Saturday, February 23, 2002

Readers react

A hug for atheists, humanists

        George Bush can't be expected to stop mentioning God because non-believers feel left out, readers say.

        That was one theme running through the responses to last week's column, in which I described atheists' concern over the melding of piety and patriotism since Sept. 11.

        The other theme was gratitude. Readers who call themselves freethinkers, secular humanists and atheists said they were glad to see their point of view get some ink.

        A sampling of the feedback:

        “It has indeed been an awkward time to express our sincere patriotism while acknowledging that we are not Christians. I regularly am asked questions about my faith (Unitarian) that I would not dream of putting to another person, as to me religion is a private matter. ...

        “This country's values, as embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, are strong enough without a religious overlay of any sort.” — Barbara Pinzka, Cincinnati

“I would just like to say that I would gladly put down my Bible and give an atheist in need a long, loving hug. Not despite my religion, but because of it.” — David Whitehill Jr., Hamilton

        “I, who think of myself as a humanist, wish to thank you most deeply for your kind words. I've arrived at my system of beliefs through years of careful and critical thought. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, it was not a conclusion at which I arrived lightly, and I think that I am every bit as devout in my beliefs as any adherent to a religion. Yet at my place of work and in my family life, I get poked fun at for what I believe. (Just imagine if I made fun of the beliefs of people who believe in God!)” — Bill Brinkmoeller, Madeira

        “Give us a break! Are we now to empathize with those who do not believe in any kind of deity? Just because our "spiritual' president calls on his "God' to bless our country does not mean that he discards all those with beliefs other than his.

        “You seem to want to be all to all and it just doesn't work. Don't be ashamed to stick to your beliefs while accepting the beliefs of others. I am tired of your wishy-washy fence sitting. If the non-believers of any deity feel left out, that is their problem, not ours.” — Katherine Leroux, Southgate, Ky.

        “Thank you for your column in support of the atheists/agnostics/secular humanists. I'm glad you pointed out that people can care for their country and (by implication) be good, ethical human beings even if they choose to stay outside the "big revival tent.'” — Karen Feinberg, Cincinnati

        “One well-known atheist, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, had enough influence with the Supreme Court to take God out of our schools. My thought process has been that since that time, we have seen a rapid decline in our schools. Why not put God back in?

        “I'm proud to be an American, and proud that we have a president that can stand before a nation, heartfelt and standing firm in “God Bless America.” I don't want my reality to be ignored either!” — Linda Connery, Maineville

        “I very much appreciate your column, which I know took courage, especially in these times of extreme sloganeering and over-simplification of the issues.

        “Some of us "questioners' are decent people too, in spite of the fact that many find this notion incompatible with the "A' label.” — Ed Darenkamp, Springfield Township

       Karen Samples can be reached at (859) 578-5584 or at


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