|Government-censored prayer mural hidden by tarp
in Rhode Island High School
A remarkable observation.
A group of Christians and other religious people gathered recently in Rhode Island to call for removal of the prayer mural in Cranston West High School.
Conspicuously absent is any gathering of atheists to support keeping the prayer mural in the high school.
Why is there pluralism among Christians, but no pluralism whatsoever on this issue among atheists?
In the furious debates about First Amendment rights-- the right to teach intelligent design in public schools, the right to voluntary organized school prayer-- Christians and other theists are divided to some extent, whereas atheists are essentially unanimous in opposition to these rights.
Court cases involving prayer in school attract many amicus briefs from theists (Jews, liberal Christians, etc) who oppose teaching intelligent design and oppose voluntary organized school prayer.
Why are there no amicus briefs filed by atheists (individually or collectively in organizations) supporting the teaching of ID or supporting prayer in school?
The atheist unanimity is astonishing, when viewed objectively. There is essential unanimity among at least 8 million Americans (4% of our adult population). Virtually every other demographic is pluralist on these issues. Atheists are unanimous.
It's worth noting that there is virtually nothing else among atheists that is unanimous. There are atheists who revere Ayn Rand, and atheists who revere Marx, and every political texture between. There are atheists who campaign for Obama, and atheists who campaign for Ron Paul. There are atheists for free trade, and there are atheists for protectionism. There are even pro-life atheists. But there are no atheists who speak up for the right to teach intelligent design or the right to organized prayer in school. Atheism is otherwise a cacophony of political and personal viewpoints. Except on rights brushing against religion.
It is an astonishing fact of our civil discourse.
"Of course", my atheist interlocutors will say: "atheists oppose these things because these things are wrong. They're right to oppose them".
But that would be to miss my point.
I am not arguing for the rightness or wrongness of a particular view on these issues. I am pointing out the bizarre unanimity of atheist viewpoint, at least viewpoint publicly expressed. It is a unanimity characteristic of virtually no other issue of public contention.
And of course my atheist interlocutors will argue that teaching ID and allowing school prayer are so obviously wrong that only Americans in the grip of religious delusion could support such things. Atheists will argue that support for teaching ID and for voluntary organized school prayer are so depraved that they are akin to support for torturing puppies.
But that is a hard argument to make. Reasonable theists are on both sides of this debate. There are many legal scholars and many jurists who agree with the majority of Americans that teaching ID and permitting voluntary organized school prayer are permitted by the Constitution and are perfectly legal.
A substantial majority of Americans support teaching intelligent design and support voluntary organized prayer in school. Of course it is understandable that most atheists would disagree. Yet a substantial minority of Christians, Jews and other theists oppose teaching intelligent design and oppose voluntary organized school prayer. Why wouldn't there be a corresponding substantial minority of atheists who break with their own consensus? Why isn't there a loyal opposition among atheists-- those atheists who support ID and school prayer?
Why are atheists, who are unanimous on virtually no other civic issue, unanimous on the rights (or lack thereof) of Christians?