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Be the Change.....Do unto Others...... Just Words?

This article caught my eye.

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/14/atheists_just_as_obnoxious_as_christians/

What do you think of this?

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Closing Statement from W T

This debate topic was essentially a discussion of an article that dealt with the distribution of Bibles and Atheist literature at 11 high schools in Orange County, Florida.

I invite anyone coming here to read through the thread and enjoy the many links provided.

I have learned quite alot from the information shared here, as I'm sure you all have also.

Most notibly, is the wrong idea many have of the term "separation of church and state" in this country.

I want to thank Pabitra and Edulover for your two last posts, I apologize that I was not able to respond to them due to the time difference between our two sides of the globe.

Pabitra, your last entry gives us much to think about. They are wonderful words to close this debate. Thank you!

Thank you to all who contributed!!!

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    Jun 16 2013: Isn't the key issue here the venue? What if NAMBLA, or Al Queda wants to come on campus and make their vile propaganda free for the taking? Why not keep the agenda in public schools restricted to academic subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic? Then a high school graduate could be prepared for the workplace, or for higher education. The first amendment does not guarantee the right to access any and all venues.
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      Jun 17 2013: Ed, I think that you noticed the main thing that troubled me as well.
      Why do this inside schools?
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    Jun 23 2013: I view religion as entirely private matter, like sex. But if condoms can be freely distributed (in populous countries like India), why not Bible/Gita/Quran? Question here is that the distribution is taking place in a school. Had I been the school administrator, I would not have allowed any literature (religious or atheist) inside school. I think children come to school expecting to see textbooks and anything that is not prescribed as textbooks should be outside of school.
    Having said that, out educational systems hardly value teaching of philosophies, ethics and morality as teachable subjects in schools anymore. If these were part of syllabi for a little grown children, say at least teens, and if the young minds were prepared as critical appreciators of the ideas of religion or atheism, they they could be given both kinds of literature for educated evaluation.
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    Jun 17 2013: I would be the first person to tell my child to put the bible back on the teachers desk and ask to be taught what the students are in class to learn. Parents and families should be the ones to teach their children their religious beliefs, not a public school. This is called endorsing, and is just a step away from high school athletes being able to accept endorsements from vendors, and then the the uncontrollable ball starts to roll downhill. Yes, it does not belong in a public school. The students are allowed to form clubs and groups, peacefully, and practice what they want to. This is enough. If the students and parents want a religions class added to the curriculum, as an elective, then so be it and make darn sure that it is portraying the different religions in an equally scholastic view. Just handing out the bible, without any guidance, to children is as dangerous as handing out hand grenades and not giving any instructions on how to use it, it is deadly.
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      Jun 18 2013: "The students are allowed to form clubs and groups, peacefully, and practice what they want to. This is enough".

      I have a tendency to agree with this point of view as well Jonathan.
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      Jun 18 2013: I totally agree. Religion isn't inherently evil or harmful. It is very powerful. Perhaps, religion is the most powerful force in human society comparable to nuclear power in the physical world. It can do a lot of damage if not handled properly.
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    Jun 17 2013: One of Arch Bishops of Calcutta used to be my father's childhood friend. I knew him as one of the kindest and gentlest of human beings at one point of my life.
    When Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown released as a movie, a lot of controversy came up in my city. At that time I saw this person, old and ailing, being deeply saddened by some so called atheists challenging and taunting him for his belief. This was a plain act of rudeness and I believe none should hurt others' feelings based on deeply held faith just to make a point.
    I do not endorse any miitancy, not even of atheism. If religion and its values need to leave space for a newer kind of morality, it should come right from the relevance (or lack of it) they have in daily life.
  • Jun 23 2013: Hi Dear Mary M.Good discussion:).I think respect others to decide what they want but force,that is all good.And meanwhile for children,we should support them to grow naturally but use any doctrine to shove children's ideologies.

    I have observed it for a long time:why some people want to join in a group?party?why we want to divide us into different...being humanbeing,aren't we equal?if not,what caused that?
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    Jun 18 2013: "Larence Krauss: ... I've had this debate with Richard Dawkins; I've often said to him that if you want people to listen to you, the best way is not to go up to them and say, "You're stupid." Somehow it doesn't get through. "

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/print/2012/04/has-physics-made-philosophy-and-religion-obsolete/256203/

    Here is an example of atheist attitude that I like and find constructive rather than destructive
    http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0.html
    http://www.alaindebotton.com/Religion.asp

    Here is a "civilized response" full of "rational arguments" from some New Atheists which I find rather embarrassing and shameful:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/02/28/i-am-officially-disgusted-with-alain-de-botton/
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/02/28/alain_de_botton_abuse/

    I know, I'm being judgmental, but the language in these blogs, somehow, does not fit well with words "intellectual", "rational" or "respectful". Sounds more like hate speech to me. I couldn't do a better job if I deliberately wanted to deter people away from atheism.
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    Jun 18 2013: Re: "Be the Change.....Do unto Others...... Just Words?"

    Any moral advice is hypocritical when it is addressed to others.
    Hating intolerant people does not promote tolerance.
    It's ironic that Mr. Dawkins is so upset that religious people are not willing to budge in their beliefs. I'm glad to see some criticism of this position among his fellow scientists

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism
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    Jun 18 2013: It's not about the nail. (Not all women appreciate this video)

    http://vimeo.com/66753575
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      Jun 18 2013: Great video Arkady.

