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More on Paula Zahn show

This page has links to the YouTube videos of the show.

More comments from One Good Move, and Quicktime versions of the show.

Double Singularity's comments.

So, let's talk about that transcript of the show again. In particular, I want to look at the panel discussion. My comments in bold.

ROBERTS: Welcome back.

We're talking about discrimination against atheists and how the fear of becoming outcasts keeps many atheists underground.

Let's turn to our "Out in the Open" panel. Atheist Ellen Johnson is here with us, the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, and radio talk show host Rachel Maddow.

So, let me turn to you, first of all, Ellen.

Do atheists bring this on themselves by going to Supreme Court with campaigns like trying to take the words "under God" out of the pledge, trying to take the words "In God we trust" off of the currency?

Hmmm. Do you think blacks brought the KKK on themselves? What kind of a questions is that?

JOHNSON: By being good citizens.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: You're 1 to 3 percent of the population.

First of all, there are, according to the latest census, 14% of the population who does not belong to any religion... they may not all be atheists, but the numbers are a lot more than 1-3%. And secondly, is he suggesting that discrimination is okay, as long as the number of people you're doing it to is small enough?

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Why are you so noisy?

Noisy? Compared to who? The Religious Right?

JOHNSON: By trying to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I think that's being a good citizen. And I think that we should be applauded for it.

However, most atheists are in the closet, unfortunately. You haven't seen that this is just the tip of the iceberg. And, when atheists start coming out more and more, then, we will see more problems.

But what the problem really is and what it stems from is that religion is losing out in America, and the religious know it. There's empty pew syndrome. There's a lot of competition among religions. And there's just modern life. People are not going to church like they should.

If religion is losing out in America, I don't think it's necessarily because atheists are winning, but because, as we'll see, people like Rev. Peterson are driving them away.

So, the churches have to go to where the people are. They're going -- the military is under siege. The prisons are under siege. The workplaces are under siege. And the public schools are under siege. And the religious are getting very angry, and they're fighting back.

i.e. they're going where there are captive audiences.

And, when they see an atheist who tries to uphold the Constitution and challenge them when they break the law, then there are all kinds of problems.

Break the law? Yeah, what was that bill the Republicans were trying to push through Congress that was going to make it impossible to collect legal fees from the government in separation of church and state cases, but not others. Yeah, breaking the law, and trying to put the burden to enforce the law on individual citizens and not the government.

And, mind you, they also go after religious people. In Pontotoc, Mississippi, when a Christian woman said that organized prayers in that school, the public school systems there, were wrong, and she challenged it, they went after her with a vengeance.

ROBERTS: Right.

JOHNSON: Bishop John Shelby Spong received 15 death threats because of his liberal views.

So, it's not just atheists.

ROBERTS: Well, let me go to Reverend Peterson.

You're losing out? Is that -- is that...

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: No.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: ... you're discriminating against these people?

PETERSON: Atheists are hypocrites.

Nothing quite like the pot calling the kettle black, eh?

What they're trying to do, too, is impose their godless lifestyle upon Americans, and especially upon Christians. This great country was built on the idea of God, family, and Constitution. And they want to change that. Now, if they want to be atheist, it's OK to do that, but just go and do it, and don't try to change America, remove God out of the lives of everybody.

We are trying to impose a godless lifestyle on them? Really? Who is is talking about passing laws to PREVENT private prayer in schools? Not us. On the other hand, who is trying to FORCE us to pray? Or be publicly ostracized if we follow our conscience and refuse?

And more to the point, where is the Constitution is the word 'god'? How can this country be founded on 'god' if it doesn't even appear in the Constitution?

Change the status quo? Sure. But if the status quo is wrong, if it's been letting one group of people trod on another, isn't this what we should be doing? Isn't this the same "argument from tradition" if you will that was used in an effort to preserve slavery? Don't change America, huh? Yeah, let's just turn that clock back to 1850 and see what Rev. Peterson thinks of that.


ROBERTS: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: And Christians are just fighting back.

And, real fast, we saw the same thing with the radical homosexual movement. They decided to come out of the closet. And what they did was, they imposed their lifestyle upon Americans. Now they have redefined the family and all that.

Gays have imposed their lifestyle on Americans, huh? Does that mean Rev. Peterson is being forced into man-on-man sex? How kinky!

ROBERTS: She was with you for a second, and now you have...

