Atheists Targeting Republican Politicians

Here is an excerpt from a story published by CNN:

An atheist organization known for being provocative plans to take that reputation to the next level this week by putting up seven billboards that call out prominent politicians and religious leaders.

American Atheists plans to target three Republican politicians: former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former House Speak Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The seven signs will go up around Dallas and Austin, Texas.

Atheists in the USA wish to participate in the political arena without being told that the political arena requires a belief in God’s existence.

As it turns out, the USA’s political arena doesn’t require a belief in God’s existence. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states, “. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The religious neutrality of the political arena is reflected in the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

So, Atheists in the USA are indeed welcome to participate in the political process. Why then would some of them feel a need to speak out against some Republican politicians?

 

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Posted by on March 3, 2013.
Filed under Politicians, Religion, Republicans.
Tagged with: .
A refugee from Planet Melmac masquerading as a human. Loves cats*. In fair condition. A fixer-upper. Warranty still good. Not necessarily sane.[*Joke in reference to the TV sit-com "Alf", which featured a space alien who liked to eat cats. Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the writing and posting of this profile.]

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  • Brucehenry

    Did you not read the CNN story you linked to? It explains why this organization would “feel a need” to speak out as they have.

    Do you have a problem with the billboards? If so, what is it? The only problem I see with it is that they apparently misquote Palin, and that’s unfortunate — I’m sure there are plenty of quotes they could have used to make their point.

    Where does it say in the linked story that “atheists wish to participate in the political arena without being told that the political arena requires a belief in God’s existence,” by the way? Is this not a strawman?

    • jim_m

      What these billboards communicate to me is that these atheists are at least as bigoted as those they are complaining about if not more so. (Ok actually more so when you get down to it since there is no one claiming that they cannot participate in politics or government)

      What is really tiresome is this age old BS that the left and atheists continuously spew that the first amendment not only forbids the establishment of a state religion, but that it prohibits the expression of religion or the use of religious principles by government officials.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        What is really tiresome is this age old BS that the left and atheists continuously spew that the first amendment not only forbids the establishment of a state religion, but that it prohibits the expression of religion or the use of religious principles by government officials.

        Indeed not.

      • Brucehenry

        The atheists in the article aren’t claiming that anyone is keeping them from participating in politics. That’s David’s strawman.

        They are putting up these billboards, I gather from the article, to generate publicity and increase donations by ginning up controversy, a tactic with which those on the right are quite familiar.

        • jim_m

          You are correct that they are trying to gin up controversy. They are also claiming that religion=bigotry. They claim that they are protesting bigotry in the name of religion, but they fail to demonstrate any examples of such bigotry. They do manage to point out a couple of issues of religious doctrine (like the prohibition against homosexuality) that are thousands of years old, but attacking 1000′s of years old religious moral code is not going to win you any friends.

          As with any left wing anti religious attack there is the conspicuous absence of any muslims. Muslims would have the gays hanged or stoned, but the left doesn’t care. They see the mulsims as allies and their hatred for our political system as aligning with their own totalitarian aspirations. That and the lefties are afraid that if they speak out against the intolerance in islam that they will get their throats slit.

          Sorry if I find their complaints less than convincing and less than honest. This is not a complaint against religion, This is just more anti-Christian bigotry from the left.

          • Brucehenry

            What I want to know is why David finds them particularly noteworthy. They’re just advocacy ads like any others, no different than “Choose Life” billboards or “For God so Loved The World…” billboards. Is there some reason David would call our attention to the fact that an advocacy group is erecting 7 billboards in Texas?

            Free market of ideas, etc etc yada yada.

            And why the strawman about atheists complaining that they’re denied right of participation? They make no such claim in the linked article.

          • http://www.wizbangblog.com David Robertson

            In my statement above (Atheists in the USA wish to participate in the political arena without being told that the political arena requires a belief in God’s existence), I am summarizing a perspective being expressed by atheists in general, not a complaint made by the aforementioned organization.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

    The lack of jackasses targeted is informative.

  • JWH

    The most prominent atheists or near-atheists I can think of in American politics are Cecil Bothwell (a member of the Asheville, NC, city council), Pete Stark, a Unitarian former congressman, and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who’s decided to remain rather mum about her religious preferences.

    Which leads to this statement:

    Atheists in the USA wish to participate in the political arena without being told that the political arena requires a belief in God’s existence.

    Actually, there is a de facto requirement for religiosity if you’re going to run for political office. NPR cites a few of the statistics here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/11/13/164963163/would-you-vote-for-an-atheist-tell-the-truth

    It’s sad, but it’s true.

    As to this:

    So, Atheists in the USA are indeed welcome to participate in the political process. Why then would some of them feel a need to speak out against some Republican politicians?

    Because the Republicans are, for better or worse, the home of evangelical religious conservatives. They and militant atheists are natural enemies, kind of dogs and cats. Whenever there’s a long-established semi-religious practice in place, inevitably a militant atheist will challenge it in court. And whenever there’s a move to put more religion in public schools, inevitably you’ll find a Republican (typically a state legislator) behind it.

    That said, taking on Palin, Gingrich, and Santorum doesn’t make much sense, except as a way to generate headlines and donations. None of those three holds elected office, and none is likely to run for office in the foreseeable future. They’re effectively retired from politics. So why go after them?

