Christianity From The Grave

Here’s an interesting twist in the Let’s-Put-The-Ten-Commandments-On-the-Courthouse-Lawn Department.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has registered a complaint with Chippewa County, Wisconsin to have a recently erected monument removed from outside the Courthouse.  This is a little different than the usual case. By “usual”, I mean, it’s not another monument to religion instigated by someone who thinks that their particular religion is just so awesome, that no one in their right mind would ever disagree with the religious sentiment imposed on them and the rest of the public if it would be innocently placed on property paid for by all taxpayers. Yes, there is the clear invocation of a specific religious belief, and yes, as you would expect it’s a Christian one, and yes, it’s on a monument, and yes, the monument is now on public property for all to see.

The difference here is that it’s a monument to a person who actually lived, and died in service to the public. All well and good.  The problem is that on the back of the monument, there is a quotation from the deceased public servant, to wit:

“I don’t feel I have gone too soon.  I feel lucky everyday God keeps me here.  When I die, I know where I”m going.  Don’t be sad because the bible says it’s greater than anyone can even imagine when it’s your time to see it.  You will.  But never before it.  Don’t do anything stupid!  I want to make sure I see all of you again someday.  You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you and believe he rose again. Live a good life.  Ask for forgiveness and believe that I will see you all again.  I love you all and thank God for the time I had with each and everyone of you.  I love you all.  I thank you all for a good life.”

I have a hard time believing this is an actual quote from the deceased, who died the day after being struck by a vehicle.  When exactly did he wake up in the hospital, realize he was about to die, and have the presence of mind to give a quote like that? It’s reads like he knew someone was going to quote him, and even better, take his quote and put it in a prominently displayed public location. Or are we to believe that he said this at some time before his death when he was in a philosophical mood, and wanted to make a lasting impression in case he died?

Perhaps he was at a party, a bit in his cups, feeling a little morose, when he lifted his head off the table and  said: You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you and believe he rose again. Live a good life.  Ask for forgiveness and believe that I will see you all again.

Yes. That must be it. People say that all the time when they have no expectation of death, at the age of 31.

Who am I kidding? Someone thought that a nice monument to religion would look good in that spot, but given the recent spate of cases objecting to the Ten Commandments, another monument to Biblical Law was not the way to go. Too expensive, once you add in all those attorneys fees. But if we put up a nice monument to a fallen public servant, who in their right mind would have the balls to object to a little religious proselytizing while in the process of commemorating the man?

Apparently, the FFRF.  As Annie Laurie Gaylor told the County:

“It’s very appropriate to memorialize this deputy, but not to memorialize his religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter that (the monument) was donated. When it goes on government property, it gives off the appearance that government is endorsing his views.”

I think she was being kind.  Or maybe she just didn’t want to offend them by pointing out what a put-up job it clearly was, or by asking for proof that the man actually was responsible for the quote.

Though, even if he was, the result should still be the same.

The county is going to leave it there for a month, but if there is litigation, they will look to the deceased man’s family to shoulder the costs. It’s doubtful they’ll do that, unless some Christian organization offers to pay the tab.

Don’t be surprised if one does.

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92 thoughts on “Christianity From The Grave

  1. Judging by nal’s comment, it appears that Chippewa County officials are doing the right thing. I have no problem with a neutrally worded monument being placed on public property – which is what it looks like will be the case now. There’s nothing wrong with remembering people who have served the public and given their lives in such service – as long as religious beliefs aren’t thrown into the mix. It seems to me that the family dishonored the dead man by using his death as an opportunity to promote their religion in an inappropriate manner.

    If the family wants to spread their/his beliefs, then they can do something at the guy’s church, or some activity or outreach program sponsored by the church and paid for by them. There are many appropriate ways they could memorialize his life and beliefs. I may be too jaded by my own experiences with evangelicalism, but the course of action they chose looks a bit too opportunistic to me. I’m glad they called on it and that a reasonable solution was found.

  2. It’s unfortunate that they had to make an issue around a memorial for a person who was apparently well regarded, but someone chose to put that quote on the reverse side of the memorial. If they take out the center section (What? And give it to a church?) They remove the clear dedication to the man. Fortunately, the reverse side has references to him, also, and another picture.

    So. No harm, no foul.

  3. Out of curiosity, I wonder how everyone feels about something perhaps a bit more ostensibly innocuous; say, for instance, a cross? Still religious, but something I’d say has arguably crossed the generic line as far as religious symbols go. At least, in the context of memorials for the dead are concerned. How ‘fundamentalist’ about such things do we get? Do we allow no leeway for the sake of inclusiveness? Or do we need to force the cleanest of breaks according to the “give ‘em an inch…” approach? I’m not sure where I come down on this.

  4. And by leeway you mean what, some space to continue imposing their beliefs?

    They have themselves to blame, really. If they wouldn’t lord it over others somehow, then yeah, I could see people turning a blind eye perhaps, but they will so no inch.

    Just out of curiosity to the religious who no doubt will be pissed about this, what if his statement was a similar sermon on Islam, Hinduism, Scientology, or better yet the Klan with a nice line like “wake up White people”? Oh wait, the Klan is Christian. Ok, scratch that last one. ;)

  5. I originally started writing this with the intent of differentiating it from the Ten Commandments cases. Here it was a monument to the person, not a quote from scripture, and the offending quote is actually that of the person being remembered. I originally thought “What’s wrong with that? It’s just his opinion”, and while I wouldn’t agree with him alive, do I have the right to silence him in death?

    But then I re-read the quote, and frankly, they keep saying he said it, but when would he say something like that?

    The first sentence “I don’t feel I’ve gone too soon.” It sounds like he said it after he died. “I want to make sure I see all of you again.” Same thing.

    It just sounds suspiciously like someone was trying to inarticulately put words in his dead mouth.

    So I changed the whole tenor of the post. I just don’t buy the quote thing.

    The swastika thing, Barry, would be objectionable for different reasons. It’s wouldn’t be an establishment Clause problem, because it has nothing to do with religion. Given the Holocaust, swastikas are simply symbolis non gratis anywhere. If there is such a foreign phrase.

    I guess a private citizen could put a swastika on a gravestone, for instance, but the government seeming to endorse it on a public monument? I think government would have the right to, but wouldn’t dare to.

  6. Philly:

    “They have themselves to blame, really. If they wouldn’t lord it over others somehow, then yeah, I could see people turning a blind eye perhaps, but they will so no inch.”

    This is what I’m asking, really, and maybe the subject of the OP isn’t the best example, since it seems more like an overt proselytizing gesture than the authentic last words of a victim (if so, a pretty abominable action on someone else’s part, putting words in the mouth of the deceased. Ugh!).