MADDOW: No. No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: And now you have lost her.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Let just me read an...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Let me read an e-mail that we got here. This is obviously from an atheist, who talks about this idea of -- of who has rights to do that.

He writes -- quote -- "You ask atheists not to impose on your rights to have prayer in school and to have God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Atheists ask you not to impose on their rights to have prayer taken out of school and to have God taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. On what basis do you assume that your rights should be taken as precedence over an atheist's?"

Well, obviously, Christians are in the overwhelming majority...

PETERSON: That's right.

Majority rule, minority rights. Ever hear of that?

ROBERTS: ... when it comes to Christians vs. atheists.

But does the Constitution, Rachel, not only give you freedom of religious, but freedom from religion?

MADDOW: The Constitution gives you freedom from religion and creates a government that is explicitly nonreligious. So, we could say it's...

ROBERTS: So, there should be equal rights, yes?

MADDOW: Yes. No. Well, you -- I mean, you can say that America is a Christian nation, in the sense that America is...

PETERSON: It is.

MADDOW: ... a Christian majority nation. You're right.

But we have a secular government. And the way we protect religion in this country, and the way we have become such a religious country is by protecting religion, by keeping it utterly separate from the public sphere and from government. And, so, there's...

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: But that's not -- that's not the American way, though.

The Constitution says there should be no religious test for office, so why isn't that the American way? Either what he says is bullshit, or we've been ignoring our own Constitution.

MADDOW: Yes, it is.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: Let me just finish my thought, Reverend.

PETERSON: We have Christianity in the public schools first...

This guy is incredibly rude on the video. He just keeps talking over Rachel, and everyone else.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: We're running out of time, so make it quick.

MADDOW: There's not equality among religions under the American government.

PETERSON: That's not true.

MADDOW: There is freedom from religion. Freedom from religion is what we have.

ROBERTS: OK. Let me ask this question.

There is a common perception among Christians, or at least a common case that Christians sometimes make, that atheists, because they do not believe in God, are morally compromised.

Are you morally compromised?

Oh, my, God. Isn't that a lot like asking a black man: there is a common perception among white people (in 1960) that blacks are dumber than whites; are blacks dumber than whites? Do they even hear themselves?

JOHNSON: No. That's just bigotry.

They know who atheists are. I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Dawkins, Professor Dawkins. The theists know very well who -- what -- who we are, and they're not misunder-interpreting us or misunderstanding us.

Frankly, I think ignorance feeds the bigotry, and the bigotry further promotes ignorance. If you have that little regard for people, you probably don't think you NEED to know anything about them.

You know, that's just bigotry. And, in order to make religious feel -- religious people feel better, they have to say lies about...

PETERSON: Then, where do you get your morals from? Christians get their morals from God, from the -- from the Bible, from God. Where do you get yours from?

What does this have to do with athiests being discriminated against? Seriously.

JOHNSON: It's not about where we get our ethics from.

PETERSON: Where do you get them from? It's a question.

It takes longer than 20 seconds to explain. But as I've told other people before... if you want any expectation that you won't get murdered, you can't go around murdering people.

JOHNSON: That's not the...

PETERSON: Answer the question. Where do you get them from?

Who cares where I get them from! The point here is that you don't see atheists running through the streets burning down houses and raping people! We must, therefore, have ethics from somewhere.

JOHNSON: But the idea that we don't have ethics is not -- no one sees that. We're not the ones that are, you know, abusing children. Professionally religious people aren't any more ethic -- ethical...

PETERSON: Are you saying Christians are abusing children?

I'm sure the example she's getting at is Catholic priests, but I'd bet you anything that Rev. Peterson doesn't consider Catholics to be really Christian... which would have been a hoot if they'd been able to get him to say that on TV. There's a hell of a lot more data than even that, though. Atheists are not overpopulating the prisons; the religious are (atheists are a smaller percentage of the prison population than they are in the general population).

ROBERTS: I have got to call a timeout here, folks. We're not done yet, because there's a lot more to talk about. Wait until you see the case that we have got coming up.



One last thing that I missed on the original broadcast... I'd thought they'd fixed it, but they really made it somewhat worse: in the background of the set was this big question posted: Are atheists morally compromised? Isn't that what they call a "leading question" in legal circles. How does that have anything to do with discrimination? How does this answer the concerns of the "thousands of emails" they received about the first show. I don't get it. Why is this so hard to understand? Has the producer been watching too much Fox News?

Personally, I think that's more than enough said about that.

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