My Answer to A Letter

February 4, 2008

Recently, there have been some comments on my post “Satirical Web Site Gets Taken Seriously.” The latest one directed me to a site called “Talk Jesus”, in particular a post by an administrator named Chad who posted a letter to all atheists who deny God. At first I thought it was weird for someone to deliver a letter to atheists via a Christian web site (not to mention one that is extremely difficult to register for), but then I realized that they had people to distribute the letter via leaving comments on atheist blogs. The letter is in the form of “Do you think it is a coincidence that…” and I will address each “coincidence” separately.

Here’s my personal letter to all atheists who deny GOD.

Dear Atheist,

Do you think its a coincidence that…

of billions of stars and planets in the many galaxies, only earth has life, and abundance of it?

the sun is 400 times the size of the earth’s moon, 400 times further away from earth than the moon, yet they look both proportionally the same size in our sky?

the sun lights the days nicely, while the moon glimmers in the night sweetly and the clouds bring forth rain to water our crops, which bring forth food in your stomach?

First of all, how do you know that this is the only planet with the necessary conditions for life? I suggest that you realize exactly how big the Universe is (and similarly, how small we are) by watching the Pale Blue Dot video. Even if we are the only one with life as we know it, we’re starting with the end result and then asking “Isn’t it a coincidence?” Of course it may seem that way to you since you’re living on the Earth you ask about.

Second – regarding the size of the Moon and the Sun. For that we look to a little thing called science (see what I did there? I linked to it, assuming you’re unfamiliar). The reason they look the same has to do with something called Angular Size. Here’s an experiment with angular size you can do at home.

Third – You wouldn’t be asking these questions if the conditions on the Earth weren’t perfect for life. Our life has been constructed to be compatible with the Earth. If the sun was less present, for instance, and temperatures were high enough to sustain life, then we would be different – our eyes would be different and our skin would be different. Look at some of the underwater creatures that live in a light-depraved environment and see what I’m talking about. What I’m saying is you’re constructing your argument based on the fact that “it’s a coincidence” that conditions are perfect for life. It’s not a coincidence at all: our life is the result of the perfect conditions. And that, my friend, is what they call “biology.” You might not know about biology like a thief might not know about a police officer.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

birds in the air whistle sweet songs and dogs show unconditional love?

your body heals naturally when you cut yourself, or you become sick and it goes away?

humans have intangible senses, called emotions where we feel love, hate, anger, sadness, happiness, shock, confused, hurt, healed, and so forth?

I do not think its coincidence that birds sing. Like humans, birds use sound to communicate. They sing to greet each other, to define their territories, to let their parents know they’re hungry, to attract a mate, to warn each other of approaching danger and to tell each other about good feeding spots. And dogs show unconditional love because (SPOILER ALERT) they don’t have a very good short term memory.

Regarding healing – Firstly, lets not lump all healing together in the same breath. If you cut your skin, it heals because skin cells are constantly growing and exfoliating. You cannot see them doing it, so you probably forget that its happening. I think its funny that people are amazed that skin heals but aren’t amazed that hair grows back. It’s the same process. The body is creating more of you as parts of you fall off. Our outer structure is contstantly dying, falling off and regrowing. That’s a fact of life. But what about amputees? That doesn’t grow back? What’s your biblical explanation for that?

Regarding humans – Emotions are not a sense. There are only 5 senses (can you name them all?). Emotion is a function of the human brain and is influenced by psychological and sociological factors. We have a complex brain with the capacity for long term and short term memory, so we are able to evaluate the processes that our brain creates like anger or suffering. You act as if love, pain, anger, etc. are these mysterious conditions that have never been studied. They have been studied in great detail but you would not know that just like a thief wouldn’t know the location of a policeman.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

you were born from a lady’s womb and you will die a death, without choice of either?

the complexity of dna is so mind boggling, that scientists worldwide now have gone from ‘no god’ to claiming a “Divine Creator”? (read)

your body’s anatomy is complex, so fine and so articulate that you wonder how this “accident” came to be?

