Posts Tagged ‘Freedom From Religion Foundation’

Politics in the Church and the IRS

July 29, 2014

I was reading a post at Political Outcast on the possibility that the IRS might begin to monitor sermons for political content thanks to a settlement with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. I might be tempted to regard this as exaggerated or alarmist but it happens that I had already read the FfRF’s statement on the lawsuit. While I do not think the IRS is likely to start sending agents into churches to monitor sermons, this ruling clearly allows groups like the FfRF to harass religious groups that dare to make any public statement on any political issue. Since the left politicizes everything, this means that any preacher that preaches on any subject in a politically correct way, abortion, say or homosexuality, could find have his church’s tax exemption revoked.

Here is the FfRF’s statement.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service reached an agreement today (July 17) that resolves for the time being an ongoing federal lawsuit over non-enforcement of restrictions on political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations and churches.

“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“Of course, we have the complication of a moratorium currently in place on any IRS investigations of any tax-exempt entities, church or otherwise, due to the congressional probe of the IRS. FFRF could refile the suit if anti-electioneering provisions are not enforced in the future against rogue political churches.”

FFRF filed suit against the IRS shortly after the presidential election in 2012, based on the agency’s reported enforcement moratorium, as evidenced by open and notorious politicking by churches. Pulpit Freedom Sunday, in fact, has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches. A prior lawsuit in 2009 required the IRS to designate an appropriate high-ranking official to initiate church tax examinations, but it had apparently failed to do so.

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches.

In addition to FFRF’s lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax exempt organizations.

Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries.

Until the IRS has satisfied congressional overseers that objective procedures are firmly in place with regard to political activities by all tax-exempt organizations, the judge in FFRF’s pending suit would not currently be able to order any immediate or effective relief.

As a result, FFRF has reached a point where no further immediate changes realistically can be accomplished through continued litigation. The dismissal of the pending action, however, is expected to be without prejudice, which means that further legal action by FFRF to enforce anti-electioneering provisions is not precluded in the future if necessary.

Why shouldn’t churches be involved in politics? The IRS explains it.

The ban on political campaign activity by charities and churches was created by Congress more than a half century ago. The Internal Revenue Service administers the tax laws written by Congress and has enforcement authority over tax-exempt organizations. Here is some background information on the political campaign activity ban and the latest IRS enforcement statistics regarding its administration of this congressional ban.

In 1954, Congress approved an amendment by Sen. Lyndon Johnson to prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations, which includes charities and churches, from engaging in any political campaign activity. To the extent Congress has revisited the ban over the years, it has in fact strengthened the ban. The most recent change came in 1987 when Congress amended the language to clarify that the prohibition also applies to statements opposing candidates.

Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

I really do not see how this is constitutional, nor do I understand why churches must remain silent in order to qualify for tax exemptions. Frankly, I would prefer that churches not be exempt from taxes because I am not comfortable with the IRS deciding what is and isn’t a legitimate religion.

The reason for the FfRF”s concern is the movement called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” headed by a pastor named Jim Garlow. Mr. Garlow believes that preachers should not be restricted in their choice of subject matter for their sermons but must be free to speak out on any issue that concerns their audience, including who should be elected to office. As a result of this belief he has begun a movement of more than a thousand pastors to deliberately challenge the IRS’s ban on politicking.

Again, I don’t understand why the restriction isn’t unconstitutional. Preachers ought to have the freedom to preach whatever they want to preach. Whether they should preach on political subjects is another matter. In general, I do not believe they should. The mission of the church is to get souls to Heaven and not to try to make Earth into Heaven. When the church gets involved with politics, it does not improve the political scene. Politics tends to corrupt the church.

This is no reason for the government to demand that churches stay out of politics. The idea behind the Johnson amendment seems to be that if a tax exempt church interferes in politics that is equivalent to the government establishing a church by funding it. But why? If the government reduces taxes, it is not giving people money, contrary to what progressives believe. It is allowing them to keep more of their own money. If the government chooses not to tax religious institutions,  it is not funding the institutions, it is refraining from taking their money. It seems to me that the demand that churches stay out of politics is a violation of their freedom of expression as well as their free exercise of religion. Perhaps it is time this law is changed in favor of freedom.

