On one of my absolute favorite websites today, we had a lively discussion about belief and nonbelief. It's a parenting site, but I love it so much in large part because of this very phenomenon: The commenters are among the smartest and most well-spoken I've encountered on the internet.
We were discussing the study that showed that people would be so much less likely to vote for an atheist president, and the point was brought up that this could be because of the vocal and sometimes antagonistic atheists that are so public and those online.
I've already said my thoughts on why this phenomenon exists, so instead, I'm going to use this moment of inspiration to highlight some insane quotes from outspoken Christians and conservatives in the US. Mind you, the vast majority of these have experienced absolutely no ill effects from their speech.
From the Masses
“Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.” – Rick Perry, 2008
“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country … It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” – Rick Santorum, 2011
“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what the recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s [the age of the Earth] a dispute amongst theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” – Marco Rubio, 2012
“Probably the most heartwarming experiences I’ve had over the last several days is when naturalized American citizens, who have immigrated here from Germany, Iran, and other countries, they come up to me and they say: Why are we doing what so many have fled from? … [T]hese people who’ve lived under socialist type economies, and totalitarianism, they know where we’re headed if we don’t turn things around.” – Jim DeMint, 2009
“You know, something may go down tonight, but ain’t gonna be jobs, sweetheart.” – Chris Christie, 2012
“[I]f we can redefine marriage … based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire.” – Ben Carson, 2012
“Having a dozen people murdered in a [Aurora] movie theater gets our attention … Ultimately, we don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military, and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.” – Mike Huckabee, 2012
“The trend in deregulation, beginning in the early 1980s, is one of the biggest reasons for the sustained economic expansion. I would like to see us continue to deregulate on many fronts, including the financial services industry.” – Pat Toomey, 1999
“It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.” – Bobby Jindal, 2013
”We need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.” - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele
“Exercise freaks … are the ones putting stress on the health care system.” - Rush Limbaugh
”Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” - Rush Limbaugh
“Good Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” - Jerry Falwell
“How did [the Holocaust] happen? Because God allowed it to happen… because God said, ‘My top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.’” - Rev. John Hage
“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so… what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” - Andre Bauer
I'll round out this section with an interview George H.W.Bush once gave:
Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?
Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.
I feel like Pat Robertson deserves his own section. The one on feminism is quite enlightening:
"Lord, give us righteous judges who will not try to legislate and dominate this society. Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court." –Pat Robertson
"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history." –Pat Robertson
"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you, This is not a message of hate -- this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor." –Pat Robertson, on "gay days" at Disneyworld
"(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." –Pat Robertson
"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period." –Pat Robertson
"God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine.' ... He was dividing God's land. And I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.' God says, 'This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'" --Pat Robertson, on why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke
"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." –Pat Robertson, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
"It may be a blessing in disguise. ... Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other." –Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010
"Like it or not, males have a tendency to wander a little bit. What you want to do is make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander." –Pat Robertson, giving advice on "The 700 Club" to a woman whose husband cheated on her
Because women should be submissive, hurricanes are used by God to get our attention, and gays are whiny.
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." –Rep. Michele Bachmann, suggesting at a presidential campaign event in Florida that the 2011 East Coast earthquake and hurricane was a message from God (Aug. 2011)
"Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too" -Rep. Michele Bachmann, getting her John Waynes mixed up during an interview after launching her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa, where she grew up. The beloved movie star John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, three hours away. The John Wayne that Waterloo was home to is John Wayne Gacy, a notorious serial killer. (June 2011)
"Our movement at its core is an intellectual movement." --Rep. Michele Bachmann on the Tea Party movement, CPAC conference, March 2014
"Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, 'Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, recalling in a 2006 speech at a Megachurch in Minneapolis that pursuing tax law wasn't her choice, but she did so at the urging of her husband because she was certain God was speaking through him
"If we took away the minimum wage -- if conceivably it was gone -- we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level." -Michele Bachmann, Jan. 2005
"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?" -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling for a new McCarthyism, Oct. 2008
"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president, April 28, 2009
"Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, April, 2009
"I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter." –Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), on the HPV vaccine, Fox News interview, Sept. 12, 2011
"But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. ... I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly -- men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, botching American history while speaking at an Iowan's for Tax Relief event in January 2011. The Founding Fathers did not work to end slavery, and John Quincy Adams was not one of the Founding Fathers.
"The thing that I think that is getting a little tiresome is, the gay community thinks that they've so bullied the American people and they so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them, and so they think that they get to dictate the agenda everywhere." -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, CPAC conference, March 2014
Not All Christians
Not all Christians are like these. In fact, I'd wager the vast majority are not. However, there are enough Christians like this--and they are vocal enough--that atheists are placed in tough spot. Do we profess our nonbelief? Do we get vocal about it?
To me, it's easy to see why atheists who "go public" tend to be more abrasive--they have balls, to put it simply. They are able to stand up in a world and a social climate that consistently sends the message that they are not welcome.