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An answer to those who ask how can you be moral and teach morality without religion. Sounds like it’s pretty easy when you skip the fear and shame and other negatives used by some religions to enforce morality.

Sunday School for Atheists

“When you have kids,” says Julie Willey, a design engineer, “you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.” So every week, Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, and her husband pack their four kids into their blue minivan and head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., for atheist Sunday school.

An estimated 14% of Americans profess to have no religion, and among 18-to-25-year-olds, the proportion rises to 20%, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies. The lives of these young people would be much easier, adult nonbelievers say, if they learned at an early age how to respond to the God-fearing majority in the U.S. “It’s important for kids not to look weird,” says Peter Bishop, who leads the preteen class at the Humanist center in Palo Alto. Others say the weekly instruction supports their position that it’s O.K. to not believe in God and gives them a place to reinforce the morals and values they want their children to have.



  1. Thomas says:

    #201
    You just cannot let it go can you Mr. Mustard? If you simply do the translation as I prescribed, you’d understand what everyone is saying.

    Let’s start with Torasco v. Watkins. That case had nothing to do with whether atheism is a religion. It had to do with whether a lack of religious belief is as protected as religious beliefs. Maryland law declared that “[N]o religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God”. The Court ruled “We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Thus, they are not declaring atheism a religion, they simply stated that you cannot use religious belief nor lack of religious beliefs as any part of a job qualification.

    Now let’s look at Kaufman v. McCaughtry. First you have to understand that most religious types, like yourself Mr. Mustard, do not really understand atheism. Just as the Courts have been incompetent when it comes to technology issues so are they incompetent when it comes to understanding the nature of atheism. They cannot conceive of the idea of not having belief in a higher power. Thus, they try to fit the round peg of atheism into the square hole of religion in order to understand it. That is what happened with the Kaufman court. Second, for the purposes of protecting people under the First Amendment, they have to protect “lack of religious beliefs” as religious beliefs otherwise atheists would have no protection under the law. Thus, you will regularly see statements along the lines of “atheism can be considered a religion for the purposes of protection under the Establishment Clause. ” That is not saying it IS a religion, that is saying it is protected AS a religion.

    In Reed v Great Lakes, quoted by the Kaufman decision, they stated “If we think of religion as taking a position on divinity, then atheism is indeed a form of religion.” In other words, if we tweak the definition of religion, then lack of religion is a religion. This is a perfect form of fallacious logic because by that reasoning anything which “takes a position” on some divinity is a religion. (e.g. Not believing in Thor is a religion, not believing in Pink Fairies is a religion etc.). It is prime example of twisted !A=A logic. It goes like this, “If I have nothing, then I do not have something so nothing is something.”

    So, again when you are in a normal discussion, atheism still equates to denying the god claim. In Mr. Mustard speak, it is what you called “non-religious/secular.” Put another way, “non-religious” is as protected as a religion as atheism.

    If in your lexicon “Non-religious is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby” is logical to you, then you understand what everyone else knows as atheism.

  2. tallwookie says:

    you’re all a bunch of lunatics

  3. JimR says:

    MM, sometimes my thinking gets fuzzy, but not this time. You sir, can’t understand the difference between “as” and “is” just like you have a problem with the meanings of “believe” and “belief”.

    It’s obvious you can’t, or refuse, to see what is so obvious to the rest of us. I would go as far as suggesting that you can’t see our logic because of the religion gene. At least you’d make an good example if one is proven to exist.

    Or maybe its long-time practice at accepting illogic and lack of evidence as the indisputable truth, that gives you the knack of seeing perfect sense in the absurd.

    Just speculation on my part, but I’d say you’ve got a screw loose somewhere buddy.

  4. Mister Mustard says:

    Trainmaster, you’re hopeless. What the court said (not the main thrust of the case, but the only point relevant for our discussion here), is:

    “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”

    Therefor, a belief system NEED NOT PROMOTE A BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD TO BE A RELIGION. I don’t know how much clearer it can get than that. And that is the law of the land, no matter how many silly and irrelevant false analogies about stamp collecting and pink fairies are thrown around.

    >>That is not saying it IS a religion, that
    >>is saying it is protected AS a religion.

    Oh. so it should be protected as a relition even though it’s NOT a religion?? Listen to yourself. Why do you suppose they singled out atheism and atheists for this “as a religion” non-religios protection? Why not classical music lovers? Or knitters? Or stamp collecters and non-collectors? Could it possibly be that, as the Supreme Court held in 1961, it’s because they consider it TO BE A RELIGION??

