For a bit of background, read this:
Now this once credible advocate for skepticism has thrown his credibility completely out the window for all to see. All to sell himself out to the forces of conservatism. Damn him!
I could just as easily write an article titled, “Who cares if Michael Shermer is an atheist?” And it would look just as stupid.
This Sunday, tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll. As the festivities spill over the grounds of 1600 Penn., I wonder if anyone will stop to note the obvious irony: That President Donald J. Trump is very likely the least religious president to occupy the White House since Thomas Jefferson.
And there is a reason for that, of course. Donald Trump is also the most amoral and narcissistic President in decades. The implication, of course, that atheists are often amoral and narcissistic is a bad thing to do, Shermer!
I’m not saying Trump is a closeted atheist, but he’s no evangelical. As a self-proclaimed Protestant, or Presbyterian, or something he describes as “a wonderful religion,” Trump nominally attends the nondenominational Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. Marble Collegiate was the one-time pulpit for the self-help evangelist Norman Vincent Peale, author of the mega bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking, an amalgam of pop psychology and cherry-picked scripture (without the guilt and sin), who presided over Trump’s wedding to Ivana. In other words, at most this is Christianity Lite, or Cafeteria Christianity, where one orders only the most appealing items on the menu.
Of course, it is possible that Trump only attended that church because Ivana, Donald’s first wife (and mother of his first three children) was a member and brought him along. That has no bearing on one’s personal religious or ethical standards. I made the mistake of bringing my now ex-wife Cheri with me to a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church, but she does not hold UU values at all; she is a damned RACIST, as I found out when I heard her referring to President Obama as a “nigger” when I was still living with her.
The president’s distance from religion is hugely refreshing. It also makes him more traditionally “American,” in at least one respect, than any other modern president. America wasn’t born a Christian nation. As sociologists Roger Finke and Rodney Stark state in their classic 1992 book The Churching of America, in 1776 only 17 percent of Americans belonged to religious congregations. And, of course, many of the founding fathers, most notably Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, were deists, believing that a higher power may have created the world but was no longer actively involved in human affairs.
What America was like in 1776 in terms of religion has absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s being an effective leader of America, then or now. This is writing that looks like it might belong on breitbart.com!
It’s only been over the past half century that religion has become a influential force in American politics. The transformation began in the 1950s, with the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God we Trust” to paper currency, both in response to the threat of atheist Communism. But it really picked up momentum in the 1980s, when the Evangelical Right, most prominently represented by Jerry Falwell and his “Moral Majority” (said to be neither moral, nor a majority), began pressuring politicians to include Jesus on the ticket and the Bible on the platform. In the 1990s and 2000s, faith-based organizations such as Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition of America and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family raised millions for candidates willing to pander to religious voters, helping to put the uber evangelical George W. Bush into the White House for two terms.
This is blatantly FALSE! In the mid-19th Century, it was common for Protestants to rail against Catholics who were coming to America in droves from Ireland, Italy, and other parts of Europe. Conservative politicians were pandering to those anti-Catholic bigots back then, just as Trump pandered to anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim bigots last year.
Since then, it’s hard to see what benefit America’s strong leaning toward theocracy has had. Comparing 17 first-world prosperous democracies on a number of societal health measures, social scientist Gregory S. Paul found that the most religious country of them all—the United States—had by far the worse measures on a number of criteria, including the highest rates of homicides, suicides, incarceration, STDs, teen pregnancies, abortions, divorce, alcohol consumption, corruption, poverty and income inequality. Correlation is not causation, of course. But if religion is suppose to be such a powerful force for societal health, then why is America—the most religious nation in the Western world—also the unhealthiest on all of these important social measures?
Because, quite simply, dogmatic religions are not based on reality and thus cannot serve the real needs of real people in real time. You know what else cannot do that? NARCISSISM like that of Donald Trump!
Many years ago, I was a member of a web community called Care2, which was made to provide a place for liberals, progressives, and environmentalists to gather together and coordinate their efforts for their chosen causes. Sadly, many right-wingers, conservatives, and others opposed to liberals invaded that community and disrupted it over the years, claiming they were promoters of “free speech”. And the ringleader of those attackers was Jeffery Williams, who was almost exactly like Donald Trump in that he was narcissistic, arrogant and totally dishonest and treacherous. And he was also an ATHEIST. Williams finally was banned from Care2 and is now in prison for abusing homeless men for perverted entertainment purposes, but the damage to Care2 as a social site was already done.
The idea promoted by Michael Shermer in his op-ed piece (of shyt) that merely eliminating the influence of religion in society improves it is clearly bullshit! Atheists can be racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and transphobic, just like some religious types can be. What we need are people that have firm ethical standards, which atheism cannot provide, but secular Humanism and Unitarian Universalism can.
Also, did Shermer not notice that Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is an ultra-conservative Christian? In any case, the fact remains that Trump used religious bigotry to help get himself elected, and so Shermer’s statements about the declining influence of religion are not valid, because the religious bigots are still in charge. They may no longer be in another 20 or 30 years, but I’m concerned about the damage they can do today!