Was it too early to crank up our annual War on Christmas? Definitely, wrote quite a few of our correspondents, their comments printed as received.
Freedom: Your religion is of the Anti-Christ an I am sick of you imposing your beliefs on others. You can keep Satin to yourself. He can get behind me as well as you. — Tim Sykes, Sandy Hook, Conn.
America was founded by the word of god: We know damn good and well that the very Constitution that grants you any rights was based off the word of god a.k.a. the Holy Bible. whats the last 2 lines of our national anthem? one nation under god, with liberty and justice for all? I give you all an extended invite to come on down to good ol spokane washington and try that delusional crap. You'll be lucky if you make it back out of the city limits. each and every one of you and your dip shit desperate lawyers to. welcome to America bitches now go find something productive to do with your time before its over! — Bradley Simon, Spokane Valley, Wash.
War on Religion: You have the right to your unbelief, but quit denigrating those who do. After all you have your holiday, April 1st. — Thomas Batterman, Ohio
Fuck you all the way to hell: I hope somebody comes to your office one day and kills every one of you. Let me make it very clear this is not a threat but I surely wish you'd all fucking die and leave my world a better place! You're fucking hatred and wickedness cannot go un-answered. — David
I hate you and RonReagan more than all of hell: You and my hero Ronald Regan's son should burn in worse than hell. You are the lowest form of life that ever existed! Burn in the hottest Fire of Hell for trillions of years! — Robert Keck
New York Times Ad: I agree with your statement that the rapid increase of world population is the biggest factor of global worming. But you picking on the wrong guy "the Pope". The Catholic religion has the slowest rate of increase compared to the rest of the world religions. — rag80
Just in general: You can kiss my lilly white ass. — Price Clevenger, Ohio
Message: You can take God out of America, but you can't take Him out of Americans. — Lori Meeker, Ocala, Florida
In God We Trust: Like Chief Adrian Garcia said, "You and your foundation can go fly a kite." I agree with him. Go outside, fly a kite, play tag and hide-n-seek, run barefoot through a meadow, walk along the beach, take a tropical vacation. God Bless You. You know what, He will whether you believe in Him or not. — Alisa Burgener, LaVerne, Calif.
Childress Texas: What Police Chief Adrian Garcia wanted to tell you was actually was go fuck yourself, but he was too much of a gentleman. — Bud in PA
In God We Trust on cop car: You come across as whining 3rd graders. And I think what the officer really wanted to tell you is "Go fuck yourselves!!!" — steve doocey
nativity lawsuit: Facism is the idea that 1 person or group knows what's better for someone then the other. Stay out of county and school affairs and stop trying to steal my tax dollars for you're orginizations selfish and biggeted viwes. Leave indiana and my an all our freedom alone! — Jonathan Rider, Elkhart
The air you breathe: If you don't believe in him, why do you waste his air , and trees everytime you wipe your butt?? Toilet paper is made from his trees. I pray whom ever reads this, may find God one day before , You take your last breath. — Rufus, Blairsville Ga.
