In Which I Am Attacked by a U.S. Political Party

This just keeps getting better and better.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Senate campaign of Elizabeth Dole and how it was attempting to stir up anti-atheist bigotry to use against her Democratic challenger, Kay Hagan. Now, the national Republican Party has joined in, and once again, Daylight Atheism is a part of the controversy.

Shock! Horror! Outrage!

Reader Brian Westley informs me of this new web ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, titled “Godless”. In their most brazen attempt yet to incite hate, the ad quotes representatives of atheist political groups who’ve appeared on TV, then again cites Kay Hagan’s attendance at a fundraiser held by Wendy and Woody Kaminer of the Secular Coalition for America. And, yes, Daylight Atheism is once again cited in the video (at about the 1:40 mark) for my dreaded statement that “Kay Hagan ought to be rewarded for inviting nonbelievers onto her platform”.

I continue to be disappointed by the lackluster quality of these smear ads. The melodramatic piano music in the background is way over the top. Also, the NRSC doesn’t appear to have a copyeditor who knows how to spell “atheism”. And when it comes to the scary, scary goals of the atheist movement, they can only think of three: removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, removing “In God We Trust” from the currency, and no longer designating Christmas an official federal holiday. Really? That’s the worst they could come up with? Anti-atheist bigotry is usually much more inventive than this. No claims that atheists want to ban prayer from all public schools, or outlaw parents’ teaching their children about God? No wild-eyed assertions about how the Evil Atheist Conspiracy will send jackbooted thugs to break down little old ladies’ doors and take away their Bibles? Frankly, I could make a better attack ad against me.

But what this ad does show is that the Republican party is the party of theocracy, and proud of it. The worst innuendo they could come up with is a GAMPAC spokesman’s statement that atheists have no real representation in Congress, but “we fully intend to change that”; and my claim that Kay Hagan deserves praise for being willing to meet with atheists and consider our concerns. In their eyes, these are crimes, and atheists should be condemned and reviled merely for seeking political representation. Kay Hagan has made no statement to the effect that she’ll support any part of the atheist political agenda (I have no illusions about that) – in fact, she’s an elder of the Presbyterian church – but that hasn’t stopped the Republicans from targeting her in this smear campaign. They want to make it so that politicians are afraid even to listen to us.

With this ad campaign, the Republican party has clearly stated that not only will they not represent the interests of nonbelievers, they will actively stir up hate against us at every opportunity and use demonization as a tool to win votes. Not just the Dole campaign, but the entire party is complicit in this. Our country is in the midst of an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression; thousands of people are losing their jobs; our health-care system is crippled, our infrastructure is collapsing, we are still utterly dependent on imported oil, and we are still pouring blood and treasure down the sinkhole of an unnecessary war – but the only thing the Republicans have to offer is crying, “Atheist!” Their campaign strategy appeals to the worst in people rather than the best.

America stands at an unprecedented crossroads, and the serious decisions about our country’s future can no longer be put off. The decisions we make in the next few years, for better or for worse, will shape our national destiny for decades, possibly longer. But even now, the only thing the Republican party wants to do is hurl epithets and crawl around in the mud. When the dilemmas we face demand national consensus, still the only thing they want to do is to foment hate and division. That policy is how we got into this mess in the first place!

This November, Americans have a chance to decisively reject this know-nothingism and show that we’re ready to start taking this country’s future seriously. This ad shows what’s at stake, though not in the way its makers intended. The Republican party, the party of bigotry and theocracy, is already on the ropes, and their electoral fortunes this year are dim. Let us do all that we can to make their defeat as crushing as possible, and show that America is ready to leave the phony controversies of the culture wars behind and start confronting the issues that genuinely matter to people’s lives.

UPDATE (11/4): Good riddance, Elizabeth Dole… welcome, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan!

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.

  • bestonnet

    Sounds like the Southern Strategy with atheists in place of blacks.

  • Justin

    What the Republican Party in North Carolina is doing is basically the logical end result of the last eight years. For a party with no fresh ideas about governance, the only thing they can do is distract people from the economy and the war. With all the demonizing of liberals and non-believers over the years (and the profits people like Bill O’Reilly make that way), this attack ad was bound to be made eventually to capitalize on hate. Some Republicans are taking the same (negative) tack with Colin Powell’s endorsement of Sen. Obama, although in Powell’s case the attempt at distraction is based on race, not religion.

  • TripMaster Monkey

    From the article:

    Their [the Republicans'] campaign strategy appeals to the worst in people rather than the best.

    That’s nothing new. The Republicans’ platform has always been fear, hatred and greed. Atheists are just the next target of opportunity.

  • mikespeir

    Note the doleful music, perfect for a post death scene in a movie. Once again, believers resort to tugging on heartstrings rather than presenting evidence with reason.

  • Jerryd

    McCain is the standard bearer for the Republicans and should be setting the tone, so I hold him responsible for what the North Carolina Republicans are doing, as well as for his own gutter-level campaign. What is really amazing to me is that McCain was the recipient of a bigoted, hateful Republican campaign from the Bush gang of supposedly holy Christians in the 2000 primaries. You would think that a man of character and of strong moral bent that Christianity is said to bestow would have been reviled by that and would have sworn to never stoop to that level if he was to run for president again. Not so. The current display of dishonesty, innuendo and deceit demonstrated by McCain and the Republican party reaches new lows of hatred and vileness. I am disgusted and sad to see someone with McCain’s history and status as a war hero brought to that state simply out of the desire to win. Winning isn’t everything, character, honesty and respect matter too. And displaying that character might have swayed the electorate his way. But that certainly can’t be the case with the disgusting campaign he is conducting now.

    I am so thankful that my morality doesn’t come from the god that Bush and McCain worship, but from reason and common sense. My hope is that from efforts like the excellent articles that Adam posts here we will one day have a majority of people whose morality is reason-based, making religious dogma and bigotry a thing of the past.

  • Jim

    Here I thought America was supposed to be a place where all religions was supposed to be accepted. I used to be an Atheist, I have gone through things in my life that have affected me. But I still feel that anyone Religious or not has a right to state how they feel and what they feel – and for any Political Party to say you can not speak because of your beliefs is wrong – that is not American.

