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Monday, April 8, 2013

The Atheists are coming! Quick, hide the babies and the bible!

Well make that "Atheist", as in Scranton mayoral candidate Liz Randol.  From what you read in some dark corners of the Internet, you would think that there is a looming cloud of smallpox potentially facing Scranton. Oh, and while I usually credit other Internet sources, I'm going to make an exception here, as one site in particular has committed a cardinal sin of the Internet:  using my stuff and not crediting me.  That's okay though, because I always do have the option of responding in kind.

Anyway, so what's it about being an Atheist that bothers some in NEPA?  I suspect that's the usual combination:  Ignorance, bigotry, fear of the unknown, fear of anything from outside of NEPA, fear of new ideas, fear of anything and everything that is not told to you by some authority figure.  It's the latter in the previous string that I find the most fascinating:  some folks in NEPA just want to be told what to do, what to think, what to believe.  It's a kind of carry-over legacy from the mining days.  Substitute "mine foreman" for "parish priest" and it's all the same ball of wax.  Oh, and I'm decidedly NOT being anti-religious here; in fact true religious faith has nothing to do with the concept of blind obedience; the concepts are mutually exclusive, at least in my mind.  Faith is the act of spite of what you may have been told, may have experienced or may have seen (or not seen).

And so I digress.

When last I checked, one of the most wonderful aspects of being an American is that there is no state religion (despite the desires of some in North Carolina).  We are all free to believe...or not what we choose.  This may come as a shock to some, as spouting your belief system has become something of a litmus test for public officer holders as they jockey to out religion each other.  Not lost in all of this is how often many of them fail to actually live up to their convictions (such a good Christian like former Governor Sanford, for example).  Regardless, spouting religion is really just a silly ploy at's a way to say "Hey, I'm in your tribe...I'm just like you!".  What it isn't is a demarcation of ethics, values or any other higher sort of aspirational actions.  As Glinda says in Wicked, "it's all about popular!".  I, point blank, have seen plenty of evidence whereby some religious people are immoral and capable of horrible actions, sometimes justified by their beliefs.  On the other hand, some of the most moral people I have ever known have also been holders of great faith in things far greater than themselves.  What I don't see is that one exclusively leads to another.  Religion doesn't have a lock on more than it has a lock on immorality.  One can...but doesn't always have to...lead to the other.

All of which leads us back to Liz Randol, candidate for Mayor of Scranton.  By all means, if you don't want to vote for Ms Randol because you believe her policies will not benefit the city (or, since this is Scranton we are talking about, your faction of the city) then it's reasonable and logical for you not to vote for her.  But what if you don't want to vote for her because she is an Atheist?  Well let's parse that one out.

Support - By voting for an Atheist you are no more supporting Atheism than you are supporting Judiasm by voting for a Jewish candidate.

Understanding - Do you actually understand what being an Atheist means in the first place?  If you don't, then man up, do some research and maybe even actually talk to an Atheist.  I know a few that would be more than happy to dialogue with you and explain that, despite what you may have heard in Sunday School, "Atheist" doesn't secretly mean "Satanist".

Bigotry - Forget understanding for a moment; if your reaction to an Atheist candidate is immediately revulsion, them maybe you have some soul-searching to do.  I'm convinced that we all have corners of bigotry hidden in our inner selves, so maybe this is an opportunity for you explore yours.  There's nothing to be ashamed of in admitting one's own bigotry, as I'm convinced that discerning the world into "our tribe" vs "the other tribe" is built into our genetic code.  Luckily, as critters with well developed rational brains (with the possible exception of rapper Rick Ross prominently noted), we do have the ability to rise above our emotional reactions.

The bottom line:  Not voting for Liz Randol simply because she is an Atheist is, at best, stupid.  I'll let the words above fill in what it is at worst.


Thesauros said...

some folks in NEPA just want to be told what to do, what to think, what to believe."

Wow, not only knowing what people think but being able to judge the motives of others as well. I guess God does exist and he writes a blog.

Stephen Albert said...

Wow...God has a blog???? I'll buy you the non-alcoholic beverage of your choice...and a donut to boot...if you can get me the URL for my blogroll "Theo". As for speaking for God...or pretending to be God...well I'll leave that to the many religious types who regularly and routinely claim such things. Me? I pay pay $10/year for a URL so that I can write what I (not speaking for anyone else but me) think. Thanks for reading & commenting.

Mike Sporer said...

Some people everywhere want to be told what to believe.........

God starts inside. He can't be found in a church, and certainly not in organized religion.

Correct....not voting for Liz because of atheist belief is disconnected....

Stephen Albert said...

Thanks for commenting Mike. I appreciate it. I always wondered if the phrase "Atheist belief" is actually a contradiction in terms.

I don't disagree with your comments about organized religion, although I state that I do, on occasion, attend a church.