Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

Media Release: Coalition For Secular Government

Below is an e-mail we received the Coalition For Secular Government

"MEDIA RELEASE: COALITION FOR SECULAR GOVERNMENT

Nearly 40% of Colorado Voters Seek to Destroy Reproductive Rights

Sedalia, Colorado / October 7, 2008

Contact: Diana Hsieh, co-author of "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life" and founder
of the Coalition for Secular Government, Diana@SecularGovernment.us or
303.304.0689

A poll of likely voters shows strong support for Amendment 48, the ballot
measure that would grant the full legal rights of persons to fertilized
eggs.  The survey, conducted on September 28th by Rasmussen Reports with 500
likely voters, shows that 39% plan to vote for the measure, 50% to vote
against it, while 11% are unsure.  (See <http://tinyurl.com/4huary>.)

Such strong support for Amendment 48 should surprise anyone familiar with
the barrage of criticism published in Colorado media in recent weeks.
Critics of the measure have warned voters of its destructive effects on
Colorado's laws if passed and enforced.  They have shown that it would usher
in a near-total ban on abortion, outlaw the birth control pill and in vitro
fertilization, and subject pregnant women to police controls.  Yet these
latest poll results are basically unchanged from a June poll, also by
Rasmussen.  (See <http://tinyurl.com/4mm59r>.)

Diana Hsieh, founder of the Coalition for Secular Government and co-author
of "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life," argues that the broad support for Amendment
48 is driven by a deeply-held faith pretending to be "pro-life."

The most recent Rasmussen poll showed that 41% of Colorado voters believe
that "life begins at conception."  That number explains the strong support
for Amendment 48, despite the media barrage against it.  "People who endorse
that slogan regard a fertilized egg as a new, whole person with a right to
life," Hsieh said.  "They regard the enormous sacrifices forced on real men
and women by the measure as insignificant -- or even ennobling.  Their vote
is based on faith, without regard to the real-world requirements of human
life and happiness.  It's not 'pro-life' at all."

"To effectively combat measures like Amendment 48, the whole 'pro-life'
ideology must be challenged at its root," Hsieh said.  "A mushy slogan like
'it simply goes too far' is unconvincing, even misleading.  It doesn't speak
to the fundamental dispute.  Worse, it suggests that some compromise -- like
banning most abortions -- would be acceptable."

"Instead, reproductive rights must be defended on principle, based on the
objective facts of human nature.  With regard to abortion, the fact is that
a fetus or embryo is only a potential person so long as encased within and
dependent on the woman.  Once born, the infant is a new individual person
with the right to life.  That view ought to be the basis for the laws of a
free society.  Any alternative -- any attempt to grant rights to the embryo
or fetus -- would violate the rights of pregnant women."

For a principled defense of reproductive rights, see the Coalition for
Secular Government's issue paper, "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters
That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person," available at
<http://www.seculargovernment.us/docs/a48.pdf>, particularly the section
"Personhood and the Right to Abortion," pages 10-13."

- Chalmer

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Small

Family Values

Ah, just hearing Sarah Palin talk about good-old, small town values just warms the very cockles of my heart. I can see it now, a return to those idyllic days of small town idealization: the 1950s, when America was at its greatest. “Leave it to Beaver” ruled the airwaves, entering every middle-class home delivering the very fundamental values embodied by Mrs. Palin, her church, and the current Republican party. Nostalgic tears flood my cheeks—Ah yes, those were the days—and I most heartily look forward to reinstalling them.

Yes, the memories overwhelm me . . . . time spent watching those wise TV fathers instructing their raptly attentive wives fresh from doing their domestic chores dressed impeccably, high heels and tastefully coordinated jewelry, while happy children with perfect manners played harmoniously, then said their Christian prayers before meekly popping off to bed. The good old nuclear family.

Sure was dreamy baby, though it didn’t have an iota of similarity to any family I knew—families where fathers beat their children and mothers called them stupid morons. Disgruntled housewives and single women who’d gotten a taste for working during the war “let go” because the men needed the jobs more. The mommies on my block drug around unintended, unwanted children. Effective birth control wasn’t available and those who perhaps aborted, well, given the morality of the times, that would stay buried in the closet, so how would we know? Unless they died, of course. Even then, it’s amazing the secrets behind closed doors. Don’t know why they were so unhappy; after all, research back then showed that only 7% of Americans thought a single woman could ever be happy. Maybe they just didn’t know enough to know what was best for them.

And as for single moms? Why, I knew of one….but she was obviously immoral, so the entire community blackballed her, and everyone had someone they could gossip about. That’s always good for keeping cohesion in a small town. Yep, nothing like being the outcast, looked down on, unable to find work, having your child laughed at and called names to let everyone else know what they better not do. That went for divorce as well, rightfully scandalous among us average folk, a good cause for a lot of tongue wagging.

