over God: Doing My Part for the Godless Future
Hank Fox’s call to atheists to share our strategies prompted me to write this note about something i do that probably lands me in the “militant” atheist camp. For a regular smattering of accessible irreligious wit, i urge you to check out Blue Collar Atheist. Thanks so much, Hank, for what you do!
I do a lot of the familiar stuff at the personal level: I sit at Ask An Atheist tables, i write letters to the editor, i regularly post religious commentary on Facebook. I cross out “In God We Trust” on dollar bills and write in “E pluribus unum”. These things matter. but they feel reactive, and marginal, like online comments on an op-ed.
Here’s something i wish more people would do: Take the Pledge of Allegiance. When i’m at a government function — e.g. most recently a Town Council meeting — and we are led in the Pledge, i no longer stay silent during the “under God” bit (that desecration of cadence). Oh, no. I take the pledge loudly, proudly, and fluidly, in its original glory.*
This leaves me pronouncing “indivisible” while everyone else is saying “under God” (or staying silent), and then “with liberty and justice” during “indivisible”. And people hear it. It turns heads, in very much the way that the silent treatment doesn’t. And, anymore, that obnoxious pause irks me like acquiescence.
I refuse to let a coalition of zealots and national supremacists coerce those of us who wish to pledge ourselves to Enlightenment values into installing their god right above them. and i refuse to be shamed into accommodating their personal superstitions in the very midst of our collective commitment to an evidence-based, inquiry-positive society.
It’s only recently that i’ve come to a greater awareness of and appreciation for the uniquely secular origins of my country. When i pledge my allegiance to this republic, my pledge extends to the principles of democracy and free inquiry on which it is founded.
Would that our citizenry were more directly confronted with the values that truly underlie our society. This is my little contribution to that effort. and it feels proactive.
* Yes, i know that the original pledge was slightly different in other ways. (Note, from the same link, that the words “under God” were indeed an overt — and unconstitutional — endorsement of religion over irreligion.)