S.E. Cupp Calls Out a Group of ‘Crazy, Militant Atheists’ for… Wait, What?!

It’s hard enough to watch MSNBC’s The Cycle because I just can’t bring myself to watch one of the co-hosts, S.E. Cupp… but she said something stupid (I know, I know, shocking) and it’s now online and since there was something wrong on the Internet, I had to fix it.

First, here’s just a sampling of her rant:

“I envy religious people… I envy the faithful. I would like to be a person of faith, but I’m not there yet…”

“Speaking of atheists, I find atheists — militant atheists — to be among the most intolerant people that I’ve ever come across in my religious-sort-of dealings…”

“I am not one of these crazy, militant atheists — and I say crazy and mean it…”

So what got her so worked up? What the hell did those crazy, militant atheists do?

Did they burn down some churches?!

Did they beat up a flock of pastors?

Did they protest a Baptism?

Nope.

See, the Secular Coalition for America put out a scorecard for the presidential candidates and…

And nothing.

That’s it.

That’s what the crazy, militant atheists did. The Washington Times reported on it yesterday:

President Obama received A’s for accepting evolution, supporting scientifically based regulations and legislation, combating religious discrimination and promoting civil rights.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, received an A for accepting evolution and, in the “God, Faith and Governance” category, for saying he separates matters of faith from political leadership.

Mr. Obama got a C in that category, with the group citing an interview on “Nightline” in which the president said he prays for “guidance” in leading the country.

That’s what got Cupp worked up.

“I find that to be abominable. That is intolerant. That is arrogant. That is not who we are.”

That’s not intolerant. That’s restating the facts. We have a president who takes advice from an imaginary friend (even if it’s harmless). I would hope the advice of his advisors carries a little more weight, but it’s disturbing to think that God is his silent partner when making decisions. Even if it’s a platitude, it’s a silly idea and the Secular Coalition for America is right to factor that in his “grade.”

And, you know, there’s also the whole Constitution thing:


Have a listen to the relevant part of the show (full clip here):

By the way, S.E. (can I call you that?), it looks *really* funny when you don’t want to do your journalistic duty and name the group you’re trashing on TV… while their logo appears on the screen behind you.

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.

  • Blanc_Slate

    Seriously, no comments?

  • Rich Lane

    Cupp has found her gimmick, her shtick, that allows the sheep to remember her when they can’t remember anything else about her.  She uses atheism like Tucker Carlson uses a bow tie.  He wears it so people will at least say “that guy with the bow tie” when they reference his nonsense.   She hopes they’ll say “that pleasant atheist girl.”

    The difference is that Carlson, as loathsome as he is, is merely using a stupid affectation. She’s being totally disingenuous in her opinions to further her career. 

  • Dawny229

    I think it would find it easier to believe that Benny Hinn can cure cancer with his magical god powers…than believe that S. E. Cupp is actually an atheist…it reminds me of those old aspirin commercials “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on t.v.”

    • DaveDodo007

       I agree, I should take bets for when she sees the light.

      • Cynthia McCain

        ha, i should have read yours before I post. I agree completely!

    • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

       Apparently, she’s the world’s first self-hating atheist, if you take her words here at face value.

      • Randomfactor

         Oh, surely not even CLOSE to the first.

    • http://twitter.com/Rickstersays Rickster Rickster

      Benny Hinn, spiritual heir to both Aimee Semple McPherson AND Kathryn Kuhlman,  two major frauds.  got to love him

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wait, don’t religious groups do this all the time? And special interest groups?

    But when *we* do it, we’re crazy?

  • Drew M.

    Who the fuck is that idiot?

  • Cynthia McCain

    wait wait wait… she said “I envy religious people… I envy the faithful. I would like to be a person of faith, but I’m not there yet…”

    Who wants to take bets on how long it is before she undergoes a miraculous conversion… becomes the poster-child for “prominent atheist _________ finds god….”

    I’ll bet she was pissed as hell at whatever her name was from the atheist turing test for stealing her (future) thunder….

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Bet it coincides with her jump to Fox.  Then she can be the expert ‘splaining all about atheists because she was one.

      • http://twitter.com/GeekyMonkey8 Russ Painter

         Yep, it’s all a setup.  Fake being an atheist for a while so she can then claim that she was once broken, but the power of Jesus fixed her.  The Fox News viewers will love it.

    • infidel1000

      Exactly!

  • 3lemenope

    While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is abominable, intolerant, or arrogant to point out a leader’s prayer habits as a point of criticism, it does seem a bit petty to me. Atheists believe, by and large, that when a person is praying to an entity they’re really just talking to themselves. 

    But there is an additional psychological layer to it, an externalization of the internal conversation being projected onto whatever entity is being putatively prayed to, a level of self-critical contemplation (in the best of circumstances) similar to meditation. Just because a person, due to their upbringing or tradition choose to conceive of it as reaching for advice from an external deity is relatively unimportant from a results perspective, because it’s the same result that would be achieved (if we atheists are right) as if the person just thought hard about it to themselves.

