Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rant over new legislation

American Christian Conservatives

I am an Atheist. I am from Southeast Alabama, born and raised. I was brought up as a Christian. I have attended Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and other denominations over the course of my life. I have read the Bible more than once. I have also read many other religious texts in my journey to find truth in this world. I have arrived at Atheism as the best answer available to me.

I would like you to look at our history as a Nation. Our founding principles and our ever evolving societal norms. When our Nation was founded  slavery was the norm. It was so normal that slaves were given a 3/5th’weight as a human. This was fully supported by Christianity in most of it’s forms at the time. Women were not considered citizens, and this was also completely acceptable in a Christian moral view.

Over the course of our history we have always had a majority of citizens that identified themselves as Christian. We have also witnessed these different sects fight over what was and was not acceptable as interpretations of the Biblical Truth. Slowly, we have moved from a strict and literal interpretation to a more open and progressive interpretation. Slavery is now considered unacceptable and women have been moved higher (although still second class) in our society. Justifications have been made, and then dashed using the Bible. It is able to be interpreted in many different ways depending on who the reader is and what portions of the Bible they are referring to. The Old Testament is all fire and Brimstone, death and rape, murder and slavery. Jesus brings a new outlook of compassion and acceptance and equanimity.

Yet, there are those among the Christian Conservatives who refuse to accept these progressive ideas. They still agree that slavery is wrong, and that women should have a greater role, but now they see Homosexuality as the great fight that Christianity must stand against. And they use the same justifications and interpretations to prop up their argument for discrimination. It is a sad repetition  of their past mistakes.

We also have those that demand State sanctioned prayer. Those that fight for monuments of their faith to be given exclusive rights to occupy our houses of governance. We have those that use their faith as a weapon to bash in the reproductive rights of women. Those who see their faith as more valid than the civil rights of those they disagree with.  I would like you to think long and hard about the consequences of this privileged view of yourselves.

Before 1955 there was no “In God We Trust” on our currency, or in our motto. We were formed under the banner of  “E Pluribus Unum” One From Many.   This is the thing you do not seem to understand about our great Nation. Our differences are what define us, not our likenesses. We are over 80 percent Christian, but we are not a Christian Nation. We are descendants of all the World. The Christians that came here, came here to remove themselves from the religious oppression of others.  There is a reason that the Constitution has no mention of Religion other than to preclude it as a necessity or preference to hold office. Religion is of the people, not of the State. You can live and worship as you see fit, but the Government cannot help or hinder your efforts. 

My State has a new proposal for governmental issuance of religious decrees. They believe that each morning, every child in public school should receive a word for word recitation of whatever prayers are uttered in the Congress. It is being sold as a civics lesson. I would prefer a civics lesson that included the rulings of our courts clearly defining the limits of school prayer. Students are completely capable of praying in school anytime they see fit. The limitation occurs when a representative of the school (State) tries to lead the class in religious practices. This also gives the Government the power to show preference to certain religions over others.

The exciting new argument is one of religious freedom extending to being able to refuse service to anyone who violates your religious convictions.  This is a terrifying prospect when it is codified to grant specific, special rights based on the religious beliefs of a person.  Remember those guys that all went to meet the Comet? Remember Jim Jones? And it gets worse here, we have a proposed law that would allow medical professionals to deny service based on their faiths.  Special, Specific powers and protections afforded only to religious persons.  This opens the door to so many contradictory beliefs and demands that it would become impossible for us to function as a society.  Who defines what is a valid protestation of faith, and what is simple a justification for anything? Will a religion that demands violence be allowed to be violent if their faiths says that they must?  Will we all have to pray to certain gods at certain times or face criminal sanctions? Will we have to wear all of our thoughts and feelings on a sign around our necks to make sure we are following the religious convictions of everyone around us?

Society is an agreement to all try and work together for the betterment of everyone involved. We use Government (Representative Republic) to give us a Secular point to maintain the agreement for everyone.  The Constitution was fashioned to give a framework to build upon. It is flexible and malleable and alive.  We cannot allow any group to grant themselves special powers or protections.

If you don’t like Gay Marriage, don’t get Gay Married.  If you don’t like abortions, educate children about sexuality, provide cheap contraception, advocate for your beliefs, don’t have one. If you want a monument to the Ten Commandments, build one on your property with your money. You want to have state prayers read at your children every morning? Move to some of the more theocratic Islamic Nations.  We are all Americans. We are every type of person there are. If your faith is so shaken by having to live with people different than you, perhaps you should seek a new faith or pray for direction.  And if you want your church to decide the policies of our Government, you are going to have to pay taxes like everyone else.