Tag Archives: Atheists

Atheist view of the First Amendment

thisRobot (CC)

thisRobot (CC)

Some of you may be aware of the fact that I write for Examiner.com. If you’re fairly close to me, you also know that I get some degree of amusement over their system of categorizing content. Sometimes they quietly let me know that they’re not exactly happy with what I post there. They don’t remove it, but they also don’t give it any attention. One of those “less loved” articles is on the battle between the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and a couple schools in my state, and a state legislator’s response to the situation. Representative Tim Krieger has introduced legislation that if passed would prevent anonymous lawsuits over religious displays from being filed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. My article on that topic covers the legalities. Here, I’ll restrict myself to offering my own opinion on the matter – as an atheist.

FFRF is a really bad joke that simply never goes away. It’s like those really crass blonde jokes that everyone hears multiple times, and rolls their eyes every time someone is rude enough to bring them up in the first place. Krieger is absolutely right that they prey on people – particularly minors – to promote their agenda. And their agenda to rid the world of all public displays of religion is laughable. Beyond the concept of promoting ignorance and intolerance, they have absolutely no respect for history either. Of course, in theory, that could be used against them, at least when it comes to their desire to remove long-standing monuments. It would be much more difficult for them if they were all declared historical monuments – a big hint to people that fed up with battling them, by the way.

I claimed I would stay away from the legalities in this, but it simply isn’t meaningful if I don’t address the obvious. Start with the name of the organization itself – The Freedom From Religion Foundation (emphasis mine.) The First Amendment – specifically the establishment clause – does not guarantee anyone freedom “from” religion. That amendment gets tossed about rather liberally (pun intended) in the context of protecting people from things they claim to not believe exist in the first place. But, the amendment simply guarantees that the Federal government may not establish a state religion. The legal battles that FFRF regularly starts are rarely associated with anything that has to do with the Federal government. It is usually about local monuments that happen to have some sort of religious symbol or text on them. There is no legislative action involved with them, and at most, the local government might spend some small sums of money on upkeep of the items. For those who are slow, that in no way establishes a state religion.

I’ve said repeatedly that contrary to anyone’s wish or misguided belief, atheism is not a religion. It is the absence of faith. (For those who are really, really slow, like the folks over at FFRF, one cannot have a religion without faith.) If one is really an atheist, there is no earthly reason why one should give a damn whether or not there are religious articles anywhere. They certainly shouldn’t care about monuments on public property that were placed there years ago. They shouldn’t care about soldiers making religious monuments without using public money on public property, assuming they weren’t ordered to do so by anyone. Bluntly, the only religious activity atheists should care about is something that is done now that really does establish a state religion. If FFRF wanted to be relevant, and do something useful, then maybe they should focus on preventing the passage of legislation that is based solely on religious tenets. Yes, I know that won’t be popular with social conservatives, but maybe you all need to have someone put your principles through some sort of litmus test to prove that it really isn’t an attempt to establish the Judeo-Christian family of faiths as the state religion. But that would make sense, and nothing in this country seems to do that anymore.

The bottom line remains that the FFRF is a laughable organization that is methodically wasting time and tax dollars with frivolous lawsuits. In the cases of the Pennsylvania schools, claiming that a monument to the Ten Commandments is offensive to someone is bluntly insane. Other than the commandments about adultery, the one true god, and honoring one’s mother and father, all the others were adopted into common law generations ago. We carried those little rules over to the Americas when this nation was created. And again, if one truly does not believe in any deities, how is one harmed by the existence of something to do with those non-existent deities? Well, maybe that does make sense in some way – apparently the FFRF and the people they represent are like the Hollywood depictions of vampires that are terrified of religious articles.

An Atheist Charlie Brown Christmas

Back in 1986, I ended up on a field trip to visit Moundsville, WV – home of a Native American burial mound (hence the city’s name), a prison, and a Hare Krishna commune. I went to a public school at that point, so theoretically there could have been some sort of argument over the fact that we were going to visit a sacred spot for a specific religion. In all honesty, other than the ludicrous amount of gold leaf throughout the temple, the biggest memory I have of the compound was of when we were entering it. Our teacher made the driver stop, and he dutifully told us not to accept anything to eat or drink while in the commune – presumably he was of the opinion that someone might attempt to drug us, and spirit us away to become new followers. If memory serves, that was the primary objection from a few parents – not the fact that we were going to learn about another religion, but the possibility that we could end up wearing orange robes, getting our heads shaved, and playing tambourines in an airport somewhere.