    >>Just as the Courts have been incompetent
    >>when it comes to technology issues so are
    >>they incompetent when it comes to
    >>understanding the nature of atheism.

    Oh. OK. So it’s not just me who thinks the way I do, it’s the thinking of the highest courts in the land, but they are wrong. Since Atheists are better equipped to interpret the Constitution and the law of the land than State Supreme Courts and the U.S. Supreme court, we should take their word on the matter.

    Heh.

    >>If in your lexicon “Non-religious is a
    >>religion like not collecting stamps is a
    >>hobby” is logical to you

    You’re starting to gibber again. I think it’s time for your nap.

    I weary of repeating this over and over, and have lost any hope that you will ever understand, but “non-religion” and “Atheism” are not the same thing. They may be used semi-interchangeably after a couple of double Scotches down at the sports bar, but any precise discussion of Atheism recognizes that it is not a “non” anything. It is an affirmative belief, a statement, a heartfelt trust. That God does not exist. And that makes it a religion, son.

    So sorry.

  5. JimR says:

    “Oh. so it should be protected as a relition even though it’s NOT a religion?”

    NO. You still don’t get it.
    His particular request to gather as a group to discuss their lack of spirituality and related the issues, and to share ideas, should be allowed because religious groups have that freedom. The same rights does not make you the same as.

  6. JimR says:

    Sorry that got garbled. Corrected…
    NO. You still don’t get it.
    His particular request to gather as a group and discuss their lack of spirituality, related issues and share ideas, should be allowed because religious groups have that freedom. Having the same rights does not mean you are the same.

  7. MikeN says:

    Hating Sunday school is what made so many people hate church and become atheist. This might just make their kids religious.

  8. Thomas says:

    #216
    *Sigh*….one more time..

    > NEED NOT PROMOTE A BELIEF IN
    > THE EXISTENCE OF GOD TO BE A RELIGION.

    You need to finish the sentence to understand:
    “Need not promote a belief in the exitense (sic) of God to be a religion ” *** in order to qualify for protection under the First Amendment***. Whether you qualify for protection under the First Amendment for beliefs (***OR*** non-beliefs in this case) is FAR, FAR, FAR different than whether you are actually a full blown religion with say tax-exempt status AS a religion. Can you not see the difference? Is it really that difficult to differentiate belief AS IF it were a religion as opposed to protection AS a religion?

    > Oh. so it should be protected as a
    > relition (sic) even though it’s NOT a
    > religion??

    *Sigh* Yes, it should. The reason is that LACK of religion must ALSO be protected under the First Amendment. Thus, in order for the Courts to qualify a practice as one that deserves protection under the Establishment Clause the Courts must qualify the practice AS IF it were a religion. In the case of atheism, the Courts are saying that LACK of belief is AS protected as a belief and therefore is a protected.

    RE: Constitution

    Again, it is getting painful to hammer the same nail into the same board every time. The Courts are trying to interpret the facts of the case as it relates to the Constitution and case law. In order to do that they have the dilemma of dealing with a non-religion (remember “non-religious” in your parlance is equal to atheism.) The issue is whether non-belief (or more accurately, rejection of a god claim) is AS protected as “religion”. What qualifies as a religion? Under the Lemon rules, atheism really does not qualify. However, the Kaufman court, believing that “non-belief” qualified under the First Amendment must make the round peg of atheism fit into the square hole of religion. To accomplish that miracle, they simply claimed that “non-religion” is a religion (The “nothing is something” argument) in order to protect that form of expression.

  9. Mister Mustard says:

    >>NO. You still don’t get it.
    >>His particular request to gather as a group
    >>to discuss their lack of spirituality and
    >>related the issues, and to share ideas, should
    >>be allowed because religious groups have that
    >>freedom.

    Oh, I get it just fine, in spite of the smoke and mirrors you attempt to deploy.

    Non-knitters do not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of fibercraft and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do. Unmarried people do not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of a spouse and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do. Non stamp collecters do not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of interest in stamps and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do. Just about nobody who doesn’t do something does not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of whatever it is they don’t have or aren’t interested in and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do.

    The thing that makes Atheism different from non-knitters, non-stamp collectors, and non-anything else is that the Atheist belief is a RELIGIOUS belief, and is entitled to the same freedoms under the law as Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.