Rational Response

May 10, 2014

The Supreme Court recently ruled, in Town of Greece v Galloway, that the Town of Green, by opening its Town Board meetings with a prayer by a volunteer chaplain is not violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment, even if the prayer happens to mention a specific deity. Naturally, Atheists generally and the Freedom from Religion Foundation particularly are responding in the calm, thoughtful, rational way we have all come to expect. Or, maybe not, judging from this item on their blog. I am  not sure to what extent this is an official position taken by the FfRF but they did allow it to be published on their website, so I must assume they approve of the sentiments.

Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Greece v. Galloway is potentially disastrous for state-church separation. This decision could be the equivalent of Dred Scott or Plessy for our cause. FFRF’s new “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” award/contest is a great incentive and call to action and I hope that hundreds or thousands of citizen activists will take up the challenge. As an activist who has openly protested public prayer on many occasions, I offer the following opinion and suggestions for others to consider going forward.

Justice Kennedy’s argument provided substantial reasoning to strike down Marsh v Chambers and prohibit government-sponsored prayer altogether, but his conclusion was all wrong. With this ruling the high court has opened the door for local majority religions (and religious thugs) to take over city and state government proceedings. “Majority rule” is not democracy and this ill-thought decision should give supporters of Christian prayer pause in light of America’s rapidly shifting demographics. Public prayers will not always be Christian, especially in cities like Dearborn, Mich., which has a growing Muslim majority, or Clearwater, Fla., that has a majority of Scientology followers. These and other influential religions will begin to assert themselves in isolated areas where Christianity is not the majority religion.

Well, actually majority rule is democracy, which is why I am not really a fan of democracy. I prefer a republic in which while public opinion plays some role in making policies, there are checks against a tyranny of the majority and the rights of minorities and individuals are protected. Personally, I have no objection at all to people of other religions praying in public, provided they extend the same courtesy to me. I think I might get along a lot better with a Muslim or Scientologist than I would with a member of the FfRF who does not seem inclined to extend any courtesy at all to me.

Next, there is a four step plan of action. One and two are complain and demand diversity. Number three is:

3. Voice or otherwise express disapproval or objection

When the public is made captive or invited to participate in public prayers, this very act opens a limited opportunity for immediate petition for a redress of grievances. If members of the public are allowed to voice approval in any way (e.g., by answering “Amen” after a prayer or by applauding or cheering after invocations), the public must also be allowed to voice disapproval (e.g., by booing, making thumbs down gestures, blowing a raspberry, or by making other audible sounds signifying disapproval).

The government may not allow positive feedback or approval while at the same time prohibiting negative feedback or disapproval. It’s all or nothing. Total silence or every voice must be heard. Citizens may also express disapproval by remaining seated when urged to stand or by looking up or straight ahead when asked to bow. Citizens may also abruptly walk out of government proceedings and then make an auspicious re-entry as soon as the prayer has ended. Creative activists will find ways to express themselves in these circumstances.

So, if a chaplain begins a prayer, they will make asses of themselves in public by booing, gesturing, and ostentatiously remaining seated or leaving the room. It gets better.

4. Public mockery

If after the above actions have been taken, the government continues to insult atheists and/or religious minorities with sectarian prayers, activists may turn to public mockery and ridicule. One example is the “prayer mockery hat.” Activist can easily make a brightly colored hat with large ear muffs and dark sunglasses. Wording on the cap could say: “I OBJECT TO PRAYER!” Then, as soon as the pastor or chaplain has been introduced, activists can put on their “prayer mockery hat” with exaggeration and then remain seated throughout the prayer, completely ignoring the pastor until finished. Activists can also mount a small GoPro-style camera to their cap to record the response for posting on Facebook or Youtube.com.