    Even though you here on this site may not like it – God Bless and Be Well.

  • Alex Weaver

    I love the smell of Republican desperation in the morning. Smells like… hope. ^.^

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Alex is right. The NRSC’s tactics are an act of desperation. Down double-digit numbers just a few months ago, polls now show Hagan in the lead. As with their Ayers debacle, Republicans are flinging any kind of *&($# they can (most of it having come out of their asses) in the hopes something will stick. But look on the bright side. The Ayers attacks resulted in increased support for Obama. Perhaps the same will happen for Hagan.

  • D

    And as their prospects for continued dominion grow dimmer, so their voices grow shriller. I can’t imagine what must be going through their heads, the shrieking, butt-puckering terror at the thought of those godless heathens getting even the slightest foothold. Give the devil an inch and he’ll take a mile, they say; well, the devil’s had his mile for most of recorded history. As the superstitious inertia of the past continues to rumble slowly and painfully aside, maybe our progress as a civilized nation will continue to pick up speed as well.

    Way to go, Ebonmuse! Keep fighting the good fight!

  • http://liquidthinker.wordpress.com LiquidThinker

    Yes, this is pretty much an admission by the Republicans that they have run out of ideas. I find it interesting that they are wrapping ideas I think are essentially correct (The phrase “under God” should be taken out of the pledge, and “In God We Trust” should be taken off our money. EbonMuse’s statement that Hagan deserves consideration for her inclusiveness is to be applauded. Christmas I’d probably leave alone. I think having a break before beginning the new year is a good thing. A time of reflection during a festive season and all that.) in a package of cheesy melodramatic fear mongering to stir up the emotions of those who have yet to separate out wishful thinking from reality based decision making. Instead of talking about how to work through the financial crisis, get out of Iraq and restore our military, fix and strengthen our outmoded education system, work through the ever looming energy crisis, and improve our world standing, they have opted to use atheism as a scape goat for all our problems. Sure, I’d love to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic cells, but without our nation “under God”, I just don’t see how we can do that. :)

  • KShep

    Jerryd:

    What is really amazing to me is that McCain was the recipient of a bigoted, hateful Republican campaign from the Bush gang of supposedly holy Christians in the 2000 primaries

    This brings to mind something that I noted during that 2000 primary. Anyone else remember a significant event at that time—the protesters who used the occasion of the South Carolina primary to raise awareness of the confederate battle flag still flying over the SC state capitol?

    It got a lot of media coverage, and the candidates were asked their thoughts on the issue. To a man, the Republicans, including the “maverick” John McCain, all said it should be a “states rights” issue and dodged the question.

    Anyone hearing that who still thinks McCain is a “maverick,” whatever that is, is delusional.

  • Dave

    Crush them utterly. Destroy their spirit.

    I spent yesterday afternoon at a MoveOn.Org party phoning people in Missouri and recruiting them for phone banking and canvassing this coming weekend. Signed up seven volunteers.

    Tonight my son goes phone banking here for a local candidate.

    Everybody get your butt in gear and contribute to the coming landslide. Leave everything on the floor at the end of the game.

  • Christopher

    You would think that a man of character and of strong moral bent that Christianity is said to bestow would have been reviled by that and would have sworn to never stoop to that level if he was to run for president again.

    Such people don’t exist in the world of politics nad never did – everyone’s an opportunist licking the boots of one special interst group or another, in this case the Republicans lick the boots of the extreme religious right. And the dems lick the boots of the environmental crowd and the socialists, so I don’t have any respect for them either. No matter who wins, anyone not involved with the special interests loses.

    My advice: forget about elections and start buying up as much property and weapons as you can, then declare yourselves autonomous territories when this sham parody-of-its-former-self government of ours finally cashes in its chips (that’s my plan, and I got the balls to follow through on it).

  • Christopher

    Typo: “and” – damn I’ve been up too long…

  • Chris

    Our country is in the midst of an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression; thousands of people are losing their jobs; our health-care system is crippled, our infrastructure is collapsing, we are still utterly dependent on imported oil, and we are still pouring blood and treasure down the sinkhole of an unnecessary war – but the only thing the Republicans have to offer is crying, “Atheist!” Their campaign strategy appeals to the worst in people rather than the best.

    Take heart – they haven’t connected the dots yet. When major political figures start *blaming* atheists for the breakdown of the economy and infrastructure (not the war though, that’s God’s will) and getting elected on that platform, then this country really will be like 1930s Germany and it’ll be time to flee.

    The last time there was a Great Depression, a charismatic leader came to power (albeit not in this country) by blaming it on a despised religious minority. Atheists are this country’s most hated religious minority. Sooner or later someone will connect those facts and turn them into a plan, but whether they will succeed or fail at taking power, I can’t predict.

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

    but the only thing the Republicans have to offer is crying, “Atheist!”

    Let’s be fair. They also offer “Terrorist!”, “Muslim”, and now “Socialist!”

  • Adele

    Considering the extremely anti-atheist climate in the U.S. these days, I myself am quite seriously considering a move to Montreal, my birthplace, if John McCain is elected president. The main problem we atheist face is a lack of organization and unity – the great majority of other minorities have extremely powerful lobbyist groups in Washington working for their forwardment. In many cases, newly fledged atheists do not realize that there are others like them, and feel very much isolated. It is my belief that the most significant thing we could do to forward our rights in Washington and elsewhere is to ORGANIZE.

    I can’t help but notice, though, that the desperate Republican attacks on atheism in America parallel nothing more than the racist atmosphere in the South before the Civil Rights Movement. The same statements made recently about atheists would, if made about another minority, be completely shocking – but because of our status as the hated minority, they are barely noticed by the general public. The Civil Rights Movement was brought about by the actions of several heroic individuals – JFK, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall – without whom the state of affairs in the South would, by my reckoning, have changed very little in the past 50 years. I think atheists are long overdue for our own Civil Rights Movement!

