Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The bigoted advice columnist

I was recently pointed to this article from Salon.com in the advice column by Cary Tennis. This really pisses me off. It's a letter from a dad, who is an atheist (at least, he talks about a non-belief in God and support of evolution, etc. He might be agnostic or something), and has a daughter who is being raised as an evangelical Christian by her mother. The daughter thinks her father is going to hell, and this upsets her. The father is asking for advice because this puts a strain on their relationship, and because he thinks "that organized religion is actively harmful to her development into a rational adult."

What is the advice? Well, right off the bat Cary ignores the second part of the problem, where the guy worries that his daughter is being raised by irrational faith-heads. Instead he offers some ridiculous football analogy where he likens atheism to someone not believing in football. Idiotic. Then he says the argument against a football atheist is "you need to go to some games" - which means the father needs to go to church to SEE how wonderful it is. Sounds like the Courtier's Reply to me. He needs to talk to a priest and find out how he can justify to his daughter why, within her backwards worldview, he won't go to hell.

This is a solution for a caring parent? Just go along with your ex-wife indoctrinating your daughter with lies because the lies are important to her? Fuck me! Aside from Cary telling the father that his beliefs about what is best for his daughter are meaningless (the implication is that atheists make bad parents), this should offend the non-religious as discrimination.

Lets change it around a little bit to clarify. Let's say the father wasn't atheist. Let's say he was Jewish. He writes a letter to Salon.com saying that his ex-wife is Christian and is raising their daughter that way. The daughter is afraid that her father will go to hell because he's Jewish. Imagine the same response!

"Listen, Jew: you need to go to a Christian church to see how great it is for your child, and talk to a priest. Find some justification within Christianity for why you won't go to hell. Your daughter can't be expected to change her bigoted opinions, this is what she BELIEVES."

Are you kidding me? No editor would allow that on a reputable website or magazine, they'd be flooded with letters accusing Cary of antisemitism! Why is it any different when the father is atheist?

1 comment:

Dave Foree said...

I've gotta say, that's a damn good analogy.

The problem, I'd suppose, is that people think of atheists or just plain ol' non-religious folks as "neutral" Not negatively spiritual nor positive, just neutral. Neutrality is not a definable characteristic, and it apparently implies that you don't know for sure what you're doing...

People who are part of the religious game can understand people who play the game differently, but they're confused as hell by people who play a different game altogether.

Unfortunately, non-religious types have no popular & powerful voices (nor should they really want or need them) to explain to the general public the fact that religion is a mindset, not a "truth set." It's the very nature of being agnostic/atheist that prevents it from being spread through "word of mouth," if you know what I mean, and thus it'll problem remain uncompetitive with religion - and we'll always end up with people thinking religions are worthy of both protection and respect, but "non-religions" deserve to be cast as the enemy, if only to maintain some sort of competitive advantage...

You know why I like your blog posts? They provide excellent fuel for my opinionated self... Courtesy of your comment section, it doesn't go unsatisfied.