Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Our Civil Liberties: Why They are Important and How Atheism is Targetted for "Shut Down"

I sit here cruising the net and I can't help but purposefully look for stuff relating to this issue. Much of what I come across is relatively innocuous: a post on a blog, a comment on a blog, a small article in some far off local newspaper, a comment on an article in some far off local paper; what have you.

What resurfaces time and again are peoples notions of civil liberties. How often have I heard that the ACLU "needs to be stopped"? I can't tell you.

Some past post comments here on Atheist Haven (yes, I'm pointing to the fundies) carry with them an air of...not disdain necessarily, but "wrongfulness" of the atheist mind-set. As if what is "wrong" should probably be snuffed out; left with no voice. Here we venture forth into minority rights. After all atheists do comprise a minority of people. The same could be said of black people in the run-up to the civil rights movement in the 60s.

Ok, now I have to talk about it. One particular comment before I joined Beast in the endevour known as Atheist Haven, Shaun said that my wife should be ashamed (if she be a Christian) for marrying an atheist. Taken into context; this would mean that Shaun believes that it is wrong for a Christian to marry an atheist and I'm assuming that he wouldn't have any qualms about a law being passed to bar this type of union. This is the utmost example of bigotry. Atheists, as a minority, are unworthy of the rights of the "faithful" majority.

Currently this debate is a firebrand amongst the gay and fundamentalist communities. The right to marry the opposite gender. So far it isn't illegal for me to marry my wife, be she Christian, Muslim, Jew, Black, Hispanic or Russian. It is illegal in much of the United States for gays to have the same benefits afforded to same-gendered couples.

Why do I bring up the gay marriage issue? Because the rationale is based entirely on the Christian biblical/moral code. If this kind of sentiment can shape the the law of the land; what can stop it in other aspects of our lives? And how has it affected our lives already?

As much as I like conspiracy theories, this is no conspiracy theory. Far from it. It's real. It's "wrong" for a man to have a marital relationship with another man and conversely it is "wrong" for a woman to have marital relations with another woman. I don't have to point any further than conversations I've had with Christians about this. It goes against god. Period. Hence, the infringement of civil liberty in this regard.

My main point is that we atheists, as minorities, are entitled to civil liberties as well as the next person. Currently this is so, but with the burgeoning rise of the atheist voice comes an equal rise of Christian enmity stemming from their "faith" being called into question and/or it otherwise being scrutinized. What else gets their goat is the rise of secularism in society and within the state.

This I think is the real hot-bed issue. After all with a true secular society comes virtual abolition of religion within the public sphere. This is probably why we are seeing increased enrollment of "Christian children" into private charter schools rather than send them to public schools that are secular. On the face of it that's fine. In the end though these types of schools are essentially Christian factories churning out citizens that will probably have a particular bias against secularism. Because they themselves have no experience with an education system that's secular. Hypothetically, some of these citizens are going to go on to become leaders in our communities having been raised with a bias FOR Christianity. I would hope that these citizen-leaders would embrace the notion of secularism, but that hope is ever so finite.

What happens when these citizen-leaders reach into politics? Under my assumption they will invariably tow the line of Christian mores. Generation by generation we could very well see the erosion of secularism in society and with that will come the erosion of our civil liberties.

So why are our civil liberties important?


Atheist Blogroll Search: "Civil Liberty", Secularism, "Charter School", ACLU, "Minority Rights", "Civil Rights", "Gay Marriage", "Christian children", "Public Education"


concerned citizen said...

well, gee whiz! I talk about that on my blog all the time.

The most basic reason that civil liberties are important is because freedom is important... intellectual freedom, freedom of ideas, freedom to disagree, freedom to evolve, freedom to be human in the fullest sense of the word.

This is true liberty.

Christians want the rest of us to be as enslaved as they think they are.


tina said...

Interesting post. Even the Westboro Baptist Church members' rights are protected by the ACLU. I was upset about that at first, but changed my mind after reading more and more about civil liberties. Holy Moley...what do religious people care what someone does in their own bedroom or for that matter, in their life? I'm not gay, but I don't care if someone wants to marry someone else. Does it say in the bible that homosexuality is wrong? It probably does, it also says the world is flat? Bats are birds? Well, the earth is not flat, bats are not birds and who's to say if homosexuality is wrong also? Oh, I forgot, it's wrong because we are supposed to procreate right? Why are some animals gay?

As for myself, I have only experienced shock and dismay and....not sure what you would call it...ummm...horror? from one christian about my atheism. Wanna hear the story? Short. Jehovah witnesses came to my door, I told them to come back at another time. Couple days later I have a home insurance guy come over, my daughter is a friend of his friend, so she recommended him.There's a knock on my door, I answer it, in the meantime my daughter tells the ins. guy that I am going to tell the jehovahs that I'm atheist. I go to the door and just tell them I have company and come back later. I sit back down, the guy says, was that really jehovah witnesses?
I said, "yes, they come here every so often and they usually try to convert me but I tell them I belong to my mom's church, church of god, but I really don't, I help out there but I don't attend." He looked, I can't quite describe it, he kind of looked shocked and scared and said, " maybe you should start going to your mom's church!" I was dumbfounded and caught off guard....who was he to propose I go to church! He acted like he couldn't get away from me soon enough. That is the closest I have come to discrimination since I knew I was atheist. He looked scared to be around me, my daughter thought he was kidding but I know better. I found out later that this guy had an affair , he was married, and wanted to change his life around so he started going to church recently, so I know he was serious.

Yeaaaa, for the ACLU!

Jarred said...

Tina: That insurance guy is a fool and his company should fire him. He was in your house for one reason only: To sell you insurance. His prejudices quite possibly cost his company a source of new revenue (and I suspect it's happened more than once).

The thing people need to remember is that once you start allowing anyone to determine who is and isn't deserving of certain civil liberties, you open the door to the possibility of the list of people deemed "worthy" of them to continue shrinking. And trust me, many fundamentalist Christians won't stop with atheists or even non-Christians in general. They'll start looking to restrict the rights of Christians that don't share their views. You can already see this by the fact that many fundamentalist Christians have all but declared certain mainline Protestant churches "apostate churches." Once a church is declared "apostate," how long does it take the morally righteous to see the people of that church as equally undeserving of their civil liberties?

L>T concerned citizen said...

Sometimes it's hard for people to understand the value of upholding the right to have very dissenting views from the norm.

One of the values is when these views are allowed to air, to be exposed to the light of day, so to speak, only when people have the freedom to express them, can they be debated...argued for & against.

The free expression of ideas is what moves humanity forward.

I agree with tina

YaY ACLU!!!!

Larro said...

Would've been interesting if I was there, mom. I probably wouldn't have said anything. Unless of course he was being blatant. According to your accounts though he was being a bit...innocuous.

So, I probably would have let it fly. Most times though (in personal situations, as you know) I don't talk much about being an atheist. If it gets brought up though that door is wide open. Unless of course it involves little old ladies (inside joke, read my post on my Ungodly Cynic: "360 Rehash...")

Larro said...

l>t; Yeah, I noticed the content of your blog. When I first came to Atheist Haven I went there but didn't comment (I did today though), since I was pretty embroiled here in the commentary. I think though that you and I agree that our civil liberties are one of the things we need to protect most.

tina said...

I was just too shocked that a stranger thought bad of me for not going to church, he didn't know me.

Jarred, you are probably right, I should have turned him in. What's funny is, I decided right then and there that I was going to shake his hand just to annoy him. I did, and he just kinda gave me the limp hand shake. Lol!