I just watched the segment on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight that covered the Cecil Bothwell “Swearing Atheist in Office” controversy. As a fellow 28 year North Carolina resident and fellow atheist / rationalist, I resisted the urge to pull my hair out – while at the same time was not really surprised that it was, unfortunately, OUR state that has such a rediculous clause in the state legislation (which *IS* superceded by the U.S. Constitution, thankfully. Tangential side note: look just to the top-right of ‘John Hancock’ signature on the Declaration of Independence and you will see my relative [William Floyd] from New York’s signature!) 😉
It sickens me, that I, as an atheist / agnostic, would be subjected to such crude (and downright non-Christian, ironically) attacks from religious fanatics who insist that we all bow to their ‘correct’ views and religion in a country founded entirely by people seeking freedom from religious oppression… I wonder Cecil, have your attackers thought for even a moment *why* that particular Constitutional clause stating no religous test / requirements can be allowed for holding public office exists? Again, ironically this protects them as much, if not more, than us atheists… (Rhetorical question, of course). They also may want to read up on some of the religous ‘musings’ of the founding fathers and best leaders of our great country as well: Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Lincoln, Washington… Of course, my favorite atheist (and incorrectly disputed IMHO): Einstein. [For proof of above claims I highly recommend the excellent read of Richard Dawkins best selling book, “The God Delusion” (8.5 Million copies sold – so far)]
I somehow doubt that Asheville residents (even those who think it’s ‘Christian’ or ‘American’ to cram THEIR religous requirements down all of our throats) would have a real problem if Albert Einstein wanted to be on the council seat. Just a guess…
Please keep any of this controvery on the forefront of discussion, not only in Asheville, but everywhere we can in the U.S. It will be shameful for those of us who love our country to be *required* to end every campaign phrase speech with some fake “God Bless you all, and God Bless the United States of America” closing… Which leads quickly down the slippery slope to “God willing we will prevail over the evil-doers..” … The world sees that we in the US have made a concious step in the right direction with respect to ideology and hopefully an attempt to ‘right some wrongs’… We’ll gain even more respect if we don’t act like every election is a re-enactment of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
I just wanted to leave a quick message of support in your choice to use the affirmation. Regardless of your religious preference I believe in supporting the American Constitution and your right to be in office. I just want you to know that another North Carolina Resident supports you and your choice.
Life is a Masquerade
Each day integers of day’s morning sun I see
The perception to see the fire and the tree
Arguments and controversies in humanities news
Descartes black bile “You are not true”
To the moment they must choose
The lottery of stones
Brains are tiny computers moving my bones
Space at such a rate me and my kind
Happy mortal creature in the center we find
All partial evil, universal good, discord not understood
Philosophical meaning of humanities place universal good
It’s yourself you should scrutinize to see
Nature is harmony, unknown nor understood thou canst not see.
I applaud your intention to work for people and not for some non-existent deity. It is mind-boggling that so many people in the 21st century still believe these religious fairy-tales, but the ignorant are many and those numbers translate into power, so I have an admiration for everybody who is not afraid to stand on the principle of reason.
Wishing you the best and hope your example might inspire others to do the same.
Thank you Mr. Bothwell! I commend you for being a proud Atheist. We need more people like you in public office. We Atheists must follow your example and not go through the motions, saying and doing things that we don’t believe in because it’s easier to go with the flow. You have my full support and I wish you the best!
Mr. Bothwell, Just a quick note of encouragement. You may not have wanted to make your atheism an issue, however there it is….an honest soul in a public office without bowing to any organized religion. Sad we will never see an athiest president. Best of luck and reason to you.
Bill, N CA.
Why did you run away from me tonight when we were just getting started in the arena of ideas, Mr. Bothwell? Was I too “right” for you? Or had you run out of your scripted blather? Have you checked to see if I was correct about the county LBTD laws? Have you read the copy of the Constitution you claim to have in your backpack? Do you still claim to be a Constitutionalist even though you said that we need a “level playing field” for “social justice”? Have you checked those pesky employment figures (see guardian.co.uk), especially since you contend that government job numbers have declined under the present Obama regime? Check your facts, sir, and next time a constituent asks questions, you won’t need to flee into the night like the the uninformed Obama patsy that you seem to be. Oh, another thing. Since you claim to be a Constitutionalist Let’s put that to a test. George Washington stated “If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God”. (Stated to delegates to the Constitutional conventon.) And in his farewell address, Washington stated, “and let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Athiests should recognize that this great country was founded one nation under God, and though athiests are guaranteed the right to their (non)beliefs, the principles upon which this country were founded must by definition include a “Creator”. Period.
