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Nightline's Atrociously Bad Report on Atheism

Society & Culture  (tags: atheism, abc news, media, atheists, nightline )

- 3258 days ago -
There's no genuine coverage of the actual movement. There is no broader understanding given of atheism as a worldview, of the secular movement, of the new breath of life given atheism by the New Atheists. Just one ceremony, conveniently full of costumes..


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Past Member (0)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:34 am
So atheists are monsters now?

There's a slander just suit waiting to be filed.

Frankly, given ABC's atrocious track record of such reports, I didn't expect anything intelligent. However, I didn't expect an attack on atheists either.

Tomoko Harris (83)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:35 am
This was pure crap! Atheists are among the most moral people around. They do not feel that they must appease some "eye in the sky" with good deeds - or honor killings, or burning "witches" and "heretics," or tying bombs to themselves and blowing up market places. Atheists do good for the sake of good. Sure, there are some bad atheists out there, but nearly all the atheists I know are very good and fine people. Overall they are more moral than believers.

Maryjane P (43)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:46 am
This is supposed to be the land of the "free." A person can express his or her personal beliefs, and then there's freedom of speech, etc. What happened to that? Also, isn't it a sin to "judge?" I am not an atheist, but I accept atheism and honor and respect their (natural) right to have their own philosophies, even if it does not agree with mine. I think this is bad journalism

Lois K (24)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 7:05 am
Were you really expecting honest information from Nightline...or any other news show? Atheists are the people Christians love to hate. It is beyond their comprehension why anyone would not believe in BibleGod. I always tell them that I don't believe in their god for the same reason they don't believe in any other religion's gods. When they figure out what that reason is, they will understand why I see their deity as an imaginary man-in-the-sky, an ancient superstition whose time has come to go away. They still don't get it, of course, because to them BibleGod is as real as an imaginary friend is to a child. That is why Dan Harris gets his panties in a wad over anyone proclaiming they don't believe the way he does. He just doesn't get it, and likely will never have the intellectual ability to do so, as long as his brain remains stuck replaying the "atheists are evil" mantra.

. (0)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 7:24 am
I find it so disheartening that atheism is so often misrepresented by the media.

While there are undoubtedly radical and 'fundamentalist' atheists out there (I've met all too many of them) who really have declared war on religion and seek to deny religious freedoms to belivers, most of us are simply people who do not believe in any religion. Who view the universe as a natural thing filled with entirely natural happenings. Who believe that the concept of the supernatural is a human construct. Who simply want our government to remain utterly neutral when it comes to religious matters, other than protecting the right of each American to practice his faith without interference so long as he violates no one else's civil rights or our laws in the process.

All too often, people really seem to believe that atheists cannot be ethical people because we have no objective divinely-mandated code of conduct to live by. Which is false. Ethical behavior derives from many sources and many of those sources are non-religious in nature. In the same way that religious belief obviously does not automatically create perfectly moral and law-abiding citizens so non-belief does not automatically create amoral monsters.

All most of us atheists ask is that you leave us alone. Don't try and use the force of the government to promote your religious beliefs and don't try to use the force of law to impose those beliefs on us. Don't discriminate against us in ways that would be illegal if done against members of any other 'minority' group. And if you do all that, we'll be happy to leave you alone as well to enjoy the beliefs our Constitution guarantees you the right to hold.

Because most of us really don't care whether or not you approve of our beliefs. All we ask is that you accept our right to hold our beliefs, just as most of us accept your own right to freedom of belief.

Carole Cherne (35)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 7:30 am
I believe in a higher power, and have evidence from my life experiences. I don't expect anyone to believe what I believe, and I have always had many friends of a variety of spiritual beliefs or no religious beliefs. We are able to discuss our beliefs with each other, usually with civility, but always with respect. Straightforward, honest media coverage of atheists, pantheists, Wiccans, is negligible, if it exists at all. I jokingly tell some of my atheist friends that they are better Christians than many Christians because they love openly, care for those in need, tell the truth, and so on. I learn from those whose beliefs are different from mine. Media coverage is shaped in part by fear that the right wing extremist Christians will blow a gasket if anything is presented that steps outside of their narrow belief system.

