Monday, August 18, 2008

I am sick of the way religion has come to dominate politics in this country. All serious presidential candidates have to prove their Christian worth and participate in things like faith forums. Something like 70% of the voting populace say they wouldn't consider voting for someone who didn't believe in God. In fact, Rick Warren just told Larry King couldn't vote for someone who was "so arrogant that he thinks he doesn't need any help from a higher power." He seemed to suggest atheists are all, almost inherently, arrogant.

Well, I'm an atheist. And it's really starting to chap my hide that I'm a non-factor in politics. No politicians feel any need to reach out to my voting block. And I don't get the luxury of refusing to vote for a candidate whose belief system does not match my own. Maybe I'd be a lot more comfortable with a president who wasn't looking to some higher power to help out and take care of things. I'd prefer a president who thinks we here on earth have to take care of things ourselves. But I don't get that choice because no matter what the Constitution says, our presidential candidates feel they need to pass a religious litmus test. They have to attract the religious voters, so God talk has to come up everywhere.

Which is starting to make me feel politically irrelevant. Maybe the Rick Warrens of the world should give a little more thought to what atheists are really about. Because your idea of an atheist isn't anything like me. It's not that I'm arrogant and think we don't need any help. I most definitely think we desperately need some help from someone way better and bigger than us; I just don't think it's coming. Apparently that makes me unfit to be president.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! That's what I'm talking about! We need to start our own coup! I'll get the guns and meet you out front in 10 minutes. We'll blow this shit up!

We really need atheists that are famouse and powerful to come out and stand proud for their nonbelief. There's not enough people professing the way!

Language Lover said...

When did you become (or realize you were) an atheist? That's news to me.

S said...

I think deep down, I've always been an atheist. I went through the motions when my parents joined the american baptist church. (Probably just so I could attend youth group with a certain "perfect" boy...)

I had a 3 week stint of craziness when I was 19, which I attribute to the peer pressure of spending the entire summer with my cousins and being somewhat captive to their social group, which was entirely church-based. I may have used the agnostic label for a while after that.

I'm sure if you'd asked me, by law school, I would have had no hesitation saying I was an atheist.

Language Lover said...

Wow, well...a belated welcome to the club! (haha, "perfect" boy---ah, memories ;) )

I'm proud that I live in a district whose congressman, Pete Stark, publicly came out as an atheist last year. (Stupidly enough, our local paper spun it in a way that made it sound like a "confession" in the same vein as financial corruption or a sex scandal.) It's progress, but I agree that it's ridiculous how much this country that professes to be founded on freedom is so obsessed with religion.

Stacy said...

I don't think catering to the minority is the way the system was designed to work. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you look at it from the other side, atheists are the minority in this country and get no quality time with candidates.

Sort of like how the Libertarians don't really have a voice either. Or how neither candidate will visit Montana between now and November, because it doesn't matter.

I think religion, like stances on abortion, immigration, education and foreign policy is just another way that people want to get to know the candidate. It helps people determine how he or she will make decisions in office.

But I didn't understand that forum last weekend either. Why not just have a regular old fashion debate? Why did they agree to that forum and not a debate? Did they not want to stand next to each other on a stage?

Either way ... I'm sorry you feel irrelevent. I don't think that you are.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Stacy. I don't think Montana matters either.

S said...

It was just something that Rick Warren wanted to do. I don't know why do it one at a time, but I think it was the way Warren wanted to do it. I wonder if the commission in charge of presidential debates would allow a more debate-style event before either candidate has officially been nominated.

I know we're a minority and don't expect to be catered to, but there are some, like Rick Warren based on his comments last night, who seem to think that entering a political discussion with a non-faith-based worldview renders your opinion invalid somehow. Like we have no place in the discussion. That's what's frustrating me: if you don't say the right things about God, a large percentage of the voting public won't listen to you at all.

Careful, FH, you're gonna get the Montana folk riled up!

LL, isn't it fascinating how we can still learn pretty big things about people we've known so long? Only my family has known me longer!

Anonymous said...

Don't blame me. I was just agreeing with Stacy. She's the one that hates people from Montana.

Language Lover said...

There is a huge difference between "being catered to" and simply "being heard". I think S is simply asking for the latter. However, it does seem that atheists are considered as non-persons as far as many politicians are concerned. Bush Sr. even went so far as to say that he didn't atheists should be citizens.

Language Lover said...

sorry, I meant to type "didn't THINK atheists should be citizens"

S said...

