Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem

Oct 6, 2014

Image credit: Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

by Richard Dawkins and Robyn Blumner

If Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s disparagement of atheists was just the ranting of a tinpot politician turned Fox News bloviator, it could be left without comment or fuss.

Unfortunately, not only does Huckabee have to be taken seriously as a possible Presidential candidate in 2016, but his suggestion that atheists who work for the government (primarily elected officials) be summarily “fired” is an applause line in too many quarters in the United States. That nonbelievers somehow deserve to be discriminated against is a view widely shared, particularly among Christian conservatives who seem to think “religion by the sword” is an oldie but a goodie.

This latest bit of hate was offered up – where else? – at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The ritual hookup between Christian conservatives and Republican presidential aspirants is a right wing, Jesus-loves-us debauch of Homophobia, Intolerance and Militarism, a trifecta easily remembered by the acronym “HIM”.

Huckabee, in a tortured metaphor about answering phones “God is ringing,” exhorted his audience to answer the God-call by making sure only people with the right values are hired for jobs in Washington and by making sure those who “refuse to hear … God’s heart” are fired. No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.

Yes, that is illegal, which makes the suggestion all the more stunning from someone who expects to be taken seriously on America’s national political stage.

But such warped intolerance toward people who simply don’t subscribe to a deity, is considered a ticket to electoral success in some parts of the United States. Consider Zach Dasher’s view of nonbelievers – comments he rolled back on Monday after public pressure.

This Republican congressional candidate in Louisiana and nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, suggested on his faith-based podcast that atheism contributed to the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children and six adults in 2012.

Apparently, the premier driver was not the mental illness from which shooter Adam Lanza clearly suffered, nor was it that an unstable man was able legally to amass a stockpile of weapons, thanks to his mother supplying them.

According to Dasher, “the reason why (the Sandy Hook massacre) happened is that we have denied as a culture that man is made in God’s image.” He said the “atheist agenda” reinforces a message that says “you don’t matter … all you are is chemical, all you are is material.”

Had Dasher bothered to find out about atheism, humanism and the nonreligious, he would have come to understand just how precious this community views life.

Unlike Dasher, who believes there is another existence – a better one — outside the temporal, atheists, humanists and freethinkers believe they have one life and one chance to do something meaningful with it. With no supernatural arbiter to fall back on, nonbelievers know it is up to them and them alone to promote justice, compassion and a fair society.

The proof that secular people are good, care for others and build healthy societies is evidenced in cross-national studies. The research of Phil Zuckerman at Pitzer College, demonstrates that secular societies, such as Sweden and Denmark, among others, are more likely to enjoy broadly shared prosperity and a high level of societal health and happiness than traditionally religious ones, and certainly more so than the United States.

Gregory Paul has done a similar comparison, as well as one between states within the US, and found parallel results. Which way the causal arrow goes is an interesting question: does secularism foster healthy caring, or does religiosity die away in societies where people care for one another? Paul himself says, “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities.”

Whichever way the causal arrow goes, politicians like Huckabee and Dasher would do well to ponder (if indeed they know the meaning of the word) on Zuckerman’s summation: “(W)hen we consider the fundamental values and moral imperatives contained within the world’s great religions, such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one’s fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism — those traditionally religious values are most successfully established, institutionalized, and put into practice at the societal level in the most irreligious nations in the world today.”

With that reality, one has to wonder what politicians like Huckabee and Dasher really stand for?

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

57 comments on “Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem

  • If Huckabee is seriously running for President he will drop the “fire all infidels” message. That is part of the paradox of elections in the U.S. – candidates will say shrill and strident things in front of their followers, then fall back into tepid niceties when facing the mainstream press in a national campaign – even if their previous glossolalia was reported by the national press.

    I say, don’t let him get away with it. Don’t let him sweep this under the rug or qualify it. I would love to see him take that statement to the campaign trail. I would love to see atheists become a major campaign issue. It’s time.

    Huckabee and Dasher are not going to ponder anything. They obviously see that invoking “atheist” sends their minions into raptures (pun intended), without seeing that it pokes a larger tiger. All people like this want is power, so let’s give them the opposition that they conjure up for their followers.