. (0)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 7:40 am
And, by the way, would most atheists prefer that everyone voluntarily be atheist? Of course we would. Just as most Christians would prefer that everyone voluntarily be Christian, most Muslims would prefer that everyone be Muslim, etc. When someone believes their position is the right one, it's rather natural to wish that everyone felt the same.

But most of us recognize and accept that religion is here to stay, in one form or another. And as long as religion stays in its proper realm, that's OK.

Kelsey S (0)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 8:22 am
I hate when people bash atheists. Just because we don't believe in a higher power doesn't make us evil.

Roger Skinner (14)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 9:30 am
Where can I go to get de-baptized too?

Lynn Marie M (22)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 10:30 am
The world seems to get crazier every day.

John F (52)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 10:58 am
The world has been crazy a long time.
Pushing hate is what 'Media' do. If you can divide people by flogging suspicion and its companion Fear, then you can 'justify' 'war'. That's why Care2 is both so important and so superficial at times. You can holler to the heavens about 'Injustice' - but I don't think you can work to counter it without working to undermine and reverse its causes.
This news board is great : but there is a reason Care2 has closed forums. There are times you just don't want to discuss things with people who don't understand the basics of their situation and don't have any idea what drives politics.
That's why my information site looks so weird and 'over-the-top'. Yet I don't go to the extremes some do because I don't think people can deal with it from the start. So and its companion were introduced in the news here - and I wonder how many 'got it.'
I set them up to introduce people to the concept of finding things that introduced them using available online resources, and I continue to update contents.
AlterNet had an article by George Orwell - who has been dead for years. It laid out just how hatemongering is an institutional norm. It and many others are in the Index under Perception Alteration at opitslinkfest, which appears at Collections Forwarded to Blogger at My Opera.
You don't want to go to some whacko's website. ? Fine. Wikipedia and YouTube have more than enough material to keep us all busy for years. But if you want helps to know the questions.
Nor is my idea one to make money by keeping you tied to apron strings. A teaching site should show you how to learn.
Input is welcome. And About at My Opera is a rather rambling introduction about how a disorganized gaffer decided he could still make a contribution.

Greg K (10)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 1:32 pm
I don't think the report was that bad. I think it is good that the corporate media actually acknowledges atheists and agnostics, even if it is with a negative spin, even if it is on late at night when most people are asleep or watching Leno, Letterman, MTV. Ninety-nine percent of the time atheists and agnostics aren't even acknowledged in the corporate media, so this is a start. I think Kagan sounded intelligent and rational, and that is what I took away from this report.

Kitty Courtney (11)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 3:24 pm
I was watching "Angels and Demons" recently (my daughter recommended it) and I am always totally gobsmacked at how many billions of people "believe" in some sort of all powerful and punitive "God". I am so glad that I do not/cannot believe in these fairytales. And so many of these God-fearing people are the worst animal/child/women abusing monsters on the planet. I see it on other sites all the time. I will never understand this complete mass hypnosis.

Past Member (0)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 3:33 pm
News flash for Xians, infidel means anyone that is not a sharia Muslim, so when they say "death to all infidels", that does mean you too. There are a lot more Muslims than Xians or atheists and you are going to need all the help you can get!

Asonya Brown (2)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 3:40 pm

Ricardo C (66)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:13 pm
Atheists are a strong lot and GOD is the only one that can convert them!

Kitty Courtney (11)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:18 pm
I'm pretty sure that no atheist has any desire to be "converted". I am perfectly happy and content with my non-belief in any sort of "God".

Ricardo C (66)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 6:19 pm
I prefer the friendship of an honest Atheist than a dishonest Christian. In case of need, I would help both the same, though!

