God Talk: Debates and Discussions with Believers
These are actual conversations that have taken place between religious believers and myself, through forums, email, dialogue, etc.
Atheism is America's State Religion?
Christian: Seperation of church and state wasn't to protect the state from religion, but rather the reverse, to protect religion from the state.
Right now America IS in danger of being controlled by a single faith, atheism. I have no problem with what atheism itself, but many atheist fundies (they exist) are about as militant as their Christian counterparts, wanting everyone to abandon the "silly notion" of God and turn America into a wholely irreligious society. Trust me, it's happening.
Rebuttal: Sorry, but it is people like you who are trying to rewrite history. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were both very outspoken in making sure that government remained secular. They both challenged state laws that would have favored one religion over another. Separation of church and state is, and has always been, a two way street. What would be the point of it if religion was allowed to infiltrate the government? That would fail to protect other religions from the religious state too!
Atheism is not a faith, it is a reactionary position, a negation of theism. It is no more a faith than not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism is by no means organized either, and atheists are far from the only people who recognize separation of church and state to be a two way street.
America has always been secular. God is found nowhere in the Constitution and all references to him on our money and in our pledge were added decades later. I don't trust people who distort history for faith.
Christian: And my point is that it is increasingly becoming a one way street. A government that says that there is no God is not a secular government. Atheism is currently the state religion. I think the government should refuse to answer the question at all. Instead, it is giving a clear preference to anti-religionists. There are religious Americans just as there are irreligious Americans. The people make a nation, not the other way around.
Rebuttal: No, your point is that it originated as a one way street and needs to stay that way. Our government does not say "there is no God", instead it leaves religion out of it altogether. You really mean to tell me atheism is the state religion when we still have "In God We Trust" on money and "one nation under God" in the pledge, when atheists are spoken of as second class citizens in polls on who we would elect as president and in the words of our own elected officials?
Christian: Pfft, words on the dollar bill means nothing. And I never said the words "one way street," though now that you mention it, yeah that's actually about right.
When any religion takes over a government, the tyranny goes only one way. Right now no religion is telling the government to do anything, even though everyone is going insane by thinking that the "Christian right" is somehow going to turn America into a theocracy.
Rebuttal: I partially agree that words on the dollar mean nothing, but I'm asking you where this evidence is of an "atheist takeover" of the American government. Last I heard, only 1 member of Congress is a non-theist.
The Christian right is a persistent nuisance, but I agree that they aren't succeeding much. They continue to try and force religion into science classes, end sex education, and prevent gays from marrying though. They're not sitting idly by.
Christian: By "takeover," I do not refer to some massive conspiracy that is secretly led by satanists or some other nonsense. I speak merely of the ACLU. Some atheist complains about a christmas tree in the town square or the word "God" on a public building, and the ACLU strikes up a storm and acts as if the Tenth Crusade just started up and the streets ran with the blood of alleged "heretics." That's what I mean by "takeover." Shouldn't have used such a strong word.
Rebuttal: I get so tired of seeing the ACLU painted as a hateful atheist cabal by religious believers. You don't know who approaches the ACLU to take things like prayer in schools to court. Aside from atheists, there are Muslims, Jews, and people of other faiths that certainly have felt discriminated against by the Christian majority. It seems like Christians don't like the ACLU because they get in the way of their desire to proselytize to the world by any means necessary.
Christian: Well, I can tell you, it ain't the majority of Christians who proselytize and rage about prayer in school (an issue to which I respond "isn't that what churches are for?") and other such nonsense. That's what they want you to think. I guess the same could be said of the minority of atheists who are looking to make it harder for many to practice their religion by celebrating holidays publicly.
Rebuttal: Maybe my perspective is skewed, since I live in the American South, but every time I start to believe that, I encounter people or read news articles that make me second guess it again. Have you looked up the ridiculous number of court cases filed in the last few years, challenging evolution and trying to force in creationism? There are tons in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, and several other states. Hard to believe a minority is orchestrating them all.
Christian: I do not mean the majority of atheists. There are a minority who wish everyone to give up on the "silly superstition" of religion and "convert" to atheism. It's kinda human nature to think like that. But I respect the majority of atheists who do not think this.
Rebuttal: Feel free to tell me how the government is "answering the question". By preventing religious displays from being erected on public property?
No one is disputing that America is made up of religious and irreligious people. The purpose of separating church and state is NOT just to appease atheists, it's to protect the rights and freedoms of religious believers too. By keeping religion out of government, everyone is free to believe/worship as they choose.
Christian: By answer the question, I mean not answer the question of "is there a God or no God." The religious want the government to say yes, the athiests want a no. Right now, the government is saying a definate "no." There should be no answer at all. And I agree, the purpose is not for appeasing atheists, but that is exactly what is happening. Can't put up religious displays unless they are "all enclusive." Where in the constitution is that?
And I again agree on your last point.
Rebuttal: I can't speak for all atheists, but this one does NOT want the government to say there is no God, I just want the government to ignore religion, as the founding fathers intended. Again, what makes you think our government is saying a definite "no" to the question of God? I see a lot of assertions on your part with absolutely no evidence.
Personally, I don't think the religious displays is about the Constitution as much as it's about common sense. I really don't know any atheists who would find the Christmas tree offensive or protest church bells ringing or Menorahs or Muslims praying in public. The problems we have are when government favors any single religion by allowing crap like the 10 commandments in courthouses or nativity scenes in front of state buildings. Everyone is free to worship in their own way, but faith is personal, it doesn't need to be broadcast into the public arena with the endorsement of government.
When you allow one group to put up its little display, what happens when others start wanting their space too? Will Christians be cool with Muslim or Satanist displays being put right next to theirs? There's bound to be fighting and arguments one way or another. You can't favor one religion's displays and exclude another's, so in order to avoid all that ridiculous messy conflict, it's best just to say no religious displays at all (or atheist displays).
Christian: I'm right there with you man. I don't speak for all Christians, but I don't want the govt to say there is a God. I say leave everyone alone to worship in their own way, which is usually publicly.
I have no problems with a Muslim answering a call to prayer in public, same with a Menorah in public. And the majority of Muslims are fine with church bells ringing on Sundays and I doubt there are any Jews who find offense to a Christmas tree. To me, Atheists are the ones with the problem.
Rebuttal: Well, I disagree. The first case against school-sponsored prayer was supported by two Jewish groups. The Kitzmiller v. Dover case against intelligent design was taken to court by several Christian families. I have never heard of an atheist opposing the Christmas tree, but I have heard many point out that it is a pagan symbol. It seems to me that you have a very vague idea in your head of this "atheist enemy", who is constantly out to trample on every facet of your beliefs. This is not uncommon for Christians that apparently love feeling persecuted. I don't really know what to say other than that I doubt your assertions. You have provided no clear examples of them anyway.
America was created as a secular government, but in the last 50 or 60 years, our elected officials have done their best to overturn that and transform us into a more religious government. We have God on our money, God in our pledge, God in presidential speeches, a National Prayer Breakfast, tax exemptions for churches, and you think government favors atheism? Frankly, I think that's absurd.
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