The home was a man’s undisputed castle, and his word ruled—we learned that from TV, from our teachers, from, well, from everywhere. Boy oh boy, my best friend’s dad knew that. Punishment meted out in the basement with PVC pipe against bare arms and legs, metal belt buckles across the butt till she couldn’t sit. One time, she got it so bad, she had to sleep on her stomach for a week. Of course I knew, but as far as I could figure, that’s what went on in every home. Even in “Father Knows Best” or “My Three Sons” or “Ozzie and Harriet.” Children were supposed to keep their mouths shut and show proper respect for grownups, and, well, basically, do everything they were told. Now how those parents got their kids to mind themt was the fuzzy part to us as w didn’t know any kid or parent that acted like those on TV. We couldn’t figure it out: were they just being mean like our parents were in private, or were we the only ones in America whose families didn’t look like theirs?

What with all the evidence—TV, Uncle Sam, our teachers and what they had to say about us….my best friend and I guessed we just had to be the sinful little boogers, the deviants, deserving of a good beating or some other torture. If I misbehaved, I got sent to my room without dinner—zip, nothing, even if I hadn’t gotten lunch either because some school bully had taken it. My own fault my parents said. And they never did explain what I’d done to not get dinner. I remember once going a whole week without. That time I collapsed, but no doctor visit; we couldn’t afford a doctor back then. They say we got what we deserved, and I guess we turned out the better for it.

Strict rules were all part of family values back then. And it was the Dad’s job to enforce them. Men had it tough, for sure. You had to give them slack, coming back from the war and all, starting life again. So what if husbands cheated? Good, dutiful wives put up with it. Come to think of it, they never showed any of that on The Family Hour….but hard to believe it was only going on in our small town; whatever, we kept our mouths shut when it came to the men; what could you expect from men? It was in their nature after all; everyone said so. And those women still trying to keep their places in the workforce certainly didn’t help a man’s morale; they were just giving ‘em a reason to wander.

Uppity women. Selfish. Got a taste for working and now couldn’t let go, do the right thing for the country. Their place was in the home having babies—whether they wanted to or not. Uncle Sam knew best; the government made it very clear women owed it to our future to give the jobs back to the men, stay home and raise children—White children that is. I understood that some of my moms acquaintances were doing their civic duty when they told my mom she should give up the job she got during the war . . . . even . . . even if my dad wasn’t bringing home enough money to pay all the bills. I agreed with what they said behind her back, that by working my mom was undermining my dad’s ego, ‘cause her actions were making him think he couldn’t do it by himself; she was making him look bad in front of his buddies and, and, and . . . . that’s why he was running around. Yup. It was my mom’s fault for, now what was the word they used. . . for. . . for . . .I know—emasculating him.

She was white and Uncle Sam had said we needed white babies; he hadn’t said anything about the minority women that’d been working before, through, and after the war cleaning up after the rest; of course they were supposed to continue working, and be thankful they got paid at all. They needed to prove they deserved the American Dream—just like we already had.

And we had that dream, almost all that dream: we got a government loan to buy a home on Dad’s GI bill; he got a new Cadillac every year he never paid for thanks to bank credit; he was a salesman with a fine diamond pinkie ring—and it didn’t even matter that he never sold anything! We had the look of prosperity; that’s what mattered. That’s all that mattered when it came to the money game. And best of all back in the 1950s, we had the Cold War.

Now that pulled us together. A strong common enemy sure brings out true blue American patriotism, do or die, no questioning authority, no sir. Why, just like the beginning of the war in Iraq. It was that same thrill of fear, terror, panic, lashing out, and squashing anyone who spoke out against our government all rolled into one—and it lasted for years and years longer than the crap war we got going on now. Just nothing beat it for getting people all gung-ho and rah, rah, rah for the principles of the USA. I definitely know why folks want to go back to those simpler, halcyon days of yore.

We lived in the bosom of great faith we did, positive that could survive a direct nuclear attack. At my school we faithfully practiced duck and cover under our desks while those of us that lived within 20 minutes walking distance were sent home, the alarm sirens blaring from every corner, to take refuge in our basements, our storage bins, or if we had the dough, newly installed bomb shelters. With fear and pride mingling in our devoted hearts, we banded together behind the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and Senator Joseph McCarthy—that fierce fighter of Godless Communism and minority groups trying to undermine us from within.

With our government’s encouragement, we spied on our neighbors, anonymously reported anything that looked suspicious to the authorities, rooted when the Rosenbergs were put to death, and couldn’t wait for the next round of so-called traitors to be thrown in jail or lose their jobs [sorry you were framed Ethel, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and there’s nothing like catching bad guys to keep morale up]. We felt awe and empowerment as Cold War bands of thugs channeled our fears for us, demanding blind loyalty tests from government employees, kicking out any who disagreed with any policy of President Truman and then Eisenhower, ruining careers and lives with a snap of their fingers. With total impunity, knowing what this country needed, they ignored the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, planted forged documents, leaked fake information to the press, accused and declared people enemies of the state in private trials.

