Christianity and Gun Ownership

The picture below popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, which bothered me for multiple reasons, and, as I showered in the morning, I couldn’t help but stew over everything that was wrong and ignorant about it.

Guns and God

Let me start with this picture’s basic assertion. It is, essentially, just a more topical version of the old, patently false axiom, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” This isn’t just a condescending dismissal of atheism, but also of the pantywaist belief that maybe guns aren’t the solution to every problem. You can claim not to believe in the value of guns or God, it says, but in moments of trouble you’ll turn to both. Because godless liberals are all just raging, gutless hypocrites, doncha know?

Well, speaking from personal experience as a cowardly heathen, I can say this is false. My apartment was robbed on New Years Eve. It sucked, and while the robber(s) didn’t take as much as they could have (thankfully they got scared off in the middle of unplugging my computer), it was still an infuriating and disheartening invasion of my and my roommate’s private space. Not so private, it seems. Yes, my roommate called the police, not to protect us but so we could file an official report with the infinitesimal hope of maybe recovering some of the lost items. (We never did.)

I don’t claim to speak for my roommates. Maybe they’d like to have a gun in the house. It’s an option. I understand the desire for increased security, and I certainly don’t want us getting robbed a second time. Personally, though, I’d rather invest in better bars on the windows and a security system that can protect our place when we’re not here rather than a gun that a) would have been useless in this particular scenario (no one was home) and b) would pose a statistically greater risk to us than to any potential, future robbers.

I’ve never taken any training in shooting a gun (though I have gone shooting) and if I go my whole life without that particular skill, that strikes me as a win. While I’m sure that makes me less of a man in the eyes of many people, I have a hard time understanding why living my life free of fear represents a shortcoming. We live in the least violent period in all of human history, I don’t have any delusions of being a vigilante. It’s possible that a crazed gunman could kill me at some point (and if so, shucks), but living my life with a fear of it is beyond pointless.

So, I don’t believe in gods or guns. Why this offends the sensibilities of a large portion of America I’ll never understand. But, rest assured, in times of trouble, I don’t suddenly start praying for a .45.

Christianity and Guns

Now, let’s reverse the equation. To me, the most revealing aspect of that picture above is not what it says about atheists (nothing) or people who don’t like guns (again, nothing) or even what it says about what Christians/gun owners think about atheists/gun non-owners (nothing new). No, what it really reveals is the bizarre mindset of Christians who, despite professing belief in a loving, all-powerful, prayer-answering, omniscient God, still put their faith in a gun.

A gun, which is a weapon for the purpose of killing (Exodus 20:13); a gun, which is used to protect your material possessions (Matthew 6:19-21); a gun, which is meant to keep someone else from taking from you and punish them if they do (Matthew 5:39-41); a gun, which is your protection against enemies (Psalm 20:6-8).

A gun, which is about as appropriate in the hands of a Christian as a meat tenderizer is in the hands of a vegan.

(I want to be clear that I’m not saying American citizens shouldn’t have the right to own guns. While I am in support of intelligent gun control, I have never advocated for stripping Americans of their guns. Unfortunately, as soon as your lips start to form the words “gun control” you immediately get shouted down for trying to “trample on the 2nd Amendment” and no conversation can even be had. So fine, I don’t care. Keep killing yourselves, America.)

I believe this: A Christian who needs a gun is no Christian at all (I’m not referring to guns for the purpose of hunting, because, whatever). I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: There’s no such thing as an American Christian. It’s an oxymoron. The gun ownership debate makes it pretty plain why: Whereas Jesus preached a message of peace, forgiveness, rejection of material possessions and a dedication to God that would require a person to abandon one’s family, the American life (the American Dream, in fact) is all about building up treasure on earth and guarding it like a rabid dog with special affection for vengeance and retribution.

I see nothing inherently wrong with the American life, other than that it flies in the face of basically every single one of Jesus’ teachings. Reconciling the two diametrically opposed worldviews of American Capitalism and Biblical Christianity is a feat of such gymnastic contortion, even a yoga master would pull a muscle.

