Saturday, April 24, 2010

“Dear Mr. Hump…” My advice to an atheist: No guilt trip required

I recently received this letter from a valued reader.

“… I am from a family that was Catholic but not too serious about it. As a result, my brother, sister, and I are all atheists. But despite my own convictions & your encouraging & illuminating writings, I fell by the wayside recently. I didn't know what to do & took the easy way out.

I had hired a handyman to do a few repair jobs around my house. … The work being done was over several days, and as he was leaving one day he pressed a brochure from his Baptist church into my hand & asked if I would like to attend a service and join the choir!

Needless to say, I was shocked & caught off guard by this intrusion into my privacy. I could have pointed out that I didn't want any part of this nonsense but just to get him off my back I said that I already belonged to another church & wasn't interested. Also, he still had to finish up some work so I just wanted to get the job completed without any fuss. The whole episode was upsetting to me. Needless to say I won't be hiring him again.“I tried to think quickly of some clever argument that you would have made, but I just drew a blank. How should I have responded? “ -- L.

My reply to L follows. How would YOU have handled it?

Dear L,

The situation you described put you between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand you wanted to be true to your atheism / non-belief; on the other you had a project to complete. One can never predict how religionists will respond to a person openly declaring their atheism. He may have smiled and said if you change your mind you're welcome. Or he may have walked off the job leaving you high and dry.

You have no obligation to reveal to this guy your position. He was hired to do a job, and as the client your only duty is to yourself in seeing the job done. That's exactly what you did. I'd have likely done something similar. You'll recall in my book that I related using a similar tact when dealing with a "Christian business" with which I had an outstanding order. Instead of talking offense at their religious proselytizing on their site I used it to my advantage and got priority attention and faster delivery than I otherwise would have.

My / our rationality and ability to reason permits me / you to do what is rational and expedient. There is no "spirit" watching us to see if we deny "him." We owe no allegiance to any dogma, doctrine or man-god. We certainly don't owe anything to a hired contractor other than payment for work completed to our satisfaction. On the other hand, if the job were done and paid for, I'd have not only told him I was an atheist, I'd have offered him a copy of my book in exchange for his hand out.

It's all good, L. Leave the guilt trips to the theists... they thrive on it.

Yours in reason,


NewEnglandBob said...

I am in a very bad mood, so I will not say what I would have done in that situation. Maybe another day.

I am just posting to be notified of posts by others.

Motorhead said...

L's letter reads like the guy was making a pass.

How would I have handled it? I would've taken him up on his offer to attend his church and join the choir. After the handyman's work was completed, inspected and paid for, I would've shown up for choir practice eager to sing. On the Sunday of my big debut as a choir singer, I would've gotten to church a little early with a loud ringing cell phone. My wife and friends would be in the congregation with loud phones and possibly some silly string. After the first hymn, we'd all check our phones and call each other. During the confusion, I'd ask the handyman if the choir was allowed to sing "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron" or "Flying Purple People Eater" instead of the songs that we had rehearsed. Once told to turn our phones off or on vibrate, I'd jump to my feet, grab the nearest choir microphone and recite "Green Eggs and Ham" repeatedly, until I was told to leave the premises.

Hey! I was asked to join!

Dromedary Hump said...

You get extra points for creativity.
Clearly you are possesed by Satan ;)

Barb F said...

I would have declined his offer to join or attend. That would have been it. I don't do profiling for handymen. If I want a plumber I don't need to know his color, sexual preference or creed. I need to know if he can fix the plumbing. Why should I be ffended if someone wishes to share something they find useful? It's like offering a bite of a nut filled cokie to somone allergic to nuts. You can decline the offer with grace or, depending on your maturity level and socialization, blast them out of your presence with a tirade on their insensitivity to your all important agenda of the "anti-nut campaiogn." Personally I find their are loose screws and wingnut on both all sides of the issues involved in atheism, non-theism, agnosticism, theism and abject egocentric selfism.

Angel said...

Last week my 10 year old son was given a collection envelope/brochure (by a teacher's aid at school) for the Institute for Creation Research-- during his farewell party!!!

