Our data says the same thing: take god out of our formal political ceremonies


I just read the CNN article "Lawsuit seeks to take 'so help me God' out of inaugural" written by Caroll Cratty (here is the url:http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/31/inauguration.lawsuit/index.html).

From the article: "Newdow and other plaintiffs say they want to watch the inaugural either in person or on television. As atheists, they contend, having to watch a ceremony with religious components will make them feel excluded and stigmatized.

"Plaintiffs are placed in the untenable position of having to choose between not watching the presidential inauguration or being forced to countenance endorsements of purely religious notions that they expressly deny," according to the lawsuit.

The data from the "Coming Out as an Atheist" survey indicates that indeed non-believers do feel uncomfortable in these situations. Here is the question from the survey and the results:

Which best describes how you feel in public gatherings where religion is invoked (for example when a speaker refers to god or says a prayer)?

I feel no discomfort 18.4%
I feel slight discomfort 34.2%
I feel moderate discomfort 29.1%
I feel great discomfort 18.4%

So, as you can see, the vast majority of the 8,200 people who took the survey feel at least some discomfort in settings -such as the inauguration- where religion is forced on those listening. That over 18% feel great discomfort is significant.

My knee jerk thought is to offer our data to Newdow (et al) so as to provide empirical data for their lawsuit. Thoughts from you?

Take care out there tonight.


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Comment by Jude Johnson on December 31, 2008 at 2:57pm
It seems that Newdow may appreciate our input.

I selected "slight discomfort" when I took the survey because I was thinking about more personal public situations when you're in a large group and people pray before a meal or say things like, "By the grace of god, (insert any coincidental event that just happened to have a positive outcome)." (What about the events that had a negative outcome? - Oh yeah, we're not meant to understand the 'ways of the lord'... he works in 'mysterious ways', yadda, yadda...)
- This gives me mild discomfort. (Mostly because I try not to dwell on it.)

When it comes to public situations, such as the inauguration, my discomfort is on a whole different level. In these situations, I'm simply disgusted that the American people allow such things. What if we ever had an atheistic president? (I know... not likely any time soon -- not one who could admit it, certainly.) What would that oath mean to him/her?

Situations like this simply remind me of H.W. Bush's comments that atheists are neither citizens, nor patriots -- because they seem to support his notion. (Not a "citizen"? Am I an illegal alien in my home country??)

It also makes me sad when I see such blatant evidence that most Americans are deluded by religion. To me, religion represents ignorance, war, justification (of almost anything), and the severe and ever-present retardation of scientific advancement. Because I don't like to be sad, I tend to avoid such situations and instead spend my time combatting my own ignorance by reading something based in reality/reason/science/etc.

Happy new year Tom!



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