Religious equality

18 Aug

It is a common misconception that Atheists want to eradicate religion from the United States. All we really want is religious equality.What’s that? Well, we just want the government to treat those without faith with the same respect and dignity that it treats others. We don’t want people getting special privileges that are denied to us, simply because they say they believe in a god(s).

Luckily for us, the First Amendment of the constitution states that the government should be neutral in the “establishment clause”.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

In other words, the government can’t favor one belief over another, and it can’t pass laws that mess with your right to practice your religion.

Take a look at this sign:

Do you recognize it? If you don’t, it was a sign erected in the Washington state capitol last christmas. Why was this sign placed there? Well, Washington state officials in the capitol had allowed a nativity scene to be placed in the building. In order to be equal and follow the constitution, they then had to allow Atheists to put up their sign on government property. All or none. If you’re going to allow one group to put up a sign on public property, you must allow all, thereby not giving a government endorsement of any one group. (Unfortunately, some people were not happy with the inclusion of Atheists and protested. One person even went so far as to steal the sign and throw it in a ditch. Thou shalt not steal?)

As you can imagine, after letting one group put a sign, then another, and another, the capitol building became littered with them. The “all or none” doctrine works great for keeping everything fair and in line with the constitution, but allowing all clogs up space. The best way to archive religious equality is to allow none. This way Atheists couldn’t put a sign, and nor could the religious. People would still be free to put as many signs as they want on their private property, but when it comes to public property that people of all faiths must share, it’s better just not to go there.

While Washington state is a good example of government abiding to the constitution, there are many other places where government blatantly ignores it. If you pull out your wallet and find any piece of money, you’ll find the words “In God We Trust” written on them.

Atheists (and some christians) are fighting to get this phrase taken off of the money and out of the pledge. Some people try and rationalize the phrase by saying “Well, it doesn’t mean the christian God, it means any god.” While this might sound ok, further examination will show you that this is not so. There is a big difference between “God”, “god”, “gods”, “goddess” and “goddesses”. “God” capitalized (like it is on the pledge) refers to a proper noun, in this case the  singular male Jedeo-Christian god. “god” can mean any singular male god, “gods” multiple male gods, and so on. There are only a few religions that have a singular male god, there are others that have a female goddess, others that have multiples of both, some people have none of the above.

Since there isn’t enough room on the money/in the pledge to give Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Athiests, Animists, Shintos, ect, a spot, the best thing the government can do is to just not go there and take it off.

Atheists aren’t trying to dictate what you can do on your private property. There you are protected by the constitution to say whatever you like. On public property, however, the constitution protects the rest of us from the government excluding one group while allowing another. That’s all we’re aiming for, religious equality.


7 Responses to “Religious equality”

  1. mcoville August 19, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    If Atheists admit that Atheism is a religion then you deserve the freedom to practice your religion.

    And to educate you a little. The first admendment says that the government can not “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, and since my tax dollars pay for the upkeep of government buildings I should be allowed to decorate it in the traditions of the national holiday. If you want to add your religious displays along side it I have no problem with that as long as it does not disrespect the other displays.

    We can all “coexist” on earth, its the after life that will separate us.

  2. godlesspaladin August 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Oh well aren’t you sweet. The little “trick” lies in how you interpret disrespect. You might interpret the vary views I have as disrespectful to your belief. On the other hand, I can equally be offended by your views and feel they are disrespectful of mine. What if you’re offended by my sign and I’m offended by your nativity scene? Would it not be best to just avoid it all together?

  3. mcoville August 19, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Let me say that I had no problem with the sign that was posted, I had an issue with the timing of it but I would not ask to keep it out.

    But if we follow your logic of “Would it not be best to just avoid it all together?”, I feel the teaching of evolution as it is presently done in government schools is a little “tricky” and I sympathize with Darwinists disapproval of creationism… so lets avoid it all together and teach neither? Of course I am not advocating that idea, but that is what your logic would have to agree with.

    Let’s use uncommon sense when posting holiday displays and that will allow all religions to be exercises freely, as intended by the constitution.

    I would like to ask you one question, do you consider atheism a valid religion that is protected by the first amendment?

  4. godlesspaladin August 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Evolution, unlike religion, is a demonstrable scientific fact. The rest of the world realized this about 100 years ago and have moved on. It’s not a fair comparison.

    And I like your trick. Try and get me to say either Atheism is a religion (which it’s a religion as much as not collecting stamps is a hobby) and if I say it isn’t (which I do) then according to you that means it is not protected by the first Amendment.

    Well no, Atheism is not a religion. You can be an Atheist and belong to other religions. Buddhism for example. Atheists are, however, protected from being forced to be a certain religion by the first amendment. Signs like the above would also be protected under the freedom of speech, as would religious signs. Yet the government could not deny one group to put a sign on government property and allow another. That would be an endorsement of the allowed group and not the banned group.

  5. mcoville August 20, 2009 at 6:29 am #

    Then call it what it is, an exercise of the freedom of speech. The people that put the sign up argued from the freedom of religion argument. I embrace both freedoms and have served our country to ensure you can practice both. I also served to ensure I can practice both.

    There are scientists that would disagree with your assertion that evolution as it is being taught is a “demonstrable scientific fact”, but that leads us to the micro vs macro evolution discussion which is off topic for this post.

    But the point I was making was that if something is tricky that does not mean we avoid it by denying both sides. Doing that would unfairly favor one side over the other in the case of religious displays, seeings as how the lack of religion is what atheists hold to.

    So I say continue to let all religions display appropriate holiday displays on public property and if atheists feel they are being left out unless they get a sign, then let them have one. Rational people can ignore irrational signs and then we can go on enjoying the gifts of our God and celebrate Him during the holiday in question. THAT is the American Way.

  6. godlesspaladin August 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Ok, that I can agree to. And secondly, all arguments aside, I want to say thank you for your service. Even though we may really disagree on things, I really respect you for your service defending my rights. I really do appreciate it. Thank you.

  7. James August 24, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    Atheism is not and cannot be claimed to be a religion I’m afraid, for the ideology has no creed like a religion does. Atheism does not deal in preconceived certitudes, but rather in science and in reason.

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