Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Goldwater on Godpushers

In 1981, Senator Barry Goldwater spoke these words from the Senate floor:

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.

These are the kinds of sentiments that John Edwards should have expressed about the Christian nutjobs who criticized some of his staffing choices. No matter. Yesterday, Amanda Marcotte resigned her position in his campaign. Her Pandagon site carries her announcement, as well as an enlightening update about the many enotes she received from the loving Christians who want to see her in hell and/or give her a "real good fucking" up the ass.

[BREAKING NEWS at 11:15 p.m.: Melissa McEwan just announced her resignation, as well. Read her explanation at Shakespeare's Sister.]

For more info and invective—and plenty of witty sarcasm—on the whole blogger/Edwards thing, you might want to read the latest posts by The Raving Atheist.

In the meantime, here’s my very brief summary of the most prominent 2008 candidates, vis a vis the theocrats:

Edwards: weasel

Obama: says he has a “personal relationship with Jesus”

Clinton: hired an “evangelical consultant” in December

McCain: has been puckering up big-time to the pulpiteers

Giuliani: is backpedaling as fast as he can on his pro-choice position

Romney: supports all the fundies' views—except their hatred of Mormons

If anyone can recommend a viable candidate who will get even half as incensed about the American ayatollahs as Goldwater did, feel free to leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Hear me out: I think you're right, especially in what you say about the candidates. What those Christians said to Marcotte is deplorable.

Question for you though: Has atheism, when it has been the dominant school of thought in a country, or when it has received governmental backing, been any less supressive, arrogant, mean, murderous, divisive, cruel, or inhumane?

The Exterminator said...


When atheism has been forced upon a populace by a government, that government can certainly be characterized using any or all of your string of adjectives. However, if atheism, without any coercion involved, were to become the dominant philosophy in an enlightened society, your descriptions would not apply. (Well, I'm willing to concede that "arrogant" might still be appropriate.)

However, you misread everything I've written if you think that I'm suggesting atheism should receive "government backing" in the U.S. All I ask is that the government refrain in both its words and its actions from backing -- or even passively endorsing -- religion.

Anonymous said...

If I misread that, then I'm sorry. I back off that assertion then.

If you admit that whenever a religion whether atheism, Xtianity, etc is forced on a populace that it becomes unbearable, then why the current criticism of Christianity? There are other parts of the world (N. Korea, for instance) where Christianity is in the same place as atheism is here: somewhat of a minority and disgusted, critical, and angry with what those in power do. Do you not think your venom would be more appropriately pointed at those in power no matter their religion?

I do not try to totally disentangle Christianity from government here though, as it remains somewhat guilty of some of the defects (as well as some of the positives) of the current political set-up we have. But that is merely a question of age. Had atheism come about first and Christianity second (I do not know whether or not you consider Diagoras or Epicurus or Lucretius atheists in the way you are, therby making atheism as old or older than Xtianity...) I do not doubt that the world would be no better off, if not perhaps worse.

The Exterminator said...


Okay, let me respond to a few of your points.

First of all, atheism is NOT a religion. It's a lack of belief in a god. That's why we're called a-theists.

Second, Although I'm not an expert in communist ideology or practice, I suspect that places like North Korea subsitute a blind faith in the state for a blind faith in god; the operative words are "blind" and "faith." Then they force the populace to worship accordingly. It may be called "atheism," but it isn't.

Third, my blog is specifically targeted to the "hornets" in America. That's why Christianity features so prominently, because the Christian theocrats happen to have the most influence here. But do notice that I mention Jews and Muslims whenever appropriate. If we had Zoroastrians, Thuggees, and Druids seriously trying to control the government, I would write accordingly.

Fourth, I think Christianity is given far too much credit for positives in our "political set-up," as you put it. The personal writings of the founders of the United States are filled with criticisms, not praise, of Christianity. These men were, for the most part, Theists; They believed in a Creator God who did not concern himself with the day-to-day workings of our world. It may even be possible to read between the lines and say that at least some of them were really atheists in everything but name. But I won't make that claim.

Fifth, I'm well aware that atheism has a far longer lineage than Christianity. By the way, Epicurus and Lucretius were not, strictly speaking, atheists. Like America's founders, they never claimed that they didn't believe in the gods; they only felt that what gods there were had no interest whatsoever in human words or actions.

Last, I think the world would be better off if atheism were dominant, because wars would not be fought and atrocities would not be committed in the name of some guy in the sky. Does that mean wars and atrocities would not exist in an atheistic society? No, they would likely still be around, given the general barbarity of humans. But at least rabble-rousers wouldn't be able to make ridiculous promises about the rewards waiting in the afterlife. To an atheist, when you're dead -- even if you've died in a so-called holy cause -- you're dead.

angelsdepart said...

Yea, that is one thing that drives me nuts about christians. Since they don't understand the permanance of death they don't view it as severe. Christians believe that they are going to heaven, in my mind this in only an invitation to live life recklessly. I personally cherish every moment because I realize it could be my last. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I have to defend Obama; saying one has a personal religious point of view is not equivalent to saying that everyone should agree, is going to hell for not hating gay people, etc.


The Exterminator said...


Obama's religious point of view is -- or should be -- irrelevant to whether or not he'd make a good president. That he mentions it at all, makes him, for me, a nonstarter.

You might want to check out this Obama speech. Admittedly, the guy has plenty of ideas with which a freethinker might eagerly agree. But his cynical manipulation of the words "bible" and "faith" is disgusting. Also notice the way he pronounces "secular" and "secularists" as if these terms have a bitter taste.

During his speech, he evokes some famous names, one of which is Frederick Douglass. He avoids quoting Douglass, however, and so manages to ignore this gem:

I prayed for freedom twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

When I hear that Douglass quote in a speech by Barack Obama, I'll consider supporting him.