God, Jerusalem and Democrats

In the Democratic National Convention yesterday, rationalism died a painful death, just in order to keep God alive. In spite of two evenings of great speeches, the DNC’s decision to sneak God back onto the platform, that too via the back-door, did not win any fans.

Briefly, this is what happened. Democratic party’s “platform” (party manifesto?) announced and accepted earlier in the week had, thankfully, omitted the word “God” in its text. Turns out their platform had mentioned the name of this imaginary entity seven times in its platform 8 years ago, and once in its platform 4 years ago. It only made sense that by the third convention of the 21st century, this unnecessary item should have wound its way out of the manifesto of a progressive political party in a first world country. Additionally, DNC’s platform had omitted the mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — which I personally don’t care about much. Even though they had not said that God doesn’t exist (which it doesn’t), or that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel (that is where most embassies are situated), Republicans (via Fox TV) jumped on both “omissions”, and in order to not risk losing votes over the issue, Democrats decided to make amends.

The amendments to the platform were presented to the delegates by the DNC Chair and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, with the apparent expectation that the voice vote will be only a formality. However, the “no” votes sounded as loud, if not louder, than the “aye” votes. He tried it three times, and finally gave up and declared the amendment passed by two-thirds affirmative vote. So much for democracy. And so much for rationality. Watch the voice vote in the following video.

Initially the chorus of “no” votes gave me hope that there may be some rational atheists in the party who are ready to make themselves heard; then I realized that I was being naive to be so hopeful. Turns out the loudest “no”s came from some democrats carrying “Arab American” banners, who must have been opposing the Israel language, not the God language. There is no way to tell if there were any delegates who were opposed to the inclusion of God. I would think that people who would want Israel excluded would be for God, and vice versa. Therefore clubbing the two amendments may not have been a wise move.

Is it possible that there are many more atheists in the Democratic party than are ready to be identified? Is it possible that even Barack Obama is a closeted atheist, and may come out after the political pressures on him are relieved. After all, he did come out for gay marriage this year, even though he had earlier not shown his support for it. After all, he did comment during the 2008 campaign that working class people frustrated with their condition “cling to religion and guns”. Unfortunately, in the current political climate, these statements and logical “omissions” are brushed aside as gaffes or genuine mistakes. When will rationalism and atheism have enough takers so that people own up to these well meaning statements and non-statements?

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