    To get more to the root of my question, maybe we should posit a dead street-corner Santa Claus run over by some recalcitrant reindeer. Would an engraving of a xmas tree be out of bounds? Certainly there are religious connotations, both pagan and xtian. Do principles have no situational elasticity? I understand the temptation to be dogmatic in such things, especially when, as you say, the other side often isn’t willing to give an inch. Maybe the problem is about most of the noise usually coming from the extremes, and the more moderate middle often being shut out. Or maybe they’re just silent when they shouldn’t be.

    Are we destined to fight over every square inch of territory?

  7. S.I.:

    Sorry, I just read your comment. I seem to have shifted the emphasis, then. I agree, the script doesn’t read authentically.

  8. jim:

    You’ve raised some good questions. I think one of my issues is the context that precedes this particular memorial. If our country didn’t have a history of Christian fundies constantly trying to force their religion on everyone, this monument may never have elicited much, if any, negative response from anyone. The problem for me is that I can’t separate this monument from a larger context of evangelical activism.

    If I recall correctly, you and I have both come from conservative Christian backgrounds. I feel pretty confident in saying that you and I have some insider knowledge on the way a lot of these people think – we’ve been there, done that ourselves. Moreover, I did some in=depth study of fundamental Christian political activism when I was in grad school. I was still a Christian then (had moved toward a fairly liberal position by that time), but the fundies still bothered me. A lot of the stuff they do is very deliberate. This may not fall into that category – it may simply be a family that made what I believe is an inappropriate decision – but, I can’t be sure of that. There’s too much contextual baggage surrounding the incident for me to be willing to give any ground right now.

  9. I let it slide the first time with “fundamentalist”, but now “dogmatic”? Neither of these terms apply here. Adhering to the law is not an example of being dogmatic.

    After rereading the OP I’m struck by “who in their right mind would have the balls to object to a little religious proselytizing while in the process of commemorating the man?” I think the better question would be who in their right mind would have the balls to exploit the death of a police officer killed in the line of duty to advance their religious agenda? Now there’s a set of heavy hangers.

    Btw, I know from experience that memorial must have cost BIG BUCKS. That’s the most expensive granite and not the kind you can blast away the inscription from. Good thing it looks like it’s 3 pieces so they could, if need be, remove just the bad piece. If that was one whole piece, well that would be a screaming waste of money. Speaking of which, where did the money come from for this memorial? I trust not from taxpayer money.

  10. Famous last words…

    When Mrs Demento ran me down with her Jeep a couple of summers ago my thoughts and words were someting along the lines of, “What the hell’s WRONG with you, ya crazy bitch”??!!

    But then, I am an uneducated, gross fellow, a wicked atheist without the depth and spirituality of the saved.

  11. Do you suppose that the monument is in three pieces so that the offensive centre could be removed when the inevitable objection came up? Or am I just being way too cynical?

    On the other hand, though, I am convinced (sans empirical evidence) that many of these ‘monuments’ are placed in order to elicit exactly the response it got. Then, of course, when the monumental objection comes (actually, not an objection, just a request that the law be applied to all equally), the subset of Christians have a chance to claim persecution. Feeds the ol’ complex, right?

  12. SI:

    But then I re-read the quote, and frankly, they keep saying he said it, but when would he say something like that?

    Since he suffered severe head trauma in the accident, It’s suspicious if it’s claimed he said it between the accident and his death.

  13. It looks like the quote is on one of the side pieces, not the center. That would be a crapload of money wasted if they had to redo the center piece. Over a decade ago, your average size tombstone of that granite with an etching was $8k-$12k, so a 6′ piece now could be in the ballpark of $30k-$40k.

  14. nal

    Exactly my thought.

    Philly

    in the pictures that are linked in the article in the link in the first comment above(did you follow that? I didn’t. 8) ) the quote is clearly in the center section.

    (((Billy)))

    If it wasn’t a conscious motivation, I’ll bet there was some subconscious psychology going on here.

  15. Shit that thing cost a lot of money.

    Think of all the ‘Christian’ things which could have been done with that money: shoes and clothing, food, meds, shelter, warmth. But the monument to proselytizing gets the bucks.

    I don’t understand.

  16. @ (((Billy))):

    Making more disciples is the primary mission – says so in the Great Commission. Doing good works for others is a lesser priority. After all, as the Good Lord Jesus said (as one of his followers freshened his feet with expensive perfume), the poor will always be with us.

    Gotta get your priorities right, man! Proselytizing trumps caring.

  17. This may be slightly off topic, but I think it’s odd that many of the same folks who thought Obama giving a “Stay in School” speech gave the impression of a school endorsing a socialist agenda have such a hard time understanding why religious symbols on government property (to say nothing of PRAYER in schools) is a violation of the separation of church and state.

  18. hmmm…so almost the whole of arlington cemetery is a violation of church and state then? maybe we should scrub all those markers of those vile religious symbols so as not to offend anyone.

  19. It’s probably because they’re not thinking in terms of means, but rather in terms of ends, Lifeguard. I doubt they have a problem with a school endorsing an agenda, as long as it’s their agenda.

    Furthermore, if Obama cured cancer tomorrow those nutters would find some way to object to the cure. We both know if Obama’s speech was given by W, they would have hailed it as instilling patriotism in students, for what would be more patriotic than helping the President? ;)

    It’s a constant battle to keep reminding ourselves that we’re dealing with irrational people. We can’t wonder why they don’t see what we see. We have to learn how and why they see things the way they do.

    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    - Sun Tzu

  20. I doubt if there would be any fuss had the memorial merely had a cross, Jason. There’s no proselytizing message on the memorials at Arlington. Furthermore, a cemetery is designated for memorials, so:
    1) There’s an expectation of religious symbols
    2) As just a cemetery, there’s one and only one reason why anyone would go there
    3) With the plethora of memorials with assorted symbols, it’s clear the government isn’t endorsing any one religion nor religion at all since Atheist symbols are there as well

    Now of course they could try the Christmas gambit of allowing multiple memorials with assorted messages, but then that’s going to get silly quick like the Christmas displays only worse considering this isn’t as flippant a thing as decorating for a holiday.

  21. Heck, they could have worded it along the lines of “He was dedicated to his family, his community and his church” and that would have been fine in my book.

  22. jason:

    hmmm…so almost the whole of arlington cemetery is a violation of church and state then?

    There’s no religious privileging at Arlington.

    AUTHORIZED EMBLEMS

    There’s even an atheist symbol. Cool.

  23. my comment was directed towards lifeguard who said:

    “…religious symbols on government property (to say nothing of PRAYER in schools) is a violation of the separation of church and state.”

    i was just giving him/her some perspective on his/her very broad statement.

    so, as an atheist, what makes a religious symbol okay on a monument but not a brief quote or message that would support that very symbol? we are talking about a cross after all – the shape that most people would immediately identify with christianity. wouldn’t the symbol itself be a form of endorsement for that religion? i think think to say that a symbol that represents religion is acceptable but a statement that does the same is not is hypocritical at best.

  24. as an atheist, what makes a religious symbol okay on a monument but not a brief quote or message that would support that very symbol?

