Religion – 1, Atheism – 0 (But Only Thanks To Pope Francis)

Two items hit the headlines this week in America. The first was a message from the new Pope Francis:

Basically, the Pope is saying that it matters not whether one is Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or whatever. All that matters is we do good towards others – without distinction. That is the only way to ever achieve peace on this planet.

Only the moronic among us could find any argument against that philosophy. Full marks to Pope Francis.

The second item was the horrific tornado that flattened the town of Moore, Oklahoma. In these days of man-made climate change (albeit, its existence still argued by the flat-earth society and oil-friendly politicians) even a tornado as bad as this one, (and it was the worst ever according to meteorologists), is only just newsworthy compared with Boston bombers and the IRS targeting of innocent right-wing friendly societies. Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s resident plonker, managed to stir up sentiment by assuming everyone in the state of Oklahoma (an area of the US with the affliction of not only being part of Tornado Alley, but also the Bible Belt) was an out-and-out religious nutter.

In fairness to Blitzer, he probably found the only atheist within two hundred miles to ask: “Did you thank the Lord for saving you?”

It’s easy to drop a gaffe in the heat of the moment, and today’s internet is merciless in sending such faux pas viral in an instant. The reaction was not uniquely American.

One of the great criticisms of US Protestantism is its cliquishness. Belong to a small church somewhere and you’ll be looked after during hard times. Don’t belong, and you won’t. Many of these churches verge on the Masonic.

This is exactly what Pope Francis was preaching about in his homily this week, or rather, it was the opposite of his message. Francis said we needed to do good to everyone, whatever their belief system, and not confine our charity to those within our small group.

When Rebecca Vitsmun told Wolf Blitzer she was an atheist and it went viral on the internet, the next thing we heard was that ‘Atheists Unite’ had set up an appeal and $7,000 had already been raised to help rebuild her house!

According to their spokesperson:

It’s important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist. Let’s show the world that you don’t need to believe in a god to have human compassion nor does all charity fall under the banner of religion. Let’s get this courageous woman and her family back in their own home.”


What is the matter with these people? They’re more concerned with getting one over on the Christian community than helping this woman and her family. What about all the other families needing to rebuild their homes?

This is exactly what’s wrong with the world today. We’re all too busy trying to prove our case is the right one, and everyone else’s is wrong, that we’ll only help those who advance our cause. The result is mistrust and condemnation of others, and a fear of reprisals that inflames hatred and violence.

This writer refuses to be pigeon-holed. He’s not religious, neither so arrogant as to describe himself as an atheist. He prefers to live in this life because he’s highly dubious of the existence of any other, and considers ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ as childhood fairy tales. He has, on many occasions, called the Roman Catholic church to task for its inhumane doctrines, and criticized previous popes for their pomposity and lack of basic humanity.

On this occasion, Pope Francis is right, and Atheists Unite is dead wrong. Appeal for funds, by all means, but for all the victims of Moore, Oklahoma, not just one because she happens to hold the same beliefs as you.

Atheists Unite’s appeal is not about doing good. It’s no more than an inglorious attempt to further a cause.

3 Replies to “Religion – 1, Atheism – 0 (But Only Thanks To Pope Francis)”

  1. No, RJ – he didn’t find “the only atheist living within 200 miles of” Moore. There’s me, & himself, at least – and likely many others. You fell into Blitzer’s trap of believing the stereotype. Atheists are in the minority for sure in OK, as are Democrats and socialists are even rarer – but, as my husband’s son told me when I moved here and was shocked at number of churches and the politics here: “there’s an underground of regular people in……”). The son, however, left OK himself many moons ago. 😉

    I don’t disagree with your point about the atheist donation matter, but don’t agree that calling oneself atheist is arrogant.
    Doesn’t it just mean non-deist? Non-godist? What else could we non-believers call ourselves? I have at times called myself agnostic, but at times like these, that’s not wholly accurate.

    As I commented to someone on my blog, I still revere the teachings of Jesus, as a teacher only though – in similar mode to MLK. There’s no word for that – as far as I know.

  2. RJA:
    I “get” this, sorry. I am surrounded by the holy out here on the edge of the Atlantic. I stick out like a sore thumb when people (gently I admit) ask me how could I have any morals and compassion if I am an apatheist (a descriptor I love, BTW).

    I think atheists are in solidarity with this woman to prove to all that yes, we have compassion and kindness and don’t need a god to do this as most holyrollers believe.

    PS And didn’t Frankie or his henchmen back off on what he said?

  3. Twilight – sorry, my remark, “…the only atheist living within 200 miles of…” was knowingly inaccurate and written somewhat tongue-in-cheek (though you are grossly outnumbered, as you readily point out).
    I consider it arrogant to describe oneself as an ‘atheist’ because it has connotations of knowing something that no human, past or present, can possibly know. I consider those who say they ‘know’ God exists to be equally arrogant. What I find more perplexing is the necessity for people to cram themselves into pigeonholes. You ask,”What else could we non-believers call ourselves?” If asked what religion I am, I simply respond, “None’. If they then persist by saying, “Oh, you’re an atheist.” I respond, “No, I’m not.” At that point their eyes glaze over and they usually give up. I’m sufficiently arrogant as to consider myself way too unique to fit any pigeonhole. So you see, I’ve nothing against arrogance except when it relates to religious affairs. 😉

    WWW – in my opinion (humble, as it probably isn’t) people who believe morals and compassion go hand-in-hand with religious ideals are lacking, at best a basic education, and at worst, a brain. History is filled to overflowing with the immoral indifference of the religious to those failing to conform to their beliefs.
    In this particular case, all the atheists are doing is proving they’re just as bigoted as the religious. Until each side stops trying to outdo the other (not just in this instance, but opposing groups, religious or otherwise, all over the world) we’ll always be at one another’s throats. How much more effective if Atheists Unite had recognized this woman’s beliefs but pledged to help, not just her, but all the victims of the tornado.
    Incidentally, I’ve scoured the internet, including a host of Catholic ‘rags’, but found nothing to suggest Frankie has reneged. Though, there’s an awful lot of ’em who wish he would. 😉

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