    Let us hope that such individuals will arise soon and help along the progression of the Zeitgeist!

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

    Congrats, Ebon! You’ve made the really big Big Time! The Rethuglicans appear to be desperate. I just hope this stuff backfires on them and they lose in a grand manner on November 4. The party is thoroughly despicable right now.

  • http://www.firesigntheatre.com Brian Westley

    While most Republicans seem OK with demonizing atheists, there are a few protests in the comments of this approving redstate.com posting. It hardly seems to be a unifying tactic, even for the far right-wing.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Crush them utterly. Destroy their spirit.

    I spent yesterday afternoon at a MoveOn.Org party phoning people in Missouri and recruiting them for phone banking and canvassing this coming weekend. Signed up seven volunteers.

    Tonight my son goes phone banking here for a local candidate.

    Everybody get your butt in gear and contribute to the coming landslide. Leave everything on the floor at the end of the game.

    Bravo! Dave has it exactly right, friends.

    These are low depths to stoop to, even for the Republicans, and they wouldn’t do it unless they were desperate. They’re really, truly afraid that they’re heading for a loss – in North Carolina, for truth’s sake, a red state that’s given its electoral votes to the Democratic presidential candidate only once in the past forty years (Jimmy Carter was the exception). But Barack Obama has turned it into a bona fide swing state, and Senate polls since mid-September have shown Kay Hagan not just competitive but with a growing lead. The Republicans have resorted to this dirty and shameful appeal to bigotry because it really is their last chance.

    Nothing is set in stone, of course, and last-minute smear campaigns have changed the course of elections before. This is no time to be complacent. What it is is a time to work – to take advantage of the enormous opportunity that we progressives have open to us, both here and around the country. We don’t just want to win; we want to win an overwhelming victory. We don’t just want to hand the Republicans a defeat; we want to hand them a humiliating defeat. We can turn this election into a rout, into a landslide, and deal the party of bigotry and theocracy an electoral repudiation that will leave them fragmented and powerless for a generation. But it’s not going to happen unless we’re willing to push for it. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a swing state or not – everyone can do something. If you can give money, do that. If you can give time, do that. If you can give both, that’s even better. There are countless deserving candidates and progressive organizations that will welcome your contribution and put it to good use.

    The ship of democracy is a huge, heavy thing with enormous inertia. Changing its course requires a million small pushes. But it can be done, and right now we’re at a tipping point. This election, we have an unprecedented power to shape the future. We can teach a decisive lesson to religious bigots who demonize atheists and pander to ignorance as a basic part of their campaign strategy. Do what you can, and leave everything on the road.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    You do realise that PZ Myers is going to be even more jealous of you, now, don’t you?

    Thanks for the link, Brian Westley. It’s a comfort to know that there are people on the right as well as on the left speaking out against the premise of this ad. It really is disgusting.

  • Alex Weaver

    With this ad campaign, the Republican party has clearly stated that not only will they not represent the interests of nonbelievers, they will actively stir up hate against us at every opportunity and use demonization as a tool to win votes. Not just the Dole campaign, but the entire party is complicit in this. Our country is in the midst of an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression; thousands of people are losing their jobs; our health-care system is crippled, our infrastructure is collapsing, we are still utterly dependent on imported oil, and we are still pouring blood and treasure down the sinkhole of an unnecessary war – but the only thing the Republicans have to offer is crying, “Atheist!” Their campaign strategy appeals to the worst in people rather than the best.

    I feel for the Republicans. I mean, traditionally in this sort of situations it’s the Jews that their kind target, but with America’s special relationship with Israel, that probably isn’t going to fly any more, so now they’re having to reinvent the mudwheel…

  • Alex Weaver

    If you can give money, do that. If you can give time, do that. If you can give both, that’s even better. There are countless deserving candidates and progressive organizations that will welcome your contribution and put it to good use.

    I’ve given money. As far as other efforts, I’d like to help but I’m not sure how. What would you suggest for a person with limited time due to school, work, and family responsibilities, a mild autism-spectrum disorder, and associated horrible face-to-face people skills?

  • Nes

    Thanks Robert, I was trying to figure out Ayer’s name (okay, I haven’t been trying very hard, I admit; I’ve been busy).

    I’m in a swing state and got a phone call the other day (a recorded message, not a live person) that said that Obama is a liberal who will implement extreme liberal (leftist?) policies (with the implication that that’s a bad thing) and that he had ties with a domestic terrorist (who I now know is Ayers; I had missed the name during the call) who had bombed buildings and killed American citizens.

    But now that I know the guy’s name, I can see that those acts occurred 40 years ago… when Obama was eight years old. What a nasty, despicable smear that is!

  • CJ

    Between this brazen kamikaze-style attack and the word that Proposition 8 is gaining a slight lead in California, I’m genuinely afraid of the future. I live in Connecticut, the third state to legalize gay marriage, and there will be a question on the ballot for whether we should have a constitutional hearing to amend that little “snafu.” Despite us being one of the more liberal states, I continue to see signs that there are enough people hear who could cause that to genuinely pass. I have enough problems as is fighting for autism-related support (in Connecticut, the benefits stop when you hit a certain age) and I don’t need to fight for my marriage rights at the same time. And even if Obama gets in the White House, we could see a surge in the lunatic fringe who crave a Huckabee/Palin ticket in 2012. I usually can’t stand “if so-and-so wins” threats, since they’re often thrown around casually, but I would seriously consider heading north if Mrs. Bridge-to-Nowhere takes it in November.

  • John

    From your article;
    “But what this ad does show is that the Republican party is the party of theocracy”

    definition of theocracy
    “Theocracy is a form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler”

    from The Constitution;
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    I believe most, if not all Republicans respect the First Amendment. I am not a pure Republican – I fell for Jimmy Carter’s lies and voted for him :(
    Yes, I would like to see a Christian in the presidency, but NEVER would I want the government to establish an official religion. To make people aware of an opponent’s affiliation with atheists is not wrong. Naturally, as a Christian, I would like to have a Christian president, just as naturally as atheists would like an atheist in our nation’s highest office. Of course, Obama claims he is a Christian, but I don’t know, considering the church he was a member of for twenty years. As your so fond in pointing out, some Christians don’t really live a Christian life.

