Although We've Said Nothing,
Reader Replies, 'I Knew It! Repent!'

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

Mom: Daughter in Pledge Case Worships God

[A news article, stripped of all identification and copyright notices but copyrighted by somebody nonetheless was removed per Positive Atheism's Guidelines for Submission. The very strong bias in the article points to the likelihood that it either belongs to one of the Evangelical Christian "news" services or to the Associated Press.]

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "l l"
Subject: Re: I knew it! Repent!
Date: July 23, 2002 10:04 PM


What is it that you "knew"?

Ah, this person "knew it" and wants me to "repent"!

Knew what!? I see that you believe the word of the mother over the father to the point where you would act upon it by publicly slandering and degrading somebody you don't even know based upon what another person you don't even know has told you.

I see that you get your information from what alleges to be a news article but which contains no masthead or byline. Hmmm. But you believe the alleged news article! And you'd strip the article of its identification and expect us to believe it?

Oh, the "article" says that says the woman "declined through her attorney to be interviewed," but you tell me to "repent" based upon what it says about a woman who, it says, will not speak to reporters or the public. This is not even true! I've heard her speak in an interview where she admitted that she vehemently wishes to see this ruling overturned. We can expect to see her taking some very bold steps in that direction. But you would degrade me based upon what this one article says? I who have, until this moment, said nothing?

The "news article" also reports that Newdow's case was based on his claim "that the girl was 'injured' by being forced to listen to others recite the pledge." This is not true, either. Had you read the case (rather than the Evangelical Christians' anti-American agit-prop web sites), then you would know that Newdow did, indeed, express this opinion. However, the basis of his case, according to the court papers that were filed by the plaintiff (Newdow), is that the father's authority as a father is being usurped by the school system, and that this authority is being usurped in a way that case after case after case has ruled is illegal: it is highly illegal for public schools to teach religion to minors and it is dangerously illegal for anybody to usurp a parent's wishes regarding the religious education of his or her child.

Newdow's "standing," that is, his right to sue, goes along these lines (this is my summary): In his household, Newdow raises his child in a specific religious tradition, which he calls atheism. Legally, atheism is an opinion about religion and is thus a religious tradition under law. Atheism has a long and very colorful cultural history behind it. Newdow guides his daughter using an ethical system which is much more complex than simple atheism (the lack of a god-belief) but which is atheistic nonetheless. This ethical system, according to the court, is part of a broader religious opinion, that is, an opinion about religion, and therefore legally constitutes a religious tradition.

From what I can gather, Newdow's ethical system is a system which (1) suspects organized religion to be based in falsehood and propagated by means of wilful deception; (2) sees organized religion as being a vicious and degrading form of exploitation; (3) respects and obeys the law of the land as the highest known organized ethical system; (4) disdains such social crimes as bigotry. Newdow sees his teachings and others undermined (and, in a complex and twisted way, reinforced) each time the school requires the girl to watch her fellow-students recite a pledge that was illegally altered during the height of the McCarthy Era! The Pledge was altered specifically for the purpose of sending a bigoted, antiatheist message to the Soviet Union. The Pledge was altered so as to send a chilling message to the many United States citizens who would dare be in collusion with this enemy by rejecting the Christian religion, which Senator McCarthy and his thugs had mistakenly thought to have become America's state religion.

This isn't the only change the Pledge has undergone. Until the Second World War, the Pledge started with a "Heil Hitler!"-like salute with the hand thrust up into the air! Can you imagine!? In the same way that many of our country's Christian parents do not remember the authorities adding "under God" (the school I went to started in about 1960), insisting that it's always been there, many of our nation's Christian grandparents have conveniently forgotten the "Heil Hitler!"-like hand salutes!

But the bottom line is not what Newdow thinks, but what the court rules. In the Newdow case, the court has ruled in part (c) "Standing,"

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

"Newdow has standing as a parent to challenge a practice that interferes with his right to direct the religious education of his daughter. 'Parents have a right to direct the religious upbringing of their children and, on that basis, have standing to protect their right.' (Doe v. Madison School District No. 321, ... 9th Circuit. 1999.)"

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

This "article" (or journalistic agitprop or whatever it is) has carefully misrepresented a number of facts about this case. We're not talking a few mistakes here and there, neither are we dealing with a patently unskilled writer whose track record for error is unusually high for a still-employed journalist. All of the errors I have noted are errors that "go in a certain direction," for lack of a better way to describe what most would chalk up as "bias" but which I'm saying is not that simple. I cannot but conclude that this piece was deliberately written the way it was for the purpose of leading the reader to certain, specific conclusions about the nature and future of this case.

The fact that a piece of writing could be so wildly wrong about the case shows only that it was not written for the purpose of finding and disseminating truth.

One guess would be to calm down the millions who have followed the cue of the United States Congress in having one hell of a collective conniption fit over what most atheists who even care about it consider a rather trivial matter: what I have dubbed the "Pledge Hiccup" and what I have previously called "The Little Lie" (as opposed to "The Big Lie," which was inscribed onto our currency about the same time "The Little Lie" was inserted into our Pledge).

