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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, December 30, 2013

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Religious symbols: Twas the night after Christmas

Wonder Wife in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap when I found myself walking into our town’s public square where all the major religions had their symbols on display. There was the Nativity Scene. Close by, was a Menorah representing Judaism. The Crescent of Islam was on display. The seven lighted candles representing Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday, were blazing as well.

About 75-percent of the people were admiring the Nativity Scene. Maybe two-percent were looking at the Menorah. Fewer than two percent were staring at the Crescent of Islam and some people of color were gathered around the seven candles of Kwanzaa. Everyone seemed happy. Well, except for this one lady. She was looking daggers at everyone.

She waved a poster that said in bold letters: "Down with all religions! Get them out of public places!" Except for her hate-filled face, she could have been rather attractive. So, I asked her name. She said, "Polly Amory."

"Season’s greetings, Polly," I said, my smiling face displaying good will, even to the angry Miss Amory. "It is the season to be jolly!"

"Not when you are a Secular Progressive Atheist!" said Polly, aiming a one-fingered salute at a startled passerby.

"Look, Polly, the First Amendment gives you the right to practice your Atheist Religion just as it does for all the religions displaying their symbols here on the public square. Surely, you have a symbol other than your middle finger?"

"Atheism is not a religion!" she retorted.

"But surely, you believe in something. You would not be standing out here in the cold unless you have a set of firmly held beliefs."

"Yes, I believe people should not judge each other. Your Holy Scripture in Matthew 7:1 (KJV) says, ’Judge not, lest Ye be judged.’"

"Polly, you seem to be a New Testament scholar. If you are an Atheist, why bother?"

"You must know your enemy. All you fools gawking at your religious symbols are my enemy."

"Oh my! What have we done to make us your enemy?"

"All religions make judgments as to how people are supposed to behave. We want to live as we please. For example, do whatever we want to do. Have sex whenever, wherever, with whomever, or even with whatever, we please."

"Polly Amory, perhaps, you are waging a war against ’judgment.’ Not a war against religion."

"Religion and judgment are two sides of the same coin!" cried Polly, her unsmiling face sullen with sorrow.

"Polly, you are entitled to your opinion. But aren’t these smiling folks here in the public square entitled to their religious beliefs?"

"Karl Marx said, ’Religion is the opiate of the masses.’ If people are doped up on religion, they can’t focus on Marxist Doctrine. We cannot tolerate competing ideologies!"

"So now, you are against both judgment and competition. Frankly, young lady, your annual protests against religion are rather amusing. I know it is un-Christian of me; however, I can’t help my feelings of Schadenfreude."

"What’s that?"

"Well, if you are so smart, you could look it up."

[Schadenfreude: A feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.]

Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.

©2013. William Hamilton.

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