Senate Candidate Mike Sullivan: I Said the Bombings Were ‘Gutless,’ Not ‘Godless’

This is what Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Mike Sullivan said a few days ago:

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that they are going to identify the person or people responsible for this horrific, cowardly and godless act. I think there is going to be so much evidence available to the investigators that they will be able to put the pieces together.”

This afternoon, after many complaints from this site’s readers, his campaign issued this statement:

Team Sullivan Statement: Mike’s real quote in reference to the tragic events that took place at the Boston Marathon was:

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that they are going to identify the person or people responsible for this horrific, cowardly and gutless act.”

“Godless” was not stated and is a misquote.

I haven’t heard the audio myself so I can’t vouch for where/how the mistake occurred, but either way, good on his campaign for issuing this clarification.

Even if “godless” was used as a synonym for “evil” and not “atheist,” the damage that sort of statement does is felt by all those good, kind, patriotic atheists across the country.

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.

  • Zachary_Bos

    Whether or not he was misquoted, real hurt was deepened when secular voters read that Mike Sullivan associated nontheism with terrorism. This is needless hurt that he can do something about with a simple gesture of inclusion to secular voters.

    We understand the campaign is shut down today, Friday; an intern answering phones in the otherwise empty campaign office explained that the staff, and Mike himself, wished to make their time and expertise available to media and the authorities as events continue to unfold with the Boston bombing investigation.

    To be clear, we’re fully grateful that they’re making public safety a priority.

  • liu

    I could see it going either way, but I see no reason not to take his word for it. Even if he meant godless at first, he’s taking the time to correct his comment, and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Rich Wilson

    Not that many of the comments on his update on his FB page are any better. But at least they’re not from public officials. We hope.

    I noticed Todd Stiefel chimed in at one point. Nicely put Todd, thanks.

  • Drew M.

    I agree with you, but “cowardly and gutless” is redundant and I have to wonder.

  • Heidi McClure

    Meh, the guy is a Republican who said he would have voted against the gun control legislation *after* the marathon attack. He might get the party nomination, but doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning the general election here.

  • rhodent

    People often speak redundantly when speaking off the cuff. It would be nice to hear the audio, but in any case the redundancy of “cowardly” and “gutless” doesn’t prove much.

  • Gavin Millar

    There’s a thing that happens on the internet. Anytime someone does or says something publicly that some people might not like, there will be rape and death threats. This is because there are people all over the net just looking for opportunities to say shocking shit. It’s basically universal.

    It annoys me when these threats are used to discredit some movement or group, when it’s clearly impossible to have any control over what the anonymous masses will do.

  • A3Kr0n

    ” after many complaints from this site’s readers” – How does it feel to have hordes of minions at your beck and call? Let’s go Friendlyate a poll, or something!

  • Michael

    To be honest, I’m happy to take his word for it.

    If it’s true then fair enough. If it’s not true then someone has learned a lesson about christian privilege. Either way it’s a good thing.

  • Michael

    Coward = easily scared. Gutless = always scared.

    It’s not a strong piece of rhetoric, but it’s not quite redundant.

  • Rev. Achron Timeless

    On youtube, a death threat is practically a “hello” these days. They don’t mean much of anything.

  • HA2

    Well, even if he said ‘godless’ the first time, it’s good that he’s retracting it and replacing it with gutless. Still a good sign.

  • smartbean

    If he really was misquoted, he should be demanding that the web site issue a correction. Did he?

  • Andrew T.

    Random analogy, I know, but this little event reminds me of how Prince’s record label in the 1980s insisted that the lyric of “Erotic City” was “We can FUNK until the dawn”…

  • DougI

    The fact that a response was given is positive. Normally a Republican couldn’t care less what the Atheist community thinks. Perhaps Atheists are now such a large voting block that the candidate was advised not to piss off the community therefore a statement was released. So I think some progress has been made.

  • Anna

    Definitely progress. Regardless of the original word, calling out people for using “godless” as a slur needs to happen more often. It’s a good sign that we actually got a Republican politician to respond.

  • severalspeciesof

    With the accent in Massachusetts, I could see this happening…

  • Keulan

    Maybe he was misquoted, maybe not. Either way, I’m surprised to see a Republican concerned enough to avoid pissing off atheists.

  • MickeyMadison

    Could’ve been a projection from the reporter… Hearing what they were thinking or what they wanted to…

  • TychaBrahe

    If that’s what he actually said, then why didn’t he say so to the people posting on his Facebook page? Instead he deleted them.

  • SeekerLancer

    Whatever. Hopefully he at least learned his lesson.

  • Patrick

    So we can still be Good without Gut?

  • Michael

    Atkins wants you to believe so.