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09/02/2014 05:27:42 PM · #1
A few weeks ago I heard an article on Radio 4 relating to American children who expressed atheist views being spat upon and ostracised at school. This evening I've watched 'Jesus Camp' about an indoctrination camp for children where the pastor tells them (among other things) that Harry Potter is a worlock and ungodly.... warlocks are not heros (etc). We see a mother home-schooling her son to ensure the creationist myths dominate. The children's pastor says she wishes the children could be radicalised like Muslim children (her reference) to carry grenades and guns to defend the gospel.

I'm aware of the radical views and beliefs of Evangelical Christians in America but as a non-American, how pervasive are those views?

What is the status of secularism?

What protections are there to preserve separation of state and church (if any)? Is the cultural trend likely to close or open that gap?

Any views?

Thanks

Paul
09/02/2014 06:18:06 PM · #2
My daughter was talking to some neighborhood kids in Kentucky over the summer and discovered that they weren't allowed to read Harry Potter or see any Disney /Pixar movies because those featured magic and talking animals (hello?). Lord of the Rings was somehow exempt because it had Biblical connotations. This was in 2014 America, and I can't imagine a more fragile faith than one that can't withstand a children's cartoon.

Message edited by author 2014-09-02 18:21:17.
09/02/2014 06:28:04 PM · #3
But Shannon, those aren't simply cartoons - they are tools of the devil!
09/02/2014 06:44:35 PM · #4
It's just sad. Unfortunately, those same people/areas tend to have a similar contempt of basic science along with an outsized government influence that stymies everything from healthcare to addressing climate change.
09/02/2014 07:26:42 PM · #5
I grew up Methodist, I went to Sunday school and youth group all through high school and even into college. I Live in NJ. I was repeatedly taught a similar aversion to pop cultural references as being devilish.

Too many people take the bible as literal instead of merely interpreting it as what it should be, a teaching tool of morality.
09/02/2014 07:28:11 PM · #6
I think most Christians are a bit more moderate than that. I do know some that hold those beliefs (Harry Potter, movies, TV, etc) and I guess they are a bit extreme, but of the ones I know, they would never advocate guns and grenades to defend the gospel.

<sigh>
09/02/2014 08:08:59 PM · #7
I live in the Midwest part of the US, an area sometimes referred to as the "Bible belt". Religion is important to many people and there are more churches than restaurants. There is separation of church and state. I avoid the zealots, and try to avoid the entire subject as much as possible. My friends either share my (lack of) beliefs or are tolerant enough to not care.

Edit to add: I have watched Jesus Camp, and it is scary to think some people hold science in such contempt. My son said he considers it brainwashing and child abuse.

Message edited by author 2014-09-02 20:12:24.
09/02/2014 10:27:22 PM · #8
If you're seriously curious about the U.S. mindset, read "American Nations." Ours is a divided country. The borderlanders who immigrated from Ireland and Scotland have created a subculture that cuts through the middle of the country (between "North" and "South"), which includes an intense evangelical "personal" Christianity. For them, "freedom of religion" means freedom of *their* religion. This is where most of the religious zealotry comes from. To the North and on the West Coast, you'll find subcultures where religious tolerance is key and science can thrive. Unfortunately, the borderlander subculture has created a powerful alliance with the Southern culture of plantation hierarchy. Mix that up with rich people trying to stay rich, and you have the American conservative movement. At this point our only hope of holding them off is letting them fight among themselves and watching our Hispanic community grow.
09/03/2014 12:06:32 AM · #9
Originally posted by posthumous:

If you're seriously curious about the U.S. mindset, read "American Nations." Ours is a divided country. The borderlanders who immigrated from Ireland and Scotland have created a subculture that cuts through the middle of the country (between "North" and "South"), which includes an intense evangelical "personal" Christianity. For them, "freedom of religion" means freedom of *their* religion. This is where most of the religious zealotry comes from. To the North and on the West Coast, you'll find subcultures where religious tolerance is key and science can thrive. Unfortunately, the borderlander subculture has created a powerful alliance with the Southern culture of plantation hierarchy. Mix that up with rich people trying to stay rich, and you have the American conservative movement. At this point our only hope of holding them off is letting them fight among themselves and watching our Hispanic community grow.

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09/03/2014 07:04:39 PM · #10
The short answer is a documentary like Jesus Camp is interesting because it's so unusual. If it were run-of-the-mill we wouldn't make a movie about it. I shouldn't assume all Scrabble players are weird after watching Word Freaks and I shouldn't assume all Star Trek fans are antisocial goobers after watching Trekkies.

And as much as I love the people who participate in Rant, I'm fairly certain their expertise concerning religion is either a) antiquated from a part of their life long past, b) academic and gleaned from reading, c) from a distance. No disrespect, but I think they know it's true.

Message edited by author 2014-09-03 19:05:03.
09/04/2014 01:29:20 AM · #11
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

The short answer is a documentary like Jesus Camp is interesting because it's so unusual. If it were run-of-the-mill we wouldn't make a movie about it. I shouldn't assume all Scrabble players are weird after watching Word Freaks and I shouldn't assume all Star Trek fans are antisocial goobers after watching Trekkies.

