It has been close to three years now since a town of angry theocrats learned the hard way that our system of government forbids the mixing of church and state.  And as I discovered in my follow up, make no mistake, they’re still very pissed off about it.

Water TowerTo recap the story of what happened.

1.        Beginning in 2010 the FFRF began sending letters to the Mayor of Whiteville, TN informing him that the large Latin cross the city had paid to mount on the town water tower was a an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

2.       After the letters were ignored, the FFRF filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a local resident to force James Bellar, the town’s mayor, to remove the religious symbol the town’s water tower; as well as smaller wooden crosses that had been erected in front of Whiteville City Hall on the city-owned sidewalk by that time.

3.       Bellar announced on Oct. 3, 2011 that he would move the cross, and angrily referred to the FFRF and its members as “terrorists” in local media reports.

4.      On Oct. 17, 2011 Bellar told reporter Daniel Wilkerson, WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tenn., that “Somebody has to stand up to these atheist sons of bitches, and you can quote me on that.”

5.       In late October, Bellar wasted another $4,000 in taxpayer money to inexplicably break one arm off the cross and using town funds to illuminate what remained of the cross.

6.       On Aug. 8, 2012, Judge Daniel Breen approved a settlement and entered an agreed judgment. The Town and Mayor were enjoined from installing future crosses on city hall property. The defendants also agreed not to replace the arm on the remaining structure on the water tower.  Lastly, Bellar agreed to pay $20,000 in attorney’s fees, a waste of money that could have been avoided were it not for his religious fanaticism.

While that was ongoing, an all out witch-hunt was undertaken to ferret out the heretic(s) who dared challenge the Mayor’s decision.  Those involved in the witch-hunt apparently included members of the Whiteville Police Department.  Internet message boards and blogs were scoured daily for discussions or articles unfavorable toward the Mayor’s actions and then spammed in an attempt to shut down dissenting commenters.  Their preferred tactic was to spam the names of people on a short list of ‘suspects’ they had collected.

This tactic gloriously backfired on them after they came upon an article by a blogger at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.  The author of the piece was an Attorney from southern California and his article was critical of the Mayor’s defiance and his accusations of “terrorism” on the part of the FFRF and secularist.  The group, variously labeling themselves “lawman1”, “lawman2” or “the gang of six” (which was approximately the number of cops employed by the city) began spamming names and threatening anonymous commenters who were complaining about wooden crosses were being built and handed out with the expectation that all residents stake them in their yard.  Anyone who refused was labeled suspect and subject to police harassment and social ridicule.

Their goof was due to an ignorance of technology and deciding to harass people in a moderated forum, leading to the “gang of six” getting a taste of their own medicine.  You see, unlike Topix, the author of the article was also the blog’s administrator.  The ‘gang of six’ had unknowing let their IP address be logged when they commented.  A simple reverse look-up revealed a woman’s name and approximate location.  The blog’s author, justifiably perturbed by the blatant harassment, posted the name and corresponding address linked to the IP address.  And then the puzzle pieces began coming together.

For months “the gang of six” had been blindly accusing random people, who they laughably labeled ‘suspects’, of being atheists and ‘terrorist’ based on nothing more than their unwillingness to get involved and pick a side.  If you weren’t with the party of god, as evidenced by your willingness to stake a wooden cross in your yard and publicly support the Mayor in his righteous fight, you were labeled an evil atheist in league with Satan; so went their reasoning.  But now the ‘gang’ was faced with having someone they respected named and they were not pleased.  The woman’s name was re-posted to the forums on Topix where “the gang of six” had been freely harassing and attempting to dox people without fear of moderation.

James Bellar

An individual soon posted a demand on the blog article that the woman’s name be removed from the blogs comments as well as Topix, asserting she was not involved because he was “the one that pays the bills”.  That statement was the key to unlocking the identity of “the gang of six” or at least its leader.  As it turned out, the woman (likely not involved) was an employee of Bass Insurance in Whiteville, TN; her name just happened to be the name on file with the ISP.  The question was, if the harassing comments and doxing were coming from Bass Insurance then who is the person that “pays the bills”?  Well that would be the owner of Bass Insurance, the right honorable Mayor of Whiteville himself, James Bellar.  Once this link was revealed in the blog comments and Topix forums the harassment, online at least, quickly died out.  Although there were further comments, they were posted through European proxies.

