April 9, 2008

The Smokescreen Of Atheism

It is rather depressing to see that even in the America of 2008 politicians can gain mileage from scapegoating atheists. Scapegoating a minority, no matter how distrusted or despised it may be, suggests that many Americans have learned little from history. Perhaps the revisionist history pushed by Christian extremists has something to do with this, but that can be addressed in another post. For now, I simply want to suggest that atheism is often used as a sort of smokescreen behind which to conceal unpleasant truths, rally support, and perpetuate ignorance.

Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) may seem like an unlikely source for anti-atheist bigotry, but her words indicate otherwise. In discussing atheist Rob Sherman's efforts to preserve the separation of church and state, Rep. Davis had the following exchange:
Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous–

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court—

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.
Not exactly what I'd expect to hear from a Chicago Democrat. This is clearly anti-atheist bigotry, but it is more than that. By blaming atheism for society's ills, Rep. Davis escapes the responsibility she might have as a politician. She gets to rally support among the majority of Americans who hate atheists. She also gets to ignore the subject of Sherman's efforts - protecting the Constitution. As she makes Sherman into the enemy, the focus shifts away from the unlawful infusion of religion into government she evidently supports.

H/Ts to Friendly Atheist and Change of Subject

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