    • jim_m

      There is no religious test to hold office. But people do tend to vote for candidates that they feel have similar beliefs and ideals. What I don’t get is that such a concept is OK when we are talking lefties voting for lefties, but it is somehow evil and undemocratic when applied to anyone else.

      The atheists are unhappy that religious people don’t want to vote for them? So what? I’d tell them that they can go to Hell, but considering their beliefs that’s already a given.

      Atheists are still a small minority of the public. If they want people to vote for them, then they should probably 1) focus on issues where we can all find agreement 2) stop criticizing the religious beliefs of the vast majority of us and 3) stop their petty whining about people who believe in God not trusting them because they are constantly criticizing our religious beliefs.

      • JWH

        What I don’t get is that such a concept is OK when we are talking lefties voting for lefties, but it is somehow evil and undemocratic when applied to anyone else.

        Actually, it’s perfectly fine for theists to vote for their fellow theists. Indeed, a voter may vote on anything he likes, from a candidate’s religion to that candidate’s gender to the shape of the candidate’s eyebrows. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

        When voting, people use a candidate’s religious identification for a lot of things. To decide if the candidate is somebody like them. To measure the candidate’s involvement with the community. Or to measure the candidate’s morality.

        It all strikes me as unwise, but that last bit particularly so. We’ve seen any number of very prominent, very public Christians stray morally. Mark Sanford, for example. David Vitter. Jesse Jackson (both Sr. and Jr.). All of them very strongly and very publicly religious. And all of them, to varying degrees, betrayed the trust of their constituents and those closest to them.

        So religiosity is not a guaranteed indication of morality. It’s simply an indication of, well, religiosity and religious identification. Which leads to a second point.

        In this country, particularly in the South, it is very difficult to attain political office without averring that one is religious. In the South in particular, it can be nigh impossible. I particularly recall an incident in the 2008 election where a South Carolina primary voter interrogated John McCain regarding his religious preferences. Not satisfied that McCain said he had relied on God at times in his life, the questioner pressed further: “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?”

        If you are contemplating a political career in this country, particularly in the South, you must be religious. No. Scratch that. You must be SEEN to be religious. Regardless of what you’d prefer to do on Sunday (or Saturday if you’re Jewish), you need to show up in church, temple or synagogue. Regardless of your private thoughts on matters of faith, you must declaim — at length — that you are very true to your religion, and that it is the most important thing in the world.

        This doesn’t promote faith. This doesn’t promote moral politicians. It promotes only hypocrisy.

        If you vote for candidates based on their religion, then you aren’t really encouraging them to be religious. You’re encouraging them to lie to you about something that’s very important to you.

        And from where I sit, it’s very discouraging that people would rather vote for a dishonest theist than an honest atheist.

        • JWH

          Now I will admit that these incentives can be said to exist for anything — politicians will pander on religion, they’ll pander on ludefisk, they’ll pander on affirmative action, they’ll pander on sports teams, and they’ll pander on nearly anything that they think will get them votes.

          But here’s the thing, for me, at least. The issues of the day change from one election to the next, and nobody outside of Minnesota really likes ludefisk anyway.

          Even though I’m not a man of faith … I consider faith very important. It’s one of the reasons why, unlike some atheists, I won’t go to church for social reasons. I don’t want to lie about something that people (including me) consider so important. And I don’t like it when other people do it, either.

        • jim_m

          So religiosity is not a guaranteed indication of morality.

          Correct. I did not claim anything else. In fact my claim was that people tend to vote for others who are closer to their world view, not that they tended to vote for others who were more moral.

          And if your complaint is hypocrisy then I suggest that you tear up your voter registration and stop voting. Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. We are all hypocrites. Some just more publicly than others.

          In so far as we are talking about politicians the choice is between a dishonest theist and a dishonest atheist. If you think you have found an honest politician I have some real estate to sell you…

          • JWH

            I manifestly do not believe that politicians are honest, but as I said above, I prefer that people be honest about something as important as faith. So which do you prefer … a person who lies to you about his religion when he tells you he’s Christian, or a person who truthfully tells you he’s an atheist?

          • jim_m

            Let me ask it in a different way: Who are you more of a fool for trusting? The man who promises that he won’t lie to you? Or the man who tells you that he has no scruple against doing so?

            [edit] Let me elaborate. Only a fool thinks that a Christian is going to live up to Christ’s example (moral perfection is a tall order). But which would you rather? The guy who says he’d like to try to live up to that example? Or the guy who says that such an example is a bunch of crap?

          • JWH

            That makes a little more sense then the way you initially phrased it. Actually, I’d probably want the second, but not in such vulgar terms. In a politician, I prefer somebody who’s living in the here and now … and one who’s not going to excuse his personal prejudices with reference to a deity.

            {Edited to add]: A friend of mine — a religious friend I respect rather much — shared an observation with me once. He said he had noticed that the more often a person described himself or his actions as “Christian,” the less Christian that person seemed to be.

      • herddog505

        jim_m[P]eople do tend to vote for candidates that they feel have similar beliefs and ideals. What I don’t get is that such a concept is OK when we are talking lefties voting for lefties, but it is somehow evil and undemocratic when applied to anyone else.

