Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Debate Rages On

In part two of this article, I intend to look at arguments made in the debate. The argument that the country was based on Judeo-Christian beliefs bears a bit of weight, but is not really applicable here. It should be recalled that one of the motivations of the founding fathers when penning the constitution was to avoid the obvious error of setting-up a theocracy or any of its trappings as was embodied by the foundation of an official state religion – see the problems that were cause by the adoption of the Church Of England and the religious intolerance which ensued. The purpose of the establishment clause is to prevent the US from becoming a theocracy.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The self-described evangelicals claim that striking the words from the pledge infringes on their religious rights, but as is demonstrable, there is no infringement of their rights or beliefs to not have the words there. On the other hand, it does infringe on the rights of people whose religions are not monotheistic to be forced to pledge allegiance with those words in place.

This is actually the crux of the matter for the people who want the words stricken from the pledge. Let's forget the boogieman "Atheist" that some would have you fear. There are lots of people that this phrase could offend; all of these classes of people could call these words and their official adoption a violation of the establishment clause. This clause has the potential of offending any religious practitioner of a non-monotheistic religion.
Ancestor Worship: Another example of an atheistic religion is to be found in the system of veneration of the deceased practiced throughout the world. From the pharos of Egypt, to the personal family shrines of the eastern religions, this veneration has been practiced far longer than Christianity and is a still-going religious belief.

Buddhism: A widely practiced atheistic (or more properly demi-theistic) religion has no central god. It believes in a number of supernatural beings described as lesser gods. There is no tenant of the religion to require the belief in a deity, so, technically, they could be offended by being compelled to pledge allegiance to a god.

Nature Worship: Paganism and other pre-Christian religions are still practiced widely. As these religions have no central deity but rather worship personifications and anthropomorphic representations of the natural forces, they can be defined as atheistic religions.

Polytheists: There are a number of polytheistic religions that do not believe in the concept of a God but rather in the existence of many gods. And it isn't just the dead religions of Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia that I am addressing here. The Hindu pantheon is as wide and varied as the Norse system ever was. And there are many varieties of polytheism practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Tomorrow we will look at how the debate is being handled from the point of view of decorum.

Wherever you are today, I hope you will take a stand on something you're passionate about.

Don Bergquist – July 21, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

No comments: