Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Registry of Atheists?

I'm about to post about religion twice in a row. I promise I'll try to make them short. I'll try to make them interesting. I'll try to make you think. If you think you already think, I'm going to try to make you think harder about what you thought you thought about. (UPDATE: The second post is here.)

First up, pastor Mike Stahl recently posted that he thought a registry of atheists would be a good idea. It would be similar to the sort of registration that is imposed on sex offenders. That's his comparison, by the way... not mine. In fact, he couldn't see why anyone would be opposed to such an idea. I'll link you to this blog post by P.Z. Myers, because Meyers thought to quote it in detail. Stahl, on the other hand, locked down his blog's comments almost immediately (here's me, being unsurprised), and locked down the entire blog shortly thereafter, as you can see for yourself (UPDATE 2011-09-24: If you follow the link now you'll see that the website is open, with a couple of interesting things to note. First, the 'Registry of Atheists' post has been completely removed. While that's an improvement, actually addressing the issue instead of pretending it never happened would have been even better. Second, there's text on the sidebar: "BWAAHHHH!! DOES THIS BLOG "OFFEND"? TOUGH!!! THEN LEAVE, HEATHEN!"  Hmmm.  Jesus did not confine his preaching to the already converted and was pretty vocal about loving his enemies. Also, I can't help but notice that this is a hefty chunk of bravado from a man who denies his mistakes instead of teaching from them. I find myself wondering exactly what Pastor Mike thinks he's there for. Under other circumstances I might not care, but here I feel obligated to point out that this man has represented Christ falsely, and it neither began nor ended with this PR disaster.) Between the time he locked down the comments and withdrew the blog, I gathered his email address from his profile page and sent him this letter, to which he has not responded.
I'm writing this in email because it wasn't possible to do so on your
blog, even after subscribing. Apparently, the comments are locked down. Unfortunate for a blog that literally invites free discussion.
It bothers me that you think so little of your own right to practice the
religion of your choice that you would persecute others for
exercising their religious freedoms, including the right to have no
religion at all. After all, if you can do that to them, it's only fair
that the same be done to you. Let's finish the thought and espouse a
national registry where everyone must declare declare his religious
persuasion. Give everyone a number so there's no ambiguity about that
list. Or perhaps, you should refer back to a volume of our own
religion's scripture (namely the Revelation of St John) to see what
Christian doctrine is on such a subject.
Of course I am opposed to such a disastrously ill-conceived idea. I hope
from the previous paragraph that you, as well, can now see why anyone, even the most devout Christian, should oppose it. If it isn't clear yet, let me say that you have proved to me today that all it takes is a
momentary lack of thought to pave the way for the Antichrist, and you
don't have to be hateful to do it.
Even God himself respects an atheist's right to be wrong. So lead by
example and persuasion, not coercion. I do hope you pray about his, see
the obvious folly of it, and retract the idea publicly.
Peace to you,
Dave Leigh

Well, I can't exactly say that what Stahl has done counts as "retracting the idea". That would, of course, require him to say it's wrong. Rather, following Brave Sir Robin's lead, he has bravely run away. (The second post is here.)

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