Posted: January 1, 2011.
Print: God Discussion
2010 In Review: The Most Outrageous, Ignorant and Positive News Stories and Quotes about Atheists, Humanists and Non-Theists
As an increasing number of people are leaving organized religion, the verbal attacks against atheists, humanists, secularists and other freethinking non-Christians are becoming more virulent.
The growing exodus from organized religion is set on a backdrop of increasing Christian fundamentalism. Throughout the year, Americans have been hearing the Tea Party’s battle cry of “Christian nationalism.” Political figures like Sarah Palin have declared that America’s laws are based on the Christian bible. The Texas State Board of Education made alarming changes to its history books in order to emphasize conservative values and to minimize the role of the Enlightenment in America’s founding. Social conservatives are still trying to force creationism in schools as a legitimate science, and a whale of an ark is being constructed in Kentucky — with plenty of tax perks.
For non-theists, there’s been good and bad. We took a look at our news archives and compiled what we consider to be the best and the worst news stories and quotes about the atheist and freethought community reported during the year 2010.
The 5 Most Outrageous, Discriminatory and Ignorant Statements Made About Non-Believers During the Year 2010.
#5: “The message of the Declaration of Independence is under attack from the ACLU and atheists because it refuted the lie about a constitutional mandate for “separation of church and state.” Atheists have filed numerous lawsuits in the courts of activist judges to try to eliminate our right to acknowledge God in public places, in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and in Ten Commandments monuments. The atheists are trying to change American history, expunge all reference to religion from textbooks and make us a completely secular nation. History proves America was founded by religious men who believed that a divine Creator is basic to good government.”
July 2010 – Phillis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, in explaining to World Net Daily why America’s Declaration of Independence is actually a religious document.
#4: “Atheism is not the result of objective assessment of evidence, but of stubborn disobedience; it does not arise from the careful application of reason but from willful rebellion. Atheism is the suppression of truth by wickedness, the cognitive consequence of immorality.In short, it is sin that is the mother of unbelief.”
March 2010 – James S. Spiegel, author of The Making of An Atheist, to the Christian Post.
#3 “Atheists are parasites in the sense that they are benefiting from everything that religious culture has built in America, but they are doing nothing to add energy into the system.”
September 2010 – Rabbi Lapin, with Glenn Beck on Fox News.
#2 In February 2010, the religious right had an absolute fit because the Obama administration met with representatives of the Secular Coalition of America, who included atheists and humanists. The Secular Coalition asked the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services to address (1) neglect and abuse inflicted on children whose parents chose faith healing over medicine, (2) military proselytizing and discrimination against armed services personnel who are not evangelical Christians, and (3) fixing faith-based initiatives so that secular options are equally available to those in need.
The faithful characterized the Secular Coalition as a hate group and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League went as far as to say that President Obama was actively trying to “crush Christianity in America.” While there were numerous statements indicating that non-religious people were bringing about the downfall of America and that they should not be allowed to have any say in government, the PETITION TO STOP OBAMA’S CAMPAIGN TO DE-CHRISTIANIZE AMERICA drafted by Rick Scarborough and signed by religious right activists at Vision America pretty much said it all:
“Whereas President Barack Obama often goes out of his way to acknowledge Islam, while slighting Christianity
Whereas, for 8 years, President George W. Bush observed National Day of Prayer by addressing a group of religious leaders in the East Room of the White House, like his predecessors going back to John F. Kennedy
Whereas, last year, President Obama had no such a ceremony—a move hailed by a spokesman for the American Atheists
Whereas all President Obama did on National Day of Prayer 2009 was to issue a proclamation, which he sent to Congress late in the day
Whereas, while the White House refuses to participate in religious ceremonies involving Christians, for the first time in our history, atheists recently met with administration officials
Whereas, since assuming office, President Obama has consistently misrepresented this country religious heritage and our commitment to Christianity
Whereas, on his first trip abroad, Obama told the Turkish Parliament: ‘Although we have a large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation…’—but, according to a 2009 survey, 62% of Americans believe America is a Christian nation
Whereas our currency has the motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ which even the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the most liberal in the land) recently acknowledged to be constitutional
Whereas our National Anthem contains the stirring words, ‘Then conquer we must when our cause it is just. And this be our motto, In God Is Our Trust’
Whereas our nation’s capital has no shortage of monuments to our Judeo-Christian heritage
Whereas the president’s actions noted above appear to be part of a deliberate campaign to de-Christianize America
Therefore, we the undersigned call on Congress to pass a resolution affirming that America is a nation founded on Judeo-Christian ideals and expressing its dismay over the president’s actions which exalt Islam and atheism while slighting Christianity.”
#1 In the first ever official state visit to the UK by the head of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Joseph Ratzinger) stood alongside the Queen of England, warning about atheist extremism. In concluding a passage about the Nazis, he proclaimed:
“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the Twentieth Century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny.”
The 5 Most Positive News Stories and Quotes About Atheists and the Freethought Community During the Year 2010.
#5 In April 2010, the Freedom From Religion Foundation won its constitutional challenge to the National Day of Prayer in a Wisconsin federal court. The case is currently on appeal. Wrote Judge Barbara Crabb:
“The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.”
#4 Another study confirmed that atheists’ morals are not inferior to those of churchgoers:
“It seems that in many cultures religious concepts and beliefs have become the standard way of conceptualising moral intuitions. [T] his link is not a necessary one, many people have become so accustomed to using it, that criticism targeted at religion is experienced as a fundamental threat to our moral existence.”
February 2010 — Dr. Marc Hauser, Harvard University, co-author of research report showing that atheists are just as ethical as churchgoers.
#3 Science is finding that atheists and liberals tend to have higher IQs than religious people and conservatives.
“So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists.”
March 2010 — Satoshi Kanazawa, Evolutionary Psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, as quoted in press release regarding “Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent” published in Social Psychology Quarterly.
#2 A report issued in September 2010 by the Pew Forum revealed that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than religious people.
“‘American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study,’ said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.
‘These are people who thought a lot about religion,’ he said. ‘They’re not indifferent. They care about it.’
Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.”
#1 For the first time in American history, a presidential administration met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community. The Secular Coalition for America met with members of the Obama administration on February 26.
“The category ‘no religion’ is the fastest growing category in America, and it is high time political leaders begin to take us seriously as a voting group whose approval they should hope to deserve.”
Daniel Dennett, Philosopher and Member of the Secular Coalition of America’s Advisory Board.