November 20, 2005
By Raymond Melnik
I know it must be hard for a person of faith to understand what is like to be an atheist in America today. In my view, a constitution originally designed to protect the rights of all has been re-interpreted with "In God we trust" added to our money and "under God" squeezed into an originally all-inclusive pledge.
Our forefathers never meant for our democracy to be as distorted or for the religious right to influence much of the current national policy. Our president slipped once and said that we are in a holy war, a crusade, and my local congresswoman co-sponsored a bill aimed to stop people
from challenging "under God" in the pledge.
When I wrote to explain my view, my congresswoman's letter back to me was a stern reply that
stated that it does no harm. Shouldn't our pledge stand for all and not just eight out of 10? We are told we can choose not to say the pledge, but why should that be the choice? Why shouldn't I be included in showing love for country?
Removing god from the pledge and money does nothing to hurt those of faith. Removing god from public places does nothing to hurt those of faith. They are free to celebrate their faith in their churches, mosques and synagogues. The faithful can carve the Ten Commandments the size of a building on religious property. They can teach all the religion they want at home, place of worship and religious community events. They even have the benefit in that they pay no tax.
The simple fact is that sense of community and love of family are the very reasons we survived to evolve into the humans we are today. It is inherent in each of us and exists in the very core of what makes us human. I personally need no god to tell me that it is right to be kind to others or to love my children. I don't need to fear a hell to be convinced that it's right to be good.
I admit that I no longer believe in anything supernatural. As Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence so for now I must conclude that we are on our own. I will not exist far longer than my brief time here and will not waste my brief existence dogmatically preparing for an eternity I'm convinced I will never see. That would surely be the greatest waste of my precious short gift of life."
What I find hardest of all is the balance between tolerance for the ideas of the fervent faithful and the rights of my own. I cannot remain neutral when something professed jeopardizes the very health of the planet or stands in the way of real compassion for those less fortunate. To an atheist we all have an equal right to exist. No god kills my fellow citizens in a natural disaster because of the sins of the group.
Think about how great it could really be if we valued every living person and insisted from our government that they work to raise all of us up and not just the privileged few. Think about how great it would be if instead of praying for those less fortunate we actually fought for the ability for everyone to earn a living wage, educate their children and be able to afford even the most modest
of homes of which they could be proud? What a better country it could be if we only realized that we the people create our own destiny.
Raymond Melnik lives in Salisbury Mills.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
This article puts the argument into thought in these words, a very thinkable thought with ease. Something I have struggled to do many times over and over again.