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Atheists Decry DNC Plot to 'Out' Sanders For Alleged Non-Belief

This divisive strategem has outraged the nice secular folks over at the Center for Inquiry

SandersMarlonRushDreamstimeMarlon Rush/DreamstimeThanks to Wikileaks (and perhaps Russian government hackers in support of Donald Trump's candidacy), the world now knows that the Democratic National Committee worked to undermine the presidential candidacy of socialist-progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders. One tack was to accuse Sanders of atheism. As ABC News reports:

"It may make no difference but for KY and WA can we get someone to ask his belief," Brad Marshall, CFO of the DNC, wrote in an email on May 5, 2016. "He had skated on having a Jewish heritage. I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

Sanders insists that he is not an atheist. Clearly, DNC officials were considering this strategy with malice aforethought since they know that Americans are least likely to vote for an atheist politician. This divisive strategem has outraged the nice secular folks over at the Center for Inquiry. And well it should since a recent Pew poll shows that 70 percent of atheists vote Democratic. From the Center's press release:

We found it appalling that anyone within the Democratic National Committee would casually suggest attacking a candidate for their alleged atheism. Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles: It presumes a religious test for holding office, something expressly prohibited in the Constitution. It pits the majority against a marginalized minority group, intensifying the country's already escalating divisions. It exacerbates the gross stereotype of atheists as second-class citizens or somehow less moral than believers, a stereotype atheists have been tirelessly battling for generations. Perhaps most importantly, it sends the unmistakable signal to atheist Americans that despite all of our hard-won progress for equal treatment, atheists are still not welcome, not "one of us," not American. ...

AtheistsBaz777DreamstimeBaz777/DreamstimeNeed we even point out that had the suggestion been made to attack a candidate for being Jewish, Mormon, or of any other minority faith, the resulting scandal would have been an all-consuming conflagration?

Mr. Marshall has reportedly apologized for embarrassing the DNC, but there has been no apology, no admission of wrongdoing, to the people he sought to defame. We believe he should resign his position with the DNC. The Democratic National Committee must make immediately clear that it finds Marshall's line of thinking unacceptable, and that it will not countenance party operatives proffering attack strategies based on this kind of anti-atheist bigotry. It would do well for the Clinton campaign to do the same.

Atheists, humanists, "nones," and all others who have rejected traditional religious belief will no longer be silent when institutions of power attempt to reinforce pernicious stereotypes about the nonreligious. We matter, we have a powerful voice — and a vote — and we will use it. 

If they want to avoid religious bigotry political triangulation, I would like to suggest to my fellow atheists that they consider voting for Libertarian presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. An admittedly unscientific poll in 2015 reported that 39 percent of libertarians identified as religious "nones" which includes atheists and agnostics.

Disclosure: The Center for Inquiry paid my travel expenses to attend and participate in a panel discussion at their 2012 "Moving Secularism Forward" conference. For details, see my article, "Among the Nonbelievers."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Atheists are always worked up about something.

  • Ron Bailey||

    FoE: We are NOT!

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    See?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    HE JUST PROVED MY POINT AND DOESN'T EVEN REALIZE.

  • BYODB||

    Atheism is a group of people squabbling over who gets to be in charge after god is dead.


    That's no dig at atheists, by the way, just a joke. ^_-

  • Ron Bailey||

    FoE: It's sarc all the way down.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    If you ever stared a sea turtle in the face, you know that's true.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'll say!

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

  • Zeb||

    Meh.

  • jjjjj||

    If atheists are right, at least we won't have to hear about it forever.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Bro, do you even singularity?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    the world now knows that the Democratic National Committee worked to undermine the presidential candidacy of socialist-progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    You too, Ron? YOU TOO?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Sanders insists that he is not an atheist.

    Oh, when will we be able to come out of the closet?

  • Certified Public Asshat||

    I don't want an atheist next to me in the bathroom.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Easy solution. Make a glory hole.

  • qjkxbmwvz||

    Me either. I don't want anyone next to me in the bathroom. I'm not comfortable in public bathrooms.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    The last 'real' Christian President was Dubya. Last Democrat one was Jimmy Carter.

    Don't think Jesus blesses us with his all-star team either way.

  • Zeb||

    I'm curious how you define "real" Christians or determine that without some special insight into the minds of Clinton and Obama.

    It' nether here nor there to me, but it's always interesting when someone starts playing religion police.

  • BYODB||

    There's no true Scotsman Christian!

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I read that as "sleeve-wearing Christian".

  • TheZeitgeist||

    I'm curious how you define "real" Christians or determine that without some special insight into the minds of Clinton and Obama.

