America was founded on religion, right? We hear God in the Pledge of Allegiance, we debate prayer in schools, and we swear on stacks of Bibles. But some of America’s most memorable leaders were, in fact, Atheists.
Politically it is unfavorable, socially unacceptable and statistically unbelievable, but many American heroes wore the scarlet letter. Some people claim that the founding fathers of our nation were nearly all infidels including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson and even Abraham Lincoln, stating that they had no direct belief in Christianity.
It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that “In God We Trust” became our national motto and was printed on paper currency to counteract “Godless“ communism. So if America wasn’t founded on Judeo Christian beliefs, where did these strong religious undertones come from, and why the hell is there a bible in every seedy motel in America…right beside the vibrating bed?
Next time you are on vacation open up that bible in your hotel and notice where it comes from. All bibles are distributed throughout American hotels by one specific organization. An evangelical society over a hundred years old founded by two traveling salesmen, Gideons International now makes sure 112 bibles per minute are distributed across the country. But it wasn’t until 1908 that numerous copies found their way into hotels, nursing homes and firehouses. Around the same time, “In God We Trust” was implemented on to our paper currency and “one nation under God” was put into the Pledge Of Allegiance. Originally, the piece contained no reference to any deity but when the threat of communism was plaguing America Eisenhower felt the need to instill religious values as a moral compass and symbol of national unity. Thus, blurring the lines of church and state.
Perhaps you have heard the saying: “There are no atheists in a foxhole”, but there are quite a few soldiers who beg to differ. As a result of Katie Couric recently evoking the statement on NBC’s Today, atheist civil rights groups are up in arms and after viewing The FX network’s “reality” docu-series 30 Days: An Atheist Among Christians, I learned a few important facts about America’s most oppressed non-religion:
Statistically, America is 75% Christian and as “one nation under God”, only 5% of our country is considered atheist. Shockingly, their approval and acceptance is lower than all other minorities, actually making the bottom of the list. When asked via survey, it has been discovered that American parents would rather their children marry any minority over someone with no faith in God or a supernatural power. When voting for president, women, homosexuals, and other minority groups had a higher approval rating than a candidate that was a non-believer.
The question is: Why are we so intimidated by non-believers and can we eliminate the great divide?
Atheists are not moral deviants nor does their belief give them an ethical carte blanche to wreak havoc on society. They are simply defined as people who hold no belief in a higher power, people who believe that in death existence is terminated. For some reason, the most scientific way of seeking truth in the world is tossed aside for supernatural mythology. There is nothing wrong with committing to a religion, but you would think something faith based would be more taboo than the rationalization of science.
Many people maintain that politics and religion are personal topics to steer clear of in passing conversation. But an open social dialogue is what keeps people informed and can be an open door to different points of view. Yes, saying “I am an atheist” is a dicey move, you may even get a blank stare from the crowd across the room, but it is important not to compromise your beliefs for acceptance. Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, Bjork, Roseanne, Bill Maher, Howard Stern, Lance Armstrong, Kathy Griffin, Ray Romano and Billy Joel have all professed their disbelief in organized religion and proclaimed themselves members of this highly controversial system of thinking.
Woody Allen, a devout atheist once said; “Not only is God dead but try getting a plumber on weekends.”
Amen to that…or woman for that matter.