    As an example, a Christian friend of mine was contemplating a job change, what would amount to a major promotion and an exciting opportunity in his line of work, but also one that would be disruptive to his life at a time when he had a newborn and one other small child; would involve moving, impact his wife’s occupation, and so forth. When he talked about his process of coming to a decision he would say that he was “praying on it”, and he certainly believed that he was communicating in some sense with his God for advice on what to do, but in stripping away all the religious detritus from it it was clear he was simply using prayer as a distancing mechanism, a way to step back and get a different perspective that tries to bracket out his excitement and trepidation about the choice and look at it from an artificially objective lens. Seemed to work for him, and it would have been churlish for me to criticize that process on the basis that I don’t think he’s actually communicating with anything but himself.

    • 1000_Needles

      The problem in this instance is that calling it “prayer” removes your friend from the responsibility associated with making an important decision.

      If you thought your friend was making the wrong choice, what rationale could you have provided that would compare to “I’m doing what God wants.”? There isn’t any.

      That’s what is so scary about the leader of a country invoking prayer in their decision-making process. All the experts in the world can’t change the mind of somebody that believes they are acting on the instructions of the supreme creator of the universe.

      Combine that with belief that faith is a virtue and that doubts are the voice of Satan, and you have the perfect formula for making unassailable and unreasonable decisions.

      • 3lemenope

        In my experience, people either take responsibility or they don’t for their actions, and their religiosity is completely unpredictive of which they will be. And generally speaking, once a person has arrived at a place where they are willing to commit to a choice, they become much less amenable to counterargument or criticism of that decision, again regardless of whether they think the ultimate decision was God-assisted or not.

        I suppose at the margins there may be cases of people who would be persuadable in such circumstances but for their religious commitment, but I am willing to wager that is not true for the vast bulk of such people and decisions.

        Combine that with belief that faith is a virtue and that doubts are the voice of Satan, and you have the perfect formula for making unassailable and unreasonable decisions.

        Yeah, except there is little reason to believe that Obama, say, actually believes that doubts are the voice of Satan. Nor, it should be said, is that probably true of most Christians. 

    • kagekiri

      Eh, I remember being a Christian and praying desperately for guidance. I recognized my own thoughts filtering in when I was hoping for that “still small whisper” of God’s, so I made sure to ignore everything that sounded like me. Turns out filtering out your own thoughts means…you hear nothing.

      But as someone who has also seen zealous Christians make some big decisions based on prayer, I think the results are NOT AT ALL THE SAME as meditation or deep thought. Believing God is really telling you to do something means far more certainty and willingness to deceive yourself than actually thinking hard about something.

      Have you never come up against someone who in their mind knows they’re doing God’s will? There’s no second guessing, even if you throw Bible verses at them that directly contradict their supposedly “heaven sent” revelation. Even obvious contradictory evidence doesn’t dissuade them (see Harold Camping, who still thought he was hearing God, just mishearing him, when his predictions of apocalypse failed to come to pass).

      They just rationalize it, not realizing their method of “communicating with God” (via emotional gut checks and misidentified intuition) is just a bad way to make decisions or find the truth.

      That kind of “blind faith” is pretty much one of my defining problems with religion (or at least monotheisms). It makes for horrible decisions and is simultaneously very difficult to check or dissuade.

      • 3lemenope

        What I’m suggesting is that that phenomenon is not significantly different from all the other ways people become locked into ideas and ideologies and willfully ignore contrary evidence, discount advice and arguments, and so forth. Talking to the useful idiot of any political ideology will cause you to run into exactly that same evidence-proof and sense-proof certainty as that generated by the most demented of prayer-bots. 

        In my experience, most people who use prayer to clarify their decisions are no different than people that use other decision mechanisms. Of course there are people who use prayer and it becomes exactly as you describe. But they are the exception, not the rule. Most people are simply incapable of building those fortresses in their heads that lock out their friends’ pleadings and their colleagues’ criticisms, at least not to the extent that is being criticized here. 

        • usclat

          Enough! If you want to pray than pray. Your posturing and weak arguments will not make it less of a consultation with an imaginary being to whom you have given some authority by the very definition of the consultation. It is that implicit or express authority that praying gives that makes it way, way different than an introspective review of a situation. You and SE Cupp should both come out of the closet and be done with it. 

          • 3lemenope

            You and SE Cupp should both come out of the closet and be done with it.

            I’m one of the moderators at Unreasonable Faith, another atheist forum on Patheos, you airy goofball. I’m terribly sorry that you think my difference of opinion on what prayer signifies about the integrity of a decision process makes you want to cast me out or whatever.

            • Lucilius

              Argument from authority: logical fallacy.
              So much for the integrity of your decision process.

              • 3lemenope

                Wow, this is quickly getting surreal. 

                I was being accused of not really being an atheist. What am I supposed to do to indicate that that accusation is false? All I can do, on the Internet especially, is indicate facts about my activities that would make the conclusion that I’m a theist to be difficult to maintain.

                So, I mention I’m a moderator on an atheist blog to deflect the charge that I’m somehow a secret theist. That’s not an argument from authority, that’s the proffering of evidence relevant to the charge. 

                If I had said, rather, that because I’m a moderator of an atheist blog that therefore my prior argument is correct, that would be an argument from authority.

                I didn’t do that.

                • Lucilius

                  If you have in fact been around the Internet for a while, you should know that attempting to prove something about yourself by anything other than self-evident behavior is a virtually futile pursuit – especially in an environment in which most of us use pseudonyms.