Kevin Dooley (CC)

It’s been a few years since then, and supposedly we’ve become a far more understanding society. Progressives continually point out how open, understanding, and curious they are about other cultures. I’m guessing that group doesn’t include atheists, though. Over the past several months, it seems we can’t go more than a week or two without seeing a headline about atheists filing suit over one religious display or another. Now that the holiday season is upon us, we’re in for the yearly complaints about the season.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an atheist. I wasn’t born that way – wasn’t raised that way. In truth, I was raised Catholic, and spent a great deal of time over the years studying about various religious faiths. And I don’t think that I am an odd sort of atheist – there are many out there that took the time to try to find a religion that “fit”, and ended up having faith in nothing. Knowing that, it always annoys me to no end when I see atheists acting like atheism is actually a religion. The latest nonsense in Arkansas over a school taking kids to see a production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is no exception.

First, I would like to point out what should be obvious – children of atheists will spend a great deal of time interacting with children raised by Christians. The parent involved in this silliness did have enough sense to point out that her child might get bullied if she opted to keep the child from attending the play. I’m not suggesting that anyone should condone bullying, of course. I’m also not certain that would be the reaction of the other children – after all, if the family hadn’t drawn attention to themselves in the first place by raising objections to the outing, it could have easily been a matter of claiming the child wasn’t well that day, at least for the benefit of classmates.

Second, I am still waiting for a real response from an atheist on this whole religion-phobia. If one doesn’t believe in the existence of something, how in the world can one justify fear of being unduly influenced by others that happen to believe? People don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. They don’t throw fits over someone else that happens to disagree with them, do they? No, they don’t.

Third, what harm does it do to have a child that is being raised in an atheist household end up learning about the beliefs of others? Sure, it can be confusing. Life is confusing. But, no matter how anyone wants to try to say otherwise, failing to expose a child to the beliefs and cultures of others is closed-minded. It impairs their ability to even attempt to see the world as others see it. But hey, I’m just an evil conservative heathen – bigoted, racist, and incapable of understanding the world view of anyone else. Well, that’s probably what those progressive atheists that are afraid of a god they don’t believe exists would say about me. As for Charlie Brown, get over yourselves. Your kids won’t melt if they hear passages from the Bible in a theatrical production, and they won’t spontaneously burst into flames if they set foot in a church. It’s called parenting. Explain what the kids will see, and answer their questions. Novel concept, I know. But, it’s a heck of a lot better than making yourselves the pariahs in the community with your silly notion that everyone else needs to bow down to your lack of belief, and hide their own ideas about deities from your offspring. And, let’s be brutally honest here. Failing to teach your kids about religion at all is just an invitation for them to become followers of one faith or another when they grow up. Teenage rebellion for radical atheists could very well become flocks of kids raised to not believe in a god going out and becoming Born Again Christians. Perish the thought!

The First Amendment and Atheists

It seems that Obama isn’t the only one in desperate need of a refresher course on the Constitution. Those wacky folks over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) are at it again. Now they want to remove yet another war memorial because it happens to have a cross on it.

Atheist Tombstone

Ryan Somma (CC)

The monument isn’t unconstitutional, folks. Congress didn’t make a law about it, or if it did, it was merely a recognition of its existence. The existence of the cross does not carry any legal power, and does not say that the Federal Government is going to enforce any laws based on the Christian faith. It is a memorial, and I’d wager that the soldiers it memorializes are all Christian. If they aren’t, then maybe the members of the other faiths that were excluded from the memorial have a case for having their symbols added to it.

The Constitution protects the rights of citizens to observe the faith of their choosing. While Thomas Jefferson did say something about people worshiping or not worshiping any number of gods, the First Amendment only prevents the Federal Government from becoming a theocratic body, or making any law that abridges the observation of any faith. That’s why we call it “Freedom of Religion”, by the way. Now, here’s a newsflash for the folks over at FFRF: Atheism is not a religion, period. If one is atheist, one does not believe there are any deities, and therefore does not observe any religion either. So, if the folks over at FFRF are offended by monuments to deities that they supposedly don’t believe in anyway, perhaps they don’t need to running about filing lawsuits about their discomfort. They need to be letting their fingers do the walking, and find themselves some good psychiatrists to help them with their obvious mental problems!

