The Stained-Glass Ceiling

Back in November, U.S. senator John Kerry made some probably accurate, if rather unfortunate, remarks about the probability of an atheist being elected to national office:

“The vast majority of Americans say they believe in God,” Kerry said, responding to a question about the likelihood of an atheist or agnostic winning the presidency. “The vast majority of America, at some time, goes to church, and I think it matters to people. When you are choosing the president of the United States, people vote on the things that matter to them.”

The U.S. Constitution forbids the creation of a de jure religious test for public office. Nevertheless, it seems clear that such a test does exist de facto. The percentage of voters who say they would refuse to consider an atheist for office is higher than the percentage of those who admit to the same prejudice against any other group. Most atheists justly feel snubbed and excluded by the obligatory Christianity that permeates American politics. Historically, our choices have been to hold our noses and vote for candidates who drench their campaigns in religion, or to stand by and do nothing, potentially assisting an even worse theocrat to get elected. Even the announcement of the first openly nontheist office holder, California Representative Pete Stark, although it’s a hopeful sign, has done little to change this state of affairs.

The prejudice and hostility against atheists exists in spite of the U.S. Constitution, one of the world’s most progressive legal frameworks. In fact, Thomas Jefferson explicitly defended the fitness of atheists to hold office (as did other founders):

“If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such being exists… Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.”

Sadly, the beneficial laws of this document, although they’ve more or less safeguarded atheists’ rights, have never persuaded the population in general to follow their good example. However, this situation may be changing.

This blog has previously discussed the evidence that the non-religious tend to be independents and may in fact constitute a crucial bloc of swing voters. And not only that, the non-religious constitute an extremely involved and motivated voting bloc, according to a recent article from Reuters:

But those who say they are “unaffiliated” or atheist are very keen to cast their ballots. Pew data shows that 82 percent of them are very or somewhat likely to vote. At 90 percent, evangelicals are the only group more likely to vote.

82 percent of nonbelievers are motivated to vote. This stunning number, coupled with the other facts mentioned above, should be enough for politicians to sit up and take notice. We are eager and informed voters, we are more than numerous enough to change the course of an election, and we are not a group whose loyalties can be taken for granted. Why are candidates still spending all their time pandering to Christians? Why aren’t they devoting more effort to winning us over and addressing the issues that we care about?

The American electorate is saturated with god-talk, and most religious voters already have well-established loyalties. Politicians competing to see who loves Jesus more is not a tactic that is likely to turn the tide of an election. If a candidate was willing to pay some attention to nonbelievers and freethinkers, on the other hand, the effort might well pay surprising dividends.

I don’t think we’re asking for much. I don’t expect a candidate for national office to be a fire-breathing atheist – that day is far in the future, unfortunately. (We could stand to emulate the example of the Dutch, whom polls show would be perfectly happy with an atheist prime minister.) But I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a candidate to show some sensitivity to nonbelievers: to recognize that we exist and acknowledge that we deserve the same right to freedom of conscience that all other Americans have. It would be even better to see a candidate who defended – and more importantly, upheld by their actions – the principle that America is a secular nation with a separation of church and state, and that it is the job of an elected official to represent all citizens equally without regard to creed. These are basic elements of American democracy! It’s astonishing that supporting them has become so controversial, which is itself an indicator of how far the religious right has skewed the national debate.

But this state of affairs is not unchangeable. The problem is that, despite our numbers and our readiness to vote, nonbelievers are considerably less organized and more heterogeneous than conservative Christians, who for the most part have been turned into a lockstep political machine voting in favor of a specific, identifiable agenda. That degree of organization is what politicians see and respond to. If we’ve been ignored by candidates, it’s probably because we still don’t have the kind of political organization that would make them take us seriously and realize that they can’t cast aspersions on us without paying a price. Organizations like the Secular Coalition for America are a good start, and if we can build on them, then we may in time be able to shatter that stained-glass ceiling and turn secularism into a political force to be reckoned with.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • André Phillips

    Sadly, I fear the strongest force against atheism appearing in political discussion is an unwillingness to anger the believers by creating an affiliation with the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a very large percentage of the electorate would simply turn off to a candidate who even appeared to support the choices of atheists without even having to be atheist himself/herself. All they need is Bill O to tell them he or she’s a devil worshiper and their minds will be set. There’s the rub.

