It blows my mind that people use eternal punishment as a way to make their children behave. I read on facebook this morning the sentence “I love that no one can punish better than our Lord!” talking about threatening her children with the idea that “Jesus watches you all the time” and that he’ll punish you if you misbehave.
I don’t have children so I might be out of my element here.
But the way I look at it is based out of how I felt being told as a child that Jesus was “always with me”.
My grandma told me that “Jesus lived in my heart”. and I screamed, and cried and begged her to get him out, because I was terrified of having a little tiny man living in my body. Of course the idea of that is ridiculous, but how scared I felt was very real. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old when that happened, because my grandma was still living in Nashville, she moved away from the city when I was 5 years old. My family loves to tell that story as a joke whenever I am around.
Now, that was the nice sweet version of “Jesus is always with you”, and I was terrified. I cannot imagine how scary it must be for children to be threatened with eternal punishment. Not to mention the extreme amount of guilt that comes along with being told you are ~always being watched~ there are so many rules against everything. What if you do something wrong on accident? Which, as humans we tend to make mistakes. If Jesus is the ultimate punisher, won’t he be very strict?
Won’t that guilt and fear carry over into adulthood? (yes) Why should you be a good person because god is always watching? Why not be a good person because it’s the proper thing to do?
I’m no expert on parenting… but isn’t that just wrong? To scare your child like that?
I like to think that the way Lyzz and Chris parent Annabelle is a good starting point for “If you misbehave you will be punished.” Instead of teaching Belle that she is going to upset Jesus, they teach Belle that Mom and Dad will be very upset. That she has hurt Mom and Dad’s feelings. Belle will be legitimately upset if you tell her that she has hurt your feelings. She will cry and cry and cry like you spanked her (which they don’t have to do because she is sensitive enough to be upset at the idea of upsetting you.) She’ll even say “I’m sorry.” sometimes hug you. The point is that she is genuinely sorry. Not because she’ll burn for eternity but because she has hurt someone that she knows. Now of course sometimes the 3yr old “I don’t care attitude” comes along and that’s where harsher punishments are needed like taking something away, not doing something for her etc etc.
I’m just trying to process the idea that god is the ultimate punisher. Which I mean isn’t a new idea.. but the idea of applying that to your parenting… Blows my mind.
For “all the good” that religion does (which can be disputed. Another post for another time.) it sure does have to be very scary to be effective.
The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the privilege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolization. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e; in our evaluations of human behavior. What separates us are only intellectual ‘props’ and ‘rationalization’ in Freud’s language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.
With friendly thanks and best wishes,
All your life, he has presented religious assertions and claims to you. Now he has discovered that you are not convinced. I emphasize that phrase because that is how you should describe your position. An atheist is a person who is simply not convinced of the existence of gods.
You need more than some other people do to be convinced. Quaint fables, soaring sermons, impassioned testimonials, the endless repetition of reassuring clichés, and a pervasive system of social rewards for believing and social penalties for doubting have not been sufficient to convince you.
That’s not your fault. It’s the fault of a presentation that is inadequate for your needs.
This is not about being superior or inferior; it’s just a difference. Some people need more of certain vitamins than others to be healthy. Some people need more calories per day than others to maintain their weight. Some people need more than hearing words to convince them of invisible, intangible things.
This stance of being unconvinced puts the work back where it ought to be, on the shoulders of your dad, the person who has been making the assertions and claims. Do not be put on the defensive for being unconvinced. He should have to defend and support the assertions and claims that he had hoped you would easily accept.
The entire article is great - I highly suggest checking it out. ~JJ
You’d think so, but not according to a District Court Judge in Pennsylvania:
There is a surprising story out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania that seems the perfect storm of religious tensions. You begin with Ernie Perce, an atheist who marched as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade. Then you add Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who stepped off a curb and reportedly attacked Perce for insulting the Prophet. Then you have a judge (Judge Mark Martin) who threw out the criminal charges against Elbayomy and ridiculed the victim, Perce.
There’s video of the attack at the link above. Jon Turley was kind enough to provide a transcript of some of the Judge’s remarks, which, while admirable in terms of its purported respect for the Muslim culture, is nonetheless an abjectly grotesque butchering of the jurisprudence and history of the First Amendment:
In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.
Here in our society, we have a Constitution that gives us many rights, specifically First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers intended. I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures – which is what you did.
I don’t know how else to grapple with this other than to simply point out that the judge got the law blatantly and utterly wrong. Here is Justice Brennan writing for the majority in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989):
A principal function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.
