Both Sides Now

July 23, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

In spite of my mother’s best efforts to introduce me to God, I decided early in life that he was irrelevant to my well-being.

Fond memories of Baptist preachers, Presbyterian youth groups, and candlelit Christmas Eves were pushed aside by pragmatics. College life didn’t require God. Classes in psychology, English, and education were independent of faith, and I certainly had better things to do with my Sundays.

In the ensuing years, my distractions grew in variety and intensity. I married, taught school, raised children, opened a part-time business, and remodeled a house. Gradually, my views about God began a subtle shift.

Where I had originally dismissed God as irrelevant, I slowly began to consider him an irritation. People who went to church were entitled to their delusion, but they had better keep “their myth” to themselves. I was the one with a college degree and a rational mind.

Never bold enough to reject God outright…just in case…I was content to see God confined in a box over in the corner where he could not interfere with the real world. I associated only with non-believers, the academic elite “patted me on the back,” and I became adept at pointing out how God had inspired death and destruction beginning with the Crusades.

Separation of church and state for me back then was all about separation. I wanted the wall high enough and thick enough that God – and his deluded followers – would never be able to disturb me…ever.

Alas, my secular paradise came to an abrupt end in the flash of a millisecond. God appeared. And every minute of my life since then has cast a new understanding on my years of faith in the non-existence of the Almighty.

I’ve lived on both sides now, and it is a unique vantage point from which to view the battle between the faiths “in support” of God and those “opposed” to God. Because the truth about this battle is that “separation” is really a pretty mask used to hide the distress of non-believers when they are confronted with their own “faith.”

This is a battle that won’t end with the Supreme Court. Faith is foundational to human existence, whether that faith is in a Supreme Being or in the Supreme Human Being. In our innermost being, we desire above all an integrity that unifies our life and our faith with the world around us. We strive to be “at one” with ourselves and others.

When I didn’t believe in God, I needed to find ways to dismiss believers in order to sustain my own faith of disbelief. Their ever-present existence began to wear on me as a “challenge” to my rational reasoning and to my authority over my own life. My god was the human mind, and I wanted a world consistent with my god.

I didn’t want to co-exist with people of faith. I wanted them to “separate”. I wanted them to live according to my faith of non-belief, under my laws, and pounded into submission with “my” Supreme Court. I wanted a world based on fluid truth, changing with the whims of human beings in control of public policy. And today, my dreams are in danger of becoming a reality.

One by one, the court cases are moving up the ladder to the Supreme Court. America is demanding a decision about God. But the cases at hand are not about separating God, they are about removing God. They are about creating a new national faith that affirms the belief of those who “know” God doesn’t exist.

The courts are slowly encoding this “faith” into public institutions and our government. Lawyers do battle to preserve one essential faith as supreme over all the others: the faith that god, if he were to exist, is subordinate or irrelevant to human beings. It is a battle to declare the supremacy of the Supreme Human Being.

In a truly multi-faith nation, we would find peace and harmony in a government that allows special tax and zoning considerations for institutions of faith – all faiths. We would support use of educational scholarships to pursue consideration of spiritual matters – in all faiths…even if they contradicted our faith in the non-existence of God. We would welcome believers…of all faiths…to positions of authority and respect…most especially in the Supreme Court.

Which side of God will the Supreme Court come down on? The pro-God side or the con-God side? Hopefully, neither.

If America is to remain the land of the free and the brave, we must come to terms with the greatest of all fears, the fear of God. An America that cannot reconcile its existence with the existence of God is neither brave nor free.