July 14, 2010

Taking Back America for Atheists

godless americaMy feelings toward patriotism, or at least what often passes for patriotism often takes, have never been particularly positive. From what I have seen here in the U.S., patriotism tends to take the form of fierce nationalism, American exceptionalism, and mindless redneckery (I know that isn't a word, but how else do you describe the drones chanting "USA USA" at pro-wrestling matches?). There's also the constant god talk that tends to be intertwined with patriotism for many. Can you imagine what would happen if an American president forgot to end a speech with the required "God bless America" phrase? So yeah, for me to suggest that we atheists might benefit from embracing a sort of patriotic atheism is not easy.

Of course, there are other ways of looking at patriotism, reminding us that it does not have to be a negative thing. Perhaps there are would even be benefits for atheists in embracing a healthy sort of patriotism.

John (The Dyslectic Atheist) got me thinking along these lines in a recent post. Here's the part that set my mind whirling:
...we as rational people, we must take a stance, and begin fighting to rid all levels of our government of this deluded religious, superstition and nonsense - and then take back our nation as the secular one that our Founding Fathers had intended it to be – lest we become just another nation of ignorant warmongering, and death loving Christian morons.
He's right. Some would say that we have already become the nation of morons to which he refers, and there is ample evidence to suggest that they may have a point. But I am encouraged that there are so many of us speaking out in opposition to this sort of idiocy.

The Christian right has long had their version of a "take back America" movement, exemplified most recently by Fox "News" windbag, Glenn Beck. But they seek to take us back to a fictional time and place, turning us into something we've never been and that violates much of the Constitution.

What if atheists started our own "take back America" movement, focusing on restoring America to the secular democracy envisioned by our founders and reflected in our Constitution? Obviously, many atheists are already working toward such a goal. Look at the efforts of organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I suppose what I'm talking about here is more of a marketing approach than anything else.

What do you think? Would it be advantageous to wrap our efforts in the flag and the language of patriotism?