Subject: Re: Declaring natioanl religious 'days' Date: 11 May 90 15:14:27 GMT jackson@csva

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From: tjhorton@ai.toronto.edu ("Timothy J. Horton") Subject: Re: Declaring natioanl religious "days" Date: 11 May 90 15:14:27 GMT jackson@csvax.seas.smu.edu.UUCP (Keith Jackson) expresses the sentiment that we react to "national prayer day" because we want to impose our beliefs. That may even be the case for some atheists, but there are much better reasons. He goes to lengths to make the case that introspection is beneficial, with which we all agree entirely. But a great deal of prayer is quite the opposite of clear introspection, its anathema, and so if introspection is important why should we endorse putting it at risk? Why is it called "prayer" day and not "introspection" day? Very simply, because this is religious use of the government voice, religion endorsing itself. We know very well they have the judaic monotheistic god in mind when they call it "prayer day". There are many of us who feel that governments have little place siding on religious issues or involving themselves in personal matters of conscience and intellect. I mean, what goes through your mind when you consider some church declared a day for "Religious Tinkering In Government Day?" The situations are not entirely unsymmetric. Nobody has to point out that this *particular* brand of interconnection, that of dogma and state, is a particularly dangerous one? Nobody has to point out that there is a new naivety and superstitiousness and dogmatism about religion, growing in the U.S., and that no society is magically exempt from the ravages of this world, including human mania. America is only what it is because of the intensely cautious *skepticism* that the founding fathers brought to its construction (especially about religion and individual intellectual independence); should it make sense to toss that to the wind? jackson@csvax.seas.smu.edu.UUCP (Keith Jackson) writes: >>> National Prayer Day. Is this true? If so I hope there's LOTS of legal action >>> being taken to remove this piece of pro-superstion legislation... > >OK, so you and others feel that religion is superstition. SO? Does having >a prayer day do anything to you? Seems that these people are concerned that their government endorses religion. >Probably not. But it makes other people happy. Why does it make them happy? Same reason it makes atheists angry. It is not a neutral benevolent act, but a calculated position. >So what's the problem? Do you feel it's your moral obligation to >show others how wrong they are for believing in something. Do you feel it's the right of the religious to borrow the voice of government to endorse belief in magical beings? >Sounds sorta like an evangelical fanatacism if you ask me. >I find nothing wrong with people `having religion' as long as they don't >impose their beliefs in a dogmatic way. I agree, but you have fingered the wrong fanatics and forgotten who is imposing their beliefs. Atheists and agnostics are not imposing "national skepticism day" or "national look-out-for-cult-brainwashing day", which would represent a number of very dear and objectively important concerns. Atheists and agnostics are reacting to an imposition. >Another thing about what you're arguing against: the day was named National >Prayer Day, not National Pray to Jesus or Burn in Hell Day. It says >nothing of any specific form of religion, But it endorses religion, and we should know that deep down "national prayer day" really means "christianity", don't we? It's kind of like IBM's ads that used to talk all about how great computers were without mentioning their own name. Why did they do them? Simple. Computers were effectively equated with IBM, for many years. Make no bones, it's an endorsement relion. They didn't call it "national introspection day," or "national meditation day" (gasp -- that would sound comparatively hindu or buddhist!!). >but devotes itself to the introspective act of prayer. Who says it will be introspective? You've obviously not seen many of the forms of prayer that I've seen!!! >Contrary to what you may think, prayer has wonderful >psychological benefits if approached the right way. Do its psychological benefits rest on the involvement of superstition? >it provides mechanisms for coping with problems Sometimes, but sometimes religions and cults induce serious problems. I'd love to introduce you to instances of said problems that I have met. Independant introspecion is great. But that's not identical to prayer. In fact, it's not even a necessary ingredient of prayer. In fact, it's often quite the opposite of prayer. Therefore my own reaction. >Hmm, did your parents force you to go to church as a young child, I'm not who you were talking to, but yes. And as a young adult too. And they forced me to go to a religious school, and so forth. I was quite earnest in my skepticism, but in practise the religious look down on that with contempt. I think that with respect to its own dogma, the Catholic church, to which I was born, or any fervent dogma, is as near a thing as one can get to genuine organized evil, thank you very much. I'm not sure I'm exgerating the case, either from my own personal experience alone, or from the burgeoning historical evidence that is quite available to anyone. I *fear* the religious endorsing themselves through governments. I think my contempt is based on objective evidence. >Yes, well the problem is that you can write all the letters you like, but >by taking away these niceties you do nothing but offend people who take >religion seriously. Or perhaps I defend myself from the currently and locally dominant dogma. I empathize with your wanting to present the other side of an issue, and that's something I feel obliged to do myself from time to time, but I don't know that returning one-sided venom for one-sided venom achieves anything but immediate self-gratificiation and laying the foundations for more hatred and venom. The people you argue with in this manner are not going to be reached this way, they are going to be all the more repulsed.

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