freedom: May the GOOD LORD turn you all into trees, so I can turn you into paper to print the bible. — Tori Dwight, Massachusetts
End of Business: You WILL be out of business in 30 days. — Bret Jerrow
In God We Trust: In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust In God We Trust — Michael Carraway
Sickening: It's your fault God isn't in schools anymore. Years ago you didn't hear about someone shooting up a school, you know why cause God was a loud in the classroom. Ask your parents or grandparents I bet they didn't have to go to school and pass thru a metal detector. — Beverly Wiatrowski
Violation: I just wanted to let you know that I wear a crucifix all the time. Yep, in government buildings, schools, etc., not a damn thing you can do about it! Oh, and being gay is a perversion. The male penis isn't intended to be inserted into another man's anus. Your schools really do owe you a refund. Have a hellish day! — REH
Shame: I find it rather telling that you are not willing to publish the email addresses of ANY of your staff so that those who are concerned about your agenda can meaningfully engage your staff. Not scared much, are you? — John Doe, Tennessee
Jesus: I just saw y'all are protesting against Jesus being part of Christmas, he is the reason why this holiday exists. I think y'all should find something better to do with your lives. Go research John 3:16 and the 2nd Amendment. — Christopher Madaris
Scum: You people are disgusting parasites. The only reason you cocksuckers are getting away with what you do is because that liberal stickerhead you d bags voted in. Go get a fucking job and stay out of normal peoples way of life. Bunch of knuckledragging troglodytes!! Go fuck yourselves ass clowns. — James Webb
Youre group: Shame on you guys for wanting to stop christmas choirs singing at the grotto because of christianity and catholicism. I am a christian and i dont support you at all. dont you dare go around and say highschool choirs cant sing there when its trtradition just because there catholic or christian. Grotto is a catholic place so you guys have no right to say anything. — Kristen Marston
However you want to take it: I just seen on the news about what you people are trying to do to christmas. Since you people obviously dont know your historty christmas is about jesus christ so obviously you arent to bright trying to mess with christmas. why dont you worry about muslums the way you worry about trying to go after christaniy. — Brandon Burdette
Diversity discouraged in religious communities
FFRF awarded Jazmyn $200.
By Jazmyn Glause
As a minority and nonbeliever in a small town in rural Wisconsin, I feel like others are constantly trying to force their beliefs upon me even when they don't realize it. In my community I have firmly come out as a nonbeliever for many reasons. Think of the positive effect that encouraging non-whites to become freethinkers or nonbelievers would have on our society.
I had not thought much about my religious standpoint until I moved to Rice Lake, Wis., in December 2012. After moving to such a religious community I realized that it seemed as if most religiously inclined people didn't have a grasp on their own opinions or morals.
Everything they believed was pulled right out of the bible, regardless of their understanding of the topic. The teenagers in town cling to the words spoken during Mass, not to mention that the depictions of the words and "beliefs" within the bible are usually blown out of proportion. It leads believers to be very unaccepting of diversity and revolutionary beliefs. I quickly decided that this was not what I wanted for myself. I am naturally a very accepting and loving person, yet I still question everything. I would never be one to believe something I read or heard without looking further into it. I came to the conclusion that I would rather not be involved in religion at all because I like to have my own morals, beliefs and opinions in life.
As a whole, I see much discouragement of diversity within the religious community, especially as a minority and a member of the LGBT community. Every day I am told, whether directly or indirectly, that my way of life should be corrected or I should be involved in the church to stay out of the "trouble" that "people like me" usually get into. It's apparent that anyone who doesn't fit the mold that religion has created for our society will not be accepted by believers, or believers will try to "correct" diverse people without their consent.
As for nonwhite communities, I feel that it would be a good idea to encourage freethought and/or nonbelief. In politics, the people who support non-white communities in the greatest ways are the liberals, who most of the time aren't as heavily religious as conservatives. If we can encourage freethought within these communities, we can continue to elect officials who are working toward the betterment of a wider spectrum of people, not just those who have fit the perfect cookie cutter mold of past generations. If we show non-white communities that they will be more widely accepted by those whose beliefs aren't fueled by religion, they will be more likely to look into freethought and/or nonbelief themselves. In doing this we will be able to work toward a society with a great variety of beliefs, morals, opinions and values. In return, more people will be accepted and treated as equals no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status or anything else that seems to divide our nation.
I am confident in my decision to be out as a nonbeliever in my community and my country. I believe my decision will have a positive impact on my community and open a door for freethought within it. I will continue to break down barriers as a minority and as a freethinker in my small town in rural Wisconsin, and I will take these beliefs with me wherever I go.
Jazmyn Glause, 18, attended Rice Lake High School in Rice Lake, Wis., but was originally born in Grand Island, Neb. She is a sponsored skateboarder and works as a bike mechanic at a bicycle shop in Rice Lake. She is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in art with an emphasis in graphic design.