If you want to own a gun, go for it. It actually is the rational choice for someone who has no belief in a higher power, and if I lived in a constant state of fear I might just be so inclined.

However, a Christian who condescendingly suggests everybody needs a gun is admitting one of two things: Either their faith isn’t very strong, or their god isn’t.

Jesus and Guns

From the Road

This is just a brief update from the road. We’re in Austin, Texas, getting ready in the hotel before moving on our way to New Orleans for the next night. We drove 15 hours on our first day, making it by far our longest day of travel. Most of New Mexico and Texas is desert wasteland, so there’s not a lot to see there, though I’m sure somebody would tell me that the views are majestic. And to them, I’d say, “Hey New Mexico Department of Tourism, shut the hell up.”

We did see San Antonio, briefly, which was lovely, so I can now say I’ve seen the Alamo. So, uh, check.

The Alamo

From here, all our stops (assuming no weather-related detours), will be cities I’ve lived in. NOLA tonight, Nashville tomorrow, DC after that and then onto Boston.

I probably won’t be able to update much in between, but if you’re interested in tracking our progress, you can keep up with me on Twitter and Instagram.

See you on the other side.



San Antonio River Walk



A map of the United States for a cross-country road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts.

Cross Country Road Trip: Phoenix to Boston

When I relocated from New Orleans to Boston in August, I opted for a rental car and a nostalgic trek through a few of my past cities. The trip was a blast and a whole hog success. It kind of made me wish I had made all my moves that way (though, that would have been impractical for most). I don’t own a car, so it’s rare for me to get to take many road trips, especially out of state.

Well, as chance may have it, an opportunity for another cross-country toad trip through America presented itself and I will be starting off my new year with a nearly 3,000 mile drive from Phoenix, Arizona back here to Boston.

One of my roommates has spent the holidays back in Arizona with her family and needs to drive her car back here so she can have it for next semester. As she could use a co-pilot for the trip (and Jesus is too hungover from celebrating his birthday), I volunteered. I will fly out to Phoenix on the 1st, and then after a day or two spending time with her collective past, we will head out on the road.

Driving for long, calm stretches is about as close to meditation as I will ever get, the unreachable horizon coaxing out contemplative and creative ideas. Almost all of my longest drives have been done alone, so it will be unusual to have a companion on this trip, but other than breaking up the monotony of the gas pedal, I don’t imagine it will fundamentally change the experience of drifting.

A cross-country road trip in the winter is quite different from one embarked on in the summer. I’ve learned the hard way that the weather in the cold months can be a bitter barrier, so we’ll be staying mostly south, crossing through Breaking Bad territory and into Texas, probably staying in the southern states until we cross up through Nashville before driving up the coast. We’re giving ourselves a few days cushion to allow for bad weather, unexpected detours and the unplannable possibilities of the road.

I’ll be leaving the winter drizzle and darkness of the Northeast for warm, sunny Arizona. And then like a boomerang, I’ll be right back. It’s been many years since I’ve been in the Southwest, and even more since I drove through Arizona and New Mexico with my family as a kid. I don’t really have any strong memories of that time there, so in that respect this will almost be like unexplored territory for me. You know that excites me.

Hopefully I’ll be able to update from the road. In the meantime, this will probably be my last post of 2013, so I’ll wish you all a happy New Year and look forward to what 2014 has in store, for all of us. And who knows, maybe I’ll see you somewhere out on the road.



A map of the United States for a cross-country road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts.
Fireworks exploding in the sky


I voted for Obama in 2008. I lived in San Francisco and when the election results came through, the city erupted in a celebration that I  must imagine was only rivaled by the rapturous joy in Chicago.

On November 6th, 2012, we as a nation vote again, but no matter the winner, it seems unlikely the excitement will be as palpable as it was 4 years ago. For one, ‘Re-Electing the first black president’ doesn’t quite have the ring of ‘Electing the first black president.’ And while Romney would be the first Mormon president, who outside of Utah cares?

