Why has America fallen into such desperate and horrible straits? Oh, yeah, that’s right, it’s the atheists’ fault. Or, as Doug Mataconis puts it, “Yea, it has nothing to do with all those religious people who’ve, you know, actually been in charge of the country all these years.” But a snappy response is not enough. Beck deserves a thorough takedown for this:
And I’m the guy who’s going to give it to him. Glenn Beck, you are a lying, hysterical, fearmongering, pandering liar. Who lies in order to gain ratings and who lies in order to whip people into a needless and destructive political frenzy and who just plain lies.
1. “In God We Trust” appears on all the money, you lying sack of shit. I defy you — I challenge you to swear to forfeit on that immortal soul that you believe in — to produce a single piece of U.S. tender in circulation that does not contain, somewhere on it, the phrase “In God We Trust.”
2. The Decalogue is allowed in courthouses. Sometimes — when it’s part of an artistic display about the law and history. We are, on our public buildings, allowed to acknowledge the role of the Ten Commandments as part of our cultural and legal history. When the Decalogue is offered for religious indoctrination, however, that violates something inherently American, specifically, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You should read it sometime.
3. You can pray in school. You just can’t force someone else to pray in school along with you. Big difference. You also can’t pray in a manner that disrupts normal class activity. But yes, you can pray in school.
4. “Can’t sing Christmas carols”? Huh? What court, what political institution, what police officer, what legislation, what rule, what anything stops you from singing a Christmas Carol where and when you want to? You’re just a crazed, frothing LIAR, Glenn Beck.
5. Religious “nones” on the rise, meaning more Americans are not identifying with any particular religion — even becoming outright atheists? (Note that responding “none” to a demographic survey about religion does not mean one is identifying as an atheist.) Aren’t these Americans who have the Constitutional* right to be atheists if they want? Why, then, do you object to Americans using their freedom, Glenn Beck? What is it about liberty that offends you so very much?
6. To suggest that atheists have a “void” in their lives is condescending in the extreme. Glenn Beck, it’s damn good odds that you do not worship Quezacoatl. With what do you fill the void left by the absence of worship of the winged moon serpent? You don’t feel a void in your life caused by your rejection of the divinity of Osiris. You and I are exactly alike in that respect — my list of mythological deities who I do not worship just has one additional name on it than yours. Trust me, there’s no void. The real question is, with what does Glenn Beck fill the gigantic, gaping void in his ass? The answer is, “his head, and it’s high time he pulled it out.”
7. To further suggest that atheists fill the “void” in their lives with “power, career, money, celebrities, politics, government” is even more ridiculous. I’ll grant you that I’m an atheist who is interested in politics — but most atheists I know aren’t. Almost no atheist I’ve ever met is is in the least bit concerned about celebrity gossip, by the way — everyone I’ve ever met who is deeply interested in celebrity gossip has also been, or at least claimed to be, religious. “Put your faith in government, not God” is a message no atheist is preaching. Why? Atheists who are also politically liberal tend to support the current Administration — because they are liberal, not because they are atheists. Atheists who are politically conservative (or, much more likely these days since conservatism has become so identified with religiosity, libertarian) tend to oppose the current Administration — because they are not liberal, again not because of their religion. Almost like religious belief and politics have no logical link to one another. Hmm, makes you think, doesn’t it?
8. “Why do you think we are as powerful as we are, or as we have been?” Several answers here, Glenn, which need to be examined together. Exhibit A: Geography. It’s very difficult to invade the United States because to do so, you’d have to either have a military foothold in Canada or Mexico, or do an amphibious landing on one of two heavily-urbanized coasts. Exhibit B: Natural resources. Our borders contain fertile farmlands, ample mineral resources, petroleum, and at one time, vast stretches of timber. (If you want to give Jehovah credit for that, fine, but you should also note that He also gave those blessings to places like sub-Saharan Africa, China and Russia which do not enjoy the same levels of power or prosperity we do.) Exhibit C: A government founded on Enlightenment principles of republican democracy and individual rights, coupled with a strong political commitment to those ideals throughout our history, creating a sociological environment in which individual prosperity flourishes and collective prosperity flourishes as a result. Exhibit D: We won both world wars of the twentieth century — in part because we weren’t invaded through a combination of smart diplomacy, a strong Navy, and the benefits of our geographic isolation from belligerent nations — and therefore unlike every other nation in the world, did not have our industrial plant and basic infrastructure wiped out by enemy action. Jehovah, even if He exists, has little to do with any of this — the ebb and flow of history and the accidents of geography do.
9. When he asks, “What did we do different than other countries?” Beck cannot be seriously suggesting that other nations throughout history have been irreligious. European nations fought 150 years of war with one another over religion. He can’t seriously be suggesting that places like Iran are irreligious. (Oh, right, they’re worshiping the wrong God. Er, that is, they’re worshiping the same God but they call Him “Allah” instead of “Jehovah” so that’s where they went wrong; they ought to use English because if it was good enough for Jesus, English is good enough for them Iranians too.)
10. And that reference to the “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence — who, exactly would that be? It’s not like Jefferson didn’t know about the Christian diety when he wrote it. T.J. could just as easily have written “All men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights” but he used the phrase “their Creator” instead. But even if we were to concede the non-obvious contention that Jefferson was referring to Jehovah, this clause still falls far short of Beck’s characterization that it “recognizes the authority of God.” At best, it recognizes that a “Creator” of some sort exists.
11. Nor does the failure of other countries to adopt some version of this language mean that they necessarily believe that human rights are dispensed by the government. But they — like the United States — recognize that human rights have to be handled and adjudicated by the government, by the courts. Human rights do not exist in an anarchy.
12. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is, and always was, a song explicitly intended to meld elements of military glory and religious imagery. Which you can enjoy if you want. I’ll concede that the melody and the meter are well-crafted. But it’s not the national anthem and I’d resist efforts to make it the national anthem. Question: since the song refers explicitly to Christ and a variety of other New Testament images (like Lilies of the Valley and the millennial apocalypse) does that mean that Jewish people can’t enjoy it, too? Perhaps just as important — do you think atheists were the ones who corrupted this song in this manner? What proof do you have to back that up? Because my money is going to be on the side of the betting table that says the teachers and school officials responsible for that creepy musical interlude were Christians.
Now, the kids singing and chanting about Obama is really creepy, and whoever chose to pirate the sycophantic Obama-worship on traditional American songs thus compounded upon the inherent creepiness of children singing songs to praise to political leaders. Nor will I defend it or the equally delusional school officials who thought it was a good idea to instruct schoolchildren to do this. But what that has to do with why atheists are evil, though, I haven’t a clue.
If I were in Congress, would I try to take “In God We Trust” off the money? Yep. If I were on the Supreme Court, would I vote against public displays of the Decalogue in almost all cases. Probably (I can’t be certain unless I had been briefed on a case). I say that because a governmental display of religious iconography is inherently the government promoting religion in favor of non-religion, and from my perspective that violates the Establishment Clause. But to get my way, I’d have to convince other people that I’m right about those ideas — through the legal or political processes. That is the nature of the system. That system of laws is the distilled essence of America. And it didn’t come from God — it came from a collection of lawyers, steeped in the radical philosophy of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, who rendered very good service indeed to their new nation when they implementing it.
You have a Constitutional* right to vomit all of this nonsense, Glenn Beck. And I have the Constitutional right to call it what it is: five solid minutes of hateful, fearmongering, bigoted lies.
* Some would even say “God-given” although I say God has nothing to do with the Constitution — and I have the text of the Constitution itself to support me in that contention.