Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pastor Calls All Atheists Liars

This is one of those instances where I want to hang my head in shame at the level of ignorance some people can display.

First off, let me give you some background. Last August, in an attempt to combat the city's rising violent crime rate, the City of Jacksonville sponsored a huge group prayer session in Veterans Memorial Arena, calling it "A Day of Faith: Arming Our Prayer Warriors." I have to smirk when I think of a city bringing several thousand people together in a sports arena to pray when it would have been more productive to spend the money on hiring more police officers, but I digress. The problem was that the city used taxpayer funds to sposor the event, a big no-no in terms of church-state separation. As a result, American Atheists, Inc. sued the city for spending public funds on religious activities. In the end, Jacksonville settled the case out of court and paid American Atheists $5,000 (Read more about the outcome here).

This morning, the Florida Times-Union published a letter from Pastor Linn W. Howard in response to the settlement. Here's what the letter said:

As a former resident of Jacksonville and now a Presbyterian minister serving in Pittsburgh, Pa., I was sad to see that the city of Jacksonville paid $5,000 to American Atheists Inc.

The city of Jacksonville and our nation would be better served if we would recognize that all of us are people of faith.

The nonbeliever and the believer both make faith decisions about the multitude of unknowns in our world as they establish a framework for living their lives.

The scientific community is full of men and women of faith.

Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, has written a fascinating book, The Language of God, in which he outlines his journey from being an atheist scientist to a scientist of faith.

Even if you disagree with his faith decision after reading this book, you will more fully understand that all people are "people of faith."

I commend Mayor John Peyton and the leaders of the city of Jacksonville for their intellectual, social, civil and community integrity for calling together the whole community, with people of all faiths, in order to respond to the growing homicide rate in the city.

It is time that we call the bluff of those who are atheists and refuse to give in to their claim that they are people of "no faith."

This is a simple lie they are using for their advantage over every other citizen in the United States.

I'm afraid Pastor Howard doesn't know what she's talking about. Citing the example of a single scientist who proudly proclaims his belief in Christianity is not proof that atheists must have faith. In fact, it has no bearing whatsoever. It's like saying that a single Christian leaving the faith makes all Christians nonbelievers. It's absurd.

The letter also shows her prejudice when she calls all atheists liars for having their own views on the world. It's insulting and remarkably intolerant. She should be ashamed of herself.

Thanks to Secular Planet for bringing this letter to my attention.

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