Sunday, 17 June 2007

Role of faith in USA politics

source: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - The Daily Telegram via Atheist Revolution

Danger of religion

To the editor,

I am writing due to the increased role of faith in politics. Despite the right’s attempt to portray the left as “godless,” there is not one Democratic candidate who doesn’t claim a religion. But aside from the specific religious affiliations of the candidates I would like to remark on the problems faith poses.

As more people are reminding us, we are a country founded on secularism. Our country was founded with the morals and values common to many world religions, including Christianity, in mind. To say that we were founded solely on Judeo-Christian values is to be mistaken. This is what has made us so great. Any person who has traveled abroad in the last five years will know that we are not regarded as great anymore but a country of religious fanatics, more similar to our enemies.

A recent poll shows that Americans would be more comfortable voting for a person of most sects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam over an atheist. This is startling because it shows that it doesn’t matter what you believe so long as you believe something. I don’t know about you but I would rather elect someone who holds truth and evidence in high regard than a person unaccountably taking orders from the supernatural.

The portrayal of atheists as witches is a serious problem and is entirely false. There are a lot more Christian “evil-doers” than atheists. If you don’t think so, look at the data of religious affiliation of prisoners. Data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons show that over 99 percent of the prison population identifies as religious, the majority Christian, with only .209 percent claiming atheism. The number of atheists in the general population is 8 to 16 percent, which may be even more given the intimidation atheists face by people of faith.

The misconception is that religion is required for morality. It isn’t. Humans evolved a sense of morality, apes exhibit some forms of it. In all human cultures murder, rape, and incest are generally regarded as bad. “You scratch my back I scratch yours” is more personally beneficial than being a jerk who terrorizes people. All people, including atheists, can agree on this.

It is religion that gives people divine unaccountability. This is dangerous, because the person who disagrees is not only a dissenter but truly evil. There were no atheists plotting on September 11th, and none so eager to enter a war thereafter.

Adam Lewis

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