I swore I wouldn’t write any more “political” diaries but this, this I could not pass up.
The Washington Post, in its continued slide into utter dreck, publishes a column called On Faith. Sometimes, you get nice offerings from people who are nice. More often than not some asshole is telling me, in a voice they think is loving (and indeed, I think some of them actually orgasm thinking about this), that I’m going to go to an imaginary punishment place. Whatever.
Yesterday’s was more of the same crap. Sally Quinn writes “This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.” and "Up until now, the idea of being American and believing in God were synonymous."
How nice to learn that I’m not and can’t be a citizen, according to Sally Quinn. Also, she gets it ever so wrong. I really have to wonder what hallucinogens are being put into the D.C. Pundit Cocktail Circuit’s mango appletinis.
I’m certainly not going to deny that the United States is nominally pious, depending on which poll you accept. Politicians have turned piousness into a fetish. Pew indicates people continue to believe while leaving their churches. Gallup indicates this is the same. Gallup indicates Americans have significant trouble with the concept of evolution and the age of the universe for purely religious reasons. Both indicate the fastest growing group are the unchurched (followed by Mormons and Muslims) and further breakdown of the “unchurched” indicate some who just indicate “none” and some who self-identify as “atheist.” And say whatever you want about the President’s faith (He’s Christian, and has said so over and over again, and despite Sally’s bleatings he quite openly talks about his faith to the point of annoyance, for me), he and the last 43 Presidents were Christian (Lincoln and Jefferson being the two that come to mind who may not have been.) If Romney wins this November, he’d be the first, by some measures, non-Christian American president.
Sally’s correct when she points out the prejudice that open atheists face in the United States. It’s not as bad as say, Saudi Arabia, where it’s illegal although a recent survey that crossed my twitter timeline indicates that almost a third of Saudis are basically just going through the motions to keep the religious secret police away. They’re atheists. But a bumper sticker, even a mild one, will get your car keyed in quite a few areas. People will otherwise harass you. You may lose your job. Family members will irritate you (until you threaten to tell their kids Santa is fake, then they shut up). You’ll get death threats and have to leave your school, as a young woman in Rhode Island found out recently. It’s sometimes petty harassment, for sure, but harassment all the same, and sometimes very frightening. It’s why we who are open about it believe our numbers to be much, much higher. The rest are scared into quiescence.
Sally on the other hand just dismisses this with prattle about the money (green pens fix this on paper money, I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now) and the pledge (which I haven’t said since the 8th grade, and god was inserted in the 1950s, and the pledge was written by a socialist). As for prayers in the Houses and Senates of the states and nation, they tend to be predominately Christian because fundamentalists will show up and shout down anyone else from the galleries. It’s happened before, in several states. This dismissal of hers was perhaps one of the most blithely offensive things I've read in some time. I read the hate mail but her "oh, whatever, just get over it, we're the majority, boo hoo you, non-citizen" attitude really stank up an already shitty column.
But she so totally gets separation of church and state wrong. This is part of a trend by some (not necessarily her, Sally Quinn previously wrote gossip columns for the Post) to turn the United States into a Christian version of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Separation of Church and State is real, and needs to be real, and until the late 1970s, even the evangelicals accepted it.
You know what, Sally Quinn? You have the freedom to say whatever nonsense you want, and the Washington Post has the freedom to print your nonsense. I absolutely support that. But I retain the freedom to suggest you stick to getting drunk on the D.C. Pundit Cocktail Circuit and writing about the Real Housewives of DC, or whatever execrable crap you used to write for the Post (which, I’m aware, is a considerable portion of the Post’s On Faith column.)
Oh, and yeah, I’m a citizen, because I was born here. I'm a citizen because the constitution (the legal document that is actually in force, and not the Declaration which the evangelicals fetishize) says so. That’s it. That’s the end. That’s all there is to it.