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← Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Jump to comment 274 by AtheistEgbert


You've joined rather late in the discussion, and with respect, since you're taking the opposing position, I am going to argue against you like the others. Nothing personal.

I've been lurking on this site for a long time and this is the comment that strikes the strongest chord with me. Sometimes I feel more in accord with the atheist movement, sometimes less. But there is a note of fanaticism creeping in of late which I find very off-putting. No matter how "right" a cause, a sense of perspective is always important. And coming across as vindictive or obsessive or extreme or intolerant isn't going to do the cause any good at all.

It's all very well discussing your feelings and sentiment, but do you have a rational basis for your disagreement with the removal of a monument or not? Or it is purely emotional attachment to a religious symbol?

Also, what you've done is a bit of fallacious poisoning the well. You don't agree with the secularist position, so you'll paint them as petty, vindicitive, extreme, intolerant. These are all the sentiments of the accommodationist, who is perfectly happy to misrepresent their opponents with personal attacks and hatred, and yet think of themselves as lovely nice people.

The fact is some religious symbols and phrases have become so commonplace as to - to all and intents and purposes - lose their religious significance altogether. The cross of a war memorial is something we can all identify with, not as a symbol of Christianity, but as a symbol of commemoration, of respect, of gratitude to those who gave their lives (or, more accurately, had their lives snatched from them). When I see a war memorial - even with "In God we trust" written on it - I no more think religion than I do when someone says "Bless you" after I sneeze. Christianity is part of our heritage, and that actually weakens its religious impact, because it means that its manifestations could be declarations of religion OR declarations of identity/nationality/culture.

What you have just defended is called 'religious privilege'. You might not be aware of it, but it's your blind spot, and all those who are arguing against those who are defending, rationally, secularism.

You've also displayed the obvious denial I was referring to earlier. One moment, these monuments require utmost respect and historical privilege, while the next, they're unimportant and insignificance. Well which is it? Either it's unimportant and therefore there ought to be no resistance to the secular position of removal, or they're highly important and deserve respect, in which case you're defending religious privilege and contradicting yourself.

"Going after a war memorial is going to cause deep offence to large numbers of people."

What is offensive is sending soldiers to die in wars, to fight for their country and constitution, while the vast majority fail to stand up for it. I'm not even America, but I regard the American constitution as far more enlightened than any equivalent in Europe.

But again, more rhetoric based on emotion, and the bullying tactics of the majority over a minority.

Keep a sense of perspective, I beg of you. Be tolerant.

Which means in other words that we secularists are the intolerant persecutors while religionists and their enablers are the poor victims. That is not the truth, and once again an emotional rhetorical argument of poisoning the well. It is religion that is the aggressor here, by placing a cross on a monument.

Of course, claiming to speak for an imaginary majority of people and instilling fear is not begging but bullying and coercion.

Even I find it distasteful, and I have been hostile to religion for as long as I can remember.

Ahh, another passionate secularist, who is really representing the true secular/atheist position, while those defending the separation of church and state are fanatics and militant secularists. This is sounding rather familiar.

The symbol in this case is a memorial to the war dead first, a religious symbol second and even then, only to those people who interpret it that way. Are we so delicate that we can't withstand the slightest allusion to religious belief?

Of course, rational secularists are the wimpy ones. But weren't we also the obsessive intolerant vindictive extremists. Again, which is it? Either we're delicate flowers with no guts or we're fundamental terrorists? It doesn't matter because both are strawman positions designed to discredit the opposing argument.

We share our society with people to whom Christianity is deeply important.

Religious privilege again.

ACTUALLY, it is merely a piece of stone, moulded in a particular shape. It has no meaning as and of itself. By protesting against it, we imbue it with more meaning than it has ever had in reality.


  1. The removal (not destruction) of a religious monument on public state owned land is petty and unimportant.
  2. The monument is so historically important that it transcends constitutional laws.
  3. I am a passionate secularist.

Well played sir. You decided to come in and use the same incoherent argument as the others, while adding to the numbers. The more the merrier, and no doubt that means with greater numbers you win the argument. Majority rule and all that.

Tue, 08 May 2012 15:45:22 UTC | #940549