    Hmmm. That is good question. I guess, from perspective of judging a politician, it is all anecdotal. For instance, Jimmy and Dubya went to church, a lot, just for the services. When was last time Hillary or Obama actually went to church?

  • The Fusionist||

    Obama *tried* going to church, and look how much grief he got for it!

  • ||

    Oh for the days when the Democrat was the one that belonged to the bible-beating fundie church(1) and the Republican was the half-Jewish(2) non-observant Episcopalian who was attacked because he had campaign workers who were homosexual. And it was a huge deal that the Republican challenger was divorced, even though none of his opponents used it to attack him.

    All three (LBJ, JFK and Barry) were womanizers, Barry, was just more discreet. The media kept everyone's secret pretty much on an equal opportunity basis.

    (1) in all fairness, no one used LBJ's religion against him like the did with JFK. apparently being a catholic was worse than bein a fundie in those days.

    (2) When told that a golf course he had been invited to play on was "restricted", he is said to have quipped, "I'm only half-Jewish, is it OK if I play only nine holes?"

  • ||

    "in all fairness, no one used LBJ's religion against him", or for him for that matter.

    Aside from the brief kerfuffle about JFK's Catholicism, the next time we actually heard about a candidates religion was when Jimmy Carter announced that he was a "born-again Christian".

  • lafe.long||

    39 percent of libertarians identified as religious "nones" which includes atheists and agnostics.

    I always figgered it'd be higher than that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Probably because many atheists lie about their lack of faith on surveys. We are pariahs after all.

  • BYODB||

    Or maybe because if you're inclined towards proof for your beliefs you're going to have a lot of people mark down 'none' or 'not sure' because, well, you're not sure.


    Frankly I'd have hoped that number would be higher, but propensity to believe we're all special is a virtually universal human trait.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've never figured out the appeal of religion. Maybe as you say it is to make people feel special. I figured that many people simply have no concept of right and wrong, and religion keeps them from being savages. For others the idea of justice in an afterlife is comforting when they are victims of injustice inflicted by people with the power to avoid justice in this life. But I really don't know. Never understood it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It isn't just about right or wrong.

    It's also about things like tradition, family, status, and society, as well as making friends and influencing people.

  • ||

    It was the latter for me. I'm an atheist now, but was raised Christian, and held on to it a lot longer than I would have otherwise out of a sense of outrage that evil people just get away with it.

    I longed for a reality in which Stalin and Mao didn't die natural deaths in their beds after enjoying the fruits of untrammeled power. As a naive young man, I wanted, needed, to believe that they (and people like them) would be punished.

    But no, they murder millions, and then just skate. C'est la vie.

  • Zeb||

    I ceasing to exist can be called "skating".

    I was raised Christian too, but not the sort with a lot of emphasis on punishing the wicked in the afterlife, and I decided it was bullshit pretty early on, so it was easier to accept that justice is something that happens among people and the universe doesn't owe us justice.

  • ||

    "Skating" in this sense means, nothing particularly bad happens to them as a result of their evil actions. We all cease to exist at some point.

    I was raised Church of Christ, and later on, Southern Baptist. There was a lot of emphasis on hellfire and punishment. We weren't allowed to dance or play music, FFS.

  • ||

    Clarification: we could sing, but not play instruments.

  • Zeb||

    Tradition and community are big draws to religion too. That's why there are Unitarians, so people with only very vague religious beliefs can still have all of that.

    I bet a lot of Christians don't really give a lot of consideration to whether they believe it's all actually true. It's comfortable and nice and it's what you've always done.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    If you want community and tradition, what's wrong with a Friday night barbeque?

  • Zeb||

    I wouldn't want to suggest that there is anything wrong with that.

    But some people seem to really like the solemn ceremony and pretense that you are doing something really heavy you get with (some) religion.

  • The Fusionist||

    "comfortable and nice"

    ""Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."" - C. S. Lewis, *A Grief Observed* (written after his wife's death)

  • Zeb||

    I just mean people like going to church.

  • BYODB||

    I find the idea of god and belief in it to be proof that people do have a concept of right and wrong, but that it's a fickle mistress as people are easily led against themselves as groups. That, and theocracy is considered a government system for a reason. Not surprisingly, virtually all 'religions' are rule sets to keep people in line managed by some group of Clerics for wealth.

    Essentially, after men saw a lot of whores making bank off the worlds oldest institution they thought "We can do one better, and fuck everyone." Thus was invented the worlds second oldest profession.

  • Zeb||

    I have been surprised how many people I have encountered who say they would do bad things if not for fear of punishment in the afterlife.
    So, I think you are right that belief in God indicates some sense of right and wrong, it's a pretty basic and low kind of moral sense.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    I always ask such people how God decided that murder and stealing are wrong.

