On being not just an atheist but a parent of atheists

Today, the inauguration, was an incredibly moving day. However, as these things always are, there were portions that were uncomfortable for me, an atheist.

Even more so when one of my children texted me: ‘Irritates me that God is part of government. What happened to separation of church and state?’

This is the same child who was called to the principal’s office in junior high for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance (ok, his sister had the identical experience). When queried as to why, he responded that he could not recite something he did not believe in–that being the the segment ‘one nation under God.’ When I too was called to school, I defended my son’s right to hold fast to his own belief system, with the one caveat being that out of respect, he should stand. But that he should never have to repeat something that he did not feel to be true.

My own early experience with the Pledge of Allegiance was confusing. I would have been a kindergartner, in the early sixties. The first time we recited the pledge at school I loudly said Amen at the end, certain this was a prayer. I still recall the uncomfortable laughter of my classmates.

So why do we not have actual separation of church and state? That is a very good question. We are not, in fact, a Christian nation. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy and it contain no reference to religion. ‘One nation under God’ was added to the pledge by president Eisenhower in 1954, out of paranoia per communism and the association with atheism.

However, according to a report from the Pew Research Center, in 2019 26% of the US population identified as atheist, agnostic, or having belief in ‘nothing in particular’. And then are all those Americans of faiths other than Christianity.

So yeah. If you ask me, I would like to see all functions of state devoid of references to God. I tolerate these references because I am tolerant. Extraordinarily so. Please never forget nor disrespect that fact. Just as I do not disrespect you.

But my children? They may not be so understanding.


2 responses to “On being not just an atheist but a parent of atheists

  1. I have to somewhat agree. There was a lot of mention of G-d today and I am not sure that it is appropriate. Do you know that my grandson does not say the pledge in school nor does he know the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Not part of education these days.

  2. Your child was right – great to see such understanding in a country with so much cultural weight behind the idiocies of religion, as was on such prominent display in the Biden/Harris inauguration.
    I was out of the room any time my union started the ridiculous fealty of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s