An Atheist Fantasy

We’ve been arguing politics pretty much every week over at Another Goddamned Podcast, sometimes to our own consternation, but generally in an agreeable way, at least according to our one listener (I know. That joke’s getting old, not to mention a bit of an insult to our other listener). In particular, we’ve been sniping at the candidates, especially the three still left in the race, primarily because they pay far too much lip service to their Christian constituents, but ignore the secular side of the electorate, including atheists and those believers who feel that one of the things that makes this country great is the Constitutional proscription against the commingling of matters of church and state. They all seem to feel the necessity of having advisers on spiritual matters, as if they were running for Pope, or Dalai Lama, or some other non-terrestrial position.

Someone needs to tell them that it really isn’t necessary to have any religious background or knowledge in order to run this country. We don’t have to pray to get those nuclear reactors to run without melting down, we don’t have to sprinkle holy water over the federal bureaucracy to make it more efficient, and we certainly don’t need to offer up animal sacrifices to the surplus and deficit gods. Taxes come from our wallets, not heaven. It’s not a theocracy, stupid.

So I’m somewhat heartened to see an opinion piece recently printed in the Arizona Star that I would never see in my local paper (which has a weekly religion insert with wonderful articles about which pastor is moving to which church, but nary an article about free thinkers). It was written by a doctor who was discouraged to see that not one of the current candidates accepted an invitation to speak at the 34th annual National Conference of American Atheists being held in Minneapolis this weekend. Since they didn’t, he took the initiative to write a “fantasy” speech, one he would have liked to have heard spoken there. I’ll reproduce a teaser for you.

“Let me assure all secularists of my position on some important issues:

“I will support the separation of church and state. I interpret the First Amendment as guaranteeing our citizens not only freedom of religion but freedom from religion. This policy is protective and fair for theists and atheists. It allows us all the freedom of choice to follow our personal beliefs in whatever direction they may go.

“I will listen to and consider everyone’s views on public policy. But let me assure you that science, not religious ideology, will guide all policies related to social services, health care, the environment, education and cultural diversity.

“In my administration, women, gays, non-believers and other minority Americans will be treated with equality, dignity and respect.

“I will review the current guidelines and even the very concept of ‘faith-based initiatives.’ Many of you have raised valid concerns about their activities.

“I will dispense with the National Day of Prayer and the National Prayer Breakfast since I cannot justify their constitutionality. Prayer is a private not a public matter.

Wouldn’t it be nice to actually hear a candidate talk about real issues, rather than what he thinks his potential constituents believe in? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a candidate invoke the words of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison or even Alexander Hamilton, rather than God, or our Creator, or some mythical character from the Bible? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a candidate speak about a statute that needs revision, rather than one of the ten commandments? Wouldn’t it be nice if a candidate thought, and admitted, that it wasn’t necessary to invoke the name of a supernatural, non-existent entity whenever we tender payment for purchased goods, or face the US flag and pledge our allegiance to this otherwise great country?

An atheist can hope and dream, can’t he?

[EDIT: I’m adding this to the Blog Against Theocracy occurring this Easter weekend.

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17 thoughts on “An Atheist Fantasy

  1. How incredibly short-sighted and dim-witted. I’m not at all surprised that they declined the invitations but I am very disappointed. If nothing else, someone on their staffs should have figured out that candidates should take all possible opportunities to speak to every possible constituent – you know, the people who will be pulling levers, touching screens and hanging chads in a few months. Do it for political expediency at the very least. They obviously haven’t got a clue that a) there are millions of atheists in this country, b) there are millions of people who adhere to other, non-Christian faiths in this county, and c) fundogelicals don’t represent all of the available Christian votes.

  2. correction to b) millions of non-Christians in this country, not county. Sorry. 😦

  3. An atheist can hope and dream, can’t he?
    Just as long as he doesn’t pray.

    They all seem to feel the necessity of having advisers on spiritual matters, as if they were running for Pope, or Dalai Lama, or some other non-terrestrial position.
    I know what you meant here, but I’d like to point out that the papacy and the Dalai lamaship (lamatude?) are terrestrial positions. And positions of great power, I might add.