  • BYODB||

    Atheism itself is just as ludicrous a belief as any religion you care to name, as it presupposes that you know the truth that there is no god. Only a fool trusts in religion, just as only a fool proposes to know the whole truth about the status of god.

    Both pretend to know the unknowable.

    QED.

  • Ron Bailey||

    B: Not true. I am an a-theist in just exactly the same way that I am a-unicornist. Show me a unicorn and I will believe in unicorns; show me a god and ....

  • BYODB||

    That is literally the difference between agnostic and atheist, conflating the two doesn't do a service to anyone in particular.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Yeah, I always tell the holy rollers if Jesus wants to call, he has my number direct.

  • SugarFree||

    Accepting the non-existence of a thing for which there is no proof is not a belief, just an acceptance of the facts on the ground.

  • sarcasmic||

    as it presupposes that you know the truth that there is no god.

    What Ron said. Atheism is a lack of faith. To describe atheism in terms of faith and belief is to describe a vacuum in terms of mass and sound.

  • sarcasmic||

    Agnostics are like bisexuals. They only exist in fiction.

  • BYODB||

    Atheism is a lot more than a lack of faith. Just because you don't understand the tenants of something you claim, doesn't mean that thing is different. It just means you've read so little on the subject that you can't even pass yourself off as a dilettante.

  • sarcasmic||

    Atheism is a lack of tenets.

    Nothing to understand. No claim of understanding.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not to be confused with being agnostic. I'm pretty sure that there's no god, God or goddesses. But that doesn't mean I claim to have all the answers.

    I'm not an Atheist. Those guys are anti-religionists who give those of us who lack faith a bad name. I'm an atheist. And a libertarian. I am not a Party member.

  • BYODB||

    I take it you read the wiki article now, you're welcome.

  • sarcasmic||

    the·ism
    ˈTHēˌizəm/
    noun
    noun: theism

    belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures.

    So wouldn't atheism simply be a the antonym of theism? A lack of belief?

    A lack of belief is not a belief.

  • sarcasmic||

    I find there to be a curious similarity between leftards and religioustards. And I will explain what I mean by "tards" because it isn't meant to imply that all religious people or leftards are tards. Well, maybe I am lying.

    Anyway, lefttards cannot grasp the concept of free markets. Of voluntary exchange. Of the Invisible Hand of the price system guiding goods and services tho where they are needed most. It doesn't compute. Someone must be in charge. Or someone should be in charge. Force must be being used. And if no government force is being used, then someone else is using force. So government should step in because government is the people and whatever it does is good. But force must be involved. A lack of force does not compute.

    So they cannot comprehend the concept of liberty.

    Same idea with religioustards who can't comprehend atheism in terms of a lack of faith. Because to them all they know is faith. The concept of not having faith makes as much sense to them as the concept of someone getting rich by providing goods and services made by voluntary employees to voluntary customers makes sense to a lefttard. To the lefttard no force was used, so it is impossible. For the religioustard no faith is involved. so it is impossible. Faith must be involved. A lack of faith does not compute.

    So they cannot comprehend the concept of atheism.

    Have a nice day.

  • BYODB||

    Maybe, but historically speaking the progressive left evolved directly out of religious fanaticism so really what we're seeing now is Religion decoupled from Morality in my opinion.

    Maybe you should explain scientifically how you know there is no god. That might help you understand what I'm talking about.

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe you should explain scientifically how you know there is no god.

    There you go again, insisting that things must be explained in terms of faith.

    I can no more explain with scientific certainty that no god exists than I can explain with scientific certainty that unicorns do not exist.

    A lack of certainty is not certainty.

  • Ron Bailey||

    s: Quite correct. Would it not be kind silly to insist that someone is a unicorn agnostic?

  • Zeb||

    That could be. You could fairly call me an atheist, I suppose. But I don't go around identifying myself as such because it's not really a positive belief I have about the world. I just don't see any reason to seriously consider the possibility that there are such things as gods.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Everyone has a different opinion about what makes one an atheist. But I would say that if you don't have a strong opinion on the matter, you are not an atheist. May be an agnostic? Or a nontheist? But you are right, why even bother with such concerns. I got shits to do.

  • BYODB||

    Why would people have different opinions when atheist is tightly defined? Or are you saying that most people are retarded, and thus have extra elbows and an infinite love for cake?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    It's not tightly defined. No words are.

  • BYODB||

    Chipper, perhaps you should use a dictionary sometime. You might learn something. Like how to define things. Just because you don't know the definition of an atheist, doesn't mean there isn't a definition. The people who think otherwise don't have a different definition, they are wrong. By definition. ^_^

  • Zeb||

    See Bailey and SugarFree above.

