There Are No Atheists in Trapped Mines, Says Bill Donohue

The Catholic League/Bill Donohue hasn’t been getting enough attention lately, so he issued a press release full of lies so he could get back into the spotlight.

The miraculous rescue of all 33 Chilean miners is difficult to understand from a purely secular perspective. In this day and age of militant atheism, coupled with relentless assaults on Roman Catholicism, it is refreshing to read about the central role that Catholicism played in helping these courageous men survive, and of their enormous gratitude to God.

To those who cling to the superstition that there is no meaning to life beyond sheer material existence, we ask them to reflect on the following testimonials. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trapped mines.

There are plenty of atheists in foxholes. Talk to Pat Tillman‘s family. Visit the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. That canard is so easy to refute, it’s amazing people can still get away with saying it.

There may not have been any atheists in the Chilean mine, but Donohue just makes up the notion that there aren’t any atheists in any trapped mine, anywhere. He has absolutely no evidence of that. A trapped miner could say, “I don’t believe in god and I never have,” and Donohue would just repeat the misstatement. He doesn’t care about the truth even when it’s staring him in the face.

He generates fake controversies for a living and he’s crazy enough that news stations love putting him on the air.

Are there any Catholics who take him seriously?

I doubt it.

What I’d really like to know is whether Donohue believes what he says or if it’s all just an act…

(via Justin Vacula’s Blog)

  • Claudia

    I’ve rarely seen more passionate dislike of Donohue then when I asked a conservative Catholic woman about him. She disliked him because she said that he had self-appointed himself to decide when Catholics should take offense at something (hint: all the time) and he was such a tool (my words, not hers) that any legitimate Catholic complaints were obscured by the sheer torrent of silly ones Donohue spouts.

    That said, Donohue is just spouting the bigotry in many people’s minds. What drives me more crazy than the idea that the poorest members of a deeply Catholic society being religious (shocking!) is the cognitive dissonance of thanking God for only keeping you in a pitch black mine for months. This is akin to be shot in the kneecap and thanking the gunman for not shooting you in the head.

    Oh and as for atheists in foxholes, if you want to wash the nasty taste of Donohue out of your mouth (blech) watch this moment of balls-of-steel.

  • Brice Gilbert

    Difficult to come up with a secular reason for the miners survival? Wow! Amazing something that stupid can come from someones mouth.

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com considerthe teacosy

    I’m sure it is difficult to understand the secular reasons for the rescue. I gather there was an awful lot of rather advanced technology used in the rescue, I know I’d need to take more than a couple of evening classes to truly gain an understanding of what was involved. It’s lovely to see an appreciation of the immense work and expertise that went into this.

    …wait, that’s not what they meant?

  • Sue D. Nymme

    I especially liked when God drilled a hole into the mine and transported each miner to the surface individually. Oh, and let’s not forget the manna that He provided so that the miners didn’t starve.

  • Denis Robert

    Bill Donahue’s so-called “Catholic League” is comprised of himself and a few of his cronies. He really cannot claim to speak in any way for Catholics.

    His position on the Death Penalty, for example, makes him just as much a cafeteria Catholic as almost every one else on the planet.

  • http://andrewfinden.com/findothinks/ Andrew

    Presumably, there’s atheists in Chinese mines.. seeing as it’s an officially atheist country.
    (must.. not… make joke about ‘underground church’… )

    More seriously though, it seems difficult for anyone to seriously promote utilitarianism in such scenarios.

  • http://www.davehodgkinson.com/ Dave Hodgkinson

    Andrew beat me to it!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11557581

    Sadly, officially sanctioned Christianity is gaining ground in China at the moment. Pity. It was one of the few reasons to like China.

  • April

    To those who cling to the superstition that there is no meaning to life beyond sheer material existence

    Ummm….does this guy know what “superstition” means? I’ll help, Merriam-Webster’s says: “belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.”

    What is the opposite of superstitious? Oh yeah, skeptical. That’s the word he should’ve used.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Bill Donohue, being his usual distasteful moronic assholiness, is wrong about everything again. 100% record!

