Editorial by Barbara Cornell.
Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.
I genuinely try to live in peace with all men, and I mostly refrain from judging the right or wrong of other peoples’ lives, even when religion tells me I must.
It is my opinion that, mostly, atheists are not as much unlike Christians as we seem to think (you could substitute «atheist» with «Buddhist,» or «Muslim,» or «gay,» or «pro-choice,» or whatever other group we tend to draw lines around). Mostly they are people, with the same strengths and weaknesses inherent in all of us, who’ve examined the evidence available to them and come to a conclusion about what is most likely to be true, and mostly they just want to be allowed to live their lives the best way they can figure out. Maybe they would prefer that we understand their values, but they don’t require that.
But because there are enough who are not content to live-and-let-live, I’ve adopted a personal policy that can be described in two sentences:
The line is here. This far and no farther.
Specifically, the line is drawn at: my home, my children, my private institutions.
It isn’t a soft, flexible line. I won’t wander off into your territory (big asterisk here) to change how you do things, I won’t advocate open hatred or disrespect of you, but neither will I allow you to alter through any means other than logical persuasion what is done on this side of the line. Not even a little bit, not «all you have to do is,» not «well, as long as you don’t…,» not «I really don’t see why this is such a big deal, all we’re telling you to do is…» Nothing. I feel that I have been driven to this kind of inflexible demarcation. I wish it weren’t so, but…again, I feel that I have withdrawn as far as is possible and still be consistent with what I believe is right. There is no greater possibility of capitulation than «you can have it, do as you wish with it» short of abject surrender, and that you shall not have.
I gladly abdicate the rest of the world to you, do with it as you wish. You can have the government (big asterisk here), you can have the taxes, the public schools, the public places, the hospitals, you can do with the concept of «legal marriage» whatever you wish, but you may not in any way attempt to invade past this line. I will raise my child the way she needs to be raised, including paying premium to have her educated in zero-tax-funded Christian schools where she will learn the truth; you can keep the property taxes I’ve paid for the public schools that I will not use for her education. I will teach her what she needs to know about healthy sexuality, use of substances, her responsibilities, and the consequences of her choices. I will conduct my home in a Christian fashion. I will conduct my business in godly manner. You may not force your teachings in the schools I pay for, you may not force teachers on me who do not believe what I am paying to be taught. You may not control what we do in our places of worship. You may not attempt to force me to educate, medicate, train, or otherwise mold my child in any fashion other than what I deem to be best. You may not counsel her to obtain or perform on her an abortion and then hide it from me. You may not teach her that promiscuity is healthy for her. You may not provide contraception to her without my knowledge. I will gladly discuss my choices with you if you are interested, but I will neither accept nor seek your approval of why my choices are reasonable, right, or healthy. I will not attempt to explain why other people who claim to follow the laws of God but fail to lead godly lives do not reflect in any way on me.
The big asterisk: Do whatever you want with your government so long as it does not attempt to dictate what happens in my home, in my child, in my private institutions. Any laws that you pass regarding what we are to do with our bodies, how we are to treat each other or how we will use or dispose of our property do not apply to me or anyone in my home. I will attempt, at every possible point, to fight laws that I feel violate this principle. We follow the laws of God here, and I promise you, the laws He designed are better for us and everyone around us than anything the whole lot of you collectively could figure out. «As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.» I am in the world, but I am not of the world (I am here, but I do not belong to you.)
Live your life, and leave me to live mine. You’ve got the entire rest of the planet’s business to run, surely you will be busy enough with that not to bother with me.
Do this, and we will get along just fine.
This far and no farther.