Response To The
'Faith-Based' Bush Thing
Dubya is fond of screeching (for appreciative hordes of Bible-thumpers) "Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion!" One of the scariest things about this message is that it was so popular among the yahoos that Al Gore felt forced to parrot it. Though it distresses me greatly to disagree with so deep a thinker as our President, here I must depart. Specifically, any "freedom of" that does not include the option of "freedom from" is meaningless.
Suppose we grant the proposition that we can have "freedom of" and deny "freedom from." This means that I may choose any religion I like, but I must choose one. Atheism is not an option. My own conviction must be denied, because mine did not make the approved list of professed beliefs.
But it's even worse than that. Suppose they say, well, since you believe as you do, we'll have an Atheist faith just for you and your like-minded fellows. Fine, you say? Umm... no. Look at why I am an atheist. I am an atheist because belief is a non-starter in my epistemology. In other words, I don't take it on faith that there is no god, I have arrived at this conclusion logically. Logic, not belief or faith, is the only way to wedge something into this brain of mine.
Now, what "faith-based" institution can I support in any way whatsoever? None at all. But in the repeal of the Enlightenment that Dubya clearly intends, I will have to support one. Even if they go ahead and create a special one for the despised atheists, it will still run contrary to my own mental principles. So where's my "freedom of religion?" It's about to be legislated out of existence.
And why should you care? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, we atheists are just the easiest target. Look at the public opinion polls that have been taken about people's acceptance of those with different religious beliefs. To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, the Protestants accept the Catholics, the Catholics accept the Protestants, the Hindus accept the Muslims, the Jews have to put up with just about all the others, but everybody hates the atheists. It's so easy! Listen to the political rhetoric used to describe our few remaining enemies. It invariably still includes the word "godless." Ahem! I, a United States citizen in good standing, am proudly counted among the ranks of the "godless." Heck, they even let me vote this year, and since I live in NY, they even counted it. Guess that was one of the last times that would happen, huh?
Well, once the atheists are excluded, the narrowing of the focus will continue. First, the assorted new-age and tiny minority religions (Wicca, Satanism, Santeria, Rasta...). Then the pantheistic ones (Native American, African, more). The Bill of Rights tried to give the minority of us the protections from the majority that we would never have any other way. But it won't take long for this to become a quaint memory of a failed social experiment, like the 1960s' "open schools." And the majority in this country have either sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior or at least would not object if you so characterized them. To me one of the saddest (and most maddening) sights I have ever seen was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi stating from his pulpit that the Jews of America should "link arms with the Moral Majority." Hey, at least the Nazis used force. Because that's where it's going with GWB. Get Christian or get out!
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