One primary message I got from the meeting Sunday, from Richard Dawkins, Sean Faircloth and Robin Cornwell, is that we are engaged in a ruthless war being waged by the religious right. In many ways, it reminds me of the desperate situation the USA and its allies were in during World War II.
Few people born since 1945 realize how close the USA and its allies came to losing that war. If Hitler and Japan hadn't "jumped the gun" and had held back a little longer before making their move, we very well may have ended up as the losers. We were woefully ill-prepared and equipped when the Germans marched into Poland. They had a superior air force, tanks that made the allied tanks look like tin cans by comparison and overall a vastly superior armed force that was better equipped. They were also far ahead in weapons development.
They almost beat us to the atom bomb!
Instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it could have been London and New York!
I remember those days. I was seven years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Religious zealots have always chafed over a secular America. For most of its history, religion had to content itself as an important but relatively sidelined force. Even conservative Barry Goldwater was openly opposed to religion having too much influence and control.
The fear generated by the cold war gave theists their opening. Madison had warned that if American liberties were ever taken away, it would be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
"Godless communism" gave the theists their foreign enemy opening. They took full advantage of it and missed no opportunity to plant every fearful thought possible in the minds of American citizens. They got as many as possible to believe that their only hope was God and Jesus.
Religious commitment and dedication expanded exponentially, driven by the bombast of Falwell, Robertson and their ilk. It has increased every decade to the point that a former president of the United States can openly state that a non-believer cannot be a patriotic citizen.
That would mean that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and several other presidents, were traitors, not patriotic American citizens! We can't know the specific feelings of many presidents because religion or the lack thereof has never been a dominant political issue until relatively recently in the United States of America.
Now, it is a litmus test! So much so that any presidential candidate had better make an open show of attending some place of worship rather regularly! Our president has to end every speach by saying "God bless you, and God bless America." I have no idea whether that is a sincere statement or not.
When I was a child, in the nineteen forties, religion was an important item in a lot of people's lives, but nowhere near as important as it is today. It was more of a personal thing. People believed in whatever they believed in and were for the most part content to let it go at that. Militancy, though present, was much less evident than today when a teen ager in Rhode Island can find herself the object of hate and death and rape threats for successfully blocking a prayer banner in her high school. Instead of the guarantees of our Constitution being revered, they are the source of murderous hatred when someone insists on adherence to their principles!
During my school years, that unconstitutional phrase, "under God" was not a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was added in response to America's paranoid fear of "Godless Communism." That addition effectively led to the conviction that anyone who did not believe we were a nation under God was not a loyal American.
The Muslim Hordes have replaced Godless Communism as the new rallying cry. It's still "us" versus "them."
Fear has always been the main tool religions and political systems use to control people. Get them fearful enough and they will tolerate any abridgement of their freedoms and support the most egregious of tyrannies. It is time for all Americans who value their freedoms to make it clear that they will not tolerate any more christofascist theocratic moves to abridge and ignore our constitutional rights.
Quit hiding in a fear-filled closet!
If you must fear something, fear the kind of world the theocrats envision for your descendents!