Now, I want you to let the two discrete messages of the vandalized billboard sink in without pre-emptively forming a bias. One message, that of the original billboard, was simply: "One Nation, Indivisible."
What does that mean? That we are a confederation of states, that we are an assembly of people of different races, religions and creeds, that America has people of different viewpoints, but altogether--we're one big not-divided country. Which would be an awfully good thing, yes? United we stand, divided we fall. Like Lincoln reminded us--"a nation divided against itself can not stand". E pluribus unum, which, as it happens, our money still does say--"From many, one." The message, in fact, echoed the original rendering of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by Francis Bellamy, who was both a socialist and a minister, which should be a total mind-screw for people who instantly associate socialism with communism, and communism with atheism.
But as it happens, the billboard really doesn't mention God. Some people might consider God conspicuous by His absence, but the point is just that--without religious arguments--we really aren't that much divided. We have the same economic needs. We have the same desires for peace, and jobs, and decent pay, and some kind of social safety net (whether we admit it or not, amirite?) And we are all, together, Americans in my country, regardless of the God we serve or whether we serve a God at all.
We are indivisible. Atheists and theists, living together in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Until some little sawed-off pipsqueak God-banger comes along with a fresh can of "Except you, atheists."
Really. See, "Under God" means that everybody in the US is supposed to consider God as either, I guess, geographically above us in the heavens (which is a-cosmological) or simply that we are a nation ruled by god (which would be a theocracy, and not the democracy that historically our Forefathers actually seemed to be on about.)
But I, for one, think no such thing. There is no God that either informs, leads, supports, or influenced this nation--we are a nation of laws that was carefully constructed by very intelligent people as a democracy, which entirely means that the citizens of this country are it's stewards, and church and state were specifically separated in the First Amendment to ensure that no church was favored by this governmental set-up. And so no belief was second-best, or disfavored and left out.
But the punk-ass who climbed up there and put "Under God" doesn't think I'm an American, or any of my atheist kindred. We were born here, we might fight for this country, we might love it to bits, but we are divided.
One nation, Under God--
And then there's you heathens.
This is what that crude spray-paint says to me. "You 'other'. I, with my spray-paint, and my kind are divided from you".
But the truth is--the atheists' lack of a God doesn't make us any less patriotic--I love my country, and I love it expressly because of my freedoms, which includes freedom of religion. I can choose not to be a part of religious life.
Which is why this opinion piece from WND is so misguided.
Never would I encourage vandalism, but in this case I think I'll let it slide. Atheists have been vandalizing my beliefs for years, so it's about time the shoe was on the other foot. When asked about the vandalism, William Warren, the spokesman for Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics, said, "It was done by one or two people off on their own who decided their only recourse was vandalism rather than having a conversation." Hmm. That's interesting, because the Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics felt its only recourse was to deliberately insult those who understand the importance of "Under God." They probably figured that because the Bible teaches Christians to turn the other cheek, we'll just take their abuse forever. We will only take so much before we stand up against our oppressors. Besides, I can't count how many times an atheist and I have had a "conversation." They're not as calm and passive as Warren suggests.
Run-on paragraph-huh? But what I gist from that is, Chrissy Satterfield believes that "turn the other cheek" applies until it doesn't, which would make her kind of a hypocrite. And that she also thinks the minority atheists have been oppressing Christians for a while by....I dunno. Implying that social conservatism is an artificial construct whereby the religious "use" the authority of their imaginary friend to dictate laws to actual real people who just want to peacefully negotiate their own lives with dignity and respect? Insisting that the reality-based applications we call science actually explain the universe and our place in it pretty adequately and don't even hint at a supreme unifying figure. In brief, she likes an America undivided--but she would totally leave out--me. ANd probably you.
She wants to rub our faces in it too. "You are seperate, atheists. You are not us, agnostics." The spraypaint-wielding bullshit artist who clumsily littered a patriotic message with his religious hang-up well and truly should fail at coming forward, because he's just a divider. A shit-stirrer. But she wants to call this divisive ass a "hero".
Hero yourself up someday, my tagger, and let us call you what you really are. But in the meantime, we have Chrissy Satterfield to confront.
Vandalism isn't what is getting our attention--stupidity is. You have people who walk among you, faithful as the day is long, who steal--because billboards are paid for, and they are trying to take them over, and who lie, by pretending they can say something in our space, when they were not invited. The Christians say they are wise as serpents and gentle as doves, but they come off like toads of jealousy, empathetic as buzzards.