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Mar-12-2012 23:36printcomments

Freedom of or from religion?

Perhaps there is a god; he’s just tired of Americans, being so full of themselves.

(Calgary, Alberta) - Outside the Islamic world, the U.S. is the most religious nation on earth. Canada and the European nations are all nominally religious in orientation, but no one takes their religion more seriously than the American people. The Constitution supposedly guarantees the separation of church and state but in reality, it does no such thing. In principle, it means that the government cannot establish or promote any particular religion. And yet, in 1956, President Eisenhower made “In God We Trust” the national motto.

Whose god? Don’t ask. (If it comes up to Rick Santorum, it will be his Catholic god)

Our lesson for today comes from Texas, the only state where its Constitution specifically says that in order to be governor, the person must declare a personal belief in the God of Texas. Obviously no religious freedom there—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., are disqualified by law from occupying the state’s highest elected office.

A year ago, with Texas on fire from 8,000+ wildfires brought on by extreme drought, Governor Perry declared:

I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.

Things just got worse with a rainless spring, followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history. By the end of August, Texas took a dramatic turn for the worse. Nearly all of the state was in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists; the worst in Texas history.

If there is, indeed a god, there may be an explanation in this joke:

A very religious man lived right next door to an atheist. While the religious man prayed day in, day out, and was constantly on his knees in communion with his Lord, the atheist never even looked at a church. However, the atheist's life was good, he had a well-paying job and a beautiful wife, and his children were healthy and good-natured, whereas the pious man's job was strenuous and his wages were low, his wife was getting fatter every day and his kids wouldn't give him the time of the day. So one day, deep in prayer as usual, he raised his eyes towards heaven and asked, "Oh God, I honour you every day, I ask your advice for every problem and confess to you my every sin. Yet my neighbour, who doesn't even believe in you and certainly never prays, seems blessed with every happiness, while I go poor and suffer many an indignity. Why is this?"

A great voice thundered from above, "Because he doesn’t bother me all the time!

Perhaps there is a god; he’s just tired of Americans, notably Texans, being so full of themselves. Last year, a week before announcing his run for the Republican presidential nomination, Perry said: “As a nation, we must call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles.”

Fast forward to today

Under legal pressure and public criticism, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, (TAPPS) which organizes competitions for more than 200 schools, recently agreed to admit an Orthodox Jewish school and reschedule a basketball game that would have violated the Sabbath.

But that seems to be the limit. One Islamic high school applied to join TAPPS in 2010. In reply, they received a questionnaire that asked:

It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?” and

What is your attitude about the spread of Islam in America?

The Iman Academy in Houston, wanted to join the local soccer competition. It filled out the questionnaire but was denied membership. At least two other Islamic schools didn’t even bother sending in the questionnaire.

Polling their membership, TAPPS found that 52 of 83 respondents (63%) rejected Islamic schools for membership in 2010. Ten schools said they would quit Tapps if Islamic members were admitted.

America, Land of the Free? Think again.


Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.

As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.

Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.

It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.

In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)

Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for since March 2009 and, as of spring 2012, has published more than 180 stories.

View articles written by Daniel Johnson

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Anonymous March 14, 2012 1:22 pm (Pacific time)

Tim/DJ as per the scientifically constructed set of facts below...

I see you're posting under a variety of different names. We try to limit our comments to those of honest people, even if we disagree with them. My simple suggestion to you is: Go away, your kind is not wanted here...

Anonymous March 14, 2012 11:56 am (Pacific time)

DJ we conservatives are determined to remove moderates from the Republican party. Google percentage of conservatives in America. Then do the same for liberals. We are a center right country that provides world security for the weak.

I don't think the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, Libya, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Sri Lanka, etc., will believe you, but I'll pass your message on.