    Obama is favored to win the election. He should be; the cycle is in his favor. He should win this election by a landslide, but the polls predict a tight election. As Americans slowly quit attending church, the country will slowly decline in stature. As China becomes more Christian, China will rise in stature, as well as Latin America. If you’re young enough you will watch this unfold. The one thing that will stem this tide is a national catastrophe of Biblical proportions – that, as usual always brings families together, and brings people to churches. For me, “it is finished.” There is “nothing new under the sun.” No matter what happens, atheists and theists will enter into God, untill He is the “all in all.”

    Enjoy your moment in the sun.

  • John

    A comment on moving “North.” That would be great, but watch out Canada has just made a turn to conservatism.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/19/canadas-conservative-resurgence/

    It seems they are getting tired of liberalism.

  • Crotch

    I’d say more “unsure of the capabilities of pretty much all of our leaders.” Harper may be scary-Conservative, but at least he’s proven himself capable of not wrecking stuff. Whether you like Dion or not, most people just don’t have faith in him.

    I can not cite any sources on that one.

  • Roi des Foux

    …but the only thing the Republicans have to offer is crying, “Atheist!”…

    Actually, they’re crying “Athiest!”

    In the same vein, you know that a bunch of people are going to see that ad and decide to come over here to troll, but when they type daylightathiesm.org into their browsers and end up with a page error, they’ll accuse you of running away by changing your domain name.

  • Dave

    For Alex:

    First, sign up.

  • Dave

    For Alex:

    Clicked the wrong box.

    Second, contact your local democratic committee and find out how to make phone calls from home.

    Also, you can register for a MoveOn.Org party, collect the call list and call from home. See Party.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    John,

    I believe most, if not all Republicans respect the First Amendment.

    Which is why they are seeking to demonize “athiests” and acting as if “athiests” are not deserving of rights and are to be hated.

    Yes, I would like to see a Christian in the presidency, but NEVER would I want the government to establish an official religion.

    Then I trust that you disapprove of this latest ad and of Sen. Dole’s campaign?

    To make people aware of an opponent’s affiliation with atheists is not wrong.

    Oh, so you don’t.

    Of course, Obama claims he is a Christian, but I don’t know, considering the church he was a member of for twenty years.

    Yeah, and look at his middle name for FSM’s sake! He’s a Muslim, a Muslim I tell you!

  • http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/ BruceA

    John -

    As Americans slowly quit attending church, the country will slowly decline in stature. As China becomes more Christian, China will rise in stature

    Probably so, but it will be a coincidence. China’s economic growth will lead to more contact with Western ideas, and Christian missionaries are poised to reap the benefits. The U.S. is on top of the world economically, so we have nowhere to go but down, just at the time when American churches are stagnating.

    The Roman Empire was pagan when it was the great world power, and as it became more Christian, it declined in power. So I wouldn’t put much stock in any equation between Christianization and secular stature.

  • Leum

    Any Nevadans here? The chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee is John Ensign, one of your senators. You can send him a letter at:

    The Honorable John Ensign

    National Republican Senatorial Committee

    Ronald Reagan Republican Center

    425 2nd St NE

    Washington DC, 20002

    Changing the subject, I have to say this had shocked me. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such explicit anti-atheist bigotry from such a high source. It’s one thing to see it in Sen. Dole’s campaign, quite another to see it coming from the GOP itself. I shouldn’t be surprised, I know, but I am.

    Oh, and John? Sadly, if the Republican Party has done anything over the last eight years, it has been to demonstrate their complete contempt for every amendment that constitutes the Bill of Rights save the Second.

    Finally, my congratulations to Ebon for being such a threat to the American way of life. You know you’re doing the right thing when the Republican Party attacks you.

  • Alex Weaver

    I believe most, if not all Republicans respect the First Amendment.

    Then why don’t they devote even a significant fraction of the effort they expend attacking us to setting their fellow Republicans straight on points like this?

    Dave: anything you can suggest that’s useful but doesn’t involve dealing with people directly? I’m as uncomfortable with phone conversations as real life interaction and my apartment is not of a size or in a state to host a social gathering of any appreciable size.

  • bestonnet

    Coming up at Daylight Atheism:
    In Which I Am Attacked by a U.S. State Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate

    Well I won’t be surprised if I see it.

    LiquidThinker:

    Christmas I’d probably leave alone. I think having a break before beginning the new year is a good thing. A time of reflection during a festive season and all that.)

    Change it back to the pagan summer or winter solstice celebration.

    Chris:

    Take heart – they haven’t connected the dots yet. When major political figures start *blaming* atheists for the breakdown of the economy and infrastructure (not the war though, that’s God’s will) and getting elected on that platform, then this country really will be like 1930s Germany and it’ll be time to flee.

    I doubt there’d be many people who actually buy that, it’s pretty obvious that it was Republican mis-management that caused the problem (and nothing is going to change the publics’ mind).

    Besides, the US hadn’t been recently defeated and forced to pay massive reparations.

    Adele:

    The main problem we atheist face is a lack of organization and unity – the great majority of other minorities have extremely powerful lobbyist groups in Washington working for their forwardment. In many cases, newly fledged atheists do not realize that there are others like them, and feel very much isolated. It is my belief that the most significant thing we could do to forward our rights in Washington and elsewhere is to ORGANIZE.

    That seems to be happening right now.

    Ebonmuse:

    We don’t just want to hand the Republicans a defeat; we want to hand them a humiliating defeat. We can turn this election into a rout, into a landslide, and deal the party of bigotry and theocracy an electoral repudiation that will leave them fragmented and powerless for a generation.

    Ultimately neccessary, though it’ll be interesting to see if the Republicans continue with the theocracy crap or go back to being a respectable conservative party.

    Even more importantly, the Democrats (or at least one of the two major parties, the Democrats seem the most likely though) need to realise that the non-religious are a group worth pandering to, kicking Dole out of the senate would be a good demonstration of that.

