Pharyngula

Why do we need a secular America?

The Atheist Alliance convention is coming up this weekend in Washington DC, and one of the things that they’re planning to discuss is a generic atheist symbol. Among others, they want to consider the Affinity symbol that was proposed in this thread, oh so long ago (by the way: Godfrey Temple, email me so I can put you in touch with someone). Here’s an unfortunate twist, though:

Ironic note on the poster of Atheist Symbols for the Atheist Alliance International convention: I went to have it made today, at a local shop which specializes in posters, worked happily with the designer — and then several hours later got a call to come back and pick my stuff up, no poster. They are Christians and cannot do it. Went to another place, same thing. It was simply a poster with symbols to vote on — but it was for atheists. And they are Christians. One person helpfully explained that they turned down the KKK too. So sorry. But they’re Christians.

Well, I’m an atheist, and I’ve done work for churches. I can understand not making a donation. But throwing someone out of the print shop? Comparing them with the Ku Klux Klan? Oh. Wait. They’re Christians.

Let’s hear it for Office Max. They were the only ones who would print it. And deal with an atheist.

If Sastra would like to name the businesses and their addresses, I’ll happily add them here and urge everyone to boycott the bigoted pissants.

Comments

  1. #1 False Prophet
    September 24, 2007

    If someone’s religion doesn’t allow them to do their job, they should look for another line of work. This kind of behaviour is just unprofessional.

    I’m an atheist, secularist, skeptical public librarian. I have helped people find the Bible, The Secret, books on astrology, and books by James Dobson. However much I find these people’s reading habits silly or distasteful, I support their civil liberties and act according to my professional code of ethics. On this matter, they happen to be in line with one another.

  2. #2 James Stein
    September 24, 2007

    Better than a boycott; while business retain the right to refuse service, they do not retain the right to do so based on creed, color, etc.

    I would say they’ve easily left themselves open to a lawsuit.

  3. #3 efp
    September 24, 2007

    Yes! all atheists should boycott businesses that refuse service to athei… um…

  4. #4 isles
    September 24, 2007

    If I recall, they can discriminate however they please as long as they don’t take any government money or hold a license from government. Distasteful yes, illegal no.

    I was looking for lodging recently and found that one of the inns I was considering offered a discount for patrons “engaged in full-time Christian ministry.” (Rabbis? Not holy enough.) Looked like a nice place, but I passed it up.

  5. #5 mndean
    September 24, 2007

    isles:
    Please explain exactly when civil rights laws became null and void.

  6. #6 name
    September 24, 2007

    i think that it is a bad idea to try to make an “official” atheist symbol. it seems way to institutionalized

  7. #7 Sergeant Zim
    September 24, 2007

    I live in Atlanta (metro) and the other day I was driving, and happened to pass a Pentecostal church. In the lot, I saw a standard redneck pickup, withtwo bumper sticker that set me giggling all day.

    One one side: GOD BLESS GEORGE BUSH

    On the other side: NUKE THEIR ASS, TAKE THE GAS

    My irony meter is still in the shop…

  8. #8 Skeptic4u
    September 24, 2007

    i think its a good idea: a symbol that unites us all.

  9. #9 386sx
    September 24, 2007

    Hey wasn’t there a suggestion in that thread of a stick man and then a suggestion of a simple circle, and then Caledonian suggested the brilliant compromise of a stick man inside of a circle so that it would remind people of da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian Man? That was my favorite idea of all. I’m not kidding!

  10. #10 uknesvuinng
    September 24, 2007

    @#5

    Civil rights do not permit you to tell private business owners they have to serve you. Private business owners reserve the right to refuse service to any customer for any reason. Most don’t for silly reasons because refusing customers isn’t conducive to making money, and few people own businesses for the purpose of losing money.

    The situation is somewhat different for publicly-traded corporations (though I couldn’t tell you exact details), and if the government does it, it’s quite the violation of civil rights. However, atheists have no more “right” to be served by private businesses that don’t want to serve them than Christians have a right to force unwilling people to listen to their proselytizing.

  11. #11 Sastra
    September 24, 2007

    Ah, thanks, PZ. Since the businesses were small and locally owned, giving their names would do no good.

    The owners at the first print shop were slightly acquainted with me, I’d done business with them before, saw them around town, etc, so this genuinely surprised me (though it probably shouldn’t have.) I didn’t know anyone at the second place, but it still seemed odd, and they were so polite. Of course.

    I live in a small city in Wisconsin, and though it’s religious it’s usually polite, and therefore usually rather private on people’s religion. The few Christians who have personally spoken to me of my being an atheist (I am “out”) were quick to reassure me that that’s fine, because tolerance, diversity, acceptance, equality and freedom of religion are all concepts which fall directly out of the teachings of Jesus. Though I recognize that as b.s., it’s still a positive approach. It’s nice.

    Sheboygan county, everyone’s nice. They smile and apologize even when they throw you out.

    I suspect I have gotten too used to debate forums, where even those who disagree with you are eventually forced to respect the fact that you see rational merit in your beliefs, true or false, and there’s a lot of overlap between your positions. And vice versa, when I disagree with Christians or other theists. I’ve grown to respect even some of the poor arguments, which are often quite complex underneath, or which might at least “have the heart in the right place.”

    When you attempt to persuade someone to a different viewpoint, you’re forced to assume a common ground of equality, rationality, of good will, of basic similarity. “Here’s why you should want to change your mind.” You can’t just shrug and dismiss the other side with “well, I’m an atheist. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Please.”

    I think that’s one of the reasons it is so important for positive arguments for atheism to be made to the general public. If we’re wrong, we’re wrong for the right reasons. We’re not The Other, to be lumped in with bigots and criminals and the Ku Klux Klan. We’re not nutcases on the fringe, denying the obvious out of perversity. We’re you’re neighbors, and we’ve usually thought about religion and morality quite a lot.

    In fact, we often take religion more seriously than some of you do. We care about whether it’s true more than whether it’s useful. And that’s giving real respect to it.

  12. #12 Ken Cope
    September 24, 2007

    It’s always a good thing to learn when Christians don’t value atheists’ money. My business can be taken elsewhere with no waste of my time. How can their religious beliefs add any value to the work?

  13. #13 Keanus
    September 24, 2007

    Two years ago I gave a sizeable check to an Eastern Nazarene Church in Texas to which my cousin and her husband have belonged for more 30 years. It was to a fund to buy several stained glass windows for the church. My cousin knows I’m an atheist but I doubt anyone else knows. I even attended a Sunday morning service particiapting in all the events except where I thought doing so would imply my endorsement of their beliefs or could be interpreted as hypocritical on my part. No one questioned me and everyone, including the pastor, were quite cordial and made no attempt to proselytize me. To this day I wonder what reaction I might have encountered had any known I do not accept any of their religious dogma. Now I wonder how any of them would feel were I to attend a meeting of atheists or even the local Unitarian parish.

  14. #14 John Danley
    September 24, 2007

    It seems like the angels were fornicating in the copier machines.

  15. #15 tsg
    September 24, 2007

    Why do we need a Secular America?

    Because this one is broken. Rather obvious, I thought…

  16. #16 David Wilford
    September 24, 2007

    We do have a secular America, actually. At least, no one has required a religious test of me to do anything in the U.S., up to and including running for public office.

  17. #17 EnzoAntonius
    September 24, 2007

    Refusing service to someone based on their religious status is prohibited by federal law. Religious status is an immutable class according to federal anti-discrimination law. As an attorney, I recommend you immediately contact a local civil rights attorney.

    Imagine a legally analogous situation this way, what if you were black and they refused to serve you, well, because your poster was “too black” and they’re “white”.

  18. #18 cyan
    September 24, 2007

    You may think it either sad or good (or anywhere on the spectrum between) that the bottom line is that any business decisions, whether those businesses are owned by christians or others, are usually going to be determined by the amount of money spent there, even when weighing ethics.

    If atheists are vocal in support of those businesses which support all views, then even those businesses owned by rabid christians might think about how religious-discrimination might hurt their profits.

    Again, this is another issue about whether being vocal about atheism is beneficial to those who are atheistic or whether it is better to “be quiet” about it, so that christians will not be offended that anyone not believe as they do.

    “Being quiet” about it has emboldened christians to discriminate in this matter, as in so many others.

    Don’t be quiet.

  19. #19 Chris Howard
    September 24, 2007

    I’m not a lawyer, but a little googling turns up that businesses can refuse to serve some people on certain grounds, but not others. As EnzoAntonius says, religion is a federally protected category, as is race, so no refusing service on those grounds.. Some states have wider protections, including sexual orientation etc… But a customer can sometimes be refused if it’s determined that there was a legitimate business interest behind the refusal. I think the example in the post is definitely illegal.

  20. #20 Dahan
    September 24, 2007

    Thanks EnzoAntonius,

    I thought that was the way that was supposed to work. If I refused to teach student’s of mine that were xian because I’m an atheist (even though I work for a private college) I would expect we would be sued to high heaven.

  21. #21 Brian
    September 24, 2007

    A few months ago we received our official Christian Blue Pages business directory. I had no idea the thought of Christian money going to potentially non-Christian businesses was so bad that Christians felt the need to do this. I work in retail, and recently I had a customer I spent some time with helping her find what she needed. She seemed nice enough, and apparantly thought the same as me. As we were winding down, she said “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”, to which I immediately thought, “Aw, fuck.” Sure enough, the witnessing commenced. I politely told her I was not a Christian, and asked if there was anything else I could help her with. She then told me she would have to take her business elsewhere. I can’t say I was sorry to see her go, but, what the fuck? Next these people will be clamoring for their own Christian oxygen, so as not to breath in the toxic fumes we dirty atheists exhale. Christ, these people are dense….

  22. #22 John Danley
    September 24, 2007

    Actually, this is a good story to tell Cherry Communications.

  23. #23 spudbeach
    September 24, 2007

    Re comments 17, 10, 5 and 2:

    The legal situation is, as usual, a bit more complex than any one of us would like.

