So Help Me God

Obama has requested that the words ‘so help me God’ be added to his inauguration oath, apparently not caring much about the ongoing attempt by an atheist (atheists?) to keep everything secular. Honestly, I can’t say I blame him. Sure, it’s annoying that the government constantly makes clear that it supports Christianity in a way that a lot of people deem inappropriate, but this really is pretty trvial. Nothing is going to change if Obama omits a single phrase from his oath – the insidious effects of religious encroachment into science education are still going to go unchecked, homosexuals are still going to be oppressed by the Christian majority, and churches will continue to enjoy exemption from taxation.

I sometimes fear that atheism in the USA is in danger of being bogged down in these kinds of petty, entirely inconsequential swipes at religion.

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10 Responses to “So Help Me God”


  1. 1 scatheist January 11, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Good point. I have struggled with this myself but I fall on the side of fighting to keep church out of state at every level. The lawsuit involving Obama’s inauguration is a bit frivolous, but I can’t say that I’m upset that somebody’s doing it.

  2. 2 augustine January 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    That’s true – I also think that church and state should be entirely separate. However, attacking minor issues like this just doesn’t seem like the best way to pull them apart. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the lawsuit is, though.

  3. 3 Acren January 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    It’s freedom of relegion, not freedom from relegion. So quit trying to force your (non) relegious beliefs on me. If these words offend you, since when is there a right in the constitution not to be offended?

  4. 4 augustine January 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    The content of my post (which was two paragraphs long – did you read it?) makes me unsure who you’re addressing. At what point did I say I was offended? At what point did I say that I was trying to force my beliefs on you?

    However, it is good to know that you feel the right of atheists to not adhere to a religion is not equal to the right of theists to adhere to any religion they want. Increasingly, that’s the American way.

  5. 5 Acren January 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Lack of sleep and being upset with other things has me short fused and I felt I did the wrong thing seconds after I hit submit, so I apologize for my tone. But where in my two line resonse did I say or even imply you had no rights to your beliefs?

    If you have no belief god, that’s fine and it has no effect on me what so ever. Until activist groups sue to prevent me from putting up a Merry Christmas postcard. You have the right to believe or not believe whatever you want. You do not have the right to prevent me from expressing mine because it offends yours.

  6. 6 augustine January 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I never said that I have any such right. (Nor did I ever say that I was offended – annoyed, yes, but not offended.) However, you said that ‘It’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion’. Given that ‘freedom of religion’ is a right enshrined in the constitution, the clear implication was that ‘freedom from religion’ (atheism) is not on the same footing as the freedom to choose between religions.

  7. 7 Acren January 11, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I get your point, poor phrasing on my part. My view is atheism is your relegion. If the practice of atheism means no one else can express their belief in god in a public forum, it is no better than the crusades or muslim extremists saying you convert or die.

    Just for reference, the phrase that set me off was “the insidious effects of religious encroachment”. I am catholic in my beliefs, but disagree with the church on enough points that I did not go through confirmation. relegious zelots have been the cause of many horrible events in history, but the core values of most relegions have also been the source of great good.

  8. 8 Acren January 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    hehe, now I feel I scewed up again. Your posts do not put you in the category of the activists that make this a raw nerve for me. So comments are not directly aimed at you, but at atheism as a movement that must enlighten us poor uneducated souls who cannot escape our beliefs in myths and fairytales.

    I’m sure on many issues we have common ground. Even in the relegious arena.

  9. 9 augustine January 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    So comments are not directly aimed at you, but at atheism as a movement that must enlighten us poor uneducated souls who cannot escape our beliefs in myths and fairytales.

    While that is the somewhat unfortunate stance that some atheists take, I would say that the great majority of atheists would be adamantly opposed to any attempts at inhibiting religious expression or practice (apart from things like female circumcision, which I’d say is something we both agree should be illegal).

  10. 10 scatheist January 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Okay, this to me is part of the misunderstanding. As an atheist, I am not trying to keep you from your religion and I’m not trying to keep your religion from you. I and many others are struggling to keep your (or anybody else’s) religion out of OUR Government. This has been debated since the founding of our nation. The founding fathers decided on a secular government and that’s what I’m trying to protect.


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