Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Go away, atheists. We're tired of you.

Many of you have undoubtedly heard about the lawsuit currently making its way through the courts in Massachusetts, in which the state's Equal Rights Amendment is being used to argue that the words "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

I realize that this is a hot-button topic on both sides of the issue.  Christians argue that our nation was founded by Christian men (a claim that has its own problems -- but which, as a non-historian, I am unqualified to weigh).  Atheists and agnostics object to a statement being read in public schools and at the beginning of government meetings of all sorts that asserts the existence of a deity, and which attendees are expected to recite.

Now, far be it from Fox News to refrain from throwing gasoline on the fire.

Dana Perino, Fox News commentator and former press secretary to President George W. Bush, was asked about the lawsuit last week, and had some fairly strong words to say about it.

"I’m tired of [atheists]," Perino said, in a discussion of the lawsuit with co-host Bob Beckel.  "I remember working at the Justice Department years ago when I first started right after 9/11 and a lawsuit like this came through, and before the day had finished, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives had both passed resolutions saying that they were for keeping 'under God' in the pledge.  If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here."

Excuse me?

But, of course, instead of saying, "What the hell are you talking about?", Beckel simpered back at her, "Yeah, that's a good point."

"If you don't believe, then why do you care?" Perino added.  "It's just, like, some guy's name."

Is it really?  So, Ms. Perino, would you have no problem with saying, "One nation, under Ralph?"  After all, it's just some guy's name, and you don't believe that Ralph is a deity, so why do you care?

You know, what gets me about all of this is that no one seems to be able to come up with a cogent reason as to why the "under God" thing should be retained in the Pledge.  Nor, for that matter, why "In God We Trust" should be on our currency.  Christians are free to pray in their churches; they're free to pray in their homes; Christian children are, contrary to popular opinion, free to pray in public schools as long as (1) it is not a mandated, school-sponsored activity, (2) they don't disrupt class by doing so, and (3) they don't coerce other children into praying along with them.  (I've known more than one teenager, in our relatively liberal school, who has quietly said grace before eating lunch -- and never noticed anyone giving them any trouble over it.)

Why must we include statements that imply that in order to be an American, you have to be Christian?

Or, for that matter, religious at all?

The tacit assumption here -- that I, as an atheist, can't be a "real American," that I am somehow unpatriotic and unfaithful to the values on which this nation was founded -- is profoundly insulting to me.  My political views, and my loyalty to this country, are entirely unrelated to my belief or disbelief in a deity.  (Cf. "Separation of Church and State.")

So, Ms. Perino, what do you suggest for me, an American citizen and an atheist, as an option?  When I stand for the Pledge during my first period class, when I recite it when I attend school board meetings, that I just say "under God" even though I don't believe it?  In other words, that I should lie outright, in public?  Or that I should just skip that part -- inviting questioning looks and (occasionally) disapproving frowns?

Can you honestly tell me why any mention of a deity should be on our currency and in our public statements of allegiance?

And I'm very sorry, Ms. Perino, that you're "tired" of people like me, but you know what?  I think you're gonna have to take a couple of No-Doz, put your big girl pants on, and deal with it.  Because atheists, rationalists, agnostics, and the like -- the sort of people who put "none" under "religious affiliation" on official forms -- now make up 20% of the American population, according to a Pew Research study done late last year.  And we are no less likely than Christians are to be loyal, law-abiding citizens.

So unless you seriously want 1 in 5 Americans to leave the country, you might want to reconsider your rhetoric.

Not that what you think makes any difference.  Because I don't believe that atheists are planning on going anywhere -- and I suspect that, given current trends, we're only going to become more numerous.


  1. I was in elementary school when the phrase, "under God", was added to the pledge, a pledge we recited every morning. I had not yet come to terms with my unbelief at the time, that didn't happen until college, but when that part of the pledge came up I just shut up. No one noticed.

