The polls say the odds against me are about nine to one, that being the ratio between believers and non-believers in this supposedly secular republic. But I’m going to ask you to do it anyway:
Please stop pressing religious beliefs on me and the rest of that 10 percent of the population that does not share them.
If you won’t ease up on the constant public references to your God and to similar matters for the sake of tolerance, then do it, won’t you, for the sake of that legal business about the separation of church and state.
Or be selfish and do it for the sake of your religion. It surely is cheapened by the ritualistic and hypocritical references to the Almighty by politicians and others in public life seeking to curry majority favor the easy way.
All I’m asking is that you take a close look at what the politicians are saying. I’m not asking that "In God We Trust" be removed from our money. I’m not saying we should stop pledging allegiance to "one nation under God," take chaplains off public payrolls, tax churches, deliver the mail on Sundays, or anything else so revolutionary. I’m no fool. I know prohibitive odds when I see them.
I’m suggesting only that our political leaders ease up on the incessant God-talk.
But, you might ask, isn’t it enough that our new President Obama, a religious man, actually acknowledged the existence of non-believers in his inaugural address? No other president has ever deigned to even recognize our presence.
It was heartening, Obama’s statement that "we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers."
But from then on, of course, it was the usual God-talk. "God," he said," calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny… the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration." There’s apparently no such destiny, after all, for those of no faith.
Our president also reassured us, you might remember, that we have had "God’s grace upon us."
Naturally, Obama ended his speech with the usual ritualistic words no political speaker seeking majority favor ever fails to deliver: "God bless the United States of America."
As bad as that was to those of us who dare to believe that God is not on our side – or anywhere else — it could be worse.
Think of what other presidents have told us about God. Think of President George W. Bush’s declaration that "our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model of the world, " and his insistence that "Americans feel our reliance on the Creator who made us … We received our rights from God."
Jimmy Carter openly sought a "partnership with God." Ronald Reagan attacked those who advocated government "grounded on reason rather than the law of God."
"My first act as president is a prayer," said George H.W. Bush, just moments after being sworn into office with, of course, his hand on a Bible, that book of mythical tales that he and so many others claim to revere.
President Clinton actually complained that "those of us who have faith" were not getting sufficient attention.
Clinton also declared that "religious freedom is literally our first freedom." Maybe so. But whatever its ranking, shouldn’t the freedom of religion be coupled with freedom FROM religion for non-believing citizens?
Or at least freedom from listening to political paeans to a God we do not recognize and never voted for.
Dick Meister is a San Francisco writer. Contact him through his website,