    That’s a clever (whether intended or not) implication there by asking, “as an atheist…” for it implies any answer wouldn’t be correct, but rather a biased opinion.

    One difference is a symbol can be read in various ways, whereas a text message mostly can’t (unless he’s a poor writer). Another is as a long standing practice, it’s understood that a symbol on a memorial is a data point about the person, like a name or date, and therefore not necessarily a tool for proselytizing. That’s it’s recognized purpose at Arlington, too.

    i think think to say that a symbol that represents religion is acceptable but a statement that does the same is not is hypocritical at best.

    Well you’re thinking is incorrect, probably due to your framing being incorrect. The symbol doesn’t represent a religion as much as it’s an identifier for the person and the statement doesn’t just represent the religion, it actively proselytizes. That’s a big difference.

    The initial mistake was the local government giving in to emotion and allowing this kind of memorial on their property. It should have merely been something to acknowledge the man and his sacrifice and that’s that. They never should have allowed it to be such a personal memorial that’s unsuitable for such a venue, but no doubt they were caught up in the emotions of the moment and so here we are. In fact, as a memorial of service and not a grave memorial, there wouldn’t have even been a justification for any religious symbol.

    See Jason, that’s where we all get in trouble with “leeway”, and why we have to be “fundamentalists” when it comes to the law. ;)

  25. i think think to say that a symbol that represents religion is acceptable but a statement that does the same is not is hypocritical at best.

    I agree with Jason here.

    Definitely the symbols should be banned. Even crosses. What’s so difficult about “no religion” on public property? A “crescent” like a cross has many applications besides religious. But if an islamic community in Michigan voted overwhelmingly to erect one on the grounds of their local library, how big an uproar in Christian America would we be entertained by?

  26. I would agree that there’s no reason for having a religious symbol on government property aside from the obvious example of Arlington. However, as Arlington shows, context is important. IF there was a memorial with a cross, even though such a symbol would be inappropriate, the context for why it would be there would affect the degree of the offense and it could be reasonably assumed that its presence might not be a government endorsement of religion, but remove that context and merely stick a cross or some 10 commandments on the lawn and there’s no doubt what it’s intent is.

    As I said earlier, they should have just had a less personal memorial. Something like a plaque or a bust with name, dates, and a message to acknowledge his service and death in the line of duty. Keep the personal shit for his actual grave site where it belongs.

  27. Jason,

    You wrote: “so almost the whole of arlington cemetery is a violation of church and state then?”

    No, because a tombstone marks the personal burial place of an individual, and you might even argue that to not allow someone their choice of religious symbol (or even a quote for that matter) in a public space is a violation of the right to practice one’s religion freely (even if posthumously). The selection of such a symbol in that case has been made by the individual as opposed to the state.

    That’s much different from a state gratuitously choosed to honor an individual by putting such a symbol, monument, or quote in front of a courthouse which is a public, government office. If someone wants to protest Roe v. Wade in front of a courthouse by holding a cross, I can’t argue with that– it’s an individual choice about how one chooses to express themselves in a certain place.

    But for the government to put a monument such as the one SI write about here is a different story– an affirmative step by the government that suggests, not simply or solely an individual’s choice about how they wish to be commemorated, but a tacit government endorsement of that person’s views.

    As for the broadness of my statement, hey… mea culpa, but I assumed since it was written in response to this rather specific post that it wouldn’t be taken as my expressing a universal truth that I believe is blindly applicable to every possible scenario, but, rather, a response to the one monument we’re discussing here.

    Thanks for pointing it out though. You and Cl would get along well!

  28. “But for the government to put a monument such as the one SI write about here is a different story–”

    one could make the argument that it is not different at all. wasn’t private interment an option for the buried at arlington? the government -chose- to erect the cemetery in honor of the men and women in arlington just as it -chose- to erect the monument in honor of the gentleman in question here. both are memorials erected on government property and i’m sure the family of this gentleman was consulted about the content on his memorial just as the families of the soldiers at anmc were consulted about the content on their memorials – i don’t believe the government made it up.

  29. Jason:

    One can certainly make that argument based simply on the fact of government action, but the fact that such an argument “can” be made doesn’t make it correct.

    Once the government chooses to create a space where individuals can be buried, it must honor the individuals right to practice their religion there. It’s the same as allowing people to exercise their own personal First Amendment rights in a public space. At Arlington, the government created a space where it could not consitutionally limit speech or the free practice of religion by private citizens within that space.

    That is quite different than the government choosing to honor one individual outside of a court house. This is not a public space where anyone who has served can simply set up a permanent monument. The government has made an exception in this case for one individual to the exclusion of others and chosen to allow that exception to manifest itself in an overtly religious manner outside of a government building.

    Sure, both cases involve government action, but you have to look at that action in context.

  30. one could make the argument that it is not different at all

    One could, but that would be a mistake in light of my comment earlier and Lifeguard’s right above this. Plus the families are not consulted at Arlington for inscriptions as you claim. Private monuments are no longer allowed and the standard monuments just have the standard info and “faith emblem”, no message.

    I don’t recall anyone claiming the government made up the inscription. Where did you get that from? What appears to have happened is the government chose to indulge the family, which was a mistake. Btw, anyone find out where the money came from for this thing yet?

  31. @ Philly:

    Btw, anyone find out where the money came from for this thing yet?

    According to the story in SI’s first link,

    With the approval of Chippewa County, Deputy Zucker’s family and friends raised thousands of dollars and erected a monument to Deputy Zucker outside the Courthouse.

  32. Beat me to it Chappie!

    Then there’s this from this editorial:

    Sadly, there appears to have been miscommunication and misunderstanding between the two groups. Some members of the Chippewa County Buildings and Grounds Committee now say the monument is more focused on Zunker than they intended. Committee Chairman Mike Murphy said the committee wanted a memorial that applied to all law enforcement officers, and that committee members thought the memorial’s three stone tablets – one of which is 5 1/2 feet tall – would be flat on the ground, not upright. In addition, Murphy and others are worried a quotation on one of the stones – in which Zunker discusses his Christian faith – could prompt a lawsuit

  33. SI’s inability to believe these were the man’s actual words aside, in some cases I side with the FFRF. This is not one of them. Presuming those were the man’s own words, in no way is honoring an individual’s beliefs on their public monument a violation of separation. I doubt any of you would mind if a public monument to Robert Ingersoll espoused some of his views on religion.

    The way I see it, the idea of separation in the public arena is to prevent forced or favored beliefs – not to fanatically remove every instance of their expression.

  34. Cl,

    Whether or not any of us would or would not mind isn’t the test, unless, of course, you’re testing hypocrisy. Personally, I think an anti-religious statement WOULD violate the idea of separation, because the government simply has no business offering it’s opinions on this stuff regardless of the degree of subtlety involved.

    Nor do I think this is an instance of a campaign “to fanatically remove every instance of their expression.” If we were talking about “In God We Trust” on a dollar bill I might agree with you.

