Activists lying about their religion - VeggieBoards - A Vegetarian Community
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#1 Old 03-24-2012, 10:21 PM
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Two AR activists recently told me that when they are promoting veganism, and they are asked about their religion, they tell people that they are Christians, even though in reality they are atheists. I was absolutely horrified that they thought that this constituted acceptable behavior. I believe this is absolutely reprehensible, and I made my view on this very clear to them.

What are your thoughts?

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#2 Old 03-24-2012, 10:42 PM
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well, they might lie about whether they eat the odd bit of meat too, if that's all they value being honest.

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#3 Old 03-24-2012, 11:13 PM
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I don't really see a problem with it. Lots of people do that all the time for various reasons. I don't think it's my business.

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#4 Old 03-24-2012, 11:46 PM
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I suppose it's a bit like someone claiming they're veg*n while they eat a beef burger.

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#5 Old 03-25-2012, 12:16 AM
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I think it's perfectly fine, people are stupid and sometimes won't even listen to you if you don't share their religious views, and obviously if they are asking, that's most likely why, because they plan to ignore you if you don't believe in their ridiculous crap, not sure why you have a problem with it.
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#6 Old 03-25-2012, 12:17 AM
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I've been suggested to say that I'm a Buddhist while living in China so that people in restaurants (waitpeople and Chinese guests alike) might have a clearer idea as to what I can and can't eat (as far as I know there's no word for vegan in Chinese). Haven't done it yet as I would feel like a fraud and would have the feeling that I'm demeaning the Buddhist "faith" (?) (I'm an Agnostic-Atheist myself).

I don't really like the idea of lying about your faith to promote veganism (or anything else) as I don't think we can get much respect by being manipulative.
(it's not the faith part that bother me but rather the lying part)
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#7 Old 03-25-2012, 12:38 AM
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I don't agree with it, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it "absolutely reprehensible". Because they aren't the ones bringing up religion and in some areas there is intolerance toward atheists. If it were me I'd just say "I'm not religious".

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#8 Old 03-25-2012, 02:16 AM
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I think I've said I was anti choice before when talking to a passerby about fur at a fur protest as a way to move the conversation past it. That might be the only way to move past the inevitable abortion issue and onto what is happening to animals when you are talking about animal rights on the streets in the US. Otherwise "you care about animals more than people" often gets in the way. Sometimes average person wants to know they can relate to you on that one issue before anything else can be discussed.

I'm not a fan of lying in general. But I don't think that means it's always a "reprehensible" or terrible thing. The people who I've known who I consider liars and am disgusted by it are those who are too weak to tell the truth, too afraid of confrontation, too willing to sell out their own and anyone else's morals to avoid conflict, and I don't see this as an instance of that. And sometimes people use the truth to hurt and do a lot of damage.

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#9 Old 03-25-2012, 04:46 AM
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The activists might have to discuss Jesus and the bible for hours on end with their new "friends".
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#10 Old 03-25-2012, 05:02 AM
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"A lie is a lie is still a [censored] lie. I don't give a [censored] how pretty its disguise."

I don't feel any need whatsoever to pretend to be something I'm not for any reason. I don't even answer that question, if it comes up. It's irrelevant to animal advocacy. I ask a question back. "What do you think God would think about this?" and point to the images of suffering. I haven't had many opportunities to use that one, though. I've only leafleted a hand full of times. I'm usually a donor. It has come up though. I expect it does now and then, based on the fact it has twice and I've given out only 1000 leaflets or so. How many times have you encountered this, Eugene? You've given out like a bajillion and three.

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#11 Old 03-25-2012, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Eugene View Post

Two AR activists recently told me that when they are promoting veganism, and they are asked about their religion, they tell people that they are Christians, even though in reality they are atheists. I was absolutely horrified that they thought that this constituted acceptable behavior. I believe this is absolutely reprehensible, and I made my view on this very clear to them.

What are your thoughts?

