Today our local newspaper, the Salem Statesman Journal, published my wife's "Good Without God" letter to the editor. Naturally I feel that Laurel makes a lot of sense, fellow scientifically-minded atheist that she is.
After her letter, I'll share the earlier letter from Dale Kirby that stimulated Laurel's response. Another person, Larry Nelson, also took issue with Kirby. I've shared his letter as well.
I can't resist adding comments on my own, in red. First, here's my wife's letter.
Dale Kirby’s Nov. 30 letter claimed there is a “war” against religious freedom in our country.
Naturally, there isn't. Unless you believe everything Fox News says. (A big mistake.)
The facts are, that until the 1950s, there was no God in the Pledge of Allegiance. “In God We Trust” was not on paper money until 1957. E pluribus unum (“Out of many, one”) was the original U.S. motto from the Great Seal of the United States.
Ah, the good old days before right-wing religious wackos started becoming more politically active.
It is the more scientifically-minded, non-religious people in the U.S. who are discriminated against. The religious people force their superstitious beliefs (which have no real basis in reality) on us. The percent of population with no religion is growing, yet Pence and Trump, etc., are trying to change laws that uphold the constitutional separation of church and state.
Amen to that.
Religious politicians seem to be at war with science. Religious believers long ago fought scientific findings that the earth was round and revolved around the sun (versus flat with the sun and heaven above it). Now the science of human-caused climate change is being rejected.
"Seem" is being too generous. Republican politicians are definitely pushing their religious zealotry on the rest of us. They reject truth and embrace falsehoods. Reality is too valuable a thing to waste to allow this to happen.
The earth is at risk.
For sure. Human-caused global warming is real.
It will not be God ending the world, but people with superstitious beliefs, rejecting science until it is too late.
Yes. Religious superstitions are a huge threat to humanity. Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, even Buddhism. When people forsake "what is" for "what we imagine to be," bad stuff follows. Reality kicks our butt when its truths aren't respected.
Here's the letter that got my wife's atheist indignation aroused. Along with my comments.
America’s military is fighting against terrorism. Another war is being waged by dark forces against our nation’s religious freedom.
Huh? I haven't seen any signs of that war.
The freedoms of speech, religion and assembly are all bound together. Destroying any one of these inhibits the others and threatens three of the most needed and valued constitutional guarantees.
Well, again I assert there's no indication that religious believers are being stopped from saying whatever they want, worshipping however they want, or assembling however they want.
Destruction of religious freedom would destroy the God-given right to pursue a life of liberty and happiness, since religion is the source of happiness for millions of America’s most upright citizens.
Um, I'd substitute uptight for upright, Dale. Also, heroin in all its various forms (such as Oxycontin) also is a source of happiness for millions of people. Just because something makes people happy doesn't make it safe or desirable.
Those who seek to limit freedom of religion expect people of faith to accept their godless way of life. We see today in the U.S.A. the results of godlessness in lawlessness, abortions and adultery. Do we really want an irreligious nation?
YES! I'm pretty sure the most religious states have the highest crime rates. Same with nations: godless countries like Japan and the Scandinavian nations are both happy and lawabiding.
The destruction of religious freedom takes away the correct care of the poor, the orphans and the homeless. It would extract the badly-needed thousands of hours of service given by the helping hands of those of faith in times of disasters and calamities.
Non-believers are equally committed to volunteerism and charity. Get real.
I believe everyone should have the privilege to worship a deity of his or her choice. It is a God-given right to worship who or where we may. The lives of honorable religious citizens are the backbone of our nation.
I agree with your first two sentences, Dale, but not the last one. Religious people aren't any more moral, upstanding, and generous than atheists. If anything, they're less so, because religiosity and judgementalism go hand in hand.
Dale Z. Kirby
Lastly, here's the other response to Kirby.
In his Nov. 30 letter, Dale Kirby writes that “war is being waged by dark forces against our nation’s religious freedom.”
I wish I knew what he means, since, as it appears to me, no nation on earth exceeds the U.S. in the vibrancy of its religious communities and the scope of its guarantees of religious freedom.
Mr. Kirby is free to worship as he likes, whenever and wherever he likes, as long as his practices don’t break the law or infringe on the civil liberties of others.
In the 1860s, many religious people used the Bible to defend the practice of slavery. Is this the type of religious “freedom” Mr. Kirby longs for? The type that would allow any practice he believes his Bible supports, regardless of the rights and beliefs of others?
Probably. Lots of religious people want to be able to discriminate against the LBGTQ community, take away a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, and even restrict access to birth control. Basically, the Dark Ages are the Good Old Days for many of today's Christians. Bring back the Inquisition!
What about people like me? I’m a law abiding, conscientious citizen who happens not to believe in Mr. Kirby’s religion. Should I have fewer rights than a religious person?
No. The law should be blind to religion. Which means, no religious "conscience" exemptions. It's ridiculous when a religious believer gets away with breaking the law or not adhering to a regulation because he or she believes in a superstition.
Those of us who disagree with Mr. Kirby are not “dark forces.” As a nation, we are all better off when people are free to believe as individuals as their consciences dictate, as long as we show respect for the rights of people of other religions or no religion.
Well said, Larry.
Larry R. Nelson