    I believe that there isn't a god just like I believe that the sun will (apparently) rise tomorrow. If something completely contrary to past experience happens tomorrow, I'd have to reevaluate those beliefs. But that seems very unlikely.

  • BYODB||

    Look, I don't necessarily want to get into more than I already have but lets just say I have a lot of comparative religious studies and philosophy I've been forced to sit though and it distills down to this:

    Agnostic = doesn't know if there is a god
    Atheist = knows there is no god

    I apologize to people that are unaware that there is a distinction but 90% of you guys, including the author, have apparently no idea what you're talking about. No offense, but the above is accepted by virtually every theologian and philosopher you care to read.

    The why of the distinction is irrelevant, but suffice it to say there are very good reasons for it intellectually. One of those reasons is specifically to avoid clusterfuck conversations like this one. Go read some actual atheist literature since it's pretty damn clear 90% of you haven't bothered which I find a bit distressing.

  • Zeb||

    But how can one know whether or not one knows something?

  • BYODB||

    Go read Descartes, but be prepared to be disappointed.

  • Zeb||

    I already have and that's partly where I was going. I have chosen to sit through a lot of philosophy in my time, though not so much directly pertinent to this particular subject.

  • Zeb||

    I mean, everything I believe to be true, I believe contingently. I think it is more likely than not to be the case. New information might change that. So I have a hard time understanding how anyone could be an atheist in the sense that you claim is the one true definition.

  • BYODB||

    What you describe is textbook agnostic. People want to be edgy though, so even though they don't actively believe that there is not and can not be a god, they use the term because it's edgy.

    Thus, ironically, they instantly fall into the exact trap they were trying to avoid. This is one of the reasons ATHEIST SPECIFICALLY has a negative connotation, they aren't just 'unsure' about god. They truly believe he can not and does not exist and preach this as absolute truth. It's essentially nega-religion as religion. You should really study it sometime. It's fascinating intellectually but mostly useless idiocy just like regular religion.

    You can see why they don't get along though. Most 'atheists' just want to piss off all the Christians for one reason or another, virtually no one actually subscribes that to their philosophy when questioned. For obvious reasons, like them being abjectly stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    The way you describe atheists, one should judge all christians by the actions of the Westboro Baptist church.

  • lafe.long||

    You can see why they don't get along though. Most 'atheists' just want to piss off all the Christians for one reason or another

    Bullshit.

    I simply don't give a fuck what they choose to believe.

    But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

  • Ron Bailey||

    B: WIth due respect, I've read my Augustine, Anselm, Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Anscombe, Quine, Dennett and so forth. Why not ask some atheists for a definition: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods."

    As I noted above, I also lack a belief in unicorns.

  • ||

    I think libertarians are more likely to tell the truth, after all we're already pariahs for being libertarians. Might as well be all in.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    My fundie brother accused me once of being an agnostic. I laughed, told him agnostics wonder if there's a god, atheists deny there is, and me, I don't give a shit -- if there is a good god, then he won't mind if I don't bow and scrape, and if there's an asshole god, fuck him anyway. At least it shut him up.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Very nicely put.

  • BYODB||

    Ah, see there's a name for that too: nihilists.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Fuck yeah, nihilism. My favorite philosophy. Very libertarian. Make your own meaning.

  • BYODB||

    "Say what you will about the tenants of national socialism dude, at least it's an ethos."

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    Meanwhile, Bernie got booed by his own delegates today for endorsing Hill-Dawg.

    This is gonna be a FUN convention.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    The DNC wasn't attacking because he was an atheist. They were attacking him because he was running against Hillary, and they were willing to use whatever would stick against him, atheism brewing just one avenue. If it would have made a difference, get mad at the general Democrat voters that it would have swayed.

  • ||

    What I don't get is whose votes they think they were going to sway with that. In Northern California, Christianity is borderline illegal.

    "Pot-bellied pigs have been wildly unfashionable since 2005. Owning a pot-bellied pig is frowned upon almost as much as being a Christian"

  • Ken Shultz||

    From the email:

    "It might [make] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief," Marshall wrote, apparently referring to Sanders and upcoming Kentucky and West Virginia primaries.

    "Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,'' Marshall asked.

    "I think I read he is an atheist."

    "This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and atheist.

    http://nypost.com/2016/07/22/l.....d-sanders/

    Yes, people in Kentucky and West Virginia are allowed to vote, too.

    . . . even if they want to vote for Trump.

  • ||

    KY and WVA probably isn't Sanders territory anyway.

