Street name “Seven in Heaven Way” upsets American Atheists

posted at 7:12 pm on July 12, 2011 by Tina Korbe

This summer, the city of Brooklyn renamed a neighborhood street “Seven in Heaven Way” to honor seven local firefighters who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. A nice thought, right? Simple, symbolic, sincere. But sadly, the commemorative gesture has since generated controversy.

The New Jersey-based American Atheists, the same group that brought the country “God Less America” Fourth of July aerial banners, promptly objected to the street name.

“It’s improper for the city to endorse the view that heaven exists,” American Atheists president David Silverman said. “It links Christianity and heroism.”

Additional objections: Sept. 11 was an attack on “all of America,” so no memorial of it should “break” the Constitution — and, also, the street sign presumes to know what the seven firefighters themselves believed.

But, as The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall points out, the group’s objections reveal a misunderstanding of freedom of religion.

Godless secularism – or a “naked public square” denuded of all religious references and symbols, as the late Richard John Neuhaus put it – never was intended to be the character of our American republic. Religious freedom, the cornerstone of all freedom, is freedom for religion, not hostility toward it.

Yes, the Founders wisely separated political from religious authority in our federal government, but they didn’t intend to divorce religion from public life or politics. They based the American model of religious liberty on a favorable view of religious practice.

Far from privatizing or marginalizing religion, the Founders assumed religious believers and institutions would take active roles in society, engaging in the political process and helping to shape consensus on morally fraught questions. …

Most nations are dominated, demographically anyway, by adherents of particular faiths. But every denomination – and the atheist camp as well – is a small minority somewhere on the planet. This reality underscores why religious liberty, not the radical secularist or theocratic systems at either end of the spectrum, should be precious to everyone.

But on a more practical level, the objections reveal an acute sensitivity that seems unwarranted in this situation. A street name with the word “heaven” doesn’t automatically imply an endorsement of Christianity — many other religions include a paradisal idea of the afterlife, too. Nor does it even necessarily imply an endorsement of the belief that heaven is real. Are no streets named for mythical places or fictional characters? Additionally, more than 400 New York City streets have been named for 9-11 victims and heroes. Clearly, the sign was named with the simple motivation of recognizing seven men who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Perhaps that’s why one First Amendment lawyer described the situation this way: “The area of religion is so complex and nuanced that you could argue nearly anything … But a [legal] challenge in this case would be far-fetched.”


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Comment pages: 1 2

Doesn’t AP have some sort of contractual guarantee to do all atheist related stories?

NotCoach on July 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Who are they going to go after next, Los Angeles, Corpus Christi and Saint Louis?

rbj on July 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

People are so trifling.

Cindy Munford on July 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

If these idiots pull this off and have the signs removed and the street renamed again………

I want every stinking Dr. Martin Luther King Street, Drive, Boulevard etc, etc, etc. removed from every stinking city and town in the U.S.

That is all.

Knucklehead on July 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

When they can show me in the Constitution where they have the right not to be offended, I might consider taking them seriously. Until then, they can shove it sideways up their heathen backsides.

CurtZHP on July 12, 2011 at 7:19 PM

Next we must rename holidays to simply, er, days off. The word has holy right dag gum smack dab in the middle of it and brings a nasty rash to my thin skin.

John the Libertarian on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

rbj on July 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

How many cities in CA and TX have “San” or “Santa” in their names?

Change them to Mr. and Ms.? :)

Wethal on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

“It links Christianity and heroism.”

Oh, noes! The horror….

JetBoy on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Somebody tell these pinheads to pick their battles. They are not going to garner much sympathy trying to squelch a 9/11 tribute…in NYC…as the 10th anniversary approaches.

They also need to be reminded that atheism is as much a belief or “religion” as christianity, et. al. A strong belief in “nothing,” is still a belief in something.

This country is a christian country founded on christian principles that allows other religions their freedom to worship. Get over it.

Mallard T. Drake on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Is Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion here?

Chip on July 12, 2011 at 7:21 PM

I want every stinking Dr. Martin Luther King Street, Drive, Boulevard etc, etc, etc. removed from every stinking city and town in the U.S.

