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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yummy, Word Salad.. Just what I wanted...

I'll take this as a good sign - Getting friend requests from the religious out of the blue. I'd like to think that it's because I'm a "known" atheist.

If anyone can make out what the hell this dude is saying, please let me know. His facebook name is Serdar Conli. All I can tell, is that he's religious.

"first point

The First Point discusses two Matters.

FIRST MATTER: In every facet of the motion of all particles the light of Divine unity shines like the sun. For as is proved briefly in the First Indication of the Tenth Word and in detail in the Twenty-Second Word, if every particle is not an official of God acting with His permission and under His authority, and if it is not undergoing change within His knowledge and power, then every particle must have infinite knowledge and limitless power; it must have eyes that see everything, a face that looks to all things, and authority over all things. For every particle of the elements acts, or can act, in an orderly fashion in all animate beings. But the order within things and laws according to which they are formed differ from one thing to the next. If their order was not known to the particles, the particles could not act, or even if they could act, they could not act without error. In which case, the particles which are performing their duties in beings are either acting with the permission and at the command, and within the knowledge and at the will, of the owner of an all-encompassing knowledge, or they themselves must have such an all-encompassing knowledge and power.

Yes, all particles of air can enter the bodies of all animate beings, the fruits of all flowers, and the structures of all leaves. They can act within them, although the way the beings are formed is all different and their order and systems quite distinct. As though the factory of a fig were a loom for weaving cloth and the factory of a pomegranate, a machine for producing sugar, and so on; the programmes of their structures and bodies all differ from each other.A particle of air, then, enters or can enter all of them. It takes up its position and acts in a wise and masterly fashion without error. And on completion of its duty it departs. A mobile particle of mobile air, therefore, either must know the forms, shapes, measures, and formations with which plants and animals, and even fruits and flowers, are clothed, or else it must be an official acting under the command and will of one who does know.

Similarly with a stationary particle of stationary earth: since it has the ability to be the means and place of cultivation for all the seeds of all flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees, either there must be in the particle itself or in the handful of soil that is its little house immaterial machinery and factories in good working order to the number of the varieties of the trees and plants, and flowers and fruits —in fact, it is in every single particle that there must be a factory peculiar to it and all the equipment and machinery necessary for the running of the factory— or else it must have a miraculous knowledge that knows all things about all things and a miracle-working power that creates everything from nothing; or, those duties are performed at the command and with the permission of One Who is Knowing of All Things, and through the power and might of One Who is Absolutely Powerful over All Things.

If an untrained and inexperienced, common, ordinary, and blind man was to go to Europe and in all the factories there to work at all the trades and crafts in perfect and masterly fashion, and if he was to display a wise and artistic skill to such a degree that it left everyone speechless with amazement, anyone with a grain of consciousness would know that the man was not acting on his own initiative, but that a master of all trades was teaching him and causing him to work.

And if there was a blind and impotent man who lived in a simple little house and was unable even to rise from his place, and if small fragments of stone, and bits and pieces of material like bone and cotton were to enter his little house and then sacks of sugar, bales of cloth, crates of jewelry, finely-made clothes encrusted with jewels, and delicious foods were to emerge, would anyone with a grain of intelligence not say: "That man is a wretched doorkeeper or merely a latch on the door of the factory of a wondrous mira-cle-working being, which is the source of his miracles"?

In exactly the same way, the motion and duties of particles of air in plants and trees, and blossom and fruit, all of which are missives of the Eternally Besought One, antique dominical works of art, miracles of power, and wonders of wisdom, indicate that the particles are acting under the command and at the will of an All-Wise and Glorious Maker, an All-Generous and Beauteous Creator.
Particles of earth, also, since they are the source and means for the shoots and plants produced by seeds, each of which is a different factory and workbench, a different printing-press, treasury, and antique, a different manifesto proclaiming the Glorious Maker's Names and ode hymning His perfections, it is as definite as two plus two equalling four that the particles of earth are acting at the command, with the permission, and through the will and power of an All-Glorious Maker Who is Lord of the command of "Be!" and it is,22 and to Whose command everything is subjugated. In this we believe.............SAİD NURSİ"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making a difference!

So,  I have news!  Yesterday I was chosen to become the State Leader for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Atheist Party (NAP).  I welcome all of you to check it out and join your local chapter. EVEN if you're not an atheist.

Now - you're probably asking yourself "Why on earth would I want to join an ATHEIST organization??"