    In general, a business can do business with whomever it chooses. However, in certain instances, the federal government (either under the power to regulate interstate commerce or the 14th amendment) or the states (under their constitutions) have modified that to protect certain classes.

    Instance 1: companies engaged in interstate commerce or public accomodations can’t discriminate based on race, gender, etc. Religion is included, and so is Atheism (thanks to Peter Rodino — see here). I don’t know of a test case, but see the “freedom riders” for the federal nature of the law.

    Instance 2: If it’s not covered by federal law, it might be covered by state law. I’m never going to live in Kentucky, thanks to the attempt to pass a specific exclusion of atheism as a protected creed (see the story of Camp Quest getting kicked out of a Kentucky Baptist camp here). Note that a specific exclusion of one religion might be actionable by the first amendment’s establishment clause, but I wouldn’t want to pay for testing it!

    Instance 3: Wisconsin law, taken from the WI website:
    Section 106.52 of the Wisconsin Statutes provides that it is against the law to deny service or to give unequal treatment in service because of sex, race, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. Discrimination in relation to age, 18 and older, is only unlawful in regard to lodging establishments. “Public accommodations” includes, but is not limited to, hotels, motels, restaurants, taverns, retail stores, exercise clubs, dry cleaners, auto repair shops, and other service establishments. The law does not apply when a private, nonprofit organization provides goods or services to only its members or their guests.

    Based on that, I would say that the law does apply to retail print shops, and that it does apply to protect atheists (which is a “creed”, I think).

    But here’s the kicker: I am not a lawyer, and your milage may vary. Free advice is often overpriced.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  24. #24 efp
    September 24, 2007

    I am doubting the situation violates any laws, since the customer was not denied service due to his (her?) religion, but due to the nature of the project. I think people can refuse any job they want, for whatever reason. Of course, IANAL.

  25. #25 John C. Randolph
    September 24, 2007

    Fuck ’em. Take your business to Kinko’s.

    -jcr

  26. #26 Bert Chadick
    September 24, 2007

    I’ve got a shoe repair shop in a medium sized town, luckily on heathen infested Puget Sound, and I’ve been honest with folks when they ask me if I would take pamphlets or join them in church. A lot of people just refuse to believe that there is such thing as a genuine atheist. After learning of my lack of delusions, at least in the god sphere, they seldom come back. I am nice, and never push . I’m in business to make a living and send a daughter to UW.

    Just because some christians boycott atheist owned business, I don’t feel it is moral to retaliate. I said moral. Just because I can’t relate to an invisible insane dictator in the sky doesn’t mean I don’t have a cultural moral compass. If we take this fight to the streets we don’t know where we will end up. Humanism has all the cards, and eventually will prevail, but there will always be religious people.

    I’m not advocating any sort of “framing”. Keeping the churches’ hands off government is an absolute imperative. If anyone has their freedom of conscience limited, all of us have our liberty curtailed.

    It sounds like the print shop hurt only themselves by passing on a cash customer. I do find the comparison of Atheism to the KKK greatly offensive, but that’s where we may have a teachable moment. We are dealing with folk who have been lied to about the godless. I think it’s our chore to confront this cold war bigotry every time it is shoved in our faces.

  27. #27 Kseniya
    September 24, 2007

    the bigoted pissants

    When I reached the end of the post I found myself shocked this language. I would have written “bigoted shitheads”, and I rarely curse.

    I have to wonder if they’d have refused service to someone with overtly Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddist or other non-Christian material to print.

  28. #28 Deeks
    September 24, 2007

    WHAT? You mean they kicked the KKK out? Isn’t the KKK specifically for narrow minded Christian such as themselves? After all, their mission is, according to their webpage, to bring a message of hope and deliverance to white christian america.

  29. #29 TK
    September 24, 2007

    Re #6 and #8, We could all have a symbol that unites us, maybe some kind of building we could all congregate in, then some kind of book we could all refer to, sheesh ! Why do people have this need to gather together like sheep. I am an athiest, arent we supposed to be independant thinkers. Go join a golf club if you want to belong.

  30. #30 Nerull
    September 24, 2007

    Yeah, TK! Atheists should forever be separate. We can’t do anything that might bring us together, like, say, reading atheist blogs.

    Oh, oops.

  31. #31 Sastra
    September 24, 2007

    I suspect that the problem wasn’t dealing with an atheist per se. As efp said, they made a point that they did not want to print anything which advocated, recognized, or promoted atheism, in any way. It made them “uncomfortable” because they’re Christian. My guess is that if I were to go in tomorrow with fliers for Meals on Wheels or something they’d make a big show of being happy to print that for me.

    IANAL, and have no plans to sue. I think it may be a gray area at best, and I’m not litigious. Plus I live in a small town. But I find that issue interesting. The “secularizing” which America could use is for more people to see the issue objectively and reasonably categorize “atheism” with things like “Buddhism” or “Platonism” or other religions and philosophies, instead of classifying it with hate groups or anti-American subversives. I doubt very much that a poster for a synagogue explaining the meaning of Passover would have been refused — even though these people were Christian.

  32. #32 TK
    September 24, 2007

    #30 my point is, is that all you read ? maybe it is.
    TK

  33. #33 tsg
    September 24, 2007

    We do have a secular America, actually. At least, no one has required a religious test of me to do anything in the U.S., up to and including running for public office.

    The constitution may not require one. That doesn’t mean the voters don’t.

  34. #34 oxytocin
    September 24, 2007

    My dissertation supervisor had the construction of his house halted when the builders, who were Scientologists, discovered that my supervisor was a psychologist. And this in Canada.

  35. #35 raven
    September 25, 2007

    Live and let live. Although I can see how it would be shocking for a business to refuse to serve customers on the basis that they were atheists.

    Maybe the atheists need to print up some pamphlets or booklets explaining their philosophy. You could call it the Watchtower or something. Oh wait, that is already taken. Well think of some sort of fundie sounding name, like What does god think? Followed by a blank page. Then witness to them and when they claim to be Xians so too bad, you only patronize atheist extablishments.

    Just having a little amusement. Here on the West Coast, we don’t run into this sort of thing very often at least in my circles. When someone starts in on the witness schtick, I just look blank and uninterested and don’t respond until they run down. They are used to it.

  36. #36 phat
    September 25, 2007

    Under Federal Law, IIRC, the statutes exclude businesses that employ fewer than 15 people. I’m not a lawyer.

    I do think it important that you call your nearest ACLU chapter and tell them your story. I doubt they would advocate suing (although the might). They may, however, be able to pursue other avenues. This isn’t the kind of thing anybody should be taking lying down. You were discriminated against on the basis of your religious beliefs.

    This really raises my hackles and the decision not to do something about it raises my hackles too. If you had asked to print something with the Star of David on it and they refused it would be the same thing.

    phat

  37. #37 raven
    September 25, 2007

    Re the adjective for the new atheists.

    I prefer Militant Atheists. That is what they are. Outspoken, outfront, and not going to ride in the back of the bus anymore.

    I’m not one myself. But find that they are a lot less scary and destructive than the death cultists who might well take our country down with them. Don’t laugh, look at the last 6 years since they gained considerable political power up to owning the president and theocratic party.

    Six years ago, my colleagues started muttering that something was wrong. Being apolitical at the time, I just shrugged it off. Hey, were the USA, the world’s leader in multiple fields and a superpower and champion of democracy and human rights. Point to them. I’ve never been so pessimistic and apalled about my home.

  38. #38 Ken Cope
    September 25, 2007

    If they’d done a good job, perhaps they could have won the exclusive contract to print the entire run of a new magazine!

  39. #39 David Wilford
    September 25, 2007

    uknesvuinng, if a business refused someone who was black service because they were black, how far do you think that would get legally?

  40. #40 David Wilford
    September 25, 2007

    The “secularizing” which America could use is for more people to see the issue objectively and reasonably categorize “atheism” with things like “Buddhism” or “Platonism” or other religions and philosophies, instead of classifying it with hate groups or anti-American subversives.

    Well, it might help to clue them in that those goddless Commies of yore in reality were imperialist Russians wearing some fancy Marxist theory for ideological clothes. Ditto for Hitler and his hallucinatory notions of racial superiorty. It’s not as if Christianity hasn’t also been co-opted by all sorts of opportunists bent on conquest either.

  41. #41 Learning
    September 25, 2007

    I must be terribly naive… being new to atheism and all, but I am SHOCKED that I could be refused services because I do not believe in a supernatural being – or more specifically, because I don’t believe that Jesus is that supernatural being.

    I don’t know the law, but at the very least these blatant cases of discrimination should make front page news (yeah, right… I’m not that naive…). I do think it’s not unreasonable to believe that there is a journalist somewhere out there that would consider these happenings worthy of coverage.

    I highly encourage those who have had this experience to contact as many news stations/newspapers as possible and see where it goes (do seek advice/representation prior to). I understand the position that those who live in small communities might be placing themselves in, and wouldn’t begrudge them for keeping quiet about it. But as this cloud of secrecy only serves to embolden the Believers and contribute to our abuse, you would be my heroes if you could see your way to shouting out about this.

  42. #42 J Myers
    September 25, 2007

    TK, A symbol would have its uses. Once established, I would be interested to see how often it appears on bumper stickers and tee shirts, or carved upon the corpses of the pets and children we atheists are so fond of killing whilst they sleep. It would also be nice if, instead of having to shout “I don’t care to hear your deluded ravings any more you mindless twit!” to the proselytizers who are entirely immune to my more polite attempts at dismissal, I could simply present an enchanted mark of some sort that would send them scurrying onward with nary a word (of mine) expended–or, better yet, that would so frazzle their faith-laced brains that the resultant stupor would preclude the resumption of their god-blathering, at least for a little while (I’m sure my neighbors would be grateful).

  43. #43 DuWayne
    September 25, 2007

    Sastra –

    Do you live in municipal Sheboygan? Personally, I absolutely love the irony of Sheboygan. Every other corner, either a church or a bar. Really friendly town though. Any town as friendly as that, to dirty, stinky hitch-hikers, can say something. Although, Texas was pretty friendly to me when I was hitching through (from the Texas renn festival, got to hitch through the smallest town in America, pop. 13). Please don’t ask how I ended up in Sheboygan while hitching, these things just happen.

