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2/28/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Is it right to ban ... ?

By Dave, the WM

Smoking in public areas has been outlawed in several States in the US and in many countries around the world. This past November, the citizens of my home state — Ohio — voted to ban all public indoor smoking throughout the state. Smoking is not allowed in stores, restaurants, bars, places of business, clubs or within shouting distance of doorways to any public establishment, private or otherwise.

So it is written, so let it be done.

This isn't a rant about smoking, by the way, but eventually I'll make my point.

Smoking has been part of American heritage and history for perhaps thousands of years. Native Americans are frequently credited with discovering and harvesting the tobacco plant, and with inventing the practice of smoking. Smokers claim that enjoying a cigarette, cigar or pipe, helps facilitate a quiet moment of rest and relaxation. Some say it aids digestion. Many would be hard pressed to make it through the day without a smoke. For certain Native Americans, smoking even holds a religious significance.

But some people absolutely hate smoking.

Here’s an interesting tid-bit from Wikipedia:
Pope Urban VII’s 13 day papal reign included the world’s first known pubic smoking ban (1590), as he threatened to excommunicate anyone who “took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, sniffing it in powdered form through the nose.”

Of course everyone knows that smoking presents health risks to people. I know it only too well. My uncle smoked like a chimney his entire life and his nasty habit finally took its tool on him, robbing him of reaching his 80th birthday. My mother has been smoking like a fiend for the past 60 years and it’ll probably keep her from reaching her 85th. My grandfather was never seen without a lit pipe in his mouth, and he passed away of complications unrelated to smoking at 92.

OK, I realize my family genetics in regards to smoking isn’t everyone’s. While in my family smoking doesn’t seem to be a big killer, in fact, is considered as dangerous as chewing gum. However, in many other families, smoking has been devastating. That fact that smoking has deleterious effects on thousands of people’s health is well documented. Only a fool would argue with the mountain of medical statistics throwing aspersions on partaking of demon tobacco.

Still, smoking is not illegal. It is considered every adult’s individual right to enjoy smoking or not. What the ban is all about is keeping the possibly harmful side effects out of public areas where the smoke might affect a non-smoker’s health. And that's just fine with me.

OK, now on to Christianity.

Many people claim that their "faith" gives them a sense of hope and purpose. They say that without their belief in Jesus, Mary, or whomever, they’d find it difficult to get through the day. Religion has a calming effect on their lives, provides peace, and perhaps above all, helps them believe that everything is right in the world.

That's what they say.

History is rife with stories of torture, killing, war, even genocide, all in the name of religion. Christianity's history is chock full of Christians doing harm to people in the name of GOD. This cannot be refuted. It is way too easy to brush away history by saying that nNone of them were "True Christians™." Perhaps all those smokers, dead from emphysema and heart failure, were simply not "True Smokers™." True Smokers only acknowlege good things from smoking. True Christians only acknowledge good things from Christianity.

Just as True Smokers might feel offended or marginalized when asked to keep their grey cloud out of public areas, True Christians feel marginalized when asked to keep their hell-fire religion out of public politics. Smoking can rob a person of good clean air, but Christianity can rob a person of the ability to think. Smoking can shorten a person's life span, but Christianity can take away the ability to even pursue a full life. Smoking constricts the lungs while Christianity constricts everything else.

Being a Christian is a person's choice, just like being a smoker is a choice. Neither is illegal, and I wouldn't suggest that either should be. What people do in private is their own affair. What I would like to suggest is that forcing other people to accept and tolerate and respect and remain quiet and never criticize and even love my rancid cigar smoke in public areas would be, at the very least, rude and obnoxious. Today's Christianity seems intent on rallying political support in order to force other people to accept and tolerate and respect and remain quiet and never criticize and even love their Jesus. And that, I believe, is at the very least, rude and obnoxious.

Should religion be banned from polluting the public domain and influencing pubic policy in the same way that smoking is being banned from polluting the public domain and influencing public health?

What do you think?

30 comments:

huesnlight said...

Wow you pose a very lucid comparison. I hardly doubt it will fly in any particular legislation, because smoking has an immediate detrimental effect. Smoking has an immediate stigma attached to it, while Christianity (IMO) will always be immediately alluded to it's positive points that have been indoctrinated and reinforced for thousands of years. I mean, can we find any amount of scriptures for the good points of tobacco?

Albeit that doesn't answer the question; but I'm all for the banning of religion in the public domain

Byrath said...

Smoking should be banned in truly public places. Bars, restaurants, casinos and the like are not public places, they are private businesses. Banning smoking in a private business seems as ludicrous to me as banning it in private homes. It should be up to the owner of the business.
Same goes for preaching religion.

pan-kun said...