Also, despite the challenger’s rhetoric, our nation’s position isn’t as perilous as it was in 2008. 4 years ago, the recession was ongoing and the worst days were still ahead of us. Now, the recession is over and recovery is marching ahead, albeit not quite at warp speed. We aren’t selecting a president to pull us out of the path of a hurricane (though, if we were, Obama has proven his chops for that job). We are essentially stating that either Obama deserves 4 more years to continue the job or that his efforts are too little, too late.

Romney Vs. Obama

Frankly, despite some strong campaign moments late in the game, Romney has never effectively made this election a battle between him and Obama. It has always been Obama versus not-Obama. Some Romney supporters would obviously disagree, but we have to ask ourselves why, if Obama is the failure he’s painted as among the Conservative media, he is still by all mathematical accounts the heavy favorite to win.

The answer is simple: Romney has founded his campaign on voter dissatisfaction. Not voter enthusiasm or even voter anger (though, naturally, there are some angry voters out there). At his most honest (which is a rare sight), the best Romney can do is say “Obama, meh.” Just look at the final presidential debate where he basically agreed with Obama on every stance before saying, “But I’d be better.”

Being the masochist that I am, I frequently read the comments sections of online articles. It tends to be the same annoying back and forth between Liberals and Conservatives (let’s make a deal: Libs will stop writing ‘Rmoney’ if Cons will stop writing ‘Obummer’. Neither one is all that clever and it undermines any point you’re trying to make). But in the last couple weeks, it seems like the Conservative commentators have all decided the Benghazi attack is Obama’s greatest Achilles’ Heel (bringing it up even on completely unrelated articles). This is interesting for a couple of reasons.

One, it indicates that they apparently realize a lot of their other attacks on Obama, especially on the economy, are pretty toothless in the face of good job numbers and other signs that the economy is rebounding.

Two, it begs the question: If the Benghazi attacks hadn’t happened (a mere two months ago), what would they be complaining about? Some conservative nutters have implied that Hurricane Sandy was good luck for Obama, but if that’s the case, the Benghazi attacks seem to have been good luck for Romney. Without it, the last two months of his campaign would have had nothing but bald dissatisfaction to hang its hat on.*

Considering all that, I don’t suspect this election night to be as electric as it was in 2008 (New Orleans doesn’t seem all that engaged in this election, at least compared to 2008 San Fran).

Regardless of the ‘enthusiasm gap’, though, it’s still important to vote. It’s important whether you’re voting for Obama, Romney or one of those other people that apparently exist (I kid because I care). Yes, in most states, the winner is pretty much predetermined. Yes, even of the many swing states, Ohio seems to be the single key to the whole shebang. Yes, a president could win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote (e.g. Bush v. Gore).

So why, if your name isn’t Bob Undecided-Voter from Cleveland (it’s German), should you vote?

Why Vote?

First, no matter where you live, when they total the popular vote, yours counts. Why does that matter? Well, if you are, for instance, an Obama supporter, you want him to win both the Electoral College and the popular vote (this is true, of course, if you support Romney, but the likelihood of him winning the EC but losing the popular is considerably smaller). Nothing would give the opposition greater pleasure than to say, “Yeah, you won, but not with the support of the majority of the nation. We’ll gladly continue or obstructionist ways, claiming the ‘mandate.'”

Or as one political strategist put it: “It’s going to encourage more hyperpartisanship.”

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, that’s not a good thing.

The other reason to vote is because your vote isn’t just for the president, it’s against the nakedly un-Democratic actions of states legislators across this country that have tried to restrict the vote in the name of protecting against ‘voter fraud’, fraud that simply doesn’t exist. And don’t think these sorts of restrictions were only popping up in the swing states. In the past two years, the vast majority of states have passed voting restrictions.

As partisan as I admittedly am (I’m not a Democrat, just a hyper-liberal), I do attempt to be fair when both parties are being stupid. But in this case, there is no question, the voting restrictions have been enacted predominantly by Republicans with a clear interest in disenfranchising voters who historically vote Democrat. Luckily, time after time, there have been people fighting these sickening efforts. But that hasn’t stopped some last minute efforts to suppress the vote.