  44. #44 David Wilford
    September 25, 2007

    FWIW, one of the more memorable uses of symbols in my lifetime happened like this:

    1968: Black medallists raise fists for Civil Rights Movement

    It was the most popular medal ceremony of all time. The photographs of two black American sprinters standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Games in 1968 not only represent one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history but a milestone in America’s civil rights movement.

    The two men were Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Teammates at San Jose State University, Smith and Carlos were stirred by the suggestion of a young sociologist friend Harry Edwards, who asked them and all the other black American athletes to join together and boycott the games. The protest, Edwards hoped, would bring attention to the fact that America’s civil rights movement had not gone far enough to eliminate the injustices black Americans were facing. Edwards’ group, the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), gained support from several world-class athletes and civil rights leaders but the all-out boycott never materialized.

    Still impassioned by Edwards’ words, Smith and Carlos secretly planned a non-violent protest in the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 200-meter race, Smith won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze. As the American flag rose and the Star-Spangled Banner played, the two closed their eyes, bowed their heads, and began their protest.

    Smith later told the media that he raised his right, black-glove-covered fist in the air to represent black power in America while Carlos’ left, black-covered fist represented unity in black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power. The black scarf around Smith’s neck stood for black pride and their black socks (and no shoes) represented black poverty in racist America.

    While the protest seems relatively tame by today’s standards, the actions of Smith and Carlos were met with such outrage that they were suspended from their national team and banned from the Olympic Village, the athletes’ home during the games.

    A lot of people thought that political statements had no place in the supposedly apolitical Olympic Games. Those that opposed the protest cried out that the actions were militant and disgraced Americans. Supporters, on the other hand, were moved by the duo’s actions and praised them for their bravery. The protest had lingering effects for both men, the most serious of which were death threats against them and their families. …

  45. #45 uknesvuinng
    September 25, 2007

    In light of some of the posts, I may or may not be inaccurate in my initial post, but as far as the situations go, I imagine it’d be the same for both, whatever that turns out to be. However, modern America isn’t the place for that kind of overt racism to lead to a wildly successful business model. From a “should they be allowed to do so” point of view, I don’t see it much differently from whether one is allowed to speak racism. Besides, I’d rather them be out and proud about their racism so I know who to sneer at and avoid than forced to use covert means to engage in it, thus creating the opportunity where I may unknowingly support their business.

    Keep in mind I’m discussing local, privately-owned businesses, here. Corporations are a different matter, one to which I haven’t given much thought. And obviously government services and civil rights shouldn’t restricted based on such things as race or creed. However, I find the idea of a “civil right” to do business with a particular business about as justified as a “civil right” to post whatever you want on a particular internet forum.

  46. #46 Kseniya
    September 25, 2007

    Death threats! For that? Sadly, it is not as unbelievable as it ought to be.

    A lot of people thought that political statements had no place in the supposedly apolitical Olympic Games.

    I’m sure they did, and perhaps they were right. And yet, less than half a generation later, the entire US Olympic team led an international boycot of the 1980 Summer Olympic games in Moscow, a manifestly apolitical move that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Soviet invasion of… Afghanistan. The Soviets returned the favor by leading a boycott of the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles.

  47. #47 jpf
    September 25, 2007

    Re #21 and the official Christian Blue Pages business directory. Here’s a directory for the entire US:

    UseABeliever.com: The Premier Christian Business Directory.

    Their justification for it is that it’ll lead to more money going to the church (and also apparently you can’t trust non-Christians to do business ethically). And should any unsaved people be put out of work, they can instead go to their local church’s soup kitchen — paid for by the increased tithing, of course.

  48. #48 Learning
    September 25, 2007

    David Wilford: Your “one of the more memorable uses of symbols in my lifetime happened like this” story ends on a rather ominous note (emphasized by your adding “…” for an ending).

    What is your point, exactly?

    I did a google search using the title you had: “1968 Black Medallists Raise Fist for Civil Rights Movement” and found that you left out the last two paragraphs of that article (which gives a *happier* ending than you imply), and I wonder why you chose to do that?…

    Here are the last two paragraphs:

    “Smith and Carlos, who both now coach high school track teams, were honored in 1998 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their protest.

    An interesting side note to the protest was that the 200m silver medallist in 1968, Peter Norman of Australia (who is white), participated in the protest that evening by wearing a OPHR badge.”

    The full article can be found at http://www.infoplease.com/spot/summer-olympics-mexico-city.html

  49. #49 Woof
    September 25, 2007

    #27: Hey, get it right – it’s “demented fuckwits”.

    I thought we agreed on that already…

  50. #50 Nemo
    September 25, 2007

    I think we have enough symbols already — the Atom, the Invisible Pink Unicorn logo, the FSM, and most recently the Scarlet Letter. Et cetera.

    We do have a secular America, actually. At least, no one has required a religious test of me to do anything in the U.S., up to and including running for public office.

    Back when I first registered to vote, in a public library in North Carolina, I had to take an oath. It was basically the same as the President takes — “support and defend the Constitution”, etc. Anyway, the registrar (who I think was really a librarian) put a bible in front of me, so I said “I’m an atheist”. I got such glares from a couple of people nearby, continuing until I left. It didn’t seem to faze the librarian, but she hadn’t been properly trained, either; she moved the book aside, but still started with “Do you solemnly swear…” (should’ve been “affirm”), and still ended with “so help you God?”. Not wanting to drag this out any longer, I said “I do… except the part about God.” That seemed to be acceptable.

    So, that’s the closest I’ve come to a religious test.

  51. #51 Elf Eye
    September 25, 2007

    Nemo, I’ve been sworn in twice as part of a panel of prospective jurors, each time with the “so help me God” phrase at the end of the oath. I quietly resented it both times. Now that my daughter will soon graduate from the public schools and not be subject to retaliation from her “Christian” classmates, I’m going to object the next time I’m called for jury duty.

  52. #52 Leif
    September 25, 2007

    What is the official list of companies to boycott anyway?

  53. #53 Baldur
    September 25, 2007

    Sad to read of the state things in the US. Sadly this increasingly hard line attitude of the Christians will probably spill over to us in some European countries as well. My point however is that I think a symbol for atheists is very wrong, why would a non-believer want to group himself in a collective complete with a symbol. It goes against the very fundamental aspect of non-believers. We do not need to belong to some kind of a special society, club, or orginazation. We should be the coming NORM which does not need to be tagged specifically. Let the little souls who among other things, cannot but belong to some larger group. Let them assign themselves to some corner of society. Atheists should not plot their own corner. Ever noticed the irony of the anarchists having their symbol, just the fact that anarchist use a symbol goes agains the essence of their message. Atheists should not make the same mistake.

  54. #54 MartinC
    September 25, 2007

    Baldur, your point seems to be that atheists are not some homogeneous group but a subsection of the population with a diverse set of philosophical viewpoints. Unfortunately you seem to completely miss the implication of your own argument.
    Certainly there are the ‘herded cats’ segment of non believers but there are also others that do value community and association with other likeminded individuals. One useful aspect of the ‘Framers’ debacle has been the highlighting of the point that just because someone says they are an atheist (or in the case of Kirk Cameron and Francis Collins, ‘were’ an atheist) it doesnt make them the same sort of atheist as you.
    Certainly avoid association with non believers if that is not your thing (avoiding this board would be a good way to begin!) just don’t assume we all feel the same way.

  55. #55 Corkscrew
    September 25, 2007

    Baldur: speak for yourself. I’d be very keen to see more skeptical atheism “social clubs”. We could read philosophical books, discuss scientific discoveries, share fundie-avoidance tactics, etc.

    Quite frankly there is no way in hell that we’ll become the norm in society unless we have institutions of that sort. Refraining from getting together in groups is not a sign of intellectual purity; it’s a fatal weakness of our cause.

    If there are any atheists from Reading (UK) reading this who agree with me, leave a comment on my blog and we can meet up for a coffee or something.

  56. #56 r. maxwell
    September 25, 2007

    The red A is a tatoo on my arm(same as the A on your first page).

  57. #57 Caledonian
    September 25, 2007

    Ever noticed the irony of the anarchists having their symbol, just the fact that anarchist use a symbol goes agains the essence of their message.

    No, it doesn’t. Anarchists are against leaders and order imposed on society from above. They’re not in favor of total and absolute chaos at all times.

    Ever notice the irony of a complete and total fool naming himself after the Scandinavian god of sunlight? No, wait, that isn’t ironic. It’s just baldurdash.

  58. #58 David Wilford
    September 25, 2007

    David Wilford: Your “one of the more memorable uses of symbols in my lifetime happened like this” story ends on a rather ominous note (emphasized by your adding “…” for an ending).

    What is your point, exactly?

    That coming up with a symbol is the easier part of changing the status quo.

    The reality also is that all three of the medalists on that Olympic podium in 1968 paid a price for their protest afterwards.

  59. #59 Baldur
    September 25, 2007

    On the symbol for Atheists in reply to #54: Maybe its my bad command of the english language that has prehibited me from having stated my point more clearly. I do value the community of other people, with all kinds of views and I know the value of orginised work from a body of people with the same set of values or interests. To state this point:I for example sit on the board of the Bird protection society in my home country and belong to a political movement. But that I will go pransing around with a flag preaching my Atheist standpoint reminds me too much of the tribalism that I have always found silly. Perhaps it’s the difference between the level of religion in our two countries that has molded our difference. Here being a Atheist is no big deal, most of my countrymen sit on the fence and say: “well I believe in something but I would not go this far, pointing towards the US” and Atheists are probably almost as many as praying Christians, but much less outspoken. For me putting a bumpersticker on my car with a symbol marking me as an Atheist would be implicating that I belong to some minority with “out of the norm” views, let me put this another way; when you go to the supermarked, there are all these unmarked parking-lots then there are a few with signs for the handycapped, some for deliverytrucks etc. My idea is to look at us as individuals without a handycap, let the “religiously” handycapped drive around with their symbols such as the crosses, stars or whatever. Last; I will take into account that in the US, you might have to fight a more organised battle for sanity than we do over here.