    I can only surmise that you are doing an internship with Bob Boboli, and are adopting his strategy of attempting to wear me down by repeating similar arguments over and over and over again until I fall asleep. It didn’t work with Mr. Boboli, and it doesn’t work with you.

    Your myth has been debunked, the highest courts in the land have ruled that Atheism is a religion and Atheologists are afforded the “same freedom as” religions because it is, in fact, a religion.

    I think if you look deep into your heart of hearts, and stop being so defensive about being classified as part of a group you consider to be intellectually inferior sheeple, believing something for which there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence, you will agree with me.

  10. Mister Mustard says:

    >>remember “non-religious” in your parlance
    >>is equal to atheism.

    Sorry train man. You’re just plain wrong. “non-religious” means just that: Not having any particular views or beliefs regarding religion. That, most assuredly, is NOT the same thing as Atheism. Just as a non-smoker does not deny the existence of cigarettes; a non-partisan person does not deny the existence of political parties; and a “non-Christ” is not the same as the Antichrist.

    That’s why the have the two terms, “Atheist” and “non-religious”, to distinguish between those who have no religion or religious beliefs, and those whose strong religious belief actively denies the existence of God.

    It’s a good thing you’re a Saint, Thomas. Otherwise, I might think you were just simple.

  11. Thomas says:

    After I finished my last post, a means occurred to me that might help you understand. The First Amendment only protects the people from an establishment of a religion, but says nothing about the establishment of a non-religion or a rejection of the religion. Similar to silence being as protected as speech, the Courts realized that the Establishment of non-religion must be as protected as religion. The catch is that the First Amendment says nothing about “non-religion”. In order to solve that problem, the Courts have used the !A=A logic (e.g. “nothing is something”) to basically claim that non-religion = religion and therefore protected speech. Thus, even in your little world and dictionary, “non-religioius/secular” is protected under the Establishment Clause.

  12. Mister Mustard says:

    #221 More fully stated, “non-XXX do not have the freedom to XXX GATHER IN PRISON and blah blah blah…”

  13. Thomas says:

    #224
    Unfortunately, yes the do. See, what you do not realize is how ridiculous the Kaufman decision really was. All that is necessary is to establish that your practice is a “religion” under the law and is protected against the prison guards is to ensure that it relates to an “ultimate concern” and nears the equivalent of a “parallel belief in God in traditional religions.”. Well, that could mean damn near anything. Pink furry slippers could have “ultimate meaning” that nearly equate to “God” in traditional religions” and that would qualify. What exactly is “traditional”? How does one define “parallel”? Is it simply an apparent, devout fanatical devotion?

    The 7th Circuit decision was made by a bunch of old, religious idiots that are incapable of getting their head around the idea of “lack of belief” in any higher power or being.

  14. JimR says:

    You know Thomas, I should let you just do the debate. You rule on this one.

    “Non-knitters do not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of fibercraft and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do.”-MM

    How do you know that MM? They probably would get the freedom if they chose to fight for their rights as the atheist guy did.

  15. ECA says:

    Basic Belief…

    I know the truth, and you are ALL Screw’d, and I AINT TELLING you WHY…

    Advanced religion…

    I know the truth, and IM TAKING you with me, NO MATTER WHAT… i will water board you, I will Black mail you, I will be at your DOOR every day…To tell you MY’ truth, and until you SUBMIT, I will NEVER go away.

  16. Mister Mustard says:

    >>How do you know that MM? They probably would
    >>get the freedom if they chose to fight for
    >>their rights as the atheist guy did.

    This is where you reveal yourself as either a chain-jerker or a simpleton.

    Of course non-knitters would not be granted the right to gather and discuss their lack of skills and interest in fibercraft, Jamie.

    And do you know why? (I certainly hope you do). Because knitting and non-knitting (and even the group analogous to Atheists – those who firmply believe that knitting does not exist) have nothing to do with religion. They are not a religion, they are not “as” or “like” a religion, their common beliefs have nothing to do with God and religiou; they are not entitled to freedoms that religions are entitled to (at least not on religious/ Constitutional grounds.

    Christ is a religious construct. The Antichrist is a religious construct. Theism is a form of religion. Atheism is a form of religion.

    After 228 messages, I think I’ve done my part for truth and justice. I don’t expect to be posting any more in this thread. I just hope, for your sake, that you have been jerking my chain and that your logical and intellectual processes are not so degraded that you actually believe your “not collecting stamps is a hobby” line of argumentation.

