Why Jose Ramirez should be on your mind more than Treyvon Martin

To catch you all up on the news these last few weeks, in case you’ve been living under a rock:

THIS is Jose Ramirez: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Body-found-in-North-Texas-identified-as-soldier-3403078.php

THIS is Treyvon Martin: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/trayvon-martin-case-timeline-of-events/

Now, I am willing to bet most of you know who Treyvon is.  Even if it’s in name only.  Even as I write this there are hoodie protests worldwide in his honor.  Black community leaders are rallying in support to call for Justice in this case.  All rightly so.  And just in case this article should ever reach the grieving eyes of his family, please know that I wish your family no ill will and truly hope for justice in your son’s murder.  I hope that you find peace once this horrible process has ended.

As for my headline, let’s get down to this.  Treyvon’s case is making headlines, causing uproar and starting up protests and sparking conversations all over social media networks.  People care to their core when someone even hints at the word “racism”.  It drives us mad.  We live in 2012.  We have Barack in the Oval Office.  As modern Americans, it outrages us.  And it’s just this level of outrage that boosts my confidence.  This case will be handled properly and justice will be served.  Look, change.org.  Facebook and Twitter spammers, you did your part.  The FBI is involved now.  So, let me call you attention to something else which occurred that same week and yet went ignored across almost all media fronts as anymore than a blip.

Jose Ramirez.  He went missing from his post on a US Army base seven years ago.  His case was unsolved and forgotten until February 26th when a shallow-grave body was discovered and found to be him.  He had been murdered.  Unsolved mystery case cracked not a good headline for you yet?  How about this?  His murderer was already in jail on assault charges so the police didn’t even have to hunt him down!  Fantastic luck right?  Oh, still not newsworthy?  Okay I have one last little nugget for you….

HE WAS KILLED FOR BEING AN ATHEIST.

Come on guys.  You love hate-crime stories.  Let’s go back to Treyvon for a minute.  Now the given reason for his shooting is “self-defense”.  The defendant is a Latino male who said he saw Treyvon as suspicious “for wearing a hoodie”.  However, since he was a young, African male shot by a man with the name Zimmerman and his case was not properly handled by a mostly white police force, racism is implied.  Probably rightly implied, but just IMPLIED nonetheless.

Yet with Ramirez we have a young man killed in first-degree murder by “friends” of his who he trusted enough to share personal details with for telling them he didn’t believe in god.  In fact, we have the man in jail and his sister who was a witness to the crime and used the dead man’s credit card stating on the record that he was in fact killed FOR NOT BELIEVING IN GOD.  There’s not even a vague implication here.  It’s out there.  Hate crime.  period.  Barely in the media.

What I’m asking is this:

Where is his Change.org petition?

Where are his protests of supporters?

Where are the Atheist Alliances uniting in his honor and speaking out for change in how the US Military treats soldiers and creates a hostile environment for non believers?  Which, apparently they do.

So today, I start a petition in his name.  Will it get one signature or thousands?  Well that is all up to you…

http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-that-the-us-military-start-protecting-atheist-soldiers-from-hate-crimes

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You don’t “become an atheist”. You go back to being one. Everyone is born atheist.

I was browsing the meetup forum today in NYC Atheists and came across this gem.  I do love a good sarcastic rant as much as anyone! 😀

There are two main hard and fast rules for anyone who would like to become an “atheist.” If you are tempted, beware. It’s not an easy thing to do.

The first rule is to ignore design in nature. You will see it everywhere; from the planets, to the atoms, to the birds and the bees, to the seasons, to the design of the human body, the design of fish, flowers, fruits, feet, and even fungus. And of course, the amazing-looking human eye. Everywhere you look and everywhere you can’t look, you will see design.

Now here’s the hard part. Ignore your God-given common sense. Admit that everything man made is man-made, but be uncompromisingly adamant that everything in nature came from nothing, with no Designer. Once you have set aside your acumen to do this, crown yourself as being intelligent. Very. Then find other atheists and they will confirm to you that you are indeed, intelligent.

The second rule is to “believe.” This is very important, because if you let doubt in, it will let in fear, and that can be a scary thing when the issue at stake is a place called “Hell.”

Believe that you are right in your beliefs. Believe that evolution is indeed true. Believe that it’s scientific. Believe that there are no missing links, and believe that Richard Dawkins knows what he is talking about.

Believe that you are an ape, that you are not morally responsible because apes have no moral absolutes. Believe that your conscience was given to you by your parents and society, and not by God (always use a small “g” for God, if possible).

To grow as an atheist, you will need to learn believers’ language–phrases like “There is no creation,” “Evolution is a proven fact,” and the powerful “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” Learn the fine art of cutting and pasting, and responding with “Straw man!” That means you won’t have to respond to anything challenging.

All this will give perceived intelligence. Never question evolution, and don’t think for yourself.