  60. #60 Sastra
    September 25, 2007

    Baldur wrote:

    My point however is that I think a symbol for atheists is very wrong, why would a non-believer want to group himself in a collective complete with a symbol.

    There was discussion along this line at the AAI, of course, and the general consensus was that we already are a loosely-knit, diverse group set apart by a particular philosophical approach and conclusion. Words are symbols, too — “non-believer,” atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, metaphysical naturalist, etc. If there’s a word for it, then a symbol simply stands for the word: it doesn’t indicate a special society or club.

    Our poster states “To aid in our recognition, identification, and positive image, many of us feel there should be a clear, universal character which represents ‘a lack of belief in God.’ This public symbol would represent atheism in general, and not be limited to any particular science theory, philosophy, or organization.”

    As atheists become more outspoken and eventually accepted into the culture, I think the need for a symbol is going to increase. Not just for tombstones and jewelery, but quick backdrops at media events or on diversity panels, when other symbols indicating views on religion are set in a row and there’s a blank spot above the atheist’s head, so that nobody’s sure what that guy on the end is.

    Bottom line, something is eventually going to emerge from grass roots, because symbols are just too handy and practical in many situations. Right now the symbols which really seem to be starting to make their way out to the general public are 1.) the Darwin fish and 2.) The logo for the American Atheist organization.

    The first one equates evolution with atheism, and implies worship of Darwin. Problems there are obvious, I think, no matter how you feel about the dreaded f-word. Like me, you may agree that — if the existence of God is treated as a science hypothesis and one follows evolution (or chemistry or physics) down all the way — the theory of evolution indicates a natural universe without a Guiding Disembodied Intelligence to start things off and poke around — but atheism and the theory of evolution are still not equivalent.

    The other symbol, the atomic A, is exclusive to one particular organization (a logo, more than a symbol), and is probably copywrited. I find it a bit surprising that the military uses it on the headstones of atheists, members or not. Dawkins’ Atheist “A” is appealing, and has momentum, but again, it’s associated with a particular group, doesn’t seem to be in the public domain, and I think it’s a bit too simple to be recognizable, especially in black and white.

    So if some sort of symbol is eventually going to win the battle for public recognition, it would be nice if it doesn’t have any major drawbacks. Uncomplicated, easy to remember, unique, positive — like the Affinity. I know there are atheists who hate the very idea of a symbol — but think about it. All things being equal, if there IS a symbol, better that it not annoy you for good reasons beyond its very existence.

  61. #61 Baldur
    September 25, 2007

    Well Caledonian, the name Baldur is actually my second name….The other half of my name is our version of John…so that makes me a double “total fool” I guess. Again symbols (in this case, names)are getting in peoples way.

  62. #62 saved
    September 25, 2007

    I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.

  63. #63 Russell Blackford
    September 25, 2007

    Well, it’s not quite the topic but I think we should stop multiplying symbols. Of the existing ones, I vote for the scarlet letter. It’s simple, elegant, and resonant in meaning.

  64. #64 MAJeff
    September 25, 2007

    That coming up with a symbol is the easier part of changing the status quo.
    The reality also is that all three of the medalists on that Olympic podium in 1968 paid a price for their protest afterwards.

    Changing things is far from easy. I guess we should give up.

    Welcome to being part of a social movement and/or standing up for something. I’ve received death threats for my gay activism. Hell, I’ve been harrassed on the street and at my workplace because I was openly gay. I was isolated by other queers in a small town because the didn’t want to maybe be pegged by association. Was it hard? Hell yes! Was it worth it? You’d better fucking believe it.

    I’m not an activist atheist, but I’m a very open one. In Boston it’s not that hard. Who knows where I’ll end up teaching next, but I’m not going back in either closet.

  65. #65 Caledonian
    September 25, 2007

    I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.

    We hope that your mind will open to the truth of reality – the only kind of ‘truth’ there is.

    But we’re not holding our breath.

  66. #66 MartinM
    September 25, 2007

    I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.

    If you just wanted to pray for us, you could do so without mentioning it. Are you really posting this for our benefit, or for your own?

  67. #67 Moses
    September 25, 2007

    Their justification for it is that it’ll lead to more money going to the church (and also apparently you can’t trust non-Christians to do business ethically). And should any unsaved people be put out of work, they can instead go to their local church’s soup kitchen — paid for by the increased tithing, of course.

    Posted by: jpf | September 25, 2007 1:59 AM

    Business rule of thumb (including by most of my clients in the Christian Music Industry): Make people who avow themselves as “Christians” pay up-front or when they pick-up the goods/services. Otherwise you’ll have to fight for your money, they’ll demand “Christian” discounts or flat-out won’t pay you. If you do work for a church, always get paid up-front. Period.

    Internal Control rule of thumb: The number one profile of an embezzler is a White Christian Male who is considered “devout” evidenced by going to church at least twice a week and, frequently, is involved in some type of “ministry” or “youth” activity. This is followed by a white Christian woman with the same profile.

  68. #68 tsg
    September 25, 2007

    I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.

    Thanks for nothing. Literally.

  69. #69 June
    September 25, 2007

    While we are defining a “New Atheism”, why not define it as a religion?!?! We have been told often enough (even by judges) that “atheism is just another religion”. OK, let’s go with that. It could be fun to turn the legal tables in our favor for a change. Here is our Creed (I haven’t worked out all the details, but neither has Christianity):

    — Nature is our God.
    — Fossils are our relics.
    — Nature’s laws are commandments.
    — Evo is the way God creates species.
    — Sex is Nature’s way of saying “hello”.
    — Devo is the way God propagates individuals.
    — Eternal oblivion is what we seek for our souls.

    And if you call us “crackpots”, we sue your assets in federal court!

  70. #70 Bob
    September 25, 2007

    I’d suggest returning to the offending shops with a copy of the law and politely explaining that what they did was illegal. There’s no need to threaten a lawsuit or a boycott or anything like that – knowing Sheboygan, it wouldn’t do much good anyway. Just a genial conversation that there are laws against religious discrimination and they’re unnecessarily putting their business at risk. The decision is ultimately up to them.

  71. #71 Flex
    September 25, 2007

    Funny,

    Maybe I’m overly cynical, but I always looked at those lists of christian businesses as a list of rubes who will give you discounts when you lie to them about your faith.

    Not that I’ve ever taken advantage of them in that fashion. But it has always seemed to me that they are cutting their own throat.

  72. #72 Caledonian
    September 25, 2007

    Devo is the way God propagates individuals.

    I always thought Devo was nature’s way of propping up the silly-hat business.

  73. #73 Barn Owl
    September 25, 2007

    Baldur @ #53-

    FWIW, I didn’t (over)interpret your post to imply that atheists shouldn’t gather or meet to discuss ideas. Your English is fine. And I agree with you about the symbol; IMO, there’s something sheeplike and jolly hockey sticks about the “let’s have a Club with T-shirts and badges and a treehouse and a secret handshake” mentality.

    Certainly avoid association with non believers if that is not your thing (avoiding this board would be a good way to begin!) just don’t assume we all feel the same way.

    Ever notice the irony of a complete and total fool naming himself after the Scandinavian god of sunlight?

    “And we can exclude people who disagree with us, and make fun of their screennames too!” 😛

  74. #74 Laser Potato
    September 25, 2007

    “I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.”
    Ewwwwwwwww….bad mental image…

  75. #75 Fishbone McGonigle
    September 25, 2007

    Just because some christians boycott atheist owned business, I don’t feel it is moral to retaliate.

    I live in the Sunshine State, and I’ve been quietly boycotting any business that displays the Jesus Fish symbol in its advertising (it’s quite common down here, even in one of the state’s larger metropolitan areas). I personally don’t see anything immoral about it. Though when I think about it, I guess the boycott stems not from the fact that they’re Christian so much as it does from the fact that I think it’s unbelievably crass for these people to say “the fact that we’re oh-so-publicly Christian means we deserve your business more than someone who isn’t.”

  76. #76 Jason Failes
    September 25, 2007

    Rather than suing, I suggest that we shift the discourse.

    Every time someone comes to the door to witness, start going on about how you heard Christians were all immoral.
    What with their concern with the afterlife, and only deity-belief as their key in, what kind of accountability can they possibly have in this life (Then throw in whatever you like: Bush, Hitler, read from the Old Testament, whatever).
    Make them fight the uphill battle against perceived immorality. Make them come up with a “supernaturalistic” explanation for everyday morality. Make them feel the bias that we do everyday.
    Is this a wise move in the occulture wars? Probably not, but try it, and those poor fellows at your door will spend so much time digging themselves out of that purely conceptual hole, you will hardly have to hear about transubstantiation at all.

  77. #77 Dianne
    September 25, 2007

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the KKK a Christian organization*? I would think that the print shops in question would be happy to serve them.

    *Disclaimer: Though, of course, most Christians are not KKK members, I think that Christianity is a prerequisite for KKK membership. At least, they don’t seem to like people of other religions–or no religion at all.

  78. #78 xebecs
    September 25, 2007

    I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.

    If you just wanted to pray for us, you could do so without mentioning it. Are you really posting this for our benefit, or for your own?

    Most of the people who are “won over to Christ” are pathetic losers who swoon at the thought that someone “cares” enough about them to pray for them.

    The Christians take from this the mistaken impressions that a) non-believers are all losers, and b) telling people they prayed for them will make them susceptible to nonsense.

    So you see, the telling part is critical.

  79. #79 stogoe
    September 25, 2007

    I never knew about the hats, but in my mind, Devo came up with the perfect problem-resolution algorithm for sadists.

  80. #80 speedwell
    September 25, 2007

    Oh, they didn’t refuse to print your order because you are an atheist, Sastra… they refused because they are forced by their interpretation of their religion to refuse to be involved in promoting atheism. That’s what they meant by saying “we’re Christians.”