In spite of the disastrous ruling, the fight is not over. We must not submit to this subjugation of our constitutional right to be free FROM unwanted religious intrusion by government. Indeed, “Nothing Fails Like Prayer,” so let us use reason and our constitutional rights of free speech, free association, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances to our full advantage.

Have you ever wondered why Atheists tend to be unpopular? Or why a majority of people would not vote for an Atheist for president even if he was otherwise qualified for the job? Perhaps it might have something to do with the sort of antics advocated here. I don’t imagine all, or even most, Atheists would approve of this sort of juvenile behavior, but unfortunately the Atheists most in the public eye tend to come across as ignorant, intolerant jackasses. I think that it is somewhat ironic that the people who continually assert that they are more rational, intelligent, and tolerant than those of us yahoos who believe in God should act in such an irrational and disrespectful manner.

Sign of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, ...

We don’t have to imagine. We’ve seen the results in places like the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Freedom from Religion Strikes Again

June 7, 2013

If I were an atheist, I would be more than a little mortified by the antics of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. It seems that they are determined to make their fellow atheists hated pariahs where ever they are by offending as many believers as possible. Read about their latest efforts to eradicate any public mention religion in Todd Stearns’ Townhall column.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation blasted what it called the “open defiance” of a valedictorian who delivered The Lord’s Prayer during a high school graduation ceremony last Saturday in South Carolina.

Roy Costner, a senior at Liberty High School in Pickens, created national attention when he ripped up his pre-approved graduation speech and instead led the crowd in a recitation of The Lord’s Prayer.

A video of the speech was posted on YouTube and has since gone viral. It shows the 18-year-old setting aside his speech.

“I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven,” he said as the crowd began to cheer.

He concluded his remarks by pointing to the sky and saying, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

The school district had been in a battle over public prayers after the FFRF filed a complaint objecting to what they called an “unconstitutional prayer practice.”

They hold the school district responsible for Costner’s open act of defiance and what they called a string of problematic religious violations.

“The valedictorian who so insensitively inflicted Christian prayer on a captive audience at a secular graduation ceremony, is a product of a school district which itself set an unconstitutional example by hosting school board prayer,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a prepared statement.

I’m happy with what I did,” Costner said. “I want this to glorify God. I want to use this as a witnessing tool and I hope others will stand up for God in our nation.”

He got the idea to deliver the prayer about two weeks ago when he learned that he had been selected as the top academic student in the graduating class. He was summoned to the principal’s office.

“She informed us that we could not have anything about religion or talk about God or Allah or whoever we choose to worship,” he said. “And they had to approve the speech prior to me going onto stage.”

The prayer controversy had gripped the small South Carolina community for quite some time – and many locals took issue with a group from Wisconsin causing problems.

The valedictorian inflicted Christian prayer on a captive audience? What about the Freedom from Religion Foundation inserting themselves and their values into a town in South Carolina where they were not wanted? Judging from the fact that the audience cheered, I am not sure how many of them felt that the prayer was inflicted upon them. If there were any atheists in attendance, I think they would have preferred to let their minds wander for the minute or so it would have taken Costner to say the prayer, rather than make a fuss that would be completely unnecessary.

I think that the people who are running the FFRF need to read the constitution and especially the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By prohibiting Costner from praying in public or talking about his religion in his speech, wasn’t the principal prohibiting the free exercise of his religion? By demanding and enforcing a state sponsored secularism, isn’t the FFRF insisting on establishing an official state religion, or at least an official state ideology? Who is being aggressive in forcing their beliefs and values on others? Who is being the bully here?

 

Freedom from Religion

March 11, 2012

I see that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is still working on winning friends. This time they have decided to attack the Roman Catholic Church with an advertisement in the New York Times. You can read the contents on their own website here. I’ll give a few excerpts and comments.

Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic:

It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?

It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.

