Your Caring Proves
That You're a Believer
Derinda Ruth

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To:"derinda ruth"
From:"Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Sent: July 16, 2002 1:29 PM
Subject: In God We Trust

It wouldn't matter at all if the currency were privately issued, if I could choose to use it or something else. However, this currency is publicly issued by a country whose Constitution says I am a part-owner. This means, first and foremost, that I am being made to say, "In God We Trust," which, coming from my lips is a lie: As far as I'm concerned, those who make god-claims are not being truthful.

And don't think our children aren't influenced by this: they are. When they learn how to read, their little eyes read everything that they see. This slogan was placed onto our money when I was in the second grade. For some reason it legitimized religious talk when before it was taboo to speak to others about your religion. As a result, before I even knew what people meant when they said the word "God" (as if I know any better what they mean today: I don't) I had already been beaten and rejected by my classmates because of my ignorance regarding the superstitions of other families. I was in the second grade, for crying out loud!

My country's Constitution, as interpreted by her Supreme Court (again and again) guarantees my wife and I the right to be the only ones who provide religious instruction to our children. So what does my country turn around and do? It teaches our children that I was lying to them, that there really is such a thing as a "God," even after I have carefully explained to them that gods were invented in the olden days to frighten people and make people behave, and that we know better today. I have told them that many people are still frightened and still believe in gods. Others of us rightly fear because many who still believe in gods like to harm those who do not believe in gods.

For this reason, I counsel parents to adamantly insist that their children refuse to discuss religion with playmates and especially with adults. At minimum, the word is, "That is very private." If pushed, they should say, "In our family we talk about it only at home, and only when our whole family is there to listen and to help each other learn!" If that isn't enough, I have no problem with, "If you don't stop, I will go get [my Mother; my Father; the teacher; the principal; a police officer] and ask them to make you stop!" To me, there is very little difference between religious talk to children and sexual talk with children. To me, public displays of religiosity (religious ritual, such as prayer or Communion) are as inappropriate as public displays of sexual affection (heavy kissing, petting; fondling). This stuff is very private and belongs in the home or in the church. In any event, religiosity (ritual) should never be practiced outside the company of like-minded believers.

My views on religious education for children have been more carefully thought out than those of many religious parents. Most of the religious parents I've known entrust the minds of their own children to a huge, lying organization. They give their children up to people who have a giant cookie cutter with which they stamp out obedient, unthinking believers. When it comes to home schooling (in America), I am on the same page as many Christian ultra-fundamentalists.

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Why does it matter so much to me?

It matters to me because I am a patriotic American; it matters to me because I love my country and I always have; it matters to me because it pains me to see this country, once based upon equal rights, equal responsibility, and equal opportunity, being taken over by a hostile force and given over to the exclusive use of an exclusionary group.

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First, this is what we call a "trick question" in that it demands that I justify or explain something about myself that isn't even true! I most certainly do not "object to the words, 'In God We Trust'" -- as long it is spoken either by or on behalf of theists.

Printed on United States Currency, however, "In God We Trust" becomes yet another example of what I call "The Christian Grab." Historically, fewer than two-thirds of America's citizens have been members of the Christian religion, much less devout and pious believers in its precepts. And yet the Constitutional Congress of what would soon become The United States, having examined and rejected several "Christian" variations, deliberately ratified a uniquely godless Constitution (if Madison, Jefferson, and the historical record are to be believed).

I have no problem with people telling themselves (and the public, really) that they trust in the object of their faith: that is what faith is all about, actually, a trusting reliance upon the object of faith. In these parts, the object of faith is usually a conceptualization of a personal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevolent (among other things) deity(s). Christians claim that this conceptualization conforms to reality, that the deity they talk about and curtsey before is really real. (The Christians say that their deity's name is "God." The non-Christian religions have more interesting names for their god-figments, such as al'Lah, Krsna, Quetzalcoatl, and about 5,000 others.)

But our publicly owned government has no business endorsing the religious fantasies of this private, exclusive group known as the Christians.

Most importantly, however, by observing the methods of the Christians who both placed this slogan on our money and those who continue to support the notion, we get a clear and unobstructed picture of the very fruits of the Christian moral system.

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When I hear Christians tell themselves and one another, "In God we trust," I am happily reminded that according to the laws of my country (the United States of America), I am allowed to speak for myself regarding such things just as the Christians are allowed to speak for themselves regarding such things. I am almost infinitely grateful that I can (for example) tell my children, "This 'God' that you hear people talking about is make-believe, just like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and The Groundhog of Punxsutawney."

