What with the spin from the White House pulpit, you'd think that religion is so central to American life that it has become an essential part of being an American. George W. Bush uses every opportunity to promote religion in general and his own version of Christianity in particular. Through special government funding for religious groups, legislation to enact religiously motivated social engineering, and religious incantations throughout his public statements, George W. Bush is doing everything he can to put a staunchly religious face on the American nation.
As is usually the case with George W. Bush, the truth is more complicated than the public image. The truth is that Americans are becoming increasingly diverse in their attitudes about religion. Only a minority of Americans go to church on a regular basis. More and more Americans are choosing not to take part in religion at all. Decade after decade, fewer and fewer Americans identify themselves as religious.
People have different ways of life without religion. Some call themselves atheists or agnostics, but most just don't call themselves anything at all. What unites these Americans is that they are struggling to keep their constitutional right to live simply without having religion forced upon them, by churches or by the government. They just want to live a secular life in peace, letting others practice their religion in private as they wish.
Unfortunately, George W. Bush and the Republican elite just don't want to leave them alone. Bush and the Republican leadership seem intent in forcing all Americans to join along with the most values and worship of conservative Christian congregations. Under Bush, almost every corner of government has been reshaped according to an extremist conservative Christian agenda. In the Justice Department, John Ashcroft starts work every morning with a round of gospel songs and prayer with his staff, then works to investigate and prosecute people who don't fit with his own religious values. The government's scientific research is edited by White House officials in order to fit with Bush's religious beliefs. An official bureau of religion in the White House directs taxpayer's money to missionary programs run by Pat Robertson. Amendments to the United States Constitution itself are proposed that would enforce conservative Christian values as the law of the land.
Over the last four years, secular Americans have steadily realized that they cannot simply sit back and be content to focus on their own private lives. More and more, the Bush Administration is seeking to destroy the freedom of secular Americans to have private lives free of religious coercion. That's why we are creating this online resource center for Secular Americans Against Bush. It's time that secular Americans stand up for their right to live free from the demands of authorities of America's religious orthodoxies.
Stand Up and Be Counted!
One of the easiest ways to stand up for the rights of secular America is to stand up and be counted as one of its members. For that reason, we offer the following bumper stickers, which help you carry the message of a secular America that is tolerant, but strong enough to stick up for itself when necessary. With titles like Secular Americans Against Bush and Agnostics Against Bush, narrower down to Atheists Against Bush, and more thematically to Get Your Religion Out of My Government, many brands of secular Americans can make a statement that's honest to their own personal positions.
Getting in touch with established politicians and political organizations can also be surprisingly effective. To find the contact information for your representatives in Washington D.C. and in your state, visit Congress.org, enter your zip code, and you'll achieve contact in no time. We also think that there's a lot to be said for the grassroots power of groups like MoveOn and Democracy for America. Of course, you can also get involved with the John Kerry campaign. Senator Kerry is a religious man, but he knows the value of keeping religion and government separate.
When asked about how his membership in the Roman Catholic Church would affect his decisions as President of the United States, John Kerry remarked, "What I believe personally as a Catholic as an article of faith is an article of faith, and if it's not shared by a Jew or an Episcopalian or a Muslim or an agnostic or an atheist or someone else, it's not appropriate in the United States for a legislator to legislate your personal religious belief for the rest of the country. Now, that's the oath you take when you swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States." How about that - a presidential candidate promising to uphold the constitutional rights of secular and religious people alike. That's a rare statement that reveals the deep decency and intelligence of John Kerry. We have never and will never hear this kind of statement come from the religiously partisan George W. Bush, who seems to believe that the power of the federal government is established by God for the benefit of the religious.
A third realm of activities for secular Americans is to get involved in organizations that promote secular values and the separation of Church and State. People for the American Way is the one of the more specific of such organizations, dealing with First Amendment protections against government establishment of religion. The American Civil Liberties Union is a deeply principled and powerful institution in secular American life, defending people regardless of their political or cultural perspective. The constitutional establishment of a secular government has always been one of the ACLU's areas of defense. Then, there are other organizations that focus on the abstract ideals of particular secular perspectives, but often touch upon how those principles relate to the real world. Of these, most worthy of note is the Council for Secular Humanism, which at times gets mired in detached academic discussions, but still manages to provide a strong voice for secular Americans.
Of course, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has always been a great supporter of the right for all Americans, religious and secular, to live free from government-sponsored religion. If you want to go an alternative, grassroots path, there's also now a Meetup for people interested in supporting the separation of church and state. They're not in every community, but there's a good chance that they're meeting somewhere near you.
Whatever your preference for getting involved, you no longer have an excuse for staying silent and inactive. You have before you several alternatives for action. Take them all, or take just one of these opportunities, but whatever you do, don't sit on the sidelines. The integrity of secular America has never been more at risk, and secular Americans have never been under such attack, as they are under George W. Bush.
Close your eyes, and imagine what four more years of Bush in the White House could bring. Now, open your eyes and do something about it!
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