–Crossposted on Goldwater Gal–

Atheists, The Marines, and When a Cross Transcends All Religious Meaning

When it comes to certain topics surrounding patriotism and the military, I have a tendency of toning down my own rhetoric. In this, I will restrict myself to making one point about atheism, and leave the rest to someone far more qualified to speak on this issue.
Tomb of the Unknowns
Atheists have repeatedly been taking the spotlight lately for various levels of stupid behavior. For whatever reason, they are finding it necessary to stick their noses in where they don’t belong. Whether it’s lawsuits about religious items on public land, or un-blessing a road, they’re obviously trying to make it clear that they will not tolerate anyone showing any signs that they follow any religion publicly. But, this time, they have crossed the line from attacking religion, to the point of attacking the secular sacred. Yes, there is such a thing, and we as a nation, observe it at least once yearly, on Memorial Day. As the daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and niece of veterans and service members from World War II to this very moment, I know very well that some things are sacred to soldiers, and have nothing to do with religion, even if it appears so to outsiders. The current atheist crusade of trying to have the crosses removed from Camp Pendleton is no different than petitioning the Federal Government to remove the Tomb of the Unknowns from Arlington National Cemetery.

But don’t take my word for it when it comes to explaining the meaning of this memorial at Camp Pendleton. Today, I was privileged enough to receive a response from a Marine that had been stationed there. He graciously explained the meaning of the memorial, and his thoughts on the issue:

I was stationed at Camp Pendleton from 2000 to 2005. I was assigned to 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, Weapons Company, CAAT Platoon which is located at Camp Horno where these crosses are located. Camp Horno is a remote camp that is compromised entirely of Infantry and Infantry only. There aren’t even any female Marines located anywhere close. It houses four to five Infantry Battalions and the 1st Marine Regiments Headquarters, so basically a lot of testosterone and a lot angry Jarheads with a lot of bad memories surrounded by a mountain side and an active firing range across the road.

Back in 2003, seven Marines from 2nd Battalion 1st Marines climbed up to the top of Horno ridge and erected a cross to honor our brothers who had been killed in action. It became a place for reflection and a place to clear our heads when the memories got too bad. I remember nights when I couldn’t sleep, which was most of the time, I would climb up that damn hill and visit the cross. I would always bring a bottle of Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker Black, and made sure I left half behind for my brothers who were no longer there.

My battalion returned to Iraq in 2004, and that deployment took a heavy toll on all of us. We lost 33 men during operations in and around Fallujah. We came home extremely proud, but every one of us knew we would never be the same again. The cross had a new meaning to us. During morning PT runs we carried large rocks up the hills with us to place at the base of the cross, and pay homage to our brothers. The bigger the better. If it caused pain even better. We all had tortured souls after that deployment, and we almost felt as if the more pain we caused ourselves, somehow it would change the fact that they weren’t there anymore. It was our way of honoring them. Some men even brought their Purple Heart Medals, which were given to them for being wounded in combat, and left them there as a tribute. I remember once also seeing a Silver Star, one of the highest awards you can receive for valor, left on top of a large stone. There were all kinds of tributes being left there, from pictures, to bottles of alcohol, and articles of clothing. This was not a place for the public. This was a place that we Infantry Marines felt was ours. Our solemn ground, where we could hold onto fleeting memories of some of the greatest men we have ever known.

When I first read the article that a group of atheists demanded that they be taken down, I grew enraged. The crosses had nothing to do with religion. We lost men of all religions during these wars, and we lost men that didn’t believe in god. Some of my fellow Marines who visited the cross on a daily basis were atheist, and they would defend that cross with their lives if it came down to it. I’m not a religious person at all, but I would do anything to defend that cross. What’s next? Are they going to dig up all the graves at Normandy Beach in France that honor our dead from World War II? Last time I checked that’s sovereign American ground with crosses and stars of David. As Marines, if we really wanted to offend people, we would have put a giant Jesus statue up with him pissing on a Koran, but we didn’t. We simply put up a cross, the same way a family puts one up at the side of a road where another family member had died in a car accident.

The way I see it is if you don’t like the cross, don’t look at it. If the very existence of the cross bothers them that much that they need it to be removed, well then the very existence of this group bothers me and a whole lot of other Marines enough that we would be more than happy to remove them from existence. We are not the Boy Scouts, and about the only thing worse than disrespecting our beloved Marine Corps is disrespecting our fallen warriors who have given them their rights with their lives.

Semper Fidelis