Atheists Killed Charlie Brown?

Posted by Phil Ferguson on December 7th, 2012 – 15 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized

Let us start with the end of the story… (from the christian perspective)

A Little Rock, Arkansas church has cancelled its stage production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” after a local atheist group complained about it being seen by school children.

Children watching Charlie Brown?  The only way to stop this harmless wholesome fun is for an atheist to complain!

One mother complained….

I knew it!  We also have a brave principal that stood up for the children against this one atheist.

 ..the “courageous stand” that the school’s principal took in “not succumbing to the pressure of one complaint voice…”

You know how violent those atheist get….

“It is not our desire to put hard-working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm’s way…”

All we wanted to do was share the love of Christ!

“Christmas is a Christian holiday — hence it’s name – Christmas,” the pastor wrote in his statement. “Our program addresses its origins with light-hearted songs and theatre. The context of the birth of Christ is broadly described in both Old and New Testament texts.”

All is now preserved in the mind of the christian.  They are once again oppressed and prevented from doing something nice for everyone by one “ardent” (or “avowed” or “admitted” or “angry” or “strident”) atheist.  They fought the good fight but the atheists used their power to oppress – again!

*******

Now back to the real world…..

About three weeks ago a Little Rock, AR parent was asked to sign a permission slip to send their child to see  a stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Agape, a local evangelical church.

The letter the teachers sent home indicates the play will be held on a school day at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 at the Agape Church. Children attending will be taken on a school bus and will need to pay $2 to cover the expense of the bus rides, according to the letter.

So, during school time, teachers will take all of the children on school buses to an evangelical version of Charlie Brown.

My friend Anne, stepped up to help…

“We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” said Anne Orsi, a Little Rock Attorney and Vice President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.

“The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it over steps it entirely.”

Well said Anne.  You can also read more of her story on JT’s Blog “What would JT do?”

As you can imaging, local tv, local papers picked up the story and ran with it and the FOX news got their claws on the story.  Anne got this letter from a long time friend…

Dear Anne,

I am “outraged” that atheists are denying children the right to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in Little Rock.

She is not preventing anyone.  If you want to go see it – GO!  Want to take your kids – FINE!  What you cannot do, is use the power of the state to force everyone to go.  The play is not canceled.  All that was canceled was the one show during school time.

Let 6 and 7 yr. olds be “Freethinkers.” Let them decide.

If only she meant this.  Let an atheist into your church to explain why god is made up and we can talk about letting the kids decide.  I make you a deal…. let an atheist speak in the public school on a religious diversification panel and we can talk.

They also point out that you can choose to not go….

Unbelievers’ children can sit in another classroom.

All alone back at school with the one teacher that has to stay behind and watch them.  As wrong as that is, it would just be the beginning.  Kids (and adults) can be ruthless to the one kid that is different.  They would lose friends and get harassed by other students.  Some choice.

This is wrong and has been ruled wrong by the courts again and again.  However the Christians will not hear that.

The news media in Arkansas does not have the stones to point out that it is against the law.  Why?  because they are scared.  Some Christians wish that people feared them like people fear Muslims in Saudi Arabia.    Well in large parts of the United States they actually do.  Who will stand for The Constitution, who will stand for the law, who will stand for the kids?  The atheist!  You must take a stand you must be heard.

Christians claims power by force while speaking of peace.  They claim power with hate while preaching love.  It is time for this system to end.

  1. eddieVroom says:

    If this school board ever needed a prime example of peer pressure and bullying, they got it in spades from the Christians.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Athesist…god, they are insane. Controlling their childrens decisions, is there a difference between them and Christians? It’s nor just religion that parents make choices and often its not even about Christianity. Are what other “freethinking” choices do u want your kidsa to make? Clothes? Food? Health…Parents have a responsibility, I don’t think kids are interested in religion, I think they like to play and see movies. All parents know that thier kids will develop their own ideas about politics and religion when they are older. Even Christians. And Aheists should respect that too, if your child finds comfort in the belief that their is a god, you CANNOT be hypocritical and force them to believe what u do.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      “Athesist…god, they are insane.”
      Not a good way to start. Did you want to have a conversation of just attack what you do not understand?

      “Controlling their childrens decisions, is there a difference between them and Christians?”
      What decisions are being controlled? The kids can decide or think what ever they want. The point is that the state (government) cannot use its power to promote one view over another.
      Yes, a huge difference. christians keep their children isolated and teach them lies about science so they don’t lose their “faith”.

