Cenk Uygur

They’re afraid of our truth

Scott Colson, FFRF webmaster, production editor and UW-Madison philosophy grad, introduced Cenk Uygur [Jenk YOOgur] to attendees at the 33rd national convention Oct. 30 in Madison, Wis.:

This next speaker is a mix of mystery, intrigue and excitement. MSNBC financial host Dylan Ratigan once took to the streets of New York to ask a very important question: What is a Cenk Uygur? The answers varied from an exotic locale to an (infamous?) mountain peak to a strange animal that scientists have just discovered.

But to understand just what a Cenk Uygur is, you have to know what a Young Turk is. A Young Turk has historically meant a modern, pluralist, secularist member of the newly formed Ottoman political class at the turn of the 20th century. Their efforts at shedding empire and deposing of the sultan were ultimately successful, leading to a secular constitutional republic.

In the 21st century, we are at the dawn of a second Young Turks revolution. This one started in 2002, on Sirius Satellite Radio, and then spread online. The Los Angeles Times referred to “The Young Turks” as the pioneers of Internet programming. So what is it? Well, it’s the first ever daily online program that now has over 300 million YouTube views worldwide. Recent guests included powerhouses Nancy Pelosi, Russ Feingold, Alan Greenspan, Jimmy Carter, Brian Williams, the lovable Pat Buchanan and John Kerry. The show has won many awards, including 2009 Best Political Podcast.

Cenk takes his duties on the soapbox very seriously, especially for the secular cause. “I’m agnostic now. I was born Muslim. My whole family is Muslim. They didn’t knock down the towers; they were scared in New Jersey.” Later that day, with Ratigan, Cenk offered his take on gay marriage: “What have gay couples done to marriage that Larry King or Liz Taylor haven’t done?” He then referred Ratigan to Leviticus, where mixing of fabrics and eating shellfish are considered an abomination. Cenk called for stonings at Red Lobster.

Cenk guest-hosted “The Ed Show” for Ed Schultz on Aug. 20. Rev. Franklin Graham had just made some really idiotic comments about the “seed of Islam” and whether President Obama is really a Muslim. As Cenk put it, “You don’t get infected when you are born,” and added, “Muahahaha! Don’t trust me. My father is now an agnostic. I’m an agnostic. But at the time I was born, my father was a Muslim! I have the seed of Islam!”

We have high expectations for this acceptance speech. On his show just a few days ago, he spilled the beans: “There will be a declaration of war.” Egging on Bill O’Reilly, Cenk asked, “You want a culture war? Let’s have at it, Hoss!”

Thank you so much, Freedom From Religion Foundation, for this award. I really appreciate it. I know I probably got it for saying things on national television, which aren’t often said. But we’re the future. Television is a part of it, but as Scott was telling you, we’ve got a little bit of an audience online. We’re actually the largest online news show in the world, and what’s neat about that is, now the host of the largest online news show in the world is an agnostic. So we’re coming.

Part of my speech today is about that. It’s about a new generation and affecting a new generation. And as I teased on the show, I will be declaring a culture war. But before I do that, I want to be really, really careful as to whom this war is with. I’m sure that a great majority of you agree, but I want to be absolutely clear. It’s not against the religious. Are there some religious folks in the country I disagree with? Of course. The list could take hours. But there are great, great religious people in the country. I’m going to give you a couple of examples.

We were on the flight here, sitting next to a little old lady named Linda from California on the way to visit her grandchildren in Colorado. She loves them to death, and she loves her daughter, whose children they are, and that’s why she goes to visit them often. She loves her son, who’s gay, and she’s frustrated that he doesn’t vote. She made him vote on Prop. 8, dragged him out there and said, “You gotta vote on this.”

He said, “I don’t want to get married.” She said, “I don’t care. You’re going to vote on this.” She’s largely a Democrat, though she gets frustrated, like a lot of us do. She had cancer seven years ago and she thinks that God helped her to get through it. Now, I have nothing against Linda. I love Linda. I might disagree with her, but there’s nothing wrong with someone like Linda thinking that God got her through that cancer. As long as she fought the cancer with medicine, etc., that also helps, and she did.

I know a woman in L.A. She’s from Guatemala and works really hard as a housekeeper. She takes two weeks off a year and goes back to her home country, and feeds the poor for two straight weeks. That’s her idea of a vacation. Now, that’s what we used to call a Christian, and there are great, great Christians like that in the world. More power to them. If that’s their interpretation of Christianity, I couldn’t be happier with that. My personal role model is a reverend: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Christians like that have helped the world become a much better place.