I am likewise grateful (or should be) that Religious Liberty does not afford others, including neighbors, school teachers, and government entities, to teach my children that this "God" they talk about is really real. In other words, it is just as much against the law for the United States Treasury to publish religious teachings on the coins and notes that my child earns as it is for those older folks to teach sectarian religion directly to my children. For this Liberty, this freedom from religion, I gladly relinquish any expectations that my government ought to print on our money or the walls of our public buildings, things like, "All Gods Are Make-Believe" or "Human Reason: How feeble is our only Light."

I'm sure that most Christians would be just as horrified if the money said, "Jesus Christ is still dead" as I am that it says "In God We Trust."

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You bet I'm angry!

You "Christian-Americans" can do what you want, having renounced your "citizenship in Heaven" (Philippians 3:30) so that you might meddle in the affairs of our country. By doing this, you prove to me that you don't believe in the Christian Heaven any more than I do!

However, my country is supposed to protecting her citizens from the behavior of groups such as yours. I'm angry at my country for letting us down, for not standing up to those who would take from us the inalienable rights for which my ancestors (Pinckney and Pinckney of South Carolina; Witherspoon of New York, among others) fought, died, argued, who identified, withstood, and overcame the wiles of the hyphenated Christians of the day.

It was these Christians about whom Thomas Jefferson was speaking when he said:

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The clergy [wishing to establish their particular form of Christianity] ... believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
-- to Benjamin Rush (capitalization of the word god is retained per original manuscript)

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In this, his most famous saying, Jefferson spoke of Christians who sought "religious freedom" for members of their own group, to the exclusion of those who were not like them. Such behavior continues to be very typical of this greedy bunch, who haven't changed much over the centuries.

From your conclusion to this most offensive letter, I will make my case and my point.

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What is it about believing that you would try to shame me for so doing? Why is it that so many Christians who write to our Forum turn around and "reduce themselves to our level," so to speak, by criticizing us and then negatively comparing our alleged behavior to that of a group of Christians?

As we have found it since at least the fourth century (perhaps earlier, as thugs like Constantine don't arise in a vacuum), the Christian religion, in its various forms, sets itself up to become a weapon of exploitation. As such, it's been wielded by vicious, despotic rulers ever since, even unto this day. Europe (and elsewhere) has suffered under the yoke of these tyrants throughout the history of the Christian church.

At times the tyrant has been a single, no-pretense, club-wielding despot. When the people garner sufficient awareness and power to overthrow this ruler and abolish his form of government, his replacements like to take cover as a group of deceitful, ballot-wielding, mob-rule despots, appealing to the greed and passions of their gullible, god-believing subjects. A favorite ruse, by the way (that is, one that works most effectively, most efficiently, and most often; one that "gets 'em every time"), is to trick the people into offering up their own Liberties as a way to bring about public security. This second group of leaders is the kind opposed by Jefferson in his day. Unfortunately, these were openly opposed by practically nobody during the 1950s, and very few have gone up against them since then.

This politicized form of Christianity tends to teach its followers to practice some of the most blatant, unfeeling, shark-like form of insatiable greed observed in the human species. Anton Szandor LaVey's mock religion known as "Satanism" (with a capital "S": actually, a form of atheism) claims to be a philosophy based wholly in self-indulgence. But the ways of LaVey and his group don't hold a candle to the predatory desire for control over others historically displayed by that brand of Christianity among whose adherents you appear to count yourself.

Such groups often reveal to us how little faith their supporters have even in the groups' own positions! Why else would they stoop to such cunningly devised schemes? This is exemplified with striking clarity by how these Christians came to place the divisive phrase "In God We Trust" on our money.

Realizing that a sober, thinking, public would never go for this idea (given the time and luxury of a full and open debate of the idea) these Christians made their first move while our nation was preoccupied by our most terrifying war to this day. It was during the heat of the Civil War (1863), in fact, that "In God We Trust" was first slipped onto the two-cent coin. (Given the literacy rate, it probably went by as thoroughly unnoticed as it does at our cash registers today.) This didn't last, however, and the slogan was removed for several decades.

The last time it appeared on our money we were -- again -- experiencing one of the most terrifying wars of our history, the Cold War against the "godless Communists" (read: "atheists"). Our "Don't-Bother-Me,-I'm-Busy" Congress was reeling from two World Wars with a destructive famine and a virtually unrelated economic collapse sandwiched in between, blinking its eyes in a futile attempt to shake from its memory the shock that is the mushroom cloud, and trying to make sense of this anti-Communist movement whose goals were legitimate but whose ways were as cockamamie as America had seen in any movement up to that date. During this period, nobody dared to speak out against the religion favored by Joseph McCarthy and his thugs: somebody easily could have incorporated the ancient Hebrew ritual and superstition into the United States Constitution had anybody thought of the idea. For these reasons, the move to place "In God We Trust" on all of our money was carried without dissent or abstention. Frankly, had I been a Representative I probably would have voted for it, too, knowing the atmosphere of the times, when mere suspicion of atheism, then fully equated with Communism, usually cost a public figure his career. And voting against any of the era's dozens of advantages given by law to the Christian religion could easily have done just that.