Do these things, and you will be able to call yourself an atheist, or even a “new” atheist. How cool is that! Well, I should say, as much of one as you can be called one. No one can be a true atheist because you need “absolute knowledge” to say that there is no God. So until you are omniscient (like God), you will just have to do with pretending to be one.

author: Manuel – http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-become-atheist.html

My reply to this trite underhanded little guide:

lol wut?

Or to put more elegantly:

All I did to “become atheist” was read the Bible.

I never saw “design in nature”. I saw chaos.

I got common sense from my mother and my friends and watching my own mistakes and those around me.

I am intelligent. NO crown necessary. Just decades of dedication to expanding my mind through education.

Hell is imaginary. What need have I for your personal imaginary place? You may as well speak of Tatooine.

Evolution is scientific and the best answer we have at the moment and no, there are no “missing links” any more than you not knowing who your great-great-great-great-great grandfather was disproves your existence or your bloodline.

I don’t need group-think or catchphrases to explain my beliefs. I have been an atheist flying solo far longer than I had even met others.

I question everything. Always have. And if evolution or natural selection or any other theories about the universe are modified or disproven with new data, I will take them in as part of my knowledge. For that is what I have INSTEAD of beliefs.

I am not an “ape” and neither are you. NO one actually claimed that humans WERE apes. Only theorized that we share a common ancestor. Much as Catholics and Protestants can claim the common prophet of Christ and yet still coexist over 2000 years later. Sharing a common past does not create an end in the chain, it is merely a split.

Look around you. Everywhere that you may see “design”, I see chaos, natural selection and evolution. And I have seen it despite an environment of Catholics, Baptists and Jewish family and friends. You may find comfort in convincing yourself that atheists are just “trendy” or “fitting in with the cool kids”. But you know in your heart that this is untrue.

I am an atheist because I am good and moral and loving and I never needed a fear of Hell to stay that way. I treat people with respect because it is how I like to be treated in return. No matter your path in life, I hope that you find room for more love in your life rather than all this backhanded hatred.

Good day. ❤

Perhaps I was too mushy and nice at the end.  But I was raised to ‘kill them with kindness’.

~Sarah

I’ve Been Called Lots of Things for Being Atheist…

but racist?!

I must not have received the PC memo this month.  For the third time in the past few weeks I have been accused of racism for using the word Jew.  And no, not in reference to any stereotype, but merely referring to one who believes in the teachings of Judaism.

For example, while debating the Palestine recognizing UNESCO situation: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/unesco-votes-to-admit-palestine-over-us-objections/2011/10/31/gIQAMleYZM_story.html  I was heated and ended up calling Congress “blind idiots, supporting Jew-driven agenda rather than using common or moral sense.” Anyone with half a brain can tell I was talking about the siding in a religious war between members of the same race.  Wouldn’t it be the same to talk about Ireland and say “Catholic-driven agenda” or “Protestant-driven”?  I finally had to defend my use of the word by saying ” You would not be calling me a racist had I said “Muslim-driven agenda in Palestine.”

So, did I miss a memo?  I understand that people use the misnomer Jew to denote race, when they should really be saying Hebrew.  But how is that my fault?  And I understand that a racist person can use the word in a negative tone or context.  But so can any word be skewed when tone and context are involved.  Shall I stop calling myself a woman simply because some sexist men make jokes using the word?

My point here is that the word Jew is the correct word (unless of course I really DID miss a memo) for describing one who believes in the Jewish faith.  It is not a word used exclusively in slang and debasing nor was it a label given outwardly by oppressors.  Nor is it the correct word for describing an entire race, many of which are NOT believers in Judaism and would not appreciate being lumped in with believers.  In my eyes and mind, it is no different to say than a Christian, Muslim or Atheist.  And to talk negatively about another’s religious belief is hardly a hate crime, nor should it be misconstrued as “racist” to run an educated debate into the ground.

If I can make fun of Scientology, I can make fun of Judaism.  Get over it.

—-

On the topic of UNESCO, it is touchy here in New York.  Where many of my classmates and neighbors are followers of Judaism.  And as such, their views of this religious war against Palestine are skewed and very one-sided.  I usually remain mum in these arguments because it is a waste of breath trying to convince religious minded people that they are wrong. Especially in such a “victim” fueled mentality as Israel is portrayed by Jewish Americans.  End of the day, it is two religious sects of similar raced, community sharing individuals who, if not for their blind following of religious dogma, would not be killing each other over a cruddy parcel of land.  For the US Government to, imo, arbitrarily choose a side in such a conflict, is silly.  All I see is a school administrator walking in to a playground fight and siding with the first kid who cries to him.    What’s worse, we have laws here to cut funding from any CHARITABLE, open-minded service who dares look beyond religious dividers and help human beings across all borders.  Did the original signers of this bill ever stop to think there are two sides to every story and every war?