      In particular, I liked the comments below, especially, this one:

      "....I think it's not as indicative of male/female as it is of human beings in general. Most don't want solutions to even the most obvious problems; they want to complain......"

      And that really hit the "nail on the head for me"...pun intended.

      The article I linked in my introduction is just adding insult to injury, isn't it?

      Because it does not offer any solution.
      And also, if you had a chance to read the other link I provided below on a "Reply to the Salon article", on Patheos, you will see that all these events are exactly a demonstration of what your clever monk story below illustrates.

      Thank you for both of your contributions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your point of view.
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    Jun 18 2013: I'll comment on the title of the article: "Atheists just as obnoxious as Christians"

    I don't have a problem with either atheism, Christianity, or any other religion. What I find obnoxious is self-righteousness, derogatory attitude towards others and judging others. Christianity condemns these things. It's the "plank in their own eye" which self-righteous people often miss in their self-righteousness.

    Unfortunately, self-righteousness is not an exclusive trait of religious folks. Atheists, perhaps, are guilty of derision more than Christians, and judging others is a world-wide epidemic. Ironically, calling both sides "idiots" and using phrases like "pissing contest" in the article does not make it different from the parties it attempts to criticize.

    Here is an enigmatic Zen way to put things:
    "Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall
    on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said,
    "Oh, no! The candle is out." The second monk said, "Aren't we not suppose to talk?"
    The third monk said, "Why must you two break the silence?" The fourth monk laughed
    and said, "Ha! I'm the only one who didn't speak."
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    Jun 18 2013: Here is an article in response to the Salon article I linked above:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/14/no-salon-atheists-are-not-just-as-obnoxious-as-christians/
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      Jun 18 2013: Great article!

      I really loved the part " “An X-Rated Book,” for example, really just consists of direct quotations from the Bible. So if it was okay for the Christians to hand out, why not the atheists?"
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        Jun 18 2013: RE: "Did you read this?" Thanks for the link sir. I most assuredly cannot grasp the finer details of the deliberations of men and women regarding this issue. What I think I do grasp is the FACT that America's Constitution does not require government to be Godless. There is no "wall of separation" specified in the Constitution. There is no "separation of church and state" in the Constitution. That is my point and I recognize it is far less complex and obtuse than the typical level of this conversation. I mention it only as a point of order, not as an argument. Thanks again. Be well and keep learning.
  • Jun 17 2013: I think Edward Long is right, that the key point here is that the venue is a public school.

    I think that fights between atheists and Christians are a good thing. As long as both parties reject violence, a public fight between opposing ideas provides everyone with an opportunity to learn and think about very important issues. It challenges people to examine the basis for beliefs that otherwise they might not give serious consideration.

    In this case, it reminds us that the freedom of speech protects everyone's ideas, not just the popular ideas.
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    Jun 17 2013: The article is biased toward the christian viewpoint. It also says that we're all obnoxious, which we're not...

    So no, I don't agree with the article.

    On the other hand you could easily argue that I'm biased towards the Atheist viewpoint...
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      Jun 17 2013: I didn't get the impression the article was biased.

      As a matter of fact, she starts out by saying, "just because you're in the right".......which I took to mean the FFRF.

      I feel she was siding with the kids, and their right to be free from adults fighting back and forth over religion and religious texts.
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        Jun 17 2013: Kids will believe anything adults tell them. If you try to tell them lies there should be people opposing to this by telling the grim and naked truth, which I think they are doing in this case. If you're going to leave the bible you should also leave the Torah, Quran, Vedas and so on. Anything other than that is biased towards a specific religion.

        The article says that a R-rated book was distributed, oddly the author doesn't seem to think that the contents of the bible should be r-rated...

        She wasn't siding with the kids, she was siding with the church.
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          Jun 17 2013: Oh, I see, you are correct.
          Thank you for enlightening us with your insight and wonderful understanding Jimmy.
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        Jun 17 2013: That was easy!
        Don't know if I'm correct or not, there's always the option that I'm not but naturally I think that I am. And I'm glad that you think so too now.

        (However I can't help to think that you just want to get rid of me, is that so?)
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          Jun 17 2013: hahaha....you know Jimmy, I did say you are insightful!

          Listen, what do you think of passing out Bibles in schools?

          Tell me about the actual event that spurred the article to be written.
          What do you think? That is what we are really discussing here, if you haven't noticed already my young friend.
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        Jun 17 2013: I think that it's wrong to spread any religion to kids. Morally and legally. I don't think that the books that the FFRF handed out are, legally or morally.
        I think that it's an appropriate countermeasure when Christians are breaking the law, in fact they should be dealing out these books to every school, bible or not.

        Oh, I noticed (my old friend I'm guessing) I thought that I was within the boundaries of the topic with my posts.

        Did I not answer all of your questions in my previous posts?

