I had a wonderful opportunity last night while watching Glenn Beck with my parents to speak out.
In Chicago an honor student was beaten to death with railroad ties by two fighting gangs. The whole thing was caught on video and you could see some of the kids barely even noticed what was going on or at least they didn't seem to care. Glenn showed the video and then got all serious on us, saying "What has happened to this country!?"
Guess what his answer was? You guessed it - the cause of all this moral decay in the US of A is ... wait for it ... America is ignoring god! Because we won't put the ten commandments on our courthouses or have public prayer in school, don't promote religion in the public square! That is the real cause of all this violence and atrocity, a national deficiency in vitamin G!
He went on to say that 15% of americans are non-religious or atheist and that atheists are just obsessed with filling "the void" [whatever the fuck that means] with things, possessions, careers, government and all that shallow, empty stuff of evil, evil secularism. He seemed to be implying that the rise in atheism somehow correlates with a rise in wickedness and things like the tragedy we saw in Chicago! I can certainly think of no other reason he would bring up the rise in atheism at that point [sandwiching it in between bemoanments about 'kids today' and people beating each other with railroad ties] than to connect the two in the viewer's mind.
On the commercial I told my parents, "Up until this point I agreed with him on most things but now he's Ben Stein'd me - he's lost all my support with those ignorant statements."
I went on to remind them both that the first four of the ten commandments promote a specific religion and a specific god while the constitution [which Glenn seems to think is pretty keen] states that the US government will make no laws establishing religion - and the spirit of that includes not promoting one religion over another, a fact that is supported by both tradition and other writings by the founders. This is a diverse country - does Glenn think that only atheists are offended by monuments to the abrahamic god? What about the dozens of other religions out there which have nothing to do with the wrathful, blood hungry deity of the christians?
There is also the little fact that the kids in Chicago were mostly African American, a demographic known to be of the highest religiosity in the USA. I bet if you asked all those kids later if god exists they would almost certainly respond with, "absolutely" by an overwhelming majority. It is not - I pointed this out kind of loudly for emphasis - it is not the secularists and atheists in this country who are beating people with railroad ties! Posting the ten commandments in government buildings nor praying in school would not have done a goddamned thing to inhibit this sort of violence. It is a total non sequitor to imply that a rise in atheism has anything to do with the violence in that video and it was irresponsible of him to even mention the two in the same segment!
I also mentioned to them that not only are the atheists not responsible for this violence, we could very well imply the opposite is true. I pointed out that other more secular first world nations have lower rates of violent crime, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and other social illnesses that seem to so plague us in the united states. He's barking up the wrong tree! Instead we should look at the bible - a book with far more violence than mere gang beatings with blunt objects - and what it teaches people. Murder, rape, theft ... everything is forgivable [except for blasphemy against the goddamned motherfucking holy spirit], everyone lives on after death and god allows everything to happen for a reason anyway so really what's so bad about one kid dying? If god allowed it to happen, it must have been part of the divine plan all along. Glory be!
You want to know the kinds of things that really cause gang beatings like this? They have little to do with religion. Poor education, poverty, hunger, poor role models, lack of law enforcement around a school with known gang activity and bad parenting. Problems such as these stem more from sociological influences. They are social problems, not religious ones and need to be treated as such. Instead of ignoring the real root causes and advocating religion as a cure he should be screaming about what's really behind the decay. Fighting social problems with religion is a lot like fighting cavities by switching to aspartame while still refusing to brush your teeth.
So to Mr. Beck: Good job, asshole. Up until you made those ridiculous statements you had me almost believing that someone on Fox wasn't a total moron. So close, no cigar. Good job alienating yet another person who might have otherwise at least listened to what you have to say. As it is, I won't be watching your show anymore you ignorant fuck.
You know, if he had implicated that any other minority that comprises 15% of the US population was to blame [directly or indirectly] for tragedies like this he would be getting raked over the coals right now. I'm relatively certain he's going to get away with this slander because, unlike racial minorities, LGBT people and religious minorities it is still acceptable to say ignorant, bigoted things about those with no religion in this country.
I guess in a way I should thank Mr. Beck for reminding me that we atheists, agnostics an assorted infidels still have a long way to go. He's really fueled my fires and I hereby pledge to be even more vocal about my views from here on out.
There is no god, are no gods, no eternal reward and no eternal punishment. We only have here and now, this lifetime and this one chance. Embrace it!