I Shall NOT Stand Or Bow!
(The following commentary is part of a weekly series called “Yahweh Speaks” by Yahweh. Yahweh is an assumed name to protect his identity on-line. He is a noted free thought advocate and Constitutional attorney. His series airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Airdate 04/14/12)
A couple of years ago I was approached by a veteran to establish a 501-(c)(3)non-profit for the purpose of providing Transitional Housing for Veterans in need. I was anxious to help, but made it pellucidly clear I wanted nothing to do with it if had any religious purposes or connotations. He assured there would be none of that “nonsense”,
I drafted the Articles of Incorporation, the By-laws and all other documents necessary to make the entity legal ~~~at no charge. Of course, there was NO reference to ANY religious dogma or rituals.
I was elected Parliamentarian.
A couple of months ago we had installation of some new Board Members and a new Chairman. At the first meeting chaired by the new Chairman, he said, “I like to begin things with the Pledge and a prayer.”, and immediately all stood to begin the pledge. I said, ” I object on conscientous and by -law grounds”, but the Chairman charged forward followed by the other Board Members. Next the Chairman had everyone, except me, bow their heads as he invoked je-zeus to bless the meeting, the organization and all present, “In je-seus’ name we pray”.
I was amazingly diplomatic, and after the meeting I asked the new Charman to talk with me. I told him he was out of Order and violated the “Order of Business” as provided in the By-Laws. He said he understood and refrained from such at the next meeting.
HOWEVER, a movement began to amend the BY-laws, and in faithful performance of my duties as Parliamentarian I advised those who asked as to the Amendment process. Thursday , Ap 5 , I was unable to attend the Monthly board meeting inasmuch as I was in NYC. As Paul Harvey was wont to say ‘…And now the rest of the Story…” .
What follows are excerpts from my Letter of 4/11/12 to the Board:
“Dear Mr Chairman: Thank you for bringing by the Proposed by-law changes with your cover letter of 4/10/12, as well as your prior e-mail confirming the passage of the then proposed by-laws. I distinctly remember at the March meeting another Board Member asking, in essence, “If we get copies of the proposed changes to the members before the board meeting, can we then have board members vote even if they are not here?”
Based on that, I NOW understand I erroneously thought the proposed changes would have been circulated prior to the meeting and I could have voiced my objections in writing , or even via telephone, a mode by which we have accommodated other board members in the past. Nevertheless, the deed is done and by-law have now been amended.
I would have OPPOSED modification of the Primary purpose. I would have OPPOSED amending the Order of business to include the Pledge of Allegiance and an Invocation. While I understand many of you veterans have rallied around the flag, and that many of those this organization seeks to serve have very strong emotional and patriotic attachment to the Flag, how many of you understand the “Original Pledge ” was the work of a Socialist Minister named Francis Bellamy who drafted the Pledge in 1892 for his “Youth Companion” ideals of spreading Socialism? How many of you understand the ORIGINAL pledge was as follows:”I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? And that it was not until 1954, when, at the height of the “Red Scare” Congress, in order to show those” ‘godless commies’ exactly whose side god was on”, added “under god” to the pledge? That is, how many of you understand there is no REAL Constitutional import to the Pledge?
My oath which I took ONCE , and do not need daily, weekly, or monthly forced group reminder thereof was to defend the CONSTITUTION, not rituals and symbols divined by a late 19th century socialist and mid 20th century jingoistic politicians. Further, ART VI of the Constitution says, “…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
While it is true Article VI is NOT binding on non-profits, its Board and members, and they are free to require virtually any oath , religious test, or religious dogma and rituals, I take the “no religious test ” to heart, and will not be forced to supplicate myself to others’ deities and their rituals–or be forced to sit, bow, or stand while others do so— simply because they seek to impose such by imprimatur of Law, or By-laws.
Penultimately, Roger Williams, Founder of the Colony for Religious Tolerance and Liberty, Rhode Island said,”There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred souls in one ship, whose weal and woe is common, and is a true picture of a commonwealth, or a human combination or society. It hath fallen out sometimes, that both papists and protestants, Jews and Turks, may be embarked in one ship; upon which supposal I affirm, that all the liberty of conscience, that ever I pleaded for, turns upon these two hinges–that none of the papists, protestants, Jews, or Turks, be forced to come to the ship’s prayers of worship, nor compelled from their own particular prayers or worship, if they practice any.”
What this enlightened quote means is , in essence, practice your religion as you wish, openly and freely, but don’t compel others engaged in the important business at hand, to set that noble work aside–even for a nano-second–as you perform your rituals. Accordingly, based on what I perceive as my fidelity to the SPIRIT of the Constitution,even though admittedly not the Letter of the Constitution, and based on MY principles( which I assure you are as important to me as yours are of infusing these meetings with your dogma and rituals), I hereby tender my resignation as a Board Member effective immediately.”
I regret not being able to bring to complete fruition the NOBLE goals and objectives of that Entity, but I can not, I SHALL not be subjected to others’ religious dogma and rituals having NO purpose whatsoever in attaining the goals and objectives of the Organization, particularly when it is a VOLUNTARY Organization that was created with a TOTAL secular purpose in mind, now hi-jacked by xtian zealots.
” But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”