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All I’m Asking for is Neutrality!

November 21, 2008

When I ask the government to remove “God” from my money, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Oath of Enlistment I took when I joined the military I’m not asking for an atheist government, I’m asking for a neutral government, as defined in the Constitution.

I could understand the outrage if I were asking Congress to replace “In God We Trust” with “There Are No Gods” or “one Nation under God” with “one Nation godless” or “So help me God” with “With no help from gods”. But I’m not doing that. I’m not asking the government to favor atheists over another group. I’m asking for them to represent every American by keeping the middle ground and staying neutral in religious matters.

Asking for neutrality doesn’t seem to be working very well though. The only other alternative I see is to push for the extreme so that the opposing team is happy with a middle ground. I’m not advocating this, I’m mostly just thinking outload, but if we were able to organize and push for an anti-theist government we could likely force them into the neutral spot. I don’t think this is a good idea. It would further tarnish atheism’s image even more, we’d look like foaming mouthed Madalyn O’Hairs. But it did cross my mind as a suggestion.

I don’t think an atheist soldier should have to say “So help me God” to have the opportunity to serve his country. I don’t think an atheist child should have to say “one Nation under God” to be a patriot. “In God We Trust” on our money isn’t helping our economy out either. Why can’t they* understand that a secular government is good for everyone? The wall of seperation protects the church as well. A good example of this: the Church of England. England has a national religion and its population is way more godless than our own. The government had its hand in the church while the church was doing the same. 

The government favoring Christianity is a dishonor to the rest of America and what it stands for. Every Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, Jain, and Atheist** should be angry and upset over this. The purpose of our government being designed the way it is is to protect the minority from the majority.

Well there’s my rant, let me know what you think!

 

*If you are a Christian who agrees that the separation of church and state should be upheld then you have no need to defend yourself here, I already know that some of you exist out there and thanks for your support.
**Etc., etc.

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21 Comments
  1. November 21, 2008 11:40 am

    Since you believe in nothing, why should the words bother you? Isn’t this really just another step in the secular agenda to silence all religions?

  2. November 21, 2008 11:45 am

    I’m largely of the same opinion, though I’m heavily pagan. I don’t want any religion in government. When I make arguments such as these, people throw up pagan gods and go, “Well, wouldn’t you want them proclaimed in the government?” No, actually. Separate. Completely and entirely separate.

    Many argue that we can’t have a “moral” government without religion. I disagree. Mass-produced religion has always been used to control people, and today is really no different.

    Some would argue that “God” on the money and in the other systems is ambiguous. It is easy to disagree, but it is nearly impossible to prove.

    Food for thought… before each session of Congress, there is a Christian prayer.

  3. November 21, 2008 12:01 pm

    It is not ambiguous to atheists. The message is quite clear: Being American means believing in God.

  4. November 21, 2008 12:11 pm

    No, it wouldn’t be. However, for pagans and agnostics that profess a similar qualm, that is the answer we’re most given, which is disheartening.

    Since you believe in nothing, why should the words bother you? Isn’t this really just another step in the secular agenda to silence all religions?

    Words have power. When someone makes you speak something that is against your belief system, they are exercising power over you to force you into claiming allegiance to something that you do not believe in. How would that not bother someone?

    To put this in perspective, if I forced you to say “So help me [insert deity]” would you like it? Shiva, Kali, Buddha, Cerridwen, the Morrigan, Thor, Allah… take your pick. If it is other than your god, would you not be offended by the obligation?

  5. November 21, 2008 12:12 pm

    jonolan, let’s flip this around:
    “In Thor We Trust”, “So help me Aphrodite”, “one Nation under Anubis”

    I’m betting you don’t believe in these characters but it would still be offensive to you to have these phrases be govt. sanctioned. With that “secular agenda” crap you sound like a tin foil hatter, I’m hoping your not, just uninformed. I’m all for religious freedom, mine and yours. The only way we can do that is to have a neutral government that represents the both of us. My rights end where yours begin and vice versa.

    How hard is that to understand?!

    Edit: Oops, I was a second too late in posting. Dana beat me to it.

