is only MHO) replaced. History shows examples. It doesn't need to come to that--if folks listen to reason.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #47)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:18 PM

49. Her need to be right will overpower anything you do or say.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #47)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:21 PM

50. Not saying it doesn't happen, but can you give examples of efforts addressing poverty

that are routinely opposed by religious organizations? Also how they are making the problem of poverty worse constantly?

I think this article was written with you in mind or after a conversation with someone who thinks a lot along the same lines as you do.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #50)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:56 AM

56. Here's a simple one: barrier methods of birth control and the RCC.

It's the most obvious example.

Remember that famous scene of the Pope addressing the teeming hordes and warning them of the evils of birth control? That was a good one.



Then drift over to the Middle East and note that the median age in some countries is the early twenties. Iran, for instance.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #56)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:36 PM

60. So, is your complaint with the catholic church or are there other religious organizations

involved?

Or do you paint all religious organizations with the same brush because the Catholic church has a rather strident stand on birth control?

I have no idea what point you are trying to make about the middle east.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #60)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 07:31 PM

62. I have sometimes remarked how attractive the Shakers are as a religion.

Show where I have painted them unfavorably here or ever. It's true they've become rather thin numerically, since they didn't practice irresponsible reproduction. You could paint them with one of those tiny delicate artist's brushes with ease.

Here's the deal about the Middle East. They have in many areas a very young population. They are very young because their parents rear very large families because they don't use birth control, and as a result they have great numbers of young folks who are unemployed. The same is true in a few European countries, Spain for instance. That young median age is the usual statistical indicator of a demographic which isn't in balance, which isn't sustainable.

Young median age is an indicator of trouble ahead for societies.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #62)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:41 PM

79. The largest religion in the Middle East is Islam

And I don't think Islam prohibits contraceptives. In other words, high birth rate and larger population of younger people can be explained by a list of factors which can also include shorter life expectancy, no access to proper health care and birth control due to high poverty, the need of more hands to provide for the house, etc.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #79)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:03 AM

80. Since I mentioned Iran, note Iran has simply decided arbitrarily to end its

formerly existing family planning, and Iran's supreme leader is telling his people to reproduce as fast as they can, essentially. Could he do that without invoking religious authority? Would someone get away with that in a skeptical country? Would that happen somewhere women were treated a little more like authentic humans?

Don't think so.

For the whole bizarre population control yoyo story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_planning_in_Iran

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Response to dimbear (Reply #80)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 07:48 AM

81. I don't think the move was arbitrary

I don't think the move in Iran was an "arbitrary" move to end their current birth control program. If you look at other sources (other than the Wikipedia article you provided) you will see that Iran fears an eventually aging population in addition to a population decrease due to their successful population control policies of the past 20 years. In other words, right or wrong, they have a reason for ending the program.

They also had a reason to start the program 20 years ago which was caused by economic fears after the baby boom during the Iran-Iraq war.

Iran is a theocratic oligarchy (not a democracy) where they have elections only after candidates are picked by the powers. These types of policies can be implemented and imposed by any non-democratic regime whether it is a theocracy or a secular dictatorship.

However, in the case of Iran, their theocratic regime will have a huge challenge ahead of them because while Iran could cut funds for free contraceptives, that doesn't mean the population will stop using contraceptives to grow the population. The "grow the population" push by Iran will be a tough sell especially in the current state of their economy.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #80)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:15 PM

89. It did happen in an officially atheist country,

assuming that's what you mean by "skeptical."

The USSR awarded the title of Hero Mother to women who bore or raised ten or more children. Incentives included monetary awards and greater access to housing, medical care, etc. It seems they got away with it just fine.

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Response to okasha (Reply #89)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:48 PM

91. Actually, much as I detest the religiously-dominated political 'pro-life' movement

the worst political 'pro-lifer' in history was probably the atheist Ceaucescu, who opposed birth control and abortion for nationalist rather than religious reasons. There are still many children and young people suffering the lasting cognitive and emotional effects of the horrifying neglect that they received in state institutions after they were born to parents unable to care for them. And those are the lucky ones who survived and were to some degree rescued.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #62)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 09:23 AM

82. We ought to note Spain does not fit your thesis at all

Median age: 40.9 years ( https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2177.html )

Slightly about the UK (40.2), and well above the USA (37.1).

Iran's is significantly lower, but not 'the early twenties' - 27.4. Just below the world figure of 28.4.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #82)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 07:38 PM

92. The figure I saw for Iran was 24.

Obviously these statistics aren't likely to be worth a great deal of trust, Iran being pretty secretive.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #44)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:06 PM

87. It is eugenics.

If you look at the areas in which he claims religion is driving "irresponsible reproduction," they all have two things in common. They all have a history of exploitation by western colonial powers. And--what a coincidence--they're all populated by people of color.

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Response to okasha (Reply #87)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:12 PM

88. And poor because of their religion. I find this position pretty shocking.

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Response to okasha (Reply #87)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 07:45 PM

93. Okasha, be honest with me. Doesn't that describe practically the whole 3rd world?

Colonial exploitation, people of color?