Why is this so hard to understand? The Catholic Church is not denying anyone access to contraceptives. The Bishops simply do not want to be forced, against their beliefs. Why should the government force them? They take up the question a little further down.

our Church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.” You are savvy enough to realize that the real assault is by the Church against women’s rights and health care. As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt asks: Is it an offense against Jehovah Witnesses that health care coverage will include blood transfusions? The Amish, as Pollitt points out, don’t label cars “an assault on religious liberty” and try to force everyone to drive buggies. The louder the Church cries “offense against religious liberty” the harder it works to take away women’s liberty.

It would be an offense against Jehovah’s Witnesses to force them to accept blood transfusions or pay for others transfusions. It would be an offense against the Amish to force them to buy cars. The analogy they use is backward. Obama is trying it do the equivalent of both these examples to Catholic institutions. But here is where they turn nasty.

Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers?  When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.

A backer of the Roman Catholic presidential candidate says that if women want to avoid pregnancy we should put an aspirin between our knees? Catholic politicians are urging that the right to contraception should be left up to states? Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld contraception as a privacy right, we’re going to have to defend this basic freedom all over again?

You’re better than your church. So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe? Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)? For that matter, why have you put up with an institution that won’t put up with women priests, that excludes half of humanity?

No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith. As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings. Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.

Obama has compromised, but the Church never budges, instead launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition. Look at its continuing directives to parish priests to use their pulpits every Sunday to lobby you against Obama’s policy, the Church’s announcement of a major anti-contraception media campaign — using your tithes, contributions and donations — to defeat Obama’s laudable health care policy. The Church has introduced into Congress the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, ” a bill to place the conscienceless Catholic Church’s “rights of conscience” above the rights of conscience of 53 percent of Americans. That the Church has “conscience rights” to deny women their rights is a kissing cousin to the claim that “corporations are people.” The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to oppose contraception now wants to use the force of secular law to deny contraceptive rights to non-Catholics.

Again, no one is being denied contraceptive rights. And doesn’t the Catholic Church have a right to express its opinion? It would seem that the FFRF thinks not.

But is there any point in going on? After all, your misplaced loyalty has lasted through two decades of public sex scandals involving preying priests, children you may have known as victims, and church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top. Are you like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go?

But we have a more welcoming home to offer, free of incense-fogged ritual, free of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,” free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority. Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.

As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.

I sometimes wonder if the Freedom From Religion Foundation is some sort of false front intended to make Atheists all look like jerks.

The only thing that makes this different from one of Jack Chick’s anti-Catholic tracts is that the FFRF  is not saying that the Catholic Church is under the control of the Devil. Other than that they both show about the same amount of bigotry. Not surprisingly Catholic League President Bill Donovan has labeled this ad “hate speech”.  As far as I am concerned they are free to put out any ad they want to, but I triple dog dare them to put put a similar ad about Muslims.

They wouldn’t, of course. Catholics don’t blow up people who insult them.

Note the Atheists and Secularists who seem to approve of the ad. Perhaps I was wrong. FFRF is not a false front. Many Atheists really are bigoted jerks.

Christmas Grinches

December 17, 2011

Christmas is almost upon us and no Christmas season would be complete without the Grinches coming out to steal Christmas from all of us. I’m putting together a few stories I’ve found here and there.Grinches come in all shapes and sizes. Some ruin Christmas for a single family. Others try to ruin Christmas for whole communities.

First, there is the attempt by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to force a Texas Town to take down a nativity scene. I have already mentioned this here.

The so-called War Against Christmas is coming to a head in a Texas town Saturday, as protesters from across the country will be rallying against a nativity display put up in front of the town’s courthouse.

A Wisconsin-based group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation took major issue when they heard that the Christian display was put up outside of the Henderson County courthouse, prompting them to write a letter of complaint.

But a letter from out-of-state isn’t going to leave the people of Henderson rattling in their cowboy boots, as the Attorney General Greg Abbott has boosted the beef to a Texas-sized proportions.

ur message to the atheists is don’t mess with Texas and out Nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments,’ Mr Abbott told Fox News & Community.

