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March 25, 2004

The Atheist Fundamentalists Attempt a Coup

Jonah Goldberg has shared with Corner readers an email from a professor who explains his opposition to the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance thus:

The beauty of our country is that it evokes great loyalty precisely because it doesn't demand it. The Pledge is a pointless and anti-American exercise. The fact is, the intention of the fundies is to try to force their God on the rest of us (and why shouldn't they? wouldn't you, if you felt you had access to the ultimate truth?) and we have to fight it where we can. How exactly would it be a 'slap in the face' to take God out of the thing?

While there's a degree of truth to the professor's explanation of America's "beauty," it's a slender abstraction of precisely the sort that intellectuals are so inclined to inflate to the point of hot-air entirety. For most Americans, the "beauty" of the United States of America — what evokes undemanded loyalty — is that we can work to change its laws according to our beliefs about what would make it a better country. Note the professor's parenthetical suggestion that he understands this to be true.

To mention, in non-coercive ways, a God who does not exist is simply silly. To refuse to acknowledge, in any capacity, a God who exists (as the vast majority of Americans believe He does) would be beyond silly, into a realm of enforced, disrespectful dementia. To insist, as Michael Newdow is arguing before the Supreme Court, that the U.S. must do the latter, and that no amount of advocacy and consensus building will be sufficient to change it, is indeed to slap Americans who disagree in the face. Worse, it is to erase exactly that which makes our nation so much more than an aristocracy with pro forma rituals of empty democracy. And not demanding devotion does not of itself result in its being offered... as any atheist should know.

This professor is — knowingly or not — engaging in exactly the strategy for which I faulted a talk radio caller yesterday: he is attempting to substitute, ipso facto, America as he would like it to be for America as it is. Frankly, I think Goldberg had it right in the post that elicited the professor's email:

I'm sorry but this country may have been established to protect individual rights, but it wasn't founded to cater to the feelings of every individual. Newdow is unconcerned by the fact that if he got his way he'd be slapping, literally, hundreds of millions of Americans in the face. He thinks that's fair because of his ego and because his capacity for abstraction affords him the ability to shove his head up his own butt and mistake the darkness for a temple of reason.
Posted by Justin Katz at March 25, 2004 11:48 AM

Let us pray that our constant fear and our constant selfishness and our constant forgiveness will teach us to constantly pound the door of the present moment looking for our god in whom all things are made new again and in whom we find our peace.

Posted by: Michael Miller at October 2, 2004 7:15 AM