    I did once work in a print shop where I agreed to print all sorts of ridiculous nonsense. When the local KKK came in with an order for flyers, I drew my boss aside and said that although the decision to print the order was his, I could not in good conscience be involved with it. He was not especially pleased, and he did accept the order, but he did not require me to participate. Actually he gave me the day off without pay on the day the job was printed, which was fine with me.

  81. #81 Marlon
    September 25, 2007

    I see the value of an atheist symbol as an aid in identifying others of us. Kind of a rough first screening for rationality. If I see someone wearing a FSM or Darwin fish T-shirt, I make an effort to give some positive feedback or even buy him or her a beer.(I’m in that business) Have met some nice and interesting folks that way.

  82. #82 Flex
    September 25, 2007

    Dianne wrote, “I think that Christianity is a prerequisite for KKK membership. At least, they don’t seem to like people of other religions–or no religion at all.”

    As is membership in the Masons. Part of the oath is professing a belief in a divine being. They do not clearly specify which divine being, but is was strongly implied to be a christian one. When someone asked me if I wanted to join, I had to decline when I learned the substance of the oath.

    (Maybe I should try the stonecutters….)

  83. #83 bernarda
    September 25, 2007

    Has no on mentioned this article of a college prof who got fired for not accepting the bible myths?

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070922/NEWS02/709220333

    “A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.

    Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

    “I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.”

  84. #84 NonyNony
    September 25, 2007

    Just because some christians boycott atheist owned business, I don’t feel it is moral to retaliate.

    I live in the Sunshine State, and I’ve been quietly boycotting any business that displays the Jesus Fish symbol in its advertising

    Not giving business to someone who’s views you find offensive isn’t a “boycott”. A boycott is a systematic, organized effort to deny custom to a business for political or socio-economic reasons. Individuals cannot “boycott” a business – only large groups can mount a boycott.

    There’s nothing immoral at all about denying custom to businesses whose advertising you find offensive or even just off-putting. And make no mistake – the Jesus Fish emblazoned on the door of a business is a form of advertising in the US. If Christians were an oppressed minority it would be a political statement or possibly a secret message to those in the know. But it’s not – it’s a method of communicating to potential shoppers that they should shop at your business because you’re a Christian just like them.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeing that emblem and deciding that you don’t want money to go to people who support that kind of Christianity, any more than it is deciding that you don’t want to support Wal*Mart’s horrible anti-American business practices by giving them custom. That’s not a boycott, that’s just making a personal socio-economic choice on how you are going to spend your own money.

  85. #85 Michael
    September 25, 2007

    They may have meant no more from the KKK-atheist comparison than that they were two different things they chose not to support. Lumping things together doesn’t say much if the lump is a huge, diverse lump.

    And just because the KKK defines itself as Christian doesn’t mean that other Christians need to accept the KKK definition or support the KKK to be consistent.

  86. #86 Mondo
    September 25, 2007

    Man religious people can be annoying.

  87. #87 Sastra
    September 25, 2007

    When the business owner explained (over the phone) that she would not do business with atheists, she told me that she had also refused to print things for the Ku Klux Klan and the Socialists.

    The KKK reference threw me most, of course. I can understand speedwell (#80) refusing to participate in printing for them. It’s a notorious hate group, uncontroversally so. Socialists just seemed odd — would she have refused to print something for Social Democrats, or just for Socialists? I didn’t ask, and don’t think ‘politics’ is a protected class anyway, like religion or creed.

    Incidentally, I’m pretty suspicious of that claim about the KKK. I live in a small Wisconsin town of about 7,000 people, which is about 99% white. I’m not saying there aren’t racists, of course, but in the whole county I’ve never heard any rumors about actual KKK activity. They drove up from Milwaukee or Chicago to get something printed here? Uh huh. That’s likely.

  88. #88 Rieux
    September 25, 2007

    bernarda (#83):

    Has no on mentioned this article of a college prof who got fired for not accepting the bible myths?

    I think someone’s mentioned it: http://tinyurl.com/2fnlo9

  89. #89 Pamela
    September 25, 2007

    I live in the south. If I attempted to boycott all Christian-based businesses here I wouldn’t be able to purchase anything…perhaps that is a good thing…

  90. #90 Fatboy
    September 25, 2007

    I’m just now starting to learn more about the history of atheism, so I admit right up front to not being real knowledgeable about this. But, when I see all this talk of trying to find a symbol for atheism, and trying to have “atheism” incorporate skepticism, naturalism, rejection of dogma, etc., and not just simply lack of belief in a deity, I wonder if this isn’t the same thing as the Freethought movement, and if so, why not just use the pansy as the symbol, since that’s been a symbol of freethought for well over a hundred years. Is there something taboo about the term, “freethought?” Are people more interested in stressing the conclusion (atheism) than the process that leads there?

  91. #91 Steve_C
    September 25, 2007

    So do these guys turn away jews, muslims and buddhists too?

  92. #92 theophylact
    September 25, 2007

    How about a red lower-case “?”? Not only is it a good abbreviation for a Greek-derived term, it looks a bit like the jeebus fish, stands for a top score in Brit-speak, and represents the beginning.

  93. #93 Scotty B
    September 25, 2007

    What about an online vote? I would like to contribute my opinion!

    😀

  94. #94 dogmeatib
    September 25, 2007

    Their justification for it is that it’ll lead to more money going to the church (and also apparently you can’t trust non-Christians to do business ethically). And should any unsaved people be put out of work, they can instead go to their local church’s soup kitchen — paid for by the increased tithing, of course.

    This really gets me because, in my experience, it’s been the overtly “Christian” businesses that have tended to be … shall we say less than Biblical in their ethics? In one case it was a contractor who regularly double (and a few times triple) billed us throughout the project. They also somehow “forgot” to credit us when actual prices came in lower than the bids. At one point they were two months behind in their contract and actually had the nerve to call us and demand $8,000 more for material costs because the price of lumber went up during their two month delay. We told them precisely where they could stick that. Then, after delay upon delay, after a contractor review board found them to be in violation of the contract, violation of state law, etc., and after they were 3 1/2 months beyond the contract deadline with no end in sight, we fired them. They promptly filed suit to force us to pay not only the final draw for the project they didn’t finish, but $70,000 in cost over-runs that they claimed that were never approved, they had no documentation for, and mostly included the double and triple billing that we had caught not once, but twice before.

    That’s just one example of my experiences with how a “Christian Company” does business.

  95. #95 Josh
    September 25, 2007

    This is tangential to the topic at hand, but did anyone catch this?

    http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2007/09/vandals-attack-.html

  96. #96 LM
    September 25, 2007

    Pardon if this has already been mentioned, I don’t have time to read all of the posts:

    Can’t pharmacies discriminate based on religion? That is, they can deny service to those wanting to buy birth control because they are Pro-life (and I assume this stance comes from their religious beliefs). Are they given some special allowance, or is this not the same kind of thing?

    It’s all bullshit, though.

  97. #97 BruceJ
    September 25, 2007

    This is why I appreciate the little christian fish so many godbotherers stick in their yellow pages ads. Makes it easy to avoid ’em. Companies have lost (literally) thousands of dollars worth of my business with that little dingbat.

  98. #98 Siamang
    September 25, 2007
  99. #99 Jay Hovah
    September 25, 2007

    “I pray that your hearts will open to the truth of Christ.”
    Posted by: saved | September 25, 2007 8:28 AM

    Eeew, doesn’t that get messy?

  100. #100 LM
    September 25, 2007

    MartinC: Shame on you. How dare you tell Baldur to stop coming to this board because s/he doesn’t share your particular belief? Are you suggesting that s/he isn’t he “right” kind of atheist? How damned hypocritical can you be? I’m appalled.

    I personally am torn on the issue of a unifying symbol because I agree with BOTH sides of the argument. But I’ll add this: I don’t know if I would feel right about putting a label on, say, my vehicle. That doesn’t make me much better than those christians who drive around with a stupid jesus fish, or worse, a “Truth” fish eating a darwin fish, on their bumper. On the other hand, I think, “Well, if they do I should be able to do it, too.” So you see, I’m torn.

  101. #101 Brownian
    September 25, 2007

    In any case, PZ really should appropriate the octothorpe as his own atheist symbol, for obvious reasons.

  102. #102 dogmeatib
    September 25, 2007

    Can’t pharmacies discriminate based on religion? That is, they can deny service to those wanting to buy birth control because they are Pro-life (and I assume this stance comes from their religious beliefs). Are they given some special allowance, or is this not the same kind of thing?

    There have been a couple of different interpretations here. Apparently some businesses that include pharmacies, allow some of their employees to avoid having to fill prescriptions that clash with their religious stance. Others don’t. In either case, the businesses generally still try to fill the prescription. I know there was a legal case that may or may not have been settled by now. An employee (don’t remember if it was a tech or pharmacist) had been given accommodations so that he was taking phone orders and only filling certain prescriptions (in effect forcing his co-workers to pick up the slack and/or the business to have additional staff on hand). He then objected to having to take phone call requests for prescriptions he objected to, insisting that all calls be screened first, at which point the business balked.

  103. #103 Brownian
    September 25, 2007

    I’m sorry, but is ‘saved’ trying to imply with his/her nom d’cran that s/he knows that s/he is going to heaven?

    You need to learn a little humility, you hubristic egotist. If you know your bible (and dollars to doughnuts you don’t), you’ve got forty years in the desert ahead of you.

  104. #104 Will Von Wizzlepig
    September 25, 2007

    I didn’t read the whole thread, sorry- just a note on the ‘refusal of service’:

    If you hang a sign which says “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, a very good lesson for your employees would be to remind them to never tell the customer why they are being shown to the door.

    You can kick them out without telling them anything.

    The very second you screw up and reveal the reason you are showing them to the door is when you open yourself to a lawsuit, and that’s where these places are making a mistake.

    Merely having 5 customers deliver atheist projects for printing and 5 xtian projects as well, and documenting the exacting pattern of refusal would be enough to have an open and shut lawsuit, I’ll bet.