Again, you’re arguing if I think it’s coincidence that life works the way it does. I’m not sure how to answer a question like “do you think it’s coincidence that you’re going to die without a choice?” Might as well ask me “do you think it’s coincidence that the sky is blue and you didn’t ask it to be blue?”

Regarding the complexity of DNA, the structure as we know it has really only been known since the late 1950’s and if you’re talking about the human genome project, it is mapped out to about 92% completion. By “scientists worldwide” I hope you realize you’re talking about a very small percentage of all scientists.

The human body and it’s structure is no accident. Atheism does not claim that the origin of man or the Earth was an “accident.” It is indeed complex. But that does not point to any sort of creator.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

there are endless variety of delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, wheats to make infinite delicious recipes to satisfy our hunger?

there are thousands and thousands of exotic amazing land animals and thousands more amazing sea creatures?

you have eyes so you can see, ears so you can hear, heart so you can feel, mind so you can think?

It is not a coincidence that there are endless variety of fruits. If the same fruits grew everywhere, it would point more toward a creator. But they don’t. Because different growing conditions based on levels of available sun, minerals in the soil, and weather conditions create different opportunities and variety of crops. Our hunger would be satisfied if we ate nothing but one type of food all the time, which I’m sure is what people had to do before they started traveling and trading across nations. You think your Hershey bar is a coincidence. Before the necessary beans were shipped to an area nearby, you wouldn’t have even had one.

Again with the complexity of biology. It is amazing and beautiful to look at the thousands of variations of creatures on this Earth. They have all developed due to the same conditions we have.

The last point here goes back to the circular reasoning that I keep talking about. You ask if its coincidence that we have eyes so we can see? You would never ask this question if we didn’t have eyes to begin with. And if we had a lobster claw for crushing nuts because nuts made us run, you would ask me if that was coincidence too.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

there are thousands of recovered artifacts proving the validity of Scripture, the Holy Bible itself? (example)

those who have faith in Jesus Christ witness miracles, worldwide? (read)

almost all Old Testament prophecies have been already fulfilled and more continue being fulfilled? (read)

There are. Because the Bible was indeed written a long time ago and has been believed for 2,000 years. Many of the stories within the Bible are very similar if not identical to stories found in other (some even older) religions. Folklore has been passed down for centuries. In the eternal game of telephone, stories are passed down while names, places, and details get varied slightly from person to person.

While you claim a supernatural power has allowed people to witness miracles, never has an actual “miracle” been proven. If you can prove a miracle caused by the supernatural, this man will give you a lot of money.

The reason you think the old testament prophecies are fullfilled is the same reason people believe Sylvia Brown is really psychic. Half of the things she says are so vague that they could apply to anybody. When she finally gets specific, she’s wrong a lot of the time. Of course these “misses” are overshadowed by the few “hits.” Many people claim Nostradamus prophetic. But his writings are so vague and dependent upon translation and interpretation that anyone could make them appear to predict anything.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

a farmer plants the seeds, yet the farmer does not make the seed grow and the farmer never initially created the seed?

that fruits and vegetables have seeds so that they produce more fruits and vegetables?

your body needs vitamins and nutrients found in GOD’s natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, wheat?

Okay, this one is laughable. You’re asking if I think its a coincidence that a farmer grows crops from the seed that he bought at the store? Do I also think its coincidence that I didn’t create my car, yet it runs when I turn the key? I think that maybe you skipped some biology classes in school. Frankly I’m concerned with the educational system in this country and whether or not they’re still teaching biology as a subject.

We are a product of our environment. You’re looking at the environment and saying “well don’t you think its STRANGE that this is all suited perfectly for us?” NO. We are the way we are BECAUSE of the environment we live in.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

you just happened to be here on a Christian site reading this letter? (read)

Hahahaha. No. But as I stated earlier, I do think it’s odd that you posted your letter to atheists on a Christian forum. Try posting it at http://www.atheistnetwork.com/index.php. But if you’ve got people to spread the little “letter” around to atheist blogs, then no it’s not a coincidence. It’s called a hyperlink.

And finally – the dumbest quote ever being used to try to make a point.

Quote:
“The atheist cannot find God for the same reasons a thief cannot find a police officer.”

