Religion in my Wallet?

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Wow. Make one post about religious instructions regarding personal finance, and get a slew of personal attacks, unsubscribe notices, and general ignorant vitriol. How bitter are some of these people who commented? The post never said “these are things you should believe”, it simply stated these were some of the reasons the guest blogger handles finances the way he does. After all, personal finance is, well, personal. Why, then, are people making such a big fuss over things? As a Christian, I’m used to this sort of thing all the time. Mention Jesus around people who don’t know him, and the world implodes around you. I love America, this land of free speech. And all the people who wish to censor it.

Should posts like this receive this type of attention? No. We’re supposed to be a society based upon the free exchange of ideas. While you are quite welcome to choose not to hear others’ ideas, and quite welcome to contribute your own ideas, it’s about time you stopped calling for censorship of the ideas you don’t agree with. Like the mafia, some have used the blogger’s version of extortion — cancelling an RSS subscription — to show how much they hate the very idea of talking about God. This is incredible. When I was an atheist, I didn’t go around shoving religious people around; I simply didn’t care what they had to say. The only thing that can cause the bitter comments attached to that post is a hatred for God, and to hate God you must believe he exists. It’s such a backwards world. After all, I don’t get offended when people talk about the Easter Bunny; I’m simply content to sit back and know he doesn’t exist. Why should atheism be any different; it wasn’t to me.

Now, I won’t wax Christian all the time on this blog. To me, I’m here to write primarily about money. However, I am a Christian, won’t deny it, and won’t be silenced by people who would try to bully me into not talking about it. This is a personal finance blog, and I plan to make it personal; when religion plays a role, I will mention it. And since I tend to follow biblical laws on money, or try to, religion does belong here. However, I will not be giving altar calls at the end of each post, contrary to what some of these people feel is going on. I only hope J.D. won’t stand for being extorted, and will at least claim that all ideas surrounding personal finance belong on his blog, even if those ideas happen to be religious in nature (especially in just 1 out of many hundred posts).

Calling for censorship of any kind is becoming the downfall of our society. Freedom is a strange word; there is no grey area. Either we have freedom, or we do not. There is no such thing as “slightly-censored freedom”. People are getting more thinly-skinned by the day. Al Sharpton gets offended every time a webmaster mentions “#000000″. I have a homosexual friend who gets offended when a rainbow appears in the biblical story of Noah’s Ark (guess what, you were four millennia late on that one). Radical Muslims get offended when infidels even talk about Muhammad, much less try to draw him (here’s a sideways picture of him: 0+< (don’t kill me, please)). Our society, so delicately crafted on the principles of freedom, has arrived at a point where we must either choose freedom, or choose to allow the biggest bullies to keep us from taking part in all of our inherent freedoms, even if what we say offends those bullies.

For personal finance blogs everywhere, here’s hoping J.D. doesn’t capitulate to the bullies on that blog. Censorship of any kind is a very slippery slope, and it takes us all saying “no” before we can end this culture of censorship, thin skin, and victim mentalities. Hopefully, if we stand our ground even a little bit, their delicate skin might start getting a little thicker.

Edit: As I imagined might happen, I’ve been getting a lot of hate mail over this post for whatever reason, most of which miss the irony in calling for me to censor this post. Just to clarify things, if I sound harsh or bitter it’s likely intended to be tongue-in-cheek (i.e. the bit about the rainbow). My goal here is not to convert you to Christianity, it’s to call for an end for this whole censorship thing, and let all viewpoints be heard, even in the personal finance community. I’d love to hear the perspective of a Hindu on personal finance, as well as a Buddhist, or any person with a slightly different perspective on it. The whole point of blogging is that all views are welcome, even when they don’t match yours. How will we ever learn new ways to think about things if all we do is call for opposing viewpoints to be censored? How will I know if I’m wrong about something if I never hear the other way to do it? Even more than being Christians and Atheists or whatever, we’re all human beings, and our primary concern should always be treating others as human beings, rather than dismissing people with labels we don’t like. So please, don’t ask me to censor my own blog, because it’s not happening. And I hope nobody else will censor theirs, either.