Staying strong in a world of believers
FFRF awarded Taressa $200.
By Taressa Straughter
"What? You're an atheist? Why?" Those are the questions that I always hear when I tell people that I am an atheist. I honestly don't think that it's a big deal, I just don't believe in God. Ever since I was a little girl in church, I always questioned the existence of God. It just didn't make sense to me. Why worship someone that I can't see? My life as an atheist has not been easy, but it's even harder when you're a black teenage atheist. Yes, I know that's very rare, but I assure you that we do exist. Growing up in a predominately black community, it is considered an abomination if you say that you're an atheist. Where I grew up, you always went to church on Sunday and worshipped the Lord. You were told to fear God and you would enter heaven when you died. Being a black female atheist comes with a lot of challenges, but I always stayed true to what I believed in: science.
I grew up with my Pentecostal mother and grandmother. My six siblings and I went to church on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and twice on Sundays. They were true holy rollers, and if we even asked to stay home, we were punished. I would be bored out of my mind in church. The preacher would talk for hours about the same thing, and I always thought he was a moron. For years, I just stayed in church and tolerated it. I knew that I was a nonbeliever; science just made more sense to me. When I was in the eighth grade, I told my mom that I was an atheist. "All nonbelievers will burn in hell," she said in anger. I was shocked and cried that entire day. I felt as though it was me against the world. However, the fun really began when I entered high school. I went to a historically black high school, and that meant at every event there was a prayer. That meant at every award ceremony, the students would thank God for the "blessings" they received. I was really uncomfortable when people would pray over their food at my school's alumni banquet, or when random old women would scream "praise God" out of the blue. But the absolute worst part was the questions that people would ask me, and then they would question my atheist beliefs. "Why don't you believe in God?" "Where do you think you would go when you die?" I think it would be more logical to interrogate them about their God. They are worshipping a being that they can't see, feel or hear. I always tell them that I am a believer of science and that it has more evidence than that dreadful book of a bible.
Even though I've been the recipient of many angry expressions, I am proud of who I am. I am proud to be black, to be a woman, and to be an atheist. I think that everyone is entitled to believe what they want to believe, or even to not believe at all. I want freethinkers in my community to be proud of who they are and not have to live in the shadows. You can't really change what someone already believes in, but you change their perspectives of how they see people from other religions. All of that can happen with education and information. Freethought can be more attractive to nonwhite communities by informing them about freethought and debunking stereotypes about freethinkers. Ignorance can overpower by knowledge, and that can bring diversity to the freethought movement. I hope that people will be more understanding and accepting of my atheist views.
Taressa Straughter, 18, is from Miami, Fla. She attended Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Miami and is attending Purdue University. She plans to be on the pre-med track and to attend medical school at Johns Hopkins University and her dream career is to become a neurosurgeon.
Enlightenment from the horrors of the bible
FFRF awarded Telexius $200.
By Telexius Wilson
It started when I was in elementary school and my mom and I went to a new church. Kids sat in the back while the adults sat in the front. All the kids were allowed to sleep through the sermons, so I happily joined because this church started early in the morning and I was tired and bored. After the sermons I always felt like my mom and I didn't belong there because most of the people were related to the pastor. My mom always taught me to pray for everything. When I did, I noticed that most of the things I prayed for never came true unless it was simple stuff. One day I stopped praying and realized the world didn't change one bit.
When I entered high school I got interested in science and the world around us. I realized that none of the tons of evidence backed up the claims the bible made. I started researching deeper and deeper. I found all the things wrong with the bible on my journey.
I could never support something that says any form of slavery is OK. As an African-American I could never accept this. My ancestors didn't die for me to support a religion that condones their mistreatment. I found out people even used the bible to defend against abolishing slavery. The bible is against women, too! When I learned about this, I knew I was no longer a Christian. I told my mom that I was now an atheist and you could tell she wanted to slap the black off me. She said, "You ain't no atheist." That was the end of our conversation. I'm planning on coming out to my entire family after I finish college. I know that means they might ostracize me, but I can't continue to live a lie forever, and my friends support me.
