Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

A Not-New Low for Religion

Posted by Ethan Clow on May 19, 2011

I almost wrote  a new low for religion when I heard about this story. Damon Fowler, a high school student in Bastrop, Louisiana is now getting death threats and has been disowned by his family because he stood up for his rights as an atheist.

His local graduation was going to include a prayer, which is of course violating church state separation. Damon complained about this to the superintendent and the prayer was cancelled. The result of this is that he is now a pariah in his town. He is actually getting death threats and is not sure if he could even safely attend his own graduation.

Please check out Damon’s story here and add some comments of support. There is now a Facebook page you can like to help show your support.

Like I was saying, I almost wrote “a new low for religion” but of course this isn’t. This is exactly what you would expect from religion. In fact, this is practically friendly compared to raping children and forced genital mutilation.

My open question to religious believers out there, I don’t care which religion or to what degree you claim to be religious, how do you feel about this? Do you think this high school student deserves to be getting death threats? Do you think this student deserves to be ostracized from his community and disowned by his family?

Undoubtedly, some of you do. Many are thinking right now that these are good Christians in that armpit of a town, Bastrop, and they are doing the Lord’s work: terrorizing a high school student.

Many of you are saying “oh no, we don’t support this. We’re moderate religious folks. We would never condone death threats and such. Heavens no.”

Well moderates, it’s still your fault. We atheists and skeptics will support Damon and try to help his cause. We’ll blog about it and talk about it on our podcasts and write letters. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has already promised Damon a $1000 scholarship for his university education.  I’m sure other organizations like the Secular Student Alliance will get involved as well.

But let’s face it. We are still small fish. We can offer Damon our help but what would really turn this tide is religious moderates standing up for this bigotry and hatred and saying “No. I won’t support this.”  Where are you moderates? Is this the version of Christianity you support? I’m really curious about it.

Until moderate religious folks start making it clear that this kind of bullshit is unacceptable, moderates are part of the problem. Sam Harris once said that moderates are the shade that fundamentalists recline in (or something to that effect) And its true. With your silence, you give tacit approval for the bullying we see going on here.

Sadly for us Canadians, we can’t just say this is small town U.S.A and we don’t have to worry about it in our country. Let’s keep in mind that in Kelowna our atheist bus ads were stolen off the bus and mysteriously, the transit authorities don’t know anything about it.

2 Responses to “A Not-New Low for Religion”

  1. Scott S. said

    The USA is ahead of us in this respect, legally anyways. We can have prayer at commencement in Canada. Our crazy is much tamer though. I grew up in a small town and most of my friends were athiests or at best barely religious.

    • Ethan Clow said

      It’s true, Scott, our fundamentalists aren’t quite as bad. But its still worth being vigilant about. The Atheist bus ads being stolen in Kelowna as well as some rather shocking movies by Canadians in the voting booth have me rather concerned about the direction our country might go. I take a lot of comfort from the fact that we have a real strong free thought community in Canada.

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