The Raving Theist

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Don’t Pick on the Atheist

June 3, 2006 | 18 Comments

Don’t you hate it when you come back to your desk and find that someone’s put a sticky over the word “Atheists” on your “Atheists Love America, Too” coffee mug? I can see despising America enough to cover up that word, but who dislikes atheists? The worst part of it all is deciding what to say in the e-mail you send to your boss, your boss’s boss and your co-workers, as Shirley Setterbo of AtheistExposed2 did.

Comments

18 Responses to “Don’t Pick on the Atheist”

  1. devneallthetime
    June 4th, 2006 @ 1:12 am

    Well, there is nothing wrong with the word atheist. Im a Christian, and if I thought I would get through a day without seeing or hearing a belief that was’nt mine, well thats not likely. I think that was a pretty woosy was to confront the contrast of your views. I would have seen that and been anxious to start a conversation with you. Keep seeking truth buddy-

  2. allgray
    June 4th, 2006 @ 6:07 am

    Well, I’ve got to admit that you’ve got your share of moxie. However, as a life-long atheist, I’ve learned some very hard lessons about sharing my beliefs with co-workers. No matter how enlightened you believe they are – they are absolutely not tolerant of your non-beliefs. Period.

    That being said, I’m in no way advocating cowering in your cubical being afraid of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. But you’ve got to realize that just as we can’t fathom the belief in an omnipresent, supernatural being they can’t rationalize a person not believing. What is repugnant to us is just as repugnant to them. Where you see the coffee mug affirmation as a definitive coming out they see it as an attack on their personal faith and religious beliefs.

    I’ve found that instead of proclaiming my atheistic views to people that I know are intolerant that a much better way is to participate in discussions and offer a different point of view. Striving to be the intelligent, thoughtful devil’s advocate (so to speak ;) will get your point across to even the most devoutly faithful believer. Only the most zealous fundamentalist will refuse to agree that god gave us the free will to question our existence and faith.

    An age old question that believers love to ask non-believers is how can you have morals without believing in god. Of course, the answer is obvious: Atheists believe in tolerance and understanding for all faiths and non-faiths alike. Faith in humanity is what counts not faith in supernatural beings that choose to appear in windows, tree trunks and honey buns. What on earth is more moral than that?

    Your heart is in the right place but please put away the coffee mug – you’re doing more harm than good and giving them the ammunition they need to publicly crucify you.

  3. Darius
    June 4th, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    The devil makes people do that – with the sticky notes…

  4. Some Guy
    June 4th, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

    I think Shirley’s actions were just. Though, I think the whole thing seems petty–both with the sticky note and emailing the bosses.

  5. sternwallow
    June 4th, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    People need to be a lot more careful with the vain and possibly blasphemous and promiscuous use of the venerable sticky notes. Using them as a means of persecution is unwholesome and downright nasty. How neat it would be if one of your sympathetic co-workers (if there are any) would put a few sticky notes over Jesus on your behalf, but not at your request, just to see how tolerant people can be. It is a bit sad, especially in your case, that the free-speech provision does not apply within private organizations.

  6. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    June 5th, 2006 @ 5:30 am

    I was told by a colleague that one guy I’ve chatted to about ‘nonbelief’ at work (he followed ‘JC and the guys’ as he put it) once said to her (about me) that someone should stick my head in a window and slam the thing up and down a few times and see if it would knock some sense into me.

    It’s not so much his reaction to my nonbelief that bugged me when hearing that comment but knowing (fairly certainly) that he is one of those that just blindly follows his religion without giving it much critical thought.

    You really gotta pick and choose carefully who to discuss religion and atheism with at work.

  7. HappyNat
    June 5th, 2006 @ 8:01 am

    WWJSN – What Would Jesus Sticky Note?

  8. Lily
    June 5th, 2006 @ 9:53 am

    I dunno. This seems like a case of defining persecution down. A sticky note seems like a pretty mild act of rudeness. But persecution? If somebody shattered her mug into shards, I would be plenty indignant. But a sticky note?

    I also don’t agree that she should put her mug away. In an age where people can get away with the crudest slogans on shirts, bumperstickers, etc., her mug is about as innocent as a carebear.

  9. Thorngod
    June 5th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    The mug message is no more “in your face” than any of the Jesus mugs, prayers and bumper stickers that plaster most workplaces. But Shirley seems oversensitive to me. Her better response would have been one of voluable hilarity. And the communique to the execs was really over the top.

  10. Snap Crafter
    June 5th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    You see, Lilly, that’s exactly why they felt it would be humorous. They’re doing something so innocent, in an already stressful office, that they would be all up for lynchin’ that women about. But I suppose it’s ok, cause they’re doing it for Jesus.

