I woke up this morning to Bill O'Reilly raging about an atheist sign displayed with other holiday decorations in the state's Capitol Building. No, I don't watch Bill O'Reilly, his diatribe was being carried by Q13 News. I always think it's both funny and sad to watch people argue about religion. It reminds me of 6 year-olds arguing in the sandbox. The whole 'my god is better than your god' argument sounds just like the childish claim 'my toy is better than your toy!' Complete with name calling, pushing, shoving and scuffling. Trouble is, when 6 year-olds scuffle, the worst is someone ends up with is a black eye or bloody nose. When people scuffle about religion, people die. Tragic. And all because some doesn't believe what you do.
I sent the following letter to Bill O'Reilly. I also sent it to Governor Gregoire.
I take exception to your comments regarding the atheist sign in Washington's State Capitol building. That sign is the ultimate expression of the tolerance, peace and love that is supposed to be the hallmark of this season. Here's what I mean.
That sign is a statement of the atheist's beliefs. They believe there are no gods, devils and so on. Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists, etc. believe differently. However the presence or absence of a divine or spiritual presence cannot be proven absolutely in any way scientifically. Just so we're all on the same page, Dictionary.com defines belief as: "confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof." So religion, belief is something that fundamentally only exists in people's heads.
I'm not saying belief is bad or wrong. I'm not saying that belief or spiritual experiences are not real for the person experiencing them. However a discussion on the nature of reality isn't the point here. But, if at it's most basic level, it's just in your head, who is going to have the arrogance to place a value judgement on someone else's belief?
We are so fortunate here in the United States to have freedom of religion. Everyone is free to believe whatever they want. So you believe in God. So they don't. So what? Why does their belief affect you? Why do we have to hate someone else just because they believe differently? No that's not hopelessly naive. That's maturity and true respect for others.
Here's an idea. In this season of peace and love, try opening your heart and mind to the concept that your neighbors different holiday practices and displays are just as dear to his heart as your own time-honored traditions.
By allowing the sign to stay, Governor Gregoire is practicing true tolerance. She doesn't agree with it, but allows it's display anyway. I think we can all take a lesson from that. There's no denying that religion is the cause of most wars, including the ones we're fighting now. Let reason prevail this season, let's really be tolerant, let's love our neighbors and allow each other the freedom to be ourselves and respect each other. Maybe then there really will be peace on earth.
Sincerely, etc., etc.
I don't really expect a response from Mr. O'Reilly. But isn't it time the world finally grew up?