    As I read the OP, part of me considered whether I would have found the statement as offensive if it only included the sentence “I don’t feel I have gone too soon. I feel lucky everyday God keeps me here.” You know what? I might wince a bit, but I wouldn’t find it nearly as outrageous as the veritable sermon on the merits of accepting Jesus as your personal lord and saviour.

    This is not fanatacism. IMHO, if such a statement on government property does not violate separation, then it’s about as close as you can get without doing so.

  35. cl, if that monument had been to an infidel, and it said something to the effect of: “I’m a no-assed unbeliever, and, there is no God, and, I’m a product of worm feces, and, I’m going to a hole full of worms as my ultimate fate!”; these morons wouldn’t have a thing to say.

    But, because it’s a testimony of FAITH, (the dirtiest word in the infidel dictionary) these Einsteins figure it’s worthless…

    Much like Brylcreem would be for John-O! :lol:

    Yep. There’s nothing says human dignity like an ape for a grandaddy, and an eternity in a six-foot hole!

  36. “Sorry, I just read your comment. I seem to have shifted the emphasis, then. I agree, the script doesn’t read authentically.”

    Jim-Bob…

    Cut the crap, boy, we know you can’t read! They didn’t teach you your letters in reform school, not with that new addition hog-pen, out back, where you spent many a romantic evening that wasn’t already devoted to your little sister’s bedroom!

    (And, your mom’s shower stall!)

    Aspiring after-hours petting zoo patrons like yourself, don’t need no readnin’ n’ writinin’, do they, Zeke?
    :lol:

  37. “I would agree that there’s no reason for having a religious symbol on government property aside from the obvious example of Arlington.”

    Not when we have so many pagan symbols on them, right, No-See-Ums? (reference to Gideon’s comments on Chief’s blog.)

    Course, like Atheism, paganism is just another religion.

  38. Evo:

    When I die, please put up a memorial on my behalf outside of a courthouse, okay?

    “I don’t feel I have gone too soon. I feel lucky everyday I’m alive, because I accepted long ago that this life is all I have and that is enough for me. Don’t be sad because, knowing this life is all we have, we can make the most of every second we have left, no matter how many seconds left. Don’t waste your time counting on the hereafter! I want to make sure you live in the here and now, appreciating your family, friends, and loved ones right now. You must let go of that belief that you’re going to get a second chance to re-establish those relationships you should be making the most of right now. Live a good life. I love you all and thank you for the time I had with each and everyone of you. I love you all. I thank you all for a good life.”

    I’m sure all of the theists defending the memorial described in the post will be more than happy to defend mine as well.

    [Note: I WOULD oppose the monument to myself I just described for the same reasons I oppose the one in the OP.]

  39. *Sniff*

    Oh, Lifeguard… that’s *blowing nose* so touching… moronic, but touching!

    Is defeatist thinking the norm with you? You would actually tell your “loved ones” to quit thinking, give up, accept that you’re dying for eternity? Don’t question, just believe what ever the establishment tells you, that you’re ape-spawn (from a fish, originally…???) or interstellar plankton, whatever, that magically appeared from nothing, with no help? How do you spell your name? L-O-S-E-R?

    cl thought there might be something worthwhile about you… I don’t see where! Though you may not be as brain-dead as Jimbo, the MPD-afflicted sheep-fucker, or Philly Chief, the pseudo-Indian jellyfish, I think you’re a chip off the old Dawkins, really!

    I hope your family doesn’t like you, necessitating they spend a significant amount of time with you. You’d be a lethality to them.

  40. Lifey said: but I actually kind of like you.

    Right?

    I don’t think Philly agrees me. Is there an irreparable rupture in on Team Red A? Or is cl just full of it, even though you gotta kinda like him too?

    I’ll take care of that monument if I can, but don’t count on it. Then again, from what you said – I’d guess you aren’t.

  41. If the roles were reversed, and Gideon was the atheist, spouting off the way he does, and this was a Christian blog, Gideon would have been deleted long ago.

    I find him sort of pathetic, but he is the best damned advertisement for atheism on this blog. Everything he types proves everything atheists say. HE doesn’t think so, but the proof is in the pudding.

    If we say that Christians don’t understand evolution, we can say it till the cows come home, but to prove it, all we need is Gideon.

    If we say that there are contradictions in the Bible, no point in looking up chapter and verse, just read Gideon.

    If we say that Christians are hypocrites, you don’t have to go much farther than Gideon.

    So, what’s not to like?

  42. Evo:

    I like Cl, but for different reasons. Gideon amazes me by his ability to alternate between firing off relevant arguments and being completely, uproariously, hysterically funny in how he ridicules atheists.

    I swear, I nearly wet myself the day he referred to SI as Spotless Inseminator.

    SI:

    You wrote: “he [Gideon] is the best damned advertisement for atheism on this blog. Everything he types proves everything atheists say.”

    This is why a part of me still thinks Gideon is one of the Exterminator’s Great Hoaxes.

    Regardless, I like him either way.

  43. As far as all this skepticism as to whether the man actually said the words or not, sometimes I just have to sit back and laugh. Is it possible that he didn’t, and this monument was simply intended as fodder in another religio-political war? Certainly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be true. Yet, people often write about death and dying before it happens, what’s so hard about giving the benefit of the doubt for the sake of an argument? Who hasn’t at least thought of how they’d want to be eulogized? Really, sometimes you “rationalists” look like keystone cops fumbling over one another trying to find the crime in a kid going to an ice cream truck.

    Seeing as how at least some of you are “deconverted faithful” (which tend to become “fundie atheists” in my experience), I guess the reactions here make sense. I see a definite paralell between oversensitive believers who get their panties in a wad over any mention of evolution, and oversensitive secularists who get their panties in a wad over any mention of religion. My view of separation is very simple – that its intent is to prevent government endorsement of any particular response to the religious question, and to prevent discrimination based on how folks answer the religious question. That’s it. This means its unlawful to grant or deny privileges based on how one answers the religious question.

    First, a tangential issue:

    SI,

    If we say that Christians are hypocrites, you don’t have to go much farther than Gideon.

    I disagree, as I think Gideon’s quite consistent. Now, do I think all of his comments reflect the Lord’s grace? Hardly; nobody’s will 100% of the time. Still, as far as I can see, Gideon’s never really made any false pretense about himself, and I’ve actually seen him try different approaches. I’ve seen Gideon address the things others perceive as his faults. That indicates that he listens to criticism.

    OTOH, I’ve seen more (and more vile) hypocrisy from yourself than Gideon. For example, you decry “sockpuppetry,” then refuse to address your own pet “sockpuppet” Trinity. You say as rationalists we espouse reasoned conclusions (and I agree), but then you knee-jerkedly reject an argument for literally hundreds of comments without even fully understanding it.

