The Tucson Atheists represent an informal group who meets once or twice a month to spend time with like-minded others. Our concerns include:
Maintaining the separation of church and state
Coping with the expectations of the religious majority
Protecting our right to believe as our conscience dictates
Defending our freedom from religious oppression
Maintaining the Separation of Church and State
Having coercive power to maintain the social order, the State must remain distinct from the Church to protect the governed from a clergy who claim knowledge of the commands, rewards, and punishments of an undemonstated omnipotent being.
The real issue behind separation of church and state is whether or not a government can direct people in what to believe. In Jefferson’s words: “I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them.” Jefferson appears to have been a deeply religious man, although not Christian, and believed that religion was a personal choice and that giving the goverment power to act in religious matters would lead to the forcing of personal beliefs upon citizens: the very opposite of free will. This is the real reason we atheists like the wall of separation: believe what you want, but don’t make us support it.
Coping with the Religious Majority
As atheists we feel that we are under continuous attack by the religious majority. We are asked to acknowledge a God who we do not believe exists in the handling of our national currency. We are asked to state a pledge of allegiance to our country “under God”. We are often intimidated to swear “so help me God” in order to be accepted as a credible legal witness. We are expected tolerate the posting of numerous signs and bumper stickers that ask God to bless America.
We are viewed as inferior people, not even rightful citizens of the United States, for our personal choices and beliefs. There is an irony in the claim that we live in the land of the free, but are forced to tolerate religionists who often insist that others believe exactly as they do.
Protecting Our Conscience
American society demands that we swallow the myth that being religious makes us a better people, even though the prison populations and national news headlines show otherwise. As atheists we value our conscience and insist on being directed by reasoned decisions, not by the popular religious beliefs that are sweeping our country into national policies of destruction and chaos.
Defending our Freedom
Our forefathers founded this country to escape religious oppression. We must now continue this fight. We must defend our freedom to chose between between science and supersitition, between reasoned convictions and relgious dogma. As atheists we believe this defense is fundamental to our survival as a great nation.