Many of the articles like this are very American-centric. No criticism intended at all, simply that is the way it is. I'd just like to point out that this is fairly well unique to the US. In other western countries Xians simply don't spout this sort of rubbish. For instance the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest does thank Almighty Dog in the first breath of his acceptance speech. Politicans tend to not make a big deal of their own religion and I can't imagine the leader of any European country refering to it as a Christain nation.

Recently in Australia the religious right wing of the conservative party has basically taken it over. However the public have abandoned it in droves.

It seems only in the US that such public expressions of religion are common. But Americans seem to love labelling themselves.

eel_shepherd said...

Ha ha ha... True Smokers[TM] That's right up there with Landover Baptist's theory of Intelligent Falling as an alternative to the theory of gravity.

We can note in passing that the stink emanating from the True Smoker is less [ob]noxious than that oozing off the True Xtian...

The oft-repeated line in the no-indoor-smoking jurisdiction of British Columbia is that there isn't a Peeing and a No-Peeing end of a swimming pool. Same should apply to public spaces, including commercial "semi-public" spaces, such as basketball games. Everyone, no matter how religious, has some degree of secularism to their lives, but not everyone has some degree of religiosity to theirs. Thus, secularism should be the default when deciding whether to chuck a prayer or two into the mix at a secular event. Let them save it up all week for church on Sunday, and really blow their wads then.

tigg13 said...

How about warning labels on bibles, too.

*WARNING!*
Can be hazardous to mental health! Can cause holy wars and witch hunts!

And you should be at least 18 to read one.

OOOH! OOOH! And licensing! Bible thumping ought to be regulated by an official, govenment agency.

"Hey you! You got a license for that bible? Let's see some ID?"

Man, that would be so much fun!

dano said...

I don't think it's right to ban smoking because it is one of the last ways we can legally murder someone.

For instance if your spouse has become a nicotine sodden stinking flue pipe, there is absolutely, nothing illegal about keeping her/him supplied with cigarettes.

When they say things like :"Nobody has ever proven that cigarettes cause cancer" "you can smile and say: "That's right dear, they are just trying to meddle into our private lives"
Dan Naturalselectionist)

dano said...

I just took a trip up through NC, and VA. Someone has erected these huge cross thingys along the highway, presumedly on private property. Three huge telephone pole type crosses, the one in the middle, painted gold, and the ones on either side painted white. I found them to be offensive.

What would happen, say if the "Church Of The Vagina," started putting huge billboards with pictures of their object of veneration all along the public highways?
Dan (????Rhetoricalist????)

.:webmaster:. said...

From Roadside America:

"Those sets of crosses were all put up by the same man, Bernard Coffindaffer, a once-wealthy West Virginia businessman. He spent more than $2.5 million putting them up after a vision following open heart surgery told him to start building "crosses of mercy." The first trio was built north of Charleston, WV, and eventually some 1,800 were planted across 29 states.

Coffindaffer's crosses are two pale blue ones and a yellow one, painted these colors to represent the colors of the sky and the light of the sun over Jerusalem. The crosses are treated with a saline solution and built to last 35 years.

Coffindaffer eventually went broke, and died in October, 1993, after more than ten years of building."


I used to attend a Church with three of these crosses on the property, up near the road.

.:webmaster:. said...

Here's more on those crosses:

ChristianCrosses.Org

Spirula said...

spent more than $2.5 million

That's just sickening. How many mouths of poor, malnurished children could that have fed?

I wonder what the total amount of money Conservative Christians (as opposed to Liberal, who are known to be more charity oriented) spend on their buildings, advertisements, property etc. compared to the actual amount they spend on charity. Especially considering the damn gov't has even got involved with (unconstitutional) faith-based initiatives.

Toxic said...

I had this evangelical neighbout and he kept trying to convert me, he also told me I shold not smoke. I wonder what he would have thought if I 'd offered him a cigarette and told him he shouldn't go to church?

dano said...

Thanks webmaster!
It never occurred to me to Goggle it. I did goggle his name trying to find the rest of the story, like perhaps it was discovered in his later years that he was a pedophile, or something but no luck.

While I am on the subject of driving down the road. You want to have some real fun and pass the time? Play: "Try to find the dumbest motherf--------ing preacher on the radio"

You just keep hitting the seek button until you get a good one.

My favorite was the "male, female dynamic duo" She would scream a couple of phrases from the Bible, and he would scream them again, all the while inserting, "praise the lords," and "amens." It was so comical that I couldn't change the station till they finished making their plea for donations, and for people to buy tapes of the sermons.

You can't play "Dumbest Preacher" without having a warm glow of satisfaction wash over you, as you realize, but for the grace of 30 IQ points, there go I.