    Given the Holocaust, swastikas are simply symbolis non gratis anywhere. (SI, to Senator Goldwater)

    Why? Because they offend you? Jews? Most people? By this logic, your standard becomes absolutely relative. Why can’t somebody say, “Given the Crusades, crosses [should be] symbolis non gratis anywhere? Actually confront Senator’s difficult question head-on, why don’t you?

    Gideon,

    cl, if that monument had been to an infidel, and it said something to the effect of: “I’m a no-assed unbeliever, and, there is no God, and, I’m a product of worm feces, and, I’m going to a hole full of worms as my ultimate fate!”; these morons wouldn’t have a thing to say.

    Of course not! Don’t you remember last year’s FFRF sign in Olympia? The vast majority of “freethinking” atheists I encountered supported that sign. I just enjoy watching the special pleading as people who support X from the FFRF, then decry X from the religious. Hilarious, were it not so troubling to the idea that secularism is based on rationalism.

    chaplain,

    There’s nothing wrong with remembering people who have served the public and given their lives in such service – as long as religious beliefs aren’t thrown into the mix.

    I agree – until the hyphen. Who cares if this man’s religious beliefs were included on his tombstone – and FSM forbid – that his tombstone is on public property? Such doesn’t mean the government endorses his particular views, nor is such an instance of discrimination. That the monument is there means the government endorses the man’s right to his particular opinion; it does not mean the government endorses the particular opinion.

    The problem for me is that I can’t separate this monument from a larger context of evangelical activism. (to jim)

    That’s a big problem, one that can certainly obscure rendering objective decisions on a per-case basis. These situations can’t be properly assessed with anything less.

    jim,

    How ‘fundamentalist’ about such things do we get? Do we allow no leeway for the sake of inclusiveness? …Do principles have no situational elasticity? I understand the temptation to be dogmatic in such things, especially when, as you say, the other side often isn’t willing to give an inch.

    Great question and thoughts, and I think it’s sad that so many secularists get so ‘fundamentalist’ about it.

    PhillyChief,

    I let it slide the first time with “fundamentalist”, but now “dogmatic”?

    LOL! Yes, Philly, you too can and do hold to your own opinions dogmatically. Unfortunately, you yourself are not exempt from the human flaws you so pointedly criticize in others.

    Lifeguard,

    The government has made an exception in this case for one individual to the exclusion of others and chosen to allow that exception to manifest itself in an overtly religious manner outside of a government building.

    If that’s true, we have a problem, yet, were others really excluded here? Or did that part of your comment just take too much liberty?

    Whether or not any of us would or would not mind isn’t the test, unless, of course, you’re testing hypocrisy.

    Exactly, and I gleefully note that if my memory serves correct, every one of you supported the FFRF’s Olympia sign. Now that’s hypocrisy! If any atheists here did not support the FFRF’s Olympia sign, now would be the time to clear that up and absolve the charges of hypocrisy.

    IMHO, if such a statement on government property does not violate separation, then it’s about as close as you can get without doing so.

    Why? Last month SF allowed an evangelical revival at Civic Center. Was that a violation IYHO? Why or why not? What’s different? As far as I know, nobody here seemed to mind, and SF isn’t exactly sympathetic towards evangelicals if you know what I mean.

    I WOULD oppose the monument to myself I just described for the same reasons I oppose the one in the OP.

    That’s fine. I wouldn’t – because it would not constitute an instance of the government endorsing your religious beliefs, but your right to them – nor would it constitute an instance of the government discriminating on the basis of religious beliefs.

    Gideon amazes me by his ability to alternate between firing off relevant arguments and being completely, uproariously, hysterically funny in how he ridicules atheists.

    I second that, and I often wonder if ‘ole Gideon ain’t Ex myself.

  44. Cl,

    1) You wrote: “If that’s true, we have a problem, yet, were others really excluded here? Or did that part of your comment just take too much liberty?”

    Unless everyone who dies has the option of putting up their own monument espousing their own religious or irreligious views, then, yeah, I believe others are excluded. At the very least, I believe it is substantially different than a graveyard.

    2) You wrote: “Exactly, and I gleefully note that if my memory serves correct, every one of you supported the FFRF’s Olympia sign.”

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t expressed any opinion on it.

    3) You wrote: “Last month SF allowed an evangelical revival at Civic Center. Was that a violation IYHO? Why or why not? What’s different?”

    Civic center, like Arlington, is a venue where people are permitted to speak. The government can’t say “No, you can’t express yourself here in that manner” without limiting your rights. I’d add that it’s also much different from a memorial or a grave for that matter insofar as a revival is a transient event. Here for a few days, tops, then it’s gone. Also, a court house, unlike a graveyard or the Civic Center, is a government office– a place where the government does some very nitty gritty work.

  45. Lifey

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t expressed any opinion on it.

    That’s the sign they were allowed to put up in the Washington State Capitol to balance out the Nativity scene that some religious group forced the state to put up. See here.

    I’m sure you supported that at the time, so now you’re a hypocrite. 8)

    Join the ranks.

  46. There shouldn’t be displays of any kind like creches and menorahs at government buildings, but those blinded by faith lack objectivity, so they sometimes need a kick in the nuts to help restore objectivity, and that came from the FFRF’s Olympia display. Unfortunately it wasn’t hard enough, so to hold on to their creches, they permitted the FFRF’s plaque.

    Btw, supporting the FFRF’s plaque is not an example of ends justify the means because I’m not saying it belonged there anymore than the creches or the menorahs or whatever the fuck else was on display. That was the damn point. They’re all wrong. Anyone calling support of the display while objecting to this memorial or a creche is indicative of hypocrisy is a comedian, an idiot or a douchebag.

  47. Lifeguard,

    Unless everyone who dies has the option of putting up their own monument espousing their own religious or irreligious views, then, yeah, I believe others are excluded. At the very least, I believe it is substantially different than a graveyard.

    Who was denied their right to erect their own monument espousing their own religious or irreligious views?

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t expressed any opinion on it.

    Count yourself among the lucky. I didn’t think you’d fall for such nonsense anyways.

    I’d add that it’s also much different from a memorial or a grave for that matter insofar as a revival is a transient event. Here for a few days, tops, then it’s gone.

    So, whether or not the constitution has been violated depends on length of tenure?

    PhillyChief,

    They’re all wrong.

    Weird. That’s exactly what Fundamentalists say about whoever or whatever they disagree with!

  48. CL:

    1) “Who was denied their right to erect their own monument espousing their own religious or irreligious views?”

    Maybe this is just atheist paranoia, but I’m (admittedly) assuming that certain irreligious points of view, such as the Lifeguard Monument, would not have been welcome and would have received far different treatment by whatever governmental group approved of the monument described in the OP. It’s not worth arguing with me on this, it’s simply my gut feeling that anything other than a Christian expression of faith would not have flown.

    2) “So, whether or not the constitution has been violated depends on length of tenure?”