  • terrence

    Other than the evolution-denying goofball who refuses to go away, I haven’t noticed the remaining presidential candidates pandering too much (unless the deity has changed His name to “Change” OMG). But I’m tired of holding my nose and pulling the lever. I intend to write in John Frum. Who wants to join the movement?

  • Christopher

    ?I’ll probably be doing a write-in candidate myself – as all the major candidates look like bad choices to me. I’m thinking Alucard or Frank Castle…

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    As long as Americans think like this, or ad campaigns like that are allowed, we are going to have a hard time ever getting someone who is even remotely sympathetic to atheism or, at a minimum, secularism.

  • http://www.dougpaulsen.com Doug

    I agree, certainly, but I just wanted to note that I quite like the title of this post.

  • LindaJoy

    terrence- actually Obama has been quite good at the pandering. He continually makes references to God at the beginning of his rallys (rather than the perfunctory God Bless You All or God Bless America we get from all of them). Some examples- “All praise and honor to God for bringing us together today” or “What a beautiful sunny day God has given us.” His rallys have taken on the appearance and sounds of a gospel event. His volunteers are told when they go door to door not to discuss issues, but to “witness” how they came to Obama. Look up the subject of Obama/cult. It’s very concerning. I want to like this guy, and if he is the nominee for the Dems, he’ll get my vote over any of the Republicans (McCain likes to cuddle up with Pastor Hagee of TX- a really scary man!), but his overt religiousity is depressing.

  • Brock

    I agree with Andre. As long as the primary purpose of politicians is to get elected, they are not going to make the slightest overture to us for fear of offending their religious backers. We are going to have to be a lot more numerous then we are before the pols notice us.

  • Alex Weaver

    terrence- actually Obama has been quite good at the pandering. He continually makes references to God at the beginning of his rallys (rather than the perfunctory God Bless You All or God Bless America we get from all of them). Some examples- “All praise and honor to God for bringing us together today” or “What a beautiful sunny day God has given us.” His rallys have taken on the appearance and sounds of a gospel event. His volunteers are told when they go door to door not to discuss issues, but to “witness” how they came to Obama. Look up the subject of Obama/cult. It’s very concerning. I want to like this guy, and if he is the nominee for the Dems, he’ll get my vote over any of the Republicans (McCain likes to cuddle up with Pastor Hagee of TX- a really scary man!), but his overt religiousity is depressing.

    While I really wish Obama would lay off the God-talk I find little to dislike about his policy positions and appreciate the fact that he’s on record with various statements to the effect that he recognizes that secular people are decent, moral Americans and deserve to be represented and considered by the government. (It’s sad that this is a step up, granted…)

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Obama’s been a strange mix. He panders a lot, but he’s also said some good stuff about the need for people to offer secular rationales for their policies.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    Possibly he isn’t pandering. Possibly he’s a moderate, slightly evangelical Christian who nonetheless favors a secular government. Those guys do exist. Hell, back in the day fire-breathing fundamentalists (Roger Williams, anyone?) believed in secular government. I don’t know. But there are more options than “pandering”.

  • hb531

    What never ceases to amaze me is how the European countries all have national religions in their constitutions (I think), yet they are very secular politically. Conversely, we have the establishment clause and a very secular legal framework. Here in the good ‘ole US of A politicians must show some kind of religious affiliation in order to be viable.

    The irony is sad.

