Monday, February 2, 2009

Christians putting atheists in their place at the back of the bus

We have a society in which we are told that there is no state religion and that secular interests, when it comes to the public square, trump the religious.

And yet, and yet, the huffing and puffing this week over a couple of perceived atheist intrusions into the area of the separation of church and state brought out the conservative editorials in full force in defense of the supremacy of the Christian god.

First up was The National Post commenting on the New Brunswick flap over the elementary school prinicipal who cancelled the singing of the National Anthem as part of the morning ritual. He never did come clean on why this was done. He claimed privacy for two alleged families who wanted it stopped for reasons unknown.

That did not prevent the Post from speculating that atheists were the root of the problem, without any proof. After sounding off about patriotism and preventing the minority tail from wagging the majority dog, it had this advice:

It may be unfortunate that God still persists in the anthem as a historic holdover. But atheists cannot begin too soon in educating their children that they live in a historically monotheistic civilization, and that, for better or worse, we signify respect for tradition on public occasions as a matter of continuity with the past.

I wonder how this would have been received if it had been written like this:

But Jews, Muslims and Hindus cannot begin too soon in educating their children that they live in a historically Christian civilization, and that, for better or worse, we signify respect for tradition on public occasion as a matter of continuity with the past.

That is to say that Christians are running the show and we better get used to it.

Had they printed that there would have been weeks and weeks of pundits and editorials from one end of the country to the next, castigating the Post for being insensitive to Canada’s diversity and the religious sensibilities of non-Christians, even if it was right about the importance of respecting tradition. The Post would have backed down.

The point of this observation is demonstrate yet another instance in which it is taken for granted by the main stream media that atheists are second-class citizens when the sensitivities of the religious are weighed in the balance, and like the generation of feminists before them, they should just suck up the objectionable language and like the homosexuals of twenty years ago understand that remaining in the closet is still society’s preferred option.

By the way, I would be more impressed with the heritage argument if the words of the song hadn’t been rewritten more than half-a-dozen times. The current version is actually circa 1980, when it was blessed by an act of Parliament. Hardly a heritage year, if you discount the fact that the government of the day was being run by Saint Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s patron saint.

If it can amended to change with the times, as this site so readily shows, it can be amended again to get rid of this obnoxious Christian diety, and then it can be sung by everybody as lustily as possible, instead of having about a third of the participants remain silent – the 25% who are non-religious and deeply resent these words and the other 8% who are of non-Christian faith and feel that they are being disloyal to their faith if they sing the praises of the Christian god.

But of course if we did that sensible thing we would forgo the opportunity to be a good example to the rest of the student body, as in this suggestion of the Post:

And if you don't like it, you don't have to sing along; that might be the most important lesson of all. It's one that is crucial not only for children of atheists or religious minorities, but for the classmates who might see their example and discover a new dimension in that quality supposedly most prized by educators: diversity.

Gosh, what to do, what to do? Be patriotic and sing the National Anthem or shut up and teach fellow students about diversity? So many roads are open to atheists.

I just don’t think the thick-headed Christians understand (or truth be known, care) how unsettling it is to have to choke back on the Anthem when these words pop up.

Then we have The Calgary Herald rattling on about some atheists at the University of Alberta rolling back the references to God in the Convocation ceremonies. The Herald wags its finger at us and warns us about how ungrateful we atheists must be to do such a thing when we consider what our fates would be in more faith-dominated societies:

There are many countries where they would be very silly atheists, (sic) if they challenged observance of the dominant religion.

True enough, but we are not acting in those countries, we are acting in this one which claims not to impose religious observance of any particular faith on its citizens.

One could just as easily have written, “There are many Muslim countries where they would very silly Christians, if they challenged observance of Islam.”

Does that require Muslims in this country to go about and wish everybody Merry Christmas in this country? Of course not, that would be tantamount to imposing one religion on another. But it is ok to impose it on atheists, because, well, they are only second class citizens anyway.

Do these people understand the implications of what they are actually saying?

It goes on a historical road, drawing on the U.S. emphasis on individual liberty and trying to weave that with Christianity. You would think that the well known rejection of a religious creed by the American founding fathers was simply an accident, nor did the impact of the Inquisition or the French revolution have much to do with the fate of Christianity.

Canada has always shared proudly in the so-called Anglo-American tradition of personal liberty, that (sic) regards individuals as society's building blocks and joint owners of the state, rather than the other way around. This belief in personal liberty is peculiarly compatible with what Christians understand of God. For, this Sovereign is nevertheless a respecter of individuals, making His appeal to people one by one rather than by race or tribe, leaving them personal responsibility for accepting Him -- or not.

Well, Calgary, get this. Atheists accept that personal responsibility and reject him. So why keep shoving him literally down our throats? If I attended a Christian church I would expect to be treated to that and would have nothing to complain about. But when I attend a publicly funded educational institution, I don’t have to praise anybody’s deity, nor should I have to.

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