An atheist is not looking for God – and a thief does not seek out a police officer. I suppose this is what this is MEANT to mean. But what if I want it to mean that an atheist does not need God and a thief does not need a police officer. And why is it assumed a thief cannot find a police officer? Isn’t that what happened every time a thief got caught? Maybe you’re arguing that the police officer FOUND the thief. In that case, did he put the thief in prison through supernatural miracles? Or through physically grabbing him and pushing him into the back of a police car? I could go on, but I think you get my point.

********
UPDATE
********

I wanted to go over to the JesusTalk forum and let Administrator Chad know that I answered his letter. I urge you all to do the same, but in registering, I encountered their forum rules which I thought were HILARIOUS. Here they are:

Talk Jesus is mainly about two things. Praising Jesus Christ and sharing Truth with others. It is not for speaking against Scripture simply because you are in disbelief. If you disagree with the Word of GOD, please leave unless you came to learn the Truth as told by GOD in Scripture. If you are an unbeliever, it is likely you’ve been led here by GOD so you may learn about His love for you found in Jesus Christ alone.

/:* Talk Jesus is Not a Debate Forum *:\

Talk Jesus: Ten Commandments

1. Treat others with respect when posting
2. No profanity or slangs
3. No links unless you meet 2 requirements
– 50 posts minimum in the forums
– request Chad’s permission via private message
4. No False teaching of Scripture
5. Do not gossip
6. Cite author(s) when copying/pasting articles
7. Provide Scripture when making a biblical point
8. Share Talk Jesus with everyone you love
9. Abide by forum posting etiquettes
10. No soliciting

Tip: Pray before you post

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* No custom avatars. Choose from our selection.
* No images *WTF? No images in your avatar? haha
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* Maximum 2 lines (approx. 50 characters max per line)
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Rules for Posting in Forums

* Proper Editing Guideline: (click here to read)
* Max 2 colors allowed
* Do Not Post
o only smilies, no text
o one word responses
o double post
o all CAPS (considered shouting)

Infractions

You get a simple warning via private message if you break a rule. Please respect the community. Its a privilege to be here, not a right. You get banned immediately if you curse, insult someone else, preach anything outside of Scripture purposely.

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* no flooding
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Warning

I take harassment seriously. If you are here to cause trouble, remember every action is literally recorded and logged. Do not assume you can hide behind “proxies” or get away with wrongdoings. GOD is watching your every move. Be wise, respectful and humble yourself. You know your intentions and I know mine.

Jesus Christ! It’s an Internet forum. Lighten the hell up!


Real Time: Religion in Politics

January 20, 2008

God’s Will

January 20, 2008

Married To The Sea
marriedtothesea.com


Christian Poster Child Tom Coburn Endorses John McCain

January 18, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:28

Beliefnet.com reports that Tom Coburn has endorsed Senator John McCain for President. Let’s talk about this endorsement for a second.

coburn

Tom Coburn is a U.S. Senator for Oklahoma with some extremely hypocritical views that are closely linked to his never-faltering Christian beliefs. From calling his fellow Oklahoma citizens “crapheads” to radical pro-life views, he’s a few cards short of a deck. For example, Coburn is ‘pro-life’ and goes with the “sanctity of life” right-wing buzzphrase that “all life is sacred” as if liberals hate life. Meanwhile, Coburn advocates the death penalty for abortionists. Pretty funny for a guy who has admitted to have performed abortions. The list goes on.

So congratulations, John McCain, on picking up thie stellar endorsement from a hypocrite. I’m sure it will ring loud and clear with psycho-conservative Christian people everywhere.


Young People Rejecting Christianity; View it as Homophobic

January 17, 2008

via Alternet.org

A new study published by The Barna Group surveyed a group of 16-29 year olds and found that the age group may be more cynical toward Christianity than people of their age in the previous decade.

The study shows that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life. In fact, in just a decade, many of the Barna measures of the Christian image have shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a “good impression” of Christianity.

Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

I found the following chart very interesting:

christinity

What’s also interesting is the fact that many attribute a negative attitude toward Christianity to the religion’s attitude toward homosexuality.

Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

Read about the study here.


Christianity & Atheism Timelines Compared

January 17, 2008

Christian

Click image to view larger.


