All This Anger because of Two Atheists?

Remember how the Secular Student Alliance was represented at a meeting of the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships a couple weeks ago? The topic was Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses. SSA’s Executive Director August Brunsman and Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein were there on behalf of the non-theist community.

Two guys.

There were a total of 110 participants, not including White House staff.

You do the math.

The SSA issued this statement about the meeting.

“Our inclusion in today’s meeting is a welcome acknowledgement that secular students have been working to make a positive difference in the world,” said Brunsman. “As more and more students openly identify as nontheistic, we are taking a greater role in the charitable interfaith community.”

The right-wing OneNewsNow website just found out about the meeting and MAN are they pissed. Here’s reporter Bill Bumpas:

Student atheist leaders are bragging that they were recently invited to the White House to participate in a meeting on interfaith service projects on college campuses.

The Secular Student Alliance boastfully proclaimed on its website that a couple of its leaders attended the June 7 meeting sponsored by the Obama administration’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Bishop Harry Jackson with the Fellowship of International Churches tells OneNewsNow he believes the White House is trying to expand the tent of faith to include atheists and non-religious people as a way to discredit Bible-believing evangelicals.

“I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century,” Jackson said.

He argued that, in the 20 years that President Obama sat under the preaching of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama was exposed to a worldview that included aberrant ideas. For example, Wright likened the Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan, said the U.S. had brought the 9/11 terrorist attacks on itself, and insisted that the U.S. government had invented HIV as a way to kill minorities.

“Then it stands to reason that you would not see anything wrong in including all these kinds of folks [atheists] in your religious program,” Bishop Jackson said, “and you kind of feel like this is what America really is like and this is what the faith community should be like because this is the world you as a president had experienced in your pre-presidential days.”

The White House, he believes, has bought into the concept that America is no longer a Christian nation.

If someone can please explain to me any logic in that piece, I’d appreciate it. Especially the connection between the KKK and 9/11 and HIV and including atheists in an interfaith dialogue.

Also, let’s set the record straight… again. America never was a Christian nation.

For what it’s worth, “Bible-believing evangelicals” were invited to that White House meeting, too. As were Muslims and Hindus and Jews and Buddhists…

It’s called “interfaith” for a reason. They wanted a diversity of viewpoints. We have a viewpoint different from most everyone else. That’s why the Secular Student Alliance was honored to be invited. I know we don’t want the White House talking about faith at all, but if they’re going to do it, I’d rather have us inside the tent when that happens.

***Update***: A friend points out that Bishop Harry Jackson doesn’t know his science when he uses the phrase “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals”:

Neanderthals evolved about a million years after our ancestral line started walking upright. Not too many knuckle-draggers in the normal Neanderthal crowd.


  • Sarah

    I don’t know what to say. It hurts my brain.

  • Aaron

    I don’t really mind being accused of trying to discredit “bible-believing evangelicals”, really.

    I thought BBE’s did not believe in Neanderthals.
    Oh, and this guy just made sure that BBE’s look like Neanderthals, although, I think that is an insult to Neanderthals, who IIRC had bigger brains then we do.

  • Silent Service

    I think Bishop Jackson is doing a fine job of looking like a nuckle-dragger all by himself.

  • Lifer

    Neandertals vanished about 3000 years ago by my bible math. They were pretty wild in bed and had no use for gods.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18869-neanderthal-genome-reveals-interbreeding-with-humans.html

  • CatBallou

    I’m sure he meant to refer to those Neanderthals who did drag their knuckles, rather than to the entire group.

  • Nicole

    Unsurprisingly, under the article there’s a link to another one about new evidence that vaccines cause autism.

    ._.

  • Allison

    @Nicole –

    Did you click through? Because it was an extra-special round of crazy on the other side. The “special ingredient” that causes autism is apparently tissue from aborted fetuses. OhNoes!

  • Phoena

    “I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century,” Jackson said.

