Thursday, January 17, 2008

Politics and atheism

Obviously I haven't posted in forever, which is pretty typical. I suck at keeping up with blogs...I think my downfall was in graduate school--I didn't have time to sleep, much less update a blog. So yeah, I'm making excuses...sorry.

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile, but I keep forgetting/coming home from work too exhausted to do anything/procrastinating. This is something that's really been bothering me though, and I figure that I may as well use my day off work to finally do it. (Benefit of working at a school: snow days!)

In case you hadn't noticed, it's an election year. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that's a bad thing--I'm just a little bit of a political junkie, so I love watching the candidates and discussing with them with anyone who will let me. :) I'm a passionate liberal, and I though that maybe I could look forward to supporting a candidate who doesn't talk incessantly about their personal relationship with Jesus.

Wow, wasn't that stupid and idealistic of me?

While the democratic field isn't nearly as overwhelming with it as the republicans, it's still way too much of an issue and I feel alienated by all the candidates on either side. I agree with some of them on policy, but the fact that politicians now have to discuss their personal religion to have a shot at the presidency really pisses me off. Allow me to go into more (angry) detail.

First of all, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, why the fuck aren't you keeping it personal? That is, after all what the bible says to do...

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:5-6

For me, that just ties into personal vs. private life. To be perfectly honest, I don't give a shit who or what you pray for (or if you pray at all). I don't care about what politicians do on their own time, provided that they don't proselytize in public about the same things they do in private. But what politicians do that? Oh, right...Rep. Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Rep. Bob Allen, Michael Flory, Glenn Murphy Jr, Ted Klaudt (you should check that one out, it's particularly disgusting and reprehensible)...and that's just a selection of the more recent sexual hypocrisy scandals.

(note: yes, I know those are all republicans which seems awfully biased of me, but when I ran a google search for political sex scandals all the results were Republicans.)

So even once I get past the fact that politicians seem to be incapable of adequately separating their private religious lives from their public political lives, I'm still pissed off. I'm aware that the majority of Americans are religious, I really am. Statistically, politicians talking about their relationship with god, Jesus, and company is appealing to the majority of Americans. Basically, there aren't enough non-Christians in the population to make politicians think about alienating people with all the religion.

On top of all of that, there's the church-and-state thing. Bear with me here...I have no issue with an elected official being religious. Well, I usually don't. I'm not opposed to it in principle, but if the politician allows his/her religion to influence (or even outright determine) their policy decisions, that's a BIG FUCKING ISSUE. As far as I'm concerned, an individual who allows religion to influence their political/policy decisions is equivalent to having churches take a direct role in determining policy.

Finally (for now, at least), there are all the politicians and pundits who honestly believe that we are a Christian nation (we're not), that all the founding fathers were Christians (bullshit), that every president has been a Christian (more bullshit), and that atheists (an any other non-christian) cannot and should not be a patriot or an American citizen.

Alright, so this is clearly getting pretty damn long and I'm just getting really angry about it.

So, what's your opinion on this? Do you feel alienated by the role of politics in religion?

Monday, November 5, 2007

My atheism and my job...

So it's been quite awhile since I last my defense, I started a new job in August and it's left me exhausted. I don't want to get too specific--I'd just rather not have my employer read this--but allow me to explain my conundrum and how I've dealt with it.

I work with moderately to severely impaired autistic and mentally retarded children. My employer is a non-profit christian organization that works with social services, adoption, and alternative educational settings for kids that public school's can't handle. I love my job dearly and I really can't imagine doing anything else, even though it's exhausting and I question my sanity almost every day.

So...what's the issue? Well, like I said, my employer is a christian non-profit, which I struggled with at first. There's no way I would quit my job over that, but it's something I had to reconcile for myself. Ultimately, I decided that regardless of the discord between my philosophy and that of my employer, we were working towards the same goals. My employer does great work and has for many, many years...I honestly feel honored to work for the organization. I really feel like I'm making a difference in my students' lives, and I know that the whole organization has that kind of impact every day.

So, what do you think? I think the good that my employer does--and the good I can do working for them--far outweigh the religious/philosophical differences. Does anyone else have experience with this?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Islam and free speech

As usual lately, this will be a fairly brief post. I just heard a news story about a student at Pace University who apparently threw a copy of the Quran in the toilet...twice. I assume it wasn't the same copy, but who knows. Anyway, he's being charged with a hate crime and CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) is supporting these charges.

