An Invitation to Moderate Religionists
Atheists are not your enemies.

We need your help. Won’t you join us in our efforts to reclaim our civil liberties? Fundamentalists and fanatics of all religions have been bullying us far too long. We cannot afford to remain quiet and complacent while right wing evangelicals continue the insidious take over of our nation.

When religious fundamentalists insist on imposing their consciences on the rest of us, when they sabotage science in our classrooms, when they insist on stonewalling stem cell research, support pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions from doctors, dictate abstinence only sex education, deny women the right to their bodies, coerce our children to apostatize, yes, apostatize by saying words they do not believe, under god in the pledge, use our public squares, tax supported properties, to promote their evangelical agendas by displaying crèche’s, crosses and stone monuments to the ten commandments while denying others a right to the same privilege and hold public school graduations in Christian churches despite the protests of non Christian students and their parents, we must protest.

When our highest ranking governmental officials support the restriction of our civil liberties by appointing right wing conservative judges to our supreme courts and giving religion, evangelistic Christian religion, special privilege by creating and supporting faith based initiatives, and our highest ranking military leaders proselytize their “rapture” agenda to our troops, we must use our laws and our votes to fight back.

I don’t need to tell you, my moderate friends that supporting the separation between government and religion is in the best interest of moderate, reasonable religionists as much as it is in the best interest of atheists.

Let me begin by clearing up a few misconceptions many theists have about atheists.

Atheists have been called militant. If atheists are perceived as militant, it's because we are confrontational in response to unreasonable religious zealots. But rest assured that atheists have no agenda to use physical force or coercion to impose their beliefs on others. The term militant does not apply. In a secular nation we would be quite content to just live and let live.

And, what is “new” about the new atheists? Nothing really. Let me assure you we are still the same people. We still have a clear moral purpose. Our outlook is not dictated by what was "writ from above," but by doing the right thing for its own sake.

Many believe atheist means against theism. Not so. Atheist means not theistic, just as asymmetrical means not symmetrical. It doesn’t mean against symmetrical.

However believing there is or is not a god is really not such a big obstacle between us. I maintain that we share more beliefs with each other than either of us share with fundamental evangelical Christians, or fundamental militant Muslims.

Evangelical bullies have declared war on reason. They have disingenuously used certain words to discredit science and atheism.

For example, "faith" is a powerful bully word that evangelicals use to discredit atheists and scientists. A seemingly harmless little word is used to deceive and control. School board members accuse scientists of having faith in evolution. In one step, with one little word, they position evolution and creationism/intelligent design in the same science classroom, each having equal status.

Evangelistic Christian politicians have achieved an end run around the establishment clause by calling religious people, “people of faith”. Hence we have Bush’s “faith based initiatives,” as opposed “religious initiatives”.

There is a similar problem with the word "theory". Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. Those who would discredit science purposefully use the term in its vernacular sense, a conjecture or an opinion. Evolution becomes just another theory and the "theory" of Intelligent Design garners equal footing with Evolution in science classrooms, as though the truth or falseness of a scientific fact could be determined by popular vote.

There are credible scientists who are also religious men and women. Some of them however push to include Creationism/Intelligent design as a scientific theory alongside evolution by natural selection. Their proposals are rejected not because these scientists are religious but because Creationism/Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. It is not based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. It is rather, an idea, a hunch. It is not science.

Some critics believe the influence of the religious right is waning as Bush's popularity sinks. However, just recently, Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas shilled for the movie “Expelled”, the one where Ben Stein claims proponents of Intelligent Design are expelled from the ranks of serious science.

Huckabee, and other right wing politicians think the truth of scientific facts should be determined by popular vote.

And, Regent University founded by Pat Robertson is doing just fine, thank you. Make no mistake. Regent University has an evangelistic agenda. It was founded in order to produce Christian leaders who will change the world. The University, which includes a law school accredited by The American Bar Association in 1996, openly teaches strategies to use the law to promote an evangelical agenda.

Many graduates are choosing to pursue politics and taking jobs in Washington. Since 2001, 150 of the university's students have worked in the Bush Administration. Many prospective candidates for the presidency are pledging their allegiance to Robertson and his powerful base: Former Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, recently spoke at the University, and Rudy Giuliani was scheduled to speak there until he dropped out of the race for the presidency.

Michael L. Weinstein and Davin Seay, “With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military” show evidence that high-ranking military officers use their power to coerce recruits to attend evangelical, rapture-pushing religious services. I guess they think Christian soldiers armed with a passionate belief that God is on their side and hyped up to kill Muslims make better killing machines.

