Tired of the Bullshit?

I’ve seen enough false claims and heard enough lies during this election season to last a lifetime, but there is too much at stake, and this one is too incredulous for me to go idly by without addressing a few things. Out of respect for my very sweet friend who posted this, I chose to rebut these issues in a blog, rather than engage on her social media page. The following are my layman responses to this meme.

Business owner: Contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, Joe Biden will not shut down the country, at least not unless scientists say there is no other option, and it is much worse than it is even predicted to be. Biden wants to listen to scientists’ recommendations and open everything safely. Yes, there will be required masks, but I’d rather wear a mask than have the country shut down again, and masks have absolutely been proven to be the best defense against the virus in public spaces. Also, Biden takes science and the health of our citizens seriously. Even young people who recover quickly from Covid 19, often have lasting damage to their lungs or hearts. This disease should not be taken lightly as Trump encourages. Biden also has many plans to jumpstart the economy following the devastating economic downturn due to the coronavirus.

Taxpayer: Trump has done a very foolish thing that will help no one. He has frozen the federal taxes from being removed from our paychecks. This isn’t a tax break. We will owe it back when we file our taxes at the end of the season. Unless you are putting several hundred dollars a month in savings to cover your taxes, this will be a major strain on Americans. Additionally, Biden will only raise taxes on those who make more than $400,000 per year. The middle class has carried the tax burden too long. The rich are only rich because of the middle class. The middle class are their workers and their customers. The poor don’t consume a lot of products, and the rich are too few to keep themselves in business. Destroying the middle class by having them carry the majority of the tax burden is biting the hand that feeds them. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the rich have paid more than 50% taxes, and they still prospered hugely. They’ve had forty years of not paying their fair share, and it’s time for them to step up. Under a Biden/Harris administration, the middle class will not have their taxes raised except to end having their current taxes deferred.

One thing that should always be funded and protected is Social Security. It is the single most important thing that has protected the elderly in this country and kept them from starvation, homelessness, and poverty. It is not a handout, but is an investment you pay for your entire life, and no one should have the right to put it in jeopardy.

Christian: I don’t even know why people think Biden and Harris would be a threat to Christians. They are both Christians. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution is meant to prevent what Trump is currently trying to do, and make no mistake—Trump is not a Christian and doesn’t care about Christian issues. He’s pandering to a group who is scared of losing privilege based on unfounded rumors and direct lies. I’ve been an educator for 18 years in public schools. Prayer, reading the bible, and talking about your beliefs is allowed in all schools. The only rules are that teachers or school officials cannot endorse any religion or appear to favor any religion (The Establishment Clause) by leading prayer or requiring prayer or bible reading, etc. Of course, students can’t read the bible when the math teacher is explaining fractions, but they certainly can in their free time. They can have after school bible studies on campus and choirs often sing religious songs as cultural education. This is true across all government institutions. Keeping religion out of government protects Christians as much as anyone else. Without the Establishment Clause, if the current leader favored Islam, Christians might be forced to kneel to the east, wear head coverings, and celebrate Islamic holidays. It is short-sighted to want your own religion favored because your preferred religion may not always be the most popular, and there is a multitude of evidence that the founders wanted to avoid this mixing of religion and government. Also, no one is against Christmas. I’m an atheist and Christmas is my favorite holiday. If there ever is a war on Christmas, I’ll be the first to defend it.

If you want more hard facts about the founders wanting to ensure a religion-free government, check out this wonderful book. The Founder’s Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American by Andrew Seidel.

Parent: I really don’t see where this criticism comes from, so I’m not sure how to address it, so I’ll just guess. Raising your kids, sending them to school, keeping them fed and safe, not separating them from their parents are all at the forefront of Biden’s plans. One thing about Biden is that he has a great deal of empathy and compassion for the American people and that certainly includes children.

Police Officer: As Biden has stated many times before, he is against defunding the police. In fact, he believes the police need more funding for training and to add social workers and counselors to take some of the load off of them. Biden and Harris are both strong on law and order and want to improve the system without abolishing it. They take a strong stand against looting and rioting, but also do not defend racist militia groups who want to antagonize and create violence or add to violence.  They intend to work on systemic racism within the force, rather than throwing it out and starting over. They also take a hard line on national defense and love and appreciate our military, giving them the respect they deserve, unlike Trump.

Gun Owner: Biden and Harris support the 2nd Amendment and do not want to abolish gun rights, collect people’s guns, or put gun owners on a list. They only support common sense legislation that requires background checks to prevent the mentally ill or violent criminals from owning guns and would only support restrictions on paramilitary-type weapons. Almost every American agrees with this. Fully automatic weapons are already banned. It’s true that restricting sales of paramilitary-type weapons won’t stop all mass shootings, but it would make them more difficult for the un-savvy troubled youth or mentally ill to get one. If restrictions stopped one mass shooting, it would be worth it. Biden and Harris support the rights of Americans to defend their homes, to hunt, and to shoot for sport, and do not want to take your guns.

