Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama welcomes non-believers

There is a great commentary over at CNN about Obama's reaching out to non-believers in his inaugural address:
President Obama's mention of "nonbelievers" in his inaugural address represents an important broadening of the circle of acceptability in American life, an acknowledgement of our growing diversity and a fuller embrace of the principles articulated in our nation's charter documents...

Our rhetoric, in fact, has always lagged behind our reality. When President Obama declared, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers," he sent a signal that it's time, once again, to enlarge the circle of inclusiveness, consistent with the great American tradition of equality and toleration.

Although I'm sure that Buddhists and Jains and Sikhs and countless other religious adherents would like to have been included in the president's roll call, the message was clear: We are a diverse nation, and the "free exercise" of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment also protects the exercise of no religion at all.
You know what's funny about being an atheist in a country where well over 90% of people claim to have some sort of belief in a higher power? You tend to get ignored, unless we're asking that you not shove your belief down our throats (and then we get to be the bad guys).

People forget that, for some of us, there is no God. Period.

I don't believe. Though I tried to become somewhat of a devout Presbyterian (is there such a thing) back when I was like 13 and still trying to masturbate to images of women in my head to be normal (I would come out a year later), it never worked. I just don't feel it, I don't see it, I don't believe it. I could give you every completely reasonable and logical argument in the book about the non-existence of deity, but, in the end, it boils down, for me, to one simple point: I just don't believe.

Back to my point, though:

We tend to get ignored. We're all for religious pluralism, right? We're all about holding hands and embracing each other despite our religious differences (unless you're Muslim)(and so long as we all worship at the altar of capitalism), but atheists? Who are those? It's funny, I think people can't put their head around the idea of non-belief. Much like my own thoughts on people that belief, I don't think believers can comprehend a world without their God. I can't imagine a world with one.

The universe is so amazing and so inexplicably logical, that I can't see anything else. And that's ok. [snarkyjoke] And, besides, Sunday mornings are for hangovers, not for sermons. [/snarkyjoke]

Anyways, I keep getting distracted. It was nice to not only hear myself as a gay man mentioned in Barack Obama's acceptance speech that wonder election night... but it was nicer still to hear myself mentioned as a non-believer in his inaugural address. It's nice to know that I'm remembered.

Because, for 8 years, I really really wasn't...

...unless you count the fact that I'm white. There's plenty of attention there.

Strange, this is the first time "atheism" appears as a label in my label list. Is it, perhaps, that this is new information because I've never actually talked about it? Jeez. So much for being proud of what you are :-).

1 comment:

Jere Keys said...

Mazel tov for your godless ways!

I came out as an atheist about two year ago (after 8ish years a Wiccan and the Mormon childhood) and I still find it hard to talk about at times. People really don't know how to address issues of atheism in religious pluralism. Obama is doing fine.