Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Loving" Christians

This past year KU's Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA) brought in a speaker by the name of Joann Bell. During the 1980's she lived in a small town in Oklahoma to raise her children.

However, the community was extremely Christian and this filtered into the schools with teachers holding prayer sessions during class. Although she too was Christian, Joann realized that this was a breach of the constitution and urged the school to stop. When they refused, she contacted the ACLU and filed a lawsuit.

The town was so outraged that Joann was threatened, harassed and finally assaulted. Her children were also attacked and eventually her home was burned down while the local fire department stood watching.

While that's the short version of the story (for more, go here and find the appropriate section), it's exactly the sort of thing that the secular world recognizes and fears about the religious right.

We're constantly reassured that that was a long time ago and such things don't happen anymore.

But in my last post, I spoke of the religious right being like a child who's claimed never to have stolen cookies. The story of Joann Bell is one of those huge cookies found lying around the house. And yet again, it seems the religious right's hand is in the cookie jar.

In Delaware, another school district has ignored the restriction of religion within their walls. The school has been holding school sponsored prayer, giving special privlidges to students who participated in the school's Bible Club (while rarely funding book clubs), allowing a teacher to tell students there is "only one true religion", and distributing pamphlets for ministires.

Two families have filed suit against the district. One of the families has chosen to remain anonomyous. Meanwhile, the other (Dobrich family) has began facing the same sort of harassment that Joann Bell faced.

Alex Dobrich, one of the sons, has been yelled at to take off his yarmulke during a school board meeting when he stood to read a statement. Alex says he frequently removes the clip of his yarmulke when in public to avoid people from pulling his hair out should they attempt to pull it off. He has also been accused of "killing Christ".

The harassment has become so bad that the Dobrich family has moved two hours away to avoid retaliation.

So while it may seem that experiences like Joann Bell's were a long time ago, it's still more than close enough to remind us of how, dispite their claims, these children will always try to steal another cookie.

12 comments:

Ktesibios said...

I've just added your blog to the already very crowded "skeptic" folder of my bookmarks. Just in case you're wondering how I found it, there's a reference to today's entry on Pharyngula.

Jon Voisey said...

Thanks for commenting. Always good to know people are enjoying my writing. Especially those posts I stay up till 2:00am to write.

And thanks for letting me know where you're coming from. To hear that Pharyngula is linking to me is pretty exciting. I feel like I'm moving up in the blogworld.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Sure SOMA is open minded, until you suggest that existence, life, mind and reason itself can not be accounted for by mindless processess.

Such has not been demonstrated, you know, empirically and all.

But try saying that at one of their meetings, or on PZ's site, or at Kansas Citizens for Their View of Science, and watch the ridicule, personal attacks, and smearing begin.

Open minded my ass.

Karen said...

Hi. I got an ironic chuckle from the comment about Joann Bell and Little Axe being a long time ago. I feel so OLD!!! LOL! It actually HAS been quite awhile, and I was in highschool at the time. I don't remember all the details now - heck I'm not sure it all came out at the time - but the stark knowledge that many of those good "Christian" folks would burn your house down if you crossed them about their beliefs has stayed with me to this day.

I still live in Oklahoma (many reasons, mostly family ones), and I still temper my comments based on that incident. People outside of this area (and Kansas clearly falls in it) simply can't understand what goes on here regarding religion. Scary stuff. I'm glad to know there are blogs like this coming out of here. Makes me feel not so alone. :)

Jon Voisey said...

Dear Mr. Anonomyous commenter,

While I certainly don't attempt to condone ad hominem attacks that I'm sure do occur on PZ's site, or the others you listed (with the exception of SOMA's meetings. I've been to every one for well over a year and yet to see any ad hominems), you'll have to excuse them in light of the gross misunderstandings of how science works that people like you repeatedly demonstrate.

Dispite your reservations, science has adequately demonstrated that life can spontaneously arise, you know, Miller-Urey experiment and all. Sure it's not every step of the way, but if you expect it to be, then you're demonstrating a huge double standard.

Very little in science manages to capture every step. Namely in astronomy, we have never been able to watch a star form, or galaxies collide, or numerous other things that people happily accept without question (since it doesn't go against their faith).

So what's with the double standard? Oh yes... the bible says otherwise. Perhaps you need to work on understanding what "open minded" means. It means taking in evidence and making decisions based on it. We in SOMA, and I'm sure PZ and his friends have all done this. It seems that you're just unhappy because the evidence favors what you're opposed to. Meanwhile, you've closed off your mind to all evidence and instead accept the fluff and nonsense offered by the DI. Congrats on being open minded there buddy.