    No, and I have a very hard time believing you actually think that’s my position. What it depends on is context. A public venue where anyone is free to put on a heavy metal show, evangelical revival, Michael Jackson tribute concert, or secular rally one day after another versus granting a group of individuals the right to erect a permanent monument with overtly religious overtones in front of a court house.

    Can a local government put a giant crucifix right next to the court house entry too? How about a sign that says “Jesus Saves” or “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is His Prophet?” If a courthouse is the same as the Civic Center, then why not?

    You really don’t see ANY at least potentially dispositive differences between these two venues, Cl? No possible reason AT ALL why they should be treated differently?

  49. Lifey

    You’re wasting your breath with him

    it’s simply my gut feeling that anything other than a Christian expression of faith would not have flown.

    It’s not a gut feeling, so don’t minimize it. It’s a perfectly supportable and valid assumption. Anyone with any intelligence knows that if you walked up to the Courthouse and said to the Commissioners “Hey! Nice monument. Mind if I put this one up right next to it with a few quotes from Christopher Hitchens god Is Not Great?”, you’d be seen the door in about 5 seconds flat. But to convince cl, you’d actually need to do it, or it’s not acceptable argument.

  50. S.I.:

    “Hey! Nice monument. Mind if I put this one up right next to it with a few quotes from Christopher Hitchens god Is Not Great?”, you’d be seen the door in about 5 seconds flat.”

    This is my question- Would such a monument be alright IF monuments bearing other inscriptions, such as the hypothetical you’ve offered, were also allowed? Is this ultimately a question of equality, or outright proscription? And if it’s one of proscription, is there allowable leeway IF said ‘wiggle room’ applies across the board? Or no?

  51. That was last year’s debate over Christmas displays, Jim. So far it seems that the Christians want their creches so bad, they’re willing to put up with plaques next to it saying their religion is quite silly.

  52. Philly-

    Funny how the particulars affect each of us differently. I feel less hostile toward a personal memorial than I do toward state sponsored or supported creches…it just seems more blatantly intrusive to me. And somebody earlier mentioned the ‘In God We Trust’ on our money, which I find the most offensive of all, in main because the ‘We’ symbolically includes ME!

    The nature of a memorial makes this a tough one for me, especially seeing that it’s honoring a fallen public servant. It seems that if we’re going to allow ANY of this stuff at all, we have to make some allowances for the preferences of the dead we’re supposedly honoring. Or even his loved ones, as the case may be. But to what extent? No solid answers from this direction, though it’s been interesting trying to weed through all the posts, trying to see if there’s a seed of consensus in there somewhere.

  53. I don’t see how anything personal needs to be on display in honoring a fallen officer. Aside from it having nothing to do with why he would be honored, by what criteria should we decide what personal details should be allowed and what not? It may seem pleasant to have little lines about how he enjoyed moonlight walks with the Mrs. or Saturdays at the park with the kids, but what about Friday poker nights with the guys, his ability to drink a whole bottle of Jameson’s, or how he religiously back-doored the Mrs. every morning before work? Where’s the line? Better yet, why should there even be a debate about where the fucking line is when that whole mess of details has no business being there in the first place?

    Name, dates, maybe a short description of how he died in the line of duty, and a brief acknowledgment and thanks from the local government. Bing bang boom, that’s all the room. Done.

  54. I agree with Philly. It seems to me that as a fallen public servant, what a public monument in a public place ought to memorialize is his public service to the community, not his personal life, his personal feelings, or his personal superstitions. His grave stone is where that should go. Or an ad on a billboard paid for by anyone that wants to shell out the money. He died in the line of duty serving his community. Memorialize that.

    How hard is it to understand that it is a taxpayer owned site that this monument to public servant is being placed? It catches a lot of eyeballs, and it demands a certain amount of respect and gravitas by the public who pass it by on a regular basis. Anything in granite will do that. Hence, the idea of using it as a means or proselytizing something the Constitution proscribes is made even more egregious by that fact, and actually demeans the purpose of the memorial.

  55. The truth is, such a memorial is a proselytizing tool. It serves to preach respect for the police, the law, and as a potential recruitment tool. Yes it honors the officer, but the act of honoring him serves those purposes above.

    Sorry, but that’s the cold facts sans sappy sentimentality.

  56. Philly, S.I.:

    Perhaps such thing should be done away with altogether, then? Keep the line between public and private sectors as utterly distinct as we can make it? Actually, that doesn’t sound bad. As far as graveyards like Arlington are concerned; well, it IS a graveyard, and can be counted as an appropriate exception, I think. Ok, I’m convinced; the memorial must go. Demolition starts next Tuesday.

  57. SI,

    You’re wasting your breath with him

    Don’t you think it’s at all possible that this might be the very attitude which caused you to blindly dismiss one of my arguments for literally hundreds of comments? Back off and let me do my thing, or delete my comments if they bother you, but don’t be a such a spoiled sport about it. Me and Lifeguard often have productive conversations, by the way. He actually reads my arguments before responding. You should try it sometime liverlips!

    [/Gideon impersonation]

    Evo,

    As an aside, this is another example of what I mean when I say you guys always have to get each others’ back – the Team Scarlet A thing. Look at SI come galloping in with his sword drawn to drive a wedge between Lifeguard and myself! It’s really a joke, don’t you think? Be honest. If SI really doesn’t understand that I’m done debating him for now because he dismisses arguments without reading them, that’s fine, but then why can’t he just chill and let things go their way?

    [/rant]

  58. Lifeguard,

    Maybe this is just atheist paranoia, but I’m (admittedly) assuming that certain irreligious points of view, such as the Lifeguard Monument, would not have been welcome and would have received far different treatment by whatever governmental group approved of the monument described in the OP.

    I say if not paranoia, then at least in the neighborhood. By “equality” here I don’t mean that since this monument has been placed, now any and every fallen hero with a particular response to the religious question gets to also place their monument there, too. That’s the example SI introduced, and of course they’re going to deny the Hitchens monument! The same damn thing would happen if I tried to get a Kurt Cobain statue installed next to ‘ole Ludwig van in Golden Gate Park, and you all know it. If I used “equality” as my defense I’d get laughed at.

    By “equality” I mean the fact that there are monuments to freethinkers and deists and Puritans and atheists and Buddhists and Muslims all over this once-and-sometimes-still-beautiful country, monuments that in some form or another express our views and allow them to live on. I’m saying if we can allow these elsewhere, what’s the matter here? As long as no official policies or employees of the sites that host these monuments don’t force any particular response to the religious question on anyone, or discriminate against anyone on the basis of their particular response to the religious question, or prevent anyone from answering the religious question as they see fit, I say the aim of the Founding Fathers and separation remains intact. Tyranny has most certainly been nipped in the bud, yet a certain degree of personal expression and liberty permitted.

    Now, might Joe American the head of one of these buildings be a bigot, and might a legitimate instance eventually arise that needs court address? Of course. We cross those bridges when we get there and until then there’s no need to make a stink for the sake of some weird “secular puritanism.”

