Home / News / Congressman urges respect for nonbelievers … but doesn't think atheists truly exist in America
Congressman urges respect for nonbelievers … but doesn't think atheists truly exist in America

Congressman urges respect for nonbelievers … but doesn't think atheists truly exist in America

CNN's Crowley and CleaverAccording to MO Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D), there aren't any true atheists in America, but candidates who profess to be nonbelievers should not be judged just because they do not profess have a religious faith.

The United Methodist pastor who represents Missouri's 5th congressional district and Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition both sat down with CNN's Candy Crowley on April 9 to discuss whether a person can successfully run for national public office, declaring to be a "non-believer."

Cleaver did not think so, explaining:

Unfortunately, I think any person who did that would have a difficult time winning.  Actually, I don't believe that there is such thing as an atheist because no respectable atheist would walk around with something in his pocket that said 'In God We Trust.'  Nonetheless, I think that those of us who understand that we live in a pluralistic nation, we've got to be the ones who tell people openly, in public, on national TV, that we cannot tolerate that, where people make decisions about people who don't have a faith.

Reed said it was possible to successfully run as a non-believer, just like it is possible to run as a Muslim or Hindu and be elected, because voters make decisions based on their shared values with candidates and the candidates' qualifications for office.  The People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch blog points out that Reed, who came to national prominence as the first executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, has been linked to numerous charges of corruption, tainting his image with the GOP.  His Faith & Freedom Coalition was created to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his deep involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    What?  We, as a society, don't have a choice if we want to buy things?  We ALL have to walk around with things in our pockets/wallets that say, "In God We Trust" on them if we want things.  It's not a choice, but his stupidity is.  However, the moment a person announces they are an atheist, people cop attitudes from hell, start saying cruel and abusive things, and refuse to associate with that person, up to and including denying them employment.  We have to go along to get along and while we don't, as a rule, carry our beliefs on our bodies, like we do the colour of our skin, and are able to keep it hidden within our minds, we can easily be an unseen and unheard minority.  The moment we voice our disbeliefs and doubts, even with believers who start questioning the beliefs they learned in their life, thereby risking eventual disbelief, crap flies.  Atheism, is one of many things people discriminate against, but, like a few other things that people discriminate against, can be hidden, with the cost of one's integrity.

    • charlie decker

      well put about hiding it with a sacrifice of integrity :D  on the other hand i should point out that i've been living 'out of the atheism closet' for about 22 years now, i never was forced to hide it or lie about it in any way.  and though i believe it's possible i've lost out on employment because of my honesty i've never seen evidence of this.  i should also say that i've never had a believer get hateful and … 'wrathful' at me over a religion in person- but then i also tend to shy from religious discussions with people i don't know i can be honest with.  as far as the currency goes there are people in the atheist group i sometimes attend who stamp cash with 'y pluribus unum', i've never seen the point, it's just money and in a very real way, just as much a matter of faith as any religion.

  • Robin Jewell

    By that logic, there must not
    be any christians because no respectable christian would use a calender
    full of the names of pagan gods.

    • http://www.facebook.com/KidKivela Kimmo Kivelä

      Or numbers… or alphabets… or clock… 

    • http://voxcorvegis.wordpress.com/ Jaime

       In Odin we trust! (But only on Wednesday)

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  • http://YouMadeMeSayIt.com PhillyChief

    It appears the congressman has provided a valid argument for removal of "In God We Trust" from our nation's currency, if not removal of it as a national motto. If it prevents atheist Americans from having self respect, then clearly it must be removed.

    • lynnnoe

       It's worse than that PhillyChief.  It might prevent atheists from paying bills or taxes.

  • Patrick Elliott

    So wait.. Is this supposed to mean that before some confused fool in the mid-1950s decided that "E Pluribus Unum" wasn't actually a motto and suggested we start putting "In God We Trust" on everything in sight, the whole country was atheist? Or was that only before we also decided that small children not only counted be trusted to understand/keep oaths, so had to repeat one every single day, we also needed god in it, and added a line about it in the pledge of allegiance.

    I mean, this person is seriously claiming that no self respecting individual would be willing to live with someone other people forced on them, less than 60 years ago, because there is absolutely nothing else worth value in this country, which is worth fighting for, or keeping, its all about if some halfwit put god on the money? Then again, I suppose, for some of these people, we could call be living in cardboard boxes, with "no" money, and a non-existent government, like they have in Somalia, and everything would be just peachy, as long as one of the boxes had a steeple on it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000794582489 Susan Bergert

      Maybe the fools who dumped "E pluribus unum" did so because they didn't know what it meant. But wait, it's latin and didn't the catholic Knights of Columbus have something to do with it? Or did only their priests understand Latin? Oh  my@77a1b07e7b560b72453e12b1f7155ef3:disqus  This is sooo confusing.

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  • Ianarchy71

    So atheists are not supposed to have money? I don't understand. If we accept the monetary system, that is forced on us by our "Secular" government, in order to sustain life, that somehow means we accept imaginary beings? Is there another option? Where do I get the money that does not have that ridiculous statement on it? I think every atheist in America would LOVE to not have to have In God We Trust on our money… IN fact it is kind of a major issue and a major point when we speak of separation of church and state. It does not mean that we are not atheists, but rather that our country is forcing religion upon us via religious jargon on our currency. How did this guy graduate middle school with that logic?

  • Mykroft62735

    So, his imaginary friend is real, but atheists are not?

  • Mandamus

    Being an atheist doesn't mean you HATE god. Having something in your pocket that says   'In God We Trust' doesn't burn us.  It just means we don't believe. So   'In God We Trust' is an empty statement.  There's a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about atheists. We don't worship Satan, although a few makes jokes about it (mostly because of the misconception). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592610300 Greg Gauthier

    You're not a "real" atheist, because you're forced at gunpoint to use a coin that the state itself has stamped with mystical phrases? WTF? Well, Mr. Cleaver, just try using some other coin. Go out there and get yourself some of Bernard von Nothaus' Liberty Dollars, or try trading with the old Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Double-Eagles. Watch how fast your ass lands in prison for it. 

    F*ck you people, for ramming your state and your church down my goddamn throat, and then having the gall to tell me I'm not a "real" atheist or a "real" anarchist, because my neck hole is stuffed full of your horsesh!t.

    I'm so sick and damn tired of living on a planet permeated by the greatest greenhouse gas of all: SELF-DECEPTION. When, oh when, will I finally be able to face an honest man on the street? When, oh wen, will the world actually care about the f*cking truth, and not just use it as a manipulation tool and a weapon?

    • godlessveteran

      I regret I can only "like" this post one time.  Coarse, but straight to the point.

  • And I'm A Teacher!

    Oh, so that's why I carry credit cards, only…

  • godlessveteran

    Cleaver, here's an atheist.  Prove I don't exist.

  • Rational Libertarian

    What an idiot. An atheist can't exist because of a ridiculous motto  is printed on money. What does he expect us to do, live in the gutter because of a clearly unconstitutional motto? Or maybe he expects us to cross that out on all our bills and replace it with "In Science We Trust". Why can't we just go back to E Pluribus Unum anyway?

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  • lynnnoe

    So Cleaver cannot tolerate himself??  "Nonetheless, I think that those of us who understand that we live in a
    pluralistic nation, we've got to be the ones who tell people openly, in
    public, on national TV, that we cannot tolerate that, where people make
    decisions about people who don't have a faith."

  • In atheism I trust

    Well if money is about "in God we Trust" Why does God let his followers get killed over money? Answer that question dummy.

    • Deborah_B

      And since money is "filthy lucre," why put God on it at all?

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