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We All Look the Same

By Malcom Lagauce (Jeff Archer)
July 5-6, 2004

In November 2002, the Oceanside (CA) City Council voted to purchase a plaque for $6,500 to put on the door of its chambers stating, "In God We Trust." After opposition by the Atheist Coalition of San Diego and the threat of a possible lawsuit, the Council held another vote and reversed its original decision.

During the debate, Councilman Jack Feller stated, "I donít think Iíve ever seen an atheist. I donít know what an atheist looks like." This bigoted remark was challenged. The Atheist Coalition sent Feller a letter stating its disgust and amazement that a publicly-elected official would make such a remark: one that if it said "Jew" or "Christian," or "Muslim," instead of atheist, would have meant his immediate dismissal. Feller never answered the letter.

One would think that the plaque issue was closed. Think again. Since the vote of non-authorization, Feller has kept up the vigil. There are new members and the Mayor, who voted against it, has said me may now support the plaque. Within the next few days, the Council will again vote. In its favor, the Council will say that the plaque will now be donated and not have to be paid for out of public coffers. However, this still may not meet legal muster.

Originally, Mayor Johnson voted against the plaque because of financial reasons. Oceanside was involved with two large legal battles and did not want to add another. Since then, however, the two cases have been resolved and Johnson considers this a way to get the plaque up. When asked about the upcoming vote and his support of a plaque, Johnson responded, "I have no problem with it."

After the original debacle, I had a debate on the Stacy Taylor talk show (about 150,000 listeners) against an Oceanside pastor. When Taylor asked the pastor why such a plaque was needed outside the Oceanside City Council, he stated that 95% of population of the city were Christian. Then Taylor asked, "Do you have a plaque in your house?" Immediately, the pastor responded, "No. We (Christians) donít need one because we believe." Taylor injected, "You just made Mr. Lagaucheís point."

I am confused. If such a large majority of people need a statement of belief in public display, is it because they are unsure of their own belief? Under no circumstances could I envision a public statement about atheism, such as "Use logic, not myth," or "Learn science, not religion." Atheists do not need to put up such slogans.

In this time in history when Christianity in the U.S. appears to be a factor in imperialism with our Supreme Court-appointed president making religious statements in virtually every talk he gives, the establishment refutes this logic. We are told that religion is not used as policy, yet in the next breath, a politician cites God.

Bill Morrow is a Republican California State Senator from the 38th District, the home district of Oceanside. On July 3, 2004, an article was published by the North County Times that gave his opinion of the plaque issue.

Morrow stated, "As Feller and others know, our nationís most powerful symbols bind us together as American people. Such national brotherhood is more important than ever in this era of increasing Balkanization in our political and cultural landscapes." What a bunch of intellectual barrenness.

I have seen the term "Balkanization" used many times by elected officials in the U.S. Most of the time, the people are not discussing the area of the former Yugoslavia, but local or regional U.S. issues. That term has become standard fare for those xenophobic officials to make the public believe only white Christians who speak English and no other language are true, red-blooded Americans. Few, if any, can utter a sentence in a foreign language, so they denigrate those Americans who speak a language other than English for their first tongue. And, the underlying thought of being against the "Balkanization" of America is that one must be Christian (preferably of the Caucasian race). A good pure, white, Christian, English-only-speaking America is the answer.

Morrow did not end there. In one of the most illogical statements I have ever read, he added:

"The U.S. system of government is founded on the idea that every human life is sacred, that every personís rights to life and liberty are granted not by government, but by the free grace of a divine creator, and that governmentís role is to secure those rights.

"Ironically, even atheist citizens receive a higher standard of individual protection in a legal system based on such constitutional presuppositions than they would under a system premised on the notion that governments award and revoke rights on the whim of who controls the government.

"Whether you trust in a personal creator, or merely trust in an otherwise secular legal system that assumes that primary rights come from a creator, you are equal before the law to anyone else in terms of guaranteed rights. ĎIn God we trustí is a reminder of that equality, which liberates us as individuals and binds us together as a citizenry."

Wow! In now have been enlightened. We atheists owe our freedoms to God and the statement "In God we trust." Senator Morrow has, in a condescending manner, given us his blessing. After all, we need it because of our Godless, immoral mannerisms.

Morrow is as far off as anyone could be on his assessments and he has not done his homework. He says, " Ö you are equal before the law to anyone else in terms of guaranteed rights." In reality, atheists can not hold office in eight states, not even as a notary public, because of the laws that Morrow praises. In some states, we can not appear as a witness in court, and in others, we are not allowed to hold government jobs. So much for "In God we trust" sticking up for non-believers as well as those who practice a religion.

In England, the old-timers who are equivalent to the American "redneck" have similar xenophobic views. The term "wog" normally represents a racial insult against West Indians, those from the subcontinent of India, or people of African derivation. Some hardliners use the word to describe any person other than a white British citizen, regardless of race, such as a Frenchman or German. When one leaves Britain by ferry or train to travel to the continent, the French port of Calais is the nearest destination, at 26 miles from the British coast. A term used by British bigots is, "All wogs begin at Calais." Currently, in Oceanside, atheists are the wogs and Calais begins just outside the city limits. And, I guess, similar to whites speaking of African-Americans in the 1950s, we all look the same.

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