Marita Vargas
When we are truly free
By Marita Vargas
October 22, 2009

When we are truly free we will never have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance again. We will never have to strain our eyes to read "In God We Trust" on our coins or listen to troglodytes invoke the deity in public. If everything goes well even those with the temerity to cross themselves before eating a meal in public will be hauled off and installed in the local calaboose.

All the best people want it, the forward thinking people — those who with the help of the A.C.L.U. are even now scouring the land to eliminate all reminders of the Almighty — so much the better for them since they aspire to the role themselves.

Never mind that they too will have to make some sacrifices. Our Supreme Court will have to authorize something to replace the figures of Moses and the Ten Commandments that grace its august building. And the justices can hardly continue the practice of the Red Mass; they will have to call it something else — perhaps the black mass. Our legislators will have to abandon the practice of opening their sessions with prayer, and some historian or other will have to rewrite the record of our House and Senate Chaplains. It is a big task. The unmercifully long list of meritorious men stretches back to 1789. One can't make that disappear at a moment's notice — unless of course, one can.

But just in case, a commission will have to be established to make sure the purge of their names from our collective memory is complete and permanent — it's the American way. Hasn't Norman Lear told us so? Religion free government has been with us almost from the first, or at least since 1962.[1] But then, we'll have no further need of history or dates when the new world order is established.

Let's see now. Babies with biblical names will have to be rechristened. Re-branded? Renumbered? School children will sing secular substitutions for "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," "The Star Spangled Banner," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." (Just in case you don't remember, each one mentions G-O-D.) "Let Us Break Bread Together," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "Wade in the Water" will have to be re-worked as well.

The pesky place names of California and other states once hospitable to religious zealots will have to be rubbed out and new names given. Let's start with San Francisco. How does Obamagrad sound? Obamabad? We'll figure it out. The textbooks will have to be cleansed of those pernicious quotations of our founders — the ones that make them sound like men who had read the Bible and Blackstone — almost as though they were envisioning their words as part of an everlasting tradition (as opposed to a living Constitution). Oh well, the work of establishing freedom is never easy.

The ACLU and other like-minded types are tireless in their efforts to help us see the folly of: Nativity scenes,[2] prayer at football games,[3] commencement references to God's blessings,[4] Ten Commandment displays,[5] prayer offered by legislators,[6] and the Mt. Soledad and Mojave Crosses.[7] All matters the Supreme Court has been asked to ban. What will be next? The white crosses of Arlington National Cemetery and the Red Crosses of Clara Barton?

Hollywood, under the guise of freeing the public airwaves can help. Television networks have already eliminated Ben Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Shoes of the Fisherman, The Robe, Quo Vadis, Jesus of Nazareth, Come to the Stable, and The Ten Commandments from their holiday movie line-ups. We don't want anyone to discover that godless Hollywood had once been part of a Christian nation.

To be safe, the memory hole will have to swallow-up all offerings similar to the following: Good Sam, How Green Was My Valley, It's a Wonderful Life, Boy's Town, The Inn of the Seventh Happiness, On the Waterfront, The Sound of Music, Journey to Bountiful, Lilies of the Field, Places in the Heart, Tender Mercies, The Scarlet and the Black, The Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz? Why The Wizard of Oz? Well, Auntie Em as a good Christian woman has to resist telling off Elmira Gulch, though she well deserves it — the old witch. Oops, I'd better be careful. One never knows whose religion one might offend.

In another arena, aren't most of the God-drenched classics of the West housed in PUBLIC libraries? Let's build that wall of separation as high as Babel. William Shakespeare will have to go. Harvard no longer values him any way. Oscar Wilde too. Shameless moralist. (What else would you call the author of Dorian Gray.) Robertson Davies? He's far too metaphysical. Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor, Graham Greene, Walker Percy? Why a reading of their work might send someone out in search of a rosary.

And what about titles, allusions and references? Will we have to get rid of Fear No Evil, Our Vines Grow Tender Grapes, Inherit the Wind (even though it put the secular agenda on track?) and The Little Foxes (even though penned by lefty favorite, Lillian Hellman)? Of course.

Moby Dick? A God-haunted book if ever there was one. The Scarlet Letter? Rife with religious meaning. Absalom, Absalom? A clearly drawn biblical fable. For Whom the Bell Tolls? Hemingway was alluding to John Donne, and in a work of revolutionary fervor at that. The Crucible? Unthinkable, doubly unthinkable. One generation's indictment may well become another generation's indictment.

Our long-sought after freedom day may not be too far off. America is set to become a religion-free zone any minute now. Our schools are free. Local government grows freer by the hour. Our military is being set free as we read. The courts are liberating us daily from our past, our hope and our spiritual moorings. It's enough to make one shout, "Hallelujah" — if one dared.

Why soon even those words that Ilsa whispered to Rick as they stood together for the last time in Casa Blanca may be struck from one of the most famous scenes in movie history. After all, any censor (I mean national freedom auditor) worth his salt would recognize that Casa Blanca is a drama of redemption and that Ilsa Lund was whispering a blessing to a man who was experiencing a rebirth of his commitment to the cause of freedom. Now we can't have that in a "free" America. "Free at last, Free at last, thank _ - _ - _ almighty, we're free at last."


[1]  Engel v. Vitale (1962) Prayer ousted from public schools.

[2]  Allegheny County v. ACLU (1989) Yesterday Nativity scenes offended, today wishing someone "Merry Christmas" offends. Atheists are such delicate creatures.

[3]  Borden v. School District of the Township of East Brunswick (2006) The Supreme Court refused to hear the case (2009), upholding the ban against the behavior of a coach who bowed his head and kneeled while his football players participated in student lead, voluntary prayer.

[4]  Lee v. Weisman (1992) The Supreme Court decided that the mention of God might ruin commencement exercises for atheists, agnostics, and practitioners of other faiths.

[5]  Stone v. Graham (1980) This precedent-setting case prevented the Decalogue from being displayed in schools. The Ten Commandments have since been removed from court houses and other places.

[6]  Marsh v. Chambers (1983) Though Congressional chaplains are safe for the moment, city council types may be at risk, and so cases in this area are heating up again.

[7]  Salazar v. Bruno, the case regarding the Mojave Cross, is pending. The outcome of the case will decide the fate of the VFW Cross that has stood since 1934 in the Mojave Desert. It is expected that the decision will have bearing on the Soledad Cross case. Both are 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cases.

© Marita Vargas


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Marita Vargas

Marita Vargas believes in freedom of speech and in civil discourse. Because for decades the American people have been silenced, intimidated, and poorly informed, they are in danger of losing their freedoms for the simple reason that they rarely discuss the underlying reasons for the current state of affairs. She can be reached at


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