Weekly Surge magazine has a positive article on atheists in South Carolina. There are a lot of quotations from notable atheists and a summation of what it’s like to be non-religious in the state.
The first part of the article talks about Eric Heyd, the atheist who (stupidly) wrote “Fuck the skull of Jesus” on his car and was then beaten up. Despite what he wrote, the reaction was far worse and the coverage was despicable.
It wasn’t so much the brutal attack that outraged, but more so the fashion in which it was reported in the daily newspaper:
Admitted atheist attacked outside gym
“A Myrtle Beach man and admitted atheist was attacked and robbed on Thursday night by a group of men who took offense to an anti-Christian phrase on his windshield.”
Reported by The Sun News on May 4, the entire mention was merely a small blurb, one of the police beat nuggets that so many cub reporters cut their teeth on. However, the story gained a life of its own, soon appearing on more than 100 secular humanist/atheist blogs and websites around the world. And as much as people had a problem with the fact that a person was beaten up and robbed, they moreover had a problem with the language – and, some would say, subtle editorializing – in the article’s headline and in the article itself.
A reader posting on Unscrewing the Inscrutable (www.brentrasmussen.com) put it thusly: “The expression ‘admitted atheist’ is unacceptable. He didn’t confess to doing something wrong like an ‘admitted pedophile.’ No one uses the expression ‘admitted Christian.’ The article’s use of ‘admitted’ is editorializing in the worst way.”
“I think the new interest in atheism is terrific,” Silverman says. “I hope it convinces more people to come out of the closet. When people tell me I am the first atheist they ever met, I generally respond: ‘No I’m not. You’ve met thousands of atheists. I’m just the first person you knew was an atheist.’ The more people that acknowledge their non-belief in any deities, the less we will be stereotyped. There are good and bad atheists, good and bad Christians, and good and bad in all other groups. I hope someday that people will be judged more on their actions than on their professed religious beliefs. If all 30 million atheists acknowledged who they are, that action alone would change our culture.”
There’s one mention of a pastor who doesn’t believe in atheists (Huh? I’m right here. I don’t believe in God. So there) and who thinks that the “new atheism” is all about taking your money. (He fails to see the irony in that statement):
Whereas atheists and humanists preach that there is no God passing judgment upon us, Pastor Darren Squires of Socastee Free Will Baptist Church says that there are no real atheists.
“I have studied hard through the years to try to learn the Bible and what it has to say about the subjects I preach on,” says Squires. “The Bible says in Psalms 14:1 that ‘The fool hath said in his heart, (There is) no God.’ I preach that we are all blind, and until we realize that we are all sinners and that we are not perfect we cannot see the need for God in our lives. I truly do not believe that there are any true atheists in the world. I honestly believe that each human has a thought of a higher being than ourselves in their hearts.
“It (New Atheism) is no different to me than the same old belief that there is no God, or as they refer to it, no higher power. New Atheist just means new material, new books, new speakers, new money.
“‘New’ just means I have found a new way of making money.”
There’s another pastor who thinks religion is perfectly wonderful and atheism is really the cause of the world’s problems:
“… God is still active, drawing people to Himself whether I – or Richard Dawkins and his ilk – believe it or not. You know, it’s funny. If I didn’t believe in something, why would I spend so much time and energy trying to explain away what doesn’t exist? Excuse my pessimism. Again, it’s not God that has caused the problems in this world, it’s people. (Joseph) Stalin certainly wasn’t a huge defender of the faith and he wiped out millions” [said Tim Holt, Pastor of Myrtle Beach’s Seacoast Vineyard Church.]
Again, no hint of irony in his statements. To quote George Carlin: “All you have to do is look at Northern Ireland, Kashmir, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the World Trade Center to see how seriously the religious folks take ‘Thou shalt not kill.'”
In the article, there’s a supposed quotation from George Bush (senior) about atheists not being considered citizens that should not be repeated.
The article also quotes Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and DJ Grothe of the Center for Inquiry.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Weekly Surge, Eric Heyd, South Carolina, Jesus, Unscrewing the Inscrutable, Brent Rasmussen, Christian, Herb Silverman, Secular Coalition for America, Darren Squires, Socastee Free Will Baptist Church, Bible, New atheism, Richard Dawkins, Joseph Stalin, Tim Holt, Seacoast Vineyard Church, George Carlin, George Bush, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation, DJ Grothe, Center for Inquiry[/tags]