I recently read yet another story illustrating the assumption of rightness and privilege, and the prevention of thinking by religious fundamentalists, Christians mostly, in the United States. Two young men, one twenty-three, and the other, twenty-five, had been enrolled in the University of Tennessee. Each had become derailed by booze and drugs, and had dropped out. Each of them had turned their life around, with the help of friends and family, but, by themselves. The very fact of their addiction was proof to the Godly, of their allegiance to Satan, especially when it became known that they were both atheists. Their rehabilitation was ignored.
They both re-enrolled in university and were doing well. As study material for a Civics course, they went to observe sessions of the State Legislature. In direct contravention of a law, passed by an earlier Legislature, there was a pre-session prayer to “God, and Jesus”. They filled out the necessary form, and waited to ask a question of the floor.
When it came their turn, they suggested that the group refrain from breaking the law, and do away with the opening Christian prayer. Half the legislators merely laughed and ignored their legal request. The opinions of the other half ranged up to having them ridden out of town on a rail. Their signed form is a legal document and is supposed to be placed on file, but nobody seems to know just what happened to it.
They said they knew going in, that nothing is ever accomplished via the request form, but procedure must be followed. They found a lawyer, and, funded by an atheist group, he took their case and sued the Legislature. They say that they were surprised by the amount of support for their cause, including from some “good Christians.” Without the facility for objective thinking, it is almost impossible to see a problem from the inside.
Some incensed citizens have said that there will be a huge bang, when they hit the bottom of hell. Here’s where some of the lack of thought starts. If, as accused, they are doing the Devil’s work, wouldn’t they be welcomed to Hell and given a union steward’s position? The ironic point is that, if they don’t believe in God, they don’t believe in a Satan, to work for.
All they requested was that there be a minute of silence, so that each person present could communicate with their personal Deity, in their prescribed manner. The law states that, either there be no prayer, or a vague, non-denominational offering be given. They want the law of the land, and the rules of the Bible, to be obeyed. In the Bible, Christ said, Even as ye have done unto these, the least of my brothers, ye have done unto me. In regards to the law, Christ also said, Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s. Apparently even Caesar is too preoccupied with privilege, to render.
The Bible-belt Christians’ ox has been gored, and they have come roaring back, as usual with great passion but absolutely no thought. Someone has had the temerity to challenge their position of privilege, and By God, we’re not going to take it, no matter what the law says. One of the boys says that most of his family, at least accepts what he is doing, but his grandma is so disappointed by what she believes is occurring, that she won’t even speak to him. He finds it ironically amusing that she always insisted that he obey all laws, not be selfish and think of others.
Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses. When Jesse, The Body, Ventura was governor of Minnesota, he learned the difference between truth and tact. He paraphrased, and said that Christianity is the refuge of weak-minded, weak-willed people who can’t think for themselves. He got shat on, in great volume, and from a great height, by his constituents, not necessarily because he was wrong, but because the faithful don’t like to be reminded of their failings.
There is a story about an Arab whose camel sticks his nose in the tent to get it warm, and the Bedouin does nothing about it. Then the camel sticks his whole head in, then his shoulders, then his chest, and each time the Arab does not force him back out. Soon, the entire camel is inside the tent, and the Arab is forced out into the cold. This is akin to what the fundamentalist Christians are doing now.
If someone tries to shoo the religious camel back out of the tent, the hyper-Christians claim they’ve lived there all along, and they have the right to stay. They make the unsupported claim that the country was founded, “on Christian Principles.” Most of the Founding Fathers, who could think strongly and clearly enough, to midwife a new nation into existence, could be described as Secular Humanists. Even those who were good Christians, were wise enough to see the advisability of separation of Church and State.
Someone recently tried to have the two words, “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance. Immediately, the thumpers were all over it, claiming that the phrase was, “always there”. It meant nothing to them that the “Good Christian” president, Dwight Eisenhower violated the Constitution, and had it inserted as recently as 1958. The same thing is happening with the phrase, “In God we trust,” on coins and bills. It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong with these words; it’s just the insistence by the fundamentalists that they are infallibly correct and no-one else should have the right to express a contrary opinion.
It’s a good thing that there are a few Secularists, confrontational and vocal enough to gore a few of these sacred oxen, to demonstrate that people other than Christians have legal, social and political rights, even if it’s just the right to be left alone.