From an article by the Washington Post’s Mary Jordan (via the Denver Post) about the rising numbers of people in the world who are moving away from religion and term themselves non-believers of one kind or another:
Many analysts trace the rise of what some are calling the “nonreligious movement” to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The sight of religious fanatics killing 3,000 people caused many to begin questioning – and rejecting – all religion.
I had suspected that the West was undergoing this kind of transformation, but I’d never bothered to search out facts on the matter. And I can’t imagine why, but I never thought to pin my suspicions on 9/11 as a turning point. It’s obvious when you think about it.
Unfortunately, I think, Jordan later commits a grievous error of logic when, in an apparently let’s-be-politically-correct move, she accuses atheists of equal extremism:
The majority of nonbelievers say they are speaking out only because of religious fanatics. But some atheists are also extreme and want, for example, people to blot out the words “In God We Trust” from every dollar bill they carry.
Let me get this straight. Many people in this country (not all of them atheists, by the way) want us to return to the original motto of our nation, “E Pluribus Unum” — a motto (“out of many, one”) that precisely encapsulates the melting pot of America, the very democratic pluralism that America claims again and again to stand for. And this movement, which has claimed no lives, made no threats, and proclaimed no truth beyond a historical awareness of facts*, is to be set alongside the deaths of 3,000 people on 9/11 (and other acts of Islamist terrorism), the many deaths and injuries attributed to the bombings of Eric Robert Rudolph (and other acts of Christian terrorism), and any other number of the countless barbaric perpetrations of [insert religion here] terrorism?
Seriously, Ms. Jordan?
I am not, myself, an atheist, but I do think it is worth noting the lack of humanist terrorists in the world. I mean, can you name an atheist suicide bomber? I can’t. A war conducted in the name of disbelief? I can’t. I bet she can’t either.
As for that motto on our current currency, I hold (as I often do) with the Bull Moose, Teddy Roosevelt (via here):
My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege … it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements
*Anyone curious about the facts surrounding the vision of our Founding Fathers (for the most part Deists, not Christians) on this church-state issue would be well-advised to check out this excellent discussion of the Great Seal of the United States of America.