Anonymous March 14, 2012 11:53 am (Pacific time)

Say Kiflu Hussain the American " "Land of the free and home of the wacko." (your words) that you referenced provided $billions of dollars for HIV/AIDS medical assistance for all of Africa that has saved millions of lives as per UN reports. This money was spearheaded by the Bush Whitehouse. Note: Clinton ignored Rawanda and hundreds of thousands died. Clinton failed at least 3 times to kill Osama, and thousands of Americans died, and it started the dominoes to fall, that will cause possibly tens of millions to die. Then who knows how many billions we have sent to Africa in just the last 50 years in some form of assistance? As far as Obama not being as bad as Bush, well, we'll see how the voters decide that issue real soon. But his policies in Afghanistan has caused many more Americans to become casualties in a few years than all those killed under Bush in 3 years. The buck stops at the whitehouse, and Bush is gone, all what is going on is on Obama. Kiflu, have you ever had to take any antibiotics or other lifesaving medication made in America to save your life? Loved ones? You can respond on that American made tech if you want? The R and D of that tech was spearheaded by the Reagan Whitehouse.

Kiflu Hussain March 14, 2012 9:17 am (Pacific time)

A lot of these comments above are by anonymous people.Commenting in hiding on something published in America by itself tells you a lot.Americans!If you truly believe that yours is still "Land of the Free"think again as the author of this great piece said.

Anonymous March 13, 2012 6:18 pm (Pacific time)

As my car wash attendent often remarks: "Corn Can't Expect Justice from a Court Composed of Chickens." African proverb//
AMANDA...can you point out a legislative pattern in congress where "religion" has taken over as the main guidance for legislation?

DJ: Why do you think there are no moderates left in the Republican party? They've been driven out by the religious and extremists. Olympia Snowe is only the latest example.

 Editor: Iraq, endless persecution of Muslims because low IQ types are egged on by idiots like Rush Limbaugh and his hateful ilk.

We have regular human beings who get elected to office, and they all bring with them both negative and positive attributes, but they still follow the Constitution, except in the last 3 years, and that is why you will see the largest thumping when Obama get's the door, hopefully it is a jail door with Eric Holder closely following.. As the biggest and most successful country in the world, and of all time, that makes us a mark for the vain and jealous who simply cannot tolerate their inferiority. I pray for them constantly.

Editor: Obama is a disappointment but he replaced a man who was both evil and embarrassing and terribly deceptive.  Obama is nothing bad at all next to Bush, and he is pretty bad. 

Now on the subject of inferiority complexes... say a little prayer for yourself while you're at it

Ralph E. Stone March 13, 2012 6:07 pm (Pacific time)

Dan, you might find "One nation under gods" by Lexington in the March 3, 2012 edition of The Economist.

Thanks, Ralph, I found it. And for anyone interested, here it is:

I would also recommend a famous article written by historian Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" published in November 1964 Harper's magazine. You can find it here: The sun rises and the sun sets and some things never change.

Amandablack March 13, 2012 5:34 pm (Pacific time)

Yes, I agree, there is no separation of church and State, and "most" American's are full of themselves with their prejudices and religious ideologies.

Anonymous March 13, 2012 3:56 pm (Pacific time)

The constant drumbeat by those against America simply do not understand our history, nor our resolve, and superior ability at solving problems. I dare say our health care is the best in the world, and our "private" K-12 education results are also the best in the world. Our public education needs a complete overhaul, and the "Charter system" is gaining, but the union thugs have been delaying that eventual process, but soon to go forward as we change political parties next year. Have you seen the economy of North Dakota take off? In time it will be the largest energy producer in the country, including Alaska and off shore drilling areas. Even many Canadians have been migrating there for work, and getting more prompt medical care for them and their families as per a number of news stories from that location. Stay tuned as the market system ramps up as we remove Obama and his incredibly poor managers. We cannot change the negatives about our history, but we are always moving forward. You commenting on this site is evidence of that.

I get the distinct impression that you also believe in the tooth fairy. Yes/no?

Anonymous March 13, 2012 1:21 pm (Pacific time)

I guess America, in our long successful history, could have just maintained an isolation posture. Let's take the period running up to WWII...the world had Imperial Japan out an about engaging in mass killings, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, Mao taking over China, North Korea and S.E. Asia was going towards general tyranny. Then there were also operatives from these above countries in South America and Africa causing trouble. So we hear from an endless stream of these so-called quasi-Historians who like to say how bad America is, but they owe their very existence and way of life because of our exceptionalism. Those who attack us by physical force or by weakly worded prose, will always remain impotent and irrelevant. And they will never even realize it, that is a basic symptom of narcissism and self-hate augmented by their toxic frustration. Funny people to observe. They are so intolerant of those who tag them with their fragility and ignorance.

