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Support religious freedom by defending rights of atheists

In Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on September 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm

dih-logo-SEFor what is apparently the first time ever, an openly atheist candidate is running for United States Congress this fall. James Woods, an atheist Democrat, is seeking election in the Arizona 5th Congressional District, a region well known as strictly Republican. According to a CNN op-ed piece by columnist Carlos S. Moreno, Woods will be the only congressional candidate to ever run after outing himself as a non-believer.

As it turns out, under the constitutions of eight American states, atheists are banned from holding public office: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (Source: The Washington Post). More accurately, the restriction applies to those who deny the existence of, “a Supreme Being,” or “Almighty God,” the wording varies.

Regardless of whether people agree with it, such bans would seem to violate Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It’s probable that any related civil suit would eventually land at the feet of the United States Supreme Court which would undoubtedly have to rule these laws unconstitutional.

Even so, most atheists stay, “in the closet,” so to speak, to avoid social repercussions and public scrutiny and rarely do they attempt to run for political positions. It might be assumed that the anti-atheist rules were originally established to ensure that public servants would have a predictable moral fiber.

But, the very idea that the religious are inherently “moral,” is, in a word, ridiculous. History is full of religiously-sanctioned violations of God’s moral commandments, from centuries of open warfare to decades of child abuse. As usual, many of the devout try to pretend none of it ever happened. So, in a completely predictable act of contradiction, violations of God’s laws are fine so long as they serve a “higher purpose.”

Likewise, the moral character of a politician is supposed to be part of the reason why people choose to elect him or her to office. Sadly, a disturbing lack of morality is evident in many high-ranking politicians, who spend much of their time lying, cheating and stealing. These are the same men and women who, at some point, stood up in front of their God and everyone else and swore to their personal integrity and commitment.

Easy examples come to mind like John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, who were known to be serial adulterers, and it could be argued that the very definition of politician should include, “liar.” In any case, one needn’t be a Christian, nor a member of any other religion, to have a well-aligned moral compass.

Put simply, being frightened into morality by the threat of fire and brimstone only goes so far in keeping people on the straight and narrow, particularly those who crave power and believe themselves at some point to be above retribution. It seems like it would be better to have a public servant who has found his or her own moral direction rather than having it lorded over them by fear of suffering in the hereafter.

Regardless of how the devout are behaving when no one is looking, however, what Americans need to understand from all of this is that freedom from religion must be protected in order to preserve its uninhibited practice. The fine balance between freedom “from” and “of” religion is necessary to ensure every citizen can practice his or her faith openly, all while any other may enjoy none at all. It goes both ways.

Put another way, no one likes to have religious groups going door to door pedaling their ideology. So why is it alright for anyone else to do the same thing simply using more socially acceptable methods, such as being coerced into declaring a religion before qualifying for political office?

Up until now a great many public servants who have affirmed a religious affiliation and filled speeches with thanks to God for their success have managed to shame both their religion and their office with shaky morality. In the end, the most devout Christian can take the same oath as their atheist counterpart and guarantee no greater a moral platform. If history is any indicator, it might even be less.

 
Gery L. Deer is the editor and publisher of The Jamestown Comet.com and a syndicated independent columnist.

 

Amateur radio classes offered September 7

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Entertainment, Media, News Media, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on September 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

The number of amateur radio operators continues to grow as more people realize the role that ham radio can play in providing emergency communication during natural disasters. To help those interested in obtaining a ham radio license, the Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) is offering three free Amateur Radio license courses. In addition to GCARES, the courses are supported by the Bellbrook  Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN).

radios     The nine week courses will prepare students to take the FCC test for the entry-level technician, the intermediate level general, or the top level extra class licenses. Classes will meet from 7–9 p.m. Sundays beginning Sept. 7.  The exams for all three licenses will be given at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9. There is no charge for the courses or the test.

   The entry level technician class course will be held in the TrainingCenter at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook.  No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a technician class license.  Morse code no longer is required for any amateur radio license.

