The Washington Post had a fascinating series last weekend discussing the rise of a movement representing "nonbelievers." The trend is worldwide, but is also taking root in America, one of the most religious western nations. As radical fundamentalism has spiraled out of control, many people are standing up and loudly declaring that there is simply too much God permeating our society.
According to the Post, the Atheist Alliance International's membership has almost doubled in the past year to 5,200. Its membership is mushrooming to the point where its national convention in Crystal City later this month has a 500-person waiting list.
The article also points out that five books promoting atheism have hit the bestseller lists in the past two years, outpacing even The Pope's latest book on Jesus. That is enough to make even an atheist scream "holy cow."
Additionally, the Post states that the Council for Secular Humanism's budget has climbed to $8 million, a 40 percent rise in two years. The group now has a think tank in Washington to promote the humanist principles of "science, reason and secularism." This movement of nonbelievers has formed American Atheists in Washington, which administers the Godless Americans PAC.
The surge in political atheism is clearly a reaction to the utter obnoxiousness of today's fundamentalists. No matter what the religion, these fanatics have made it clear that they have a God-given right to rule the earth and subjugate anyone who does not sing from the same hymn sheet.
The Middle East, of course, is the manifestation of such sectarian madness. The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks God wants his country to have a nuclear bomb. This may lead to George W. Bush, who has his own messiah complex, to bomb Tehran. In Saudi Arabia, the government lops off peoples' heads if they are deemed to have pissed off Allah (homosexuals make the list). In Iraq, it seems everyone is tuned into the God channel and speaks on his behalf. In Israel, meanwhile, ultra-orthodox Jews believe that God has given the "chosen people" all of the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. But, Palestinian fanatics swear that Allah intends for Muslims to eradicate Israel. With so much God, peace doesn't stand a prayer.
Either some of these people who are hearing God's voice are delusional, or God is a diabolical troublemaker. Is He whispering it the ears of radical Jews, "hey, you're the chosen people, keep every inch of the land," and then turning around and telling Palestinian Jihadis, "you know this is Muslim territory, now go out and blow yourself up for it." And when the big fight God instigated is about to break out, does he call his bookie to place bets?
This week, our homegrown fundamentalists took center stage with two creepy events in Florida, an important swing state. On Tuesday, they hosted the "Values Voter Presidential Debate," where lunatics were allowed 24-hour leave from the asylum to ask presidential also-rans their plans to bring our nation back to the Stone Age. I was fully expecting an impassioned argument to break out on whether the moderator's title should be changed to "agitator," because the proper term sounded too much like "moderate."
I suggest that in the next election cycle, the Democratic National Committee sponsor this debate, so all Americans can watch self-righteous buffoons turn the Republican candidates in to puritanical cartoons. The only thing worse than the political pandering, was watching the loopy activists act so demanding.
It was also quite clear to me that these activists did not look like happy people. Each one was more dour than the next, hardly advertisements for the joys of fundamentalism. They seemed unusually grumpy, which was odd, because the majority of Republican presidential candidates were playing their tune on issues like evolution, so as not to offend their senseless sensibilities.
The candidates weren't much better. While they all sucked up to the overblown legend of Ronald Reagan, they looked more like the Grim Reaper than The Gipper. Maybe they were afraid to laugh because they would reveal fangs? The only one that exuded humor was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who often seems more suited to a gig on Comedy Central, than to playing a central role in the presidential primaries.
The second event is the Family Impact Summit, a three-day hate-a-palooza in a Tampa suburb where a throng of right wing ideologues will mix with "ex-gay" leaders to plot how to take control of America. To counter the event, Equality Florida will hold a press conference and a rally outside the church where the Summit is being held. (I will participate)
While the fundamentalists fulminate in Tampa, the Post article mentioned one statistic that should worry them. While six percent of people over sixty have no faith in God, one in four adults ages 18-22 have no such faith. I believe this number will only grow as long as "Crazies for Christ" whose main value is vindictiveness represent"God's people."
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) has absolutely no shame. Only several weeks after what still appears to be the fabrication (or remarkable exaggeration) of a hate crime, the group is at it again. According to Ex-Gay Watch, PFOX volunteer Greg Quinlan tried to accuse the publisher of the Falls Church News Press, Nick Benton, of starting a confrontation - when he simply asked Mr. Quinlan for his name, so he could accurately report on the PFOX booth at the Falls Church Fair in his newspaper. (I write a column for the News-Press)
According to Benton, Quinlan of the Ohio Pro-Family Network, responded to his request with a bizarre outburst that can only be explained as seeking a "incident."
"What's the purpose of this?" shrieked Quinlan. "You've created an altercation here. You look like the guy who accosted us in Arlington. Do I have to call the police?"
Where does PFOX find all these wackos? As they say, birds of a feather....but more importantly, it is fair to say that this can't be seen as an isolated incident. This is at least the third time PFOX has imagined persecution or blown a small incident way out of proportion. I think it is reasonable to say, by now, that this appears to be a strategy.
Perennial loser Alan Keyes, who got steamrolled in his race for the Senate in Illinois, thinks he can be president. The unhinged nutjob with the cloying, high pitched voice is entering the fray at the right wing candidates presidential forum in Florida. Is there a more annoying speaker in America? He only has one speed, and that is CRAZY.
"The one thing I've always been called to do is to raise the standard ...that there is a national standard of our allegiance to God and His authority that has been the foundation stone of our nation's life."
The bizarre rationale for his candidacy is that the other candidates are not far enough to the right. If anything, he makes me want to run for president, as I think I could scare up more votes. Does this nobody, publicity-sniffing has-been have any shame?
TWO Moves Its Headquarters From Miami Beach To New York City
NEW YORK - Truth Wins Out thanked the Arcus Foundation today for rewarding TWO with a $40,000 grant that will greatly assist in the organization's efforts to counter the ex-gay industry. The gift was from The Arcus Gay & Lesbian Fund, which seeks to advance social justice by supporting efforts to promote human rights and policy change for GLBT equality.
"Truth Wins Out is grateful for the generous support it has received from the Arcus Foundation," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "This gift significantly increases our capacity to enlighten Americans about the ex-gay myth. This timely assistance will allow us to educate the public and help people who have been harmed by these dangerous organizations."
Jon Stryker founded the Arcus Foundation and its Executive Director is noted GLBT advocate Urvashi Vaid. The Gay & Lesbian Fund focuses on impacting religious and values-based beliefs to promote greater acceptance of the GLBT community. It also concentrates on efforts to address and promote racial justice in GLBT communities and further the inclusion of issues of sexuality within racial justice movements as well as expand GLBT human rights in communities of color.
In the Spring 2007 grant cycle, The Arcus Gay & Lesbian Fund provided 53 grants totaling $2,951,105.
"The Arcus Foundation is truly a lifeline and a vital component in our battle to win full equality," said Besen. "We are honored that they have invested in Truth Wins Out and given us the opportunity to bring a greater focus to these dangerous programs."
Additionally, Truth Wins Out moved its national headquarters from Miami Beach to New York City this month. The rapid growth of the organization necessitated the move to a larger media market. There will still be a presence in South Florida, lead by board member Rev. Jerry Stephenson.
The Arcus Foundation envisions and contributes to a pluralistic world that celebrates diversity and dignity, invests in social justice, and promotes tolerance and compassion. Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.