Christopher Hitchens, contrarian atheist and slayer of all beasts fascistic and theocratic, will be in Madison, Wisconsin, this fall to present the keynote address at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s fall conference. Anyone who is familiar with Hitchens’ substance and style will expect a speech that is irreverent and uncompromising and totally worth the price of admission.
Predictably, faster than a fart can make a tent full of Cub Scouts giggle, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces appeared bemoaning Hitchens’ upcoming visit and calling him a boorish bigot for his willingness to describe the emperor’s nakedness in all its scabious and purulent magisterial arrogance.
Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are not bigots. They are an unholy trinity of bestselling atheist authors who are fed up with having to tap dance around people of faith whose religious beliefs are as irrational as they are ubiquitous, and as potentially deadly as they are personally cathartic.
This unholy trinity is the rising voice of over ten percent of Americans who identify themselves as atheists (closeted or otherwise) who are mad as heck—we don’t believe in hell—and who aren’t going to take it anymore. What else can account for the phenomenal sales of the unholy trinity’s recent books?
Think of it, at least ten of your hundred closest friends are the “pissed off faithless” . . . a sizable cabal at any backyard barbecue, or polling station for that matter.
If the faithful would just keep their religious beliefs in their own pocket and out of public school classrooms and bedrooms and women’s wombs, I doubt much would ever be heard from the unholy trinity or the POF. What would be the point?
But in kissing up to the religious right . . . or religious center . . . or religious left, it’s gotten so that politicians, both elephant and ass, will not open their mouths without first crossing themselves or testifying. For the POF, it’s particularly nauseating every election cycle as candidates yammer on about their walk with the Lord while they trample all over the truth to cut each other’s throats.
In preparation for the 2008 “holy war,” Hillary hired an evangelical Baptist who has put together her faith steering committee and sends out a weekly wrap-up sheet, Faith, Family and Values. Can you say “focus on the family” values? Rest assured, both John and Barack have their faith-based mojo working overtime as well.
I’m not suggesting there are no politicians with authentic religious bona fides. Jimmy Carter comes to mind. I just think it’s interesting that each and every member of the Executive and Legislative branches of our government is tight with the Lord. Statistically, at least ten percent of them should be atheists. Someone is not being very honest. Could it be they know atheism is the only unforgivable and unelectable political “sin?”
I suppose the real question is not, “Are they really religious?” but is, “To whom and at what price have they sold their souls?” Until political pandering to the religious and the dishonesty it breeds ends, the unholy trinity has work to do.
Closer to home, a recent Capital Times photograph shows Annette Ziegler, soon to be disciplined for ethical misconduct, placing her hand on a Bible and swearing to uphold the law as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. The POF will find this picture disturbing for several reasons. Until Christians see what the POF sees, the unholy trinity cannot rest.
Lest I become a boorish bigot let me add this. It goes without saying that multitudes of the faithful live quiet lives comfortable in the skin of their beliefs, and that good people are dedicating their lives to the betterment of humanity (locally and globally) under the banner of one religion or another. But if religion disappeared tomorrow, those same good people would still be out there doing what they can because of who they are not because of where they worship.
Without religion, though, their motives are above suspicion. Think Mother Theresa, whose religious beliefs concerning birth control exacerbated the suffering she was trying to relieve, assuming a person’s suffering and not their soul was her foremost concern.
Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are carrying the torch passed onto them by the original unholy trinity of Paine, Jefferson and Madison whose views on religion and the separation of church and state laid the foundation for the religious freedom of the Republic. But they, too, were subjected to the same scorn and ridicule as their unholy 21st century progeny. So buck up boys. You’re in good company.
Commenting on Hitchens’ visit, The Capital Times was of the opinion that “his determination to express viewpoints that are so frequently forbidden makes him an essential player in a national debate that is so frequently emptied of meaning by it’s caution.”
The POF say “Amen brother! Bring it on.”