Rosemary Gremillion (22)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 8:39 pm
I can't speak for Nighline and their "handling" of atheism. Have any of these people read "30 minutes in Hell". I haven't either, but a friend told me it's a book written by a former atheist who had an after-life experience. He apparently as I gather it died and went to hell because he didn't believe in God. After being in hell, he called out to God for help. I am not an atheist and think that anyone who thinks this earth is "all there is" is simply not thinking clearly. An atheist in my opinion has completely closed their mind to the idea that God exists because for one reason or the other, they would prefer not to believe in Him. I cannot understand where the atheist is coming from but I don't believe they are "nasty little monsters" who want to convert everyone to their nonbeliefs. Carl Sagan was a professed atheist who demonstrated an interest and compassion for people and wanted the average person to advance in their understanding of science. I hope Dr. Sagan made it to Purgatory. If I believe in Purgatory that means I am Catholic and I am Catholic. Atheists should really think about their belief in no afterlife because when they find out there is an afterlife, well, I can't answer that. But I wouldn't want to die an unbeliever. I don't want to offend anyone, lease of all the atheists out there. I would like them to take an interest in the idea of developing faith in the possiblity that God exists and then develop that idea into a real belief in God, for the sake of their souls. If they think I am patronizing them, they are so wrong. I just want everyone to have a chance to make it to heaven.

Kitty Courtney (11)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 9:21 pm
See this is exactly what we don't want. I know that you think you know that there is a Heaven and a Hell and an afterlife where the righteous are rewarded and the sinners are punished but...we don't believe that and we don't need you to feel sorry for us, and here's the thing - YOU DON'T KNOW, YOU REALLY DO NOT KNOW - the only ones who know are DEAD!!! On my tombstone I want it to say...Now She Knows! (alongside, "I told you I was sick!" LOL)

Catherine Turley (192)
Sunday July 18, 2010, 10:11 pm
our beliefs and behaviors run the gamut, as with any group. i wrote a little article for an atheist magazine once, and the editor told me i was going to take alot of heat from fellow atheists for my opinion. titles are meaningless. if someone tells me they're a christian, do i really know anything more about them than i did seconds before.

Marena Chen (200)
Monday July 19, 2010, 12:01 am
This reminds me of the joke, where the atheist went to court to complain that there was no designated public holiday for them and the judge told him that they did have their holiday and that it was known as "April fools day"
I'd rather believe that there is a God and maybe find out that there isn't one, than to believe there isn't one only to find out that there is when it is all too late....Just my very own opinion....

beatrice d (116)
Monday July 19, 2010, 12:35 am
As an atheist I am always amazed at how many words are spent on us. I do not judge anyone by their non a/o religious beliefs, why should it be the opposite?

Nikolas K (94)
Monday July 19, 2010, 4:03 am
An atheist is someone fully asleep and is blind and deaf with no sensory feelings whatsoever, this is why they claim to be atheists.

Kitty Courtney (11)
Monday July 19, 2010, 7:09 am
I am now completely done with this discussion - as always happens you "believers" make absolutely no sense. Good luck to all of you who are "hedging your bets".

Carmen S (69)
Monday July 19, 2010, 9:18 am
As I noted on their paper I do believe but if you don't I feel sorry for you. (that is my feeling) But that is your business not mine.
However the one thing I disagree with is the taking in of all those very young people and trying to convert them into not believing. That I think is very wrong.

. (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 9:43 am
Robert & Carmen, why would you feel it's wrong to try and convert people to your point of view?

While I agree that no one should ever use the force of the government or the law to try and promote any religious view (or the view that atheism is a correct position to hold), we all have the right to promote our own beliefs in society.

I accept that it's ethical for, say, a Christian to try and convert others to Christianity, since obviously the Christian believes his is the right path and he will be benefitting the potential convert by bringing him to Christ.

