We have previously discussed the war on atheists and agnostics that seems to be accelerating with the rise of people claiming to have no religious affiliation or belief in God in the United States, according to recent polls. There is a steady stream of statements from the national and international campaign by leaders against atheists, who appear to be fair game for hateful, ill-informed rhetoric. While you may have seen this already, Pat Robertson pushed this trend to a new low: telling his many viewers that atheists want to everyone to be miserable because they are miserable. They therefore what “to steal your holiday [Christmas] away from you.”
Here are his words of wisdom:
It’s, well, Christmas all over again. The Grinch is trying to steal our holiday. It’s been so beautiful, the nation comes together, we sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other, we have lighted trees, and it’s just a beautiful thing. Atheists don’t like our happiness, they don’t want you to be happy, they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable, so they want you to be miserable. So they want to steal your holiday away from you.
There is obviously a rising concern among political and religious leaders that faith is declining in society. Thus, even though the non-religous is now a majority in places like England, politicians are ratcheting up such rhetoric. Robertson’s rhetoric is particularly raw and inciteful, as are comparisons of atheists and agnostics to terrorists. It is an ironic twist. The effort to leave religious expressions to each citizen (as opposed to religious displays by the government) is viewed as a war on religion. There remains an insistence that the government affirm religious — and generally Christian — values and objects of faith. Robertson’s comments not only reflect a surprising insecurity as to the place of religion but an open hostility to those who want their government to be secular-based.