As much as I hate to admit it and as much as I am against it, religion plays a very large part in American politics. As appealing as Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation between Church and State" is, the idea has not caught hold on the masses in the freest country in the world. As tolerant as people have become towards the black community and towards women, tolerance runs thin with non-theists and atheists.
Poor Mitt Romney is having a hard time getting votes because he belongs to the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Mike Huckabee is raking in the religious right's vote hand over fist. Barack Obama is doing well, despite having his religious preference questioned (the average, uninformed voter (e.g. my father) believes him to be a Muslim) is doing well in the race. In fact out of the four major (or at least, major in my mind) remaining candidates (H. Clinton, B. Obama, M. Huckabee, and M. Romney), only one does not have his or her religion acting with or against them.
I personally dream of one-day going into politics (something I believe that I have shared with this blog before). However, if I do not start to disavow myself as an atheist, I probably will never get elected into anything more than perhaps City Council-Member.
"In a free and open society," begins a famous speech by former-President John F. Kennedy, and while President Kennedy was speaking about Secret Societies, I am speaking about free and open societies. I personally do not believe that any society can be called free and open until all creeds and all faiths and all "races" (do not agree with labeling different humans as belonging to different races, but more on that later) and both sexes and all people regardless of disabilities and all people regardless of sexual preference (with regards to protect children and all people who wish to infringe upon somebody else's rights) are accepted. (I just re-read that and it makes no sense, so I am going to recap it below.)
I believe that a society cannot be called properly free and open until all people's regardless of any differences are accepted. This acceptance, of course, stops when one person wishes (and tries) to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of another person.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that, although America has come a long way in the fight for Civil Liberties, and that it has come a long way in the fight to give every man (and woman) his or her rights, the country has not come far enough.
"How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?"goes the old Bob Dylan song (Blowin' in the Wind).
All I can say in answer to this question is that it won't happen until those people fight, tooth and nail, for their freedom. Whether they fight non-violently (as Gandhi did) or violently (the Civil War), they still must show that they do not support the offenses being brought against them.
They must show that they are resilient and they will not stand injustice. A people who are not free and are being oppressed must show it. They must show the hardships they are forced to bear.
The writer's of the groups, the painters, the composers, all of the artists should join arms to show to terribleness of their oppression. Any political leaders that the group has (whether the political leader that agrees with the group because he or she is in the group or because he or she sees the oppression does not matter truly) must use all their political influence in effort to liberate the group. Every layman who belongs to the group should incorporate its message into his or her everyday life.
In the end, conciousness must be raised. No longer do we say "chairman" but instead we say "chairperson" because we do not wish to be considered sexist by society. Feminists have even changed the way that we as a people think.
If atheists could do this, we could change the way that freedom is viewed.
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