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Thread: A Question for the athiest.

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    A Question for the athiest.

    Why are the athiests getting so upset over the saying God Bless America ?
    If you do not believe in a God why does it upset you so much. ( I think I know) But I would really like to understand what is upsetting you? It isn't just a one religion thing, God bless can mean any of the world religions God. So what is the problem. If you don't think there is a God how can this hurt? Those who find comfort in it really are helped by it.
    Any ACLU supporters here? I would really like to understand?
    Thank you

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    You said: (I think I know). What are your perceptions about why atheists don't like this saying?

    If people all over were saying, Apollo and the Other Gods Have Made America Blessed, how would it make you feel? Why or why not? Is something like that offensive to you? Why or why not? Putting yourself in the other persons shoes is always a good start when you want to know how someone else feels about something.

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    If somebody said, or printed "Allah Bless America" or "Zeus Bless America" or "May the Gods Prtect Us" or whatever...It wouldn't hurt my feelings.
    I'd disagree, but at the same time respect peoles freedom to speak and express themselves. That's part of what being an American is all about.
    Sure, I would disagree with with a statement like I mentioned, and I don't really WANT to see it or hear it...but I wouldn't be offended in the least. I am strong enough in my faith and beliefs that it wouldn't phase me at all.
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    Just to play devils advocate:

    That was spoken as a true American. But what about speaking as a Christian?

    Is there anything in the Bible that talks about people invoking other Gods names and giving other Gods credit instead of giving it where it is supposed to go? Does it suggest how we should respond to that?

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    As a Christian living in a generally unsaved world...I still don't have a problem with it.
    Like I said, may not like it a lot, but I understand.

    As for scripture....
    Well....
    I can't think of any specific scriptures that deal with it.
    Paul, in 1 Corinthians mentions eating meat sacrificed to idols and that:
    1Co 10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake;

    BUT, if it causes "my brother to stumble" then don't.

    That doesn't really hit the issue exactly though.

    And, in some cases we can use "Allah bless America" (or another derivitce thereof) as a witnessing opportunity. It can start a conversation, that conversation can lead to a sharing of the gospel.

    AND, since I am secure in my faith, the fact that somebody else who is not saved, or has never heard The Truth doesn't affect me. If they were to even say "Satan be with us"...well...I got a problem with that, but it won't affect my spirituality nor my soul. They can curse me in the name of any other gods or devils..but "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world".

    Hope that kinda sorta answers the topic.
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    I guess all we need now is to have an actual atheist answer the question. lol

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    Re: A Question for the athiest.

    I'm not sure I can speak for all atheists here. I just want that to be clear from the start...

    For me, I am more amused by it than annoyed. It shows an underlying lack of faith when you think about it. Here are a couple of the hypocrisies:

    1) I never see "God bless Afghanistan," or "God bless Osama bin Laden," even though (by Christian reasoning) they might need it more than we do. Does God really chose nations to bless or curse? If so, why did the U.S. (where a majority of citizens claim to be Christians) do so badly against communist North Vietnam and could we have turned it around by chanting and bead-rattling? It's just tribal religion. "Our God's better than your God."

    2) If God's so all-knowing and all loving, either He has already blessed us and just couldn't stop the violence that's already been done to us or He's already chosen to let us suffer. When we paint God Bless America on every flat surface, does God say, "Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to bless the people of the U.S. this morning, better get back to work!" Do you think He needs reminding? Aren't prayers for blessings just a way of letting God know He hasn't been doing a bang-up job of protecting us so far and isn't that blasphemy? Obviously God intended those in the World Trade Center to die or he would have stopped the planes. Likewise, either we will prevail against al Qaida and the Taliban or we won't -- can we (or should we) change God's mind? Won't the Creator of All make the right decision?

    But in the end I figure it's just harmless superstition as long as we take action and don't wait for God to fix it for us.

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    A Christian is called to pray for the nations. I believe Christianity teaches that the Chrisian's nation is not the nation they happen to reside in, but the Church, the heavenly nation. They are ambassadors to the world, and thus should not be involved with earthly government.

    Christians should spend less time being "Godly Americans", and more time as ambassadors to America and the rest of the world.

    Well, that's what I think anyway.
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    Faithnhope, what athiests have you encountered that are getting upset? I'd like to know what sort of reaction you have heard and who said it. Context is important. Universe is correct is asking you to put yourself in the other position to better understand opposing viewpoints. I have a few questions for you - Why not just leave God out of the picture and not offend anyone? Keep your personal beliefs to yourself unless asked specifically? If someone believes their god will bless their country, won't the blessing occur without their having to speak it? It seems to me that if a deity has the power to impart blessings to a group of people, he needn't rely on feeble humans to do so. The other problem with the statement "God Bless America" is how you define bless. What sort of blessing is being referred to? Who is to receive it? For how long? These are the kinds of things that need to be asked before popular slogans are parroted in public. I think you are kidding yourself about God meaning any religion's god. Most Christians don't use the phrase in this way. What does the ACLU have to do with this?