The part of the planet that doesn't fit is mainly Europe. And the US, where exploitation was so extreme that the original people of color nearly disappeared.


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Response to dimbear (Reply #93)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:21 AM

99. The point that I have been making all along,

as have cbayer and rug, is that a long history of colonialism, economic and racial classism, and continuing exploitation are the principal drivers of poverty. You've resisted acknowledging these issues, instead asserting a latter day White Man's Burden to further destabilize these cultures by «educating» them out of their religions. You're arguing for a new phase of cultural imperilism, complete with missionizing «the natives.»

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Response to okasha (Reply #99)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:36 PM

104. Those are all important issues right up there in second place.

They don't detract from the biggie: overpopulation. I'm arguing for a new phase of education, which mostly involves accepting reality.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #39)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:15 PM

66. why would the religious groups stop helping the poor?

 

if the poor were educated away from religion?

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #66)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:35 PM

73. They probably wouldn't. But those that would *educate* people away from religion (and

frankly I find that whole concept rather offensive and not that different than other kinds of proselytizing) run the risk of having them reject the only help available to them.

If the secular community is not ready to step up to the plate and provide similar support, I would be very wary of trying to convince them to bite the hand that feeds them.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #73)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:02 PM

78. i go to the methodist food bank once it a while..

 

and episcopal too. the posters are annoying and i feel like a fraud, but i already feel like shit for going in the first place so really what's one more humiliation?

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #78)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:40 PM

83. What's on the posters and why do you feel like a fraud?

Anything or anyone who humiliates someone at a food bank should be ashamed.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #83)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:29 AM

96. it's not their fault. they chose posters appropos to the place

 

and i chose to enter. sure mostly kittens with psalms, but some of the more strident assertions of jesus-y godliness make appearances with inspirational and nationalistic backdrops. again, i knew what i was getting into and i can ignore it, but it doesn't feel good.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #26)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:55 PM

103. really?...you really believe that?

oh well...

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 08:08 PM

12. And why aren't Atheist

working on a Unified Field Theory. Or trying to stop the extinction of the North Atlantic right whale.
And I haven't heard a peep from atheist about heart disease.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 09:20 PM

14. You're right.

It says nothing about anything beyond nonbelief in gods.

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Response to rug (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:21 PM

67. says nothing but implies much.

 

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #67)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:22 PM

68. It literally implies nothing.

It is a victim of inference.

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Response to rug (Reply #68)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:30 PM

71. nothing or atheism because there is logic and there is social psychology?

 

one is a science, however soft, and the other is a tool, however incomplete. atheism isn't happening in a vacuum in fact it's consuming a finite resource. a big resource, but finite.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 10:38 AM

17. Non stamp-collectors should also care about poverty n/t

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #17)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:07 AM

19. Non stamp collectors do not claim

moral and ethical superiority as a result of their non stamp collecting.

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Response to okasha (Reply #19)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:13 AM

20. And you think atheists do?

Saying that religion doesn't always have the moral high ground, and that in some forms religion can be very amoral, is not the same thing as claiming moral and ethical superiority for yourself, no more than, say, pointing out that something might be a bad investment is tantamount to claiming that you're a rich, successful investor.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #20)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:05 PM

30. See any one of the

We're right
You're wrong
We're better than you

posts in this group. You might start with the Hoax religion thread, in whiich the OP attempts to claim martyr status for himself.

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Response to okasha (Reply #30)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:12 PM

31. How does any of that add up to a claim of moral superiority...

...with any consequent obligation attached?

Hint: there are other things to be more aware of, differently aware of, shortcomings of people by their own purported standards that can be pointed out, things one might believe one is smarter or more logical or reasonable about... none of that is a claim of moral superiority, no matter how much you might disagree with any of it or be pissed off by it.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #31)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:31 PM

32. It is either a claim to moral superiority

or it is sheer hypocrisy.
Or both. No need to choose just one.

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Response to okasha (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:09 AM

35. Project much?

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Response to okasha (Reply #30)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:10 PM

61. 'We're right, you're wrong' does not imply a sense of moral superiority

At most, it implies intellectual superiority or superiority in knowledge or logic- neither of which has anything to do with morals. More usually, it's just the default position of anybody engaged in a debate: one is generally arguing that one's point is correct or valid and that other points aren't.

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Response to okasha (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:37 PM

75. we combat the notion that religion has a unique and exclusive claim on morality

 

and that is claiming superiority?

wowwww.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #17)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:38 AM

23. What do you think the objectives and mission of these growing non-believer organizations

should be?

If one of those is to increase visibility and acceptance of those who identify themselves as atheist, etc, how do you think they might best achieve that?