Why? Look, I love and respect books of any kind, and it bothers me when people do anything to destroy, harm, or desecrate them. (I suppose this is at least in part due to growing up with a mother who owned a bookstore.) I don't care what book it is--I hate to see them destroyed. I'm not arguing that what this student did was disrespectful and possibly intolerant...but he didn't harm anyone (to the best of my knowledge), he simply treated a holy book in a way that is offensive to the religion. I don't condone his actions, but is that really a hate crime or just disrespect and intolerance?

I view it as free speech, just as much as burning an American flag is free speech. Like it or not, the bill of rights protects freedom of speech--ALL speech, not just the speech that you might like or agree with. Look, I believe that it is the right of a white supremacist group to shout their message from the rooftops. That is NOT to say their message doesn't make me angry, disgusted, sad, and confused. Their message is terrible, it is based on blind, irrational hatred, and it is something I don't think I can ever understand....but it is their inalienable right to express their views, regardless of my (or anyone's) personal opinion of them.

I think the same goes for the student who desecrated the Quran. I disagree with his actions, I don't believe in deliberately taking actions that deeply offend any religion, and I think it speaks of disrespect and intolerance for Islam. Regardless, it is his inalienable right to express his can an act protected by the Bill of Rights that harms no one be considered a hate crime?

What do you think?

[ end ]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brief humor

The Big Guy and I went to dinner with some friends of ours--a fellow nonbeliever as well as a Catholic couple and their baby. I don't know how we got on the topic of religion, but the 10 plagues of Passover came up. We were discussing the different plagues and how to deal with them, when our female Catholic friend suggested that the best way to deal with a plague of locusts would be to throw an atheist at them, because surely the locusts would hate atheists far more than any religious people.

The comment was made in good fun (of course), and I just think that the idea is brilliant and hilarious. Beyond that, it does suggest that the religious community should be more accepting of atheists--we may be their best hope of protection if we have any more plagues!

[ end ]

Monday, July 23, 2007

YouTube Debate

Ok, so the big guy and I just watched the YouTube debate for the democratic presidential hopefuls. It was by far the most enjoyable debate I've ever watched, which says something--I've been a political junkie since I was in middle school. The format really changed things, some of the videos were really enjoyable, and I thought it was interesting to have the voters ask the questions to all the hopefuls, not just the final candidates in a single town hall meeting. Here are my thoughts (many of which are not politically insightful or relevant).

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn.
As with all of the candidates, I agree with him on some issues and some issues I disagree with him on some issues. That's about all I can say about him...I was just generally unimpressed with him. He didn't have much of a presence, he didn't seem to be really involved or passionate about any of the issues.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
Ok, I haven't ever really liked Hillary. I love Bill and I want him back, and I think that colored my perception of Hillary. In tonight's debate I saw her as a candidate who really wants change and who is passionate about it--not just a politician for the sake of politics. I thought she seemed the most presidential of all the candidates, which is impossible to define, I suppose. She seemed confident, poised, passionate, and competent. I also like that she's willing to go on the offensive, not just play nice. As long as she doesn't run a campaign based on attack ads I think that going on the offensive is a good thing.

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
Eh. I agreed with him a lot, but I just don't like him. He seems too much like a politician (no shit)--he seemed condescending to me. He talks about poverty all the time (and I agree that poverty is a huge problem that needs to be addressed), but he seems condescending even when he talks about the people he wants to help. He's too slick and doesn't seem genuine to me. He does get points for being honest about gay marriage--he said that he is against it personally because of his religious beliefs but that his religious beliefs will not impact his decisions as president. w00t for that--it reminds me of Gov. Kaine here in VA--he said publicly that he is against the death penalty but that he can't just take it away because he is a public servant, and he can only do his best to act on what the people want.