Knucklehead on July 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

I object to the obvious reference to Lutheranism.

John the Libertarian on July 12, 2011 at 7:21 PM

They just want to seem relevant in this life because it will be the only one they have.

Sporty1946 on July 12, 2011 at 7:24 PM

This country is a christian country founded on christian principles that allows other religions their freedom to worship. Get over it.

Mallard T. Drake on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Uh…no. Although it could be argued that the foundation of laws in this country do stem from Judeo-Christian values (such as murder, adultery, stealing, etc.) this nation is not a “Christian nation”…where Christians allow other forms of worship, it allows for all kinds of religious beliefs to exist without the influence of the government.

Of course, this street sign does not fall under a govt. establishing or protecting a single religion, as “Christianity” itself spans over 30,000 differing denominations.

JetBoy on July 12, 2011 at 7:25 PM

I’m offended by the militant atheist stance. Please remove them from my vicinity.

john1schn on July 12, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Bless their hearts, as they say in the Bible Belt.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Who are they going to go after next, Los Angeles, Corpus Christi and Saint Louis?

rbj on July 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

It’s a foot in the door for those whiny little liberals. Some day soon they will be going after those cities names. Not to mention Sacrament, St. Augustine or that bastion of all social tolerance San Francisco.

Tommy_G on July 12, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Let’s compromise. Let’s create a sign named “Athiest Way” …

… and use it to mark the next dead end.

PackerBronco on July 12, 2011 at 7:29 PM

the foundation of laws in this country do stem from Judeo-Christian values (such as murder, adultery, stealing, etc.)

JetBoy on July 12, 2011 at 7:25 PM

LOL…nice.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM

But on a more practical level, the objections reveal an acute sensitivity that seems unwarranted in this situation.

Sensitivity is the wrong word. People have learned that 2% of our population will always trump the will of the other 98. Madelyn O’Hare’s legacy lives on…

repvoter on July 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM

… and use it to mark the next dead end.

PackerBronco on July 12, 2011 at 7:29 PM

HAHA…good idea!

Sporty1946 on July 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Why can’t atheists wend their way to hell quietly?

BL@KBIRD on July 12, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Dear Atheists,

Nobody but you lot see religion in this.

Personally, the sign (if taken as some sort of doctrinal statement) is offensive to my beliefs in several ways. However, I’m not stupid enough to see this as anything but a nice way to remember a few heroes.

Get over yourselves.

Love,

mankai

mankai on July 12, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Perhaps the atheists doing this ought to spend some time on GO #^%& YOURSELVES BOULEVARD.

Talon on July 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Atheism has become a fundamentalist cult, not unlike radical Islam.

Daemonocracy on July 12, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Come to think of it, we can cover everyone by creating a sign for “Agnostics Way” …

… and use it to mark the next round-about.

It reminds me of the time I was asking for directions to the funeral home and the person told me it was down the street from the nursing home, and then informed me it was a one-way street.

PackerBronco on July 12, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Whenever atheists argue for a “naked public square” (always loved that phrase of Neuhaus’), I always enjoy pointing out that the modern “holiday” is a direct reference to “holy day”, and that Judaism gave us the one-day-a-week break and then Christianity gave us the periodic mid-week breaks.

I like to do it in person because watching anti-religious people (not to be confused with atheists, though I admit the two overlap more often than atheists would have us believe) who fancy themselves so much more cosmopolitan, enlightened and sophisticated than the rest of humanity, sputter and splotch before they have a chance to come up with an excuse for why it’s OK, is really amusing.

inviolet on July 12, 2011 at 7:35 PM

I’d also like to add, in the way of being fair, that just because one Atheist group feels this way, that does not mean that all atheists feel the same way.

mankai on July 12, 2011 at 7:36 PM

the h*ll with them ….oh wait….

grapeknutz on July 12, 2011 at 7:40 PM

The American Atheists just need to think of “Heaven” as their own ideal of a Godless paradise where there is no salvation and no hope: PROBLEM SOLVED*!!!

landlines on July 12, 2011 at 7:44 PM

You can spend your spare time mentoring children, working at a soup kitchen, delivering meals to shut in’s walking pet rescue dogs or any number of productive things. I just don’t understand why people would make this their cause. What an enormous waste of time and money. I feel very sad for these people.

ldbgcoleman on July 12, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Who are they going to go after next, Los Angeles, Corpus Christi and Saint Louis?

rbj on July 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

I hope so.