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  • I disagree about Huckabee dropping the “fire all the infidels” speech. He will only do that if and when he gets the republican nomination. That’s the way it works in the US… you have to pretend to be a theistic, jingoist, science denying fanatic or you will never get the Republican nomination. The Republicans have the same issue that Democrats had back in the late 60’s and early 70’s: some of the most ideological people have a great deal of influence over primaries. Of course in the case of the democrats the “far left” people were mostly right on everything from gay marriage to abortion rights to a foreign policy based on cooperation rather than war mongering but they were still perceived by Americans at the time as far left. The far right in this case though are truly batshit crazy but you have to pretend you are batshit crazy as well if you want to win Republican primaries. Then you make like Mitt Romney and pretend you never said any of the things you are on video tape saying. The amazing thing to me is that when people like Romney and McCain before him essentially lie right on camera and in easily provable ways most of the media in the US just lets them get away with that: “well Romney says he never said it and the Democrats (and the actual fucking video tape!) say he did… guess history will have to decide who was right”

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  • One more point about Huckabee: there are several potential Republican candidates who don’t seriously even expect to win the nomination. They are people like Huckabee, Santorum, Palin if she runs. For those people running for president is literally a scam… Newt Gingrich is another example… they use running for president as a way to sell their books and subscriptions to their web sites and lots of other money making schemes that can slip beneath the radar of the campaign spending laws. When they inevitably drop out they are constrained on how they use the funds directly raised for campaigning but all the book sales and other things are pure profit.

    Which is why especially for people like this they won’t dial down the rhetoric. The crazier rhetoric gets more attention, more clicks, and more books and DVDs sold.

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  • Oh, I agree about the scam to run for Prez just to sell books. (BTW I’ve been trying to nail down which “Clinton-murdered-people-in-AR” tome that featured Ben “Darwinism Can’t Explain” Stein in the introduction since he tried to downplay his appearance in Expelled in order to speak at a graduation commencement.) Moreover, I think that the people who buy the books do not read them. Perhaps they actually view the DVDs. Our nation can be a weird place.

    But do you really think that Huckabee would get up on a stage and debate other GOPers and make that same challenge? I am betting, no. In fact, I’ll bet that he denies that he ever said it, as you point out with McCain and Romney.

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  • 6
    Barry.M says:

    “No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.”

    American politics can be truly terrifying. I’m not sure which is worse; the fact that Huckabee is saying these ridiculous things or the fact that people actually want to hear them!

    I wonder if he would stop at simply firing the non-believers? Perhaps with a little encouragement he could be persuaded to start crucifying them and maybe even create a nice Christian State in Washington. From there, Christian State could spread across the country, wiping out civilization along the way and executing all those who refuse to join their crazy cult.

    Presumably, the only way to stop the spread of such religious fanaticism would be to shower them in bombs. As we have all learned, a strong military response is virtually guaranteed to change the minds of such fundamentalists.

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  • 7
    Katy Cordeth says:

    [Gregory] Paul himself says, “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities.”

    I sincerely hope this information finds its way to a Christian think tank or anti-Obamacare group. Opposition to universal health care up until now has been about the noble goal of preventing a second Shoah, this time on the American people—because trying to ensure everyone has access to medical treatment is the same as sending them to gas chambers, natch. Far more sinisterly, universal health seems to be one of the horsemen whose arrival will signal the end of religiosity in America. In that case, Obama isn’t just Hitler; he really is the Antichrist .

    Even if the populace is healthy as a porcupine, economic security is not a given. It is therefore the duty of every right-thinking, Duck Dynasty-watching, Baconnaise-spreading, freedom-loving American to ensure that the massive discrepancy between his paycheck and the CEO of the company he works for is as chasmic as possible. The One Percent are not avaricious monsters; they have undertaken a thankless task on our behalf. If you think unimaginable wealth makes up for hurt feelings, think again. The multinationals which pay a trillionth of the taxes they should are not destroying the economy for nothing. The hedge-fund crooks, masters of war, asset strippers and insider traders are soldiers for Christ. Their selfless thievery is all done to ensure the greatest country in the world remains a Christian country.

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  • I think Romney was sunk by that 48% comment he made to the $50,000-a-plate supporters in that video filmed by a waiter. It really put him on the defensive, and put wind into Obama’s sails. I read somewhere Romney is still today trying to explain just what he meant or didn’t mean or whose fault it is.

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  • Atheist aren’t the problem, ignorance is. And ignorance is everything the Selfish Party (those calling themselves Republicans) celebrates, especially if it comes with the ignorance of their constituents so they can get away with anything.

    These are little more than props. Huckabee won’t get the nomination, this isn’t even the first time he’s run. As mentioned earlier, this is about exposure. This is about continuing to make a name for yourself and milking it for everything it’s worth regardless of how worthless that name is.