British Television Will Re-Air Cameron’s Jesus Tomb Documentary

January 17, 2008

From Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1704299,00.html

When the Discovery Channel aired a TV documentary last year raising the possibility that archeologists had found the family tomb of Jesus Christ in the hills behind Jerusalem, it caused a huge backlash among Christians. The claim, after all, challenged one of the cornerstones of Christian faith — that Jesus, after his crucifixion, rose bodily to heaven in his physical form.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus, made by Hollywood director James Cameron and Canadian investigative journalist Simcha Jesus TombJacobovici, was shown only once on Discovery. Britain’s Channel 4 canceled its own plans to air the documentary, which re-examines an archeological find from 1980 in which a crypt was found containing what were said to be the ossuaries of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the son of Joseph, Mariamne (possibly Mary Magdalene, say the film-makers) and Judah, son of Jesus. Given the highly explosive nature of its conclusion and its slapdash sleuthing, it was no surprise that the film was panned by some academics and many Christian clerics.

Still, even after the furor over the film faded, the questions it raised about the tomb unearthed in 1980 continued to make waves among archeologists and Biblical scholars. A leading New Testament expert from Princeton Theological Seminary, Prof. James Charlesworth, was intrigued enough to organize a conference in Jerusalem this week, bringing together over 50 archeologists, statisticians and experts in DNA, ceramics and ancient languages, to give evidence as to whether or not the crypt of Christ had been found. Their task was complicated by the fact that since the tomb was opened in 1980, the bones of the various ossuaries had gone missing through a mishap of Israeli bureaucracy. Also gone were diagrams made by excavators that showed where each stone sarcophagus lay inside the tomb, and what the family relationships might have been, say, between Jesus and Mary Magdelene, who some speculate may have been his wife.

After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from “no way” to “very possible”. Charlesworth told TIME: “I have reservations, but I can’t dismiss the possibility that this tomb was related to the Jesus clan.” Weighing the evidence, says Charlesworth, “we can tell that this was the tomb of a Jewish family from the time of Jesus. And we know that the names on the ossuaries are expressed the correct way as ‘Jesus, son of Joseph’.” But the professor has a few doubts. “The name on Jesus’s ossuary was scrawled on, like graffiti. There was no ornamentation. And there should have been. After all, his followers believed he was the Son of God.”

There was a revelation of sorts. The widow of Joseph Gat, the chief archeologist of the 1980 excavation electrified the conference by saying: “My husband believed that this was Jesus’s tomb, but because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, he was worried about a backlash of anti-Semitism and he didn’t think he could say this.”

The tomb was found by construction workers digging the foundations for an apartment building in the Talpiot hills, a modern suburb of Jerusalem. Gat and two other archeologists excavated the tomb, which had been vandalized centuries earlier. The ossuaries, including one with the scrawl “Jesus, son of Joseph” were moved into an antiquities warehouse where they languished, forgotten, until a BBC film crew in 1996 dusted them off. Jacobovici took the story further, using statistics — later disputed by experts — which seemed to indicate that, although Jesus and the others were all common Jewish names during the days of the Second Temple, the chances of them all being found in the same crypt, belonging to the same family, were rare indeed.

The debate over Jesus’ s supposed tomb will probably rage for years to come. But the conference attendees voted unanimously that the tomb, now sealed over with concrete in the garden of a suburban apartment building, should be reopened and examined more carefully. “I feel vindicated,” Jacobovici told TIME. “It’s moved from ‘it can’t be the Jesus’ family tomb’ to ‘it could be.’ ”

Charlesworth, who is also a Methodist minister, says that the possible discovery of Christ’s tomb will illicit mixed reactions among Christians. Most, he believes, will view it positively. The faith of some believers, he says, will be buoyed by historical proof that Christ, the son of Joseph and Mary, did exist. “I don’t think it will undermine belief in the resurrection, only that Jesus rose as a spiritual body, not in the flesh.” He adds: “Christianity is a strong religion, based on faith and experience, and I don’t think that any discovery by archeologists will change that.”

View the location on Google Maps. Why? Why the hell not? What else are you doing right now?