  2. I wonder how Dana Perino would they feel about saying "one nation under Allah?" in the pledge, in place of God? Or maybe replace it with Vishnu, or Yahweh, or Buddha, or Ra, or Odin, or any of the other MANY, MANY deities invented by man over the years.

    The point is not saying the name of someone we don't believe in, it's that we're supposed to be supporting a PARTICULAR faith and thus tying it to the government. Not okay, theocracies don't do wonderful things historically (and recently, too).

    1. The Buddha was not a god. He was simply an enlightened man.

      However I understand your point.

    2. Especially since Allah is exactly the same deity as the Christian God. "Allah" is just Arabic for "God."

  3. I'm tired of all the people whining about being tired of atheists.

  4. Someone once wrote how the introduction of "under god" to our pledge of allegiance disrupted the natural rhythm of the pledge. It's true. Try reciting the pledge without under god.

  5. I have to wonder if Ms. Perino truly believes in all of the words of the Pledge. Specifically, the words directly following "under God": "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    Does she truly believe that a nation that is tired of atheists, wanting them to leave the country, is truly indivisible? Do you think she knows what that means? Liberty and justice for all? Who is "all" to her, only those who believe in God?

    I believe an acceptable change to the Pledge for her would be "... one nation, under God, and if you don't like that, get the fuck out."

  6. I don't get why atheists waste so much time arguing over something that they dont even believe exists.

    1. Personally, they never hear a peep out of me except when they try to impose their silly beliefs on me and/or my family.
      Fundamentalists (especially) can't seem to come to grips with the fact that their beliefs have no rights. People have rights. Their beliefs carry no more weiht than anyone else's beliefs and furthermore, they cannot understand the concept that their rights end where my rights begin.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Benjamin, the answer to your question is contained within the blog post above, that you have supposedly already read. (No, I won't save you the trouble. Re-read the post).

      I AM TIRED OF FOX "news"

      "Fair & balanced."
      "The no spin zone."

      Which, just like talking to a psychopath, the exact opposite is true.

      "Unreasonable & manipulative."
      "The confirm your biases & add a few more... zone."

      It's a mad world.

    4. Why do the religious spend so much time arguing over something they are absolutely sure exists?

    5. If a bunch of people suddenly wanted to add a special Unicorns Only Passing Lane to every highway, you'd show up and argue that it's a waste of time, money and space, all without believing in unicorns. Get it?

    6. the art of war it (basically implies)says that no two people can fight without the existence of a third party...the arguments between sincerely God fearing,peace loving people/nations is orchestrated behind the scenes by individuals who have no conscience or true belief (even if they say they go to church etc.)

      It takes ruthless atheists to truly mess up the world as it is today.

      I Agree with Mrs Dana Perino because...

      Why do we now have to change age old traditions to suit a very argumentative minority who happen to be blind to the existence of a superior power.
      Will they be happy when these things change ??
      No...their ego will try to exert its influence in endless further argument and 'discussion' (like unruly teenagers who are wet behind the ears).
      I think any religious and respectful Muslim,Buddhist or Jew would agree that ...
      These should be allowed to move to their own country and we could train our nukes on them instead of on fellow god fearing countries(who have the intelligence to recognize a superior being)
      Dave Thorne

    7. It appears to be wedged in there pretty firmly. Extraction at this point would likely cause deadly trauma.

  7. As an unbeliever, her statements cause me the urge to angrily make out with her.

    1. Remember Roy, she's a conservative, there's no telling what kind of social disease you would catch from her. With that said, I really wouldn't anyone to ever know I made out with a repukelican anyway...b

    2. Ms Perino - Nice haircut;shame about the brain...

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  9. I'm going to spitball here - go with me on this. FOX hires sexy women to get agitated, worked up, and angry about religion so that all the dudes watching shut up and listen, and drool with pavlovian approval. Then they atheist bash.

    Also, I dislike this emphasis on the letter 'A' in atheist. I always preferred an emphasis on the 'E' which brings great weight to the word.

