“There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.”
Which liberal democratic senator said this? Can you guess? Well, you’re wrong! It wasn’t a quote from a liberal democrat. It was from that bastion of American conservatism, Barry Goldwater.
It makes you stop and think just how far to the right the political climate has gone in the thirty or so odd years since Senator Goldwater spoke these words. He was considered pretty conservative for his time, but now, sadly, he’d be considered moderate, at best, and liberal, to his everlasting horror, at worse.
Religion has tainted our politics to the point where all most nothing can get done in Washington. We are told, again and again, that we have lost our way and must get back to our Christian roots. That our nation was founded as a Christian nation. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
Most of the founding fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Thomas Pain and other were, at the very least, deists. They most certainly were not Christians and most of them held a very dim view of Christianity.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
John Adams wrote, “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
We were founded as a secular nation, with a strong emphasis on the separation of church and state. The founding fathers believed strongly that the best way to ensure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was to make sure that people were not only free to worship as they saw fit, but to be able not to worship as well. They knew that the imposition of religion beliefs on a people would result in the curtailing of freedom, the stifling of thought, and the erosion of creativity and productivity.
When an American president says that atheists cannot be considered citizens or patriotic, something is very, very wrong with the world. That was president was George Bush senior, for those of you who didn’t know. And things have only gotten worse since then. His son led us into a war in Iraq by proudly asserting that he knew it was the right thing to do because God told him it was.
If we want to be able to compete as a nation in the 21st century, we must return to the real values of the founding fathers; rationality, freethinking, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and especially, freedom from state sponsored religion.