CNN Reports on Atheist America

Yesterday on CNN, Carol Costello reported on the growing number of Americans who don’t believe in God:

Various surveys put the number of atheists in America around five percent. And according to the Pew study in 2012, one in five people claim they have no religious affiliation at all. But why? The answers vary.

One reason, perhaps, is that the word “religious” is no longer necessarily associated with being a good person.

Then there’s a very activist atheist movement underway. Getting its message out not in the mainstream media but on social media. Take these Facebook pages, for example. Each has hundreds of thousands of likes as atheists challenge their critics on any number of news items and social issues of the day.

Ok, so the video doesn’t feature a “representative” sampling of atheists — just one guy on YouTube bound to piss off the casual viewer — but yay for the free publicity, I guess…?

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.

  • robert klauka

    It took me awhile to get past Amazing Atheist’s roughness to see the diamond inside. It’s too bad that the average viewer of CNN won’t see that. The did choose a particularly pointed clip of him though. All in all, a good report.

    • Simon

      What “diamond inside”? He’s a loudmouth that calls women cunts constantly. The guy is an embarrassment to atheists.

      • Tiffany Harding

        Don’t hurt yourself falling off of your high horse. I’m a woman, I can take naughty words. The Amazing Atheist is insightful and brash…so what if he’s vulgar. Hitchens was vulgar. He may be a jerk, but an “embarrassment to atheists..” pssh, get over yourself.

        • robotanna

          im a woman + an atheist and AA is a sentient pile of misogynist trash i hope this helps

          • Tiffany Harding

            and i care what you say…because?

        • Adriana Heguy

          Would you feel the same if he called black people by the “n” word? Or if he called gay people “faggots?” “Cunt” when used to label a woman is not a “naughty” word. It is a sexist epithet.

          • ganner918

            He went on a tirade taunting a rape victim about her rape, trying to get her to recall it, describing how he would like to rape her, about how talking about raping her was probably getting her wet. That’s not naughty words. That’s indefensible and inhuman.

          • Tiffany Harding

            You think that by bringing up the word “nigger” (stop being a baby and make your stupid point with the word) is supposed to make me agree with you? hardly. that’s weak sauce, Adriana. ANYWAY, in this case, the AA is doing his job and you and your ilk who are dismissing this young man because of a few naughty words and opinions completely negates him? so NO, i wouldn’t feel the same self righteous, holier than thou, knee jerk, self indulgent reaction as you. nice try. i listen to vulgar comedians, like Jim Jefferies and Louis CK say things that someone like you would shiver and clutch your petticoats, and faint. i’m fucking old enough to not be frightened by words, but by the message. I like him and i’m an adult. so again, get over yourself.

            • meekinheritance

              Good for you. Get over yourself. :-)

          • Tiffany Harding

            seems they ate my previous comment. first off, trying to tug at my heart strings by popping up the *groan* n word (i hate having to use that puerile baby talk like you but i suppose i am forced to because my previous comment was eaten) is weak sauce. and it isn’t going to work on me. grow up. the world has sharp edges, people say naughty things and a pearl clutcher like you just makes it all the more miserable. grow up. you’re an adult. i like the AA, he has some opinions i like, others i don’t. but i don’t write him off as some horrible human being because he says things i don’t like. if the world was full of people like you and that ganner it’d be joyless, miserable, and devoid of any dissent. get over yourself and stop being that self righteous, knee jerk, pearl clutching, self satisfied, holi than thou culture police you fancy yourself to be.

        • EllenBeth Wachs

          I’m a woman that can take naughty words as well. So fucking what? Being sensitive is irrelevant. TJ is a hateful, arrogant bully.

      • C Peterson

        Nobody should be an “embarrassment to atheists” except possibly for a person who claims to have any beliefs at all that stem from atheism. In other words, a person who doesn’t understand atheism. A person who is a jerk is an embarrassment to themselves, nobody else- and it doesn’t matter what they believe or don’t believe.

      • Wild Rumpus

        Jim Jefferies is a funny cunt and an atheist.

    • robotanna

      AA is an embarassment to humanity. its funny you call him a diamond in the rough basically because diamonds are worthless trash and tools of misogyny and human suffering, which is basically AA in a nutshell

      • Ufphen

        He gets his point across what more do you want. He is a human after all.

  • Justin Kinser

    Oh ffs! They had to get that obnoxious douchebag?

  • Jake Khan

    Being atheist doesn’t automatically make us good people. We are humans and subject to a whole shitload of insecurities. An atheist who disrespects anyone else is an asshole just like any ridiculous bible-thumper.

  • chicago dyke

    that actually wasn’t so bad, given that it came from CNN.

    sorry they didn’t interview you or Edward Tarte, tho.

  • Keith Roragen

    Of all the atheists on YouTube, they pick the Amazing Atheist? Oh dear lord.

    • Gregory Marshall

      I was thinking the exact same thing. Why not feature Hemant? He is the friendly atheist after all!