Simple, take a look at what we stand for, if you agree, join. The US government should be atheist.  Which means that it should not be in favor, OR AGAINST, any religion. It, like myself, simply should be without religion. Except for guaranteeing the right to exercise, or not exercise, your religion of choice.

I joined the NAP because I am a true believer of the separation of church and state. The constitution is truly a secular document and the government that results from that constitution should be secular as well.

This is why you will, or at least, SHOULD hear politicians refer to "Christmas Trees" as "Holiday Trees". This is why you are not allowed to place a nativity scene in front of City Hall.

Now, before you go and drag out your favorite e-mail forward, this does not mean that YOU, as an individual, are being censored from saying Merry Christmas. Go ahead. Feel free. Say it as often as you want, wherever you want - as long as you do not have your "public official hat" on. But remember, the next person is just as free to tell you to piss off.  Each of you has the right to be offended at each other. I believe that's one of the 10 commandments, is it not?

I know this is short, but I'm planning on writing a longer blog post later. For now, this was the best I could do with the short amount of time I had.

Please feel free to leave me comments and questions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boycott Chick-Fil-A

This really shouldn't surprise me, but chick-fil-a donated two million dollars to anti-gay groups in 2009.

I sure hope the people at this church are happy with themselves. It's not a surprise that one of the families that goes to this church runs a franchise from this company.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement

I don't care how old, young, healthy, or sick you are - have a damn will and update it on a regular basis. Do not trust others to carry out your wants and desires after you are gone.

And, here I am, saying this without a will in place. However, every thing,of significance, that is in my name has a beneficiary named. I know I need to do better than that, and I will, very soon. Your time here is precious.

That is all. I really can't go into anything deeper than that at the moment.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And they call me crazy...

In previous posts I have made it very clear where I stand on racist and homophobic speech. I believe that you are free to use it as much as you want - however - that freedom comes at a cost. Freedom of speech only guarantees your right to say what you want without fear of the government. Well, sir, last time I checked, my family is not the government.

If you are family, it will mean that you will have extremely limited access to my child. You will not be free to talk about how you want to round up all of the gays, send them to an island and have the island bombed. Yes, I KNOW that you aren't talking about my son when you say these things, but he is too young to know his sexuality, but he will likely have friends that are gay in the future, regardless whether he, himself, turns out to be gay. And this is not just me saying this - as his father and I agree 100% on this matter. I'm just more feisty about it than he is. Having this standard as a family does not make me crazy.  The choice between your hate-filled speech and access to your grandchild is yours to make, and yours alone.

Our job as parents is to raise our child the best way we see fit. He'll be exposed to hate throughout his life, he doesn't need it from people who are supposed to care about him. That hate - whether its based on skin color, nationality, sexuality, even religion ends here. It's too easy to pass it down, generation to generation, and I'm going to do my best to keep it from happening with him.  He's just too happy and carefree of a boy to poison in that way. No child should be poisoned into hating an entire group of people simply because they are different than you.

My stance is firm. When minds are poisoned - this is what you get: Scott Lively - "Defender of Marriage".

When I envision my son's future, I envision one with happiness, but it is difficult with the pain and hatred that I have come across. Some of it I have had in my own heart and, sadly, still do.  I want a future where he, and others can feel free to be who they are. Where gays, atheists, and other minorities do not need as many vocal activists constantly fighting for rights that they should have had all along. A place where an atheist tattoo, bumper sticker, or billboard will not automatically make people want to resort to violence or vandalism; and instead by ignored by the countless church signs, steeples, advertisements, billboards, god-talk, radio stations, etc. found everywhere, even in the most liberal parts of this nation!

I envision a future where public schools understand the constitution, so they don't waste 1. students' time and 2. tax payer money that could be better used to, you know, educate.... or something.

This is why I draw hard lines about what I expose my child to - it's why I choose to limit my interactions with you.

And on a grander scale, it is because of you, and people like you that I do WHAT I DO.
I am vocal.
I am loud.
I am an activist.

So when you talk about me behind my back - wondering what's "wrong" with me - ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, it's YOU that I have the problem with - you know - like I've been telling you all along.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My busy October!

Before I tackle the blog post that is stewing within my brain circuitry, let me give you a glimpse at this coming month's schedule. It's going to be a busy one!

First off: I will be headed down to the fun-filled (almost typed gun-filled! woops!) state of North Carolina in order to have some much needed mayhem and fun with some fun-loving, fat, jealous, losers that I met through Regretsy and the associated Regretsy Forums. If you love crafting, are sarcastic, funny, have a dirty mind and love to make fun of other people's ridiculousness, then those are perfect places for you.