        Bingo. I suspect that the atheists would whine about how they feel “excluded” and “ostracized” for their beliefs. Try being a conservative or Christian in Hollywood or at Harvard. The plain fact is that people tend to associate with those of similar beliefs, interests, etc., and hence NOT welcome those with very different beliefs, interests, etc. and who are very vocal about these differences. A stamp club will not be especially welcoming to a militant coin collector; a political party will not be especially welcoming of somebody who would probably be more at home in the other party; etc.

        As for why these people are targeting Republicans, it’s obvious: the democrats and MiniTru (BIRM) have turned the GOP in the party of exclusion, the party of persecution, the party of the white, Christian, Protestant, we-hate-everybody bookburners. Hence, if you’ve got a grievance (real or imagined) in this country, it’s the GOP’s fault, and you can be sure to get lots of favorable coverage (i.e. free advertizing) by b*tching about them.

        • JWH

          Several thoughts, interlocking.

          In the first place, i don’t have much patience for the militant atheist. I can respect some of the PR/advertising campaigns, such as “You can be good without God” and “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” That’s oriented on simply making people aware that atheists exist, that atheists are not firebreathing monsters … and letting individuals who feel isolated from their fellows because of their atheism that there are others out there who feel the same way. Interestingly, though, local news media often drag out some Christian who finds the ads offensive, and more than a few of these relatively benign billboards have been vandalized.

          But, as somebody who is very much an atheist, I have no patience for crap like suing city councils to stop legislative prayer or going after every single cross or religious monument that’s sat on public property for decades. Even if there’s a technically correct legal argument for yanking them, I see no reason to upset applecarts. A prayer at a meeting of adults is just that — a prayer at a meeting of adults, who are quite capable of resisting the coercive effects of a two-minute prayer. Ditto for nativity scenes. Unless you can uncover evidence that a government official (of recent vintage, TYVM) expressly put something in place because he thinks government should endorse his religion, or he uses it as a prop to evangelize folks on government time, leave the things alone. Such things do nothing … and atheists’ legal firepower is better spent elsewhere.

          That said, I find reactions interesting when an atheist brings such actions in court. Locals get upset. And inevitably there are threats and name-calling. Name-calling is a breach of etiquette, not the end of the world. But I think it illustrates one frustration that atheists have with theists. Even the theists who follow a religion that preaches love, acceptance, and tolerance seem willing to reach for threats and opprobrium.

          Which leads to another interlocking point: harassment. If you dig around the Internet for a while, you’ll find references to harassment in the school and in the workplace. At schools, this can include students who will “lay on hands” on an atheist student, restraining and bullying the person under the guise of religious healing. In the workplace, this can include “Jesus emails” (merely annoying) up to unwelcome proselytizing and dismissing a person from employment in his religious beliefs.*

          Which leads to a core point that I’d like to put forward here, and one that bothers a number of atheists, including this one. According to my understanding of the religion, Jesus charged his followers to spread the “good news” of his arrival to all, including Jew and Gentile. Evangelical Protestants, in particular, interpret this as a mission to “witness” to, and thus attempt to convert to Christianity, all others who don’t follow their religion. All of this, apparently, is OK.

          But let somebody so much as say the phrase “I’m an atheist,” and suddenly, that’s grounds for harassing a person, calling them the devil, and so forth. Yes, I know people like to associate with people who are like them. But there’s a difference between “I’m just not going to deal with you” and “You are EVIL!! EVIL!! EVIL!!”

          All of that rankles.

          =========================
          * Quick note: I don’t believe a secular employer should fire a worker for being an atheist, as long as that atheist is not actively harassing his fellow co-workers or being otherwise disruptive of the workplace. I also don’t believe an employer should fire a worker for being Christian, Jewish, etc., as long as that religious worker is not harassing others. Unless that worker is a mime. Because mimes should always be fire.

          • jim_m

            Even the theists who follow a religion that preaches love, acceptance,
            and tolerance seem willing to reach for threats and opprobrium.

            Funny how Christians are condemned for this but the ‘Religion of Peace’(TM) is never criticized by the same people despite their violence.

            All snark aside, As a former atheist I agree with you that advertising to promote your viewpoint is fine, it is when atheists seek to expand their ranks by criticizing or mocking religion that they cross the line. And we agree that atheist attempts to stifle public religious expression runs counter to the very tolerance they claim to be seeking.

          • JWH

            Hey, Jim, there’s more to my comment. I hit “post” by accident. There’s more, if you need your morning JWH bile.

          • JWH

            Funny how Christians are condemned for this but the ‘Religion of Peace’(TM) is never criticized by the same people despite their violence.

            Read some Christopher Hitchens sometime. He was pretty damn outspoken about all religions.

          • JWH

            I actually used to be pretty militant and arrogant about my atheism back in high school. I like to think I’m a little better about it these days. I mellowed significantly in college after it dawned on me that not everyone else was as impressed with me as I was. I know that I can seem pretty strident here, but that’s as much an effect of the environment as anything else.