    Thing is that the only people likely to be swayed by this are blue-dog Democrats, who have mostly already switched to Republican. There aren't many of them left. Someone who is a Southern Baptist isn't voting for Sanders in the first place, probably shouldn't even be voting D. It's pandering to a constituency that is not a natural Sanders constituency. Why?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Sanders clobbered Hillary in West Virginia.

    In Kentucky, Sanders lost by one-half of one percent.

    Christianity isn't as dead among Democrats everywhere in the country.

    50% of the people in Kentucky go to church.

    A nice chunk of those people are registered Democrats. You don't need many to make up for one-half of one percent.

  • ||

    Let's keep in mind that the "Birther" stories started with a Hillary campaign operative in the 08 primaries. You can be sure that if there had been any substance to them the Clintons would have exploited it to the fullest extent.

  • ||

    Just proves what a total lack of scruples the Clintons and their allies in the party establishment have. Also how out of touch they are.
    First of all, the D's are not the religious party, so they aren't winning many votes with this. Sander's younger, hipper, supporters aren't going to care if he is an atheist or not.
    Secondly, I doubt many of them care either. Anyone here think that Clinton is such a devout Christian that she'd be offended by Sander's religious views? I didn't think so....
    So it's obvious some sort of stupid attempt to smear him in a way that buys them votes from ... someone. Not exactly sure who. Religious liberals? Is that even a thing?

  • Ken Shultz||

    The sick thing is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has now been hired to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

    This is what I'm talking about when I talk about impropriety.

  • BYODB||

    DWS is a person I loathe, so I'm not surprised she ended up with Hillary. *Hillary doesn't know how to use e-mail, and apparently *neither does DWS.

    *is it a dangerous precedent that Democrats feign utter ignorance of how email works in the modern era?

  • Ken Shultz||

    It suggests that DWS has been working for Hillary all along.

    It shows that Hillary rewards breaching the trust of people within her own party.

  • BYODB||

    I'm not sure it really suggests that, but it does suggest that this is a 'loop hole' every Politician is going to jump onto to avoid accountability and FOIA.

    If DWS was colluding with Hillary, which is very possible, I doubt she'd have kept a record of it on the DNC system. It would be wise, in fact, not to use a DNC account to communicate with a presidential candidate about potentially illegal actions. This is why Yahoo! exists, people!

  • Ted S.||

    Remember eight years ago when they hacked Sarah Palin's Yahoo (I think) email account?

  • ||

    DWS was one of Clinton's national campaign co-chairs in 2007-2008 until the campaign threw in the towel.

    IOW, she has been working for Hillary all along - it is known.

  • Dennis, Constitutional Peasant||

    I've always thought it was funny that, even after 9/11, when Pew or Gallup run polls of "Who would you NEVER vote for"...?

    "Atheist, Socialist" score higher than "Muslim"

    I also think its interesting that, despite the widespread cries of "Islamophobia" in America - that same poll has consistently showed that more than half (60% at latest) would vote for a Muslim for president.

    Some might say this is, "still too low" but it would be interesting to see how that compared to any handful of EU nations, by contrast.

    (*it also might be like the polls about "background checks" with guns; people say its ok, because... well, we already have one - according to them)

  • mtrueman||

    "Atheist, Socialist" score higher than "Muslim"

    And yet the current president is all three.

  • Microaggressor||

    Half man, half bear, and half pig!

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    While that is a fictitious entity, I do know some half-man, half-beer, half-pig creatures.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I also think its interesting that, despite the widespread cries of "Islamophobia" in America - that same poll has consistently showed that more than half (60% at latest) would vote for a Muslim for president.

    Didn't we already? Twice?

    /911 truther.

  • BYODB||

    Wow, Atheists bitching about something not being fair. What a bunch of tools.

  • Zeb||

    The party convention seems like a pretty appropriate venue to bitch about intra-party dirty politics.

  • BYODB||

    Perhaps so, but with no sky daddy to enforce rules who gives a shit what is 'fair'? It's a trick; get an axe.

  • Zeb||

    Lots of people seem to give a shit what is fair for some reason or other. Or pretend to when it is convenient, anyway.

  • BYODB||

    Moral relativism, I feel, implies there is no universal 'fair'. The one's crying the loudest about 'fair' are almost inevitably the one's with the smaller piece. You could argue Hobbes vs. Locke for 200 years and be no closer to a solution.

  • ||

    And if you were an atheist looking for special protections and/or useful idiots to rally to your call, this would be the convention.

  • ||

    If I read the COTUS correctly, I'm not actually asking "for special protections" if I claim that it's nobody's business but mine which magical sky friend, or none at all, that I talk to, follow, or imagine exists.

    Either "No Religious Test" means something or not.

