Friday, June 11, 2010
A real atheist like Christopher Hitchens might approve of the ACLU suit, which seeks to prevent students in Enfield from attending graduation services at First Cathedral in Bloomfield, for its nuisance value alone. But he probably would reject as an outdated medieval superstition the unstated claim that gives moral unction to the suit.
What harm could possibly come to an atheist or agnostic who attends a graduation, purely a secular activity, in a building in which religious services have been held?
Buildings are not sacred objects; still less are they professors giving off notions that might ensnare the non-religious. A building of brick and mortar is not an idea. A passing atheist on the sidewalk who falls under the shadow of a cross atop a Catholic church is not thereby converted to Catholicism. And even if he enters the church during a service, one must suppose the atheist is made of stern stuff – unbeguiled by fairytale notions that the atheist has shucked off as puerile but harmless to him.
In fact, the ACLU suit that seeks to protect atheists from religious infections emanating from buildings is positively uncharitable to committed atheists.
One wants to say to the anonymous agnostic represented in the ACLU suit: Buck up man! Either atheism or agnostisism is a serious proposition for you or it they are fairytales. Serious atheists needn’t be afraid of attending a graduation presided over by secular officials in a building in which religious services are held. Atheists don’t believe in priests or noxious religious dogmas. But they don’t believe in homeopathic magic either. Tell the ACLU to take a hike!
Hitchens, one supposes, would relish debating the fool who hath said in his heart “There is a God.” Indeed, he has done so on many an occasion. But to attack a school board that has chosen, purely for reasons of economy, to have a graduation ceremony in a building that cannot dispute with atheists? My God man (excuse the language), have you lost your secular mind? Call yourself an atheist! Why, you should be driven from the fold.
The argument above is not one that is likely to be seen on Peter Wolfgang’s site, Family Institute of Connecticut. Wolfgang is religious. He is exactly the kind of person Hitchens would enjoy engaging in debate.
ACLU members – and, one is ashamed to say, some in the media – do not want to debate theists on points of theology. They want to stick them in a closet, shove a gag in their mouths, and prevent them from operating in a public square cleanly scrubbed of all religious ideas. Neither do they want religious people to engage in political activity. If successful, not only would they shut down the operation of religion in the public square; they would shut down the ongoing debate between committed theists and committed atheists.
The ACLU suit in Enfield is a secular interdict. The organization is using the threat of an expensive lawsuit to dissuade people from engaging in an activity that, despite an idiotic ruling from a judge, is secular in nature. But that interdict – even more severe than one issued by a pope, because papal interdicts do not touch those outside the church – could not succeed without the help of Big Media.
Just now, Big Media is interested in preventing Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC) from engaging in politics, the birthright of every American, theist or atheist.
Suppose for a moment the pope were to say that Catholics could not attend a non-educational affair at a public school – say a graduation -- because such buildings were infested with crippling irreligious notions and breathed an air of atheism. That pope would instantly be denounced as anti-American, heathenish (only neo-pagans believe in homopathic magic), and a menace to an inclusive and diverse democracy.
Rick Green over at the Hartford Courant, a hotbed of political anti-inclusiveness, lays at Wolfgang’s feet the following charges: Wolfgang has engaged in politics by actively opposing the ACLU’s action in Enfield (jeepers creepers); Wolfgang is greedy. He is using the occasion of an ACLU suit to generate money for his benighted organization. That should finish the menace!
Green has not yet proposed excommunicating Wolfgang. Had a pope issued such an interdict, he immediately would have been set upon by the tribunes of the people and torn limb from limb.
We are more tolerant of our secular popes in government and media who, because they are secular, present a much greater danger to our constitutional liberties.