The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever


April 21, 2004 | 22 Comments

Dedicated to Leon Wieseltier:

Would Americans be provoked into remembering their reasons for believing in witches, if an atheist challenged the government’s position that the phrase “for Witch it stands” in the Pledge of Allegiance is mere Ceremonial Wiccanism?


22 Responses to “Witches”

  1. AK
    April 21st, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

    In a word: NO.

    That idea is total bullshit. Well, any idea that holds religion with any amount of respect or seriousness is total bullshit.

    Looks like Wieseltier’s ideas are total bullshit too. He doesnt address the fact that the religious’ attempt to keep “under God” in the pledge is another attempt at behavior and thought control. One quote in particular comes to mind:

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

  2. Viole
    April 21st, 2004 @ 8:06 pm

    Yikes, RA, are you some kind of commie pinko bastard, that you don’t support your kids repeating a loyalty oath to a piece of cloth? Know this; JOHN ASHCROFT IS WATCHING YOU. He knows your movements. He knows what you eat and where you sleep.

    To answer the question, though, I’d have to say, and for a more thoughtful(and, admittedly, apologistic) reason that AK, no.

    I can understand the desire for security. It’s hard not to when a minor mob is banging on your door, looking to lynch you for your sexual orientation. That’s what religion really provides for a lot of people, is security.

    Witches, on the other hand, do not provide security, and so people are more likely to disbelieve in them if they aren’t proven.

    Of course, there is also the slight issue of peer pressure. Few people believe in witches. Too many believe in god. It’s always easier to believe the same thing as the majority.

  3. Redfred
    April 22nd, 2004 @ 11:21 am

    This issue is kinda weird for me. As an outsider looking in it is obvious that the phrase

  4. Tim
    April 22nd, 2004 @ 2:12 pm

    Redfred makes an interesting point about education and separation of church and state. In England there is (up to a point) a connection between the two and religion is taught – by educated people – in schools (although parents can take their kids out of R.E. lessons). Perhaps because of this we have one of the lowest church attendance rates in the western world. Most people are indifferent to religion, and few christians here are fundamentalists.

    It seems weird to me that U.S. money has “in God we trust” on it. Over here banknotes have famous people from England’s history on the back – on the

  5. Viole
    April 22nd, 2004 @ 2:24 pm

    Yes, ‘Under God’ was added to the pledge in the McCarthy period, so that godless communists(like yours truly) would feel ‘uncomfortable’ when saying the pledge. Well, the FBI knows how loyal I am, so I don’t think that saying the pledge is going to help their opinion of me any. Nope.

    I agree with you on teaching religion in the schools, and further, I think so long as we teach them as a historical philosophy we violate neither atheistic principals nor the bill of rights. What we definitely shouldn’t do is teach them as an explanation for the universe, which I suspect you agree with me on.

  6. Redfred
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 4:13 am

    Absolutely, RE was , at least when I did it, more like a history class. It was boring as hell but covered the basics of most of the world religions and made everyone aware that there were people out there that did think differently from you (I already knew that). Half the reason Americans are so ingrained in christianity is that they are scared of the unknown (A perfectly normal human trait) for most the only readily available info on a Muslim is crap like that Chick fellow spews out. Btw before anyone thinks I’m attacking Americans here the same problem exists elsewhere in the world too, like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, Lebanon… anyone seeing a pattern here?

    I’m not saying it is not open to some abuse, you will get a few fundies who will hijack the classes but it can’t be worse than what they get in church. And as people on the whole get better educated these Fundies will be seen for what they are….. Hateful Bigots.

  7. Redfred
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 6:09 am

    OOOOOPS! I was just re-reading my earlier post, and I noticed a major mistake that I can’t believe none of you picked up on….. As I was writing I could not remember which amendment dealt with Religious freedom, so I just picked the second at random and noted that I would have to check it before I submitted (Remember I’m not American so cut me some slack) unsurprisingly I forgot and posted anyway …DOH! Of course the 2nd amendment is your right to shoot the fuck out of people and let your kids play with loaded firearms, and I really should have changed it to the 1st amendment.

  8. Eva
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 6:47 am

    maybe, unconsciously, you realize that playing with loaded guns and and shooting the fuck out of people is very similar to having stupid religious beliefs…..
    more like a frudian slip…..right?

  9. Eva
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 6:51 am


  10. Viole
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 7:25 am

    I’m not a constitutional scholar. I don’t know where anything is, either. Eva’s probably right, though.

  11. Redfred
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 7:26 am

    a double en-freudian :-)

    To be honest I don’t really understand the mentality most people have when talking about the amendments. I mean you would have thought that they were handed down to Moses with the commandments. For goodness sake they were written 200 years ago, are they really that relevant that they couldn’t do with a tweak here and there?

