This is Why Dave Silverman Rocks

American Atheists‘ President Dave Silverman recently appeared (sans goatee) on Fox & Friends to discuss Texas Governor Rick Perry‘s upcoming Pray-a-thon. He handled himself beautifully:

This clip should be mandatory viewing for classes on How to Handle the Media.

It’s not just that Dave got off a lot of important points in a hurry, which is not as easy as it sounds.

It’s not just that Dave said the line, “This is a political attempt to cover his incompetent butt”… though that was pretty awesome.

It’s the last two seconds of the clip. You can’t help but smile after watching it. He managed to squeeze in the most important piece of information when you didn’t think he could say anything more :)

Well done, Dave!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    Hey! When I Share FA pages on FB now it comes with a neat little “Patheos” logo. How unintended…

    Funny name, Patheos. Immediately invokes thoughts of the words “pathos”, “pathogen”, “pathological”, “pathetic”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    “Pathogeneos”, where people come to spread their memes around…

  • Carmen Zepp

    I agree he did a really good job during the “discussion,” but I actually thought (when I saw it initially a few days ago) that the plug at the end was sorta…well…unprofessional. It made him look desperate to recruit people to the cause instead of simply being the voice of reason. (Which I’m sure he would like to recruit people to the cause–as would I–I just don’t feel that was the time or place for a plug.)

    • fiddler

      The plug was a good thing. If you want to hear more about religion, you can look anywhere for a representative and find one. When you want information on secularism or atheism, you have to search for it and will often find false information. In order for people to actually know the stance and reasoning, he gave the web address, and I’m glad.

  • Surgoshan

    The problem with Texas?  God just hasn’t realized there’s a problem yet!  We just need to turn up the volume!  God, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

  • Rich Wilson

    I counted 65 seconds for Hiram and 68 for David, not counting the over-each-other at the end.  So not bad given the venue.

  • Newavocation

    Come on it’s a smoke screen to sign up gullible Xians to give all the money and time they can to Perry’s run for president. 

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      I rather agree with you.  But if his presidential run doesn’t pan out, he can also use the smoke screen for his other political ambitions. 

      But I think the main issue is the
      inappropriateness of using one’s political office to advance religion.  I
      think this is inappropriate regardless of whether or not their other policies
      are well thought out.

      • Newavocation

        Frankly, I think it’s inappropriate to use one’s political office to advance your personal financial gain when you leave office too.

  • AthesistJD

    I am disappointed in Silverman here.  We have a great legal argument to make, but his interview turned the debate political.  And while yes, I assume that there are more atheist Democrats than atheist Republicans, politicizing the conversation seems, to me, to be the exact opposite of what we want to do in order to reach a broader base. Furthermore, his criticisms of the educational system in Texas are simply wrong (http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html).

    • Red

      I agree.  Silverman makes a good point, but the constitutional argument should be repeated every day until they understand that the constitution they claim to treasure is being violated every time they do crap like this.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cartman86 Brice Gilbert

        Well we do have a national day of prayer…two wrongs don’t make a right, but I question if the judges in this country see things like this as unconstitutional.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miles-McCullough/1026691196 Miles McCullough

          The national day of prayer has been repeatedly challenged in the courts and only survives by the skin of its teeth on the grounds that it does not support any particular religion or any particular church and is therefore all inclusive. It does not justify what Rick Perry is doing at all, and Dave should have made that point imo.

        • http://www.eurovisionamerica.com/ Michael Gordon

          I see a significant difference between the NDoP and this event. The NDoP pushes religion over non-religion which is debatably constitutional. This event pushes a particular type of Christianity over all other religions. That’s what the First Amendment is there to protect.

          That said, I still think the event is constitutional, as long as Gov. Perry and each attendee is using personal, and not state, resources to fund the event, the publicity, and his/her own attendance.

          This is one more place where, as an almost-lawyer, I cannot agree with the FFRF’s tactics. They take the wrong cases to court — cases that they will lose, and cases that just make atheists look bad.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

      You linked to a guy who argues that the educational differences are due to race?  Seriously? 
      For the record, there is a correlation, and it is due to poverty.   And while it is true Texas may not be dead last, on ACT/SAT scores, Silverman only cited SAT scores, so it is impossible to tell from your link if he is wrong or not on that point.  He probably is though.

      The problem is poverty, and the poverty in Texas is directly linked to the Republican’s economic plans in the state.  Although, going on Fox News and dissing Republicans seems like a waste of breath.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

    I think Hiram Saesser did a great job of making a case of religious infringement in government.

    • kat

      I thought so, too! Just because every government official we have tries to ram religion down our throat doesn’t mean it’s OK… or legal. Or a good idea. Or proof of god.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miles-McCullough/1026691196 Miles McCullough

    Not that it’s a huge deal, but it would be nice if Hemant could avoid linking to any of Murdoch’s websites.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t that impressed.  I think Silverman’s probably right about Perry having an ulterior motive (although I think it’s to get elected President), but an accusation isn’t much of an argument.  It ought not be right for Perry to do what he’s doing, but we’re just kicking against the pricks.  I say let them have their little prayer meeting, but trumpet it loud and clear when no obvious good comes of it.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    What happened to his evil goatee? :(

    The other guy said something to the effect of: “Many presidents have done it, Obama’s doing the same thing Perry’s doing, so why are you speaking against it?”

    I would have replied: “They’re both wrong.”

    I do like how he made the point that Perry is using Christianity, manipulating them. (And in so doing, Silverman’s speaking to them rather than at them.) Which says that Christianity, per se, is not the problem here: it’s the manipulation, and doing so in a government context in violation of the first amendment.

    • Heisenberg

      I agree with you. I think he’s tweaking his approach. Maybe we can tap into that crazy conservative mind. We all know how they hate to be duped by the government so if we can try and show them that their own belief systems are being used against them by the politicians they trust, then that’s a good thing. We may not win anyone over to the side of reason but it will help us all look like we care about morality more than the battle of god vs no god.

  • http://twitter.com/rohit_ajitkumar Rohit Ajitkumar

    Well played! But that goatee was iconic. He should have kept it.

  • Magnum

    I hate that bits like this are so short, so much more could have been said.

  • Magnum

    The goatee was iconic for us, not for the people David is trying to change the minds of. I think he’s doing what he needs to do for a better chance of being accepted by a group of people who want any reason to hate him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    “He handled himself beautifully”

    He handled himself better than he has in the past.   I think few Christians will buy his gambit.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com/ Kaleena

    He looks so much better without the facial hair! Good choice!

  • Brian O’Neil

    Meh. I didn’t find him effective at all. The format here is not conducive to making any kind of argument. The claim that Texas is ranked last in education and SAT scores is dubious at best. According to whom? The NAEP suggests that as of 2009 Texas was above average in most areas. When I look at SAT scores by state, I see Texas at 45th, and find the rankings practically meaningless because of the huge disparity in the participation percentage. The rankings are a much better indicator of how many students in each state take the SAT than they are of how well the education system performs. I agree with Silverman’s opposition to Perry’s prayer stunt, but the throwing out of dubious statistics should not be something that advocates of reason and science engage in.


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