We need to vote, no matter what state we live in, no matter who we’re voting for, because that’s the best way to undermine these cynical efforts to impede the rights of U.S. citizens. Ideally, the electorate would kick these legislators out of office the first chance they get, but that’s not likely to happen, at least not this election.

I don’t care if you like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Jill Stein or Ross Perot (remember that guy?), any attempt to suppress the voting rights of your fellow citizens should bother you. Yes, your guy might have a better chance of winning, but is that really the democracy you want? Is that what our soldiers fight for and what our forefathers risked their lives to create? We know it isn’t.

So, if you haven’t voted already, get to your polling place on Tuesday, and encourage your friends and family to vote as well. It’s a half hour of your day, at most.

Maybe your one vote won’t chance the outcome of the election, but it could change the course of the nation all the same.

And on election night 2012, that’s the win we can all celebrate, no matter who wins the presidency.

*Whether the Benghazi attacks are really all that big of a liability for Obama has yet to be truly seen. My guess: Not really.

I Want An Atheist President


It’s May, now, which means only 4 years and 7 months until the 2016 presidential election.

Of course, before that, we have to survive this one.

Since Mitt Romney is the Republican Nominee (yes, I know, not technically, but…) and we have a 2-party system in which a 3rd party can never hope to be anything but a minor nuisance to one or both candidates, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

I don’t want that to sound like I’m ‘choosing the lesser of two evils’ or something of that nature.  I like Obama.  He’s my president.  I am by no means enthralled with everything that has happened under his presidency and he has definitely punted on some issues when he should have probably fought harder.  But, I’m a pragmatist and a realist and I know how politics works.  Which is to say, it doesn’t.  You get your guy (or gal) in office and you should be ecstatic if even a tenth of the campaign promises get fulfilled.  Part of that is because politicians lie, and part of that is because our government is an intricate (one might even say, convoluted) system that favors the status quo over change (sometimes too our national detriment).

Some of us who voted for Obama in 2008 were probably a little too naively optimistic for the changes his presidency would bring, but better foolishly hopefully than filled with the paranoia and hatred that marks his most vehement opponents.

One of the most exciting moments of Obama’s presidency, for me, came very early on.  As in, the day of his Inauguration early.  For the first time ever, ‘non-believers’ were expressly mentioned in an inaugural speech.  The pertinent excerpt:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”

I remember hearing that and feeling an even greater sense of pride in my president, which was already pretty high.  The President of the United States acknowledged that, indeed, there are people in this country that don’t believe in any god, any faith, and they should be included in the conversation and recognized as part of our nation’s heritage.

A Christian has no idea what that moment feels like.  Despite talk of ‘attacks on religious freedom’ and ‘the War on Christmas,’ there has never been a question that Christians are always part of the equation.  Though the U.S. is secular (no matter what David Barton falsely claims), the truth is that this nation is still predominantly Christian in its make-up and politics.

When you’re a person who doesn’t belong to any particular faith and refuses to pretend to believe in a god, you tend to get left out of the conversation, intentionally or not.

Almost every single man who has been President of the United States has been nominally Christian.  We have to go back to William Howard Taft for a President who may have been an atheist, though he denied it (Wikipedia lists him as Unitarian).  The further back we go in history, the more we find that the Presidents were willing to eschew official religious affiliation, though most were still some denomination of Christian.

There are still some who claim that Obama is a secret Muslim, which is ridiculous.  But, I’m interested to see if those people will vote for a Mormon, since most likely in their view Mormonism is not Christianity, and thus a false religion (I was raised believing Mormonism was a cult; from a theological point of view, I do think Mormonism constitutes a different religion from Christianity, but since I’m not a Christian, I feel the point is moot).

For some people this will be an election between a Mormon and a Christian (who’s really a Muslim).  The Evangelical right will likely choose the lesser of two evils as they see it.  Or as pastor David Jeffries said recently:

…Given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces non-biblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who embraces Bible principles, there’s every reason to support Mitt Romney in this election.

It’s all about principles, after all.  Like, the principle of standing for what you believe.

