Monday, December 10, 2007

Atheists of America Unite!

Digby has a post up in which she looks at what progressives can do to reach out to evangelicals without compromising the First Amendment. This got me thinking about why for may religious people the non-establishment clause gives them such a headache.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The founding fathers saw this a means of protecting religious liberty. Today, particularly on the right, it is seen as promoting religious discrimination. Why is that? I mean other than the fact that the Big Money Boys in the GOP like to stir up the rubes. I guess it would be better to ask, what allows them to use religion stir up the rubes?

My guess is that if everyone in the US were religious, then there would be no problem. John wants to put up a Creche on the city hall steps and Abe would like to see a Menorah there. Neither gets what they want. They aren't happy about that, but they see it as fair since each was treated equally.

However, not everyone in the US is religious. We atheists and agnostics are gumming things up by our very existence. By the first amendment, the government is religiously neutral or more to the point has no religion. This means that John and Abe are still unhappy because each failed to get what they wanted, but they no longer see it as fair because the atheist Tom got exactly what he wanted: no religious display at city hall.

Here is my suggestion for solving this problem. Tom's got to get off his lazy ass and start to demand that the government affirmatively deny the existence of god. John and Abe will join forces to bring a First Amendment suit against Tom denying him what he wants. When they win, they will once again see how fair the system is, since once again no one has gotten what they wanted.

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