    The general class course and the test session will be held in the training room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 1298 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

     The extra class course will be held in the training room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

      Students are encouraged to have a copy of the respective ARRL License Manual. For more information about obtaining a manual go to gcares.febo.com.

     To register for one of the courses or for more information, please contact Bill Watson, K8WEW,  by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.

When did being nerdy become cool?

In Children and Family, Economy, Education, Opinion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on August 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

DIH LOGOAm I to understand that, largely because of a television situation comedy, it is now cool to be awkward, socially inept, and very smart, all while being considered – dare I use the word – “nerdy?” When did this happen? In my day, we nerds were cast out from all the best tables in the school lunchroom or forced to get bad grades to avoid being picked on because we were smart  – that never worked, by the way. It’s just not fair that today’s geeks get a pass! But, it’s about time!

Yes, I was a nerd, of the ultimate type, though I never made much of an effort to show my smarts on my report card; the dreaded “permanent record.” Best part is, I’m still pretty nerdy, if not more so, except now, people think it’s much cooler. Ok, maybe not so much when you’re nearly 50 years old, but still, it’s better than the reverse.

It is highly unlikely, however, that the power struggle of lunchroom hierarchy has changed too much. Although I have learned that there are now “smart kid cliques,” like a “herd of nerd.” These gaggles of bespectacled hackers, techies, science geeks and math whizzes won’t let the cool kids – jocks, cheerleaders, etc. – sit at their tables. Oh my, how the lunch tables have turned! So what, exactly happened to cause this mirror universe effect (there’s a Star Trek reference for anyone who’s paying attention)?

GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing managing copywriter Gery L. Deer at his Jamestown office.

GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing managing copywriter Gery L. Deer at his Jamestown office. Nerd is in!

Were our Heisenberg compensators out of calibration? Was there a paradoxical overlap in the delicate fabric of space and time? Perhaps J.J. Abrams decided to re-imagine nerddom in his own image? However interesting these explanations may sound, the popularity shift albeit a smaller one than you might think has more to do with money than anything else, on several levels.

In the 1990s, the nerds of the 80s were rolling in the cash as the tech boom swept across the nation and rapidly spread worldwide. Billions of dollars were going into research and development as the Internet expanded and commerce took notice.

Suddenly, everyone was a hacker or web developer. Countless tech startups swamped Silicon Valley and the rest of the country as everybody with a modem tried to cash in on the boom.  In short, the nerds of yesterday are the successful business tycoons of today, at least some of the time.

Next, it would be hard to talk about this subject without at least a hat-tip to the TV nerds of CBS’s hit comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.” The quirky, discomfited antics of Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard have become a sensation. The show seems to be broadcast every hour of the evening, primetime or in syndication. Watching people who seem far more awkward and unsure than ourselves has always been a pastime, but this is somehow even more engaging.

Most of us who have worked in the engineering or technical fields knew or knows someone like each of these guys, but with nowhere near the personality or likability of the four fictional personas. Speaking of real life, I’m fortunate that I don’t carry a grudge for all the harassment I endured growing up.

If anything, it’s been a source of great resolve and I’ve have written many times on the subjects of bullying, mean-spirited teasing and the like. Unfortunately, there are some of my nerd kin out there who just can’t let it go or, if they’re still in school, carry a sharp chip on their shoulders because they aren’t part even of the herd of nerd that as claimed a spot at one of the cool tables.

There is every possibility that the reason someone doesn’t socially advance has as much to do with the person than the environment. A bad attitude goes both ways. No one will be popular if he or she is always pointing out the mistakes of others, belittling someone’s intelligence or carries that chip on the shoulder that keeps others at bay.

I learned to embrace my inner (and outer) geek and like whom I’ve become. In the end, it’s far better to be smart and socially functional, than sit alone in the cafeteria.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s program, Living Dayton. More at gerydeer.com.

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