            Over on an atheist blog, when I suggest that lawsuits over Nativity scenes and a florist who refused to deliver to an atheist are a waste of time, they pillory my ass and compare floral discrimination to Jim Crow. Berks.

            Anyway, in college, contact with actual evangelicals rather than caricatures and strawmen taught me three things:

            1) Most evangelicals do not conform to the stereotypes, or even to the template of publicity-hogging evangelicals who are the group’s self-appointed leaders and spokespeople;

            2) College-age evangelicals have a heightened need (beyond that of college graduates) to proselytize to nonbelievers, but they can generally be rebuffed politely but firmly; and,

            3) Actual militant evangelicals have a lot in common with militant atheists.

          • jim_m

            I think that we were all more militant about things back in high school. And yes, people who are militant about their beliefs are all pretty similar.

            However, I have never seen anyone harassed in the workplace for claiming to be an atheist, but I have seen people’s Christian religious beliefs denigrated. It seems that Christianity is the one religion that the majority of people feel they have a right to criticize and offend.

          • JWH

            I have not seen it, in person, either. But I’ve read some of the accounts of the harassment. A few are out there if you go to the Googles and search for them.

            However, I have never seen anyone harassed in the workplace for claiming to be an atheist, but I have seen people’s Christian religious beliefs denigrated. It seems that Christianity is the one religion that the majority of people feel they have a right to criticize and offend.

            I tend to “criticize and offend” Christianity in general, or certain Christians in particular, more often than, say, Muslims or Hindus because in the United States, Christians are generally the ones positions of power. If, for example, a religious public-school principal decides to open each day by leading students in prayer over the school PA, he’s likely going to be a Christian trying to lead them in Christian prayer. I would feel the same (and do the same) if an American public-school principal tried to lead students in five-times daily Muslim prayers over the PA. And if I lived in that principal’s community and had a child who attended that school, I’d certainly do something about it.

            As far as actions abroad … ask me about Alex Aan sometime. You don’t hear me talk about him much here because he never really comes up. And considering Aan’s in Indonesia and I’m in America, there’s not really much I can do about him other than to say “Well, Indonesia shouldn’t do that.” And note that Aan is much braver than I.

          • herddog505

            JWHI have no patience for crap like suing city councils to stop legislative prayer or going after every single cross or religious monument that’s sat on public property for decades. Even if there’s a technically correct legal argument for yanking them, I see no reason to upset applecarts.

            Ditto. I think that the militant atheists, the Madalyn Murray O’Hairs, have done much to damage the atheist “brand”: they come off as a bunch of whining, sniveling, militant kill-joys. I understand how it must (does, for that matter) to be the odd man out, to have people look at you like you’ve got two heads, to have people badger you to do this or not do that “for your own good”. I realize that some Christians take the Great Commission to mean browbeating the unbeliever into submission: “Look, if I agree to have somebody pour water on me while saying some specific words, will you please let me along???”

            In my view, it is simply a matter of courtesy: you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. You treat me with a little respect, and I’ll treat you with a little respect.

            Tough for many people to do.

          • JWH

            O’Hair is something of a split case, in my opinion. On the one hand, I think that the early school-prayer cases (Schemp, Murray, and Vitale) established the very valuable (and very needed) idea that you shouldn’t use the machinery of public schools for religious instruction or compel students to participate in religious exercises with which they disagree.*

            O’Hair’s temperament, though … Oy. “Whining, sniveling, militant kill-joys” does not even begin to describe it.

            As far as legislative prayers, I’ve sort of come to the “place at the table” argument. I actually liked something that (I think) Winston-Salem set up after somebody complained of Christian prayers. They set up a system virtually any local religious leader could apply to give an invocation at the meetings. The rules were to keep it short, keep it sweet, and keep it reasonably ecumenical.

            And a court threw it out, which is a shame. As far as I’m concerned, as long as there’s also an opportunity for a humanist/atheist to offer an invocation, that’s a wonderful system that promotes diversity and inclusion.

            In my view, it is simply a matter of courtesy: you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. You treat me with a little respect, and I’ll treat you with a little respect.

            I follow a similar policy. In my personal and professional life, I try to be neither excessively aggressive with my atheism nor to be a doormat. And you’d be surprised at the number of times that I’ve sidestepped the “what religion are you?” or “what church do you attend?” question by naming the denomination my parents raised me in, then following it up with an old, moldy joke about the denomination. **
            That said, I am perfectly willing to dissect a claim if it’s put up in a public forum, offered as “definitive” proof of one bit or another of religious dogma. And I have absolutely zero tolerance for hucksters. (which includes a lot of televangelists and almost the entire church of Scientology).

            ===========
            * Note, even when students can opt out of such things, courts still consider the state sponsorship of religion to have a coercive effect.

            ** For the record, it’s Episcopalian. And my go-to joke regards what you’ll always find with four Episcopalians.

          • herddog505

            JWH[C]ourts still consider the state sponsorship of religion to have a coercive effect.

            As upset as I get over the militant atheists, I get where they are coming from. I think that children especially feel a need to fit in, and being the only one who rather obviously is abstaining during prayer must be hard on a kid. O’ course, given that he’s likely abstaining because his parents told him to (who’s being coercive now?) makes it even worse.