  • JD

    I thought it was funny when Atheist Cartoons asked: why does no one praises God for trapping them in a mine?

    Bill’s a certifiable loudmouth, provided you can find a sanctioning body for certifying loudmouths.

    The relentless assaults on Catholicism is mostly people trying to hold the hierarchy accountable for their misdeeds and systematic cover-ups of misdeeds. If you’re making excuses for the hierarchy, then you’re part of the problem.

  • ursulamajor

    My gut feeling is that many if not most religious people really don’t believe themselves, but think that OTHER people need religion to keep themselves from murdering and stealing, etc. They keep up the pretense for the “betterment of society”.

    However, Donahue is just a blowhard that found a soapbox and he’s not coming down.

  • Drew O

    Culturally and statistically speaking, hispanics have a tendency to self-identify as Catholic regardless of whether or not they actually practice the religion.

    Adding to that, much of what passes for “Catholicism” in Latin America is actually a set of syncretic religions combining aspects of traditional Christian worship with ideological remnants of indigenous American cultures.

    I don’t know specifically what the beliefs of any of the people involved are, but holding them up as shining examples of Catholic faith is probably entirely misguided.

  • sspyle

    There may not have been any atheists in that particular mine, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts a few atheists helped to get them out!

  • Matto the Hun

    I think Bill (and the Catholic Church) is just disappointed that it turned out to be miners and not minors trapped in the hole.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    Geeze, Louise, how does this guy keep getting an audience? I mean does anyone take him seriously? At least the usual blowhards have ignorant followers but Donohue’s so bad he can’t muster more than a few of those and has no numbers but still the news keeps quoting him?

    Whatever happened to the days when the news teams would blow off one lone voice, whacko or not unless they had a law suit in progress or had taken hostages, you know something newsworthy? Donohue and the idiot who was going to burn Korans on 9/11? That’s news? They are really scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Maybe it’s a good sign. Maybe they’re needing to.

    Sigh. Unfortunately I know that ain’t true. But to give Donohue any ink boggles the mind when they’ve got enough sound bites from Palin and the Tea Partiers alone. Not to mention your usual gang of idiots.

  • http://gorillaatheist.wordpress.com/ Gorilla Atheist

    The interesting thing is what these statements infer. The idea that people turn to god simply because they are frightened or need help, rather than due to actual belief, would be to label them disingenuous at best. Hardly virtuous for the labeler or labelee alike.

    So, what they really mean is, “Yea! We scared them into being believers like us! Isn’t fear awesome!” Hell, isn’t that Fox News’ whole angle?

  • tim

    The miraculous rescue

    Stopped reading right there. The rescue wasn’t a miracle. The rescue was part of a planned incident response process that involved hundreds of people. I’m glad Donohue is not part of a volunteer fire department or any group that does any sort of incident response or risk management.

  • http://gordonokc.wordpress.com/ GordonOKC

    So what Bill? There are no creepy old men in a mine banging out a pile of nonsense on their keyboard either.

  • http://danialexisblog.wordpress.com Dani

    The miraculous rescue of all 33 Chilean miners is difficult to understand from a purely secular perspective.

    The concerted effort of lots of dedicated and well-trained people and the application of science, advanced technology, and careful planning?

    …Why am I not surprised Bill Donohue finds this “difficult to understand”?

  • Neon Genesis

    Is Bill Donohue seriously claiming atheism is superstitious? Donohue believes the miners’ rescue was somehow a miracle because he’s not intelligent enough to figure out a secular way they could have been rescued but atheists are the ones superstitious?

  • SwedishSkinJer

    There was nothing even remotely miraculous about the rescue. It was a carefully planned, well-executed process with the application of the right technology (you know, those pesky little material things) operated by the right individuals, and it’s a testament to the skill of the workers involved that the miners were able to leave so early.

    It’s amusing to observe that when Donohue rails so forcefully against “militant atheism”, his militant Catholicism is never more evident. I would also like to inform Donohue that my grandfather, even after his long and distinguished service in the United States military, never once abandoned his atheism.