And it is just as acceptable for an atheist to try and convert others to atheistic thinking. Because atheism isn't just about negatives - not believing in something - it's also about positives. A belief that the world would be a better place if we rid our minds of superstition and mythology. That a reliance on logic and science is more beneficial to humanity than a reliance on ancient religious books written by men of their time. That we should believe in the dignity and rights of all humans irrespective of any divine mandate to do so - merely because it's the right thing to do if we want to live in a civilized world.

Each person has the right to non-coercively and non-governmentally promote their own beliefs.

. (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 10:08 am
For anyone who may never have heard of Camp Quest, it's an unusual group of summer camps designed for the children of atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others, which promotes freethinking and scientific inquiry. There are camps in the U.S., Canada, and Britain:

I really wish there had been camps like that when I was growing up. The camp my parents sent me to had, as was usual for that day and age, Sunday religious services (Christian, of course), prayers before meals, and the like. And for an atheist child, life can be very uncomfortable when she's put into a situation where her only choice is to go along with the crowd or stand out and be ridiculed by the other children.

There are resources out there for atheist families and I wish more would take advantage of them.

Catherine Turley (192)
Monday July 19, 2010, 10:35 am
i don't usually toot my own horn, but i can't stand this stereotype of the "unfeeling atheist". i go without many things that most people consider necessities so that i can afford to help others. i buy groceries for three different families, i watch disabled adults and a man with alzheimers on a regular basis for free, i have a house full of unadoptable animals and i take care of all my neighbors' animals as well. the entire focus of my life is to ease suffering.

Lone Wolf (24)
Monday July 19, 2010, 11:43 am
Wow, reading the comments atheists sound like a bunch of whiners. If you claim to have superior knowledge about "no god' then why are you so insecure?

. (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 11:52 am
An expectation of being accorded equal rights and respect in society isn't 'whining', Lone Wolf. If it is, then Martin Luther King, Jr. was a whiner, as was Gandhi.

The insecurity isn't about our beliefs - it's about our status in society. A recent major poll in the U.S. found that over half of Americans would refuse to vote for a political candidate if the candidate was atheist - no looking at the candidate's position on the issues or character or anything else - just because he was atheist.

Being told that a majority of your fellow citizens feel that way does tend to make one somewhat insecure about one's civil and human rights. And damned angry about it too.

Marie Therese H (10)
Monday July 19, 2010, 2:02 pm
Religions are all magical thinking. It helps some people to make it through the day. But They have nothing to do with morality. though they preach it, they don't practice it. How can one beleive in a personal loving god when faced with this creation....Such rose colored glasses I have not found. But there are forces in the universe that we haven't begun to understand, forces which interact with creation.

Lone Wolf, what makes atheists insecure is bieng attacked by the likes of you. We don't have to prove a negative, but you can't prove your positive!

Marilyn K (50)
Monday July 19, 2010, 2:19 pm
What people think or worship is their own business as long as they do not push it on any other person or do intentional harm to anyone. We are lucky to live in a country where you can worship any way or any thing.
In other words "Live and Let Live".

Past Member (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 2:34 pm
Athiests and religious people, why is it that whenever the term 'atheist' is brought up in any article, or any media, the athiests turn on everyone else and start criticizing and making fun of the religious types. And for once, it wasn't Lyndsey who started it, but Rosemary. The only point I have to say is, religious people can prove a positive, depending on their religion. There are more than a million different views, sects, cults, or whatever's about religions and yes, contrary to what some believe, anyone can make their own religion as a religion is merely just a philosophy of thought. However, I tend to think of a religion vs. atheist argument as sounding a lot like a vegan vs. carnivore discussion. Neither side wins in the short run or the long run.

. (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 2:54 pm
Actually, John, debating atheism vs. religion or anything else does serve a purpose. Because sometimes it can open an eye or two and perhaps cause one or two people to think about things in a way they never did before. Most aren't going to change their minds on anything fundamental; however, sometimes a few people can actually learn something.

Jonathan B (14)
Monday July 19, 2010, 3:47 pm
If atheists want to understand the level of animosity directed at them, they need to first release their superstitious beliefs about all people of faiths being a monolithic mass of idiots and bigots.