    What disturbs me are the people that come out to celebrate the ignorance and hold it up as truth. Those that follow blindly and so long as the words follow their ideals they simply go along, even if the actions are exactly opposite of said ideals.

    Ignorance is the enemy and atheism is just one of several scapegoats it chooses to use to perpetuate itself.

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  • “No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.”

    While this is shocking and backward etc. I for one would secretly love to see that happen. the lawsuits would be a red letter day for popcorn manufacturers.

    we know how in america lawyers run pretty much everything and those in power are self-serving, greedy cowards so the witch-hunt this would set off, and the backlash that comes from counter-claims will have every US official trying to prove they are the real deal by referring to all the biblical passages they’ve spouted and counter-claimants pointing out the biblical self-contradictions.

    who’d have thought in the 21st century we could see a day where a grown up human asks another grown up human to prove they believe in a made up superhero in a court of law?

    of course such a thing would be terrible

    but it’d be awesome too

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  • I’m grateful that I live in the UK.

    Queen Elizabeth the first said: “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.”. That was apropos of the Catholic v Protestant conflict.

    It’s a shame really, that after such a good start in America things should have come to this pathetic pass.

    Something really needs to be done about this nonsense! The first thing might be for individuals like Huckabee to grow up. Another, that the tax laws be changed to avoid these greedy bastards coining it on the backs of vulnerable credulous voters.

    Fat chance!

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  • I agree. I work for the government in the U.S., and my workplace has made it safe to be “out.” We have panel discussions made up of employees of different religions plus atheists/agnostics/freethinkers. While it would be a painful process, Huckabee descending upon this civilized atmosphere with his bombast would make him and his ilk look like fools. No lawsuit would be required in my case, because my employer would simply tell him, “We do not discriminate.” I’m not sure what would happen in other cases, but perhaps we should have it all out, as this nation has not gone through the religious wars that the UK has, and while unpleasant would not compare at all in brutality.

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  • 14
    JeffVader67 says:

    My experience of the USA is that the majority of US Christians are Spanish speaking Roman Catholics who are unlikely to vote Republican. Surely the more the republicans associate themselves with this sort of rhetoric the more they alienate themselves for the US voting public. The Democrats must love this.

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  • 15
    Katy Cordeth says:

    I’m not sure what would happen in other cases, but perhaps we should have it all out, as this nation has not gone through the religious wars that the UK has, and while unpleasant would not compare at all in brutality.

    The U.S. can hold its own in terms of historical unpleasantness and brutality. Particularly when we consider its relative youth.

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  • 16
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Stafford Gordon: It’s a shame really, that after such a good start in America things should have come to this pathetic pass.

    What good start? I hope you are not buying into the myth that the Puritans left England to escape religious persecution. They traveled to the New World because their birthplace was not intolerant enough. The Boston martyrs might take issue with the idea that America had a good start, and I won’t even mention the race of people who were already living there when those zealots descended on this land and decided to make it their own.

    Huckabee, Palin, Bachman and the like are simply remaining true to the real origins of what we now know as the United States. When Ann Coulter tweeters a picture of herself holding up a sign proclaiming ‘I want my country back,’ parodying Michelle Obama’s similar one demanding the return of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, it’s worth considering that the America Coulter wants returned isn’t the one the Founding Fathers envisaged. It’s unlikely that editions of Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man or Common Sense grace the library of the average Tea Partier, sharing shelf space with screeds by Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

    Yes, many of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence owned slaves, but aside from that, these guys were the sort of pussy liberals modern conservative Republicans despise. They were tolerant, inclusive, peace-loving even. The Constitution can be a thorn in the side of the American far right, mainly because of the stuff about separation of church and state. If any document deserves a Plain English Campaign award, this one does. Unlike the Bible, which is open to exegesis—Does “Judge not lest ye be judged,” mean Christians must never be judgmental? Surely Jesus can’t have meant what he said about rich people being denied entry to Heaven; perhaps the eye of a needle to which he refers is some servants’ entry into a biblical citadel that didn’t actually exist but let’s not go into that and the super-wealthy are more welcome than most into God’s party pad—the Constitution is written in clear, unequivocal language which doesn’t leave room for fudging. For all the importance the American moral majority purports to place on the Decalogue, the commandment having to do with not worshiping graven images gets almost as little shrift as the one that goes:

    “Thou shalt not kill anybody. Thanks. Eyes are fine and if someone is playing Three Stooges around you and puts out one of yours, you get to do the same to him; but you don’t get to interpret this as Me giving My celestial approval for murder. I get to kill people, by dropping earthquakes on them and giving them AIDS if they choose to be gay, but you don’t. Hope I’ve made Myself clear about this and haven’t left any wiggle room.”