  • Lyssad

    Not only does a religious test for public office exist de facto, but at least seven states expressly forbid atheists to hold state office. In SC, the law was recently ruled unconstitutional, but it’s still on the books.
    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/StateConstitutions.htm

  • Dutch

    Ebon said,

    “(We could stand to emulate the example of the Dutch, whom polls show would be perfectly happy with an atheist prime minister.)”

    I have lived in Holland, and visit friends and family often. The Dutch are largely atheist or agnostic, and if not, they simply don’t go to church. When I visit, I don’t talk religion much – there is no point. I wouldn’t want Americans to emulate the Dutch. Just Google search ” dutch leaving,” and you’ll find all manner of articles of a great dutch exodus. Here is one headline from a 2004 article.
    “Exodus as Dutch middle class seek new life”
    I can verify this personally. Watch what happens when Christian thought is supplanted by atheist thought, or worse, by Muslim thought. Sad thing is, they don’t even realize this. No thanks, don’t “emulate the Dutch.”

  • DamienSansBlog

    The Dutch are largely atheist or agnostic, and if not, they simply don’t go to church. When I visit, I don’t talk religion much – there is no point.

    And whatever would be so bad about that?

    Here is one headline from a 2004 article.
    “Exodus as Dutch middle class seek new life”

    If you could point us to the actual newspaper (or other publication) so we can actually read this article, and come to conclusions based on something other than hearsay, I’m sure we’d be much obliged.

  • Eric

    Dutch,

    Once again, you show that you have no idea of “correlation without causation.”

    If you actually look into the reasons for the Dutch Exodus, you see it is based not on theistis/atheistic reasons, it is based on *gasp* FINANCIAL reasons. Also, population density and distribution reasons.

    If you REALLY want to look at some very interesting “exodus” areas, look to the good ol’ USA and the brain drain takiing place in certain regions of the country. I wonder why the northeast, a bastion of WASPY and Catholic belief, is leading the charge on people leaving in droves. Using your correlation without causation notions we could assume it was because of the theistic overtones. We would be wrong. It is because of FINANCIAL reasons and issuses of urban decay, crime, and worse.

    And I have lived overseas in a predominately atheistic society. And I would take THAT over the repressive relgiosity that is the USA. And if anyone is curious, I have lived in France (Paris) and worked extensively in Iceland, which has a formal Lutheran Church, but the culture and society is largely atheist or agnostic. And Iceland, IMO, is a much more progressive and better form of government and society than the USA.

  • MisterDomino

    hb531,

    What never ceases to amaze me is how the European countries all have national religions in their constitutions (I think), yet they are very secular politically.

    As far as I know, Great Britain is the only European country that has an “official” national religion, and even the Anglican church is a far cry from the Baptists of the Bible Belt or the Roman Catholics.

    I know for a fact that France most certainly DOES NOT have a national religion, as separation of church and state was made official there in 1905.

  • Dutch

    Damien,

    This is no hearsay. Three months ago, It was a network news story. The Dutch are leaving Holland at 200,000 per year. They are not, I repeat not leaving for financial reasons, they are leaving because they are sick of their liberal government. A quote from one article;
    “The new wave of educated migrants are quietly voting with their feet against a multicultural experiment long touted as a model for the world, but increasingly a warning of how good intentions can go wrong.”

    Also, regarding the belief of atheism, you said, and I quote;
    “And whatever would be so bad about that?”

    You are free to believe what you want to believe, I have no problem with that. What I am saying is that a society whose members are predominantly Christian, is more advanced than a society that is non-christian. As a society leaves Christianity, that same society will lose its way. I do not proclaim this as blessings from God, but rather a way of thinking, that subtly, sublimally percolates into a society.

    here is one website. but if you Google dutch leaving, you will find many others.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/12/11/wneth111.xml

    and this dutch blogg discussion on Dutch emigration
    http://forum.fok.nl/topic/778207

    “I wonder why the northeast, a bastion of WASPY and Catholic belief”
    Hey Eric, I largely, but not wholly agree with what Ebon says about the Catholic Religion, but isn’t the northeast one of the most liberal areas of the country?
    The Catholic religion, with all of its problems, is still closer to the truth than other religions. Most Catholics I know are nice decent people, and most, like all Christian faiths, have doubts about God’s existence.

