Re: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table

From: Paul G. B.
Sent on: Sunday, April 21, 2013 3:08 PM

It bears repeating. . . .

I am not an atheist first. I am a humanist and rationalist first; my atheism is an expression, or perhaps a conclusion of, those alphas.

Holding any institution and its other members responsible for the violent excesses of someone who was at best a part of their periphery ( and more likely merely a resentful fellow traveller) seems to me to be a category mistake.

What religion offered these idiots was a rationalization for their impulses. Their religion acted as a fantasist's mind-worm on the same level as our most recent dozen domestic "terrorists" found their justifications. Christopher H was exactly right. This kind of magical thinking poisons *everything* about human experience.  And sometimes, to our shame as a species, the toxin is indiscriminately smeared.




Sent from my Galaxy SĀ®III



-------- Original message --------
From: "Jim F. Brinning" <[address removed]>
Date: 04/21/2013 11:38 AM (GMT-08:00)
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table


I followed the link you provided to the article, "FBI: Boston Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Followed Radical Islam." Underneath the caption is a picture of "a sign outlining obligatory prayers" which says in part, "Allah forgives." The mosque is the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge.

The false and slipshod associations made in that headline and accompanying picture is exactly how hatred finds nourishment. 

If I were to believe those associations, I would think that because Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a religious extremist who attended the Islamic Society of Boston, therefore the Islamic Society of Boston is a radical mosque. And the obligatory prayer, "Allah forgives" that is posted has an ominous  meaning.

Most readers, including members of Boston Atheists who followed your link,  undoubtedly have no knowledge of the Islamic Society of Boston. That's what makes these false associations dangerous and can mislead otherwise decent and fair-minded people.

I do know the Islamic Society of Boston.

I have worked with the mosque, especially after  9/11. I did so as both a board member of an interfaith organization at the time and as the program coordinator of a governor's task force on hate crimes.

Therefore I have both a history and knowledge of the mosque. I count members and leaders as friends.

The Islamic Society of Boston is a valued member of the Cambridge community, has opened it's doors and organized tours of the mosque to demystify stereotypes and concerns.

I have attended meetings there and have observed obligatory prayers as an invited guest. The sign that Allah forgives is also a variation of the other two Abrahamic traditions found in Judaism and Christianity. If the sign read "God forgives" and was in a church or synagogue it would not be seen the same way. 

The headline and article were betrayed by several eyewitness accounts about a disturbance caused by Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He interrupted a service at the mosque  and yelled at the imam who held up a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of his sermon. 

What kind of religious leader invokes Martin Luther King Jr? Not one of hate. But it invoked a hateful outburst by Tsanaev. 

Judging a human being "by the content  of his character" as Martin Luther King proclaimed remains especially true in these times. 

Once again I stand with the Islamic Society of Boston and the entire Muslim community against the guilt by association that some would stoke.


Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 21, 2013, at 12:58 PM, Jim Hollomon <[address removed]> wrote:

Turner,

I think it's time we join Sam Harris in calling a spade a spade and a threat a threat. The older brother had very clear ties to radical Islam. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-boston-bombing-suspect-radical-fbi-20130420,0,4341067.story

Jim


On Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:36 AM, Turner <[address removed]> wrote:
I think it's important to note that we don't know, as of yet (I don't think), what, if any, role their faith had in their actions. Could be everything, could be nothing, we probably won't know until Dzhokhar gets stabilized.


On Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:26 AM, Jim Hollomon <[address removed]> wrote:
Let us not forget that it was "the faithful" that set off the bombs. Thankfully, Christiainity has somewhat grown out of its most murderous phase, from the beginning of the Crusades through the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts. But it is still doing enormous harm with the Catholic Church opposing the use of condoms to contain the spread of AIDS in the third world and pushing for mindless reproduction like rabbits in a world already heavily overpopulated and facing existential threats to humanity from global warming, pollution and resource depletion. And don't even get me started on the far-right fundie Christians doing everything in their power to provoke nuclear Armageddon over the Temple Mount so their Jesus will come back and catch them up in the air to go to Heaven.

I think we have a powerful message to deliver. We just have to find ways to break through the chatter and deliver it.


Jim


On Sat, Apr 20, 2013 at 4:01 PM, Alec Lowry <[address removed]> wrote:

"The President's presence conveyed the message that only the faithful can speak meaningfully about morality and tragedy."
-Will

I would say that atheists have considerably better morals than "the faithful".  We atheists do not base our morals on proclamations from ancient humans who purported to speak for non-existent sky daddies.


From: "Will" <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, April 20,[masked]:50:42 PM
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table

I laughed when I read the comment that atheists going to an interfaith event was like going to meeting of vegetarians and expecting them to cook a steak. Its funny because its true.
The very fact that atheists exists undermines the religious: authority, worldview, moral foundations and coping in the face of tragedy. Why would the religious want that? They have a hard enough time accepting different believers.
The insult was not that atheists were not invited to an interfaith service. The insult was that the interfaith service had the backing of the President of the United States without similar steps being taken to support the secular community. The President's presence conveyed the message that only the faithful can speak meaningfully about morality and tragedy.



From: Ann <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, April 18,[masked]:14 PM
Subject: RE: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table

Fair enough.  Good work, Mike.
 

From: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table
To: [address removed]
Date: Thu, 18 Apr[masked]:31:23 -0400

Ann, I agree with you -- but I added in the word "spiritual" back in because I thought it might be needed by the religious community that want to reject us from their venues.

This is a straw. Use it as a basis for something better if you can. But, it is to forward Josiah's goal, which I thought was well considered and stated.

 
    ~Mike


From: Ann <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, April 18,[masked]:22 PM
Subject: RE: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table

Thank you for the proposed mission, Mike.  I like it a lot, but I don't feel that we are a spiritual community.   I feel that we are a humanist community.
 
I looked up the definitition of the word "spirit" :   "an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms "
 
as a naturalist, I don't think I was created by any spirit.
 
Could we consider "We are a welcoming community", without the spiritual?   Or "We are a welcoming nontheist community" ?
 
Just a suggestion -
 
Again thank you for writing this.

Annie
 

From: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table
To: [address removed]
Date: Thu, 18 Apr[masked]:10:36 -0400

Proposed mission for Humanist community for inclusion in religious activities (based on a mission statement proposal for the Concord Area Humanists):

"We are a welcoming spiritual community who believe that human action is the path to a better future. We strive to make the world a better place, now and for future generations. We are dedicated to reason, service, thought provoking discussion and social and environmental action. We care for and respect others and we foster personal, organizational and spiritual well being. We remain cognizant that life is built on a foundation of shades of gray."

  ~Mike Hanauer
 
    ~Mike


From: Josiah <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, April 18,[masked]:05 PM
Subject: [bostonatheists] Getting a seat at the table

I've written a new blogpost about what I think will help us get a seat at the table in the future. If you could take a look and maybe even spread it around I would appreciate it, I think its an important message. 

http://metabelief.blogspot.com/2013/04/on-why-we-couldnt-have-been-invited-to_18.html




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