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http://ift.tt/eA8V8J This is what I’m currently reading: The events in Sydney over the last 24 hours have not ruined Christmas. Nothing can ruin Christmas – for the coming of Jesus into the World is greater than any other event. If anything, the deaths of 3 people in the Lindt Café only serves to demonstrate just how wonderful and necessary Christmas is.

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Isn’t it interesting that offense can be used as a weapon by atheists in so many different ways. The push by college campuses in banning Christian clubs is supposedly based on being non-discriminatory so as not to offend a non-Christian who may want to be president of said club. (Huh?) Atheists are offended as seeing crosses on city property so they threaten lawsuits to have them removed. Atheists see this danger of offense as so great that peoples’ freedom of assembly, freedom of beliefs, and freedom to their livelihood are considered fair game. But what if it’s the atheist who is doing the offending?

Ridicule in the Guise of Prayer

According to the Sun-Sentinel, atheist Preston Smith petitioned to give the opening invocation at the Lake Worth City Commission Meeting in Florida. You may ask yourself how in the world can an atheist offer an invocation when they don’t have anyone to pray to? The idea of petitioning a higher authority is absurd on atheist, which makes the request contradictory on its face. Yet, Smith felt that he had something to say and the City Commission obliged him and provided him with the time to open the proceedings.

You can watch Smith’s speech here, however, a transcript of it appears below:

Our collective atheism — which is to say, loving empathy, scientific evidence, and critical thinking — leads us to believe that we can create a better, more equal community without religious divisions.

May we pray together.

Mother Earth, we gather today in your redeeming and glorious presence, to invoke your eternal guidance in the universe, the original Creator of all things.

May the efforts of this council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowing wisdom of Satan. May Zeus, the great God of justice, grant us strength tonight. Jesus might forgive our shortcomings while Buddha enlightens us through His divine affection. We praise you, Krishna, for the sanguine sacrifice that freed us all. After all, if Almighty Thor is with us, who can ever be against us?

And finally, for the bounty of logic, reason, and science, we simply thank the atheists, agnostics, Humanists, who now account for 1 in 5 Americans, and [are] growing rapidly. In closing, let us, above all, love one another, not to obtain mythical rewards for ourselves now, hereafter, or based on superstitious threats of eternal damnation, but rather, embrace secular-based principles of morality — and do good for goodness’ sake.

And so we pray.

So what?

Not an Invocation

Some people were upset that several commissioners and the mayor walked out of the room before Smith delivered his diatribe. But what I’m not hearing is the fact that what Smith delivered was in no way an invocation; it was a mean-spirited attack. In the recent decision by the Supreme Court that invocations are constitutional, Justice Kennedy wrote, "Prayer that reflects beliefs specific to only some creeds can still serve to solemnize the occasion, so long as the practice over time is not "exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief." Clearly, Smith’s mess of a speech violated Kennedy’s caution that access to invocations should not be used as disparagement. Smith didn’t want to offer a prayer, he wanted to mock and offend as many people who believe in prayer as possible and he chose this as his soapbox from which to try.

Atheist Hemant Mehta (who bills himself as "the Friendly Atheist") said "To be sure, Smith’s invocation is not the one I would’ve given, but that’s not the point. The point is that if the commissioners aren’t happy with this, there’s a simple solution: Do away with invocations altogether. Stop wasting time with prayer and get down to business. Otherwise, they should expect more of these in the future." No, that isn’t the point. Atheists don’t get to claim offense at having to sit through prayers and then say offense is OK because they wielded it. But it does show that this movement of removing crosses, seeking to ban prayers, and even barring school children from trying to help the poor is not at the fringes of the atheists’ value system.

In commenting on the unbelievers of his day, Charles Simmons put it best:

Ridicule – a fool’s first and last argument.

The ridiculous is what fools remember longest. Deists in general attack Christianity by ridicule. This is their most powerful, and perhaps their most successful, weapon. All persons can laugh but all cannot reason. This mode of attacking Christianity answers purposes which can be effected no other way; for ridicule is unanswerable. Who can refute a sneer? It is independent of proof, reason, or argument; and as well be used against facts as against falsehood.

