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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

This was originally posted atheistwatch. also I linked to it on carm. The carm guys never read it. They read the first line then said "he expalined that hd didn't mean it." The article is not saying that the guy really wants to kill anyone. My point is lot more subtle than that. Read the whole thing please. Its' so typical of Dawkies not to read the article then insist they know all about it.


This was first reported on the Tea Party blog "Blaze." It's here listed form the right wing source RS Red State. It's validated well enough because it's being reported on a hundred other blogs of all stripes. It's been admitted to and damaage control done by Stefanelli himself.


Our pals at American Atheists are in the news again; surprise, surprise. The hateful bigots just can’t seem to avoid controversy, although truth be told, I’m sure they know exactly what they’re doing. In a column that would make Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens proud – entitled Taking the Gloves off, Al Stefanelli, the group’s state director of Georgia, draws bizarre comparisons between “fundamentalist Christianity,” and radical Islam — referring to them both, as “sociopaths,” “psychopaths” and “delusional.”

The entire article exposes the irrationality of this bigot — including the laughable “NOTICE: INTOLERANCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED” image included in the post. He makes broad-brush comments throughout his diatribe, while offering no proof for any of his ridiculous comments or comparisons. Here are a few of his best delusional comments:

”Intolerance toward beliefs and doctrines that serve only to promote hatred, bigotry and discrimination should be lauded, as should extremist points of view toward the eradication of these beliefs and doctrines.”

“Bigotry, discrimination, hatred, coercion, terrorism, slavery, misogyny and everything else that is part and parcel of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam should not be tolerated.”

“The fact is that fundamentalist Christians and radical Muslims are not interested in coexisting or getting along. They have no desire for peace. They want us to die.”

“Their interpretation of the Bible and Koran are such that there is no other course of action but to kill the infidel, and if anyone believes otherwise they are only fooling themselves.”

“The underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated.”

“We [atheists] will become extinct not due to natural selection, but at the hands of those who believe that the supernatural has made the selection.”

In a May article, entitled Why do Atheists Ridicule Christianity? I discussed Greg Epstein, the “Humanist chaplain” at Harvard University, and author of Good Without God: What a Million Nonreligious People Do Believe, who has a different view of the role atheism and its believers should play in society.


Catholic Blog Creative Minority Report

Stefanelli wrote at Atheists.org:
The fact is that fundamentalist Christians and radical Muslims are not interested in coexisting or getting along. They have no desire for peace. They do not want to sit down with us in diplomatic efforts to iron out our differences and come to an agreement on developing an integrated society.

They want us to die.

Their interpretation of the Bible and Koran are such that there is no other course of action but to kill the infidel, and if anyone believes otherwise they are only fooling themselves. It is not just in the best interests of atheists to be intolerant of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam, but it is also in the best interest of mainstream believers within these faiths, as well. Moderates and even Progressives who stand in support of extremists just because there is a claim to the same deity are not doing themselves any favors. Fundamental Christians make all Christians look bad and radical Muslims make all Muslims look bad.

The growing ranks of fundamental Christians and radical Muslims should be of concern to everyone who is not part of these two groups. Everyone. Again, bigotry, discrimination, hatred, coercion, terrorism, slavery, misogyny and everything else that is part and parcel of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam should not be tolerated and anyone who agrees with this needs to adopt extremist points of view that includes the intolerance of their very existence. The only reason these groups exist is because they are allowed to, and we, as a society, are allowing them to...

But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated. As long as they are allowed to exist, we will continue to be inundated with accounts of buses, buildings, markets and abortion clinics being blown up, rape victims being murdered for adultery, wives being beaten (sometimes to death), airplanes being flown into buildings, people being tortured and sometimes beheaded for blasphemy, people being burned for witchcraft and sorcery and all the other horrific, inhumane and insane practices that are part of fundamental Christianity and Radical Islam.

