An Atheist Speaks Up in Support of Religion
With National Prayer Day so recently behind us, I wanted to write about an issue that has weighed heavily on me recently: how an atheist can fit into a Judeo-Christian society, and particularly into a conservative political movement where religion still plays a heavy role.
Recently, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, claiming that the government “may not endorse prayer in a statute.” Why? Because it violates the establishment clause of the first amendment, which guarantees a separation of church and state. Never mind the statute doesn’t specify any particular type of prayer, nor does it endorse one religion over another. Nor does it attempt to force anyone to pray. It simply calls for the President of the US to issue a proclamation before the first Thursday in May, asking Americans to pray on that day. It’s completely ecumenical.
Liberals, and most specifically liberal atheists and agnostics, have run amok with the idea of “separation of church and state.” But those words don’t appear in the first amendment. In fact, the establishment clause reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
Which is immediately followed by the free exercise clause:
“… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
The phrase “separation of church and state” is typically credited to Thomas Jefferson, who used it in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists. The idea was that the federal government couldn’t form a state church, nor could they force citizens to practice one particular religion.
And yet, it seems that American society is increasingly redefining the religious clauses of the first amendment to remove any mention of God from classrooms, courtrooms and any place where the footprint of government can be felt.
This is ridiculous.
While I practice no religion and, in fact, do not believe in God at all, I can’t ignore the impact Judeo-Christian values have had in my life. In fact, the founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence of “Nature and Nature’s God.”
According to a recent Glenn Beck episode, over 65% of Americans identify as Christians. Why, then, this push to remove all mention of religion from the public arena? Our laws are based on biblical teachings and Christian and Deist philosophies. Why can’t we acknowledge that?
As an atheist, I certainly don’t want to be forced to worship a God in whom I don’t believe. So I can understand the frustration people of faith feel when they are forced to keep their beliefs “in the closet.”
Where will this separation end? We already can’t teach creationism, or religious history in public schools, even though it forms the bedrock upon which our laws and our system of government is based. While I don’t feel creationism has a place in science classroom, I can’t find a reason we can’t teach it in schools at all. After all, it’s not a Methodist doctrine, or a Lutheran one. It isn’t specific to any particular church.
We’ve removed displays of the 10 Commandments from public buildings, where they at least served as historic reminders of what we once believed. How far will this lunacy go?
Here’s a clue: A nursing home in Georgia recently forbid its residents from praying before meals, as those meals were federally funded. We’re not talking about an organized prayer, but a personal expression of faith. Fortunately, after inquiries and complains, that decision was overturned. But it’s scary how far “separation of church and state” has come.
I don’t believe in God, but I definitely believe in faith. To say otherwise would be tantamount to saying, “I don’t believe in God and neither do you.” And yet, liberals would like to divorce people from practicing their faith. Why? Because faith in God is linked to conservatism, and by removing that faith, by undermining the passing-on of religious and moral values, liberals see a means by which conservatism can be stifled, if not outright killed.
Every time a school tries to institute the Pledge of Allegiance (“…one nation, under God…”), some idiot atheist complains it’s offensive for his or her child to have to say the word God. I can’t understand that about modern atheism. What’s so dangerous about a word, if that’s all it is to you?
I know people who get freaked out if someone prays for them. If you don’t believe in God, then certainly having a prayer said in your name can have no effect on you whatsoever, neither good nor bad, so what’s the problem? What is there to be afraid of?
I often visit religious friends. When in their home, I take part in their religious observations, because to do otherwise would be rude and insulting. It’s not always about me, after all.
We can’t lose track of our history, and the free exercise of religion has been a big part of that history. And it continues to be an important part of daily life for a majority of Americans. I don’t care how “stupid” or “anachronistic” anyone considers the belief in God to be. God is part of our national dialogue, real or not, and to suppress that belief is as un-American as anything I can think of.
So, on National Prayer Day, when a Christian friend said she would pray for me, I said “thank you.” And I meant it. And so should you.