March 16, 2007

Christian Seniors Bash Atheists

According to the Secular Coalition for America, it did not take long for Rep. Pete Stark's identification as a nontheist to elicit Christian outrage. I suppose it was just a matter of time. The idea that belief in gods is not necessary seems to terrify many Christians. Stark has been applauded in the atheist community, as many of us have concluded that it is about time we finally had some representation in Congress. Perhaps anything that makes atheists happy has to be inherently bad.

A group of Christian seniors, the Christian Seniors Association (CSA), are using the occasion of Stark's announcement to attack atheism. They are calling on members of Congress (update: link no longer active) to proclaim their theistic beliefs on the floor of the House.
"It is time for religious members of Congress to push back. A simple declaration of a belief in God by members of Congress on the House floor will be greatly informative for the American people. Members who wish to expand could use the ‘special orders’ portion of the House calendar to elaborate but a simple "I believe in God" will suffice."
I guess the whole separation of church and state thing is irrelevant when we are talking about Christianity.
"Congressman Stark’s statement is a very sad benchmark for America. It could be the moment which defines the decline of our country or it could be the spark which marks an important day. That would be the day that religious Americans stood-up to the liberal bullies who are so determined to use the power of government to silence prayer and every other religious expression of free speech."
In a press release issued by the Secular Coalition for America, the values of Stark's announcement is reaffirmed. The Secular Coalition statement goes on to express disappointment in the CSA release.
"How ironic that, while claiming to stand for religious freedom, identical with freedom of conscience, CSA feels it must admonish a congressman for speaking candidly about his true beliefs."
Finally, the Secular Coalition statement challenges some of the misinformation found in the CSA release.
"Moreover, CSA uses the occasion to suggest that Stark's honest disclosure must be part of a plot to 'throttle any child who wants to bow his or her head in prayer' or to 'bash Christians.' These fear-based accusations can only be seen as attempting to incite hostility toward nontheists, who wish nothing more than to be treated as citizens deserving of a place at the table in the American public dialogue."
I applaud the Secular Coalition for facilitating Rep. Stark's disclosure in the first place and for defending the right of nontheistic Americans to express themselves. They are correct that the CSA and others appear to be interested in promoting intolerance toward atheists. Continued vigilance is needed.