Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Christian Privilege in Mississippi - by "Sara"

I've been working at my retail job for about a year now. The majority of my coworkers are Christians and attend church regularly. Because I'm atheist, I know that if they were to know about me not believing they would change how I was treated at work. As part of our job description, we are obligated to work at least ONE Sunday a month (part of a rotation) so that everyone has at least one off day on the weekends. Of course, not everyone is happy when it's their weekend to work on Sunday because they would like to attend Sunday service with their families. 

A couple months ago i had mentioned something to a coworker about having trouble finding vendors for my wedding (turns out not many vendors in MS are very open to providing their services for a secular ceremony). My coworker had asked why it has been so hard, so I simply explained to her about my atheism rather than lying. She later had trouble using discretion when it came to telling the other coworkers about me not believing in god. The majority of my coworkers were shocked about my beliefs and one of the older women had made the comment "we'll I guess that means you won't have a problem working Sundays then." i had calmly explained that i didnt mind working sundays, but i did mind working every sunday because i would like at least one weekend day off just like everyone else. Since then I have worked every Sunday for almost 2 months (instead of everyone being on a rotation like it was before). 

It seems strange that my coworkers claim that because they're Christian's they've persecuted and discriminated against when in fact they seem to have the upper hand and discriminate against someone who has never made a negative comment about their religion or even hinted that they believe differently.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Christian Privilege in Mississippi - by Anonymous

My X-ian experience: when i first enter the medical field, still in college and working as a student (1980) I had to have a reference from a Sunday School teacher in order to get a job at a public not for profit hospital. While I was a nominal christian at the time, the attitude and ethics of the supervisor that required a Sunday School reference started me on my rapid decent toward a religion and eventually atheism.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Christian Privilege in Mississippi - by "Brownie"

This is what I hope will be the first in a series of other Mississippians describing the pressure and discrimination they've witnessed in this state. A couple of people outside the state have accused me of "bullshitting" or making up my story for attention so I thought it might be useful to hear this from the mouths of other Mississippians. Pseudonyms have been used upon request. - Tweenky D

I work for the feds in MS. I've worked for the State at MSU. Lived ten years in MS, in a college town. Some of my experiences, below, at these places that are actually more tolerant than most of MS.

* A director at my fed lab led prayers, at completely non-religious events, while acting as director. Refused to acknowledge objections from peers that this was not right. No idea if subordinates dared complain. I have been told that in the past, group work meetings were opened with prayers.

* Each year, I receive an official email, from the fed lab that employs me, about the National Day of Prayer. Nothing about the Day of Reason.

[redacted by author due to the unresolved nature of the incident]

* The cafeteria at my fed lab used to play Fox on TV, exclusively, for the first year I was there. Recently, they've also started showing CNN, and there's a channel changer now. So, some progress.

* At MSU, a professor printed his private receipts for donations to an anti-gay group, on a public lab printer, where any student could see it.

* At MSU, another professor attached conversion pamphlets and Bible quotes to the end of professional publications, without coauthors knowledge nor consent. This went on for years. When I brought this up, all this person would admit to concern about was speaking for coauthors without their consent.

* Same professor at MSU, initiated a discussion about Christianity with a Muslim student, whose committee this professor was on. Coercion, abuse of power, even if not explicitly stated.
* Same person at MSU received anti-Muslim propaganda in their mailbox at work, where any student could see it. This person was on my committee too. I brought it up with another committee member. Wasn't going to risk antagonizing this person alone, when they had such power over me.

* Same person at MSU, sent invites to non-Christian students specifically to come see The Passion of the Christ. Totally inappropriate.

* At MSU, professors advertised their Creationism talks.

* Took a yoga exercise class at MSU's Sanderson center, for students and faculty. The instructor played Christian praise music. When I discussed this with him, and explained not all participants are Christian, and we're just here for exercise, not conversion, he just laughed. Didn't get it at all. Not one bit.

* The city council, in my college town, only a few years ago, used to open council meetings with a prayer. A new mayor put a stop to it. For now. We'll see how long that lasts. He's no longer in office.

* My orthodontist's office, in a my college town, plays exclusively Christian praise music. [edit: mistakenly wrote dentist, the dentist has Christian children's books in the lobby]

* A doctor's office, in my college town, had Fox playing in their waiting room. The doctor there told me he doesn't give women who *might* get pregnant most meds because the "baby" might have "allergies". Embryos, early fetuses, are susceptible to genetic damage from certain meds, but we know which ones are what class, B, C, D, X. And they don't have allergies at that age. I'm fortunate I can afford to see a different doctor.

* Another doctor I went to see was going to vote for initiative 26, fertilized eggs are people. This despite opposition from ob/gyn colleagues.

* I wrote to my college town hospital, to ask if they have rape evidence collection kits in stock, and personnel trained to use them. They did not bother to write back. (I was not attacked, wanted to know if women who were would have proper legal recourse.)

While I personally have not experienced death threats, bricks through windows, firing, or the like, I live and work in the most tolerant parts of MS, and still see plenty of preferential treatment for religion, and breaking of the law. Also, I'm well aware I'm white, middle class, and can afford to fight back, and have resources to fall back on if I lose. Not everyone has that.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Individualism and Parenting - part 1

How many times have you heard someone say "Just be yourself"? I can think of many times a parent or sibling would express this to their child as they are growing up and seeking the answers of life or just trying to fit in with everyone else. If you can remember Jr High and High School then most of you know this feeling and have been there.

Individual Freedom or Individualism is defined as being:

the practice of independence in thought and action on the premise that the development and expression of an individual character and personality are of the utmost importance. ref

Consider a teen who is romantically interested in someone else. He might come home upset , blinded by a frustration that he just can't get past that prevents him from talking to this person. Then a loving adult or sibling would just simply say "Just be yourself - if they like you for who you are, then it will work out."

Sounds corny right?

Well think about it: if you are yourself and not pretending to be someone or something else, then won't you have less stress over time? There wouldn't be any lying involved (something that can ruin a friendship let alone a relationship).

But is it really that easy to "Just be Yourself"?

In most cases, no, it's not that easy to do. Why is that? Why is it so hard for young people to just be themselves?

There are many restrictions put upon a child as they are growing up that limits the growth of their individualism or individual freedom. Parents for the most part want two things for their children: 1) to have it better than they had it when they grew up, and 2) to not make the same mistakes they did. Sounds like a reasonable and caring plan for the most part but there is a obvious flaw here.

Imagine a child that is given everything they want and is "steered" down a path in life that avoids all the mistakes a person could make growing up. If he is just told not to do something because you say so or it's for their best interest instead of learning the why and the how of it, he could become rebellious.

Recently Tweenky and I listened to a talk given by Dale McGowan about "secular parenting"- something I wish I had had when I was growing up (there would have been many different outcomes and I would have learned more at an early age than getting a crash course later in life). Dale said basically that it was better for the child to learn on their own '"whys and hows," than to just give them the final answer.

It is like bringing home your math homework only to have a parent give you all the answer - way more time to play outside but did that child really learn how to do the math on their own? Not at all. So when it comes time in class to do those same problems and then has to show his work, he will not have the knowledge to do it. Not only that, he may be embarrassed in front of his friends and labeled a cheater for not having done the work himself.

Continued  here