David Barton: If There’s No Prayer at a Public School Graduation, That’s a Promotion of Atheism

Last month, when there was a strong push to allow Humanist chaplains in the military, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) responded by explaining the obvious consequences:

Rep. John Fleming

“This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.’”

We all know he has no idea what he’s talking about.

Which must be why Christian pseudo-historian David Barton wanted to speak with him on “WallBuilders Live.” You know, intellectual equals and all.

Fleming claimed that the atheists were just trying to push religion out of the military… (which is especially ridiculous when you consider how many atheists went ballistic over the idea of non-theists adopting the religious language of the chaplaincy).

But then Barton took it a step further. He claimed that atheism was a religion and therefore needed to be banned from public schools:

Darwinism and evolution is a religion. Why don’t we say ‘hey, we can’t teach Darwinism in school. That affects the way people behave. I demand separation of church and state. Get Darwinism out of the classroom.’

Or why don’t we say ‘hey, I don’t see any prayers going at graduation; that’s atheism! I demand separation of church and state. Atheism has chaplains, they’re a religion. Get atheism out of the schools.’

Where do you even begin…?

Using David Barton’s logic, unemployment is a job and abstinence is a sex position.

Look: If we wanted to push atheism in school, students would have to pledge that we’re a nation under “no God.” No one is suggesting that. Not praying isn’t an homage to atheism and neither is teaching proper science.

Including Humanists in the military chaplaincy isn’t an indication that atheism is a religion. It’s acknowledging that religious chaplains simply can’t help atheist soldiers in the same way a non-theistic counselor can. This is about treating all soldiers with respect and not forcing them to see a chaplain who doesn’t share their worldview.

There’s no room for neutrality in Barton’s world. Everything is either pro-Christian or pro-atheistic. There’s no middle ground.

The only sensible option — something Barton refuses to understands because his livelihood depends on it — is to keep forced religious practices out of our schools and military. That’s the compromise. That doesn’t promote or dismiss anyone’s religious beliefs. People can pray or not pray on their own. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t force kids to pray to God in school (or, for that matter, deny God’s existence). Don’t force soldiers who need help to see only religious chaplains when it would be so damn easy to just include one more group of people into those ranks.

(via Right Wing Watch)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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