Sir, what strikes me most of all when reading the comments of your supporters is not that they approve of your platform for the city council, but only that they approve of your lack of belief in anything. How sad. This is what you wish to take to the voters of this fine city? Shame on you. Don’t waste these fine peoples’ votes on your misguided, misanthropic, myopic intentions.
Oh, as an aside, in the majority opinion, God bless America. And God bless you and yours, Mr. Bothwell.
Mary-Margaret, I am just now reading this post as I am coming to grips with stepping outside my typical faith based decision making mentality.
I think you need to step a little further back to the real founding of this country and realize that the tired, poor, huddled masses that actually started what would be this country came here to get away from a state based church. Although religious principles may have guided some of the founding of the justice system and the division of powers so as to avoid corruption not all of the founding fathers were doused in those convictions.
The forefathers of the great men that decided that religious principles were important to the country came to this country to be able to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
As the 12th great granddaughter of just such a person I stand firmly on the conviction that I do not want a state based religion therefore I want absolute separation of Church and State. William Mullins along with his wife, one of his sons and one of his daughters boarded the Mayflower and came here because they did not accept the state based Church in England. He was my 12th great grandfather on my father’s side.
Gabriel Babaeu was a French Huguenot, again someone persecuted for desiring to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. He came here to make a life for himself. His descendents fought in the revolution. He is my 9th great grandfather on my mother’s side.
My heritage is strong in the ideals of worshiping God according tot eh dictates of ones own conscience. The last thing i want to see in this country is a state based or state enforced religion. If the current Right Wing Religionists have their way that is exactly what we will have.
Religious Principles include some basic moral beliefs and people can have those without professing belief in a deity. We are our brother’s keeper and we do have a responsibility to care for one another. If we do not do that through “Christian Charity”, which we as a country are not doing, then the government has a responsibility to care for the poor and needy for us.
If we, the believers, do not act on our beliefs then those who are non-believers will make us through taxation and social programs.
My opinion here is that I want to be on the side that Jesus would be on and as far as I can see from my Bible Jesus would care for the poor and as long as the right wing religionists are not doing that then I will take a state based social agenda that does.
I strongly suggest to all persons of faith whose faith is not dead and who really want to act on that faith that you have the guts to step up and support the good being done regardless of who is leading the fight to do the good.
God judges us according to the intent of our hearts not who we hang out with while doing good. After all Christ associated with the lowest of the low in Jewish Society and held pity and disdain for the presumably pious of his day.
I think he would support Cecil so that is what I am doing. I support him as a member of the City Council and in his new run for the US Congress
I guess we see things differently. You accosted me at 11:30 p.m. as I was leaving a restaurant after a very long day (I get up about 5 most mornings), during which I had spent four hours canvassing my precinct, among much else.
In my view, stopping to talk to you at all was a friendly and generous concession to a constituent, given that your interruption meant that I didn’t accompany my guests to their car and see them off, as I intended.
I attempted to engage in a friendly debate with you, but it quickly became apparent that you are an ideologue of possibly libertarian or tea party convictions, and that our discussion was leading nowhere.
It was not my choice to be harangued. I decided to hurry on and try to catch up with my friends, who at least are civil when we happen to disagree.
As for George Washington, he and the other framers were urgently concerned to throw off the yoke of corporations, and early corporate law required that such businesses justify their existence every 7 years. They were also at pains to prevent the rise of an American aristocracy, having seen the immense damage done to freedom by European royalty. They were also clear about keeping religion out of government.
Note that the Declaration says “endowed by their Creator” – not “God.”
Your “creator” may be God. Mine is the Big Bang.
And in fact some of the framers were Unitarians and Jefferson in particular was a non-theist. He said, “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
In a letter to Jefferson, John Adams wrote, “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”
“God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin in about 1918.
“Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in the mid 1950s, following the McCarthy witch hunt.
I absolutely defend the right of you or anyone to practice whatever form of worship you prefer, but thanks to the Baptists and Freethinkers who were active during the framing of the Constitution, we have and must maintain a solid wall between church and state.
Finally I’d note that the Constitution includes the words, “to ensure the general welfare.” I’m sure you can find that in your copy if you read carefully.