6 thoughts on “Religion in my Wallet?

  1. Pingback: Free Money Finance
  2. I was absolutely floored by the comments on that post. I’m right there with ya on the censorship thing. What I can’t believe, although it is happening right before my eyes, is how the left has created a religion out of not being religious, and is turning into the very thing that it purports to despise. I can’t stand the political religious right either, but it seems that all Christians get tarred with that brush these days.

  3. I respectfully disagree with many of the points and logic in this post, as well as with much of the tone and accusations and characterizations of others that seems unfounded to me based on the material on GRS, but for the sake of some brevity (my comment is terribly long as it is) I am sticking to one of those points: censorship.

    Isn’t saying that people are wrong to speak their opinions about wanting to , as you say, “censor” that and similar posts also a form of censorship on your part? I see no difference between your critique of the comments you don’t like and the comments of those you are criticizing.

    You say “While you are quite welcome to choose not to hear others’ ideas, and quite welcome to contribute your own ideas, it’s about time you stopped calling for censorship of the ideas you don’t agree with.” So, people are free to say what they wish EXCEPT if what they wish to say is a critique, or as you say a call for censorship, of ideas you believe in and promote? “It’s about time you stopped calling for censorship,” IS censorship!

    You say above that people are welcome to add their own ideas. And what if censorship IS their idea? Then suddenly because YOU are against it, those same people now shouldn’t be expressing their ideas anymore? Basically that quote seems to come down to promoting freedom of speech, so long as that speech does not call for (what you view as) censorship of beliefs you are a proponent of. That that is not the same thing as freedom of speech. That is in itself a form of the same censorship you seen to be speaking of.

    (And by the way I don’t agree with your characterization of the comments opposed to that post as censorship, however my use of that word here is not to demonstrate agreement with your interpretation of those comments but simply to discuss the points you made here using a shared language that you provided).

    You complain about “Censorship of any kind is a very slippery slope, and it takes us all saying “no” before we can end this culture of censorship, thin skin, and victim mentalities.” Yet your own post seems to reflect a victim mentality itself, such as in the line: “I’m used to this sort of thing all the time. Mention Jesus around people who don’t know him, and the world implodes around you. I love America, this land of free speech. And all the people who wish to censor it.”

    And this entire post could be an example of that same thin skin and victim mentality you rail against, seeing as you’ve devoted an entire post to comments you could have just easily chosen not to read the same way you suggest people can “choose not to hear others’ ideas” when they don’t agree with them. Instead you are doing just what you criticize in this post, advocating that those you disagree with stop saying what they’re saying. You react to the comments you didn’t like on GRS in much the same way many of those commenters reacted to the post you did like, right down to the bitterness and vitriol you mention here.

    You exemplify your supposed tolerance by saying “When I was an atheist, I didn’t go around shoving religious people around; I simply didn’t care what they had to say… It’s such a backwards world. After all, I don’t get offended when people talk about the Easter Bunny; I’m simply content to sit back and know he doesn’t exist.” Yet, you certainly don’t sit back when commenters on GRS have something to say that you don’t agree with, and I’d say the fact that you went and wrote this entire post clearly demonstrates that you are not at all content to sit back and not get offended. This post in no way shows you not caring what those who disagree with you have to say, despite your quote form above.

    If this post is preaching against censorship, I would expect it to be much more accepting, tolerant, and respectful of all views and all speech. I believe if your goal is to promote free speech, you might be motivated to work on accepting that people with ideas that might make you angry or worked up exist and that they have as much right to state their views as you do.

    You say “Should posts like this receive this type of attention? No.” Why, I ask, should that post NOT get that kind of attention? Because YOU don’t think it should? Why are the views of all the commenters who wanted to speak out against the post not legitimate but your view that the post should have been left alone is? You are essentially wishing for and advocating censorship when you state that the negative attention the post got should not have happened. Free speech and tolerance and respect go both ways.

