My old friend Troy Britain sent me a link to this page, which features video of a CNN story with Paula Zahn about an atheist family who was hounded out of a town in Mississippi after complaining about their local public school using class time for prayer and Bible reading. Read the transcript here (scroll to the bottom). Zahn had 3 people on to discuss the report and couldn’t have done worse in picking them – Stephen A. Smith, the ESPN loudmouth who yells for no reason about everything and rarely makes any sense; Debbie Schlussel, an Ann Coulter wannabe who is actually more absurd than Ann, which I never thought possible; and Karen Hunter, a journalism professor who actually sounded worse than Schlussel. You know it’s a bad group when Stephen A. Smith is the voice of reason in the bunch. I’ll post some of the transcript below the fold.
ZAHN: And welcome back. We’re talking about whether there’s widespread discrimination against atheists, folks who don’t believe in God. Let’s check out with our out in the open panel now. Stephen Smith, Debbie Schlussel and Karen Hunter. Hey Debbie, it took me 10 times to say your name right. (INAUDIBLE) So do you think atheists should keep their religious beliefs secret? What’s their beliefs period?
HUNTER: What does an atheist believe? Nothing. I think this is such a ridiculous story. Are we not going to take “In God We Trust” off of our dollars? Are we going to not say “one nation under God?” When does it end? We took prayer out of schools. What more do they want?
ZAHN: Are any of you going to defend them here tonight?
SCHLUSSEL: No, I agree with her 100 percent. I think that the real discrimination is atheists against Americans who are religious. Listen, we are a Christian nation. I’m not a Christian. I’m Jewish, but I recognize we’re a Christian country and freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion. And the problem is that, you have these atheists selectively I believe attacking Christianity. You had a case in California where school children were forced to dress as Muslims and learn from the Koran. In Michigan they’re saying high school (INAUDIBLE) in high school where they say Muslim prayers at the football games, public high school, (INAUDIBLE) in high school. You don’t see atheists complaining about that. I really believe that they are the ones who are the intolerant ones against Christians.
ZAHN: What happened to love thy neighbor, the idea that we should be able to practice free speech?
SMITH: That’s nonexistent. We all know that. We talk about that in America, but that’s pretty much nonexistent, especially in the red states, particularly in the south. That’s where the atheists are having the most trouble. When they talk about violent acts that have been enacted them or (INAUDIBLE) exacted against them or what have you. That’s the kind of area they’re talking about. I think in New York City, I don’t think people care too much about it. We’re a Christian country. There’s no question about that. I love the Lord. So does Karen, so does everybody that I know. But the reality is that you’re entitled to believe what you want as long as you’re not imposing your beliefs on other people.
ZAHN: Is that what you think they’re really doing?
HUNTER: They don’t have a good – marketing. If they had hallmark cards, maybe they wouldn’t feel so left out. We have Christmas cards. We have Kwanza cards now. Maybe they need to get some atheist cards and get that whole ball rolling so more people can get involved with what they’re doing. I think they need to shut up and let people do what they do. No, I think they need to shut up about it.
SMITH: I don’t think they need to shut up. The reason why I don’t think they need to shut up is because there’s a whole bunch of people in this world that we can look at and say they need to shut up and they certainly don’t. You got everybody fighting for their own individual cause. This is their cause. We might not like it. I don’t agree with it at all, but they do have a right.
HUNTER: I think they need to shut up about crying wolf all the time and saying that they’re being imposed upon. I personally think that they should never have taken prayer out of schools. I would rather there be some morality in schools. But they did that because an atheist went to court and said their child — don’t pray (INAUDIBLE).
SCHLUSSEL: And what about this obnoxious Michael Newdow, who went all the way to the Supreme Court for his child, the child doesn’t know what’s going on, to try and get under God taken out of the pledge of allegiance. They are on the attack. It’s obnoxious and they do need to shut up.
SMITH: They are going on the attack, but the reality, again, is everybody has their own cause. The fact is there’s a whole bunch of people in America who need to shut up and they don’t. So why should these people be any less. We live in a nation. We’re supposed to be tolerant. We’re supposed to be accepting of other people’s viewpoints, even when they are not our own and the fact is, if they’re an atheist, that’s their right. They’re not going to change my belief in God (INAUDIBLE).
ZAHN: What I find so interesting is when you look at the statistics, that they were the most hated of all the minorities, gays (INAUDIBLE).
SMITH: I’m not even willing to believe that. That’s news to me. I heard that, I read that, I just don’t believe it.
HUNTER: You can’t pick an atheist out of a crowd.
ZAHN: Can you explain to me where you feel the assault? When 97 percent of the folks in this country claim to worship some kind of God, the 1 to 3 percent of this population that doesn’t believe in God, who are they hurting?
HUNTER: Eight to 12 percent. (INAUDIBLE) They’re not hurting anyone. I personally don’t have a problem with an atheist. Believe or don’t believe what you want. Don’t impose upon my right to want to have prayer in schools, to want to say the pledge of allegiance, to want to honor my God. Don’t infringe upon that right.
SMITH: When they want to take – when they want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance or whatever, this is what I’m saying. They’re saying, OK, that’s Christian. What if you’re a Muslim? What if you’re someone of a different belief?
SCHLUSSEL: This is a Christian country.
SMITH: I understand that, but what they’re saying is how can — if we’re inclusionary, why can’t we include all that and we’re not. That’s my point.
SCHLUSSEL: (INAUDIBLE) Look where there are more atheists and where they’ve lost God, where the church is not that strong. Europe is becoming Islamist. It’s fast falling and intolerance is increasing. That’s the one reason our country has not become like Europe because we have strong Christians and because atheists are not strong. And I think that’s a good thing.
Schlussel is a raving lunatic and always has been, so there’s nothing she says that surprises me. But Karen Hunter, who I’d never heard of before, is an absolute moron. “Don’t impose upon my right to want to have prayer in schools”? Are you daft? These people really do think that if they can’t force YOU to participate in their religious exercises, you’re denying THEIR rights. It’s absolutely insane reasoning.