Wherever it can be gotten away with, where people can be intimidated into acquiescence, Jeez is lard.
The problem of god in public political discourse has been going on for a while, and I suspect more since the administration of Ronald Reagan, which was marked by the rise of the Christian Coalition. Still, it even dates back to 1954 and the inclusion of the phrase, "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance. I have to ask, when is the last time when someone made a political speech that they did NOT conclude with something to the effect of, "god bless you and god bless the United States of America?" A simple "thank you" isn't enough any more and hasn't been for years. That phrase has become a de facto requirement for one's political survival.
But as I've said many times around here, who bells the cat? Who can call bullshit on our politicians and have the strength and gravitas to make it stick?
I made such a speech, but I am only a city councilman.
As to the matter of separation of church and state, that will only survive as long as there are those who are willing to defend it. If atheists are not interested in doing so (note President Obama's campaign adviser noted we are not a constituency that he will court, though nones are 20% of the populace - see my petition on whitehouse.gov http://wh.gov/R1cx shameless plug, explanation on my blog here), then we will lose that separation.
We will never be a constituency unless we make it so. As long as office holders and candidates continue, as a group, to thank god and so forth we will be nobody. I'm afraid the time is coming for atheists to focus their efforts towards getting candidates elected and into influential committees. Trolling websites and talking amongst ourselves is great fun but is a few steps short of accomplishing anything.
Getting people elected is going to take money. We need visibility and respect, something that can only come from having rational voices taking part in the decision making process. I believe our goals must be narrowed to produce credibility. Perhaps we should generate slogans that promote the elimination of religion from government. Far too many people seem to think we're trying to burn their bibles and raze their churches. In some cases it's ignorance, in too many cases it's slander. It needs to be addressed. If we're not seen as promoting a rational improvement in government I fear we'll never win them over. We may be 20% (nones) but we're not going anywhere without a good sized chunk of the other 80%.
The Evangelicals got their start by going for small, obscure political posts (like city councilmen in villages of 128 people), school boards, elections supervisors, other posts that candidates were not interested in, then moved up the party ladder of the GOP.
There is no reason we cannot do so too. It just takes time and perseverance.
And with the GOP in real danger of becoming marginalised, there are third parties that are amicable to a truly secular platform. (I belong to one, but I am not plugging political parties, not even my own, just the idea.) Third parties have become important before. The Whigs elected four presidents. The GOP used to be a third party. It is not impossible, it is just hard.
Will my position on an out-of-the way city council in an insignificant village in Nebraska make a difference? Not a whit, other than to the people who live here. Will it make a difference if all across the nation atheists, agnostics, don't cares, and the religious who hold a secular state to be the best defence of their religious freedoms do it? You betcha.
Agree completely. Now is a very good time for a non-crackpot third party, what with the republicans suffering from wingnutism and the democrats being only a tolerable alternative. Considering myself to be of the old mold moderate republican, I could definitely be won over to a third party.
I think atheism is never going to be a strong selling point for a candidate but a discriminating voter could use it as a guideline for certain issues. Maybe if it were coupled with a promise to get government back in the business of running the country rationally, without distraction. As you pointed out, beginning at the local level and working up, office holders could just hold the line against nonsense. It wouldn't be sexy but if they blew their own horn, they might sway the way government worked. It has to be remembered that being atheist does not stand for much. A person could hold any position on issues, they just don't filter it through a theistic filter.
It would be great if there were some way to convince the theists what we seek to achieve is in their own best interest. So many just can't see beyond the tribal level.
You're right in that atheism does not, by itself, stand for something.
It does represent something: the atheist will not take without good reason and evidence any particular claim. The nature of atheism demonstrates that.
John Kerrey, who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate from Nebraska against Deb Fischer (a Tea Party darling and Evangelical Dominionist), made a point during his senate and gubernatorial careers -not- to pander to religion with remarks of "America is blessed by God" or what not in his speeches. He feels that religion is a private matter and should not be part of political discourse.
That position used to work for him. It does not now.
Old guard Republican, eh? The kind of Republican that was actually socially conscious and liberally minded? (The GOP used to be the liberal party in the days of Yellow Dog Democrats.)
If souls existed, the GOP sold theirs to the Dominionists.
God is such a handy political tool. We live in this great nation, widely recognized as the world leader, so the God tool gets pulled out relentlessly as the reason for our success by our leaders. Then, when tragedy stikes, such as a hurricane, wildfire, drought, tornados, etc. - the God tool is equally useful to the religiously disturbed in the capacity as the punisher for whatever they see is wrong in the US, or elsewhere. The simple fact is, even if the entire world turned Christian and every inhabitant fit themselves into a universally agreed upon morality mold, the natural disasters would still occur on the same random schedule. You would think that even the most simple minded of human would be able to grasp this concept, yet the God tool rages on. Religion is more about blind patriotism than genuine beliefs.
Yet the religious who are so bent on tearing the soul out of the Establishment Clause of the constitution don't seem to realise that when the protection of religious belief and non-government interference in religion is gone, there is no protection for their own particular faith.
The best defence of religious freedom is a secular state. The Soviet Union did not have religious freedom because it was constitutionally-barred: it was in the Soviet constitution.
They did not have religious freedom due to the presence of soldiers in the churches.
In nearly every Western democracy and constitutional monarchy, there is an official state religion. In those nations, atheism is much more prevalent than it is here.
Our nation seems to be the most religious nation in the West. Coincidence that we are a secular democracy? Do the religious in the USA not see this?
The Establishment Clause is for their protection just as much as it is for ours. They can't grasp that their efforts might just put them on the wrong side of an inquisition.
"You have committed heresy by stating that you believe the wine and waffer are the actual blood and flesh of Christ, when the official policy of this Christian nation is that they are only symbolic of the blood and flesh of Christ. I sentence you to 100 lashes, followed by ten years of hard labor." Or vise versa. Or any one of the hundreds of thousands of other differences between the myriad of forms of Christianity and other religions that exist in the US.