  105. #105 BlueIndependent
    September 25, 2007

    I guess I’m not big on the logo/symbol idea. Granted the modified Michelangelo is hilarious, but my perspective on atheism is that it speaks for itself. Sure every group has its symbol (or most anyhow), but I guess I just see this as sort of antithetical.

    The farthest I’d go is a t-shirt campaign that simply asks the question via unique means, and let’s the viewer decide for themselves.

  106. #106 Cynthia
    September 25, 2007

    Moses is right. I avoid businesses with the fish because I’ve learned that the symbol means “you’re about to be screwed”.

  107. #107 Sastra
    September 25, 2007

    Fatboy #90:

    The Freethought Pansy was one of the symbols we considered. However, the “pansy” as symbol has a feminine connotation to most people in the US. The women were more eager to wear it than the guys. Likely it would be misinterpreted by the general public as being related to Gay Rights. Personally, I think anything that has to be constantly explained and defended lest it give the wrong impression to the casual observer (like the term “Brights) is probably a poor idea.

    And there’s nothing much wrong with the term “freethinker” — most of us use it from time to time. Strictly speaking, it has historically been used to embrace New Agers and other spiritual renegades as well as nontheists, though. It still carries some of that along today.

    There is no term or symbol which is going to be just right. I aim for the option which “sucks the least.”

  108. #108 dogmeatib
    September 25, 2007

    Just a thought, since I’m looking at potentially wearing the following:

    GLBT: “Ally” pin
    Something supporting Gay rights
    Something supporting women’s rights
    Something supporting minority rights

    As well as the proposed atheists pin/t-shirt.

    Couldn’t these all be condensed into a “humanist” pin or something? I know that not all humanists are atheists, but I would argue that all humanists would agree that atheists should have all of the rights that everyone else enjoys.

  109. #109 Brownian
    September 25, 2007

    I’d wear such a pin, dogmeatib.

  110. #110 Fernando Magyar
    September 25, 2007

    Somewhat OT.

    Hey starving atheists, scientists and college professors check this out:

    All you have to do is praise the Lawd and you too can apply to this wonderful opportunity! $6,000/$20,000/mo. Full Time. Sounds like a deal to me.

    Hey think of how much research you could do in your free time with an extra $10,000.00 or so a month.

    http://managementopp.com/n/?a=careerbuilderclick

    Solid $100 million Christian based company backed by a 20 year leading hi-tech manufacturer is seeking honest, motivated, high integrity individuals to help coordinate market expansion throughout the U.S.

    Get your FREE Entrepreneurial Package & learn how you can start your own business from home. By completing the simple form below, we will send you information on how you can get started in your own prosperous home-based business.

    Must be U.S. Resident and at least 18 years old.

    You’d think this kind of ad would be considered blatant religious discrimination, maybe? http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/religdisc/religionpamp.htm

    What if I’m something other than a Christian? Though if I read it correctly it is only considered discrimination if you actually belong to some religion and you are told you can’t apply because of it. Nowhere does it specifically state that your rights are violated if you don’t actually participate in some form of organized religion. So non beleivers not only need not apply but it sounds like they can’t claim religious discrimination if they don’t have any religion.

    Ok,I imagine the ad is perfectly legal but it sure doesn’t pass “the spirit of the law” test in my book. Not that any rational freethinking human being would be taken in by such a blatant scam and want to apply anyway.

  111. #111 junk science
    September 25, 2007

    I don’t think they were being bigoted. If I lived in fear of a jealous, insecure, sky fairy whose idea of the greatest sin imaginable was not believing in him, I would make sure he didn’t think I was too friendly with the nasty unbelievers. They were just looking out for themselves.

  112. #112 Ken Mareld
    September 25, 2007

    Several years ago I had my own small business. I made it very clear to my employees that the only important color in the store was green. ANY violation of my anti-discrimination policy was grounds for immediate dismissal. It was an Auto Parts store in a fairly redneck area of Puget Sound (no PZ, not in Kent). I never had to enforce that policy with my employees. One time though I threw a customer out for making loud anti-semitic remarks to another customer of mine that was wearing a Yamulke (sp?). One policy that I did have to enforce was cleanliness. After being twice sent home to take a shower (on different days), I fired an employee for smelling awful. He couldn’t get it in his head that regular bathing could be a requirement for employment. Several days later the Employment Development office called me to confirm his reason for dismissal and said that the call was just a formality as he had earlier interviewed my former employee.
    The ED person said that he stank so bad he had to spray Lysol in his cubicle while he was still there.
    That kind of discrimination is allowed.

  113. #113 Sastra
    September 25, 2007

    I wear a humanist symbol on a necklace, every day.

    I think most atheists fall under the category of secular or scientific humanist (certainly most atheists here), but what with one thing and another the word ‘humanist’ has picked up some negative connotations among some atheists. Just as there are humanists who don’t like the word “atheist,” there are atheists who return the favor.

    I think it was Herb Silverman who said something like “Christians agree on the terms but passionately disagree on their beliefs: atheists agree on the belief, but disagree vehemently on the terms.”

  114. #114 sailor
    September 25, 2007

    At this point it sounds to me like the job was refused because of the nature of the job not the person delivering it. I suspect that if Sastra went back and asked them to do another job like a wedding invitation they would do it. I think they were quite within their rights. I mean if you were a print business would you want to print and anti-psychiatry nut-job poster featuring one of those jerk-off celebrities in the scientology business? I am an atheist and I am on their side on this one.

  115. #115 raven
    September 25, 2007

    Solid $100 million Christian based company backed by a 20 year leading hi-tech manufacturer is seeking honest, motivated, high integrity individuals to help coordinate market expansion throughout the U.S.

    Sounds like an affinity group scam. One of the charming habits of some Xians is preying on other Xians. So common it has a name, affinity group scam. These conpeople take advantage of the generally ignorant and uneducated but greedy nature of many fundies. There was one guy in Tennessee who had a car that supposedly ran off of water or a perpetual motion machine or something. Even after it was clear that it was BS, a lot of his followers still “believed” in him.

    Plus any televangelists. The big thing now is “properity ministries” where if you send money to the talking head you will somehow get it back multiplied manyfold. It is truly amazing how some of these cultists get taken in by the most blatant and senseless scams.

  116. #116 Ktesibios
    September 25, 2007

    Moses (#67) reminded me of something from my own experience.

    I spent several years as the tech head for a small sound and lighting company in Philly before I drifted into the recording industry. Our rule of thumb was “If it’s Christians or Communists, get the money up front!”.

    We had learned from experience that both Christopaths and activist types will try to stiff you or get you to provide extra services that aren’t in the agreement- gratis, of course. That sort of blithe disregard for the value of other peoples’ skills and labor seems to go hand in hand with being sure you have The Big Answer.

  117. #117 amancay
    September 25, 2007

    I own a print shop and my partner & I have occasionally discussed where we’d draw the line at what we would refuse to print. We would absolutely refuse anything racist or anti-semitic. The biggest grey area for us has been sexism. While we’d refuse anything pornographic (we’d know it when we see it) the objectification of women is so commonplace that it sadly it would be unrealistic to refuse a job because the woman in the photo is scantily clad. Thankfully jobs like that are rare. The most questionable job that I’ve seen come thru my shop was one that I suspected was for an anti-abortion seminar. But I won’t refuse to print something I personally disagree with. As long as it’s not spewing hate, I think I’m obliged to take the job.

  118. #118 Lost Clown
    September 25, 2007

    I vote for the Invisible Pink Unicorn (may her hooves never be shod). Because then I wouldn’t need to get a new tattoo.

    I don’t think there will ever be a ‘universal’ atheist symbol, and if people want one, and obviously they do, more power to them. Even with the plethora of atheist/agnostic (I’m agnostic) symbols around I still recognize all of them. People will choose what they like the most. I don’t see it as “we picked a symbol so now everyone must use it.”

  119. #119 HPLC_Sean
    September 25, 2007

    Having a universal symbol for atheists (rationalists, naturalists, whatever) is a really, really bad idea. As a matter of fact, it is a stupendously bad idea. What will it accomplish? Fuck it. Trust me. Your atheism must come from convictions based on ideas and evidence that you synthesize within; not from an embroidered herald that you march behind. I could just see future atheist symposia with massive silk banners of “the symbol” hanging behind the podium that will host the contemporaries of Dawkins, Harris, Dennet and Hitchens. It kind of invokes the images of huge swastika banners at Nazi rallies.
    This moronic idea of a “symbol” also plays right into the hands of the religious. Can’t you just see them saying: “Oh. They have a symbol. Now it’s a religion?” It’s a tangible step back in the direction of idolatry. It’s vestigial nostalgia for the days when atheists prayed to the cross. It’s irrational. The only way to rationalize it is to call it a marketing or branding tool; a tool to convert the faithful. Quit branding atheism!

  120. #120 Rey Fox
    September 25, 2007

    Sheesh, Sean. Did you get attacked by a symbol when you were a kid?

  121. #121 uknesvuinng
    September 25, 2007

    I’m mostly apathetic with regard to symbols (I might brandish one, but I’m not to bothered either way), but I wonder what is actually supposed to be represented. Are we representing the “no god” concept itself, which, as PZ has pointed out in the past, is a merely a conclusion, or are we conflating scientific skepticism and freethought (the method by which we arrive at the conclusion) with atheism? Seems to me maybe in part there’s just a bit of confusion (at least I’m unsure here) of what is and isn’t included with the label “atheist” that’s being symbolized.

  122. #122 Bert Chadick
    September 25, 2007

    My vote for a symbol would be the universal lone finger salute, with a cross replacing the extended finger. I’ve bought and stuck on my car Darwin Fish, FSM (Nobody gets this one), fishbone fish, a fishhook, and a “Focus on your own damn family” bumper sticker. The Darwin fish is the only one that caused any problem, and that was from a guy trying to sell me a camper top. In your face = no sale. Dumb ass.

  123. #123 Karey
    September 25, 2007

    Posting the names and addresses of the businesses would do nothing but give them publicity and send business their way, seeing as bigoted xtians far outnumber the atheists and would flock to them in support of their anti-atheist moves.

