It is inevitable

January 7, 2014

By the time I’d spent a few months on Daily Kos, I figured it wouldn’t last for me. I don’t seem to possess the requisite hostility to put up with the environment indefinitely. I value causes more than in-fighting. But like a 24-hour news cycle, you can dispense with the petitions and peruse donation requests in a few minutes, which still leaves you with the rest of the day to fill up.

I’ve seen partisans on both sides of debates over whether Obama is a saint or an abomination – they’re all Democrats, but somehow they find reasons to war bitterly over things we can’t control. I’ve seen the ‘liberal’ gun enthusiasts, who try so hard to connect liberal values with anarchic gun rights and fail, troll and bait and drive off whoever gets in their way. And yesterday, I was amused to see religious privilege put so plainly it made me laugh, even as that community now seeks to drive off virulent skeptics.

If the goal of this blog were to express antireligious sentiment, I would never have come here. If you want a blog that is comfortably intolerant of religion, by all means go find one! I’m sure there are many. Intolerance of religion has never been an official or unofficial element of Daily Kos.

A comment from a believer taking offense at religion-bashing. Not xian-bashing or muslim-bashing (hell, people get away with the latter some days) but calling religion a problem. Or like the way Hitchens put it that religion poisons everything. I don’t have the same fire for the battle that I used to, but I have yet to find redeeming qualities to it that are not incidental, that cannot be found elsewhere. And yet so many believers will take offense on behalf of their religion. They seek to identify with their religion, to claim it as their identity the same way the color of their skin or their sexual preference is part of their identity.

Well, certainly people are born with their skin, subject to some change perhaps. And at least there’s data suggesting sexual preference is inborn. But religion? There’s not even compelling evidence for the ‘god gene,’ much less anything convincing about being ‘born’ xian or muslim or … whatever. Even a predilection for god-belief, however misguided, has to find a vehicle through which to manifest. And what is that going to be, but whatever religion hooks them first? Most likely, whatever religion their parents are taught to instill, because it’s so much easier to indoctrinate children.

Get ’em while they’re young. Works for cigarettes too, or so I’m told.

We Democrats have always prided ourselves on our big tent. One of the things that has prevented us from winning as many victories the past several decades has been a perceived intolerance of religion. I would suggest therefore that demonstrating tolerance for people of faith is one way the Democratic Party can expand its electoral victories.

So this commenter raised this question for me. A ridiculous question, but I’ll see if I can find an opportunity to ask it anyway, because I empathize with pragmatism and that’s what this is, a call to pragmatism. Maybe the premises aren’t all true, or maybe it’s not important enough to appease the religious majority by silencing skeptics. Or maybe it’s pointless, because of free speech someone will always speak up. But I want to ask the admins, seriously. Bashing religion is not the same as bashing people, although believers try so hard to equate it with bigotry and prejudice and shame people into silence.

They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves for trying to drive people off, but they obviously value their own hurt feelings more than mine. Big shocker.

Should skeptics be silent about religion in order to placate believers? Should we play along with the religious majority? Does the stated goal of Daily Kos, to elect more and better Democrats, mean we endorse this oppression of the non-religious minority by the religious majority? This actual exercise in intolerance, in bigotry, as opposed to the loud plaintive claims of the believers? Should I really get lost and find somewhere else to read and chat, some other outlet for supporting Democrats? I mean to find out. And while the believers claim such painful alienation when their precious religious beliefs are attacked, I’m already alienated enough to have stopped writing there, for months. Work slowed down enough for some new writing a while ago; I just haven’t bothered. And I already get enough email about petitions and causes to donate to. Maybe it is time to go.

So, this is more or less a reminder to self to raise the question at the next opportunity. I already know what I’d do, personally – that intolerant xian hypocrite can piss off. Take those wounded sensibilities and shove it with the actual oppression. They’re so oblivious that they complain about oppression of their ideas while trying to really drive me out of the community. Who is worse off, the ‘second class’ citizen in perception or the exile? But I’m a pragmatic sort. I’m curious to see if this fellow is an outlier or more representative of the community.



  1. As someone who left DK, may I give you a bit of advice?

    If I had been smart, I would have started my own blog first. Then I would have had my own little corner of the internet to call home. If something came up that applied very well to DK, I’d cross-post it, but there would be no need to cross-post everything and I’d limit the degree to which I “hung out” there. DK would just be a place I would visit and not a place to call home.

    I’m not surprised that it’s the religious people who are bothering you. It was the gun people who drove me out and that was in large part because it was *not* a main interest of mine and I didn’t want it to be. However, I couldn’t express even a mild, tentative opinion on the subject. Atheism is a bigger issue for me and, consequently, I’m willing to tolerate more conflict.

    Religious people have tremendous problems when they encounter people who don’t show deference to them. In recent months, I’ve come to the conclusion that a major way of keeping people in the fold is by portraying belief as inevitable. That’s why Oprah had to tell Diana Nyad she wasn’t *really* an atheist. Our mere existence is a challenge to them – especially the more progressive believers who have a platonic notion of what God might be. Christianity might be not literally true, but there’s something divine and Christianity is one, among many ways of honoring it. That’s how a liberal Christian friend explained it to me.

    I read the thread and it’s too bad the OP didn’t say how religion was the problem. It might have been less threatening to people.

    Group blogs have some inherent problems, I’m afraid.

    “Should I really get lost and find somewhere else to read and chat, some other outlet for supporting Democrats?” I’ve been asking myself that for over a year now. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a suitable one. The result is that I’ve been less politically active for the past year.

    Here’s the point where I try to pimp the blogs of some of my acquaintances (this will probably go to spam for too many links):

    Makagutu is a really good person and you can get in touch with others through his blog. He mostly write about atheism, philosophy and Kenyan politics:

    Robert Nielson is an economics student in Ireland:

    Totally offensive humor:

    I wish I could give you more links to people who are interested in U.S. politics. That’s been a real gap in my life since leaving DK.

    I do have to laugh when Christians whine that they are being persecuted. I don’t really know why they don’t get it. They are in the majority and in positions of power. Atheists are a small, often despised, minority. It reminds me of the situation in French Canada where the Anglophones perceived having their ability to oppress the Francophones limited was itself oppression. Maybe you can introduce the concept of “Christian Privilege” to the folks at Daily Kos.


  2. http://www.cracked.com/article_20779_5-seemingly-insignificant-things-that-make-people-like-you_p2.html

    Keep this in mind, bub. Despised minority, as your above commenter noted. It’s best not to expect anything better. I find the gun nutters on DKos an amusing bunch. Sometimes I think they’re just trollin’.

    • Well, I did get an answer and I’m clear, at least for now. I will hold it up in their faces next time.

      Hell of it is (heh), I am judicious in my criticism, I’ve helped kick off the site a few skeptics who weren’t. And it’s still not enough for some people. Too bad for them.


      I’m not going to read the context (17+ / 0-)

      because quite frankly, nothing interests me less than “some people were mean to me because x, y, z and go here and look.”

      I’m an atheist, yet somehow I manage to operate on a site that has lots of believers. How? By being judicious in my criticism. In other words, I only discuss religion when it is relevant, and when christianists are trying to use their religion to trample on the religious liberties of other groups (including the right to NOT believe).

      It’s really not that hard. If you want to debate whether god exists, then sure. But don’t come complaining to me when people get offended. Religion is pretty important to people. As long as they’re not imposing it on you, you challenge it at your own peril.

      So to answer your question, it’s not a topic I ban, but like I/P, you’re on your own.

      by kos on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 02:11:50 PM MST

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