Forcing me to support the County of the Angels with my time and money is clearly a 1st Amendment violation.

malclave on July 12, 2011 at 7:45 PM

The New Jersey-based American Atheists

Well there’s your problem right there.

JohnGalt23 on July 12, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Yet, they still allow Philadelphia to have an intersection at
Christian Street and Carpenter Street.

Slackers.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Oh MY GOD.

SouthernGent on July 12, 2011 at 7:53 PM

I have never understood the concept of militant atheists. I get the “I don’t believe in God” part; I don’t get the “if I don’t believe in God, then nobody else should be allowed to act as though they believe in God in my presence” part.

Unless they’re all just bunch of malicious pricks.

Cicero43 on July 12, 2011 at 7:55 PM

How many cities in CA and TX have “San” or “Santa” in their names?

In compliance with the first amendment, the city formerly known as “San Francisco” will now be called “Frank”.

sandberg on July 12, 2011 at 8:02 PM

I’m an atheist and it doesn’t bother me.

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 8:05 PM

So why don’t they find a little used street and agitate to have the name changed to “You Can’t Get There From Here” Boulevard in honor of the heroic atheists on 911? I’ll bet that’s a short list.

jakev on July 12, 2011 at 8:08 PM

I’m an atheist and it doesn’t bother me.

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Although after reading some more of the comments on this thread, I can see that tolerance isn’t exaclty exuding from the religious folks either. I guess you get what you give and all that…

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 8:16 PM

How many cities in CA and TX have “San” or “Santa” in their names?

In compliance with the first amendment, the city formerly known as “San Francisco” will now be called “Frank”.

sandberg on July 12, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Or they could just name it Barney, Hehe. :)

Geochelone on July 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Somebody tell these pinheads to pick their battles. They are not going to garner much sympathy trying to squelch a 9/11 tribute…in NYC…as the 10th anniversary approaches.

So far so good. This is a dumb fight. There’s no reason an atheist (myself included) should object to this.

They also need to be reminded that atheism is as much a belief or “religion” as christianity, et. al. A strong belief in “nothing,” is still a belief in something.

This country is a christian country founded on christian principles that allows other religions their freedom to worship. Get over it.

Mallard T. Drake on July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

And now you went and ruined it. This is not a Christian nation. Sorry, but Christians have no special rights here. And when our Constitution prohibits an establishment of religion, it goes for you Jesus people too.

As far as atheism being a religion, it seems I must put paid to this garbage on a daily basis. Is not believing in Leprechauns a religion in your mind? Is not snorkeling a hobby?

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 8:22 PM

No offense but this is a month old story, covered well in the media.

AYNBLAND on July 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 8:16 PM

I guess you get what you give and all that…

First you protest intolerance and then you issue blanket judgments? Pot, meet kettle.

Ryan Anthony on July 12, 2011 at 8:28 PM

I’m thinking it should be called…

“Atheiests Keep Getting In The” Way

Nethicus on July 12, 2011 at 8:33 PM

We’re revisiting this again?

Count to 10 on July 12, 2011 at 8:35 PM

1) The US is the nation that it is because of the WASPs who founded it and developed it over hundreds of years. We are still primarily WASP, although liberals have been busting their humps to bring in as many non-white, non-protestant people as possible so that they can point and say “we aren’t all white Christians, get with the times”.

2) This Silverman is a JEW attacking the linking of Christianity and heroism (his own words), which is both insulting and telling. This is forcing his Jewish guilt/sense of inadequacy on the broader society. This is an attack by someone from a faith that doesn’t believe in heaven on those who do (not exactly 1st amendment stuff).

Therapy by lawsuit and a$$holishness. Is this really what the 1st amendment is all about?

