Monday, January 26, 2009

Legislated Atheism

It sounds idiotic just reading it, doesn't it?

I had a debate with a friend of mine the other day. He's a good guy, we just don't agree on some things. We were discussing the inauguration as I'm sure were a lot of people. Yet what we disagreed on was not the President, the policies, the future by the Pastor.

Now, for those of you who did not watch the inauguration a Pastor spoke, evoking the usually symbols of God and Jesus while leading the assembled masses in prayer.

Now, when asked what religion I follow I usually answer Unitarian Universalist, though I don't necessarily approve of the way the faith as a whole behaves. But that's for another time. I also identify as Agnostic, sometimes Atheist, and generally disregard religion as a whole.

Now what my friend and I were arguing was whether or not it is appropriate to have prayer in our official ceremonies. My point was this: We live in a country with no official religion, a firm stance on the separation of church and state and yet we have a Christian prayer at our Inauguration. I went on further to argue that seeing as we have a wide array of faiths represented in the American public why not have a varied prayer, if a prayer at all? Why do we consistently evoke the same Christian imagery?

I see it as unofficially endorsing a Christian faith through the evocation of that faiths symbols and norms. I went on to say as we are unable to accurately represent every faith, why represent any at all? Why not just do away with prayer in official ceremonies?

His response was that to do that would be legislating atheism.

I honestly did not know what to say.

Atheism, is the lack of a belief in a deity. Legislating something like that would be so ridiculously unenforceable to be laughable. Not to mention my point was to remove prayer, not religion. I don't care if you believe in God. It simply does not matter to me. Yet why do I, as a person who does not believe in God, have to constantly encounter the symbols, and icons of religion? It seems to fly in the face of our constitutional mandate of a separation of church and state, but what do I know. I'm just legislating Atheism.

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