All Your Articles Suggest
You Have An Agenda
Andrew Jones

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Andrew"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: December 15, 2001 9:31 PM

Had you bothered to read our FAQ Section, particularly the parts describing what we mean when we use the word Positive as part of our name, you could have saved yourself a little time and a whole world of embarrassment. As it stands, you have made my job that much more difficult in that I must once again reiterate, for the readers who are less experienced, that not all Christians act the way you have acted here, that it's not necessarily your Christianity which has prompted you to do this (even though you have done this in the name of Christianity, that is, hoping to benefit the Christian religion). True, some ideological viewpoints tend to be exclusivistic, opening themselves up to abuses such as this, but the potential for abuse is not the same as the abuse itself.

As for the name "Positive Atheism," this name comes from India, and the "Positive" part refers to being proactive. Positive Atheism, for example, insists on the right to insist on truthfulness in all our affairs. Never have we thought of "positive" in the namby-pamby or feel-good sense that you seem to project onto us in accusing us of hypocrisy.
 

So? What is this to you?
 

How so?

You have made bold (and bald) assertions, but you have done nothing toward backing up your accusation.

In fact, you have done little toward even explaining yourself: Instead, you have simply strung together several antagonistic-sounding phrases and hurled the whole package in our direction. Had you been more specific, explaining precisely how it is that you want us to live our lives, your letter might have had one redeeming point. As it stands, when we get around to categorizing this thing, your letter has been flagged for the section, "Letters from Losers." Only those with absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever will make this Index.
 

Again, had you bothered to read the "And Think Before You Click!" statement on our front page or the "About Our Forum: Guidelines for Submission" page, you could have saved yourself a world of embarrassment.

Unless, of course, it is your opinion that acting immorally in the name of Christ is a good thing for you to do -- in which case I have nothing to say.

If you are concerned with ethics and whether other people are acting properly, then why do you lie about the owner of this web site, misrepresenting his both his actions and his intentions? Your concern with ethics and morality is implied by your having logged onto a web site (which is clearly marked as being for the benefit of atheists) and having issued a stern rebuke to the man who owns the web site.

If morals mean so much to you that you would write to me and make sure that I am acting morally, than why don't you first take care of your own problem with dishonesty? Why did you lie about what we do, here?
 

One thing that happens here:

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

1. I erect a web site whose target audience consists of those who already lack a god belief.

2. Numerous Christians ignore the statement to that effect and proceed to slander me, accusing me of doing all sorts of things that I have not done. Most of these Christians start their tirades from the premise that we ought to act morally.

3. I defend my reputation from these slanders by telling the truth of the situation, and show that it is the Christian writer who is being immoral by making statements about me without first checking their facts to see if what they are about to say is, indeed, the truth.

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Another thing that happens here:

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

1. I erect a web site whose target audience consists of those who already lack a god belief. I make stern statements to the effect that I think it is tacky for one person to try to change the core values of another person and urge atheists to leave theists alone in this respect (in hopes of reducing the bigotry that is everywhere leveled against us).

2. Numerous Christians ignore both statements and insist to the target audience (and to myself) that we ought to abandon our core values (which implicitly or explicitly exclude belief in gods and the supernatural) and that we ought to give assent to the claims of the Christian religion.

3. I and many members of the target audience (many of whom have supported this project through financial contributions) defend our ideological position by examining the reasons given as to why we ought to change our ways. We examine the claims made for the Christian religion and I, personally, have yet to encounter a single one that warrants my assent to those claims.

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

A third thing that happens here:

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

1. I erect a web site whose target audience consists of those who lack a god belief. A specific focus of that web site is dedicated to helping those who have fallen victim of the misleading high-pressure salesmanship that is Christian evangelism (and, in a few cases, other so-called religious cults, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and The Way, International).

2. I do this because I, myself, have fallen victim to these very same aggressively greedy tricksters. Coming down from this experience was no easy deal. There is no help available whatsoever: if you wish to leave the Christian religion, you are on your own -- unless you intend to replace Christian faith with involvement in another religious group, in which case the evangelists of that group will help you. But if you wish to become "nothing," an atheist, you are on your own, period.

3. Suppose I wanted to change from being an atheist to being a Christian. Furthermore, suppose I felt I needed help adjusting from this way of thinking to the Christian style of thinking. This is only reasonable, as the Christian perspective is quite unnatural, as almost any Christian will tell you ("My ways are not your ways"; "My kingdom is not of this Earth"; etc.). If this were the case, I wouldn't need to walk more than a kilometer in any direction before I'd find the office of someone willing to help me make this adjustment. And chances are they wouldn't even charge me for the initial consultation (but would eventually encourage me to become a tithing member of their congregation).

4. There are no such offices where you can find help making the adjustment from a faith-based perspective to one based solely upon human reason. If I were to erect such an office, it would be sternly opposed, probably picketed, and possibly vandalized. People who entered my office would frequently encounter Christian pamphleteers and street hustlers. Little evangelistic comic books would appear under the windshield wipers of their cars.

5. So I erect a web site which has, as part of its goal, making resources available to those who are undergoing this harrowing experience of leaving a religion after having spent years being indoctrinated via some of the most brutally sophisticated brainwashing techniques known.

6. And wouldn't you know it? Some Christians don't want us to have even that, but instead choose to try to take what little we have away from us by discrediting our work, calling it something that it is not, and many other things vile and pernicious.

7. This only shows that if you cannot walk away from such a self-indulgent style of thinking on your own. If you cannot already see this for what it is, then I cannot help you. Yes, you are truly on your own!

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Yes, their techniques are brutally effective. They have to be: nothing less would be capable of coaxing someone into abandoning, to this extent, one's natural sense of human empathy.

