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The Agnostic Pulpit: The Unmentionable Minority

 article about agnosticism

This article belongs to Minority Inc theme.


Julian I. Taber, Ph.D.

Many years ago I served in a racially segregated United States Army in the southern state of Georgia. Black people had to use separate bathrooms, train cars, churches, and restaurants: this segregation was accepted without much question. Since those years, the United States has come an unbelievably long way in developing tolerance for minority groups and moving them in all our important public affairs. So now we have the first African-American president. He has picked a well diversified cabinet to help him. We are tempted to believe that anybody—a woman, a Jew, or Hispanic—is a very real presidential possibility in the future.

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That Obama is an African American seems almost irrelevant in our search for real leadership
Ironically and incidentally, the election of Barock Obama also proves that even an intelligent man can be elected President of the United States of America. That Obama is an African American seems almost irrelevant in our search for real leadership. In Philadelphia, on his way to Washington and his inauguration as President, Barock Obama gave a speech in which he mentioned a long list of minorities. He mentioned every minority or neglected group including Hispanic, African-American, women, the disabled, gays and lesbians, and all the rest.

Well, not quite all.

Almost anyone can be elected to high office in the United States, you say? Unfortunately, no publicly avowed atheist or agnostic could make it to the White House in America today. I'll refer to these folk as Freethinkers. They are the unmentionable, unelectable minority. Freethinkers are scorned and ridiculed as no other minority group could be today in America.

We expect our President to show himself entering a church, Bible in hand, every Sunday, or at least to invite religious leaders to visit him in the White House.

The time for change, however, is coming. Freethinkers must come out of the closet, demand their rights, and take their place among the leaders of the land! It will be a hard fight because the enemies of Free Thought are entranced and well funded.

If you find organized religion as annoying as second hand tobacco smoke or pesky mosquitoes in a summer evening, you have lots of company. Freethinkers are not a noisy group, but they are out there. They don't have much to sell and what they do offer is neither dramatic nor entertaining. There are few charismatic Freethinker leaders. Freethinkers tend to rely on science, logic, and evidence. They also have the amazing ability to say, "I don't know," when presented with unanswerable questions.

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If you find organized religion as annoying as second hand tobacco smoke or pesky mosquitoes in a summer evening, you have lots of company.
With the departure of the Bush administration we may, hopefully, return to the time-tested idea that church and state must forever be separate. We Freethinkers really do not care what anyone else believes. What we object to is being told how to live our lives by "I-know-better-than-you" religious fanatics. Churches enjoy a tax-free existence, but they want our tax dollars to support their programs. They want to tell us how to make love, when and to whom we can make love, how to manage a pregnancy, when and how to pray in public, what slogans we should have on our bills and coins, etc.

It does seem that religion has failed to produce a working ethic or common morality for everyday life. Perhaps a religion-free code of morality is a project for Freethinkers, but first we have to study the movement and become part of it.

The Freedom from Religion foundation (FFRF) has some 13,000 dues paying members, and they have been publishing an excellent newsletter for years. (See: http://www.ffrf.org/).

Freethinkers must come out of the protective closet and wear their convictions on a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, or with a lapel pin: visit http://www.evolvefish.com/ or http://www.atheists.org/ If people want to argue or insult you, hold your ground and defend your beliefs. Make a convert when you can.

Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, is mandatory reading for the literate Freethinker. Check out: http://richarddawkins.net/ He has written many excellent books including The Blind Watchmaker, and Climbing Mount Improbable.

There are many other good books including The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever by Christopher Hitchens. He also wrote God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Michael Shermer had given us many useful books including How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God. Also worth reading is Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design.

Wonderful books by Sam Harris include: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, and, Letter to a Christian Nation.

So, fellow Freethinkers, let's do our homework, oppose the imposition of religion into our public affairs, and demand recognition as a powerful and valuable minority.

(Julian I. Taber, Ph.D. is author of Addictions Anonymous: Outgrowing Addiction with a Universal, Secular Program of Self-Development: ISBN 978-1-60145-647-2, or go to: http://www.booklocker.com/books/3717.html)



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