      “It’s nor just religion that parents make choices and often its not even about Christianity. Are what other “freethinking” choices do u want your kidsa to make? Clothes? Food? Health…Parents have a responsibility”
      I got nothin’…

      “I don’t think kids are interested in religion…”
      I agree. So, why force them to go an see it. Every week to Sunday School, Wednesday sessions, bible studies, confirmation classes, Vacation Bible School, Bible camp. All efforts to force one specific religion onto kids.

      “I think they like to play and see movies. ”
      We agree again!

      “All parents know that thier kids will develop their own ideas about politics and religion when they are older. Even Christians.”
      No, all parents do not know this. I wish they did and could accept it. However, many religious parents that extraordinary efforts to make sure the child does not “stray”.

      “And Aheists should respect that too, if your child finds comfort in the belief that their is a god, you CANNOT be hypocritical and force them to believe what u do.”
      Atheists should not force kids to believe in something. I agree but, this has nothing to do with the story. You have created what is called a straw man argument. That is …. a silly argument to make the opponent look bad. No one has made this argument.

      I welcome you to return and try to explain your point of view.

  3. Christian says:

    An atheist should inform their children of the established science of the world whenever their young child inquires to something pertinent. Once the child is of age they should be informed of the world’s many religions and be encouraged to look into them and make their own decisions. A child raised in a single religious environment knows of nothing else and is told that such religion’s assertions are factual. This is not an educated child, but rather an indoctrinated one.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      i agree with almost everything you said.
      The one contention is here….
      “Once the child is of age they should be informed of the world’s many religions and be encouraged to look into them and make their own decisions.”

      I could see exposing them to a few just for laughs but “many” of the religions? How many? Why present 100s nay, 1000’s of false belief systems just so the can decide. Would you teach them about the two types of astrology and let them decide. Would you teach them about the different hollow planet theories and let them decide. NO!
      Why present lies at all? (except to maybe learn what others think)

      Give them the best information, teach them how to think and let them explore what ever they want.

  4. craig says:

    Controlling Children’s decisions, you say? Is that like waking them up early on a Sunday, dressing them up for your own vanity to go worship a stolen god? Then yeah, i guess it is kind of like that.

    Or, maybe some parents (like myself) don’t find it appropriate for a public school to be advertising for a church using song and beloved children’s cartoons. Actually, now that I think about it, that sounds kind of like Joe camel.

    On second thought, I’d rather my kid take up smoking than religion. Probably less harmful in the long run.

  5. Christ Sets a Good Example says:

    I am not religious at all. I honestly couldn’t care less whether God exists or not, and I agree with the article that the circumstances described are not appropriate for a public school field trip.

    However, I find the comments section a bit disconcerting. I don’t necessarily believe it is bad to force your kids to learn about religion as if it’s some sort of disease. I went to Catholic religious education once a week for 10 years, and believe me, if my parents hadn’t made me, I would not have been there. Yet, I look back and realize that this is the primary place where I learned the ethics that guide my life. The teachers there didn’t spend their time telling me abortion is bad or that homosexuals go to hell, they spent that time telling me about Christ. And Christ is a damn good example. He teaches forgiveness, compassion, honesty, courage, etc. What other institution so explicitly teaches these values today? Sure, a lot of time was spent on silly religious dogma, but a discerning child can separate the wheat from the chaff, and the lessons that remain are valuable to them and to society.

    Certainly an atheist parent should not have to send their child to religious education, but they should find some way to explicitly educate their children about many of the same lessons taught there.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      Good Example,
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree 100% with your first paragraph.

      I do have some more thoughts on your other comments….

      “I don’t necessarily believe it is bad to force your kids to learn about religion as if it’s some sort of disease.”
      I would not call it a disease. It is more like a virus.

      ” I went to Catholic religious education once a week for 10 years, and believe me, if my parents hadn’t made me, I would not have been there.”
      I am so sorry you had to suffer for 10 years.

      ” …primary place where I learned the ethics that guide my life.”
      Maybe you did. Maybe you had some good teachers maybe you just figured some important things out on your own while you matured.

      “The teachers there didn’t spend their time telling me abortion is bad or that homosexuals go to hell…”
      That is wonderful. Like I said good teachers. However, other kids get very different information.

