Are rights given by god or by government? If you don’t believe in god, do you still have rights?

These are the questions Donald Sensing asked in his blog today. When this post showed up on Nashville Is Talking (a local blog aggregator), I knew I had to respond. Because as I said in my comment, this is the second time in a few years that I’ve been told that I (through inclusion in some group) “don’t deserve any rights at all.”

The core of his post seems to be this:

So could not we religious people simply say, “Sorry, persecuting atheists is no longer against our religon?” If you think not, why not?

Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The right to be atheist? The right to have rights?

10 thoughts on “The right to be atheist? The right to have rights?

  • October 23, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    No, you pretty much nailed it. Seems like you have my group well-represented. He said some stupid things and you addressed them.

  • October 23, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Governments exist only by the will of, and with the permission of the governed. Governments exist to protect the rights of the individual. It says so right in the Declaration of Independence.

    This Nietzsche Family Circus seems to be pretty apt.

    The description of the “New Atheists” in this article pretty well sums up my feelings on the subject.,71985-0.html

  • October 23, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    You have, yet again, given me another reason to believe you rock. Nice response, and a far calmer one than I could have managed.

    Every time I think I am mellowing about religion and perhaps growing more towards a “ehh, whatever works for them” attitude, I read some yahoo like this who not only has very strong ideas about his own religious beliefs, but feels compelled to inflict them upon others as well. Sigh. I simply do not fathom such an inpulse.

  • October 23, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    Kate, you did a great job of rebutting his points (even though he immediately says that wasn’t his point – whatever), but honestly, you’re wasting your time. He is obviously very far gone done the path of “righteousness,” and there is no changing the mind of people like that.

    Maybe we could lock him in house on election day though!

  • October 23, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Preaching to the choir here. I struggle with my beliefs but not with my right to have rights.

    Chez Bez

  • October 24, 2006 at 6:59 am

    Yeah, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he would read and respond to those who took the time to post comments, but he dismissed me and others out of hand by saying we didn’t read the post entirely (although I did — multiple times) or we missed the point. Another commenter there said I was missing the point on the “not having any rights” thing because I took it too literally, but I say that commenter has never heard that kind of statement pointed in his direction. There’s no way to NOT take that kind of shit seriously when it has the potential to affect you.

    But at this point, it definitely IS a waste of my time, and I posted another reply to that effect.

  • October 24, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Since jumping into the blogging community in Nashville, I’ve come to realize that there are a ton of people here with blogs who are only writing to hear their own voice. There’s no honest attempt at open discourse, they basically just post their ridiculous views so that others like them can tell them how smart they are, and so they use their circular logic to beat down anyone who disagrees. He is a prime example, especially since he feels the need to remind us constantly that he will remove any comments he doesn’t like.

    I think that’s partially a result of the current political climate (where it seems only extreme views are welcome), and partially a result of the internet (which makes people think it’s okay to be rude). I used to argue with those people, but I’ve learned that my life is better without them in it at all.

  • October 25, 2006 at 12:50 am

    No, the core of his post is NOT that you “don’t deserve any rights” and it pains me to think that someone who claims to have read it several times could come away with such an erroneous conclusion.

    Sensing is saying that he believes your rights are God-given and therefore inalienable. I’m certain he’d be willing to defend your rights with his very own life if necessary. He served in the Army before becoming a minister and his own son enlisted in the Marine Corps a couple of years ago (I believe he’s in Iraq right now).

    What he’s asking you to do is to make a convincing argument that your rights are inalienable without appealing to God.

    The U.S. Constitution doesn’t make your rights inalienable. It is merely a contract and can be modified or repealed.

    But the most important point I hope you’ll take from my comment is that Sensing 100% believes, supports, and defends your inalienable rights whether you are an atheist, buddhist, or whatever. I’m a long-time reader of Donald Sensing and it bothers me that you would think otherwise. It’s a slap in the face to a man whose writing I really respect.

    Vaya Con Dios,

  • October 25, 2006 at 10:07 am

    Please. A slap in the face? Because I responded to the poor choice of words he made? Spare me.

    Besides, I didn’t, as you claim, say that the core of his post was that I don’t deserve any rights; re-read what I wrote. I said that the core of his post seemed to be the question of whether religious people could decide whether or not to take rights away from non-religious people.

    And anyway: whatever. The whole thing seems like complete and utter arrogant, holy-roller, self-righteous, self-congratulatory bullshit to me, and your defense of his thesis doesn’t mean a thing to me.

  • October 25, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    Haven’t you ever been in a situation where someone took something you, or someone you knew to be of good character, said and interpreted it in the *worst* possible way, without giving you or them the benefit of the doubt? That didn’t bother you?

    Sensing is not arrogant, a holy roller, or self-righteous. You, on the other hand, were very quick to judge based on a single post in which at least three people, including the original author, said you misconstrued.

    Finally, the core of his post was NOT “whether religious people could decide whether or not to take rights away from non-religious people.” Of course they can! But in America, they don’t because they believe your rights are God-given and therefore inalienable regardless of your religion.


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