        Was my response not adequate?
        If you wish me to elaborate on anything please say so, but I will continue to join this conversation, I won't go away so that everyone can agree that "Atheists are just as obnoxious as Christians"...
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          Jun 18 2013: Jimmy, I think a secular Government has a role here. Though Indian Government is renowned for making mess of things, the constitutional intent is clear. For any school that receives any support from Government, the only books allowed inside the school are text books. The library may contain religious books as reference and as a rule it has to keep such books from all religions. In India there had been court rulings to prevent religious songs as prayers.
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          Jun 18 2013: Dear Jimmy,
          Are you not taking too much of a responsibility to hold atheists as humanly superior to Christians? Or for that matter any other religious group?
          I have no religious affiliation, don't believe in super natural god but like to carry my cultural tradition including my sanskrit surname which means 'principal teacher'. Do you think I am an atheist?
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    Jun 16 2013: Only in the US of A..
    Somebody wants to give away bibles, the most popular collection of books ever, & somebody else wants to stop them.
    The vast majority of the population pay lip service to the book anyway; the only group complaining think it's a book of myths. So what's the problem?
    Most of us would not want to live in a country that banned books; of any kind.
    Lighten up guys, or distribute The Origin of the Species; but I guess that already takes pride of place.

    :-)
  • Jun 16 2013: I read it......All of the tension between All of the parties emerges from their misperception of Reality(including the Atheists). They have simply missed the entire point. None of them are Bad people.....they are simply doing the Best that They can.

    Regardless of intention, or Rules that they strive to live by, the tension and fighting and aggro'ness will continue as long as the Misperception Continues. Same for all Egoic-Fighting. All a Big Misunderstanding.
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      Jun 17 2013: Scott, yes, I agree that it all stems from misperceptions.

      But how do you feel about the fact that it was done with children in the middle of it all?
      • Jun 19 2013: Less than 5 minutes ago: It reflects relative Awareness. Or, it's absence. Technological advances Speed along! Human Evolution is slow and a wayssssss off from being a Conscious process. For now, it remains primarily Unconscious. We are not separate from any of these folks. They are sleeping........the extreme nature of Situations drives many to deeper depths of Sleep and Separateness. It Awakens others. The sleepers are most vocal for they are most fearful.

        Doing Unto Others and Being The Change is not some Rule that we should live by to keep things reasonable. It is THE way of Teaching those Who Sleep.
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          Jun 20 2013: Thank you Scott. Loved your insight.
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    Jun 16 2013: These are not just words. They can be rules to live by and are not necessarily related to any religious faith.
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      Jun 16 2013: Did you read the article?

      I am looking for a discussion of these words 'inside' the context of what happened in Florida.
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        Jun 16 2013: I did read the article. I meant to reply in a way that itself expresses my point of view on the issue- that is that there is no reason in my mind to approach the question through side-taking between religious and atheist groups.

        It is the pervasive habit of division and side-taking in this arena that often interferes with understanding common ground.
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          Jun 16 2013: I read the article too Fritzie and I agree.....this kind of thing continues to divide and seperate people. If one has an honest, genuine intent to "Be the Change"....."Do unto Others", that would be demonstrated.

          It does not make sense to say the words, and not walk the talk. For some people, these are obviously just words. For some people, the words move us to action. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
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          Jun 17 2013: I feel the same way as you in this regard.
          My concern lies more in the venue used for such a demonstration of do unto others......

          I cannot imagine our local school board allowing such a display....but then again, you just never know.

          I think the words used by the reporter at the end of the article was what prompted me to post the question here. I'm inclined to agree with her conclusion.
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        Jun 17 2013: I expect the school board in question will be more vigilant in the future.
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          Jun 17 2013: I sure do hope so.....I just don't know what they were thinking of.
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    Jun 18 2013: Here is a video that sheds additional light into how the Bibles, and the Atheist literature was distributed.
    As well as an explanation of why the school board allowed it.

    http://www.clickorlando.com/news/atheists-to-distribute-literature-at-orange-county-high-schools/-/1637132/19980538/-/xuwcj8z/-/index.html
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        Jun 19 2013: Exactly!!

        Avoiding a lawsuit and costly litigation is NUMERO UNO....no matter who pays the price in the end.

        Look at what George Carlin said regarding the separation of church and state.
        He by the way, tackled controversial issues using humor:

        http://hateandanger.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/the-separation-of-church-and-state/
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        Jun 19 2013: Glad you enjoyed it....Carlin has a way with words.

        And, yes, those with wealth and fame can most certainly make their own laws........you are so right!!!!
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    Jun 18 2013: An issue I have not seen raised below but with which some people may have experience- how does it feel to kids at school who are not from, say, Christian homes to see the Christian bible distributed at school? Is it positive, neutral, or negative in the sense of underlining their difference?

    How do kids of any faith feel about seeing literature promoting atheism or arguing against their religion in favor of another distributed at school?

    Some people may have experience with this from their own childhood or from the school experience of their children.
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      Jun 18 2013: This is a good point. I have tried to find interviews with parents and students......but have found none.
      The Bibles were distributed passively....that is, they were placed on a table.

      If you wanted a Bible, you took one, but if you didn't want one, you didn't have to take one.
      The same method was used by the FFRF for distributing their lit.
      [edited spelling]
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        Jun 18 2013: I understand that. I have a hunch that children who are not Christian are uncomfortable about seeing stacks of bibles for the taking at schools. I have less instinct as to how religious children felt about the atheist literature but I would expect not happy about it.
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      Jun 18 2013: Found another video from January......

      http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/church-volunteers-stack-bibles-some-orange-co-scho/nTx58/

      It includes a couple of bytes of students' and parents' opinions on the distribution.
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        Jun 18 2013: I notice the ACLU in various states has done some footwork on the issue.
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          Jun 18 2013: Yes they have......have you read what Ed wrote?

          What do you think about the separation of church and state?

