Fox News seems to have a fetish. Not content with their annual imagined "war on Xmas", now they are "gifting" atheists with reasons God exists...so that we may better see the light and come to Jesus.
What's behind their and the Right's bizarre obsession with atheists? I think the reason is two fold.
First, they see their belief system as a target and they're scared. Scared
over reduced church attendance, over the drop in people calling
themselves Xtian (76% now, down from 86% in 1998); over the growing acceptance
of gay rights/gay marriage which is unstoppable in spite of the efforts of their preferred followers and viewership. They're scared of the dwindling influence of the
religious-conservatives; over the refusal of school boards
to accept Creationism as science, even in their southern strongholds. In short, they see their looming impotency, the end of the heyday of religious demagoguery as has already happened in the rest of the Western World.
This fear is also palpable among the most outspoken conservative clergy. Just this past week John Hagee, the Texas pastor whose anti-Semitic statements caused John McCain to back away from Hagee's endorsement of his presidential run, has called on atheists to "get on planes and leave the country." If only the atheist threat would just go away!
Secondly, instilling fear and loathing of a minority has always been a way to rally support, and distract the majority population from real issues.
Nazi propaganda films portrayed Jews as vermin, infecting society, working to destroy Germany from within. More recently Pat Robertson outrageously claimed gays in San Francisco intentionally try to infect heteros with AIDS by wearing rings that will cut during handshakes, the easier to transfer the infection; and that they "recruit" children to homosexuality. In wars on the African continent, demonizing of minority tribes worked to instill a frenzy of inter-tribal mass murder, most famously in Rwanda by the majority Hutu's against the minority Tutsi. Between five-hundred thousand and one-million people died in just a few months.
Declared atheists in the US represent only between 5% and 10% of the population. To hear FOX News and the far right religious extremists tell it, you'd think we were the majority, or on equal footing with the 76% Christian population. But for their propaganda and obsession to work they simply need to imply, plant the seed, that the power of atheists is disproportionate to our popular representation... like the Jews of Germany, or the Tutsi in Rwanda. We become the vermin seeking to take power, to undermine the patriotic Christians, to work as agents of Satan to overthrow their God given moral superiority and condemn the nation to a godless hell of hedonistic immorality.
Spreading the fear of atheist influence, as
small as it is in reality, is a strong motivator to the FOX faithful ... not famous for their ability to think critically or discern reality from hype.
It works like a rallying cry, it cements support for the most extreme conservatives, never mind the fact that atheism is the
least of the causes of what truly infects and affects this nation's stability and progress.
Indeed, it's the threat of progress itself that is the true demon to them, but that doesn't play as well among the religiously afflicted ditto heads of the Fox flock.