The following is a guest post by Heather Vines.
I am writing this to you in hopes to find a common ground. I am an atheist. I wanted to clarify the reasoning why the atheist, agnostic, skeptic, humanist, freethinker, pantheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Islam, and pagan communities do not want a specific prayer time in our schools. I also wanted to clarify the reasoning as to why these communities also do not support our nations motto, “In God We Trust”.
First off, we do not want to take God out of schools nor do we want to take him out of our nation. We are not offended by your religion. We are offended because it seems that if we do not matter as much as you do considering our nation’s own motto only applies to you. It first it was “E Pluribus Unum” which is Latin for “Out of many, one”, (alternatively translated as “One out of many” or “One from many”). E Pluribus Unum was considered the motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto. Since then, it seems as if we have been ignored or thought less of and truthfully, that stings.
The argument of Separation of Church and State aside; We do respect your right to pray and worship, we only want to be respected as well. There are many misconceptions across the board when it comes to atheism, or anyone that doesn’t believe in the Christian god. For one, we are not all bad people. We do realize that some attack your religion, reversing what we are trying to establish and I can say those individuals do not speak for our entire community. If you are a Christian, or you do believe in God, you know that he is everywhere. We cannot take something from you that you believe is everywhere nor are we trying to. Any time your children want to pray in school, they are more than welcomed to bow their heads as long as they are not forcing anyone else to do so as well. We deeply wish that everyone realized that our children have good hearts and good intentions as well, despite our differences in raising them with certain beliefs. With that being said, we do have one thing in common. We too believe in raising our children to a high moral standard so that they will be good, productive citizens of our country. We believe that if we are able to sit our differences aside and come to this common ground, that it would be a much better place to raise our children in.
Lastly, I am writing this to you anonymously because I am afraid. I shouldn’t be, but considering I do live in the south, my views are not widely accepted here and it hurts because I too have feelings and a heart. I hope that one day, I can sign my name to this letter without fear of judgment or hatred. I hope that one day I can say that our nation’s motto describes all of its people and I hope one day that we can come to the conclusion that We The People matter. You matter. Your children matter. I matter and my child matters as well.