07 January 2009

New Pew Poll Stinks of Religion

I don't think one's religious affiliation should have any affect on one's occupation--especially, say, in Congress. I don't think it's anything the public needs to know about, particularly because, I repeat, it just shouldn't have any impact on that person's ability to serve. Of course, we are a sad bunch, we American People. Despite hundreds of examples, big and small, of 'religious' folks doing terrible things, we still elect them. Why? Because we still believe that 'religious' equals 'moral.' And, despite that atheists, time and again, continue to do much good, we are still labeled 'immoral.'
For many Americans, "there's this idea of morality being linked to belief in God and to religion," Masci said. "Atheism is different in that it's a real departure from the common-denominator faith that at least most people accept."
I'm a lot more optimistic than I was when I was younger. I used to think humanity was about 98% dumb. I have a much better outlook today. I give people the benefit of the doubt. When they do and say stupid things, I forgive them. I remind myself that we can't all be on the ball all the time, and, when it comes down to it, we are but dumb animals. But come on. Really people?

Our 111th Congress is full of religion. I'm excited to see which members will screw the pooch this year. Which members will go on to get caught doing something reprehensible? Will it be just a kind of general monetary-related corruption, or will they be trying to diddle our kids, or frequenting prostitutes? (Blagojevich is Serbian Orthodox, Mark Foley is Catholic (shock!), and David Vitter is also Roman Catholic. in case you were wondering). And from what religious affiliation will these fallen folks derive? We won't know because, when that time comes, no one wants to know. Well, I do.

We have these polls--statistical information--about the religious make-up of our Congress. Okay. It's interesting. We have this information because, apparently, we care. We sure the hell care about this information when we're pulling the lever or blacking in bubbles at the polling booth. But, when these people shit the bed, suddenly, we don't care.
It's interesting because, when these politicians turn out to be no more moral than anyone else--particularly no more moral than your average atheist--the question is one of morality, but, at this point, their religion suddenly becomes a non-issue. Someone gets caught doing something questionable and everyone clicks their tongues, saying how baaaaad the person is. Chances are, that person's religious affiliation played a role, possibly a sizable one, in getting them elected, and yet, now it doesn't matter--there is no reflection on that fact when they fall from grace.

Still, come campaign season, everyone's out there with the faith on their sleeve, advertising their inherent goodness. Everyone except the godless, who have to deliberately hide their lack of faith.
...in fall 2006, the secular coalition embarked on a quest for the highest-ranking non-theist public official in America. It offered a $1,000 prize to whoever identified the winner.

Nearly 60 members of Congress were nominated. The coalition sent them surveys, and Kaplan said that when he interviewed the lawmakers, 22 confided that they did not believe in a god. Fearful of exposure, all but Stark told the group to keep quiet.
I mean, as far as I know, Pete Stark, the only publicly 'out' godless member of Congress, has not been embroiled in some terrible corruption schemes*. I haven't been privy to any instance where him sodomized anyone or thing against their will with a foreign object. Still...if he did--I mean, if it just so happened that Stark got caught doing something oh-so nasty--you now what the outcry would be. It's because he lacked faith. He's bad because he was without GOD. You don't think so? Really?

We "unaffiliated," according to this poll, have three times more representation in the population than Jews and Mormons combined, but still, we have "0%" representation in Congress. Jews (8.4%) and Mormons (2.6%), at least, have some. What is the problem here? The problem is one of perception, and, frankly, that we godless still have a long way to go in terms of making our needs and concerns relevant. No will...and I mean no one...will give us the time of day unless we demand it. The perceived morality bubble in which these people exist is far too comfortable for them to come to the conclusion on their own that we have rights too. It's way past the time for us to get out of little godless pins and do some popping.

Maybe it's not all bad, though. Here's the good news:
But if more atheists, humanists, freethinkers and nonbelievers "come out," Kaplan said, "the stigma -- which is clearly there -- will begin to go away."

The evidence? Kaplan points to Stark. In November he was elected to his 19th term with 76.5% of votes.
Despite Stark's 'coming out,' he was re-elected by a hefty margin. I hope this becomes a trend and the trend continues. We need to let our politicians know it's okay to be godless. We, as atheists, if we are so inclined, should not be put off by running for a political position. We need to get in there and change these numbers.

*As a matter of fact, if you Google "Pete Stark" and "scandal" the first item you find is this, and the "scandal" is only there because of someone's else's scandal, and this instance where he is, apparently, investigating someone else's corruption.

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