Let me just give you two last examples: my mom. She’s a Muslim. She’s a person of faith. Does she get into the details of the dogma? No. But she has an enduring faith, and I don’t want to take her faith away from her. I don’t even want to challenge her faith. It’s not about that. It’s about the specifics of the religion and the dogma. So if somebody ever says, “Hey, you’re declaring a culture war and you’re against religion,” yes, but you know how the Christians say “hate the sin, love the sinner,” right? I don’t like the religion, but I love a lot of religious people, like my mom.

Then finally, one last guy. I knew this kid who was 20 years old, who was a Muslim in college. He was devout, didn’t drink, fasted for the whole Ramadan. Reasonably smart kid, inquisitive, looked into all the different religions. And I’m definitely not against that kid, because that kid was me.

We have to be open to other people changing. I changed. I think a lot of people in this room have changed. How many of you grew up in a religion? [Many hands raised.] That’s a lot of you! And you all changed. That’s also part of my message tonight: That we can help others change, and that we should help others change, like I did and like a lot of you did.

I’m not against faith. There’s a good argument to be made by atheists who say, “No, there is no God. There is no higher consciousness. There is no Flying Spaghetti Monster. There is no Zeus. There is no Thor.” I understand that, but that’s not the point I’m making. If people want to have faith, and that helps them get through cancer, it helps them get through life, I don’t pretend to know. I really don’t.

Sometimes, I can be very sure of my opinions, as you’re about to see. But is there a higher consciousness? I hope so! Are human beings the highest consciousness in the universe? God help us if we are. So I don’t know the answers. So I’m not saying if you believe certain things — whether it’s a higher consciousness or a supreme being of some sort, if you just generally have faith — that I’m against you, or I don’t believe that, or that I’ve got a problem with that, or I’m going to declare war against you. I’m not saying any of that.

I think it’s very important because we have to tell people, in order to help them change, in order to effect that change, “Hey, listen. At least from my perspective, we’re not against your god. We’re not against your beliefs, necessarily. We’re not against your faith. We’re just telling you that the way you are getting to that faith — this avenue, this religion — is wrong. Now, you can have faith through other means, but these texts are demonstrably false. And we can show you how they’re false. So just stay open-minded for a second. I’m not telling you I know the answers. The only thing I’m telling you (and the point of this speech tonight), is that I do know what is not true. And what is not true is the bible, the Quran, the Old Testament, the New Testament and, by the way, the texts of the Hindus and the Buddhists. I know. I studied them.

The reason I not only didn’t like Buddhism but honestly hated it — don’t tell Richard Gere — is that, and I know people will say these are broad generalizations, but generally speaking, Buddhism is about escape from this life. And I thought, I don’t want to escape from this life! I like this life. I like watching the Steelers on Sunday, I like eating my subs, and at the time, I liked trying to hook up with girls — trying.

Who declared this war?

Bill O’Reilly and others on FOX News and other conservatives are always talking about a “culture war.” I always think, like, what culture war? Who on our side ever declared war? Who on our side said that we were going to make sure that they couldn’t practice their religion? Who on our side said, “Government has to be run by our belief”? It’s always them saying, “No, you have to run government by our beliefs, and we don’t give a damn what your beliefs are!” And then they pretend we started a war? Are you kidding me?

I want to tell you about their war on us. It’s all across the world. I’m talking about conservatives, fundamentalists, of all the religions, of all the countries. Those are the people we have to fight back against with reason and logic and with a lot of effort. You may have heard of the recent case in Iran of the woman who was accused of adultery. At first they were going to give her 99 lashes, but then since she didn’t want to get the 99 lashes, she got a lawyer. They drove her lawyer out of the country and then they decided, “OK, we’ve got to step this up a notch.”

They decided to bury her up to her head and stone her until she dies. Now, people are fighting that and there’s a lot of back-and-forth whether that’s going to happen. So you’re going to throw heavy stones at a woman’s head who’s buried and can’t defend herself, and kill her, and we declared war on you?

This war has been going on for a long, long time all over the world. In Afghanistan, religious fundamentalists throw acid in girls’ faces for  going to school. In Nigeria, Christian pastors say they are experts in exorcism. Some of them call themselves “witch doctors.” It’s a little confusing because they’re also against witchcraft. In other countries like Ghana, women are largely attacked. Do you see a theme here? People who can’t defend themselves have few rights and get attacked by tough guys. That’s what tough guys do: They bury women up to their neck and throw stones at their faces.

