A Not-So Wonderful Life

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                    Turkey

In light of the coming hubbub that will inevitably be ignited by random Nativity displays, not to mention fearful store employees wishing you a very PC “Happy Holidays” this month, one thing is clear (at least, to me)…

Many people want a world without God.

I know that’s rather blunt, but shouldn’t we cut to the chase? It’s not just “freedom of religion” or “freedom from religion” they want. Many wish for a world where they’ll never be bothered to witness another person’s religiosity in public.

They say they’re tolerant of all religions, but that’s not true. In the town where I live, the ACLU just stopped a high school choir from performing in a local church. The choir had sung there for years because of the great acoustics, but somehow just letting those kids breathe the “rarified holy air” of the church stepped over the line of “separation of church and state”.

Oh, please.

True tolerance wouldn’t keep kids from walking in a church, synagogue or mosque of another faith. Most parents have no problem with a respectful chaperoned visit to someone else’s place of worship. But what many want now is complete “religious quarantine” in public places – absolutely no exposure to God. Especially the Judeo-Christian God.

To the religiously intolerant today, church houses are the new “houses of ill-repute” from which they must hide their children’s eyes. “Faith” is their new four-letter word. Their end game is to ban God completely from the public square, using intimidation and a boat-load of lawyers.

For them, religion is the new Ebola.

Come to think of it, they seem pretty scared of religious types like me. I’m amazed at the angry responses to my little blogs on a local news sight and on Twitter. I suppose it’s a back-handed compliment – I’m pretty dangerous it turns out. Who knew an overweight minister could strike such fear into the hearts of the unconverted?

If you’re one of these people, may I ask you one question?

Do you really want religion out of public life? Have you really thought this thing through? Well, George Bailey, be careful what you ask for. If that angel Clarence really allowed you to see a world where religion never existed this holiday season, not even Scrooge would like the results.

In addition to those Nativity scenes with baby Jesus going away, you’ll witness a ton of “good” done in His name in coming months. Next week, homeless shelters nationwide will ladle out rivers of gravy on mountains of mashed potatoes, and millions of martyred turkeys will be consumed.

By the way, this food will be donated and served mostly by people of faith.

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Atheists counter that for Thanksgiving dinner, they’d pass on the religion, and focus on meeting people’s “real world needs” instead. Pop intellectuals like Neil deGrasse Tyson promote the preferred philosophy of “lessening the suffering of others”.  They say you don’t have to be religious to do good deeds.

That all sounds very nice…until you look at the facts.

Religious people don’t just talk about helping others, they are the vast majority who’re doing it. In 2006, the average church-going adult contributed $1500 to charity, as compared to $200 by people of no faith (Barna Group research study). Even if you subtracted church-based giving, church folks would still give twice as much as atheists and agnostics combined.

Both ABC News and Harvard professor Robert Putnam’s research reflects similar findings. Putnam adds that 40% of church attenders volunteer to help the poor and elderly as compared to 15% of those who never go. That also goes for volunteering at non-religious schools, youth programs, civic groups, and health care providers.

My irreligious friends would no doubt counter that their giving is more noble, because religious people give out of “fear of hell-fire”. But a pollster from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada found religious people twice as likely to respond that “forgiveness, patience, generosity and a concern for others are ‘very important’” to them than atheists did. So the real motive for giving by the religious seems to be quite simple: they see a need, feel compassion, and respond.

Sorry, but “hell fire” isn’t even part of the equation.

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Can you imagine how the national cost of serving the poor would skyrocket if all the money from religious people went away tomorrow, not to mention the innumerable church service programs they fund as well? Imagine a society where “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others” are no longer believed by the majority. Imagine the crime, the suffering, and quite possibly the anarchy that would result.

Still think the world would be better off without God?