I decided to check in on the old Topix forums recently to see how the gang was doing.  It didn’t take much to stir them up and what I found was a cult like mentality of pretending their religious symbol is still there.  They write as if the lawsuit and the settlement either never occurred or had no effect.  They still cling to the false notion that the lawsuit was motivated by a hatred of crosses and Jesus, refusing to acknowledge any sort of church state issue.  A user calling himself ‘lawman 2’ wrote“…that cross [has] burned into you memories you will take to your grave and it has taken over your life.”  Further threatening “It is you that should be worried about our ticket book.” , supporting past complaints by locals that being on the wrong side of local politics can make you a target.

When I raised the point that their veneration of a broken religious icon is essentially idolatry they have no answer.  Apparently they’re to busy basking in their own imagined victim-hood to take the time required to understand the actual teachings of their own religion.

by | Categories: Musing | Tagged: , | Comments Off on The Whiteville Cross Saga: Revisited

the day you and your science are able to create one human cell is the day you will win this argument (about god).

what say ye?

glad to see you used a word like inspiration . i thought that word was only in the christians dictionary.

back to that one human cell business,get busy. you have the challenge and your work lies ahead.

make me an xesit by having your science do so

one egg + one sperm = you or I

isnt creation great? call your supporters. you need them. no paste and cut.

speak from your heart only

thirdum wordum 7-19-1918

thirdum wordum,

Your comment breaks down to the following argument.

  • Premise One: Living cells exist.
  • Premise Two: Scientist cannot now create living cells.
  • Conclusion: God made living cells.

This is another classic argument from ignorance, a fallacy with which you appear to be very familiar.  You likely find this kind of spurious argument very useful when convincing credulous people to accept your magical faith claims; I know I did when I was involved in apologetics.  The difference between you and I is that I stopped espousing such arguments once the fallacy was revealed to me, you simply continue on dishonestly as if you are still ignorant of this fact.  It is an argument from ignorance because you are claiming that the ONLY origin of a living cell is supernatural and you do so because you are ignorant of any other method with which a cell could originate.

Your argument falls under the larger category labeled the “God of the gaps”; a theological perspective in which gaps in our scientific knowledge are taken as evidence or proof of God’s existence.  Such an argument is sometimes reduced to the following form:

  • There is a gap in understanding of some aspect of the natural world. (Origin of life)
  • Therefore the cause must be supernatural. (Your God!)

One of the most glaring problems with your argument is that, even at face value, it can be used to justify belief in an infinite number of gods.  If you were a Muslim you could claim Allah made living cells and so on and so forth.  Your argument only gets you as far deism.  You still have all your work ahead of you to show that this creator is not completely indifferent to humans.

With regard to your challenge, this might sound unusual coming from a non-believer but even if microbiologist did manage, with the aid of cutting edge nanotechnology, to create a cell, capable of all the feats required of a living organism, it would not disprove your notion of a creator.  The enigmatic creator described by most theist as being space-less, timeless, and immaterial, is completely un-falsifiable.  The creation of living cells in a laboratory would in no way falsify your assertion of a creator.  You could always move the goal post and claim that we were simply created with the intelligence to copy your god’s original work.  Theists have always moved the goal post when advances in knowledge have displaced their magical answers and there is no reason to suspect you will not continue that tradition when your specific challenge has been met.

Your demand that science make you an atheist is laughable.  Science is derived from the application of logic to objective facts found in the natural world.  Religion rejects facts and reasoning in favor of faith.  As facts and reason are necessary components in the application of science, any attempt to persuade you with science will fail.  So long as you deny reason you will remain trapped in your delusion.

You are correct, one egg and one sperm will produce offspring.  It is interesting to note that your knowledge of the existence of human gametes is a result of scientific inquiry and not divine revelation from your god.  Religion taught for thousands of years that it was the man who planted his seed inside the woman, that women were merely vessels for male reproduction and were to be treated as chattel.  Now you sit at your keyboard making magic claims while appealing to the very secular scientific knowledge your religion suppressed with fear and torture; all while still making fallacious arguments for your particular god; the nerve!  Why not crack open your bible?  Why not appeal to the claims made in your magic book?  Oh, that’s right; we already know that the myths and legends in that text have been debunked.

