Friday, January 4, 2008

Rochester Freethought group in the news

I had a lot of fun at the Solstice party hosted by Bill Kass and RAFT, Rochester Area Freethinkers. Jeffrey Jackson wrote up a nice piece about the group in the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

A good piece from the article:
"We're not organizing marches to burn down churches," he said.

Instead, the group stresses tolerance of people's beliefs or disbeliefs.

"We wanted to be able to meet people who the first question out of their mouths was not, 'Have you found a church yet?'" Kass said. And, he said, he wanted to find similar families so that his kids would realize they were not alone in not professing a religious faith.

That is one question that often comes up, and it is assumed that you go to a church. People in the neighborhood are interested in which faith you belong to. It can be one of those things which makes the stranger next door a good friend, or makes sure it's the last time you ever see them again.

Bill talk a bit about discrimination in the article. That's something I wish would end. I don't feel like I can even be open about who I like politically, without it being an issue at work. I remember once I was chastised for saying I voted for Kerry. It may be irrational fear, but I don't think I could have anything at my desk which would identify me as an atheist. There are a dozen or so people at work who have daily devotional calendars, prayers, or crosses at their desks. I think it's great that they can express themselves that way, but there is something holding me back. I even feel reluctant to say, oh, I'm going to be on a public access show. "What's it called?" "Atheists Talk." I find that once people get over the initial shock, check for horns, and start to have a dialog, then even the other person feels comfortable talking about how they think. I spent most of the 5th Sunday Breakfast for Minnesota Atheists talking with a Christian who was there with another friend. he had boiled Christianity away so far that all was left in the bottom was Jesus, God, a book with some stories in it, which were written by men, and an idea that the conscious could not have evolved. But everything else, all of the dogma was gone, all that was left was peace, love and happiness. I thought it was pretty at ease talking about his views, because I'd be the last one to call him a bad Christian for his opinions.

Here's the bit from Bill on discrimination:
"A co-worker the other day told me she feels sorry for me," Kass said. The co-worker proceeded to say that all unbelievers were "evil," adding, "except for you, Bill."

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