  • commod swore the time before||

    Considering the slow-motion train wreck of national secularism as it's championed progressive causes having nothing whatsoever to do with atheism, in tandem with crucifying the old white vanguard of the movement, I would have very serious questions for an atheist candidate. Is atheism a philosophical disposition or a guiding principle? Are you unreligious or anti-religious? Is freedom of conscience or separation of church and state a more important fundamental tenet for a liberal democracy? Are all religions equally harmful for liberal democracies? To the extent that English protestantism helped inform and shape American liberalism, is it worth validating its influence even in a secular nation? Are the civil liberties of atheists subsumed under religious freedom or do atheists require special carve-outs?

  • Hugh Akston||

    That's...several questions?

  • commod swore the time before||

    I'm spitballing, but really all I want to know is: are you an atheist trying to get into office or are you an office-seeker who happens to be atheist?

  • BYODB||

    Honestly those were pretty good starter questions right off the cuff.

  • Zeb||

    Those are pretty good questions to figure out what kind of atheist you are dealing with.

    I am going to answer the first and last for fun.

    I don't see how not believing that there is such thing as deities could be a guiding principle. I suppose if I were more of an asshole I might.

    I don't think you can have religious freedom at all unless everyone is permitted all of the same privileges and immunities that any practitioner of any religion is. So atheists rights are subsumed under religious freedom, not because atheism is a religion, but because if a law violates one person's rights, it violates everyone's rights. The idea that you get different rights just because you believe certain things is abhorrent.

  • BearOdinson||

    As a matter of fact, the email did NONE of the things the Center for Inquiry accused him of:

    -"It presumes a religious test for holding office, something expressly prohibited in the Constitution."
    It does no such thing. People can vote for whoever they want for whatever reasons they choose. This has nothing to do with the government establishing a religious test to hold office.

    -"It pits the majority against a marginalized minority group, intensifying the country's already escalating divisions."
    Which one was the majority? Jews or Southern Baptists?

    -"It exacerbates the gross stereotype of atheists as second-class citizens or somehow less moral than believers
    How in ANY way did it indicate that Bernie was less moral?

    "Perhaps most importantly, it sends the unmistakable signal to atheist Americans that despite all of our hard-won progress for equal treatment, atheists are still not welcome, not "one of us," not American..."
    Part of politics is appealing to certain voters. If you are trying to win over Southern Baptists, then it would probably be a good idea to address the fact that Bernie may be an atheist.

    I belong to a VERY small religious minority in this country, but by Odin's eye and Tyr's hand, stop the fucking whining. Atheists have every right to run for office. They have every right to try to persuade people of their position. But as far as trying to pick up votes, you gotta play it as it lies.

  • Zeb||

    This has nothing to do with the government establishing a religious test to hold office.

    Who said anything about the government?

    How in ANY way did it indicate that Bernie was less moral?

    Why else would they say it if not to suggest that he was less moral?

    You are right though, overall. Politics happens in the world the way it is now and whatever tool you can use to bash your opponent with, you use it.

    I'm very curious, if you don't mind sharing, how you found your way to Norse paganism? I don't think I've ever encountered anyone else practicing that as their religion.

  • BearOdinson||

    When the Center wrote about the religious test being forbidden by the Constitution. That means government.

    And I get there is always a certain tension between the these 2 different premises:
    1. "Atheists aren't as moral as religious believers" (An obvious falsehood)
    2. "Atheism doesn't support a moral foundation for society" (An arguable premise that one can agree or disagree with)
    I think many religious believers at their core mean 2, but what they say ends up sounding more like 1. (Of course, there are some idiots who truly believe 1). But I took the email to be more about political messaging than any statements about Bernie's morality.

    As for me, it is a long story. But suffice it to say that I have learned about (and even experimented and practiced) many belief systems. I got truly sick of the Abrahamic idea that theirs is the only way, as well as their obsession with sexual sins, and this ridiculous concept of the meek etc. The pope washing Muslim prisoner's feet. FFS!!
    But what led me TO Germanic paganism was several things:
    The stories in the Eddas (particularly those about Ragnarok) are far more inspiring,
    The Gods don't expect us to kneel,
    And I find it far easier to "talk" to the Gods who I can envision, and can talk to separate ones about specific issues. They are more like kin than some inscrutable presence.

    Oh, and Odin hung from a tree for 9 days, pierced by his own spear, and he DIDN'T die.

  • BearOdinson||

    Just in case it wasn't obvious, that last statement (while absolutely being a major part of the stories) was simply a friendly jab at my Christian friends.

    And please understand, I don't hear "voices" in my head. When I "talk" to the Gods, it is like a form of focused meditation, or talking to one's self to work out problems if you prefer. I just think of the God I am reaching out to, and visualize them as I think or even speak out loud.

    And while the likelihood of me dying in battle at this point is quite low, I would very much like to see Valhalla! ;)

  • Zeb||

    Thanks.

    While I am not a believer myself, I'm interested in religion and am always curious about the more unusual ones and what attracts people.

  • Free Society||

    I have a bit of sympathy for pagans. The neo-pagans are apparently seeking to reconnect with the religious beliefs of the vast majority of their ancestors held versus that of a Semitic religion imported from a far away place and an even more distant culture, for almost purely political reasons convenient at the time. I'm no pagan myself, but I certainly identify more closely with it on a cultural level than I do with Christianity.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Ya know, I really don't want to defend this organization or its stupid points, but on this one:

    "Which one was the majority? Jews or Southern Baptists?"

    Considering that most Southern Democrat-voters are African American, and a good portion of Southern African Americans are Southern Baptists, and only around 20% of citizens in that state even voted in the primary, Southern Baptists actually COULD be the majority of the people from the relevant states who voted Democrat.

    I can't find any statistics of religious affiliation and voting in those state primaries to show either way, but it could be true.

  • ||

    Actually, no, the main members of the Southern Baptist Convention are white.

  • ||

    The fact of the matter is that the email did do something that is not proper. It used the DNC's mark to do something that is not proper, namely it campaigned in favor of a candidate in the primary selection process.

    The national party committee is not supposed to be exercising any preference for one candidate over another. This has nothing to do with anyone's religious preferences or not.

    If Hillary wants to pretend she's had a vision of the Holy Mother, that's fine, she can slam Bernie all she wants to but the DNC is not supposed to be doing it for her.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "We found it appalling that anyone within the Democratic National Committee would casually suggest attacking a candidate for their alleged atheism. Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles

    Oh, for Christ's sake!

    It's an election--Hillary's not up for canonization.

    You think highlighting an unpopular belief system like atheism is bad? Bill Clinton once executed a retard just to prove that he was tough on crime.

    Hillary would do much worse than that if she thought it would get her elected.

    Did you know Hillary put together a real estate deal at Rose Law that defrauded taxpayers by way of the RTC? The partnership stole money intended to reimburse the proverbial "widows and orphans" that lost their life savings in a failed S&L--and funneled it into her husband's campaign fund.

    Highlighting someone's unpopular beliefs on religion might not make Hillary's top 10 list of despicable things she's done to win an election, and this certainly isn't as bad as what Hillary did in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack--when she deflected her own responsibility by falsely blaming it all on the hypersensitivity of Muslims to a YouTube video.

    Yeah, demonizing people because of their beliefs on religion is wrong, though. I'm glad to see atheists that understand that. And with that out of the way, maybe the atheists can go back to demonizing people for having religions beliefs as usual.

  • mtrueman||

    "Hillary would do much worse..."

    The story is about the DNC. They are not expected to be secretly manoeuvring against Clinton's rivals.

  • Ken Shultz||

    We're talking about them working for the Hillary campaign, right?

    We're talking about whether the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz--who were working for the Clinton campaign--would stoop to horrible things like pressing an advantage about someone's beliefs on religion.

    Anyone who thinks Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC, or Hillary Clinton won't stoop to that is being ridiculously naive.

    Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is now officially working for the Clinton campaign.

  • BYODB||

    The DNC would sacrifice a Virgin to Baal if they thought it would secure the nomination for Hillary. Honestly, I'd be shocked to find out they hadn't done so just as a safety. Fortunately, it's difficult to find a virgin in the Democrat party these days.

    /sarc

  • mtrueman||

    "Anyone who thinks Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC, or Hillary Clinton won't stoop to that is being ridiculously naive."

    One can be naive and still have their moral compass intact. It's not the work of the DNC to secretly manoeuvre on behalf of one of the candidates. When they are caught doing so, they deserve to be denounced.

  • Lee Genes||

    Peeps? PEEPS?

  • Zeb||

    Like those awful marshmallow things?

  • Shit Pyrate||

    I love those things !!!

  • Microaggressor||

    It exacerbates the gross stereotype of atheists as second-class citizens or somehow less moral than believers, a stereotype atheists have been tirelessly battling for generations. Perhaps most importantly, it sends the unmistakable signal to atheist Americans that despite all of our hard-won progress for equal treatment, atheists are still not welcome, not "one of us," not American. ...

    Weird, in my 26 years on this earth with no religious upbringing I have yet to encounter this oppression. Maybe it's just because my white male privilege is so strong it eclipses all others? Or maybe progressives simply have an urgent need to fabricate oppression so that they have something to complain about in a whiny, collectivist fashion?

  • Zeb||

    I think it depends on where you are and what you are doing. My experience has been the same (though I had a somewhat, but low key, religious upbringing).

