Opponents are Reacting to the ‘Atheist Lobby’

Oct 14, 2014

Photo credit @MichaelRuyle, via the Friendly Atheist

By Dave Niose

Two occurrences last week demonstrate how the growing secular demographic is influencing policy discussion in the United States. Religious conservative backlash is on display in both instances, and can be understood as a reaction to the increased visibility and activism of the secular movement.

In Illinois we see an anti-choice group placing a billboard warning voters that Senator Dick Durbin received an “A Rating from the Atheist Lobby.” The billboard, dark and foreboding, depicts Durbin as a shadowy figure and states that he “worked with atheists and the IRS against religious freedom.”

It’s difficult to envision a similar campaign that so openly disparages a legitimate minority group. Imagine a similar sign warning voters that Durbin received an A Rating from the Jewish Lobby or the Mormon Lobby, for example. There would be outrage, and those placing the ad would be questioned and criticized for their presumptively negative depiction of the group. The outdated assumption in the ad is that Illini voters are so hateful toward atheists that Durbin will lose support just by being associated with nonbelievers. That might have worked in the McCarthy era, but not today.

Indeed, the very fact that there is an “Atheist Lobby” demonstrates the remarkable advancement of the secular demographic in the last decade. The “A Rating” to which the billboard refers comes from the Secular Coalition for America, a coalition of over a dozen atheist and humanist groups from around the country that have joined forces to urge legislators to protect church-state separation and the rights of nonbelievers. A generation ago such a lobby would have been unthinkable, but today it’s a sign of this rising demographic.


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16 comments on “Opponents are Reacting to the ‘Atheist Lobby’

  • @OP- link – Justice Antonin Scalia, who told a crowd at Colorado Christian University that nonbelievers are just plain wrong when they expect equality from their government: “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”

    Ah! A faith-head preaching to sheeples, that they deserve privilege over and above the law!

    It’s not just “the secularists,” however, who expect government neutrality on religious matters, a fact that even Scalia concedes as he acknowledges that governing law today requires that “the state must be neutral.” But he then quickly dismisses that current legal standard as badly misguided.

    Brain addled “faith-thinkers” have always egotistically considered themselves superior and expected “superior” respect for their views – in a posture of false “humility”!

    “That’s just a lie,” he said.

    . . . . . . and faith-thinkers, with faith blinkers, can interpret any text to say what they want to believe!

    As it was put on “Animal Farm”, all are equal, but with a bit of “interpretation”, some are more equal than others!!! – at least if judges like this are left in charge of the law!
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  • 2
    Katy Cordeth says:

    “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”

    I thought these people were always saying atheism is a religion. Can’t have it both ways, guys. If atheism is as you insist itself a religion then it should be accorded the same privileges all the others enjoy.
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  • “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”

    This is terrifying coming from a Supreme Court Judge. A Judge should not publicly comment on any position, and should confine their legal judgements to the words written in the laws that come before their bench. Anything more is politics. Judges must be A-Political.

    America is teetering on the brink of becoming a fundamentalist religious theocracy like Iran.
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  • The major fault-lines in the body politic of the USA seem to have their epicentres around just a few vital principles, amongst them…

    The granting to corporations, in some circumstances, of the legal status of a person.

    The nature of party campaign funding and the policies heavily biased towards the agendas of the wealthy and powerful (hence the ‘circuses’, without the ‘bread’, of American election rallying).

    The chain of patronage which links corporate interests with political parties and authorises politicians to appoint Supreme Court Justices.

    A web of receipt.

    I keep hearing that Scalia is “a smart guy” yet this seems neither self-evident nor beyond reasonable doubt, from his judicial decisions and occasional ex-cathedra pronouncements.

    Set against the backdrop of a congress full of the cerebrally challenged he might seem a dangerous intellectual but from here in the UK he sounds rather dim, superstitious (he believes in demons) and more politician than judge.

    We are told ‘he acknowledges that governing law today requires that “the state must be neutral.” But he then quickly dismisses that current legal standard as badly misguided. “That’s just a lie”. This is incoherent; the Law is a lie?

    As I understand it ‘That’s just the Constitution’ which he is sworn to implement and uphold but not to modify.