                  You want to give prayer-based decision-making a pass, as functionally equivalent to strictly rational methods; the problem is that believing you’re conversing with invisible all-wise sky-people is introducing an inherently irrational, and thus unreliable, mechanism – no matter how often you (dubiously) claim that the results are about as good.

                  And yeah, in the absence of verification, your claim does boil down to an argument from authority: I’m an atheist mod, therefore I can’t be a closet theist. And really, that’s the same argument Cupp makes: My statement of atheism must be believable, because I made it on TV – despite all the circumstantial evidence to the contrary I provide every time I open my mouth.

                  In both cases I think an old aphorism is more relevant than any unsupported protestations: If it quacks like a duck …

                • Len

                  So I guess you’re saying that 3lemenope is not an untrue Soctsman.

                • Len

                  er, Scotsman

                • Lucilius

                  Just pointing out that a claim’s existence is not evidence of its truth.

                • Len Simmons

                  Your standpoint seems to be based on a misunderstanding of 3lemenopes post. And your inability to adjust it based on presentation of evidence seems to indicate that you may be one of those exceptions that 3lemenope mentions (in his reply to kagekiri).

                  This long text is getting silly. There should be a limit to the number of nested replies (or the nesting should stop).

                • Lucilius

                  So take your own advice, if that’s all you have to contribute.

                • Kodie

                   You seem awfully proud of yourself. He didn’t say “good,” he said “as good.” Most people who pray (to a deity) may not understand the functionality of what they are doing or who is doing the deciding but the conclusions they reach are not necessarily terrible. Sometimes people who pray, or meditate, or just think it over are also prone to justify what they want to do instead of what is wise to do, making prayer “as good” as anything else.

                  Making decisions, difficult decisions, you might get a positive outcome either way, but you want to make sure there is not something you missed, take a step back. And, if you make a list of pros and cons, you might get 2 pros and 10 cons. Some “rational” people might take that to mean “don’t do the thing” but the cons may be more minor added up than only to major pros. A non-theistic decision-making process can be flawed, as prayer (or calling meditation “prayer) can be less flawed. Seeing as how you’ve used your decision-making process to call 3lemenope a phony or whatever, and you came to that conclusion fairly quickly makes a perfect example of it, so, there you go.

                  I really think you’re just proud of yourself for picking someone out and being really unreasonable about what they wrote because you are too shallow to comprehend what he actually said. I’ve read his writing on UF for at least 3 years and he’s a voice of reason. Even atheists can have extreme and unthought-out opinions, like you seem to, and he does a great job of just, thinking it through for you.

                • 3lemenope

                  Thanks, Kodie! :) I appreciate it.

                • Lucilius

                  That’s really the best you can do? That I seem “proud” of myself?

                  Considering the amusing muddle you posted in his defense, I can see why 3lemenope’s maunderings might seem impressive to you; but you commit the same basic error: assuming that because prayer can sometimes generate a decent answer, that it does so at the same rate and level as rational decision-making. And of course even those who try to think rationally can be sidetracked by wishful thinking or other factors, but that doesn’t invalidate the rational process as a whole. If anything it reinforces its value, because the error enters when rationality is abandoned.

                  I’m nobody special. I’m a guy of moderate intelligence and fairly wide reading, that’s all. But it doesn’t take a genius to spot a crappy argument.

                • Kodie
              • 3lemenope

                (Reply to later post here, since the line splits are getting ridiculous. :)

                If you have in fact been around the Internet for a while, you should know that attempting to prove something about yourself by anything other than self-evident behavior is a virtually futile pursuit – especially in an environment in which most of us use pseudonyms.

                That’s really not true. There are plenty of secondary sources of evidence that become available when someone identifies a body of writing over a period of time that belongs to them. My gravatar and my nick are the same here as there (well, to be painfully accurate I had to change an “E” to a “3″ because Disqus), so the most parsimonious explanation is that we are the same person (e.g. a person would have to go through an awful lot of trouble to make it seem as though it were so when it wasn’t). Given that, you can read anything I’ve written there over the past three and a half years. In light of the contents of that data set, anyone coming to the conclusion that I’m a closet theist must either be an illiterate moron or extremely lazy at reading.

                You want to give prayer-based decision-making a pass, as functionally equivalent to strictly rational methods; the problem is that believing you’re conversing with invisible all-wise sky-people is introducing an inherently irrational, and thus unreliable, mechanism – no matter how often you (dubiously) claim that the results are about as good.

                That is not what I claimed. Now it’s my turn to accuse you of being a very poor reader. What I actually said was that when religious people are struggling with a moment of decision, they often use prayer, and while they believe that they are communicating with an outside entity, atheists essentially must conclude they are really just talking to themselves, which is functionally isomorphic with meditation. I went on to say that the personality qualities that are associated popularly by atheists with prayer are not particularly unique; that every sort of decision procedure can psychologically lead someone to become insensitive to evidence and argument.

                And yeah, in the absence of verification, your claim does boil down to an argument from authority: I’m an atheist mod, therefore I can’t be a closet theist. 

                Then–and I hate to be rude about this–you don’t understand what an argument from authority is. As I already explained above, my indicating my status as a blogger is a piece of evidence, and one that allows access to other pieces of evidence, the sheer amount of which (if anyone bothered to analyze it) would be dispositive of my claim. S. E. Cupp’s claims to atheism don’t rest on an argument from authority either, but simply a bare report about an internal belief state. Now in her case, the claim is problematic because all other available evidence actually points away from her claim. But just because it is a bad claim and she makes it on TV, that doesn’t make it in any way an ethotic argument.