    Though I do agree, she was being oversensitive. It’s not like she can do anything about it, she’s controled by the same people who did it to her. The best reaction would be to laugh histerically, throw the sticky note away. Then the next day put up a sticker on her monitor that read: “IGNORANCE: Making people feel righteous for over 2000 years.”, but only if someone had a ‘Choose life’ or ‘My co-pilot is Jesus’ sticker or a jesus fish in their cubicle. If the boss complains, point out other people’s and preach like the world was endin’.

  11. Lily
    June 5th, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

    I think it is just as plausible to think that whoever put the sticky on her mug was expressing her distress, in a passive-agressive way, as doing something she thought humorous. I have read Shirley’s blog and while she has put up with some annoying, but mostly, well-meant preaching, she has nowhere expressed any feeling of being in danger of anything more abusive than a sticky note. Lynching is way over the top. She doesn’t seem to be controlled by anyone and she has found supporters in her workplace.

    No, she used the sticky note incident as a pretext for making a more vocal stand. It would be over the top, if taken at face value but as an attention getter for her point of view and wish not to be preached to, it might not have been bad strategy. It will be interesting to see what she has to say in the coming days about the outcome of her complaint.

  12. mithraman
    June 5th, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

    Well, I think its best to leave religious beliefs out of the workplace if possible. When I say religious beliefs I include atheism although its not really a religion, of course. Its a a non-religous belief, or maybe a controversial philosophy.. o well, whatever, but I think in the name of fairness minimize religious beliefs and atheism. There, that’s fair I think. Except I don’t know where agnostics fit in. Oh well – who cares about them, anyway. No, wait, I can’t say that. Not fair. OK, so I have to exclude the agnostics too. Now let me see. We should minimize or exclude religious beleifs, non-religous beliefs, and philosophies undecided about regligion. There, that means we keep out the agnostics (just to be fair) also. Now I’m all set to make my point. O wait. I forgot about apathetic people, people that could care less about religion. We can’t have them coming into work with their apathy theme coffe mugs. Someone would put a sticky paper on it too. OK, then, here it is. In the workplace, we are going to minimize or entirely eliminate any religious beleifs, non- religious beliefs, undecided philosophies about religion, and lack of or total disregard for any type on religious or non-religious philosophy at all.
    There thats it. A good trouble-free work policy. Hmm. does this cover Zen Buddism? Gee, I’m not sure. OK, start over. No one at work can have any type of belief whatsoever. And the only kind of coffee mugs you can have at work are those that say I [heart] NY or have pictures of dogs on them. The only conversation allowed has to be about the weather, where to go for lunch, and how well we’re stocked with office supplies (but try and minimize any reference to sticky notes).

  13. Thorngod
    June 6th, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

    Keep on kickin’, Mithraman!

  14. mithraman
    June 6th, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

    Thanks, Thorngod. I’m glad someone appreciated my post. It’s important in the workplace that we … that’s funny, where did my coffee mug go? it was here a minute ago… hey, someone put a sticky note on my Snoopy mug! How could they do this to that lovable beagle? It’s those cat-lovers, I betcha. They’re just incorrigible.
    They won’t get way with this! Not fair! They’re anti-dog, I tell ya!

  15. Mike
    June 7th, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

    The pervasive and stubbornly negative view so many have regarding those of us without religious beliefs is sometimes breathtaking in its totality and arrogance. I’ve had e-mail exchanges with a believing co-worker who is aware of my nonbelief and often goes “extremist” in his rhetoric just to see if he can get a rise out of me. I wonder sometimes how much of it is feigned, and how much is sincere. Quite clearly, we are considered to be the bottom of the food chain in this wretchedly paranoid, blindly religious culture. At least there are times when their arrogance rears its ugly head and I can see them for what they are. And I get a good laugh.

  16. Joel
    June 7th, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

    I guess I’m lucky because everyone in my 18-person government office knows that I’m an athiest and many more people whisper their secret agreement rather than their vocal opposition to my views. We’re kind of family, so we learn to tolerate each other, even though I poke fun at our chief deputy believing in Noah’s Ark and she tells her daughters I’m going to hell. Fair trade, I guess.

  17. allonym
    June 7th, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

    mithraman said: “There, that’s fair I think. Except I don’t know where agnostics fit in.”

    That’s OK, neither do they;)

  18. peter
    June 13th, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

    I would have done something far worse, perhaps used a permanant marker. but thats just the fundamentalist part of me coming out:-)

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