Tuesday
Nov112008

Freedom From Religion

 

This July marks the 221st birthday of the United States. During that time many social injustices against various minorities and social groups have been acknowledged, and in many cases steps have been undertaken to correct them. But as of today, I am still a member of a minority that is legally unable to hold office in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina with their state constitutions as they currently stand (Disc…). I belong to a minority that certainly would have no realistic chance of winning a bid for the Office of the President of the United States simply because I am irreligious. The Constitution of the United States protects me from discrimination on the basis of my Atheism, but many state constitutions only protect me from religious discrimination upon my conditional acknowledgment that there is indeed a supreme deity.

Before drafting this essay, I thought long and hard about whether not I really wanted to broach this subject, fearing the persecution that accompanies such a public pronouncement. In the end, I realized that Naomi Wolf’s assertion in her essay A Woman’s Place, that, “the only thing more frightening than speaking out…is not speaking” was correct (229). Therefore, it is my duty to share with others my experiences as an Atheist in America.

For example, the Boy Scouts of America ruled in 1985 that a scout should be removed from the Boy Scouts of America if he is an avowed agnostic or atheist because “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God .” (Boy Scouts…) During my tenure as a Scout, and eventually an Eagle Scout, I was fortunate enough to have a group of scouts and adult supervisors who actively kept my identity as an Atheist secret from the Cascade Pacific Council who regulated the Columbia Gorge District from which Troop 749 belonged, in order to prevent my persecution and removal. How would the Boy Scouts of America fared if they had chosen instead to exclude Catholics or Jews from their ranks? Would the public, in this day and age, allow such a social injustice? As a group, Atheists comprise less than 5% of the nation’s population. Belonging to a minority that makes up less than one in every twenty people, I’ve learned a few lessons of survival.

First of all, any Atheist who wants to get along with their fellow Americans at large, without conflict, as I do, must learn to respect fully and completely every person and their inalienable human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Having a principle does not mean that one must automatically impose his will upon others and proselytize. If you want to be treated by others as a full member of society you must treat others with such respect first. It is one thing to share your thoughts in a public blog, letter to the editor, etc. with a public who can choose whether or not they would like to read it, and quite another to aggressively use vociferous debate as a weapon with those who have not brought up the subject of their own accord, but are forced nonetheless to read an essay as a requirement of participation in a class. Never impose. Rudeness closes open minds.

Next, it is helpful to avoid bringing up issues such as religion, as well as certain political beliefs that are likely to create conflict, up in ordinary daily conversation. If you create a meaningful relationship with someone, be it friendship, romantic, academic kinship, it is quite likely that the subject will arise in an organic fashion. In these cases, if your relationship is strong, it should stand a greater chance of surviving what is likely to be a meaningful dialogue or debate.

Finally, you must diligently seek to educate yourself, particularly about the cultures of others in the world, in addition to those within the United States. For how can you hope for someone to investment the time and energy learning all about you if you are obsessively narcissistic? Learning about others enriches and gives greater depth to your own life. It is only by following these steps that Atheists can ever hope to be seen truly as individuals who are not immoral, criminal, materialistic, nor elitist, as some two thousand respondents have described Atheists in a 2006 survey conducted by the University of Minnesota (Edgell).

Being irreligious does not mean that one is not spiritual, it just means that they are not superstitious.

In order to respect and honor the sacrifices of our melting pot as a people we should consider the removal of the phrase “In God We Trust” from our currency; the phrase “One nation under god” from our Pledge of Allegiance; and remove the requirement of witnesses to testify before congressional hearings, court hearings and/or trails, the oath “to swear nothing but the truth, so help me God.” with their hand on a religious book or doctrine. A simple requirement of participants to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth with their hand placed over their heart should suffice.

Perhaps a Democratic President and a majority in the House and Senate can find it in their hearts to rectify this injustice in 2009.

 

Michael Moore offers this possible revision to our Pledge of Allegiance that reverts it to a more friendly version that does not include Senator McCarthy’s 1954 Communist red scare tactics in his new book, Mike’s Election Guide 2008:

 

I pledge allegiance to the people of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which we stand, one nation, part of one world, with liberty and justice for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Boy Scouts of America membership controversies.” Wikipedia. 2008. Wikipedia. 1 June 2008

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_membership_controversies>

Discrimination against Atheists.” Wikipedia. 2008. Wikipedia. 1 June 2008

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists>

Edgell, Penny, Joseph Gerteis, and Douglas Hartmann. “Atheists As ‘Other’: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society.” American Sociological Review. Apr. 2006 Vol. 71 Issue 2, p211-234, 24p, 8 charts, 1 graph.

Wolf, Naomi. “A Woman’s Place.” Rpt. in Short Takes: Model Essays For Composition. Vol. 9. Ed. Elizabeth Penfield. University of New Orleans. 2007. 225-29.

 

 

Thursday
Oct022008

Registering to ....

Thursday
Sep252008

A Collision of Sound between Collide and Dead Poets Society

Our remix of Collide’s “Halo (dead poets society mix)” is now available in our Remixes and Reflections feed.

Collide is kaRIN and Statik.

 

Enjoy. 

 

Wednesday
Sep242008

Sherlock Holmes and the S.F. Affair in Trade Paperback.

We now have Sherlock Holmes and the San Francisco Affair available in a more cost affordable version ($8.99)  than the hardback ($18.49) for those of you who expressed an interest in the physical book, but could not afford the hardback version. This version is a 6” by 9” softback trade paperback that features the same art and text layout as the hardback.

The download version is still available in a .PDF format  ($2.78) if you prefer an electronic download.


Friday
Sep122008

Everything In Its Write Place...