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Oct 21 2011

Newt Gingrich Says 50 Million Americans Can’t Be Trusted

Via the Secular Coalition for America:

Gingrich, a former U.S. Representative and 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said an atheist has no business in the White House. “Does faith matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” He continued, “the notion that you are endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary of what we mean by America.” Gingrich said that Americans should value religion first, above morality and knowledge.

[...]
“His remark that those of us without faith are untrustworthy and lack judgment is a battle we fight all too often,” said Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America. “We may be the last minority against whom intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but also sometimes promoted by politicians.”

Gingrich’s comments are egregiously offensive to those atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists and freethinkers who guide their lives according to principles and morality that are not derived from religion. According to the American Religious Identification Survey as many as 15 percent of Americans do not believe in a deity and have no religious preference. These are citizens who deserve representation in the government they support with their tax dollars and should not be vilified by the politicians that are supposed to represent them.

Regardless of the actual proportion of those 50 million Americans that explicitly acknowledge a lack of belief in a god or gods, Gingrich was very clear that merely lacking faith makes you untrustworthy. I’ll go one step further though — considering Newt’s predilection for one specific set of Palestinian mythologies, I’ll suggest that anyone who believes in a different god than his is untrustworthy. Which makes… what percentage of the population?

(BTW: Hi RationalWiki editors!)

9 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    “Does faith matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?”

    What does prayer have to do with power? Ol’ Newt* is just showing his prejudices here. He’s not even trying to justify those prejudices. Besides, which god does Gingrich want us to have faith in? Jebus? Yahweh? Allah? Zeus? Huitzilopochtli?

    *You have to wonder about Gingrich’s parents. What sort of people would name their kid “Newt”?

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    Judging from voting patterns over the last several decade, it would seem Mr. Gingrich over-estimates the trustworthiness of the US population.

    Though we may find some encouragement in the high probability that no 50M of the present electorate would ever vote for him.

  3. 3
    Aliasalpha

    “We may be the last minority against whom intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but also sometimes promoted by politicians.”

    So does that mean women aren’t as discriminated against as atheists or that they’re a majority thats discriminated against?

  4. 4
    meeotch

    I’ll take my judgement of whether or not I’m immoral or untrustworthy from someone who hasn’t twice divorced his current wife for his mistress, thankyouverymuch.

  5. 5
    Ze Madmax

    Aliasalpha @ #3:

    So does that mean women aren’t as discriminated against as atheists or that they’re a majority thats discriminated against?

    I would argue women (and for that matter, ethnic and some religious minorities) are not discriminated against in the same manner as atheists are.

    Case in point, the Gingrich quote:

    “Does faith matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?”

    I’m pretty sure the statement would cause far more uproar if he had said something like:

    “Does sex matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you’re a woman? How can I trust you with power if you suffer from constant mood swings?”

    Now, are atheist the “last minority” that politicians promote discrimination against? Of course not. The LGBT community suffers from similar attacks by politicians, IMO.

    P.S.: Obviously, women and ethnic minorities are also discriminated against. But I think part of the argument presented is that explicit discrimination against these groups is not as readily accepted as it is in the case of the LGBT or Atheist communities.

  6. 6
    coragyps

    Fifty million Americans can’t be trusted? There’s that many Teabaggers? Who’d of thunk it….

  7. 7
    peicurmudgeon

    I have always felt this to be one of the most repulsive aspects of religion. The origin of their morality is the commands of God, whether or not they coincide with any thinking person’s concept of morality.

  8. 8
    The Ys

    I’m pretty sure the statement would cause far more uproar if he had said something like:

    “Does sex matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you’re a woman? How can I trust you with power if you suffer from constant mood swings?”

    Um.

    http://mediamatters.org/research/200803110007

    Yeah, we get that too. Being a female atheist is a double whammy.

  9. 9
    Dan M.

    The Ys @8,

    Your link pretty much proves the point, which is that when politicians etc. say offensive things about women and racial minorities, they at least feel the need to pretend to not have meant them, such as by saying they were joking.

    I think it can be easily argued that women are more harmed by discrimination than are atheists (largely because atheism can be closeted and is more rarely economically oppressed), but there’s definitely less social acceptance of equality for atheists than their is for equality for women.

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