If we don’t take a stand and, as a society, insist that these doctrines and beliefs are treated just the same as they would be if religion were not part of the equation, we will become extinct not due to natural selection, but at the hands of those who believe that the supernatural has made the selection.
Naturally the atheist community is all atwitter moving fast to deny hat it means anything, as though people speak of "eradication" all the time without meaning anything.

message board where atheist denies that it's a call for violence.

http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=142535

Blue Crab of Pain (O him again) on the message board:
Scam.com (9/16/2011)

I suppose it wouldn't take too much time out of your day to actually look into it just a tad further.
Quote:
It is most certainly NOT a call for violence. Not once did I ever suggest that we use weapons, violence or physical contact. Not once. Nor did I say we be “mean” to them. Nor is my article aimed at a majority of believers in the world of any one specific religion. The individuals that I am referring to, and that I was very careful to point out, are the fringe groups. The minority of the religious. The fundamentalist extremists who have no desire to talk with us, to open a dialog with the exchange of ideas.

What is so hard to understand that these people want us to die. They want us dead. They do not want to negotiate, they do not want to budge from their points of view, they do not care about what we think and they could care less about the things we hold to high value.

We need to be firm with them, we need to counter their activism with our own activism and make sure that we stay within the bounds of the law, and use the legal system to our advantage. We need to call them out on their doctrines of hate, bigotry and discrimination. We need to let them know that we are not going away, no matter how much they want us to.

I work very hard and with due diligence to create relationships between theists and atheists, including organizing “Freethought Awareness Day” events and getting involved in interfaith activities.

So, with all due respect as well, my position stands regarding the fundamental extremists.
It's hardly surprizing that Stefanelli denies that he meant to call for violence. It's hardly surprising that the atheists deny that he meant it or that they wish to pursue it.

Wasn't his language badly chosen? I'm sure all would agree, including himself. I don't buy it. He's speaking this way for a reason. It's a tactic and he knows what he's doing. It's an old political tactic and I've seen it done. As for proving what he's up to I present first an Atheist and student of rhetoric who has some interesting things to say:



atheist professor Mirada Celecest blames Stefani for "lazy and schoking langaue."

http://mirandaceleste.net/2011/09/27/american-atheists-are-an-embarrassment-to-atheism/

9/27/11

No surprise here: American Atheists are once again engaging in reckless and unproductively antagonistic behavior. This time, though, they’ve really gone beyond the pale. In a recent post on their “No God Blog”, “Taking The Gloves Off…“, American Atheists’ Georgia State Director Al Stefanelli uses lazy and shockingly vitriolic rhetoric, unsupported assumptions, and sweeping generalizations in a futile attempt to defend an indefensible thesis.

Throughout his rant, Stefanelli fails to provide any actual evidence in support of his assertions, instead relying on generalizations, stereotypes, assumptions, anger, and arguments from personal experiences. He wants his audience to believe that his rant is a legitimate argument that should be taken seriously, yet the combination of its extreme nature and his refusal to engage in civil, rational, and evidence-based argument results in a thesis that is ultimately indefensible. Stefanelli is not deterred by this fact, though. He is determined to defend his thesis no matter what, and the result is a completely ineffective, vitriolic, and potentially dangerous rant dressed up as a legitimate argument.

one snippet from a statement by Stefanelli

Intolerance toward beliefs and doctrines that serve only to promote hatred, bigotry and discrimination should be lauded, as should extremist points of view toward the eradication of these beliefs and doctrines. (ibid Miranda Celest)
This guy knows what he's doing. he's agitating. This is an old tactic used by both sides, but by very serious people on both extreme ends who want to foment violence. It's the tactic used agaisnt Obama in the summer of the big health care reform squabble when the insurrance company provocateurs started teh lies about death panels and fights broke out at town meetings. The object is to create an atmosphere of hysteria in which others will do your dirty work for you because you work them up. They stand back and go "I didn't say to hurt anyone, I didn't say burn churches. I just said we need to fire to the problem." That's an example.

This guy talks like communists I knew when I was a communist. He talks just like the older more experienced comrades who were working up the crowd. Different slogans, different isseus, the same style of speech; both the CPUSA (Stalinist--Moscow) and the Fourth International types (Torkskyists). They all that same tendency to stick in a bunch of epithets about the enemy; "those evil, hysterical, rampant bad people who are supporting this bill." Make the other guys sound like Nazis as much as possible and create a climacteric of hysteria, like the troops are marching this way now!

Here's an article by a leftist from Australia who is talking about the Spartacists an they way they use inflammatory language.

Green left discussion message

Green left discussion: policies like Hitler.

this use of language is typical of the provocateur.