          Do you think most Americans understand it?
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        Jun 19 2013: I think the interpretation of the first amendment is subtle and worked out over time through case law.That is how the legal system in this country works. Statutes and case law ("common law") together constitute the law of the land.

        I think lawyers who handle first amendment issues understand the boundaries around what is legal as well as where the gray areas are and that school districts make policies that are designed to keep well within the law so that they don't have to be distracted from their educational goals by litigation.
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          Jun 19 2013: In other words, most people who use the expression "separation of church and state" really do not understand what the lawyers understand.

          This whole conversation has been very enlightening.
    • Jun 20 2013: Fritzie, your question reminds me of something that happened to me in high school.
      I left the country after freshman year to move to Holland, and a friend gave me a gift. It was very thoughtful, I didn't expect it, and opened it eagerly. It was a bible.
      My parents had very very traumatic experiences at Catholic schools growing up, especially my father, and although my brothers and I were baptized ('to be in the safe side', my mother told us later), my upbringing included little or no religion.
      I had no idea how to react to this gift. It carried so much weight, that much I did know. And suddenly, I viewed the girl who gave it to me in a different light as well. Was she trying to convert me? Did she want to talk about God all the time now? She had a whole new dimension, I never knew existed. She was a member of a sort of secret club, that I had heard about, that I was a scared of, and envious of, at the same time.
      But she simply said, "It has some great stories".
      I read some, not all... And I still have it.
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        Jun 20 2013: People who offer such literature mean well by it. I have not been handed an entire bible by friends or strangers, but in my college days, I was handed many Bhagavad Gitas. and, of course, those with religious literature to share ring my door bell now and then.

        There are a variety of anecdotes online about the persecution some students have encountered who are not of the majority religion at their school. This is what I think one wants to avoid so no one feels intimidated at school because of his religion.
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        Jun 20 2013: Lizanne, I really enjoyed reading your experience.
        Isn't it interesting how we judge people, or even become scared of people, when they come out and show us their belief system?

        I have had to work hard at letting go of prejudices which were based on my own perceptions of people...especially when it came to religious affiliations.

        I think Fritzie makes a good point, that usually when someone knows you, and gives you a Bible as a going away gift, they usually mean well by it. How nice that you still have it as a keepsake.

        Now....onto another point, since my comment will appear above Arkady's.
        Click on the vimeo link he provided about "It's not about the nail".....and, tell me what you think Lizanne.
        I promise you that you will have a reaction to it..........what I don't know is.....how you will react. ;)
        • Jun 21 2013: Yes, Mary! This experience as a church choir director has rally opened my eyes to the many levels of religion, in which there are some very impossible things, and some really wonderful things.

          That video was recognizable... But I have to say, I'm with the guy! Does that mean I'm more in touch with my masculine side?
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        Jun 21 2013: YUP....if you read my reply to Arkady you will see that I view the video as indicative of all humans......but I did laugh....because I have been on both the female, and the male part of that conversation...LOL

        I have found that sometimes we just don't see the forest because of the trees.

        I think it happens to all of us...me included.

        The brain...so powerful...so complex.

        There is alot we just do not understand.

        I learned a new vocabulary word today while finishing up a book called Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar. In it, she speaks of the differences of men and women, and how various authors have written extensively on our differences. What caught my eye is when she cites the science journal 'Nature' as saying that we are being fed "psychoneuroindoctrinology" by such authors as Louann Brizendine (wrote a book called The Female Brain). Isn't that a mouthful?

        There is so much 'stuff' out there....and who do you trust or believe??

        There comes a time when you realize you have to live what you think is truth, and not just let yourself be tossed back and forth like the waves of the sea by all the psuedobabble.

        But, because common sense is not so common anymore....I guess books will continue to be written, and people will continue to want to fit us all in some sort of mold.
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    Jun 18 2013: This title is really confusing btw, I don't understand how it's related to the explanation...
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      Jun 18 2013: You know, I think you are right....I picked the title based on words from the article, but I think I might need to change it.

      Any suggestions?

      I thought you might like the patheos article.....If you find any other articles on this issue feel free to post them. I want to show both sides of the issue at hand.

      As for what you wrote under my comment to Pabitra...I am at a loss for words.
      I have no idea what you mean by your comment.

      I have tried to be neutral in my comments. If anything, I have expressed my distaste in bringing religion or religious literature inside schools.

      So I'm not sure how to take your comments.
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        Jun 18 2013: Maybe "Should bibles be handed out in school?" or "Is it right to hand out religious scriptures and/or anti-religious scriptures in school?" and I would also add the article from Patheos in the explanation so that both views are presented at the same time.
        But those are merely suggestions, it is your Conversation to do as you please with.

        Considering my comment under Pabitra I was reacting to this:

        "So, what do the elite missionary schools do with all the money they take in?
        Do they put it back into the local community?"

        The last part there is biased, you're searching for a way to justify the eating of cow dung and high intuition fees...
        But that's just what I think that you're doing, it would fit the pattern as I see it...

        P.S. I mean no offence by this.
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          Jun 18 2013: It would fit what pattern? I have a pattern? Really?

          How can you read so much into my words?

          I am searching for a way to justify the eating of cow dung....are you serious man?

          You are so totally off on your perception of my words.

          And, I'll think about your suggestion for changing the title......