As I remarked in my article, one of the problems with Americans is their being so full of themselves.

"Long and successful history"? As a nation, the U.S. is not even two and a half centuries old. Successful? The U.S. is in global decline and it's just a natural outcome. Other nations will surpass the U.S. in the near future such as China, India, Brazil...

Of course, the U.S. has done some great things in the past, made some good contributions at great sacrifice. Those things were done by your fathers and grandfathers. But that was then and this is now. Now you have Iraq, Afghanistan, the greatest social inequality of any developed nation, Vietnam, the successful invasion of Grenada (LOL), support for murderous tyrants like Mubarak, Shah of Iran, dictators in Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua...
As for American "exceptionalism": The number of its prison inmates is exceptional. The quality of its health care is exceptionally bad (45 million citizens have no health coverage). The degree of its social inequality is exceptionally acute. Public education has gone into exceptional decline. Exceptional debt (near bankrupt states, cities and counties), a federal government that is exceptionally dysfunctional (as the Founders intended), an Americanization of the Holocaust and uncritical support for Israel have demonstrated an exceptional ability to gloss over uncomfortable truths, including broad American indifference to Hitler’s genocide as it happened...The exceptional ability of the majority of its citizens to believe the national myths they've been spoon feed since infancy.

COLLI March 13, 2012 9:46 am (Pacific time)

"Socialism, in general, has a record of failure that's so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it." Dr. Thomas Sowell (A National Humanities Medal Winner)

I don't know who Sowell is, so I looked him up and discover he is just another libertarian whacko. He opinion counts for nothing in my books.

Is there even one basic tennent of civil society in our country that you view as good Dan?

I don't know why you're referencing socialism when it is not even mentioned in my article. Unless you're prescient, because that's the subject of my one of my next articles, to be titled "Socialism USA".

No, I can't say I like any tenet of American society, because American civil society is disappearing as the nation turns inexorably into a theocracy. On this point I quote Jean Jacques Rosseau who wrote in The Social Contract: (1762)

“It is said that a people of true Christians would form the most perfect society imaginable. I see but one flaw in this hypothesis, namely that a society of true Christians would not be a society of men….But I err in speaking of a Christian republic; for each of these terms contradicts the other. Christianity preaches only servitude and submission. Its spirit is too favorable to tyranny for tyranny not to take advantage of it. True Christians are made to be slaves; they know it and they hardly care; this short life has too little value in their eyes.”

You use the word "tennent" when you meant "tenet", but I'll use that to refer to tenants of the U.S. On that there are many fine American individuals, some I know directly, some not, but I like and admire them all. If the U.S. had more people like that, it would actually be a superior country.

Douglas Benson March 13, 2012 7:44 am (Pacific time)

What the heck does these private christian schools discriminating have to do with the rest of us . As far as Im concerned they have every right to do so . Do I think its cult behaviour ? Yes. Is it stupid ?Yes. How do you combat these nutjobs? Education and exposure. Unfortunately thats why they have these private schools. I know ,I went to one. I bought into thier fairy tales for most of my life . What we are seeing now is these cults are losing ground,hence the takeover of the republican party .They see control slipping and are fighting hard in a losing battle. The more to the right they lean the less chance they have. Peace

Anonymous March 13, 2012 6:54 am (Pacific time)

I imagine that this article will soon have Americans actively renouncing all of their beliefs. Maybe we can supplement those paralyzing ideologies with more government censorship like we see growing stronger in our little sibling to the north. I have always gotten a kick out of how liberals opine for tolerance, and then they are the least tolerant. How many really care? My guess is less than a thousandth of 1 percent.

Kiflu Hussain March 13, 2012 2:08 am (Pacific time)

This is a great piece.There are many here in Africa who are incorrigibly naive about "America being land of the free."Thankfully,I realized long ago that it's "Land of the free and home of the wacko."That by itself might not have been bad.But as Hitler was elected democratically in Nazi Germany,the same danger is lurking in America too while those supposed to be thinking hard are sound asleep.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.