In the blue states, it might be more difficult to play. You may have to change the rules to "Find the best circular reasoner!"

Anybody reading this, who thinks that I hate Christians, and want to kill them, I want to emphatically assert that it is NOT true.

I do think, however, there should be given some serious consideration to mandatory sterilization of people who, by the time they reach the age of twenty-one, have not given up their dependency on mythological entities.
Dan (Having fun with faith)

eel_shepherd said...

WM wrote:
"...The crosses are treated with a saline solution and built to last 35 years..."

Which means they'll outlive Jesus by a year-and-a-half...

pan-kun said...

Please tell me more about about this Church of the Holy Vagina. How do I sign up?

SpaceMonk said...

Pan-kun wrote: "Please tell me more about about this Church of the Holy Vagina. How do I sign up?"

If you're exchristian then you've already been there, done that.
Go here: http://exchristian.net/tracts/tracts.html
and click the last tract in the list, "Something Fishy".


Although I'd be happy to see religion banned, same as I'd be happy to see smoking banned, I'd worry that we'd need some kind of totalitarian system to enforce it, which is what the religionists are trying to accomplish.

What I think should be compulsory is greater education in schools, specifically targetting religions, and specifically presenting the counter arguments that the kids never get taught in sunday school.
All the contradictions and theological flaws that never get brought up in church should be shown so that their thinking process learns to not just accept what it is taught without scientific, or at least theoretical, support.

It could be a part of social studies, or history, or something, but it needs to be more rigourous than is currently explained.

With enough of the new generation asking questions, and being given real answers, the church could be extinct around the same time those highway crosses expire.

xrayman said...

A friend of mine plays in classic rock cover band and the only bars that hire them are the total smokefilled redneck establishments. Besides my friend who was in the band, out of about 70 people in the bar I think I was the only one not smoking(and I am a former heavy smoker). I no longer go out and see him play because I just can't take it. Ban the fuck out of smoking in public so I may hang out in a bar and not choke.

But we must keep smoking legal for people to do in private and outdoors because smoking stimulates the economy. As an xray tech, smokers are a large part of my work. From the emphysema patients, as well as the lung cancer and heart patients. They all assure I will be feeding my family.

It is so ironic that one of my coworkers who was a heavy smoker died of lung cancer in my workplace, yet so many of my other coworkers still go outside the hospital to have a smoke.

twincats said...

While I think that banning religious prosletyzing would be a wondrously good thing, it will never happen in the US. Our constitution guarantees the right to religious freedom and "spreading the 'good news'" is part and parcel of every xtian sect. So you can't stop 'em, unfortunately.

As for smoking, I live in CA where smoking is banned in every indoor venue (save private households.) So, I'm spoiled. Some folks are getting a bit nuts, though, wanting to ban smoking within 100 yds. of a public bldg. I'm a non-smoker and even I think that's overboard!

Anonymous said...

I think your average Joe is not going to see the comparison, with Smoking and Religion.... IMO I think everybody knows that smoking is bad in some way or another, that's almost common knowledge... But when throw in religion... you need to teach them the history of religion for your average Joe to understand what your talking about..

Its almost common knowledge to your average Christian Joe.. that God is good and Jesus is awesome.... They have no clue the history of religion... and even if they were told the truth... they would find some way to rationalize it out of their head.....

I personally like your idea....

David said...

wm Dave,

You said that today's Christian is intent on rallying support for tolorance and acceptance. How do you think they are doing this?

You also asked if Christianity should be banned form "polluting" the public domain. How do you think they are doing that?

They have already been pushed out of schools and other public places. How far do you think they should go? Should all crosses and other symbols be removed? Gay people want acceptance too. Should all the rainbow falgs and stickers come down? Do Christians deserve less tolorance than gays?

I thought everyone in this country had the right to express their ideas and thoughts publically. I hear things I don't agree with everyday. But I can't silence these people because I don't agree with them.

What other groups do you wish to rob of their right to share their feelings and belifs? Blacks? Women? Who is too be silenced and who is too be tolorated?

.:webmaster:. said...

"They have no clue the history of religion... and even if they were told the truth... they would find some way to rationalize it out of their head....."

I think you have a point, anonymous. The average Christian is so pathetically ignorant about his or her religion that it is easy for the believer to be deluded into thinking that Christianity is at the very worst, just a harmless pastime.

Of course, it wasn't so long ago that EVERYONE believed that smoking was a harmless pastime, too.

Education is what is necessary, but you're also right that Christians as a group will never educate themselves, or even if told things, will stubbornly refuse to see it.

eel_shepherd said...

David wrote:
"...I thought everyone in this country had the right to express their ideas and thoughts publically. I hear things I don't agree with everyday. But I can't silence these people because I don't agree with them..."

