GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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Honest to godless

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Herewith the loyal opposition: American Atheists, founded by the notorious late Madelyn Murray O’Hair. The group has largely dropped the nasty persona that O’Hair cultivated, but stands just as ready to defend godlessness.

Instead, the American Atheists give themselves labels like “positive,” “independent,” “happy,” and science minded. They do some deep though pejorative probing, like on whether Jesus existed, or his disciples, or even some of the New Testament towns like Nazareth. They also list alleged contradictions between Bible verses.

But some of Murray’s old venom survives. In a reprinted address at Memphis State University, she calls the Judeo-Christian heritage a “disease.” She also says that before creating the universe, “God was sitting on his ass in Nowhere . . . picking his nose and farting.” (Pictured: Madalyn Murray O’Hair in 1983. From Alan Light on Flickr.)

The attitude carries over into the site’s news section. One article snickers at an un-baptism ritual using a hair dryer. Another calls Sarah Palin a “fundamentalist right-wing Christian,” although the cited article doesn’t use such language.

Christianity, in fact, seems the main fixation. The main other target seems to be Islam. Spinoff Christian groups like the Mormon Church and Christian Science also get some pokes. But there’s little on Buddhists or Hindus or Taoists or native Americans. The atheists say this is because Christians are the main culprits in trying to limit the rights of others.

To be fair, the site also has some self-criticism. It questions the scientific dogmatism of Richard Dawkins and the mysticism of Sam Harris. And there’s some lively give-and-take on the often-updated NoGodBlog.

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Written by Jim Davis

November 26, 2008 at 5:42 am

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