Huckabee Wants to Change Constitution to Include “A Living God”

January 15, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:27

Mike Huckabee, according to the Drudge Report, recently said that The Constitution must change:

“I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,” Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. “But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’shuckabee wants to change constitution what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.”

This couldn’t be further from what the founding fathers of this nation intended. Please help put a stop to this man’s political endeavors by letting people know what the founding fathers intended when they purposely did not include a mention of “God” in our Constitution.


South Carolina Students’ Opinions on Evolution vs. Creation Education

January 15, 2008

The Charlotte Observer polled South Carolina students on whether they think Evolution should be taught in school. Here are some of the opinions:

Damien McCorkle, 15, North Stanly High School, New London: Since I come from a Baptist background, of course I believe in creationism. But since evolution versus creationism is such a big deal, I think that the schools should just eliminate it from the curriculum. I know that everyone is arguing over this topic, but people cannot argue without anything to argue about. I also think that if they want to keep this in the curriculum they should teach both sides (since neither one is proven) and let students decide the on the one they believe.

carnival

Andrew Mills, 15, North Stanly High School, New London: In my opinion, evolution should be taught in science class and creationism should be taught in English class. Evolution is a scientific theory, so it should stay in the field of science. Science teachers teach what they have to teach and vice-versa. Creationism should stay in the field of English, because it deals with the Bible, a form of literature. Also, I believe that if you teach one of them you should teach both of them.

Brandon Blake, 16, North Stanly High School, New London: I think creation from the Bible should be taught in school instead of evolution. Evolution is the most ridiculous thing that scientist has ever thought of. If we do decide to teach both subjects in school, then we should keep them separate. Evolution could stay in science and creation goes in history since it deals with the Bible.

Julie E. Flanagan, 17, home-schooled, Charlotte: Truth needs to be taught in the classrooms of today. Evolution cannot be backed up scientifically in any sort of realm. While creation might be hard to explain it does have credible and truthful parts to it. Creation by intelligent design is the one and only truth to how the world was made. It doesn’t have to be taught straight from the Bible. But when you look at the facts and results of tests, creation by intelligent design is the only one that stands true and without any holes. Truth should be taught, therefore, I believe creationism should be taught.

Sean Keady, 10, Sandy Ridge Elementary School, Waxhaw: Choosing religion or science has always been a hard decision for me. I have chosen to treat the Torah as something to learn from. Religion should not be taught in public schools. Teachers will favor one religion over another religion or a different type over another type of the same religion. This is a concern for me because I am Jewish and the teacher might be teach a religion, not my religion. Evolution has solid evidence and it should be taught in schools. America is a diverse nation and we should not let the state indoctrinate a religion to children.

Laura Haerri, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I think civilization got started by evolution, but everybody has different beliefs. Personally I don’t think the story of creation from the Bible should be taught in science class. Evolution is the scientific version, therefore suitable for science class. The Bible’s depiction of creation is apart of a religion, therefore suitable for a religion class. It could even be taught in social studies, but in a science class there are students of all religions, and it would not be right to say that something that is against their beliefs is the right way. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion though.

Caley Scheppegrell, 13, home-schooled, Charlotte: Evolution should be taught in science class, since it is a theory supported by facts, which is what science is all about. It is only a class, and the students are not required to change their ideas according to the textbooks. They are still free to think or believe anything they would like to.

Is it me, or are the younger kids more on-the-money here?


American Atheists on Faith and Politics

January 14, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:26

American Atheists President Ellen Johnson has posted a fantastic monologue about Faith in Politics and John F. Kennedy. I’ve transcribed the speech below. I feel that it would be important to spread the transcript and/or video as much as possible, especially in the coming year. She poses the question “Would JFK be electable today with his stance in the issue of the separation of church and state?”

Here is the full transcript:

Welcome, and thanks for visting the American Atheists Web site. I’m Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists. By the time you see this video, the Iowa caucuses will be history. We still have 11 months to go until the 2008 Presidential Election, and odds are, that even right after the New Hampshire and Michigan primaries, we still won’t have a clear fix on who will be the nominees for Republican and Democratic Parties. One thing is for sure, however; religion and religious faith are playing a disproportionately large element in the race for the White House. And nearly all of the candidates feel the pressure to declare religious belief as a credential for public office.

