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08-08-2011, 11:51 PM
Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world
Added: Friday, 05 August 2011 at 10:17 PM

Thanks to Vaal and Semper Ubi Sub Ubi for the link.

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

The Exodus Church is part of the mainstream Dutch Protestant Church

It is part of the mainstream Dutch Protestant Church, and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the Dutch Protestant Church was either agnostic or atheist.

08-08-2011, 11:52 PM
Atheists ask judge to order removal of 9/11 memorial cross
Beam found amid 9/11 wreckage blessed by priest and moved to Ground Zero memorial, which atheists say should remain neutral

World Trade Centre construction workers hold hands during a prayer at a ceremony for the 9/11 cross. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

A US atheist group has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the removal of a cross-shaped steel beam at the 9/11 memorial in New York or request that other religions and nonreligious views be equally represented.

The cross was found amid the wreckage from the terrorist attacks by a construction worker who said he stumbled onto a miracle. It was last weekend moved to the Ground Zero memorial – due to open on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in September – after a blessing by a Catholic priest. It is to become part of the permanent collection of a 9/11 museum opening next year.

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, the group which filed the lawsuit, said its main concern was equality.

He said 9/11 was an American tragedy, "but the Christian community has secured sole representation in the memorial for itself at the exclusion of other religions and philosophies."

Atheists Fight Move of I-Beam ‘Cross’ to Ground Zero

In Lawsuit, Cite Constitutional Rights and
Church’s Disdain for Non-Christians Who Died on 9/11

American Atheists, the prominent nationwide Atheist organization, has filed a law suit in New York’s Supreme Court to stop the so-called Ground Zero “cross” from being permanently displayed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The 17-foot tall piece of i-beam debris, one of thousands of t-joints in the World Trade Center’s construction, was found in the rubble of 9/11 and then dubbed by a priest from St. Peter’s church as “a message from God.”

In 2006, after complaints from New York City Atheists, an affiliate of American Atheists, and others, the so-called “cross” was moved from Ground Zero to St. Peter’s Church, where it stood for five years.

On Saturday, July 23, 2011, after being blessed with holy water by Franciscan priest Father Brian Jordan, it was moved back to Ground Zero for placement in the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

Violates Separation of Church & State

American Atheists oppose the placement of the so-called “cross” in the museum as a violation of America’s separation-of-church-and-state laws guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and subsequent case law. Under these laws, religious icons and representations have been removed from public places where they were in the faces of, and could not be avoided by, citizens of other religions or no religion.

American Atheists also oppose the so-called “cross” because it is a Christian icon and discriminates against the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Skeptics, Wiccans, Freethinkers, nonbelievers and others who died on 9/11. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have estimated these non-Christians constituted some 1,031 of those who died. Yet these victims have no symbols representing them in the Memorial Museum.

“The WTC cross is a Christian symbol,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It is truly a ridiculous assertion.”

Three of the suit’s plaintiffs are officers of New York City Atheists, Inc.

One Who Was There on 9/11

Plaintiff Jane Everhart, communications director of New York City Atheists, Inc., was in the World Trade Center area on the morning of September 11, 2001. “I was due to start jury duty that day,” she says. “But when I got out of the subway at City Hall, the streets were filled with people silently looking up at the sky. I think the second plane had just hit. The South Tower was half burned down, it looked like a giant cigarette ash. I saw people jumping or falling from the towers, scores of them. Sometimes, with their arms spread eagle, some looked like they were diving into water. I was horrified. These people had to choose on that day how they were going to die.

“I fought my way through the crowds and went to the Criminal Court, where it was supposed to be my first day as a juror. The security guards told me to flee, to get home any way I could. Just about then the first tower collapsed. I headed north, trying to beat the cloud of ash along with thousands of others; the streets were filled from curb to curb with people. I tried to go into a subway but a stranger, himself covered with white ash, dissuaded me, saying I might get trapped there. I took off my shoes and walked, ran or limped all the way to Astor Place, where there were dozens of buses waiting and I managed to get on one.”

Everhart was so traumatized by the events on 9/11 that when she was called for jury duty a year or so later, “I could not make it down to the City Hall area. I got as far as Grand Central and couldn’t go any further.” Called on to explain to the jury selection division why she didn’t show up, Everhart was excused from jury duty forever.

Must Represent All the People

Everhart says she was too traumatized to go down to Ground Zero for years. In 2009, when the two fallen towers were represented by lights going up into the sky, a friend took her down there. “I wept,” she says, “but it was O.K. The lights were a beautiful symbol.”

But the i-beam “cross” is another story, Everhart says. “That ugly piece of wreckage does not represent anything to me but horror and death. I will not be able to go to the Memorial Museum if that piece of debris is there. If some deluded Christians think it resembles a cross, then they should keep it in their church. Let our Memorial be a thing of beauty that represents all the people!”

There are thousands of people like herself who feel that the Christian church has monopolized the memorializing of those who died, Everhart notes. Others feel that the church is using the Memorial Museum opportunistically for plugging its brand of religion. “The Museum should remember everybody who died or suffered,” she says, “not just the Christians. America is a melting pot.

08-08-2011, 11:58 PM
Loving Christians respond to atheists
Here's a sampling of the responses posted on Facebook after American Atheists' Blair Scott appeared on Fox News in a segment on the group's court case involving the cross in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

I say kill them all and let them see for themselves that there is a God -- Paul Altum

Shoot them. Shoot to Kill. -- Bob O'Connell


thats easy shoot them -- Joseph Sneckenberg

Shoot em. At least we know where they're going, waste of oxygen -- Casey M Jones

Nail them to that cross then display it -- Mike Holeschek
I thinly (sic!) we should hang the leader of that group on the cross with nails through their hands and feet, place a crown of thorns upon their head, RAM a spear through their side all after being whipped and beaten publicly! Just so they can endure what Christ did so they understand the sacrifice behind what the cross symbolizes -- Chris Dunn.

Incidentally, 19 people liked Chris Dunn's post within a few minutes. Many more Christians are posting equally vicious and hateful comments on the FOX News FB Page. Though they're being taken down almost as fast as they're being put up, they are being saved for posterity by friends of American Atheists who have quick trigger fingers for the "Screenshot" button.