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.