Archive for prayer

"I'm praying that my negative prayers thwart religious right's quest to browbeat nonbelievers"


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I'm an atheist, so I don't really do prayers. I hope a lot, I take action to create change, I vote, and I use what modest powers of persuasion I can muster up to convince others that there is more than one way to approach any given situation or policy. But prayers? Not so much.

I can't accept that the Invisible Man in the Sky (who apparently has a blonde, blue-eyed Middle Eastern son who came into this world via a virgin) exists. I can't fathom how anyone feels that their particular prayers take priority over someone else's rights, positions, or beliefs, someone who is supposed to be a fellow "child of god."

When an athlete offers thanks to his or her god for a victory, does that mean that their god deemed their opponents unworthy? Less special? Aren't we all supposed to be equally loved by their benevolent god? If the almighty one's got so much power, then why doesn't he/she... [fill in the blank]?

And why does the Christian majority feel compelled to convince the rest of us that their religion is The Best One of All? Because there are more of them than there are of us? So what? Why, as they try to get us to have faith in their faith (key word: faith), do they continue to exclude so many of us as they simultaneously try to entice us to "believe" their beliefs (key word: beliefs) ?

Why discriminate against those who are different than you? Or shame? Or aggressively proselytize? What happened to "live and let live" and "do unto others"?

I could go on forever. I say none of this to offend, and I hope my words are not taken that way. I understand why people embrace religion. I just can't relate to or make sense of believing in a magical being. And it stops being okay when others insist I do what's right for them, but not for me.

Which brings me to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Negative prayer may be just the remedy for those of us who blanch at religious zealots' pious public displays of prayer to their chosen deities. It's worth a try: I'll beseech my deity to use her divine powers to hinder those who feel their notion of "god" is superior to all other deities that humans have ever worshiped. ("They're praying for the worst. Is that wrong?," Op-Ed, June 24)

If my incantation prevails, government-sanctioned prayers at public meetings will cease. That way I no longer will have to betray my religious proclivities by leaving when prayers start, per the disingenuous suggestion floated by the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority in the recent decision involving the town of Greece, N.Y.

Verily, I'm praying that my negative prayers thwart the religious right's quest to browbeat nonbelievers.

Dennis Alston, Atwater, Calif.


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