Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What do you mean, it's not always about me?

I am a giant nerd, and I enjoy talking about nerdy things. Sometimes I get carried away and forget that there are normal people out there that don't really care very much about my DnD character or the awesome comics I read this week. When I am in the presence of such a non-geek it may take me a minute, but I will eventually realize it and make an effort to talk about whatever it is normal people talk about. (Movies? I dunno.)

I mean, it makes sense that not everyone shares my views and interests. I am perfectly capable of talking about non-geeky things when I'm around non-geeks. It just seems polite, honestly. Why would I expect them to enjoy or even participate in something that just really isn't their thing? I'm still a geek on the inside, and it doesn't stop me from making geeky jokes and observations.

So why is it that when someone is praying, they want everyone else to pray with them? In the last few months I must have read about at least a dozen law suits being filed against schools and city councils for instituting some kind of official prayer. Seriously? What is so wrong with a moment of silence? No one is stopping you from praying if that's what you want to do.

Now as I said, I understand that it's easy to forget that not everyone likes the same things you do. I can see how in a predominantly Christian neighborhood a prayer at the start of a meeting or at a graduation ceremony could be established without it occurring to anyone that it was wrong. Just because no one has complained up until now doesn't make it right, though. Once someone complains or files a law suit, why can't they just say 'Oops! Our bad!' and move on?

Because it is wrong, no doubt about it. Not everyone is Christian, and any endorsement by a government body of one particular faith over any other (or the lack of faith all together, for that matter) is discriminatory and violates the separation of church and state, no matter how harmless it seems. And hey! There's a completely reasonable alternative out there! Have a moment of silence, and let everyone use it however they'd like. Why are they wasting time and taxpayer money to fight these lawsuits? Why are they taking advantage of loopholes to keep their prayer as public as possible? Holding the prayer before the 'official' start of the meeting so it technically doesn't count, not screening student's graduation speeches, having a rotating list of speakers but only inviting predominantly Christian's shady dealings designed to avoid law suits without actually having to change anything. Why is being able to pray out loud and in public so important?

It's not just prayers, either. In Marion, Illinois they're trying to put up a Ten Commandments Monument in Town Square, on government property. When atheist Rob Sherman objected, he was 'not welcomed' in Marion. Rather than just building a non-religious monument instead, the City Council is talking about selling the land to make it technically private property. I hope they do, and Sherman outbids them. How is it anything but obvious that a monument to the Ten Commandments outside of City Hall is a problem? Why would they so stubbornly cling to the idea instead of just admitting that it would belittle non-Christians coming to City Hall seeking justice? How can a non-believer be sure they're going to be treated fairly in that kind of environment?

The Highway Crosses is another recent example. In Utah, highway troopers that fall in the line of duty are honored by erecting large, white crosses on busy highways. They argue that this is not an endorsement of religion, because crosses are not necessarily a religious symbol. So, why not just use something that is definitely not a religious symbol? Why fight an expensive legal battle to keep your crosses? Yes, families place roadside crosses all the time. Families are not a government body. There are plenty of ways to honor the fallen without religious overtones that are just asking for a lawsuit.

I am not at all religious, so maybe I'm missing something here...but I don't talk about geeky stuff every time I hang out with people. It doesn't make me less of a geek, or diminish my geekiness in any way. I don't erect monuments to Batman in front of government buildings so everyone can see how geeky I am. The whole attitude just confuses me.

Ok, never mind. I'm totally erecting a monument to Batman outside City Hall. That is just too awesome.

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