Living a fulfilled life without God
See below to my open letter to John Hagee related to his request that atheists leave the country. The video can be found here.
Dear Mr. Hagee,
I am a citizen of the United States of America. I’m a husband of nearly 11 years and a father of two young boys (with one on the way). I have no criminal history and most people would consider me a pretty decent person. However, because I’m also an atheist, I now understand that you would like me to leave the country. I’m not sure when you addressed your congregation with this hate-filled message towards the community to which I belong, but I wanted to write this to address some of the statements you made.
I must first clarify that I am happy to allow you to have your beliefs. Although I despise them, I’m also happy to allow you to preach your beliefs in your congregation. What I thought we could both agree on (until today) was that you shouldn’t lie to your congregation. Putting the hatefulness aside, your message to your congregation contained some historical inaccuracies that need attention. I feel the need to address this because you are such a popular Christian fundamentalist.
You started with a complaint that the ten commandments have been taken out of courtrooms and “school houses” and followed it up by saying, “This country was not built for atheists or by atheists. It was built by Christian people who believed in the word of god.” You went on to say “If our belief in God offends you, move!” We were informed that planes were always leaving the country and were encouraged to get on one. “We don’t want you and we won’t miss you,” is what we were told. You went on to criticize President Obama for saying that we were not a Christian nation. You corrected him by saying, “We were, we are, and we always shall be bible reading, praying, Christian people.” Speak for yourself Mr. Hagee.
Your first statement about the country being built by Christian people is partially false and very misleading. Of the seven commonly accepted Founding Fathers, four of them were either not Christians or not Christians as we would understand that today. Here are a few quotes that may shed light on our Founding Fathers and their beliefs about Christianity. These are the people who formed our nation and our Constitution.
More specifically, Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the divinity of Jesus and made his own version of the New Testament by cutting out verses from his bible. He believed only in the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I wouldn’t delude myself into thinking there were no Christians that helped to start this country, but these Founding Fathers, whatever they were (possibly deists), were not Christians in any real sense of the word.
To address your comment about being a Christian nation, I think the above quotes shed a little light on this, but there are other things. The US constitution specifically addresses the idea of a separation of church and state. We were formed as a secular nation. This was also specifically clarified in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli 1797. This article was unanimously ratified by the US Senate and signed by John Adams (one of the “Founding Fathers”). “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
So to clarify your statement, I will say it more accurately: We were not, are not, and hopefully never will be a Christian nation, Mr. Hagee. Therefore, I make no plans to leave this country and will maintain my stance that your God is not welcome in our courtrooms or classrooms. Even among Christians this should be the desire since none of you can seem to agree on many things. Most Christians I know would find your statements horrible. Most also don’t share the hate-filled speeches being given by fundamentalist preachers about homosexuality. We’re all at risk if your God of hate enters into the public arena. Considering the tremendous amount of division within Christianity, I would think most would agree with our Founding Fathers on the idea of church/state separation.
So Mr. Hagee I wonder if as a self-proclaimed “man of God” you would have the integrity to correct these false teachings that you spread to your congregation. Spread your beliefs, if you like. Although I disagree, I invite you to teach that you believe that we should be a Christian nation, but I hope that you will have enough integrity to stop lying to your congregation by saying that this was the wish of our Founding Fathers.
I’m not asking you to leave the country, Mr. Hagee. I also have specifically mentioned that I welcome you to believe as you do. I simply ask you to stop lying. It seems that I’m doing a much better job of coexisting with people than you’re capable of. I share my thoughts with people and have never been ashamed of how I feel about things. At the same time, I’ve never been so arrogant to suppose that everyone should either believe like me or leave the country. This is the difference between you and I. I have said recently and will say again that I continue to find irony in a religious faith that holds things like meekness and humility in high regard all while maintaining the arrogance that their beliefs are the only way and should be held up by the government.