    God bless.

  17. JimR says:

    Excuuuse me MM, but the knitting example was YOURS. you used it as an example to show they wouldn’t have the right.

    YOUR post #221 MM, “Non-knitters do not have the freedom to gather as a group to discuss their lack of fibercraft and related issues, and to share ideas, even though religious groups do.

    I contested you on that point, and what gem do you come up with?

    “Of course non-knitters would not be granted the right to gather and discuss their lack of skills and interest in fibercraft, Jamie.”

    Well that’s rich, MM. But you are only fooling yourself and making a fool of yourself. Calling me names won’t make your twisted logic any straighter. It’s sad to see an otherwise intelligent person such as yourself sucked into the story so deeply that you can’t reason anything that’s justifiably contrary.

  18. Mr. Fusion says:

    MM,

    If you want to use Kaufman as a reference, it might be wise if you read the decision instead of just quoting others. All the following are quoted directly from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Kaufman v. McCaughtry . All references to other cases are included.

    Without venturing too far into the realm of the philosophical, we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of “ultimate concern” that for her occupy a “place parallel to that filled by . . . God in traditionally religious persons,” those beliefs represent her religion. Fleischfresser v. Dirs. of Sch. Dist. 200, 15 F.3d 680, 688 n.5 (7th Cir. 1994) (internal citation and quotation omitted);

    *emphasis added

    The Supreme Court has recognized atheism as equivalent to a “religion” for purposes of the First Amendment on numerous occasions, most recently in McCreary County, Ky. v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 125 S.Ct. 2722 (2005).

    * emphasis added, italics in original

    in Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985):
    … the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by
    the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.

    * emphasis added

    in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, it said that a state cannot “pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers …

    [Kaufman] and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being.

    *emphasis added

    If you notice the trend, it kind of disputes your argument they said atheism is a religion. They said atheism must be treated equally to an established religion. Which is exactly what the First Amendment says.

  19. JimR says:

    You know Mr. Fusion, you’re very good when it comes to digging out the pertinent facts. The subtle differences in meaning are what defines each side of this argument, as you have highlighted. Well done. 🙂

  20. Mister Mustard says:

    but the knitting example was YOURS. you used it as an example to show they wouldn’t have the rightOK. One last ditch attempt at explaining the self-evident truth to True Believers.

    >>but the knitting example was YOURS.
    >>you used it as an example to show
    >>they wouldn’t have the right

    Sure it was mine. And it showed exactly what I intended it to show: That people who “do” or “don’t do” any variety of things have no particular rights under the Constitution UNLESS THOSE THINGS ARE RELIGIOUS. Then, those things are protected by the freedom of RELIGION. Hence, the right of Atheist convicts to gather together, to hasten and chasten their non-beleifs be made known. I’m not sure what exactly it is you don’t understand here (perhaps you got flummoxed by that silly “not collecting stamps is a hobby faux analogy that was going around for a while). The take-home message here is that you are free to practice whatever religion (not hobby or craft or cooking skill) you choose under the Constitution, be that religion Christianity, Judaism, Atheism, or Wicca.

    Fissile One, I’m not sure how much further I can go when you fail to recognize that your own bolding and italicization support my point of view. To wit:

    >>those [Atheist] beliefs
    represent her religion.
    >>[Atheism] was religious in nature
    >>[Atheism is ] equivalent to a
    “religion”

    In my book, anything that represents religion, is religious in nature, and is equivalent to a religion is a fucking religious belief. Even Saint Thomas, who sought to argue Kaufman v. McNaughtry, agreed that the court classified Atheism as a religion; the just felt that their jurisprudence skills were not up to the task of fitting the Atheism peg into its appropriately-shaped hole.

    I realize that you Atheists (particularly the proselytizing evangelists of that faith) are offended by the implication that your religious beliefs are, in fact religious beliefs; after all, how could you maintain that hip-and-happening, unconventional, free-thinking, non-conformist, slightly dangerous attitude if you admitted that you’re no different from or “equivalent to”, if you prefer) the mindless sheeple who go to church every Sunday? Your religious beliefs may be different from theirs, just as Judaism’s beliefs are different from those of Christianity, but they are religious beliefs nonetheless.

    And no amount of stamping your foot and pouting will ever change that.

    Welcome to the world of the Believers, son! Your religious beliefs may be different from my religious beliefs, but wtf. We’re all God’s children, right? And entitled to whatever religious beliefs we choose. Ain’t America grand?

