Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan, has recorded a radio ad promoting the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The ad has been running on the progressive radio program “The Randi Rhodes Show.”
In the ad, which has been running all month, the former Air America host and atheist advocate warns listeners of the “intrusions of religion into our secular government” and asks them to join FFRF in the organization’s efforts against religion in politics:
I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government. That’s why I’m asking you to join the Freedom From Religion Foundation — the nation’s largest and most effective organization of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate. Phone 1-800-335-4021 or visit the Freedom From Religion Foundation at FFRF.ORG. Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.
In 2004, three weeks after his father’s death, Reagan told The New York Times that he would be an “unelectable” candidate for president because of his secular affiliations.
“I’m unelectable. I’m an atheist. As we all know, that is something people won’t accept,” Reagan said.
Reagan, who stopped attending church at the age of 12, has also served as an outspoken advocate of stem-cell research, criticizing religious justifications for opposition to the scientific exploration.
“It does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many,” Reagan said of stem-cell research at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
In 2009, Reagan was awarded FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, and he spoke at the 32nd annual convention of the FFRF, where he touched upon the negative impact of religion on politics.
“Religion may indeed inspire acts of great kindness and courage. But it also trains people to believe things for which there is no evidence. This makes religion’s intrusion into the political sphere all the more troubling,” Reagan said during the speech.
“We’re so grateful to Ron Reagan for recording this commercial for FFRF, and for being willing to speak out publicly as an atheist for so many years,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a news release Monday.
On this date in 1961, comedian and author Julia Sweeney was born in Spokane, Wash., into a devout Roman Catholic family. For much of her childhood, she wanted to be a nun. After majoring in economic studies at the University of Washington, Julia instead became an accountant for Columbia Pictures and United Artists. Having a knack for comedy and mimicry, Julia signed up for a class with the improvisational comedy troupe, “The Groundlings,” where she was discovered by “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels. She was on that show for four hit seasons, from 1990-1994, and introduced the popular character, “Androgynous Pat.” In 1994, Julia made the movie, “It’s Pat.” After her brother, Michael, then Julia, were both diagnosed with cancer, she wrote and starred in the play, “God Said, Ha!” The film version won the Golden Space Needle Award for best director and the recording was nominated for a Grammy. She has made frequent TV guest appearances, served as a creative consultant on “Sex and the City,” and has appeared in many movies, including “Clockstoppers” (2002), “Beethoven’s 4th” (2001), “Beethoven’s 3rd” (2000), “Stuart Little” (1999), “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Coneheads” (1993), and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kids” (1992). Her very funny monolog about adopting her daughter from China, “In the Family Way,” debuted in 2003. In October 2004 she debuted her newest monolog, “Letting Go of God,” about her journey from Roman Catholic schoolgirl to atheist, and is working on a book of the same title for Henry Holt & Co. Her goal for the book is that it make it into the “inspirational” section in airport bookstores: “Why isn’t there a book about someone losing their faith and it being this beautiful experience?” she asked The Los Angeles Times (May 1, 2003). For information on booking tickets for this fabulous and scathingly brilliant play, go to her website.
“It took me years, but letting go of religion has been the most profound wake up of my life. I feel I now look at the world not as a child, but as an adult. I see what’s bad and it’s really bad. But I also see what is beautiful, what is wonderful. And I feel so deeply appreciative that I am alive. How dare the religious use the term ‘born again.’ That truly describes freethinkers who’ve thrown off the shackles of religion so much better!”
—Quote submitted by Julia Sweeney. For more about Julia Sweeney, go to ethought-comedienne-of-the-year-award/
© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.
By Hemant Mehta, Special to CNN
They’re anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, to name a few of the most common criticisms.
I don’t disagree with those critiques, but there’s another side to the story.
While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.
For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.
Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”
Atheists outnumber Christians on popular discussion forums like Reddit, where subscribers to the atheism section number more than 2 million. The Christianity section is not even 5% of that.
The Internet-based Foundation Beyond Belief, which encourages atheists to donate to charitable organizations, just celebrated raising $1 million for worthwhile causes. (Disclosure: I serve on its board of directors.)
Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist’s argument, it seems, there’s an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that “Hitchens’ Third Law.”
Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can’t protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.
If there’s an open comment thread to be found on a Christian’s YouTube video or opinion piece online, there’s inevitably going to be pushback from atheists.
There has also been a push by atheists to get non-religious individuals to “come out of the closet” and let people know that they don’t believe in God.
Among other things, this proves that anti-atheist stereotypes aren’t accurate and, just as important, that atheists aren’t alone in their communities.
There’s the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s Out Campaign, with its Scarlet A badges.
There are atheist-encouraging billboards in 33 states financed by groups like theUnited Coalition of Reason.
There’s even going to be an 1-800 hot line for people “recovering” from religion.
And last year, an estimated 20,000 atheists turned out for the Reason Rally in Washington, a tenfold increase from the previous atheist rally in 2002.
But more than anything else, atheism’s best advertisements may be the words of Christian leaders themselves.
When Pastor Mark Driscoll belittles women, Rick Warren argues against same-sex rights or Rob Bell equivocates on the concept of hell, we amplify those messages for them – and it helps us make our point.
(It goes without saying that the pairing of Pat Robertson and YouTube has been great for atheists.)
Pastors are no longer the final authority on the truth, and millennials know it.
Even if they hold Jesus’ message in high esteem, the Bible as it has traditionally been preached by many evangelical pastors is becoming less and less attractive to them.
A 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PDF) showed that many Christians aged 18-24 felt that Christianity was hypocritical (49%), judgmental (54%) and anti-gay (58%).
In addition, Christianity Today reported last year that fewer than half of born-again Christians under 35 opposed same-sex marriage.
When millennials’ pastors and hearts are going in different directions, church leaders should be worried.
Can churches win back the youth?
Barring a complete shift in beliefs, that may not be possible. Some of the proposed solutions seem ludicrous to millennial atheists like myself.
For instance, there’s been talk of finding a better way to reconcile science and religion. Whenever that battle takes place, religion loses.
There are some questions we may never know the answer to, but for the ones we can eventually answer, the scientific explanation will devour the religious one. Mixing science and religion requires a distortion of one or the other.
What about focusing on the message and life of Jesus?
While this sounds good philosophically, the myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity.
To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles.
There’s no proof of any of that ever happened, and atheists place those stories in the same box as “young Earth creationism” and Noah’s Great Flood.
To be sure, if Christians followed the positive ideas Jesus had, we’d all be better off, but it’s very hard to separate the myth from the reality.
In short, there are many reasons the percentage of millennials who say they’ve never doubted God’s existence is at a record low, and nearly a quarter of adults under 30 no longer affiliate with a faith.
The church has pushed young people away, yes, but there are also forces actively pulling them in the other direction.
It appears that atheists and Christians are finally working together on the same task: getting millennials to leave the church.
Hemant Mehta blogs at The Friendly Atheist. The views expressed in this column belong to Mehta.
The Editors – CNN Belief Blog
My sentiments are reflected perfectly above in this expert piece of writing by Mr. Mehta. I believe that the young people of this nation are being exposed to too many facts to be snowed by myth. The information age has helped atheism in exponential ways by showing people that facts explain their world while myths float on the wind as intangible stories. We, as a people, do not support the fanaticism that is present in places like the Middle East so religious psychos are few, but in Iraq or Afghanistan you can find them on any chosen street corner. Take the myth out of raising children and you advance the reasonable thinking of the human race. Yes, the U.S has it’s problems, but that cannot change without trial and error. Sheeple exist in vast numbers and must be led to do the right thing by reason and not myth.
Read this and take the message to heart! The facts are speaking in great numbers right the fuck now!! Wake up myth masters, the reason that you are losing followers is…wait for it….REASON! Most Christians don’t believe in God anyway, they are just too scared to admit it. Jesus could appear in front of a Christian today and if he couldn’t do anything supernatural then he would be dismissed as a fraud. MOST Christians require proof but live their lives in the flimsy lie of belief. It’s comfortable to identify with what you’ve been indoctrinated to and easy to carry the mantle of the believer. Once the mantle is thrown off though, you have to surrender to logic, fact and reason. There IS no cosmic sky daddy watching over you and protecting you, ( while magically letting your neighbor’s kid die of cancer ), and this life is the only one you have so you have to make the best of it now! Heavy shit, I know! I went thru this at 12 and it weighed heavily on my ‘soul.’ Everything that I had been taught was bullshit designed to separate me from personal responsibility and reasonable thought! When I accepted the truth, I began to do things that positively effected my life because I knew that I could not count on the sky fairy for ANYTHING! The amazing specter could not so much as move a fucking penny let alone turn water into wine! All of that was unwitnessed fairy tale bullshit sold to uneducated masses in need of a collective pacifier. When it was shoved into their mouths they shut the fuck up and stopped crying about their pitiful lives because now they were given purpose instead of being dismissed as idiots.
Today in America and other industrialized nations, the poor can make a better life. In the past it wasn’t that easy. Now God is becoming obsolete because other things are giving people importance besides imaginary beings. I will conclude with this. Be proud to be an individual and fill your life with knowledge and reason. Peace out y’all!
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- Matt McCormick
- Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester. Teaching at CSUS since 1996. My main area of research and publication now is atheism and philosophy of religion. I am also interested in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and rational decision theory/critical thinking.