Monday, November 16, 2009

In Allah We Trust

You have to wonder what is wrong in Washington DC if 41 neoconservative members of the Republican Party are taking time out of their schedules to sign onto an amicus brief filed by the rightwing American Center for Law and Justice (as long as you are a white Christian) that opposes a Freedom From Religion Foundation lawsuit filed recently by the organization of the same name.

The Foundation, a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization representing atheists and agnostics, collectively referred to a “non-theists,” has objected to the inclusion of an engraving of the words “In God We Trust” into the wall of the newly constructed Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC.

This watchdog group actively monitors attempts to inject religious doctrine into our secular institutions. Their main objection in this case was that the engraving will do this:
“‘…give actual and apparent government endorsement and advancement of religion,’ while excluding nonreligious Americans. ‘[T]he mandated language diminishes nonbelievers by making god-belief synonymous with citizenship,’ the foundation says.”
The 41 GOP congressmen, led by a certifiably loony Michelle Bachman as well as Minority Leader John Boehner oppose this groups opposition. Their reasoning goes like this:

“These expressions simply echo the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence and recognize the undeniable truth that our freedoms come from a source higher than the state…. While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life in order to suit atheistic sensibilities.”
Well, I can get behind part of that at least. But in actuality, the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence goes something like this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Get that? Not “God.” “their Creator.”

Jefferson, who wrote the document was not a Christian. He was a Deist.

Indeed, Jefferson, in a letter to Ezra Stiles, wrote of his religion “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”

So let’s not hide behind Jefferson’s letter to George III, OK?

But I also have a bone to pick with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Really, it’s not all about them. It’s not about a country establishing a state religion and in doing so “diminishing” them or their beliefs. Atheism, in my humble opinion, is every bit as much of a religion as Christianity.

Denial of the existence of God takes every bit as much of a leap of faith as professing God’s existence.

No, I think both parties get it absolutely wrong. It’s not about violation of the Establishment Clause. It’s about diversity.

How would Congresswoman Bachman like it if it was decided to engrave “In Allah We Trust” in the Visitor Center’s walls? Or what about “In Krishna We Trust?”

What about “In Gaea We Trust?”

Please. It’s all about diversity, not about us versus them.

The litmus test should not be whether one act or one inscription prefers the Christian religion over unbelief, it should be whether that act, or that inscription favors one religion over another, and whether in doing so society benefits.

Because if society doesn’t benefit, then what, after all is said and done, is the point?

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