Speak Up Atheists!

Secularists in our Society: Shunned and Bashed

There are two quotes that I have heard/read this week have been rolling around my brain.  I want to write a brief post to flush them out, put down my thoughts, and see what you all have to say.

The first quote was from Mitt Romney.  At one point during the debate, he stated:

“We’re a nation that believes that we’re all children of the same God, and we care for those that have difficulties, those that are elderly and have problems and challenges, those that are disabled.”

I find a few things problematic with this statement.  First, as most of readers of this blog have certainly already picked up, we are NOT a nation that, “believes that we’re all children of the same God” or any god for that matter.  Recent polls have shown that perhaps up to 19% of us claim “none” for religion.  How many of those are atheists?  Who knows…but certainly a decent percentage would be.  Second, not all U.S. citizens believe what Romney stated.  We have many Americans citizens who are religious, but do not subscribe to one of the Abrahamic faiths.  His statement is patently false.  Yet, what bothers me is that no one…and I do mean no one…calls him out on that.  Obama, other Dems, liberal political groups, and liberal media outlets were silent on this.  Why?  It could have been another blow to Romney; similar in a way to his 47% comment.  I do not mean to say that it would have produced as large of a controversy, but an opportunity was missed.  Why didn’t anyone on the Left stand up and say, “No Mitt, we are not a country that believes that.  Do you not value our atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, etc American citizens?”

The second part of his quote is equally problematic to me.  One does not need religion, particularly the Abrahamic religions, to see value in caring, “for those that have difficulties, those that are elderly and have problems and challenges, those that are disabled.”  Perhaps I am reading into that statement too much.  However, I am tired of hearing the religious claim dominion over charity and other kind works.  Secular groups and people care as much for those things as anyone else, and perhaps, it could be argued care even more.

The second quote was from Washington’s Cardinal Wuerl, in an article at the Catholic News Service, he stated:

“It’s almost as if a tsunami of secularism washed across Western Europe and, when it receded, it took with it all of those foundational concepts: family, marriage, right and wrong, common good, objective order.”

This statement is utter nonsense and must be condemned by all atheists.  He is not merely implying but stating in plain English that atheists are immoral.  That we do not know right from wrong or do not value the common good.  Apparently the Cardinal is either unfamiliar with humanism and its many offshoots (as well as the many other examples of secularists upholding morality and the common good) or he is lying.  I vote for the latter.  I do not believe the Cardinal is that uneducated or idiotic.  I believe he is a political actor, and like most of those, a liar.  I believe the Cardinal and other members of the church are well aware of the advocacy many atheists do for social and economic causes, that our insistence that it is the Church’s stance on “marriage” that is truly immoral, etc—-and it terrifies them.  One path of action open to them is to bash secularists.  It can be an effective strategy when we look at studies showing how little we are trusted by our fellow Americans.  Effective?  Yes.  Accurate?  Clearly not.

In closing, statements like the two above anger me.  They anger me, not so much because of they are false, but rather because they remind me that we atheists have yet to find a loud voice with which to speak up against the falsity of statements of that nature.  Sure, I can write blogs like this, as can all of you.  Yet I (and most likely you) cannot reach the same number of people as a Presidential debate nor can we match the number of people listening to pastors on pulpits every week.  It is becoming increasingly imperative that those of us who identify as “secular” start using our voices.  It is time each of us speaks out.  If we fail to do so, we will continue to be marginalized for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.


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4 thoughts on “Speak Up Atheists!

  1. hausdorff from Troy, MI, United States

    You are completely right, Romney's quote only suggests what that second quote says outright. It is infuriating to read that kind of thing. We should definitely speak up. We are going to have trouble competing for to reach the same number of people, but if we all speak in whatever circles we can, at least we can try to work toward this idea not being blindly accepted. Perhaps the first step is to get to a point where offhand comments along these lines will simply be met with a polite "non-religious people have charities too"

    A small step forward is a step forward :)

  2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    You have to remember that the primary purpose behind Romney's quote was to say "see, I'm just like you, we all worship the same God!" and the second quote comes from a Catholic in power who is really grousing about the loss of political power and influence.

    Yes, we need to speak up, make ourselves known, present our case and be strident in our goals for equality. It will take a while, it's just nice to see how far we've come.


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