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Dec 08 2013

Rants And Comments

The Coloradan has a fun opinion piece up, complaining that atheism is becoming the US national religion.

It’s a scattershot argument, at once claiming a near 80% Christian majority and demanding protection from persecution, since we are a republic, not a democracy. A fun read.

Anyway, I commented there, but I can’t tell whether it actually posted. I can see it just fine, but the comment count does not include mine. So I thought I’d put it here, just in case.

Ah yes… atheism is claimed by 1.6%, and “Christianity” by nearly 80, and you are complaining.

The situation you describe is unbelievable on the face of it. No rational person—and I assume you are a rational person—would ever claim that atheism was becoming the national religion of the US when all three branches of the federal government are dominated by Christians, when Congress feels the need to take time from their busy schedules to re-verify every couple of years that “In God We Trust” is our motto, when polls show “atheists” remain less likely to get someone’s vote than any other label tested… So, frankly, the situation cannot be as you describe it.

And it is not. The fact is, you are misrepresenting, badly, and you know it.

To begin, you complain of an attack on “religion in public life” or “whenever God finds his way into public view”. The truth is, even the most radical atheists are staunch defenders of the first amendment, and will defend your right to free expression. What we complain about (and what the courts have consistently agreed with) are the attempts to enlist the government (you note “Congress”, but conveniently omit any consideration of the 14th amendment—so it is not simply a matter of Congress siding with a religious view, but any representative of government) to take the side of one religion or another against all others, or against no religion.

In short, you can have religion in public life, but you cannot have it promoted or led by agents of the government. It’s a simple distinction.

You note that 78.4% of Americans are nominally “Christian”. What you don’t mention here, though, is that the various denominations of Christianity do not always agree. My sister is a devout Christian; her church strongly affirms and supports same-sex marriage. My uncle is a devout Christian; his church condemns same-sex marriage. If the government sides with one church, it sides against the other; it has, over the course of our history, been much healthier for churches not to allow the government to take sides.

One thing you had right, though, and I am glad of it—this is a republic, not a democracy. If it were not for our constitutionally protected freedoms, that 78.4%, should they ever happen to agree on something, could deny the basic rights of those who disagree. As is, the 1.6% you are complaining about only have the power they do because the constitution is on their side. One person plus the constitution beats 80% on the wrong side of the law.

I am glad, also, that you mention the founding fathers. It is, indeed, easy to see that they had no hesitation in declaring the importance of their faiths in God (remember, though, they did not share the same religion—there were, in fact, official religions for many of the colonies, so “Christianity” was not seen as the unifying label you treat it as)… which makes it all the more remarkable that the word “God” is not mentioned once in the Constitution, and the only mentions of religion are to expressly prohibit any religious test for office (article 6) and the first amendment (extended to all levels of government in the 14th). If they had wanted to say we are a Christian nation, they had every ability and opportunity to do so. They did not. They chose to keep government out of religion, and religion out of government. So please, by all means, practice your religion (even in public, if you want to ignore Matthew 6:6). But not while you are acting as an agent of government.

Like I said, it’s very simple.

Heh… no verse this time–but I clicked on “first amendment” up there under the title, and I am frankly astonished at how often I *have* written something I could have just pulled up for the situation. Is there nothing new under the sun?

11 comments

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  1. 1
    coragyps

    You truly can write and kick some butt doing so, CF. You are my first internet visit every day.

  2. 2
    Gregory in Seattle

    I’m not seeing ANY comments at the site.

  3. 3
    Cuttlefish

    Gregory–you do have to click to a separate comment area; last I saw there were either four or five comments, depending on whether mine was there. Officially it said 4 (actually, it said none, then it said four), but there were five there including mine.

  4. 4
    Kaessa

    I see four, and I don’t see your comment.

  5. 5
    Cuttlefish

    Thanks, Kaessa–

    I’ve had this problem before (not just at that site)–it looks like it is there for me, but it is invisible to the world. I think it is a problem of having facebook as the commenting platform. Never got the hang of using that, so although it *says* I have commented (that would be “dee cee fish”), it is as insubstantial as the ether.

  6. 6
    Stacy

    There are 10 comments there now (12:53 am, Pacific time) but yours isn’t among them, Cuttlefish. Some of the other comments are in disagreement with the OP, so that’s not the problem. I think you should try posting it again.

    Your comment kicks ass.

  7. 7
    Nathaniel Frein

    It might have something to do with your Facebook security settings not allowing the post to be seen by anyone but you.

  8. 8
    Cuttlefish

    Ah, Nathaniel, that both makes perfect sense and no sense at all. I have no idea what my Facebook security settings are, so it is very likely that. And it makes no sense that a blog would choose as its comment method, something that allows such a stupid thing to occur.

    Anyone who actually knows how to use facebook, you have my permission to post the comment–hell, even under your own name if you wish.

  9. 9
    seraphymcrash

    Ah dammit! This is my town’s paper. It’s been going downhill for years, but this is disheartening to see. This paper is in the break room every day.

  10. 10
    Cuttlefish

    I suspect it’s just the online version (I sincerely hope so!), and much less representative of the actual opinions of newspaper people. Opinions are cheap, online…

  11. 11
    seraphymcrash

    It is the online version. Which I guess is better? It shoudn’t be, considering how technology is moving forward. A smart paper company would realize their future was online, and not just use their online space for any poorly thought out rant.

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