So what do you say to that?

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Discussion (36)¬

  1. JakeS says:

    As a practical political matter, it’s a valid enough point: You have to build a coalition if you want the power to make the changes you want to make. Building a coalition involves finding common ground with people who support (or could be convinced to support) your core agenda, finding wedge issues to split those groups off from any other coalitions they might presently be in, and preventing the bad guys from doing the same things.

    So a live-and-let-live attitude on certain points of ideology where you find your coalition partners distasteful is necessary for a successful coalition. Of course agreeing to disagree is a two-way street – it constrains all parties to the agreement from aggressive proselytizing, although the more powerful party naturally has wider latitude to push the envelope of the understanding.

    – Jake

  2. Dick M says:

    In the first frame, doesn’t “comes down to ” work better than “is down to”?

  3. fontor says:

    I suppose we do need atheists who build bridges with people of faith on matters where we agree.

    But what about atheists who antagonise believers by telling them they’re wrong? We need them too! We need open atheists and nice atheists and contentious atheists! Takes all kinds.

    Anyway, I don’t oppose religion because of its negative socio-political effects. I oppose religion because it’s false and teaches wrong things. Anything else is Argument From Consequences. However, the bad things that religion does is evidence that you don’t need religion to have an ethical worldview, and in fact it doesn’t really help.

  4. Karl says:

    comes down/is down – sounds like a regional difference. They seem to be equally quirky figures of speech.

  5. Bodach says:

    Maintaining respectful silence with coffee coming out of my nose.

  6. DNME says:

    @ Dick M: And don’t forget that this guy has been around for 2000 yrs…he’s bound to have picked up all kinds of weird dialects =)

    @ All Atheists: How can you doubt the existence of Jesus our lord? He is right here talking to us, with dialects and everything. Do not blaspheme against the Gospel of Mohammed Jones!

  7. bk says:

    Atheists mostly take this silent approach, and it does help to get things done. In fact, many of us find it easier to just claim a religion to which we don’t really believe because it’s easier than having to defend ourselves constantly.

    So i’m all for a shut up policy, as long as it’s universal.

  8. komokda says:

    While there is some merit to the idea of building an alliance with members of various religious sects who are sympathetic to whichever cause (“equality, human rights, etc”) – we also need to be mindful of the fact that quite often it is religion of one sort or another that caused the imbalance in the first place and (as an institution, not as individuals) has an interest in maintaining the status quo.

    Equality, for example – whether between males and females, gays and straights, or different races – can be traced linked directly with religion itself. Religion may not have been the originator of the problem, but religion (again, speaking of the institution and not individuals) has done very little to change it.

  9. b1gr1d3r says:

    Author has illustrated a very important difference in society’s attitudes towards atheists vs. theists. It has always been expected that atheists will be at least reasonably quiet about their position while on the other hand it has been perfectly acceptable for theists to threaten non-believers with eternal hell fire. It is high time we became more vocal and made it clear how we feel about being threatened.

  10. nina says:

    As someone who came up through the grassroots gay and lesbian rights movement, I can say that any movement needs a spectrum of people/actions. You need the edgier people to do the stunts to get media coverage and you need the moderates who will do the coalition building with allies.

    That said, you also have to pick and chose those allies – it made little sense in the 90’s for the Feminists to join with the Religious Right to stand against pornography – overlap on one issue doesn’t mean you have enough in common to make a stand with a group you oppose.

    And, both of those groups being against porn for different reasons doesn’t make them allies on even that issue.

  11. Tim says:

    “So what do you say to that?” … No!
    Silence, respectful or not, is lying.

  12. wright1 says:

    As fontor and nina have said, both the rude and the polite have their place in a group trying to bring about change. Now that atheists are actually being outspoken in their criticism of religion, there is inevitably backlash from not only the religious but the more cautious atheists.

    I tend to side with the more outspoken, like Dawkins and Myers. I agree with he who said: “No one gives you power, you have to take it.” Even while being diplomatic, it’s possible to keep the initiative and remain on the offensive.

  13. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    An old cowboy once said “never miss an opportunity to shut up”. Regrettably life is full of missed opportunities.

  14. Phil says:

    @bk… The problem is, it isn’t universal. They want us to shut up, but they also still hold the power of being the “norm”, so from our money, to the Pledge (I’m in the USA), to prayers before the meetings and in all the attempted efforts to get religion back in school , they have failed in their part to “shut up”.

    Until you are operating from a position of power/equality, shutting up is no different than backing down. When you have that power/equality you don’t even have to have this discussion.

  15. John Moore says:

    You guys ever notice when J&M get all riled up they don’t drink any of their beer. No that’s sacreligious!!!!!

