Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another Reason Why It's Hard To Take A Lot Of Atheists Seriously

They actually expend the time and resources for campaigns like this one:

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring "individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings."

Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

"Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can't really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did," Gaylor told

Even from a regulatory perspective, the stupidity of all this is clear and is amply illustrated by the Postal Service's response:

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The atheist in question, though, refuses to keep her mouth shut, instead opting to provide further confirmation of her idiocy:

Martin Luther King "just happened to be a minister," and "Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure," she said.

"And he's not called Father Malcolm X like Mother Teresa. I mean, even her name is a Roman Catholic honorific."

Has she ever heard the "I Have a Dream" speech? Or read Malcolm X's autobiography, in which he explains his taking of the "X" surname as connected with Islam or his post-Hajj view that Islam could be the mechanism for eliminating all racism?

At this point, I think we have to assume that Ms. Gaylor has crossed the line from moron to liar.

Of course, this has nothing to do with postal regulations, and eventually, Ms. Gaylor is kind enough to bring up the real issue:

Gaylor said Mother Teresa infused Catholicism into her secular honors — including an "anti-abortion rant" during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech — and that even her humanitarian work was controversial.

Oddly enough, it seems that the only people who found her humanitarian work controversial are militant atheists. I'm not aware of any Christians who think so, except for the whackjobs who think she's in hell for being Catholic.

"There was criticism by the end of her life that she turned what was a tiny charity into an extremely wealthy charity that had the means to provide better care than it did," Gaylor said. "...There's this knee jerk response that everything she did was humanitarian, and I think many people would differ that what she was doing was to promote religion, and what she wanted to do was baptize people before they die, and that doesn't have a secular purpose for a stamp."

In other words, you can be religious as long you support causes palatable to Ms. Gaylor (eg- civil rights for black citizens).

To be fair, not all atheists are this stupid:

Some atheists, too, spoke out against the group's objections, including Bruce Sheiman, author of "An Atheist Defends Religion." He said the Freedom from Religion Foundation is being "hypocritical" and really "stepping over the line."

"Clearly there are a number of things that you can point to and say it's religious and a number of things you can point to and say that it's areligious," Sheiman told "So it really doesn't make sense to protest it."

So we got that going for us. I actually think that irrational folks like Gaylor and Hitchens do us a favor when they attack the Mother Teresas of the world. It makes them look bad and usually their belief system along with them. Reasoned responses like Sheiman's don't have that benefit.

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