    John:

    As Americans slowly quit attending church, the country will slowly decline in stature.

    Unlikely. In terms of relative power the rise of China and India (along with others but those two are the main ones) will reduce the power of the US but US citizens are still likely to have better lives than they have now in the future.

    John:

    As China becomes more Christian, China will rise in stature, as well as Latin America.

    China and Latin America will rise in stature regardless of whether they become more Christian or not.

    But once their standard of living rises to western norms expect religion there to die out, just as it is dying out in the first world.

    A better argument could be made that Christianity caused the decline of the Roman Empire (it probably was somewhat to blame) than that China will rise because of Christianity (when the country will probably never be majority Christian).

    John:

    If you’re young enough you will watch this unfold. The one thing that will stem this tide is a national catastrophe of Biblical proportions – that, as usual always brings families together, and brings people to churches.

    The terrorist attacks on 11/9/2001 didn’t see a permanent increase in religiosity, anything that could would probably put the US in poverty to the point at which US politics would stop mattering (to those of us outside the US at least).

    John:

    A comment on moving “North.” That would be great, but watch out Canada has just made a turn to conservatism.

    The Republicans are so reactionary that actual conservatives look like left-wing pinkos.

    OMGF:

    Yeah, and look at his middle name for FSM’s sake! He’s a Muslim, a Muslim I tell you!

    Next time use the tag.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Next time use the tag.

    I thought the reference to the FSM would keep me clear of Poe’s Law. Maybe not.

  • http://www.DisillusionedWords.com Jeffrey Stingerstein

    Well said. And the McCain campaign is the dirtiest I have ever seen. It seems that when push comes to shove the GOP is willing to reveal its true face, which is that of hate and bigotry. It’s very sad.

  • heliobates

    @ John

    It seems they are getting tired of liberalism.

    Yeah. That would explain two successive minority governments. Canadians applaud fiscal conservatism. Even our Liberal party was fiscally conservative and handed Harper a balanced budget. But every time Harper tries to act on his “base’s” social conservatism, the Canadian people push back.

    From the article:

    For decades, the country’s liberal elites have sought to transform Canada into a North American version of Scandinavia – a multicultural social democracy characterized by economic dirigisme, moral permissiveness and a United Nations-first internationalism. The results have been devastating: declining standards of living, crushing levels of taxation, growing lack of national cohesion, sky-rocketing rise in crime in major cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, massive and uncontrolled immigration, the proliferation of family breakdown, pornography and drugs, and the loss of influence and prestige on the world scene.

    It would take me a year to explain everything wrong with that paragraph, but let me point out that most of Toronto’s problems stem from 8 diastrous years of a provincial Conservative party enacting fiscal and social policies that had demonstrably failed in the United States 20 years previously.

    You can add “Canadian politics” to the long list of things you know nothing about, John.

  • John

    BruceA,
    A coincidence you say? Like you said, “The U.S. is on top of the world economically, so we have nowhere to go but down, just at the time when American churches are stagnating.” I understand atheists would consider this “just a coincidence.” I could just alter a few words of your statement and voila, China is near the bottom of the world economically, so they have nowhere to go but up, just at the time when Chinese churches are rising.

    “The Roman Empire was pagan when it was the great world power, and as it became more Christian, it declined in power. So I wouldn’t put much stock in any equation between Christianization and secular stature.”

    You need to read some history on the fall of The Roman Empire. There are many theories of its decline only one of which is “theory of moral decay.” John Bagnell Bury’s “History of the Later Roman Empire gives a multi-factored theory for the Fall of the Western Empire. He presents the classic “Christianity vs. pagan” theory, and dismisses it, citing the relative success of the Eastern Empire, which was far more Christian.”

    Does this parallel contemporary society? You decide. It is human nature to look for evidence in support of one’s opinion, and not see obvious evidence contrary to formed opinion. No one is truly objective, not even the much vaunted scientist. The best I have personally done is to pray and study The Bible and practice meditation as described in a most excellent book, “Wherever You Go, There You Are.”

    This has been off topic – commenting on your response.

    It is decadence more than atheism which is rising. People are not leaving churches and rushing to embrace atheism. That being said, America is still one of the more churchgoing western societies. But going to church is not everything.
    If Obama wins in November, I will not move “north” I can take it, knowing full well the ultimate outcome of our existence will be accomplished, indeed is already accomplished.

  • John

    You are so smart heliobates. What can I say? I am sure you have all the answers and the headline “Canada’s – Conservative – Resurgence” was misinterpreted by me.

    I suppose Canada is headed for an atheistic theocracy.

  • heliobates

    You are so smart heliobates. What can I say? I am sure you have all the answers and the headline “Canada’s – Conservative – Resurgence” was misinterpreted by me.

    Are you seriously saying that because it’s in a Washington Post (WASHINGTON POST!?!) headline then it must be true?

    You’ve been house shopping in “fucking idiot” territory for a while now, John. Apparently the foundation is laid, the framers are done and the roof should be going up today. I was going to say something about “real estate is ‘location location location’”, but it’s probably better for you to stay where you’re comfortable.

    Cuz, you know, a Washington Post reporter, with an obvious ideological bent, would know a lot more about Canadian politics than a 38 year-old educated CANADIAN voter who’s been following Canadian politics his entire adult life and was around for most of the social changes that Kuchner is trying to blame on liberalism. Most of that nasty shit that liberals are supposedly responsible for happened as a result of federal Progressive Conservative governmental policies, going back to Brian Mulroney.

    Cuz, you know, an article that glosses over: the complete failure of the Conservative Party in their attempt to win a majority government, the complete failure of Stephan Dion’s leadership campaign for the Liberals, the strong showing of the Bloc, the fact that the NDP increased its share of seats, and the coincidence of the lowest voter turnout in Canadian federal election history… in its rush to proclaim a triumphal conservative resurgence couldn’t possibly be suspect in its conclusions or its reasoning. Admit it, you just read the headline and that was good enough for you. How stupid do you look right now.