    1. Yeah Seth
      I also noticed something like that !
      This Perino woman or whatever is certainly more attractive than the way I visualize and/all the bloggers here and that has carnal consequences.
      Why then would Fox be interested in defending religion (presumably Orthodox I would have guessed).
      What do they want us to do next ???
      Any ideas welcome

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  11. I think it's time we all live by the immortal words of Twisted Sister:

    "We'll fight the powers that be just
    Don't pick our destiny 'cause
    You don't know us, you don't belong

    Oh we're not gonna take it
    No, we ain't gonna take it
    Oh we're not gonna take it anymore"

    In fact, the whole song works in this situation and in so many others


  12. I like One Nation Under Ralph! Next time I am expect to say the pledge, I think I will say Ralph instead of God. Great for lols and rolfs!

    1. I don't use the g-- word under any circumstance, I use the word dog. I can see, feel and touch a dog, much more believable and certainly more user friendly...b

  13. 5 percent. So that means that President Obama didnt win 51 percent, he won somewhere around 95 percent. That explains this administrations apparent free pass to start wars, harass its won people with the IRS and NSA, choose which laws to enforce and when,not to mention the insane tactics used by the national park situation.
    Oh, and NASCAR is really a novel reference by the way. Everyone who disagrees with you is undoubtedly an avid NASCAR fan, because if they weren't then you might have to defend your arguments.

    Some people may want God mentioned on their currency, but is that REAAALLYY bothering you? I have been to many countries, and I can tell you that no one cares about what is on their currency. No on reads it, and certainly not when they are using it to do half the things that "God" would blush to see.

    But this nation was founded under God, there is no denying it. ITS THE REASON PEOPLE CAME HERE FROM EUROPE. You dont have to recite it, but at least admit that its the truth from time to time

  14. You know that they have Darwin on their money in Britain. Soon to be replaced with Jane Austen. I bet that just pisses you off

  15. Oh Dave. "Carnal consequences"! How quaint. But, more to the point, the "Perino woman" tells the atheists to leave and go somewhere; that's not so bad yet. We Canadians are at the mercy of the US and Ann Coulter; according to her, both graciously "allowing Canadians to exist on the same continent".

  16. You do realize that your atheist beliefs are just as faith based as any other religion don't you? When someone believes in something without any proof or evidence that is called faith. Lack of evidence for one thing cannot be used as evidence for another. If you disagree with that then you must think you are smarter than Aristotle. (doubtful)
    Feel free to speak openly about your faith in nothing and stop acting so butt hurt about where others put their faith. The bill of rights gives all of us the freedom to speak our minds openly where ever we want as long as it is done orderly. And by the way, the word God is on our currency because the federal reserve bank put it there and they own those bills, remember? I would not be surprised to find that your views on property are probably as empty as your views on mysticism. Oh, and by the way, for all the protections you have been so generously gifted with by a group who predominantly believes in a higher power......................YOUR WELCOME!!!!!!!!!

    1. Dear me, you have no idea what you're talking about. I assume you don't believe in Vishnu and your lack of belief in him is 'faith based'. It's laughable when people like you try to be clever.

    2. Why can't your god teach you how to spell you're or know the meanings of words?
      Everyone is born atheist until theĆ²ry of mind during toddlerhood imputes personhood onto causes, even when they don't talk back. Otherwise one may become gnostic or stay agnostic atheist or become gnostic or agnostic antitheist. You are atheist for other gods.

  17. I think a fair amount of this is just so much name calling. Like Scott, several posts up, I'd guess it's more than just what is written on our money, said in the Pledge, but I am not up to arguing about it. But nothing is served when both (and more?) sides start calling one another stupid and crazy and booger-eaters. This isn't the playground, folks.

  18. nyah,nyah,nyah,naa naaa! ann eats cat meat! shes a stupid,crazy,booger eater! im rubber,shes glue,whatever she calls me bounces off and sticks to her!!! im sorry ann,its my touretts...