Humanist Network News #35: Andy Rooney on Atheism

In this month’s audio podcast we’ve got celebrities and the media on the brain. First we interview 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney about his atheist beliefs, then we record a “Humanist StoryCorps” with the National Secular Society of U.K. about their work promoting secularism in the media.

Segment 1: Andy Rooney on Atheism

Andy Rooney is America’s favorite curmudgeon, known for his commentaries on the CBS news program 60 Minutes and for his syndicated newspaper column. Most people know Rooney for his lighthearted, somewhat perplexed observations about everyday things. But in this short interview with HNN, Rooney gets serious about his atheism. He also shares his views on all the faith talk coming from the candidates in the presidential election.

End: 5:15

Segment 2: Spokesmen for Secularism in the U.K.

Terry Sanderson is the president of the London-based National Secular Society. Keith Porteous Wood is the executive director of the National Secular Society. In this segment, the two secular activists swap humorous stories about appearing in the national media spotlight. They also explain their recent victory in seeing the blasphemy laws repealed in Britain. As part of the celebration of the repeal of these laws, they convince a famous Shakespearean actor (who also appeared in the Lord of The Rings) to read one of the blasphemous poems that had been subject to prosecution under the blasphemy laws. Not the most dignified role this famous actor has played, but one that he accepted enthusiastically nonetheless.

End: 26:26

Links:

Andy Rooney’s Wikipedia page | National Secular Society | Podcast Awards

Songs:

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“Compacto” (mp3)
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“Sambito (Totaru Shock)” (mp3)
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  • John MacQueen

    I’m almost 70 years old and have been watching Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes since he alternated with Point/Counterpoint. Had I known he was an atheist/humanist I would have appreciated him even more than I did. Thanks for the info.

  • Robert in Suffolk, VA

    I enjoyed many of Andy Rooney’s rants about electic razors, remote controls, etc… on “60 minutes;” however, I recently found out that he was a homophobe and –when called to task regarding his homophobic statements by The Advocate– made additional, negative remarks about African Americans during the subsequent interview.

    http://www.advocate.com/Arts_and_Entertainment/Television/Did_You_Ever_Notice_Andy_Rooney%e2%80%99s_Homophobic_Comments/

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O7OFY3LHQHOH67M2UHESUAWG5I Keovar

      That’s unfortunate, but I think there’s likely to be a number of negative things to disagree with for just about anybody. The farther back you go, the more of it you’re likely to find. Did you know HG Wells advocated the eventual genocide of all other ethnic groups? Someone making nasty comments about African Americans is pretty mild in comparison. That’s the point, though. One era’s atrocity mellows into the next era’s discrimination, then into a vague privilege of those trying not to be prejudiced, and eventually the disparity fades away. The fact that we find those old ways of thinking to be disturbing shows that our sense of ethics has evolved to consider a wider range of people in a more equal way. Things are getting better all the time, and it seems that as newer and faster forms of communication develop, the process is accelerating. Gays have fought for decades to get to the beginnings of acceptance we see now, but atheists are catching up. Since many atheists are also humanists, wider acceptance of us should advance egalitarian ethics even further. To reject the totality of a person’s thoughts for the simple fact that they came from a much more bigoted culture would be to lose nearly all of our history. Even Ghandi was racist to some extent, but I think we can preserve the good that he said while rejecting what we no longer find acceptable.

  • Ron-baby

    I’m 75 and I feel the same as John MacQueen

  • Anonymous

    I liked his occasional swipes at religious poseurs. He’d have agreed with Montaigne that there is nothing easier to counterfeit than an appearance of piety.

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  • Kate

    I’m 81 and I Love A Ranter…..especially when they are good at it and when the rants are something I feel strongly about, too. The sweet little forwards, cards, etc. are enough to give you diabetes. I’m not above the ‘feel good’ aspect, but, Andy was King of the Ranters and he made me smile and feel good. I’ll miss him.