News Roundup November 2, 2007

News Roundup

A collection of brief stories:

  • A Christian wrote a letter in support of Dawn Sherman‘s lawsuit against Illinois’ mandatory moment of silence law:

    … As a Christian whose children attend public schools, I was outraged to learn of the mandatory “prayer/reflection” requirement set forth by the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. This is another case where our government is abusing power and infringing on our personal liberties…

  • Senator John Kerry got it right (unfortunately) when he talked about atheists running for public office yesterday:

    “The vast majority of Americans say they believe in God,” Kerry said, responding to a question about the likelihood of an atheist or agnostic winning the presidency. “The vast majority of America, at some time, goes to church, and I think it matters to people. When you are choosing the president of the United States, people vote on the things that matter to them.

    “So I think it is probably unlikely that you are going to find somebody who stands up and says, ‘Well, I don’t believe in anything,’ and you’ll get a whole bunch people who get excited about voting for that person,” Kerry said. “It’s just a fact.”

  • Philip Pullman says he isn’t promoting atheism in The Golden Compass, which is now being release as a movie starring Nicole Kidman:

    How do you respond to the claim that your books are anti-Catholic and promote atheism?

    … In the world of the story — Lyra’s world — there is a church that has acquired great political power, rather in the way that some religions in our world have done at various times, and still do (think of the Taliban in Afghanistan). My point is that religion is at its best — it does most good — when it is farthest away from political power, and that when it gets hold of the power to (for example) send armies to war or to condemn people to death, or to rule every aspect of our lives, it rapidly goes bad. Sometimes people think that if something is done in the name of faith or religion, it must be good. Unfortunately, that isn’t true; some things done in the name of religion are very bad. That was what I was trying to describe in my story…

    Is there an underlying message for atheism in your book or did you simply want to write a fantasy story, like Tolkien?

    What I was mainly doing, I hope, was telling a story, but not a story like Tolkien’s. (To be honest I don’t much care for “The Lord of the Rings.”) As for the atheism, it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort. What I do care about is whether people are cruel or whether they’re kind, whether they act for democracy or for tyranny, whether they believe in open-minded enquiry or in shutting the freedom of thought and expression. Good things have been done in the name of religion, and so have bad things; and both good things and bad things have been done with no religion at all. What I care about is the good, wherever it comes from.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Aj

    I borrowed Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) from my cousin yesterday, it’s one of her favourites from when she was young.

    It’s great to see all the atheist writers having their novels made into big movies, first Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s…), now Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Caroline), then Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass), and hopefully Terry Pratchett (Wee Free Men) will be next with the story being licensed by Sony and produced (possibly directed) by Sam Raimi.

  • Stephen

    I’m reading The Golden Compass now – not because of the movie, but just because I keep seeing people on the Interwebs talking about it. It’s pretty good, and I respect Pullman’s opinions on these matters. Naturally, there’s a lot of knee-jerk Christian responses against him and his trilogy, but they’re free to not read the books and not watch the movie(s).

  • Sounds like Kerry needs to be approached by the atheist lobby. He sounds just like my mother: “Well, you have to believe in Something!” logic inherent in the mindset of Christians whose concept of atheism is nothing but pure Nihilism. “there are people who don’t believe in Anything?! I don’t get that. And I don’t vote for that.”

    Sounds like Kerry populist bullshit, too much listening to the pollsters.
    Christians=George Washington.

    sometimes I don’t even need bulimia to puke.

  • John Kerry was merely stating the facts. Those facts are frequently bemoaned on this very blog, atheists are members of an unpopular minority. If you are going to get mad at Kerry, why not get mad at yourselves? Or at least those of you who think the way to get the majority of people, who believe in one God or more, to support you is ridicule, condescension, stereotyping, vicarious blame and the contents of most of neo-atheism.

    Would Kerry’s statement make you less likely to support him? I’d suspect that the tendency would be that it would. And all he was doing was stating facts that you, yourselves have repeated endlessly. Now imagine how likely it is that even a politician sympathetic to your legitimate civil rights gripes has to be more supportive of you when you slam the majority of voters. A politician has a lot more to lose by standing up for you than he does ignoring you. You want to change that it won’t be by converting people to atheism, it’s going to depend on making friends with religious believers who will support you. But I see almost no interest among neo-atheists in building an effective coalition necessary to secure their civil rights and there isn’t any time to waste on the willfully ineffective.

  • Siamang

    I spent hundreds of dollars of my own money, and plenty of my own time supporting Kerry’s presidential bid.

    During none of my support of Kerry did I once insult the religious beliefs of others.

    All these politicians know how to do is take, take, take.

  • Karen

    I’m with you, Siamang. I walked precincts until my feet were sore for that guy only to be told now that I “don’t believe in anything.” I find that insulting and woefully ignorant.

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