Donohue on The Ledge

Matthew Chapman is the writer and director of The Ledge, a movie that opened last week that is being heavily marketed to atheists. Via Chapman’s blog I see that Bill Donohue is irked that atheists have produced a movie with atheistic themes:

Matthew Chapman is the writer and director. “God-fearing straight men have had a monopoly for a very long time,” he says, “and many peculiar decisions have been made.” Among the most peculiar, historically speaking, is something Chapman doesn’t want to admit: it was the Judeo-Christian ethos of America that accounts for the unprecedented levels of justice and freedom enjoyed by non-believers.

First, given America’s track record in excluding both Jews and Catholics, it’s startling that Donohue would write a phrase like “Judeo-Christian ethos of America”. America’s “ethos” is largely an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, which itself was more of a product of the Reformation and Protestant Christianity. Catholics were feared and excluded during most of America’s formative stage.

And of course, Donohue also ignores that those people who rejected America’s ethos were also Christians. Tories were firm believers in the authority that God had invested in the divine monarch. America was formed by brave Christians and their loyal Christians allies fighting against despotic Christians and their sneaky Christian flunkies.

What are we to say to all that? Thanks for fighting this out guys. We’ll take it from here.

Chapman is an atheist and the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. Darwin, it should be noted, was a self-described agnostic. He once said to a dogmatic atheist, Edward Aveling, “Why should you be so aggressive? Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind?” Too bad Chapman didn’t learn that lesson.

Seriously, what would we expect from Charles Darwin? We’re talking about a man who suffered several nervous breakdowns during the writing of On the Origin of Species. He’s a man who gently euthanized worms in salt water before baiting his fish hook. If you want aggressive, you don’t look to Darwin. There’s a reason that Huxley had to become “Darwin’s bulldog.”

Anyway, we’ve got an answer to Darwin’s question now. Darwin, like most of the rationalists of his time, believed that Christianity was still necessary to hold society together. We don’t believe that anymore, since we can see plenty of non-Christian and even non-religious societies that continue to function.

Instead, we’ve seen in this history of our own country that religion can be harmful to the society. Religion is an excellent prop for the tyranny of the majority, justifying the oppression of the minority.

We’ve also seen what happens to a religious institution when it become exempt from scrutiny and pressure from the outside. The willingness of American Catholics to let the church deal with various wayward priests rather than going to the authorities helped lead to the enormous pedophilia scandal.

I’ve probably put more thought into Donohue’s comments that Donohue has. Being outraged is his raison d’être after all. Still, it’s the best I can do until I see the movie. Some folks in the forum are commenting on it, and the CNN Belief blog has a lengthy post which is moderately positive.

Ya Think?
Trying On Atheism
Everybody's a Christian
So Much Wrong, So Little Time
  • trj

    A reprimand about being aggressive from Bill Donohue, the guy that throws a tantrum at the slightest perceived injustice to his precious Catholicism. That’s rich.

  • Andrew Hall

    It never fails to amaze me that a despotic institution like the Catholic Church paints itself as the vanguard for liberty.

  • Custador

    Ah, Billo the Clown. I love that he thinks a movie featuring atheism as a plot device = an attack on Catholicism. Mouth goes open, brain goes off, never a miscommunication…

    • UrsaMinor

      Mouth goes open, brain goes off, never a communication…

      Fixed that for you, Custy. ;)

      • Custador


      • WMDKitty

        You can’t explain THAT!

        • UrsaMinor

          You CAN explain that. Religiotards just can’t understand it.

          • WMDKitty

            I know, I was making a joke.

    • JohnMWhite

      Wrong Bill – this is Donohue, the leader of the Catholic League. Both are clowns, though, and their act is really tired. Everything that does not reaffirm their own prejudiced position is an unprovoked attack on their deeply held beliefs, and of course only they and people who think like them should be allowed to hold their beliefs so deeply that we dare not upset them.

      • Custador

        Oh aye. I was thinking of O’Reilly, wasn’t I? Well, like you said, idiots either way.

        • Yoav

          Both are idiots, bigots and catholic, they may as well be the same person.

      • Brian

        They’re both clowns.

        • WMDKitty

          Yeah. Scary eat-you-in-your-sleep clowns.

  • vasaroti

    I tend to think it was all those books on Greek civilization and philosophers and on the Roman Republic that were in the libraries of our founding fathers. I’ve toured several of their homes, had a good look at their libraries, and that’s what I saw.
    There’s absolutely nothing in the bible that addresses the issues of personal rights or freedoms.

    But you can try to convince me – what was Judaeo-Christian about the Magna Carta?

  • Sock

    “Religion is an excellent prop for the tyranny of the majority, justifying the oppression of the minority.”

    This is quote worthy. Well said, vorjack.

  • Brian

    Saw a good nova episode a few years ago that made a good case that America’s founding principles were based largely on freemason philosophy.

    I liked the movie. My one big criticism is (SPOILER) that the atheist’s daughter had died so there was the implication he was mad at god.

  • WMDKitty

    Well THAT headline was disappointingly misleading.

    And is Permanently-Aggro-Man… he’s… he’s lecturing other people about being aggro? *head-splode*

  • Robster

    “The Ledge” should be called the atheists “Sound of Music” moment. Ever since 1965 when SoM came out, those of a nunly persuasion have enjoyed excellent press. They’re seen as being loving persons with no fashion sense who can sing well while babysitting. That’s multi tasking, in 1965!! What forward thinkers the nunly ones are. Athiests need a positive movie to promote all that is good and moral with atheism, which is a whole lot more than the atroscious nonsense tossed about by the religiously deluded. It’s much easier to sell a positive than negative nonsense that’s totally meaningless.

    • Igor

      Having only viewed the clip, I realy can’t judge the movie yet. But it seems to present the born-again guy as pretty uneducated in philosophical thought or reason. He knows one thing: you have to accept Jesus as your saviour, or you go to hell. And he’s incapable of listening to reason, thanks to his indoctrination. All he can do is spout the usual biblical inanities. I’ve been in these “arguments”, and they always go nowhere.

      Not to sound patronizing, but the philosophical discussions found here in the UF Forum are
      infinitely more useful and thought provoking than what the poor atheist hero comes up with.
      But it’s only a clip, and ultimately, only one movie. But I’m glad to see that atheism is coming out of the closet.

  • Sayingwhatneedsaying

    Wow, now that I know Bill, ‘mouth of the church, and Pedophile Defender, Donahue is against this movie, that moves it to the top of my ‘MUST SEE’ movie list. In case it doesn’t come quickly to South Florida, where I live, I’ve already added it to my Netflix Queue. Donahue, why don’t you just shut up and go kiss some more Popal Ass, you Freak! After al, the Pope is still human…. I guess he’d love top have your lips attached to his ass.

  • arrakis

    Crooks & Liars link to follow…note the inane comments section:

  • Dave

    I finally saw “The Ledge.”

    1) It gives grand and new meaning to the phase, “A leap of faith.”

    2) I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

    After seeing the film, I read the NY Times review. Did the reviewer give any thought to “The Ledge?”

    “Although it affects an attitude of being fair and balanced as its poses Big Questions about faith and the existence of God, it barely camouflages its contempt for the free-spirited Gavin’s righteously born-again Christian adversary, Joe (Patrick Wilson), a pathetic, bigoted, sociopathic paper tiger of a foe.”

    In fact, there was no attempt at “being fair and balanced,” at least toward the nutty Christian viewpoints in which the protagonist professed belief. It’s obvious from the start that the atheist hero – despite his human failings – stands ethically head-and-shoulders above his foe, and is just as much, and perhaps more, willing to act on his principles.