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:36 PM

If these idiots pull this off and have the signs removed and the street renamed again………

I want every stinking Dr. Martin Luther King Street, Drive, Boulevard etc, etc, etc. removed from every stinking city and town in the U.S.

That is all.

Knucklehead on July 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

I had considered making a comment about this nonsense, but your comment has covered it nicely. Well said!

OldEnglish on July 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Well, if anybody ever puts up anything in public in my honor after I’m gone, they can leave my name off and simply refer to me as “All-Being Master of Time, Space, and Dimension.”

Wouldn’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM

And now you went and ruined it. This is not a Christian nation. Sorry, but Christians have no special rights here. And when our Constitution prohibits an establishment of religion, it goes for you Jesus people too.

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 8:22 PM

I agree that we are no longer a Christian nation (based on our newly acquired progressive principles), but that doesn’t change the fact that we were founded as one.

Or do you disagree with Adams?

“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion”

John Adams

Or even the great Church and State separator Madison who, himself said:

The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it.

Madison in a Letter to Rev. Frederick Beasley (1825-11-20)

Pattosensei on July 12, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:36 PM

You’re a credit to white Christians everywhere. I admire your purity.

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Ph#ck them….P.E.R.I.O.D.

sicoit on July 12, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Best be trolling, kid. Words cannot describe the loathing I have for you.

Ryan Anthony on July 12, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Give ‘em their own road: Settlin Ct.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Pattosensei on July 12, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Actually we were not founded as one. And I do agree with Madison:

Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov’ of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

I don’t claim purity.
But I am not out urinating on the culture of the country that I live in- but to the tiny liberal mind it is easier just to accuse people of thought crimes than it is to deal with facts.

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Well, if anybody ever puts up anything in public in my honor after I’m gone, they can leave my name off and simply refer to me as “All-Being Master of Time, Space, and Dimension.”

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM

I’d be happy to donate to a fund for the ABMTSD Memorial Port-a-potty.

malclave on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Oh, I am not loathed because I point out that WASPs are in fact pretty cool, or because I pointed out that this attack is from a Jew?

Your loathing bar is pretty low and/or not calibrated very well.

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM

malclave on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

You’ll get the “B” and “M” bricks for your generous…donation. And if you donate at the Golden Throne level, you can add a personalized message, such as “When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go.”

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 8:52 PM

But I am not out urinating on the culture of the country that I live in- but to the tiny liberal mind it is easier just to accuse people of thought crimes than it is to deal with facts.

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

The culture of this country is not really the mythos or ceremony of religion, but rather a strain of morality somewhat supported by it.

Count to 10 on July 12, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Spartacus on July 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM

What do you think? Did you confuse this board for Stormfront by accident?

Ryan Anthony on July 12, 2011 at 8:57 PM

If you have a problem, get therapy.

DAT60A3 on July 12, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Count to 10 on July 12, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Knockout!

OldEnglish on July 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM

Usually I would side with the most extreme interpretation of separation and church and state, but this just isn’t worth it. For one thing, heaven is far too general of a word to represent a government endorsement of religion. If the supreme court has ruled that “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency is secular, there’s no hope of fighting this street sign. I hope AA changes their mind, this fight just isn’t worth it.

RightOFLeft on July 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM

How about we rename their street Douchebag Lane?

Rip Ford on July 12, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Glad I got to visit the National Cathedral, before they turned it into an inter-lack-of-faith centre.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 9:03 PM

RightOFLeft on July 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM

It’s why I refuse to associate with, contribute to or support atheist organizations. When a group exists to advocate for a particular cause it almost always ends up going beyond what is reasonable. My rights and no other atheists rights are in any way impacted by the street name. It’s pure symbolism for the sake of demonstrating the organization’s activism to its membership.

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 9:07 PM

If these idiots pull this off and have the signs removed and the street renamed again………
I want every stinking Dr. Martin Luther King Street, Drive, Boulevard etc, etc, etc. removed from every stinking city and town in the U.S.

That is all.

Knucklehead on July 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Is there some sort of connection?

DarkCurrent on July 12, 2011 at 9:08 PM

I guess you get what you give and all that…

First you protest intolerance and then you issue blanket judgments? Pot, meet kettle.

