The polls say the odds against me are about nine to one,
that being the ratio between believers and non-believers in this supposedly
secular republic. But I'm going to ask you to do it anyway:
Please stop pressing religious beliefs on me and the rest
of that 10 percent of the population that does not share them.
If you won't
ease up on the constant public references to your God and to similar matters
for the sake of tolerance, then do it, won't you, for the sake of that legal
business about the separation of church and state.
Or be selfish and do it for the sake of your religion. It
surely is cheapened by the ritualistic and hypocritical references to the
Almighty by politicians and others in public life seeking to curry majority
favor the easy way.
All I'm asking is that you take a close look at what the
politicians are saying. I'm not asking that "In God We Trust" be
removed from our money. I'm not saying we should stop pledging allegiance to
"one nation under God," take chaplains off public payrolls, tax
churches, deliver the mail on Sundays, or anything else so revolutionary. I'm
no fool. I know prohibitive odds when I see them.
I'm suggesting only that our political leaders ease up on
the incessant God-talk.
But, you might ask, isn't it enough that our new
President Obama, a religious man, actually acknowledged the existence of
non-believers in his inaugural address? No other president has ever deigned to
even recognize our presence.
It was heartening, Obama's statement that "we are a
nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers."
But from then on, of course, it was the usual God-talk.
"God," he said, " calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny...
the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of
every race and every faith can join in celebration." There's apparently no
such destiny, after all, for those of no faith.
Our president also reassured us, you might remember, that
we have had "God's grace upon us."
Naturally, Obama ended his speech with the usual
ritualistic words no political speaker seeking majority favor ever fails to
deliver: "God bless the United States of America."
As bad as that was to those of us who dare to believe
that God is not on our side - or anywhere else -- it could be worse.
Think of what other presidents have told us about God.
Think of President George W. Bush's declaration that "our nation is chosen
by God and commissioned by history to be a model of the world, " and his
insistence that "Americans feel our reliance on the Creator who made us
... We received our rights from God."
Jimmy Carter openly sought a "partnership with
God." Ronald Reagan attacked those who advocated government "grounded
on reason rather than the law of God."
"My first act as president is a prayer," said
George H.W. Bush, just moments after being sworn into office with, of course,
his hand on a Bible, that book of mythical tales that he and so many others
claim to revere.
President Clinton actually complained that "those of
us who have faith" were not getting sufficient attention.
Clinton also declared that "religious freedom is
literally our first freedom." Maybe so. But whatever its ranking,
shouldn't the freedom of religion be coupled with freedom FROM religion for
Or at least freedom from listening to political paeans to
a God we do not recognize and never voted for.
Copyright (c) 2009 Dick Meister