          If anybody else feels the title should be changed, I welcome suggestions.
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          Jun 20 2013: Hi Jimmy,I understand you don't mean any offence by this,but we can assume that your words might offend someone if his/her mind is not that open.I just want to ask you are you more likely to be hawkish,or dovish in your real life? Straightforwardness,integrity,impulsiveness?Just my curiosity.
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        Jun 18 2013: Everybody has a pattern, can't you see one in me? It may not be correct (like my observation of you) but we all have patterns. And our mind is really good at finding them.

        Yes I'm serious.

        Maybe I've just read the wrong parts (not saying that it's all wrong!!) there's just so much to read.
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          Jun 18 2013: I do not look for patterns....no I do not see one in you.

          I will say this, I dislike the idea of opening a missionary school for the elite.
          I asked about what, if anything, they do with the money, to see if they helped out locally, or pocketed the money......I am waiting for Pabitra to reply.

          I am hoping that they do something good with the money they take from the rich....hopefully they use it to set up other schools to help the poorer Indians.
          But that might not be the answer I get.

          I ask, because I am curious, and not because I want to side with the church.
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        Jun 18 2013: Well, you don't need to look for them, it's inherent in the human brain. (can you honestly say that you didn't see the pattern in me responding to this?)

        Here's some reading that I think will make you understand what I'm talking about. (any single one should do)

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=patternicity-finding-meaningful-patterns
        http://seeingcomplexity.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/the-brain-as-a-pattern-recognition-machine/
        http://butdoesitfloat.com/The-human-mind-delights-in-finding-pattern-so-much-so-that-we-often
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=patternicity-finding-meaningful-patterns

        I got that you disliked that, I also understood that you were hoping for an answer that they were doing good with that money. That is why I said what I said.

        You may not want to side with them but I'm guessing that you'd be glad if you could?
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          Jun 18 2013: It is so dangerous to assume what another person is thinking and what another person's motive is for doing something.

          And to come right out and say that you practice such a philosophy of life is, well...................I lack words.

          I dislike any foreign group going into a country to "help" them, and then turning around and fleecing them.

          I have no idea why Pabitra included the example that he did, I am asking questions to try and glean a purpose and further details. Who knows, maybe I'll learn something.

          It is my hope that everyone walks away from this conversation with a clearer picture of how religion (any religion) or non-religious groups interact with each other and with schools.

          As for the links you provided, I appreciate the thought, but it is not the topic for discussion here.

          You are welcome to continue providing information for the topic at hand.
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          Jun 18 2013: I completely agree that our brain is a pattern-finding machine. Our ability to make conclusions and draw cause-effect relationships is not much different than that of a Pavlov's dog. This is exactly how superstitions, prejudice, and stereotypes are created. Religion has little to do with it.

          “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

          ― Mark Twain

          This quote applies equally to atheists and believers. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Christians are anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-evolution and anti-science. I don't think that atheists are less charitable or more immoral than believers. I even think that collecting any data to prove one way or another is immoral by itself.
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        Jun 20 2013: You know Mary,I'm curious about your feeling,while you have conversation with someone in TED,like this one with Jimmy,I'm positing it is not that pleasant and smooth? Some kind of misunderstanding,you know it's different from conversation between you and me.
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    Jun 17 2013: Point of order! I am reading a lot here about America having a legal policy of "separation of church and state". Can someone cite the specific document(s) which define that separation? I do not think there is any such constitutional requirement.
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        Jun 18 2013: Thank you for the link. Of course Jefferson's personal correspondence is accepted by some SCOTUS opinions as "almost law", but it is not Law. My point of order has to do with the commonly held belief that the Constitution clearly and unequivocally demands that anything having to do with God is to be categorically insulated from all matters of government. Such is not the case. The Constitution clearly and unequivocally denies the power of government to establish any religion OR to require any religious qualification for holding any government office. The "wall of separation" is not from the Constitution. It is NOT a Constitutional requirement that government be Godless.
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      Jun 18 2013: You might find this link interesting as well.

      It sites some Supreme Court rulings regarding the use of the Bible in public schools.

      I have not read it all, but I thought I would post it in the meantime.

      http://www.icr.org/article/teaching-bible-public-schools/

      I found it doing a google search for "using the bible in public schools"
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        Jun 18 2013: From the Institute for Creation Research... A quote from that source that simply isn't true, I can give more examples.

        "As one possessing a Masters degree in history, I can tell you that no qualified historian would dispute the simple fact that the Bible is not only a great documented history book of man's beginnings, right up to the modern era, but it is the ONLY documented ancient history account available to mankind on much of that long 4,000 year period B.C. " Doesn't that just shred all of that authors credibility?

        Here's my source (and directions to the cases that have banned the bible in the way it was being used) http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_Supreme_Court_case_resulted_in_the_banning_of_prayer_and_bible_reading_in_the_public_schools

        I simply didn't go by the top 5 hits on Google, sorting away any source that had God or Christ or Jesus in the URL...
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        Jun 18 2013: Thanks for the link. Being fairly simple-minded I cannot keep-up with the myriad arguments and SCOTUS opinions. I believe it is an important, simple point to recognize that the Constitution does not require government to be Godless. The phrase "separation of church and state" is wielded by antagonists and protagonists of Godly matters alike. Whatever the phrase is used for, it is NOT from the Constitution.
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          Jun 18 2013: Edward, I have heard this term "separation of church and state" since I was a kid in school.
          Then, when I became a teacher, we were clearly warned in orientation meetings how God had to be kept out of the classroom.