The following weekend we will be going to the 34th Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention. New friends, Lindsay and Darrick, will also be attending and hopefully we'll be able to meet up while there!  This will be my first convention geared toward one of my biggest passions, which is to protect the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. My goal is to one day be a speaker at an event such as this.

Which takes me to October 22nd - SkeptiCamp New Hampshire 2011!!  This is going to be a great way for me to dip me feet into public speaking on a topic that I have such passion towards. At work I have done some minor public speaking (presenting data and protocols and such), but the topic is usually dry, very straight forward, and the finding, while interesting, aren't usually earth shattering. Also, the large, really interesting presentations at work are given to more experienced scientists - another reason to kick myself for *only* getting my Bachelor's.

I do get nervous when I have to speak in front of a crowd, but I am determined to get comfortable at it - and the only way I can do that is to take on as much as I can (at work as well).

Then, there's hubby's birthday on October 16th, so I have to work on something for that!

There are also a few other goals that I want to work on this upcoming month. The past few months, I have been going to the gym, on average, once a week, and I want to get that number up, so my goal is twice a week. I also want to do better at updating this blog, which has been done, again, on average about once per week. I want to increase my postings to 6 postings per month, minimum.

This past month has been a difficult, but rewarding month. In my effort to gain control of my mental health I made the difficult decision to cut ties, at least temporarily, with people in my life that were either too narrow-minded and hate filled or mentally unstable and constantly negative.  I made this decision not only for myself, but for my family. My son deserves a happy mother and he deserves to be surrounded by people who will love him no matter what. My sisters and I are close, my mental state is much more positive than it has been in previous months. I am coming out of my shell - I have been active in two outside groups, making new friends, and overall life is good. I want it to continue in that general direction - ups and downs, but more ups, and the dips being a bit shallower than they have been, so they're easier and quicker to get out of.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This is what we, as atheists, are up against. Also - why I despise Fox "News"

Here is Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, on Fox Business.

First - go watch this video, then come back and read the rest of this entry.

So - What did you think? Personally, I had quite a few feelings arise while watching.  I wish Silverman would have been given more of an opportunity to speak his mind, but as is common on Fox, the wingnuts completely took over.

I understand how Silverman's comments could have been seen as offensive to Christians, especially when he says that the others were delusional. However, what do you call someone when they believe something false?  Are people delusional when they believe that fairies, vampires, elves, etc. truly exist? How is the belief in an deity any different?

I do understand that Christians believe that they have a personal relationship with their god, but I have to question whether this is a real relationship, or is it just perceived to be real. As an atheist, I know that I am not talking to any god when I try and think things through in my mind. As a thinker, I have these conversations with myself all the time. They're almost identical to my prayers that I said as a believer, only now I know that the entire discussion is occurring only in my mind. The thoughts are only my own. It's something that we all do when we have something that is bothering us, or when we are trying to make our mind up about something. We all reflect inward.

Anyway, back to the video - Silverman was outright attacked for not believing like any of the others in the discussion. He was talked over and the overall tone of the other people, especially the main interviewer (didn't catch his name) was filled with derision.

Atheists do not live a less meaningful life. There is no hole that we're trying to fill. We're simply looking to get through this life the best way we know how - just as everyone else is doing.

When it comes to a crisis, we simply get a move-on. We may stop to rant about our situation. As we're working to prepare, or fix our situation, we may hope that the situation improves, but we understand that simply standing back and hoping is utterly useless.  In fact, there have been more times than I can count that I wished for not having hope.

I'm sure that this may sound odd, but I truly wish that I could just accept that the worst case scenario IS going to happen. If it doesn't, who cares?? I'll just end up happily surprised at the outcome -but to have hope just leaves me devastated when the worst-case scenario becomes reality.

Belief can be comforting - so can hope. I see the similarities between the two and believe that they are one and the same. Christians believe in their god because it's comforting. It's comforting to think that something/someone is out there listening to you, understanding you. It's comforting to think that you have something more to look forward to when you die. Death is scary.. For any of us!

But it doesn't have to be. It's simply a state of non-existence. I didn't exist before I was conceived, and I won't exist after I die. I will lose my memories, but I will live on through the memories other people have of me. Hopefully, I will be missed, but hopefully I'll leave this earth knowing that I did the best I could for my friends, family and the world.