                In both cases I think an old aphorism is more relevant than any unsupported protestations: If it quacks like a duck …

                It’s really not my fault if folks are too lazy to actually use what they have available to find out whether my claim of atheism is well-supported. If you never bother to check if the quacking is coming from a hunting whistle instead of a duck, you may indeed foolishly assume you have yourself a duck. Doesn’t make the hunter a duck, now, does it?

                • http://www.facebook.com/alvinlmitchell Alvin Mitchell

                  The problem with S.E. Cupp is everything she says is “I’m an atheist but (insert latest christian talking point here) and it’s not just garbage christian stuff, because I’m an atheist!   She’ll “Come out of the closet” as soon as her being an “atheist” stops being useful.  

                  That’s not quite the same as 3lemenope saying “unless you’re clinically insane and ‘hear the voice of God’ prayer is pretty much just meditating with your invisible friend.” (I’m aware that’s not a direct quote.) 

                • Lucilius

                  And just how many pieces of contrary evidence does it take to disprove a claim? You’re claiming that your reams of other writing make the case for your atheism. But let’s say I claim “I am not a burglar,” and point to the 29 days out of a month on which I didn’t burglarize a house as evidence. If on day 30 I pull a second-story job, it doesn’t matter what I did on the previous 29.

                  For that matter, despite all your huffing, I have never said you are not, in fact, an atheist. I said claiming to be one doesn’t prove it, and being an atheist-forum mod doesn’t prove it. We’re back to reading comprehension here.

                  For the latter to be true – your credential as a forum moderator (or frequent poster, for that matter) “proving” your (un)belief – it would have to be impossible for a theist, closeted or otherwise, to serve in that capacity. It’s quite possible for someone to put up a good front, for reasons of their own; to change their mind; or to have simply not thought out all the implications of their position before taking on such a title and role.

                  I think it’s quite likely that you are indeed all that you claim, but just still have a squishy spot for irrational thinking so long as its practitioners are basically well-meaning and don’t do too much harm. 

                  You want to accuse me of misquoting or misinterpreting what you said about prayer, but then immediately try to alter your original statement. Tricksy, tricksy, but it’s not working.

                  Let’s compare. Originally you said prayer can be “a level of self-critical contemplation (in the best of circumstances) similar to meditation.”

                  Then that changes to “functionally isomorphic with meditation.”

                  The two are not the same. You tacitly acknowledge in the first case that this might happen “in the best of circumstances.” By the second, the statement is generalized. So, really: all prayer? And how often do those ideal circumstances occur among all those who make decisions by praying? Yet you treat all such cases as essentially the same, using as example your Christian friend who prayed about a job change. “Seemed to work for him,” therefore prayer’s generally just as good as conscious, logical decision-making: “it’s the same result that would be achieved (if we atheists are right) as if the person just thought hard about it.”

                  Do you really want to make that argument? Really? Because for your cheery anecdote I can give you a dozen of “prayerful” decisions that went disastrously wrong, when a decision based on evidence would probably have given a better result. Look at all the dead-kids-of-faith-healers stories on this very blog. These are people who hold jobs, often own houses, and generally function in the world; but when faced with a decision they think calls for prayer, abandon reasonable decision-making to the extreme of watching their children die as they fervently pray over them. Now that’s “unimportant from a results perspective?” 

                  Of course, you try to leave yourself an out by  saying “every sort of decision procedure can psychologically lead someone to become insensitive to evidence and argument.” True, but inadequate. The question is not whether any method is infallible, but which is most or least likely to lead to error. Even if you are just “talking to yourself” in prayer, if you believe what you’re “hearing” in response is of divine origin, that’s an imperative. It’s not an idea to be considered and measured against evidence – it’s an instruction to be obeyed without question, no matter how bizarre or half-baked that random thought might be. That fatally skews the decision-making process. Just because some people get a “good answer” now and then does not make it a reliable method for consistently generating good answers. The point of working out a rational, evidence-based method was to be able to consistently identify errors and subsequently minimize them.

                  And if you can’t tell the difference, whatever you think you believe, then you might as well go back to basing your life-choices on the patterns of bird flight or strange lumps in a sacrificial calf’s liver.

                • 3lemenope

                  Since this is getting pretty tedious, I’ll make this (relatively) short. No, you didn’t accuse me of not being an atheist, usclat did. Look at the thread, the order of conversation, and reason through just what is a response to what. You, on the other hand, did make a claim that I was using an argument from authority in responding to usclat’s accusation. My response should be understood in the context of me explaining (painstakingly, although that seems about useless at this point) that my response to usclat’s claim was not an argument from authority.

                  Your analogy to the burglar is ridiculous almost beyond words. Descartes and Hume put empirical verificationism in its grave hundreds of years ago; if you, in light of that, still want to pick absurd evidentiary standards for claims you encounter–on the Internet no less, epistemologically impoverished ground that it is–that’s your prerogative, but it can certainly make you impossible to talk to, much less take seriously. Different contexts, situations, and topics require different relative levels of verification for claims; on the internet in the discussion section of a blog post, what you seem to expect is something nobody can provide.

