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Bill Donahue thinks atheists don’t have rights

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, July 14, 2008 14:36 EDT
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That’s what I’ve come to believe. It’s obvious that he thinks that “religious freedom” means “the right to demand a) the right to completely define an entire religion for yourself and eject anyone who has different views than yours and b) the right never, ever to be mocked, criticized, or looked at funny”. But even when a number of atheists online were insisting that I was targeted by the Catholic League for harassment and economic hardship-distribution because I’m an outspoken atheist, I was skeptical. Nah, a believer could have totally made the jokes I did and get abused, I thought. I have no idea of Melissa McEwan believes in some kind of god, and she got it, too.

But watching this whole thing with PZ Myers go down (sorry I’m late to the party; been too busy to follow stuff, you know), I’m inclined increasingly to think that while the Catholic League will go after anyone—and that they do love to spank actual Catholics for diverging from Donohue-defined doctrine, which is far to the right of even what the pope will have you believe—they’re on the move against atheists now that atheism is getting a new heyday/publishing bonanza. Quoth Lindsay:

The Catholic League claims to be a civil rights organization. Yet it consistently targets high-profile atheists like Amanda Marcotte and PZ Myers and attempts to get them fired. Draw you own conclusions.

Without trying to repeat much of what Jesse said, the real discrimination only occurs if someone is punished by job loss for speaking out against religion. In my case, there was a vulgarity aspect that’s kind of undeniable. But PZ didn’t say anything that wasn’t basically polite, if humorous. More tellingly that that is the fact the ire transferred neatly from the kid who innocently took a wafer out of mass in the first place. Since that kid was supposedly the original “criminal”, why is it that PZ has eclipsed him in focus just by issuing supportive statements? Gosh, Donohue’s press release gives a hint. This quote was quite telling.

Myers, who claims expertise in studying zebrafish, has quite a following among the King Kong Theory of Creation gang.

So, Donohue is a creationist. Which means that he’s not actually the Catholic he’s claiming to be—the official church stance is that evolutionary theory is what scientists generally claim it to be, a scientific theory that explains the natural world. There’s a lot of theological hokum that means that they’re not 100% on board, which is to be expected, because religious power-holders realize how big a threat science is to religion, and therefore to their power. But to say something like the “King Kong Theory of Creation” or to cast suspicion on the work of a scientist who studies zebrafish comes more out of the Southern Baptist fundie tradition than the Catholic tradition.

For such a staunch defender of Catholicism, it seems that Donohue doesn’t know much about it. His views consistently fall more with Protestant fundamentalists, and I’m increasingly suspicious that he’s less a true believer with his head up his own ass and more a right wing operative trying to increase the political power of the religious right by luring Catholics into the fold. The irony of all this is that the agenda is basically to turn America into a theocracy where the rights of atheists are threatened. Trying to orchestrate the public firings of prominent atheists because they are atheists is part of that, as is the hat tip to a fundie-not-Catholic view of evolutionary theory.

None of this precludes the objections I can hear forming in comments—that Donohue is an attention whore who gets mad at any little thing being the big one. Both/and blog, remember. He is both an attention whore and a right wing operative who put politics before his duty to his supposed faith every time.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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