Just a thought… Pat Robertson and the 700 Club are Jealous of Wiccans

Andrew Seidel, FFRF Constitutional Consultant

Pat Robertson and his co-host on the 700 Club, Kristi Watts, are not afraid to say whatever “thought” pops into their heads — no matter how ridiculous they sound. Right Wing Watch posted a clip of a recent episode in which Robertson and Watts discuss the Forest Service’s reapproval of a permit to allow a Jesus shrine to remain on public land. FFRF is filing a lawsuit against the Forest Service this week but Robertson praised its decision.

This clip is 66 seconds long and worth a brief watch. Two things jumped out at me (well, more than two but it would take far too long to point out everything that is wrong with Robertson’s show). First, Robertson’s bait and switch about atheism and believing in nothing. Second, Kristi Watts’ comment that atheists should clear cut the national forest.

Robertson begins by discussing atheism: “I mean, ‘a-thea’ means no god, they’ve got no gods. They don’t have anything so they don’t believe in anything.” Robertson takes a lack of belief in gods, and stretches the meaning to cover a lack of belief in anything. By that same logic, Robertson, who presumably does not believe in the Tooth Fairy, does not believe in teeth or quarters or pillows or children or anything.

He then asks: “Isn’t it a strange thing that we would let someone who doesn’t believe in anything restrict the freedom of those who do?” Belief does not confer rights. Atheists do not restrict believers’ freedom to litter public lands and buildings with shrines, the Constitution does. Religious displays on government property are a government endorsement of religion and therefore a violation of the Constitution.

Ms. Watts closes out the clip with…. well, with something:

“You know you’ve got different, I don’t know, call them religions. There’s one called Wicca. And, uh, they’re all about the environment, right? So if their religion, that believes in the environment, and they believe that trees are their god, why are these atheists not saying that we should cut down every tree, because it’s offensive? Do you know what I mean? It’s the same mentality, right? Just a thought…”

Wrong Ms. Watts, and labeling that long-winded farce a “thought” is far too generous. First of all, other belief systems, including Wicca, are called religions. Christianity does not have a monopoly on the term religion.

Second, it is true that many nonbelievers find Jesus statues offensive — to taste and to morality, because the statue represents a belief that an execution, taking place 2000 years ago, absolves one of personal responsibility for wrongdoing if only they suspend rational thought long enough to believe the victim is a god. But the central issue is the Constitution. The Jesus statue, erected as a shrine and intentionally placed on public land, gives every appearance of the government endorsing the Christian religion. The forest was annexed and protected as public land specifically because “the trees” are there. Arguing against this “thought” further seems excessive.

In closing, Ms. Watts should reflect on her obvious anger with “the trees.” Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Wiccans choose to worship (according to Ms. Watts) visible entities that quite obviously exist, while she chose to worship something for which there is not a single scrap of evidence. Just a thought . . .

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