Re: "Howard's land policies like Hitler's"
By Bob Gould


Inflammatory language creates the potential for violence on the far left

here's a left wing analyst who agrees with me, although he's writing about the Sparticist, a left wing extremest group and Australian politics. The tactics are the same.



On the basis of the evidence presented, I'm not certain whether the
Spartacists are telling the truth about a bit of an incident recently
in Melbourne. I'm aware over many years of the Spartacists' capacity
to whip up small things into big things, and they themselves use
inflammatory language against their opponents, including in this
particular case.

I don't intend to join the Spartacist campaign on this question
because I'm not sure what happened, but I would point out that the
Spartacists solicited support, and they even mailed me a document to
which they attached a statement by an ostensible non-aligned
bystander, who signed his name. This person claimed that he didn't
know either of the groups involved before the event, and he saw the
male thump the woman.

If it's true that he's a mere bystander, that's significant evidence,
but I don't know enough about the incident, or about who this bloke
is, to form a firm conclusion.

Over 50 years of activity I've seen a few pieces of marginal violence
and I've been thumped a couple of times myself by political opponents
on the left. I've made a bit of a verbal scandal about it, but I've
never made a public hullabaloo, not wanting to draw the media or the
right wing into the affairs of the left.

A bit of a fuss and the embarrassment of there being witnesses is
usually enough to calm down the people doing the thumping, and that's
the best way to proceed. I was present at a famous May Day booze-up at
which some proletarian Stalinists thumped Denis Freney, and I made
myself scarce, not wanting to be the next victim. Some may regard that
as cowardice. (I've was also roughed up by coppers quite a few times
in the Vietnam period.)

I've been in the room while old experienced communist agitators plotted to use this form of agitation. It was a priest from Peru who was a friend of the great liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez and a labor Union guy and member of the Socialist Worker's Party who wrote a speech for a protest agaisnt the gulf war that was just a born burner. I said said "hey this is really laying it on thick, this could lead to an altercation." They said "that's what we want. This is a tactic called 'agitation.' We can create a climite in which people will act but we can deny having worked them into it."

This is obviously what this guy is doing. Go back up there and read the comments by Miranda. she sees it too but she isn't as up front about naming it that way. This is not just this one guy. It's obviously the tactic of his group and even though a lot of atheists back off form it (it's designed to be backed off from that's the beauty of it--only the idiots will carry out the dirty work but it's what they want all along).

The book the God haters, research by Don Boys demonstrates his finding that many athiests want to take away freedom to believe in God:

The God Haters
New Book By Former Indiana Legislator
Email Message ^ | September 29, 2011 | Don Boys, Ph.D.

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011 6:45:37 PM by John Leland 1789


Every atheist states his motives clearly: It must be illegal for any teacher, preacher, or parent to teach any child an exclusive salvation based on the death and resurrection of Christ and a literal Hell. It should be treated as child abuse. Boys asserts that the prohibition will be expanded to apply to adults and sees a major confrontation where real Christians will refuse to obey that obtrusive, offensive, and obviously unconstitutional law.

Dr. Boys characterizes these New Atheists as being tyrants and totalitarians in the pursuit of their desire to remake America in the old Soviet image, and suggests that blood will flow through the streets if children are taken from homes and Sunday schools and parents are charged with child abuse.

The author says he documents outrageous statements, mistakes, general errors, and many lies by atheists to prove their case against a sovereign God. He charges that his opponents identify the “fruits, flakes, and nuts” in some churches as mainline Christians. “It would be like generalizing, the average atheist coming home each evening with a bottle of cheap rum, kicking his dog, bullying his wife, beating his kids and getting roaring drunk terrorizing the whole neighborhood,” says Boys, “when that doesn’t characterize the group as a whole. It shows how desperate, disingenuous, and dishonest some atheists are. Even honest atheists find that offensive and shameful.”

I am not the only one who sees the totalitarian movement growing in New atheist Dawkametnalist ranks. When I started atheist watch no one else talked this one. No one saw the totalitarian potential shaping up, not even me. Now I find others starting to see it. But that can't be. Atheism is not a movement, it doesn't have an ideology, and it's not organized.Just like there is no organization called "American Atheists." So then Stefannelli doesn't exist and thus there's no problem.

16 comments:

I'm not sure that this is agitation for the conscious purpose of inciting violence.