Creation is hardly great; a child can recognize the flaw in your statement instantly, IT IS UNFOUNDED.  You have presented absolutely no evidence for your claim.  “God made us!” you say.  OK, next question, what made god; and what made that; and what made that; so on and so forth.  Say hello to Mr. Infinite Regress.  Now, you avoid this obvious problem by committing the fallacy of special pleading, also called a double standard.  Conveniently, everything that exists requires an act of creation up until we arrive at your god, which for some unexplained reason does not require a creator.  Supernatural creation is not “great”; it is absurd and an affront the intelligence of the very minds that you seek to enslave.  Occam’s razor disposes of such problems, there is no creator.

The following was made by a Christian regarding an ongoing discussion concerning the FFRF and Whiteville, Tennessee.

perhaps people have tired of your rants and untruths. perhaps they do not care to debate you any longer.
perhaps they are realizing there is no need to debate you as the battle was won long ago. you lost.

and perhaps they know that the xeists will never shut up until they close their eyes in death and, perhaps they have realized your are a very small minority and in all honesty really dont matter.

and perhaps they realize that while you are all brilliant you are absolute snobs and stuck up and feel all those who do not believe as you are low lives. and lastly perhaps they no longer have time to play with a bully who is incessant in the manner that he posts and cuts and post links to other sites to firm up his misguided beliefs and apparently lacks the mental and emotional strengths to ever have faith.

thirdum wordum VII 9-25-1919

thirdum wordum VII,

I have not grown weary in the least, rants are OK with me but I do prefer that they have substance; a quality rarely found in the rants which are religious in nature.

Maybe they do not care to debate any longer but that is merely a tacit admission of defeat, an abdication of an untenable position that the supernatural exists. We graciously accept their surrender and ask that they now consider emancipating themselves from the mind forged manacle of a celestial dictatorship.

Their may indeed be no need to debate, what other action can you undertake when all of your arguments have been dismantled and shown to be blatant logical fallacies?

Your claim that religion won the battle long ago is a bit arrogant on your part and shows a complete lack historical understanding. In the debate concerning the age of the earth, the origin of the human species, the cause of disease, the rotation of the earth, the orbits of the solar system, and the moral rightness of slavery,(just to name a few subjects) Christianity lost every time. Your spurious claim that Christians have won any debate is simply laughable. All assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless; whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. We must understand the Cosmos as it is and not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be. In every instance Christians lost and were forced to capitulate to the facts as revealed by science.

You statement that a very small minority equates to being incorrect is yet another fallacious argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”). It is logically fallacious because the mere fact that a belief is widely held is not necessarily a guarantee that the belief is correct; if the belief of any individual can be wrong, then the belief held by multiple persons can also be wrong.

I am sorry that you have convinced yourself that we are snobs and stuck up. Our intentions are to persuade you to question why you hold the proposition of a god to be true. Our goal is to show you, via the Socratic Method, that belief in magical entities or anything which is based upon the claims of another human without evidence is unnecessary. Our goal is to dismantle every spurious claim with which you were indoctrinated. Claims later used to coerce you into surrendering all your reasoning faculties for the faith mentality of an abject slave.

We do not feel that those like you, who believe in magical sky wizards and undead Jews, are low lives. You must remember that most of us were once under the same delusion as you are now. I personally spent many hours debating against non-believers but in the end, after educating myself on Aristotelian logic and absorbing all the truly wonderful discoveries concerning how the natural world really works, reason prevailed and I had to reassess my own position. I realized that there really was no legitimate reason to accept the magical claims of holy books and was repulsed when the true nature of faith, the antithesis of reason, dawned upon me.

We are not bullies, you have been programmed to think that we are your enemy, we are in reality your friends; we speak out because we want everyone to be truly free; free to think for themselves without fear that an invisible monster will torture them for eternity. There can be little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.