FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

Tennessee Intolerance

Posted by dystressed on July 31, 2008

About four days ago, I was in a hotel room out of town when the news came on television about a church shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee.

To be perfectly honest, my first thought was that I was glad I was so far away. My next thoughts drifted back to the families of the victims and what could have possibly been going on in the mind of the shooter. I have been kind of lax in my recent posts, so I decided I would take this opportunity to dissect the news and analyze what was going on in the shooter’s mind.

Unlike most of the recent tragic shootings in the U.S., the shooter is alive and well. We actually know why he did it. By his own admission, he wants to kill liberals and put an end to the liberal movement. Now before I get too political, I must warn readers that I am a liberal, so I couldn’t help but take this man’s actions a bit personally.

Jim David Adkisson wrote a letter explaining his actions, and he left his home wide open for police to search because he actually believed he would die in the shooting. As circumstances unfolded, however, he is alive and two good people are dead. Seven others are injured.

Adkisson has no ideology as he was not himself a churchgoer. Rather, he was caught up in the rhetoric of right-wing pundits who blame all of society’s ills on the liberal movement. Since he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement, he chose to target those who voted them into office. The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was targeted particularly because it preached tolerance.

Tolerance, in Adkisson’s perception, was the worst thing about liberals. Tolerance allowed gays to marry… and so on. Adkisson likely envisioned himself as a sort of avenging angel for the wrongs against America, so he bought a shotgun at a pawn shop, packed it into a guitar case, carried it into a church, and started firing at people during a children’s musical.

Knoxville News Sentinel image

Knoxville News Sentinel image

Killing innocent people is absolutely the wrong way of trying to win a culture “war.”

There is a lot of hot air blown by all sides, but the term culture war is a red herring. The culture war itself is nothing more than the eternal battle between divergent points of view. Society does not progress without disussion, debate, reasoning, and most importantly, compromise.

In fundamentalist circles, compromise is known as the tool of the devil. But in reality, compromise is what makes America great. Compromise gave us the tri-lateral, co-equal branches of government, the Bill of Rights, and a bicameral legislature (a congress with two houses, with representatives apportioned by population and Senators apportioned by the number of states). Compromise also got us some negative things, such as the three-fifths compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell. But by and large, compromise works for altruistic ends. Compromise is necessity. Compromise is a tool of democracy, a tool of freedom.

As important as compromise is, it cannot function without tolerance. Tolerance is defined as “the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

As we rage on in this culture war, with our emotional attachments to our own opinions, we must respect the fact that we do not know everything on our own, nor does some divine power (or right-wing writer) give us all of the answers. It’s just a shame that people don’t think things through before they go off half-cocked.

Advertisements

Posted in Events, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Do You Mind if I Ask a Personal Question? (A mini-series?)

Posted by Andy D. on June 10, 2008

I listened to John Loftus’ speech to us again on why he rejects Christianity from the position of a former evangelical minister and apologist.  It is a good listen.  (Check out his referrals on his latest book! That is a long list of famous people who mostly are going to hell.  We were lucky to have John join us.)

As most of you know, I have been on my own educational quest.  I wanted scientific answers to the big questions with no BS.  I have been following the technical blogs and reading everything I could on evolution and I read ex-ministers’ books on theology.

During the Q&A period of John’s speech the theists asked (and made comments) on the same old morality and Hitler objections.  The freethinkers asked good logical questions and battled back the comments and the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy. The topics were technical and logical.  I loved it.

Suddenly, in the middle of the talk, Sarah asked John if she could ask him a personal question?  We all laughed in anticipation of the question.  She asked John what did his family and friends think of him being out as an Atheist? What a great and relevant question!  I was focused on the logic and arguments; Sarah wanted to know more about the relationships.  John answered by saying at least we are not getting stoned now for speaking up about non-belief and he wanted to change the world.  He didn’t blow Sarah off, but I think she wanted to know more about the personal problems he may have experienced as a by product from being open. The young earth creationist attorney switched the subject for us so we didn’t get that answer.  I am going to e-mail John this blog post and see if he will respond.  I did a quick search on his debunking blog to see if he wrote about this already but I didn’t find anything).

I wasn’t even consciously focusing on this part of my life.  However, I am neck deep in this.  Most of us are probably having trouble in this area so let’s talk about it.  (Blogging is good for you! It sure beats prayer because someone actually reads it and they may respond!  Although they may both provide a self-meditating effect).

My brother has recently graduated from The OSU medical school and he is now engaged to his amazing girlfriend who is also a new doctor.  She is a devout Catholic and accepts a theistic type of evolution as the former Catholic generation did.  He was honest about not being religious and the two of them are getting along great.  I talked with Jim and suggested to him if he loves her there is nothing in our worldview that keeps him from participating in that part of her life.  The trade off is Jim has to have a big Catholic wedding which is her dream.   I love Catholic music and ceremony.  They sure beat the boring Lutheran services.   Don’t hate me folks if I turn off my logic hat during the wedding.  I won’t walk up and say excuse me do you realize there is no evidence for any of these far out claims?  I love my brother and soon to be sister-in-law far more than dragging up reason in the ceremony.  I would be a major ass if I did that.  In fact, that would be unreasonable and dare I say illogical.   (Is there some attempt at a natural selection type of altruism here?  Maybe selfish gene evolutionary theory applies?)

Where do we draw the line on what we tolerate?  I know it would be wrong and silly to run around nursing homes and start saying excuse me, did you know this God thing isn’t really true.  Of course, we draw a hard line to keep creationism out of science class.  I want to know more about the middle demarcation between criticism of religion and intolerance and what that means to our relationships.

I want to pose Sarah’s question to all of you.  What about your family and friends?  Are you open?  What problems are you facing?   I only scratched the surface on this topic and I will write a series on personal issues that I am having with family and friends.  It is extremely complicated.   Let’s help one another.  I will talk to you all tomorrow at the meeting!

Andy

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »