Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We should pity Angela Shiel

That is the name of the Des Moines bus driver who refused to drive a bus with the ever-so-controversial "There are at least two atheists in the entire world" ad.

I'm trying to get my angst up, but really all I feel is pity.

I remember when a bus driver in London refused to drive one of the "There's probably no God" buses. In that case, I could at least see that the driver was standing up for his principles, even though I think those principles are ignorant and delusional.

But in Ms. Shiel's case, exactly which of her beliefs are being violated? It's really sad, because this lady thinks she has strong convictions, but it's clear she hasn't even clearly defined her convictions to herself. (Unless her convictions include the absolute belief in the non-existence of atheists, but I somewhat doubt that...)

This woman is not standing up for principles, she is having an emotional response to the appearance of a phrase ("don't believe in God") which in this context doesn't really violate anybody's principles. But because of the political lay of the land, she is now surrounded by people patting her on the back and saying "Way to go!"

Even the hardest of the hardcore anti-atheist should say to Ms. Shiel, "Yeah, I hate those guys too. But this particular ad doesn't actually say anything negative about God or religion, so you can still drive the bus and not violate your principles." But they won't say that. She'll be a martyr in some circles.

And that makes me a sad panda.


  1. Sigh. Can't someone point out to her that the ad has the same linguistic value as "Jewish? You're not alone"? She wouldn't have a problem with that, right?

    From the full article: "Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa... Stone likened the situation to a government employee claiming a religious right to refuse to work with someone of a different faith."


    Also from the full article: ""This has been her faith since the very first day on the job," Glenn Shiel said. He said that making her drive the bus would be telling her to be "two-faced for the fact that she wants an income. To me, it's kind of wrong to deny a person of their job because they have a belief," he said."


  2. Yeah, I was almost going to comment on the quote from her husband, "This has been her faith since the very first day on the job." Okay... so basically, if a bus driver refuses to let black people board the bus, that is acceptable as long as the employer knew the driver was racist when they hired her?