    In its judgement of Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme Court quotes from Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which states ‘that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty,’

    Scalia should be told of the pistol in the desk drawer in the library, whilst we discreetly withdraw.
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  • David.
    America is teetering on the brink of becoming a fundamentalist religious theocracy like Iran.

    I totally agree. Parallels can be drawn. It’s just a short step before we have people voting to curtail their own rights in the same way the female population of Iran has done. I see a very similar mindset at work.
    When I hear arguments suggesting that women are not ‘built’ to participate in various activities ( say as members of the clergy for example) I usually counter by saying that the proposal sounds very middle-eastern. Any suggestion of that nature is an anathema to the western proposer.
    It’s funny how the rules seem to change when the topic is religion. The judge would have thought he was within his rights, I’d imagine.
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  • I agree with your sentiment, but things suggest to me that exactly the opposite is happening. I think religious conservatives are behaving this way because they’re losing the “culture war” in America and they know it and they’re scared. Everything that the post said about the ascendency of secularism is absolutely true.
    Look at a survey about the frequency with which most christians in America actually attend church. A very small percentage attend church on a regular basis. Most christians in America are only nominally so, they’re not as committed as conventional wisdom would have us believe.
    I think your points are accurate, but I think you needn’t be so worried about the emergence of a theocracy.
    When Goliath is made of straw, he can be defeated with a few well placed matches.
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  • Geoff 21 Oct 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I keep hearing that Scalia is “a smart guy” yet this seems neither self-evident nor beyond reasonable doubt, from his judicial decisions and occasional ex-cathedra pronouncements.

    We need to remember that when fundamentalists use the term “smart”, it refers to someone who agrees with their views. It has nothing to do with intelligence!
    Likewise their use of the term “logic”, means coming to conclusions which they like! – Nothing to do with evidenced reasoning!

    Set against the backdrop of a congress full of the cerebrally challenged he might seem a dangerous intellectual but from here in the UK he sounds rather dim, superstitious (he believes in demons) and more politician than judge.

    It probably results from the cerebrally challenged, confusing confidence with capability! (Dunning-Kruger leadership – he looks like he confidently knows what he is doing when viewed through sheeple eyes).
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  • 10
    Light Wave says:

    An anti choice group….what what…is there such an insane concept……thats just as mental as the crack suicide squad in monty pythons life of brian…..
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  • Geoff 21 Oct 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I keep hearing that Scalia is “a smart guy” yet this seems neither self-evident nor beyond reasonable doubt, from his judicial decisions and occasional ex-cathedra pronouncements.

    When I hear faith-thinkers (even atheist faith-thinkers), exercising their perceptions of “smart guys” I am reminded of this one @3 onwards, in this earlier discussion!
    http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/articles/642270-noaa-study-suggests-aerosols-might-be-inhibiting-global-warming
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  • -meh, I wouldn’t even have known what the billboard was trying to say if I hadn’t read this. Is he a rating of some sort? Is he going to tell us about a rating from the atheist lobby? -no clue-
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  • @OP – Senator Dick Durbin received an “A Rating from the Atheist Lobby.” The billboard, dark and foreboding, depicts Durbin as a shadowy figure and states that he “worked with atheists and the IRS against religious freedom.”

    We have all encountered “religious free-dumb” at times!
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  • I submit that the only society in which religious freedom can truly exist is a secular one.

    Of course, if the religious groups fight among themselves, as history tells us they are wont to do, there is little that can be done about it, although others will as usual have to clear up the mess and pay for the damage.

    I challenge anyone to name an act of repression of or discrimination against religion by a non believer of any stripe.

    Just leave them alone, and they’ll do the dirty deeds to one another themselves.

    These accusations come from people who just cannot tolerate seeing others thinking for themselves.
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  • Robert Oct 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I agree with your sentiment, but things suggest to me that exactly the opposite is happening. I think religious conservatives are behaving this way because they’re losing the “culture war” in America and they know it and they’re scared. Everything that the post said about the ascendency of secularism is absolutely true.

    If they encountered the levels of secularism indicated in some parts of Europe, they would be in blind panic!

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/24/religion-respecting-the-minority

    In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion.

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