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The Free Exercise Thereof by Merwin

Updated on October 22, 2012

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speec

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

Recommended reading...

Atheism and the Law

Matt Dillahunty,
...writing for the Atheist Community of Austin (ACA)

(link directly below if not in blue you may have to copy and paste)

In the above article written by Matt Dillahunty for ACA, he goes over the pros and cons of the various decisions of high courts that clearly recognize Atheism (I include Non-Theism) as a religious position or as a Religion.

The fact that Mr. Dillahunty does not agree with the courts position entirely, is paradoxically irrelevant, and important, for this Hub. It is important because it clearly establishes the credibility of the existence of the various court decisions he cites, and further establishes them by the fact that he has concerns and disagreements. The fact that his disagreement does not change the fact of their existence,showcases the irrelevancy.

And so here is the point of this Hub... If the high courts of our country have recognized the inherent qualifiers of Atheism/Non-theism as a "Religion", then the courts have a legal obligation to protect The Free Exercise Thereof, of the beliefs of the Atheists, Non-Theists.

I know... kind of complicated? Lets break it down.

Non-Believers BELIEVE that there is no supernatural anything, to believe in. Agnostics by definition either don't know if there is a God/god or have not decided on a particular choice for themselves. But, Atheists/Non-Theists have decided that there is no supernatural beings, and BELIEVE that their position is worthy of placing their entire existence upon, and in some cases are activists for that position, as their personal BELIEFS may dictate.

One of Matt Dillahunty's arguments against the court decision was stated in his review of one of the court's comments. Below I have excerpted (from Dillahunty's article) the comments for this Hub, the first is the courts, the second is Dillahunty's...

"Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics."

What "code of ethics"? No such code exists. Atheism is a single answer to the general question, "Do you believe in a God/god/gods?" For atheists, the answer is no. For theists the answer is yes. Apart from a position on the concept of God, there are no tenets, dogma, creed or code associated with atheism.

(end of excerpt)

For me this remains a good example of the arguments given by most Atheists as to why what they "believe" is NOT a religion. They have no "bible", no canonized codex of rules and regs that they all adhere to, and Atheism/Non-Theism cannot therefore be considered a religion. Unfortunately for them they cannot hide behind this minor truth and seek to escape the "religion" label.

There have been throughout history, many forms of beliefs (religions) that have been handed down through oral traditions, with variations stemming off from the originals, according to what new "truths" were discovered. For these unwritten beliefs, obviously, there was no codex to adhere to, a person simply adhered to what one heard and the "truth" he/she found in what was said, and possibly clarified and or enforced by the shaman/cleric equivalent/witchdoctor. This is much the same for Atheists/Non-Theists, the only codex for their behaviors is expectations delivered word of mouth, handed down from their clerics (the atheist scientists).

Christians who happen to be scientists are marginalized like heretics and shunned in the scientific community. Make no mistake, Atheism and Non-Theism requires "belief" and therefore qualifies as a religion no matter how vehemently they eschew the term.

They "BELIEVE" that their position for themselves is so correct that they are willing to bank eternity on the communally accepted fact that there is no eternity for the individual. There is only now. They "believe" this.

And you know what? Their belief needs protection, they should not be forced by any means to have beliefs of any kind imposed on their persons. They and their Atheism/Non-Theism beliefs should enjoy the Free Exercise Thereof, guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Their Free Exercise Thereof, more so with Atheists as opposed to Non-Theists, has to do with their demand to be free, of the Free Exercise Thereof, of their counterpart believers of various beliefs in the supernatural.

In other words their form of evangelism seems to be the social liberation of any outward expression of the Free Exercise Thereof, of the supernatural believing community. They decry that if any prayer is "officially allowed" to be uttered within earshot of an Atheists, then it is effectively a Government "establishment" of religion.

They, by the way, fail to recognize that their own success in "officially squelching" any of these "prayers" by the Government, in anyway represents the establishment of their Atheistic religion, and that the publications of these successes represent a form of evangelism for their cause/belief.

I have no problem with the Free exercise of anyone's beliefs, no one's beliefs ought to be squelched as long as non faith laws are not being broken, such as murder, assault, rape, theft, any form of unequal treatment, etc. But, every time they have success in "officially" shutting down the Free Exercise of another's "religion" it is an establishment of their own.

We should be able to live peaceably in non-established, Free Exercise of everyone's Religion in this country. And though this can be done, it has never been done in mankind's history. This is the only country to have this potential, with the possible exception of Israel.

It would basically mean that an atheist can be standing right next to a believer in any kind of a government setting, the believer of whatever religion, offers up, or down, any type of an out-loud prayer, and the atheist is free to say out loud "bullshit", and not have the government's interference with either the prayer giver, or the Atheist. The government, due to the First Amendment's The Free Exercise Thereof, and Non-establishment of religion clauses, is required to remain silent concerning their exchange.


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