Thursday, June 11, 2009

Atheist Congressman Pete Stark: Tell it like it is!

The highest-ranking openly atheist member of the US government, Representative Pete Stark (D-Fremont, California), once again is raising eyebrows and making waves in Washington, simply by asking reasonable questions – as usual, trying to remind the President and others that we have a "wall of separation" between church and state in this country.

One of the surprising, and somewhat disappointing, features of the Obama presidency is that he advocates government support of faith-based initiatives. It is wonderful when groups of citizens get together to help the less fortunate, whether they are churches, schools, or civic groups. And there is nothing wrong with the government supporting these efforts. But when the government specifically targets faith-based initiatives, it is plainly unconstitutional.

One of the hardest tasks of being American is to avoid pragmatism, and embrace our constitution. It's so easy to lock up the Japanese during wartime, or to create blacklists of "communists" during the cold war, or to deny access to a fair trial at Guantanamo when terrorists attack our country. Whether it's fear, or loathing, or hatred, all too often Americans have been willing to give up their principles for expedience, all down through our history.

Fortunately, in each generation, there have been a few courageous individuals who understand that our Constitution requires sacrifice, and are willing to stand up and say so. They remind us that we can't take the easy road, the simplistic road, any time something bothers us. Rep. Pete Stark is one such individual.

The faith-based initiative, though not as damaging as other failures in the past such as the Japanese internment camps, is still another example of expedience. Most Americans don't really care that much about the separation of church and state, they don't see the dangers, nor do they appreciate the role of religious governments in America's own history. They've forgotten the lessons of the past, the very foundations of this country.

Faith-based initiatives seem harmless, they get the job done, and since the majority of Americans are religious, they don't see the problem. But it IS a problem: it's a plain and egregious violation of our constitution.


  1. I think most people just choose to ignore what a horrible place to live the United States is, and all because of Christianity. I mean, for how many hundred years now have people simply refused to even consider moving there?

  2. "I think most people just choose to ignore what a horrible place to live the United States is,"

    Um, you either have a very bad conception of the US, or a very bad definition of horrible. Listen, I'm an atheist who's annoyed by Christians as much as anyone, and there are certainly criticisms to be made of America, but please. If you think anything that's wrong with America makes it a horrible place to live, you obviously aren't aware of how large and diverse the country actually is.

  3. Hoo boy. Makarios was being ironic.

    It's no secret that many people in the world aspire to live in the U.S. If you still don't get it, he's saying that the religiosity of Americans has NOT damaged our quality of life.

    Of course, what he ignores is this: One of the great features of American life, and one of the things that makes it such a desirable place to live, is our religious freedom.

    But that freedom is under threat.

    Many Americans would like to stifle the religious freedom of other Americans by imposing THEIR religious doctrines on the nation as a whole.

    We see that in the draconian anti-choice laws that have recently been passed by various state legislatures. We see it in efforts to "restore" prayer in public schools, to remove barriers between church and state, and to teach our children (falsely) that America's founders were Bible-Believing evangelical Christians.

    America has no state religion. We are a nation of many creeds. Some of us have no creed. But these "patriotic Christians" want to change it to fit into their own sectarian evangelical Christian image.

    Behind the pious claims, they want their evangelical Christian beliefs enacted into law.

    THAT is the real threat to America.


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