            Unfortunately, the line between “we’re observing our religious customs” and “we’re coercing you” is hard to define. Is, for example, the display of a Nativity scene “coercive”? On the other hand, is BANNING such displays not equally coercive: “We’ll show you christers that you can’t shove your cult down our throats!” It’s harder simply because what one person finds “coercive” is a matter of complete indifference (possibly even amusement) to another.

            It’s another manifestation of the old question, “Where do my rights end and yours begin?”

          • JWH

            Herd, next time your kids don’t want to eat their veggies, have them call me. I’ll represent them in a case alleging that you are coercing them.

            But enough snark. Excepting one recent case, the rule regarding holiday displays and governments seems to be “give everybody a chance.” Meaning that if a city wants to put holiday displays on city land, it has to give all comers an opportunity to put up holiday displays.

            But that’s just the legal aspect.

            In the JWH aspect, coercion depends on consequences, audience, and action and intent.

            Consequences. If a judge sentences you for a crime, then tells you he’ll suspend the sentence if you agree to weekly sessions with a Scientology auditor for twelve months, that’s coercive. The consequence is that if you don’t participate in Scientology, you’re going to go to jail.

            Audience. I consider a legislative prayer non-coercive because everybody there is an adult. Presumably, an adult has enough sense not to feel threatened by a minister offering a brief invocation before a legislative meeting. A child at school, on the other hand. is not a fully formed adult and is more susceptible to coercion. In the Court of JWH, this also factors in to who’s bringing a complaint. In Texas right now (Kountze, if I remember correctly) there’s an ongoing brouhaha about a pre-football game ritual where cheerleaders write Bible verses on banners, then players run through the banners as they’re introduced during the game. Apparently, somebody who attends football games complained, so there’s been some contretemps. In the Court of JWH, this doesn’t qualify as coercion. Dude attended a football game, one among thousands of people. He can freakin’ deal with it. Now, on the other hand, if, say, a cheerleader, football player, or member of the marching band (i.e., somebody who participates in this little ritual) were to complain …

            Action and intent. What is being done? If you’re putting up a nativity scene or a cross on public land, I really, really don’t care. Walking by it doesn’t hurt me. And if you put it up to commemorate your holiday season, I’ll wish you a happy holiday and be done with it. I’m an adult, I can deal. Now, on the other hand, there’s Roy’s Rock. That’s a Ten Commandments monument put in the Alabama Supreme Court lobby about ten years ago. An atheist lawyer and (I think) a Jewish lawyer immediately challenged it. And it doesn’t help that Moore 1) explicitly erected the monument because he wanted to remind folks of the role of religion in the law; 2) had the erecti … er … setting up of the monument filmed by a religious organization’s film crew for the purpose of proselytizing; and 3) when a federal court ruled against him, he refused to comply with its order, and the rest of the Alabama Supreme Court promptly kicked him off the bench.

          • herddog505

            As it happens, I was discussing child rearing with my wife just this morning. I would prefer (I think!) any child of mine to be a little bit defiant (“WHY have I got to do this or that?) to one who is too compliant (“I do this or that because daddy says so; I never asked why.”)

            That being said, in the final analysis, any child of mine would find in a big hurry that life with me is less “due process” and more like Judge Dredd: “*I* am the law. Now, eat your vegetables before your mother gets angry and takes it out on ME.” My wife is also a lawyer; I’m pretty sure that coercion in such a case is perfectly legal in her book.
            ;-)

            I think that your analysis of coercion is very good. The only problem is the issue of “adults”: I’ve found that most people who meet the LEGAL definition of being an adult… aren’t.

          • JWH

            As a coda to our discussion:

            I’ve taken up the habit of lurking in some of the inevitable “Support X” groups that crop up in the wake of church-state disputes involving school prayer (or allegations thereof). I’ve found roughly four strains of folks who want to put prayer back in school.

            1) People reacting to overzealous enforcement by school officials. There have been more than a few cases where a student engages in activity (typically locker decorations, talking to other kids about religion, or similar) that is manifestly protected by the Free Exercise clause, and school officials overreact and punish the student. People in this camp see free exercise as under attack by school officials and the ACLU … ignoring the fact that sometimes, the ACLU steps up to defend the student!

            2) People who view teachers’ leading of students in prayer as free exercise of religion. These individuals typically believe that if students and teachers choose to pray together in a school setting, that’s everybody freely expressing their religion, and kids who don’t want to pray should butt out. These folks also typically invite atheists who don’t like it to leave their communities.

            3) Moral educators. These folks tend to believe that modern immoral acts (mass shootings, sex scandals, and Justin Bieber concerts) occur because we don’t teach kids enough about morals. Their solution is to reintroduce the Bible to kids through a religious curriculum.

            4) Crusaders. I’ve also seen folks who view the public schools as a sort of spiritual battleground. They earnestly believe that it’s their mission to save all the kids a the school, and reinstating teacher-led prayer is the way to do it.

            There’s a lot of overlap between the groups, obviously, but for groups 2 and 3, at least, the biggest commonality seems to be their view that if their community is majority Protestant Christian, then the local Jews, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, Muslims, and Catholics should just shut up and get with the program.