                  The fact that you think prayer, as an activity, excludes all consideration of evidence leads me to believe that you’ve never actually asked anyone who does it what they do, how, and why. Understanding what you criticize, at least to my mind, is crucial to making your criticism valuable. My friend in the original anecdote certainly had all the competing options and rational reasons for them rattling around his head when he decided to step back and pray; it’s uncharitable on a gross and unwarranted level to assume that because a person prays they immediately turn their brain off. I’m curious what makes you assume the contrapositive; why do you believe that if, instead of praying, a person actually did use their mental faculties in a secular way that they, personally, would have come to any better conclusion than the disastrous ones in your counterargument? People make bad decisions all the time without the interference of prayer. Why do you believe prayer is the decisive factor that magically transmutes otherwise good decisions into bad ones?

                  Alvin Mitchell, above, figured out the essence of what I was claiming and stated it with impressive simplicity and clarity, so I know a person can certainly understand what I meant from what I wrote.  So what, exactly, is your problem?

                • Lucilius

                  I’ve finally come to understand why you’re so willing to
                  shrug off prayer as essentially equivalent to rational decision-making. I
                  suspect you see your own arrant twaddle as the result of a rational process;
                  and, truly, it’s of no better quality than I’d expect from a thoroughly deluded
                  fundie. I understand your argument quite clearly. It’s just that it’s crap:
                  poorly argued, based on wishful thinking, defended with smoke and mirrors.

                   

                  No, Descartes and Hume did not “put empirical
                  verificationism in its grave;” perhaps you were hungover that day in Philosophy
                  101. They merely warned of its limitations, without denying its general
                  usefulness – as, for that matter, did Sextus Empiricus 1,500 years before. Nor
                  do I seek any “absurd” standard of evidence; I merely point out that you can’t
                  have it both ways. You base your argument on one anonymous personal anecdote,
                  make various fact-based claims, then deny the need for any such evidence when
                  pressed, gloss over that failing with cheap rhetorical tricks, and ignore any
                  similar evidence from anyone else. In short, you want to play by different
                  rules than anyone else and still be taken seriously.

                   

                  Your basic problem, though, lies deeper: it’s your main
                  method of argument, reductio ad absurdam. Assuming you’re actually trying to be
                  honest – a big, indeed unwarranted, assumption at this point – you’ve
                  thoroughly mischaracterized what I’ve consistently said and then attacked the
                  resultant strawman (I could play a good game of fallacy bingo with your posts).

                   

                  I’ve never said that including prayer in decision-making
                  excludes all consideration of evidence, or that it automatically creates bad
                  decisions. You keep asserting the extremes, while my whole point has been about
                  establishing relative values.

                   

                  I have allowed right from the start that a “prayer-based”
                  decision can sometimes, perhaps even often, come up with good results, and that
                  even someone who strives to stick to rationally considering all evidence can
                  still make bad choices. The question is whether one is MORE likely than another
                  to consistently produce sound results.

                   

                  The answer should be obvious. Introduction of any random or
                  arbitrary factor, whether it’s prayer or flipping a coin, increases your chance
                  of skewed results. And it is both random and arbitrary, as I stated above. If
                  you’re striving to evaluate ideas on their own merits, you can dispassionately
                  consider whether going in quest of the Holy Grail is likely to be a productive
                  activity. But if you’ve already convinced yourself that the very thought is a
                  divine inspiration handed down by W.G. Grace, then you don’t second-guess
                  yourself. You say “Yes, Lord,” and ride off with the Round Table in tow.

                   

                  Furthermore, involving prayer or any other non-rational
                  decision-making technique lessens the chance that a bad decision will be
                  reevaluated. Prayer in particular comes with strong disincentives to
                  reconsideration, because it’s not a standalone decision-making technique. It
                  comes with all sorts of attached religious baggage. Someone whose attachment to
                  a decision is limited to its practical difficulties and effects doesn’t have
                  many barriers to saying “You know, maybe I didn’t make the best choice,” and
                  abandoning their initial hypothesis for a revised version that leads to a
                  different conclusion. But if your choice is tied to your religious beliefs,
                  then all the standard faith-based rationalizations for failure come into play. A
                  decision isn’t working out? Oh, it’s just a “test of my faith.” Things clearly
                  going badly? “God’s ways are mysterious. It must be part of his greater plan.”
                  That’s the secondary harm of basing decisions on prayer: consciously rational
                  decision-making is more likely to be self-correcting, while irrationalism seeks
                  to excuse failure.

                   

                  It’s overwhelmingly foolish of you to assume or assert that
                  I must not be familiar with the concept of prayer, what it is and what it’s
                  supposed to do. Been there, done that. Raised Southern Baptist, still in close
                  association with lots of the regularly prayerful (family and friends), got
                  frequent lectures on the virtues of prayer during my years of religious
                  questioning, read extensively on its problems in the two decades since.

                   

                  Once again you thoroughly mischaracterize what I said; at no
                  point did I argue that prayer-based decision-making “excludes all consideration
                  of evidence.” Rather, it tends to inappropriately weight some evidence and
                  encourage lack of consideration for contrary evidence. You don’t seem entirely
                  stupid, so I suspect your incredible obtuseness on the subject is feigned. Thus
                  I, in turn, am wondering about the source of your problem. Are you consciously
                  pandering to your little fanclub, knowing that some of them haven’t the courage
                  to completely abandon superstition; or are you merely so conceited that your
                  own fatuousness escapes you?

