William A. Donohue, an unofficial representative of the world’s largest organization of child rapists and their protectors, seems to have been struck with an idea. This happens so infrequently to Donohue that he has not yet mastered the ability to discern good ideas from bad ones, which is probably why he’s plowing ahead with this one. Donohue, as you probably know, heads up the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. If you’ve been paying attention to this guy, you know how funny it is to find the words “civil rights” included in this organization’s title. Any rational person familiar with Donohue’s activities knows that he has no clue what “civil rights” are and clearly doesn’t care — but it probably looks good on the letterhead. On Thursday, December 8, 2011, Donohue launched what he’s calling his “Adopt an Atheist” Campaign:
“Approximately 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and 96 percent celebrate Christmas. Of the 20 percent who are not Christian, non-believers make up the largest segment, though the number of self-identified atheists is tiny. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, knows this to be true, which is why he is frantically trying to inflate his base. ‘We want people to realize that there may be atheists in their family,’ he told the New York Times, ‘even if those atheists don’t even know they are atheists.’
“We think there is some merit in David’s idea, even if he has things backwards, as usual. Today we are launching our ‘Adopt An Atheist’ campaign, the predicate of which is, ‘We want atheists to realize that there may be Christians in their community, even if those Christians don’t even know they are Christian.’”
Does Donohue believe there are people out there who are Christians but don’t know it? Does he really think there are people who, deep down inside, believe that the creator of the universe impregnated a virgin so she could give birth to him and he could grow up to die in order to save humanity from himself and then rise from the grave and ascend to heaven so he could keep a suspicious eye on everybody … but they aren’t conscious of believing that? Of course he doesn’t. This is just Donohue perverting reality to fit his agenda. Yet again.
“Here’s what our campaign entails. We are asking everyone to contact the American Atheist affiliate in his area, letting them know of your interest in ‘adopting’ one of them. All it takes is an e-mail. Let them know of your sincere interest in working with them to uncover their inner self. They may be resistant at first, but eventually they may come to understand that they were Christian all along.”
Okay, let me get this straight. Bill Donohue wants Catholics to “adopt” atheists and help them find their inner Christian. Keep in mind that the Catholic church is an organization that is now known primarily for its fondness for child rape and child rapists and its utter contempt for raped children and their families. Given that fact, how are we to avoid cocking a suspicious brow when Donohue says he wants Catholics to “adopt” atheists “to uncover their inner self?” That’s kinda creepy, isn’t it? But wait. There’s more. Just in case anyone not familiar with the ways of Bill Donohue confuses this for an expression of concern for atheists, he manages to make his opinion of them clear by the end of his press release.
“If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who ‘believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.’”
Donohue sees atheists as “people who believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”
A lot of people seem to think Donohue’s “Adopt an Atheist” campaign is “tongue in cheek.” They should know better. I must confess that I have no idea where Donohue’s tongue has been, but I can say with certainty that it’s been nowhere near his cheek in all the years I’ve been aware of him. Some think he showed good humor when parodied in a 2007 episode of South Park, but I think they’re mistaken. That wasn’t good humor. Like a cigarette after sex, it was the glowing satisfaction of getting the one and only thing for which Bill Donohue seems to harbor an insatiable lust: Attention.
Let’s go back to the statement made by David Silverman, which appears to be what inspired this idea of which Donohue seems so proud. A December 7, 2011 New York Times article about billboard campaigns by American Atheists, of which Silverman is the president, focused on one particular black-and-orange AA billboard posted at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel on the New Jersey side. Four images are displayed: The Roman god Neptune, Jesus Christ, Santa Claus and a red, horned devil. At the top, it reads, “37 million Americans know MYTHS when they see them.” Below that, in the center of the billboard, is the question, “What do you see?” From the article:
“The purpose of the $25,000 billboard, which went up in mid-November, said David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, is to ‘call out’ closet atheists during the holiday season and get them to be truthful about who they really are.
“‘This is when the closeted atheists go to church to be viewed as Christians, and this is when we want to call them out to stay home and enjoy the holidays,’ he said. ‘We want people to realize that there may be atheists in their family, even if those atheists don’t even know they are atheists.’”
That last part appears to have confused Donohue. He seems to think the idea of someone being an atheist without knowing it is a silly one. But then, as I pointed out earlier, Donohue’s relationship with ideas is tenuous at best. I know exactly what Silverman was talking about, and so do a whole lot of other people. I did not choose to become an atheist — I discovered that I was an atheist.