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.
I love Bill Richardson. I really, really do. He has the most experience with international relations (UN ambassador under Clinton, negotiated with North Korea and Iraq for hostage situations, negotiated ceasefire in Darfur in January of this year) and a fantastic environmental record, as well as federal and state government experience. Ok, I know that I'm showing who I really want to win, but I know he doesn't have a chance. He didn't get a lot of time in the debate, and I don't think he really got his points across--partly because of time restraints, partly because he just wasn't as clear and concise as he could have been. Still, I think he did pretty well.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del.
He seemed condescending to me. He kept talking about what he has done before, trying to emphasize all of his accomplishments (even belittling his opponents at times), but not being as clear about what he would do if he were elected. He just didn't seem to respect the others and didn't seem to be looking forward as much as he was looking back.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio
Ahh...Kucinich. I have a soft spot for him. He doesn't have a chance, but I love that he says what he believes, doesn't pull punches, and is proud of being very liberal. I thought he did a good job of getting his message through and being forceful when needed during the debate.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska
I was scared. He was so angry and incoherent...I have no idea what his position is on anything, but I know that he feels strongly about it. The big guy liked him, but I was just scared and confused.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
I like Obama better than Edwards. He does seem very young and he doesn't have the most experience, but I'm ok with that. I'm not sure if I prefer Obama or Hillary better--neither are my favorite, but I could deal with either of them...I think I lean towards Hillary right now, though. I never expected that.

Best quote of the debate:
"What I like best about Dennis Kucinich is his wife."
--Sen. Biden, when asked to say one good thing and one bad thing about the candidate to his left (Kucinich)

[ end ]

Friday, July 6, 2007

Intelligent design

This will be brief, because I'm already in a bad mood about ID and typing puts me in a worse mood (can't wait to get the splint off).

So, in the interest of not typing a lot and making myself even angrier (my husband will appreciate it), I will propose a thought and trust you, my fine readers, to make the logical conclusions and connections. Observe:

The Scientific Method:

The scientific method is...well, scientific and is the basis for all empirical research and scientific theories, like you know...evolution. Compare that to...

Intelligent Design:
God did it.
In six days.
Then he was quite tired, so he took a rest.
This all happened 6,000 years ago.

Consider how those two concepts clash. Discuss.

[ end ]

Friday, June 29, 2007

How Bush could redeem himself

Let me put this out in front: I am a liberal. Not a shocking revelation, but true. I hate the current administration and almost everything they've done. (I say "almost" because there might be something I didn't hate even though I can't think of an example right now.) I used to hate Bush. I say "used to" because...well, I don't anymore. I don't like him, and I would never vote him into any office higher than "guy in charge of picking up the keg".

I think I really stopped hating him when I watched this video. For the first time, I didn't see him as a cocky, defensive, incompetent asshole. I saw him as a man who has been defeated. He fought for his immigration bill--I think it was the first thing that he did as president. Not his staff, not his advisors--this was his bill, and he got destroyed. For the record, I thought it was a pretty good bill. It wasn't perfect, but nothing is--and like he said in the video, the status quo is unacceptable and we need change.

Bush is a great politician. He can campaign like no one's business--he was reelected in 2004 despite the fact that his administration screwed up, everyone knew it, and people were really getting pissed off. You have to respect that ability to win despite everyone's better judgment. So--good politician, horrible president. I don't think he's as dumb as he acts, I don't think he's a bad person, I just think he's an incompetent leader.

The shitstorm surrounding Dick Cheney has really shown that Bush has not acted like the president. He has consistently allowed his advisors and staff to make decisions, leaving him to sign the papers. He should have paid attention. He should have been well-informed. He should have been involved in these decisions. He should have been a leader.

He wasn't.

I don't hate him for it. I can't respect him because of it. I feel sorry for him because of it. I feel sorry for us because of it.

So, how could he redeem himself? Politically, I think that the best possible move for him is to force Cheney to resign and to apologize for what he and his administration have been responsible for.I think that if he just stood up and said "We screwed up. I screwed up, a lot. Dick Cheney will be resigning from his post, and we plan to move ahead for the next year and a half to try to correct some of our mistakes. I'm sorry." I think he needs to stand up, be a leader, and stand firm against Cheney. Honestly, I think that if he did that he would avoid impeachment. He would finally get the place in history books that he wants so badly--and at least that would be favorable.

If he did those things (and I doubt he will) I still wouldn't like him. It wouldn't undo the past seven years. We'd still be in Iraq, we'd still have warrantless wiretaps, we'd still have torture and abuse and secret prisons. But for the first time in seven years, I would have some respect for George W. Bush as a person and as a president.

[ end ]