If the work turns out to be an Associated Press piece or Time or even USAToday ("America's New_pap__"), I could see the "soothe the angry beasts" angle. However, this one was written, instead, for the purpose of propagandizing a specific ideology. But you would fire off a bigoted, lying, slandering, spite-filled letter to somebody you don't even know, based solely upon what is said in this -- thing -- that may or may not be a bona fide news article (we don't know, because it does not include any identification whatsoever in it).

If the mother wants to try to raise the kid with Christian values, fine, but she is not the only parent. The father wishes that she be raised being exposed to the above-mentioned values.

We'll see, because nothing has happened yet except that one loudmouth with long history of speaking falsehood to the point where he long ago became an embarrassment to those whom he ought to have retained as allies.

And they want me to "repent" which means to join the Christian religion. However, I am way too moral for the god of the Bible, and could never live with myself if I were to lower my standard of ethical behavior to even the very best required by that ogre (as if obedience is morality, it isn't!).

Short Graphic Rule

1. The mother's pastor, Chuck Smith goaded her into this. She is stuck: he has already committed her to it by gleefully announcing his intentions to the world.

Ah! All this so that people can continue to violate the law of the land, flaunting the fact that Christianity still is and always has been a religion of lawlessness; squashing the very life out of the Liberties of their fellow citizens; putting yet another nail into the coffin of the only system of Religious Liberty that has even come close to working (as long as you work it).

Short Graphic Rule

2. Fortunately for The Good Reverend, he is not the one who has to serve prison time if the mother is caught manipulating testimony into the mouth of the daughter, which Newdow told several of us is the only way they'll get his daughter to say what they need for her to say.

Ah! All this so that some Christians can suggest to the world that all Christians are as greedy and dishonest as the Rev. Smith.

Short Graphic Rule

3. We at Positive Atheism Magazine are pleased to report that the reaction against this ruling has accomplished two things that opponents of the ruling never counted on:

First, the wild, radical nature of the reaction proves beyond the shadow of any doubt that the words "under God" are not simply ceremonial and ornamental, as claimed by the proponents of this clear act of lawlessness; rather, the tirades we have witnessed over the past few weeks (including your letter demanding to an uninvolved individual to "Repent") will make it a simple matter that the words "under God" are not only religious but are highly sacred -- so sacred, in fact, that they ought not be tarnished by being placed into a simple patriotic exercise. The words "under God" deserve much more, based upon the radical, even violent reaction against this ruling. Likewise, the Pledge of Allegiance deserves more than to be dragged into the controversial position of being mingled with such a sacred pronunciation.

Secondly, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought about a steady and unrelenting stream of abjectly bigoted antiatheistic sentiments from numerous individuals, groups, organs, organizations, religious leaders, political leaders, widely respected social critics and commercial enterprises. This behavior provoked an immediate backlash on the part of just-plain atheists who just one year ago would never have dreamed that today they'd all be part-time or full-time activists. Furthermore, every step of the way, these activists watch their work come to almost immediate fruition, with hundreds of apologies now recorded from the perpetrators of these antiatheistic sentiments.

These activists are to be commended for numerous reasons, but the most important one that we see is that while antibigotry activism has been with us for generations, now, and literally exploded into a social revolution in the 1960s, changing every element of society with the one exception of fundamentalist Christianity, there is no precedent whatsoever for the struggle against antiatheist bigotry. This work has no parallel in that absolutely none of the resources that made the big difference in all the other struggles are available to any degree at all to the atheist communities. For example, the Civil Rights movement of 1950s and '60s would not have worked as easily as it did with the conduits of communication inherent in religious affiliation. If we make it, we will have done it in a way that is entirely unprecedented.

Short Graphic Rule

Although we do respond to requests that we express our opinion on various matters, and although we do entertain challenges to those opinions on all but a few subjects (such as lists after list of sayings falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington which allege to "prove" that they were pious Evangelical Christians who believed in much the same way as is taught in the megachurches that have now gone so far as, in one case, installing its own McDonalds Restaurant in the church for the convenience of their martyred congregants), this is not what we do, here.

What we do here is struggle for the Liberties and dignity of those humans who have yet to discover a valid reason for believing the claims of the various religious groups and their salaried hucksters. All we want is to live on our own terms, which are not unusual and which is not too much to ask. Positive Atheism's main point is to work along these lines. If we state opinions regarding such inanities as the Newdow decision, fine. That, however, is not why we're here.

Once again: you do well to read a journal's position before launching into tirades that may just get published in such a context as to further tarnish your own credibility rather than effect your original goal, which was obviously to tarnish our credibility. Since you refused to sign your letter, thereby taking full responsibility for your words and actions, we have no choice but to call these the words of "a Christian."

In other words, Nyaah!

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Seven years of service to people
    with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.