Unborn Baby: This seems pretty much a moot point right now since it appears the new justice will be confirmed before the election in the biggest display of hypocrisy ever seen in the Republican party. However, even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, the states would make the decision about whether or not to allow abortion. It is true that Biden and some Democrats support a federal law allowing abortion that would supersede state intervention, but legal or not, abortions will likely not stop, but just become more dangerous. 

I have never met any liberal or Democrat in my life who likes abortion, thinks it should be used as birth control, or thinks there shouldn’t be restrictions on late term abortions. Late term abortions are not abortions at all. They are surgical procedures to save a mother’s life when the health of the baby is unquestionably compromised and the mother’s life is in danger. Choosing to save the only viable life capable of being saved at that point is no different than triaging patients in a hospital. You treat the ones you can save first. It is also a fact that free and accessible birth control and education are the most effective ways to reduce abortions. Most Democrats and progressives are perfectly willing to have common sense restrictions on abortions, such as when late term abortions would be denied. The Right to Life movement is largely a religious movement and legislation that affects others cannot be made on the grounds of religious preference. No one likes or wants abortions, but physical autonomy over one’s own body is probably the most important freedom someone can have, and thus makes this issue, and whose rights are maintained, a complicated one, and wherever you stand on this issue, it can’t be the only deciding factor for your vote. Is anyone else’s life less important than unborn children? Pandemics, economic crises, healthcare, and Social Security are all life and death issues. Without Democracy, which Trump is quickly eroding, we won’t get a say in anything.

Immigration: This meme did not mention immigration issues, but this is a common talking point among conservatives. Biden supports Dreamers and so do the majority of Americans. The United States has a long history of immigration, and all of us descend from immigrants at some point. Immigration has only helped America throughout our history, and there are so many myths about it. For one thing, immigrants pay more taxes and Social Security than Trump, yet they don’t collect anything from it. Biden and Harris support legal immigration, help for political and religious refugees, and a reasonable and compassionate path to citizenship for those who were brought here through no fault of their own. They do not support open borders and unlimited immigration.

I hope I dispelled some of these mistaken ideas regarding Biden and Harris, but don’t take my word for it. Visit BBC’s “Where Does Joe Biden Stand on the Issues”or Joe Biden’s website to see what he and Harris stand for. There are so many other issues and lies involvingTrump that are not covered here, such as Trump’s claims of the illegitimacy of science, his tax evasion, his collusion with foreign powers, his use of the office of president by his family as a business opportunity, healthcare issues, his negligence regarding global warming, our status in the world and our relationship with other countries, and so much more. Please go beyond social media and visit some sites that don’t just validate your own bias. It’s just too important this election year.–Christina Knowles

Atheists on High Live-Streaming Event

atheists-on-highJoin me on October 12, 2016 at 7 pm (Mountain Time) as I guest co-host Atheists on High. According to host, Skeptic Bret, “Atheists on High is a four man wrecking crew, assembled to dig into the hard conversations that everyone has in their head when nobody is listening.”

This is sure to be a lot of fun, and hopefully enlightening, as we delve in to topics such as separation of church and state in our education system and any other topics that happen to inspire us at the moment.

This is a rowdy crew and tends to be explicit, so parental guidance is suggested.

Follow Atheists on High on Facebook to get notifications for the live-streaming podcast.

See you there!

Do I Really Hate Christians? by Christina Knowles

believer Just recently I found out that some people I love very much think I hate Christians. I was shocked, but maybe I shouldn’t have been. I do poke holes in Christian logic frequently, and I can see how this could be misunderstood to be directed at the people who have these beliefs. So, let me clarify what I really think and feel.

I came from a Christian family, and I used to be a Christian, so I know what it’s like to be completely sure something is true with all my heart without evidence. But after a long journey, which started with studying the bible in order to get closer to God, I opened my eyes to the reality that religion and god are man-made constructions to meet emotional and psychological needs.