Raised in a rigid Christian cult and educated in its schools, I spent the first two decades of my life mired in confusion and fear. The confusion came from trying to make sense of what I was taught to believe — what everyone around me believed — and not being able to make any of it add up. The fear was, in part, the result of believing that this meant there was something wrong with me. (It also came from a terrified dread of the coming end of the world, but that’s for another blog.) It took me a long time to figure out that there was nothing wrong with me. When I finally decided to make a serious and sincere attempt to figure it all out, I discovered that there was plenty wrong with everything I’d been taught to believe and there was a good reason it didn’t make any sense to me — it didn’t make any goddamned sense period! Exploring the history of the denomination in which I’d been raised, as well as the history of Christianity and the bible, I discovered that I was just fine, thank you very much, but that the denomination in particular, the religion in general and the crazy ancient book they were based on were all lies concocted to enslave people with fear and guilt.
I discovered to my own surprise that I didn’t believe any of it. I couldn’t believe any of it — and all those years of trying to believe it had done some damage. The fact that I’d been trying so hard to believe it and had been living as if I did believe it (when I didn’t) had been the source of an enormous amount of anxiety, fear, self-hatred and emotional turmoil. I discovered — again, to my own surprise — that I was an atheist and hadn’t even known it. Had I been able to see it much sooner, had I been able to embrace it and live it rather than living as someone I wasn’t, I would have been a much happier person. No, that’s not accurate. I wouldn’t have been happier — I would have been happy. Because I wasn’t happy at all for a long time. I was so miserable that for a lot of years, I tried to numb my fear and confusion and self-hatred with alcohol and drugs and had suffered through long periods of suicidal depression. All of that went away when I embraced who I was and lived my life truthfully.
That is what David Silverman was talking about. Those billboards are not posted to attack or offend Christians or any other religious believers. They aren’t aimed at believers at all. They are aimed at the people who need them — people who are not believers but feel they must pretend to be in order to go on being accepted by the people in their lives who would lash out at and/or ostracize them if they knew the truth. They are aimed at people who may not even be aware that they’re atheists yet. The billboards are trying to let those people know that there’s nothing wrong with them and it’s okay to be who they are.
But William A. Donohue thinks Silverman is “trying to inflate his base,” the number of which, he says, is “tiny.” Math has never been my strong point, but I don’t think 37,000,000 is “tiny.” A minority, yes. But “tiny?” No. And by the way, as more and more people openly admit that they are nonbelievers, that number is growing.
While David Silverman and others like him — me, for example — know that there are a lot of people out there who are quietly suffering because of this fear and confusion, Donohue expresses his compassion by calling them “people who believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.” Those billboards are needed precisely because of people like William Donohue.
Donohue began as a teacher, but in 1985, his first book was published, launching his career as a misanthrope with a little celebrity who has nothing but contempt for the United States Constitution. The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union is a book that targets one of the favorite whipping posts of right-wing religious nutjobs, the ACLU. It completely ignores the fact that the ACLU has a long history of coming to the defense of the religious. It never gets credit for this because the nutjobs are so busy spreading lies about the ACLU being an anti-American organization that defends communists, terrorists and pedophiles. The fact is, the ACLU has done far more for American Christians than Donohue and the child-raping death cult he spends all of his time defending. And what do they get for it? Hit pieces like Donohue’s book.
For the record, here is a list of examples of the ACLU defending religious rights in one year alone. It’s pretty impressive, but you won’t hear about it from people like Donohue. They don’t want you to notice that some people are defending the Constitution, mostly because they don’t want you to notice the Constitution. That way, they can distort it and manipulate their base into a fury about imagined attacks on their religious freedoms.
Donohue became the director of the Catholic League in 1993 after the death of its founder Virgil C. Blum. Under Donohue’s direction, the organization became an angry, homophobic, freedom-hating, misanthropic attack dog. In other words, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights became William Donohue. Earlier, I pointed out the inherent comedy in the presence of the words “civil rights” in the title of Donohue’s organization. Here are some examples of why that’s funny, taken from RightWingWatch.com and other sources. Some of the articles and press releases in which these quotes originated have been removed from the Catholic League’s website — I wonder why?
On the molestation and rape of children:
In response to then-Congressman Mark Foley’s efforts to defend his abusive conduct by claiming he’d been molested by his priest as a child, Donohue said “Most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn’t allow themselves to be molested” and asked then-Congressman Mark Foley, “So why did you?”
“Why did this young man not object earlier? Why did he allow the ‘abuse’ to continue until he was 18? The use of the quotes is deliberate: the charge against the former priest is not rape, but rubbing. While still objectionable, there is a glacial difference between being rubbed and raped.”
