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Why are some atheists so adamant about de-godifying america?

...especially when our country was founded on Christian morals and there is no legal document that says the US gov is to be devoid of religion. Separation of church and state also doesn’t mean what a lot of people seem to think it means.

Posted: June 13th 2007

George Locke

First, regarding the law.

Unless you are a legal scholar, it seems wise to simply trust the decisions of the US Supreme Court as regards questions of law and the Constitution. Here’s what the Supreme Court has to say about the separation of church and state:

  1. The government’s action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
  2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
  3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

(see Lemon v. Kurtzman )

This is what separation of church and state means in America.

It takes a legal scholar to interpret the Establishment Clause . However the question isn’t really about what the law does say: it’s about what the law should say, and anyone is qualified to voice his/her opinions on that :)

I interpret two possible intentions in this question, “Why do atheists oppose government action which involves religion?”, and “Why do atheists oppose religion?”. The second question is vague, and there are many answers here within this website, so I’ll address the first question.

The more a government involves a certain religion in its policies, the more it alienates its citizens who do not follow that religion. As the government promotes Christianity, non-Christians (and non-religious Christians) become second class citizens.

Take the issue of welfare services provided by Christian, church-based institutions. These institutions do a lot of good. However, it only stands to reason that non-Christians will be less likely to avail themselves of these services. (One reason is that many such services are accompanied by proselytizing; another is that many of the service providers are at least somewhat likely to rebuke or even deny service to non-believers.) So when the government diverts its social aid budget away from secular programs to “faith-based initiatives”, it is effectively promoting the welfare of Christians over non-Christians.

While the preceding argument regards the benefits of services provided by the government, this is only the most obvious form of discrimination to result from government involvement with religion. If a government enacts laws that empower a particular church or conspicuously enacts its principles, then the government is implicitly favoring the followers of that religion. This has far-reaching impacts beyond the scope of social aid. It damages the social and political landscape of the country in a variety of ways.

Some Christians in this country write about a war on Christianity, which is how they perceive the effort to enforce the separation of church and state. However misguided I believe this to be, one can easily see that non-Christian groups would react similarly if the government started promoting Christian causes. This kind of conflict weakens the country and should be avoided.

Posted: June 20th 2007

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logicel

While the majority of Americans may be practicing Christians, the American government is secular and not run according to any religious belief, including Christian.

Atheists do not want the practice of Christian beliefs to be stopped; they just insist on keeping them separate from the functioning of the government, as the USA government has successfully accomplished since its inception. The American government has a very strong and clear Constitutional basis to keep the running of the State separate from embracing any particular religious belief, including the religious belief so expressed by the majority.

Keeping the American government secular, will insure that all religious beliefs, including Christian ones, will be allowed to flourish as personal beliefs.

Posted: June 16th 2007

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RTambree

Firstly, the Constitution has a famous clause that separates church and state, and secondly, the USA is the most heavily armed military power the world has ever known. Having theocratic leaders with the power to wield apocalyptic weapons of mass destruction can’t be a healthy thing. One of the underlying problems with the Abrahamic monotheistic religious is a deep-seated dissatisfaction of the world as imperfect. This probably originated with the Platonic or Pythagorean division between the “ideal” (later to become heaven), and the imperfect, fallen world.

There is no cosmic battle between good and evil which is fought for on the battlegrounds of the Middle East. Thinking along these lines is lunacy, and coupled with WMDs, is madness.

Having a theocratic USA will also cause harm in other ways – faith-based initiatives, diminished science-funding such as stem cell research, teaching creationism in schools, discriminating against homosexuals, and forbidding the use of condoms in Africa, etc.

Posted: June 16th 2007

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