Jon Turley, who represented Dr. Ali Al-Timimi when he was charged with inciting violence against the government, is on the same page:
I fail to see the relevance of the victim’s attitude toward Muslims or religion generally. He had a protected right to walk in the parade and not be assaulted for his views. While the judge laments that “[i]t’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others,” that is precisely what the Framers had in mind if Thomas Paine is any measure.
There is absolutely no affirmative defense to the crime of assault that involves invoking your First Amendment right to religion. Your religious beliefs cannot and will not ever justify physically attacking someone on the grounds that the content of their speech is deeply offensive to you. This is a concept so deeply ingrained in our legal history that even the most egregious offenses against a 3rd party’s morals and/or conscience cannot be made to justify a violent response.
Hence the reason why the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church when they were sued for protesting at the funeral of a dead American soldier, despite the fact that it was unquestionably offensive to the friends and family of the deceased, and many of them would’ve probably liked to punch the WBC protesters in the face. And hence the reason why the Court held in Texas v. Johnson that your right to burn an American flag is constitutionally protected speech, despite the fact that it unquestionably deeply offends people who believe with conviction that the flag represents a body of morals, ideals and beliefs that are worth dying for; that it is not just “another symbol,” and that it is the closest thing to a sacred symbol one can find in American civic culture; to the point where an offended person would undoubtedly have violent designs if you sullied its visage in their presence.
What bothers me most about this case is that it will inevitably be misconstrued by good-faith advocates for the Muslim community and Islamophobes alike. There will be those in the former camp who will probably sympathize with the man who attacked the protester, and blame the protester for purposefully inciting the passion of devout Muslims. The latter will undoubtedly use the judge’s ill-advised diatribe and the violent act of the Muslim attacker as evidence that Islamic values are in fact incompatible with American society, and will use this incident as yet another anecdote to justify the imposition of intolerable discrimination and cruelties against the broader Muslim community (such as the Park 51 controversy).
And therein lies the issue: allowing this sort of violence to stand makes it more difficult to soothe the American body-politic’s trenchant Islamophobia by sending a dubious message: the law will not protect you if you say or do something that is offensive to a devout Muslim. That is the wrong message to send if we are trying to get people to eschew their parochial fear of Islamic culture and replace it with cosmopolitan cultural values.
That’s why it is so imperative that we apply the law equally in cases like this. The line is simple and clearly drawn: you don’t get to hit people for saying something that offends you. It does not matter that your offense comes from deeply and sincerely held religious convictions, or strong secular ideological prescriptions. You don’t get to use violence to vindicate your offended conscience. It cannot be gainsaid that we would not likely tolerate this from a member of a different faith. We most certainly would not tolerate it if the attacker was an Agnostic or Atheist vindicating a strongly-held secular moral prescription. Why then, permit of an exception for Muslims? Does it not show a deep condescension to the innate morality of Muslim believers that they can’t be expected to restrain themselves from violence if their convictions are impugned?
Protecting the rights of Muslim Americans, and destroying the shibboleths of Islamophobia in America means we must reject the invitation to make exceptions for those who would use faith as an excuse to do violence to others. We are constantly fighting against a politics which asserts: “All Muslims are like this.” No, they clearly aren’t. But if the law assumes that they are, then the struggle to achieve social equality and respect for Muslim Americans is already lost. Permitting of such exceptions is both absurd and dangerous, and we should reject the invitation to carve out any exception in the law that leads us inexorably down that path.
Responding to comments he made last October on the issue, Santorum said on ‘This Week,’
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute,” he told ‘This Week’ host George Stephanopoulos. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country…to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough to anyone not desiring of theocracy, he then said on ‘Meet the Press’ that separation of church and state was “not the founders’ vision.”
Really? Not the founders vision? Are we even reading the same texts/talking about the same people? I know its dangerous to just quote one thing and have it be a broad, overreaching generalization of everything that person stood for, but since the religious right constantly misquote the Founding Fathers to make them seem more sympathetic to Christianity and the convergence of church and state, here is a good example of what Thomas Jefferson really said:
I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.
The full article on Santorum’s comments can be found here.
This has been pointed out before, but I don’t feel that it can be said enough.
Gandhi (via how-hitchens-poisons-everything)
Yeah, I just want to point out that atheists aren’t fighting against something that they don’t believe exists. Atheists aren’t defying God any more than they’re pissing off unicorns and leprechauns.
What atheists are fighting against are the very real, very damaging, very proveable repercussions of genuine belief in just such a cruel, hateful, misogynistic, homophobic, genocidal, fictitious invention.
I don’t think that’s a surprising thing for an intelligent person to do at all.
Thank you, cocknbull. :)