Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Pledge of Allegiance from an atheist’s point of view.
In the late fifties a group of religious fanatics decided that in spite of all the evidence against their position, America had been founded with and by their God. They chose to honor that position by imposing the addition of the words One Nation under God to the pledge of allegiance.

Since this happened during the McCarthy era, any opposition was squashed as the activities of godless communists, and we learned that it was better to keep our mouth’s firmly shut, or Ronald Reagan and his FBI informers would soon be knocking on our doors. Now, in order to enshrine this obviously illegal attempt by the religious fanatics of America, the pledge of allegiance is being put under special protection.

I would like to ask you to try and see this issue from perspective of the large contingent of American atheists who, as a matter of course and reason are unable to believe in the existence of God. Don’t get me wrong, we are probably the most accommodating group of people you will ever meet. We will never try and change your beliefs and certainly accept with wry good humor your propensity for gathering on a regular basis (up to five times a day in one group’s requirements) lifting your heads up and demanding specific or general assistance from a usually unheeding entity.

We consider your faith at best as a mild form of mental disease that is usually benign and not worth getting worked up over. On the other hand, if the psycho down the street suddenly starts investing in large scale weapons, or the child molester on the other block starts hanging around the playground, we feel that it is imperative to take steps to ensure the safety of the rest of the population. Even more importantly, when the psycho down the street starts leaving NRA leaflets in your children’s lunchbox we get very alarmed.

Our children are brought up in the strict observance that there is no benevolent deity of any sort and he will certainly not attempt to solve their problems. They learn that they are pretty much on their own when it comes to facing the harsher realities of life, and no amount of upward gazing with hands steepled will bail them out of their latest transgression. They also learned that asking forgiveness from vaporware in no way mitigates their guilt when it comes to accepting responsibility for their actions.

So, what to make of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the need to protect its theological existence? Already having to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth is bad enough, but symbolically acceptable as long as it doesn’t scare the horses or impede the true allegiances that are really important in a child’s life. But to imply that a non-existent, inimical and retrograde invention of a scared cave dweller has anything to do with the workings of a country like ours is a very large stretch for small children. It leads to further complications in life such as the vision of destroying others for eternal gain, be it suicide bombers working for Big Mo, wholesale enslavement of a peaceful population by conquest in the name of Yahweh or the invasion of innocent countries on the flimsiest excuses in the name of JC.

A true patriot, a truly religious person and an atheist should be able to agree as one on a clear concept and that is the fact that whatever our personal beliefs may be, they are personal, have nothing to do with government and national policy and should be kept private. In other words, keep all gods out of reach of the government; do not allow that particular camel to stick his nose into the tent. Because the tent belongs to all of us and there are too many ill tempered religious camels in the desert.