    You tell me,
    “Using your correlation without causation notions we could assume it was because of the theistic overtones. We would be wrong. It is because of FINANCIAL reasons and issuses of urban decay, crime, and worse.”

    All you need do is read the whole article, besides that, I know, because I keep in touch with my dutch relatives, and when there I read the Dutch newspapers. It is the educated middle class that is leaving. It is not an easy thing to leave ones country. My hometown of Almelo is a fun place to be. The town center is always buzzing with activity, especially on Saturday market days. I am proud of my Dutch heritage, but I am American – I love America and its people; even atheists :)

    I repeat, Ebons assertion to “emulate the Dutch,” should be taken with “a grain of salt.”

  • OMGF

    What I am saying is that a society whose members are predominantly Christian, is more advanced than a society that is non-christian.

    Yeah, like during the dark ages when learning was kept alive and advanced by Muslims?

    Really though, what you are doing here is another case of causation does not imply correlation. The west is the culture that reached the industrial revolution first and ended up coming out on top for a long time. The west was predominantly Xian, so therefore they must be correlated, right? It’s the same fallacy over and over. This totally ignores the strides made by the west in spite of Xianity, how the Enlightenment played a huge role in the society we have today, etc.

  • Dutch

    Yeah, like during the dark ages when learning was kept alive and advanced by Muslims?

    Do we always need to bring up old history? There is no doubt that in the name of Christ, much suffering was done. But, as you’re bringing up old history, you have forgotten to mention,
    “The resulting violence and dislocation caused lands to be withdrawn from cultivation, population to decline, and the monasteries to again become outposts of civilization.”
    Indeed, had your Muslims not been stopped at Vienna, and turned back, Europe would be very differnet today; Dhimmitude anyone?

    “The west was predominantly Xian, so therefore they must be correlated, right? It’s the same fallacy over and over.”

    fallacy huh? The facts, as you say,
    “The west is the culture that reached the industrial revolution first and ended up coming out on top for a long time” You forgot to say Cristian based culture.

    You don’t see the correlation, I do, so that in effect becomes an opinion. It is not just Industrializaion, but society as a whole. How we treat women, abolition of slavery, etc. As I said, “I do not proclaim this as blessings from God, but rather a way of thinking, that subtly, sublimally percolates into a society.”
    Time is a wonderful thing. In due time, you will see more of this correlation, but you will be unable to recognize it – for you it does not exist, this is your reality.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Dutch,

    You don’t see the correlation, I do, so that in effect becomes an opinion.

    For it to be a coorelation, one needs to vary with the other (even though coorelation does not imply causation). So, for you example to work, you’d need to see that as a society became more christian, they become more productive, and as they become less christian, less productive.
    If you want to prove a connection, you need that belief in christianity to be the only factor varying (i.e. machines, computers, tools, transportation other things like such not being a factor)

    Good try though

  • OMGF

    Do we always need to bring up old history? There is no doubt that in the name of Christ, much suffering was done.

    I’m not talking about suffering, I’m talking about learning and education. The Muslims were far more advanced than the Europeans during that time.

    fallacy huh? The facts, as you say,
    “The west is the culture that reached the industrial revolution first and ended up coming out on top for a long time” You forgot to say Cristian based culture.

    No, actually, I didn’t forget to say anything. You are asserting a correlation that you have yet to prove exists. You are ignoring all other factors in your effort to show that your correlation exists, but you can’t simply ignore everything else. That is fallacious.

    You don’t see the correlation, I do, so that in effect becomes an opinion.