    That one.

    That the graven images commandment is ignored by American Christians is evident in the reverential attitude they display toward, firstly, the U.S. flag. This image is sacrosanct to the Christian right for some reason, and I have to say I’ve never got it. If a chap in one of those unpleasant sandy countries takes against your nation for some petty reason—killing his entire family in a drone strike or something equally trivial—and purchases and subsequently immolates your country’s flag in protest, that’s his flag he’s destroying; it’s not yours, just because you know the pattern. The only reason for you to be irked, my Christian chum, is if you are somehow worshipful of Betsy Ross’ design, and that’s a no-no in your man’s big bumper book of rules.

    And secondly, the U.S. Constitution. If we’re talking about breaking commandments, the one having to do with not worshiping any deities other than Killy McGee might be more apposite here. The point is many on the right see this document as inviolable. For all that they’d like to rewrite it to reflect their worldview, the parchment is a thing to be venerated. Even atheist intellectuals on the right such as Sam Harris display a weird reverence for this relic; gun nuts are deaf to arguments insisting handheld thermonuclear ground-to-mammal devices (smaller versions available with a blue or pink finish for that preteen patriot in your ‘nuclear’ family) are probably not what the Founding Fathers had in mind at a time when the musket represented the zenith of the gunsmith’s craft, and all the radioactivity would ruin the flavor of the deer meat anyway—The NRA is lying when it tells you uranium gives the flesh a zing similar to that achieved by marinating with extra-spicy piri piri sauce.

    The Constitution has been apotheosized in this way because once the notion that the Bible is the word of God is decanted into someone’s head, particularly a young someone, this can become a sort of template for the way they see other authoritative documents from long ago, written as in this instance by imperious white-haired men in stiff shirts. Chesterton was correct in his assertion that when people stop believing in God they don’t then believe in nothing, they believe in anything; but only if they believed in God in the first place. When Barack Obama is perceived to be contravening the precepts of the Constitution, in the minds of those raised to think this way his actions are tantamount to blasphemy. This isn’t only true for those who stubbornly insist on believing in a god. As with the example of Elmer Fu…sorry, Sam Harris, secular Americans can display an idolatry toward the document disproportionate to its real merit. I wonder how many members of this and other atheist sites sneer at their Christian countrymen for the way they genuflect to an imaginary omnipotent being when they would happily prostrate themselves on the altar of the Constitution.

    Those intent on achieving, in the words of this website, “nothing less than changing America’s future,” need to get rid of all security blankets, even helpful ones. Or at the very least they should acknowledge that the Constitution is a security blanket and their goals will probably never be realized while, and forgive my hideously mixed metaphor, sacred cows like this one remain sacred. At present the atheist movement in the U.S. seems to be about little sisyphean victories in which by citing a line from the Constitution, some well-meaning atheist lady funded by an equally well-meaning secular pressure group prevents prayers being said at the commencement of proceedings by some local government body who were probably well-meaning themselves and didn’t even realize they were doing any wrong.

    This isn’t how you alter an entire nation’s destiny; not by behaving like wasps flitting annoyingly around a church picnic.

    As long as the Constitution is as set in stone—with the odd chip here and there—to secularists as it is to religionists, this tug of war will never be won.

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  • 17
    JeffVader67 says:

    Anyone on this board who thinks that atheists cant be as intolerant as religious fundamentalists has clearly never encountered the British extreme left. Try defending Israel ( A scientific powerhouse ) with some screeching venom spitting lunatic from Unite against Freedom ( sorry fascism ) or the socialist workers party. I have tried and you would think that I had murdered their mothers. Every extreme left winger I have ever had the mis-pleasure to meet has been an out and out atheist, yet strangely subservient to the religion of piece. Atheist intolerance exists in the form of the extreme left. I hate extremists whether religious or otherwise.

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  • JeffVader67 Oct 8, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Anyone on this board who thinks that atheists cant be as intolerant as religious fundamentalists has clearly never encountered the British extreme left. Try defending Israel

    Do I detect psychological projection here?

    Try defending Zionist terrorism, land theft, and the murder of Palestinian civilians with high-tec weapons, while ignoring UN resolutions? –

    Defending the indefensible does incite criticism from people who have actually studied the history! –
    The Irgunist terrorists went on to be Israel’s political leaders!

