Confessions of a Lapsed Atheist

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The following essay first appeared on on June 21, 2009.


Do you believe in God?  Really?  And you’re willing to admit it in public?

Oops. Sorry, for a moment I slipped back into the arrogant Atheism of my youth.

Before my parents had children, they decided to raise their kids in a secular home.  We had gifts at Christmas time and chocolate covered matzoh during Passover, but there was no religion and certainly no God.

When I was in grade school, God was just a kind of nondescript character who popped up in Little House on the Prairie books from time to time.  He seemed like a decent enough fellow, but was more or less a bit player who didn’t have much to say.

After my grandfather died when I was seven, his Baptist minister lifted me up in his arms and told me, “It’s all right, Grandpa’s with God now.”  At that moment, I could feel my dress was hiked up in the back and all I could think about was pulling it back down.  But later, I asked around and discovered that God was our Heavenly father, whatever that was supposed to mean.

I figured, who better to ask about my Heavenly father than my earthly father, but when I did he laughed.

He wasn’t amused in a “kids say the darnedest things” kind of way.  He was laughing derisively at the idea that my mother’s family believed in God.  And thus began my introduction to Atheism.

There are people who call themselves atheist who are simply nonbelievers, and then there are the big “A” Atheists for whom Atheism is almost a religion.  This quasi-religious doctrine isn’t neutral on the existence of other religions; rather, Atheism is a virulently anti-theistic creed characterized by sneering contempt for religion and a profoundly dogmatic bigotry toward people of faith.

Want to know how Atheists see the rest of us?

Read more

Lies, Misogyny, and the Carrie Prejean Nude Photo Scandal

Miss California pageant winner Carrie Prejean is gorgeous, opinionated, passionate, and conservative.

It’s that last quality that really sticks in the craws of her liberal detractors.

And so, they set out to destroy her.  Belittling her for her views on marriage didn’t work.  Calling her filthy names didn’t do the trick.  And mocking her decision to get breast implants, and gasp, have someone else foot the bill, seems to have fallen flat, so to speak.

It was only a matter of time before they tried to shame her into oblivion for her loose morals and unholy, sinful ways.  Enter the mildest nudie pic never to grace the pages of a men’s magazine.

The photo, which I won’t embed here as she may have been underage when it was taken, is of Carrie Prejean striking the ubiquitous lingerie model pose found throughout the Victoria’s Secret catalog.  She is wearing panties and her arms are strategically placed over her breasts as she bares her naked back and side to the camera.  This is the sort of innocuous cheesecake-lite shot found on bus shelter ads and Abercrombie shopping bags everywhere.

It’s also fodder for an all out assault on Carrie Prejean based on some manufactured inconsistency between her opposition to gay marriage and her participation in a questionably racy modeling shoot at age seventeen.  Here’s my distillation of this ever-so-feminist logic at work:

Homophobia is totally wrong. Let’s see how MissJugs4Jesus likes the taste of a little misogyny!

And yes, “MissJugs4Jesus” was a slur lifted from the blog of a feminist lesbian.

Pam Spaulding, proprietor of Pam’s House Blend and contributor to the liberal feminist blog Pandagon, is absolutely delighted that these photos have surfaced “and the devoted ‘Christian’ is forced to explain herself.”  Most of her commenters are equally giddy.

Gay activist John Aravosis also indulged in a bit of slut-baiting:

holier-than-thou religious fundamentalist Bible-thumpers don’t get to flash their breasts for profit and shrug it off as just another youthful indiscretion. You don’t get to lecture me about my morality when your morality is the equivalent of a Playboy centerfold.

Who are the real hypocrites, young Christian women who embrace their sexuality and fight for what they believe, or liberal feminists who brand Carrie Prejean as a slut while they pat themselves on the backs for their progressive stances and evolved views?

Maybe they could hold her down and sew a big ol’ scarlet letter to her scandalously naked back.  They could even invite Michael Musto, Keith Olbermann, and Perez Hilton to sling vitriol and vulgarity as they gleefully rub salt in her wounds.  That’ll show her!

Matt Lauer, always too enthralled with his own cunning in shaping the news to care about objectivity, attempted to secure the complicity of conservatives in demonizing Carrie Prejean.  He used his Today Show report to viciously smear Miss California in the apparent belief that her own supporters would step right up to bat her out of the public sphere.  A few excerpts from that report:

Racy photos of the runner up have surfaced, and some say they’ve gone too far.  Too far for NBC news to broadcast.