In Nigeria, they poured acid into a kid’s eyes and nose. He suffered for a month before he died. In another case, they drove a nail through a kid’s head. In another, a woman tried to open her daughter’s skull. Always, it’s the weak and defenseless who are attacked.

Do you really believe Gandhi is roasting over an open fire right now?

But I think it’s possible that the most dangerous of all are American fundamentalist Christians. It’s because the policies they push are more dangerous. One particular policy that had a lot of fundamentalist Christian backing, including a fairly important guy by the name of George W. Bush, was the invasion of Iraq. There’s a story in Jacques Chirac’s biography where Bush goes and talks to the French president and says, “You know, Gog and Magog are supposed to come out of Iraq.” And Chirac is like, “What? What the hell are Gog and Magog?” He literally has to turn to an aide and say, “Hey, can you look that up for me? This guy’s a lunatic!”

That story is so incredible that I almost can’t quite believe it, but it’s confirmed by French authorities that Bush said that. Gog and Magog: That’s why we invaded Iraq? Hundreds of thousands of civilians died. We found out through WikiLeaks last week: “Oh, oops! We forgot to count another 15,000 civilians who were killed in that war.” Those are real people, aunts and uncles and grandmothers that somebody cared about, and kids that they had hope in, and they all died because an idiot thought Gog and Magog come out of Iraq.

It’s called Armageddon

Yes, the witch doctors and the Taliban are incredibly dangerous and violent. But they don’t have the largest army built by man. That’s why our fundamentalists are scarier and more dangerous in a lot of ways. In 2003, Bush was doing the road map to peace in Israel and Palestine. It’s his halfhearted effort, but at least he did something. He threw a road map out there. The evangelicals called it a satanic road map — the reason being it might lead to peace, which they desperately do not want.

Twenty-four of the leading evangelicals in the country, led by Gary Bauer, wrote a letter to President Bush, a born-again evangelical: “It would be morally reprehensible to be evenhanded between Israel and the Palestinians.” Now, why don’t they want evenhandedness? Why don’t they want peace in the Middle East? Because of their asinine beliefs in this ridiculous book written centuries ago by a bunch of politicians. Jesus didn’t write the bible — they wrote it 300 years later. And what happens when politicians write something?

The idea among some evangelicals in this country is that Israel needs to be Greater Israel, and when that happens, they will eventually tear down a holy mosque in Jerusalem. When they tear down the Muslim mosque, then we will have war. That war has a cute little nickname: It’s called Armageddon. And they love that, because they think right after that, Jesus comes. Jesus can’t come until we have Armageddon, and everyone in the world, except for 144,000 people, die. Is there anything more dangerous on this planet? I don’t think there is.

What did George Bush do after he received the letter from the evangelicals? He assured them in a conference call, “Don’t worry, we’re just kidding. Of course we won’t be evenhanded.” So we don’t have peace in the Middle East partly because our evangelicals don’t want the peace. We invaded Iraq partly because our evangelicals thought Gog and Magog come from Iraq. What’s scarier is, what can someone who’s even dumber than Bush do? Sarah Palin, maybe?

Some of these religious leaders had a meeting with Sarah Palin before she was picked as the vice presidential nominee. This is all in the record, absolutely verifiable. They came away from the meeting thinking, “Perfect — just like Bush. Tabula rasa, doesn’t have many opinions, easily filled. She just wants to get ahead and she’ll play ball.” That is their war against us, and I think it’s time to start fighting back.

I’m offended by their actions, but I’m not offended by their opinion. They believe in a sky god who’s going to suck them up into the sky with a vacuum cleaner. What’s there to get offended by? That’s funny! That’s hilarious! Have at it, Hoss, I’d love to see it!

Most of us here believe in rationality. We believe in evidence. We believe in science. By the way, Gandhi did not believe in Jesus Christ, so according to Christianity, right now Satan is sticking a pitchfork into him. That’s one of the questions I’d like to ask American fundamentalists: Do you really believe Gandhi is roasting over an open fire right now?

How do we fight this?

They have so much power, although they love to play the victim. You watch O’Reilly on any night with his culture war: “Ugh, these atheists are coming! What’s happening in Boulder, Colo., and Madison, Wis., and San Francisco?”

The religious are about 85% of the population. How do we fight back, when in reality, there have been no agnostic or atheist presidents? There is only one member of Congress, Pete Stark, who has the courage to say he does not believe in religion. We are at a 534 to 1 disadvantage. But O’Reilly says we have all the power.

