Measured Against Reality

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fights we don't need to fight.

I’m an atheist. I believe in the separation of church and state, and I think it is a central tenant of our system of government. I agree that public buildings, governmental thinking, and laws should be secular. But this is just taking it too far.

This is more inane than the fight over “under God” in the pledge or “In God we Trust” on our currency. (I think that we shouldn’t have a pledge, and that “In God we Trust” should be replaced by something more patriotic and secular, but neither of those are important things).

In case you don’t want to click the link (you lazy bastard!) the story is about the Mt. Soledad Cross in San Diego. It’s a 35-ft cross in a veterans memorial. President Bush just signed a law handing the property over to the Department of Defense. I guess this somehow voids the previous 17 years of (successful) lawsuits to remove it.

All this does is reinforce the view that atheists want to persecute Christians and their symbols, wherever we can. It’s pointless. Who cares if there’s a cross on a hill? It’s not a government endorsement of religion, it’s just a historical artifact in a veterans memorial. It’s not somehow forcing any kind of religion on you, it’s just a historical artifact in a veterans memorial. It’s not violating the principle of separation of church and state, it’s just a historical artifact in a veterans memorial.

I believe in fighting the good fight against true separation of church and state matters. I was glad when the ten commandments were removed from that Arkansas courtroom. I cringe when obviously religion-inspired legislation passes and smile when it’s struck down. I cannot wait for the day, which I hope will happen within my lifetime, when “no religion” is not just the fastest growing, but the largest “religion” in America. But we won’t get there any faster by fighting unnecessary fights like this one, and we certainly won’t help our public image any.

So please, let’s save our resources for fights that actually need to be fought, and let these meaningless ones go.

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  • I totally agree with you as a man who also checks the "no religion" box.

    People have gotten it into their heads that atheists are out to destroy religion and god. Its been a wonderfully effective tactic by the GOP for years ever since the early Cold War era. Hell even Democrats refuse to acknowledge the godless because it makes them look like the party of whackos.

    Atheists have got to stop with the pointless battles with Under God and so forth. If we truly want to see seperation of church and state, and never see the rise of religious authoritism, then we better start paying attention.

    By Blogger nick d, at 12:49 PM, August 16, 2006  

  • I agree with the idea of picking our battles, and I believe that we must spend equal time explaining what we are for rather than constantly occupying the naysayer role. However, I can't agree with you that adding god to the pledge or to U.S. currency are not important.

    I realize that these are symbolic gestures once felt necessary to oppose Communism. However, they remain today as symbols of dangerous superstition. Should they be our top priorities? Of course not. I'd much rather focus on getting some atheists elected to political office. But this doesn't necessarily make these efforts unimportant.

    The view that atheists seek to persecute Christians is essential to the Christian mentality, and it isn't going to go away anytime soon. I suppose one could argue that we should cease all criticism of Christianity because that would hasten its fall. I suspect there is some truth to this, but it is not what you are suggesting here. You are suggesting that we pick our battles.

    I don't care if there is a cross on a hill, but I do care when my tax dollars are used to support it. I agree that we should pay attention to our public image, but ignoring this sort of thing isn't the answer. The answer lies in spending more time on what we are for rather than less on what we are against.

    By Blogger vjack, at 12:15 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • I suspect that if you had a friend or family member who was a non-Christian veteran, you might see this issue slightly differently. (Disclaimer: I don't fall into that category myself. But I'm still pissed off that anyone would cheapen a memorial for the dead with narrow-minded proselytizing.)

    The presence of the cross - and *only* the cross - is an insult to any non-Christian who should be memorialized. It says they don't matter; the only veterans who count are the Christian veterans.

    It's not just intrusive and rude to the living, but insulting to the dead, and to the friends and relatives of the dead.

    Take down the cross and replace it with an American flag, or the Constitution chiseled in stone tablets, or a replica of that famous statue of the guys on Iwo Jima, or something like what they actually fought for. It's a memorial for veterans of the armed forces of the United States, not the Army of Jesus.

    By Anonymous Chris, at 9:32 AM, September 18, 2006  

  • I think that we shouldn’t have a pledge, and that “In God we Trust” should be replaced by something more patriotic and secular, but neither of those are important things

    We already have that, it's E Pluribus Unum!

    That was a perfectly good national motto. It acknowledged that we are all different but we all come together as Americans. Some Americans believe in one god, others many gods and some believe in no gods at all. Similarly people have different color skins, different accents, different traditions, etc. No matter what though, we all get to be Americans..

    I don't know why that idea pissed so many people off. Was the fact that people who dared to believe differently than they do (polytheists, atheists, etc.) counted as full Americans too? Did the lack of "god" anywhere in the motto make it an atheist motto? (And if so, how does making one up with "god" in it not become a religious motto?) Why would the exclusion of anyone who didn't toe the line of a benevolent single deity become the official policy of the federal government?

    I almost think some sort of campaign could be waged in favor of E Pluribus Unum just on the basis of originalism. Isn't that what all the cool kids are doing these days?

    By Blogger Captain Friendly, at 8:32 AM, September 21, 2006  

  • When the Supreme Court allowed the Ten Commandments monument to remain on the grounds of the Texas capitol, one of the arguments of Justice Breyer was that no one had complained about it for decades.

    Atheists need to fight every battle, even the trivial ones.

    By Blogger marlonrh, at 11:50 AM, September 21, 2006  

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