And as much as I love the people who participate in Rant, I'm fairly certain their expertise concerning religion is either a) antiquated from a part of their life long past, b) academic and gleaned from reading, c) from a distance. No disrespect, but I think they know it's true.


So, basically, my opinion is only valued and valid if I'm a Christian?

09/04/2014 02:12:39 AM · #12
Originally posted by Cory:

So, basically, my opinion is only valued and valid if I'm a Christian?

In a field that eschews tangible evidence, Christians rely upon the very things he just implied were faulty: life experience, scholarship / reading the Bible, and outside observation. Amusingly, that leaves only indoctrination as an acceptable source of knowledge. Commence the special pleading tap dance...
09/04/2014 02:32:27 AM · #13
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

The short answer is a documentary like Jesus Camp is interesting because it's so unusual. If it were run-of-the-mill we wouldn't make a movie about it. I shouldn't assume all Scrabble players are weird after watching Word Freaks and I shouldn't assume all Star Trek fans are antisocial goobers after watching Trekkies.

And as much as I love the people who participate in Rant, I'm fairly certain their expertise concerning religion is either a) antiquated from a part of their life long past, b) academic and gleaned from reading, c) from a distance. No disrespect, but I think they know it's true.


Thanks Jason. Of course I understand the documentary focuses on an extreme subsection of a religious community, but I was wondering about trends; the degree to which such extremism is either gaining or losing traction and/or political influence. Central to that though is me wondering about the status of secularism and the freedom to express atheist views in some areas of the country.

I was taken aback by the degree to which George W Bush was hailed as a champion of extremist values just as I was troubled by Tony Blair's public expression of faith (although he did wait until he had left office) and Baroness Warsi's support for faith-based schools here in the UK.

I am unsettled by nations being governed by those who promote religious doctrine whether it be in the Middle East or closer to home.
09/04/2014 03:03:20 AM · #14
Originally posted by Paul:

I was wondering about trends; the degree to which such extremism is either gaining or losing traction and/or political influence. Central to that though is me wondering about the status of secularism and the freedom to express atheist views in some areas of the country.

It's regional. Religious fundamentalism is on the rise, but those are a minority and the mainstream has been slowly trending toward secularism. Religious tolerance is fairly widespread in "college" areas- notably the Northeast and West Coast- and lowest in rural, low education regions like the Southeast and Midwest. Mention that you don't believe in a god in Boston and most people won't raise an eyebrow. Do the same thing in rural Kentucky and you could be in physical danger. Overall, atheists remain the least trusted group in America behind minorities, gays and even rapists. There are no openly atheist representatives in congress, although some have "come out" after retirement, and 8 states still have laws on the books banning non-believers from holding office (a direct violation of the U.S. constitution).

There's one openly atheist person running for senate in the southwest (New Mexico, I think), and it's national news. Ponder that.

Message edited by author 2014-09-04 03:08:01.
09/04/2014 10:58:19 AM · #15
I'm feeling so yanko'd right now.

And btw, I have very close personal experience of Christianity.

09/04/2014 11:34:39 AM · #16
Originally posted by Paul:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

The short answer is a documentary like Jesus Camp is interesting because it's so unusual. If it were run-of-the-mill we wouldn't make a movie about it. I shouldn't assume all Scrabble players are weird after watching Word Freaks and I shouldn't assume all Star Trek fans are antisocial goobers after watching Trekkies.

And as much as I love the people who participate in Rant, I'm fairly certain their expertise concerning religion is either a) antiquated from a part of their life long past, b) academic and gleaned from reading, c) from a distance. No disrespect, but I think they know it's true.


Thanks Jason. Of course I understand the documentary focuses on an extreme subsection of a religious community, but I was wondering about trends; the degree to which such extremism is either gaining or losing traction and/or political influence. Central to that though is me wondering about the status of secularism and the freedom to express atheist views in some areas of the country.

I was taken aback by the degree to which George W Bush was hailed as a champion of extremist values just as I was troubled by Tony Blair's public expression of faith (although he did wait until he had left office) and Baroness Warsi's support for faith-based schools here in the UK.

I am unsettled by nations being governed by those who promote religious doctrine whether it be in the Middle East or closer to home.


It's a mixed bag. Atheism has never been more accepted and popular. However, its cultural influence remains dwarfed by one that accepts and embraces religion as an important foundation to what makes us American. Maybe that's bad from your perspective? I dunno. I'd disagree with Shannon that religious fundamentalism is on the rise. It had its peak in the 80s and has waned since. Evangelicalism IS on the rise and is the fasted growing "denomination" (not an accurate word) in the US. Evangelical, however, does not equal fundamental unless you are painting with a very broad brush. Catholicism is also making gains with the increasing immigration of hispanics. I think Don placed his secular faith a few posts above on waiting for more hispanics to show up, but I think he'll be disappointed if he's waiting for a godless revolution to come from them.

