by Cheryl Courtney-Evans
posted Sept. 10, 2012
First of all, I want to make it clear that I am a Christian (though not the "Bible-thumping" kind. *smile*). But even so, I believe in the right of another to live his or her life in the belief or non-belief of their own. I also believe in everyone having the same CIVIL RIGHTS, regardless of their religious or non-religious belief. So with this in mind, let's carry on...
Yesterday afternoon I tweeted two questions (rhetorical though they were) to try and make a point about marriage equality. I asked [and categorized them as legal questions], "If marriage is defined by God, WHO defines the marriage of atheists?" and "Does this mean the marriages of atheists are ILLEGAL?" These questions only attracted one of my 'followers', and what followed was a debate (which I personally thought swerved from the path of the original questions) about the label "atheists" [which she took offense to], and then to the role of religion in the government [she insisting that there is no 'separation of church and state']. So this incident is the catalyst for this article citing my opinion of this matter.
Well, we all know that atheists (and this is the last time I will use this term; in order not to offend anyone who objects to it, I will use NB [non-believer] for anyone who does not have a religious belief or in God, Allah, Jehovah, etc.; be it Christianity, Islam, Catholicism, or anything) get married, so my point was that when it comes to marriage equality, why is it that pro-marriage equality people continue to debate this issue and its merits with the "religious", they continue to do it on their "playing field", without referring to this so obvious CIVIL implication to its legality? Since the religious zealots continue to hide behind their "God-defined" marriage theory to block marriage equality, why do I not see ANYONE posing this question? Surely they would have to admit that NBs have been around for years, and have been getting marriages (not "civil unions") for years. AND THESE MARRIAGES ARE RECOGNIZED AS LEGAL.
But rather than grasp the point I was trying to make, my friend insisted that the measure IN THE CONSTITUTION guaranteeing separation of church and state is false (at least in practice)...she cited the fact that in court people swear on the Bible to "tell the truth"...
I had to counter that (at least here in Georgia) I've been in a court where there was no Bible (although the phrase recited ended with "so help me God"), and it would not bound anyone who was an NB; I contend the penalty of perjury (and being caught) ensures the truth they tell (or not). I also reminded her (after she asked me, "Where YOU been? Church is everywhere in government; they can't be separated.") that I've been around long enough to see instances where government HAS been "separated" from the church, as in the cases of public places that have been forced (by the ACLU) to remove images/plaques of the Ten Commandments from their walls.
I've seen them remove prayer from the public schools; all it takes is a group of people upset or insistent enough to lodge a lawsuit...
By most accounts that I've heard, the "founding fathers" settled the "New World" [of course, not to the people who lived here first] with the aim of having 'religious freedom'. Separation of Church and State was suppose to guarantee that everyone was to free to practice OR NOT PRACTICE religion as they see fit, and the government was to be secular with respect to its governing.
But of course, it seems like every politician ever elected claims "my religious belief informs me on how I decide issues; it's impossible to do otherwise...", it always seems that the "Evangelist Right" must be taken into account in elections and "Etchasketch" Romney attacks the POTUS for the Dems "not having the word 'God' in their platform" (they put it in there), as well as telling a Rethuglifool rally "I will NOT take God out of my platform, God off of our coins (???) or God out of my heart (what about Joseph Smith)..." It's just gets crazy!
So I think the most effective argument they need to use in the marriage equality debate with the "religious" (who are basically using religion to promote bigotry), is to make them explain WHY AND HOW THEY CAN ALLOW NBs TO LEGALLY GET MARRIED, WHEN THEIR MARRIAGES COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE DEFINED BY A DEITY THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN. Just sayin'....
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