Letter: Good people not motivated by fear of damnation
Columnist Buz Williams is at it again with his religious opinions. In his article on Tea Party extremism, he somehow sidesteps into notions about atheists. He kindly says a majority of them "are honest, moral and ethical" - a view some Christians wouldn't agree with! Statistics on this are hard to come by, but there are enough liars, cheaters and criminals in America for all denominations to share these faults equally with agnostics and atheists.
Buz then shows his lack of understanding by asking "why shouldn't atheists do whatever they can get away with." His assumption is medieval - wickedness can only be averted by threat of hell and damnation.
Most people are good, whatever their religious beliefs. People want their family and friends to love and trust them. This can be achieved by following the "Golden Rule" - treat others how you want to be treated. This simple rule replaces five of the Ten Commandments that address social issues; it avoids the rest that are religious in nature. This rule is in the New Testament, but predates that document. Without following this universal rule, no society could last long, regardless of its particular religious beliefs or lack thereof.
Buz seems to think that the Declaration of Independence and the rights defined by the Constitution were divinely inspired - thus a challenge to atheists. Therefore, these rights cannot be taken away as they could if "they came from a king or dictator or government." The founding fathers, who wrote the Constitution, understood human frailty. They defined how the Constitution could be changed without divine intervention. The amendment process is difficult, but it allows rights to be added (voting rights for women) or removed (slavery abolished). So these rights are not "unalienable" and did not come from God as Buz claims - Americans wrote them!