Posts Tagged “believer”

White House press secretary Dana PerinoFor a very long time, the Religious Right has contended (incorrectly, of course) that there’s no such thing as “separation of church and state” in the U.S. While they are correct when they say that phrase is not found in the Constitution or any of its amendments, they’re wrong when they claim it’s not even implied. No less an authority on the matter than the author of the First Amendment, James Madison, himself once explained this in writing:

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.

So this contention is factually incorrect.

Put more bluntly, they are lying about the Constitution.

Even so, despite being as obviously wrong as they are, they aren’t holding back. In fact, they’re going even a bit further. Texas governor Rick Perry, for example, recently stated openly that there is no such thing as “freedom from religion.” In other words, it is perfectly legal, as far as he’s concerned, for government to force a non-believer to adopt a religion.

In that same vein, a Rightist pundit — who’d been G.W. Bush’s last press secretary — used her virtual podium on Fox News to declare that atheists ought to leave the country, as the Raw Story reports, and her colleague Bob Beckel agreed (WebCite cached article):

Fox News host Dana Perino this week suggested that atheists should leave the country instead of trying to maintain the separation of church and state.

In a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court, atheist lawyer David Niose argued that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the state’s constitution.

“I’m tired of them,” Perino complained on Wedneday [sic].…

“If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here,” she added.

“Yeah, that’s a good point,” co-host Bob Beckel agreed.

Here’s video of this pleasant little exchange, courtesy of the Raw Story:

I’m old enough to recall all the “love it or leave it” talk that was common back in the 1970s. It was hurled most often at Vietnam war protesters. The implication is that Americans are required either to support whatever the US does — whether right or wrong — or shut up and leave the country. It’s been 40 years or so since then, and I’d thought people had gotten over that sort of thinking. I guess they haven’t?

The bottom line is, we have two Rightist pundits averring that non-believers should be forced either to swear the Pledge of Allegiance, including the “under God” phrase, or else be thrown out of the country. I can’t think of many better examples of religiofascism than this. Can you?

Hat tip: mepper, via Reddit.

Photo credit: fredthompson, via Flickr.

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President Barack Obama holds a discussion on the economy with neighborhood families in the backyard of a home in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)The question of whether or not President Barack Obama is a Christian is one that has plagued him for a long time. Let me begin by getting this out of the way, right now: If he were white and/or a Republican, no one — and I do mean no one — would even be entertaining the possibility he’s anything else, much less a Muslim (as many in the country erroneously believe). Since he is a Democrat and black, though — and worse, has a foreign name — lots of people think otherwise.

One of the Religious Right’s whiney mantras, since he was elected, has been to ask why the mass media aren’t working harder at pressing the president on the matter of his religion. Well, he made an appearance at which someone directly questioned him on this issue, and he answered, as CNN reports (WebCite cached article):

An event billed as a discussion on the economy turned personal Tuesday when a woman asked President Barack Obama about his Christian faith and views on abortion.

The question came at a town hall-style meeting in the yard of an Albuquerque home as part of Obama’s public outreach to explain his policies and campaign for Democrats in the November congressional elections.

Here is what he had to say about it:

“I am a Christian by choice,” Obama began, standing beneath a blazing sun, when asked why he is a Christian.

“I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead,” Obama said. “Being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. Treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that, you know, that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility that we all have to have as human beings.”

Humans are “sinful” and “flawed” beings that make mistakes and “achieve salvation through the grace of God,” the president continued, adding that we also can “see God in other people and do our best to help them find their, you know, their own grace.”

“So that’s what I strive to do,” Obama said. “That’s what I pray to do everyday. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith.”

Here is CNN’s video of the questions asked of Obama and his answers:

Now … similar words have been said by many a believer over the centuries. In most cases this has been taken at face value. I expect, however, that Rightists will not accept this; they’ll say Obama was merely paying “lip service” to Christianity and isn’t a sincere believer.

It’s true that he might not be sincere … but short of being able to probe his mind telepathically and determine whether or not he’s lying, there is no way to know how sincere he is. One can only take his word for it; nothing else is possible or reasonable. The definition of “Christian” is “someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.” As almost everyone knows, there are many ways to go about this; if this weren’t the case, there wouldn’t be as many different Christian sects and denominations as there are. A lot of the Christian Right is convinced that Obama can’t possibly be a “‘Real’ Christian,” because he’s pro-choice (GASP!) and (supposedly) a socialist and/or communist. Both of these are bullshit, however; it’s more than possible to be a pro-choice Christian, and there is nothing inherently un-Christian about liberal policies (even if the furiously-sanctimonious Glenn Beck says otherwise).

At any rate, the Right has been demanding for a couple of years that Obama be confronted about his Christianity; now that it’s happened, I’m not betting they’ll be happy with it. They will simply continue raging and screaming that the President dares behave in ways they personally disapprove of. Wah wah wah. It’s all so very childish … but being hyperreligious, they’re not capable of any maturity, so what else can one expect?

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1944 Pulitzer Prize: College Freshmen Ignorant Of HistoryA common complaint that theists make about atheists, agnostics, and anyone who criticizes religion, is that they’re working from a position of ignorance. That is, they don’t know anything about religion. In my experience, this is the opposite of the truth … most non-believers I know are much more conversant in religion than believers are. Until now that was just my own assumption, with nothing to back it up. The folks at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, however, released poll results suggesting that I’m correct. The Los Angeles Times reports on the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey (WebCite cached article):

If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term “blind faith.”

The article immediately lists several specific questions that many believers failed to answer correctly:

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church’s central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren’t sure — were more likely to answer the survey’s questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey’s measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

The L.A. Times interviewed an expert who basically agrees with my own assumption as to why this is the case:

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

“These are people who thought a lot about religion,” he said. “They’re not indifferent. They care about it.”

Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.

The Pew Forum’s own report on this survey is available online, if you care to look (cached).

I’ve found that a similar trend applies to all skeptics of every type: they usually know more about what they’re debunking — no matter what it might be, whether it’s the paranormal, or “alternative medicine,” or “free energy,” whatever — than do those who accept it or believe in it. The widespread assumption that skepticism proceeds from ignorance is quite false.

Hat tip: Teller (of Penn & Teller fame).

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