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    Here is a link from a christian perspective of what is going on with the ACLU and the elementary school in CA. It tells the general idea of what is going on but is very slanted toward the christian view.

    http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0018090.html

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    I agree that the ACLU is not over-selective about the issues it gets involved with, but where would we be without them? Two things in the article you posted, Blackhaw, stand out to me:

    1) The Founding Fathers are, again, invoked. It's as if people think they can win any argument by convincing their opponents George Washington would have been on their side. Let's face it, these men were (for the most part) ambitious, slave-holding, fat-cats who would have gone apoplectic if you told them the country they were busy founding would one day have universal suffrage and women in the labor force. They were men of a different time and all the author of this article does by siding with them is show that he might not be keeping up with the times.

    2) How differently would this article read if the school had written 'Satan watch over us,' or 'Zeus smite our enemies,' on their front steps?

    Now, I don't know the specifics about this case, but it seems to be a pretty clear-cut case of church-state separation. I'd wager no-one would complain if the students wore their own religious slogans (unless they were anti-Christian) but as soon as it's the school (a state institution), any statement of faith is inappropriate, being unrepresentative of those tax-paying members of the community who hold a different set of beliefs or no beliefs at all.

    Hmm, why have I started numbering all my posts? I'm going to have to try to break this habit...

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    Smugg:
    After I reread the article again I really wished I could of found a more objective article. (especially one that talked more about the case itself)

    About Focus on the Family. I agree with a lot Focus on the Family believes in but they look at things with a colored lense. I do not mean that they as Christians look at things in a Christian perspective but that they only look at issues from their christian perspective and not other ways. Kind of like Pat Robertson. (although I do not agree with him half as much) They do not see things thru others peoples point of view and get very political. Too political for me.

    About the article:
    1) Yeah i understand your point Smugg but I think both ways of looking at the founding fathers is wrong. I mean they were not this coalition for Christianity. They did believe in things we do now and they did not believe in many of the freedoms we do today. i.e. women suffrage, slavery
    However I feel that when the U.S. began they did invoke God in public meetings. Also they did not see the line of seperation of church and state that we do now. I believe this because of their actions. Earlier we went to far by putting religion into our schools (school prayer, evolution backlash) and because of this we had a backlash and now we have shifted to the other side of the pendulum. I think the truth is in the middle.

    2. Smugg I do not think that it is the same as saying "Zeus bless america" etc. It was a very general message. Maybe more people would think of the Christian God when seeing it but it did not say any particular god on the sign.

    Smugg: so if the state says any kind of statement of faith that is unrepresenative of any persons religous beliefs in their district then it is a violation of church and state? How is this possible to do? I do not believe that all leaders of the state can be totally neutral in public dealings. I do not think that church and state seperation was ever thought of in that way until now. I think that in the early days of the U.S. the founding fathers were more comncerned with there being a state church then to restrict all mentions of faith in public life.

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    Wow, what a bunch of great responses. I did ask the question after watching a new brief on the ACLU wanting to take the pledge of Allegence out of the schools because it states " one nation under God" This was upsetting to me as I feel at this time children need to feel a part of our nation. Now that is just how I feel I am sure alot of people would disagree. I never thought of some of the things smug said. But basically on am on the same page as Blackhaw.
    You know I truly believe in spiritual warfare. I've read the " Screwtape letters" by C.S. Lewis. And "This present darkness" Frank Pretti and " The Bible" by God. So I cannot help but to wonder if hearing the statement God Bless America just doesn't upset those who are being subconscously wispered to by demons.
    Just as we Christains are sometimes taken a back as if punched in the soul when we hear or see something vile and blasphemous to the Lord. I am very tired and am not sure if I am able to get my idea across. But this is what I think.
    I am not putting anyone down but it is curious as to why someone who doesn't believe in a spiritual world would become
    viscerally upset over an idiology they don't believe in.
    Universe you asked what I thought made them upset, here is the answer. I am a very camelion like. I really can put myself in other peoples places. In fact I had to drop out of nursing school because I kept fainting because it was too intense when people were in pain. I sort of took it on, I love all people. I worry about others I don't really get mad at them. And if I do I can quickly stop and understand their point of view.
    Well I have said enough. I really do appreciate the ideas and thoughts discussed. Thank you.

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    faithnhope, you started to tell me what you thought bothered the atheists, but didn't finish. lol

    Where in the bible does it mention demons whispering to your subconscious? I never saw that. Please give a reference.

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    http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...nceptions.html

    The above link is an article from the Secular Web entitled:
    Seven Common Misconceptions About Atheism (1998)
    by Keith M. Parsons

    Here's an excerpt.