      ” they spent that time telling me about Christ. And Christ is a damn good example.”
      Wrong and Wrong. I bet they only told you half of the story. That is the only reason you could possibly think that christ is a good example. (I have to admit the “damn good” did crack me up)

      forgiveness….
      “Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.” – John 15:6
      I feel the love.

      compassion….
      “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” – Matthew 8:22
      I hope you learned compassion outside of your classes.

      Honesty….
      “Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” Mark 11:24-25 Nope! Does not work – LIE

      “a discerning child can separate the wheat from the chaff, and the lessons that remain are valuable to them and to society.”
      I would rather we teach the good values without the lies. We can do better.

      “Certainly an atheist parent should not have to send their child to religious education,”
      Great. If only you stopped there….

      “…but they should find some way to explicitly educate their children about many of the same lessons taught there.”
      What a bunch of bull. Non-religious parents do educate their children. To imply that they do not is simply ignorance or a lie. I guess jesus taught you well after all.

      • Christ Sets a Good Example says:

        A virus is a disease.

        I did not suffer, I simply would not have chosen to spend my time that way as a child and young teenager had I not been forced to do so. Looking back, I am better off for it.

        I thought “Jesus was damn good” was pretty humorous myself. But I think my point is valid. If you magically had a biography of your own life and chose your worst quotes to represent your true and entire beliefs on all which you held to be virtues, let’s be honest, you would look like a terrible person and a hypocrite too. We all would. You could say that Jesus should be held to a higher standard, but he was just a man was he not? And on the whole he espoused many virtues that atheists would agree with, like the aforementioned honesty, compassion, humility, courage, forgiveness–regardless of singular and purpose-chosen quotes to the contrary.

        Jesus didn’t teach me. My teachers taught me. They highlighted the good because their purpose is to teach values, not show how Jesus contradicts himself in a book written by 4 men who are not Jesus. You mention the straw man in your comments above. It is easy to demonize religion by pointing to the extremists, of which there are many, or biblical contradictions, of which there are also many. Yet, everything is more nuanced than its detractors would like to portray. Think about how the virulently religious portray atheists, is this a true representation?. I would rather we teach the good values without dogma as well. As I said, I have no use for dogma. Yet, your statement admits the existence of good values within the structure of religion. Name for me an institution where non-religious parents send their children to be explicitly exposed to ethics. Where they are taught what it means to be a good person? This does not happen at public school. I am sure some of them sit their kids down for an hour or two each week over the course of 10 years, or send them somewhere to learn humanist philosophy, but I am also sure many of them do not. Many examples are set for children, many are questionable, and parents are not always the most influential example in their children’s lives, especially after a certain age.

        What I am saying, is that not all religious teaching is good, but some of the lessons have practical value that go well beyond religion. People collectively are busy and also tend to be apathetic, whether they are religious or not. If it fell on them personally, many religious parents would not have the wherewithal or motivation to teach their children the positive values available through religion. Some still cannot be bothered to take their children to be educated. This holds true for atheists as well, collectively. However, there exists no similar institution for atheists that I know of for the formal conveyance of ethics to the young (although a quick google search of “ethics for atheists” located some books and websites on the topic of teaching non-religious ethics to kids for parents diligent enough to do it themselves, parentingbeyondbelief.com looks like a good resource). A non-religious institution that formalized that process would serve far more people than isolated, individual efforts, because it is simply more practical. Atheists would do well to acknowledge that need.

        Competitors to Apple didn’t say “People don’t like the iPhone, it has no redeeming value,” when many sane people clearly saw value. They copied its features. If you want to steal market share, copy the best qualities of a product and improve upon the weaknesses. In other words, if you want to undermine religion, provide the elements many reasonable and moderate people approve of, without the trappings of religion attached to it.

        • Phil Ferguson says:

          Oh, lord…. That is a huge wall of text. Let me see how far I can get.

          “A virus is a disease.”
          BAM! wrong in just the first few words – I am impressed. If you are going to make the effort to correct someone you may wish to Google first. A virus is NOT a disease. However, some (not all) viruses can cause Infectious diseases. One can also get a “disease” from things other than a virus, like a genetic disorder. Not are diseases spread and the word disease is ill defined and problematic. So, a religion is much more like a virus.