  • http://www.rekounas.org/blog rekounas

    God has never healed a amputee…. THAT IS A FACT!

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    Can’t wait for the day he just keels over from a massive coronary. The way he gets so angry and worked up, it shouldn’t be long, now.

    Hey, Billy, this is God — CALM THE F*CK DOWN!

  • Trent

    Obviously, being trapped in a mine is the best way to discern reality. Isn’t that why the CERN particle collider is way underground??

    Shoot. I might just go Catholic!

  • Traziness

    I’m quite sick of this stupid foxhole saying.
    I’d like to propose a new one for us Atheists to use that will equally annoy the religious folk:
    THERE ARE NO BELIEVERS IN GRAVEYARDS.
    Eat that, theists.

  • Jonas

    Let me paraphrase:

    Non-Divine or Secular Science had nothing to do with the rescue?? Oh ok then — The experiment must not be repeatable — yeah that’s it, sure —

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/18/ecuador.trapped.miners/

    Wonder what he’ll say regarding the ecuadoran miners (see above). — Another case by the way of the inherent danger of mining. I do wish the media would stop using the term ‘Miracle’ with any modifications, to describe all the rescues.

  • Aaron

    The mine was trapped? So the collapse was intentional?

  • littlejohn

    Why did god collapse the mine? Oh yeah, to test their faith.
    I hate that asshat. For whatever it’s worth, my late father, a WWII combat veteran with two purple hearts, was a lifelong atheist who told me several times he never prayed in his life, even when he was near death. I presume he spent some time in foxholes.

  • aspentroll.myid.net

    Donohue doesn’t believe the claptrap he spews one little bit. I believe he is paid big money to try and keep the Catholic myth alive, just the same as most pastors in American churches.

    This is why we see so much antagonism toward atheists and atheism. They are running scared against an idea that may cost them money in the future. These pastors and priests paid a lot of money for their ridiculous choice of an education. Lets just call it an economic downturn or recession for religion.

  • http://www.meaningwithoutgodproject.blogspot.com Jeffrey A. Myers

    There is no secular explanation for the rescue of the miners? How about this:

    Human ingenuity constructed the drilling and boring apparatuses.

    Human machines delivered food and water.

    Human labor operated the machines.

    Human labor opened the mine.

    Sounds like a pretty secular endeavor to me. It’s not like God magicked open the mine.

  • Richard P.

    just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trapped mines.

    Seems to me he was just trying to get atheists to cluck.

  • Canny

    I think it’s legitimate to say that the faith of the miners helped them immeasurably throughout the ordeal. Shortly after their rescue, many of the miners attended a religious service at Camp Hope, one of them was open in how he prayed regularly underground, and most of them were seen wearing t-shirts with religious imagery around the constructed camp, including painted crosses on hard hats.

    No, they may not regain employment after the incident, but due to how publicized their plight was, I’m sure they will gain a small fortune through speaking engagements, book deals, etc. I think God divinely chose them to serve as spokesmen for the seriously falling standards of the mining industry and so they will prosper.

  • Rich Wilson

    And obviously no atheists in the oncology unit either…

  • http://www.anotherdayinthebelt.blogspot.com K F

    It always amuses me when they talk about militant atheism, when really what they mean is out-spoken, rational requesting of evidence.

    By his own marker, he is a militant Catholic. Bill Donohue is not news-worthy, nor should he be looked to for any type of moral guidance or opinions on something he is so clearly biased by. This whole thing is just religious figures trying to make up an excuse to remain relevant in a world where they are growing increasingly irrelevant and worthless.

    And as far as him actually believing the trash that spews from his mouth, I’m convinced he actually does believe every last word of it. It fits right in with the other fundies that he’s crazy enough to completely and totally believe it.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    ursulamajor:

    My gut feeling is that many if not most religious people really don’t believe themselves, but think that OTHER people need religion to keep themselves from murdering and stealing, etc. They keep up the pretense for the “betterment of society”.