    Lastly, if you’re a lawyer of the caliber as this man was an officer, and you also had such an impact on the civic psyche where you live, and you died suddenly and tragically – unless they’re obviously a bigot like Joe America – why wouldn’t somebody suggest the idea of a monument to your honor on some relevant public building?

    No, and I have a very hard time believing you actually think that’s my position.

    Hey, hold on now, that’s why I asked. I didn’t think it was, and I didn’t want to assume, but I had to be sure.

    Can a local government put a giant crucifix right next to the court house entry too? How about a sign that says “Jesus Saves” or “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is His Prophet?”

    Of course not! However, I think an unobtrusive account of an individual’s personal beliefs, included within their monument and phrased how they want them to live on in their memory, is perfectly acceptable in the vast majority of cases. As you say, think of context. In your examples, the messages are prominent and the reasonable observer is highly likely to make a connection between the messages and the buildings where they stand. Now think of a few paragraphs in readable but not huge type on some guy’s monument. Big deal? The reasonable observer can look at it and realize its eulogizing the guy. Admittedly, unobtrusive is a subjective criteria I know, but we could establish some concrete parameters, for example, “typeface must be less than 1.5 inches and within (specified color range). Then there would be concrete parameters that I’m willing to bet would filter out a decent chunk of these silly cases. I would also demand that the law require the words, “(name) believed that… (followed by beliefs)” so as to be quite clear nobody is making a truth claim here. So long as the standards for unobtrusiveness are met, people would actually have to learn to live with things, and that’s not such a bad idea if you ask me.

    The only ways I might change my mind are these: if it would have been illegal for the person being honored to have shared his personal religious beliefs with an individual at the same spot he’s being honored at while off duty, then perhaps consistency should be observed in that particular territory.

    Or if I went to the actual site in question here, and in person could plainly see that the message was either inherently obtrusive, being presented obtrusively, or both.

  59. jim,

    I feel less hostile toward a personal memorial than I do toward state sponsored or supported creches…it just seems more blatantly intrusive to me.

    I agree, and I swear I chose the word “unobtrusive” in my criteria before I read your comment. We are in 100% agreement here, it seems. Scary, eh? ;)

    I also find the “In God We Trust” thing a bit disheartening, but for different reasons I’m sure.

    PhillyChief,

    So far it seems that the Christians want their creches so bad, they’re willing to put up with plaques next to it saying their religion is quite silly.

    Hey, a misleading blanket statement. Big surprise. “..the Christians”

    Name, dates, maybe a short description of how he died in the line of duty, and a brief acknowledgment and thanks from the local government. Bing bang boom, that’s all the room. Done.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against such a monument at all. I’m just saying there’s no need to force all monuments to public servants to be the same sterile thing just because a few people get their panties in a wad when somebody’s is religious. That’s exactly the same sort of BS fundamentalists pull and you know it, so stop chintzing on your standards in that regard.

    Such is privilege of a liberty this country was founded upon: free expression – of course with the aforementioned caveat implied.

  60. jim,

    Looks like I spoke too soon. Now you say the monument should go…

    Personally, sometimes I feel that I wouldn’t object to the “done away with altogether” approach, but I can’t justify caving in on principle just to appease everybody. It just doesn’t seem right.

  61. Like I wrote above, how about something along the lines of “A loving family man who dedicated himself to the community he served and his church”?

  62. The ‘monument must go’ is just a little tongue-in-cheek. Actually, in a perfect world such black-and-white demarcations would be ideal. Then again, in a perfect world most of the population wouldn’t be bowing their collective head to primitive superstition.

    However, in this less-than-perfect-world, I have to acknowledge that I’m on the side with waaaay less clout. I have to choose my battles, and I’m not sure the memorial in question is the one I would choose. If we’re going to make allowances here and there, then this example seems relatively innocuous in the bigger picture. That’s really what I’ve been trying to make clear in my own mind on this thread; are allowances, allowable? Do we ever turn a blind eye according to circumstantial severity? Should our responses be nuanced according to context, or degree, or just because some fights are more worth fighting than others? These are all the things I’ve been considering the last few days.

    Whoever brought up the ‘In God We Trust’ thing (lifeguard?), thanks. The way I’m seeing things now, this is the archetype of state-sponsored religion. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that it’s state ORDERED religion, since all of us are forced the attend the Church of the Almighty Dollar on at least a semi-regular basis. The more I think about it, the angrier I get.

  63. Also, the ‘free expression’ thing is what’s bothered me a bit. IF we’re going to allow free expression on memorials that have both private and public aspects, then I don’t see how we can rightly dictate the content of that expression. That’s why in the end, if we’re going to be logically and morally consistent, we should probably ban that kind of stuff altogether. Good luck with that, though.

  64. If we’re going to make allowances here and there, then this example seems relatively innocuous in the bigger picture. That’s really what I’ve been trying to make clear in my own mind on this thread; are allowances, allowable? Do we ever turn a blind eye according to circumstantial severity?

    One of the problems is the precedent it sets. Once it’s up and everyone agrees it’s innocuous, then someone else is trying to get their pet superstition up in another public place, citing the precedent of the first one. It’s a wedge that’s somewhat, maybe subconsciously, designed to open the door for more. Maybe in this case it wouldn’t, but somewhere it will.

    It’s very similar to the Dover School Board’s attempt to get Intelligent Design into science classes. (notice how effortlessly I segue to another post? 8) ) They started slow and, one might argue (in fact it was argued) innocuously. All they wanted to do was read a little statement that pointed out problems with evolution and tell the kids that they can go look at another book if they are interested. Sounds so innocent. In that case, it was purposely intended to look innocent, because behind it the forces of stupidity and ignorance were all ready to go to the next step, then the next, until one day we’d wake up and the Biology supplement in class is the Bible.

  65. Back off and let me do my thing, or delete my comments if they bother you, but don’t be a such a spoiled sport about it

    Sorry, cl, but you may have noticed that this is my blog. If you don’t want me to point out your particular irrationalities, don’t post them.

  66. Cl:

    Methinks where you and I simply disagree is that I think the manner and extent to which this man’s views were expressed on that monument makes them obtrusive when put within that proximity of a government building– particularly one where the general public comes in and out of expecting the orderly and fair administration of justice.

    As for myself, assuming my career has the impact this man’s career did, it’s my career or my contributions to the profession that would and should be memorialized and not atheism.

    Otherwise, what the memorial is celebrating is not that individual’s contribution to society but rather suggesting, in a very… um… concrete way… both that this individual’s contribution to society was their religiousity and that the government in fact endorses those views. That suggestion is further highlighted by the fact that this isn’t even just a monument located in a park next to a swing set, but outside of a court house.

    In any event, I’m not sure how much more I have to add at this point, so you may have the final word.