    You only see the correlation because you are ignoring all the other factors that went into the west achieving the status that we enjoy now. Other factors include the incessant warfare that forced the Euros to continually improve their weapons as well as the climate and the germs they carried that allowed them to hold immunities that other cultures did not. So, when they came to other lands, their germs would literally decimate entire populations in some instances. If you don’t think that those things played a role in this, then you need to read some more about it. If you admit that these things played a role, then you have to show how they correlate with Xianity.

    How we treat women, abolition of slavery, etc.

    I think it’s laughable that you want to equate women’s rights and abolition of slavery with Xianity, because you are dead wrong. Xianity is not kind to women in the least, and it wasn’t Xianity that finally got women the right to vote in this country, etc. Also, it was not Xianity that abolished slavery. It abolition movement owes more the freethinkers than to Xians. I suggest you read Susan Jacoby’s book “Freethought” to get a better feel for how your church not only did not speak out against slavery, but facilitated it, while freethinkers were actively fighting it.

  • Eric

    Dutch,

    You default argument when taken to task seems to be “well, I KNOW because I know, therefore, I know.” You are pulling the same pedantic crap here in regards to The Netherlands as you do/did with the “I understand the bible like no one because I have divine knowledge no one else knows therefore I know it to be right.”

    You said in your post “Google dutch leaving”, yes, please take that advice but take it more as a directive, and leave out the “Google.”

    You simply do not add anything positive to the threads or dialogues here, in fact, you erode the quality. Please dutch, go find another forum to haunt.

  • Jim Baerg

    You only see the correlation because you are ignoring all the other factors that went into the west achieving the status that we enjoy now.

    I would strongly recommend reading _Guns, Germs & Steel_ by Jared Diamond for a discussion of such factors.

  • Dutch

    Mrnaglfar, OMGF

    Correlation does not imply causation, but a correlation between a more advanced contemporary society and it’s population’s general belief seems apparent. It cannot be shown that the belief is directly responsible for the advanced nature of that society, but the correlation does exist. My personal belief is as I said, “I do not proclaim this as blessings from God, but rather a way of thinking, that subtly, sublimally percolates into a society.”
    If I am right, as history unfolds, we will see more of this correlation, and yet we will still not understand the cause. One example of this could be the coming storm in Europe.

    OMGF,

    You are right in that Muslims of the past, and some today, did a lot to advance knowledge of the natural world. I am referring to society at large.

  • OMGF

    Dutch

    Correlation does not imply causation, but a correlation between a more advanced contemporary society and it’s population’s general belief seems apparent. It cannot be shown that the belief is directly responsible for the advanced nature of that society, but the correlation does exist.

    And once again I’ll simply remind you that there are many other factors at play. I’ll also remind you that the Xian west was not always on top, so where’s your correlation now?

    You are right in that Muslims of the past, and some today, did a lot to advance knowledge of the natural world. I am referring to society at large.

    How does referring to “society at large” do anything to buttress your argument?

  • Dutch

    Jim,

    It hasn’t been pretty as to how America established itself, I am not ignoring that, it just isn’t relative. The indians were fighting and killing among themselves long before the white man came to American shores – which also is not relative.

    If you had a sociology test with the following question, how would you answer.
    Which society, with a predominant belief, is the most advanced industrially?
    Is it: A – Bhuddist, B – Christian, C – Jew, D – Muslim, E – Hindu.

    This question does not address cause – it deals in fact.

  • OMGF

    If you had a sociology test with the following question, how would you answer.
    Which society, with a predominant belief, is the most advanced industrially?
    Is it: A – Bhuddist, B – Christian, C – Jew, D – Muslim, E – Hindu.

    First of all, that question is flawed for all the reasons outlined above. Second, again, you are simply pointing out a correlation, not causation.

  • Eric

    Dutch,

    If you were in a 100 level University sociology or logic course, you would fail.

    You are not arguing from any rational stand, and your “arguments” are fallicious in themselves. Again, please, go find another sandbox to play in.