    Would that that were true. But no, they almost all really do believe the nonsense, and they’ll twist and rationalize reality as best they can to make it fit their faith.

    I think God divinely chose them to serve as spokesmen for the seriously falling standards of the mining industry and so they will prosper.

    QED.

  • http://2nd-son.blogspot.com/ G*3

    Gorilla Atheist Says:
    > The idea that people turn to god simply because they are frightened or need help, rather than due to actual belief, would be to label them disingenuous at best. Hardly virtuous for the labeler or labelee alike.

    I think that most theists believe that everybody believes in God, and that atheists deny His existence because they’re misguided / ignorant / evil / hate God / out of spite for something bad that happened. The existence of God is thought to be so obvious that, despite the atheist’s claim to the contrary, deep down he really believes. Stress and fear don’t scare the atheist into believing, just into reestablishing a connection with God.

    Kind of like someone who’s mad at his parents and won’t talk to them until something bad happens and he really needs their help.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    K F:

    It always amuses me when they talk about militant atheism, when really what they mean is out-spoken, rational requesting of evidence.

    Quite right. To be a militant atheist, all you have to do is say “hold on a minute, that sounds silly.” The victim complex takes it from there.

  • http://www.meaningwithoutgodproject.blogspot.com Jeffrey A. Myers

    Jehovas Witnesses and Mormons are far more militant than any Atheist I have ever met. You don’t see us banging on people’s doors asking whether they have heard the Good News that they are not fallen evil creatures and there is no Invisible Sky Man waiting to condemn them to eternal damnation. Personally I think that is pretty good news, but we’re not peddling it on streetcorners or on people’s porches.

  • Neon Genesis

    “I think God divinely chose them to serve as spokesmen for the seriously falling standards of the mining industry and so they will prosper.”

    One of the miners had an affair behind his wife’s back. So God chose an adulterer?

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    He’s so full of it I can smell him from here.

  • Noble 6

    Bill Donohue has always struck me as the type of guy who would piss his pants while crying if ever in a foxhole or trapped in a mine.

  • Canny

    Neon:

    Many of us fall short of God’s standards. We are imperfect and sin; thus, we are human. The man who was unfaithful to his wife may yet experience a change of heart in the aftermath of this ordeal, especially in the coming weeks and months.

  • Jon Peterson

    Ugh. Sometimes I wish I had a more public face, so that I could take the opportunity to call this guy out in a way that would generate good (or at least as neutral as possible) press.

    And when I say “sometimes”, I really mean “every time one of these idiots goes and makes an unsubstantiated claim”.

  • Angel

    The statement “no atheists in (insert location here)” is meant to say that people who do not believe in a deity will suddenly start praying to said deity in the face of crisis.

    What I am most puzzled at is the misuse of the statement. With something like 70% of the population of Chile self-identifying as Roman Catholic, I would expect that the chances of any of those miners self-identifying as an atheist to begin with is slim to none. If none of the miners were atheist to begin with, the statement is disingenuous.

    Which, considering the source, isn’t surprising.

  • Jim

    Bill Donohue is the Michael Moore of religious apology. He’s about as un-serious as they come. He has absolutely nothing to add to any debate, except himself and a phony sense of indignation. Even he doesn’t take himself seriously enough to actually put together coherent or meaningful defenses for Catholic bullshit. If the hosts of the TV shows he appears on were honest, they’d introduce him as “some whackjob we gave a mic to who is now going to say stupid, outrageous shit for everyone’s amusement.” Donohue’s an attention whore and an IRL troll.

  • Jonathan

    There are no Christians in foxholes: http://twitpic.com/2ysm75

    Same thing with mines. Why else did they put their faith in modern science based equipment to get saved?

  • Dan W

    Bill Donohue is doing a good job of maintaining his reputation as a bigoted, ignorant, moronic asshole. He’s also quite the real-life attention whore.

  • Richard Wade

    There is soooo much absurdity in this short paragraph:

    The miraculous rescue of all 33 Chilean miners is difficult to understand from a purely secular perspective.

    Can you understand the mine’s collapse from a secular perspective, or are you willing to attribute that to God as well?

