Do religionists have an undue influence in politics?
Maher complained that Christians, Jews, and Muslims get their way from Congress because they make enough noise. He pointed out that 16% of Americans identify as unaffiliated with any religion. (Sidenote: someone should tell Maher that “unaffiliated” does not mean “atheist” or “anti-religion”.) 16% is more than the Jews and Muslims in America, and so if the rationalists raised their voices, they’d get their way too and have their rights protected.
Problem is that rationalists are getting their way to the detriment of religionists. It is because of rationalists’ campaigns against any and all public manifestation of religion that the battle between religionists and rationalists has become so sharp. They want all crosses, stars of David, and crescents hidden; but they want to flaunt their fishes of Darwin and anti-religious platitudes and pithy statements with impunity. They want to punish religionists’ statements they find offensive, all the while being free to offend religionists with impunity. They want to stop religionists from enacting laws consistent with religionists’ values, while they want to enact legislation consistent with their anti-religious values.
See the irony?
Fact is that no one is forcing the rationalists to practice or believe anything. America’s rationalists do not live in Saudi Arabia or Taliban-run Afghanistan, where they are punished for not going to prayer. Rationalists are quite free in America. And they should not attempt to infringe on the rights and desires of religionists.
Maher asserts that the Founding Fathers were anti-religious. (Actually, this is false. Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists, and many were active Freemasons, for whom belief in a Supreme Being is necessary and who attempt to put into practice spiritually-derived values and standards using Biblical and (with regard to the Scottish Rite) Christian allegories.) While they opposed the establishment of a state religion, the First Amendment is often distorted. The Founding Fathers did not enact the First Amendment so that religion will have no place in public life. The First Amendment was enacted specifically so that no one Christian body becomes the state church, as was the wont in other countries. The First Amendment was, in fact, to protect and spread religious practice by ensuring the differing religious organizations would not come under the tyranny of any single religious body. There is no “freedom from religion” enshrined in The Constitution. So claiming this right is nonsensical for rationalists.
As an aside, go read Line ‘Em Up, Side By Side, and Put the Scripture to Their Professed Beliefs on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 by Blackiswhite, Imperial Agent Provocateur of Taxes, Stupidity, and Death. The beginning thereof shows what role religion played in the American Revolution.
There is no suppression or persecution of rationalists here in America. If anyone thinks so, let them shout their anti-religious screeds (oh, wait, they already do!) and then go and try to do so in Pakistan, where not only is religion is so pervasive, but making such comments would get one hanged if not shot. Same with India. Then they will know what it means to be persecuted, suppressed, or oppressed. It’s definitely not here.
And while some religionists do vote based on or informed by their religion, a good number of Americans are politically active based on non-religious elements. Many religionists get along well with others, not caring about their religion. In fact, asking about a person’s religion is considered a very personal question and potentially offensive.
As far as politics go, American politics are quite free from religion. That is not to say that morals, values, and standards don’t play a role in politics, as they do in American society, but there’s a difference between being irreligious and being immoral. It seems many rationalists want us to get rid of morality, values, and standards, replacing such precious things with absolute tolerance and acceptance of everything under the sun.
As a prelude to my next post: rationalists need to realize that not all atheists are immoralists. These, like Maher, are the extremists. And extremists of any type are dangerous.