Really, Old Man Potter, that’s just a bunch of stuffing.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “A Not-So Wonderful Life

  1. I enjoy reading your blogs, but this one just seemed to be more of the “look how persecuted we are!” that Christians seem to have adopted lately. No, you’re not treated horribly in a country where you’re the overwhelming majority in population and government. Additionally, studies have shown that in countries where religiosity is less, your predictions don’t come true. There is not more crime, suffering, or anarchy. Usually quite the opposite. The same would be true here if the worlds religions packed up their stuff and moved out.

    • Michael,

      First, thanks for reading and I appreciate your cordial though dissenting comments. I think it’s wonderful when people who believe differently can speak respectfully to each other. Kindness is a currency I value greatly.

      Second, while I believe Christians are a majority still, I believe much of what the good folks at the ACLU and such are doing is blatantly anti-Christian. We are witnessing one such incident in my town, where they have shut down a high school choral concert simply because it was being held in a church auditorium for the acoustics. Also, a football player in Ft Myers FL would knelt after a touchdown was penalized for his public show of faith.

      These extreme interpretations of “separation of church and state” in my backyard are actually saying that some want the church quarantined from public view. This is not acceptable. While I will always be respectful of the beliefs of others, I will not practice my faith in secret under threat of prosecution.

      I believe this is a trend that all Christians should push back against. As well, I think it is something every freedom-loving atheist should resist as well. I would stand up for your right to express your beliefs in the public square, in the presence of my own daughter who goes to public school.

      That is called “tolerance”, of all faiths, and yes, of no faith as well. None of us should be expected to hide, and I certainly will not.

      Best wishes and thoughts to you, and please keep reading.

      Dave

      • I think that it may appear to be “anti-Christian”, but that is only a result of the fact that we’re in the United States, and instances of Christians abusing the Constitution are much more prevalent than any other faith group. Can you point to an instance where a school wanted to have choral concerts in a mosque (for the acoustics), or a jewish player said a prayer on the field after a touchdown? I certainly can’t.

        Point in fact, it didn’t really matter (as far as the penalty is concerned) that the player was praying. He could have been doing a little dance, the penalty was unsportsmanlike conduct. That is often called in cases of excessive celebration. I’ve seen that call made when two players from opposing teams (who happened to be cousins) punched each other on the arm after a play. I don’t consider this case to be an attack on Christianity.

        Also, the ACLU didn’t seek out this school. It was a complaint from a parent because the church concerts we part of the curriculum (and the student’s grade). No student should have to perform in a venue that makes them uncomfortable, regardless of their religious affiliation (or non).

        Some are saying that some want the church quarantined from public view? I suppose it’s possible there are some, but the overwhelming majority just wants the state to play in its sandbox while the church stays in its own. I don’t see this as anybody trying to take away your right to express your beliefs in the public square, but the middle of a football game at a public school is not “the public square”.

        • Michael,

          Sorry, but you don’t understand the issue. Most great classical choral music was written for the acoustics of a cathedral, which are quite distinctive. Those acoustics would not be present in a mosque, and certainly not one in our area. The concerts were done at a specific church for years, with no problems and no one throwing themselves on the altar to accept Christ.

          But because one person is so intolerant they can’t walk into a church, the whole choir suffers. Sorry, but I cannot effectively express my distaste for this level of disdain for a group of people or the building in which they happen to worship.

          This is not freedom of religion or freedom from religion, this is hate. Surely if I did not allow my daughter to walk in a mosque on a school trip, you’d think me small-minded. And I’ve allowed my children to be exposed to anti-Christian beliefs at their public school. But kids can’t walk into a church for a non-religious concert? Sorry, that ridiculous.

          If that’s the kind of country you want, then we will not find common ground. And yes, the middle of a football game or a school choral concert is exactly the “public square”. I don’t mean to be rude, but I will never be checking my beliefs at the door as I enter any facility. And my faith is strong enough to walk into any mosque or other house of worship.

          So why isn’t a student’s atheism strong enough to enter a church?

          Please.

          Dave

  2. Looking back from the “age” of 70, your blog is true, compassionate and restrained. I have learned that an unchallanged “belief” is, in a sense, irrational, and a hard won faith may be illogical, but experientally sound and true.
    What are the dogmatic afraid of ?