Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

When an angry atheist group like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) goes after something like the Holocaust memorial because it includes a Star of David, they do it because they hate anything to do with our Judeo-Christian heritage and to get in the public spotlight.

When groups like the American Atheists pile on with an anti-Semitic diatribe, for example, telling Fox News, “It’s important that we not give the Holocaust to just the Jews,” they do it for the same reason—to grab a piece of the spotlight.

But as soon as they have that spotlight, they rush to the absurd (as if that’s not absurd enough). Their answer to everything they don’t like or that offends one of their members is to make as if it never existed. If two intersecting steel beams were discovered in the midst of a national tragedy and really brought solace to real people, they say you have to hide it from the public and pretend like it didn’t happen—that it doesn't exist. (See the Ground Zero Cross.)

If a memorial was raised by World War II veterans six decades ago to resemble statues that actually meant something to these war heroes as they fought for freedom across Europe, they say tear it down; the fact that it happened hurts their feelings. (See the WWII memorial in Montana.)

The FFRF’s newest target (using its renewed infamy to delve deeper into the bizarre) are quotes from famous people. That’s right. Abraham Lincoln shouldn’t have mentioned God in his speeches. Thomas Jefferson’s lauded quotations need to be whitewashed of their religious references. And Martin Luther King Jr.—well, you had better cross out his references to God. The logic is unfathomable.

The quotes in question are apparently found on U.S. passports. Here are a few examples:

  • "That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." —Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
  • "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." —Jefferson Memorial, Thomas Jefferson
  • "We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream." —Martin Luther King Jr.

You can’t make this stuff up.

FFRF is demanding that the U.S. State Department remove these quotes—which were actually said by real national heroes at historically significant moments about pivotal events in our nation’s history.

This is the apex of absurdity. If a person mentions God, we have to remove what they said from history?

These angry atheists’ attempt to whitewash history belies logic; it teeters on insanity. Yet their attempts cannot be ignored. As Orwell said, “Who controls the past … controls the future.”

Sadly enough, we predicted these groups would go after each of these things. When we compiled “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Protecting American Atheists” two years ago, we listed nearly 40 iconic, historically significant memorials, inscriptions and references to our religious history as a nation. In fact, we listed quotes from the Gettysburg Address, the Jefferson Memorial and the MLK memorial now under attack.

These angry atheist groups are as predictable as they are wrong.

The First Amendment is not a mandate to whitewash history. The Constitution is not a manual for the cleansing and expulsion of religious references from public life.

FFRF’s co-president Annie Lauri Gaylor inaccurately asserts, “The United States is governed under a secular and godless Constitution,” as if the Constitution itself were an atheist manifesto. The Supreme Court has long debunked this premise, specifically holding that to follow that legal argument “would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe” (emphasis added).

The Constitution requires no such thing.

Matthew Clark is associate counsel for government affairs and media advocacy with the American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C.

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