The "natural man" wouldn't think of taking from someone who has very little; rather, the only "natural man" that I have ever known tends to want to bring his fellow humans up to a level of self-sufficiency and independence -- particularly independence of thought. It is the loyal member of an exclusivistic tribe or group who wishes harm on members of the rival tribes. Unfortunately, when we "come down" from the effects of having been a member of such a congregation, we seldom do a very complete job at it. Instead, we tend to retain some of the "old ways," so to speak, thinking we can "practice atheism" in ways that are suited only to practicing the methods of one of the more competitive religious groups.

The most obstructive trait that I repeatedly observe in deconverted atheists is the tendency to want to convince others to become like ourselves: this is a direct holdover from Christianity. (Although other religions do this, they tend not to do it to the degree for which the Christian faith has become renowned.) My attitude is this: I find the Christian religion unattractive for many reasons, and the single most unattractive trait of the Evangelical Christian is this haughty attitude of thinking that all humans think and behave just like Evangelical Christians; they thus work tirelessly trying to convert us to Evangelical Christianity.

I have been able to almost completely eradicate this trait in myself in that I absolutely don't care if an Evangelical Christian ever becomes an atheist. Changing the Christian is not what I have in mind. Rather, I wish to learn how to cope with their behavior, which affects me in my everyday life. Whenever I am accosted by a Christian who thinks I ought to be like them, I tend to become very upset, asking myself:

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

"Why do they do this?"
"Why are they treating me this way?"
"Who do they think I am, that I would fall for that?"

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

More and more, though, I have learned to keep my wits by keeping my peace. I reserve my opinions for this Forum: if there is such thing as a proper place for such expression, this is the place. How I behave on this Forum is not how I behave in real life. The most effective progress I have made has come through learning how not to want the Evangelical Christian to change: no matter how much I dislike they ways I am treated by many Evangelicals, the last thing I want to do is change that person. By my choice this response (thinking I should try to change that person, or that I even want to see that person changed) is no longer available to me; thus I force myself to look for other solutions.

And I am, slowly but surely, finding solutions that both work from me and reflect my innate sense of humanity. I may, if I choose, showcase your behavior if and only if your behavior affects me in some way (and it has: you have attempted to tarnish my credibility by lying about me). But one option that is (by my choice) not available to me is to try to change your core outlook. Had you made any claims, I could have examined those and, if you are like all other Christians who have contacted me, show why I reject those claims, why I refuse to assent to them, why I think those statements are false statements.

If you were that lone Christian who theoretically could provide what it would take to convince me, then, of course, I would convert; however, this has yet to happen. Furthermore, I have been examining the claims of Christians for long enough that I can openly doubt that this will ever happen and still consider myself an honest, openminded man.

As far as whether a Christian such as yourself is a candidate for friendship or other casual relationship, I can take care of that problem without even touching the religion aspect: I will not hang with dishonest people. Period. I do not care if someone is a Christian, I care only if somebody is moral. If you lie to me or about me, if you steal from me or someone else, if you threaten me with physical violence or attack me (or anybody else, for that matter) except in self-defense or in protecting another from attack, if you are a bigot, and several other things that are less important but that I will consider, then you are not a candidate for friendship. Since there are more Christians in this world than there are atheists, naturally I have more prospective friends who are Christians than who are atheists. I have never had an atheist for a girlfriend; however, my closest friends today happen to be atheists. This is unusual, as I spend most of my time in the company of religious people (usually Wiccans and people along those lines, but many Christians as well).

But whether or not someone is a Christian or wants to act such as you have acted is none of my business. My only domain is whether or not you are welcome as part of my life. And no, you are not welcome into my life to any extent and under any pretext. There is such thing as changing, and if that happens, I'll respond accordingly. But since I do not anticipate this happening, I really don't even look forward to hearing from you again. Period.

I hope this gives you a perspective that might satisfy.

Have a nice life: as far as I can tell, it's the only live we ever get to live. Since this is my only life, I wish to live mine so that I have done all I can to keep from treating others with indignity. I'll try not to lie to them or about them. Instead, I'll let them live their lives as they see fit, objecting only when what they do impacts my life. My biggest fear is the prospect of experiencing that one moment when I see that I had lived my life by harming others: that that has been my legacy. Even though I know that such a "moment" is fiction, I still live my life so that were this a genuine prospect, literally possible, I would end up being shown that I've lived my life striving to make this a better place for us all to live. In fact, this "moment" is not entirely fictional, but is symbolic of what my life means -- or what it will have meant by the time it is over: I don't get to experience that "moment" all at once, but I do experience it moment by moment throughout my lifetime.

This is my only life and, more importantly, it is everybody else's only life: who am I to try to make things tough for them during the only chance they have to live? Why would I want to log onto somebody else's web site and, without having investigated what they have to say start accusing them of doing things that, it turns out, happened only within the confines of my busybody imagination? No, I won't do that to someone! It is wrong, and I just won't do it! This is that person's only crack at living, and existence is so remotely unlikely that, as Richard Dawkins said, "To Live at All is Miracle Enough." For me, to live at all is more miraculous than any of the parlor magic of Moses or Pharaoh or Elijah or Jesus or Paul or all of the Popes put together. Even the Swamis cannot touch mere existence! Who am I to try to tarnish what anybody has? I cannot, and therefore I will not.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Transparent Spacer
Note Graphic Rule

Aha! I figured that was all this poor clown was about: baiting people! He even admits it! Probably a master at that craft!

Note Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Graphic Rule

Cliff's response:

Quit flattering yourself: I wrote this for our readers, for self-satisfaction, and for the practice. It just happens that I send a courtesy copy to the letter-writer, something very few commercial magazines are willing to do for their readers.

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.