If Stacy hates them and you agree with her, don't you, then, also hate them? Why do you have to be a hater?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hate Montana. I mean, come on. Their stupid slogan is "Montana is for lovers." Ridiculous! They don't make love in Montana. They breed. I read that 60% of the citizens of Montana have three ears. It's science. Stacy, back me up on this.

S said...

I doubt Stacy will back you up. I suspect you may have driven her away with your, well, you-ness.

Not everyone appreciates you the way I do.

Steve sculpts critters said...

That preacher guy on Larry King just sounded silly to me.
Atheists are arrogant because they don't think they need help from a higher power and can do it all themselves.
That's his position.
Or perhaps an atheist president would realize he needed help from other people who could clue him/her in on stuff, rather than the improbable, unprovable invisible being who, although they can't be seen or shown to exist, makes his divine thoughts nice and clear to the Christian president, including the notion that other groups who 'know' their deity is the real deal are really wrong. Or serving false gods.
Rick Warren's point of view in a nutshell...
I know god and you don't (even though I can't in any way prove it), you arrogant atheist.

So since he also said he would rather have a president who was religious even if they served another faith (rather than a god awful non-believing arrogant atheist who didn't need invisible helpers) then by his religious standards he'd be happy with a similarly deluded false-god worshipping idolater, rather than a nice rational sort who tends to disbelieve in any flavor of un-demonstrable god, Jesus, the tooth fairy or whatever.
You gotta admit, that's pretty silly really.
And as I recall from the bible, his version of the tooth fairy didn't really like it much when his followers went after other versions of the tooth fairy.
God's ways are surely strange.

Woman in Black said...

Well, I am a practicing Catholic (practicing, because I guarantee you I will never get it right). What REALLY sets me off is the misuse of religion. Capital punishment, people? Jesus was NOT into that (though he got it). Forgive seventy times seven? Nope, three strikes and you are freaking out for life. Etc.

Read Letter to a Christian Nation (though I could not make it through End of Faith). Some very valid points there you could use in your coup.

S said...

I am puzzled at how the tough-on-crime crowd seems to overlook the forgiveness thing.

But then on the flip-side, I've had people ask me how I can oppose the death penalty as an atheist. The idea is that I shouldn't be able to have any moral sense of right and wrong since I don't believe in any higher power setting the rules. Really? Would you suddenly think killing was ok if you lost your faith in god? So I guess people can use religion or the lack thereof to make whatever argument they want.

Stacy said...

Hmmm ... how to phrase ... I don't hate Montana, per say. But I do think that the 10 people that live there are lonely!

I actually have family there. They split their time between Montana and Washington, I think.

But in the rules of the electoral college ... Montana is pretty worthless.

I think that politicians have gotten to the point that they only think about people that answer polling questions. Since 80% of the country (I made that % up by the way) believe in some form of higher power, they focus on them because that's what the focus groups tell them to do. Same way McCain is courting a pro-choice running mate, because his polling data shows him it will play well with the centrists he's trying to capture.

Again I say -- Call me when it's over!

S said...

I'm kinda with you, Stacy. This campaign has been going on forever. I am very ready for it to be over.

And I really should be used to being in the category of voters who don't get spoken to in these elections. I'm such a far left liberal, everyone knows there's no chance of my voting for McCain. Since no one needs to try to win my vote, no one bothers to address the things that I think are important except when they happen to be the things the undecideds care about.

So now, FH, can we all agree that we shouldn't hate the people of Montana? Maybe we should send them care packages, instead.

Steve, I thought some of the same things when I heard Rick Warren say that. If you'd be willing to vote for someone who believed in a different faith than yours, why would that exclude an atheist? Aren't both Hindus and atheists rejecting your god? I suspect the real answer is he would not in fact vote for a Hindu or Muslim. He might consider voting for a Christian of a different denomination, though.

Anonymous said...

I think we should give each religion their own Utah did. Hmm, what states should go to what religions?

Stacy said...

FH makes me laugh. That's hillarious.

I think California should go to the Buddahists, Nevada to the atheists (less problems with "sin city" ;) ) and we should flip a coin for the rest for all the protestant religions.

Oh, and Catholics can keep Massachusetts. :)

It's funny though S ... no one wants my vote either! I'm decidedly without candidate!

Anonymous said...

God, protect me from the people who believe in you.

A Voice of Sanity said...

ISTM that far more Americans than you think are not really Christians, they are people who have accepted Pascal's wager. Their actions, and often their words, are not those of people who walk the walk. In fact, except for Fred (Mr) Rogers, I'd have a hard time making a list of the genuine believers.

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