Being Atheist in America after 9-11-01

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9/18/2001 10:48 PM
1 out of 66

(I posted this in the "Buddhism in America" board as well. There's some debate about it, but Buddhism can lay claim to being the only major atheistic religion. So, I hope my fellow atheists find it appropriate :-)

Hi all,

Being Canadian it often strikes me how eagerly the US government mixes with Christianity, even in public proceedings. In Canada when politician Stockwell Day made the mistake of admitting he was a devout Christian, he lost credibility. In the US, on the other hand, it would seem a prerequisite to profess a belief in God.

That's just by way of main point is how it must feel to be an atheist and/or Buddhist at times like this in the States. It seems like every other sentence these days is "God Bless America".

I'd like to hear any thoughts on the you feel pressured to say things like "God bless America", or pray? What do you say when the conversation drifts to opinions on why God allowed this? Things like that..


9/19/2001 2:29 AM
2 out of 66

The United States is reputable in several contries for being one of the most conservative places on earth. Fundamentalism was born in America, first by the Southern Baptists, then later adopted by non-denominational Christians. This was in response to the modernist method of "high criticism" of the Bible which the Episcopaleans, Methodists and Presbetyrians adopted. America is also reputable for being anti-Catholic since several people from Europe immigrated to America to avoid persecution from the Catholics. Catholocism also took to high criticism and literalism was taken partly as an anti-Catholic backlash.

Anyway, that's just some mild explanation for the prerequisite in God-belief. On to the rest.

I find it difficult sometimes, although I also find some solace in it. I recognize that the quote "God bless America" means well, which gives me some feeling of pride; but the stark Christian tone in it reinforces my knowledge that atheists are a minority here.

Being an atheist, I feel no reason to pray over the bombing. But I feel a great deal of rage that something that dramatic could find its way onto U.S. soil. I'm more of a mind to take action, like using a nuclear warhead to wipe out the largest city in Afghanistan for this. Basically I want revenge and overkill in hopes that it would send a message that whatever anyone does to the U.S., we will return it at least ten fold.

My discussions about the bombing have only been about retaliation for it. None of my friends nor myself have brought up the idea of asking "why did God allow this?" I'm also reputable among my friends for being a very devout atheist, and I usually have a response to anything about atheism be it a question or remark (and I've even made fools out of some people at school who have mentioned my atheism and rubbed me the wrong way by doing so). I'm mostly seen by my peers as an "expert atheist," if you will, so I don't think that they would want to try to force Christian views on me in regards to this since they probably have knowledge in the back of their minds that I could tear Christianity to shreds over this. So we basically leave religion out of the subject.

9/19/2001 1:39 PM
3 out of 66

I now cringe everytime I hear politicians saying "God Bless America" or other religious statements. I don't remember seeing/hearing as much "godspeak" during the Gulf War. Nor do I remember our local politicians invoking god/prayer during any other recent local crisis -- its always been "people are in our hearts and thoughts" - not "lets take a minute to pray to god for people". It seems to me, at this time, that politicians and the media are taking their lead from the President of the US. I think the President should unify the U.S. based on it's citizens love of family, home, freedom, democracy, and country, not their love of or belief in god.

If anything religion would seem to divide us rather than unite us.

For instance: I have religious friends who believe in and pray to a loving, tolerant god. But, I also recently received a "flyer" on my doorstep from an anonymous evangelist exhorting me to pray to god. It also informed me that his god was against the usual things: murder, sex outside marriage, stealing, etc. but also that this god believes women should not wear shorts, mini-skirts, or makeup and that rock and roll music and certain TV shows are evil.

I don't think these two groups of people will ever agree on who/what god is. How will they be able to agree with or accept America's course of action if both their gods are involved in the process?

How will America ever find a course of action that sits well with everyone's version of god?

I hope that our American politicians (and the leaders of the other countries around the world) will instead use reason, tempered by compassion to craft a plan of action!

9/20/2001 8:33 AM
4 out of 66

I too am disgusted when I see these religious leaders taking advantage of this tragedy to further their agenda. Jerry Falwell said, "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve." He later added, "The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this." Pat Roberson expressed hope that a religious revival would put an end to people "yapping" about the "separation of church and state." It is a religious free-for-all with everyone trying to get as much free air time as the media will give. Falwell's message is clear. Join him in his campaign to destroy the American Civil Liberties Union and his god will once again protect us from our enemies. Pat Robertson wants the separation of church and state to end so that he can leverage his position in politics. I think he would be the first to invoke the first amendment of the constitution if an islamic group were to be officially joined to the U.S. government. I don't mind people praying to their gods, but that is not what this is.

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