Coming Out Atheist: Why It’s So Hard

It’s the new slogan running in the underground murmurings of atheists everywhere: “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”  Taking a note from the homosexual equality movement, atheists are admitting that there is indeed, strength in numbers.  But that’s where our agreements begin to diverge.  Coming out Atheist is not as “easy” as coming out gay.

1. Herding Cats  Unlike the tight knit, internally supporting environment of the homosexual equality movement, atheists are more varied and more skittish.  Homosexuals have the power of uniting under banners and symbols to show unity against a world that disapproves or sees them as “abhorrent”.  But atheists tend to be adamant free-thinkers.  Loaners who abhor crowd-think ideals and meetings.  Getting a group of atheists to agree on a slogan, a symbol a meeting place and a message is more difficult.

2. The fight is larger.  Where the homosexual movement can tackle specific laws (marriage equality) and take on targeted cases (bullying in schools and teen suicide), the atheist movement has to tackle a large scope of ideals and laws.  It is much, much more than fighting Evolution versus Creationism.  As one can be a Christian homosexual.  But one cannot be a Christian Atheist.  Homosexual relationships are accepted by a larger population of the world than a complete disbelief in supernatural beings.

3. Hypocrisy is Scary.  Many atheists come from religious environments and families where they are constantly bombarded and annoyed with the religious messages surrounding them.  We often find religious followers preachy and self centered.  But to “come out” atheist in the manner that some atheist groups wish we would, it would entail acting in the same manner.  Turning conversations into atheist debates, posting pro-atheist messages on social networking sites, supporting atheist bills and commenting, posting and sharing pro-atheist images, articles and stories.  Remaining honest to your beliefs and NOT coming off preachy is a hard line to toe without stepping over.  So most atheists just prefer to hold their tongue rather than come off militant.

4. Protagonist Inherent. Given the religious background of the majority of the world, you would be hard pressed to find a culture where open atheism isn’t seen as an affront to the majority opinion.  A Christian/Muslim/Jewish person etc. can stream God-praising image posts and request prayer through social networking sites without being seen as an insult to atheists.  But most atheist themed images and posts are instantly taken as an attack on all religion, because, let’s be honest, they are.  And it is hard to get support as the villain.  Not impossible, but hard.

5. Fear of Disconnection.  Because of the environment that we currently live in, many atheists are still friends with theists and come from families full of believers.  We still go to weddings in churches, bow our head for prayers we don’t believe in and stand still for moments of silence we have no use for.  Playing the game of belonging is a delicate balance in life.  It would be lovely if I can send out “Happy Holidays” cards to my family without getting snide remarks from those who know I am not a believer.  But to imagine how much more disconnect between my family would exist should I become more vocal about my beliefs is a very real fear in my heart.  I love them and want a happy future for my friends and family.  But why should it always be the atheist who caters to the theists?  Simple tyranny of the majority.

6. It’s Personal.  Debating abortion is easy compared to debating religion.  Debating the equal rights of marriage in a courthouse is child’s play.  But trying to explain the intricate, long standing interwoven tragedy of religion which has plagued humanity for millenia is much, much more complicated.  Not only is it harder to explain, but it’s so interwoven in brainwashing from a young age that many people hold their beliefs as sacred and untouchable.  To even  debate atheist ideas is to completely insult a person’s belief system to its core.  And that’s hard to do apologetically.  Making someone cry or hurting them or calling them blind, stupid or ridiculous is never nice.  Even if it is the truth.

7. Media Control. Since the majority of humans are still theists, it is harder to get a fair portrayal of atheism in the media.  Myths and lies still perpetuate among the deeply religious and the media continues to select only the most vocal and militant to speak on our behalf.  Until more mainstream media sources embrace atheism in the same way they embrace other belief systems (Romneys Mormon, Cruise’s Scientology, Palin’s Fundamentalist) then we will never have a fair portrayal or voice.

8. Education.  It is hard to debate with a five year old for the same reason it is hard to debate with a fundamental theist: they don’t know enough to contribute a fair understanding of the topic.  Most theist debates are either based on simply saying “it’s in the book, end of story” or “well I heard from a friend/guy on TV/article I read”.  Teaching someone critical thinking skills just so you CAN debate with them on equal footing is a large task to take on.  So most atheists simply avoid the debate all together.

So maybe it’s our policy of love, tolerance and understanding which will do us in as a minority.  It’s hard to come out atheist without losing friends, family and self-control.  But you can try.  In small ways, every day.  If a debate about a religiously fueled bill is the topic of conversation, steer the conversation towards the separation of church and state.  Try to uphold the Constitution and make it about freedom and laws rather than religion.  And when someone is being blinded by their faith, point it out.  Ask them if they are willing to be morally wrong to be religiously right.  Never sink to someone else’s level.  If they are being violent and aggressive, walk away.  But make sure to remind them how unlike their prophet of choice they are behaving.  I have always loved that most atheists I know are more theistically read than most believers.  Encourage reading, on all fronts.  After all, many of us lost our faith from simply READING the books we were told to believe blindly.