Surveys indicate that the overwhelming majority of voters are mostly concerned about issues like: the budget deficit, war in Iraq and healthcare. A small but well organized coterie of evangelicals though, exercise a disproportionate amount of influence — especially inside the Republican Party. They vote, and they vote as a block. They’re well organized and when they vote, it’s not the Constitution or secular policies that guide their decisions. They’re convinced that America was, or is, or should be, a so-called “Christian nation” where the Bible is a template for how government and society should operate. We can all learn a lesson from their organizational skills and commitment to their cause.

Could John F. Kennedy be elected President of the United States today? It’s doubtful, given the current theo-political climate. Back in 1960, when JFK won the Democratic nomination for President, religion was a major campaign issue. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic and no Catholic up to that point had been elected to the White House. And in 1960, people were wondering if Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism somehow compromised his ability to serve the United States over the Vatican.

John F. Kennedy was one of the few Presidential Candidates who openly and proudly enunciated his support for the separation of church and state. Today that is almost a taboo phrase, “separation of church and state.” Mitt Romney uses it occasionally — so does Reverend Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul doesn’t even think that it should exist! He says, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of the founding fathers.”

Most candidates today repeat the myth that the separation of church and state is not in our Constitution or that its a legal fiction or that it simply means that the government cannot tamper in the affairs of religion. But all of those claims are simply wrong. It’s true that the words “separation of church and state” are not found in the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not part of our legal code. The words are an interpretation of what the Establishment Clause means. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which is the free exercise clause. And it guarantees our freedom from imposed or government compelled religion. That’s the Establishment Clause. Our courts have been consistent over the past 50 to 60 years that the First Amendment was intended to erect a wall of separation between state and church.

Unlike Huckabee and Romney and other candidates who want to showcase their religious beliefs as a credential for public office, John F. Kennedy embraced both elements of the First Amendment. He supported the right of people to believe in and practice their faith, so in long as those beliefs were not forced on other people. He also enunciated the principle that the state should not serve the church — any church — including his own. He opposed the official diplomatic recognition of the Vatican, complete with ambassadorial exchanges, fearing that it was unconstitutional and gave his own church too much power. Kennedy declared that if elected to the Presidency, he would put the Constitution first — not private religious beliefs. He also sent a clear message to the Catholic hierarchy that they should not interfere in the political affairs of the United States. Wherever Kennedy went, he was hounded by ads, picket signs and charges that he was a stalking horse for Roman Catholicism. Most of these accusations came from Protestant groups. So Kennedy, true to his style and principles, confronted his accusers during an historic appearance before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel in Houston, TX on September the 12th, 1960. Let me read you some of the quotes from his speech and then ask yourself if any candidate today would have the guts to stand up for these principles.

He began his talk to over 600 Protestant ministers by say that there were “far more critical issues than religion.” He said, “The hungry children I saw in West Virginia; the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills; the families forced to give up their farms; and America with too many slums, too few schools and too late to the moon and outer space.” And he said, “They are the real issues which should decide this campaign and they are not religious issues for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.”

Kennedy blamed religious sectarianism, especially the obsessive focus on his private Catholicism, as being responsible for obscuring what he called “the real issues” of his campaign. And just minutes into his talk, he put it all on the line. He said, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be a Catholic, how to act; and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Kennedy’s enlightened vision of a secular America — a polity free from religious dogma — is like night and day compared to our current political climate. I particularly like these following quotes from JFK.

“Whatever issue may come before me as President on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views — In accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power, nor threat of punishment, could cause me to decide otherwise. But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office.”

We’ve come a long way since the 1960 campaign and yes, there has been progress in defending separation of church and state thanks to groups like American Atheists. But we need to work very hard to make the politicians aware that a quarter of the United States population are not religious. We are a huge voting block. If we non-religious Americans make our issues our primary concern on election day, then we can make our voting power work for us.

Vote your atheism first, and together we can enlighten the vote. Thank you for visiting our Web site, I’m Ellen Johnson.