What's wrong with working for peace? civil liberties? social justice? helping the poor?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:50 AM

24. There's of course nothing wrong, and a lot right, with working for those causes.

But speaking out about atheism, whether it takes the form of promoting more skeptical thinking, supporting separation of church and state, or even bashing religion, has no bearing, pro or con, positive or negative, on an atheist's responsibility to causes like poverty.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #24)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:03 PM

25. I find it really encourage and refreshing to see young leaders like this

promoting causes that have long been the purview of religious groups. I am also enthusiastic about what I see as a growing group of non-believers who reject the anti-theism that has been so prominent in the movement.

He's got my full support. Nobody has to join him, but I hope many will.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:17 AM

34. There can be some bearing

 

Accepting that no single religion or even most ecumenical cooperation between religions can at least alone solve our problems as global society, secular ethics and secular ethical education shares equal if not greater responsibility.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:41 PM

76. all laudable goals but the theological question not being related to the ethical for atheists

 

gives rise to only the plethora groups of real people can sustain in good health. atheism + has embraced social justice explicitly and while i regret the lack of intellectual rigor in the a+ ranks i applaud the objective with gusto. as soon as i'm not in it, i'm gonna start fighting poverty.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #76)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:43 PM

84. It's one of the things I found really attractive about A+.

At least they tried to establish a mission/vision with a higher purpose. Too bad they got bogged down in internecine bickering.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #84)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:24 AM

95. the book has yet to be written i'd say

 

mostly they seem bogged down in sexism, but who ain't? oh, wait.. well more than 1/2 the population, anyway.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #76)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:38 AM

97. i'm disappointed but not surprised there's not more substance overall on this topic

 

it seems like the battle lines are drawn. too bad. i was interested in the nuances involved in updating secular humanistic ethics along the A+ lines. i was already there myself but i know some (mostly male) atheists don't like it. personally i can see clearly that atheism may imply ethics in context of society, but of itself it is valueless. A+ is a further statement beyond mere atheism asserting a modern view of secular humanism that includes the advances we've made since the enlightenment.. civil rights, women's rights, worker's rights, children's rights,. lgbt rights. the list goes on.

thoughts?

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #97)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:48 AM

100. Not sure who you meant to reply to here, but I like your post.

I also like the A+ approach to going beyond simply being disbelievers. To have a purpose would seem to be to give some cohesion to the group. I also like their recognition of the need for diversity. Previous leaders in the atheist community have been too old and too white and too male and too straight, imo. It may have been necessary for them to get things going, but their value is fading.

It is too bad, but not surprising, that the newer organizations are having some internal struggles. Better now than when their practices are more solidified. Having been the minority in well established old boys clubs, I can assure you that it's easier to change early on than later.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 10:21 PM

28. Considering organized religions don't care about poverty

why are atheists supposed to take up the slack between their claims and their actions?

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #28)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 10:36 PM

29. This has to be one of the funniest posts I have ever seen in this group.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #29)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:47 PM

37. This is pretty funny too:


Ireland's government oversaw workhouses run by Catholic nuns that once held thousands of women and teenage girls in unpaid labor and usually against their will, a fact-finding report concluded Tuesday, establishing state involvement in the country's infamous Magdalene Laundries for the first time.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/report-ireland-oversaw-abusive-catholic-laundries-18409780

Well perhaps "funny" is the wrong word. Maybe "horrifying" would be better.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #37)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:51 PM

38. Agree that is horrifying and not funny at all.

What's your point?

Catholic Charities food pantry gets 'wonderful' deluge from school food drive

http://m.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-02-04/story/catholic-charities-food-pantry-gets-wonderful-deluge-school-food-drive

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #37)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:40 PM

53. Religion has been responsible for some terrible things..

But for everyone you could list I could list 100 on the positive side. Look around your community, your nation or today's world and see for yourself.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #29)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:13 PM

102. Must be an inside joke. nt

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:32 PM

52. Do me a favor. Go around the world

and list the 100 organizations that do care about poverty--and act out of that care. Or go into any community and see who acts with compassion. Perhaps you might start with your community.You are just factually 180 degrees off target.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #52)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:26 AM

55. So....95% of religious folk don't give a damn, and the remaining 5% buy them absolution?

Yeah, I don't think so. They should actually follow their religion, instead of what preachers tell them their religion is.

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #55)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:26 AM

58. In Christianity Christ "bought" absolution for all who believe in Him

 

so if they follow their religion and take that for real, there's no need for blame games and guilt trips, and to do good deeds with such motives. Rather, if I understand the Christian idea correctly, good deeds arise from loving kindness which arise from being one with "God"/Love. So good deeds are not considered teleological purpose of faith or price for absolution, just the effect.

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #55)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 03:18 PM

90. it is difficult to dialogue those who not only don't know the facts,

but whose prejudice is so air-tight they don't want to know.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:38 AM

57. So should everyone!

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #57)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 11:19 AM

59. Amen.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:55 AM

101. I don't think that's true.

When atheists speak out AS ATHEISTS, it is in the context of religion. This does not mean we are unconcerned about social justice. It's more like we don't think it has anything to do with religion--except to point out when religion works against it--and when we support social welfare it is simply as citizens and not as atheists per se. Atheism is not a religion and, therefore, has no doctrine on charity.

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