    "A recent letter in the Op/Ed section of the Houston Chronicle dismissed nonbelievers as a "fringe group"--a tiny minority of the population. The implication is that if there are only a few hundred or so atheists or agnostics in the United States, then they must be cranky extremists like flat-earthers or alien abductees. Of course, this objection commits the ad populum fallacy; truth is not determined by the number of its adherents.

    Let's play along, though, and see if nonbelievers are truly a "fringe group" within the population.

    According to a recent Gallup poll, 96% of American adults say they believe in God. However, this figure is less helpful than it appears since it does not indicate what the respondents meant when they said they believed in "God." No doubt the vast majority understand by "God" the traditional, supernatural deity of orthodox Christianity or Judaism. Surely, though, there are a good number of New Age types and others who mean something entirely different when they affirm belief in "God." Often they mean something like "the God within each person." Then there are many Unitarians and other "liberal" Christians who would affirm belief in God, but who interpret "God" as a metaphor or some other thoroughly "demythologized" concept. In other words, the actual content of the beliefs of many who say they believe in God is probably tantamount to atheism or agnosticism.

    Let us accept that only four percent of the adult U.S. population does not believe in any God or gods. This is probably an underestimate, for the reasons given above, but let us accept it for the sake of argument. According to the 1997 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the population of the United States is about 265 million. If we define "adult" as those 20 years old and older, the adult population of the United States is -about 189 million. Four percent of 189 million is over 7.5 million. According to the 1997 Statistical Abstract, the total number of United Methodists in the United States is about 8.5 million. Thus the number of adult nonbelievers is nearly equal to the total number of United Methodists, the second-largest Protestant denomination. Some fringe group.

    Of course, America is a notoriously religious country. If we extend our view worldwide, the percentage of people who don't believe in gods increases dramatically. Many millions of people in Japan and China do not believe in gods. Even if only 1% of the world's people believe in no gods, surely a gross underestimate, that is still 60 million people--hardly a negligible number."

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    interesting article and post Questian. what was your point of adding it to this thread? I think I know why but I do not want to just assume.

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    Given the current state of affairs, atheist are probably the most misunderstood and persecuted group in America. The groundswell of religious revival in the wake of Sept. 11th has made every critic of religion the target of Christian fundamentalists. Letters to newspaper editors are calling for the removal of atheist from the country, church leaders are blaming the downfall of the United States on secularist, and unbelievers are called unpatriotic and divisive when they bristle at the phrase "God bless America". If UK Prime Minister Tony Blair can publicly acknowledge that not all people hold a belief in God, why can't U.S. leaders do the same instead of pursuing exclusionary policies like faith-based programs that undermine the separation of church and state? Reconstructionist who want to replace our Constitution with the Ten Commandments are heading down the same destructive path as the Taliban with their literal interpretation of holy scripture. If individuals wish to express their faith publicly, that's their choice. When government institutions do the same, they automatically align with a particular group and show preferential treatment to those with a similar set of beliefs. Equal protection under the law is discarded at this point and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment becomes null and void.

    Blackhaw, hope that answers your question.

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    Originally posted by questian
    Given the current state of affairs, atheist are probably the most misunderstood and persecuted group in America. The groundswell of religious revival in the wake of Sept. 11th has made every critic of religion the target of Christian fundamentalists.
    This bugs me too, and I'm a Christian.

    Letters to newspaper editors are calling for the removal of atheist from the country, church leaders are blaming the downfall of the United States on secularist, and unbelievers are called unpatriotic and divisive when they bristle at the phrase "God bless America".
    Well, I don't consider myself a patriot. Should these Christians get rid of me too? I'm not proud to be an American, and I pray that God would bless all people, not just America.

    Reconstructionist who want to replace our Constitution with the Ten Commandments are heading down the same destructive path as the Taliban with their literal interpretation of holy scripture.
    I agree. What most Christians fail to realize is that the 10 commandments were abolished! Why should Christians expect the world to abide by their rules?

    If individuals wish to express their faith publicly, that's their choice.
    Yup, I agree.

    When government institutions do the same, they automatically align with a particular group and show preferential treatment to those with a similar set of beliefs. Equal protection under the law is discarded at this point and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment becomes null and void.
    Again, I agree... However, my concern is not with the government, but with the Church. Whatever the state decides will be fine with me (even if it turns into a dictatorship)

    Separation of church and state benefits both the church and state.
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    "Separation of church and state benefits both the church and state."

    This is true.

    I disagree with atheists being the worst persecuted group in America though. I don't think anyone should be hated or treated poorly, for any reason, but I think it is much easier to be an atheist in this country, (not neccessarily...how do you spell that?...this board). Try being a kid in public school professing to be a Christian, or even here where I work. It is looked down on everywhere in this country.

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    jhamrick,

    Actually, it's much easier to be a Christian. We have the Holy Spirit, and a community of believers that love one another.
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