An article by Terence Jeffrey that appeared in “The Patriot Post” makes such a daft claim that it caught my eye. Now if you are wondering “Who?”, well if I happen to mention that he was the campaign manager for Republican candidate Pat Buchanan in the 1996 presidential race, then that tells you a great deal about the spin that this latest piece of complete lunacy that tries to masquerade as a credible article contains. As for “The Patriot Post” (Oh come on, the name itself screams out “Republican Nutters”), well yes, it is indeed everything you might suspect it to be (OK yes, this all betrays my political leanings), but look and you will find rather a lot of very silly claims and political rhetoric that has no basis in fact.
So anyway, the article of interest is entitled, “Reagan Was Right, ACU Wrong: Atheism Is Enemy of America”.
OK, so this is a response to the ACU inviting “American Atheists” to have a booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference and then one day later tossing them out because the religious right had a bit of a fit about them being there (Christian “tolerance” for an informed debate in action). So essentially the claim within the specific article was this …
Are atheism and promoting atheism consistent with American – let alone conservative – values and principles?
The operational policy of the American Conservative Union now appears to contradict Ronald Reagan’s view on this.
Reagan believed atheism was not merely wrong, but the enemy of freedom. The ACU has functionally adopted the position that groups promoting atheism can be featured at its annual Conservative Political Action Conference – so long as they promote godlessness with civility.
In the same 1983 speech in which he declared the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” Reagan unapologetically spelt out the “ideals and principles” that brought him into politics.
“The basis of those ideals and principles,” said Reagan, “is a commitment to freedom and personal liberty, a commitment that itself is grounded in the much deeper realization: That freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly acknowledged.
“The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight,” Reagan said, “its discovery was the great triumph of our Founding Fathers voiced by William Penn: ‘If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.’”
You would not think it possible, but from there he then proceeds downhill into further lunacy, and more or less equates Christian Belief with being a good American, and non-belief as evil incarnate.
First a side comment: The picture of Reagan being painted in the above is a complete myth, the truth is that the religious conservatives in his time were often dissatisfied with Reagan’s presidency, the memory of modern religious republicans is indeed very selective (some form of conservative alzheimer’s is perhaps in play here). It is of course true that he did acknowledge religion in public addresses (that boys and girls is called “politics”), but he was not himself an overtly religious man, and rarely went to church while he was in the White House.
OK, so let us now briefly test this claim that “Atheism Is Enemy of America”.
If we look at the 10 Commandments, do we find guidance and directives that align with the vision of liberty and freedom enshrined within the US Constitution? (Hat tip to Dan Barker for these observations) …
- Thou shalt have no god before me – In reality this is a gross breach of what the US is all about, the government cannot tell anyone whom to worship. Endorsing this religious belief as your core principle is to essentially suppress all religious freedom, and that is very much at odds with what the US is really all about.
- Thou shalt not make any graven image – This is attempting to dictate what kind of artwork is and is not acceptable, and so the folks over at the National Art gallery would need to destroy all paintings and sculptures of Greek and Roman gods if this was enforced.
- Thou shalt not take God’s name in vain – This violates a rather basic human liberty known as freedom of speech.
If we keep going we find more of the same, the Fourth demands that we must honour the Sabbath Day, and so is once again dictating how you should behave for no real justifiably moral reason at all, and so it also very much conflicts with the ideals of liberty and freedom.
So is Atheism the enemy of America?
The truth is that it is organisations such as American Atheists that seek to preserve and promote secularism. A rather embarrassing fact often forgotten by the religious right is that the US was founded, not as a religious state, but rather as a secular nation with a strong wall of separation between church and the state. It is this secularism that helps all beliefs to thrive and have complete liberty to do so, and rather ironically it is American Atheists that strives to preserve that by opposing the religious right’s attempts to tear down that wall so that their specific belief can proceed to dictate.
The real enemy of American freedom and liberty is the conservative religious right, and they demonstrate this every time that they attempt to impose specific religious beliefs as political policy.