In Texas, Governor Rick Perry organized a Christian prayer gathering. *yawn*, I reply. Who cares? The fact that a member of the US Government is organizing it doesn’t faze me, and I think he should have the freedom that any American has to do so. Atheists disagree. You won’t find any comments from me there, because I’ve already had this debate and it led nowhere.
Where was this previous debate? On Richard Dawkins’ home page there was an article about Fred Phelps’ church picketing a military funeral, and you’ll find that I argued several times (comments 16, 31, 60, 76, and 162) against my fellow atheists. It upset me that they could be so close-minded about a free-speech issue just because the opposition in this case was a Christian church. I did feel (and still do) that Fred Phelps or anyone else can peacefully protest any cause they like, anywhere they like (so long as it remains peaceful). It’s constitutionally protected, and the particular item being supported is protected no matter what it is. Case closed.
So why do I find these issues so similar? After all, the newer item is actually filled with atheists arguing that the governor of Texas is in violation of the constitution by promoting a religious event through government channels. This has been done before, specifically mentioned here, in a Christian Rock concert put on by the US Military. My main debate point here is that it’s all fine as long as everyone is allowed the same fair treatment. In the case of this concert, military atheists attempted to put on a secular rock concert and their attempts were shut down (unfairly!). But to be fair, though, this same military – when confronted with a request to host Camp Quest this summer based on its approval of Vacation Bible School – did the right thing and funded both.
So why shouldn’t we put up a fight when someone in the government wants to lead us all in prayer? Because when we make our own request for a secular or humanitarian cause to be supported by a government figure, we don’t want nit-picking. We don’t want crying and arguments and drama. After all, if that’s our own response to their causes, we’d deserve it.