  67. Rather than desperately sticking our fingers in the dike every time we see some minor religious incursion on the governmental square, I’d much rather the continuance of bitch-slapping religious ignorance in general. Personally, when I see something like this monument, I don’t get very offended. Rather, I tend to smile and say, “how… quaint”. It would be as if I were visiting some Roman ruins and seeing a dedication to a man who lived his life in honor of Aphrodite.

    That said, I’m also kind of glad there are people more concerned about it than I am and are willing to argue back and forth – even into the courts. Why? I think it’s all part of bitch-slapping religion. We probably only live in a place that *isn’t* run by clerics due to the fact that we constantly *have* these little scrums.

    Note to cl – Over on YouTube, it might amaze you how much disagreement there is between atheists. I spend more time arguing with atheists than theists. I talk to people every day who think vaccines are ineffective, vaccines are poison, vaccines are going to be used to insert nano mind-control devices in us, the government was *literally* behind 9/11, they are setting up concentration camps, they are in league with the Illuminati or Bildebergers, climate change is a hoax, Obama is a socialist if not a communist, etc, etc, etc and they are all “skeptical atheists”.

    One reason I come “home” here over and over again is that I feel like I can touch base with people who share (in very large part) *my* ideas which spring forth from *my* freethinking and atheism. You have no idea how many actual conversations I have had with Philly and SI – (you would be amazed if you knew). I can tell you that hours were spent finding and discussing areas of disagreement. There aren’t all that many. There are some, and we have *heatedly* debated them.

    But the bottom line is – you see the surface features of my near universal agreement with them and attribute it to “Team Scarlet A” thinking. I’ve never corrected you on it before (and I won’t bring it up again). I know who I am and what my reasons are when I agree with either of these guys. Because I know who I am, I don’t get overwrought at your suggestions that I’m just playing “team ball” when I agree with them. I leave you free to call it what you will.

    I am curious though, why did you call me in to arbitrate on what SI said about Lifey wasting his time? Don’t you think SI can say what he wants just as you can? Why are you so concerned with “teams” and “wedges”? Just say what you want and let it stand on it’s own. You’re a big boy. Lifey is a big boy. SI is a big boy and he gave his opinion. If your thoughts merit consideration, I’m sure Lifeguard will give it to you. He always has – hasn’t he?

  68. We spend a lot of time setting Evo straight to toe the Team Scarlet line. He won’t even get into costume half the time, and when he does, it’s all bedazzled. sigh

  69. SI,

    Sorry, cl, but you may have noticed that this is my blog. If you don’t want me to point out your particular irrationalities, don’t post them.

    Too bad that’s stupid. Nothing I’ve posted here has been irrational. OTOH, you jumping in on a conversation between Lifeguard and myself when nobody was even talking to you could quite easily be construed as motivated by irrationality, couldn’t it? So again, please shut the ‘ole yap and lemme talk to Lifey.

    Lifeguard,

    As for myself, assuming my career has the impact this man’s career did, it’s my career or my contributions to the profession that would and should be memorialized and not atheism.

    Of course not; I don’t think otherwise. All I’m saying is should you want that particular fact emphasized, there’s no problem.

    The only area where it seems we do disagree is that you seem to think the presence of the monument suggests that the government endorses those views. I think that’s an over-reaction.

    John Evo,

    Over on YouTube, it might amaze you how much disagreement there is between atheists.

    I’m not talking about atheists on YouTube so keep things in scope. I’m talking about the select group of atheists here in our little community, you know, the ones who always see fit to come to each other’s rescue. I’m sure sometimes you do respond in disagreement with me because of the facts you mention. Other times, I’ve seen you blunder right into a conversation and bust my balls over some trivial point when – if impartiality mattered to you – you would have said more. Impartiality matters a lot to me.

    I am curious though, why did you call me in to arbitrate on what SI said about Lifey wasting his time? Don’t you think SI can say what he wants just as you can?

    Of course he can; that’s why I replied the way I did. The reason I mentioned it to you was because it’s been a recurring theme in our discussions lately (yours and mine, I mean).

  70. so keep things in scope

    I will if you will. Is it my imagination that you’ve made any number of statements in this regard concerning “atheists” this and “atheists” that? Admittedly, I can remember times you were being specific to *here* as well. But it seems to me I recall you talking about us and then referencing it to how “atheists” are so much like fundamentalists. If I have that all wrong, excuse me!

    Anyway, I’ve had my little say and you can take it for what it’s worth.

    I don’t know what you meant about some “recurring” aspect of this discussion you and I have had, but my memory for these thinks aren’t great. If you think it’s important, leave me a link to what we were saying.

  71. You know, TOG, that’s exactly the same reaction I have reading most of your comments. You rarely make arguments, settling for side pot-shots instead, and when you do make arguments they tend to be factually incorrect, or you abandon them like the last one at chaplain’s. And you fancy yourself some rationalist. Go figure.

    No worries, I guess… Just keep giving yourselves “thumbs up” points.

  72. “Just keep giving yourselves ‘thumbs up’ points.”

    There’s a thumbs-up-thumbs-down system on here? First I’ve noticed. I’ve never given myself a thumbs-up, and I’m not responsible for a single one of the the thumbs-downs you seem to have earned. Nice try though.

  73. It’s Team Scarlet A vs. the troll cl. How much more obvious does it get. It’s as hilarious to me as I am to you. Probably more. Let’s see if I can get my hate level up to double-digits. Should be no problem for all the rationalists.

  74. John, that wasn’t even a good roast. You’re spending way too much time on YouTube.

    TOG,

    Of course you like it. It speaks against me and the rest of those you see as inferior to your own intellect, and we’ve already established that you that whether true or not. BTW, did you ever figure out the justification for your positive claim at Chaplain’s – the one about the Bible contradicting itself over the manner of Judas’ death? If you haven’t defended your own argument yet, will you? Can you?

  75. John, that wasn’t even a good roast.

    Well, I wouldn’t know. I’m not much of a comedian. I can only judge based on the thumbs up/down feature. :)

    In regards to “Team Scarlett A”

    Of course you like it. It speaks against atheists who you see as inferior to your own intellect.

  76. Pretty sure I responded to the effect of:

    Matthew 27:5-8 says that Judas hanged himself. “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, ‘It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.’ So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.”

    Acts 1:18-19 says that he fell down in a field and exploded. “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.”

    The common christian apologetic seems to say “Oh, well, he hung himself in the field, then fell down and exploded.” Which, of course, completely glosses over the fact that Acts specifically says JUDAS bought the field, not the priests, and why would Judas be in a field that he did not own in the first place if it was in fact the priests that bought it? It also ignores the fact that the two stories give conflicting origins of the field name; one says it’s because foreigners were buried there, the other says it’s because Judas exploded there. It also doesn’t really make sense that Acts should skip right past the bit where Judas actually DIED and go right to a supposed rotting-corpse explosion.

    It’s a nice attempt, but it makes no sense at all. The paradigm that makes the most sense is that the whole thing is fiction, that the author of Acts did not confer with the author of Matthew in any way, and they both wrote two different things.

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