            I wonder how many of them realize what would happen if their “folks with the majority religion” rules were applied in, say, Dearborn Michigan, some outlying Hawaiian communities, or certain New York neighborhoods where a very conservative sect of Judaism holds sway.

          • herddog505

            JWHI wonder how many of them realize what would happen if their “folks with the majority religion” rules were applied in, say, Dearborn Michigan, some outlying Hawaiian communities, or certain New York neighborhoods where a very conservative sect of Judaism holds sway.

            I try to remind myself of this sort of thing when I get too “het up” over the issue. Certainly, schools should be restrained from trampling on kids’ rights to religious expression: it’s none of their damned business if little Johnny comes in with a Bible, or little Sally wears a hijab, for that matter. It seems to me that the role of the faculty in this sort of a case is simply to see that kids aren’t subject to bullying both by keeping an eye out for it and also firmly teaching that, in our country, people have the right to express their beliefs. Unfortunately, it seems to me that they are so terrified of a lawsuit by overly-zealous atheists or members of another religion or else so eager to prove their unbiased, non-judgemental, open-minded, tolerant bona fides that they’ll happily trample some kid’s rights and make him out to be a religious nutjob into the bargain.

            We’re going quite a nice job of balkanizing our country and setting up a vicious cycle of grievance and counter-grievance.

          • JWH

            Indeed. Obviously, if Johnny or Sally shows up with daily bruises to go with the Bible or the hijab, teachers should do something. But, school administration, IMO, should primarily confine itself to educating kids (both from a scholastic and a social perspective) and providing a reasonably safe learning environment.

            Incidentally, my personal rule for analyzing the intersection of religion and other aspects of life (school, work, football, governance) is to ask myself, “What would a Scientologist do with this?” If the scenario ends with Tom Cruise chasing me around with an E-Meter, then it’s probably better to err on the on-religious side of a particular issue.

    • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

      The voting public is both free and encouraged to vote for candidates who best match the values of the voters.

  • SteveCrickmore075

    You want a reason why atheists targeted Sarah Palin? Palin argues in her book “America by Heart,” that “morality itself cannot be sustained without the support of religious beliefs”, and this infuses her world view of everything, (especially secularists), and her policy positions such as teaching creationsim on a par with evolution in public schools.

    • jim_m

      She’s right and that’s what irritates the left.

      We had this very discussion here not that long ago. WIth God (or a god) there is no ability to establish the idea of an objective morality (meaning that there is a true moral right and wrong apart from what man says or thinks). All morality that comes from a nontheological argument is ultimately a subjective morality.

      That being the case, all subjective morality is changeable and ultimately results in the truth that nothing is wrong if you 1) can get away with it or 2) can through the use of force impose it upon others.

      Those two arguments run through every excuse that the left comes out with today. The left abandoned morality a long time ago.

      • Brudder

        If morality comes from a being, any being, how is it objective? Isn’t it simply that being’s morality, and subjective? If it is indistinguishable from objective morality then what use is this being?

        • jim_m

          The reason is that a morality set up by the creator of the universe is logically the way the universe is intended to function morally.

          The question is not whether or not your subjective morality is more or less congruent with the objective morality set up by God. The question is not whether your morality works for you. THe question is what the foundation of that morality is.

          If the morality is founded in an eternal, unchanging God, who created the universe and ordered how it works then if we understand that morality we stand to be closer to how the universe is supposed to work. From a Christian point of view, we are closer to how God wants us to be.

          If morality is founded in a subjective construction of man, then that morality can change. I offered two examples above. Go reread your Lord of the Flies for a fictional example of how morality can change if there is no proper foundation. Just because societal morality is close to the real objective morality today does not mean that it will be tomorrow.

          You ask what use is God if our morality is close to His and we decided upon it for ourselves? I ask did we really? Or did we just cut him out of it and take the credit for ourselves? And what if a despot takes over tomorrow and our society changes?

          The point of God and His morality is that, ultimately, there will be an accounting for everything. What use is God? Why don’t you ask Him when you see Him?

          • SteveCrickmore075

            1 Samuel 15: 2-3, God commanded Saul and the Israelites, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”.
            Maybe God was just having an off day like Romney’s angel Moroni on November election day., but you said God was “unchanging, eternal”, almighty blah blah .Where do you get all this nonsense? Yes, from the same book commanding Saul to put to death all women and children, what we would now call genocide., that is what you call ‘objective’ morality from the invisble man, he who must be obeyd, so infinitely better than any subjective morality from man or atheists, in the twenty first century, governed only by reason and not the God of biblical times,when their understanding of everything: ,geography (the earth was flat) science, medicine, etc was primitive indeed,.. but not their theology, because of faith (or ignorance).

          • jim_m

            so infinitely better than any subjective morality from man or atheists, in the twenty first century, governed only by reason

            I don’t have to look any further than the democrats and their selective enforcement of the law and their word games (“it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”) to demonstrate that subjective morality produced by men is little more than the raw exertion of power.

            When in the twisted morality of the soviets it became the ‘right thing to do’ to turn in your neighbors for being dissidents, it shows that many morality produced by man is inherently corrupt.

