Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Other (Christian) White Meat

     Do you remember the big hoopla over which bible President-Elect Obama was going use to be sworn into office?  And who could forget the pastor and self-proclaimed homo "lover" Rick Warren's leading the nation in the Christian "Our Father" (I'm sorry, Warren's not Catholic, so I should have said "Lord's Prayer") at the inauguration?

     Our nation was founded as a place for people to escape the religious homogeneity of European states and religious persecution.  Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states:
     The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
      Then why the big hootenanny over Obama's choice to use Lincoln's bible?  Why subject all Americans to an invocation and an invitation to pray the "Our Father" when not all Americans believe in the god of the "Lord's Prayer"?

     Throughout history, religious majorities (and minorities) have come up with different ways of sniffing out the heretics, gentiles,and non-believers.  For example, in Spain's restaurants there is a gesture of hospitality where guests are offered a plate of charcuterie, which is  dozens of pieces of sliced and cured pork.  Sounds delicious, yes, but the origin of this hospitable act was to sniff out Muslim and Jewish heretics during the inquisition, as for them, eating pork was a grave religious prohibition.  Christian pork-eaters would watch closely for any expression of distaste in their guests, and upon seeing it would turn them over to the Catholic powers that be for "questioning." (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great, pp.40-41.)

     Of course, in the United States of the 21st Century, we've evolved.  We're more tolerant of people's differences when it comes to matters of faith, or lack thereof.  We don't have charcuterie!

     What we do have is a national Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under god" written into it, that causes atheists to squirm like they're choking down forbidden pork.  Imagine the explosive outrage of Christians, if their children were required to say "one nation under Allah" or "Shiva" in our nation's public schools.  But atheist, agnostic, and free thinking children are required to say the pledge every day in our nations' public schools.  By the way, the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist and did not include the words "under god" until 1954, which were added with the intention of rooting out those atheist red commies (and we know how that turned out). 

     We still have oaths in the courts that end with the words "so help me god," which, to me, might as well be "so help me Santa Claus."  What if I refuse to take an oath to the Christian god in court?  Will that cause Christian jurors to view me differently?  What if a president refuses to be sworn in over a Christian bible?  Legally a president could do this, but would the Christian majority allow it?  Would they not call for this president's head on a platter?  Are not these "simple" acts, gestures, and procedures religious tests in violation of Article VI?

     Recently, a story broke in Asheville, North Carolina, where Christians are calling for atheist Cecil Bothwell to be barred from taking his elected position on the city council because he did not take the religious oath "so help me god" when he was sworn into office.  In North Carolina (and six other states) it is still illegal to hold public office if you are an atheist.

     So much for freedom of religious belief in the United States of America.  So much for our Constitution and Article VI and the Supremacy Clause.

     H.K. Edgerton, former Asheville NAACP president (who wouldn't have been able to hold office mere decades ago because of his race) and current Dixie enthusiast, told the Asheville Citizen-Times:
     I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution.
    In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Maryland's requirement to have public officials declare belief in god was an unconstitutional violation of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but there are still seven states (AR, MD, MA, NC, PA, SC, TN & TX) that have constitutions barring atheists from public office.

     Is it just me, or are we not living in the 21st century and in a nation where there is supposed to be freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion?

     I guess when we grow up being force-fed charcuterie dressed with a side of patriotism, we forget that it's truly patriotic to stand up for our freedom to refuse to consume it.


FDeF said...

That plate of mortadella and salami caught my eye. I never knew that these delicacies could be used for evil purposes. The world would be a better place if nothing is "held sacred" - only then will the truly sacred be recognized.