Thursday, October 06, 2011

Secular Group: 27 Secret Atheists in Congress

From AlterNet:

The president of a secular group says that there are 28 members of Congress who do not believe in God, but only one of them feels comfortable revealing his lack of faith.

Secular Coalition of America (SCA) president Herb Silverman told The Guardian that his group was aware of many members of Congress who weren’t ready to make their non-beliefs known.

And the one openly godless member of Congress, Pete Stark (D-CA), weighs in:

“I think that most of my colleagues, and politicians in general, just pay lip service to one god or another… The answer is that it has never been about God for politicians. It has been about power. It has never been about peace on Earth. It has been about profit in your pocket.”

He added: “I would confine God to currency, constitutional control, and colloquialisms like ‘Godspeed’ and ‘gadzooks.’ Then we can begin to deal with the real problems in the world, such as those related to education, health care, poverty, and human rights. But we can’t move ahead if we’re going to tolerate abstinence-only training, creationism, denial of environmental destruction, and oppression of reason. The power of simple solutions can fill a vacuum caused by the abandonment of reason, and that has got to end.”

More here.

By the time Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, it was all over for what was then only a three hundred year old religion. When Christians were a distinct minority, especially when they were a persecuted minority, embracing the religion was necessarily a matter of deep conscience and conviction. Once the Roman ruling class declared themselves to be Christians, however, converting to Christianity became extraordinarily useful for social, political, and economic reasons. Personal spirituality, at that point, may or may not have had anything to do with how an individual identified himself in terms of religious affiliation. The bottom line was that being a Christian was good for career advancement, good for business, and good for political opportunities. I mean, I'm sure there continued to be lots of sincere Christians running around the Roman empire, but I'm also sure that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, embraced Jesus, at least publicly, because there were great secular rewards for doing so.

As with the Romans, so with us.

It is no surprise at all to find that there are secret atheists and agnostics in Congress. Indeed, I'd bet a week's tips that most members of Congress aren't particularly religious, despite their continual assertions to the contrary. Publicly identifying as a Christian pays off politically, just as publicly identifying as a non-believer is tantamount quitting politics. I mean, if our leaders really are Christians, if they really took Jesus seriously, this country would be radically different. For one thing, we would have long since developed some kind of universal health care. There would be no homeless. We wouldn't have invaded Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no death penalty. The rich would "render unto Caesar" because the government would give them no choice in the matter. Instead, we have virtually the opposite of all those things.

I wonder if anybody in Congress is Christian at all.

But Stark is right. We have all this lip-service bullshit, all these politicians stumbling over themselves to appease the most psychotic Christian sects in the land, all for career advancement, and it has our government engaging in some truly bizarre and immoral undertakings. And the whole public embrace of religious irrationality, of magic dressed up as God, makes it all the easier to embrace irrationality in general. Global warming isn't happening; scientists have concocted the whole thing to get federal grant money. Markets regulate themselves. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And on and on and on.

Indeed, our political class doesn't believe in anything, which allows them to believe in whatever they think is going to keep them in office. Or put more bluntly, our politicians believe in their own fortunes, and nothing else. No wonder the whole shithouse is caving in.