While Christians may have to wrestle with their faith this year, we atheists will vote on the issues we care about and the policies we think better lead our country forward.  Many of us will vote for Obama.  I’m sure a healthy contingent will vote for Romney, and there will even be a good number who throw their vote away on Ron Paul (aren’t I a stinker). 

Atheists aren’t a singular voting block.  We don’t have a Pope or an Evangelical Conference to tell us which way to throw our vote.  Sure, many of us revere the same men (Dawkins, Sagan), but those people don’t tell us who to vote for, and we wouldn’t listen if they did.

We call ourselves Freethinkers.  Yeah, it’s a self-aggrandizing title, so sue us.

While you will find online groups for atheists and a growing number of organizations attempting to bring some cohesion to a historically disparate group (it’s like herding cats), our very nature tends to make us resistant to unification.  After all, we are the kind of people who critically question everything and many of us at some point intentionally left behind a community of faith.  Of course, even as I write that, I have to admit that many atheists probably don’t fit that description.

And that’s the point.  Atheists only share one thing in common:  We have no belief in a god.  We don’t “have faith that there isn’t a god.”  We simply don’t accept that there is evidence for a god and thus remain at our default position: No faith.

There isn’t an American atheist alive today who has ever seen their lack of faith reflected in their president.  Granted, Muslims and Jews are in their same spot, but as this well-trod survey shows, atheists have a greater hill to climb to the White House.*

I want an Atheist President.  I want an Atheist President exactly because his or her views will be that of a freethinker, and thus not inherently locked into one stance.  S/He could be a Republican or a Democrat.  S/He could be a wartime president or a lockstep pacifist.  S/He could hold any stance on any number of issues without beholding to faith.  That doesn’t mean s/he would oppose faith or religion, only that their stance towards it would be a dispassionate acceptance of it based on the principles of the Constitution (Establishment Clause/Free-Exercise Clause) and reason.

There will always be a portion of Americans who believe that atheists are evil, the scum of the earth, as useful as a third tit.  Atheist President isn’t going to get their vote.

But there is no reason intelligent, moderate Christians should oppose an atheist.  I have Christian friends who support gay marriage, oppose the death penalty, believe in a strong safety net for the poor and are supportive of equal rights across the board.  In other words, if I was running for president (if I could find time in my busy schedule of child sacrifices and depraved sex), a substantial percentage of the non-Evangelical Christians, the same ones who voted for Obama, could vote for me, an atheist.

Now, I have no personal political ambitions (blech!), but there are plenty of atheists out there who do.  As an atheist, I hope that in my lifetime I see an atheist in the White House.  Let’s be clear: I don’t want to see it because I think it’ll mean all of my interests will be represented. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the unofficial religious test for Presidency which has been in effect for at least 100 years will finally be abolished. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that a majority of Americans accept that a lack of faith does not equal a lack of character.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that intelligence, experience and ideas matter more than church affiliation.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean the president will take responsibility for his or her decisions.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the promise of Religious Freedom will finally be fulfilled.

You don’t have to be an atheist to want an Atheist President.  You can be a believer and accept us non-believers.  You can understand that what makes me an atheist doesn’t undermine my integrity.  In fact, it strengthens it.

In 2012, the presidential candidates each profess faith in a higher being.  I have no problem with that, I only care about their policies.  Their faith, in my mind, is no more pertinent to their qualifications for president as whether they are left or right-handed.  As long as faith is not a motivation for political policy, you can believe anything at all and be president.  Or believe nothing at all.

It’s okay to vote for an atheist.  We come in peace.

If you want an Atheist President because you know that one faith doesn’t have a monopoly on morality, ethics and compassion, say it with me: I Want An Atheist President.  Tweet it with me: #Iwantanatheistpresident.

You don’t have to be an atheist to be a freethinker.

*The question specific to the presidency was asked in 1999, prior to the 9/11 attacks, so undoubtedly Muslims have taken a hit since then.  But as the other surveys reveal, even after the attacks atheists remain the least trusted group across the board.

EDIT: My suspicions were correct, Muslims did take a considerable Public Relations hit after 9/11, but atheists still remain the least trusted group.

