Today is International Blashpemy Day, named in honor of the publication of those infamous cartoons of Mohammad back in 2005.
It’s a serious thing: there are people who would, if they could, limit your freedom of speech, and by extension your freedom of thought, because of a relationship they have with an invisible being.
Here in America, it’s a little different, at least currently. You won’t realize the pervasiveness, or the presumptuousness of religion unless you are non-religious. Or more specifically, non-Christian. Or heaven forbid (apparently), atheist.
There’s a tradition on our campus that I like a lot: people can write on the sidewalks in chalk, telling about events or promoting a point of view. I will always defend this freedom, even if I disagree with the ideas being expressed. As is the case with this example, part of a chalk-writing blitz from the Neuman Catholic center next to campus:
Oh, the basic sentiment is nice enough; it’s the unexamined corollaries that piss me off. For starters, the assumptions made about atheists by the chalk artist. And you know what they say about assuming…
Try changing the word “atheist” in that sentence to “Muslim” or “Jew” or even, “metallurgist” and ask if it isn’t just the least little bit presumptuous and condescending and insulting. You think metallurgists feel lonely and unloved? Really? Certainly some people in any group do, but… as a defining characteristic of that group?
Stop and think before you chalk, people. Why is it OK for you to write this about a diverse group of people? Suppose a Baptist wrote;
“Catholic? You are not alone, b/c ppl are praying for you.”
There was a long period in US history when Catholics were an out-group, untrusted and blamed for many of society’s ills. There’s an important lesson in that, which you seem to have missed. We atheists are currently an out-group; the body politic has made it clear that we are invited to change and become like them. Why would you assume that we need to be “prayed for”? You think we arrived at disbelief in a Christianity-saturated culture without having to think about it?
Oh, you do, do you? Really? How? How did you get them? How can I verify those answers are correct?
I often hear statements like; “Science tells you what, but religion tells you why”. But they never say “how” religion tells you “why”. If pressed, they’ll fall back on the authority of scripture, or some sort of feeling they have about the deeper nature of the cosmos. Which bears a striking resemblance to the culturally-approved dominant religion in which they grew up.
You may not like that religion is a private thing but until you can show me that your god exists, it’s yours, not mine. The trouble is, like an invasive species escaped from someone’s fish tank, your religion doesn’t stay in its boundaries. Your organization’s parent church spent millions of your donation dollars this year interfering with the lives of gays in California, and now they’re working on Maine and Iowa.
You can pray for me all you want; nobody’s listening. Unfortunately, it seems impossible for me to reason for you.
- There were a lot more chalk messages, including some that let me know the source of this message. You can see the collection here: “Religion”.
- Apparently an atheist campus group in Alabama tried some sidewalk chalking. It didn’t go well. Surprised?
- Cuttlefish wishes us Happy Blasphemy Day! With his/her inimitable verse and a wonderful illustration by Michael McRae.
- The earliest flu-shot appointment I could get was the 5th of October. Guess that wasn’t early enough. Not that having the flu makes anyone more likely to blaspheme, but… well actually it does. Really, don’t expect me to be nice today, especially to your imaginary god.
- International Blasphemy Day website
- Atheists are the most untrusted group in America.
From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
- The sidewalks aren’t really this dirty on our campus; I ramped up the contrast to make the words easier to read.
- I’m just picking on Catholic chalk today because they’re the most recent group to chalk up our campus. We also get Gideons handing out little green New Testaments, whacked-out preachers spewing hellfire, and abortion protesters with gruesome pictures. Another recent group informed us that their church is “Not your grandmother’s church! I’d pick on them but it rained before I could get a good picture.