December 09, 2014

Dear Christians: No one cares about Carrie Underwood's new song, not even those atheists that like country music.

Dear Christians,

I know it's nice to think that atheists are out there, all day, every day, just bashing and waiting for a chance to pounce on anything remotely Christian. I get it.

So when a fairly large musical star puts out a song with lyrics like this, it can be fairly easy to assume that we are just gnashing our teeth, waiting for a chance to tear it apart:

He said, "I've been where you've been before.
Down every hallway's a slamming door.
No way out, no one to come and save me.
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me.
Then somebody said what I'm saying to you,
Opened my eyes and told me the truth."
They said, "Just a little faith, it'll all get better."
So I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I'm changed
And now I'm stronger
There must've been something in the water
Oh, there must've been something in the water
Unfortunately, it's also completely untrue.

This topic has been covered several times, but the pieces all seem to involve a disclaimer that the writer doesn't know country music, or doesn't knew Carrie Underwood.

Hemant Mehta, for instance, offered this explanation in one of his pieces on the subject:

The problem with that sentiment was that atheists didn’t give a damn. Hell, atheists didn’t even know she had a new song out. Double hell, atheists don’t even know who Carrie Underwood is.

In an earlier piece on the subject, Mehta said:

There’s a new Carrie Underwood song out — which, let’s face it, you didn’t know until just now — and atheists everywhere hate it...

The Freedom of Nonbelief said:

I couldn't care less about Carrie Underwood's album, what she sings or doesn't sing about.

Anyway, maybe it isn't cool, but I'm chiming in too, as an atheist that does like country music and that has a wide variety of Carrie Underwood on my iTunes. I most certainly did know that she has a new song out, and I most certainly cared about her album. ;)

And I'm just saying--I honestly could not care less that Carrie Underwood sang a religious song. It doesn't bother me one hoot or one iota.

"Jesus Take The Wheel" never bothered me--why should "Something in the Water"? I can even listen to Randy Travis's "Four Crosses", and hell, I've even got "Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me" on my iTunes for good measure.

Get this--I still enjoy gospel music! Like many other kinds of folk music, it really resonates with me, even as a nonbeliever.

Crazy, I know.

 There is a massive market for Christian music, movies, books and other media. It's absolutely, quite literally, massive. In Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, I was struck by the three-and-a-half foot section that housed all of the philosophy and atheist related books, together, versus the over 52 feet of space devoted to Christian living--and that didn't even include bibles! Bibles had their own section.

I know it's equally hard to believe, but it didn't bother me one bit.

I understand that in our society, 70 to 80% of the population are actually Christian. It makes sense that companies would market products to them about that lifestyle.

But wait, you're saying. What about all of those lawsuits by American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, et al?

See, this is the point that we just cannot get so many religious people to understand: We don't care what you do, yourself, personally. But you cannot enforce that belief on other people, and it shouldn't impact their life in tangible ways.

Read what you want. Watch what you want. Listen to what you want.

But when that belief crosses over into our government, or our schools, or our justice system--yes, we will stand up against it. Those realms are best safeguarded by secular values--the very same Enlightenment values that our founding fathers held dear.

And it's those values, that separation, that safeguards all of our religious freedom--or freedom from religion, as the case may be.

In fact, I quite stand with Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the following to the Danbury Baptist Association in January of 1802:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

So no, we don't care what a singer chooses to sing about. We don't care if there are songs about Jesus and God's love on country music award shows. We don't care if you read a thousand and one books by Kirk Cameron.

None of that tangibly impacts us or anyone else.

None of that crosses the line of separation of church and state, and it's that line that we're committed to protecting.

Carrie, in other words, can sing about whatever she likes...just, maybe not in a public school classroom. 

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