    Shapiro would like to see a candidate say: “I will support the separation of church and state.” Me, too.

    This is a long-established Constitutional principle in America. Isn’t it sad that we need to ask presidential candidates — more than 200 years after the First Amendment was ratified — to champion it? The life-affirming Bill of Rights should be far more important than the morticentric (new word) bible to anyone running for public office.

  4. Here’s a real quote that may be of interest, from a surprising source:

    “No president should ever try to impose religion on our society…..the great tradition of America is one where people can worship the way they want to worship. And if they choose not to worship, they’re just as patriotic as your neighbor. That is an essential part of why we are a great nation.”

    George W. Bush

    Source:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/11/20041104-5.html

    It’s about a third of the way down the text, in response to the question from “Terry”. I don’t support Bush at all, but he does deserve credit for this.

  5. “An atheist can hope and dream, can’t he?”

    No. While you’re hoping and dreaming the religious freaks will sneak up behind you and shank you.

    As for the George Bush quote, that’s a big so what? The man lies and deceives every time he opens his mouth. This quote has no more meaning in the real world than anything he’s said about Iraq. He has fed untold millions of dollars to faith organizations, tax dollars, requiring little or no accountability from them, and not requiring them to follow the laws on discrimination. The quote is bullshit public relations. He has made a career in the White House of forcing religious ideology on every branch of the government. He deserves no credit. He deserves a trial and a trip to the gallows.

  6. I agree with Ric. Credit for what, lying? If anything, it discredits him further because before we could just say he’s an ignorant ass. NOW he’s shown that he actually does know what the correct answer is, yet chooses to disregard it. That’s a move from amoral to immoral.

    Us 11% or more need to somehow be presented as a voting block, or else candidates will never attend such a convention or even acknowledge us in a speech.

  7. I couldn’t stand letting that asshat reply at that link SI go unchallenged so I replied. I think it’s VERY IMPORTANT to try and do that wherever and whenever you see such crap. Asshattery can not be allowed to go unchallenged.

  8. Chappie

    “Fundogelicals”. I love it. I’m stealing it. Along with Ex’s “morticentric”

    Ex

    Damn you for picking out my bad metaphors. I agonized over that line more than any other in the post, modified it, deleted it, re-inserted it, revised it, and I still knew it didn’t work, but WTF, I left it in anyway, because it still made the point.

    Infidel

    I seriously think they have Bush on some meds. Did you see the little jig he did for the cameras the other day? He’s too happy, given the state of the world. I suspect Prozac and vodka.

    Ric

    Absolutely. He gets no credit for saying things, only for action, of which there has been a dearth of anything remotely resembling admirable.

    Philly

    I left a comment after yours. I also clicked all the appropriate thumbs up and thumbs down. That commenter is in the deep negative, and not just from you and me, but everyone else that has left comments. That’s reassuring in McCain’s state.

  9. “Fundogelicals”. I love it. I’m stealing it.

    Help yourself. I stole it from Ric. 🙂

  10. SI –

    Fundogelicals is my construction. Chappie rented it from me.

    Chappie –

    You’re behind in your rent.

    Philly –

    What link?

  11. Philly & SI: good comments at the AZ Star article. It didn’t take very long (what 6 or 7 comments in?) for someone to sing the old “elitist militant atheists” tune. Great smack down, Philly.

  12. Unfortunately, this will remain a fantasy. I’ve seen too much in my 40+ years to have any hope that the United States will ever move AWAY from the religious and towards the secular. We Atheists are a tiny minority that is disliked by every religion.

    more at my blog…

  13. Us 11% or more need to somehow be presented as a voting block, or else candidates will never attend such a convention or even acknowledge us in a speech.

    I’m all with you there. The trick is making it happen. Where do we start?

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