Ridicule is no argument but rather a proof of the want of it and the weakness of a cause.2

Smith’s mockery and contempt for the privilege of solemnizing a civic meeting should be derided. If you don’t believe in prayer then please don’t petition to pray before a town meeting. To do what Smith did is offensive to the values of the Constitution and even other atheists should rebuke him for it.

References

1.Mayo, Michael. "Mayo: Lake Worth Commissioners Walk out on Atheist Invocation." Sun-Sentinel.com. Tribune Interactive, Inc, 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. http://ift.tt/1zpqUSQ
2.
Simmons, Charles. A Laconic Manual and Brief Remarker Containing over a Thousand Subjects, Alphabetically and Systematically Arranged. Toronto: R. Dick, 1853. Print. 463.

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rotten

by Jesse Fennig Clash Daily Guest Contributor Virtue is not a subject that is generally discussed in modern daily life. We don’t really see it as something that can be aspired to — you’re either virtuous, or you aren’t, but really, what is virtue anyway? What one man sees as virtuous, another might see as vicious (having to do with vice — yup, that really is the origin of that word). How do we define virtue? How dare we say to someone else what is right for them? Sound familiar? You may not have heard these exact words (I don’t think I’ve ever heard this stated clearly and openly, certainly), but I’m sure you’ll have encountered this attitude. It’s the replacement of virtue with tolerance, denying that there might be a reason to tell people “no”. “Virtue” has become a thing that is imputed to a class through the accusation of bias. Sexism, racism, classism – these accusations have replaced actual results in the measurement of virtue. It’s prevalent in modern Western culture, and it’s the thing that is destroying it. Western culture is built on a set of shared values — civic virtues, if you will — that are the bedrock of society and a foundation that, when removed, renders the rest of it hollow and meaningless. These civic virtues are an essential part of the character of the fully realized Western citizen. Civic virtues (Aristotle called them “arete” – which means “excellence” – and so shall I) are the things that bind Western civilization together on a fairly fundamental level. These are the character traits that launched Western civilization to the heights it eventually achieved (I’m not going to presume to draw a high-water mark somewhere in history — that is for others who are better informed than I. I do not hesitate to say that it is past… and probably somewhere in the past hundred years or so), and the traits whose rejection is leading directly to our downfall. We’re talking about things like integrity, discipline, responsibility, temperance, courage, a desire for justice, and so on. Arete is the collection of civic virtues that tie the classical men of history together in a chain stretching back to Aristotle. In the history of the United States, we have George Washington, who refused the kingship of a nation. In the history of the Church, Martin Luther, who stood on principle before the greatest authorities of his time In ancient Rome, Marcus Aurelius, who formalized a tradition of duty that, for two thousand years, the enemies of virtue have struggled to destroy Beyond these, there are a thousand thousand more nameless faces, living productive, full lives in obscurity, their great (and make no mistake, it IS great) contribution being merely that they stood. THESE virtues are the ones that Western civilization has cast aside. When arete vanishes from a civilization, you’re left with a form without substance, staggering on through history as the individuals who make it up refuse to stand, and drag it down to collapse. This is made worse as people put their own spin on the virtues that make up arete, perverting honesty into personal truth, and integrity into sincerity, and justice into an ever-lengthening list of “-isms”. Like a healthy limb turned gangrenous, they drag at the health of the society, weakening it further with every passing day. Want examples? Turn on the news. Rioters burn a city demanding a guilty verdict, regardless of the truth of the case. Men stand guilty until proven innocent (though penalties are paid simply because of the accusation, regardless of outcome). Thanks to our abandonment of arete, we have an entire generation of young people who believe that society owes them a living simply because they exist, a generation of people who believe that the mistakes of the previous generations absolve them of responsibility. If this generation had arete, their reaction would not be one of entitlement or demands that they have amends made. They’d pull on their big boy pants, roll up their sleeves, and get to work. At the heart of arete is personal responsibility, and personal responsibility does not permit you to pass the buck. Image: http://ift.tt/1wyba0e

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