A lawsuit has been filed in Washington in an effort to prevent the words “so help me God” from being used during Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. The suit is being filed by a number of atheists and non-religious organizations, including the American Humanist Association, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and atheist groups from Minnesota; Seattle, Washington; and Florida. The claim is that references to God during inauguration ceremonies violate the Constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion, among other things.
In principle, I agree with their opinion. However, I think they’re going about this in the worst possible way. This type of thing goes a long way towards strengthening the prejudices that already exist towards atheists and agnostics. It makes them seem like an angry, bitter group of people. No doubt, there are many people who lack belief and who are angry at what they see going on around them. However…I don’t believe these people even come close to making up the majority of atheists and agnostics.
This type of action this close to the inauguration is nothing more than grandstanding. If these folks are serious…really serious about having this phrase removed from the ceremony, they should have started the process long before this.
Even though they are right…with all due respect, listening to the phrase “so help me God” isn’t going to harm them one little bit. For now, let's enjoy the inauguration of our new president. Let's enjoy the moment, and then after the ceremony, let's go after the changes that we want and need. Let’s use some common sense here people.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Why did I feel it necessary to start this particular blog? I think it's because I became tired of the vilification of good people who chose not to believe in the supernatural, deities or gods of any kind. According to an article in "American Atheist,"...“Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ’sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.” Imagine that! My vision of American society is somehow twisted...and downright wrong. Apparently George Bush agrees! When he was campaigning for the presidency as the incumbent vice-president in 1987, he was quoted during an interview as saying..."No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Is it any wonder that most people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists tend to keep it to themselves? If the president of the United States believes that a segment of the American population should not be considered citizens because they choose not to believe in a deity, then what would be the attitude of a "typical" religious American? In a country that was founded on the principle of separation of church and state, the idea that a person's belief should be cause to strip them of their citizenship boggles the mind. Perhaps the president should take the time to read the Constitution once he retires from office.
Based on the people I know and come into contact with everyday, non-believers not only are some of the nicest folks I know, they also take their civic duties quite seriously. We don't hate people of faith...we don't hate "God"...and we don't need the bible to give us a moral compass.
In a way, I wish there were other words that I could use to replace the words "agnostic" and "atheist". Even though there's really nothing wrong with these terms, they have been given a negative connotation by people who have totally misunderstood what a person with a naturalistic world view is all about. It can be very frustrating at times for those of us who choose not to believe. Maybe someday this will be just one more prejudice that eventually disappears in this country. I'm afraid it's going to be a while though.