The National Obsession With God
SisterT

From: "SisterT"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Hi
Date: September 17, 2001 11:30 AM

Thanks for being there!!!!!!

This national obsession with god pisses me off.

Teresa Shouvlin
Cincinnati Ohio

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "SisterT"
Subject: Re: Hi
Date: September 17, 2001 9:54 PM

I appreciate your concerns and will post your comments. You are definitely not alone in your views.
 

I would like to use this opportunity to clarify our position on one point.

We are urging the acceptance of people who feel they need to turn to faith for solace. If it works for some, fine. I'm sure many were not in full agreement with my decision to sip on a Guinness on the 11th of September.

Positive Atheism has never indiscriminately or gratuitously criticized religion itself, reserving our comments for those expressions of religion that are intrusive, exploitative, or dangerous.

We recognize that many Americans will probably find their faith to be inadequate at explaining or even comforting them in this tragic and frightening time. We suspect that many will end up jettisoning their religion over the next several months or years. Still, we understand and recognize that theists have (or think they have) valid reasons for believing the way they do. Thus we will always trust humans to make their own decisions regarding their own lives.

What we do object to (and vocally so) is the blatant religiosity on the part of our President. We think he is knowingly and deliberately exploiting this tragedy for the purpose of furthering his own religious views and those of his political allies. We think he does this to the detriment of our country and we denounce him for it.

Had President Bush actually sought to "unify the American people" in the wake of this atrocious crime, he would not have limited his official ceremony of mourning to those who practice and give credibility to the religious rite of prayer.

We lay the responsibility for much of the anti-Arab bigotry we are hearing about directly at his feet. He could have softened or even averted this through a few simple changes in how he has handled this affair, but furthering his religious agenda has taken precedence over the welfare of the nation ever since he started running for office.

Furthermore, we agree with Thomas Jefferson who asserted that to call a National Day of Prayer is not a power or authority granted to the President by his job description: the Constitution of his country:

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I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises, it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.
    -- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808

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Jefferson said this in response to a request that he establish a "National Day of Prayer & Fasting." (Actually, this was in direct response to Rev. Miller's letter supporting Jefferson' decision not to proclaim or even recommend such an event.)

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

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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.