Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman (transcript and audio here) during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, "What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!
"This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God," Davis said. "Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon."
the hearing is concerning gov. rod blagojevich's $1 million grant intended for pilgrim baptist church (story here) which obviously sherman believes is a misuse of public funds.
there are more than a few things which really bug me about this:
a) if it had been the other way around (a nonbeliever chastising a believer in a senate hearing), this would be all over the 24 news channels, and yet you can't find much at all in the major news media about this.
b) if davis had made these same comments towards an individual of ANY other belief system, her career would have ended right there and then.
c) despite the fact that people think religion is under attack in america, it still appears that a lot of people believe that nonbelievers do not have a voice, should be ashamed, are detrimental to society, etc. gays are more tolerated than nonbelievers today, actually. which is great for gays. but really sad for everyone.
i find this intolerance in america to be quite interesting. it is not uncommon to hear a christian depict the beliefs of muslims (with their 72 virgins and all) as completely absurd. all religions find something laughable about scientology and its thetans and xenu and whatnot. wiccans are ridiculed. the summums are crazy. mormons. seventh day adventists. there are jokes and stereotypes aplenty. it goes on and on.
now, imagine you were to forget everything you knew about christianity -- if it were completely wiped from your brain -- and you were taught it again, would it not seem just as absurd? pretend that there were no churches, or bibles, and you were not surrounded by family of the same religion? would it not seem bizarre? a virgin birth. a heaven and hell. somebody performing supernatural events, being executed, and being resurrected. and they died for you, 2000 years before you were born. one would be lying to admit that this would not sound completely far-fetched. yet, it is someone of this exact skeptical mindset who is told by an illinois state representative that they have no rights, and that they are extremely dangerous to children.
if this were simply an outburst by one politician who apparently did not learn anything from their high school civics class, it would be an amusing anecdote. and i certainly do know of many religious folks from a variety of belief systems who would never malign someone in such a way. but this outburst is symptomatic of a country with a religious divisiveness as seemingly irreparable as our current political divisiveness. it is also quite similar, and probably rooted in the same thing: the firm belief that the other side is completely wrong, or absolutely crazy.