On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, an Atheist Talks About the Non-Religious Response to the Newtown Massacre

Yesterday, on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry (guest hosted by Joy Reid), one of the guests was friend-of-the-blog Chris Stedman to talk about the importance of including atheists in “interfaith” efforts as well as the problem of religious figures blaming the tragedy on the notion of church/state separation (“You kicked God out of school! No wonder he’s not protecting us!”)…

Chris begins speaking around the 6:30 mark in the first video and 2:11 in the second video:

For all the shit Chris gets from the atheist community, he does one hell of a good job here (in a very tough situation, I might add, talking about something so emotional) explaining how atheists cope with tragedy and what his own community at Harvard is doing to help students affected by the shootings (Answer: The same things churches are offering, minus the Jesus nonsense).

He handled himself incredibly well without being aggressive or combative — in short, I suspect religious people watching the show would have a very hard time disagreeing with anything he said. Not an easy task for any atheist on television.

(Via NonProphet Status — Thanks to @VladChituc for the link!)

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.

  • LesterBallard

    I don’t care about being included in any “interfaith” crap.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    It is terrific that Chris Stedman was there at the table, sharing a non-religious perspective. The more Americans see an atheist as a real and normal person, the better.

    There was lots of rubbish spewed out by the others at the table, which could have been more aggressively challenged or countered or debated by Chris, but I am guessing that is not his style (and even if it was it might be unwise to be the in-your-face atheist arguing about the death of 20 children).

    Still, for inclusiveness, I would have liked to have seen the following points:

    1) The President’s role is NOT to give a sermon or to the national pastor. He is President, to represent ALL citizens, not just religious ones.

    2) It is only by religious BIAS that politicians/media generally ASSUME that the victims are Christian (“Jesus is calling the children home”). If I don’t believe in your Jesus and you tell me that your Jesus killed my kid (or let her die to call her home) then I would be justified in responding that your Jesus is either imaginary or is a MONSTER unworthy of being worshiped. INCLUSIVE language would express sorry, sympathy, and grieving for ALL the involved families, without making ANY assumptions as to which gods, if any, they are going to for solace.

  • IDoubtIt00

    I was very glad to see Chris as the atheist representative at the table. So very glad. But I was also impressed by Anthea Butler and the point about guns, god and government (the Constitution) being intertwined with conservative Republicans. I’d never thought of that before. Also, that individual rights are being stressed over the greater community good has ALWAYS rubbed me wrong. I was pleased Chris goes for the greater good.

  • http://twitter.com/jilleo60 Jill Kidd

    I agree with GodVlogger the President should not have put religion and bible readings in his message to the folks in Newtown Ct. The President is suppose to separate church/state not include it in a message of support. By doing this he was not being inclusive. Just my thoughts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carissanv Carissa Snedeker

    As president of our local Freethinkers group, I was asked to participate in an interfaith service for the victims of Sandy Hook. I felt our voice needed to be heard as well, and my remarks were well-received. (Link) Although I have no more use for religion, I wasn’t about to go in there to poop in their punchbowl, but neither was I going to deny how we felt about such things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    Sorry but I think he did a particularly poor job and just sloshed some weak sauce over the fundy nonsense being spouted.

    When asked about taking god out of schools it would have been simple,
    and much more to the point, to refer to Europe, and particularly France
    where schools are strictly secular, yet have nowhere near the same
    levels of spree shootings. It is then a simple two step to the point –
    its nothing to do with god or no god, or how secular or not a state
    is….its to do with the gun laws.

    Similarly, in the first segment there was lots of talk about how God
    is omnipresent, omniscient, all loving blah blah blah. The response to
    this is “So why did he allow a lunatic to gun down a class of kids and
    their teachers?” Once the Christians do the “moving in mysterious ways”
    get out of jail card routine then the response is to point the stupidity
    of that out. And on and on.

    Gimme an outraged and combative Dave Silverman over this tosh any day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/innaiah.narisetti Innaiah Narisetti

    This timely and apt. Quite logical and reasonble. I like it