By Mike Haubrich
(Picture courtesy of Richard W. Trombley)
Welcome to the Day of Reason. We call this the Day of Reason not because we think of the participants in the National Day of Prayer as unreasonable people. Rather, we see them as surrendering their reason; to appeal to a higher authority that either does not exist or is unwilling to magically balance the budget for us, or even to fix the potholes in our streets.
Hi, my name is Mike Haubrich and as Steve said I am the producer and co-host, along
with Scott Lohman, of the Atheists Talk radio show. Please listen to us on AM950,
KTNF, or subscribe to the podcasts. Even though I have a face for radio and a voice for
blogging, I think it is a pretty good show.
I call myself an atheist because I do not believe in any gods. I call myself a naturalist
becauuse I believe that the wonders of the natural world can be explained through
scientific exploration. I call myself a humanist because I believe that the means to
solve our problems are within our abilities as humans. No supernatural overseer is necessary to guide our government.
From ancient times through current events, history shows that a reliance on religious
authority for governance has led to the oppression of minorities, to despotic rule and
to drastic intrusions on individual liberties.
We choose a secular government. We start with a constitution to guide us and to
protect the rights of even the unpopular minorities. We elect a legislative branch to
craft laws within the framework provided by the constitution, mindful of the protections for unpopular minorities. We elect an executive branch charged with
respecting those protections while administering the legislative laws. Finally, we rely
on the judicial branch to act as a bulwark of justice when the laws and administration
overstep the bounds of the Constitution.
Our friends, praying outside in a hypocritical defiance of the Gospel of Matthew,
Chapter 5, seek to overstep those boundaries of protection, and that is why we are
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is an organization of
religious believers and non-believers. Their purpose is to prevent the role of Church
from overstepping those bounds of protection. We welcome people of faith to participate as equals in the republic in the State of Minnesota as well as in all of the
fifty United States. However the church oversteps its bounds in ways both subtle and
overt. Americans United stands up with legal challenges, to object and to attempt to
prevent intrusions of strictly religious principles into a secular government. As the
Minnesota Atheists we share the public policy goals of Americans United.
The state should be empowered to determine the matters of a secular state, while
religions remain free to govern themselves within the law. They are no more free to
violate the human rights of any groups than the state is to determine what is an what
is not a valid religion.
For example, the drive to amend the state constitution to prevent future legislatures
and courts from allowing churches and civic authorities cuts through two of the
protections designed to afford individual liberty. The amendment would prevent
religious institutions from performing rituals they find within their religions. The
amendment would deny same-sex couples the right to achieve legal standing equal to
heterosexual couples. The proponents of the amendment have tried but have failed to
define a valid secular reason for the amendment, and appeal to religious values for its
This is but one example of many cases in which religiously motivated special interest
groups seek to overstep the bounds set by the Constitution. Again, we say that they
have the right to participate in the political political process, but they must constrain
their wish to establish laws so as to respect secular protections of individual rights.
I am not here to ridicule the religious beliefs of anyone. I save that for other
occasions, Many other occasions. I am here to appeal to the legislature, the governor
and attorney general and to the State Supreme Court to be mindful of the limitations
to their authority. Their authority comes from the Minnesota State Constitution and
the United States Constitution. There is no higher authority for a secular government.
There is a phrase in the Bible; “Come, let us reason together.” (proving once again that
the devil can quote scripture.) With the problems we ask the government to resolve in
this biennium, I suggest that we emphasize two words: Reason and Together.