The purpose of the fund-raising? "Host an ICR event." No shit. Since my ten year old is obviously not capable of holding down a job yet, this brochure was meant for his parents.

Our son attends a public school funded with federal dollars. What did I do? I called the principal and asked what she intended to do about it. Quote, "That aid no longer works for us." Gee. Really? Was this decision made before or after he attempted to proselytize on government property?

The pamphlete reads: "New from Henry M Morris III - Pulling Down Strongholds and Achieving Victory Through Strategic Offense." (That was the title)

Here's the rest:

"The Institute for Creation Research actively participates in conferences, seminars, and other events around the world, communicating the evidence of science that demonstrates the accuracy and authority of Scripture. ICR also offers creation seminars and events at local churches, Christian schools, universities, and other organizations.

The world is going to hell. Western society is growing more sensual and secular. Evolutionary humanism is overtly promoted in every conceivable venue and media. Atheists have become emboldened and virulently anti-Christian.

In this compelling booklet, Dr. Henry M. Morris III takes up Paul's challenge to believers to pull down the strongholds of the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4). Drawing from his military background, Dr. Morris lays out the basic requirements of battle: identifying the enemy, understanding the objectives, acquiring and using the appropriate weapons, and establishing a strategic plan for victory."


The rest goes on talking about how YOU TOO can make a positive contribution in the sadistic attempt of literal Christians to take over our newly budding rational world!

The school board is doing an investigation but I don't think much is going to happen since the guy was already booted.

Notice the mention of Dr. Morris' military background. The accompanying picture is a mock battle scene with a bunch of Renaissance Fair rejects on horseback in full body armor.

I explained to my son that this teacher's aid violated his Constitutional rights and ... how much can you truly explain to a ten year old, though? Really. He just saw how upset I was and thought I was mad at him. Tough situation, Hump.

One good thing to note, however, is that as of this past Friday my son is enrolled in virtual school. Hallelujah! No more preaching teachers!

Rastifan said...

This reminds me of the time I was repairing boats. A colleague of mine was fired when the boat owner learned of the demonic abominations (atheist) that was fixing his keel. The sail boat had smashed in to some float some. No divine guidance there.

The argument was as I recall it. The boat might sink. I have seldom seen a boss so utterly fed up with a customer and so sorry for his employee. My colleague was on a steady salary, so all he did was laugh. So this was god's divine plan. Make his servant smash up his boat, then make him hire an atheist so he can fire him to prove his faith. Things got a bit bit fuzzy for me from there on out concerning the boat and it's keel.

Lisa said...

Although we live in a country founded on freedom of religion, know that that never meant FREEDOM FROM RELIGION. Abner Kneeland, a Universalist minister, was the last person in the US to be jailed for blasphemy, by Massachusetts in 1938. His theology was that God and Nature were synonymous terms. He called himself a Pantheist, not an Atheist, and so, off to jail he went.
In the New Hampshire State constitution "the open denial of the being and existence of prohibited by statute and declared to be blasphemy." A similar declaration was found in the Vermont Constitution. New Hampshire did not allow a person to serve as governor or state legislator if not Protestant until 1877.

NewEnglandBob said...

Lisa, you are flat wrong:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

It is clear. No law.

Any law therefore is unconstitutional.

Dromedary Hump said...

UH OH...Lisa did not read my book!

Lisa, Article VI of the constitution says there can be no religious test to hold public office. That rendered all state prohibitions on atheists holding office null and supreme court ruling.

The fact that the constituion vacates any need for religion to hold public office, and since only citizens of the US can hold public office, it is in fact endorsement of guarenteeing citizen's right to be "free from religion."

Now, what that has to do with this particular article I posted I'm not sure. No one was saying the guy didn't have the right to solicit L's participation in church. He certainly does have that right under the 1st Amendment.

As far as Angel's post is concerned, about a teacher promoting the creation institute, thats a little more hazy, since unless the Creation Institute has been declared a religious organization I doubt the act of handing out literature was a violation. Probably not.

Joyce said...

