Why we need more Christian Secularistby Don Lacey on Oct. 06, 2012, under Abortion, Arizona Families, Atheism, AZ Politics, Campaign 2012, Christianity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Evolution, Faith, Freethought, God & Bible, Government, Logic, Question of the Day!, Reason, Religion, Responsible Government, Science, Separation of Church & State
We live in a society with a predominantly Christian population; roughly 80% of the Americans identify themselves as Christians. The Christian faith has undeniably influenced American culture and the way many Americans view the world. Despite this cultural proclivity towards Christianity, our country has a strong tradition of secular national government. The separation of church and state and respect for religious freedom that this codified made the United States very different from Europe which had official state religions.
Atheists think that the separation of church and state is a wonderful thing. We are a persistent but growing minority, with very little political clout. The last thing we want is our tax money being used to promote religious notions we disagree with or impose religious prohibitions we disagree with on society.
We recognize that we are not alone in this desire. There are countless religions practiced by tax-paying Americans and many of these have countless contending sects that disagree on many major points of theology. They all have different rituals, practices, and prohibitions. Many of their practitioners share our desire to not see their taxes go towards promoting ideas they disagree with or imposing the prohibitions of others on them. The only way to do this is by keeping government out of the business of promoting religion or imposing religious prohibitions. Freedom is for everyone!
Many Christians share this desire. They would rather allow their religion to compete on the free market of ideas than have it backed by the government which many view as corrupting everything it touches. They also would just assume not have some differing denomination of Christianity be the one that takes control of the state. After all mixing government with religion is likely to corrupt both.
Despite this, it seems all too often to be non-believers taking the on the issue of separation of church and state. Groups such as the Secular Coalition for America or the Freedom from Religion foundation do a lot of hard work to fight for religious freedom and get the message out but they are all too often seen as organizations that Christians do not want to associate with. In spite of the fact that most Christians do not want to see a return of mandatory school prayers, creation stories taught as biology, government interference in the lives of same-sex couples, expensive religious monuments on public grounds, unconditional support for Israel, or absolutist restrictions on abortion rights.
Unfortunately for us Arizonans, the religious right has completely dominated one of our state’s major parties. Their main lobbying organization CAP (Center for Arizona Policy), has pushed for laws allowing the teaching from the Bible in public schools at the exclusion of other religious text (HB2563), doctors to commit medical fraud for religious reasons (SB1359), licensed medical professionals (a government granted monopoly) to refuse to provide treatment for religious reasons, and many more (http://tucsoncitizen.com/freethought-arizona/2012/04/12/our-arizona-legislature-they-need-to-hear-from-you-today/). This group’s lobbying activities are clearly a violation of their 501(c)(3), meaning the government is giving them an unfair tax advantage.
What good are Christian values or morality if the government has to force it on the population? Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and state. He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and believes that the state should not be doing the work of the church. He does not want the government telling his church how to operate or his church telling the government what to do.
Atheists, Agnostics, and religious people of all sorts need to recognize that when ideas are free to compete it is a good thing. What makes America great is that we are able to freely express our ideas and preferences without the government having a say in the matter.