    No, they do a fine job of making themselves look that way, no help needed from us. Perhaps if they believed in logic, reason, science and equality they wouldn’t be seen as such.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    reporter Bill Bumpas

    Making fun of his name would be too easy, I’m not going there.

  • Betsy

    Apparently atheists are just lumped in with the socialist elitists that are ruining the country. I’m insulted. Shouldn’t we be scarier?

  • Evilspud

    The portions about HIV, the KKK and 9/11 are not significant to the article itself, but a fleeting glimpse int othe secret communication of journalists.

    We describe our interviewees not to provide a background, but to informed other journalists of the kind of people we’re dealing with, and what we think of them.

    The above loosely translates to whack-job.

  • Randy

    Hey, I dated a girl from Bumpass, VA!

  • Claudia

    ***Update***: A friend points out that Bishop Harry Jackson doesn’t know his science when he uses the phrase “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals”:

    Neanderthals evolved about a million years after our ancestral line started walking upright. Not too many knuckle-draggers in the normal Neanderthal crowd.

    Ah, the quiet murmur of nerds, is their more beautiful a sound? I love this blog lol.

    As for Mr. Bumpgrind (or whatever), if he is a hardcore evangelical he also believes that the universe was created around the time that glue was being invented, so I’m not exactly shocked to see that his reasoning skills aren’t exceptional.

  • Nicole

    @Allison – I did, but it made me feel sick to type it out. I thought it’d be more fun to let the first adventurous person to read my comment go discover it for themselves ;)

  • Ann

    I’m a Humanist, who just got ordained as an interfaith minister this past Sunday! (oh, and this article hurt my head, too) In the two years I was in my chaplaincy program, my classmates came to know and respect me. Our graduation invitation, and one of my classmate’s interfaith ordination stole, included the Humanist symbol/little guy. And the school has asked me to teach classes on Humanism/atheism!

    That’s quite a distance from my first year, when my spiritual advisor told me that Greg Epstein couldn’t have been on the Harvard interfaith council (therefore I was a liar) and that she was gonna tell the administration on me! Although we have an evangelical friend who is drifting away from the hard core, I think evangelicals are just illogical and whacked by definition!

  • Jon Peterson

    @Nicole:

    What’s especially scary is that the “study” cannot be true. As the younger brother of a young woman with autism, I’ve continually followed the various studies and done research of my own. As such, when I read that article, I was set off by the red flag Allison already mentioned.

    There is exactly one method of vaccination that utilizes the insertion of DNA into human cells. That method uses genetically engineered DNA created in a lab, and has thus far been used in only one human trial: a 2007 study that successfully attempted to introduce an immunity to Multiple Sclerosis in already-affected patients.

    So not only is there no basis for her allegations against its use on developing human brains (the study consisted of consenting adults, not babies), there’s ABSOLUTELY no basis for even referring to aborted babies at all.

    Whoever gave that woman a PhD should have their education credentials removed.

  • Allison

    Oh, but of course Neanderthals dragged their knuckles. They dragged their knuckles to cover up their tracks to avoid being eaten by dinosaurs because they all had to coexist as should we all on our 6,000 year old world. Duh!

  • Luther

    Obama was exposed to a worldview that included aberrant ideas. For example, Wright likened the Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan, said the U.S. had brought the 9/11 terrorist attacks on itself, and insisted that the U.S. government had invented HIV as a way to kill minorities.

    Sounds similar to the kind of things people are exposed to on Fox “News” every day, and many evangelicals are exposed to every Sunday.

  • Hitch

    I’m not too concerned about some raging person who cannot form a coherent world view. But I see this quite a bit, that evangelical Christians are far less threatened by other faiths than by atheism.

    Little odd given that Greg Epstein spends more time dissing “aggressive” atheists than believers, but these folks don’t look for facts before forming opinions, so not all that surprising. An atheist who acts perfectly compatible with christian values is still worse than anything else.