The teacher aide was totally out of line. It's a public school and govermentally funded. She should have been fired. Good call.

On the other hand, a plumber inviting someone to his church doesn't seem like a big deal to me. It's apples and oranges to me.

I've been invited to other churches (as well as the Mormon Church and the Jehovah Witnesses Kingdom Hall) and simply told them that I already have a church (which I do), accepted the invitation because it sounded interesting or, in the case of Mormons and JW's, that I don't believe in their teachings. Thanks but no thanks.

I've never had any conflicts with my responses nor would I have any conflict if someone declined my invitation because they told me they don't believe in God. I'd leave it at that.

Dromedary Hump said...

Joyce,, Yes, we'd expect that from you. But that's because you're not some whacked out fundie.

Believe me, if I had been asked and told that Christian business parts company in the mid west that I was an atheist, I'd still be waiting for that part. When in doubt when business is at stake laying ones non-belief out can be a mistake.
I mean, just look at the resident fanatic asshole we have here, and imagine trying to get your Big Mac from him without spit on it.

Anonymous said...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
First Amendment (1791)
Right you are, Bob, before the first amendment was ratified, freedom of thought and expression applied only against the national government, not the states. The amendment broadened the application to the states. Interestingly, this amendment has become equated with the principal of "separation of church and state."
And Mr. Hump is also correct about Article IV (no religious test to hold office). I was referring to practices which were common prior to 1787, such as a requirement in the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution requiring officials to declare that they believed in the Christian religion.. I got this information from Jack Rakove's annotated US Constitution, a great book.
And I was not referring to anyone else's email, just launching a new subject, hope that's ok.

Dromedary Hump said...'s all good !

Mi blogga es yo blogga...or...whatever.

Dromedary Hump said...

ok that would be "mi blog es su blog"

Anonymous said...

Couple corrections here. I, Lisa, sent the last post, and did not mean to use Anonymous. I am still working on submitting correctly.
Also, Abner Kneeland, that Pantheist, went to jail in 1838, not 1938, as I incorrectly typed earlier. Still, that's after the First Amendment 1791. State's rights still trumped in some cases.

Joyce said...

Shoot, even I wouldn't do business with DM/AtheistWar or whatever anonymous name he's currently using!

No Guy in the Sky said...

I would have said. "I am sorry. I do not believe." That is usually enough. If I think I couldn't trust the persons reaction. "I am sorry. No thank you."

Enrico S said...

I often have believers inviting me to join them at a church event or similar. No big deal. Most of my friends are believers.

90% of the time I simply thank them for the invitation, knowing that they had good intentions. If its music related, I might even join them. Gospel music kicks ass!

However if they act like zealot assholes about something, then I typically engage!

Rachelle said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but I'll add my two cents anyway. LOL!

This guy was invited to do a a simple "No thank you" to his church/choir offer should have sufficed. If he tried to push it more...I would have said sternly: "I said no thank you...Let's keep this professional." And I'm sure I would have smiled. LOL!

But like NE response might also depend on my mood. I can be firm or rude if need be. LOL! And had he walked off without completing the job...or left shitty results, I'd have let him know that his business would suffer if I had to go through any legal measures to get the job completed...and that local news stations are always looking for shady businesses to report on.

DM said...



they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

see how we take a term and convert in into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

FOR THE *HEADLESS IDIOT* called m.shermer

this is your *FINAL WARNING*




Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker...


When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist


now I want you to watch this video of DELUSION...

with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...



but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...

the Death of Ath*ism









you little liars do nothing but antagonize…

and you try to eliminate all the dreams and hopes of humanity…

but you LOST…


Crystal Night, Atheists!


Have I said this before?



PULLING THE PLUG on atheism[/img]


Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism…



atheists deny their own life element…













Shermer - Randi - Myers - Harris - Dawkins VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE

you are ANNIHILATED!!!

crystal night is a reference to when the SUN IS ECLIPSED...


Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...


************************************ or death...


Dromedary Hump said...

Hahahah!! Hey, who knew our resident troll had a sense of humor? That one stays up. LOL.