Ryan Anthony on July 12, 2011 at 8:28 PM

What blanket statement?

oh, and you can get back to me when you’ve admonished every other blanket statement on this thread…

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 9:14 PM

In my experience Atheists are perpetually disaffected.

DeathB4Tyranny on July 12, 2011 at 9:24 PM

American Atheists – Please take this to court.

Knott Buyinit on July 12, 2011 at 9:38 PM

I guess you get what you give and all that…

First you protest intolerance and then you issue blanket judgments? Pot, meet kettle.

Ryan Anthony on July 12, 2011 at 8:28 PM

What blanket statement?

oh, and you can get back to me when you’ve admonished every other blanket statement on this thread…

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 9:14 PM

And for whatever it’s worth, my comment about getting what you give is directed at both sides of this. Idiots who take offense to the street name and people who are hostile to atheists as a generalization.

Like I said originally I don’t have a problem with the street name as I’m surrounded by religious references all the time that do me no harm, but reading this thread there are some here who aren’t exactly open to giving atheists the same respect they demand for their religion.

Scrappy on July 12, 2011 at 9:40 PM

In my experience Atheists are perpetually disaffected

Eternally alienated.

tommyboy on July 12, 2011 at 9:41 PM

A street name with the word “heaven” doesn’t automatically imply an endorsement of Christianity — many other religions include a paradisal idea of the afterlife, too.

No, but it’s always Christianity the atheists object to. Simple logic would demand that they object at least as vociferously to the symbols and public manifestations of other religions. But they don’t.

J.E. Dyer on July 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM

In my experience Atheists are perpetually disaffected

Eternally alienated.

tommyboy on July 12, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Interesting point!!!

Makes me wonder:

Can Atheists believe in “inalienable rights”???

…and if not, what do Atheists propose as a “glue” to hold society together???

…or do Atheists even accept “society” as a concept? Why/why not??

landlines on July 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM

In my experience Atheists are perpetually disaffected.

DeathB4Tyranny on July 12, 2011 at 9:24 PM

I my experience, everyone of every color, creed, religion, political persuasion, what have you, are perpetually disaffected.

If you’re referring to their dislike of religion and what it does to those who believe in it, yeah, it makes me a bit disaffected. I worry about you… I really do!

Saw a great bumper sticker the other day, I’ve mentioned it before here…
Instead of being born again, why not grow up?

Let’s all be adults here and stop believing in fairy tales, told for generations to our ancestors and enforced in us until it becomes second nature.

It starts young… Recall your parents admonishments for bad deeds and the threat of never ending torture. I know, it’s hard to pull out those repressed memories but you can do it!

Look, there is no truth to the tales folks. They’re just myths and stories.

Why the hell would god sacrifice his only son in order to allow himself to then and only then let us join him in heaven? Why does a blood sacrifice satiate this gods disdain and why would a god even NEED to go through all that?

It just doesn’t make any freaking sense peeps! In fact, it sounds exactly like something a bronze aged mystic would come up with as an acceptable set of circumstances.

Wake the F up!

Wake up!

SauerKraut537 on July 12, 2011 at 10:12 PM

What sad, little people.

Christien on July 12, 2011 at 11:30 PM

landlines on July 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM

FWIW, this Atheist sys NO to both questions.

There is no such thing as “society”, merely one group being more powerful than all others, and exerting its preferred system upon all – including “rights”.

What creates disruption, from time to time, is the changing of the most powerful group to another, more powerful group.

Tyranny.

Monarchy.

Democracy.

Etc.

OldEnglish on July 12, 2011 at 11:39 PM

MJBrutus on July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

I guess you didn’t notice that I quoted Madison to preempt your inevitable response. What you fail to see is that Madison worried about the government controlling a religion more so than the other way around. He didn’t want the two to be merged. He’d have no problem with Christian symbols pasted here and there…in fact, he didn’t have a problem with it. Why? Because he believed that “A belief in a God all power wise and good, is essential to the moral order of the world” and therefore he based the logic of the Constitution upon such an assumption in order to protect what he (and others) felt were “inalienable rights” “endowed by our Creator.” That means we were founded as a Christian nation.