                • Woodnoel

                  damn el, all this time and I had no idea you were a closet theist. Ya think ya get to know some invisible Internet guy, and then bam! Secret like like this gets out. I bet you didn’t even know. Time to join a church I guess. I’d recommend the one with the best donuts. Try not too listen to the sermons too much. I can teach you the secret Lutheran handshake if you want.

          • Kodie

            You should shut up, you might learn something.

    • http://twitter.com/PuppaX Pups

      This is actually what Judaism believes (though many adherents don’t realize it). For most classic Jewish philosophers, the notion that one could somehow change the mind of God by saying a few words is absurd; rather the function of prayer is as a meditation, with most prayer revolving around giving thanks for the good in one’s life.

  • Steve Ahlquist

    I can’t help feeling that the problem with SE Cupp’s views and opinions stem from the fact that she is overwhelmingly stupid, yet wears hipster glasses to give the impression of being smart. This apparently fools her bosses into thinking she knows anything at all about religion and atheism. She’s not just stupid, but dangerously stupid, being one of the few putative atheists with a regular gig on television. It’s important to call her out on her stupidity whenever she speaks or writes in public.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=123400843 Stu Minnis

      She has a Master’s in Religion Studies from NYU, so I don’t think we easily can dismiss her as stupid. Deeply cynical, though…definitely.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

        As a university professor, I can tell you for a fact that there are some pretty astoundingly stupid people even with graduate degrees out there.  Given the number of students pumped through the academic grist mill these days, some of them do slip through, regrettably….

        It’s pretty obvious that this SE Cupp character is a complete poser, and that this atheist thing is just her info-celebrity gimmick.  It’s obvious by the number of times she refers to herself as an atheist, and to her supposed expert knowledge of religions.  Whenever somebody has to toot their own horn so vigorously, you know they’re full of shit.

      • Reubarbarian

        A degree does not necessarily indicate intellect, but it does indicate money and time.

        • Reubarbarian

          Forgot to say that I love your site, Hemant!  Keep up the good work and know that you have an army of rationalists to get your back when the fundies come for you!

      • http://twitter.com/Rickstersays Rickster Rickster

        she has a degree in modern myth. 

    • Alexandra

       I don’t think she’s stupid at all!  I think she’s just incredibly disingenuous.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    When all the churches and religious organizations start distributing their voter guides will Cupp call them “Crazy, Militant Christians/Muslims/Jews/etc”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    She keeps using that word.  I do not think it means what she thinks it means.

    • Jeff Xenobuilder

       INCONCEIVABLE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    Funnily enough I was watching that segment and had to switch it off, I just couldn’t take any more of her nonsense.  An atheist who want to be a person of faith.  Not a believer, mind you, just a person of faith.  sheesh.

    Accusing atheists of being crazy or intolerant, just un-friggin-real.

    Did they put her on MSNBC as a token conservative?  Either way, it’s a show I won’t be watching again.   

  • Gordon Duffy

    The crazy atheists are the ones who envy the religious

    “oh I wish I had an imaginary friend” “oh I wish I believed bad ideas for bad reasons”

  • pansies4me

    I loved how Steve Kornacki said something about her being a “self-loathing atheist”. I can’t figure that chick out, but I think Rich is on to something when he says it’s her shtick. I just don’t get her vehement “belief in belief”, as Dennett calls it. I can see being fascinated by religion on an intellectual level, and even being totally cool with individual religious people, but to denigrate your own non-belief? Huh? 

  • lucifurious

    Yeah, but she’s easy on the eyes…

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      She is – and she takes advantage of it. Lots of short skirts, high heels, and very tight blouses. This is pure marketing.

    • LesterBallard

      But hard on the brain and stomach.

  • pansies4me

    And this too – she doesn’t think someone who represents 5-10% of the population (as she points to herself) should govern everyone else. Cuz, you know, atheists aren’t human beings?! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521872852 Ben Daniels

    Really, I thought most of her comments were just stupid.  What was insane was her comment that she wouldn’t vote for an athiest and what followed including her logic of how a president that doesn’t believe like the majority………. Sorry just had an aneurysm.

  • CultOfReason

    When is she going to come out of the closet and finally admit that she’s a theist?

    • http://alenonimo.com.br Alenônimo

      When Fox News decide she’s a proeminent atheist, she’ll come out of the church as an ex-atheist.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I like her earlier statement
    “You can be intolerant of another faith and do it respectfully ”

    That’s her issue with the banner.  It’s ‘disrespectful’.

    And later she goes on about how she would not vote an atheist for president, and even the other panelists were confused.

    Because she wants a guy who has God as a check.  Her mistake is assuming that a belief in God has ever stopped anyone from committing evil.  It just makes for creative justifications.

    • Rick W.

       I don’t know much about Ms Cupps and from what I saw on that clip it made me think that she is a lying moron. (What kind of atheist says that they really wish they were a person of faith??)  Plus I had read that she had written a book defending Christianity against “persecution” from atheists.
        And now you say she once said she would never vote for an atheist President. WTF?? That’s like a gay person saying they would never vote for a gay President. It makes NO sense. And frankly I don’t believe for one minute that she really is an atheist.  In many ways she reminds me of Tammy Bruce–the right-wing “lesbian” who goes on all the conservative talk shows to denounce gay rights. Both women are just lying shills for the right-wing.