  21. Mister Mustard says:

    Woops. Delete the first pasted instance of “but the knitting example was YOURS. you used it as an example to show they wouldn’t have the right”

  22. Thomas says:

    #232
    Wow. Just wow. Is it possible that you still do not get it? Retarded monkeys would have got it by now.

    Atheism is not a religion nor have the Courts said as such. They have said it is protected AS IF it were a religion (even thought it is not).

    That’s enough for me. I’ve had my fill of trying to hammer a nail into concrete or argue with a flat-earther. If by 200+ posts you still do not get it, you may never get it. My only suggestion is that when you read on this blog or anywhere else the word “atheist” or “atheism”, understand that the rest of the universe is using what you call “non-religious/secular” and maybe, just maybe you will understand them.

  23. Mister Mustard says:

    Tommie, I’m going to tell you this as a compadre, because I retain the belief that you are simpático. Don’t tell anyone that you know, though.

    When people mean “secular/ non-religious”, they say “secular/ non-religious”. When they are talking about the religious belief (ie, religion) that fervently believes there is no God, they say “Atheist”.

    That’s what The Universe says, means, and understands. I hope that, as a saint, you can deal with that.

    God bless.

  24. tallwookie says:

    God doesnt exist. If he did, i would die, and wouldnt get to see any more MM rants or James Hill owning Angel and Getting pwned in return by Others.

    so, lets test it.

    God, in the christian/muslim/etc sense, doesnt exist.

    SMITE ME, YOU IMAGINARY SKY-THING

  25. Mister Mustard says:

    >>SMITE ME, YOU IMAGINARY SKY-THING

    Tally, I hate to tell you this. But even the most devout of your infidel brethren have already noted, YOU ARE SMITTEN.

    GOD: 1; SATAN: 0

  26. Cursor_ says:

    When anyone says they don’t need a profit I don’t think they understand life.

    EVERYTHING is profit motivated in life. We eat because the profit is we live. If the food happens to taste good its double profit.

    Have a house instead of rent and you get profit from that.

    Ethics and morals also have a reward factor. The one the comes to mind immediately is that if you follow them the rest of the population will NOT imprison or kill you.

    BUT that goes back to teh retribution situation found in religions. Instead of the big bad meanie being an invisible old guy in the sky that watches you pee, it is the neighbour or the city council, your county official of the feds.

    But in the end some other force will stike at you should you be immoral or unethical in some way or form. So we are BACK to the do this or I will murdelise yas!

    So for those that say I do it not because the invisible old guy in the sky that watches me pee says so, but because if I don’t someone REAL will screw me for it.

    So the profit is NOT to get screwed by the inviso guy OR the real people in my land.

    That says to me there is NOT much difference down deep and at a base level between the two. It is still fear that makes people do it. And they elimination of that fear keeps you ethical or moral.

    Even taking the tact of saying I do it because I LIKE doing it, is just a nice way of saying I conform because its more pleasant not to be in jail or be killed for my animal instincts.

    No matter how you cut or slice it, it comes down to fear of retribution. From Inviso or from the local cop on the corner it doesn’t matter.

    And that is the point that I wanted to make.

    To argue whether a god should make you behave or a society itching to hang ya by your innards; is inconsequential. So it goes back to, eh whatever makes you happy.

    Cursor_

  27. “God is that which nothing greater can be thought” – St. Anselm.

    “Religion (Dictionary.com) – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    The Church of Atheism does not believe in a god or gods, yet I have nothing to see that shows that they can think of anything greater than god. Therefore, there is a belief in relation to a higher power. That satisfies the first part of the definition.

    The Church of Atheism is developing a moral code with the formation of a “Sunday School”. It seems that fits the second part of the definition.

    Cursor – I agree with you wholeheartedly on the last statement of #238. It all boils down to whatever make you happy… it just seems that too many on here are all to ready to share their hatred of religion (especially Christianity), including some of the narcissistic editors who strive for nothing more than a Pavlovian response from the useful idiots who troll this site.

  28. Almost forgot to address the issue of rituals… It stands to reason that sending kids to Sunday School for the Church of Atheism on a weekly basis is going to constitute a religion. That also satisfies part of the definition of religion (the 2nd part, the part about moral code is actually the third).

    Just thought to correct that.

  29. argh… it constitutes a ritual, which satisfies part of the definition.


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