Even if we are independent, healthy, and happy people, we are not immune to the conditioning of the environment in which we were raised. Even if our trusted loved ones did not teach us about God since birth, we are surrounded by it in our culture. It’s so easy to accept something without really analyzing it when everyone around us accepts it as unquestionable. Even if we don’t accept it at first, when a crisis happens or even a joyful experience, maybe things start going well for us for the first time in a long time, it’s natural to revert back to our conditioned beliefs or to things that were told to us by trusted individuals. We may think that the people who preached the gospel to us were right all along because of some event. When we have this epiphany, it is emotional. We feel relief, peace, and joy. I’ve felt it; I know. But the thing is, this happens in every religion. People, regardless of belief system, experience the same emotional rush and believe that truth has been revealed to them. The sheer number of different belief systems where this occurs is evidence that this is a psychological phenomenon having nothing to do with supernatural truth. Further evidence of this is the fact that a Christian born in America would be a Hindu if born in India. Religions are regional. You are taught to believe it by the people around you.

With this in mind, I do not think Christians are stupid for believing. I think it’s natural. As more and more people are exposed to different cultures and beliefs, more and more people give up religion. Some people are highly invested in their religious beliefs and have no impulse to critically analyze it, and religions discourage it by saying we just need to have faith, as if believing something without evidence is a desirable thing.

But when I opened my eyes to the reality of the contradictions in the bible, the sketchy historical evidence for Christianity, and the scientific impossibility of scriptural accounts and combined that with ethical concerns over the morality of the God of most religions, I just could not believe it anymore, and I don’t want to. But I could not even if I did want to. What is seen cannot be unseen. And with this realization comes the knowledge of the shaky ground upon which Christianity stands. Now, I see holes and fallacies in it everywhere, so it is easy to poke fun of it and disrespect it. But I do not do this out of a dislike of Christians. I do it out of a desire to promote truth.

But in fact, I do sometimes hate Christianity. For the few good things done in the name of the religion, a thousand bad things result. When I see what Christianity has done to the world, to our country, to logic and progress, it angers me. It divides the nation and causes people who would ordinarily be compassionate people to side with heinous politicians who preach hatred and selfishness. It turns normally good people—people who would be kind, loving, and accepting if not for their strict dogmatic beliefs to fear, avoid, and hate those who don’t believe. It makes parents disown their gay children. It creates distance between brothers and sisters whose views are different. Christianity causes people to hate, war, and sue each other over things that should not be any of their business. It causes people to think they can tell another group they should have less rights. It makes people think they are better, more correct, and more moral than other really good people. It causes people to speak harshly and tell others they will burn in hell for just being human. It causes people to shun those who believe differently. It causes children to stop speaking to parents. It causes couples to fight and neighbors to keep to themselves. It causes teenagers to commit suicide because they can’t accept who they are and fathers to call daughters whores and mothers to keep their children from loving relatives who might infect their little ones with rational thinking. It invades our politics, our government, public life, schools, and personal lives. Christians sometimes think atheists are arrogant for not believing in God, but the height of arrogance is to claim that you have the one perfect truth and direct access to God. So, yeah, I have a problem with Christianity. Occasionally, I have a problem with Christians who do the above behaviors.

I do not, however, have any dislike for Christians who are kind and do not insist that others live lives acceptable to their moral codes. I enjoy my Christian friends who care for the poor, see their neighbors as friends instead of enemies, and believe their religion is a personal choice, and that everyone else in the country does not have to abide by the rules and dogma of their particular religions. I do not dislike Christians who like me and treat me with kindness even though I’m an atheist. And the truth is I’d love my family even if they did treat me badly, but they don’t. I do not believe they lack intelligence or critical thinking skills, even though I may believe they are using the fallacy of special pleading to exempt religion from the same critical analysis they apply to everything else.

I also believe I have every right to voice my disbelief in religion, just as they voice theirs. They wear crosses, verbally praise God, ask for prayer, and speak of miracles in their lives, just as I will continue to point out the flaws in the bible, wear atheist t-shirts, and put anti-religious bumper stickers on my car. I don’t assume they hate atheists because they wear a cross or have a fish on their cars, and they should not assume I hate Christians for pointing out how science disproved another verse in the bible.

I don’t want to hurt my Christian friends and loved ones. I just want to be real. I want to be the authentic me, and say what I really think, and I’m sorry that what I think is that Christianity is bullshit. I have the same need to speak truth that Christians feel when they speak of God’s supposed goodness and mercy. I have the need to tell my story of enlightenment, much the same as Christians have the need to tell their stories of redemption. But I don’t need faith to back up my claims because I have the evidence on my side.

Do I want Christians to wake up and see the flaws in their religions? Yes, sure. My life has been so much better since I gave up the fairy tale of religion, just like Christians want everyone else to wake up and accept salvation in their one true god. But do I hate them? Of course not. I remember what it was like to be them. Do I have disdain for their religion? Of course. I remember what it did to me, and I see everyday what it does to people I love. But we sometimes need to set aside our personal beliefs and just care about each other and not worry so much about what the other believes or does not believe. —Christina Knowles