Some who value the separation of Church and State are nonbelievers, while others are Christians. Claiming that “atheists are attacking Christians’ rights” is a stereotype. To continue in this paranoid persecution complex does not bring people together. It is a divisive “us vs. them” mentality. We need unity, not disunity.
Speaking of unity, the original de facto motto of the United States of America was E Pluribus Unum, which means “out of many, one.” This was replaced by “In God We Trust” in the 1950s due to fear of Communism. I suggest we seek the unifying principle of the original motto. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, and nonbeliever, alike — out of many, we are one.
The “rights” Mr. Anderson claimed were being robbed are not rights. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment grants you the right to believe whatever you wish. Though, the Establishment Clause ensures one religion is not forced onto others or endorsed by the government. Having the word “God” on your money is not a right. If it were, would it be a right for Muslim or Hindu Americans to demand “Allah” or “Brahma” printed on U.S. currency? The First Amendment grants us all the right to believe (or even disbelieve), and protects us all from one religion being granted favoritism.
Speaking of rights, the Mormon Church spent millions on Proposition 8 to deny civil liberties to homosexuals. The Catholic Church would deny the reproductive rights of women. This year alone, at least five states have proposed creationism bills. Lawmakers of a particular Christian perspective, not scientists, are legislating personal religious beliefs into the classroom. They are forcing nonscience into science classes — not the other way around.
Nobody is “forcing” anybody to learn a secular ideology in school. Evolution is not an ideology. Scientists from diverse fields, in many countries and from many backgrounds, have come to this consensus. Experiments have proven evolution time and time again — just as it has with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Newton’s Theory of Gravity. Should we stop teaching biology and gravity in high schools to appease one particular version of Christianity?
Creationism is not a unified scientific theory. Rather, it starts from a presumption of faith. There are “young Earth” and “old Earth” creationists. There are “theistic evolutionists” or “evolutionary creationists.” Then there are varieties based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. Science cannot speak to the concept of a talking snake shilling magical fruit to a man made from clay and a woman made from his rib.
Which nonscience-based version of creationism should be forced on America’s children? The Muslim version? The Hindu concept of samsara? Theistic evolution as Pope John Paul II supported? Or just one particular version of Christian creationism? Like anything else we are told on television or in a classroom, we can choose to believe evolution or not. The parent’s responsibility is to guide their child as to what to believe, but it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach science as it is currently understood.
Mr. Anderson complained about atheists mocking religion, but we must understand that because a few atheists mock religion, does not mean all atheists do. I can attest to the many times I’ve been personally insulted by Christians. Does this mean all Christians are intolerant? One cannot walk through campus without encountering at least two preachers who hold up signs (some offensive, saying “sodomites” will burn in hell) while shouting at students. Yet there is one quiet, little group respectfully handing out fliers for the secularist events they arrange for an underrepresented group — Titans For Reason. How are these atheists attacking anyone’s rights?
Separationists are simply trying to take religion out of the public sphere and place it where the Founding Fathers thought it should be — a personal and private matter. I suggest, instead of making the divide larger and resorting to “us vs. them” thinking, we look for common ground. Consider the original U.S. motto and try to reach out to your fellow Americans (even those who disagree with you). E Pluribus Unum.
Anthropology/Comparative Religion Major