  • LindaJoy

    Dutch- you are sounding a bit like a religio-racist. Societies that are much more advanced are the Christian societies? (Not counting that nasty thing called history). Is that because God likes Christians the best? Did you know that in this here United States, it took a group of non-Christian deist freethinkers to come up with the idea of the Establishment Clause? You know, the part of our Constitution that protects various church sects from clawing each other to pieces, forces them to tolerate each other and allow them all to flourish. That did not and could not have come from the Christian leadership of that time, who would have been perfectly happy having the government favor the Congregationalists or the Anglicans and we would have been a country of maybe two churches (Baptists, Catholics, Quakers, Jews, etc. all would have been shoved aside). Right now, Christian Dominionists are chipping away at our secular government again with House Res. 888. We’ve seen the stem cell stuff and the Terri Schaivo stuff and the other efforts to move this country backward. So don’t tell me that the sins of Christian history are over and that the goal of Christianity today is towards a more enlightened, advanced society.

  • konrad_arflane

    Dutch:

    Re: the “exodus” from the Netherlands: whether or not it is occurring, and whether or not it is occurring for the reasons you claim, it is only one (rather small) country. Are similar phenomena observable in other, similar countries? If not, why not? Do you see what I’m getting at?

    Re: the nature of Christianity advancing liberty and prosperity: why has this only happened in Europe and North America? Why is their no general, readily observable difference in prosperity between, for example, Christian and Muslim regions of Africa? How did China achieve the position of economic strength it occupies today? Why, conversely, is South America so relatively poor? Do you see what I’m getting at?

  • konrad_arflane

    Oh, one other thing:

    They are not, I repeat not leaving for financial reasons, they are leaving because they are sick of their liberal government. A quote from one article;
    “The new wave of educated migrants are quietly voting with their feet against a multicultural experiment long touted as a model for the world, but increasingly a warning of how good intentions can go wrong.”

    It seems to me that this is only tangentially related to the point of Christian vs. secularist society. It is perfectly possible to be against a “multicultural experiment”, yet still in favour of a secular, even atheist society. For example, the multicultural experiment could be avoided through strict immigration control (which can be enforced secularly with no problems).

  • Jim Baerg

    If you had a sociology test with the following question, how would you answer.
    Which society, with a predominant belief, is the most advanced industrially?
    Is it: A – Bhuddist, B – Christian, C – Jew, D – Muslim, E – Hindu.

    I might note that Japan is more Buddhist than any of the other options on the list.

    The advanced industrial status of Japan is an argument against Christianity being an important factor in developing an industrial prosperous society.

  • MisterDomino

    Dutch,

    Did you ever consider that this exodus may be due in part to greater mobility within the European Union? If a citizen from the Netherlands can find a better job in Denmark or Germany, then wouldn’t they be inclined to leave their country of origin? It’s easier than ever to do so.

    What about foreign immigration from predominantly Muslim countries? Lack of natural resources? Apathy about Dutch culture, or even tourism?

    There are a wealth of reasons that could explain why these people are leaving “in droves” (if we can even trust those numbers), and lack of Christian influence within the government or within society does not seem to be one of the more likely ones.

  • André Phillips

    If we’re going to go and make claims about how one factor which we think permeates all advanced societies determines which societies become so advanced, why don’t we point to the fact that they’re all in the northern hemisphere. I think there’s even a more obvious correlation between how advanced a nation is and which direction it is from the equator. Does this mean that being closer to the North Pole makes you smarter than if you’re closer to the South Pole. Or even, does it make “society as a whole” smarter, or better fit for the world? Or could it simply be that the best climates and resources to develop an advanced society happen to be in the northern hemisphere? You’ll notice how not all northern nations are industrialized nations, just as not all Christian nations are industrialized, nor are all industrialized nations Christian. That, my friend, is correlation without causation, and it’s an exact replica of saying that Christian societies do better than others simply because of their religion. And for the record, if we’re just looking at the statistics, this argument of Christian superiority is actually even weaker than my Theory of Hemispherical Fitness.