For some reason that bothers you Atheists. I admitted that we no longer are a Christian nation, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the Founding Fathers were. Nor does it negate the fact that Judeo-Christian morals were the basis for many of our early laws. Culturally, we have been a Christian nation for most of our history. Want an example? Just count how many people you know that work on Sunday versus those that do not. Or walk around and see how often Christianity is referenced in land marks and buildings.

Pattosensei on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

I admitted that we no longer are a Christian nation, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the Founding Fathers were.

Pattosensei on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

You believe the founders were all Christians?

That’s about as stupid as presuming to call oneself ‘sensei’.

DarkCurrent on July 13, 2011 at 1:26 AM

I guess I should get some reading comprehension classes.

Pattosensei said “most”.

DarkCurrent on July 13, 2011 at 1:31 AM

I grow sick of whiny activists. Can’t even say ‘God Bless You!’ when someone sneezes without somebody taking is as a challenge to their rights. As if this in anyway stomps on their right to disbelieve.

RAB on July 13, 2011 at 1:37 AM

Because he believed that “A belief in a God all power wise and good, is essential to the moral order of the world” and therefore he based the logic of the Constitution upon such an assumption in order to protect what he (and others) felt were “inalienable rights” “endowed by our Creator.” That means we were founded as a Christian nation.

Pattosensei on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Sensei,

If these “inalienable rights” were endowed by a Christian God-Creator from the beginning, rather than through the struggles of man, why aren’t they enumerated in the New Testament?

DarkCurrent on July 13, 2011 at 1:39 AM

I guess you didn’t notice that I quoted Madison to preempt your inevitable response. What you fail to see is that Madison worried about the government controlling a religion more so than the other way around.

What Madison realized and that you do not, is that one cannot have the one without the other. If religion controls government then religion cannot be safe from government. The quote you provided illustrates my point that Madison was all for individuals to practice their faith, but for it to be separate from government.

He didn’t want the two to be merged. He’d have no problem with Christian symbols pasted here and there…in fact, he didn’t have a problem with it. Why? Because he believed that “A belief in a God all power wise and good, is essential to the moral order of the world” and therefore he based the logic of the Constitution upon such an assumption in order to protect what he (and others) felt were “inalienable rights” “endowed by our Creator.” That means we were founded as a Christian nation.

No, we rebelled against a Christian nation. Christianity gave us the King who tyrannized us. Christian theology did not preach equality of men, it put nobles above commoners.

For some reason that bothers you Atheists. I admitted that we no longer are a Christian nation, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the Founding Fathers were. Nor does it negate the fact that Judeo-Christian morals were the basis for many of our early laws. Culturally, we have been a Christian nation for most of our history. Want an example? Just count how many people you know that work on Sunday versus those that do not. Or walk around and see how often Christianity is referenced in land marks and buildings.

Pattosensei on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Our laws are very un-Christian. We do not require that anyone keep the Sabbath “holy” or to have one, ten or zero gods. Our laws against murder, theft and lying under oath predate Christianity and are in fact necessary and present in any orderly society.

We tolerate ceremonial deism and frequently the cultural desires of the majority (such as what this thread is about). But Christians have no special rights or privileges in this country of ours.

MJBrutus on July 13, 2011 at 6:45 AM

” I admitted that we no longer are a Christian nation, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the Founding Fathers were.

Pattosensei on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

You believe the founders were all Christians?

That’s about as stupid as presuming to call oneself ‘sensei’.

I would say the stupid one is the one that cannot read a sentence in the english language. He said MOST of the founding fathers, you turned that into ALL to make your argument, which means you have no argument, you just want to argue…

Spartacus on July 13, 2011 at 7:29 AM

Brutus,
Go back and study history. The founders were deeply religious and fought to get away from corrupt GOVERNMENT religions, mainly the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

The US is based on no government religions, not about having a bunch of atheists, Jews and Muslims slapping the prayerbooks and Christmas cards out of our hands every time we turn around.