Atheists, as a group, pride themselves as being smarter than, more intellectual than, more rational than, and better than any other people who manage to have a belief in anything more than that God in the mirror that atheists have such devotions to, and an inability to see why anything more than self worship would be necessary.

There are real reasons that atheists are disliked, and in some cases, detested.

People of faith have long memories, and many have direct experience with incarceration in gulags, prison camps, and prisons at tha hands of happy little atheists called communists, with their government Gods of choice- Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Lenin.

People of faith also remember that the atheist pseudo-faith people, who operated as sociopaths and atheists in their state worship of fascism, but maintained a surface, superficial faith in organized religion, such as the Lutherans of 40's Germany, and the Catholics of Fascist Spain and Italy.

Get it through your head.

Hitler was no fan of faith or God, and killed true believers as fast as he killed Jews. More than 10 million Christian Slavs, Poles, and Eastern Europeans died in the camps with those 6 million Jews.

Only the compromised state worshippers were allowed a surface attachment to religion.

Hitler let it be known that he would only tolerate churches that were nothing but extensions of and spies for the state, and considered the christian true believers of his day to be enemies of the state.

Atheists also need to remember that their group is not a uniform mass of intellegent and superior people, whose faithlessness was birthed by superior genes or enlightened attitudes.

Many of the atheist faith, spend their time in occupations of organized crime, mass murder, serial killing, child assault, and political ascendency to rule the CIA, black operations in the military, and working to create lethal food plants and toxic animals for Monsanto.

Not all atheists are evil, but truely, massively evil people are almost uniformly worshipers of nothing or nihilism or Lucifer himself.

The power elite, who own the majority of money, positions of power, and military might in this world are almost, to a man, atheists, (which does not help the atheist cause).

These power elite are also devoted to the genocide of the public, who are seen as lessor forms of life unfit for survival, and the power elite love the idea of a earth purged of humanity.

I believe in God, not because of some inherent brain damage, or some compulsive need to fear death, or some superstitious attitude, but because I have had real experiences with pain, suffering, and death, including several near deaths of my own, and I found prayer, and a relationship with Jesus to be the only force I had to fight back.

I came back from the abyss and dark of serious illness, anoxia from a mistake in the use of laughing gas in a dentist office, suffocation from a head blow that disabled my breathing, and what appeared to be a lightning strike so close to me that I lost my sight.

Each one of these incidences should have ended my life but did not. I also recovered from the loss of my ability to walk due to a back injury, and a bleeding ulcer so bad that I was bleeding out.

These experiences individually might mean nothing but coincidence, but together they create a pattern of relationship, and reliability of prayer.

If atheists want to be respected, they need to understand the company that they keep in their faithlessness,

Atheists need to stand with morality, good behavior, and a concept of good, or they will just be lumped with the reptilian masses who use atheism to deal with inner demons.

If atheists want to be respected, they need to understand that people have had experiences and lives that they interpret as touching the supernatural, and divine, and that they are not just head cases for having that interpretation.

Condescension may be handy in your personal circle of the Godless, but it does not fly in public, where you will be seen as a jerk for your attitude.

I survived these things from

. (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 4:06 pm
Jonathan, you state:

"The power elite, who own the majority of money, positions of power, and military might in this world are almost, to a man, atheists, (which does not help the atheist cause)."

Please give us a list of the power elite who almost exclusively hold money, positions, military might, etc. and who are almost exclusively atheist.

Why don't I start your list for you right here in the U.S. with our politicians and highest judiciary, without question some of the most powerful people in the nation:

President of the U.S., Barack Obama: Christian
Vice President of the U.S., Joe Biden: Christian
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton: Christian
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi: Christian
Members of the Supreme Court: Either Jewish or Christian entirely
Members of Congress (2009-2010): only 5 out of 534 members did not specify a religious affiliation - therefore at LEAST 529 are religionists.


