Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Persecution pop quiz!

Pop quiz! Test your knowledge of persecution! In which of these situations are you being persecuted?

1. Other people are granted the right to marry even though you object to their marriages on religious grounds.

2. Wal-Mart stays open on Sunday even though you do not shop on Sunday for religious reasons.

3. Someone expresses skepticism at your religious beliefs, and asks you straightforward but difficult questions that you can't answer.

4. Public schools teach scientific facts about natural history instead of teaching the creation myth of your religion.

5. Someone pays for a bus advertisement or billboard promoting a religious point of view that contradicts your own.

6. You are denied the right to marry because other people object to your marriage on religious grounds.

7. Because of your religion, you are forced to fight against armed combatants and wild beasts for the amusement of others.

8. Most of your family is killed and your village is burned to the ground by a neighboring tribe whose religion tells them that God is on their side.

9. You are tarred and feathered and run out of town because you claim God told you to marry other men's wives, and you follow through on it.

Time's up! How did you do? If you answered that you are being persecuted in all of these situations, you're not alone! But you're wrong. The correct answers are #6, #7, and #8. You might be able to make a case for #9, but I tend to think that if you're doing that sort of thing, you have to expect a little heat to come your way. In all the other cases, no one is taking away your freedoms, your rights, or anything else you are entitled to. This is not persecution. This is part of living in a secular society that protects individual liberty.

Incidentally, if you are being persecuted (or, to use the vernacular synonym, criticized), it is not necessarily an indicator that your ideas are true. If being criticized were an indicator of truth, then some of the most correct people in the world would be Nazis, Scientologists, George W. Bush, opponents of vaccination, and people who use the center turn lane for merging into traffic. Hell, if antipathy polls are any indication, atheism must be the most correct philosophy on earth, and we know that can't be right. By itself, criticism or persecution is not necessarily evidence of anything at all. Think carefully before you claim you're being persecuted, and think extra carefully before you claim persecution as evidence of truth.

8 comments:

GreenishBlue said...

GREAT post! :) I've nothing more to add, so I'll jujst leave it at that: GREAT post!

blaix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blaix said...

Very well said! Hope you don't mind me linking to it here: http://twitter.com/biblewtf/status/3264936195

J said...

I follow you on all of these, but what about something like, "You don't get an interview/job/promotion because you have BYU on your resume"?

Saganist said...

Thanks, GreenishBlue! I'm hoping to have a lot more where that came from.

Thanks, blaix! I don't mind at all; in fact, I'm honored.

Thanks, J! That's a great example of actual persecution (or at least discrimination) because of your religion. When there is job discrimination because of your religion or lack of religion, I think that's wrong.

After I finished writing this post, I realized that I probably should have included an example like that. The first example that came to mind was the LDS temple recommend requirement to work in the Church Office Building, but I didn't know enough about that to use it as an example. I like your "BYU on the resume" example better.

dbd said...

1. I'm being persecuted because I have to unwillingly pay, in part, the salary of the someone(s) who are 'granting' this right. Or rather if I don't pay I will be caged or killed.

4. Same. Except the someone(s) are all those associated with government schools. If I don't pay I will be persecuted.

PS. I know (and agree with) the point you are trying to make.

Seshua said...

What's also troubling is the claim that the United States is a Christian Nation.

This is troubling because it implies, because Christians are a majority, that they should be able to dictate their values to the rest of the county.

Obviously the term "tyranny of the majority" means nothing to them and is not part of their moral code.

Oh by the way, the website for the "Utah State University Secular Humanists, Atheists, and Free Thinkers" was mentioned on Pharyngula: http://usu-shaft.com/

It's not anywhere near you but it sounds as though these kids are living in the same kind of mindspace as you.

Saganist said...

Thanks, dbd! Everyone who pays taxes is being forced to support some things they disagree with. But that doesn't mean everyone is being persecuted. The government should be (and theoretically, is) in the business of providing certain services, such as education, without preferring any particular religion over another.

Thanks, Seshua! I totally agree. The Founders were very careful not to refer to God or Christianity anywhere in the Constitution. And the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams, states unequivocally that the U.S. government is in no way founded on the Christian religion. I'd love to know whether the "tyranny of the majority" supporters would feel that way if they were in the minority. Tyranny of the majority is one of the problems that the Constitution was specifically designed to avoid.

Thanks for the link to SHAFT! I also saw it on The Friendly Atheist last night. I used to subscribe to Pharyngula, but the volume is just too high for me.

Interestingly, I met the president of a similar University of Utah group, called SHIFT, at a Drinking Skeptically event last week. She said their group's name was based on SHAFT. There's hope yet.