Call it a Freudian slip, but with a quick recovery.
American Atheists president David Silverman, officiating at a ceremony in Bradford County, Florida, to unveil an atheist monument, let his guard down for a moment and referred to atheism as what it is — a religion.
Talking about the Bradford courthouse’s existing Ten Commandments monument, which the atheists unsuccessfully tried to remove, Silverman said, “We’re not going to let them do it without a counterpoint. If we do it without a counterpoint, it’s going to appear very strongly that the government actually endorses one religion over another — or, I should say, religion in general over nonreligion.”
It’s a small point, but not trivial, because groups like American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have gotten far too much mileage in courtrooms across the land from their doublespeak about atheism being a “nonreligion,” which is not only deceptive but has grown to become a serious detriment to society.
A nonreligion, of course, would be the equivalent of the local chess club, Tea Party or knitting circle, a purely secular group that doesn’t touch on issues of faith, morals, ontology or eschatology.
To try to wedge atheism into that category is patently absurd, yet somehow courts have allowed atheist plaintiffs (they’re nearly always plaintiffs) to get away with posing as such while complaining about the contributions to society of clearly religious groups, namely Christians and Jews.
Why the equivalent of the local Little League should have any influence over the donation of monuments or the allowance of free speech by church groups has never been adequately explained by any court.
You can only assume that judges across this land are either blindingly incompetent or far too many of them are in on the joke.
Because if atheist groups ever went into a courtroom admitting that their worldview is a religion and that they were only interested in a legal tit-for-tat scenario that would elevate atheism over, say, the local Jewish food pantry, judges would be obliged to show them the door.
Most atheist lawsuits are equivalent to a situation such as if a local Hindu temple sued to have a Buddhist prayer wheel removed from public display. That sort of religious antagonism wouldn’t be allowed. But by positioning themselves as the “nonreligion” or the even more logically suspect “nonbelief,” atheists have slipped under the bar.
It wasn’t always like this. Atheists for most of their history understood and readily admitted that their beliefs formed a religious outlook that could and should compete in the open marketplace of ideas. It was only sometime in the 1980s, when Christian groups were having legal success by pointing out that they had the same First Amendment rights as atheists, that someone got the idea that dishonesty would be more rewarding in lawsuits.
That dishonesty extends to the membership, who are also force-fed the same propaganda. For people who trumpet their love of logic, surprisingly few atheists grasp that “nonbelief” is a logical impossibility.
Atheists certainly have an ontology — that is they have beliefs about reality, the nature of existence and how all the categories of being relate to each other. They just don’t include God in that. Theirs is a materialistic ontology.
Religion in its broadest definition is the moral response to the answers provided by those ontological beliefs — the universe is materialistic in nature, therefore I should … fill in the blank. (A bit more literally in the atheists’ case than in most.)
Atheists have an advantage in their efforts to suppress Christian and Jewish influence on society, in that by removing all the symbols of a community’s beliefs, atheism still remains as the de facto state religion. The subtle effects of its most influential symbol — nothing — should not be underestimated.
That’s why the results in the Florida monument case were refreshing. Not only did the atheists fail in their efforts to dismantle the Ten Commandments monument, but in a rare burst of honesty, they accepted putting up their own monument as a competitor religion — the fact acknowledged by Silverman’s slip of the tongue.
“When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function,” Silverman said. “Atheists are about the real and the physical, so we selected to place this monument in the form of a bench.”
Most religious monuments are intended to touch the human heart. By choosing a bench, the atheists in Florida apparently aim to touch another body part.
Be that as it may, at least they’re being honest for a change. And that’s a good start.