    Whether or not it's true, politicians do seem to believe that being an open atheist is a no go, at least for high profile elections with a large electorate. And there are still a lot of social contexts where religiosity is assumed and people will look at you a bit funny for being an atheist.

  • mtrueman||

    "in my 26 years..."

    How many times have you run for President?

  • Ron Bailey||

    M: I have been an out-atheist since my early teens. And in my many more years than 26, I have not, to my knowledge, experienced discrimination for my atheism.

    On the other hand, you may want to take a look at the amazing discrimination suffered by EllenBeth Wachs in Polk County Florida. It's in my "Among the Nonbelievers" article linked above, under the subhead "Begone Sinners."

  • SugarFree||

    I had a girlfriend's mother threaten to have me killed for being an atheist. A fine Roman Catholic woman, she was.

  • ||

    Just to show that this is not just an American phenomenon, one of my High School English teachers in Tasmania related to us how in the early 1950s a school paper he had written in High School nearly cost him getting a teaching job in the State school system and that his free-thinking discussions with students continued to get him into trouble.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Meh, I'm still more sympathetic to atheist claims of discrimination (even if most examples I've ever seen reported on it is "people said I was going to go to a place I don't believe exists!!") than I am to some of the ~other~ progressives reaching for discrimination points.

    Ever see anyone whining about the discrimination they face as an asexual??

    Or even worse, the people who invent new words to try to invent a new minority class. Like "demisexual" (I like sex but I don't think about it all the time [just like everyone else]) or "aromantic" (I want sex but no long term relationships and this needs its own word now for whatever reason).

    Man, I've been exposed to so much whining about discrimination that atheist complaints about discrimination seems pretty justifiable contextually.

  • BYODB||

    As a Democrat I'd think being Jewish would be a way bigger hindrance than being an Atheist any day of the week. Perhaps not to the general electorate, but as far as the party itself is concerned? Obviously support for Israel isn't necessarily indicative of how you feel about American Jews, but the DNC really doesn't seem to like Israel very much as of late.


    if Bernie is Jewish, I imagine he's the same in relation to his faith that Hillary is to hers at this point.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think he claims to be religiously Jewish.

  • mtrueman||

    "but the DNC really doesn't seem to like Israel very much as of late"

    How much money has Israel given to the DNC recently? That's the only test of faith that matters.

  • ||

    Except for the fact that that Jews are still a reliable part of the Democrat coalition that is.

  • The Last American Hero||

    An avowed atheist will never hold the Presidency, at least not for the next hundred years. Why? Because most of the country is at least nominally religious and atheists can't give a speech for more than four sentences without the phrase "Invisible pretend sky-daddy" coming up. The deeply religious folk will be insulted and the rest will refuse to vote for insufferable douchebag.

  • ||

    Actually, the only time I talk about my non-belief is when some insufferable religious douchebag starts telling me about how awesome his "Invisible pretend sky-daddy" is, which it seems is something that true believers can't talk for more than four sentences without doing.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Atheists Decry DNC Plot to 'Out' Sanders For Alleged Non-Belief
    This divisive strategem has outraged the nice secular folks over at the Center for Inquiry

    This was a good move by Heil Hitlary.
    This just goes to show what a wonderful Christian woman she is.

  • Free Society||

    We found it appalling that anyone within the Democratic National Committee would casually suggest attacking a candidate for their alleged atheism. Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles: It presumes a religious test for holding office, something expressly prohibited in the Constitution.

    Uhhhhhhh no it doesn't. Telling voters that they shouldn't vote for you because you don't believe in god(s) is different than telling candidates that they're disqualified from running because they don't believe in god(s). I know Democrats have a hard time distinguishing between things that are legally forbidden and things that are frowned upon, but yes it's possible to be one of those things and not the other.

  • ||

    Fine, but the DNC is not supposed to have been campaigning for Hillary.

    Even if the DNC had pictures of Bernie with a dead girl or a live by in bed they are not supposed to be using them.

  • maddarter||

    This is a reprehensible suggestion. But is there evidence of any action or follow up? If not, it seems like a big nothing as a religious issue that one guy said something stupid internally.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    It might be obvious why an atheist would not vote for the GOP but why would such an overwhelming 70% majority vote for the Democrats.

    Or is this where their Reason takes them?

  • Number 2||

    "Need we even point out that had the suggestion been made to attack a candidate for being ... Mormon ... the resulting scandal would have been an all-consuming conflagration?"

    Apparently the writer does not recall a certain Presidential election that occurred about four years ago.

  • The Fusionist||

    Wow, I bet that the 70% of atheists who vote democratic will be frowning solemnly and shaking their heads when they vote for Hillary.

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