  • lpetrich

    Dutch is grasping at straws. Let me count the ways.

    His argument seems like a version of Plato’s Royal Lie; Plato had proposed that his Republic have a religion to make its citizens virtuous — a religion that he considered false.

    And since most of Xianity is, to him, fake Xianity, then he might as well be embracing the royal-lie theory, since he is claiming that all those fake sects of Xianity have made people do Good Things.

    Also, the Xian Churches have had a very poor record in regard to feminism; where are all the female priests and pastors and bishops and archbishops and cardinals and popes? The most we’ve seen is in the last few decades, and that mostly in the more liberal sects. And feminism has been a mostly secular movement; the most religion in feminism has possibly been some neopagans.

    As to science, Richard Carrier has some excellent comments in Blowhard on Myspace Makes Outrageous Claims. As he noted, Xianity had well over a millennium to start the modern scientific revolution — and totally failed to do so. He also proposes this definition:

    By phrases like “scientific ideals,” “scientific values,” “scientific mindset,” I do not mean potentially dogmatic activities like observing the movement of the stars or performing textbook surgery, but a system of beliefs that produces advances in knowledge, including a belief that public evidence and verifiable reason trump all authority in explaining what is and can be, that persuasion by appeal to observable evidence and sound logic is the only valid means of gaining consensus about the truths of this world, that this requires embracing everyone’s intellectual freedom to accept, reject, or propose any idea they please, and that it is valuable and good to devote your life in this way to the pursuit of progress in understanding any aspect of nature or existence. Those are the scientific values of which I speak.

    and he notes that the Xian Church was against most of that for most of its history, and had to be dragged into accepting that.

  • goyo

    Wow, I thought Dutch said he was leaving.

    Dutch, Ipetrich is right. How can you say anything good about christianity, when by your own words, all christians are interpreting the bible completely wrong?
    You have said numerous times that you and your group of about 300, are the only ones in the world to understand the bible. So how does all the rest of christianity somehow influence the world if they are wrong in their interpretations of scripture?
    And how we treat women and abolition of slavery? That’s a real laugh!
    How insulting!

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Excellent point, goyo. It seems Dutch’s definition of “Christian” expands and contracts to accommodate whatever argument he currently wants to make. When he wants to claim that Christianity is good for society, he says that all self-identified members of traditional churches are Christian; when it comes to the bad things committed by religious people, he says that those people weren’t “true” Christians, and only he and the other members of his tiny sect (I strongly suspect it’s a sect of one) are the only ones who’ve figured out what the Bible means and how it should be interpreted.

  • Brit-nontheist

    Well, as a Brit with a state-religion but a thankfully (if not sufficiently) secular society, let me respond to the Dutch Christian.

    You are free to believe what you want to believe, I have no problem with that. What I am saying is that a society whose members are predominantly Christian, is more advanced than a society that is non-christian. As a society leaves Christianity, that same society will lose its way. I do not proclaim this as blessings from God, but rather a way of thinking, that subtly, sublimally percolates into a society.

    This is an argument sometimes even made by Christians against each other (by protestants claiming their supposed work-ethic being superior to the ethos of the catholic)… it’s amazing how quickly the religious turn to this argument, even when it is patently absurd. The countries in Europe with the least religiosity are the ones which come out in all the polls as having the best standards of living, happiest people etc.

  • Kittenchasesyarn

    RE: Dutch’s opinion that there is an exodus of people from the very liberal NE United States to more “advanced” regions.

    A gentle observation that many of those leaving the NE are moving to places like Oregon, which has one of the lowest percentages of residents who claim any affiliation to a church in the United States. This is also the state with legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, and legal doctor-assisted suicide.

    Are those “more advanced” in Dutch’s doctrine?