The Tacet Underground

What if He didn't exist? At all. What if long ago, visiting ETs decided that the easiest way to keep these creatures (us) complacent was to chisel out some stony rules and promise a heaven and a hell, much like a kindergarten teacher promises stickers for good behavior and time out for bad behavior? Sure - it's crazy. But just for a minute, what if?

What if the bible is not the 'word of God' as it is so flippantly called while held up and venerated? What if you discover that it is a collection of stories jotted down by the fallible and earthly predecessors of Aesop and the Brothers Grimm, later bastardized and edited and tilted to meet the selfish needs of a corrupt church hierarchy?

What if you woke up tomorrow and none of it made sense anymore? 'Why would an all-seeing and all-knowing god be vengeful?' 'Why revere a book that promotes misogyny, revenge, slavery and killing?' 'Am I a thinking person, or was I indoctrinated before I had a chance to make a choice?' What if it all seems so remote and unbelievable that when someone brings it up, your brain has to click into gear: "Oh yeah! - I forgot that people still believe in that!"

Imagine how truly looney it would then seem if you heard the DOJ's very own Imp of Darkness justifying the cruel and inhumane treatment of emigrating children by quoting a bible verse. Imagine how genuinely frightening it would be to hear former White House aide Omorosa Manigault Newman report that Vice President Pence thinks Jesus tells him to say things. For the almost one out of four Americans that do not believe in God, it is chilling.

The Founders were very clear about the need for separation of church and state:

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

In this, one of the most fatherly-feeling quotes from our Founders, James Madison and the other framers are looking out for us in the way that parents try to impart hard-learned wisdom upon their children. How many times have we wished our kids would listen to us?

There is a musical term, tacet. This tells the musician to do nothing - still pay attention to what's going on, but do nothing. To make a sweeping and reckless generalization, atheists know how to tacet. It is simply easier to nod and smile and say nothing than it is to get into it. Sure, there are atheists at every turn that have no problem declaring their non-belief, but they didn't get there without also learning how to deal with feelings of disenfranchisement, ostracization and condemnation.

It isn't always easy to say, "I don't believe in god" when those around you do and when the indoctrination you've received makes you feel many emotions - but primarily guilt - just for entertaining the idea. Even for the loud proclaimers, it is usually easier, quicker and less trouble to tacet.

The approximately 25% of Americans that make up this Tacet Underground form a much larger subset of the population than the 1% that are Muslim, the 2% that are Jewish, the 2% that are Mormon, the 4% that are either LGBT or Q, the 12% that are Black or the 19% that are Hispanics/Latino, yet these other groups are constantly protesting, demanding and making themselves the news while atheists are mostly content to tacet and pay attention.

In 1795 John Adams said, "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."  Atheists take this seriously and are deeply offended when ignorant people like Donald Trump pretend that it is.

The Vice President's proclamation that he is a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third is deeply offensive to the (at least) eighty-some million Americans that do not believe in his god and consider that statement alone to be grounds for him to be removed from office. On the other hand, even nonbelievers may sometimes hope that hell exists, comforted by visions of Jeff Sessions roasting marshmallows with Beelzebub.

As has happened over a long period of years with the LGBTQ community, 'coming out' as an atheist carries less of a social stigma with each passing day, although small town folk and conservative communities may still find a way to disparage anything out of the norm. Time passes and the number of people that distinguish themselves as atheist will increase as the stigma lessens and the dark side of religion is continually revealed by people like Jeff Sessions, Dana Rohrabacher and Donald Trump who insist on evoking the Bible and Jesus for evil.

By 2020 the Tacet Underground could include not one in four citizens as it does now, but one in three. That would be over a hundred million Americans that don't want to hear religious dribble or quotes from the bible, but instead want logical and well thought-through plans based on research, testing and evaluation. At some point our politicians are going to have to grapple with the fact that one out of three Americans think the bible-thumpers and scripture-quoters and evil-doers are more than a little nutty and start giving us more than the incessant stale rhetoric about abortion, guns, gays and God.

Timeless Trump

William Jefferson Trump - 1990
"We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons. If that doesn't work, arm their (mostly passivist) teachers with automatic assault rifles."

Ronald Trump - 1987
"Señor Nieto, put up that wall - and pay for it too!"

Yogi Trump - 1973
"It ain't over 'til it's over … and we find the missing ballots."

Lyndon Baines Trump - 1968
''I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President. If you truly love me, you will elect me using write in votes, so I don't have to go looking … er, uh, raise money for a campaign. This job is really eating into my net worth. I'm always sacrificing for you! You have no idea."

John Fitzgerald Trump - 1963
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon this decade and be the first to do so, just as we were the first to put a communication satellite into orbit, the first to have an animal orbit the planet, the first to send a man into space and the first to send a woman into space. We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because I stand to make a fortune on the back end."

Richard Millhouse Trump - 1952
"A man down in Texas heard me mention on the FOX morning show, the fact that my son-in-law would like to have a Rolls Royce, and, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?
It was a 1926 Silver Ghost, in a crate that he had sent all the way from Texas, black and white, hand-painted pinstripes, and my daughter named it Trekker.
And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the car, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it."

Harry S Trump - 1945
"Damn, only two bombs?"

Adolf Trump - 1937
"These aren't people. These are animals."

Herbert Trump - 1936
"Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt, and boy are we gonna stick it to 'em!"

Franklin Delano Trump - 1932
"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear are the immigrants - nameless, unreasoning immigrants that bring unjustified terror which paralyzes good Americans like me."

Woodrow Trump 1917
"I can imagine no greater service to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would give the Executive Branch the ability to review and approve information prior to being released by the media, and not deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticize their own public officials."

Theodore Trump - 1900
"Speak untruths and carry a big balance; you will go far."

Abraham Trump - 1858
"A house divided against itself cannot stand, so we're just gonna do everything my way."

Benjamin Trump - 1789
"The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. It doesn't say that the government can't stand in your way."

Patrick Trump - 1775
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased on a margin? I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me a real estate empire and millions of dollars handed to me on a silver platter, or give me death."

Don Quixote Trump - 1605
"Facts are the enemy of truth."



A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser is the author of Beginning Band - A Guide to Success and Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including La Vida and Fly With Me.

Teacher, cook, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.

Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.


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