Yesterday, the Christian CADRE posted a little piece that’s getting some buzz in the blogosphere:
Triablogue has a link to the CADRE because it’s one of the best epologetic resources around.
The CADRE post took its info from the following article:
Discrimination Against Atheists: The Facts
Now, if we track back to the original article, this is some of what we find:
In 1995, the United Nations Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief invited me to submit information on discrimination against atheists by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The committee’s mission was to record and monitor incidents of intolerance around the world. I was told that my findings would be published in the committee’s final report only if the cases I documented were grievous by its standards. The committee quickly recognized that Scouting’s discrimination against atheists was no less severe than its far more widely reported discrimination against gays. A synopsis of my findings was included in the committee’s published report.
So what we’re really talking about is not discrimination against unbelievers. To the contrary, what we’re really talking about is the iron-fisted attempt of the UN to pass international laws which discriminate against the Boy Scout's Constitutional right to exercise its freedom of assembly.
And leading the charge is the homosexual lobby as well as militant atheists of the ACLU variety.
For the other side of the story, which the Council for Secular Humanism didn’t give, and which, unfortunately, the CADRE post failed to counterbalance as well, here’s some background info from the SCOTUS case of 2000 as well as articles by Hans Zeiger:
Continuing with the original article:
Shortly afterward, the same UN committee asked me to assess other incidents of discrimination—in particular, what forms of discrimination were of greatest concern within the U.S. atheist community. During the following year, I conducted numerous interviews and discovered multiple instances of discrimination. In 1998, I delivered a personal report to the committee, noting that bigotry against atheists was relatively common, much of it based in popular misunderstandings of the U.S. Constitution’s secular character and its intent to protect minorities against majority rule. I reported that, with respect to the atheist community, the United States was not in compliance with the 1981 United Nations “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.”
In other words, all forms of intolerance and discrimination against sodomites or infidels should be eliminated, to be replaced with legalized discrimination against organizations like the BSA.
And, of course, from the morally enlightened viewpoint of the UN, the United States is always the villain of choice.
During 1998, Dr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, toured the United States and visited some of the families mentioned in my report.
As if the above-stated duplicity were insufficient, the specter of a Tunisian Muslim monitoring the state of religious intolerance in America taps into an especially rich vein of hypocrisy.
In the interests of restoring perspective, here’s a recent report from the State Dept. on the state of religious tolerance in Dr. Amor’s home country:
The Constitution provides for the free exercise of religions that do not disturb the public order, and the Government generally respects this right; however, there were some restrictions on religious freedom. The Constitution declares that Islam is the official state religion, and the President must be Muslim. The Government does not permit the establishment of political parties on the basis of religion and prohibits proselytizing. It restricts the wearing of Islamic headscarves (hijab) in government offices and it discourages women from wearing the hijab on public streets and at certain public gatherings.
Notwithstanding the reopening of the church in Djerba mentioned above, the Government generally did not permit Christian groups to establish new churches, and proselytizing is viewed as an illegal act against public order. Foreign missionary organizations and groups were active; however, they are not permitted to proselytize. Theoretically, authorities deport foreigners suspected of proselytizing and do not permit them to return, but there were reports that the Government preferred to deny suspected missionaries visa renewal not or to pressure their employers not to extend their contracts.
Religious groups are subjected to the same restrictions on freedom of speech and the press as secular groups. Primary among these restrictions is "dépôt légal," which requires that printers and publishers provide copies of all publications except printed news media to Ministry of Interior censors prior to publication. For publications printed abroad, distributors must deposit copies with the Chief Prosecutor and other ministries prior to their public release. Although Christian groups reported that they were able to distribute previously approved religious publications in European languages without difficulty, they said the Government generally did not grant permission to publish and distribute Arabic-language Christian texts. Moreover, the Government allowed only established churches to distribute religious publications to parishioners. It considered other groups' distribution of religious documents to be an illegal "threat to public order."
Customary law based on Shari'a forbids Muslim women from marrying outside their religion. Marriages of Muslim women to non-Muslim men abroad are considered common law unions and thus void when the couple returns to the country. The Government does not permit the marriage of Muslim women to non-Muslim men inside the country; however, if a man converts to Islam, he may marry a Muslim woman. Muslim men and non-Muslim women who are married may not inherit from each other, and children from those marriages (all of whom the Government considers to be Muslim) cannot inherit from their mothers.
Continuing with the original article:
In 1999, I developed the Discrimination Narrative Collection Form (DNCF), an easy-to-complete incident description form which I released to every national humanist, freethought, and atheist organization. The Council for Secular Humanism was first to publish the DNCF, in its newsletter Secular Humanist Bulletin.5 In 2000, I mass-mailed the form to atheist, humanist, and freethought groups nationwide. In addition, I circulated it at every movement conference I have attended since 2000. At those events, I heard many personal accounts of discrimination. But persuading victims to put their experience on paper was sometimes difficult.
This is about as impartial as polling the KKK on Condi Rice’s job performance.
These obstacles notwithstanding, I eventually compiled hundreds of incident reports (selected reports are summarized in the sidebars to this article). The actual case reports reside in an ADSN master file that is not available to the general public.
Did you catch that sneaky little disclaimer? The actual “incident” reports are not available to the general public.
Still, even without access to the material in my files, discrimination against atheists is easily documented. National atheist and freethought publications frequently report on atheists losing their jobs, facing abusive family situations, being subjected to organized shunning campaigns in their communities, receiving death threats, and the like.
1. Easy to document what? “Reports.” No investigations. Just “reports.”
2. And while we’re on the subject of reported incidents of discriminating, why not balance the scales by spending a little time over at the aclj.org, in which you’ll find abundant documentation of discrimination against Christians by unbelievers.
Had Grothe and Dacey contacted me before writing their article, I could have opened my files and shared accounts of physical and mental abuse, job loss, cruel media stereotyping, and other instances of discrimination.
1. Media stereotyping? You mean, homophobic TV programs like Will & Grace or the Ellen DeGeneres Show?
2. And while we’re on the subject of mental and physical abuse, what about rates of suicide and domestic violence in San Francisco?
And for all the build up, what does the article cite? Five “reported” cases, of which only two are dated:
The US has a population of something like 300 million? And all the article is prepared to cite are four cases over an unspecified span of time?
Is this supposed to represent a pattern?
Let’s take one of his “reported” cases:
Calgary, Alberta: An eleven-year-old boy (name withheld) experienced daily physical attacks and threats against his life by schoolmates—notably the sons of three local pastors—after protesting intercom readings of the Lord’s Prayer in a public school. He was repeatedly body-checked into hallway walls and attacked in the rest rooms. One pastor’s son stalked him with a butcher knife in an empty portable classroom. Despite the seriousness of this incident, no action was taken. The boy’s parents transferred him to another school for his own safety.
I’d just note three little problems:
1. Why should we give any more credence to the report of an atheist than an atheist is prepared to give to the report of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John?
2. Was this simply reported, or was it actually investigated? Were the witnesses to the alleged abuse?
Was the boy the only one interviewed? What about the sons of the three local pastors? Were they interviewed? Were they allowed to give their side of the story?
3. Canada officially discriminates against Christian expression: