Let your imagination run wild...

Andrew Seidel
FFRF Staff Attorney

Fiction writers love to imagine a cabal of minority religionists orchestrating events from a faraway boardroom. Typically, the minority religionists are Jews, not atheists — the fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion is still dredged up by anti-Semites from time to time. Dan Casey’s newest article, “Atheists likely thrive off Southwest Virginia” takes a swipe at the Freedom From Religion Foundation using this popular ploy of fiction writers. Faraway boardroom? Check. Minority religion? Check. Orchestrating cabal? Check.

While it may make for entertaining fiction, one has to wonder what Dan Casey and his Roanoke Times editor were thinking when they published this piece. Even though atheists don’t believe in an imaginary god, we do have imaginations. Here is what I imagine was going through Mr. Casey’s head as he wrote [Warning: delving into the imaginary mental wanderings of people can be dangerous and often immature. Read on at your own risk.]:

“I really don’t like that nasty FFRF. It goes around helping local people stop violations of the Constitution. How will I ever know that my god is real if my leaders don’t mix him into the government? And what kind of people go around upholding the Constitution and advocating for the rights of minorities? Who do they think they are telling us, the Christian majority, that the law applies to us too? The gall of this cabal, sitting around thinking up nefarious ways of convincing courts to enforce the law. (Oooh, I’m a poet!) And then, believe it or not, courts actually agreeing that the law should be enforced!”

“I wish those meanies would just stop. They probably do it for the money, because atheists don’t have principles do they? I guess I could ask them about their motivations, but that would involve real reporting. I know! I’ll assume that their non-profit organization, recognized by the IRS, is out to make a quick buck and write an article on their money-making schemes.” 

“I suppose I could stick to strict journalistic principles like corroboration, investigation, tenacity, credibility, and reputation, but that sounds like a lot of work. And what if I find out that they are right? They probably are, atheists are smart and FFRF cites Supreme Court cases and the Constitution a lot… I know! Instead of looking into facts, I’ll just make some stuff up — ‘imagine’ — and people will believe and repeat it because I call myself a reporter and a good Christian!”

“Let’s see, how much did FFRF make on the Giles County case? They say that they never make money on their lawsuits, that at best they break even and often have un-recouped expenses, but that doesn’t sound very evilly-cabalistic to me. I know, I’ll just pull a number out of my . . . hat. $1,486,369! That must be how much FFRF made on the Giles County lawsuit. Oh damn! There’s more . . . Holy shitake mushrooms, FFRF made another $84,791. Gee-whiz, I sure am a great journalist for pulling those numbers out of there.” 

“What else can I write about those farty-pants? Yes, they don’t agree with my religious views so they are obviously the servants of Satan. I bet one of them is even named Lucifer. I suppose I could check their names on their website. Nah, that seems like too much of an effort. I’ll just stick to my lazy insults and innuendos and label it all imagination. I’m so brave and smart!”

“There, all done. And it only took two minutes! I can’t believe I get paid to write stuff like this.”

I then imagine the self-congratulatory Mr. Casey walking the article down to his editor’s office, a holy glow surrounding his head, and knocking on the door. Perhaps he says “Hey, Jesus” — don’t you always imagine that the real boss of every Christian is Jesus? — “I think I finally figured out a way to stick it to those jerkfaces over at FFRF.”

Jesus, who I imagine sitting behind a desk, arms splayed, with hands facing palm up and resting on the table, and looking at some papers near his left hand might interrupt, “Damn it Dan! I’ve been trying to stop those poopy heads for years! I’m an editor and you, the lowly journalist think you figured out a way? The law and the Constitution are on their side. What do we have? Me, Jesus? What can I, an imaginary god — I mean editor, do?”

The imaginary Dan whispers the solution: “We make stuff up about them?” To which the imaginary Jesus replies, “It’s brilliant! People have been making stuff up about me for millennia!”

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