          What you have stated has made me look deeper into this issue.
          And, you are correct.

          As a matter of fact, here is a page from the aclu:
          http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/statement-emthe-bible-public-schools-first-amendment-guideem
          Ed, let me know if you have read anything else that clears this up....especially relating to schools.

          And, do you think the title of the convesation should be changed?
          I used the words, borrowing an idea from the original article I posted.

          Thanks for your contributions
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        Jun 18 2013: RE: "I have heard this term. . ." Thanks Mary for this new link. I see nothing in your title which perpetuates the error of "separation of church and state" as a Constitutional mandate.
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          Jun 18 2013: Ed, thanks,

          I want you, if possible to click on the new link I provided above.....clickorlando.com one, it is a video of a news report on the event.

          Note the comments below the video......"separation of church and state" keeps popping up.

          Do you suppose that alot of Americans have a misunderstanding of this concept?

          I am starting to believe that.
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        Jun 18 2013: RE: "I want you if possible to click. . . " I see no video on the ACLU.org/religion link, and I cannot find a link to "orlando.com one" As for the myth of separation of church and state I think the number one and two answer from a cross-section of adult Americans would be, "I don't know." and "Of course!", in either order. Maybe a few would answer, "No. The Constitution makes no such law.", but not many.
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        Jun 18 2013: RE: The clickorlando.com linked video. I watched it. America is a Post-Christian nation. We were once a Christian nation and we have evolved (or devolved) from there to a nation where the perception, which has no basis in fact, is the Constitution demands there must be a barrier between all government activity and anything having to do with God, pro or con. Atheist doctrine qualifies as having to do with God as does the Holy Bible, so both must be banned from public (government) schools. Litigation is costly and easily avoided by banning ALL teaching and indoctrination regarding God. Teach the kids to think critically, to read, to write and how to use math. That should fill the day. Let Mom and Dad teach their kids about God at home. America is a post-Christian nation, get used to it.
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          Jun 19 2013: Thanks. I think many parents feel the same way as what you have stated.
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    Jun 17 2013: My two pence on the article. Since I come from a quite a different culture and country, it may be of interest.
    We have missionary schools here in India. These schools are fully funded by christian religious foundations and have christian prayers, bible classes (bibles distributed freely) and most have very dedicated teachers whom the students love. True to Indian culture of assimilating even the most foreign things, Indian students (Hindus mostly) fold their hands and recite 'our father in heaven' and forget it in 5 minutes flat out of school. The idea is, with so many good things why not worship the Jesus god too?
    Things are not so light in Islamic schools where one needs to learn a particular language from the middle east - a language in which Islam was revealed to the last prophet.
    For the rest of the schools, only text books are allowed inside and comics if one tries to smuggle something in. If you want to read religious books, there is library full of all sorts of books.
    This is a easy way of life. The poor and illiterate peasant folks of India, who are the true face of the country have lived through so many ideas of religions that they have developed a spiritual stoicism of a unique kind.
    If I am not wrong, in the US there had been closet atheists living under ignonimity who are just about coming out in the public. They are being over enthusiastic in a culture that traditionally was strongly religious.
    There are good and bad people on both side of the belief divide.
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      Jun 17 2013: This is interesting.

      So, the children that attend the missionary schools in India attend for free I suppose?

      Are the schools there for helping with the literacy or for proselityzing or both?

      I find that the Hindus I have spoken to face to face, are for the most part open to discussions of various Gods......and will welcome information on your God. I find this amazingly wonderful. At the same time, I have learned so much from them about their way of life and their Gods....this exchange of information is what I truly enjoy when discussing religion and religious text. And I must also add that this has not just been the case with only the Hindus I have met, but those from other faiths in India as well.

      I think perhaps you are right about the closet Atheist. I think that for a long time people were very afraid to say they do not have any kind of faith in religion or religious leaders.

      I think I recently said the same thing you are saying to Obey in another conversation (I think the conversation on The Existence of God)

      And yes, there are good and bad people on both side of the belief divide.......and also of the gender divide, cultural divide, socio-economic divide, and so on and so forth.....
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        Jun 17 2013: Oh no, Mary. Missionary schools in India can be expensive as well. There are many missionary schools with history and quite liked for discipline and dedicated teachers. Of course they proselytize but I don't believe they are very serious. Hindus and tribals in India convert for all reasons, mostly for a secured dinner at the end of a day. They Indianize Christianity by worshiping idols of Jesus Christ. For such a gullible lot, you cannot put too much trust on their religious integrity - in fact if need be they can always go to temples, eat cow dung (just a bit) say sorry to priests and reconvert. :)
        I know about some Hindu who wanted to marry his mistress but by law Hindus are not permitted to marry twice. But it's not that tough either. He converted to Islam, married and reconverted to Hinduism.
        Don't ask me how he was treated by his first wife though :D
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          Jun 18 2013: "eat cow dung (just a bit) say sorry to priests and reconvert" Are you serious?

          Pabitra, what you are sharing here is all new to me.

          It is interesting how ingenious people are in obtaining what they want by manipulating laws (whether secular or religious) that are in place.

          So, what do the elite missionary schools do with all the money they take in?

          Do they put it back into the local community?
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          Jun 18 2013: Mary,

          It seems that you always want this to go in the "The church is good" direction, even when this new information is presented to you that you don't seem to agree with. Try seeing it the other way for just one day, have the initial thought that the church actually isn't that good.