All of you in your local communities have had to deal with this. You know what we’re up against. I saw the student from Indiana who spoke earlier today. What a courageous kid. I’m an emotional guy. I almost cried, man. I’ll tell you why: He stands up to his school, when they said they were going to allow prayer at the graduation ceremony. At the time, he’s a Christian and he stands up for the Constitution. When he goes to make the speech, people start coughing and in essence heckling him. To go up against all those students, all those peers, all the community, all the administrators, and have the courage to make that speech anyway.

But we have a very important thing on our side. It’s called the truth. That’s why they’re so afraid of us. That’s why they don’t want to hear the argument. That’s why they scream “I’m offended! I’m offended! I’m offended!” That’s why they’ve made up a whole fantasy of rationalizations for things you challenge them on, that they don’t have an answer for.

When I say “war,” I don’t mean it like they do. I mean with ideas and with logic and with reason, but forcefully. That doesn’t mean you scream at people. It means you do what that student did, which is have the courage, and even if you whisper, to an audience or a friend or a family member, “Hey, you know what, I don’t think it’s right.” When you do that, you have so many weapons at your disposal.

Open the bible to any page. Leviticus is, of course, famous: “A man shall not lie with a man.” Right above that verse is the one that I’ve alluded to on occasion on our show and on MSNBC, that you shall not eat shellfish. It is an abomination against God. An abomination, just like lying with a man. So do you hate shrimp? Why does God hate shrimp? You eat shrimp. If you eat shrimp, you are an abomination. I want every one of you here, and everybody that watches this at home, it’s easy, just ask somebody, “Why do you think God hates shrimp?”

Next you ask, “So which one is it? Because you have to pick. You can’t say that you are against gay rights, or gay marriage, or whatever it may be, because God is against it, and then say it’s OK to go to Red Lobster. You can’t have it both ways. So which one is it? Just pick. You’re either in favor of gay rights because you realize Leviticus doesn’t make any sense, or, that’s it, stop eating shrimp.” They’re going to hate that.

All of a sudden they’re gonna be like, “Eh, gay rights aren’t so bad.” One day, I do really want to push for a Red Lobster amendment.

Heapin’ helpin’ of hypocrisy

Gay rights is the civil rights issue of our generation. The issue is also a great example of religion’s hypocrisy. “Oh, the bible says that marriage should be between one man and one woman — except for all the times it doesn’t!” Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, which we would call mistresses or prostitutes. But he’s Solomon, so that’s cool.

Abraham had sex with his wife, her sister, his maid and his sister’s maid. What happened? I thought it was one man, one woman? How come Abraham gets four chicks? You go through the bible and see dozens of examples where it’s not one man and one woman. They made it up.

Here’s something else they made up — I could do a whole speech on this — abortion. Nothing in the bible says you can’t have an abortion. They want to be strict interpretationists of the Constitution, but not of the bible. There is a verse in the bible that says, “If you think your wife has cheated on you, and she’s pregnant, then give her poison. Make sure an accredited witch doctor or priest or rabbi does it. Then if she has a miscarriage, she cheated on you. If she keeps the baby, then it’s yours.” Isn’t that an abortion?

But they don’t care about the truth. In fact, as I told you before, they’re scared to death of the truth. What we have to do, politely but forcefully, is keep telling them the truth. I don’t want to just pick on Christianity. If you’re discussing these issues with Muslims, it’s exceedingly easy. Of course, men get to have four wives. I don’t think women get to have four husbands. It’s funny how religious leaders like Muhammad and Joseph Smith always have a conversation with God where God goes, “Ah, go ahead, screw ’em all!”

If you read the history of Mormonism, one person who did not believe in polygamy was Joseph Smith’s wife. I’m not kidding. Who did he first start the polygamy with? The maid. I see a theme here. With Muslims, this is very uncomfortable, but Ayaan [Hirsi Ali] talked about it last night, and it’s true: Muhammad consummated a marriage with a 9-year-old. So ask a Muslim, and I do it on the show all the time, “Do you think that men should be allowed to marry 9-year-olds and consummate the marriage? That’s what Muhammad did. I’m not trying to offend you. I’m not even telling you you’re wrong. I’m just asking you a question.”

If they answer “no,” great. I then suggest they read other verses in the Quran to see what else they might disagree with. (If they say “yes,” call the authorities.)

Introduction to Islam

In the beginning, I was Muslim. I took Intro to Islam. I should clarify: I was a Turk. I was as Muslim as a Turk could be. A lot of Turks will get mad about that: Some Turks are very Muslim. But generally, Turkey is known as a secular country. The founder of Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, was very impressed by America’s founders and thought it made a great deal of sense to make Turkey a secular nation.