    In this day and age of militant atheism, coupled with relentless assaults on Roman Catholicism,

    I guarantee you Bill, that several of the engineers and scientists who designed the precision drilling equipment, and several of the skilled technicians who brought it there and used it with amazing accuracy, ARE ATHEISTS! Maybe none of those particular trapped miners are atheists, but several of the people up on the surface who saved their lives because they can think straight are atheists.

    As for the relentless attacks on Roman Catholicism, tell your buddies to stop being relentlessly greedy, dishonest and predatory, and maybe the attacks will stop.

    it is refreshing to read about the central role that Catholicism played in helping these courageous men survive, and of their enormous gratitude to God.

    They were courageous. And you are shamelessly trying to steal fame from them for your club.

    To those who cling to the superstition that there is no meaning to life beyond sheer material existence, we ask them to reflect on the following testimonials. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trapped mines.

    I hope you’re never trapped in a mine, because when your material existence is on the line, you’ll be willing to take the hand of the atheist who’s risking his life to reach down and get you out. Unless you’d prefer to eschew the secular rescue and just pray your way out. Every time you take a pill, get an inoculation, have an x-ray, eat stored or packaged food, drive your car, walk across a bridge, fly in a plane, or have a plane fly over you, it is very likely that several atheists have just saved your fat, sagging, ungrateful, bigoted ass.

    Maybe you should pray to God to dig you out of that mountain of self-righteousness, vanity and pride in which you’re buried.

  • http://theehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    2 things:

    -I wish someone would drop Bill Donohue in that mine so he could “wait on God” to rescue him. Of course he would then be made a martyr or a saint when it didn’t happen-sometimes there’s no way to win with catholicism except not to play.

    -On a more positive note, I can only hope that when some of the miners realize how the catholic church is using them for its own self-promotion and benefit, that they will take their beads and candles and altars and crap and toss it all down the mine shaft and become posttheists.

    *smiling, imaging Donohue at the bottom of the mine shaft concussed from all that catholic crap thrown down on his head* 😉

  • Gibbon

    Don’t feed the trolls. Bill Donohue has made this absurd and derogatory claim out of sheer hatred to serve his own partisan agenda. All this statement proves is that he is so unscrupulous as to exploit a positive and heartwarming story as a weapon in his own bigoted war against atheists and secularists. If no one responds to him then it makes him look bad.

  • http://knotmyline.com/blog Ron

    Whenever I hear that stupid statement I am reminded what my buddy, a sergeant in the Korean War, told me. He said, in battle, wounded and dying men rarely cried out for god but most often cried out for their mother.

  • http://filipinofreethinkers.org/ Twin-Skies

    Reading Bill Donohue pounce on this incident to whore his agenda almost made me sick.

    Almost, until I followed Justin’s blog post just lol’d. I’d advise the others getting tired of Bill’s vitriol to give it a shot too.

  • FCC

    Guess you’d like to hear that here in Chile, the picture is a little different. The head of the rescue operation (A. Sougarret) said on an interview on one of our main newspapers, last sunday:

    Sougarret: “During the drilling something happened that was clearly outside any engineering logic”

    Reporter: “Is the chief engineer talking about a miracle?”
    Sougarret: “I’d say it was luck. It’s not some kind of a miracle, because we were planning on this to happen […] we needded it (the shaft) to verticalize and change direction on the bottom. And that happened on the last meters, when it`s more unlikely. It landed just on the tunnel’s corner. I mean, we are talking about centimeters. We were lucky there… or maybe we had some help”

    Sounds like, at least, he’s leaving some room for multiple interpretations
    the full interview is available here (spanish) http://tiny.cc/9b1ft
    Sorry for the rusty english! It’s been a while…

  • JSug

    I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I’m catching up on missed posts and couldn’t resist commenting:

    there are no atheists in trapped mines.

    While I can’t agree that this is an absolute truth, I can attest that I would never knowingly go into a trapped mine. Generally, I try to send a rogue in ahead to make sure any traps are disarmed first.