Uniquely American

By Dannette Dunklau

I am writing in response to Lally Gartel’s Thursday column about the distrust of atheists in this country. I agree with most of what the columnist said; however, there are a few minor points I would like to make.

Gartel says that this is a Christian country. In effect and in practice, that could be said – somewhere around 85 percent of Americans identify as some sort of Christian. However, this is not a homogeneous nation. Granted, there are events in our history and aspects of our culture that come from the Christians that settled here, but that doesn’t indicate that Christians should have any more claim to the title of ‘American’ than non-Christians, including atheists.

I hope somebody told former Preisdent Bush about the history of the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was added in 1954 because of a sermon, given by a Presbytarian minister while President Eisenhower was at the service, which argued that the Pledge without the words ‘under God’ could apply to any nation and there should be something to invoke the unique American spirit. Now, it seems to me that free-market capitalism is much closer to ‘uniquely American’ than religion, the freedom of which is one of America’s guiding principles and the freedom from which is implicit in that ideal. This country may be made of mostly religious people, but many immigrants came here to escape the religions of the majorities in their home countries.

As for atheists’ morals, the story goes: a Christian and an atheist were arguing about God, and the Christian said, “but without God, you can do anything you want to do. You can steal, rape, kill…” And the atheist said, “Is that what you want to do? Steal, rape, kill?”