My sincere gratitude to Larry Wilson for his belated acknowledgment of the existence of non-Christians (“atheists, and probably other religions”) on the North Fork (HHN Aug. 30, 2017). This has to be some kind of breakthrough.
As a point of clarification, however, atheism is not a religion or belief system. An atheist is someone who has arrived at the inescapable conclusion that there is no god because there is no evidence for a god. As such, an atheist relies on his own intellect and initiative to get through life without the guidance of a mythical being. And further — unlike someone who is religious — he does not subscribe to a holy book that includes lists of people he is supposed to hate, rape, enslave, discriminate against, stone to death or exterminate (for example, gays, women, minorities, foreigners, and those from other tribes).
Not only is it possible to be good without God. Given the above, it is eminently possible to be BETTER without God. On this note, many atheists identify as secular humanists and follow a truly moral set of principles.
For example, besides providing a community for its rational, freethinking membership, the secular humanist group I run, the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association (https://www.flatheadsecular.com/), participates in the Adopt-a-Highway program (U.S. 93, mileposts 114-117), volunteers at the Glacier National Park native plant nursery, and conducts a variety of public-education programs. In addition, we work to ensure that the doctrine of separation of church and state is adhered to in Flathead County (no easy task in a state that voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence).
Finally, I do appreciate Wilson’s well-meaning platitudes about how North Forkers of all stripes try to work out their differences. But I also agree when he says that “most folks believe we would have peace and tranquility if only those ‘other groups’ would adopt our values so we could all live in harmony. It ain’t gonna happen.”
As a member of one of those “other groups,” I would like to see North Forkers demonstrate more respect for each other. A good start would be NOT beginning Thanksgiving dinner at Sondreson Hall with a prayer praising “our lord Jesus Christ” — as if everyone in the room is a Christian, or should at least pretend to be one. But as far as I can see, this ain’t gonna happen either.
Richard E. Wackrow
Polebridge and Whitefish