Christian neighbors decide to vandalize atheist’s cactus plants…

Because, you know, that’s what Jesus would do, right? A snippet from Kazim’s Korner on the incident:

So I rang the bell and greeted them in as friendly a manner as possible, all smiles. I reintroduced myself to the woman and asked if she perhaps knew anything about the chopped plant. Despite giving me a fairly frosty reception, she invited me in and called her husband down. I had a seat on their couch, they took positions opposite me, and the husband had his arms folded the whole time and a very sullen scowl on his face.

Yes, he cut down the agave. I received a lecture on how dangerous it is to the neighborhood kids, and all sorts of gruesome scenarios about eyes being poked out. But what struck Ginny and me as weird later was when we realized that they hadn’t cut any of the spines facing the sidewalk—only the side on the street. (Again, see the picture.)

They then went on to lecture me about the general awful nature of our yard. Now, our yard may not be the most beautiful and well-kept in the neighborhood, but it is mowed regularly and there are quite a few houses that look worse than ours. I’m not a gardener myself, and I’m really busy with school, but I think Ginny does a reasonable job with it.

I took all this politely and said I understood their concerns, and is there anything else? Then we got into the bumper stickers. The wife said several times that they “make her sick” and she is very angry that we disrespect her religion. That she could never be friends with someone who doesn’t “share her values.” That she is firmly set in her beliefs and would never change them.

I said I don’t want or expect her to change her beliefs, I have never asked her to. I don’t proselytize to people who haven’t approached me about the subject. And while I sympathized with her feelings, the very fact that she is willing to announce that the bumper stickers sicken her is unfortunately one of the chief reasons why we feel the need to express ourselves in this way. That Christians—not you, I stated—feel that it’s acceptable to go door-to-door inviting people to their religion, and that we are expected to keep quiet about our opinions because they are supposedly offensive. We are sad that you view our bumper stickers that way, but we see it as a small but legitimate exercise of our free speech.

His wife has her take on the story as well:

t wasn’t an act of kindness or neighborly caring that drove this man to mutilate my poor agave, it was an act of a bigot who holds nothing but disdain for us because we believe differently from him. He is a Christian(the kind that gives Christianity a bad name) and we are atheists. In his mind he has all the justification he needs to break the law by not only trespassing, but to vandalize as well, because we don’t matter as far as he is concerned. He views us as the lowest of the low and we don’t deserve to be treated with respect.

For the record the cops were called, but they decided not to press charges against the neighbors or even have the cop give them a warning. While it’s commendable that they decided to turn the other cheek, so to speak, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that they weren’t at least reproached by the officer will be taken as a sign that they are free to vandalize again in the future. I suppose the police at least have it on record now in case the neighbors decide to practice their particular variation of Christian morality again in the future.

Links found via The Friendly Atheist.

True hope for our future. Student takes on John McCain.

We need more kids like this one:

William Sleaster, a student at Concord High School rose to ask McCain a question about gay rights and, ultimately dissatisfied by the answer he received from McCain, told the Republican presidential contender that he’d come looking to see a leader and didn’t.

McCain first answered the high school student by talking about his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the military’s policy regarding gays, and about his belief in the sanctity of marriage.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable in America today,” McCain said.

“I understand the controversy that continues to swirl around this issue,” McCain said. “That debate needs to be continued.”

Sleaster pressed on. “Do you support civil unions or gay marriage?”

“I do not,” McCain answered. “I think that they impinge on the status and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.”

“So you believe in taking away someone’s rights because you believe it’s wrong?”

“I wouldn’t put that interpretation on my position, but I understand yours,” McCain said diplomatically.

Sleaster indicated that he wanted to follow up again.

“You have one more? Go ahead you’re doing good,” McCain encouraged.

“I came here looking to see a leader,” Sleaster said. “I don’t.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my feelings about John McCain ever since he took on his latest run for the White House. I’ve said before that he was one of the few Republicans I would’ve voted for in the past, but that’s all changed now.

Found over at Think Progress

Discrimination against atheists does happen.

I brought up the fact that atheists are the least popular minority in America to someone the other day and they replied with something along the lines of, “Perhaps, but it’s not like you guys are the victims of discrimination.”

I told him that it doesn’t happen as often as it does for other minorities mainly because unless someone tells you that they are an atheist then you’re unlikely to know about it in the first place, but that there are still examples of discrimination to be found:

The official reason for Cantwell’s firing in November 2006 was “poor job performance,” but the commission’s investigator, Barbara Lelli, said Cantwell received no written warnings about performance problems.

Cantwell, who was provided housing he shared with a non-married partner, two of his children and three of her children, said he was criticized by DeCoster, a devout Christian, who didn’t approve of the living arrangement.

On another occasion, DeCoster brought up God in a conversation, and Cantwell responded by saying he was an atheist and didn’t believe in God.

Cantwell told the investigator that DeCoster put his hand on his shoulder and told him: “I can’t have someone like you here. We might need to part ways.”

What’s he afraid of? That some freethinking cooties will rub off on him? Be a real shame if he suddenly developed an ability for reasoned thought.