Past Member (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 5:22 pm
See,, the funny thing is most religious people can not stand other religious people.
The middle east, Northern Ireland, The United states.
The United States was formed to escape the tyranny of the Church of England. The founders of this country were so worried by the tyranny of religion they were even willing to risk letting unbelievers have rights, because they knew the evils of religious control of everything.
Most other countries have a National religion and you have no choice, these contries have a lower number of people who say they believe. The USA is one of very few countries that has the right not to believe and you waste it!
And the thing is, you will never even know you are wrong, because when you die you just wink out.
See you in HELL, not!

Paulina Machuca (0)
Monday July 19, 2010, 6:06 pm
I find nothing wrong with the report.

Kit B (276)
Monday July 19, 2010, 8:18 pm
Perhaps we should begin with the definition of atheist, as many here seem to have preconceived notions that are not in keeping with the definition or the people. Being an atheist does not ignite a sudden spark of intellect, it does however, allow for thinking and learning beyond a biblical interpretation of all things in life. I don't know any atheist (so far) that believe themselves superior to others of any religion. Atheist simply have made a choice - a life choice. Is that not the ideal? That each human is to have a choice for their own direction in this life? It is easy to condemn that which is not understood or is not your own personal belief system. Most atheists I know neither condemn nor condone religion, with the exception of extreme fundamentalism, which in all things is dangerous. I see myself as a skeptic and one who tends to doubt others who are so sure of things that there is no room for discussion or exchange of ideas. By strict definition that makes me an atheist, something that brings neither pride or shame. It is as I said, simply a personal choice. I have read the bible in Hebrew, Coptic, Ancient Greek and Latin,(with tutorial aid) after spending a great deal of time and thought along with many deep conversations with religious leaders from many differing religions and points of view; I made a personal and I believe intellectual choice.


a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

1565–75; < Gk áthe ( os ) godless + -ist

—Related forms
an·ti·a·the·ist, noun, adjective
pro·a·the·ist, noun, adjective

—Can be confused:   agnostic, atheist, deist, theist (see synonym note at this entry ).

Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief. An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings. An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity. A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds

Bonnie A (76)
Monday July 19, 2010, 9:33 pm
Having studied the many wars brought about by Religion, I see the dark side of Religion. Though, in it's purist state Religion is not bad. I see nothing against Atheists. People need to hate someone and they claim to be Religious and there is not a Religion in its true state that does not have some version of "Love your Neighbor As you Love yourself." If an Atheist is a good person and does not hurt other people or the planet, he is better than a Conservative Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox,etc), Jew, or Muslim (Shiite, Sunni). There are people in all these Religions and Indigenous Religions that do things to help people and the planet that can talk to Atheists and work with them, because they understand that the Atheists have a problem with dogma that hurts, but not with the teachings of Jesus or Mohammed or Buddah or the Great Spirit. If the teachings were followed as they were intended we wouldn't have War or Poverty or Hate--we have a planet of cherry-pickers who rewrite the teachings to support what they want not doing what the teacher wanted.

Catherine Turley (192)
Monday July 19, 2010, 9:45 pm
my dearest friend is an evangelical christian. she believes she has experienced god. i have no way to disprove it. she is the best person i have ever known. i don't debate god with her, just the specifics of the bible that lead her to discriminate against gays and such.
ps. i'm so glad that comment didn't come from the real lone wolf or i'd be crying my eyes out.

Lone Wolf (24)
Monday July 19, 2010, 11:46 pm
Gosh Marie, if you interpret my comment as an attack then you are definitely insecure. Have you ever thought about a rational debate like some of the other commenters here?

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 20, 2010, 1:56 am
Thank you for sharing!

KS Goh (0)
Tuesday July 20, 2010, 5:24 am
Thanks very much.

Tom C Sullivan (98)
Thursday July 22, 2010, 3:24 pm
I am a chrstian, I don't hate atheist, I am taught not to judge people or to hate but to love one another.
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