S.E. Cupp Explains How She Can Be a Conservative Atheist

In a semi-advertisement for tomorrow’s (re-)premiere of “Crossfire” on CNN, conservative commentator (and frequent self-loathing atheist) S.E. Cupp created a video explaining why she’s an atheist and how she can be conservative at the same time:

Most of the video is just fine — she became an atheist around the age of 16, she has a Masters degree in Religious Studies, she didn’t become an atheist because of some traumatic event in her life.

But a few of the other comments are just plain weird.

Cupp says she, like believers, “agree[s] with pretty much all of the Ten Commandments.” Really? Including the first four?! What about coveting? Isn’t that the driver of capitalism?

Cupp then says she’s not a “militant atheist, who dismisses the beliefs of 95% of the world as crazy.” As if all atheists who think the notion of God is silly are automatically “militant.” As if there’s any reason to think religious beliefs are anything but crazy. (To be sure, religious belief can motivate people to do a lot of good, but there’s no reason those beliefs themselves have any merit to them.)

She also separates herself from all other atheists using terminology we tend to hear only from the Religious Right: “My brand of atheism… isn’t the typical militant, hostile, confrontational, dismissive atheism. It really is, for me, from a place of envy and gratitude and understanding and appreciation…”


More than a year ago, she used the same word when talking about how she wished she was religious:

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

In her video, Cupp explains how she was always curious about religion, liking the ritual of it, but she just couldn’t bring herself to believe in God: “[I] couldn’t completely get there ever… And I tried. I really wanted to. It just never got there.

Well, boo-fucking-hoo.

You’re an atheist. Embrace it, dammit! You broke free!

None of this is surprising, though. Remember: this is the same person who said she would never vote for an atheist candidate for President:

And you know what? I would never vote for an atheist president. Ever… Because I do not think that someone who represents 5 to 10 percent of the population should be representing and thinking that everyone else in the world is crazy, but me.

I like that there is a check, OK? That there‘s a person in the office that doesn’t think he’s bigger than the state… I like religion being a check and knowing that my president goes home every night addressing someone above him and not thinking all the power resides right here… Atheists don’t have that.

Like I said, she’s a self-loathing atheist.

The thing that bugs me most about the video is how she doesn’t actually explain how her conservatism ties in with her atheism. How does she so frequently side with people who are against science? Against birth control? Against comprehensive sex education? Against equal rights for gay people? Against programs that help the poor and downtrodden?

Cupp herself may be on the progressive sides of these particular issues but, in that case, she never explains what beliefs put her in the conservative camp. If she’s only a fiscal conservative, there are undoubtedly a bunch of atheists who agree, making her far from the anomaly she sees herself as. At least Republican Edwina Rogers, the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, has said her party is wrong on those sorts of social issues.

The title of the CNN article is “S.E. Cupp: Being a conservative atheist is not a contradiction.” And that’s true. You can be a conservative atheist. But in America, in 2013, in this political climate, if you’re an atheist who’s siding with the Republicans, you owe the rest of us a damn good explanation for it.

Cupp didn’t do that in this video. She doesn’t do that ever. Instead, she just offered the same straw man arguments against atheists we expect to hear from Republican talking heads instead of intelligent moderates.

“Crossfire” hasn’t even premiered yet, but there’s already good reason to hope it doesn’t last long.

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.