On Illinois and Atheists

Bear with me for a moment. I’ve been pondering this for nearly twenty-four hours — maybe a little less than that, as I was asleep for, oh, about six of those hours — and I’ve not quite figured out what to say.

But something needs to be said.

The situation is this. An atheist in Illinois testified before a committee at the state legislature in Springfield, and he was denounced from one of the committee members, Representative Monique Davis, a Democrat of Chicago.

The transcript of the exchange:

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children…. What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous–

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court—

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

There’s audio at the link as well. It’s rather chilling to listen to.

State Representative Davis apparently believes the following:

  • Atheism is dangerous
  • It’s dangerous for children to know about atheism
  • Illinois was founded, presumably, on Christian principles
  • Atheists are trying to destroy the state
  • Atheists have no standing to testify before state legislative committees

Does that about cover it?

The Council of Secular Humanism has issued a press release calling for her resignation:

The Council for Secular Humanism is appalled by Davis’s apparent belief that atheists and other nonreligious individuals are not entitled to the same rights and liberties as other citizens.

Ronald A. Lindsay, director of the Council for Secular Humanism’s First Amendment Task Force, is calling for Davis to resign. “In informing Sherman that he had ‘no right’ to be there merely because he was an atheist, Davis confirmed that she is not willing to be a representative of all her constituents, regardless of their religious beliefs,” said Lindsay.

“She is unfit to serve in her office, just as a representative who told a Jew or a Hindu to ‘get out of that seat’ would be unfit to serve. If she does not resign, the Illinois House has an obligation to expel her,” continued Lindsay.

I can’t say it any better than that.

I think I’m going to write Representative Monique Davis a stern letter. šŸ™‚

Atheists are Americans, too.

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