But it doesn't end there: In the same way, these pesky Christian political activists continue to "authenticate" their little lies, one by one, gaining some token of authenticity and then repeating this oversight as truth until nobody remains to dispute what is said. Not surprisingly, the most common of their methods here works by way of precedent. Pointing out that a bill was unlawfully passed somehow proves, to them, that it must have been legal all along. After all, they passed it, and nobody has since bothered to shoot it down!

Of course this parallels the telling of the entire Christian story, the tales of the alleged exploits of an obscure Galilean. The Gospel "accounts" were not published until after the Romans flattened Jerusalem during the war of 66-70 C.E., after those who might once have raised an objection were either killed, enslaved, or driven off to fend for their very lives.

Thus the first nation to ratify a completely godless constitution became, in the eyes of the greediest of humans, "one nation under God." Their ways proved to observers the sheer impotency of their case: they cannot convince this substantial chunk of nonbelievers and other-believers that their claims are truthful, either by the argument of reason or by the show of evidence. Meanwhile, the "Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe" had put an end to their practice of torturing us into submission. No longer could they threaten us with a cruelly unjust trial followed by a death-welcoming execution in exchange for our endorsement of their creed (we still had to die, in most cases). Forget about any further confiscations of our estates. No longer must we watch helplessly as our children are sold into slavery, placed into the nunnery, driven off into the wilderness, or simply slaughtered. All that is illegal in the West.

For now.

And a big part of my work, here, is to keep it that way! These activists have shown us, again and again, that to trust them is the height of stupidity.

Unable to convince, no longer allowed to coerce, the only option that remains available to them is through bald assertion driven home through pat repetition. In this way have they proclaimed the United States to be "One Nation Under God," in this way have they asserted her citizenry to be the loyal subjects of a specific deity: the "God" not of Jews, Muslims, Mormons, or even their closer comrades, but the once-elevated tribal deity who, ever since being made prominent by Constantine, remains forever dissatisfied with having to hold any position even remotely resembling "second fiddle." (Coincidentally, this deity came to prominence in Europe shortly before that continent began to endure the aptly named Dark Ages.)

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A clear message was sent by the very process of institutionalizing the exclusionary phrase "In God We Trust" as our national slogan, replacing the refreshingly inclusive "E Pluribus Unum" of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson. The slogan "E Pluribus Unum," a cute word-game, of sorts, means, literally, "of the many [comes] one." But I like to put it, "from our diversity comes our unity," meaning, to me, that our unity as Americans is derived by our diversity, not simply in spite of our diversity. Our diversity forces us to unify in order to get along, to survive, but more than that, our diversity is a unique source of pride for us, something that few other countries have to the extent that we do (India comes to mind as one exception).

And yet our government has lasted longer than any other currently active government. This, I think, is because even though a terrified Congress ripped Jefferson's slogan right out of our hands literally while we weren't watching, our children, to this day, still learn the principles behind the words "E Pluribus Unum" as one of the very first things the public schools teach them about the United States. Meanwhile, "In God We Trust" is so controversial, being, in short, illegal, that any students who hear "In God We Trust" expounded upon in a public school (legally) deserve (and qualify for) redress.

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In keeping with the lying tradition of these Christian activists you write your letter to me. Even though I plainly admit that the god-claims made by all the various religions simply don't make sense to me, in spite of this, you deride me for what you call "anger." I even admit, in the article upon which you comment, that I am angry with my country for failing to protect my rights as a citizen (for trouncing them, actually). Nevertheless, you deliberately misrepresent my anger as stemming from a secret realization that your little god-claim is actually true, that because I am angry at my country for lying (which), I must therefore be a Christian!!

I suppose you're trying to tell us that an atheist is someone who believes that there is a god? Hah! I don't think that you are that stupid, so please don't act as if you think I'd fall for that one!

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And yes, "E Pluribus Unum" was as easy to teach to young children as how to say, "Ciao," "Adiós," "Adieu," "Adjø," "Adijo," "Adjö," "Weidersien," "Bonne journée," "Cheerio," "Sayonara," "Aloha nõ," "Zay gesunt," "Güle güle," "Slán go fóill," "Hwyl fawr," "Lehit," "Czesc," "Tchau," "Poka," "Tam biêt," "Bud zdorov," "Chow, chow, chow," "Ngeyavalilisa," and even "Tej to jk'opon jbatik ta yan k'ak'al."

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Almost seven years of service to
      people with no reason to believe

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