The Importance of Being Apathetic: or, The Birth of a Liberal

For most of my young life well through college, I considered myself apathetic to politics because I didn’t know enough about the issues to care (as a good little Christian Youth, I was Republican by association, but it wasn’t something I got heated up about).  As I have little to no belief in the ability of politicians to make big changes, I still am rather apathetic towards Politics.  But, that’s not to say that I am apathetic.

Most people choose their political leanings based on one or two issues that end up pigeonholing them as Conservative or Liberal.  While everyone likes to think of themselves as reasoning automatons, usually if you go Conservative socially, you end up being Conservative fiscally, too, as with Liberal.  Are there exceptions?  Certainly, probably millions.  But if you’re not particularly worked up about some political issue, it’s easiest to go along with the flow of the people you’ve surrounded yourself with.  A Pro-Life rally is likely going to consist of people who oppose big government (ironically), while a Pro-Gay Marriage rally is most likely going to share a mailing list with the Pro-Health Care Reform rallies.

Which brings me to my political views.  I fully admit that my stances on all the obvious issues – Abortion, Gay Marriage, Immigration, Gun Control, blah blah blah – are predictably liberal and it would be easy to think I’m just a bandwagon jumper.  But most of my political views come as a logical progression from a single realization:

There is no God.

One of the first big ‘issues’ that I became impassioned about (and remain so) was the vast and debilitating poverty that overruns Africa (I know, a random concern for a white middle-class kid from Kansas).  Along with poverty comes disease and genocide, making Africa a continent truly beleaguered with the greatest crises in the world.

Before some troll erupts in my comments, I am well aware that some parts of Africa are actually well-off; that’s beside the point.

As I looked more into the issues that affect Africa, I studied Fair Trade vs. Free Trade, the Rwandan and Darfur genocides and the AIDS crisis (along with countless other diseases, most of which we in the West no longer fear).

I first developed my interest in Africa in college, around the same time I was losing my faith in God.  Some of the first divisive arguments I found myself having with the Christians in my life were about differing approaches to giving aid.  The Christian method of aid so often comes with such dangerous preconditions that I refuse to be mollified by, “At least they’re helping.”

In the Good Ol’ Imperial Days of Christian Charity, if you needed help from one of Christ’s disciples, you had to convert.  Nowadays, well, things haven’t changed much.  There may not be an overt expectation of religious conversion, but there certainly are moralistic expectations aplenty.  Take the Catholic Church’s approach to fighting AIDS in Africa as example:  Lie about the effectiveness of condoms and expect the continent to practice abstinence.  I guess they thought, “The abstinence only approach works so well here in the U.S., let’s play Russian Roulette with an entire continent.. and that’s load all the chambers just to make it more interesting.”

The point I am making is that belief in God can taint even the best intentions.*  Worse, it leads to despicable governmental policies.  Somehow, the Conservative notion of the Free Market became a tenet of Christianity (even though it was Jesus who said sell all of your things and give your money to the poor… it’s not one of those subtle verses, either).  What does belief in the Free Market lead to?  Well, apparently, it leads people to believe that the Rich are chosen by God and the poor are just shit out of luck.

What people don’t seem to understand (or willingly ignore) is that there is no such thing as the “Free Market”, not in the totally autonomous sense that is often meant.  There are always agents working both in front of and behind the scenes.  These are the people making sure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.  They are the ones creating laws that favor the powerful and step all over developing nations (the meek aren’t inheriting much).  Free Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Fair Trade is necessary.  Most of the arguments against Fair Trade are that it hinders nations in a Free Trade system, but it ignores the fact that the Free Trade system is a lie.  Just look at our own recent recession to see the abuse of power that happens when no one is watching the markets.

(EDIT – I didn’t realize I was going to have to make this explicit:  I think the Free Trade Ideal is superb and if it existed, I’d be all for it.  I’d be all for an all-loving, all-knowing God who wanted nothing for me to be happy, too, but neither one exists so I adapt my expectations for the world and the universe.)

