Dateline Miami. Killing time in the Miami FLA airport.
I set up this blog as a way to illustrate the extremism of the conservative right and, since a left wing doesn’t really exist, to define and defend a “Center” in American politics.
Several of my blog articles have strayed in to religious areas and have highlighted non-theist issues – for example the entry on why non-believers should be able to celebrate the Christmas holiday or “He’s not my Brother” regarding Alabama Governor Bentley’s MLK day remarks that if you’re not a Christian, you’re not my brother (or sister).
It’s fair to ask – as I have myself – why is a blog that is ostensibly devoted to centrist politics, spending so much time on atheism issues? Should I change my theme? Chart a new direction? Re-title the blog?
After some introspection, I believe the answer is a resounding ‘no!’ A centrist pillar should be a secular view of government and more importantly – governance!
The people that rage throughout the country that government is too obtrusive in our lives (and wallets) are largely the same as the right wing. The Tea Party followers love and emulate the Libertarian stances of Ron Paul, as well as his newly elected senator-son Rand Paul, R-KY. As best I can tell, based on my attempts to understand the Tea Party movement – they are opposed, adamantly, to any enlargement of government and if anything, they demand government scale back and cut spending (and correspondingly reduce the deficit and tax burden on Americans).
There is nothing in that outlook that is inconsistent with a Libertarian view. The Constitution clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the Federal government, and while our Founding Fathers had enough insight to recognize that future generations would need to adapt and modify government coda to the times of its’ future citizenry – the Constitution remains a pretty good thing 🙂
However, since 1980, being conservative has become synonymous with the Religious Right. The Tea Party may have sprung out as a movement against excess taxation and corresponding government inefficiency to manage or allocate the public dollar wisely, but it did not take very long before that movement was infected, and largely co-opted, by Christian right wing values – as though smaller government, lower taxes, less government spending and regulation are somehow linked to what Jesus would have done.
These people, so pro-Founding Fathers, so pro-Constitution, are the first to say that for America to retain our lofty status as the leader of the free world, we should also protect marriage thereby denying millions of Americans the right to marry based on their sexual orientation, as well as not let homosexuals serve in the defense of our nation, to put prayer back in schools and to teach biblical creationism in our public schools.
They clearly cite the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase “one nation, under God” and “in God We Trust” on our currency as “proof” that our Founding Fathers established this country on Judeo-Christian ethics and beliefs and therefore, to conduct ourselves otherwise, is an abandonment of the Founders’ ideals and purposes for governance.
This outlook clearly ignores a number of facts and instead pays homage to American mythology. It’s not even elegant or elaborate – it simply highlights the blissful ignorance of the average American – where it is more important to “believe” in a fact than it is to exhibit intellectual curiosity and actually “know” a fact.
The reason why an atheistic (or agnostic) perspective is key to centrist politics is that our government was not founded on freedom of religion as much as it was founded on freedom from religion. The government should no more recognize a “Judeo-Christian” morality than it should an Islamic Shari’a law as applicable to the governance of its’ citizens.
The only way government can remain effectual is to take a purely agnostic approach to the belief systems of the citizenry. Save your religious values for your Sunday school educations – infuse your religious outlooks and morals in your children and hope they’ll follow your example – but when you cross the line and try to interject a WWJD view on our politics, you have established yourself the moral equivalent of the Taliban.