Why not freedom from religion?

Daniel W. Martin

Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition's front man, recently said Christians "have got to ... take back this country one precinct at a time" until it is "once again governed by Christians with Christian values."

I wasn't aware that I was in the United States of Christianity, but perhaps I'm wrong. I suppose, then, that would explain the annoying onslaught of religious information that comes to us from the TV, radio programs, newspapers and people handing out info rmation on the Mall. Not to mention that I couldn't get my mail for three days without being asked to fill out a religious "survey." "No thanks," I tell them, "I don't have a master."

Don't misunderstand. I don't believe that I'm better because I don't believe in God. I introduce, and accept myself as equal. Nothing more, nothing less.

When I told a friend, who was born Catholic, that I didn't believe in God, she looked as if a poisonous snake was about to strike out at her, that reason had become incomprehensible and that all meaning had come to an end. She looked terrified and said, " Danny, don't say those kinds of things. You have to believe in God!"

I decided to discontinue this conversation because it is precisely these types of reactions that have made me stray away from the general belief. But sometimes I will become annoyed enough to ask, "Why? What will happen if I don't believe in God?" And I u sually get an array of answers ranging from the ambiguously moderate believers (the ones who don't go to church, but believe in God) saying, "It just isn't right!" to the more radical but still ambiguous believers (the ones who do attend church) saying, " Because you'll go to hell!"

But here's the big contradiction: If God is real and unconditionally loves everyone, then wouldn't he/she/it forgive me, like they say? And, what about people who believe in Allah and Buddha? Are they doomed heretics? Are they blasphemous heathens? I high ly doubt it.

However, for me to acknowledge God is already going too far, because I believe that the Bible is nothing more than awesome mythology with a lot of valuable lessons to teach, like all mythology (Greek, African, Roman, Irish, Japanese, etc.) Moreover, I wou ld have to admit that one of my roommates, a Catholic high school graduate, said it best when he proclaimed the Bible to be "a book. It's a good book. But it's only a book."

I agree. For me to believe the Bible as the literal truth would be like reading any other book and liking it so much that I set up an altar for it. Why? Whatever happened to believing in yourself? Whatever happened to believing in your friends and family? Whatever happened to appreciating a good story and learning something from it? Whatever happened to "free thinking?"

In America today, 90 percent of all Americans believe in God. This doesn't necessarily bother me too much since in America we have "freedom of religion," and if people choose to engage in these beliefs, that's their decision.

But what about freedom from religion? Knowing I take responsibility for my actions is a very gratifying experience. Instead of saying "Thank God," after achieving something, why not thank myself? I'm the one who accomplished the goal with a lot of hard work, and quite possibly with the help and encouragement of friends and family.

It seems more and more people are turning away from organized religion and, like myself, from the belief in God. Should everyone else be alarmed and now prepare for Judgement Day? I hope not. I would like to think that as more and more people turn away fr om religion and God, we can start becoming a nation of free-thinkers instead of the religiously guided.

However, a 1991 Gallup poll revealed 45 percent of Americans believed in ghosts and 29 percent believed in witches. I guess it will take some time.

Daniel W. Martin is a creative writing sophomore.