On Tuesday March 24th, CNN aired a special on atheism in America. After watching the special, I had some mixed thoughts but over-all, it was a step forward.
For starters, I wish they would have featured more women and minorities. Given the internal tension within the greater atheist community, this is an obvious criticism. While the closeted preacher seemed to have been black, I wish they would have interviewed other atheists of color too. In addition to their brief interview with Vanessa Zoltan, it would have been nice for them to have also interviewed Teresa McBain when they were talking about the Clergy Project and Sarah Morehead’s compelling story of leaving religion. Margaret Downey would have also been a great choice to be featured.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Dawkins when it comes to science education, but he is not the “father of atheism” and he did a terrible job in this CNN special. When they asked him if the world would be better without God, he should have told them we already live in a world without God; God doesn’t exist! Instead, he said that the world would be better without God. It is a small distinction that might not have been necessary in jolly old England, but here in America he just admitted that God exists and that he wished God didn’t exist.
I’ve met Jerry DeWitt and he is an awesome guy. I’m not about the atheist church thing, but I am glad that he is out there doing with he is doing. I even had the privilege of listening to one of his sermons, but he played right into their hands when he tried to distance himself from Dave Silverman. CNN probably cut him off. I am hoping he said that he is the good cop and Dave is the bad cop… but that they are both working for the same goals and are both fighting the good fight. Instead it made it seem like there was some sort of rivalry between them.
I didn’t like how they tried to demonize Dave Silverman by making it seem that all the other atheists even Richard Dawkins hated him and thought he was an extremist. I also didn’t like how Silverman appeared to demonize other atheists who use identify themselves as Humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, etc. I hope that was just selective editing on CNN’s part.
Speaking of demonizing, what was with everyone comparing atheism to Satanism without any acknowledgement that this is just a joke? Look, as an atheist we all joke about that because we hear it from religious believers all the time, but this is CNN and religious believers are watching this. They all heard the joke over and over again throughout the special, but they didn’t hear that it actually was a joke.
Now here are the positives. This special got atheism in front of average Americans who don’t know anything about atheism. It was fairly positive and didn’t demonize us. It will make people think about atheism and about the beliefs that they have and/or how they treat atheists.
The opening with the fundamentalist parents was awesome. It showed just how hateful and dangerous religion is. It would have been nice if the CNN interviewer would have asked them how they could be happy in Heaven knowing that their son would be tortured for all eternity in Hell. I would have liked America to hear their answer to that question.
Over all, I would like to see more pieces like this about atheism in the mainstream media. This was a pretty positive piece and it was on CNN so I call it a win. Jerry would probably even call it a Dar-win.
What were your thoughts about this special? Leave a comment below.
- Response: ‘5 Lies Atheist Tell’ (examiner.com)
- 4 Things Atheists Should Be Doing (skepticink.com)
- Atheist community condemns Chapel Hill shooting (examiner.com)