Lawrence O’Donnell Talks About Atheism Popping Up in the Least Expected Places

Earlier tonight, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell spoke about atheists popping up in the least expected places — in Oklahoma, in a talk by the Pope, and in the Arizona House of Representatives:

Okay, so he called Rep. Juan Mendez “Rep. Menendez” at one point… but I’ll let it slide :)

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.

  • Robster

    “Atheism marches on…” says the reporter. How ’bout dat? It is and we are. Is Arizona a particularly god-botted place?

  • LesterBallard

    If this shit keeps up we might end being treated like people.

  • Rain

    Is Arizona a particularly god-botted place?

    Not really. O’Donnell was being melodramatic as usual.

  • usclat

    Not to mention what Secretary of State John Kerry said about the right of non-believers. Say what you want but in my almost six decades on this earth, there has never been so much attention and acceptance of non-belief. To be sure, there’s a long way to go until religion is viewed in purely mythological terms, but these events point to a better future for our species.

  • Richard Wade

    Lawrence presented these as evidence that atheists are making progress in acceptance perhaps, or at least in recognition that we indeed exist. But he missed the chance to give a sobering counterpoint to that in the very next item about the Boy Scouts of America accepting gay scouts. He could have made the previous item a little more grounded in reality by adding at the end that although the BSA has made this step about gay youth, they still refuse to accept atheists.

    By this omission, he demonstrated the still-pervasive tendency in society to ignore our existence as much as possible, so that accepting us does not have to even be considered.

  • Gryphon

    Menendez? Somebody played too much Call of Duty.

  • Machintelligence

    I think acceptance of atheists will follow fairly soon. The Boy Scouts, as an organization, do not recognize any particular God. They believe in belief in God. Once you accept belief in multiple Gods, accepting belief in none is not such a big step. Of course I have been wrong before.

  • Gus Snarp

    From you mouth to God’s ear. (See what I did there….)

  • Spuddie

    The founding organization in the UK already dropped the belief in God part. Its the US version (which is overrun by the LDS church) which is still clinging to such ideas.

  • Space Cadet

    I’ve never watched O’Donnell before so I don’t know if he usually sounds like this, but there was a pretty high level of snark in his voice throughout the whole segment. Nice to not see the automatic respect religion usually gets.

  • baal

    He could have done better but I’m still happy that it was a neutral to positive segment on atheists. Broadcasters need to see actual instances like this one go on air and not negatively impact them before they’ll run more.

  • Darrell Ross

    I recall growing up and going over greek myths in elementary school. I recall the churches that people went to and a book of bible stories I had. I thought it was all allegorical – just like the greek myths. I didn’t think anybody believed any of that stuff until I lived in Texas for four years.

    WTF? People believe this shit? It is so weird. I still think it’s odd that people believe such nonsense. It’s such a shift from my previous viewpoint where nobody actually believed anything, they were just interpreting stories.

  • Anna

    What’s weird is that the BSA allows all manner of non-monotheists, whose religions are not at all about “doing duty” to a god. So it’s more like they “believe in religious identity” rather than in any specific supernatural belief.

    Really, I can’t figure out how allowing Buddhists into the organization is considered okay, yet allowing atheists somehow is not. Buddhism is not even remotely about worshipping a god.

  • Richard Wade

    I think the BSA accepts non-Christian believers only because they think they can’t get away with excluding them. They’re not being principled, they’re just being expedient. They know that the accusations of religious bigotry would be too powerful and damaging if they excluded other religions. They and the general public are very ignorant about things like the non-theist nature of most branches of Buddhism. Most Americans think all Buddhists worship a god named Buddha.

    It’s really this simple and this ugly: The BSA excludes atheists because they can still get away with it. We are socially acceptable scapegoats and pariahs.

    Most Americans fear and hate atheists, and the only people who complain about discrimination against them are the atheists themselves. Extremely, extremely few adherents of any religion ever speak up for us. We’re just going to have to keep agitating and waiting until our numbers are greater.


    I have long suspected that there were more atheists than commonly thought, as well as a great many more people with serious reservations about religion, who may have stopped short of nonbelief. The internet has been instrumental in helping non believers realize they are not as alone as they once thought.

  • Yoav

    Does the Arizona example still count after the extra special, christian make up prayer the following day?

  • Anna

    Yes, I think that’s it. They know they can get away with excluding gays and atheists, but people would be screaming bloody murder if they tried the same thing with Muslims or Buddhists.

    As anti-gay prejudice becomes less and less acceptable, you see that they are willing to revise their policies to avoid being tagged as irredeemable bigots. Unfortunately, that leaves atheist Scouts out in the cold.

  • Sweetredtele

    Why is it unexpected by the pope? His little country is surrounded by secular Europe.