Land of the Free-Thinkers

Ni men hao! (Hello to you all!)

In case you didn't know, I live in China. I am not Chinese, although my wife is and our two kids are half Chinese. You may have heard of The Great Firewall of China, which is a playful name given to the Chinese government's ability to block and allow websites of their choosing at any given moment. We get no warning, but one day a website is just gone, blocked. Time Magazine and the BBC were blocked for years and then one day, 'bingo', I was able to read them. Wikipedia has always been blocked. Go figure.

Blogspot is blocked at the moment. Someone somewhere posted something that got some government official's undies in a knot and so all the Blogger pages are gone. That means I cannot read posts or comments on any Google-based blogs including this one of course. Ironically, the block has not effected my ability to post, perhaps because the two functions are on different servers? Whatever the reason, I can speak to the world but I cannot hear from the least not via Google blogs.

This got me thinking about my fellow non-believers in the USA. I know that often you guys feel somewhat troubled by the lack of non-belief in your country, and fair enough too. After all, you have a born again President (Jeez, that must be hard to take), a Faith Based Initiatives Office in his White House, more Christian cable channels and televangelists than one country could ever need, a plethora of extreme Christian groups and individuals, and who could ignore the aggressive Intelligent Design activists pushing to have archaic beliefs taught in your high school science classrooms. Frak, it must be hard to be an American at times.

And yet, the Internet is brimming over with Atheist and Agnostic websites, podcasts, online books and even video podcasts. Blogs and discussion forums like these are easily accessed and are regularly updated with new posts. Dan Barker's FFRF is having its cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, nationally broadcast news programmes and magazines are running stories on Atheist activists and their agendas, and Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins have all had their books make national best-seller lists.

Relative to what's going on in some parts of the world, you guys in the U.S. have got it really good. You discussions are not censored, your websites and blogs are not blocked and John Loftus can publish and sell his book. ;P For all its faults, the U.S. is still a place where ideas can be debated and discussed in the public arena, even if most of its citizens subscribe to one religion or another. Please stop and remember, it isn't necessarily like that in places like China. I would hate to see you guys fall into the all-too-common persecution complex held by our old friends in Evangelical circles. They have deluded themselves to the point where they really do think they are persecuted and that there is a Secular Humanist conspiracy (headed by Satan of course) mounting against them, and all the while their human rights are largely protected by your (secular) Constitution. I doubt unbelievers in America would ever really go so far as to develop a persecution complex, but hey, it's nice to be on guard anyway.

So see the half-full glass guys. Atheism is alive and well in the free world. You're free to have your say...even to the point of debunking your President's religion. You certainly couldn't do that in China.

Zai jian! (See you later!)