Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Separation of Church and State

   It's official! The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  With this excellent news I've decided my next post will be on separating the church from the state.  I'd like to start by simply stating how happy I am for the LGBT community.  Especially those serving in the military.  I'm so happy that same sex couples will now be able to reap the benefits that are offered to married military service members.  Congratulations on a huge victory!  We've still got a ways to go, however, since it is still left up to the individual states whether or not they will recognize same sex marriage.  This momentous step has definitely opened the door even farther though and I do believe it's only a matter of time before all the states fall in line (now we just need to do the same with marijuana!).
   DOMA was a prime example of why we need to separate religion from our government.  There is no scientific evidence that proves homosexuality is bad.  For that matter, there is no moral evidence that it is wrong except when pertaining to the bible.  Therefore there is no basis for infringing upon the rights of American citizens.  However, in 1996 a law was passed defining marriage between 1 man and 1 woman.  I ask you this; why was a definition needed in the first place?  I've heard it argued that if marriage wasn't defined then anybody could marry anything.  Okay, point taken.  That still leaves the question, why was marriage defined as between 1 man and 1 woman?  Where did this definition come from?  Unless you can show me another source than I argue that it came from the bible.  My problem with that comes in 2 parts.  The first of which is you are infringing on the rights of Americans.  Slavery, we can all agree (well most of us anyways), is a horrible thing but if you've read the parts of the bible I have than you will know that slavery was condoned by that very book.  So if we can agree that slavery is morally wrong regardless of what the bible says than surely we can agree on the same thing when it comes to defining marriage from the same book.  My second argument is this: I'm an atheist and do not believe in god or the bible.  So why should I have to have to be governed by it?  This can be said not for just atheists, but Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc.  It is tyrannical to impose laws upon people based on a faith that they do not believe and THAT is what our country was founded on.  It has been argued that our country is a "Christian Nation".  That may be true in respect to the fact that a majority of Americans are Christian, but that is where it ends.  This country was founded on the principle of freedom from religious persecution.  The first settlers of this country came here to be free to practice whatever religious beliefs they had.  To impose your religious beliefs on an entire country completely contradicts what we came here for in the first place.  As far as the founding of our current government, nowhere is it written that this country was founded on Christianity.  In fact, it was quite the opposite, our founding fathers understood that this country was created because people wanted freedom from religious persecution.  In fact they went through great lengths to word the documents that would shape our nation to exclude religion.  Our founding fathers believed that there should be a separation from the church and the state.  To do otherwise is unamerican! Our democracy has slowly evolved into a theocracy in which our supreme ruler is the Christian god.  If you agree that that should be the case well then you  are going against the very essence of our democracy and are agreeing to a dictatorship.  I say to those who agree with that, "Screw you!"
   The topic of abortion is yet another example of how Christianity is governing our nation.  I have not seen any passage of the bible that covers abortion directly  (if there is one please, share it with me;  it won't change my views in the least but I will be just that much more informed about the bible).  Instead the moral principal in question is the taking of another life.  I agree that this is a question that needs to be addressed.  But not by an immoral book such as the bible.  I should point out that I am against abortion as a form of birth control. However, in the case of rape specifically, I believe there are exceptions when abortion can be justified.  With that being said, I also do not believe that my opinion on the matter gives me the right to decide for another person what they choose to do with their body.  Taking your morality on this subject from the bible is despicable.  It would be like outlawing the use of condoms for reasons of faith like that of the Catholics.  If that's your belief than, of course, you would be okay with that.  I'll bet most of you who are religious and reading this blog, however, would agree that banning the use of condoms would be oppressive and ridiculous.  So what makes abortion any different?  I've heard it argued that you are denying a potential life through abortion.  Well guess what, you are denying a potential life by using a condom as well!  So unless you believe this, as the Catholics do, you are contradicting yourself.  This is a matter for law, not for religion.  There is still much debate as to when "life" begins.  I choose to leave that question up to science to resolve.  But if and when there is scientific evidence that life truly begins at conception I will change my position and state that yes, you are indeed ending a life and that is morally wrong and should be illegal and punishable.  As it stands right now life doesn't scientifically begin until about 15 weeks into the pregnancy and outlawing abortion at that time (which is the case currently) is perfectly understandable.  My personal morality tells me that taking a life is wrong.  I don't need religion to tell me that.  That further proves my point that religion is not needed to govern our nation and therefore there is no place for it our government.  unfortunately abortion is a lot more involved than just religion and politics and for fear of getting off subject (as I'm sure I already have) I will move on.
    I'd like to talk about another side of this argument.  In particular, the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer in public institutions.  I see so many Facebook posts about reinstating the Pledge of Allegiance  back into schools.  Hey, I used to say it back when I was in school and the sense of pride I felt to be an American that I got from that recitation was great!  But why should pride in my country go along with religious beliefs.  If, for example, I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and believe he is our creator and the one true deity, you wouldn't want to hear about that.  So what right do you have, as an American, to force your religion on me?  You have no right.  As a religious person you would be appalled if the pledge stated something along the lines of " nation, under the Flying Spaghetti Monster..." correct?  Well it's no different for me as an Atheist or a Hindu, or a Buddhist.  I agree that the Pledge of Allegiance should be reinstated, but only after the "...under god..." portion is taken out.  Nobody should be oppressed to the point that they are forced to condone a religion they do not believe in.   The same could be said for prayer in a public, government funded, institution.  You wouldn't want me to start a council meeting with a prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster no more than I want you to start with a prayer to god.  Keep your prayers for your homes and your churches.  Another example is prayer during military functions.  Most Army ceremonies begin with an invocation given by a chaplain.  To start with, they call it an invocation rather than what it really is, a prayer.  I can understand the concept of the chaplaincy in a government funded institution like the military because soldiers get sent to places that might not otherwise have a church or any way for them to practice their faith but that is where the line should be drawn.  I should not be forced to sit through a prayer because I just so happen to be forced to sit through a ceremony.  Not beginning a prayer before a ceremony in no way hinders a soldier's right to practice his/her faith.  An atheist friend of mine who is also serving in the military suggests that, at the very least, a chaplain includes the phrase "...if you so choose..." before he starts the invocation with "Let us pray".  While that would be one step further towards recognizing that not everybody agrees with your religious views, I believe it needs to be eradicated entirely.  Not to just accommodate Atheists, but all religions.  The claim is made that these types of prayers are secular because it only refers to "god" in a general sense and Jesus, Muhammad, etc. are excluded from it.  But that's not true at all.  What about religions that do not worship a "god"?  What if I believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monsters (plural)?  Than you are conducting a prayer that has no basis in my religion whatsoever.  I here all the time, as well, "nobody is forcing you to pray with them".  Maybe not, but I am still forced to sit there and listen to your prayer.  The argument that it doesn't affect me is completely unfounded.  While I may not necessarily be "offended" by the act, it's still affects me in the sense that I am being forced to participate in it by just being forced to be there during it.  Regardless, even if your arguments are valid, there is no reason that religion should be endorsed by our government in the first place.
   I plan to delve into this further in another post, but my goal is not to eradicate religion altogether by forcing it out of government.  I simply wish to see freedom and equality had by all no matter their religion.  A moral ground that Christians should take from me, an Atheist. I could continue on for a very long time on this topic, but I'll leave the rest I have to say for a later post. Until then, I ask you to rethink your position in allowing religion to poison our government.

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