  124. #124 Nic Nicholson
    September 25, 2007

    I’d like to suggest one, although it sounds like it’s too late for consideration. I’ve been mulling this over for quite some time.

    One Giordano Bruno gave his life for his atheist beliefs. I think his sacrifice should be honored.

    If you don’t know his story I highly recommend reading it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

    He was a man far ahead of his time, and he was brutally executed by the Catholic church. His sacrifice symbolizes all we stand for.

    The atheist symbol should be The Stake. In it’s simplest form, it would be a vertical line with a triangle at the bottom, representing the stake and the flames.

    Alternatively, it would be a vertical line with an “A” at the bottom, with the same meanings.

  125. #125 Akitagod
    September 25, 2007

    I don’t think any one single symbol will ever be fully adopted by non-believers (we’re just too damn independent and strong-willed). But I have to say — that’s a pretty compelling suggestion, Nic. I like it. It has the potential for being as simple or complex as a designer would want to make it.

  126. #126 Nic Nicholson
    September 25, 2007

    HPLC_Sean, I’d like to point out that a symbol such as the one I have suggested would serve as a reminder to anyone who sees it of what happens to atheists when they do not stand together.

    The Swastika only took on negative connotations when those who identified with it did horrible things.

    One would hope that those who identify themselves with an atheist symbol would not do anything to cause it to be associated with bad things.

  127. #127 Dustin
    September 25, 2007

    The atheist symbol should be The Stake.

    I think the stake is a good one. In fact, it’s the only one I’d consider slapping on my car.

  128. #128 Fernando Magyar
    September 25, 2007

    Re 126 Nic I embellished your idea a little. I hope you don’t mind.
    http://fmagyar.deviantart.com/art/Atheist-burnt-symbol-65790514

  129. #129 lizzie
    September 25, 2007

    As much as atheists need more positive presence out there (and NOT more of the lone finger salute, no matter how much fun it may be), there is another big problem with representing ourselves with a symbol: it makes us look like we belong to a religion. WHICH WE DON’T.

    This is a very confusing point for religionists- many figure atheism is a religion just like Satanism or Christianity or whatever. They don’t get that no god= no religion. I once heard it nicely explained: “Athesism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

  130. #130 nicnicholson
    September 25, 2007

    “there is another big problem with representing ourselves with a symbol: it makes us look like we belong to a religion.”

    So…the Golden Arches are a symbol for McDonalds…therefore McDonalds = religion?

    So…the rainbow is a symbol for the gay movement…therefore Gay = religion?

    No, I don’t think so lizzie.

    We need to identify ourselves, so that Believers see how many of us there are…so that those who are currently afraid to identify themselves will be more comfortable doing so. We need for our visible numbers to reach a “critical mass” so that people will not fear the stigma of being atheist, so that they will say so proudly.

  131. #131 Timothy
    September 25, 2007

    I propose this image that I have created. I’m going to use it for my atheist tattoo whenever I get around to having it done. It’s on a checkboard background to make the transparent areas show up better. I think it really captures the essence of what an atheist logo should be.

  132. #132 Fernando Magyar
    September 25, 2007

    Timothy how did you manage the shimmering translucence? It’s almost the same color as the invisible pink unicorn but with more uncontrast. LOL!

  133. #133 Martin07
    September 25, 2007

    It’s ironic that they turned down the KKK, since their refusal to deal with atheists only highlights their own bigotry.

  134. #134 sailor
    September 25, 2007

    “It’s ironic that they turned down the KKK, since their refusal to deal with atheists only highlights their own bigotry.”
    I disagree it is bigotry. To make it that, they would have to refuse a neutral (non aetheist content) job from an atheist. To me this just means they did not like the content of the poster and they have a right to do that. I think people on this blog need to be more tolerant.
    Everyone has a right to their own values and standards. I knew a guy back in the 60s that did market research – he absolutely refused to work for the tobacco companties, as he thought smoking was harmful. I admired him for his stand. While I do not admire the stand these people are taking, I support their right to take it, as I cannot see in principal how it is different to the one on tobacco companies.

  135. #135 Robert Madewell
    September 25, 2007

    Last Easter I soaped this on my back window:

    The Easter Bunny is Imaginary!
    So is …
    The Resurrection
    The Ascension
    God

    Alot of people honked their horns at me and yelled out their windows. One women approached me in a parking lot. Told me to wash it off before any children see it. I replied, “Oh no! Did I write a cuss word on it?”. She just said no, and turned around.

    This Christmas maybe, I’ll do the same with Santa being imaginary, so is Virgin Birth, Angels, God.

  136. #136 Lizzie
    September 25, 2007

    I completely agree that non-believers need to be identified, but I think if we do identify ourselves, it should NOT be as a group of people not believing in something. This is a very weak approach, and very vulnerable to backlash. The Brights approach is good, because it has to do with something- a naturalistic perspective. Brights are defining themselves, not an absence.

    To create an emblem that stand for an absence is very weak, and will only be used against us by our foes. Their argument goes that secularism or atheism is just another religion which should get equal time with others. This is of course very very wrong and very very dangerous. We should do everything we can to not let them make this ridiculous claim, and standing under a banner of non-belief does not help us.

  137. #137 Timothy
    September 26, 2007

    Sailor said:

    I disagree it is bigotry. To make it that, they would have to refuse a neutral (non aetheist content) job from an atheist. To me this just means they did not like the content of the poster and they have a right to do that. I think people on this blog need to be more tolerant.

    Sailor: Tolerance is just putting up with crap you don’t agree with for the sake of getting along. As far as I’m concerned we are far too “tolerant” of people who believe things that are obviously nothing but made up garbage and spend far too much of their lives trying to spread it to the rest of the world.

    If you’re going to tell me to be “tolerant” of people who lie to children, use make believe to degrade the standing of my country in the world, and set back the human race thousands of years, you can fuck off right now.

  138. #138 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    Bizzare

    http://www.wsoctv.com/news/14203532/detail.html

    “Police say you can legally keep amputated body parts as long as it’s for religious purposes.”

    Really?

  139. #139 sailor
    September 26, 2007

    “Sailor: Tolerance is just putting up with crap you don’t agree with for the sake of getting along.”
    Timothy, now imagine a world where EVERONE regardless of their views was intolerant. Looks like Iraq to me.
    There is a difference between allowing people to sit in their own crap and have them spreading it on you. I am not in favor of the latter.

  140. #140 D.S. Ellis
    September 26, 2007

    While I don’t agree with the beliefs held by the poster printers/designers I do respect their right to refuse service to anyone. I was recently asked to design a logo for a group of ‘paranormal investigators’ in Missouri. After checking out their website, I realized that I could debunk every ‘phenomenon’ listed on their website. Ethically, I felt I couldn’t lend my talents to promote something that a) I don’t believe in and b) I feel is not in the best interest of human development. No matter what they were offering to pay me.

    And I told them so. I was respectful but explained my position and offered to provide documentation to back my stance and invited them to consider the evidence I wanted to give them. They politely refused but thanked me for my honesty. Apparently, they’ve been running into this ‘problem’ (their word, not mine) for quite some time and have been unable to gain any backing or support for their endeavors, even in rural Missouri.

    The fact that ‘Sastra’ is doing work for churces while stating a belief in atheism makes me wonder if Sastra isn’t more in the wrong than the printers who were exercising their Constitutional freedoms, despite their backwards beliefs.

  141. #141 Peter Barber
    September 26, 2007

    Firstly, if this is how one does it, I’ll nominate Sastra’s comment #11 for a Molly. It may not say anything ground-breaking, but I am sure any religious believer who feels threatened by atheism would develop more respect for our viewpoint after reading such a calm, thoughtful and clear response to the rather silly behaviour of some individual Christians.

    Secondly, @ TK (#9) with regard to symbols:

    I am an atheist, a Green Party member, against Trident, for decriminalisation of psychotropic drug use. I assume you don’t object to me telling you that, even if you don’t share my views. Note that I’m not telling you that you must also renounce all gods, join the Green Party, campaign for nuclear disarmament or inhale.

    Yet it seems you would object to me showing you a picture of red letter A, a sunflower, a circle containing a vertical diameter with a downward-pointing radial either side, or a cannabis leaf.

    Why?

  142. #142 Peter Barber
    September 26, 2007

    Ach. I meant to refer to TK’s comment #29, not #9. And that despite Preview.

  143. #143 sailor
    September 26, 2007

    Ellis (#140). I very much support your view. However I do not support pharmacists that refuse to sell the morning after pill to women. How do I reconcile these? The best I can do is have a difference for essential vs non-essential services. Can anyone else come up with a better rationalization?

  144. #144 D.S. Ellis
    September 26, 2007

    Sailor (#143). Your dilemma is a valid one, Sailor. But we have to realize there’s a difference between refusing to use your talents/services to endorse a viewpoint and denying federally approved medication because of a religion stance. In one instance, you’re practicing your rights and in the other you’re violating federal law. The line can easily be blurred, moved or eliminated all together, making this a complicated issue that will be debated at length for many, many years to come.

  145. #145 Krystalline Apostate
    September 26, 2007

    David:

    At least, no one has required a religious test of me to do anything in the U.S., up to and including running for public office.

    Depends on the state. Texas & Indiana come to mind.

    EnzoAntonius:

    Refusing service to someone based on their religious status is prohibited by federal law.

    It could be argued that since atheism is a lack of belief, it doesn’t qualify for religious status.

    Nic:

    One Giordano Bruno gave his life for his atheist beliefs.

    From what I read, Bruno was anything but an atheist.

  146. #146 LM
    September 26, 2007

    Look: I understand that many of us are passionate about our world views, and that’s great. However, that shouldn’t give you license to act like an ass (not naming names, but you know who you are). Cool out, dudes. We’re all on the same side here (well, except for that Saved fellow…).

  147. #147 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Fernando, is that an image of the Inanimate Carbon Rod?

    I am not worthy!