Spartacus on July 13, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Spartacus on July 13, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Yes, the founders were mostly religious (although not necessarily Christian and certainly not as most modern Christians define the term). But they understood from the example of England with its Protestant vs Catholic wars and tyrannical monarchs that religion must remain separate from government for men to be free. They knew that even if a “pure” or “uncorrupted” church were to have the power of government at their command no religion would be safe. Corruption would inevitably follow in the form of forcing their faith on others. So no, our founders insisted in their wisdom that religion remain a private matter, separate from government. It was so important that the very first words they legislated with regard to freedom were:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

If you want to be free to practice your faith then you should be first in line to keep it out of government!

MJBrutus on July 13, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Spartacus on July 13, 2011 at 8:01 AM

Thank you for coming out of your closet and removing all doubt about just what kind of person you are. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a strong urge to shower and get a tetanus shot.

MJBrutus on July 13, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Great minds talk about ideas
Average minds talk about events
Dull minds talk about people

Are you hoping the crowd will point fingers at me and shun me?

Spartacus on July 13, 2011 at 8:13 AM

“It’s improper for the city to endorse the view that heaven exists,” American Atheists president David Silverman said. “It links Christianity and heroism.”

And when I see stupidity like this, I automatically link atheism with cowardice!

pilamaye on July 13, 2011 at 8:18 AM

As a proud atheist I think this is a pretty stupid point to be fighting. There are many other ways to get our ideas out to the public and this just isn’t a great one.

Sumeet on July 13, 2011 at 8:40 AM

My message to the New Jersey-based American Atheists: “Don’t like it? Too bad. Life is rough — wear a cup!”

Carl on July 13, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Is there some sort of connection?

DarkCurrent on July 12, 2011 at 9:08 PM

The only possible connections I can think of were that Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister and named after the founder of protestantism, but I don’t really get it either.

jic on July 13, 2011 at 8:59 AM

jic on July 13, 2011 at 8:59 AM

I endorsed this comment at 8:39 pm because I believe that Knucklehead was equating the firemen with Martin Luther King, and if they did not deserve this recognition, then neither did King.

OldEnglish on July 13, 2011 at 10:09 AM

If these “inalienable rights” were endowed by a Christian God-Creator from the beginning, rather than through the struggles of man, why aren’t they enumerated in the New Testament?

DarkCurrent on July 13, 2011 at 1:39 AM

If they were “gained” by the “struggles of man” in what sense are they “inalienable”? “Inalienable rights” are something you retain regardless of whether anyone observes them.

Without a transcendental principle, it’s just a difference of opinion about the most good for most people–or even the most good for those who are able to take it.

Obama holds we have too many “negative rights” and not enough “positive” ones, so if he gets enough people on his side to tip the scales of the “struggle”, does he create these rights too?

Had Madison’s side won the debate, they might have not been enumerated in the Constitution either. He didn’t see any reason to guard rights that he didn’t think were challenged by the articles. What is the significance of them not being enumerated in the Cons. However, because they had enumerated the rights that they could think of at the time, it became the fear that somebody would interpret that people only had the rights enumerated. So the 9th and 10th amendments (and various proposals for them) became necessary to a number because they had enumerated some.

The enumeration of Rights suffers from the same incompleteness that The Law did. The Law was an expression of God’s will, but Jesus argued that it had become a tool to beat men down and as he said “slam the door to heaven” in people’s faces.

What God substituted for the Law under condition of relative estrangement from earth was the principle best illustrated in the incarnation : the exemplary. The “City on the Hill” is seen from places not so bright and not so pleasant. Thus the existence of non-optimal conditions is quite visible in this metaphor.

Before Locke you had various attempts at rationalizing government. The King was the image of God and the King’s law (even when less than ideal) was an image of God’s law, though perhaps sometimes flawed. Then you had more or less atheistic variation in Hobbes, where government was a prevention of the war of all against all. Problem with Hobbes’ formulation is that rulership by a king is not the war of all against all, so it works.

Locke cuts a different path: while acknowledging the “state of war”, where men are in conflict with each other, he presents the ideal “state of nature” thus the goal is not a cease-fire, but the rule of Reason and Goodwill.

