The American Humanist Association ads asking people to be good for goodness' sake has gotten the attention of the Catholic League's Bill Donahue, who appeared on Foxnews with the apparent purpose of making himself look like an angry, ignorant fool. After hearing from the AHA representative, who said outlandish things like "people shouldn't need a god to be good", Donohue went into this amazing rant:
"Frankly there is an agenda here. They always choose Christmas don't they? If this guy had any guts they'd choose Ramadan and explain it to the Muslims. Quite frankly we've had a rash of militant secularist activities through books through movies. Last Sunday in Lansing Michigan gay terrorists stormed a Church that Christians that church. Look these guys are sticking their nose in where they don't belong and this is a cheap way of trying to take a shot at Christmas. They don't have any guts, if they did, they'd go after the Muslims."
What is this obsession with Muslims? What exactly is wrong with an atheist in Christian-dominated America taking up his grievances with the Christians around him without involving Muslims? This is another of those frequent half-arguments we hear all the time from right-wingers. Earth to Donahue: we argue with Christians more than Muslims because the Muslims aren't the ones causing us the problems we debate. It's the same reason we pick on creationists but not astrologers. Let some Muslims and astrologers start messing with our science, our schools, and our political rights, and we'll attack them too. This all sails over Donahue's head. He talks as if this is some sort of contest of bravery. It is akin to responding to MLK's marches to protest racism by saying "If you had any guts, you'd go to Germany and take on the Nazis". Besides, the ad says "god", not "Jesus", so in every way that matters it DOES address the Muslim god, and any other god. Regardless of the gods, you don't need them to be good. Deal Bill.
Then there is the "militant secularist" red herring. Putting up an ad is militant now Bill? What in the world does the AHA's ad have to do with the incident with gays in the church? This is another of those William Ayers arguments: tar by association, make no real argument, and hope the pinheads in the audience put the pieces together the way you want them to.
Sticking their nose in where it doesn't belong? Atheists don't belong in the public square exercising their right of free speech along with everyone else? Donahue is in sore need of a civics lesson, and apparently a history lesson as well. After being reminded that atheists have rights too, Donahue went into an ignorant gallop that would make Duane Gish proud:
"They shouldn't be so profoundly ignorant though. Sociology 101 says morality has always been grounded in religion. They're trying to say no it's grounded in individual's. Well Jeffrey Dahmer had a conscience too...you know what? He destroyed his victims, and then he ate them. We saw what happened with militant secularism in the twentieth century. Over a hundred and fifty million people dead because of this man's philosophy: Pol Pot, Hitler, Mao, and then Stalin. The only reason he has freedom of speech is because Christianity is the foundation of liberty in this country and western civilization. The Judeo Christian ethos allows for this man to be alive, not dead as he would if he voiced the same sentiment someplace else."
Profound ignorance, thy name is Donahue. Sociology 101 says nothing of the sort, since there are societies all over the world that get their morality from nonreligious sources. To hear Donahue speak, one would think the entire world was the Middle East and the Americas, with Western Europe, China, and Australia missing.
OK, so Jeffrey Dahmer was a nasty guy. So? Once again one can be forgiven for being unable to discern Donahue's point, except another Ayersism to tar all atheists as Jeff Dahmers waiting in the wings. Donahue's narrow worldview just can't grasp that millions of people all over the world, and indeed in the United States, get along just fine without any cannibalistic tendencies for religion to restrain.
Then we get the boilerplate Christian apologist revisionist history. Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin were not secularists, militant or otherwise. Hitler was a Christian who believed he was doing the Lord's work. If we are to compare sins, Dahmer's are dwarfed by Hitler's. The others were totalitarians, setting up the state as a religion, and broaching no deviation from the status quo. That is not secularism. Donahue is being intellectually dishonest. I know, shocker.
Bill also needs another history lesson. When Christianity ruled what was to become the United States, there was no freedom of speech. Making statements at odds with the ruling religion of your city or state could earn jail time. It was only when a diverse group of Christians, deists, and atheists drew up our constitution, a completely secular document, did freedom of speech come to be. After all, even the most cursory reading of the Bible reveals an ideology completely at odds with the concept of freedom of speech. "Though shalt not use the name of the Lord in vain", and "he who says 'though fool' is destined for hellfire" hardly imply an attitude tolerate of dissenting speech. It's Thomas Jefferson, not the pope, that we have to thank.
Finally, where besides the Middle East would our freethinking friend be dead for voicing his sentiment? Again, Donahue seems to have blanked out 75% of the earth in his view of the world. Sadly, his is typical of right wing Christian reactions to atheist arguments: revisionist history, guilt by association, red herrings galore, and above all, shout every syllable. And of course, never address the argument.
Tell us Bill Donahue, why are you so angry? I'll tell you why. The real world encroaches on your little fantasy world all the time. People like the AHA rep: polite, well-spoken, well-behaved, atheistic, threaten your little tinker toy world where the solution to all problems is more Christianity, and the enemy is always the unbeliever. The fact is Bill, YOU are free and alive today because of a secular document, without which you'd likely be in the clink yourself.