  12. Eva
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 7:40 am

    psychologically, they give the impression of stability…
    and some ammendments are less than 200 years old…

  13. hermesten
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 7:50 am

    Bush Taliban to ban

  14. AK
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 8:57 am

    I think there needs to be an anti-televangelists channel. You know, a channel where they argue the impossibility of God and they point out all the bullshit in all the religious texts?

    Kinda like a mix of Penn & Tellers BULLSHIT show and the infidel radio guy or something… but in a 24/7 TV station! Theres gotta be some rich powerful atheists somewhere in the world that could make it happen! Not all rich powerful people are Xtians are they?

  15. Redfred
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 9:05 am

    You have to start somewhere. Teachers are at least more “educated” than preists. Admittidly you are right here in the south they will insist that religion is taught in the manner you indicate above, but surely in some of the more liberal Northern / Western states will take up the cause and actually teach religion properly. Once there is sufficient “Educated” people we can go to War, Remember the confederacy has been shown to be wrong before.

    Even if Religion is not taught under ideal conditions initially what is there to lose? Currently kids end up in Bible school and Sunday school and worse than that spoon fed crap straight from their parents uneducated heads. Waiting for colledge is far too late for most.

  16. hermesten
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 9:06 am

    Some rich and powerful atheists:

    Bill Gates
    Geoge Soros
    Bob Geldof
    Steve Wozniak
    Warren Buffett
    Ted Turner

  17. Anonymous
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 9:23 am

    I take what you’re saying as essentially a way of “muddying the water” for the Christians, since there are about a 1,000 different versions of Christianity. I’m not against it, but I think if anyone tried to teach religion in school, this is what would happen: First, it would get tied up in the courts. Then, if the courts allowed it they would make a set of rules under which it could be taught. These rules would be designed to sanitize and saccharineize what is taught to make it palatable to the greatest number of people. Finally, it would be taught in an intellectual environment where Adam and Eve get the same respect as evolution theory, so the Bible Thumpers won’t be offended.

    Also, I disagree about priests and schoolteachers. In my experience the average Catholic Preist is better educated, more intelligent, and probably more rational than the average public school teacher, and almost certainly more skeptical. Some of the best private schools in this country are Catholic schools. Where I live now, the only decent private school is a Catholic school.

  18. hermesten
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 9:23 am

    #17 was me.

  19. Debbie
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 11:56 am

    I don’t think it is out of the question that RE could be offered as a class in the US state system.

    … thinking back to RE classes in my Irish school were some of the best hours of my youth. Our school was, I think, the only local state-funded but non-Catholic school and this meant if you wanted a free school education but didn’t want to be taught by a nun or priest you attended our school. Many kids of non-Irish nationals attended the school. Thus we had a lot of atheists, some local Protestants (with evangelical types in the extreme minority), a few Jews and Muslims, some Asians who I think were Buddhists but can’t remember, and some stray Catholics. There was no test or homework for this class, and was rated on your report card similar to PE based on the level of participation and interest you showed. With no state-administered test the subject was not relevant for entry to the university system.

    We learnt some basics of what different religions believed and then had very lively discussions where anything was up for consideration provided it was asked in a respectful way and discussions didn’t take a personal tone.

    But the view of religion in this environment (and in European society as a whole I think) is different to that of the US or Islamic fundie. The religious debate in Europe seems analagous to a republican vs. democrat debate and there was no real question of who was right or wrong in any absolute sense – after all it is only a BELIEF system and not subject to these kinds of measures.

    I could imagine a religious education class being offered in many US state systems but as control is at the state level, unlike the national level in Europe, some states would be subject to the local fundies trying to manipulate the system, much like they have tried in Kansas and Georgia to take evolution out of the curriculum. Perhaps if the class was called ‘cultural diversity’ it would be more acceptable. However, do any US students show interest in class where they don’t receive academic credit?

    It is interesting in the US where state and religion are separated. My child recently was involved in a musical, “Once upon this island”, at our local US public middle school that told a story involving Pacific Island gods. I presume a musical with a strong Christian, Jewish or Islamic theme would not be considered in the state system.

  20. hermesten
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 12:50 pm


  21. Cassiopeia
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 6:05 pm

    Ahem. Ceremonial Wiccanism??

  22. theomorph
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 6:57 pm

    Ceremonial Wiccanism…. I don’t think anybody really takes Wiccans seriously, including a lot of the Wiccans. I have known several, and they seem to join up more for aesthetic reasons than for anything more serious.

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