            When under the genocidal Nazi’s it was ‘the right thing to do’ to turn in your Jewish neighbors so the state could murder them, it shows that man made moral systems based on science and reason are prone to evil. (you do realize that the Nazi’s based all their atrocities on the science of Eugenics? The same science that obama’s science adviser believes in?)

            You hate God. I understand. I’m OK with that.

      • Brucehenry

        “All morality that comes from a non-theological argument is ultimately a subjective morality.”

        Well, that’s debatable, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true. It still doesn’t make the fact that “all subjective morality is changeable” lead to the “truth” that nothing is wrong “if you can get away with it.”

        YOU may need the threat of eternal damnation or the promise of eternal bliss to make you do what’s right most of the time. Others do it because they think it’s what’s right, period.

        • jim_m

          You mistake me. I didn’t say that people who do not believe in God do not have a moral code or that they are incapable of acting in a moral way. It is manifestly true that they can and do.

          What I am saying is that if there is an objective right and wrong (that is to say objectively true and not subjective or dependent upon circumstances and not some relativistic BS that is purely subjective) that it’s foundation, whether you acknowledge it or not, is supernatural.

          If you claim that it comes from anything else the root of that something else is man. No man is morally superior to another. Society is nothing more than a collection of men and we have seen societies where murder was the norm (see the Auca Indians), or like NAZI Germany where unspeakable acts were considered acceptable (even before the death camps it was considered acceptable to sterilize the crippled and retarded, even WWI veterans crippled by combat were sterilized)

          The point is not that you have a moral code but to ask where it comes from. Most people are not so introspective that they can even conceive of the question, much less consider the answer.

          • Brucehenry

            See “Using Reason” above. If morality comes from a being, how is it objective? If Jehovah sets morality, that’s one thing. What if Belial is the arbiter?

          • jim_m

            Thanks for being an ass. I was sincere in my statement. You counter with one that is asinine and without basis. Why not actually come up with a circumstance that makes sense?

            My point was that any moral code that relies upon man as its foundation is ultimately subjective. You respond with a pointless and ignorant question meant only to mock. Screw you.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, I guess you figure the best defense is a good offense, huh, Jim?

            You can’t seem to get 5 comments into any thread without tossing in a “screw you,” can you?

            Again, I repeat. What is objective about a morality defined by a sentient being — ANY sentient being?

          • jim_m

            I answered that elsewhere on this thread.

            If the morality is founded in an eternal, unchanging God, who created the universe and ordered how it works then if we understand that morality we stand to be closer to how the universe is supposed to work. From a Christian point of view, we are closer to how God wants us to be.

            A morality from God does not change. It is not subjective. It is objective in the respect that it is the way the universe s designed to work.

            Now before you get all hot and bothered about that, I will say that even religious moral codes often have a large dose of the subjective mixed in with them. Kant held that we could understand God’s morality through reason and not just revelation. The idea is that we can indeed understand what is right and wrong and that by doing right the world will work better for all of us.

            Oh, and I said “screw you” because I was being sincere and you were being a jerk.

          • Brucehenry

            Lol, dude, I’m not the one who gets “hot and bothered” on Wizbang. I’ve told someone to screw themselves exactly ONCE since I’ve been commenting here (since 2008) — and that was you, a few months ago.

            I haven’t read Kant, and don’t have the education you do, but I’m pretty sure he was right if he said we could understand morality through reason. I just don’t think I need God for that. YMMV.

          • jim_m

            But Kant’s idea of morality was still founded upon God. The idea was that there is an objective morality and that since we do not have direct contact with God (not all of us are Michelle Obama), God must have given us some way to arrive at moral truth. His conclusion was that God gave us reason.

            Once again, we arrive at the issue, which is that you can arrive at a morality, but what is it founded upon? If you arrive at a morality founded in your own reasoning then what is to say that your reasoning does not change and lead you to decide that murder is OK (like the Auca) or that forced sterilization of people you deem to be too icky to reproduce is ok (like the Nazi’s)?

            Of course part of the point is that man always strays from the moral truth, but if we are at a moral truth that is consistent with revealed truth and which has been maintained through the ages because subjectively it works, then we can be pretty confident that we have something close to the real thing.

            Modern leftism’s fixation with relativistic truth (in reality the Nihilistic idea that there is no truth) is merely an attempt to discard God. It is a recognition that God is the foundation of morality and truth and that the only way to get away from that fact is to deny God outright.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, I can’t argue with a guy who attacks me for using a “Belial” analogy as being asinine, but who thinks using Aucas and Nazis as analogies isn’t being asinine.

            Always over the top. Good night, Jim.

          • jim_m

            What is asinine about using real world examples of moral codes in a discussion about morality? You were making up a BS hypothetical to mock the idea of an objective morality. I was not accusing anyone of being like the Aucas or the Nazi’s. I was pointing out that if there is no objective morality then what is there that stops us from becoming like them?