      • Randomfactor

         And yet she seems to have no problem with rMoney, who represents what–.025 percent of Americans on the basis of his offshore investments, and barely 1.7 percent on his religious views?

  • EugeneCoach

     No atheist speaks for other atheists…period.  Cupp’s not an atheist, she plays one on TV.  This militant atheist group only speak for themselves…Obama gets a C…shut up!  You don’t know what you are talking about. 

  • LesterBallard

    At the risk of repeating myself; Fuck her.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Isn’t it clear by now to everyone that Cupp is no “atheist”? She’s a theist, trying (and failing) at playing an atheist on TV.

  • usclat

    She is a complete ass. I saw the program today and I couldn’t believe the nonsense she was spewing about atheism while maintaining how wonderful religion is. I don’t believe for a second this woman is a free-thinker or a person of reason. In my opinion, she comes off as a liar and a fraud. How can she say: 

    “I envy religious people… I envy the faithful. I would like to be a person of faith, but I’m not there yet…”

    and expect anyone to believe she has an atheistic/skeptical view of life? She is a fucking joke and I will not watch that show because of her obnoxious presence.  

  • http://gadlaw.com gadlaw

    Well, I’ll reserve judgment on S.E.Cupp for a while, sure she has given herself a ‘look’ that is memorable and see everyone is talking about her so she’s doing something right for herself right there. By being on MSNBC with a group of similarly aged folks where there is a dialog and discussion she’s getting away from the Amen Chorus at FOX. I don’t expect everyone to have my same opinion but I do hope they discuss and argue their positions with courtesy and intellect and there is not enough of that around. I saw her on a show at MSNBC as part of the table of commentators (not her show) react to a documentary about the people who have been losing their jobs and careers in this economy, it wasn’t the face of a smirking FOX talking head I saw, it was someone who was reacting with humanity rather than ideology. SO rather than participate in the latest lynch mob against someone who says something I don’t agree with you all can rage and name call without me. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Just reading PZ
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/07/04/what-kind-of-atheist-are-you/ 

    Yeah, I also thought about including Bandwagon Atheists (only there because the cool people are), Dumbass Atheists (anti-authoritarian jerkwads), and Racist Atheists (because…ISLAM!), but then decided to confine myself to just the thoughtful atheists.

    I think we need a special category for S.E.

    • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

      How about Poseur Atheist-Theist?

  • blub blubber

    Cupp is MSNBC’s token libertarian/conservative in every evening discussion. She HAS to take every contrarian position to the “liberals” there and sometimes it is her own position (that’s the  case when she defends herself  well) but often it might not be. I can’t stomach her but I think that might be MSNBC’s problem as much as hers. She’s  to MSNBC and Joe Scarborough what is Douthat to the NYTimes – the unintellectual, loud version of David Brooks. Remember Faux News’ liberal panelists, when they were still playing “fair and balanced”? Rather uninspiring. I guess she was playing libertarian (is she the same person as Kennedy from Reason TV, anyway? They look alike, don’t they?). She might come into her own one of these months but until then I’ll let this cupp pass…

  • http://alenonimo.com.br Alenônimo

    I don’t think S. E. Cupp is atheist. At all. You can’t be “Hi, I’m atheist. Now let’s pray!”

    She has absolutely no idea what atheism is. She must be a protestant mocking us or something. I haven’t saw no evidence whatsoever that she’s actually an atheist.

    I bet my underwears that sometime in the future this full-of-shit “atheist” will find Christ and appear on TV as a proeminent ex-atheist. I’m sure of it.

    I can even see, even though clairvoyance isn’t real: she’ll be an atheist for 3 to 5 years, convert to christianism and then tell people she was atheist for… I don’t know… 15 to 20 years and came to light because Jesus Christ is the word or something. She’ll tell people that she was famous for her atheism activism but that in the end atheism is a lie.

    Ex-atheists are super rare and not famous enough. They must be trying to fake one to parade as a trophy, since it’s taking too much time to appear a real one.

    Am I wrong? Is that a stretch? In a world where Fox News exists, is that so unlikely? Hell no.

    • Miss_Beara

      It isn’t a stretch at all. 

      I don’t like saying “she/he isn’t a real atheist.” There is just so much evidence on the contrary that it impossible to say that she is actually an atheist. 

      An atheist saying that she will never vote for a president who was an atheist? An atheist envious of the religious and hopes to become one some day? 

      Mmmmm, I don’t think so. 

    • Blood

      “I bet my underwears that sometime in the future this full-of-shit “atheist” will find Christ and appear on TV as a preeminent ex-atheist. I’m sure of it.”
      Agreed. She says stupid things that a genuine atheist would never say, like “I’m sold on atheism.” It’s a carefully planned career move so she make big bucks writing her “born again ex-atheist” blockbuster book in a few years. As her inane comment “I’m not there yet” makes quite clear. 

  • Aimee

    Somebody shut her up. She does NOT speak for me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/joebbowers Joe Bowers

    Taking advice from an imaginary friend is “harmless”? What?

  • Dukeofkelly

    Can we give her credit for being hot?

  • Makeminstiff

    When I am confronted with a tough decision, I find some place quiet and concentrate on the situation. I think about the questions I have until I find the answer. As an atheist, I don’t call that praying, but if others phrase it that way, what do I care?  