  6. November 21, 2008 2:41 pm

    Actually, make it “One Nation Under the Morrigan” and I’d be happy as a clam. I’m one her worshipers. ;)

    I’m just more concerned with the growing anti-religious sentiment in this country. This idea of your seems to be just one more piece of it.

  7. November 21, 2008 3:25 pm

    The point was for it to not be your religion, so take that as the focal point, rather than the Morrigan herself.

    Any examples you’d like to share? I’m interested in seeing examples of something that ardently attacks religion.

    The thing is, removing it from the government does not mean people are anti-religious. I’m all for religion, in general. It makes people feel safer with their choices and oftentimes gives them what they need to take control of their lives. It simply means that religion and government should be separate.

  8. November 22, 2008 5:55 am

    There is a growing vocal sentiment among the secular and immoral / amoral Left in America that religion should be kept behind closed doors and never enter public space. I find this reprehensible and destructive to our society – even though so far it’s the Christians bearing the brunt of the attacks.

    You need only look to what happens when a priest reminds his parishioners of their duties in regards to any issue of political import.

    You need only look to what happens in response to religious voters and their churches when they successfully pass a regulation through the democratic process that follows their faith but offends others.

    You really need only to listen to what members of any faith who actually practice their faith – however imperfectly – are called and pay attention to how their treated by the godless – and yes, by some Pagans as well.

    If a few of the godless are offended by the trappings of religion, that’s a small price to pay to keep America from sliding into being a land with no morality beyond pragmatic efforts to keep the most people content and quiet.

  9. November 22, 2008 10:02 am

    jonolan, I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot.

    Morality does not come from religion. Before gods ever entered the mind of man we still managed to survive, hundreds of thousands of years.

    “You need only look to what happens in response to religious voters and their churches when they successfully pass a regulation through the democratic process that follows their faith but offends others.”

    As I stated in my post above, the duty of our govt. is to protect the rights of the minority from the mob. If someone’s religion says blacks shouldn’t be allowed in public after 6pm should that be public fucking policy? I think not, if you disagree then you are the immoral one. I don’t know any godless people who have no morals, in fact out of all the people I do know, the godless ones are the ones who are volunteering at homeless shelters and donating food and money to charities. You are dead wrong about us.

    Who is the moral person here? The one who worships Morrigan, a god of death. Or me, the heathen who works at homeless shelters and is good for the sake of being good, not because of threats from some sky daddy.

    “For our values to have universal appeal, they must be rooted in our common humanity, not in the faiths that divide us.” Minette Marrin

  10. November 22, 2008 10:24 am

    Of course. Name calling and belittlement of any theist is the normal response of the godless.

  11. November 22, 2008 1:26 pm

    jonolan, anyone would end up calling you an idiot. I’ve had plenty of conversations with theists where we were civil. When someone is willfully ignorant and hypocritical I point it out. Get over it or troll on someone else’s blog.

    You’ll take the time to feed your persecution complex but you won’t address any of the issues I brought up?

  12. November 22, 2008 5:08 pm

    OK, fair enough. I admit to a strong reaction to any of the ongoing attempts to silence theists and can overreact at times. I’m as concerned with “the slippery slope” effect as anyone else on any side of just about any controversial issue.

    To the specific points of your post:

    At face value your desire to have these words and phrases removed from official usage by govt. agencies is not intrinsically a bad one. In fact, those wordings are not near as old or original as many people think. I believe most of them were added in the early days of the Cold War as strange defense against the atheist Communists.

    On the other hand, the US isn’t noted for neutral stances as the recent anti-theist trend has shown. I think that such changes as you want would further the anti-theist agenda as opposed to helping usher in a “neutral government.”

    As for the purpose of the government being to protect the minority from majority, I’m guessing that we disagree at a fundamental level on this point and the allowable methods for its execution so let’s allow that one to slide by unaddressed.

    As for comparative morality:

    Morality is Ethics that are defined and/or enforced by an outside power, whether it be Divine or societal or a combination of both. ;) My comment about the immoral / amoral Left wasn’t meant as a universal jab at all atheists and agnostics. Sorry if it came across that way.