            Perhaps such a question is just too uncomfortable for you.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            The Dahlai Lama would likely poke the ass in the nose, or deputize Seagal to do so.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Norma-Jean-Almodovar/100001283590525 Norma Jean Almodovar

            Any moral code that relies on an invisible man in the sky is ultimately subjective. The deities change around every few thousand years- this time around you have one, the biblical jehovah, but next time around it may be the goddess who promotes lots of sex. The bottom line is that you have no more claim to an objective morality than does a clam. The gods are whimsical- one day they tell you to kill your only son- the next, they say “Nevermind.” The old testament is filled with contradictory commands which sound like they come from a bi-polar deity- or maybe a bunch of deities who can’t resolve who is going to be top- dog… er… god? Either way, it is pure wishful thinking on the part of christians or muslims or jews to believe that morality came from the god who became popular a few thousand years ago, when ‘morality’ was already in full swing in many nations/ continents around the world who were never formally introduced to the jewish god. They had their own.

          • jim_m

            Rom 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

            And as I said to Bruce Henry, Immanuel Kant believed that man could arrive at the same conclusion through reason. The issue is not whether man recognizes an absolute morality, but whether or not one exists and if it exists, what establishes it.

            From your comment it is obvious that you do not believe in any such thing.

    • gailfilerino0403

      Yes Sarah Palin is brilliant and God has blessed her with great wisdom.My politics also are combined with my Christian beliefs as is most peoples political views.

  • LiberalNightmare

    >>So, Atheists in the USA are indeed welcome to participate in the political process. Why then would some of them feel a need to speak out against some Republican politicians?

    Same reason Code pink feels the need to protest republican politicians for imaginary war crimes, but cant be found when Obama gets us into an actual illegal war.

    Want to bet that these athiests will never be seen protesting Rev Sharpton ?

    • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

      Let alone a radical mosque.

      • jim_m

        a radical mosque.

        But you repeat yourself.

    • gailfilerino0403

      Why do they need to ask. I am a born again Christian but I don’t think I need permission to have a say or be part of the political seen.

  • Paul Hooson

    Atheists aren’t real popular, so I doubt their billboards advance their nonreligious cause very much. Their money is better saved, I think. But, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are easy targets for almost anyone to ridicule.

    When Newt Gingrich’s campaign once called me to make a donation, I politely refused them, telling them that he he has no chance in hell of capturing the Republican nomination in 2012, and has far too much scandal to be seriously considered by most voters. I was certainly right about that. His campaign quickly fizzled when it failed to capture many donors beyond one controversial Las Vegas casino owner who has been accused in a foreign prostitution scandal involving a casino he owns abroad. Maybe, Gingrich found a man after his own heart here, but no one else.

    • JWH

      Their money is better saved, I think

      Disagree. It’s actually money very, very well spent:

      * It gets free play in the press.
      * It gets remarked upon by bloggers who are bemused, approving, or outraged
      * It upsets professional upset theists, who in turn talk about the attacks.

      All in all, it’s a great way to get publicity and milk the atheist base for more money.

      • Paul Hooson

        All it reminds me of is when the Communist Party USA opened a political stand at the Oregon State Fair one year, didn’t hardly attract a single new member, but engaged all day in arguments with fair goers and controversy until they weren’t invited to come back next year. Atheists are playing on the same empty field here.

  • Vagabond661

    So can those billboards be called assault weapons?

  • gailfilerino0403

    They are the liberal leftist communist wackos that have a need to try to misslead themselves as well as others and as for referencing the sins of catholic priests, well this is why Jesus died on the cross FOR OUR SINS even before we were born. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We all stand filthy in rags before God.

    • JWH

      Really, Gail? That’s your conclusion? Let’s unpack this a little:

      They are the liberal leftist communist wackos that have a need to try to misslead themselves as well as others

      First, as nearly as I can tell, the atheists aren’t “leftist communist wackos.” American atheists do cluster on the left side of the political spectrum, but I haven’t seen a higher incidence of communism among them. And atheists strike me as rather sane, though many are a arrogant and a tad misanthropic.

      Despite this billboard attack on retired Republican politicians, I don’t see any evidence of a need to “misslead” [sic] others. Rather, there’s a desire to affirm political identity and reach out to others who may have questions about their religious faith.

      as for referencing the sins of catholic priests, well this is why Jesus died on the cross FOR OUR SINS even before we were born

      This reminds me of a phrase. “In God we trust. All others pay cash.” That phrase is a rather stark reminder that first, humans are untrustworthy, and second, that there’s a difference between matters spiritual and matters material. Whatever the status of the miscreant Catholic priests on the heavenly plane, they’ve nevertheless wronged a great number of people on the earthly plane … and senior members of their organization attempted to conceal information regarding these misdeeds, thus compounding the first offenses.

      Perhaps their god can forgive them, but in the earthly world … this world … there needs to be an accounting. And if the lesson of the entire affair is that “well, it’s all fine because God has forgiven them,” then somebody needs to nail another ninety-three theses to the church door.

      As for the rest, I think you need to recognize that your statements. “all have sinned … ” and “[w]e all stand filthy in rags … ” are not universal statements. They are merely represent your beliefs, and the beliefs of those who agree with you.

      Gail, rest assured that I am not trying to “misslead” [sic] you. If you find happiness in your religion, by all means, continue to do so. But I think your ad hominems are part of the problem in this country, not part of the solution.

  • Constitution First

    At the end of an atheists journey in life, there is no time left to repent.
    Deny the Lord in your lifetime, pay the consequences for eternity.