I do agree, however, that it's highly inflamatory, counterproductive, irresponsible, dangerous and hyperbolic to the point of absurdity if it's actually directed at the small minority of fundamentalist believers Stefanelli claims to be singling out for his comments.

Chris Hedges wrote a pair of interesting books-- "American Fascists" and "I Don't Believe in Atheists"-- on the totalitarian tendencies of extremists on both sides of the god debate.

Let me back up a minute, just to clarify.

Are you saying Stefanelli used dangerously violent, but deliberately vague rhetoric to whip up the crowd? That he didn't intend to incite violence, but, if it did, he would hide behind an I-never-said-DO-anything excuse? That is, he is recklessly irresponsible?

OR...

Are you saying Stefanelli used violent rhetoric with the intent of inciting violence and therefore spoke vaguely enough that he could escape blame? That he's actually intent on getting Christians killed?

If the former, then I can get behind your analysis. If the latter, I have a much harder time accepting that assertion.

So...atheists are loudly denouncing this extremist language...while Metacrock resorts to quoting a right wing extremist, Dominionist homophobic hatemonger to bolster his case.

That kind of says it all...

I'm not sure that this is agitation for the conscious purpose of inciting violence.

I do agree, however, that it's highly inflamatory, counterproductive, irresponsible, dangerous and hyperbolic to the point of absurdity if it's actually directed at the small minority of fundamentalist believers Stefanelli claims to be singling out for his comments.

Chris Hedges wrote a pair of interesting books-- "American Fascists" and "I Don't Believe in Atheists"-- on the totalitarian tendencies of extremists on both sides of the god debate.

that's interesting. I am not sure that Steffanelli wants to produce violence per se, but he determinately wants to control people and he doesn't want reasoning.

Are you saying Stefanelli used dangerously violent, but deliberately vague rhetoric to whip up the crowd? That he didn't intend to incite violence, but, if it did, he would hide behind an I-never-said-DO-anything excuse? That is, he is recklessly irresponsible?

OR...

Are you saying Stefanelli used violent rhetoric with the intent of inciting violence and therefore spoke vaguely enough that he could escape blame? That he's actually intent on getting Christians killed?

If the former, then I can get behind your analysis. If the latter, I have a much harder time accepting that assertion.

I don't pretend to know the guy's heart. It' not really fair of me to suppose I understand his true motives. I can't calim to know what he's doing so I assume he probalby is aiming at a climate of hysteria but not necessarily seeking for anyone to be physically hurt.

here is the loyal solider Hermit. Whatever is said, whatever is true, Hermite is there to defend his comrades.

I know Christians make stupid statements too. I'm really torn between quitting the apologetic thing and devoting all my time to politics to battle the tea party and Rick Perry.

But just as the black Panther I think it was Stokely Carmichael said "the viet Kong never called me N_______. The Tea Party guys never called me "xian" and never mocked and ridiculed me for being educated in theology.

the atheists are the lesser danger because they have less power. They are also more of a hidden danger because the mask themselves as thinkers when in reality they hardly do any kind of thinking at all.

Tea Party guys are more likely to admit they are stupid and no one expects them to be great thinkers.

@Metacrock

I break it down like this:

Three kinds of people make these kinds of incendiary comments: (1) political calculators, who don't necessarily mean what they say but recklessly say it anyway to achieve their own ends, (2) true believers, who actually believe what they say, and (3) people who are so addicted to self righteousness or gotten themselves so whipped up that they are no longer even aware of how outrageous what they are saying really is.

I'm not sure which of these categories Stefanelli would fit into, but I'm equally unsure of whether it makes a difference practically speaking. Although, it might make a difference in terms of passing a moral judgement.

Hedges' point in his two books was that the belief that "your" side holds the key to perfecting humanity automatically justifies the dehumanization and persecution of those you disagree with and he argues that what you see from right wing extremists and "new atheists" are in fact the seeds of totalitarian ideologies.

"here is the loyal solider Hermit. Whatever is said, whatever is true, Hermite is there to defend his comrades."

Did you see me defending Steffanelli? No you didn't, unless you are hallucinating.

I'm objecting to your use of his one over the top comment and the work a right wing fundy extremist to try and paint all atheists as dangerous extremists. You're as bad as he is.