When you're down on your luck and have no one to turn to, the church seems like it has the answers to all your problems. It doesn't matter if you're poor and uneducated because the church needs people like that to keep it going. You have arms outreached to help you through everything when you're at your lowest. You are not alone anymore. That is how they get you. If someone tells you that if you put a little money into our church, you'll get something back in return, like a promotion, new car, new house or something, wouldn't you want to do it? I remember when the pastor said my mom was getting a new car. Guess what? She didn't. It's easier for people to accept a lie than the truth. It's so much easier to turn off your brain and believe someone has something amazing planned for you. The church also has another big advantage: They start their members young. Kids who are too young to understand what's going on are woken up early and dragged to church or children's bible study. Their teachers avoid all the terrible things that go on in the bible and only spoon feed them the good stuff.
How would I would make the freethinker movement more attractive to minorities? First, tell kids to question everything and do their own research. Look up all the bad things their holy book says. Education and knowledge are the key to becoming a freethinker. Have a debate with them and point out all the holes and flaws and maybe they might see that you are right. Start a group in the community and fundraise to help out struggling families. Religion has dehumanized atheism, so doing something great for the community will help get rid of some of that stigma. Don't start a war with the neighboring churches, be kind to all. Give the questioning a sense of acceptance and belonging like a church does. Use the methods that make churches so successful to your advantage. Their methods are successful for a reason. That's how I would make the freethinker movement look more attractive to minorities.
Telexius Wilson, 18, grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., and attended Lake Worth High School. She is attending Palm Beach State for two years, then Florida Atlantic University after that. She wants to major in criminal justice so she can become a police officer.
Education can lift veil of religious ignorance
FFRF awarded Hannah $200.
By Hannah Dolan
I have sinned. I have no chance of salvation. I am going to hell. Or so I'm told. In the community where I live, there are a few Jewish people, Buddhism is not an uncommon practice, and one of my friends is Muslim. But most people identify as Christian.
I was in elementary school, young and unaware that differences in faith could turn people against me. I was at a fellow student's house and everyone was sitting down to eat dinner. As the food reaches the table, everyone takes their neighbor's hand. I sit, confused, not understanding what everyone is doing. All eyes turn to me as I become the obstacle in completing the holy chain. The eyes are not understanding, the eyes are not comforting. The eyes are watching, judging, daring me. I quickly complete the circle, taking the hands on either side of me, and someone begins a prayer, no one bothering to tell me what we were doing.
It is the unknowing, the inability to understand, that discourages diversity. Followers of faith do not understand how I do not believe there is a god, while I am not certain why they follow the beliefs that they do. If I do not follow a religious code, do I have any morals? How do I understand someone if I think they believe in something that does not exist? I am evil and they are crazy.
My sister, with her godless beliefs, is considered a "bad influence" by her friend's family. The only reason why they are allowed to talk is so her friend can try to "convert my sister to see reason."
How do we fix this problem? How do we share the views of atheism without forcing it onto others? I think education is the answer. From elementary school through high school, whether it be a history class or an English assignment, the different religions are covered. But no one ever talks about the people who do not follow a particular faith. In class discussions on faith or religious figures in literature, one comment, one question or clarification and everyone stares as if no religion is not an option.
I am a girl of science. I do not believe a supreme being created all that lives. I believe that highly dense subatomic particles expanded into the known universe. When the days get hard, when everything feels like it is going wrong, I do not feel like someone has done this to me for the sake of a test. I take no comfort in thinking that I am being watched and judged every hour of every day. But people look at me and two things happen. First, people make assumptions about the way I look, with my genes making them put me into the category of "others." And the second is that people who know me, but don't know the person underneath, judge me on my lack of faith.
To change how beliefs are looked at, atheism needs to be openly discussed.
Hannah Dolan, 18, is from Valencia, Calif. She graduated from William S. Hart High School and is attending the University of Oregon to study computer science with cyber security interest.