And I am okay with this. Truthfully, I don't think I'd want to live forever in a state of bliss. Wouldn't it get boring? Wouldn't it be like people living in San Diego and seeing gorgeous weather day in an day out - just wishing for something to break up the monotony? Would it be like the elderly just wishing that they could die because they feel they have lived long enough?

I don't want that. As painful as this life has been for me I couldn't imagine a place without conflict. It is the pain that makes you realize the good when it happens!

How can someone look down at an atheist as if their life is worth less because they don't believe in something that requires faith because there just isn't any real evidence of it actually existing?

So, we will go on, gathering candles and matches for hurricane Irene. We will shutter our windows and bring in the patio furniture. We will huddle together with the ones we love as the storm rages outside. We will do this, just as Christians do this. The only difference being that we won't be praying to an unprovable deity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Walking on Eggshells

For reasons I don't understand, I constantly feel that I am walking on eggshells around the most religious people in my life. Simply asking a question about what someone believes and why will most often be seen as an attack. When reading other atheist blogs I see this as a constant theme, so I don't think it's ME. 

I don't think asking questions should automatically lead the other person to become defensive. If I ask, it is because I want to know.

Also, if you are secure enough in your beliefs that you're not worried about them  changing, then what is the harm about discussing them? Or with having those beliefs challenged? Does it make you uncomfortable? Why is that? Of course, I have my own theories, and that is often all I have as those who disagree with me will often just not answer.

I have this blog for several reasons.
   1. I like to write and I have a lot to say on my life, and especially, my life as an atheist in an, *ahem*, 'Christian Nation'.

   2. I write this for my like-minded contemporaries, as well as for my religious friends and family. I want you to read what I have to write about because I find these topics to be important. I want to be understood - not just agreed with. I write this blog with a lot of understanding of where others are coming from, and I'm just hoping for the same.

   3. Atheists are looked down upon in this society. I write this blog to dispel the myth that they're inherently evil or bad. I am not out to convert you (but would be overjoyed if you started questioning your faith because of something I said or linked to). Wouldn't you as Christians, feel the same if I were to return to Christianity?  With how many people have come down on me for not taking Patrick to church I can guarantee that the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes!".

By blogging about my life, opinions, and ideas I am not "forcing it down your throat". I am not acting in anyway to take away the rights of Christians. I am simply exposing you to a viewpoint opposite of your own.

Feel free to write your own blog or respond to mine. I will gladly read the responses or go to your blog and read what you have to say. For those that know me well - email me, call me, just talk to me. Feel free to call me out if I'm acting like an ass, as I can guarantee that I will do the same.  One thing that I ask, though, is that if you tell me I'm wrong, or if I offended you, etc., that you let me know exactly how and where I went awry and why.  Be prepared to back up your talking points and I promise to do the same.

And just a few comments for those that I've talked with in the past few days:

If you make a claim, be prepared to back it up and try and be consistant. If you are claiming that a deity exists, and that you know it's will (ex. It loves me.) Don't get offended when I say "How do you know?"  You are making the claim - back it up with something of substance.

I am not angry at your deity. I can't be angry with something that I do not believe exists. I'm not happy with or angry with unicorns.  I am angry with the way that religious beliefs automatically pit people against each other. I am angry with the way people seem to want to stick their hands in their ears and scream "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!" when I start speaking.

I don't care what you believe - as long as you're not hurting anyone in the process. However, once you take those beliefs and try and push them on others (ie. voting against gay marriage, church vs. state issues, supporting groups that actively work against non-Christians and gays, supporting anti-women's rights legislation), then yes, you and I are definitely going to butt heads. One can simply stand by their religion and say, "okay, that is not for me," but still use their heads when actively trying to deny others rights. This is why I do not support the Boy Scouts and I do not support the American Legion.

This is a country where Christianity is VERY in your face. People on Facebook copy/paste their pro-G O D statuses, just daring someone to say something against it. We have Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann as the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination and they are constantly trying to out-Jesus each other, and it makes me physically ill watching them.

In summary, even though I feel like I must walk on eggshells around you, I refuse to. These issues are too important and if you care even the littlest bit about me, you will keep reading. Perhaps you will learn something, and perhaps I will learn something from you. But I won't shut up and I'm not going away.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An end of a friendship

It is with sadness in my heart that I admit that my best friend is now my ex-best friend. And it came down to a matter of beliefs. She is a devout Christian, considers herself a fundamentalist and I, of course, am an atheist.

