Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, March 16, 2007

Stark's Outing Stirs The Waters

Now that Congressman Pete Stark has been "outed" as a non-Christian (although he's being described commonly by others as an "atheist," he's described himself as a "Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being" - a difference which is perhaps nothing more than semantic subtlety), people on both sides of the theistic/atheistic debate are taking the opportunity to weigh in.

Sam Harris offered this in an op-ed today:

Pete Stark, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.

Of course, one can imagine that Cicero's handlers in the 1st century BC lost some sleep when he likened the traditional accounts of the Greco-Roman gods to the "dreams of madmen" and to the "insane mythology of Egypt."

Mythology is where all gods go to die, and it seems that Stark has secured a place in American history simply by admitting that a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham — the jealous, genocidal, priggish and self-contradictory tyrant of the Bible and the Koran. Stark is the first of our leaders to display a level of intellectual honesty befitting a consul of ancient Rome. Bravo.


Let us hope that Stark's candor inspires others in our government to admit their doubts about God. Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.

And the Christian Seniors Association (a favorite of stodgy grandparents everywhere) offered their reaction:

According to Christianity Today, Congressman Pete Stark (D-California) became the first member of Congress to deny the existence of God. "When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being."

“It is sad but not surprising that the current Congress has produced this historic first – one of its members has denied God,” said CSA Executive Director James Lafferty. “The liberals in Congress want to throttle any school child who bows his or her head in prayer, but they want to establish a right for liberals to bash Christians and berate God around the clock.

“It is time for religious members of Congress to push back. A simple declaration of a belief in God by members of Congress on the House floor will be greatly informative for the American people. Members who wish to expand could use the ‘special orders’ portion of the House calendar to elaborate but a simple “I believe in God” will suffice.

“We have long recognized that all of this hot air about ‘separation of church and state’ has been a veiled effort to intimidate and silence religious voices in public policy matters.

“If the liberal House leadership refuses to recognize lawmakers who want to affirm their belief in God, then we suggest they add it to the end of floor speeches on other matters.

“Congressman Stark’s statement is a very sad benchmark for America. It could be the moment which defines the decline of our country or it could be the spark which marks an important day.

That would be the day that religious Americans stood-up to the liberal bullies who are so determined to use the power of government to silence prayer and every other religious expression of free speech.

“This is a fight which is destined to be fought in America and we think it should begin today.”

It strikes me as somewhat over reactive to respond to the admission of negative belief by a single congressman with a demand that the Christian members of Congress use the mechanisms of government to officially declare their positive belief. It seems somewhat reminiscent of the eagerness of celebrities to publicly declare their heterosexuality as homosexuality has gradually become more accepted, and homosexual celebrities have made known (or have been made known) their orientation. As the majority worldview, I wouldn't think that Christians would need to have so much anxiety about asserting their presence in any sector of public life, but perhaps this is a sign that they recognize that their idealogical dominance is beginning to slip away.

Post a Comment


At 3/16/2007 4:25 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

The article by Sam Harris is excellent. What a great writer! I own both his books and I love them.

And good reporting on the issues, Zach. The reaction from the Grumpy Old Jesus Freaks association was predictable, but alarming. Including it in your blog post set a nice contrast against what Harris wrote in the LA Times op-ed.

Im quite honestly surprised that we even have ONE congressman who is not a theist. Despite the growing influence and popularity of atheism in America, I expected there to be zero nontheist congressmen.

While this is a little piece of good news, I still think that government sucks, and indeed, this whole tyranny of the majority governing system we have in place I think has its fundamental flaws exposed by the knowledge that only ONE congressman is not a theist. If congress was more representative of the beliefs of US citizens by popularity, there should be over 50 congressmen that are nontheists.

At 3/17/2007 11:44 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

What an amazingly childish style James Lafferty has. Stark's beliefs must have something to do with that vile, liberal Congress! The notion of independent thought does not seem to be part of his world view. Just another chance to hammer at those tired talking points, and throw in a demand for some demented kind of Loyalty Oath to the Great Inviso-god, and incidentally the priestly puffers who make sure this myth is endlessly swallowed and regurgitated. All the losers that this bullcrap helped to create can sleep snugly between their Wal-Mart sheets, secure in the knowledge that this threat to their delusion did not go unchallenged. Help! We're being persecuted by this one guy!


At 3/18/2007 3:40 AM, Blogger Mark F. declaimed...


I suspect that there are a few more atheists in Congress, but they are afraid to make their beliefs public.



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