Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Pledge Project: Foreign Affairs

I have worried that my readers with foreign citizenship might see the Pledge issue as a purely domestic issue with no relevance to them.

This is not the case. You have as much reason to be interested in how Americans handle this issue as Americans themselves.

Moral Concerns

The first is that a moral principle, by its nature, is universal. When a person says that something is permissible, this implies that it is permissible for anybody in a similar situation to do the same thing. This applies to people in other countries.

So, if it is morally permissible for Americans to post signs in its public buildings and to put on its money, “We Are Not Atheists,” this says that it would be morall permissible for the Iranian government (for example) to demand that the currency and every government building bears a model like, “We Are Not Jews.” It would be permissible for governments everywhere to post signs that say, “We Are White” or “We Are Not Hindu” or “We Are the Saudi or whatever other message that an oppressive group.

If it is morally permissible for a government to pledge allegiance to “one nation without atheists” then another would be within its right so t pledge allegiance to “one nation with Jews.”

If we are going to fight these types of injustices – if we are going to communicate the global message that these types of messages are unjust – then we need to oppose them everywhere.

This is the same argument that I have made against the Bush Administration’s policies of rendition, torture, imprisonment without charges, warrantless wiretaps, signing statements, and other injustices.

Whenever the President of the United States claims that torture is morally permissible, he gives every government on the planet permission to engage in torture.

When the American President says that a country can pick up people off the street and make them disappear, he tells nations around the world that they, too, may pick up people off the street and make them disappear.

Anybody who wants to condemn these practices when they are used in North Korea, or Iran, or Cuba, or Sudan, needs to challenge America’s assertion that they are permissible.

People have the right to protest injustice wherever it occurs Otherwise, injustice becomes the new standard. Consequently, people in other countries have a right and a reason to raise their voice in condemnation of any government that is so discriminatory towards some segment o their population This is the best way – this is the only way – to prevent the practice from growing and moving into other parts of the world or expanding in parts of the world where it otherwise exists.

In addition, the moral principles that have been used against ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust’ can be applied to similar practices elsewhere in order to end certain abuses within one’s own country. Moral principles are universal, and I write about moral values so that others can take what I write and use them to improve the quality of life in their own homes, regardless of where those homes may be.

Importing Religion

I have written that ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust’ in America generates an in-group of dominant and assertive theists, and an out-group of passive and politically impotent atheists. One of the implications of this is that religion is one of America’s leading exports. That export is lowering the quality of life in other countries – particularly in Africa, where poverty and the spread of diseases such as AIDS are supported by 0th-century views on sex and procreation.

Developed countries as well, such as England, Australia, and Canada, have had to deal with religious campaigns in their countries to promote ‘intelligent design’ as science, to promote religious schools and grant the indoctrination of children into religion special protections, and even fight a war (in part on a religious pretext) as a result of America’s aggressive religious population and passive atheist population.

You will continue to feel the pressure of millions (billions) of American dollars going into the export of religion into your countries as long as America remains a culture of in-group (aggressive, dominant) theists and out-group (passive, submissive) atheists. One thing that would work to your advantage is to eliminate the practices that generate this in-group/out-group psychology by condemning the practices that support it.

I find it interesting to note that the atheist movement in America has not, for the most part, been able to generate its own leaders. It has only grown in recent years by importing leadership from other countries whose citizens are not subject to the same type of brainwashing that American children are subject to. Has anybody stopped to ask why American Atheists have so much trouble growing domestic leaders?


If you live in another country, and you do not want the worst of American theocratic thinking to thrive in your country, you have reason to oppose it in the country of origin. You have reason to teach people that it is wrong or governments to declare that people who do not support ‘one nation under God’ are as bad as those who support ‘liberty and justice for all’, or they might come to your country and try to get your children trapped into a similar pledge.

If you are concerned about the import of the worst of religious practices in your country, such as the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ as science or importing a culture that would be hostile to your homosexual or freethinking citizens, then it is best to challenge those enemies where they life.

You have reason, in these circumstances, to call for an end of the practices in America that generate a dominant and aggressive theist class and a politically weak and timid atheist class. Otherwise, you will find yourself fighting forces in your own countries well funded by Americans eager to export their religion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Alonzo,
For a "foreigner", this was your best post on the subject. I encounter a lot of "apathy" when I point out that what is happening in the UK or the US will eventually end up, often in a perfected version, in Canada. The apathy is born of a "can't do anything about it" attitude which is particularly evident when minds are occupied with other things . . . and there are lots of things that divert attention and concern. People generally won't listen to you when you tell them that "the dam is breaking", but they will complain when they "get wet" or someone close "drowns". Its somewhat like the advice I got from my grandfather, "Never live on a flood plain!".