We met while working together at a contract lab/hellhole of a company. That was back in 2003. When I first told her about my lack of belief, she wondered why I didn't just kill myself. At the time I wasn't sure if the new friendship could continue after that, but I did my best just to explain to her that even though I didn't believe in her god, or any gods, for that matter, that I still felt this life was worth living - even more so since I didn't have an afterlife to look forward to. To me, that makes this life so much more valuable as it is the only one you get!

But still, we became close friends. We shared the same sense of humor and agreed to disagree on matters of religion, though we would discuss it on occasion.

I have never been one to hide who I am, but over the past 8 years I have become more vocal. I post my thoughts on facebook, and I now have this blog.

Perhaps it's important to remind believers here that, as an atheist, I do not believe in God or gods - I do not believe in hell or heaven. I am not saying that they do not exist, but that I have not seen any evidence backing up any religion. However, I do not believe in vampires, or fairies, ghosts or tiny tea pots flying around the moon. To me, these examples and gods are in the same group - fiction.

There is a difference though between them - people look at their religion as fact. It is passed down from generation to generation in the beliefs that the parents are doing the right thing - after all - who would want to send their child to hell? If I believed that hell existed, I know I would do everything in my power to protect myself and my children from that fate.

But is it true? The evidence in nature says no. Nature and science do not require faith - Science changes due to additional evidence - it is a strength that it changes and adapts to new information.

The problem that led to the end of this friendship came as a surprise to me. I have had an avatar in my gmail chat - a tool that my ex-best friend and I used often to chat through - that has been there for at least 2, but up to 4 years (time flies!) that says "Teaching children about a made up hell is child abuse."

I had it there, in open view, for YEARS, and she never brought it up until  we had a fight about something completely unrelated last week. At that point she brought up that she was offended by it, and was offended by other things that I had posted, though I don't know what those were.

For me, as an atheist, I see teaching children about hell cruel. No evidence suggests it exists; thus telling children that it's real - causing the child to become terrified of being stuck there for an eternity, if they don't follow the rules correctly, is wrong if it isn't going to actually happen. For me, believing this is a natural, logical progression of my atheism.

I hope that the Christians who read this can step back from the dogma and just look at it from my (and others') point of view. I want them to challenge their beliefs and question whether there truly is enough evidence for them to say that hell exists. For me, the answer is clear once you leave one particular book out of the question... A book written by humans, translated by humans and interpreted by humans. I have discussed Christianity with many different people and everyone of those individuals has their own idea of what Christianity is and should be. That should be telling.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reading comprehension...

This isn't related to atheism, but just to show why reading comprehension is so very critical.

Today, I tried to use a Groupon - I followed their directions to a "T", but when I went to check out, the website said that the Groupon code was already used!

So, I sent Groupon an email stating such - as in "I tried to use my Groupon today, but the website stated that the code had already been used". Not that it was invalid, or not recognized, but that it had already been used. I even went into detail how I changed my password to my Groupon account to be on the safe side and asked them to look into things further.

This is the email that I got back:

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for your email. I do see this is not valid for sale
    items and is only valid only for women's fall/winter collection.
    Are you purchasing something from the women's fall/winter

    Please also make sure you are using the barcode on the lower
    right hand corner of your Groupon print out.

    If you are still receiving an invalid code please let me know!


    Laura M.

SERIOUSLY??? WTF?? How much clearer could I have been?

So I sent this in return:

   I'm not sure if you actually read my message, but when I
   went to use the code, it didn't say it wasn't  valid, but that
   the Groupon was already used!

   I tried to purchase a dress, not on sale, from their brand new fall

I'm still waiting on a second reply. I hope it's better than the first. So much frustration on my side could have been saved had she just read my original message in detail. ARGH!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Something for everyone to read. (Originally posted in FB notes)

The past few days, I've bee bothered and down and I've figured out why.. I have been told that people have freedom of speech and that I should just live and let live. Well, FUCK THAT! Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism.

Also, persecution does not mean criticism of your beliefs. Having your rights diminished because of your beliefs DOES! Yes, I am well aware of the persecution that Christians have gone through over the years. However, Christians have done more than their fair share of persecuting. They're persecuting Atheists and Gays right this VERY SECOND in the US. Two very well known groups that do this are The American Legion and The Boy Scouts.  Though, not "generally" enforced, there are SEVEN states in the US that would prevent atheists from holding public office, bearing witness, or being a juror.