    Two of the operations for which the Irgun is best known are the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre, carried out together with Lehi on 9 April 1948.

    The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts.[3][4] In particular the Irgun was branded a terrorist organisation by Britain,[5] the 1946 Zionist Congress[6] and the Jewish Agency.[7] The Irgun believed that any means necessary to establish the Jewish State of Israel, including terrorism, was justifiable.[8]

    The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel’s right-wing Herut (or “Freedom”) party, which led to today’s Likud party.[9] Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.

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  • a lot of words just to get to the point that you’ve found a group to hate

    personally I think the word “intolerant” is the problem. I don’t care if someone chooses not to tolerate the beliefs or actions of another, I care more about how they express their intolerance.

    I was very sad to learn that a group of extreme left wingers used some harsh words towards you, and of course it’s your family my heart goes out to who have to come to terms with what’s happened to you the hands of such extremists and try somehow to rebuild their lives. I know it can be difficult to be the one who has to identify the remains of someone who’s experienced a strident disagreement but what’s important is you’ve managed to raise awareness among those of us who had no idea that some people can be a bit insulting with the use of language.

    stay strong

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  • Certainly I have encountered atheist Savonarolas and philistines, though not many, at least here (the USA). I would say that the push to yoke “intelligent design” to science curricula in the United States galvanized me, whereas my subsequent education in public service helped me to take a stand more rationally and to listen without bias (as much as possible). I do try to make rationality and reason the supreme method every day, and to withhold any reaction or judgment. Any librarian’s job is to listen for understanding, first, and so is the atheist’s job, in my opinion.

    On the subject of Israel, while I have been a Palestinian supporter, some irrational claims and behavior on the part of the left have left a sour taste in my mouth. Calls for the death of Israel are unacceptable to me; the killing of civilians is unacceptable to me. I don’t pretend to know what to do about the situation. Israel at least pretends to be a secular state; some on the left romanticize Islam. When online discussions become trollfests and shouting matches, it is best to withdraw, as it often becomes about personal egos more than anything else.

    Once I went to one of my online forums and said to my left-leaning friends, “I have to get this out, okay?” and then I ranted about my frustrations with the shallow members on the left, their anti-GMO and anti-vaccine stances, their “organic food means I don’t have to wash it!”, breast-milk-cures-cancer, I-know-evolution-is-true-but-I-confuse-it-with-the-Great-Chain-of-Being, women-are-always-right-and-never-backstab-each-other, Dr. Oz/Deepak Chopra “science” hogwash. I got a huge amount of support in response, not the finger-shaking that I feared! So, I shall not shake a finger at you, Jeff. I understand, and I think people are actually less polarized in general than the media makes it appear.

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  • I’m going slightly off thread mods, but I want to ask Alan a question please.

    Alan, was the Deir Yassin massacre the one that engendered an open letter to President Eisenhower from twenty seven prominent Jews in America, including Gertrude Stein and Albert Einstein, saying that the massacre was no different from the kind of atrocities the Nazis had carried out in Germany just a few short years before?

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  • Stafford Gordon Oct 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Alan, was the Deir Yassin massacre the one that engendered an open letter to President Eisenhower from twenty seven prominent Jews in America, including Gertrude Stein and Albert Einstein, saying that the massacre was no different from the kind of atrocities the Nazis had carried out in Germany just a few short years before?

    I haven’t looked up all the details, but Irgun and Lehi militia terrorist activities were being condemned by the Jewish Council and some other other Jewish organisations.

    The point my earlier comment made, was that regardless of what other Jewish organisations said, the terrorist leaders went on to be government leaders in Israel, setting the divisive repressive agendas which have caused so much on-going conflict.

    Israel’s sixth prime minister, Menachem Begin, was Irgun leader at the time of the attack, though not present.

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  • Is the anti science thing still going on on the left? I remember it in the seventies; I’m still of the left, but the very thought of where I was then politically now embarrasses me.

    I’ve come quite a long away; both of our twin daughters read Life Sciences, and one is now a Biophysics research assistant at Oxford university in England.

    This forum has been a great help to me.

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  • Oh, yes, it’s still going on! Even among the leftist nonreligious (atheists who do not call themselves atheists) there are beliefs in astrology, “coincidences,” and passing around of urban legends.

