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December 06, 2007

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Spencer Kiggins

With all due respect, I did not have the same perception of Romney's speech. I did notice that he left out non-believers. But he did not call to arms believers against non-believers. He addressed secularism in the scope of the ongoing dialogue of the proper place for religion in the public sphere. This is not hostile to atheism. Now, I did notice that you did not include the Free Exercise Clause in your discussion of the First Amendment, mentioning only the Establishment clause. Am I to understand that you feel this doesn't belong in the First Amendment, or that you don't respect my right to freely exercise my religious beliefs? No, that would be absurd to assume, even logically, that is what you meant. Same with Romney.

S.G.E.W.

It's actually not very surprising at all, to tell you the truth. In fact, I happened to catch that particular bit of the speech while walking past a TV (in my law school cafeteria, with a book titled "Religion and the State" in by bag, ironically enough) and the first thought in my head was "Well what do you expect? He's speaking at the Georgh H. W. Bush library!"

As in:
"No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."
That George H.W. Bush.
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush

Also, this is not the first time Mr. Romney has managed to cut non-believers out of the American landscape:

". . . the nation does need to have people of different faiths but we need to have a person of faith lead the country."
http://blip.tv/file/151254
(@ 1:30 into the video clip)

Let's face it: atheists, agnostics, anti-theists, apatheists, and all those who don't believe in "faith" (in the Sam Harris sense) are excluded (for the most part) from U.S. political discourse.

Kim

The fact of the matter is that though you don't believe in God, you do have a "religion." Be it the religion of humanism, atheism, or some as-yet-unnamed ism, you have a set of beliefs you live your life by. The dictionary simply defines religion as "something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience." So to say that you are in danger of being exiled for not believing in God is either missing Romney's point, paranoia, or deliberate hyperbole.

S.G.E.W.

And for clarity's sake:

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom."

That is not "leaving out non-believers" as an act of omission, either intentionally or otherwise. It's affirmatively declaring that freedom (i.e., American Democracy) has no place for the non-religious.

On another note: Kim, get a better dictionary.

TDE

@Kim

To compare a lack of faith in monotheistic religions to actually having a religion is a deliberate false equivalency. One that is designed so that religious people can feel better about everyone who rejects their faith "Oh they have just swapped one religion for another". Not true I'm afraid. Google philosophy for more.

It is the same as saying 'bald' is a hair color.

DemocratDad, great blog - I'm adding it to my list.

GM

Kim: You're flat-out wrong. Get out your Webster's, sister, and stop bearing "false witness." Remember that commandment? Well not only is it a prohibition on lying but also (and most often forgotten by the militant theists in this country) a prohibition on speaking with a voice of authority on matters about which the speaker knows little to nothing.

Arrgghh - these gross simplifications make my blood boil. Atheism is not another religion - nor is a belief in science and the scientific method just another kind of faith. From the time I wake in the morning until I sleep at night, I avoid the casual leaps of logic to which believers fall victim on a daily basis.

Keep up the good work, DemocratDad! You are not alone.

blogesota

S.G.E.W.-

Atheism is not a religion. Don't try to shoehorn non-belief into a belief because it is not.

Rob Pollard

For what it's worth, Webster's definition of religion. #4 may be what Kim is talking about.

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/religion

4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

S.G.E.W.

"Atheism is not a religion. Don't try to shoehorn non-belief into a belief because it is not."

Um, that was my point, I think. Have I been unclear?

DAG

I think you need to step back from the face value of the speech to the more insidious agenda. He is pulling a 'Hermann Goering' by aligning himself with the Christian Right and pointing out the -real- threat: secularism (not a friendly sorta biblical Mormon-cult follower). Standard Protestantism usually teaches that Mormonism is a cult. But if you can sow a little doubt on that issue and then make everyone look at the boogie man atheists as the menace to freedom... suddenly that Morman-sorta-Bible-cult dude looks like a much more attractive choice.

jimbo

"My second reaction is to redouble my commitment to working for a future where, some day, Romney's view on the central place of religion in American life is considered a relic of a time when a great country, founded on the basis of equal consideration for all people, was held in thrall to a destructive, exclusionary myth called "faith.""

So, you are longing for a day when you can treat religious people just as badly as you perceive them to be treating you?

trevor

Jimbo, you're deliberately misunderstanding this post. I'll point out what you ignored, even within your own post: "...founded on the basis of equal consideration for all people..."

What part of "equal" do you not understand?

