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October,1996

New 'Battle' Against Atheism by Cliff Walker

Mark Twain once described the Book of Mormon as "chloroform in print." I am generally tolerant of religion, but my tolerance does not stop me from laughing at times. People who hold foolish beliefs get what they deserve: a foolish world view.

Theoretically, religion is harmless. That isn't always the case in real life, so I choose to remain a citizen of the nation which is renowned for guaranteeing its citizens absolute religious freedom. This especially includes freedom from religion.

Addressing the American Legion convention last month, the head Prophet of Mormonism called for a "battle" against Atheism, conjuring "an unequivocal trust in the power of the Almighty to guide and defend us."

What would it sound like if the Mormon leadership had waged war against, say, Judaism?

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Gordon Hinkley praised those "who have been defenders of our liberty at great cost," but warned that "those battles are over and another battle goes on."

"The new battle is one against atheism," noted the Tribune.

Hinkley further warned that veterans' sacrifices may be in vain unless the nation turns itself again to God. "As you once knew so well, there are no atheists in foxholes. In times of extremity, we plead for and put our trust in a power mightier than ourselves."

This language makes me nervous. My only problem with religion is that so often, religious people try to involve me in their quaint little religious beliefs, values, and rites.

Candidate Bob Dole, at that same convention, publicly assumed that "Every American is praying" for the soldiers in the Persian Gulf. Last spring, President Clinton told the people of Portland that "All of America has been praying for you."

"Every American?" Really!? "All of America?" This is quite different from the phony death-bed "conversion" story of George Washington, invented by Rev. M.L. Weems. Our Constitution is not in very good hands these days.

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    • Notes:

    • Hinkley elements derived from Conrad Goeringer, AANEWS (by American Atheists).
    • Washington-Weems bit from The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents by Franklin Steiner.

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Copyright ©1996 Cliff Walker; Portland, Oregon
The print version was altered slightly to fit on the page; this is the original.