Google the Yenta

I was doing some research for a blog post earlier today. I needed to get some information on a member of Congress who’d officially come out as an atheist, so I ran a Google search for [atheist in congress]. Look what I got in the onebox:

Google results for atheist in congress

It seems my mother has been speaking with Larry and Sergey. They’re all in cahoots, trying to get me a date even when I’m not looking for one. A word of advice: I’m not going to date someone all the way down in DC, even if she is an atheist. I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly nice atheists right here in Boston, so stick that in your algorithm and smoke it, Google.

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Bill Maher on Religion and Politics

Have you seen this yet? Skip to about 2:30 (around 3:55 on the countdown timer) for the relevant part.

Maher makes some great points, one of which I pointed out early this year when Mitt Romney responded to someone saying he’d never vote for a Mormon.

One of the great things about this great land is we have people of different faiths and different persuasions, and I’m convinced that the nation does need to have people of different faiths, but we need to have a person of faith lead the country.

Translation: you may not like my religion, but at least I’m not an atheist.

A few of Maher’s points don’t quite work for me, however. I don’t know where he got his data, but I don’t think nonbelievers (atheists and agnostics combined) make up 20% of the voting public in the US — or to be more precise, I don’t think enough nonbelievers would admit they are to bring our numbers up to 20%.

But the main problem is that, if as he points out 70% of Americans believe it’s important to have a president with strong religious beliefs, then you simply can’t compare nonbelievers (or “rationalists,” as he prefers to call us) to other minority groups. If a politician makes a point of telling the African American community that s/he’s on their side, that does not automatically equate to not being on the side of white people. You can support women without losing the male vote. There are enough straights who support gay rights that you can come out in favor of at least some semblance of equal rights for the GLBT community without losing the support of everyone else.

But about as close as you can come to supporting nonbelievers is one of those namby pamby statements about how the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion includes the freedom not to have one. You can’t say that there’s nothing wrong with the idea of an atheist president, although we’ve undoubtedly had some. If a candidate dared say they weren’t religious they’d be dead. It was only this year that a single member of the House, Pete Stark of California came out as a nontheist, and that’s after being in office for some 34 years.

Sorry Bill, but supporting us means losing support from the majority. That’s just the way it is.

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Does Mitt Know the Lord?

Mitt RomneyI found this at Crooks and Liars.

Mitt Romney was chatting up a group of people (I don’t know where this happened, but based on the pronunciation of the word “god” I’d say it has to be the Midwest, maybe Chicago) and one man indicated how important it was to him that he vote for “a man who stands for the lord Jesus Christ.” He then went on to say that he’d never vote for Romney because, as a Mormon, Mitt just doesn’t “know the lord.” He’s identified in the title of the video as a “heckler,” but as far as I can tell he was polite in the way he said what he said, whether you think the message was pleasant or not. The crowd booed. They’d have none of this religious persecution.

Romney’s response was so… American. Mitt understands that you don’t have to be a Methodist, a Congregationalist, a Presbyterian or some such thing to be President of the US of A. Why, we’ve got freedom of religion! It brought a tear to my eye.

One of the great things about this great land is we have people of different faiths and different persuasions, and I’m convinced that the nation does need to have people of different faiths, but we need to have a person of faith lead the country.

Translation: You may not like my religion, but at least I’m not some filthy atheist.

I love you too, Mitzi.

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CNN Bashes Atheists

I’ve written before about a story on that implied that atheists aren’t repulsed by extremist religious views. It was the sort of badly-worded statement that clearly wasn’t intended as an attack on atheists, but that showed a general lack of consideration:

His extremist views may be repugnant to the vast majority of muslims — in fact, anyone who believes in God.

Well, that was nothing. How about some overt atheist bashing?

This is just astonishing to me. They run a story that clearly shows that this family was discriminated against, and follow it up with a panel discussion that backs up just about everything that town did to the family. Where was the atheist on the panel, or at the very least, where was somebody who actually has an understanding of the first amendment? Freedom of religion doesn’t include freedom from religion? Yes, it fucking well does. Or at least it’s supposed to.

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