I live in one of the least churched areas of the country. I think you, as an atheist, would feel very at home here and not "threatened" at all. On the other hand, the coals of evangelical Christianity burn much hotter than you may be used to in the UK where religion (at least Christianity) may be more like a comfy overstuffed chair (now, perhaps, I'm the one painting with a broad brush).

The conflicts between the zealous religious nuts and the zealous militant atheists are mainly fought online and I rarely experience such in everyday life.

Take note that the two people who have claimed religious zealotry in the center of the country do not live there and the one that does says it's tolerant enough.

Message edited by author 2014-09-04 11:39:49.
09/04/2014 11:42:19 AM · #17
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

I think Don placed his secular faith a few posts above on waiting for more hispanics to show up, but I think he'll be disappointed if he's waiting for a godless revolution to come from them.


I didn't mean that. I was referring to Left v. Right, not God v. No God. Hispanics continue to find it difficult to join a xenophobic party.
09/04/2014 12:09:18 PM · #18
Originally posted by posthumous:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

I think Don placed his secular faith a few posts above on waiting for more hispanics to show up, but I think he'll be disappointed if he's waiting for a godless revolution to come from them.


I didn't mean that. I was referring to Left v. Right, not God v. No God. Hispanics continue to find it difficult to join a xenophobic party.


I think Reagan put it well when he said hispanics were conservative, they just didn't know it yet. :)
09/04/2014 02:43:27 PM · #19
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

The conflicts between the zealous religious nuts and militant atheists...

Oooh... watch out fo those militant atheists! Always knocking on your door to hand out atheist literature, interjecting quotes of disbelief into unrelated conversations, offering to not pray to a sky fairy on your behalf in tough times, appealing for donations to help spread secularism on national TV and local community centers, crafting laws that restrict how you can live, pushing for public affirmations of non-belief in schools and government settings, discriminating against others outside their group (sometimes to the point of physical assault), proclaiming eternal suffering for failure to adopt their views, and expressing intense distrust of the religious to the point that the mere suggestion of supernatural belief renders one unfit to serve the public. Why, I'll bet in the non-Bible belt they don't even acknowledge the successful expulsion of demons when you sneeze! At this very moment, several of the most extreme atheist groups are terrorizing millions in a brutal effort to construct hardline secular states governed by the Golden Rule. Closer to home, atheists are working feverishly to limit healthcare and prevent state recognition of love for 10-15% of the population. Yes, I'm sure that's the spectre of militant atheists you had in mind... or did you just mean people who express strong opinions of reality?

Message edited by author 2014-09-04 14:49:49.
09/04/2014 03:13:56 PM · #20
is it just me or does Shannon seem a bit over caffeinated lately?
09/04/2014 03:18:12 PM · #21
Originally posted by Mike:

is it just me or does Shannon seem a bit over caffeinated lately?

Very perceptive. Under-caffienated, actually... just pulled an all-nighter.
09/04/2014 03:23:15 PM · #22
Originally posted by DrAchoo:


I think Reagan put it well when he said hispanics were conservative, they just didn't know it yet. :)


whether or not you like a sledgehammer depends on which side of it you're on.
09/04/2014 03:28:32 PM · #23
Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by Mike:

is it just me or does Shannon seem a bit over caffeinated lately?

Very perceptive. Under-caffienated, actually... just pulled an all-nighter.


well your rationale isn't suffering yet, carry on...
09/04/2014 04:03:53 PM · #24
Originally posted by scalvert:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

The conflicts between the zealous religious nuts and militant atheists...

Oooh... watch out fo those militant atheists! Always knocking on your door to hand out atheist literature, interjecting quotes of disbelief into unrelated conversations, offering to not pray to a sky fairy on your behalf in tough times, appealing for donations to help spread secularism on national TV and local community centers, crafting laws that restrict how you can live, pushing for public affirmations of non-belief in schools and government settings, discriminating against others outside their group (sometimes to the point of physical assault), proclaiming eternal suffering for failure to adopt their views, and expressing intense distrust of the religious to the point that the mere suggestion of supernatural belief renders one unfit to serve the public. Why, I'll bet in the non-Bible belt they don't even acknowledge the successful expulsion of demons when you sneeze! At this very moment, several of the most extreme atheist groups are terrorizing millions in a brutal effort to construct hardline secular states governed by the Golden Rule. Closer to home, atheists are working feverishly to limit healthcare and prevent state recognition of love for 10-15% of the population. Yes, I'm sure that's the spectre of militant atheists you had in mind... or did you just mean people who express strong opinions of reality?


Case in point, Paul. In the real world Shannon is very likely a well adjusted guy who isn't doing all the things he's talking about, but on the internet he is easily militant ("combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods") in his opinions and willingness to fervently express them.
09/04/2014 04:13:12 PM · #25
Oooh, now I'm combative, extreme and violent... in text. Hang on while I write something mean to a teddy bear. I'm sure you're an almost-equally-likeable guy who probably HAS done some of the things I mentioned.
PFFFFT! ;-P <--- (extreme atheist military action)

Geez... I misspelled my jihadist strike.

Message edited by author 2014-09-04 16:36:19.
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