Dispatches from the Creation Wars

David Kupelian is the #2 man at the Worldnutdaily. It hardly seems possible, but he might actually be more shallow and ridiculous than his boss, Joseph Farah. He has a particular talent for vaguely hysterical writings that get his credulous followers without ever actually identifying what they should feel threatened by, as brilliantly displayed in his latest screed. He begins by expressing just how baffled he is that atheists could actually publish books in Christian America:

Besides Hitchens’ book, which has dominated nonfiction bestseller charts for months, there’s the popular “Letter to a Christian Nation” by atheist author Sam Harris, sequel to his earlier tome “The End of Faith,” and Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” – all New York Times bestsellers.

Then there are other hot titles: “God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist” by Victor J. Stenger. “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” by Daniel C. Dennett. “Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism” by David Mills. And so on.

“This is atheism’s moment,” crowed David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus Books in a Wall Street Journal interview. “Mr. Hitchens has written the category killer, and we’re excited about having the next book.” That’s right – this fall the publishing world will further cash in on the anti-God juggernaut with “The Pocket Atheist,” featuring the writings of famous atheists, edited by Hitchens.

“How can this be?,” you might wonder. “Hasn’t America always been a Christian nation?”

Well no. It’s always been a nation populated mostly by Christians, but only an idiot would think that therefore only Christian books could become popular. Then he peddles some familiar Christian Nation myths:

No question about it. America was founded by Christians. Its very purpose for being was the furtherance of biblical Christianity, according to the Pilgrims and succeeding generations.

Except, of course, the Pilgrims did not found America, they founded British colonies that operated as theocracies. Perhaps Kupelian slept late the day they taught about the revolutionary war in school, but in the 1770s we actually overthrew theocratic British colonialization and established a new nation that rejected all of those things.

Our first school system was created expressly to propagate the Christian faith.

Same mistake as above. He is no doubt referring to the law in the Massachusetts Bay Colony establishing public schools in 1635. The problem, again, is that this was not the first American public school, it was a public school in a colonial theocracy. The revolution was an explicit rejection against both colonialism and theocracy.

Almost all the Founding Fathers who drafted and signed the Constitution were believers.

Imagine Thomas Jefferson or John Adams walking into Kupelian’s office and telling them the beliefs they so clearly expressed in their personal writings to one another about Christianity. Imagine them telling him, as they told each other, that they rejected virtually every key doctrine of Christianity – the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, and so forth. I somehow doubt Kupelian would embrace them as Christian brothers; he would condemn them as heathens and heretics.

Even Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer, in the high court’s 1892 “Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States” decision, proclaimed the obvious: “This is a Christian nation.”

By which he meant nothing more than the obvious: that America is and has always been made up primarily of Christians. He explained this in detail in a series of lectures he gave in 1905, which were published as a booklet. He said:

But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that people are in any matter compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Neither is it Christian in the sense that all of its citizens are either in fact or name Christian. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions.

By his criteria, even I could agree that America is a Christian nation, but that hardly means what Kupelian wishes it to mean.

He then goes on to try and explain why atheism is gaining such attention in America. It will likely not surprise you that he blames it on the Muslims. No, seriously.

What is responsible for this blooming of atheism in America today?

Dennis Prager, the brilliant Jewish radio talker and columnist, ferrets out some key reasons.

“First and most significant,” he points out, “is the amount of evil coming from within Islam.” He explains:

Whether Islamists (or jihadists, Islamo-fascists or whatever else Muslims who slaughter innocents in the name of Islam are called) represent a small sliver of Muslims or considerably more than that, they have brought religious faith into terrible disrepute.

How could they not? The one recognized genocide in the world today is being carried out by religious Muslims in Sudan; liberty is exceedingly rare in any of the dozens of nations with Muslim majorities; treatment of women is frequently awful; and tolerance of people with different religious beliefs is largely nonexistent when Muslims dominate a society.

If the same were true of vegetarians – if mass murder and violent intolerance were carried out by vegetarians – there would be a backlash against vegetarianism even among people who previously had no strong feelings about the doctrine.

Now let’s back up 223 years. It’s 1785 and James Madison is trying to convince his fellow legislators in Virginia of the need to do away with the state’s official Anglican church establishment. But the only thing he has experience with, either in the early American colonies or in European history, are established Christian churches, not Muslims churches. And what did that history tell him? It tells him the exact same thing that modern Islamic theocracies tell Prager and Kupelian:

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution…

What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries.

Madison was absolutely right. Just as Prager notes that free societies are rare wherever Islam predominates, Madison notes that prior to his day, there was not a single example of a nation dominated by Christianity that remained free. What changed that for Christianity was the influence of the Enlightenment, something Islam has yet to undergo.

And just as Prager and Kupelian think the threat of theocratic Islam provokes a literary backlash today, centuries of oppression under theocratic Christianity led to a literary backlash during the Enlightenment as well. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and others are walking in the footsteps of Voltaire, Paine, Condorcet, Diderot, d’Holbach and, yes, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison as well.

The secondary blame goes to – surprise, surprise – the public schools:

Another major, if more long-term, factor contributing to the popularity of atheist books, Prager notes, is the “secular indoctrination of a generation,” thanks to our de facto atheistic public school system:

Unless one receives a strong religious grounding in a religious school and/or religious home, the average young person in the Western world is immersed in a secular cocoon. From elementary school through graduate school, only one way of looking at the world – the secular – is presented. The typical individual in the Western world receives as secular an indoctrination as the typical European received a religious one in the Middle Ages. I have taught college students and have found that their ignorance not only of the Bible but of the most elementary religious arguments and concepts – such as the truism that if there is no God, morality is subjective – is total.

So the generation that has been secularly brainwashed is now buying books that reconfirm that brainwash – especially now, given the evil coming from religious people.

There’s just one problem with this theory: rates of religious belief in the United States, despite this alleged “secular indoctrination,” remain vastly higher than in any other Western nation. Atheists remain a small minority in America, less than 10%, while they are a sizable number in nearly all of our Western allies – even those with established churches like the UK. I guess that secular indoctrination isn’t working so well.

By the way, I suspect that a large portion of the sales of these atheist books that so concern Kupelian are from Christians like him seeking outrage.