          “Looking back, I am better off for it.”
          Whoopee…. The result of being “better off” does not mean you could not have suffered. One could say they are better of because their abusive father died. You may be better off but, you still could have suffered through the trauma of the death. You reconfirm that you were forced to do something and did not like it. Kinda sounds like suffering to me but whatever. It was your life, call it what you want….you did not suffer. I concede the point.

          “I thought “Jesus was damn good” was pretty humorous myself.”
          It was – agreed.

          “But I think my point is valid.”
          I’m sure you do… I assumed that you “thought” your point was valid – why else would you make it? If you are intentionally making points that you think are invalid I would recommend getting professional help.

          “If you magically had a biography of your own life and chose your worst quotes to represent your true and entire beliefs on all which you held to be virtues, let’s be honest, you would look like a terrible person and a hypocrite too. We all would.”
          If…unicorns and rainbows…so what?

          “You could say that Jesus should be held to a higher standard…”
          I could but, I don’t. There is no evidence that he existed and the stories in the bible make this fictional character look like an insufferable prick. Just sayin’.

          “…but he was just a man was he not?”
          See above. What do you think? Some christians think he was man, some say god. Some say all three (Catholic for example).

          “And on the whole he espoused many virtues that atheists would agree with..”
          So does spider man… what of it…

          “like the aforementioned honesty, compassion, humility, courage, forgiveness–regardless of singular and purpose-chosen quotes to the contrary.”
          I can find good and bad things that spider man said so… what is the point? If your teachers picked out the good bits and convinced you that he was real and good. Hooray!

          “Jesus didn’t teach me.”
          How could he… he was not real. Funny you said you were not religious. Why are we even having this discussion? Do you also defend the virtues of Hercules or Loki?

          “My teachers taught me.”
          See above….

          “They highlighted the good because their purpose is to teach values,”
          See above…

          “…not show how Jesus contradicts himself in a book written by 4 men who are not Jesus.”
          What? What 4 men do you speak of?

          “It is easy to demonize religion by pointing to the extremists, of which there are many, or biblical contradictions, of which there are also many.”
          Yes it is. Thanks for noticing.

          “Yet, everything is more nuanced than its detractors would like to portray.”
          everything? detractors? I can’t defend everything from some unknown detractors. I will need specific details.

          “Think about how the virulently religious portray atheists”
          Ok… thinking…

          “…is this a true representation?”
          I don’t know you have to give me one. They are often different and nuanced (see your point above). Pick a specific one and we can discuss.

          “I would rather we teach the good values without dogma as well. ”
          Great! Then why do you fight against it?

          “As I said, I have no use for dogma.”
          Except for all that fantasy stuff about Jesus actually existing.

          “Yet, your statement admits the existence of good values within the structure of religion.”
          Good may come from a source of evil. What of it?

          “Name for me an institution where non-religious parents send their children to be explicitly exposed to ethics.”
          Challenge accepted…The New York Society for Ethical Culture! What do I win? A new car? You know you can use the google also. If you have questions… you can just type them in.

          “This does not happen at public school.”
          A… What a bunch of shit. B.. Is that the job of a school? What ethics should they teach? That slavery is OK – just like the bible? That selling your daughter into slavery is OK – just like the bible? Are these the ethics you want?

          Ok…. sorry… I am starting to gloss over. I can’t even read on. What are we talking about?
          Please give me one or two (not 40) cogent points and we can try again.

          • Christ Sets a Good Example says:

            A virus IS a disease, a disease is not necessarily a virus. And, taking your view that it is detrimental, most develop it in early childhood and suffer their affliction their whole lives, I would say it is more accurately a disease than a virus.

            Semantics aside, however, I see this will not be productive to discuss further. I try to see the fair points from both sides in any disagreement. When those who wish to demonize atheists make points I disagree with, I debate them as well. You have responded with very snide and mostly insubstantial rebuttals to my arguments. If you think spiderman exemplifies good ethical conduct, then perhaps you should tell everyone about his exploits to serve as a moral example. It is better than not addressing them at all in a formal way. And if you seek to undermine religion, you would do well to acknowledge it strengths. As I mentioned in the paragraph you didn’t read, offer the elements of religion that reasonable people approve of without the trappings of religion (e.g. instilling ethical values). Many people want institutions that provide moral guidance for their children. If for no other reason, many of them turn to the church for this reason. As you point out, atheist institutions do exist, but they are not widespread. Atheists would do well to foster them or there will always be a functional place for religion, whatever other dysfunction they engender.

