Two things only . . .

A discussion at Atheist Revolution in response to Why Focus On Christianity? reminded me of a line in The American President.

I'm referring to the movie and not to the ignoramus who is currently making a hash of international relations, the environment, the economy, and education, to name a few.

The movie was written by Aaron Sorkin, who also created "The West Wing". I'm referring to the TV drama, the passing of which is missed, and not the current administration, whose imminent passing will not be missed.

Back to the line in question: Michael Douglas, as Democratic President, Andy Sheppard, is summarizing the dirt-smearing antics of the Republican presidential hopeful, and says something like:

"I've known Bob Rumson for years. And I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it!

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

That, ladies and gentlemen, is also how fundamentalists and televangelists control fellow religious bigots. These are not the people who display, respond to, or appeal to admirable virtues, including rationality. These are the people whose worldviews are fear-filled and narrow. These are the people with simplistic moralistic attitudes that have arrested at an early, childish stage of development – black and white, reward and punishment, good and bad, 'God loves me and you are going to burn in hell'.

The mantra used to be that God was punishing America for various sins, including homosexuality and abortion, but this has changed. The new mantra, and it is no more justified than the old, is that God is punishing America because moral relativity and secularism tolerate homosexuality and abortion clinics. It's easy to see that this is a more inclusive category – now one does not need to be homosexual or to get an abortion (the two being mutually exclusive), all one needs to do is support separation of church and state, or to be tolerant of other humans, and the fundies' God-mascot will punish you.

Coming from the religion that reveres a probably-never-born preacher who is held allegorically responsible for preaching tolerance, these attitudes are hypocritical in the extreme. Yet again, they are hardly surprising because fundamentalists don't really care about Jesus' loving messages, they only care that someone who never lived supposedly died to ensure that fundamentalist sinners are guaranteed pre-arranged forgiveness and a ticket on the Rapture Express.

These people comprise a segment of the blue pie in the chart at right (I would have colored the pie brown!).

Thanks to ylooshi for the chart on the recent Harris poll (Harris Poll Interactive).

For a group that probably constitutes less than 21% of the American population, these people make up for numbers in volubility, obnoxiousness, and donations to political coffers.

Considering that the remaining 79% of the population ranges from "somewhat religious" to "not at all religious", the power of the browns ought to be comparatively easy to overcome. The anti-atheist strategy, though, is aimed at manipulating the 67% who range from "somewhat religious" to "not very religious" into viewing secularism, humanism, modernity, and atheism as the fearsome devil that is to blame for every ill – imaginary, anticipated, or real – that has befallen these idiots (who were largely responsible for the non-election of the worst president in American history).

Politicians either pander to these neurotic interest groups or, in the case of authoritarian dictators, use the credulity of the masses to establish and maintain autocratic power.

Dictators such as Hitler and Stalin were not acting out of atheism, per se, if they were atheists at all. They were acting out of desire to make themselves gods.

Hitler used Bob Rumson's fear-and-blame technique to scapegoat minority religious and social groups. Stalin outlawed a competing authority when he eliminated Russia's churches. Hitler, Stalin, Kim Il-sung, Enver Hoxha, etc – promoted in statues, busts, posters, portraits, newsreels, rallies, and parades – all attempted to secure and maintain absolute power by placing themselves in the position formerly occupied by supreme religious authorites. They attempted to turn themselves into the state god. This is not secularism, this is not atheism, these 'cults of personality' are merely religion in vicious disguise.

I'm happy to think that Hitler would not have approved of the following rap version:

The synchronization makes it hilarious.

And, in the same irreverent spirit, no doubt inspired by his haircut:

Audio-Visual Index

atheism, audiovisual, bigotry, Christianity, fundamentalism, politics, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin.

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