A lot of this came to a head recently when the whole Elf Clan controversy went down, which proved to be nearly entirely about VAT fees, which are something the Labs have zero control over--they HAVE to charge them, they don't have the option of saying no.
Of course, the easy way around those high VAT charges? Put the land under the ownership of an American in the group. Of course, this involves a) trusting Americans (no easy task these days) and b) thinking ahead. Which I guess is something Wayfinder Wishbringer never does.
"If atheism means we just do whatever we want to do... then apparently, what we want to do is take care of each other. Apparently, what we want to do is help people who have been injured. Apparently, what we want to do is speak out against wrongdoing. Apparently, what we want to do is put a stop to injustice. Apparently, what we want to do is make sacrifices for people in need."
I state this publically here, as I have in private, public, and Second Life--I'm not Christian. This should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog. How'ver, that doesn't mean I have no moral compass, no ethics, no desire to help improve our society and our world. Same here--atheism doesn't mean chaotic rampaging mobs of drug-fueled psychopaths intending on watching the whole world burn, and you know what? It's never meant that.
Even worse, though, is the response from the Christians in this small town. Long ago, when Christianity was first rising as a movement, there was so much oppression, so many people imprisoned or killed simply for being Christian, that they developed secret signs and symbols to recognize each other. Any Christian was brother, sister, father, mother, to any other Christian. They would greet each other with kisses and embracing, because their faith told them that they must love, not hate.
What the hell happened? If they were truly Christian, none of this would have happened. When challenged, they would have understood, and thrown prayer meetings to pray for a change of heart. When presented with one student's discomfort, they would have perhaps spoken to his parents, not spoken to the press. When his parents learned of this difficulty, they would have perhaps privately prayed for their son's redemption.
Instead, what happened? The entire town is out for blood. They're calling him Satan in their midst. His parents threw him out of the house--I'm not exaggerating, they disowned him, threw his belongings on the porch, and told him never to come back.
This young man hadn't even graduated yet when all this happened, and what lessons are he being taught? That for standing up for what's right--what's legal--and respecting the laws of this country means he will be vilified. That by contacting a person in authority, he will be made homeless, and live in fear of personal harm. These are the lessons we want to teach our children? These are the lessons supposedly pure Christian souls want their children to understand?
I know Christians. I know many good, honest, loving people who are Christian. And those people I trust. But I have the same wariness. When it was discovered, when I was attending junior high and high school, that my family did not have a church we attended, I was forced to join one or face personal, long-lasting harm. I carried a knife on my person at all times through my high school years, just in case I needed to defend myself.
I needed it twice.
My mother was told she would never be hired in the town because we were "Satanists". She literally had to drive to a town forty miles away to get a minimum-wage job which barely paid our rent, and why? Because the town told us--publically, whenever they saw us out--that they hoped we would die like the sinners we were, and if they had a gun--
This is not how anyone should grow up. Period. And it happens, year after year, town after town. And the Christians who are pulling this insanity on their fellow beings seem never to see the disparity between what their religion says they should do, and what they actually do.
Maybe it's not precisely Christians who bear the blame for this, but churches. There is a difference between faith and organized religion, after all. And maybe the organizers have forgotten the tenets of their faith, in the race to build bigger structures, convert more followers, raise more money.
But even with all of that--even with the tenuous belief that most of the townsfolk were misled by some ill-meaning preacher or pastor--there's still this young man's parents. Who threw him out for standing up for the laws this country lives by. Maybe it's a good thing this happened--now he knows his parents for the hypocrites they are, and he doesn't have to worry about interacting with them ever again. He has college to look forward to, and people who are willing to care for him simply because it's the right thing to do. And at least one family member--his brother--has stood by him throughout all of this.
These are the experiences that define us. Not everyone is put through such harsh trials. But at the end of things, Damon Fowler will know three things: people will do insane things in the name of religious faith, family is where you find it, and he is not alone.
Perhaps that's the greatest lesson of all.