Sunday, January 18, 2009

So Help Me God

I will begin this post by telling you, flat out, that I do not believe there is a capital-G God, in the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other manner. Since I was a small child, no more than five or six, reading the picture Bible gifted to me by my grandparents, I have been patently unable to take to my knees, clasp my hands, close my eyes and converse with Him without feeling a plain physical pain that I was acting dishonestly.

Nevertheless, I was raised, communed and confirmed as a Lutheran, and continued to attend services until the age of fifteen or sixteen, whereabout my mother seemingly no longer deemed it worth her efforts to drag me from my Sunday morning slumbers for something I did not want to do. My personal internal battles with God and religion aside, I have not become an agnostic or atheist in practice. It has been some number of years now since I have given the subject serious thought, as I normally feel that I have solved the matter for myself, and it needs no devotion of my time.

That is until the past week once again cursed us all with the overwrought rambling diatribes against God that, when it suits him to make a scene of himself, Michael Newdow again began spewing into our courts.

Newdow made himself semi-famous by taking a case against "One Nation, Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Supreme Court, because he was upset that somehow his daughter saying those words, in her pledge of allegiance to the United States, constituted her being forced to believe that there is a God by the government. Is his profession as a lawyer, it was widely considered that his in-court performances at the jurisdictional and appellate levels were that of a virtuoso. In that respect, he has somewhat become the flag bearer for practicing atheists in the United States.

I call them "practicing atheists" for the same purpose I might call any other person a "practicing Christian" or a "practicing Jew." These are people that have created a religion for themselves of the anti-. Fervently anti-God and seemingly even more fervently anti-religion in general, they write at length, hold discussions with each other, and ultimately challenge the Constitutionality of the word god in any use by our government at any level. They know their religious doctrine backward and forward, and find every inconsistency a launching point for "proving" there is no God. They never seem to have discussions with each other, however, about what it means that they are trying to disprove something that nobody can actually prove in the first place, and subsequently do not seem to either recognize or care that their angry and fear-laden diatribes serve not to challenge their religious listeners to think about things differently, but rather serve as attempts to destroy those persons' faith. Growing up Lutheran, despite not believing in Him, I was certainly able to respect the power that faith in God brings to many people.

Faith in God is in general, a very good thing. It is only when the teachers of God's Word, those who understand only that there is a great power that they wield, and undertake to wield it to destroy others, that we find religions, and thereby entire flocks of people, gone wrong. What these practicing atheists do not, or refuse to recognize, is that the dangerous religious sects are the overwhelming minority in the whole of religious history.

I believe our founding fathers certainly understood that last point. But they did too understand the ease with which a leader in that minority could rise to power, and particularly within the state. This was the purpose in their determining that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. The purpose was to ensure that governmental decisions would be made by the people it represented, rather than any one organizational body in general, such as a Church.

To that effect, I cannot help but believe the founders were extremely successful. We have yet to have our government run by, say, the Catholic Church.

This begs the question then: What is Michael Newdow afraid of?

Now he is up at arms about the idea that President-elect Obama will be using the words "so help me God" in his inauguration, as part of his promise to lead and defend our freedoms. Again we see Newdow making an intellectual leap over a Grand Canyon sized chasm. Somehow he feels that by Obama using those words, it means the government is confirming that God exists, and is therefore impeding on his right not to believe in God.

Barack Obama believes in God. God is his main spiritual guidance. He is taking an oath in the presence of the Almighty whom he believes in on faith, the highest power in his belief system, that he will serve and lead and protect the American people to his greatest ability.

One wonders what goes through a mind like Newdow's to be so outraged at the concept of the Christian God, that he feels Barack Obama pledging to lead us as a people the best way he knows how, under the watchful eye of his highest spiritual guide, is in any way a detriment to his own personal liberty.

Better yet, one may wonder how Newdow has so much time on his hands!

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