    Praying is not “taking advice from an imaginary friend.” If Obama said God spoke to him directly and influenced his policy, that would be horrifying. I have no problem with Obama reflecting on matters and describing it to America as praying. I don’t feel that is an intrusion on atheism or an imposition of his will.

  • http://www.helensotiriadis.com/ helen sotiriadis

    i agree with others who have commented here: she’s not an atheist, and she’ll be ‘converting’ soon enough.

    • Sindigo

      And the religious will herald another conversion story from the rooftops.

    • http://alenonimo.com.br Alenônimo

      Worse. She may be using her bullshit to make us comment about her. When she comes out as a christian, she’ll say she was featured in several blogs over the Internet, therefore she’s a popular atheist among atheists.

  • yeabut

    Yea, but she’s pretty hot.

  • Piet

    At 00:44 she’s has a weird triumphant look on her face when they talk about how many people ‘believe in something’ (90%), why is that?

  • Len

    I found the presentation of the report’s conclusions (in the main scorecard table on page 2) to be sometimes a little confusing. For example, Michele Bachmann gets an F (Consistently hostile or negative) for Taxpayer Funding of Religion, which sounds like she’s against it (ie, she’s hostile or negative towards taxpayers funding religion). It’s only when you read the detailed section that you see that’s not what they actually meant. Same for God, Faith & Governance.

    The scorecard would benefit from being more neutral and letting the results actually speak for themselves, rather than seemingly applying the atheist viewpoint from the get go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maineprep Jack Mahoney

    Not sure if this has been discussed, but Cupp seems to me to be the quintessential atheist-hating atheist. Note that the Republican Party has been very adept at co-opting black people like Ken Blackwell of Ohio and Justice Clarence Thomas who appear (by their actions and choice of policies) to hate black people. What better than enlist the testimony of some fool who asserts that she’s an atheist but wishes she weren’t? Having seen her on Bill Maher a couple of times (and having fought the urge to assault my TV like the Iraqi reporter assaulted Bush), I would posit that S.E. Cupp benefits from what I’ll call the Mel Gibson effect: If you’re physically attractive, you will be listened to … at least for a while.

    • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

       She’s sort of like the GOProud gays.  They spend their time sucking up to the Republicans ( who hate anything gay) and bashing gay people.   In the same vein, Cupp spends all her time bashing atheists and gushing about how wonderful religion is.  Strange indeed.

  • Seladora

    Why, this is worse than the Crusades! Those damned militant atheists, grading the presidential candidates like it’s their freedom to do so. What a bad name they give the rest of us.

  • rtechie

    Does anyone else find her sort of scratchy, whiny voice as annoying as I do? That’s half the reason I dislike her so much. 

  • AJW

    …i think she’s talking about people who vehemently bash “religion” and the faithful, scurrilously attacking rather than debating people on why they believe what they believe.  The group in question took a humiliation technique and used it to publicly ridicule the president.  that’s not right, and as someone trapped in the triangle of agnosticism/atheism/deism, i believe that this is not how we should conduct ourselves, because smarmy arrogance and and playground-bully behavior under the guise of intellectualism are not good qualities to show, and if you’re trying to win people over, you’re not going to present a good likeness in that way.

  • Marco Conti

    How long until SE Cupp will find Jesus? 
    I wager that as soon as her dog and pony show exhausts its usefulness she will somehow find god in her heart and convert. At that point she will be able to go around saying: “I was an atheist too….”

  • Thomas Moore

    I was really trying hard to not hate Cupp, despite all she said I wanted to have something positive but she is a horrid little person. She is a fraud; a God-fearing heathen tithing to the religious with praise and adulation, all the while leeching off them and waiting for a new host to gain majority. Quisling…

  • http://twitter.com/Rickstersays Rickster Rickster

    she is a FRAUD. end of story

  • mr_ed

    It’s Sara Elizabeth, btw.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leskern Les Kern

    Yep, shtick, that’s all this is.

  • LesterBallard

    I guess the real bet is whether she goes Catholic or fundie evangelical.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erikwilking Erik Wilking

    “Secularness” is not a word. She should have said “secularity.”

  • Janice

    Atheists are intolerant of make believe fantasy stories. If you tell me that a person can live inside the belly of a whale, I have the right to stuff you inside said belly of a whale and to be intolerant of your cries for help while the stomach acids digest you. In fact, what religious people find most intolerable is our love of facts, evidence, reason, and logic. And that is clearly intolerable!

  • infidel1000

    Let’s not be too hard on her. She advertises , on national TV, just how ridiculous, disingenuous, and moronic her type can be. The first time I ever saw her, on Real Time with Bill Maher, she took the opportunity to claim she was an atheist. About ten minutes later, I came to the conclusion that she was absolutely NOT. She’s a walking, talking billboard for that. She’s just like all the other misanthropes who try to use their education and opportunity to attack antitheism by claiming to be an authority on it by claiming to be one. If you frequent blogs such as this one, you know what I’m talking about. I’m convinced the only reason she got on the show was because Bill thought she might really be an atheist, and because he knows which side his bread is buttered on, he didn’t ditch her later, just as he continues to be soft on all the right wing idiots he brings on his show and lets get away with butchering the facts.

  • Lawrence

    lol! Yeah…an imaginary friend you can’t disprove


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