I'm starting to lose any "faith" I ever had that people can be reached and change through words and the laws of thinking. The above quote is a perfect example: a complete inability to recognise the difference between being able to hold a set of beliefs, even to show them, and being able to force-feed them to someone else. Especially coming on the heels of the comment that Xtianity/Xtians have already been forced out of the schools.

Forced _back_ out, David; forced _back_ out. After they forced their way in, like they had no business doing.

David said...

eel-shep;

How is modern Christianity "forcing" anything on anybody?

Dave P.

freeman said...

"Poole boy",

"One nation under god"... just for starters!

dano said...

David wrote:eel-shep;
"How is modern Christianity "forcing" anything on anybody?
Dave P."

I,Dan, will start your education with: Just one example. The millions of dollars that have been spent by local school boards fighting the huge organized push by the Intelligent Design people, to get science classes to teach "God Did IT," as science.

Not to mention the thousands of Whacko cults, advocating everything from hitching rides on comets to Mormonism.
Dan (Your welcome!)

boomSLANG said...

"Modern Christianity"?

I thought "God's word" was UNchanging?....so how can there be such a thing as modern Christianity?

If the Christian belief has evolved, then it has changed. If it has changed, then it wasn't right the first time. If it wasn't right the first time, then there's no logical reason to believe that it was inspired by a "perfect all-knowing" being. If there's no logical reason to believe that it was inspired by a "perfect all-knowing" being?.....then don't believe it.

"Faith", you say? The tobacco industry has "faith" that smoking doesn't cause cancer.

Stevie P said...

Okay webmaster---I, GAY 'OLE STEVIE P!, am starting the first "get down on your knees and accept the homosexual into your heart" mentality you dissed in a response post! Perhaps I misread your logic, or even overlooked the sarcasm--however, Gay rights are high on the list of importance. If you have NOT walked in the shoes of a homosexual or share a friendship with a brother/sister or parent who is homosexual, then perhaps you need too.

The christian community is FLAWED in their fantasy logic. So, yes---I fight them everyday. As a gay man, the very fabric of my DNA decided my sexuality--I didn't--I had no choice in the matter. But, that's not to say, if given the choice, I wouldn't choose to be gay---because I would, in a New York heartbeat! I love my sexuality and there is no shame in being gay---ZERO SHAME!
Equality is not evil, nor is equality immoral or unacceptable. It should be law. Every citizen should be equal under the law. However, BECAUSE OF CHRISTIANS, homosexuals are not equal under the law. You may stand up for women & other minorites, but it's high fucking time someone stood up and said to all Christians and non-Christain, "As a homosexual, I am as human as you, and to deny my share of rights held by other United States citizens is Segregation and unethical--it violates our nations Constitution (which is why HATEFUL and CRUEL WITHHUNT REPUBLICANS want to rewrite the constitution)... So, until I find myself living happily to where I'm equally accepted as the others you mention---I'll rightfully and happily march my gay 'ole ass on Washington, at home in Atlanta, and vocalize my dismay with Religion to the top my vocal ability. Is their continous Christian bias in America? Yes, but the answer is also: If women such as Ann Coulter are given a hate-based-conservative platform in this country, there is proof of Christian bias, ignorance, hatred, and seperatist behavior in the Christian community.

Stevie P said...

Also, I highly doubt the scene you prompt of a homosexual encourging a known heterosexual to suck his "Junk" as logical---it's OFFENSIVE and beneath this website. "Toleration" of homosexuality as you stated in a post, should be a non-issue! No homosexual is trying to recruit heterosexuals, that's just a fucked up myth! It saddens me to read your comparrison! As someone who has promoted this site to friends, family, and the media (yes, I'm a publicist) I'll cut ties in a heartbeat if I continue to read such blatent misrepsentation of homosexuality on here! Christianity is obviosly an enemy to this site--- BUT GAYS ARE NOT!

.:webmaster:. said...

Stevie p,

Please accept my sincerest apology for my apparently ill-phrased, sarcastic comment. The message you received from my OP was not the message I intended to convey.

However, thank you for showing me how my thoughtlessly colorful rebuttal of a fundie can be read as insulting from another perspective. I've removed the offending remark.

Again, my apologies.

Jamie said...

A bit off topic, but...

Stevie P, when I click on your name, it takes me to your blogger profile...and it sounds like you might have an interesting blog over there. But for the life of me, I can't find out how to access anything other than the profile. Anything else I click seems to take me to my OWN hardly used page!

This probably is the same for other names on here. How do I get to their blogs instead of just their profiles?

.:webmaster:. said...

Stevie P hasn't provided a link to his blog on his profile. He could change that, if he so chose. Until then, none of us will know where is blog might be.