      • Albert

        any other good atheist channels that i might not know about ?

        • Monica Harmsen

          There are TONS of good atheist channels. Aronra, evid3nc3, qualiasoup, theramintrees, thethinkingatheist, zomgitscriss…. lot’s of other popular ones I know I’m forgetting.

        • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

          See Hemant’s blog from a couple of months ago:

          “What Atheist YouTubers Do You Watch?”

      • Pepe

        Hemant needs to make youtube videos!

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I never even heard of that guy until this video but the news like to find the annoying assholes to use in their stories.

      • Albert

        I think he pretty good at getting the right points across.. also cult of dusty is another one i like personally

        • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

          Yeah, if you’re looking for an energetic, in-your-face YouTube atheist, it’s true that the Amazing Atheist fits that bill, but perhaps better choices fitting that bill (while being less off-putting) could be C0ct0pusPrime or CultOfDusty, both of whom are awesome.

    • Rain

      Well he is the most famous youtube atheist. Or at least the most famous atheist self-promoting themselves as an atheist. 3 times as popular as Pat Condell for example.

    • Christopher McFarlane

      He was perfectly civil there.

    • Ufphen

      Well he is the biggest youtube atheist out there

  • ganner918

    The good: Visibility, not portraying us as baby-eaters, showing the Arabic-language billboard to head off “you just pick on Christians!”

    The bad: Too much focus on aggressive, oppositional atheism – Amazing Atheist and Sean Faircloth shown giving aggressive statements. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I like that, but I’d have liked to have seen someone giving a “I don’t believe in a god because I don’t see any good reason to” type of answer, and an “average person” interviewed even just for a brief quote.

    • WillBell

      Faircloth wasn’t particularly offensive or aggressive, but I get what you mean.

      • ganner918

        He certainly wasn’t offensive, didn’t mean to imply that. I just don’t want public perception to be that atheism is always angry or oppositional. The “why are you atheists always so mad about things?” response. It would be nice to see some “calm” atheism to appeal to people that are less confrontational.

  • Tainda

    I just read the manifesto by Christopher Dorner (the ex-cop shooting cops in LA) and I got to the part where he said he was an atheist and I cringed.

    We really need to get normal (sane) atheists out there in the media.

    • Rich Wilson

      I’m stunned that the most recent fallen atheist hasn’t been trumpeted as the example where godlessness leads us.

      • Tainda

        I have no doubt It will get there

    • EllenBeth Wachs

      He actually doesn’t say that he’s an atheist. He merely states that he’s not a Christian. There is a huge difference.

      • Tainda

        Actually he stated that the bible is fiction and something close to saying god is a “sky fairy”. Sounds pretty atheist to me.

  • none

    So much concern trolling. “wah AA isn’t a nice as I want him to be”. Get over yourselves. When one black guy says mean things on YouTube I don’t see people concerned he’s making their race look bad.

    • ganner918

      It’s not about being “nice.” Plenty of people aren’t “nice.” This is about nto being a misogynistic shitbag.

    • Tiffany Harding

      there are a lot of these people around, in this community especially now i see. let’s all hold hands, use nice words and images and make sure the world has nice soft corners so we don’t’ cut ourselves.

    • Tiffany Harding

      people want to be the culture police, make sure everyone eats organic, and holds hands, and that the world has nice soft edges so we don’t cut ourselves. nice and safe and unoffensive.

    • meekinheritance

      Bill Cosby has said he thinks they are making the race look bad.

    • Scott Gustafson

      I hate that fucking term. Being concerned is legitimate. Trolling is intentionally arousing others for entertainment. Get over yourself.

  • NickRick

    Really, CNN? Bill Maher is not an atheist, he is not a fan of religion, but he has denied that himself.

    • guestpest

      No, he used to call himself an agnostic, but has changed his mind since then. He’s an atheist.

  • SeekerLancer

    I’d like to say it was a nice, neutral report but it’s really not. It makes it look like every atheist is an angry activist.

  • Roger Ray

    one of the local news stations did a small report on atheists yesterday too. they focused on the growing local community of atheists and how both Christians and atheists want community. with of course a pastor saying god created us to want community.for what i expect of Oklahoma news it was a good report. but still.

    • Hemant Mehta

      That report is being posted later tonight!

  • Albert

    I personally prefer The Atheists Experience .. Matt Dillahunty is a great person to listen to in my opinion

  • Scott Gustafson

    Goddammit, Journalists… STAHP. I love the Amazing Atheist, but putting him out there as an exemplar is just muckraking.

  • Shawn Knudsen

    it’s about time to get off of this god standard.

  • Andrew Kilian

    Ugh! I Hate The “Amazing” Atheist. Why couldn’t they had used Matt Dillahunty?

  • Duke OfOmnium

    At least the spelled “atheist” correctly

  • Edward Baker

    why not show Angelina Jolie ,jack Nicholson,Marie Curie,Isaac Asminov, Jody foster ,Dave Mathews and Penn and Teller as positive examples of atheism