Friday, February 26, 2010

The Atheist's Way

As a resident of a southern state and a concerned citizen, I have been keeping up with the investigation into the string of church arsons in Texas to include the recent arrests of Texans, Jason Bourque (19) and Daniel McAllister (21).

The recent history of church burnings in the south (post civil rights and Klan era) have usually resulted in the arrests of local drunk college students out for a night of peer supported stupidity and malicious wilding and not part of some nefarious persecution of Christians despite the best efforts to engage the imagination to make it so.

Once again it was ultimately the physical evidence, a diligent investigation by human beings and a tip from people helping out that brought a stop to the nihilistic actions of those who have abandoned all reason, care and compassion for their community.

Of course, these crimes having occurred in the deep south, it wasn’t long before credit for the arrests was given to the same God that somehow was unable to simply prevent the ten churches from burning to the ground to begin with.

Deputies, officers, and agents who worked the case are also breathing sigh of relief.

"To God be the glory. We couldn't have done it without His help," Lt. Dana said.

Okay, I know, folks need to be put back into cognitive suspension as soon as possible after such ambiguous chaos seeped into the matrix, but now this apathy has turned proactive and downright ugly.

Apparently, investigators and reporters in Texas have now created a boogeyman to explain the motives which led to this abominable attack on their faith.

“One of two East Texas church arson suspects kept books on demon possession and atheism as well as assault rifles and guns, and may have left graffiti offering inside information about one of the attacks in a local store bathroom, according to court records.”

“A search of Bourque's home after his arrest recovered books titled Demon Possession and The Atheist's Way.”

Note the nicely crafted conflation of demon possession with atheism which sufficiently conjures up the preconceived fears and notions about non-believers that adherents are already taught weekly from the bully pulpit.

Well, having never heard of the book, I decided to look it up.

The actual complete title (not surprisingly left out of the article by Lee Hancock of the Dallas News) is:

“Dr. Eric Maisel, author of more than 30 books that include The Van Gogh Blues, Creativity For Life, Coaching the Artist Within, and Fearless Creating, provides a comprehensive picture of the power and possibilities of a lifestyle free of superstition, aligned with the facts of existence, and heroic in its attention to meaning. The Atheist’s Way is the next step in atheist thought and a liberating manual for living.”

I tried to find the directives on how to and why atheists burn churches, but came up as empty handed as a pastor’s prayers.

Needless to say, my curiosity piqued regarding whether or not this effort to disparage atheists was made part of the actual legal record as probable cause to articulate a motive for these abhorrent crimes, I wrote the following letter to Mr. Hancock and will attempt to discover how deeply folks are attached to their obviously unfounded bias:

Dear Lee Hancock,

I am an atheist and have many bibles of assorted versions and denominations along with other modern religious texts, the Torah, Qur'an, Book of Mormon, Dhammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, books on Druids, Wicca, astrology, mythology (demons, angels, monsters and heroes), Chinese philosophy, etc. I also have books by Professor Richard Dawkins setting right next to C.S. Lewis and biblical concordances.

You may also be interested to know that I am a loving husband (we celebrated our 20th anniversary last December), father of three wonderful kids, community service activist/volunteer and veteran law enforcement officer with many awards to include meritorious service for actions before, during and after both hurricanes Ivan and Katrina (which my family survived through human diligence, though temporarily displaced when our home was destroyed).

The disingenuous angle found in your recent article, "Atheist books, guns found at home of suspect in East Texas church fires", is an absolute and intentional ruse created to inflame anti-atheist fervor and to promote the fallacy that those without religious belief are nihilistic deviants by default. The article, not surprisingly, was completely empty of actual meaning and substance despite the headline.

Noting that this unfortunate and flawed perspective was offered to you on a silver platter by law enforcement officers who should be held to account as to why it was important at all to incorporate "The Atheist's Way" into a criminal affidavit speaks volumes about the deeply inbred misconceptions the good folks in Texas law enforcement have regarding the simple non-belief in deities, their own included.

Here is a link to the book, by the way ~

You should find the chapter on how to and why atheists start church fires especially elusive.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would consider delving further into the flawed and deliberately xenophobic perspective that uses a book on atheism to infer the reason why two local Texas youths raised within the religion of Christianity would create havoc and risk human lives by burning down churches.

Perhaps you will find it in your heart to even inform your reading audience of your new discoveries and suggest that those representing the criminal affidavit may want to correct and remove their bigotry and bias from a legal document.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.


Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS
[email protected]

You may publicly post this letter, including email.

I am hoping to hear from Mr. Hancock soon and recommend that others feel free to offer their own views to him as well.

His email is Lhancock[at]

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