I’m not even sure I can find the words – without offending almost everyone I know – to describe why this is such a bad idea. “What is so offensive about God?” It’s this kind of question that creates atheists.
Those, myself included, who do not think God – or any type of “higher power” – exists (except in the minds of the faithful), might answer, “Nothing is offensive about God, as long as you keep Him or It out of public life.”
National Day of Prayer is clearly in violation of this principle. Non-theistic Americans are being told, “Unless you pray, you are excluded. Your government encourages you to pray.” For what, pray tell? Money? Power? To stave off disaster from our shores? To win the lottery?
If you do believe in God, or any of the many gods on offer, that’s your business. I respect you, even if I may not respect your belief. I will not lobby for our government to enforce an National Day of Unbelief. And I will remind you that the only type of society in which both you and I are equals is a society which nurtures each individual’s right to believe, or not believe, in accordance with his or her own conscience.
I don’t especially want to turn you into a non-believer. I don’t care to debaptize you or your children. Calm down. There is no atheist inquisition out to get you. All we want are the equal rights guaranteed to all citizens by the constitution, with no favoritism of the religious over the non-religious.
And I would expect religious people to be a bit more up in arms over this as well. Do you really want your government trampling over your personal relationship with God? Rev. Barry Lynn has a great piece in which he writes,
Government is supposed to be neutral on religion. It has no business telling people how, when or where to pray — or even if they ought to pray. Government does lots of things well, but meddling in our private religious lives is not among them.
I know people who think we atheists are “obsessive” about separation of church and state. But this is a very real, and important, battle none of us can afford to lose.
This is typical Fox News talk, and not really worthy of serious discussion. But, for the record, it wouldn’t be a bad start.
Because once you open the door to God, all sorts of opportunistic little critters start scampering in. And, trust me, you don’t want them around.