Turks, honestly, they cheat. Not all Turks, but a lot. For example, they’ll drink all year. You’re not supposed to drink in Islam, but they’ll drink all year. But when it gets to Ramadan, they won’t fast, but they won’t drink. At night, at Ramadan, if they catch you drinking, they’re like, “What kind of Muslim is this?” It doesn’t make any sense, but it doesn’t have to — it’s religion.

So I take Introduction to Islam. I have this great Irish teacher who is such a sweetheart. He’s doing his best to be unbiased and does a great job of presenting Islam in the best possible light. For example, women had no rights in that area before Islam; after Islam, they had some rights — a tiny bit. So I think, “Well, that’s an improvement, so Islam is good.” Because, you know, you’re brainwashed, and it’s hard to get rid of that brainwashing. You try to justify everything.

I read the Quran and I started reading the bible and I had the reverse of a “come to Jesus” moment. I was reading about the Tower of Babel. So humans get together. They decide they’re gonna build a lovely tower. They all work together, they build it, it’s nice. God gets angry. God says, “How dare you? My ego is so large I can’t have you little people challenging it.” So he knocks down the tower and makes everyone speak a different language, and that’s the origin of the idea of everyone speaking different languages. Well, the story’s not true!

So he spreads us across the world and says, “That ought to show you to work together.” I thought, “This is the most hideous thing I’ve ever read.” Now, the tower didn’t do anything wrong. It didn’t do anything evil. It didn’t even have a golden calf. It was just people working together and achieving something together, and God doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want us to work together. He doesn’t even want us to talk to one another. God forbid we should learn something. By the way, the forbidden fruit in Eden that they ate from was from the tree of knowledge, because if you learn something, then you might realize that these books are ridiculous and completely and utterly untrue.

As soon as I had read that, I closed the book. There’s a saying in Turkish: “Close the book. Drink a cold glass of water. You’re done with it.” I drank a cold glass of water, and then a beer. I said, “If that is god, well then, I’m against him, because I believe in humanity. I want us to work together. I want us to communicate. I want us to learn. I want us to advance.”

It’s not because I’m trying to show up God. It’s not like my agenda is “I’ll show God!” We’re just trying to build a tower. We want to work there or something, go to work, raise our kids. So I said, “If God is that cruel and that petty and that silly and that much against humanity, well then, we’ve got to  fight him. We might lose. If they’re right, we’re going to lose, but I’ll go down fighting.” Part of the reason that I named my son Prometheus: Steal fire from the gods and give it to humans. I’m a fan of man.

Isn’t it amusing how O’Reilly and the rest of them consider that such a disparaging thing to say: “a secular humanist!” What are we supposed to be in favor of? I mean, we’re in favor of humans! Does he want us to be in favor of giraffes? Aliens?

Steps to restore sanity

The first thing you’ve got to do is tell everyone to read the bible and the Quran and every religious text, because they don’t know. Study after study has shown that so many religious people have no idea what’s in the bible. They think that the people who wrote the books in the bible were actually Jesus’ apostles. They’re not. They didn’t even know them. They don’t know that the bible was written 70 years after Jesus Christ. It’s tough to tell what happened 70 years ago today, and we’ve got TV and computers. They had nothing. Ahmed told Mehmed who told Ishmael 70 years later, and that was the first of the books.

We have to demand that they teach religious history, the history of religion. That seems ironic, but it’s really important, and maybe they’ll accidentally agree to it. There are two parts. One part is studying the religions before Christianity, and then when they see a prophet that dies and rises three days later, they might be like, “Whoa! Wait, I think I’ve seen that before!”

When they see it again, and again, and again, in all of these myths, these fables, the things that we laugh at now, whereas we take our current religion seriously. Noah’s Ark is in almost every religion that has ever existed, which leads me to believe that they had a little issue with a flood at some point, historically speaking.

Another aspect of the history of religion: These great archaeology professors from Israel went to study Moses. They were generally believers who wanted to show some historical path of Moses. They knew they weren’t going to find that he had split the Red Sea, but thought they would find some record of Moses in Egypt. They’re earnest professors and honestly went and tried to find that record.

First, what they found is amazing in that notes were incredibly detailed: “Ahmed sells a loaf of bread to Mehmed, and then Hussein sells it to Hussan, and then they traded it for this.” They’re like, “Whoa, this is great, because we’ve got great records here!” Not a trace of Moses. A complete and utter fiction.