    Two weeks ago I coordinated a volunteer recognition for my library that featured a local artist. She mentioned, in her talk to a largely older, female audience, reading Deepak Chopra. Sigh

    Years ago, I worked for a museum and coordinated similar events for the docents (museum guides who have a comprehensive knowledge of an encyclopedic collection). One speaker at such an event asserted that placing new morning dew on one’s face eradicated wrinkles. These mostly older, upper class women subscribed to astrology, homeopathy, acupuncture, numerology, Reiki, feng shui, and what-have-you.

    Regarding the women-are-all-sisters-even-when-they’re-dissing-you phenomenon: the backstabbing, exacting, criticizing, and almost intolerable control freak with whom I worked at that museum thought she knew everything, even about the science of evolution, and would pontificate on it while I smiled and rolled my eyes. She believed in God, and mistakenly thought that evolution has a “direction.” I learned not to contradict her because she would gladly pounce on anything in an attempt to get my supervisor, who was scared of her, to fire me. This from someone who was very progressive politically. Throw “sisterhood” to the dogs; I’ll none of it.

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  • It’s interesting how Huckabee has always tried to pass himself off as a moderate, modest conservative type, suitable for all Americans during election season. Now that his Santorumesque rhetoric has been uncovered, I think anyone who has respect for the US Constitution, whether religious or not, need think very carefully about casting votes his way or accepting blindly his candidate recommendations.

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  • We can only hope that this latest rant will disabuse anyone of the notion that somehow Huckabee is moderate at any level. Unfortunately, in the radical bowels of the GOP, they are cheering his clearly unconstitutional perspectives. On the other hand, it seems clear that such a perspective will never play to a majority required to be elected to national office, so Huckabee will continue to just be a marginalized blowhard.

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  • 28
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Huckabee, Santorum and their ilk are dangerous because even though they haven’t a hope in Hades of securing the party ticket, their presence makes the other aspirants look sane by comparison. The result is that you can have two prospective leaders of the free world in the 21st century neither of whom believes in evolution, the only difference being candidate A is vocal in his science denial whereas candidate B, although he has made his views known in order to court the creationist vote and does actually believe what he says, doesn’t go on about it and if asked will insist his beliefs are a private matter.

    If candidate A hadn’t thrown his tinfoil hat into the ring in the first place, candidate B wouldn’t look nearly as dignified as he now does; his ignorance would be seen for what it is. It’s like taking an unattractive friend with you when going out on the pull: stand next to him/her and your own attractiveness is given a boost. Stick George W. Bush in a television studio with Sarah Palin and record their conversation and after a while, W will begin to look like Stephen Fry.

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  • 29
    John Fentress says:

    Having lived for a number of years both in England and Canada I have found returning to the narrow religiosity of main stream America both disillusioning and frightening. When ignorant politicians attack those with other beliefs or no beliefs in supernatural non-beings it says something more than spooky – and it goes against the very fabric of our constitution. Either these people do not read or understand this founding document in which tolerance for religions and non religion is spelled out unambiguously. Also if one takes a look at the correspondence between our nation’s founders it could not be more clear than that they sought to insure that this country would never fall into religious shackles – and here we are today. Almost makes one think about moving to one of those more civilized countries again. Sad.

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  • When our overly religious society comes to an end because of the current holy war between cristians and muslams it will be a great opportunity for us surviving anarchist/atheists to get back to the way we were before agriculture and religion and start afresh. We just need to stay out of the way while they self destruct so i thinks its a good idea that atheists stay out of government so that they are not targeted as god fearing fools like the rest of them.

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  • Seems they go with the poetical interpretation route with this verse.

    Matthew 19:24 KJV
    And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

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  • Shit like this for me supports the notion that all the flag pins and photo ops really mean dick shit because clearly our elected officers don’t have a basic grasp of our constitution.

    Article 6:
    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States

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  • While I do agree nothing should be above Criticism, hell there’s even times I think to myself “You Know, Socialism isn’t such a bad idea if it’s implemented well”.

    I do think the U.S. Constitution and it’s Amendments is still a pretty good starting point, and while some do venerate this document, I wouldn’t compare it to something like the Bible, which even if it was the only religious tome ever discovered still has a hard time holding a candle to the constitution.

    Without being a total history skeptic, we can safely assert that we can trace the origin and age of our constitution. We know which figures were responsible for creating it, we know they directly wrote it. It’s not translated from another language, it allows for Amendments to adapt with time, and the repeal of those Amendments if the populace so sees fit.
    As a secular document it’s really not bad, it’s a little old, but for something thrown together by a bunch of Deists, it’s not bad.