  148. #148 Sastra
    September 26, 2007

    DS Ellis wrote:

    The fact that ‘Sastra’ is doing work for churces while stating a belief in atheism makes me wonder if Sastra isn’t more in the wrong than the printers who were exercising their Constitutional freedoms, despite their backwards beliefs.

    I am not against the right for businesses to refuse to do work which strongly conflicts with their ethics. My objection to being refused service at the print shop was that even Christians should not classify atheism as morally similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Our differences are not so extreme that we should be seen as outside of the normal courtesies of the marketplace. It’s similar to how I view the issue with the Boy Scouts: as a private organization they have the legal right to exclude whomever they want, for what ever reason they want, and I support that right. And yet excluding atheists because they can’t be “good citizens” is wrong. I do not support that exclusion, and consider it bigotry. (Their public/private organization muddle is a different issue)

    I don’t regularly work for churches, by the way. I’m a watercolor artist and was commissioned by the local Catholic church to do a painting of their old church, from a turn-of-last century photograph. And yes, I would have been more hesitant to do a series of Sunday school paintings of Jesus, but think I would have taken the work and approached it as an artist. I realize there are nuances and fine lines on both sides of my complaint.

  149. #149 bullfighter
    September 26, 2007

    How about something based on the logical “not” sign:

    I don’t care about a sign, really. And the purported religious signs are in fact signs of secular power wielded by adherents of those religions. That’s the most obvious in the case of the crescent, but it applies to the cross, too. (In contrast, however, it does not apply to the fish. Hey, there’s no natural law of religious signs. There are exceptions.)

  150. #150 bullfighter
    September 26, 2007

    I think Sastra’s comments in this thread are very good and could serve as an example of how to approach issues like this.

    There is a big difference between refusing service because of who the customer is and because of the nature of the project. It is not quite clear to me what happened in Sastra’s case, but I somehow tentatively concluded that the first print shop objected only to the project, while the second might have objected to doing business with an atheist. Regardless of the facts of this case, it should be clear that anti-discrimination laws apply only to the exclusion of persons, not projects.

    I also agree that, while the shop has the right to refuse any job, the excuses they offered were lame at best, and bigoted at worst. Although one shouldn’t infer too much from the parallel with KKK, it certainly comes across as offensive. But I would say that the grouping of KKK, socialists, and atheists primarily reveals the shop owner’s profound ignorance (which really shouldn’t be surprising).

    The only way to reduce the prevalence of this kind of problems is to try to get the atheist voice heard as much as possible and to insist on fair treatment of atheism in the media. That means, among other things, that religious statements in the public forum should always be open to criticism.

  151. #151 sailor
    September 26, 2007

    “My objection to being refused service at the print shop was that even Christians should not classify atheism as morally similar to the Ku Klux Klan.”
    Indded! It might have been interesting to question them further on their ideas about atheists, to see how they could possibly utter the two in the same breath.

  152. #152 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    #147 Brownian, I mean really, the carbon rod would be black before being burned don’t ya think. Actually you do have a point and my stake doesn’t…

  153. #153 Rolando Aguilera
    September 26, 2007

    I’m new around here so hi everybody. I’ve been reading pharyngula for about two months and i’ts definitely a great blog and a community and i think this a good time for my first post. See, the hispanamerican community of atheists already has a symbol and maybe you may find it ok.
    http://groups.msn.com/Ateos/smbolo03.msnw?action=edit_list&viewtype=0&row=&sortstring=

    Could somebody deliver our proposition to the men in charge, thanks and sorry for the misspelling, i’m still learning. Greetings from Mxico

  154. #154 J Myers
    September 26, 2007

    Lizzie #136, I wholeheartedly disagree. Some day, I (dare I say, we all) hope that religion will go the way of slavery and other outmoded human practices, and the word “atheist,” will disappear from common usage, just as “abolitionist” has. I see nothing wrong with identifying as being against something when the elimination of said something would benefit humanity… but, if you prefer: consider me for the opposition of unsubstantiated metaphysical claims, the arrogance out of which they precipitate, and the nonsense they entail.

  155. #155 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    Rolando: Your link is password-protected.

  156. #157 Rolando Aguilera
    September 26, 2007

    ooops, sorry. How can i send an attachment? or maybe you can join to our group 🙂
    I think ill send an e-mail to Dr Myers with the image also. Thanks aniway

  157. #158 Rolando Aguilera
    September 26, 2007

    There you are. You save mye life speed well 🙂

  158. #159 Don
    September 26, 2007

    I really dislike the idea of generic atheist symbols, partly because, well

    http://www.moviewavs.com/php/sounds/?id=bst&media=MP3S&type=Movies&movie=Treasure_Of_The_Sierra_Madre“e=treasure2.txt&file=treasure2.mp3

    But also because I don’t always agree with every other atheist and besides, I can have my whim of the moment printed on a t-shirt in a jiffy.

    (Sorry about the clumsy link, I can’t do that httml stuff.)

  159. #160 David Marjanovi?
    September 26, 2007

    From what I read, Bruno was anything but an atheist.

    AFAIK he was burned for asking whether Jesus had also died for the people that live on other stars, and apparently he meant that seriously. He’s perhaps a martyr for science, but not one for atheism.

  160. #161 David Marjanovi?
    September 26, 2007

    From what I read, Bruno was anything but an atheist.

    AFAIK he was burned for asking whether Jesus had also died for the people that live on other stars, and apparently he meant that seriously. He’s perhaps a martyr for science, but not one for atheism.

  161. #162 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    David Marjanovi?, you are right Bruno was a heretical theologian and a freethinker and not really an atheist in the sense that we use the word today. However it might be fair to say that he was an atheist in the sense that it was used in the 16th century.
    “The term atheisme (sic.) itself was coined in France in the 16th century, and was initially used as an accusation against critics of religion, scientists, materialistic philosophers, deists, and others who seemed to represent a threat to established beliefs.”
    http://www.cicsworld.org/blogs/renaissance/archives/2005_05.html

  162. #163 dwarf zebu
    September 26, 2007

    I have to say that useabeliever.com site must be relatively new. I looked up “automotive repair” knowing that we have a place called Faith Quality Auto Body right here in town and nothing at all came up except for a form to fill out with the following statement: “We are currently working to identify local Christians in business for this category. If you are or if you know of someone, please let them know.” I did this with several categories and got the same thing.

    I’d be pretty happy about this apparent lack of religious business if I didn’t know better!

    As for atheist symbols, I am in the ambivalent camp. It’s a nice idea in some ways, but I personally wouldn’t wear or display one.

    I live in SW Riverside County in California, which is, for all practical purposes, an extension of the Orange County bible belt. To display overtly non-christian symbols is to invite the sort of ‘brotherly love’ you’d rather not deal with. I have a bumper sticker on my camper shell that says “Freedom of Religion means ANY Religion!” and someone keyed right through it a year and a half ago.

  163. #164 YetAnotherKevin
    September 26, 2007

    Don’t know if anyone will see this at this late point in the game, but how about an empty circle with a diagonal slash. I.E. We don’t believe in nothing.

  164. #165 Sastra
    September 26, 2007

    YetAnotherKevin:
    Considered carefully, but dismissed as implying nihilism. That hispanamerican symbol is really cool, though.

    The AAI isn’t taking any more suggestions at this time, because it never ends. Never. The committee can’t even stop it, and it’s at the printer (“Office Max: We Do Atheists”).

  165. #166 raven
    September 26, 2007

    Re Giordano Bruno:

    I looked into why he was burned at the stake a while ago. There are all sorts of stories circulating about exactly why. A lot of Xians try to slant the Bruno story one way or another.

    It is also a bit murky because the Vatican “lost” his files and this IMO was probably not an accident. Nevertheless, the Vatican librarians did a search in the 1940s and found a summary document of one page. The Vatican itself indicates that Bruno was torched for a few reasons one of which was….
    maintaining that the earth orbits the sun rather than geocentrism as the bible claims. The Vatican’s take on it is available at The Secret Vatican Archives, which can be easily reached from the wikipedia entry on Giordana Bruno.

  166. #167 raven
    September 26, 2007

    Re Giordano Bruno:

    I looked into why he was burned at the stake a while ago. There are all sorts of stories circulating about exactly why. A lot of Xians try to slant the Bruno story one way or another.

    It is also a bit murky because the Vatican “lost” his files and this IMO was probably not an accident. Nevertheless, the Vatican librarians did a search in the 1940s and found a summary document of one page. The Vatican itself indicates that Bruno was torched for a few reasons one of which was….
    maintaining that the earth orbits the sun rather than geocentrism as the bible claims. The Vatican’s take on it is available at The Secret Vatican Archives, which can be easily reached from the wikipedia entry on Giordana Bruno.

  167. #168 mike
    September 27, 2007

    I’ve been using the naturalistic galaxy symbol (aka “Trogdor the Freethinkinator“) but I don’t think I’ve managed to persuade anyone to partake in its majesty yet.

  168. #169 bullfighter
    September 27, 2007

    To refine my earlier idea of the logical “not” sign, I propose to put it inside a circle. That would resemble the letter theta, which is the first letter in “theos”, except that the line inside would be the “not” sign. That’s a clear “a-theistic” message, plus a circle has myriad connotations, most of which would not be objectionable to most atheists.

  169. #170 Craig Heinke
    September 27, 2007

    I have to express my frustration somewhere. Surely “no religious test shall ever be required for public office” (constitution, article VI) conflicts with the question Tim Russert asked of each candidate in the Democratic debate last night: “What’s your favorite Bible verse?”.
    Argh. Not that most atheists/agnostics can’t come up with one, but really.

  170. #171 bullfighter
    September 28, 2007

    “What’s your favorite Bible verse?”

    That’s a tough one. How do I decide between

    2 Kings 18:28 (“Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”)

    and

    Isaiah 36:12 (“Hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”)

    and

    Ezekiel 4:12 (“And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man.”) or 4:15 (“Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung,and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.”)?

  171. #172 bullfighter
    September 28, 2007

    I guess my last comment is an example of E-scatology.

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