Atheism and politics 5

We are partly in agreement and partly in disagreement with leftist atheists. Obviously we share their atheism. Equally obviously we do not share their political opinions. “American Atheists” seemed to us to have a leftist bent (as Richard Dawkins certainly has), but we may be wrong. (Visit their website and see what you think.) In any case, we like their  activism against religion.

This article comes from USA Today, by Cathy Lynn Grossman.

Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheists want your attention. They’re unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions.

The billboard ads do not seem to be carrying a political message.

Today’s press conference revealed signs that call God “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior (his image is shown as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is “simply reasonable.”

The Gods depicted in the bible are sadistic. The “Old Testament” tyrant punishes five generations of descendants of anyone who offends him. The vague “Father” of the “New Testament” has his “Son” condemn countless millions to burn forever in hellfire on sheer whim.

And why should people need a “savior” of any stripe?

Presumably, Catholics such as Vice President Biden and Romney’s running mate choice Paul Ryan, are covered in this hit on Christians such as Obama, a mainline Protestant.

Obama “a mainline Protestant”? You reckon, Ms Grossman? Why is he so partial to Islam then?

But evidently the American Atheists don’t consider Mormons to be Christians, since they prepared a separate billboard attack on their faith. …

What can it matter whether they are Christians or not? They are as irrational in their belief as any self-styled Christians are. Are there better and worse systems of irrationality?

But GOP delegates won’t see the attack on their faith on their way to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Tampa. Spokeswoman Teresa MacBain says no one in Tampa would rent them billboard space. So watch for both texts in Charlotte, N.C., where the Democrats will gather in September.

American Atheists is the group that created and produced the Reason Rally in March on the National Mall – an event president David Silverman billed as a fun gathering starring raging atheists such as Richard Dawkins. …

So atheists who do not believe the unbelievable “rage” about it?  Whereas believers sweetly keep their farfetched opinions to themselves?

The same group flew a banner over New York City on the Fourth of July proclaiming, “Atheism is patriotic.”

Now … the billboards are aimed at mocking the “silliness” of religion. In an email before today’s press conference, [Teresa MacBain] wrote that questioning the religious views of men who want to lead the free world is essential because,

“If a person believes stupid things, then we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the non-religious voter votes.”

She’s right. The amazing fact is that people can be highly intelligent, well-educated, sensible, and yet believe in the supernatural! It is something we find very hard to understand. But as every candidate for the presidency has to avow some religious belief, we see no point in making too much of his religion unless he does.

More demands – like non-religious people to be appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court – are at their website.

We concur with those demands

Interestingly, for all the increasing public presence of unbelievers – billboards, rallies, conventions, etc. – the attention has not boosted their percentage of the U.S. population significantly in the last decade.

How does Grossman or anyone know that?

Most people who say they have no religious identity also call themselves spiritual but not religious …

Whatever that might mean, it does suggest more people may be atheist than get counted as such …

… and many give the entire topic a big “so what” shrug.

That’s atheism too, by default.

But the billboards planned for Charlotte, N.C., may not be well received. In 2010, when free thinkers posted an edited version of the line from the Pledge of Allegiance without the phrase “under God,” vandals added it with spray paint.

Grossman asks:

Do you think … the billboards will convert anyone away from religion? Is it “simply reasonable” to mock belief?

We reply: yes, they may turn some away from religion. We only hope they will not turn some away from voting for Romney.

And yes, of course it is reasonable to mock religious belief. It’s an urgent and perpetual necessity. Religious belief is absurd yet lethally dangerous to the well-being of humanity.

  • Liz

    Although I agree that religious belief should be mocked, to be done “reasonably” it has to be in the right context and circumstances.  I’m not sure that putting in-your-face stuff up on billboards is the right way to go about it.  It will just confirm to alot of believers the stereotype that all atheists are “raging”, hateful, and out to get them.
    I think it’s more important that we combat the ridiculous idea that is gaining ground among Christians that separation of church and state was simply a figment of Thomas Jefferson’s imagination.  The great benefit of the principle for atheists, that people can entertain whatever silly religious ideas they want without the danger of them being imposed on anyone else, is in danger of being lost.
    If Christians percieve atheists as wanting to push atheism on them (which, unfortunately, some atheists do), then they will just dig in and refuse to listen to the separation argument all the more.    

    • Frank

      Liz,
      Here’s a real gentleman who disagrees with you.
      Richard Dawkins: An atheist’s call to arms.

      • Liz

        Great video and I agree with him 100%.  But there’s a big difference between challenging a view such as creationism with the “elegant”, solid argument of evolution, and putting up billboards that say insulting things about religion.  Christians could come right back with billboards of their own that say insulting things about atheists, and where would that get us?   It would just turn into alot of mudslinging.
        It’s the very rationality and reasonableness of our arguments that give us such an advantage over religious arguments that have no factual basis to stand on.  Why resort to name-calling?

        • Frank

          Liz,
          I’m glad you liked the video. As humans we all have our individual temperaments. As atheists we all have our own styles for interacting with religious believers. I tend to lean more to the Christopher Hitchens style while it seems you would be more in the Daniel Dennett camp. There is a myriad of different styles and approaches and each has its strengths and its weaknesses. And the points you made are well taken. But I want to see every approach used in as many different ways as possible to put an end to these ignorant and dangerous beliefs.

  • Frank

    Article 6 of the Constitution states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” I wouldn’t rule out voting for someone just because of his religious affiliation. And even though I am a militant atheist/anti-theist I wouldn’t vote for someone simply because they were an atheist. I need to know where the candidate stands on a myriad of issues before I would vote for them.