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.