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State and Church

December 18, 1988

I would like to clarify our position concerning state/church separation, as there seems to be some confusion.

What we want is secular government as designed by our Constitution of 1787.

In that government, all enterprises, secular or religious, pay taxes on their income and property.

In that government, if parents want their children to be exposed to legends about saviors and demons, they will have to do it themselves. Teachers will be able to teach, not preach. They will be able to teach about the achievements and atrocities of religion.

That government will not permit public lands, buildings or currency to be used to advertise religion.

The Constitution of the United States begins with "We the People." This means that we must trust ourselves to keep our country strong and free for all citizens. According to the Constitution, no power or authority is derived from any deity.

In that government, we will have equal treatment under law for everybody, no matter what their color or gender, no matter what their opinion on matters of religion is. No matter what.

Now, is that too much to ask? Is it too much to ask that we continue the heroic work which our founders began? There were flaws in their work. Racism, gender discrimination and religious bigotry are still problems for us. We have a long way to go. There will always be those who are afraid to think for themselves. We shouldn't allow them to impede the progress of our nation toward those goals boldly affirmed in the preamble of our Constitution.

State Sen. Jim Ellis has threatened atheists with imprisonment for unspecified misconduct. We will not allow political hysteria to intimidate us from the peaceful exercise of our rights. Happily misinformed zealots like Sen. Ellis and his ilk present themselves as passionate crusaders. Unfortunately, their fervent convictions serve to undermine the society they pretend to protect.

STEPHEN B. THORNE, Director

San Diego Chapter, American Atheists

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