WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
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16-05-2018, 08:03 PM
WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
I just clicked on Full Circle's profile for the first time and saw this:
"Beliefs: I have often wondered what to say in the event of being in a courtroom and being asked to place my hand on the Bible to swear. How about: As a moral person I won’t swear on a genocidal, blood-lusting, sexist, revengeful, slavery espousing, bronze age book full of mythological voodoo. I bet that will go over well."

Last year I privately approached our Tinytown mayor and multiple commissioners and officially requested to be allowed to offer a "secular invocation" before a town meeting, instead of the VERY Christian invocations always presented by alternating commissioners before town meetings. Some day I'm going to write something more detailed about that on this forum. But long story short, they opted to eliminate invocations altogether rather than to allow that, then turned my name over to the local paper as the reason for no longer being *allowed* to have invocations.

I choose my battles carefully in the bible belt. Seriously, we had concerns that we might wake up to a burning cross after that article hit the paper. I offer you all of this as background for what I put before you all now.....and I will be especially interested to hear Full Circle's advice.

It is REALLY starting to irritate me that a bible lives on the podium where citizens stand to make comments. All of our commissioners are vocally Christian. One has been covertly hostile to me since having to stop spouting the "father-god" invocations. Of course, truth be known, he's part of the reason I "came out" to the board in the first place, and the reason for my request for the secular invocation. But I digress...

I have been trying to decide how to handle the bible at the podium "issue." Because, for me, it has become an issue, and one that I have decided I want to address, I just don't know yet, how. I am an actively outspoken citizen about many subjects and as such, I speak from that podium several times a year. I have never said (or done) anything about the bible on which I and other citizens rest our notes while speaking to the board. Mind you, they don't normally ask people to swear on it at the monthly usual public meetings, but it does LIVE on that podium, 24/7/365.

I thought about the chicken-shit approach of waltzing in to town hall during regular business hours and just moving it to one of the side desks. I'm pretty sure they could roll back footage to see me do that. And whoever's desk it went to would notice it and put it back on the podium as soon as they saw it anyway.

I'm leaning towards going up to the podium when my turn to speaks comes, and politely "casually" picking it up and placing it in front of the closest commissioner, saying "Here you go, someone seems to have misplaced this." Honestly? I feel quite certain that one or more of them will politely (or perhaps not so politely) say something to the effect of "No, that's where it belongs."

Which begs the question, what would you do? What would be your response to that? Legally, I know of quite a few organizations that would gladly, freely take me as their named client and use it to launch a court case if need be. I'd NOT like to see it come to that. But I'd also NOT like to see that bible continue to live there. Despite having an all-Christian board, this small community does have several non-Christian citizens. I still think I'm the only atheist, but I know we have at least one Wiccan, a family of Sikhs and a handful of Muslims, and one Jewish person.

But again, I don't want to see this become a legal matter. Or see it spiral into a media event.

My father is elderly and not in the best of health. I am not "outtathereligioncloset" to him. He would be fearful for my immortal soul. It would be heartbreaking for him to go out "knowing" that he would not ever see me after death, because as an atheist, I would not be meeting him eventually in his Christian heaven. And that is the #1 reason I have not been more open and outspoken locally. No he is not here in Tinytown, but a hundred miles away is not enough to insulate him from potential media fallout here.

So what say you? Its presence continues to bother me more and more. What would you do?

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams

"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." Robin Williams
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16-05-2018, 08:18 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
If it was me, I would take the win about the invocations and ignore the Bible. I wouldn't press my luck.
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16-05-2018, 08:41 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
Yeah, that's pretty much where I've been for the past 8 months since the invocations "win"---asking myself if it's important enough to me to push. Sometimes I think it is. Sometimes not.

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams

"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." Robin Williams
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16-05-2018, 09:06 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
Not a thinking atheist, just a theist. That said, if you were to decide to not just let the issue lay, I'd maybe contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF); it's the first group I thought of with even the secular invocation, let alone the Bible on the podium. Usually a warning letter from them is enough to get city councils, schools, etc. to stop whatever Constitutional violation they're doing. Let alone with the shady stuff about giving your name to the newspaper as the reason for canceling the invocations, and therefore trying to give a not so subtle nod for people to maybe...express their displeasure.

Need to think of a witty signature.
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16-05-2018, 09:46 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
A real life dilemma. It is easy to say I’d do this or that until you are actually in the position. If you were in a big city I’d tell them to remove the book, it doesn’t belong there. But in Tinytown there are repercussions to voicing your opinion. I applaud you for having already taken a stance on a secular invocation and it says much about the small minds of your neighbors that they would prefer to do away with all invocations than allow a non Christian one.

The Satanist groups have had much success using this tactic. They don’t tell the religious they can’t have their toys, but they then insist on having theirs too. So far the responses have all been the same as your town's commissioners.

Maybe you take a copy of the US Constitution and place it on the podium when you speak. If you want to really piss them off, place it on top of the bible! No, don’t do that.

