Need a President
Who Believes In a God?
From: Dirk Vandyck (Belgium)
To: Positive Atheism
Sent: October 31, 2004 13:25
My name is Dirk Vandyck and I'm from Belgium (the centre of Europe, as we call it). A few years ago I wrote a letter to you about religion studies in the states and in Belgium. I hope you remember me.
I'm an atheist, so I don't have believe in a god. But I have a question about the American people. Is it true that the American people need a president that believes in a god? Because we (in Belgium) have a president (but we have a king too) that is an atheist. Would that be possible in the US?
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Dirk Vandyck"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: November 10, 2004 10:49
Yes, I remember the letter and your name very well. In fact, I intend to get all the "Europe versus America" letters and consolidate them into a single file. I used to have a friend, Marc Delveaux (sp?), a young man of eight or nine whose family had recently immigrated from Belgium. His English was superior in that had he not told me I would never have known he was born in Europe! It is Marc that I think about whenever I run across your letters in our Forum. Also, we have two other letters (if memory serves) from various of your countrymen.
Well, I don't think it's possible for us to have a king at this point, if you know what I mean!
A frequent and long-standing poll from the Gallup organization, when taken in 1999, showed that in the presidential race, 95 percent of American voters would vote for an otherwise-qualified person who was woman. Of the same Americans, 94 percent would vote for an otherwise-qualified Baptist or Roman Catholic, and 92 percent would vote for a Black or a Jew. But only 79 percent would vote for an otherwise-qualified Mormon. In recent years, the homosexual was added to the list, and has worked his and her way up to where 59 percent would vote for a homosexual who was otherwise qualified to fill the office of the president. During the McCarthy Era of the 1950s, when the Cold War raged and "atheist" meant the same thing as "Communist," the category of "atheist" was added. Today, up from the dubious distinction of having made the lowest mark ever on this recurring survey, atheists are still the lowest on the list. Sadly, only 49 percent of Americans would vote for an otherwise-qualified atheist in the presidential race.
No, that is not some strange-sounding epithet heard mainly along the range of the Cascade Mountains in early November during those years that are evenly divisible by four (although it might as well be); rather, that's what results from my falling asleep at my desk while typing! (This happens without warning, but not nearly as often as when I first caught "The Business." I will have done this 20 or 30 times during the course of finishing your letter.) When this happens, my eyes and mind blink off while several words of text are still traveling down the arms to my fingertips -- followed closely, it appears, by the command to shut down the entire operation! Maybe the "automatic pilot," which controls my extremities in a more superficial way than during waking consciousness, and still having just a tad of momentum left, types out some semblance of what I had intended to write -- before my brain snapped shut from lethargy. I think someone who studies sleep could learn a few things by reading some of my writings while this is taking place!
y important point, I now realize!) He exclaimed that Kerry put a thousand voters into the voting booths to every one that Bush roused up.
I agreed: "Yeah, all Bush's people have to do is contact a single pastor and they've got 50 to 300 votes -- and in some cases, as many as 10,000 votes!"
He said, "That's right, whereas Kerry earned every single vote he got!"
I cannot really explain what this means. After all, Kerry did not win, he merely came awfully close to winning. But I do trust the information about atheism growing so rapidly. And with a Bozo like Bush in the White House for eight years, I predict that a lot of Americans will be learning their lessons.
A second problem that I think is playing a large role in all this is the fact that many people see atheism itself as, at best, a form of bigotry and, at worst, the willful and deliberate commission of the greatest form of evil ("sin").
Discussing the latter first, some see atheism as the ultimate sin, open and stubborn rebellion against "God" and a desire to lead one's own life and to entice others away from "Him." Of course! If good and evil are because "God" has determined (or created) good to be good and evil to be evil, then obedience to "God" is the only form of virtue: there is no virtue apart from it being a direct act of obedience to the command of "God."
Many think this way because the alternative is quite embarrassing, really. In this sense, good is good and evil is evil. "God" did not make things this way, they just are. "God" recognizes the existence of these things, as either quantifiable realities or abstractions, but is, "Himself," under their influence, that is, "He" is subject to them. Since "He" is better at determining good from evil, we do well to follow his recommendations or determinations. But in no way is "God" responsible for or determinate of good or evil. In other words, good and evil exist independently of "God." Good and evil are before (prior to) "God." In this sense, then, good and evil can be said to be "bigger" than "God."
You can see why at least the religious leaders (who study this stuff) see obedience as the ultimate form of virtue. This makes atheism a form of disobedience tantamount to mockery of "God." In this sense, atheism is the ultimate "sin" -- the only "sin," really. If becoming a believer gains forgiveness of all other sins (unless you're a member of the Roman Catholic Church or some other heretical sect), then atheism is the one unforgivable "sin": if you die an atheist, you will be thrown into the Christian "Hell"; if you die a believer in the correct "God," you won't. It's that simple. All (other) "sins" get forgiven the moment one becomes a believer, that is, the moment one stops being an atheist.
Additionally, atheism is not simply the ultimate evil, the ultimate "sin"; on top of all that (if the Christian god-claim is true), then atheism is also the ultimate stupidity. Who on Earth would knowingly expose themselves to an eternal sentence in a place like the Christian "Hell"? "Well," you say, "most atheists honestly reject the claims of the Christian religion!" This is not what the Bible tells us: in passage after passage (two of them, actually; three, if you count one that enjoys two word-for-word occurrences), the Bible has the audacity to claim that we all fully realize the "truth" of the Christian Gospel message, and any rejection of it is willful.
I hate to put it this way, but, "Jeez!"
To listen to certain popular Christian leaders talk about all this, however, you wouldn't know that this idea happens but twice in the entire Bible!
What you and I think about all this is irrelevant, however; many of the Christians who populate America's polling booths sincerely think that anybody who does not believe what their religious leaders tell them about religion is lying to the world if not to themselves. No wonder Evangelical Christianity's own version of the Gallup poll, the Barna Research Group, Limited, reports that among non-Christians, the least popular people are prostitutes followed by the Evangelicals themselves. Seriously (though Barna did say that), the research group polled Evangelical Christians to find out how trusting they are of various types of people. According to this poll, fully 98 percent of Evangelicals consider atheists to be "untrustworthy."
That having been said, I hope you can see just a little about why atheists probably will not be elected to office in America any time soon. Yes, there have been a few openly atheistic people elected to various insignificant local offices. (Dog catcher comes to mind, here!) And I'm sure that a number of those who have been elected to the "big" offices have been atheists, but who, like Abraham Lincoln, would never admit this to the public.
(Yes, although Lincoln's views on religion were quite complex, he was well-known to have been an "infidel" in his younger days. After he died, he was described by his best friend as being "at times, an atheist"! This was written in a book designed to refute the claims that Lincoln had lived his life as a pious orthodox Christian. Most people know about Jefferson's aversion to the supernatural, and many are in denial about Washington's refusal to undergo the Christian rite of Communion, about which the Bible commands not to partake unless one is a believer! But nothing was said in public about this except by the political opponents of Jefferson and Lincoln. Washington had no real opponents, at the time.)
I hope this helps. Please let me know if I left anything unsaid, that is, if any questions remain from this.
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