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There was a comment in a diary yesterday which I viewed as yet another instance of "all you atheists STFU and let the decent God fearing Americans hold the floor and control the discussion". That interpretation did go beyond the text a bit, but I believe justifiably so.

First, it called upon atheists to stop "muddying the political debate with a debate about whose beliefs are correct,", but not members of any of the established religions who incessantly do so and try to force their religious regimens down everybody's throat. They aren't the problem, atheists are. It boils down to "Atheists STFU, but everybody else, go ahead and do your thing", as it were.

This was exacerbated by the fact that the commentator engaged in religious propagandizing right in the middle of this attempt to silence atheists - the old "no true Christian" argument in the form of the tired, lame assertion that Christianity is being "hijacked" by bad guys.

Most importantly, however, the case for silencing atheists rested on a falsehood which needs to be rebutted once and for all. The argument ran that this is a secular nation and that atheists, by responding to the incessant barrage of religion are somehow muddying the secular debate.

Naturally, only the atheists, being secular, are muddying the secular debate, while the constant drone of the religious and their religion based arguments about everything are somehow perfectly secular and non-problematic. What? This assertion might be blindness or ignorance, so I will not call it a lie, but it is laughable, as I will explain below.

The majority of the people in this country self identify as religious, and a lot of them are quite vocal, demanding that laws be passed to enact their religious prohibitions and whining about being oppressed every time they don't get to impose their religion on others.

Just a few points off of the top of my head about our secular nation:

The National Day of Prayer is an annual event held on the first Thursday of May, by law (36 U.S.C. § 119). How oh so very secular. Sometimes, in times of catastrophe and disaster, additinal days of prayer are declared.

The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February each year. Xcuse me? Is that the National Secular Prayer Breakfast, or the Secular National Prayer Breakfast?

We have a national (non-secular) Cathedral. Currently on its website we find:

Live webcast. This year during Holy week the Cathedral offers three new worship services that explore the profound gift of love expressed in the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. Each evening explores this unconditional divine love from different Scriptural perspectives and features ...
[ link] Hello? What? Secular Holy Days? Izzat teh Secular Jesus?

Public schools throughout the country have to help religious schools financially by providing services under various laws. I haven't kept track of this as I should have in terms of citations, so take it or leave it.

We have an office of faith based government. Some excerpts from der Wiki:

The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,[1] formerly the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) is an office within the White House Office that is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. ...
OFBCI was established by President George W. Bush through executive order ... Bush had used the "Charitable Choice" provisions of the 1996 welfare reform (which allowed "faith-based" entities to compete for government contracts to deliver social services) ...

I don't know if they still make us pay for them to teach abstinance only sex education, I think that we still pay for faith based sex-ed, but they do have to mention in passing that contraception also exists if you wish to go to hell. I doubt, however, that that rule is enforced. Allegedly there are restrictions on proselytization, but they are almost certainly not enforced either. Hell, to an extent they are meaningless anyway - If a guy in full religious regalia gives you a sandwich, you cannot help but associate the sandwich with the religion since there is no label saying "this sandwich and this putative act of charity were bought and paid for by the U.S. Government using tax dollars."

Innumerable Sunday laws and blue laws are still on the books throughout the land.

Have they stopped opening sessions of the House and Senate with prayers yet? Assorted state and local government meetings?

There is no secular basis for the Hyde Amendment which is routinely pass and has become a part of our political landscape. Obama felt forced to issue an executive order incorporating the council of bishop's amendment Stupak amendment regarding the ACA.

How secular is "one nation under God" or "In God we Trust"?

Now, about that secular debate:

The secular debate on science is over. Science is good and we should pay attention to its findings.

The secular debate on contraception is over. It is good and should be available. The religion based debate, however, rages on.

The secular debate on marriage equality is over. GLBT people are equal and deserve fully equal rights. The religion based debate, however, rages on.

The Stem Cell research fiasco too was purely religious in origin. How can atheists muddy the secular debate on topics which are purely religious, which would not exist were it not for the religious interference in secular affairs?

Have they stopped the war on choice yet? That too is purely religious in origin.

We see constant diaries here about this or that religious tradition or holiday or whatever. No big deal. A while ago, however, a person posted a diary expressing a different take on some biblical figures. That person was called a radical or militant atheist, and that diary was asserted to be insulting even though it did not insult anybody, call anybody names, imply anybody was ignorant or stupid or any such thing. It was deemed to be insulting solely because it did not accept as given and uncontestably true certain bits of religious dogma. This attack came from a so called "religious moderate" (not unlike the "religious moderate" who insisted once that atheists had to support and back religious moderates becasue they were the only way to combat extremism).

So no, I don't think atheists muddy any secular political debate in our secular nation because we don't have either of those. Atheists would love to have a secular country and secular political debate. Not even remotely close. Please, please, please bring them to fruition, I beg of you, and then we'll maybe talk about this other matter. And no, I don't think atheists should STFU, at least not until all religionists do likewise and until all of the latter stop trying to impose their religious precepts on everybody else, directly and indirectly and stop demanding special consideration.

OK, let the attacks and denial begin.

11:29 AM PT: The National CAthedral is really private:

 Correction about the National Cathedral: it is not (4+ / 0-)

run by the government, but is a private cathedral, run by the Episcopal Church. You're free to argue about how appropriate its name is, but it is not supported by tax dollars nor run by the government. They chose the name "National" for it because it is in DC and it serves the whole nation, not just one diocese.

It is famous for multi-faith services, and humanists and other flavors of non-believers have spoken there as well.

I would appreciate an edit to the diary, if it is not too much trouble.

by Wee Mama on Tue Apr 03, 2012 at 11:08:02 AM PDT

Originally posted to enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 03, 2012 at 09:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .


The National Prayer Day, Prayer Breakfast and Cathedral are secular

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