I admire you for having the courage to say something in Tinytown! Bowing

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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16-05-2018, 10:37 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
When nobody is watching replace it with a copy of the Quran. Make sure to get video footage.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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16-05-2018, 11:35 PM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
(16-05-2018 08:03 PM)outtathereligioncloset Wrote:  Despite having an all-Christian board, this small community does have several non-Christian citizens. I still think I'm the only atheist, but I know we have at least one Wiccan, a family of Sikhs and a handful of Muslims, and one Jewish person.

You may be their only voice in some matters and you really shouldn't jeopardise that in my opinion. It's just a book. Think of it as a reminder of what you are up against.

You could occasionally leave a bookmark in the Bible selecting for the passages that are the least flattering to God. Big Grin

No gods necessary.
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17-05-2018, 12:15 AM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
(16-05-2018 08:03 PM)outtathereligioncloset Wrote:  I just clicked on Full Circle's profile for the first time and saw this:
"Beliefs: I have often wondered what to say in the event of being in a courtroom and being asked to place my hand on the Bible to swear. How about: As a moral person I won’t swear on a genocidal, blood-lusting, sexist, revengeful, slavery espousing, bronze age book full of mythological voodoo. I bet that will go over well."

Last year I privately approached our Tinytown mayor and multiple commissioners and officially requested to be allowed to offer a "secular invocation" before a town meeting, instead of the VERY Christian invocations always presented by alternating commissioners before town meetings. Some day I'm going to write something more detailed about that on this forum. But long story short, they opted to eliminate invocations altogether rather than to allow that, then turned my name over to the local paper as the reason for no longer being *allowed* to have invocations.

I choose my battles carefully in the bible belt. Seriously, we had concerns that we might wake up to a burning cross after that article hit the paper. I offer you all of this as background for what I put before you all now.....and I will be especially interested to hear Full Circle's advice.

It is REALLY starting to irritate me that a bible lives on the podium where citizens stand to make comments. All of our commissioners are vocally Christian. One has been covertly hostile to me since having to stop spouting the "father-god" invocations. Of course, truth be known, he's part of the reason I "came out" to the board in the first place, and the reason for my request for the secular invocation. But I digress...

I have been trying to decide how to handle the bible at the podium "issue." Because, for me, it has become an issue, and one that I have decided I want to address, I just don't know yet, how. I am an actively outspoken citizen about many subjects and as such, I speak from that podium several times a year. I have never said (or done) anything about the bible on which I and other citizens rest our notes while speaking to the board. Mind you, they don't normally ask people to swear on it at the monthly usual public meetings, but it does LIVE on that podium, 24/7/365.

I thought about the chicken-shit approach of waltzing in to town hall during regular business hours and just moving it to one of the side desks. I'm pretty sure they could roll back footage to see me do that. And whoever's desk it went to would notice it and put it back on the podium as soon as they saw it anyway.

I'm leaning towards going up to the podium when my turn to speaks comes, and politely "casually" picking it up and placing it in front of the closest commissioner, saying "Here you go, someone seems to have misplaced this." Honestly? I feel quite certain that one or more of them will politely (or perhaps not so politely) say something to the effect of "No, that's where it belongs."

Which begs the question, what would you do? What would be your response to that? Legally, I know of quite a few organizations that would gladly, freely take me as their named client and use it to launch a court case if need be. I'd NOT like to see it come to that. But I'd also NOT like to see that bible continue to live there. Despite having an all-Christian board, this small community does have several non-Christian citizens. I still think I'm the only atheist, but I know we have at least one Wiccan, a family of Sikhs and a handful of Muslims, and one Jewish person.

But again, I don't want to see this become a legal matter. Or see it spiral into a media event.

My father is elderly and not in the best of health. I am not "outtathereligioncloset" to him. He would be fearful for my immortal soul. It would be heartbreaking for him to go out "knowing" that he would not ever see me after death, because as an atheist, I would not be meeting him eventually in his Christian heaven. And that is the #1 reason I have not been more open and outspoken locally. No he is not here in Tinytown, but a hundred miles away is not enough to insulate him from potential media fallout here.

So what say you? Its presence continues to bother me more and more. What would you do?

My dad worked in small town government for many many years. In our town, nearly everyone who spoke up frequently in city council meetings was an attention-seeking pest.

I am not saying that you are an attention-seeking pest. But in order to keep your contributions credible, you'd probably want to avoid looking like one.
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17-05-2018, 12:57 AM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
A few 'solutions' came to mind as I read the the OP but others have beaten me to it e.g.the Quran and the Constitution.

The latter is particularly good as it replaces one sacred text with an even more sacred text... both untouchable and more appropriate.

Not mentioned yet...
Next time you are at the podium open the bible and, under the guise of editing your speaker's notes, simply change the words "In the beginning..." to "Once upon a time..."

Angel

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17-05-2018, 02:41 AM
RE: WWATAD? (What would a thinking atheist do?)
It's just a book that's going to be sitting on that podium.

Others may place some meaning to that. You don't. It's just a book as far as you're concerned. One that is full of fiction.

As has been suggested you can ignore it.................or take your own book (and maybe leave it there).
  • US Constitution is a good choice
  • So is a dictionary
  • Or a kids colouring book
  • Or a blank notebook

The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike
Excreta Tauri Sapientam Fulgeat (The excrement of the bull causes wisdom to flee)
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