    I suppose Canada is headed for an atheistic theocracy.

    There is no prestige associated with constantly advertising your intellectual neighbourhood, John. We know you’re an ignoramus. You don’t have to prove it with everything you post.

    To paraphrase Thunderf00t: “Why do people laugh at John? Only John doesn’t understand.”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    A coincidence you say? Like you said, “The U.S. is on top of the world economically, so we have nowhere to go but down, just at the time when American churches are stagnating.”

    Actually, the rise of the West was less a contribution of Xianity as it was a movement toward secularization and Enlightenment principles, as well as some other factors highly unrelated to religion. But, keep telling yourself that correlation implies causation – that somehow the culture that is predominantly Xian somehow rose up because of that.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    In the same vein, you know that a bunch of people are going to see that ad and decide to come over here to troll, but when they type daylightathiesm.org into their browsers and end up with a page error, they’ll accuse you of running away by changing your domain name.

    Yeah, I was thinking how incompetent these dorks are, they can’t even spell the name of Adam’s web site properly.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    A better argument could be made that Christianity caused the decline of the Roman Empire (it probably was somewhat to blame) than that China will rise because of Christianity (when the country will probably never be majority Christian).

    Bestonnet, I once believed that to be the case with the Roman Empire, but afer further reading, it doesn’t seem to be true. For one thing, the eastern half of the empire was more Christian than the western half, and yet the Eastern Empire not only endured, under Justinian it expanded and recovered many of the territories in the west.

    What did the Western Empire in was the failure to recover its North African provinces from the Vandals in a series of expensive and botched campaigns. North Africa was the wealthiest part of the Western Empire and its greatest source of tax revenue. Once it was lost, a vicious circle set in. The Western Empire could no longer afford to raise armies, which meant the loss of further territory and even more tax revenue. And the Eastern Empire had problems of its own and could no longer afford to prop up the West.

  • John

    Helio

    “There is no prestige associated with constantly advertising your intellectual neighbourhood, John. We know you’re an ignoramus. You don’t have to prove it with everything you post.”

    You remind me of Khan in the Star Trek movie.

    I am laughing at your superior intellect.

    Since you’re an avowed atheist, I am laughing at the fact that you believe in spontaneous generation – and you’re so smart.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Since you’re an avowed atheist, I am laughing at the fact that you believe in spontaneous generation – and you’re so smart.

    You mean “abiogenesis” right? Not “spontaneous generation,” right?

  • John

    OMGF,

    Oh, so now we have a fancy name for it – abiogenesis. So clever.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Well, I want to make sure that you use the correct terminology, because it matters in this debate. When Louis Pasteur disproved “spontaneous generation” he was looking for the spontaneous generation of fully formed life forms that had evolved over millions of years to happen in a poof. Abiogenesis is quite different from this and is not related to that earlier experiment. If anything, Miller and Urey proved that life can arise from a pre-biotic soup of organic material building blocks.

    That’s why I want to be specific about this. Which one are you referring to?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    You know what I really love about this video?

    The places where they are so obviously quoting people out of context. The place where Ellen Johnson says we should be “hanging ourselves now.” The part where David Silverman says about Christmas, “I don’t think it should be a federal holiday.” In both cases they were obviously cut off mid-sentence, in the middle of making some point. It’s such a sleazy tactic.

    And like Ebon and others, I’m also struck by how the very existence of atheists — and the fact that atheists want our voice to be heard in the political arena — is seen, by definition, as evil. If they ran an ad like this substituting the word “Jew” for “atheist,” their campaign would be widely excoriated in the mainstream media. But apparently, it’s okay to be openly bigoted against atheists. Charming.

  • http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/ BruceA

    John -

    A coincidence you say? Like you said, “The U.S. is on top of the world economically, so we have nowhere to go but down, just at the time when American churches are stagnating.” I understand atheists would consider this “just a coincidence.”

    Yes, but I’m not an atheist.

  • heliobates

    I am laughing at your superior intellect.

    Superior? Maybe to you, John, but you don’t set the bar very high.

    Since you’re an avowed atheist, I am laughing at the fact that you believe in spontaneous generation – and you’re so smart.

    Aw fuck it. I can’t do it any more. The point at which it becomes ethically wrong to poke fun at someone is the day you realize they spent the ride to school licking the windows.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Hey- don’t mock Khan! He was genetically engineered specifically to complement Shatner’s hammyness. It is worth noting that he is different depending on wheter we are talking about Space Seed and the Wrath of Khan.

    As it is, rationalists (which we have a good number of here) tend to frown a blatant anti-intellectualism.

    As for hating atheists… don’t feel bad. Remember? “Obama is an Arab and…” -”No he isn’t. He is a good family man”.

    Gays are even lower on the totem poll than atheists- what father would let their daughter marry a gay man?

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    TripMaster Monkey “The Republicans’ platform has always been fear, hatred and greed. Atheists are just the next target of opportunity.”
    Well, it hasn’t always been that way. The parties used to be much more heterogeneous than they are now. This is why, when the Right needs to smear the Left by pointing out how someone great from their party (besides Reagan, but that’s a whole other argument) did great things (like free the slaves) they have to reach way, way back. Back, as in Lincoln. To illustrate further, William Jennings Bryan belonged to the Democratic Party. Can you see that happening now?
    Something changed around the time of the Civil Rights movement. Then came the Southern Strategy. Then came the formation of the modern Christian Right in the 70′s, and its rise in the 80′s.
    To sum up; the past looks wrong to modern eyes because the two parties now aren’t what they used to be. Republican/Democratic used to be about states right vs. central power, but even that is oversimplified. To wit: Lincoln -> Republican + Emancipation Proclamation, doesn’t wash, as a executive order by the President that, effectively, attempts to negate state authority is the opposite of Republicanism.
    To sum up my summation: history is far messier than people give it credit for.

    Adele “I myself am quite seriously considering a move to Montreal, my birthplace…”
    Depending for how long you’ve been away, it might be a good idea to start out west, then slowly move east as you acclimate. If you’ve been away for a long time, the sudden shot of Canadian beer and smoked meats to your bloodstream will kill you. If you start of in BC, you’ll get Canadian beer and smoked salmon, which is almost good for you. Oh, I completely forgot about poutine! Yup, definitely start out west.