JimV

jimbo: no, that's not what he means. As atheists, we naturally wish that some day the religious would shake off the delusions that have been imprinted on them and accept the universe as it is. That is not wishing them harm, but good. There are some bad people in every group, but most of us feel about the sincerely religious that there, but for the grace of there being no god, go I.

Dave

I totally agree with democrat dad - as an atheist I got a very large sinking feeling when Romney said you have to have religion to have freedom.

Put it this way - the strongest threat to any religion is not another religion. It is the individual the eschews religion. Why? - you may ask. Because people who are ahteists are not even playing the game. People of other religions are great: they are either to be a) killed (worst case scenario), b) converted (best case scenario) or c) laughed at/pointed at/ ridiculed for being wrong (somewhere in between). Think I am wrong? That is the way most religions have treated other religions for the entirity of human history.

So when Romney said "your need religion for freedom" I started to feel a big target on my back. Do I think the black helicopters are coming for me? No. Do I think someone is trying to marginalize me for my beliefs. Absolutely. Does that make me take notice? Yes!

I think many religious types find it more insulting that there are people who refuse to play their game - than those who choose a different "team".


Dave

Elizabeth

I just wanted to say, great post. I just had the same conversation with my dad about Romney's speech. As an atheist, it drives me nuts when believers exclude us like we're somehow less than Americans.

Just like how "President" Bush excluded a lot of people from his speech right after 9/11.

I don't think most religious people do this on purpose, but there is a significant number who sneer at freethinkers, and would gladly throw away freedom of religion if they were in a big enough majority.

on another note, I am quite pleased to see some of the comments here. It gives me hope!

Ron Dotson

As a fellow atheist, I try not to pay attention to fools who are stupid enough to believe in myths, fairy tales, gods, etc.

Impeach Bush/Cheney and Pelosi now!

anonymous

Okay, so I'm an athiest, but this sounds a lot like you're jumping up and down, going 'hey! over here! what about me?' on an issue that doesn't involve us.

On the topic of religion, I'd just as soon be left out (it's sort of the point).

At the end of the day, we're not going to have an athiestic (or athiest-sympathetic) president, so given that, I couldn't care less about this whole conversation.

Let them duke it out and let's hope they drop the issue and move on to more important topics, like how we get our asses out of the mess in Iraq.

cwillu

Mentally substitute 'worldview' for when you hear a religious person speak of the 'atheist religion'. It's not a deliberate distortion on their part, it's an accurate reflection of their understanding of the matter.

It explains many faithfuls' frustration with the reply "but atheism isn't a religion", and suggests a point to emphasize to them: every 'religion' entails a worldview, but not every worldview is a 'religion' (in the sense that an atheist might intend). We draw that distinction in order to be free of it, but the fact that we consider being referred to as 'religious' to be insulting hasn't even occurred to many many people.

RayDJ

Wow, really good article. I for one do not condone theists imposing their warped perception of reality on me. That especially includes when they are trying to represent my best interest and country.

Ugly American

Jews, Christians (even Mormons) and Muslims all worship the same god - The Demiurge - the evil creator of this flawed material world.

To seek worldly wealth and power are in and of themselfs, evil.

To murder children, regardless of the reason, is in and of itself evil.

Any god that exhaults such acts is obviously evil.

Anybody who commits such acts or worships such a god is obviously evil.

Rishi Gajria

Hindus have it the best. The Vedas includes non-believers and rejectors. There is a term for and it is called being a Nastik.

Rishi Gajria

There is another term called Gyan Margi which means a seeker of Knowledge. Held in equal esteem to a believer.

david

i listened to the whole thing and i had the same reaction. i'm an atheist too and he definitely made it clear that there is no room for us.

but consider that he's already in dire straights because he's a mormon. his campaign has probably decided to take the approach that it's the pious vs. the secular. there is no problem making atheists the enemy, and it's a strategy for him to put all of the judeo-christians into one lump, and the atheists into the other.

so while i initially had the same reaction, i think he's overstating his case in order to get an "us vs. them" mindset in the voters. we just happen to be the easy target.

Adam Tan

This country was founded for monotheists by monotheists. FMBM. If you don’t like it, leave and start an atheist country somewhere. Otherwise step off. Atheists do more harm than good by trying to re-write history - regardless of your intention. You’re allowed to live here in freedom – be happy for that.

Leisureguy

Calling believers to arms against non-believers comes later. First solidify the religion requirement for full citizenship. Later, make the non-believers the "other" and persecute them.

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