            Best regards

          • Phil Ferguson says:

            Good example…

            “I see this will not be productive to discuss further..”
            I responded to your comments 1 by 1 (until I got tired) and you respond with bizarre mischaracterization, move the goal posts or make new claims which seem to be either false, unsupported or unrelated to your point. This is why I asked you to make only a couple of points so we can focus.

            let me show you 2 examples….(I will number them so you can follow along)

            1) mischaracterization!

            you said…
            “And on the whole he [jesus] espoused many virtues that atheists would agree with..”
            I said…
            So does spider man… what of it…
            You completely miss the point. Just because a story has some good points in it does not mean we should “force” (your word) children to sit and listen to someone pick out only the good parts for 10 years.
            You respond with….
            ” If you think spiderman exemplifies good ethical conduct, then perhaps you should tell everyone about his exploits to serve as a moral example.”
            I did NOT say that. However, it looks like he is better than this jesus character you speak of.

            2) move the goal posts…

            “Name for me an institution where non-religious parents send their children to be explicitly exposed to ethics.”
            Not sure what your point is here but I did answer….The New York Society for Ethical Culture!
            To this you said….”but they are not widespread.”
            I did not claim that they were but, I could search google and find more. I had no intention to go anywhere with this info. You simply made a false claim, challenged me to name one – I did.

            Because you have made so many claims it is hard to know what your point is. I will try to summarize. Please, let me know If I have it wrong. Maybe we can start again with 1 or two points at a time.

            “I am not religious at all,” but i think that it is OK to force kids to learn about ethics from a system filled with immoral values and, “…is more accurately a disease than a virus.” Furthermore, “I would rather we teach the good values without dogma… ” because, “I have no use for dogma.”

            You know….It kinda sounds like we agree. Except that forcing for 10 year thing. Did I get it right? Is that our topic? The merits of forcing a child to church for ten years? You did say, you are, “…better off for it.” Yes… let’s discuss the merits of this. Please give 2 examples of the ethics that you learned from those 10 years that you would not have figured out any other way and maybe we can have a wonderful discussion.

  6. Jim n says:

    Yes, there’s no hope here. Phil bends over backwards to be generous. If his analogies seem comical it’s because the principle involved leads to them. Atheism, more correctly secularism, is not rare or uncommon. While there are many overt signs of religion in the US and abroad, the predominant feel is worldliness, or areligious. We have come a long ways from calling each other thee and thou and wearing our religion on our sleeve. Most religions grown at the worldliness of modern society.

    As to morality, only religious people feel there is no or little morality in the world.The rest of us see it every day. We are an inherently moral species. Look around you! There are acts of kindness and generosity everywhere–if there weren’t, religious people couldn’t say there are signs of god everywhere. Frankly, in spite of pages and pages of prohibitions in most religions, people pick up on some basic moral tenants pretty easily. We don’t harm unless provoked, we allow liberty, we take care of those in need. On and on. Books and books of kind acts in a secular world. Hell, no other mammal animals has dominated the planet like we do in our wanton reproduction and global hegemony.

    Our civil and judicial law bends over backwards to provide secular justice in the world. The very core of American exceptionalism is not religion in itself but rather tolerance of the many contradictory and yes, predatory, aspect of religions. The entire point of a secular governance is moral: to allow diverse opinions to coexist and to protect minority rights. I would happily get rid of the pledge of allegiance for the cogent Bill of Rights.

    Finally, as Hitchens famously wagered, there is nothing moral a religious person does an unreligious person can’t do. Only religion-specific covenants, which rarely have anything to do with universal morality. Rather they insist on the authority of tenants of specific god(s) and specific church canon. Even the 10 commandments, buried in the BIble, are a facile, ludicrous set of simplistic rules that start with insistence on belief in a particular religion–no other gods, jealous god, one god, no graven images, etc.

    Religions try to capitalize on this as natural law, god’s law buried in our bodies and the natural world but this hijacking belies the emptiness of the church canon itself and its need to find morality outside of itself, in the world, which is secular. Without religion whatsoever people would still add goodness to the world–far more so as we could rely on evidence everyone can access, free from contradictions of religions fighting over the veracity of their nonsensical canons.

    Those who simplify their religion to god loves, or do unto others, provide little to the challenges of providing morality to the myriad and complicated situations we face living in the world. A jingo is a fine thing for a song but it bears little on reality other than feel-good sanctimony.

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