    John “Naturally, as a Christian, I would like to have a Christian president, just as naturally as atheists would like an atheist in our nation’s highest office.”
    As an American, I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll get one no matter what. As an atheist, I say that I don’t care about their religion or lack of it (with the minor exception of me not wanting one that thinks we’re in the End Times anywhere near the corridors of power, much less the Bomb). I care about competence, not piety.

    “Of course, Obama claims he is a Christian, but I don’t know, considering the church he was a member of for twenty years.”
    One: it’s a Christian church. That’s why it’s called a church.
    Two: Know them by their fruits (yes, we read the Bible too). A Christian is only a True Christian if he or she exhibits those characteristics (and I hope you can see the irony of me having to point that out to a Christian).

    “He should win this election by a landslide, but the polls predict a tight election.”
    The last half of that is because a democracy elects the people it deserves. Remember that if you’re an average American, half of your fellow countrymen are dumber than you.

    “As China becomes more Christian, China will rise in stature, as well as Latin America.”
    That should read, “As China’s centralized power structure very slowly yields to more democractic ideals as the middle class expands, because they make all of our crap, and increases pressure on the old guard for their rights (as well as the inevitable dying-off of the old guard), it will rise in stature.”
    I don’t see the same thing happening for Central America. We don’t by much more than fruit from them and, I hate to point this out, they already are Christian. Really Christian. That’s one of the few areas left where the Pope has real power.

    “The one thing that will stem this tide is a national catastrophe of Biblical proportions – that, as usual always brings families together, and brings people to churches.”
    Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable that God has the most power when His people are miserable? A dog that’s beaten will look to its master for affection, but that doesn’t justify the beating (if He is, and He’s 3-O’d, then He is in control of everything, including either creating or not preventing harm). How come characteristics that would be considered reprehensible in a person are good in a deity?

    “For me, “it is finished.”
    Dude! No spoilers! I haven’t got to the end of the book yet!

    “There is ‘nothing new under the sun.’”
    You need to look around more. There’s new things happening all the time. Why, just last week I fell down the stairs. It was awesome.

    “A comment on moving “North.” That would be great, but watch out Canada has just made a turn to conservatism.”
    Keep in mind, of course, that in general America’s Center is Canada’s Right.

    OMGF “Yeah, and look at his middle name for FSM’s sake! He’s a Muslim, a Muslim I tell you!”
    Now you’re just being silly. Look at his last name. He’s clearly Irish.

    and finally…
    John “Oh, so now we have a fancy name for it – abiogenesis. So clever.”
    Settle down. The adults are talking.

  • Justin

    John- try to understand the difference between spontaneous generation and abiogenesis. Spontaneous generation was the belief that, for example, you could create bees by leaving a dead bear carcass in a shed for some months. (I’m not kidding: an ancient Roman poet gave that advice as a recipe for creating bees (who would of course create honey).

    Abiogenesis, however, has some experimental support. The base components of DNA/RNA (amino acids) have been shown to spontaneously assemble (see Miller-Urey experiment). It is not a stretch to think that, given the billion years between the formation of the Earth and the beginning of life, a sort of self-replicating molecule could continue to become more complex until it meets all the characteristics of genuine life.

    I would also like it if you explained the relationship between Christianity and the economy, without using “tithing” in the explanation. Fact is, what really keeps this country great is the adherence to the democratic values of the Enlightenment, values opposed by the writers of the Bible. Our born-again Christian president has ignored the Bill of Rights. He has therefore (partly) contributed to other nation’s negative opinions of our country, no doubt.

  • valhar2000

    He has therefore (partly) contributed to other nation’s negative opinions of our country, no doubt.

    Indeed: it is because of people like him who came before that in the rest of the world it is considered reasonable to ignore american views and ideas because they are american.

  • Alex Weaver

    Justin – try to understand the difference between someone who’s honestly confused and arguing in good faith to the best of his understanding, and someone who’s ignorant, proud of it, and abjectly trolling.

  • bestonnet

    John:

    It is decadence more than atheism which is rising. People are not leaving churches and rushing to embrace atheism.

    Yet the teenage pregnancy rate is dropping (and is lower in blue states).

    As for rushing to embrace atheism, apathy is pretty much atheism anyway (and if it isn’t for this generation their children have a high likelihood of not picking up god belief and not sticking with it even if they do pick it up). The ‘new’ atheists have sold a lot of their books though.

    Greta Christina:

    The places where they are so obviously quoting people out of context.

    The fundamentalist nut cases won’t think it’s obviously out of context (<sarcasm>only atheists quoting the nasty parts of the bible ever quote things out of context, creationists and republicans never quote out of context<sarcasm>).

    Samuel Skinner:

    Gays are even lower on the totem poll than atheists- what father would let their daughter marry a gay man?

    What gay man would want to marry someone’s daughter?

    What daughter would want to marry a gay man?

  • Polly

    Now you’re just being silly. Look at his last name. He’s clearly Irish.

    A little off-topic, but then again, if we’re already talking about spontaeous generation…

    Obama actually IS IRISH! The IrishTimes traced his ancestry to Dublin.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Sorry- sarcasm doesn’t translate well over the internet. I find it just a funny mental image…

  • Maynard

    I rarely comment but often read. This is one of three sites that I visit regularly. It’s one of my favorites because love the comments more than the articles or topics (no offense Adam, I do love your articles). I get as much, if not more, from the comments. I’m one of those converts who never really understood religion so it was just natural for me to turn to an agnostic/atheistic view.

    I am a white male in a heterosexual relationship. We have been together for ten years but are not married. Why? Why should we? We are committed to one another and a cermony, religious rite, or govenment document will not change how we feel about each other. I think that many homosexual couples feel the same way, but they are faced with the fact that in most places they cannot have what the two of us take for granted.