    But in any case this is more a diss against “liberal” Obama than atheists. We are just a proxy to try to smear him in the eyes of evangelicals.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    Little odd given that Greg Epstein spends more time dissing “aggressive” atheists than believers, but these folks don’t look for facts before forming opinions, so not all that surprising. An atheist who acts perfectly compatible with christian values is still worse than anything else.

    I always want to ask those who complain about “aggressive” atheists—”How would you prefer we behave?”

    The answer is pretty clear, even among religious moderates. They want us to be quiet and deferential to to their “faith.” Anything else is considered “aggressive.”

  • http://stereoroid.wordpress.com/ brian t

    I think we’re being set up … to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century …

    I have to applaud Bumpas for this statement: it shows more self-awareness than we’re used to seeing from bible-thumpers. The next step, in my opinion, is to apply that level of scrutiny to the beliefs he espouses.

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

    You know what gets to me? The fact that the Evil Atheists that Bumpas is so upset about are August Brunsman and Greg Epstein. It steams me that they’re the ones he’s picking on. They’re two of the sweetest guys you could hope to meet.

    Unlike, say… me. Who’s about to unleash a can of whup-ass.

    Guess what, Bumpas? America is no longer a Christian nation. America has officially not been a Christian nation since 1787. And this is what America really is like. America is a religiously eclectic nation: it includes people of many different religious beliefs, and it includes a sizable minority of people with no religious beliefs at all.

    Suck on it. Hard.

  • Erp

    Well if the atheists weren’t there, they would have gone after the Muslims and Hindus, and if those weren’t there, the Buddhists and Jews, and if those weren’t there, the liberal mainline Protestants (or the Catholics), then they would go after each other for not having the right theological views.

    A brief look seems to indicate that Bishop Jackson is definitely not liberal either theological or socially (except for racial equality). He is a bishop in The Fellowship of International Churches which was started in 1994.

  • Dan W

    Wow. Bumpas and Bishop Jackson quoted in that article are really pretty angry about just including atheists in this event. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the White House chose to “…include atheists and non-religious people as a way to discredit Bible-believing evangelicals.” I think the “Bible-believing evangelicals” do a pretty good job of discrediting themselves by their angry reactions to things like including two atheists in a White House interfaith meeting that had 110 participants.

  • fritzy

    “…include atheists and non-religious people as a way to discredit Bible-believing evangelicals.”

    Oh, yes, you self-important ass–it’s all about you and your particular flavor of mythology. And once again, way to play the martyr.

    This makes me wonder–does evangelical Christinsanity attract egotistical and illogical people with a martyr complex or does it cause a person to adopt a egocentric, narrow, logically flawed world-view?

  • http://www.quietatheist.com Slugsie

    I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating. If theists are going to insist (wrongly) that Atheism is a religion, then we should use that to our advantage and point out that we absolutely 100% have the right to be represented in such discussions, and they should just shut up and stop moaning. Given that recent polls suggest that America is around 15% non religious, there should in fact have been considerably more atheists there.

    Of course atheists should be included in such discussions anyway, because we hold a ‘position’ on faith and therefore our ideas should hold value.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    Funny that the post immediately after this is about the Christians thinking Obama said ‘god’ too much to be serious. So which is it guys? Is Obama too religious? Or trying to destroy your tyrannical reign over the US?

  • stormyweather

    “I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century,” Jackson said.

    So the mouth breathing morons drag their knuckles too?

  • muggle

    “If someone can please explain to me any logic in that piece,”

    I’m sorry but I can’t help. I just can’t find any logic there.

  • Richard Wade

    Bumpas and Jackson whining about how ewwww those atheists were invited to the meeting reminds me very much of the racists I used to hear grumbling about “them uppity blacks” (they used a different word) wanting to be a part of society, government and humanity.

    Whine all you want, bigots. Your era is fading.

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