Atheism and the First Amendment.
The First Amendment states the following:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...
To all Americans prior to the 1940's and to most Americans today the intent is clear: the Federal government shall not give preferential treatment to any one faith and the Federal government shall not stop people from practicing their religious beliefs.
Liberals confuse the banning of preferential treatment for a particular faith tradition with the banning expression by any faith tradition. The intent of the First Amendment was to allow all faiths to be freely practiced not to restrict the practices of any particular faith.
But liberalism's perspective is completely different when addressing the atheist faith tradition. That's why liberals are comfortable silencing speech that is offensive to atheists, such as a military chaplain preaching the Gospel, while simultaneously supporting government funding of atheists attacks on Christianity, such as the infamous Piss Christ piece of "art".
Some readers are probably wondering, "atheist faith tradition?" but the reality is that atheism is based on faith not on either science or facts.
Atheism is the belief that there is no God; people who aren't sure whether or not God exists are agnostics. Atheists, unlike agnostics, say that theists are wrong, which is of course a positive statement just like a Christian saying that atheism is wrong because it contradicts the Bible is a positive statement. While atheists don't have a unity of beliefs, similar to Protestants, all atheists do share certain central tenets -- there is no god, the evidence for all gods is incorrect, god isn't needed to explain the universe. It's clear that atheism is based on faith because atheists can do none of the following:
• Prove that all gods are false
• Prove that the evidence for Jesus being God is false
• Prove that the universe can exist and function without God
Hence atheism is based on three key faith principles:
• All gods, not just Jesus and Yahweh, are false
• All evidence for Jesus, such as the Bible, is wrong
• Science will eventually be able to explain everything including why the universe exists.
None of these principles is provable by either science or history. Some atheists have attempted to show that these three beliefs are reasonable, but none of those arguments are proof in the sense that science has proved that the theory of special relativity is correct. Instead they are very similar to the arguments used to show that any other faith is true; arguments from reason and faith, not facts. Therefore, atheist's beliefs are not founded on facts but on faith; the very "crime" they accuse people of faith of committing. Atheism may be correct, but atheists can't scientifically prove it with what we know today.
While most people think of religions as faith traditions that involve a god of some sort, Buddhists don't believe in a god. Yet few would doubt Buddhism is a religion in the context of the First Amendment. In fact the definition of the word religion is the following:
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Saying that 'there is no god' requires that all that exists must be based on matter. That in turn says very specific things about the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe; for example, in the atheist faith the universe has no purpose.
Atheism also directly defines the scope of morality because if the only source of morality is men and men can't agree on what is right -- Germans thought murdering Jews was okay and Southerners thought slavery was okay -- then there can be no objective morality. But declaring that there are no objectively right or wrong actions is an immensely significant statement about what moral codes can govern human actions.
In a specifically American context, the entire premise of America is rejected by the atheist faith; though many atheists do not realize this. At the core of the great American experiment was the concept that every person, from a crack addicted inner-city baby to George Soros, has intrinsic God-given rights which cannot be taken away by the government except under extraordinary circumstances.
But according to the atheist faith, there is no God and morality must be subjective; hence rights can only flow from the political process. To paraphrase Mao, "Rights grow out of the barrel of a gun."
Because the atheist faith is so diametrically opposed to what America stands for, it is dangerous for the country. Yet Christians have no problem with atheists preaching their faith precisely because of the First Amendment; all faiths can speak out and the Federal government shall not favor one specific faith. It's atheists who demand that high school valedictorians not mention Jesus's name, not Christians who demand that valedictorians not mention Nietzsche. Atheists don't appear to be bothered by that asymmetry; in fact atheists seem hell bent on instituting their faith as the official faith of America.
Given that atheism is based on faith, just like any other religion, it would be clearly wrong to allow atheists to impose their particular beliefs on others or to use the power of the Federal government to silence the speech of non-atheistic faiths.
Yet that is precisely what is happening in America today. The atheist's version of Sharia law is being slowly but inexorably imposed, through the power of the Federal government, on every aspect of life.
From the HHS mandate to the prosecution of florists who won't provide flowers for gay "weddings", the power of the federal government is being used to discriminate against all non-atheist faiths. While atheist's speech, and practices, is specifically being protected, the government is continually limiting how people of non-atheistic faith are allowed to live out their beliefs.
Some might contend that since Congress is not establishing any law, things are just fine. The problem is that by acting as though atheism is not a faith, the Federal government is in fact helping establish it. When all voices but atheists are silenced in government and politics that is clear preferential treatment for atheists.
Think of it this way; if students were told that they could invoke the Catechism of the Catholic Church in their valedictorian speeches but not Martin Luther, would anyone think that that wasn't a direct violation of the Constitution? Yet atheists tell us that prohibiting the mention of Christ while not prohibiting the mention of Nietzsche sends no message at all.
The multifaceted attack on all non-atheistic faiths by the government is slowly but surely establishing atheism as the de facto faith based belief system endorsed by the government. If a Christian chaplain in the military cannot preach what he believes -- which is why we have chaplains after all -- then it won't be long before we follow Canada in declaring that expressions of one's faith that aren't acceptable to the atheist establishment will be criminalized.
It is time for Americans to recognize that atheism is a faith-based belief system that does not have any special privilege in our country. That just as Christians must listen to honest atheists proclaiming their personal faith, so too must atheists learn to tolerate Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus proclaiming what they believe, even in government contexts.