This may be my all-time favorite Donohue quote:
“No institution, religious or secular, has less of a problem with the issue of sexual abuse today than the Catholic Church.”
On Jews (you know, the “Judeo” part of Judeo-Christian):
“Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it.”
On the subject of jokes, Donohue demonstrates that not only is he an angry bigot with a fondness for child rape, he is, quite simply, a nasty, mean-spirited prick:
Being Catholic is a choice. Being Asian is not.
On Catholics who lean to the left:
Donohue teams up with buddy and fellow hate-monger Pat Robertson and calls progressives in general and progressive Catholics in particular are “termites” who are “intellectually, spiritually and morally bankrupt.”
But Donohue’s favorite target by far is the gay community. He rants and raves and foams at the mouth about homosexuals:
“The idea of two men marrying is so bizarre and so anti-marriage that it is a great tribute to the American people that they continue to respect the right of gays to participate in American life without harassment while simultaneously rejecting the extremist gay agenda.”
Without harassment? Really?
“Their goal is not to contest the First Amendment rights of Catholics and others — their goal is to put religion on trial. What they are saying is that religious-based reasons for rejecting gay marriage are irrational, and thus do not meet the test of promoting a legitimate state interest.”
No one has put religion on trial more vividly than Christians like Donohue who have made it clear that their beliefs cannot coexist with the United States Constitution.
“We’re not going to allow gay people to adopt children, that’s against nature, it’s against nature’s god.”
“They say we had a pedophilia problem, it’s been a homosexual problem all along.”
“The Times continues to editorialize about the ‘pedophilia crisis,’ when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.”
“Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style.” — MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/27/04
“Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism.” — MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 12/8/04
Those of us who pay attention to people like Donohue have noticed a distinct pattern among angry Christian men who constantly fulminate against homosexuality. They too often end up being closeted, self-hating homosexuals themselves. Donohue was married at one time and had two children before getting divorced. (Divorced? But Bill! What about the sanctity of marriage?) He has never remarried. There are a few possible reasons for this. He might be observing the Catholic prohibition against divorced people remarrying. He might not be able to find a woman who’s willing to climb aboard his crazy train. And there might be another reason. Earlier, I confessed that I do not know where Donohue’s tongue has been. And I don’t. But I have my suspicions.
I’ll probably be criticized for paying this much attention to someone like Donohue. Nothing he says surprises anyone because everyone has come to expect this nonsense from him. Even a lot of practicing Catholics think he’s an obnoxious blowhard. We should just laugh him off, some say. Just ignore him, they say. But I can’t. Yes, he’s funny. Yes, he’s an attention whore. But he’s also releasing toxins into the air that are harming our society. He is poison. We should not ignore poison, nor should we simply laugh about it and assume it will go away. It should be clearly labeled and identified — loudly and often — as poison. Donohue and others like him have polluted life in the United States to such a degree that the effects are now felt in everyday conversations, which can become ugly fast and for little or no good reason. How long do we keep laughing at them and dismissing them as jokes? And at what cost?
I have a few words I’d like to direct to Mr. Donohue personally. He’ll probably never read this — he’s too busy trying to make everyone as miserable as he is — but I’m going to do it, anyway.
You owe every atheist in the United States an apology, Mr. Donohue, for calling them “people who believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.” You are a deeply troubled, fearful, angry, hateful little man whose personality is clearly as black as an old smoker’s lungs. I don’t know what made you that way. I don’t know if you yourself were molested or raped by a priest (or perhaps someone else) when you were a boy. I don’t know if, as I suggested earlier, you are a closeted, self-hating homosexual. Whatever the cause, it has made you into this angry, emotionally and intellectually and morally stunted human being who has been devoting his life to lashing out at everyone around him. Whatever it was doesn’t really matter because it is no excuse. You are an adult now and you’ve had ample opportunity to work through whatever demons have plagued you. You’ve chosen not to do that and instead to direct those demons at others. The fact is, you owe a lot of apologies to a lot of people. Oh, don’t worry, we know they’ll never come. That’s just not the kind of person you have chosen to be. But let it be said loudly and clearly as you rant and rave your way to your grave that they are due. The book you claim to value so much quotes Jesus Christ as saying:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” — Matthew 5:22
If you weren’t such a morally hollow hypocrite, if Jesus weren’t just a corporate logo to you and others like you, you’d take those words seriously and live your life accordingly. But you don’t. You just expect everyone else to take them seriously. We’re all looking forward to learning the truth about you, Mr. Donohue. Don’t worry, it’ll come out. It always does.