They fueled the public’s rage and fear, and with pit bull McCarthy at the helm, we got to not only watch, but be co-conspirators in one of the greatest dramatic plays in America. Even though McCarthy was muzzled, we weren’t done expressing our unleashed passion; we stuck to our duty and joined The John Birch Society. Yes, we were the best Americans, finally able to overcome any family troubles and, instead, turn our righteous anger and suspicions on Semites, Blacks and any other minority that wanted to invade WASP America. Boy, oh, boy, those were the days of strong, single-minded conservative values alright.

We surged in patriotism and fear thanks to the Cold War and, naturally, we surged with Christianity to emotionally bond Americans together to save us from hellfire and Godless Communism as well. Making an official Pledge of Allegiance, still itself brand new out of 1942, overtly religious by adding “under God” in 1954 sure helped send a message to any deviants here. And then adding “In God We Trust” onto all our paper money, thanks to an act of Congress in 1955, we magically became that Christian church-going nation the family values people always thought right.

Again we turned to our trusty TVs for the right message, adding Televangelists to our favorite family programs, eagerly soaking up Oral Roberts of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches who offered fake, I mean faith healing of the blind and crippled in front of thousands and directly into our living rooms through the TV screen, and the nation sure was in need of that to keep us strong in the face of our enemies. God spoke directly to him. Imagine how thrilling that was for us watching this movie star preacher getting divine revelations at the same time he spoke to us. Of course we sent him our money—isn’t that the American way? Don’t we get rich through the grace of God just like anyone can grow up to be President? You won’t find me faulting him for his $100 shoes or $500 suits or the $9 million we sent to save his life. He and so many others have taught us the true American virtues of capitalism, which he simply followed.

And we just had to watch Billy Graham as well with his own fiery fundamentalist/evangelical rhetoric. He explained it in terms we could all understand: war with Russia being the millennial Biblical showdown, God’s test of our goodness and strength. Like the great prophet Moses appearing before us on the Universal stage, God compelled us to follow him….we embraced him especially.

Blessed by God and Eisenhower, backed by Standard Oil and the precursor of Haliburton, he, like McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover—his personal friend—focused our rage on the correct targets, the unions, the traitor liberals in government, and anyone who was anti-big business. Yes, he showed us whose side God was on There we stood, the proud towns, nay, the proud nation composed of small towns and our small town American values.

“Gimme them old time values,
“Gimme them old time values,
“Gimme them old time values,
“They were good enough for my growing years, they’re good enough for me now
“They were good enough for my growing years, they’re good enough for me now

…………………………Ah……………..
Ah………………. Well……………………
…..ah, actually, the more I think about it…. you know, they, they, you know, they look a lot like what we’ve had for the last eight years…..

By riki mathews: The Trickster

October 4, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Politics, religion, The Trickster | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Separation of Church and State Rally

So, yesterday I we went to a separation of church and state rally at the Denver State Capital building. Joel, our President, was originally scheduled to give a presentation but had to cancel at the last minute so I filled in. We should have some footage of the event early next month. We filmed an interview of another guest speaker, best selling author and physicist Victor Stenger, by Elles, author of the blog Splendid Elles, for Skepchick. We should be posting that early next month too. Anyway, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the separation of church and state, including some of the stuff I covered in my presentation.

The separation of church and state is a gap intended to accomplish two primary things. The first is freedom from religion. Our government is based not on the values of any one ideology, but on the innate qualities and aspirations that unite every human being. As such, the government should be unable to enforce laws based on the beliefs of any one religious group. No one should be subject to the restrictions of a religion that is not their own. Ours is a government for the people, by the people, and I mean all the people. This is not a utilitarian majority rules type of democracy. Our government is suppose to represent everyone, not just the great in number. The only restrictions the government should impose is to prevent one person from impinging on the basic natural rights of another human being. Your government should protect you rights, and protect you from being subjected to the restrictions of any religion, whether your rich or poor, black or white, big or small, dumb or smart.

The second purpose of the separation of church and state is to guarantee freedom of religion. In the same way that you should not be subject to the restrictions of other ideologies, so to should you be able to choose which restrictions, beyond those minimal ones imposed by the government, you should be subject too. For example, if your don’t believe in blood transfusions, you don’t have to get one. However, you have no right to impose your principles on others via the government. Those who do not share some religious value should not, do not, have to follow them.

Whenever I debate this particular subject with others, one of the misunderstandings I hear is that a secular government is somehow anti-religious. In reality, a secular government is simply non-religious. In reality, a secular non-religious government is the only government with any realistic probability of guaranteeing the individuals right to practice their own religion. This is not a atheistic nation, and secularism and atheism are not synonymous. I often hear people say that we are a Christian nation, which, in a sense is true. Though our government is not based on Christian values, it is a nation of Christians. However, to say that we are just a Christian nation is absurdly reductionist. We are also a nation of Jews and Muslims, rich and poor, believers and non-believers, men and women, and so much more. Our nation is a melting-pot, and only a secular government can accuratley represent and effectively govern such a diverse populace.

The rights your government guarantees you are based on your humanity, not your religious affiliation and the laws you are subject too are to prevent you from impinging on the basic human rights of others.

- Chalmer

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Politics, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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