My initial thought is that anyone who doesn't understand the problem with AR is not likely to understand the problem with less than scrupulous honesty.

I think these guys, when asked, should say something like;

"Vegetarianism is about compassion towards others. Would you not agree that compassion towards others is a very Christian thing?"

People like to tell other people stuff but few people like to be told.

Most people like to be asked questions that give them an opportunity to talk about what they think/feel/believe though.
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#12 Old 03-25-2012, 06:49 AM
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I don't think it is a problem. Aithiesm has a stigma attached to it by Christians, so if you want to get through to them, it is better to act and say you are one of them.
A few hundred years ago anyone who was an Aithiest would be hung or burned by Christians, so I would be wary too. There is a great amount of religious intolerance toward anyone who is not Christian by Christians. I would not say they are hiding their religion, because Aithiesm is not a religion, it is the normal state of people before they are taught to believe certain ways.

The issue is promoting vegetarianism. Why care what they say about their religion.
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#13 Old 03-25-2012, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh James xVx View Post

"A lie is a lie is still a [censored] lie. I don't give a [censored] how pretty its disguise."

I don't feel any need whatsoever to pretend to be something I'm not for any reason. I don't even answer that question, if it comes up. It's irrelevant to animal advocacy. I ask a question back. "What do you think God would think about this?" and point to the images of suffering. I haven't had many opportunities to use that one, though. I've only leafleted a hand full of times. I'm usually a donor. It has come up though. I expect it does now and then, based on the fact it has twice and I've given out only 1000 leaflets or so. How many times have you encountered this, Eugene? You've given out like a bajillion and three.

I have been asked this many times, and have never had any problem telling them that I am not a Christian, and then being able to discuss animal rights and veganism. I tell them that although I personally am not a Christian, there are many Christian vegans who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. So long as they know that veganism is not antiChristian, there is no need for them to think that you are one yourself.

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#14 Old 03-25-2012, 07:00 AM
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The reasons why lying is bad is usually taught in kindergarten. I am disappointed that so many people seem never to have learned this lesson.

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#15 Old 03-25-2012, 07:13 AM
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Absolute honesty is met with at least as much hostility as exposed lies are. The difficulty is in finding out which person expects you to lie or tell the truth about what.

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#16 Old 03-25-2012, 08:23 AM
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Absolute honesty is met with at least as much hostility as exposed lies are. The difficulty is in finding out which person expects you to lie or tell the truth about what.

I can't imagine a case where people would prefer to be lied to. And even if such a situation did exist, this would obviously not be one of them.

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#17 Old 03-25-2012, 08:27 AM
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people are stupid and sometimes won't even listen to you if you don't share their religious views, and obviously if they are asking, that's most likely why, because they plan to ignore you if you don't believe in their ridiculous crap, not sure why you have a problem with it.

Yeah, I agree with Alix. Why do you think these people ask about religion? They expect and want to hear that you're an atheist so they can dismiss your opinions. If you listen to some of the q&a's Francione has done you'll hear the same thing. Someone will ask (often in a very confrontational manner) "do you believe in God" or "are you an atheist?" (I'm kind of happy that he believes in god because it might make him a slightly better advocate.) It's really childish and frustrating when people bring up these issues because the motives are so clear. What has veg*nism got to do with abortion or god-belief? They just want to figure out if you're on "their side" or not politically speaking.

I also don't believe that lying is a clear cut immorality. It's simplistic to think that lying is automatically immoral. That said, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable lying about my religious views for the sake of advocacy, but I won't damn these two people for doing so.

I still can't help shaking the feeling that you're a deeply undercover troll though, eugene.
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#18 Old 03-25-2012, 08:39 AM
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The reasons why lying is bad is usually taught in kindergarten. I am disappointed that so many people seem never to have learned this lesson.

I am finding more people lying about really trivial things. Just look at a Facebook page.

I do find it appalling when someone lies just to ingratiate themselves on another subject. It's like the thread about someone identifying as vegan and trying to pass off a leather purse as fake. People who oppose what you stand for will check into your integrety and call you out. It's like Gingrich and his stance on morals

There's a definite prejudice against atheists. After all, if the extremists want you believe their religion is under attack, they have to fight back.
I usually skirt the issue by saying religion isn't the issue, and list religions that support vegetarianism. The bible saying it's okay to eat meat because of need doesn't support selfish and unneccessary slaughter. Isn't it something like being stewards of the animals?
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#19 Old 03-25-2012, 08:44 AM
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I Personally have not lied about religion because I truly don't see the point. Kindness and compassion is prevalent in most religions so I focus on that.

I can't say I have never lied in my life before though.

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May your pain and sorrow be eased.
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#20 Old 03-25-2012, 08:45 AM
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I also don't believe that lying is a clear cut immorality. It's simplistic to think that lying is automatically immoral. That said, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable lying about my religious views for the sake of advocacy, but I won't damn these two people for doing so.

I have often leafleted Christian events, where most people present believed in the literal interpretation of the Bible, and I have never had a problem advocating veganism and animal rights to these crowds, while letting them know that I was not a Christian when asked about this topic.

If you have trouble seeing why lying about this is wrong, let's look at it from the other perspective. Suppose someone was trying to educate you about social issue they felt was important, and when they learn that you are a vegan, they tell you that they are a vegan too. However, you later find out that they really eat meat three times a day, and they told you they were vegan just because they thought it would help persuade you in supporting their cause.

What would you think of this person? Would you be more or less inclined to support their point of view on this social issue? Would you be inclined to believe that everything else they said in support of their position might not be true either?

And I would point out that one the biggest stumbling blocks in the promotion of veganism is that many people think that the information we present about factory farming is not true or exaggerated. Hence, it is very important to demonstrate that we are honest and decent people, and that the information we give about modern animal agriculture can be trusted.

Also, the whole point of what we are doing is the promotion of an ethical philosophy. If it is discovered that we are behaving unethically, then we have absolutely no credibility, and there is no reason why people should seriously want to consider listening to our point of view.

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#21 Old 03-25-2012, 08:58 AM
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The reasons why lying is bad is usually taught in kindergarten. I am disappointed that so many people seem never to have learned this lesson.

Yes, if I think of a place I would want to use as a source for answers to complex moral questions that require one to balance competing interests and to be sensitive to different situations, kindergarten is the first thing that comes to my mind.

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#22 Old 03-25-2012, 09:07 AM
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Yes, if I think of a place I would want to use as a source for answers to complex moral questions that require one to balance competing interests and to be sensitive to different situations, kindergarten is the first thing that comes to my mind.

If everyone lived according to the lessons learned in kindergarten, the world would be a much better place. This isn't about balancing competing interests or being sensitive to different situations. This is about basic right and wrong. For example, you don't go and burglarize someone's house, just because you plan to donate the money to vegan advocacy.

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#23 Old 03-25-2012, 09:12 AM
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I think honesty is usually best and Im fine with being an open athiest, but being from the south I can understand why some people would want to lie about their religion for personal safety and Im ok with that.
Also what about activists lying about the religion when they go to jail for animal liberation acts in order to get served vegan meals?

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#24 Old 03-25-2012, 10:38 AM
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I suppose it's a bit like someone claiming they're veg*n while they eat a beef burger.

See, I don't see that like it at all. People lie about their religion/belief in higher power for their own safety, so they aren't ostracized or bullied (e.g. kids in a religious school or a school in a religious area), so their family won't cut them out of their life, so they can join an organization they're interested in (Freemasons and Boy Scouts comes to mind), for their job (e.g. atheist pastors exist, teachers in religious schools/religious area), among other reasons. In the US (typically the south, of course), if you want to be taken seriously by way too many people, you need to say you are religious/believe in a god/spiritual (but don't believe in Islam or be Muslim because terrorists), otherwise anything you say will be ignored and you'll be written off. As an activist of any kind, the whole point is to get people to listen to you, and if some feel that in order for people to take them and their ideas seriously they need to say they are religious, then so be it. And if you even want to be the President, you need to be part of some Christian form of faith and believe in the Christian "God" or people will pitch a fit, and if anyone doubts you, they'll also pitch a fit and you have a good chance of not be elected. So long as there is a good number of people in the US that continue to treat anyone that's irreligious as being second class citizens, I don't see why anyone should care about why anyone lies about their faith. Far from reprehensible, in my opinion.

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#25 Old 03-25-2012, 11:05 AM
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. Suppose someone was trying to educate you about social issue they felt was important, and when they learn that you are a vegan, they tell you that they are a vegan too. However, you later find out that they really eat meat three times a day, and they told you they were vegan just because they thought it would help persuade you in supporting their cause.

What would you think of this person? Would you be more or less inclined to support their point of view on this social issue? Would you be inclined to believe that everything else they said in support of their position might not be true either?

I wouldn't matter to me whether or not they were a vegan. I'm not going to be predisposed to accept their arguments just because they're a vegan. Nor would I dismiss them if they weren't. And I don't tend to accept stats or factual assertions by people on the side of the street, knowing that I can't verify their truth. So I'll listen to moral arguments, but always take factual claims with a grain of salt.

If I found out they were lying to me, I would think less of that person, but wouldn't conflate that person with the issue. Obviously there's the risk that other people might do so, which is the greatest gamble they're taking with lying. All in all, I have far more objections with lying about or exaggerating facts that pertain to animal advocacy (such as claiming that veg*nism is more healthy than other diets or portraying animal testing as being primarily done on dogs and cats) than I do with people lying to make their personalities or identities more acceptable to their audience.
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#26 Old 03-25-2012, 11:07 AM
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Two AR activists recently told me that when they are promoting veganism, and they are asked about their religion, they tell people that they are Christians, even though in reality they are atheists. I was absolutely horrified that they thought that this constituted acceptable behavior. I believe this is absolutely reprehensible, and I made my view on this very clear to them.

What are your thoughts?

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#27 Old 03-25-2012, 11:55 AM
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Guy on the street is confronted by 2 thugs who ask him if he's gay. He is.

Eugene, the gay guy, is on the evening news because he's in the hospital in critical condition. Eugene thinks it's never o.k. to lie.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

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#28 Old 03-25-2012, 12:01 PM
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Lying is not acceptable in this situation, to me.

I think they need to hone their persuasion skills. There are ways to respond to the question, "What religion are you," without lying, and still be able to continue discussing the issue at hand.

Beanitarian.
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#29 Old 03-25-2012, 12:15 PM
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Some here seem to be overestimating the tolerance of most Christians. And if someone asks something aiming to criticize me if i am Atheist then they basically pushed me into telling them i'm like them. Like Alain said, being veg*n doesn't make me more likely to listen to something someone is saying, and basically on most issues i've already formed my opinion because well i'm not a sheep. So if someone were to be talking to me about war, abortion, birth control, etc it wouldn't really matter if they are veg*n, atheist, buddhist or whatever because well most likely i already have my own view, but i also wouldn't go around asking are you atheist, are you vegan, are you blah blah blah to try to put them in a corner and basically go "lalala i can't hear you because you aren't like me". If i think an argument is stupid then it's stupid, if it's valid it's valid, generally it can sit on it's own and i don't need their background to tell me if they're an idiot or not.
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#30 Old 03-25-2012, 12:18 PM
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Guy on the street is confronted by 2 thugs who ask him if he's gay. He is.

Eugene, the gay guy, is on the evening news because he's in the hospital in critical condition. Eugene thinks it's never o.k. to lie.

Were the activists mentioned in the OP really afraid for their safety, though, or were they just trying to sell their point of view? I think the former makes lying understandable, but the latter I don't agree with.

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