A tale of two cities

This past Sunday (Easter), I was riding the Red Arrow from Red Deer to Edmonton, and got a chance to pick up the Calgary Herald. On the Editoral Page I was surprised (not really in retrospect) to see these articles:

Cherish freedom of the season

People who view the state as more important than its people write totalitarian constitutions. Think of Communist parties, for instance, or Louis XIV, who notoriously declared, “L’etat, c’est moi.”

On the other hand, somebody who believes the individual is important because God accepts each one of us on the basis of a personal decision about the resurrection — not because they belong to some favoured class or race — is much more likely to see the state as an instrument of individual empowerment.

and “New breed of atheist treads too much on glib ground

Besides, the worst atrocities of the last century came not from faith-inspired conflicts, but from Marxism and fascism — atheist replacement creeds for Christianity.

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Pol Pot — atheists all — went on ideological killing sprees which made the religious wars of the distant past look like an afternoon tea party tete-a-tete between bluebloods.

In a world absent of God, the most critical condemnation one can offer is that the meanness between humans is unpleasant, akin to watching other animals tear at each other, and that it offends our esthetic sensibilities.

Moral condemnation implies some absolute standard outside of nature which atheism denies by definition.

Now both of these articles (2 of the 3 published that day) mischaracterize and ostrasize the non-religious population, and Calgary, being a city of over a million, is likely to have more than a few atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists.

The first article intends to claim that without belief in God we cannot have democracy, whereas the second denies morals to atheists (while at the same time contradicting itself by saying there are some moral atheists).

Outraged by this blatantly offensive editorial staff, I paid for the Edmonton Journal (usually I can get a free copy on campus) and found no such articles in it’s opinion pages. In fact, the journal recently featured my group in an article online!

Now both papers are owned by CanWest media, but it’s clear they have entirely different staffs. I intend to write a couple response letters to the Herald, and shall posts responses here later.

I should also mention that one of the letters to the editor published ended as “anywhere that funds abortion doesn’t fund fertility treatments,” in reference to a previous article about the need to boost Canada’s birth rate.

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