Friday, April 23, 2004

religious fever strikes the blogosphere

Apparently, we are now on a religion kick in the blogosphere. Good, it’ll distract me from my every-time-I-do-a-show nervous breakdown that happens.

Let me preface this by saying that I am an atheist, and that I used to be a very devout Christian with a Jewish mother, whose Judaism has been extremely influence to me culturally.

To add a few cents:

Simply put, I don’t really think religious people realize how hostile this country is to people who don’t believe in god. In the 1950’s, Congress passed a series of laws inserting “under god” into the pledge of allegiance and changing our national motto from “e pluribus unum” to “in god we trust”. This was done specifically to separate us in the US from the “godless communists” and I guess that means those of us who don’t believe in god don’t belong in the country. After all, we can’t swear an oath, we can’t publicly and honestly recite our dedication to the country, and our very currency calls our beliefs illegitimate. After September 11, we were all told to go to our temple, mosque or church to find community. I guess that means the 8% of us who don’t believe in god don’t have communities. Oh wait, I suppose we could shop, right?

Furthermore, I think it’s pretty easy to make a prima facie case that organized religion has a pernicious and conspiratorial influence on government, pushing government towards hostile, racist, retrograde policy that is ripping the country to tatters. Take, for example, what happened in Michigan this week. At the urging of the Catholic Church, the Michigan state legislature made it okay for doctors to refuse treating patients who they find morally questionable. That’s not particularly in line with Jesus’ teachings or the Hippocratic Oath last time I checked.

And then there’s the Catholic Church’s attempts to deny holy communion to politicians who are pro-choice. A fundamentally anti-Christian activity if ever I head of one.

I also think that there is a big difference between the organizations themselves and their members. There are many people (my father comes to mind) whose Christianity leads them to a more tolerant, progressive, loving, generous worldview.

So what is to be done? I think we need to remove religion’s stranglehold on government to start. Or rather (sorry, Christians) Christianity’s stranglehold on government. Under God in the pledge is unconstitutional, as is “in god we trust” on money, as is opening proceedings with a prayer, as is funding for faith based initiatives as are exemptions those organizations can get to discriminate against people. Government needs to be religion blind.

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