          Oh, and I've seen it your way for more then a day so no need for the turnaround.
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        Jun 18 2013: Dear Mary,
        Yes I am serious. Indians are being converted to Islam and Christianity for centuries and that is a historical fact. It will not be untrue to say that in the polytheistic and spiritually open culture of the sub-continent this remained a cake walk for the Maulavis and Padres. The historic spirituality in India had a cultural basis for a completely guilt-free view towards adopting any way of worship, particularly when it is a necessity of life. However, this open and rather free culture also ensures reconversion most easily.
        I cannot vouch for the authenticity, but such conversion-reconversion stories are available easily.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8xx37Z-wjM
        To me and many people here, religion is just not relevant anymore for making sense of life and live with joy and peace. My rational is explained by Sam Harris.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRSRo7k9ZcU
        I know for certain, NO religion has an unblemished track record when it comes to dealing with people. It is wise to keep faith private.
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          Jun 18 2013: You know Pabitra, I had never heard of this practice before in the Hindu way of life.

          History well bears the fact that people all over the world convert back and forth from all kinds of religious practices. It is not mutually exclusive of India.

          I just was not familiar with the missionary schools, and with people who you call a "gullible lot". It is good that you are not gullible, yes?

          I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and the videos.
          I will watch them.

          I am well aware that you do not need religion to live with joy and peace.
          Religion does not guarantee joy and peace.

          I think that man has dominated man in history in a horrific way.....and continues to do so...be it in the religious sector, as well as other sectors.
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        Jun 18 2013: Am I gullible? Well that's for others to say. If you mean whether I am easily persuaded to believe something, well I do believe we are inherently good and peaceful unless we are led astray by greed and power.
  • Jun 17 2013: Let me look at it in the school board policy and legal point of view.
    It seems to me that to unofficially distribute to students some religious materials (laying around the desks) which are not stipulated as teaching materials, is clearly bad policy. Because, normally you won't allow anybody to put advertisements of commodities on student desks, would you? So apparently the distribution of the bibles seems to be school board sanctioned.
    However, to lay some other, even indecent, materials on the student desks is even worse policy or act. Since two wrongs don't make it right in this case. So this is simply not legal, it's just a farce.
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      Jun 17 2013: Bart, thank you for your fine contribution.

      I think your words echo those of the article. "to distribute to students some religious materials......is clearly bad policy.....to lay some other.......is even worse policy or act.....two wrongs don't make a right in this case"

      I wonder if this was just some publicity stunt?
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        Jun 17 2013: Well, both books mentioned in the article are simply books that elaborate on reasoning about the existence of either Jesus (I don't think that book should be R-rated, look it up and decide for yourself) or God and the religious institutions that they promoted.

        How about handing out On the Origins of Species, it's clearly against religious explainations on the origins of life and provides proof for it. Would it be wrong to hand out those?
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      Jun 17 2013: LaMar, yes, the "Do unto others" does get twisted into "well they did it to me, so I can do it to them".
      I think that is precisely what happened in Orange county.

      What would you as a parent have done?

      And let me just mention that in most cases, school board meetings are held once a month. If you want to do something in a school, you must appear in front of a school board, and others are able to come and speak against your request. So the general public is there watching, and able to speak.

      Our local county broadcasts school board meetings on tv, and also on the radio.
      [edited spelling]
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Kate, thanks for chiming in.

      Yes, I noticed that you and Edward noticed the same thing as me.....that the kids were the ones caught in the middle of this whole ordeal.

      If you want to share anything further come right on back.

      I'll ask you the same thing as Lizanne, have you visited the FFRF site, or know anyone involved with the organization?
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        Jun 17 2013: Hi,Mary,

        You say 'that the kids were the ones caught in the middle of this whole ordeal'. I wonder are those Bibles being handed out to the kids where the Scripture come from? You mentioned Scripture and its beautiful words. I mean if are steadfast in your faith,why do you say the kids exposed to religion caught in the ordeal? Would not that be a joy to share the truth,and enlighten the kids in the way you are upholding in their early lives?
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          Jun 17 2013: Hi Jaden,

          The problem with introducing the Bible into the schools, is that in this country we have separation of church and state.

          School boards are supposed to uphold laws that are there to protect all the children.

          Bibles are so readily accessible and available to anyone in this country.....you can also access various translations of the Bible on line for free.
          You do not need to go to a school and pass them out.

          The fact that a decision was made to pass them out inside the schools, left the door open for anyone else with different kinds of literature to hand these out as well.

          Perhaps that was the whole point of the event.
          Media manipulates so much in this country.
          I can't help but think that this whole ordeal was some kind of publicity stunt of some kind.

          As to your second sentence above, let me share this....Scriptures are Holy Writings. The Bible is considered scripture.

          Thanks for your contribution Jaden.
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          Jun 17 2013: I like how you think Kate.

          You know, they allow clubs of all sorts inside the high schools here.
          And, so, if students from different background formed clubs, and had an interchange of info. that would make for a well-rounded sharing of ideas.

          This is how many get around the division of church and state. If it is student generated (club) then it's all right.

          I think young people today are a bit better off, because they do not have to live in a box.
          The internet makes it easy to educate themselves in all sorts of things.