Learning more about Africa taught me more about politics and the way the world really works.  Rarely does anyone look out for the oppressed unless a news camera is in their face and the first priority is always about getting their pockets lined.  You think that isn’t true for the Catholic Church (or churches in general)?  Well, were they doing anything about the child rapes in their midst until it became a huge scandal?  And what does their presence in Africa do if not guarantee more people belonging to their church, pledging more tithes?  All the better to get the Pope a Gold-Plated toilet seat.

Am I cynical?  You bet your ass I am.  I know how the world really works.

How does this all tie in to the non-existence of God?  Well, some political views are obvious:  If there is no God, why oppose Gay Marriage (the sanctity of marriage argument is bullshit)?  If there is no God, abstinence is no morally better than using protection, and only fractionally safer.  If there is no God, no person or group has a ‘God-given right’ to anything, whether that be land, wealth or even freedom.  (I’m not arguing that freedom is not a human right, only that it is not a gift from some invisible Beard in the sky).

But beyond the obvious, atheism reveals even more: If there is no God, then the atrocities in Africa are not a punishment from God, they are not God’s will or even a method for testing his Faithful (one of the more perverse explanations for evil in this world).  No, without God as an excuse, what is happening in Africa becomes much simpler:  Human greed, selfishness and fear is at the heart of Africa’s problems.

It can be traced back to the slave traders who raped the continent, but Conservatives are always quick to say, “Don’t blame us for the sins of our fathers” (even though that’s the foundational belief of Christianity, Original Sin).  Well, you don’t have to go back 400 years to find people using and abusing Africa for their own profit.  It goes on today.  Governments and corporations thrive on the backs of cheap labor (not just in Africa, worldwide), lax regulations and trade treaties that protect their interests.  And many of the people working behind the scenes to keep these conditions in existence are doing so with the belief that they are doing God’s work.

These are complex issues, far more complex than I could ever claim to understand.  I know I have a lot to learn about global economics, but I am willing to learn.

I’m not claiming that everyone who is Conservative or Christian is guilty of these crimes (or even complicit), not at all.  But what I will say is that the Conservative view, in my experience, is always narrow.  It looks at a problem like immigration and says, “Kick illegals out,” without looking at the larger political spectrum and acknowledging that illegal immigrants are not the problem, they are a symptom of a corrupt global economy (and the governments that support it).

Unfortunately, Liberals can suffer tunnel vision, too.  Well meaning Liberals will find a pet cause and protest the hell out of it, and pat themselves on the back for every little victory.  But the underlying conditions still exist and a victory in Seattle is just one more defeat in Haiti.  We have to think globally.

I am liberal by natural extension of my atheism, but I’m not political.  I’m still totally apathetic when it comes to the political system (I had a lot of hopes for Obama; they have been tempered, but I haven’t given up on him completely).  I think my political apathy is a good trait, because it keeps me from falling for the lie that all I have to do is vote and that will take care of the world’s problems.  Real actions are required (which is not to say that I don’t vote, because I do).

I don’t put my faith in politicians and I don’t put much stock in going to protests.  I think bringing attention to problems in the world is necessary, and so I do not look down on anyone who wants to beat the street with their message; I just question how effective it is.  When I’m not broke and I have a little extra cash, I’ll throw money to causes I believe in, but I know that money is nothing more than a band aid for a broken bone.

The most common argument against Atheism is that it provides no moral foundation, but that is preposterous.  Atheism takes away the excuses for lazy morality.  If there is no God, no invisible hand to guide human history, then it becomes clear that the world is only as good as we make it.  For me, knowing there is nobody watching over us, no force that is going to punish evildoers, I feel the burden to fight for what is right, to fight for those who cannot fight.

You tell people that Africa is being treated terribly, and usually the Conservative view says, “The world ain’t fair.”  On the other hand, if you dare say, “The rich should pay more in taxes,” Conservatives cry, “That ain’t fair!”  Well, I agree.  The world is not fair.

My goal in life is to make it a little more even.  That is why I am a Liberal.

*The argument that faith gives people a reason to do good is suppose to be admirable.  I just find it sad.  You need to believe in an overbearing Master of the Universe for you to give a shit about the poor and downtrodden?  Here’s a cookie.