Ok, I'm really sorry that I couldn't find transcripts of this segment on the Bill O'Reilly show that aired (in my area) last night on my way home from work. I wanted to bang my head on the steering wheel. Below, I've got the link and the segment info from the O'Reilly website, but I couldn't believe the stupidity I heard. I know, I know, I should have known what I was in for. . .
BillOReilly.com: The O'Reilly Factor Flash: "Impact Segment Religion and the Republican raceUmmm, wait, what? Now it's the left that is injecting religion into the debate????? Wow, I remember "doublethink/doublespeak" from 1984, but I have never heard a more concrete example of taking facts, changing them until they are the complete opposite, then passing that off as true.
In debates and interviews, Republicans are being asked more about religion and faith than terrorism or the economy. The Factor suggested that the emphasis on religion fits with the media's agenda. 'If the media can keep the argument on Jesus and not on terrorism, it's a big win for the Democrats. This is a joyful season for the left if they can keep Jesus in the Republican primary.' Former White House spokesman Tony Snow pointed out that most journalists are cut from the same cloth. 'The journalism establishment is filled with people who don't go to church, the vast majority are not observant. They tend to think of religious people as quacks, when in fact they form the backbone of the public. This reflects a mindset that's totally out of synch with the American people.'"
I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for president.
-- George W Bush, quoted from Aaron Latham, "How George W Found God," George Magazine, September, 2000
O'Reilly's first point is that the media is largely secular, and aligned with the left. Fine, I can buy that. From that, he gets that the liberal media keeps asking Republicans about the finer points of their religion because the more they talk about religion, the sillier they sound and therefore become less likely to be elected while making Democrats look good by contrast. I fully agree that the more they talk about religion, the sillier they sound. But rather than that being an indictment of the media, it is an indictment of religion. Secondly, Democrats are not the ones who started talking about religion in the political sphere. Faith-based initiatives? That wasn't us.
"The very first act of the new Bush administration was to have a Protestant Evangelist minister officially dedicate the inauguration to Jesus Christ, whom he declared to be 'our savior.' Invoking 'the Father, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ' and 'the Holy Spirit,' Billy Graham's son, the man selected by President George W Bush to bless his presidency, excluded the tens of millions of Americans who are Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, agnostics, and atheists from his blessing by his particularistic and parochial language.Does anyone seriously believe that the left is the group behind injecting religion into the presidential race?
"The plain message conveyed by the new administration is that George W Bush's America is a Christian nation and that non-Christians are welcome into the tent so long as they agree to accept their status as a tolerated minority rather than as fully equal citizens. In effect, Bush is saying: 'This is our home, and in our home we pray to Jesus as our savior. If you want to be a guest in our home, you must accept the way we pray.'"
-- Alan M Dershowitz, in "Bush Starts Off by Defying the the Constitution," Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2001
O'Reilly goes on to argue that the best president in modern memory (Reagan) was secular and the worst (Carter) wore his religion on his sleeve. There may be something to this, but the thrust of his argument was that religion is best left out of the debate. If I were sitting in a chair, I would have fallen out of it.
I get it Bill. I do, I really understand what you've been doing. You're the "no-spin" guy, right? As far as I can tell, all that means is that you can say whatever wacky, inane thing you want and then when you don't make any sense, you can say, "Hey, that's the no-spin position. If you don't like it, you're obviously trying to spin the issue."
Sadly, we do have a need to know as much as we can about the candidate's particular religious beliefs. If you believe that a 2000 year-old Jewish zombie is someday coming back, I want to know that about a candidate before I vote for them. If you believe that 72 virgins await martyrs in some idyllic paradise (although presumably not so idyllic for the virgins), then I have a right to question your basic sanity. All hyperbole aside, I need to know if your particular supernatural beliefs are going to influence your policies.
I was telling my wife the other night that I'm not so concerned about all the minutiae involved in the debate, but it's getting to the point that if you are religious I think that, in many ways, is mutually exclusive with being a reasonable, logical person. If you believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, we don't have that much more to talk about. We're obviously not going to agree on environmental policy if you think the whole earth was created in 7 days. I can't listen to your position on taxes, or health care, or education, much less your ideas about more religiously charged topics like abortion, gay rights, stem cells, or even foreign policy. We're pretty much done at that point, and I can't take you seriously anymore. Can you see where I'm coming from? The inmates are out of the asylum and are running for president, unfortunately they all have a god-complex. In a future post, I will talk more about the process of an atheist choosing who to vote for, but I want to know: how do you decide which candidate merits your vote?
This isn't a trite question to finish off this post, it's something that I've been thinking about for a while. There really isn't a candidate that I'm with 100%, so there necessarily has to be some kind of prioritization of issues, even if it's subconscious. In other words: if Candidate A agrees with your positions on domestic policy, but not foreign policy, do they still get your vote? What if they agree with everything you believe, but they are a Mormon-- does that one issue make-or-break their candidacy in your mind?
EDIT: I found this website today with many cartoons and quotations supporting my position. :)