    You work at homeless shelters and presumably other life affirming charity works. I follow my Goddess and provide grief counseling, aid in Hospice care, do my small part in advocating for patients’ right to die with dignity, and try to help abuse and rape victims reclaim some measure of feeling of control over their lives. I guess “good works” take many forms, including those forms that deal with death, pain, and vengeance.

    I was also the – as you as a veteran can appreciate as few others can – the very unofficial Chaplain the Pagans in my unit while in service.

    As for the Fear Conscience implicit in the “sky daddy” comment, my faith has no concept of sin or Hell – only consequences based on ones actions and motives.

  13. November 22, 2008 6:51 pm

    As we both know, the majority of the American public do not follow Morrigan. They follow Yahweh, the Jewish god of war, my “sky daddy” comment was made in a general sense, not directed specifically at you.

    MY only desire is for government, all of them, to remain neutral and represent all of their electorate equally. How can Hindus, Atheists, and even yourself be represented by a specifically Christian government?

    In response to your belief in some grander anti-theist agenda: At the last Worldwide Atheism Supremacy Convention (WASCON) we (every atheist on the planet was there) didn’t discuss going any farther than neutrality. ;)

    An anti-theist government would be just as bad as a theist one. I would fight for the rights of believers just as I do now for myself. I do personally want religion off the planet altogether, but I don’t want to force it to go away. I just want science and technology to be unhindered by superstition. Religion will destroy itself without any help from me as long as science isn’t being flushed down the shitter. That’s why the majority of the Pagan religions have died out. We now know how lightening comes about, we understand why the sun goes away at night. Given enough time most theological questions will be answered and then quietly put away for good.

    I’ll restate it again: I, and the majority of atheists I know, don’t want to harm religion, we just want the idiocy that it causes to go away. I have no agenda to outright destroy religion, I just want science and reason to be the reason we do things, not a fear of gods or the desire to appease them.

    All that being said, I honestly do appreciate your military service, the pagans I knew in the AF got it worse off than the atheists.

  14. notreallyalice permalink
    November 24, 2008 5:52 pm

    On a positive note, if you are taking the stand in a court, you can “affirm” instead of swearing to god.

    The strong connection between Christianity and the military scares the poo out of me. If there was any organization that should NOT be allied with religion, it is the business of killing people.

    That said, I think we as a nation need to address the fear religious people have about a godless world. “Imagine no religion” is scary to many Americans. How can we as non-theists help them face that fear and realize that there is nothing to be afraid of?

  15. ghettophilosopher permalink
    December 3, 2008 10:37 am

    Well this is a fair request and one that you should no doubt have made. I can see where you are coming from. I am a theist and I don’t believe that anything should be forced on anyone. As for the idea that science and belief in God are incompatible, I don’t buy that part. For example, you mentioned knowing where lightning comes from and the sun etc. Does that really preclude a creator? Is it possible for a creator to have set things up that way? All I ever ask from atheists is to keep an open mind much like I, a theist also do. While I have faith, there is room for doubt and when I find those doubts I look for answers in the right places. I want a world where dialogue like this is open and ongoing because it is in all our best interests to find the answers to these questions. And for the record, there will always be things that science can never account for. No matter how much time it gets. Mark my words on that.

  16. schevus permalink
    December 3, 2008 11:22 am

    Ghettophilosopher – What do you think that science will not be able to explain?

  17. in2thefray permalink
    December 5, 2008 5:28 pm

    I’ll restate it again: I, and the majority of atheists I know, don’t want to harm religion, we just want the idiocy that it causes to go away.

    Would you concede that theists could see there being a larger attack under that banner ?

  18. December 5, 2008 6:09 pm

    No.

  19. likeavalleygirl permalink
    December 19, 2008 6:47 pm

    It’s funny – because the “under God” wasn’t even added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950’s when the U.S. was unnaturally and stupidly scared of those God-forsaken Commies!

  20. December 20, 2008 6:34 am

    likeavalleygirl,

    Remove the “unnaturally and stupidly” descriptors and you’ll be 100% accurate. ;) It was both natural and wise to be afraid of the Communists at that time.

    Of course, even though ones’ fear is based in wisdom it can still lead you to take stupid actions to protect yourself.

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