For the record, here's Steffanlli's response ot the furor...

http://atheists.org/blog/2011/09/14/taking-the-gloves-off

"PS: To those of you who are coming here from The Blaze, which has accused me of calling for the eradication of living people, take note that I called for the eradication of the doctrines that are espoused by the fundamentalists and radical extremists. Also note that your death threats are being forwarded to the FBI. - Al"

Metacrock: What a name! How can you even hope to live up to it?

Your animus against the Tea Party is a good start, though. Studies of those who participate show that in fact, they tend to be BETTER educated than most Americans.

And with $15 trillion in debt, and the government gobbling up more and more of the pie, what right-thinking person could ever argue that we need to cut back? What kind of crazed fanatics are these people, anyway? Do they believe in the laws of mathematics, or something?

Alejandro: No offense, but I found Chris Hedges book paranoid and poorly-written -- a deeply scurilous bit of ill-informed hackery. Check the one-star reviews for American Fascists on Amazon; mine is about fourth, though the first listed is also pretty good.

There may be some fascists in America, but Hedges does not seem to have found them. Maybe he's looking in the wrong place.

@David:

While Hedges may be overstating the threat, the basic point holds-- the belief that one holds the secret to perfecting humanity and creating a utopia (be it religious or secular), opens the door to dehumanizing the opposition and ultimately paving the way for oppression. Once you're the sole holder of the truth, there's a real risk that ends will justify any means.

Hedges certainly has his paranoid moments, but there are also passages in the book where he clearly states that he's not accusing anyone of fascism. He's simply stating that there are groups in both camps whose ideology contains the seeds of totalitarianism.

In any event, I'll check out your review, but I digress...

Alejandro: "Once you're the sole holder of the truth, there's a real risk that ends will justify any means."

This a plausible-sounding statement, and I'm a natural skeptic, so I'm always a little bewildered by people who are utterly confident in their beliefs. But I wonder if there is more than anecdotal evidence that certainty in one's dogmas really does lead to thinking that "the end justifies the means," and acting on that thought. Would it make any difference if the dogma were, "Love your neighbor as yourself?" Or could a certain personality type (A?) lead to both utter confidence, and ruthlessness?

I don't meet too many American Christians who expect a Christian utopia in America anytime soon, though. Maybe we could even use a little more social vision. What do you think the chief danger is?

@David:

I don't know that it's a question of anyone having more or less social vision, and your points about the content of one's belief and/or personality types makes me reconsider if it is possible to zero in on one factor, belief, personality or combination of those factors.

Regarding social vision, I think any responsible person of conscience would and should have a social vision, the issue would be, as you point out, content. The KKK has a social vision. So did Josef Stalin. By the same token, Martin Luther King, Jr., had a social vision and it was largely an outgrowth of his religious views. I think the real key there might be the extent to which one's social vision is compatible with classical liberal ideals such as democracy, free speech, freedom of conscience, et cetera.

The chief danger would be the extent to which someone or some group is willing to abandon those ideals in service to their particular social vision-- at least the danger lurks somewhere in that area. As for evidence of that, I'd rest my case on the historical record of the Spanish Inquisition, Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Spain, the Jim Crow south, et cetera. I'm not familiar with any social science research into this stuff.

Your comment also made me consider whether we can take a belief like "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself" out of context-- by that I mean the context of one's other beliefs and personality type. A member of the Taliban might well argue that they are showing love for their neighbors by stoning a woman who hasn't covered herself in a burka, because they have an idea about love and who their neighbor is that differs radically from our own.

So what's the difference between a more Christian view of that belief and the Taliban hypothetical? I think there clearly IS a difference, and, in trying to tease that out and mulling over your comment, I keep coming back to this notion of classical liberal ideas. That what makes for extremism and the thought that we have to "eradicate" those we disagree with is the unwillingness to acknowledge that we are in fact better off respecting each other's right to a free conscience-- assuming, of course, we agree on the primacy of the right to a free conscience.

You really got me thinking!!

Let me just jump back in here, because I don't want to suggest that the ONLY difference between my Taliban hypothetical and the Christian version of "love thy neighbor as thyself" is that Christians believe in classical liberal ideals as well.

Obviously Christians have a radically different conception of the terms love and neighbor than the Taliban does.

My point about classical liberal ideas is that endorsing them earns you a seat at the table in a way that Islamic extremism, Nazism, Fascism and other totalitarian ideologies do not.

Sorry for any misunderstandings.

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