How's this for horrible?? There are MANY instances where atheists are being persecuted in the military. Many of these people are KIDS, aged 18, not even able to drink - encouraged to go off and die for our country, and yet they have to fight tooth and nail to even be counted as atheist. Go read: This is a more humorous account of a story against an atheist, but there are countless others.

How difficult of a concept is that to grasp? When will the majority in this country realize this? And stand with those of us that want to guarantee rights for ALL American?

I don't know how someone can look at their child and love them up until the point they tell them that they've chosen another religion, or that they "like" members of the same sex.

I have noticed family and so-called friends de-friend me over the past couple years and I know that at least some of them are because I am an (out-spoken) atheist. I have been an outcast all my life.. I was shy, short, very near-sighted, and smart when I was in elementary and middle school. I was picked on relentlessly. I remember having only a couple of really good friends. That pattern continued throughout high-school.

While I put on a happy-face, I have always been depressed. I have felt different. And that was when I WAS A CHRISTIAN! I wasn't even close friends with the kids that went to my damn church - hell, the damn pastor completely forgot who I was after I went through the worthless confirmation classes.

I still have issues with depression, but you know what? If you have a problem with what I say and feel like hitting the "unfriend" button, be my guest. If asked i would give you the shirt off my back, and I have. But in return I end up getting judged, and harshly.

The reason I mention this, is that I will keep the depression, and I will keep being the outcast if it means standing up for what I believe in. For me, that means more than being popular and going along with what "society tells you".

I want my child to grow up where he is accepted no matter what sort of title he places on himself or others place on him. And it's not just for him, but for every little child growing up. I would have them grow up guilt free for who they are born as. If they are not hurting ANYONE, then WHAT THE FUCK MATTER does it make who they love? What matter does it make what they believe if they take it as it's okay for themselves!! And not force it on anyone else! It's not okay to force it in legislation.

And with that, I think I'm done with my rant.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


As an atheist, I have been told that I need to show respect for other people's religious beliefs. So, let's take the word respect and look at it by its definitions.
  1. Admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements
    • - she was respected by everyone she worked with
    • - a respected academic
  2. Have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of
    • - I respected his views
  3. Avoid harming or interfering with
    • - it is incumbent upon all boaters to respect the environment
  4. Agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement)
    • - he urged all foreign nationals to respect the laws of their country of residence
What definition of 'respect' best fits with the phrase, "You need to respect my religion"?
Is it #1? Do I admire your beliefs? Absolutely not. Not if they guide you down a path where you believe that your fellow human beings are less human (less deserving than the same rights you enjoy) than you are if they differ from you in regards of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.  Likewise, I cannot admire your belief if you believe that this entire universe is less than 10,000 years old. Not when science and history clearly and factually states otherwise.  Do I admire the beliefs that force parents to drill it into their children that unbelievers are going to hell? Again, the answer is no. I was that child. And during my de-conversion I went through a long period of cognitive dissonance where I did not believe in God, but I was sure convinced that that belief would send me straight to hell.

#2 then? This one is trickier. What does having "due regard" mean? If it means tolerating and accepting that these beliefs exist and that people have the right to believe what they want, no matter if it's wrong or right, then yes, I can respect your beliefs using this definition, but if they mean "have high opinion of", then no, sorry, I cannot do that, for reason outlined above.

#3? Same as #2. I will avoid interfering with your beliefs IF you keep them to yourself and you don't use those beliefs to make or break laws as you see fit.

#4? Not even applicable since we're in the US and I we're not a theocracy... That is, until Michelle Bachmann gets elected. *shudder*

After analyzing these definitions, am I respecting religion? I believe I am, in that I am respecting that each one of us are allowed to believe what we want. That is all that I am required to do. But, if those of you out there want me to hold your religious beliefs to the same esteem that you do, then you are in for a huge disappointment.

I will end with this:  Freedom of Speech does not mean that you get to say what you want without it being open for criticism. And - respect should be earned. You can't demand it for something because you decide that it deserves it. If you explain to me why you think it deserves respect I will be much more apt to listen to you. Demanding it from me will get you nothing but scorn. You will win me over with logic, reasoning and evidence. If you take offense, that is your problem, not mine. I do not intend to offend anyone with what I have to say - only to make what I have on my mind out in the open for all to see.

I can take criticism and open debate, in fact, I welcome it. I don't demand your respect, but I do hope to earn it by being open, honest and real. I hope you can do the same.