Your lack of critical thinking has also led you down the path of yet another logical fallacy: bifurcation. Even if it were true that abiogenesis coupled with evolution hadn't been well established, it lends no credence to any other theories. Especially those theories like ID/Creationism which cannot offer evidence on their own.

Jon Voisey said...

Karen,

Thanks for stopping by! I agree that those living outside the Bible Belt are completely clueless to the oppressive Christian totalitarianism that goes on here.

"Yeah it's a free country," they say. "You're free to agree with us, or else..."

Seriously, what is this? Iraq?

Anonymous said...

Science has undoubtedly demonstrated that life can spontaneously arise?

The only thing that has been demonstrated is that you are ignorant of the failures of origins research and that its not worth much time spent on this blog.

Your credibility is no zero.

Go back to bio chemistry.

Jon Voisey said...

Given that I'm an astronomer, there's a good reason I don't spend much time speaking of origins on this blog.

However, if you truly wish to speak to credibility, what's yours? Are you in any scientific field? Or do you merely parrot pseudoscientists like Dembski and Behe, in which case you have no credibility, just arrogance.

I'll note that, regardless of any credentials, I'm skeptical of your ability to think critically as you've demonstrated a large number of logical fallacies in only two posts. In the first you demonstrated the strawman as well as bifurcation. In this one, you've created another strawman substituting "adequately" for "undoubtedly", and have begun the ad hominemn attacks that you cry about others doing.

You're a true credit to your teammates. Now unless you have something of merit to post, I suggest you find another site to troll since you don't seem to find this one friendly to what you want to be told.

Anonymous said...

Jon,

I had no idea there were folks of your opinion and tenacity out in vast expanse of the Christian Midwest. I found your blog on Digg, and I've spent my entire lunch hour poking through your entries-- a great combination of information and factually sound logical opinion.

I'm 22, and I just moved from New York to the northwestern tip of South Carolina for employment in Charlotte, NC. The utterly oppressive religious atmosphere is stifling and quite different from how I was raised and what I perceived to be normal (the blue laws here are the worst. My Sabbath is Saturday—everyone else’s is Sunday. How am I supposed to observe my own religion, theirs by law, and still have any type of productive weekend?) And how does one come to embrace any logic when they're mired in delusional environments such as ours?

I'm truly worried about the future of secular America as a whole and I can imagine violence far greater than just one family being harassed. As a Jewish couple, my husband and I faced very uncomfortable approaches from neighbors who’ve spotted our Chanukah candles... and I can’t (or don’t) want to picture the day that religious issues plague my future children in public schools.

A theme I find common in all of this Christian retaliation is a basic animal fear. I see anonymous cowards poke at your posts from behind computer screens with spiteful jargon; I see ‘good Christians’ raising their hands against their fellow man; I see legislature attempting to undermine the statutes and precedents that have carried this nation forward for so long—and for what? These people are afraid of what we have to say, they’re afraid of the opinions of others and they’re afraid of a society where open discourse and logic are promoted to their fullest extent so as to benefit and promote the lifetime experience of humanity as a whole.

Republicans trust scientists and physicians after too many cheeseburgers have led them to the operating table for a triple bypass, don’t they?

Keep up the good work,

Brittany

Jon Voisey said...

Dear Mr. Anonomyous commenter,

While I certainly don't attempt to condone ad hominem attacks that I'm sure do occur on PZ's site, or the others you listed (with the exception of SOMA's meetings. I've been to every one for well over a year and yet to see any ad hominems), you'll have to excuse them in light of the gross misunderstandings of how science works that people like you repeatedly demonstrate.

Dispite your reservations, science has adequately demonstrated that life can spontaneously arise, you know, Miller-Urey experiment and all. Sure it's not every step of the way, but if you expect it to be, then you're demonstrating a huge double standard.

Very little in science manages to capture every step. Namely in astronomy, we have never been able to watch a star form, or galaxies collide, or numerous other things that people happily accept without question (since it doesn't go against their faith).

So what's with the double standard? Oh yes... the bible says otherwise. Perhaps you need to work on understanding what "open minded" means. It means taking in evidence and making decisions based on it. We in SOMA, and I'm sure PZ and his friends have all done this. It seems that you're just unhappy because the evidence favors what you're opposed to. Meanwhile, you've closed off your mind to all evidence and instead accept the fluff and nonsense offered by the DI. Congrats on being open minded there buddy.

Your lack of critical thinking has also led you down the path of yet another logical fallacy: bifurcation. Even if it were true that abiogenesis coupled with evolution hadn't been well established, it lends no credence to any other theories. Especially those theories like ID/Creationism which cannot offer evidence on their own.

Ktesibios said...

I've just added your blog to the already very crowded "skeptic" folder of my bookmarks. Just in case you're wondering how I found it, there's a reference to today's entry on Pharyngula.

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