There is of course another possible motive for proselytizing in our military schools and boot camps. Evangelicals believe Rapture cannot occur until the Jews have secured the Promised Land. They believe that helping the Jews to achieve their goal to secure the Promised Land could speed up the Rapture.

So, no, I don’t believe the influence of the religious right is going away any time soon. And more to the point, I don’t think their influence is going to go away all by itself.

I think we are at a tipping point. No, the sky is not falling, but we cannot sit complacently in the pot as the water warms by slow incremental degrees until we are cooked.

The last time we were in this dangerous position was during the cold war between the United States and the communist USSR. This potentially catastrophic conflict was also infused with religious ideology. The bad communists were atheists, the good Christians were on the side of democracy.

During that conflict, Christians, especially in the United States, assumed that atheism was the problem. If you are old enough, you can remember the McCarthy era. This is when Christianity became equated with patriotism, when “in God we trust” became our national motto and “under God” sneaked into our pledge. During this time period Cecil B. DeMille donated stone replicas of the Ten Commandments to courthouses across the nation. This was a publicity stunt to promote his movie.

In reality, it was the immoral despotic leaders of Communist countries who were the real villains, the ones who sought to obliterate religion in deference to the absolute and unquestionable dogma of the sovereignty of the state.

We narrowly escaped that catastrophe. Unfortunately atheism has been blamed for the near destruction of civilizations and equated with being unpatriotic and immoral in the United States ever since.

There can be no mistake, however that during and after the cold war, the United States became fertile ground for the seeds of evangelical dominionist Christianity to grow and be nurtured. The religious right already has too much power in our government and it wants more.

The recent best sellers on atheism are being promoted extensively in the United States. There is a very good reason for this. The United States is the so-called most powerful and most, in-your-face, Christian, nation in the world. These writers have successfully demolished the 11th commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Criticize Religion,” and replaced it with “Thou Shalt Exercise Reason over Righteousness,” and I personally applaud their efforts.

Another reason why atheism is loudly promoted is because militant Islamists, the ones who are militant in the kill-the-infidels kind of way, are wreaking havoc all over the world. Oh my, that’s an understatement.

Can you imagine a world wide religious war fought with nuclear weapons?

Yes, atheists are in-your-face in defense of atheism. Only one that I know of, Christopher Hichens, might be considered militant. He, along with militant Christians, supports George Bush’s war.

There is a very good chance that the militant Dominionists, the Christian Evangelicals, the ones who prophesy Rapture, in the United States and the militant Muslims, those who think it is their Allah given edict to convert the world to Islam for Allah, will drag us all into a never ending religious war.

Can you imagine a world wide religious war with nuclear weapons? When will we evolve beyond a tribe mentality?

When atheists speak out to hold the line on religions intrusions in our government, we are perceived as the bullies who want to deprive people of their right to worship as they wish. This is not the case. We have not voiced one single objection to religious displays at churches, temples, or mosques, on private properties, or on private business properties. We have made no attempt to restrict people from praying if they wish to do so. We simply do not want others to coerce us or our children into participating in their rituals. But you would think, from the volume of the ouch they shout, and the victim stance they garner, that we are advocating the complete muzzling of everything religious everywhere. Not so.

Every atheist I know would fight for the right of people of faith to worship as they please so long as they do not break the laws of the land.

Losing our civil liberties here at home is just the groundwork for creating a theocracy, an evangelical fundamentally Christian nation whose citizens can be hyped up for an all out war with Islamic theocracies, a mob mentality, a God’s on our side lynch mob of us against them. Can you imagine a world wide religious war with nuclear weapons?

So who are the real militants?

When atheists protest against crosses, crèches and monuments to the ten commandments displayed on public tax supported lands, when we use the law to confront “under God” in our pledge and prayer in our schools, and when we protest our tax monies being spent for faith based initiatives, we are trying to stop the senseless erosion of civil liberties for all citizens, the right to discuss and debate ideologies, yes, the right to criticize and yes, the right to freedom of conscience for all, and yes the right of people to worship as they please so long as they don’t break the laws of the land.

I invite all you Moderates, religionists who are “people of faith,” but also “people of reason,” to join us atheists, “people of trust” but also “people of reason” in a movement to support our secular Constitution.

How about it?

 —M. LaCourt    

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Marilyn LaCourt