The Freedom From Religion Foundation is heartened by new data from the Pew Research Center showing that atheists are among the best neighbors an American could wish for.
A just-released Pew report reveals that, among the groups measured, atheists are the most vaccinated “religious” group in the country, proving the truth behind FFRF’s “In Science We Trust” billboards.
Fully 90 percent of atheists are vaccinated, compared to just 57 percent of White evangelicals and 73 percent of the country’s adults overall.
“Atheists believe in this life, not an afterlife,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, “and we don’t need a god to threaten us with hell to do the right thing. We’re good for goodness sake.”
FFRF emphasizes the underlying issues behind the disparate vaccination rates.
“This is one of the great moral issues of today — and religion is simply failing,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Religious folks are often suspicious of a tiny little shot to prevent the spread of a lethal contagion that has killed 1 in every 500 Americans and has completely overwhelmed and overworked our heroes on the health care frontlines. It takes religion to make the immoral seem moral.”
The numbers show some interesting trends. Agnostics lag slightly behind atheists, while “nothing in particular” Nones are about average. Catholics score above average, and Hispanic Catholics even better than agnostics.
“It seems like a rare instance of American Catholics listening to their pope — and the pope having the correct message,” says Gaylor. “Now, if he would only apply himself to the scourge of rape and abuse within his church.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest association of freethinkers, has been urging people to get vaccinated and has been working to end religious exemptions to vaccinations even before the pandemic.
It is past time for Americans to listen to science and reason; clearly, religion is a roadblock.
A couple of Freedom From Religion Foundation billboards near Nashville megachurches are garnering a lot of attention.
The 14-by-48-foot bulletins, featuring a stained-glass window motif, proclaim not bible verses but advice to “Sleep in on Sunday” and “Enjoy life now — there is no afterlife.” The Nashville boards kick off a national campaign targeting what the state/church watchdog calls “irresponsible megapreachers.”
The eye-catching billboards are found on I-24 West, west of Briley Parkway, and on Lebanon Road, a mile east of Andrew Jackson Parkway. They recently went up for the span of one month. The billboard messages are directed at megachurch pastors Kent Christmas, of Regeneration Nashville, and Greg Locke, of Global Vision Bible Church, and their flocks.
Locke is the incendiary preacher who has perpetuated QAnon conspiracy myths and has castigated the pope, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks. He has called President Biden “demon-possessed,” Vice President Kamala Harris a “jezebel demon” and claimed they oversee “child-trafficking” tunnels underneath the White House. Locke termed Donald Trump the “legitimate” leader of the United States in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Most concerningly, the pastor was in the mob outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection praying with a bullhorn — and hyped the riot ahead of time. After the riot, he was banned by social media. Unfortunately, Locke remains influential, with more than 2 million followers on Facebook. One of his videos has been watched 34 million times.
Kent Christmas, who is founding pastor of Regeneration Nashville, and heads Kent Christmas Ministries International, has likewise insisted that Trump won the 2020 presidential election, and that the presidential race was “a war between heaven and hell.” Christmas, who is stridently opposed to abortion and gay rights, and routinely spouts off about “demons” and “sin,” claims to be a prophet of doom.
FFRF is advising the good folks of Nashville to ignore these figures.
“It would be far better to sleep in on Sunday — or commune with nature or volunteer to help someone — than to waste time getting infected with disinformation by either of these blowhards,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The only afterlife that ought to concern any of us is leaving our descendants and planet a secure and pleasant future.”
Locke recorded a video of himself burning a copy of the book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American, written by Andrew L. Seidel, FFRF director of strategic response.
“America would be kinder, healthier and happier if fewer people listened to Locke and more listened to their conscience. Don't waste another minute swallowing the hate spewed by these peddlers of outrage.” says Seidel. “Take a nap instead.”
Gaylor notes that the “truly good news” is that church attendance in the United States is dropping off precipitously, with less than half of Americans claiming to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 70 percent church membership in 1999.
Similar billboard messages from FFRF will soon be aimed at Houston megapreacher Joel Osteen.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 35,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members and a chapter in Tennessee. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation strongly supports President Biden’s announcement of a sweeping vaccine mandate, a move that will reportedly affect as many as 100 million Americans.
The state/church watchdog celebrates this triumph of reason over the cacophony of unscientific anti-vaxx noise throughout the country. Eligible Americans refusing to get vaccinated has led to another major Covid surge that was entirely preventable.
Thanks to modern science, we have vaccines that we know are safe and effective. For the well-being of those who cannot get vaccinated, including young children, as well as for overworked health care workers, it is imperative for the federal government to require as many eligible Americans to get vaccinated as it is legally able to.
Unfortunately, Biden’s order will allow those under the mandate to apply for a religious exception to the requirement.
“Religious vaccine exemptions are morally and legally wrong,” points out FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel. “Vaccine refusal isn’t a matter of religious freedom because religious freedom does not include a right to harm others, risk other people’s lives, or spread a lethal virus.”
FFRF is based in Madison, Wis., and has recently pushed for vaccine and mask requirements by the local government, university and school board. Biden’s declaration will help those entities — as well as numerous others around the country — make the right choice.
It is past time for Americans to listen to science and reason.
Image via Shutterstock by BiksuTong
By Dan Barker
Editor’s Note: For the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is repurposing a column from its Freethought Today newspaper that FFRF Co-President Dan Barker wrote in the immediate aftermath of the horror and that remains as relevant today.
Would you buy a used car from a guy wearing a button that says, “‘I’m an Honest Salesman”?
That’s how I feel about those T-shirts that say, “Proud to be an American.” If you are truly honest, or truly American, you don’t need such fanfare — displays that actually raise the possibility of the opposite — because well, of course, you’re honest, and, of course, you’re proud to be an American. Why bring it up?
They must be bringing it up because they are insecure. Our country has been attacked, many feel afraid and vulnerable, so they wave flags, recite the Pledge and pray “God Bless America.” This feels like brave action, but it is only an illusion that masks feelings of helplessness.
Many of us love this country without the fanfare. My family, like many millions of good Americans, does not believe in God, so we could never honestly say “In God We Trust” or recite the religious Pledge of Allegiance in good conscience, even if we did want to jump on the jingoistic bandwagon.
Where did this doctrine of “unification” come from? What do we think will happen if Americans are not united? America never will be unified, and that’s what we should be proud of. The original motto of the United States, chosen by the nation’s Founders, is “E Pluribus Unum” (“From many, one”), not the 1956 “In God We Trust” nervously adopted during the Cold War against “godless communism.”
“E Pluribus Unum” does not mean “United, we stand.” It means “Divided, we stand.” We are divided into 50 different state governments. We are divided into multiple religious, philosophical, cultural and political factions — yet we stand as a nation. We don’t have to agree. We should wear our disagreements as a badge of honor.
Our Founders were fiercely divided on most issues. James Madison vehemently argued against congressional chaplains. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, also wrote that the words of Jesus were a “dunghill.” Benjamin Franklin called for prayers at the Constitutional Convention, but only mustered interest from three or four delegates — so they said no prayers. Nor did they pledge allegiance to a flag or hold hands singing “God Bless America.”
Yet they manufactured a country that stands as a single nation, in spite of their differences. They never wanted to force unity of thought.
Americans who don’t believe in the foisted motto “In God We Trust” are just as patriotic and just as American as those who do.