    If you believe in free speech, whatever others say, even if what they say is that they want censorship, has as much right to be said as any comment you or those whom you agree with have to make. This entire post champions ending people’s calls for censorship. Wanting to silence other voices, even if they advocate censorship–which most of the comments did not in my view, but that is not relevant to any of my points anyway–is advocating for censorship just the same.

    This is my humble opinion and I recognize your right to disagree with it and I acknowledge that on some subjective matters, such as tone, I am using my skills of interpretation which may differ from that of others. I know I am not right or wrong but simply expressing MY way, the one you so actively promote my right to express in your post. So thank you for allowing me to make my voice heard, regardless of how it differs form yours.

    Best to you,

    M

  4. Hi M, you made some good points. If I were on the other side of this, I probably would have said some of these same things. And even though I don’t agree with many of them, I promise not to censor your comment. :)

    Basically (and feel free to correct me if I’ve misinterpreted), you think by saying nobody should call for blog censorship, I am calling for censorship myself. In a roundabout way, that is true. However, what I am going after is not the content of what is happening; people have a right to say whatever they want. What I am trying to illuminate is the culture aspect; the actual human condition that makes such demands. While you may not have interpreted the comments the same way, those of us that have been silenced before recognize it well. Comments like “I’m unsubscribing” are simply underhanded ways to force weaker people into giving up valuable territory. In this case, the weakness is dependence on readership. For myself, I’ll write if nobody listens, but not all bloggers can afford to do that.

    Basically, I am calling for the ability to write a blog about whatever you want and people at least respecting you, even if they don’t agree. There is no need to make childish comments about it; hopefully we are all adults who can appreciate other viewpoints, even if they totally go against the things we believe. For example, you likely totally disagree with my entire viewpoint on this, yet you were able to make intelligent comments about it rather than saying something like “I’m contacting your ISP to cancel your account” or something equally inane. :) And likely, it was not difficult for you; you sound like a reasonable person.

    And that’s all I’m really asking for here. Does it really hurt when someone makes a post about how Christians view financial management? So what if they even worded the title a little wrong? In the end, it adds ideas to our culture, and that is a GOOD thing. Calling for the removal of any information, is then an inherently bad thing. In a world where people think subjectivity ends in their own head (i.e. refusal to really listen to others), we cannot afford to allow people to be completely shut out to what other people believe.

    And yes, I make the same statement to fellow Christians who want to shut up our “opposition”. While it may sound impossible, it is indeed possible to both believe in something being 100% true and also allow other people to not agree with you. I know most Christians have it backwards too.

    Basically, people can say what they want. However, I make the claim that acquiring information is inherently good; it is a good thing when we humans gather more data to base our worldview on. I make the claim that censoring information is inherently bad; it is a bad thing when we humans reject other viewpoints and narrow ourselves into specific categories. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have free speech to call for censorship, I’m saying the very human condition that causes them to say that should not exist anymore. We’ve hopefully evolved past that as a species. It’s no longer beneficial to have one reigning set of ideas, regardless of where you think the truth falls in with all the ideas out there.

  5. goin' to hell

    “I’m simply content to sit back and know he doesn’t exist. Why should atheism be any different”

    It’s impossible to be content to sit back when belief is itself shoved down our throats. Swearing on the bible, faith-based initiatives, tax shelters, TV commentators, boomer parents, etc. Like many other athiests, I’m just tired of hearing about it. Tired of seeing it used to justify good yet somehow absent in the presence of evil. Tired of being told that I’m not moral, or a good citizen. Tired of seeing religion being used as an excuse to kill or mock another human. I’m just tired of it. And I will not be silenced. You can say whatever you want, blog whatever you want (I quite enjoyed the linked post) but don’t start crying foul when we call BS on your assumptions. Cheers.

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