In the same way that Jesus’ example of turning the other cheek, does not stress the real-world justice of an even number of blows must be struck, but the ideal will of God is not striking another. Thus this goes further than the the “right not to be struck” or the “right to defend yourself”–because Jesus isn’t saying you can’t, he’s illustrating an ideal.

The natural state–or the exemplary state–creates the idea of rights we should have under less than optimal conditions. Enumeration is nothing, illustration inspires.

Axeman on July 13, 2011 at 12:19 PM

If they were “gained” by the “struggles of man” in what sense are they “inalienable”?

Good point. This is point where I part from Jefferson. It is up to every new generation of Americans to preserve the rights handed down to them or they will indeed be alienated from them.

“Inalienable rights” are something you retain regardless of whether anyone observes them.

Axeman on July 13, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Yes, but if one’s government becomes tyrannical possessing a right plus 50 cents will get you a 50 cent cup of coffee. What does it mean to say a Nork citizen has the right to remain silent if silence is punishable by torture or death?

As I see it, the natural rights that Jefferson referred to are aspirational. It is a government’s responsibility to protect them in order to maintain a free society. They are an ideal to obtain and to maintain. In a society that is not free, they are nothing more than a statement of what should be.

MJBrutus on July 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Wake the F up!

Wake up!

SauerKraut537 on July 12, 2011 at 10:12 PM

How is that comment helpful? You believe that nobody has ever thought about their own religious beliefs before ever; so they’ll see your comment as a real amazing thing?

Or you think that people are going to ignore their faith and belief and go with yours because you tell them to?

Maybe you’re charismatic enough to sway people to ignore their own beliefs and follow your vision; but I’m not seeing it. IF you were hoping for a cult following your charisma isn’t working over the internet.

I’m getting a weird vibe from your post; that might be the creepy-stalker vibe I get from cult-leaders; so maybe you’ve got a chance… but it isn’t working through your writing. You need to meet people in person to have a chance to persuade them to follow you blindly and ignore their own thoughts, faith, and decisions and to follow your thoughts instead.

But the gratuitous insults to believers was a nice touch… not enough, but definitely a way to persuade people. Who doesn’t respond well to mockery and derision when you’re trying to persuade them?

** No, I’m not trying to persuade you to actually be a cult leader; I’m just mocking you for fun… so I’m not quite making the same mistake. I don’t care if you “wake the F up” and quit making counterproductive arguments. But given the rude intolerance of your comment; I didn’t see a laugh at your expense as out of line

gekkobear on July 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM

gekkobear on July 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Mind Control techniques

Here’s a good, creepy, how to on building cults… Looks like it came out of the 70′s but I think someone edited it to look older like an overused VCR tape.

Laugh all you like though (at me), it doesn’t bother me in the least. All I’m trying to say is that we don’t HAVE to bow down to the human agents of god anymore. We have much better explanations for how we got here on this earth. We have a much better perspective than the bronze aged Bedouins and shepherds who wrote the bible/koran/insert religious text here.

Religions are a phenomenal waste of time and energy, and the tax exempt status that religions enjoy in this country should be rescinded.

Imagine the billions upon billions of dollars religions waste building bigger and bigger churches and whatnot. Hell, in my hometown of Dallas/Ft Worth there are probably 6 churches per square mile.

Think about all the time, money and energy wasted on religions. How about all those church leaders in there $2,000 Armani suits and sitting in their pulpits as they preach to you. Picture in your minds eyes the number of televangelists who fleece their flocks on a yearly basis.

Said this before too but it’s still a good saying…

Religions are like farts, YOURS is good, but everyone else’s stinks.

SauerKraut537 on July 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM

I hate New York athiests.

metalguy22 on July 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM

I hate New York athiests.

metalguy22 on July 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM

I’m a Texas Atheist, but I don’t hate you for your beliefs. I wish you’d wake up from the delusional state you’re in (if you’re a theist), but I don’t hate you.

SauerKraut537 on July 13, 2011 at 5:33 PM

It’s a joke son. See “The Blues Brothers”.

metalguy22 on July 13, 2011 at 6:37 PM

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