How Six Wrongs
Make A Right
From: Kris Nielsen
To: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
Sent: September 22, 2001 3:40 AM
The following is a message being forwarded to many through email. I send it you only as food for thought. I do include my two cents, as those who know me would expect. I do not try convert or help others stray from their faiths. I only serve with intent to protect the freedoms under attack by those who would gladly strip them from us. This writing, however, not only counters our very First Amendment, but attempts to trigger guilt by preying on our emotional vulnerabilities as well. Yes, I'm an activist...but without activists to defend our freedoms and rights, what would we be?
Can we pray?
NOW that the President has called us to prayer.....
NOW that Congress has called us to prayer.....
NOW that our Governor has called us to prayer....
NOW that the city Mayor has called us to prayer....
NOW that the liberal media and most other branches of our American society have called us to prayer.....
AND NOW that our churches are assembling in special prayer....
Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, I have only one question..
would it be O.K. to pray in our schools........???
An American Citizen
Here is my response:
I came across your propaganda because a right-wing acquaintance wanted to rub your agenda in my face. I am a secular humanist but am usually labeled atheist by Christians because it sounds more hateful. There are two major things wrong with your writing that make me write this to you today.
First of all, you use a tragedy that affected millions of people around the world to further your political agenda. You are so concerned with what YOU think is right that you fail to notice the pain and bigotry that you may cause. Regardless of what your prophet Falwell speaks, this tragedy was not punishment. This disaster was not caused by our lack of faith in schools and, inversely, having mandatory prayer in our schools will not prevent another incident from happening. You simply use the deaths of many and the pain and suffering of many, many more in order to push your agenda onto potentially guilty hearts.
Second, you push more discrimination on this country than is already experienced. We all know that when you say you want it to be "O.K. to pray in our schools..." that you speak of Christian prayer. What of the Muslims? the Hindis? the Buddhists? the Wiccans? the Seiks? the Secularists? Others like you will claim that all are included, but practices show otherwise. The Religious Right is synonymous with discounting all who do not follow their faith. Our own president, one who has "called us to prayer," has already made clear that those who do not believe in a omnipotent and benevolent god are not, in his mind, patriots of this nation. When asked if he considers atheists patriots of the U.S., his father, George H. W. Bush, replied that he doesn't consider them much of anything. Strange how they (atheists and Wiccans, et al.) are the ones who truly stand for and defend our Constitution.
Does the Constitution mean nothing to you? Do the words and beliefs of our Fathers mean nothing? Do the lives of the victims of this senseless tragedy hold such a trivial position with you that you would use their memory as a tool to selfishly push your political and religious agenda? I, and many others, find this deplorable. You push discrimination when we need solidarity. You push controversy when we need consensus. You put your needs above those of an entire nation. Perhaps you should rethink this. Mandatory prayer is not necessary for most and is problematic at best.
Your initial question was, "Can we pray?" I say, yes you may. Pray all you want. Use your faith to help yourself through these harshest of times. But be American about it. Not all of us pray. Not all of us need or even have reason to. We all deal with this differently, that's what makes our nation great: we live with and celebrate diversity. Prayer in schools is a direct attack on our treasured First Amendment and a step toward loss of some our most beloved freedoms.
So pray to your heart's content. It's your right to do so. But leave me and my family out of it. It's my right to refuse to pray.
I shall have liberty to think for myself without molesting others or being molested myself.
The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind.
God has no place within these walls, just as facts have no place within organized religion.
Proud to be an American
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Kris Nielsen"
Date: September 22, 2001 3:55 AM
Do six wrongs make a right?
These are the same people who point to "In God We Trust" on our coins as precedent for calling this a "Christian Nation." They say things like, "This has always been 'One nation under God' -- not letting on that they're old enough to remember when the Pledge of Allegiance didn't have the words "under God" in it, but went, "one nation, indivisible." This was when the nation was truly indivisible, before it became divided along religious lines with this addition to our Pledge, when we jetissoned our pluralistic Motto, "E Pluribus Unum," to make room for the ever-divisive "In God We Trust" in 1957. Our President tells us he wants Americans to unite, but by uniting under the ritual of prayer he tells us precisely who is and is not an American! As if the pain of the tragedy isn't already more than some of us can handle, we non-Christians have to cope with this on top of it all.
Bush is doing this deliberately in order to set precedents so that he can abolish our precious First Amendment. They did this during the McCarthy Era and they're doing it again. It may once again be quite dangerous to say anything bad about religion. It may once again be quite deadly to the career of a lawmaker to even look as if he's not wholeheartedly in favor of Christian supremacy in this land. Bush is exploiting a national tragedy and feeding off the natural human emotions of his constituents in order to have his way with our Constitution.
I told y'all not to vote for him, but too many people didn't listen. Now look what we've got ourselves into!
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
people with no reason to believe
From: Kris Nielsen
To: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
Sent: September 22, 2001 5:45 AM
Subject: Six Wrongs do not Make a Right
Thank you for you reply and your words. I definitely saw the lack of logic in the series, but didn't come up with the "six wrongs" line. Good one!
I have always been wary of the idea of prayer in our public schools, and now especially in the wake of these tragic events where everything can go one of two ways. Either Bush pushes even harder for his religious agendas (in which case he'll be looking for a hell of a fight) or America de-secularizes and people start seeing how much more important freedom is than religion.
Anyway, thanks again. Your site has been one that I've turned to for support and perspective. In my various endeavours as a human rights and religious freedom activist, your forums and writings have been most helpful. Take care of yourself. And keep up the good work.
Proud to be an American
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