I'm normally a quiet person. I'm not moved to profanity easily. I am largely in support of, though somewhat disappointed in, our current US administration. But I just got an e-mail from the White House, as did many other people in a community I share. And this makes the situation not a usual one. This comes from Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:
Fuck this. Fuck everything about this. This is complete and total bullshit. The fact that an "Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" exists is bullshit. This is antithetical to the principles upon which our nation was founded. We are NOT one nation under god. We do NOT trust in god.The separation of church and state outlined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is an important founding principle of our nation. Our nation's Bill of Rights guarantees not only that the government cannot establish an official religion, but also guarantees citizens' rights to practice the religion of their choosing or no religion at all.Throughout our history, people of all faiths – as well as secular Americans – have played an important role in public life. And a robust dialogue about the role of religion in public life is an important part of our public discourse.While the President strongly supports every American's right to religious freedom and the separation of church and state, that does not mean there's no role for religion in the public square.When he was a Senator from Illinois, President Obama gave a keynote address at the Call to Renewal conference where he spoke about the important role religion plays in politics and in public life."A sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters."That's why President Obama supports the use of the words "under God' in our Pledge of Allegiance and "In God we Trust' on our currency. These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life, while we continue to recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans. As the President said in his inaugural address, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers." We're proud of that heritage, and the strength it brings to our great country.
That. Is. Not. America.
I am not unaware of the role that religion has played in our history. I am also, unlike most people, not unaware that that role has not always, and I would go so far as to say rarely, been a positive one.
The addition of "under god" to the pledge of allegiance took place under McCarthyism, not exactly a shining moment in our history. Putting "In God We Trust" on our money became law during the same period. "In God We Trust" became our national motto during the same period. Not only has this been "one nation under god" for only about 60 years, it became so only to differentiate ourselves from the communist USSR. Because some people were scared of "Ivan" in the 1950s, I have to live with blatant theism thrown in my face whenever I look at a piece of American currency or hear children being taught to love their country.
I find it hard to express just how much anger I am feeling right now. I am in no way proud to be American at this moment. My country, the leaders of my nation, have forgotten the words of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and so many of the profoundly secular people who were instrumental in the founding of this country. I think that our leaders have forgotten the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1797:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.The petitions that led to this response from the White House were some of the most supported petitions on the site set up to allow them. The r/atheism forum of reddit.com just celebrated passing 200,000 members, a wonderful milestone for a single Internet forum representing any community. There are millions of atheists in the United States. Where is the government decree stating that every American has to look at something on a frequent basis stating "In Reason We Trust"? No god of any type has any part in my life, and no god of any type is supposed to have a part in the governance of my country. With one e-mail, one page on a website, the White House has let down the American people, and the Constitution of the United States. Today is a sad day.