A lie.

I can assure you they were quite inappropriate and certainly not photos befitting a beauty queen.

An unsubstantiated accusation, assuming there really are photos that remain to be seen.

controversial pictures may not sit well with conservative groups

Another blatant attempt to shape the reaction of conservatives without actually interviewing any.

Los Angeles based KTLA went a step further with this fabrication:

The newly surfaced photos are not sitting well with her conservative Christian supporters.

Unsurprisingly, the reporter failed to quote any of these conservative Christians.

Christian social conservative Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organziation for Marriage, has come to the defense of Carrie Prejean, who appeared in one of the group’s anti-gay marriage ads.  She strongly condemned the attacks:

The level of hatred directed at her is astonishing. Even more astonishing is her personal courage and strength of character in the midst of these attacks. Of course Carrie is not perfect. On a personal note, as a former unwed mother, I want to say to Americans: you don’t have to be a perfect person to have the right to stand up for marriage.

Carrie Prejean also defended herself, focusing on the attacks on her faith:

I am a Christian and I am a model.  Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. The photos of me taken as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid website that openly mocks me for me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect and I will never claim to be perfect.  But the attacks on me and others who speak in defense of marriage are precisely the kind of intolerant, offensive attacks that I hear some in the gay community say are hurled at them for their opinions.  No one should have their opinion silenced through vicious and mean-spirited attacks on one’s character and integrity.

I will continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is. I will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of the American people.  If this whole experience has taught me anything it is how precious our right to speak freely is, and how we as Americans can never allow anyone or any group to intimidate or threaten us to keep silent.

I happen to disagree with Carrie Prejean on the issue of marriage.  I support gay marriage, am against federal marriage amendments, and would like to see the Defense of Marriage Act repealed as long as there are unimpeachable protections in place for religious Americans.

But even though she is my ideological opponent, I won’t lend my implicit support to the idea that Carrie Prejean is a paper doll the angry left can crumple up and discard if they don’t like the way she’s decorated.  I can believe that she’s wrong without vomiting forth misogynist insults.  I can find her opinions in total disagreement with my own without pretending that a little semi-nude modeling invalidates her moral standing.

Carrie Prejean is being savaged by the left in an effort to discredit her before conservatives.  Those disparaging her can’t rattle her on the strength of her convictions, so they hope to undermine her credibility with conservative supporters.  But attempts to shame women for flashing a bit of skin are really over the top these days.  Most conservatives won’t abandon a professional model who shares their beliefs just because she was caught baring less side boob than I see at the beach.  I expect they’ll stick by her even if racier pictures exist.

In other news, with the liberal smear machine targeting another conservative woman, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is enjoying a much needed break this week.

And in breaking news: topless photos of another gay marriage opponent leaked!

Breaking News: The Pope Thinks Catholicism is Swell

En route to the capital of Cameroon on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the spread of HIV in Africa:

“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

The pope said that a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.

This is where I’m supposed to insert my outrage and indignation at the Pope’s criminally negligent condemnation of artificial contraceptives.  Something about how he has the blood of thousands of Africans on his hands, perhaps?

But is that what the Pope really said?

Context is everything, and it seems that most media reports of the Pope’s words were decidedly out of context. Consider this more complete transcript from the Catholic News Service:

I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness – even through personal sacrifice – to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.

Hey, wait a minute … the Pope thinks condoms won’t address the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa if people aren’t tending to their spiritual needs and being kind to one another? How dare he deliver this shocking defense of Catholic doctrine?

The Pope is no dummy.  He knows that AIDS has ravaged Africa and that in seven southern African countries, more than 15 percent of adults have HIV.  But will 15 percent of adults give up the right to have children if the Pope himself hands them a pack of Trojans?  Will a condom on every bedside table prevent the violent transmission of HIV through rape (another epidemic in the region)?  Of course not.

The Catholic Church does incredible work in Africa providing medical care to HIV patients and distributing anti-retroviral drugs.  Resolving the AIDS crisis will require a combination of money, research, education, medical care, counseling, social reform, and prophylactics. If the Roman Catholic Church provides most of those in abundance, does its leader really deserve our ire?