          Also, schools are so much different now than they were say 40 years ago.
          Used to be that kids went to school with other kids like them.
          But, here, in big cities, like Orlando, we are a melting pot of many nationalities and religions, so I think young people are more tolerant of the diversities that exist among mankind, than were their parents. This of course is a generality......and not meant to be an all encompassing rule.

          So just how many different national groups live around you Kate?.....I always imagined it was just Aussies there where you live.
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          Jun 18 2013: I read your comment to Pabitra above, that is really interesting Kate.

          You might want to read the new links I posted above for more info on this issue.
          It is quite interesting to read opposing points of view.

          Let us know what you think.
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          Jun 18 2013: Kids can and do learn about religions in schools. It is a matter of how it is presented. For example, all my kids learned in middle school about Buddhism and Hinduism in social studies. At least two learned about the beliefs of the Medieval Church.

          In the mid-twentieth century I remember reading both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in a philosophy unit.
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        Jun 18 2013: Thank you for the information,Mary. I had no clear understanding of Scriptures and The Bible.Especially English is not my first language,and I barely have a way to expose myself to Scriptures,sometimes 'scripture' and 'Scripture' also bewildered me.

        I understand your point now,kids have their own free will to choose.
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          Jun 18 2013: If you are able to, try to read the new links I provided.
          They offer additional information you might find interesting.
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          Jun 19 2013: Kate, thanks for sharing this information of the high school course.
          That sounds like a very interesting and respectful way to expose kids to diversity of religious practices. And, if they are electives, which I imagine they probably are, then only those students interested in the subject of religion take it.
          Giving students a broader view and cultivating tolerance are worthy outcomes of education, I would imagine.

          I did not know about the Greeks in Australia.
          We have Greeks here in Florida....in Tarpon Springs....they came to cultivate sea sponges way back when sponge beds were discovered off the coast.
          It is a great place to visit.
          Here, take a nice virtual walk around:

          http://dixiedining.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/a-visit-to-greek-town-in-tarpon-springs-fl/

          So the majority of immigrants around you are Asians?
          Well, that is nice Kate.

          I feel the same way as you, having lots of national groups around me, allows me the priviledge to intermingle with other cultures without leaving my hometown.
          But I do prefer to travel ;)

          Thanks for sharing Kate.
  • Jun 16 2013: You know, Mary, this is so interesting to me, now more than ever.
    I have been involved in the church community for the past year, as the director of a choir made of kids from both the Catholic and Protestant faith. Personally, I am not religious, gut have enormous respect for any and all beliefs, (and even a teensy bit of envy, to be perfectly honest).
    Over the past year, I have been in a lot of Catholic churches, and a lot of Protestant churches. Te congregations are all welcoming, they are all happy to see me and my singing kiddos, they are all grateful, they all seem to say the exact same things in their sermons, we all sing about the same exact people, about US.

    I read the article, and just can't get my head around why some people are so passionate about trying to prove faith wrong. I have read the bible, there are some really awesome stories in there! When I read how some folks are up in arms about spreading the word of God, it saddens me, although I do not practice any religion, I certainly do not feel I have any right to claim religion is bogus.
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      Jun 17 2013: Lizanne, your life experience is very valuable.
      Did you notice the subheading wordsin the article?

      "A fight over school Bibles gets ugly -- and kids are the big losers"

      What message do you think the kids took away from these two opposing sides?

      Have you ever visited the freedom from religion foundation site or know anything about them?
      [edited]
      • Jun 19 2013: I did, Mary!
        No, I have never heard of it, but am Wiki-ing it now... :)
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          Jun 20 2013: Lizanne, I have posted other links above that you might want to click on....a couple are short videos of news pieces in the Orlando area.

          I have learned quite alot in this small conversation......
      • Jun 20 2013: So have I, Mary! I had a good look at the FFRF site, had no idea it existed!
        I will take some time to look at those links you posted.

        I've been reading over all these comments, and it makes me think of one of the most common questions the kids in the church choir ask me, which is: "When can we sing something that isn't about God?"
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          Jun 20 2013: So all your songs are about God?

          Oh, I thought you sang all kinds of songs.

          What do you tell them as an answer Lizanne?
      • Jun 21 2013: At the moment, yup. My vision turns out to be very different than that of the church. This choir was not exactly what I expected when I spontaneously volunteered to lead it!

        Because this is a mixed choir, Catholic and Protestant kids together, both churches want their fair share of performances. No sooner had we begun last September, did I receive a gazillion requests for the kids to sing, which was great! but then, the requests turned into demands and expectations.
        We were lucky if we had one rehearsal to practice all the songs that were expected to be sung at any given service. The kids were becoming stressed, demotivated, and worst of all, they were disappearing. Half the choir would turn up at a service, while the other half were with their families at the other church. Which makes sense! It was, and is, a ridiculous notion to expect these kids to bridge the gap of the Protestant and Catholic faith.

        Me, all I wanted was to sing our hearts out. Unfortunately, the power of religion outweighs little old me, and the children pay the price. It's really an excellent example of how religion can hinder creative expression and freedom.

        When the kids wanted to sing something else, I would explain the importance of these songs to the upcoming service (and would often have to wing it, since I don't know the first thing about what these services are all about). We would talk about the message in the song, what we are trying to say with the lyrics. When the kids understood better what they were singing about, they found they could enjoy it.
        When the kids wanted to sing "Gangham Style", I told them they were welcome to do so, outside the church.