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Newspaper Faith Forum lacks atheist’s viewpoint
by Jake Highton
Feb 13, 2014 | 919 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Reno Gazette-Journal Faith Forum appearing every Sunday is missing one important panelist: an atheist.

Atheism is also a faith, a deeply held view that the notion of God is an absurdity. Yet week after week the Faith Forum perpetuates the myth. Panelists discuss matters like “God’s plan,” “God’s view” and “God’s love.”

A recent panel discussed euthanasia. Representatives of the various faiths usually invoked God to support their views.

The Mormon panelist called death “part of God’s eternal plan for our happiness.” “Life is scared,” she said, and cited Scripture to show that assisted suicide violates the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

A rabbi noted: “Jewish bioethics is about duties to G-d, family and society, not rights. We are loaned our physical bodies by G-d.” It is ridiculous to consider God so supreme and holy that the name cannot be spelled out.

The Bahá’í “teacher” said: “Our teachings indicate that God, the giver of life, can alone dispose of it as he deems best.” The Roman Catholic panelist: “We are not the owners of our lives and hence do not have absolute power over life.” Catholicism teaches life “must be respected from conception to natural death.”

An atheist would offer these counterpoints:

•A stroke victim paralyzed from the neck down and suffering from locked-in syndrome has asked the British parliament to legalize euthanasia. His life is intolerable but he is unable physically to commit suicide. He is pleading for legalizing doctor-assisted death.

•Margaret Drabble, a columnist for the UK Guardian, called it “grotesque” that the British people overwhelmingly approve assisted dying but the doctors are unable to act without facing murder charges.

•Bill Keller, New York Times columnist, noted that British hospitals offer terminally ill patients the option of being unplugged. He called the British way “a humane alternative to the frantic medical trench warfare that makes an expensive misery of death in America.”

•The Netherlands allows “mercy killing.” A doctor legally injected pentobarbital into a terminally ill patient in great pain from a cancerous tumor in his trachea.

•Washington state permits “death with dignity.” A physician gave a man with an incurable disease (withering muscles) a prescription for a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Another week the panelists were asked if there were any short cuts to God. The Mormon representative suggested that “reaching God is not something done separate and distinct from living. When we take time for service, kindness and daily acts of commitment, God eases our burdens.”

The Buddhist, while speaking of nirvana, mantras and chanting, declared the “incalculable” effect of reciting Namu Amida Buddha merely 10 times.

A Greek Orthodox Church priest said: “We don’t often make God a priority, don’t always include the care of our souls. But without God and without caring for our spiritual well-being we don’t really live.”

An atheist would answer: atheists do not need gods to live moral, decent and upstanding lives. They are compassionate and understanding. They live by the Golden Rule: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

Australian law calls atheism a belief to be protected. America, to its discredit, does not. The Reno newspaper Faith Panel should have no such qualms. An atheist would provide the public thoughtful insights on religious and ethical questions.
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