Some of you might know this, but religious folks don’t know it. They think Moses was real. They don’t realize he’s like Harry Potter. He’s Dumbledore or Gandalf. There’s no record of him whatsoever, let alone a record of splitting the Red Sea, let alone a record of frogs raining down.

It’s very important to teach the history of the current religions. Two aspects of this are Christianity and Islam. Christianity, as a lot of you know, 300 some odd years later they do a council, and they get together and go, “All right, guys, what do we want to do to subdue the masses and maintain our power? We’ve got a lot of these things floating around talking about a Jesus. Some are from Nazareth. Some are from somewhere else. Another one’s from Mars. We’ve got all these fun stories, and John and Bob and whoever else wrote these stories. So let’s figure out which ones to keep and which ones to burn.”

They mix and match. That’s why if you read the New Testament, a lot of the stories don’t match. I find that amazing, because even the powerful people at that time who were going to use this book for their own ends thought, “You know what? Let’s not bother fact-checking. John doesn’t agree with Matthew, but who cares? Just print it, print it! It’ll be fine! They’re not gonna read it anyway — it’s in Latin.”

Once Christians find out, “Oh my god, you’re telling me that a bunch of politicians picked these things? It wasn’t God, it was somebody who wrote it 300 years later and then somebody else edited and arranged it?” It makes them start asking questions. Pose those questions. Help them to pose those questions.

For Islam, there are many stories about Mecca and how that got to be the center of where Muslims pray to. One that’s very interesting, and these are hard to confirm because a lot of scholars disagree, but one thing we know is that there were multiple gods at the time in the area. There was, for example, Al-Uzzá and Al-Lat and a god called Allah. “Al” is a common beginning in Arabic, so Al-Walid is a name you’ll hear a lot. One of the gods was Allah.

Muhammad is on his conquering tour, and he’s got Medina, he’s got a good army going. He gets to Mecca, which is very important as the trading capital. It’s also got this little area that’s a great tourist trap. It’s like the Disney World of its time. “Come see Al-Uzzá and Al-Lat and Allah!”

So they say, “Look, we can’t let this thing go. But you’ve got a nice army over there and we’re a little scared, so let’s strike a deal. Why don’t you pick one? If you’re going to be monotheistic, just pick one.”

Muhammad was like, “Should I go with Al-Lat or Al-Uzzá? I’ll go with Allah.” Then Allah became god.

What I’m asking is, let’s look into that. Is that the right story? Let’s get some archaeologists looking into it. Let’s get some historians looking into it. If that is the right story, it’s fascinating. It turns out, as we find out here in America, a lot is about trade. Islam in its beginning, of course, was about appeasing trade in the businessmen of their time and the corporations of their time. Very interesting to know.

Finally, how do we spread this? That’s the message, very easy: Ask them about what’s in the text. Well, we have to be aggressive about it. Here is the hope that we have: It seems that if you’re going to fight religion, everybody will tell you that it’s a losing fight. “No, people believe in religion. They’re always going to believe in religion.”

Go to a museum and look at all the hundreds of old religions that existed. They didn’t make it. Religions die all the time. Why? Because they’re not true. All we need is two generations. It is possible. We have to dare to believe. What you do is you convince the first generation, and you convince the second generation, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly it can happen. Look at what’s happening in Europe, and nobody even tried.

In Europe, people just started going, “Oh my god, maybe this isn’t true!” You know why? They went to church more. They went to church and were like, “That’s weird.” Then they stopped going to church.

That is part of saying, hey, if they want a culture war, let’s give it to them. Let’s be strong and bold and smart enough to tell our children. And they freak out over this, but they brainwash their kids all the time. That’s part and parcel: Nobody would believe this stuff if you didn’t brainwash. Let’s tell college kids. Let’s evangelize. They evangelize, why can’t we evangelize? Why can’t we strike back? But we do it peacefully. We do it with ideas. They should have no problems with it, because they think their ideas are truer. Let’s have an ideological battle and see who comes out ahead.

We can all be part of this change in our communities and in our local colleges. You just have to be strong enough, brave enough, smart enough, to start asking these questions and demanding answers.

We can be — I think somebody said this before — the change we believe in.

Thank you so much, everybody. I really appreciate it.

Cenk Uygur was born in Istanbul in 1970 and came with his family to the U.S. when he was 8. He grew up in New Jersey and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University School of Law. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Wendy, and their son, Prometheus Maximus, born in July 2010.

Freedom From Religion Foundation