Rep. Diaz-Balart, the former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party, sparked outrage in the atheist blogosphere and has been labeled "an anti-atheist bigot" by more than one blogger. If Rep. Diaz-Balart is indeed a bigot, such outrage is well placed.
The precipitant of the outrage was the following statement from Diaz-Balart made in reference to the Divine Performing Arts show:
I was very moved by the song that talked about the damage that atheism has caused and is causing. It was very moving, but all of the performances were moving, uplifting; they teach us about the eternal nature of mankind and of how we have to be humble.This statement has been widely interpreted as suggesting that Rep. Diaz-Balart views atheism as "damaging" and "evil." I do not disagree with this interpretation. This appears to be precisely what he thinks. I'm still not sure he's a bigot.
The songs carry the sense that evil will not prevail, and so the message is that the truth ultimately prevails. It is extraordinarily uplifting and I am so happy to be here.
Suppose I were to say the following:
Christianity has resulted in considerable damage to society and continues to cause great damage to our world.I have deliberately made both statements a bit more direct than what Rep. Diaz-Balart said to remove any ambiguity. The first reflects something I not only believe but have said here repeatedly. The second is not something I have said or would say without first replacing the word "evil" with something like "harmful" or "destructive." Does this make me a bigot?
Christianity is evil, and I hope that the truth ultimately prevails.
Even if I loudly proclaimed both of the above statements about Christianity as reflecting my beliefs, this would not make me a bigot. Why? Because bigotry involves people and not simply their beliefs about the world.
Here are some examples of bigotry:
- A politician demonizing her opponent simply for meeting with atheist constituents
- Denying consenting adults the legal right to marry simply because they are of the same sex
- Making untrue and disparaging remarks about an entire class of people on the basis of their membership to said class
- Refusing to vote for someone, no matter how qualified, simply because the person is an atheist
Believe me when I say that defending Rep. Diaz-Balart is not something I particularly enjoy. Still, I think that we need to be very careful about what we label bigotry if we want to have any impact.
Subscribe to Atheist Revolution