Islamic atheists

I’m not sure Newt Gingrich knows what either one of those words means:

“I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

About the only thing he got right is that his grandchildren will likely be in a secular country when they get to his age. That is, presuming they stay in the United States and the United States remains exactly the same as it has been for the past 235 years.

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Atheists: More hated than Muslims and da gays

This isn’t new research, but someone recently posted it on Facebook. As far as I remember, I don’t have a post about how hated atheists are.

The most recent study was conducted by the University of Minnesota, which found that atheists ranked lower than “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.” The results from two of the most important questions”

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society…

Atheist: 39.6%

Muslims: 26.3%

Homosexuals: 22.6%

Hispanics: 20%

Conservative Christians: 13.5%

Recent Immigrants: 12.5%

Jews: 7.6%

I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group….

Atheist: 47.6%

Muslim: 33.5%

African-American 27.2%

Asian-Americans: 18.5%

Hispanics: 18.5%

Jews: 11.8%

Conservative Christians: 6.9%

Whites: 2.3%

I thought this was funny in light of PZ’s recent post about his wedding anniversary:

Today is my wedding anniversary. I’ve been married to the same woman for 31 years, without ever straying. Newt Gingrich has been married 3 times, divorced one wife while she was recovering from surgery, and has had extra-marital affairs.

Guess who is considered the defender of traditional sexual morality?

The reason PZ gives is that Gingrich represents an asymmetric societal structure where patriarchal power is deemed moral and worthy and pesty things like fairness and equality are just hippie garbage. Religion is the cornerstone of it all. (Or, to put in PZ’s absolute favoritististist word, privilege. But religion is a better and more accurate answer.)

Beyond the funny marriage part (states, by the way, with the highest religiosity? Yep, highest divorce rates*), I have a hypothesis to explain why people blindly hate atheists so much. Well, at least why the religious hate us so much. It’s probably just because atheists do so much better on religious tests than they do. Jealousy is an ugly beast.

*That doesn’t mean religion makes people divorce. I think a better explanation is that poorly educated people tend to be more religious; poorly educated people also tend to be lower on the socioeconomic ladder. It would make sense for them to marry younger (and I’m sure religious pressure helps to hurry things up as well).

Detecting rhetoric

I’ve talked about my appreciation of rhetoric on here a few times. Ed Brayton of Scienceblogs picks out some of Newt Gingrich’s quite nicely:

Here’s an incredible statement from an interview Newt Gingrich did with the 700 Club that shows exactly how not to show remorse for having done something wrong. When asked about his multiple infidelities and hypocrisies, this is the very first thing he said:

There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.

See, he wasn’t driven by passions of the flesh, he was driven by passion for his country. And that’s why “things happened” — not the passive voice. He didn’t do something wrong, something wrong merely happened as a result of having too much patriotism. How utterly pathetic.

This is a tactic that gets used all the time. It removes responsibility from actual people and shifts it to some nebulous floating whatever. Slimey, sure. But good rhetoric? You betcha.