    The Bible, specifically the New Testament on the Other Hand.
    was transcribed based on an oral tradition nearly 60 years after events had supposedly occurred, was translated by 3 other people that never knew Jesus (if there was one) reading the letters of Paul (who also never met Jesus). Had Chapters removed, has been translated multiple times from multiple different ancient languages, then spawned countless other varying translations. Many of the things it teaches do not comport with logic, the story of it’s protagonist, follows closely with the story of earlier protagonist in stories like the Iliad and the Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s key protagonist only appears in one extra-biblical account and the writing of Josephus are often considered highly suspect for later forgery.

    Again it’s not a perfect document, but it’s not a bad start.

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  • This attitude isn’t uncommon among some self proclaimed liberals, they claim to embrace science and love science, but in everyday life you learn really they just like to read stores about the kind of Pons Fleischman “Flubbed Breakthroughs” that Blogs are so intent on publishing, and often times the link to the source story on something like SA or PLOS will even says the jury’s still out and we’re far from 5-sigma verification.

    I was just explaining this the other day to a co-worker talking about the discovery of the “God Particle”

    I explained the “higgs”, is actually still very theoretical, and the reason the LHC has 2 different experiments developed by different teams, is the heart of the scientific method, if one team comes to the same data and results as the other team, they just proved that a natural phenomena is true no matter which angle it’s approached from, and even then they score their discovery with a margin of error. meanwhile the media has already declared that we “Discovered” the Higgs over 2 years ago, meanwhile CERN is just chugging away going over data just looking for that 5-sigma and may be at it for years, and even when they get there (if they do) may not have an immediate practical application for the finding.

    I have to admit it, when someone takes on the charges of objectively caring if the things they believe are true, and starts to educate themselves with the tools of logic and reason, and adopts the skeptics mindset, it becomes a bit daunting and you really do genuinely have to care about the truth and wanting to base your life as firmly in reality as is possible.

    it’s not really an easy sell to people that don’t have that drive.
    One of the first things you learn when you start to sharpen these tools, is that the easiest person to fool is you.

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
    -Richard Feynman

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  • Matt Oct 9, 2014 at 3:03 am

    I was just explaining this the other day to a co-worker talking about the discovery of the “God Particle”

    I explained the “higgs”, is actually still very theoretical, and the reason the LHC has 2 different experiments developed by different teams, is the heart of the scientific method,

    The misuse of the term “God particle” by theists is a classic illustration of their reading a title of a book or article, and using “faith” to make up the rest of the content!

    Lederman actually wanted to name the particle that “goddamn particle” but his editor wouldn’t let him.

    The term was originated by the former director of Fermilab and Nobel laureate Leon Lederman in his book The God(damn) Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?.

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  • Wishful thinking.. but wouldn’t it be nice if they did get round to knocking each other off?
    But I wouldn’t want to do without some sort of agriculture though.. I have nothing against crop growing, but c no need for farming animals, being a vegetarian myself..

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  • 41
    Bob Springsteen says:

    No Republican is as dangerous as the present leader of the West who has deluded himself into believing that every Muslim on the planet is a perfect gentleman, and seems intent on allowing his Islamic mates in Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Thanks to Obama we could all be meeting our maker sooner rather than later.

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  • 42
    JeffVader67 says:

    If you want to discuss the Israel Palestine situation then can I suggest you start a new thread. My simple point was that the religious don’t have a monopoly on bigotry and intolerance.

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  • I’m beginning to understand the strength and bravado that needs to accompany a trek in being openly Humanist-Secular. I deliberately put humanism first. Thanks.
    I do not understand how anyone can understand the human condition, yet still believe in god(s). I think humanism and atheism go hand in hand.

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  • It might be helpful to pause here in order to consider the system of the American election for president and the composition of the American electorate. The broad middle-moderate voting bloc elects the president from either the Republican or the Democratic party. The national majority, tallied from the state-by-state electoral votes, rejects candidates who hold positions too far left or right on the spectrum. Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964; and Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern and, I dare say, Barack Obama defeated George Romney consistent with the same electorate composition.

    Most voters understandably will vote their pocketbooks. They favor candidates they believe can best grow the economy, create jobs, maintain crucial public services and entitlements, and deal with threats from abroad. Yes, there are constituencies who will vote for candidates who promise to promote Christianity, outlaw abortion, ban gay marriage..and fire atheists from government jobs (clearly illegal, unconstitutional and impossible.) Broadly these constituencies belong to the religious and ideological right and may be branded “social conservatives.” Although the right or far right bloc comprises tens of millions of votes it is still in the minority when the electoral votes are counted.