    I grew up in a small (pro-America according to Palin, et.al.) town in Oklahoma. Small town values are great, once you get past the closed-minded, bigoted, scared ideals of those who relish in it. I have been in the liberal island of Austin, TX since 1996. I look at what I see now, around me here, and what I know from my upbringing. You can look at the YouTube clips of the ignorant and racist screaming against Obama and pity them, but I know them. All of them. Not by name but by familiarity. And I am scared! Scared that what I thought was penned in by the borders of those small towns only to realize that they branch out and connect to others and so on.

    After I realized the hijacking of science by the Young Earth’ers I started to slowly become more active. I always thought my godless views were best kept to myself which is where I feel all religious views should remain.

    I agree, it is time to stand up for those of us who demand evidence for the befiefs that others claim to know in their heart. This campaign shows that the real issues are no longer supportive, and they must appeal to the worst in people to bring votes. 15-16% is a large portion of the American population that can bring about real change. Let’s all get out and vote. Remember that what is considered an extreme view today can be the norm in a single generation.

  • Leum

    Hi Maynard.

    This campaign shows that the real issues are no longer supportive, and they must appeal to the worst in people to bring votes.

    Yes, the Republican Part is morally and intellectually bankrupt. It has nothing to offer anymore except for hate, greed, cynicism, and corruption. Hence we are seeing not just negative campaigning, but recklessly stupid and pointless negative campaigning that, as our host noted, isn’t even well-designed.

    Is this scary, should we be afraid? Yes. In a desperate attempt to win the GOP has finally abandoned all semblance of honor and is tapping into the very worst side of American culture. But I do not think this can be successful for very long (small comfort though that may be in the next 4-8 years should McCain become President). The hope for a better life will win out, in the end, against the fear of change. My only fear is that things will get horrifically worse before they get better.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Polly “Obama actually IS IRISH! The IrishTimes traced his ancestry to Dublin.”
    Aw, nuts. It’s not as funny if it’s true. *pout*

    Leum “..but recklessly stupid and pointless negative campaigning…”
    Yes, but look at their market.

    “…that, as our host noted, isn’t even well-designed.”
    Elitist! I suppose you granola eating, wine drinking, teeth brushing, sock wearing, lib’rul elitists can do better?

  • varlo

    How could they have overlooked the fact that Obama once ate at the same restaurant patronized by Jeffrey Daumer. Surely that proves that he is a stealth cannibal.

  • windy

    Oh, so now we have a fancy name for it – abiogenesis. So clever.

    Darn kids and their new fangled ’70s slang! (the eighteen seventies, that is.)

  • http://www.rantsnraves.org Janice Rael

    I am so proud of you, Ebon.

  • kelson

    John,

    One, the rise of Eastern Empire? I’m pretty sure basically none of them were Christian. Hell the largest empire in the history of the world didn’t change anyones religion at all. The Mongols, 3 completely separate faiths Islam, Christianity and Buddhism existed within their empire. And the Japanese and Chinese dynasties were not Christian. (the japanese followed Shinto, and the Chinese practiced taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Folk religions) As for the western cultures, they came to prominence during the period of enlightenment where rational thinking was considered the greatest virtue. With Voltaire being an atheist and Nietzsche declaring “god is dead”. In fact Christianity produced what is known as the “dark ages” by writing over the vast majority of scientific knowledge to create prayer books. In fact they even wrote over Archimedes’ The Method, the contents of which would not be rediscovered until Goefred Liebniz and Sir Isaac Newton. (aka Infinite Summation or the foundations of calculus)

    In all honesty I don’t believe in anything until it is proven to me. You come in here asking for proof of nothing when in reality the burden of proof lies on the affirmative. Abiogenesis was shown in the miller-urey experiments in which amino acids were generated when a mixture of methane, water, ammonia and hydrogen were exposed to a pair of electrodes. You believe something that was written 1400-1800 years ago and touting it as fact. You completely ignore scientific evidence that you don’t want to hear. You are closed minded and an ignoramus. So stop trolling and go away.

  • mike

    Heh, just noticed this:

    Note the doleful music

    Nice one, mikespeir!

  • Alex Weaver

    One, the rise of Eastern Empire? I’m pretty sure basically none of them were Christian. Hell the largest empire in the history of the world didn’t change anyones religion at all. The Mongols, 3 completely separate faiths Islam, Christianity and Buddhism existed within their empire. And the Japanese and Chinese dynasties were not Christian. (the japanese followed Shinto, and the Chinese practiced taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Folk religions) As for the western cultures, they came to prominence during the period of enlightenment where rational thinking was considered the greatest virtue. With Voltaire being an atheist and Nietzsche declaring “god is dead”. In fact Christianity produced what is known as the “dark ages” by writing over the vast majority of scientific knowledge to create prayer books. In fact they even wrote over Archimedes’ The Method, the contents of which would not be rediscovered until Goefred Liebniz and Sir Isaac Newton. (aka Infinite Summation or the foundations of calculus)

    In fairness, I think he was referring to the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire, which was primarily Christian for most of its history, up to its conquest by hordes of Islamic heathens, which John’s “Christians win” view presumably conveniently ignores.

  • Anon-e-moose

    We in the UK elected Edward Heath as Prime Minister in the early 70s – and he was single, and an Atheist! See, America? An unmarried president who doesn’t believe in a ‘God’. Why not try it sometime? It won’t kill you.

  • MS Quixote

    No opinion, just reporting. I saw a fairly critical and unfavorable report of Dole and a related ad on cable news this evening. The story might be picking up a little steam.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    For those who are interested in a post-mortem, McClatchy has an interesting article today, ‘Godless’ ad drove support to Elizabeth Dole’s opponent. I especially like this part:

    Turns out, Dole’s opponent Kay Hagan got 3,600 contributions within 48 hours of Dole airing of the controversial ad, which centered on Hagan’s attendance at a fundraiser at the Boston home of someone active in the atheist community.

    I do believe Daylight Atheism readers can count themselves in as the source of at least some of those contributions. And I hope this election has sent a strong message to future religious demagogues: Inciting anti-atheist bigotry pays off, all right – for your opponent.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X