Opinions and Observations

I would like to talk to all you folks out there about something that really gets my goat!! It is an idea that strikes to the very heart of my being and ruffles my feathers enough to elicit a very visceral response. It is the idea that I, or you, dear fellow atheist, cannot be a good citizen because we do not believe in any god.

So where did this garbage start? This bullshit starts in your mind, dear religionist!! Yes, that is right! You, a believer, who may happen to think that because I don't believe in the existence of your god assume that I am a moral reprobate. Well, I will have to strongly and vehemently disagree!! In an article entitled "Can Atheists Be Good Citizens?" (First Things, Aug./Sept 1991), Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest, argues for a negative answer to the question posed in his title. To quote from that article:

"Can these atheists be good citizens? It depends, I suppose, on what is meant by good citizenship. We may safely assume that the great majority of these people abide by laws, pay their taxes, and may even be congenital and helpful neighbors. But can a person who does not acknowledge that he is accountable to a truth higher than the self, external to the self, really be trusted? Locke and Rousseau, among many others, thought not....Locke was convinced that a higheer judgement, even an eternal judgement was essential to citizenship. It follows that an atheist could not be trusted to be a good citizen, and therefore could not be a citizen at all. [emphasis mine]

Get a load of that will ya! This guy is serious!! Neuhaus is suggesting that those of us who are American citizens, citizens who pay their taxes, law-abiding, engage in our jobs as we should, are honest, forthright, and compose ourselves with dignity, and happen to have no faith/belief system, should not be trusted!! Why? Because we do not acknowledge his "higher power". It is bad enough that he takes himself seriously, but many of his co-religionists: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, and others influential and powerful in the evangelical movement are taking it seriously and have picked up the banner to wave before all. The idea is spreading folks!

Remember the 1992 elections? Guess who else got into the act and took it a little further? I quote: "I don't believe an atheist could be President of the United States." George Bush said that. Yep, that is right, George W. Bush' daddy! Oh, is that so, Mr. former President?!! Does his son think the same way? I would love to know. So how about it Mr. George W.? Do you think I am not presidential material because I don't believe in your god?

What the hell is this all about?? What scares the bejesus out of these people to make them say these things? That I don't believe in your god?? Afraid that I am not moral enough to conduct myself as a good citizen, or for that matter to run affairs of state? Well who the hell are you, RELIGIONIST, to decide that for me?!?!?!?!!! I AM AN AMERICAN CIIZEN, DAMNIT!!! I will stand eyeball to eyeball with anyone daring to take that away from me!! I as an atheist have probably more scruples, honor, and morality than you fundamentalist Christians will ever have in your entire left digit fingers, COMBINED!!! And if I want to run for public office of any kind, if I feel the need to serve my fellow citizens, religionist or not, TRY AND FUCKING STOP ME!!!

But why end there folks? If an atheist cannot be a citizen or be allowed to run for public office, who else can we shove out of the way? Can a Buddhist be a citizen? Or a pagan American Indian? Can we allow them to run for political offices, both large and small, of the land?? Why don't we just reverse it folks? We have seen what religionists can do. The fundamentalists are trying their level best to remake America into their theocratic image. Why not say that religionists can't be good citizens? Why should we allow them to be in public office? Look at what they have done with the country, these God-believers!! Think about the implications of this folks! To be denied citizenship, to have your rights taken away, simply because you do or don't have a certain belief system? Are you feeling threatened, Mr., Ms. or Mrs. Religionist? Yes?? Good!!! Now you know exactly how I feel when I hear this garbage! Why do you think our Deist Founding Fathers supported and implemented the church-state seperation into our Constitution in the first place?

Ok, lets get one thing straight! We have freedom of religion. If you want to go to the top of any mountain and worship the wind, you are free to do it. If you want to go scooba diving to commune with "water spirits" you are free to do that. If you want to go to your church, synagogue, temple, coven, what-have-you, and have fellowship with your co-religionists and pray to your god, goddess, or ancestors you can do that. GO TO IT! And if you do not want to do any of these things, if looking at the entire Universe does not compel you to bow down and worship, but just have a simple awe of what is, satisfies you, and if you don't feel compelled to worship anything, then DON'T. You have a freedom from religion too. People tend to forget that the freedom of religion coin has two sides: if you want to worship something, knock yourself out! If you don't want to worship anything for any reason, then don't. Freedom implies choice, the choice to do or not to do a thing.

And now that the political season is here, both parties have had a plethora of god-talk. There is so much of it: god bless America god bless this and god bless that and the other, that I can just puke!! In all the talk of inclusiveness (the Republicans don't count, they are not really serious about it), where is the humble nonbeliever? We, dear fellow atheist, are not included in either the Republican or the Democratic paradigm, because we don't believe. We are shoved aside to the rear and made to feel bad and inferior because we cannot share in their over-religious rhetoric. WELL DAMNIT!!! WHAT ABOUT US?? WE COUNT TOO!! AFTER ALL, WE ARE CITIZENS NO MATTER WHAT YOU RELIGIONIST MORONS THINK!!!!!!!!

And now we have an orthodox Jew running for VP on the Democratic Ticket. The fact that he is a Jew does not bother me one iota. What is one ethnic group as opposed to another? So we are different. No biggie there. What does concern me is his orthodoxy. If only Lieberman were a secular Jew! Watch his lips, and you will find it full of god-talk. I could say "Could we trust a Jewish candidate?" But some may say that I had gone too far, and rightfully so. So why is it not going too far to say that an atheist cannot be trusted? America is a pluralistic multi-cultural society. That is the result of the immigration patterns to this nation over the past century and a half. We should pride ourselves on that: that many people from many origins and backgrounds can get together and live and work together in (relatively) peace and harmony and be counted as citizens. There are bound to be differences among us, even religious ones (or lack thereof). Our national motto from the foundation of our country had once been the Latin phrase E pluribus unum "From many, one", but now it is "In God We Trust". That people, was changed back in the mid 1950s when you religionists went ape-shit about communism and had to change not only the motto but inserted the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegience. When the Pledge was written in 1892, it did not have that phrase. We were "One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all ". Now we are "One Nation Under God" with liberty for the religious and very little justice for any. Iran is one nation under god and look where they are going!!

Folks, we are just one nation. A nation of immigrants and dreamers. Some of us still dream of a place to hang one's hat free from the cares that plague our minds. It does not help to have our freedoms eroded away by a minority that does not think that the rest of us who do not think the way they do should have a place at the table of American Pie. They are not only saying that the lion's share of that pie is theirs, but that they have made that pie too, all by theirselves. Such poppycock!!!

The marketplace of ideas must remain secular and open to all. That means that the religionists must undergo close scrutiny of their belief systems as well as the rest of us. Any claim, whether secular or religious, must undergo close examination and pass or fail upon the merits of the evidence or lack thereof. A bit of scientific skepticism and rigourous testing does go a long way in ferreting out the garbage.

Now that an orthodox Jew is running for one of the highest public offices of the land, I think that it is high time for us atheists to get more involved in the political arena and run for all political offices, from local civil on up to the Presidential arena!! We have a voice. It is high time we roared!!

NEWSFLASH!!: Lieberman Addresses Notre Dame University Gathering, Decries Freedom From Religion:

Lieberman's Notre Dame Speech on C-SPAN (click on Candidate Highlights, then click "Watch" on Tuesday, October 24 Gore-Lieberman 2000) [Requires RealPlayer8]

American Atheists Report on Lieberman's Notre Dame Speech

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