    Social conservatives still seem as robust as ever but we might be encouraged by some progressive trends eroding their numbers. Whereas a majority of Americans polled, opposed gay marriage a decade ago, a majority now support it; 20 years ago a majority of Americans believed strongly in the evil of abortion while today most Americans regard abortion as a private matter between a woman and her physician. (We are justifiably dismayed by the religious right still barring effective access in many regions of the country.)

    Because the Republican party platform has relied so heavily on social, personal or family “values,” the sanctity of life, marriage, and prayer in public schools, it has lost more and more traction with young voters,
    women, especially younger single women, Hispanics, blacks and Asians. and even white college-educated suburban voters. Thinking people, even those inclined to support fiscal conservatism, feel ambivalent about embracing a worldview which seems outdated, puritanical, prudish, repressive and authoritarian. Upcoming generations are fleeing in droves to a much more inclusive view of society, human rights and liberties. Republican must learn that destiny is demographic and they must come over to the progressive side on social issues (And key political issues like healthcare and immigration) it they expect to survive in the long run.

    Trends can always change and even reverse, but for the foreseeable future, Huckabee and his allies who believe the Confederacy shall rise again are gradually committing political suicide in the national arena.

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  • I agree with this. In fact I think the OP is badly titled. Instead of saying “Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem” it should say “Atheists Aren’t the Problem, the Intolerance of Some Purporting to be Christians Is the Problem. Tolerance is a Christian teaching, so clearly it’s not being followed by Mr Huckabee.

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  • 49
    JackLewis2011 says:

    “most of the media in the US just lets them get away with that”
    It’s not really amazing when you look at the ownership of most of the media.

    On top of that the point is to remember that the GOP is now basically a satire of a political party who’s only real aim is to make a more and more right wing democratic party look progressive through comparison (the only way it can be viewed as such).

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  • 50
    JackLewis2011 says:

    The people who profess these things don’t actually believe them. The used car salesman doesn’t actually believe his cars are the best either.

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  • 52
    SQuiller says:

    What the US needs is less authoritarianism, both left and right. I would urge people not to fall into the trap of thinking that this kind of authoritarian politics is a primarily right wing problem. Left wing cultural marxist types are every bit as intolerant, dictatorial and ‘religious’ in their approach. It’s often said that extremists have influence in the Republican party in ways that lefty extremists don’t, but I would question that.

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  • 53
    SQuiller says:

    The problem is in the way that th e debate around Israel is framed. It is an article of faith that Israel is the cause of turmoil in the region when in reality Israel is a small nation trying to survive in a sea of religiously inspired hatred and violence. Hamas are motivated more by Islamist sentiment than Palestinian rights. Islam ism is the problem, not Israel, yet the Western liberals hols Israel to an impossible standard that they would never dream of holding any other nation in the Middle East to. The fact that this obvious bias is so heatedly and harshly defended is just the cherry on the top.

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  • ” such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one’s fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism”
    These are fundamental human values incorporated in secular democracies often in spite of resistance from religion. Religious people love to refer to these values to cover the brutal reality of the history and practice of their own belief systems.

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  • bocaj Oct 22, 2014 at 5:36 am

    These are fundamental human values incorporated in secular democracies often in spite of resistance from religion. Religious people love to refer to these values to cover the brutal reality of the history and practice of their own belief systems.

    Indeed! The religious right does all it can to oppose the state community providing such help and services to citizens as a right, so it can sanctimoniously sell scraps of them to the desperate unfortunate, – as “feel-good charity”, along with an obligatory evangelical package as a condition of supply!

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  • Yeah well most politicians are cynical opportunists – just like the TV evangelists who make fortunes out of mostly poor and ignorant audiences. Just seems to me that the right wing in the USA is infested with faith heads.
    Keeping religion out of schools would solve this issue – but of course that is wishful thinking……

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  • Do you know why the respooblikans love weirdos like Sarah Palin, and Mike Hucksterbee, and Newt Gingrich, and all of the other mouthbreathing freaks? It’s because once those dribblers drop out of the race, the spoobs can then trot out the “real” (i.e. saleable) candidate. Romney was palatable because he was the non-newt, not because he was a decent candidate–“Way-yall at leas’ he ain’t no freak lahk that Michelle Bachmann!”

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