  16. nina says:

    wright1 – as the saying goes, polite women rarely make history

    but, you only have to look at the social change, first it was women, then african-americans, then gays and lesbians – now atheists

    religion doesn’t stop social progress, it just retards it for a while

  17. Blondie says:

    Gotta love them. “Oh yes, we’re all for human rights, equality, free speech and all that, so shut up and do as we say, thou unclean female!”

    … or something like that….

  18. nina says:

    do as I pray, not as I do

  19. It’s hard to give religion a “respectful silence” when the religious leaders are constantly coming out with stuff like this: “Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women”
    What I can’t figure out is how anybody can say something like this and not lose ALL respect, even of their followers. How dumb do you have to be to lose respect anyway? Or is a denial of causal relationships just part of the package of religion?
    Oh yeah, and God loves us all so much that he will kill the innocent along with the guilty if promiscuous women offend him. Puleeeeze. What a god to believe in.

  20. Shaughn says:

    @ Darwin Harmless
    Yes, a denial of causal relationships (plural) is just part of the package of monotheist religion. Monotheism is monocausal.

  21. Jerry w says:

    “Respectful silence”? Now that’s harsh.

    My guideline is that in most cases, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Of course, your milage may vary.

  22. John Moore says:

    Now that Europe recognizes that belief in global warming/green practices are on par with religion I think Author should create a new guest character (Gaia perhaps) in some future strip.

  23. Seth Manapio says:

    There is absolutely no need to be particularly rude or particularly silent. If there are people in the religious community who share a goal with atheists or skeptics, they either are willing to make alliances with non-believers or they are not. However, while doing a particular project for a common cause, there’s no need to bait believers in the moment–as long as they’re willing to maintain a respectful silence on that point as well.

  24. Poor Richard says:

    The original PR put it as his 2d Virtue: “Silence: Speak note but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.” Or, as attributed to several modern women, “If you have nothing good to say about anyone, come sit next to me.” I am afraid I personaly have not lived up to BF’s admonition, but then neither did he.

    DNME: As a member of the Three Egg, Alabama, school board is said to have said, when a proposal to teach foreign languages and/or Latin in the high schools came before the board: “We don’t need none of that. English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for our chilluns.”

  25. nina says:

    @Jerry W

    or, those 2 enemies could unite in common cause against you

  26. Don says:

    A while back my place of work engaged in a fund/awareness raising campaign about clean water in Africa based on a CAFOD project. I was happy that the project was effective and did not directly involve any of the nastier aspects of religious aid. We raised cash, showed up at meetings, did presentations, all of that. There was a lot of routine references to god’s will and serving, scriptural references, yadda yadda and I just let it go. One time we were invited to share a moment of prayer. I politely declined, ‘It’s not my cup of tea, I don’t believe in god or prayer.’ I swear I kept my tone neutral.

    I was later taken aside and earnestly asked to tone down my strident atheism.

  27. Daoloth says:

    A solution to the problem of evil:

  28. Don says:


    Posted that on FB just half an hour ago. Excellent site.

  29. Uncle Roger says:

    The problem is that campaigning FOR human rights, equality, etc. is more often than not the SAME THING as campaigning AGAINST religion.

  30. Uncle Roger says:

    @bk: “many of us find it easier to just claim a religion to which we don’t really believe because it’s easier than having to defend ourselves constantly.” Yeah, it’s so much easier for us atheists than for, say, colored folks.

    Lucky us, we can just keep quiet and nobody will know we’re not real people.

  31. nina says:

    I have been fired twice and bashed once for being a lesbian, bashed a few times for being fat, have experienced on the job discrimination for being a woman twice – but I have probably had more funny looks, made fun of and thought of poorly for being an Elvis fan than any of the rest of it combined.

  32. MrGronk says:

    Moderate believers might not like hearing their religions mocked or questioned, but they’re tough enough to put up with it and wise enough to know why untrammeled opinion is necessary. Only zealots are delicate.

  33. gsw says:

    Darwin Harmless says:How dumb do you have to be to lose respect anyway?

    Please, one half of this couple drinking beer is the titular head of a religion based on blood sacrifice and vicarious punishment (this is known as morality), while the other is a tin-eared, wine-hating (remaining adjectives censored) used-camel salesman. Dumb is a definite understatement!

  34. Nibien says:

    “Now that Americarecognizes that belief in no god are on par with murder I think Author should create a new guest character (executionist perhaps) in some future strip.”


  35. Nikola says:

    What does it mean exactly to “leave religion alone”? If it means “let religion violate equality and human rights” (among other things), then isn’t “maintaining a respectful silence” defeating your core cause in the context of this cartoon?


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