DIAL A GAY ATHEIST
06 February 1994
THE NATION INVOKES PRAYER AS A SOLUTION
This is Dial A Gay Atheist, a communications service of
American Gay & Lesbian Atheists. American Gay Atheists, Inc., is
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American Gay Atheists, Inc. This is Don Sanders for Dial A Gay
It's the answer to all of America's social problems: rampant
and violent crime, excessive drug abuse, homelessness, divorce,
abortion, the economy, air and water pollution, depletion of the
rain forests, AIDS, and even potholes in the streets. Well, to
hear the U.S. Senator from North Carolina tell it, all America
needs to do is bring prayer back to the public schools, and like
magic, every social ill will disappear, sort of like an eraser
eliminates chalk from the blackboard.
Before the Senate this week, Jesse Helms claimed that "You can
pinpoint when the decline of this country actually began," in
reference to the 1963 Supreme Court decision disallowing organized
Bible reading and prayer recitation in the nation's public schools.
The suit was brought by American Atheist founder and my personal
friend, Dr. Madalyn O'Hair.
These words, spoken by the senator, were in support of a
provision authored by Helms and attached to a $422 million
education bill intended to improve education. Helms originally
sought to cut off aid to state and local school boards which
prohibit or limit "prayer in public schools by individuals on a
voluntary basis." It wasn't until Senator Bob Packwood (the
Republican senator from Oregon accused of allowing his genitals
take precedence over his brain) suggested adding the words
"constitutionally protected" that the measure gained more support
from among the more liberal wing of that esteemed body, among whom
were Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. The education bill,
with the attached prayer mandate, passed the Senate by a vote of
75 to 22.
Of course, this is just another slap in the face of the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which every elected
representative promised to uphold, protect and defend. It is also
another way to gain votes from the followers of powerful organized
religion whose main purpose is and remains to influence politics.
The most preposterous thing about the recent brouhaha to
return prayers to public schools is that *truly* voluntary prayer
was never abolished in the first place. A student has never been
prohibited from murmuring a prayer to him/herself at his locker,
before school, after school, during gym class, prior to
examinations, or at any time. The 1963 Supreme Court decision only
disallowed *ORGANIZED* Bible reading and prayer recitation, actions
which necessarily force other students to join in with the gang or
face rejection by their peers. And we all know how portentous a
thing peer pressure is in schools!
The truth is that Christians are not content to practice their
religious beliefs in the privacy of their own homes, churches and
own heads. Rather, they want to use the power and influence of the
public schools and other public, tax-supported institutions to
foist their religion upon everyone. And in order to do just that,
they will lie, lie, and do whatever it takes to get their way,
including, but not limited to, creating vast fabrications such as
the old popular one of persecution.
Later this week in Washington, DC, the annual National Prayer
Breakfast occurred in the huge ballroom of the Washington Hilton
Hotel. Over 4,000 attended, including, of course, President
Clinton and First Lady Hillary, Vice-President and Mrs. Gore and
practically every elected official within miles of Washington.
Guest of honor was Mother Teresa, who flew in (not on her broom)
from Calcutta to deliver a political address which castigated the
United States for allowing members of her own sex to have access
to abortion, and couples who dare to opt for birth control methods
other than the ONE officially approved by the Vatican. Here is an
octogenarian who has wasted her entire life being the bride of a
2000 year-old Jew who never existed and who has spent most of her
days in one of the poorest, filthiest and malnourished countries
urging its citizens to continue breeding themselves into decay.
And for this she has earned a Nobel Prize!
In the meantime, our illustrious liberal president again
states that the concept of freedom from religion is anathema to the
concept of freedom of religion as outlined in the U.S.
Constitution, and that prayer is a cornerstone of our society. The
entire affair echoed with the premise that every ill of humankind
can be fixed if only more of us would engage in prayer.
Surprise! Surprise! The National Prayer Breakfast came from
those red-baiting McCarthy days of the Cold War era, the same time
which brought us our national civic religion and inserted god into
our Pledge of Allegiance and made it mandatory that every dollar
bill we carry be a billboard of proselytization. Thomas Jefferson
never sponsored a National Prayer Breakfast, nor did George
Washington or John Adams. Even Abraham Lincoln, the revered
emancipator of the blacks, did not find it necessary to resort to
grovelling to the great sadist-in-the-sky to solve the nation's
ills. In fact, Mr. Lincoln is known to have been a great opponent
of religion and especially chastised it creeping its way into
politics. Of the Civil War, Lincoln said, "Both (sides) read the
same Bible and pray to the same god, and each invokes his aid
against the other." And he is also quoted as having said, "The
Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession."
So as the week marched on, Washington fell to its knees and
kissed the puckered proboscis of religion, catering to the
emotional issues such as school prayer as an elixir to cure every
ill of a deteriorating society whose own excesses in the hog trough
of religious illiteracy have asphyxiated reason, logic and virtue,
and have replaced them with easy fixes for complex issues. With
church attendance allegedly at an all-time high in America, with
more people than ever believing in the power of prayer and the
phenomenon of angels watching over us and protecting us from harm,
and with a church on practically every corner, one must ask the
question why crime seems to be the factor most prominent in
everyone's mind and why Atheists are statistically under-
represented in our nation's prisons.
The facts of figures of our disintegrating society seem to
indicate that rather than evoking more religion, what the nation
really needs is less.
For a free sample copy of The American Gay & Lesbian Atheist
newsletter, write to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. The
American Atheist TV Forum can next been seen in Houston over your
access cable channel on Wednesday, February 16 at 5:30 PM. At the
tone, your opinions and comments are welcome. We look forward to
hearing from you. And, of course, you can call this American GAY
Atheist again, anytime!
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