Fair warning: The Attorney General stood up for the town’s right to a nativity

The FFRF sent a banner to the court house that it wanted displayed, with a very different message then the birth of Christ.

The group’s banner read ‘At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail.’

‘There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but a myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds,’ it finished.

A mystery man put the sign up on Wednesday on a tree next to the nativity scene in Athens, Texas, about 70 miles south east of Dallas, but it was removed shortly by sheriff’s deputies about 10 minutes later.

Though Judge Richard Sanders may have ordered its removal because of the missing forms and compliance with city procedures, the state’s Attorney General is taking a much more philosophical stance.

There is a school district in New York that has banned the phrase “Merry Christmas”.

New York State’s Batavia City School District is taking the “merry” out of Christmas. The school board is banning the use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” and they have a list of other holiday activities deemed “unacceptable”.

The school board has asked principals to enforce a policy banning Christmas and Hanukah decorations in classrooms.

In a memo titled “Religious expression in the schools” the board lists unacceptable holiday activities. Teachers have been told they cannot use the phrase “Merry Christmas” and it quote “should not be included in any spoken or written remarks.” That includes songs.

I guess the war on Christmas has expanded to include Hanukah. Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised at that. A festival commemorating people who fought for the freedom to practice their religion is not the sort of thing we want to teach kids nowadays.

Here is a neighborhood association that takes exception to one man’s Christmas decorations.

It is not unusual to see a crowd in front of Thyno Zgouvas’ house.

“We come out every year. It’s probably the best show in town,” says one passerby.

For eight years Zgouvas has wowed folks with 70,000 blinking lights.

This Christmas, that number was cut in half.

“The homeowner’s association decided that it was a nuisance–which I completely disagree with,” says Zgouvas.

But other residents–like Terry Phillips–raised concerns about the amount of traffic the show brings to the neighborhood.

“I’ve come home sometimes and it’s taken me 30-45 minutes to get to my house.”

Others worried it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to find homes because of it.

Zgouvas downsized the show to appease the homeowner’s association–all the while making a point of his own with HOA signs and blow-up grinch figures behind them.

“They’ve blown it way out of proportion, I feel,” says Zgouvas.

Each year Mr. Zgouvas puts music to his light show and all you have to do is turn up your radio. He says he does it to keep music from blaring out into the neighborhood.  This year, it’s the theme to the Grinch.

“I have to take my stand just because it’s Christmas lights,” he says.

I understand their concern about traffic, but still.

The Obama Administration tried to get into the season with a Christmas Tree Tax, but wisely backed off. I hope Obama fired whoever came up with that idea. Actually, it seems that the Christmas Tree growers wanted it.

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: Yes, the Obama administration did propose a tax on Christmas trees, and no amount of obfuscation by its knee-jerk defenders can change that fact. The Department of Agriculture planned to impose a 15-cent duty on every Christmas tree sold by tree-sellers who unload more than 500 trees a season. That is an excise tax — a tax on a specific product, levied per unit of sale, just like federal taxes on tobacco and gasoline.

The proposal provoked an uproar, and the White House will now “revisit this action.” That’s politician-speak for “run from the issue like a scalded dog.”

Was the tax sought by Christmas-tree growers? Indeed it was. They wanted the federal government to run a Christmas-tree promotion campaign, much like those it runs for eggs and other agricultural products. But that’s no excuse. As Ilya Schapiro of the Cato Institute notes, this little tale epitomizes everything wrong with government today.

Here is a Grinch that really did steal one family’s Christmas.

A family came home to find the gifts under their Christmas tree stolen.

The family arrived at their apartment in the 500 block of F.M. 1488 in Conroe Wednesday and found that their front door had been kicked in.

“Someone came in and took away my hard work,” mom Felicia Cunningham said. “My hard work and what I’ve done for my kids.”

Conroe police said the thieves unwrapped all the presents before taking off with the ones that they liked.

“The ruined my Christmas because they took my stuff,” Cunningham’s 9-year-old daughter said. “They just came into the wrong house.”

Cunningham, a single mother, also has an 11-year-old daughter whose Christmas was destroyed.

“Why me? Why this apartment? Why here? Why my kids’ gifts?” Cunningham asked.

I am sure that Santa has lots coal to put in the stockings of all of these Grinches

Here is a slightly different take on Christmas.

Few people engaged in the “War on Christmas” are aware that at one time it was a crime in Massachusetts to celebrate Christmas. Oh sure, some will say, count on liberal Massachusetts to pass a law against Christmas. But it was Calvinist Massachusetts, in the days of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, the Pilgrims and Puritans, that established penalties for the observance of Christmas Day “by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way.”

Those Puritans seem to have been as much fun as modern secularists.

And, finally, to end on a lighter note,  here  is a scientific discussion over just how strong the Grinch actually is.

 

Atheist Gets Kicked off Fox News Show

December 16, 2011

I don’t actually watch any television news shows anymore but I found this story here and there and I thought it was interesting. On a segment of a show called “Follow the Money”, hosted by Eric Boller reported on the efforts of the Freedom from Religion Foundation to compel a town in Texas to take down a nativity scene. Eric Boller interviewed Dan Barker, and the exchange became so acrimonious that Boller told him to leave, after only three minutes.

During a dialogue with FFRF spokesperson Dan Barker (who is married to FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor), “Follow the Money” host Eric Bolling was so dumbfounded by the group’s anti-Jesus views that he ended up booting the atheist-spokesperson off of the program. Mediaite’s Colby Hall called the moment a “‘War on Christmas’ miracle!”

At the center of the discussion was a Texas nativity scene that the Madison, Wisconsin-based FFRF has been demanding be torn down immediately. During the dialogue, Barker claimed that America is not a Christian nation and that the nativity should not be present on government property. He went on to say that the nativity represents “an insult to human nature that we are all doomed and damned.”

It was this comment that commenced the uncomfortable exchange between Bolling and Barker. “Sir, I have to take exception to the way you’ve described the nativity scene. It’s not an insult. It’s certainly not an insult to me. I’m a Christian,” Bolling explained. “It is an insult, sir,” Barker countered. At this point, the interview continued, as Bolling sought to move on to another question. But it didn’t take long for Barker to, once again, push Bolling’s buttons.

“Why was Jesus born? To save us from our sins. What an insult that we are degraded, depraved human beings — that Jesus created a hell — a place or torture,” Barker quipped. “And how would you feel if you didn’t believe that… superstition?”

Bolling interrupted the insults and abruptly ended the interview. Here is the video.

 

Conservatives seem to be overjoyed that Dan Barker was asked to leave. I am not so sure it was the right thing for Eric Bolling to do. This is sure to be spun as “ignorant Christian throws Atheist off show because he can’t stand the truth”. Still, notice how quick Barker was to resort to insults, when they weren’t necessary and even when asked to stop. I have to wonder, what is it about these people that they seem to be so angry and bitter? What knid of a person looks at a nativity scene and thinks it is an insult to human nature? This is one of the reasons that I am not an atheist. I always assumed, perhaps wrongly, that people in possession of the truth would be happy. I also have no desire to join the legions of the permanently aggrieved.

One interesting point. That town in Texas said they would take down the nativity scene when Hell freezes over. According to Dante, the bottommost circle of Hell, reserved for traitors, is frozen.

And, regarding Benjamin Franklin’s religious views, they are actually hard to categorize. He wasn’t an Atheist, or even a Deist. He  admitted in his autobiography that he explored Deism in his youth but found it was not “useful”. He was not an orthodox Christian. The best I can tell is that Franklin was a practical worldly man who valued religion for its role in upholding public morality rather than for any spiritual truths.

Still, in the spirit of the holidays, I would like to suggest a compromise. The Atheists should let Christians put up nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas, and in return the Atheists can pick one day out of the year to celebrate Atheism and put up any appropriate displays. I suggest April 1.


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