Fox News is fair and balanced, we all know that. Which is why their coverage of the American Atheists billboard campaign has perplexed me.
Fox has run segments about our Christmas billboards at least three times now. Fox and Friends brought on Pastor Robert Jeffress, Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” brought on a clinical psychologist, and “Outnumbered” had a 5-person panel talk about the billboards. Do you notice something missing? For all their fairness and balance, they’ve not invited anybody from American Atheists on to talk about the billboards.
Fox knows how to get a hold of Dave Silverman or Danielle Muscato, since they’ve had both of them on before (although, we all know the results of that…”Tide goes in, tide goes out” meme, the “Are you serious?” meme, and the follow-up “Knowledgeable Neil/I can explain that” meme on Colbert). I asked Danielle how long it took them to get to Fox News’ studios. 28 minutes, it turns out.
It seems Fox, for all their fairness and balance, aren’t too keen with having an “both sides” represented, something for which they pat themselves on the back consistently.
Which brings me to the point of the post. While it might seem to an objective observer that Fox is a bit scared of having an opposing voice cluttering up their balance, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League just put out a press release saying Dave Silverman is afraid…of Christmas.
Most atheists either celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion, or are wholly dismissive of it. Few are terrified of it. David Silverman is one of them. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what he recently said:
“Millions of American children are forced to go to church under the threat of being denied meals, losing household privileges, having their college tuition cut off, or being kicked out of their homes. Many atheists are forced to go to church under threat of divorce or lose custody of their children.”
Those two aren’t related. Having disdain for the plight of many atheists because of foul treatment pointed their way by Christians says nothing to whether or not Silverman is afraid of Christmas…unless you’re associating the suffering of atheists with Christmas (which, knowing Donohue…). Even then, Silverman wouldn’t be afraid, so much as distasteful of suffering. Darn those immoral atheists, I guess.
For this, Donohue insists that Silverman needs to get counseling. Way to use mental illness as a pejorative. You can hear the compassion of Catholicism seeping right through Donohue’s words.
How could a guy establish to Donohue that he wasn’t afraid of Christmas? Oh, I know! Do the opposite of what Fox did and invite Donohue on his “show.” That’s exactly what Silverman has done:
I was a child forced to attend services. I was an atheist, my parents knew and didn’t care, and forced me to do it anyway. This is a story we hear over and over again at American Atheists, and if the Catholic League wants to pretend that indoctrination isn’t THE MAIN WAY they keep their numbers, that’s up to them. Those who think for themselves know better.
We need to tell Bill Donohue we who were forced to attend services exist. Statistically speaking, According to wikipedia, 27.6% of the American Population is between the ages of 10 and 30, which is 85 Million,with a 30% liklihood of atheism, = 25 million nonreligious young people, 77% of whom (20 million) have parents who call themselves Christian. They exist, and they certainly don’t want your mythology. (these numbers were edited from original post)
Because I’m so ‘terrified’ of him and his fairy tale, I invite Bill to the 2015 National Convention to debate the issue on stage, with me, on camera. No Fox anchors to protect either of us – let’s do this. I will also come to a Catholic Church of his choice to have this debate, or if Fox News isn’t too terrified of having me on AND letting me speak, we could do it there. You accuse me of being afraid, Bill, I’m challenging you to say it to my face. On camera. Any time, any place.
While people like myself, Matt Dillahunty, and Dave Silverman love doing debates or speaking to religious audiences, I’ll bet I know what Donohue’s answer will be (I suspect he won’t step outside his echo chamber). I hope I’m wrong.
In the meantime, Bill Donohue needs our help. He needs insight into what atheists go through, into how religious faith tampers with love even in the minds of doting parents. To establish for Bill and those skeptical of what many atheists have had to endure in religious households, American Atheists is starting a twitter campaign:
I am starting the #WeExist campaign to let the Catholic League know how wrong Bill is. If you wish, you can also email Bill Donohue at email@example.com (he gave out mine, so all’s fair). Use the #WeExist tag to tell Bill that you were forced to attend church, and what punishments were threatened or given if you did not go. Let him know he is wrong, ESPECIALLY if you are in that situation now! #WeExist.
There are already some heart-breaking stories on there. If you’ve got one and wish to add your voice to the cacophony, please do. If you don’t have twitter but still want your story up there, leave a comment and I’ll tweet it myself.