I wrote this on the JRE campaign blog on December 18, 2003:
Interestingly, in a recent poll, a MUCH greater percentage of US voters stated they would vote for a gay candidate than for an agnostic. The Red Scare propaganda and MacCarthyism run deep and long. With 30 million openly secular Americans (the fastest growing religious 'orientation'), one would think that the effects of nasty propaganda that equated Stalinism with Marxism with atheism with Darwinism would be exposed by now, or at least languished and died a natural death. But, of course, with the Republican hold on religion, they are doing their best to perpetuate those old myths. Red Scare propaganda and McCarthyism have very much to do with this issue. They had a good reason to equate communists (really Stalinists, to be precise), Marxists, atheists and Darwinists. They were already at that time hijacking religion for the Right, and tried to lump together all enemies of fundamentalist Christianity. Funny, Marx loved Darwin, Darwin did not care for Marx, Darwin was a landed gentleman who trained as a minister and lost his faith later in life, Stalin was anti-Darwinian and not exactly atheist himself, Stalinism is a monstrosity that abused the name of Marx (poor old Karl must have been spinning in his grave all these years his name was used for such devious purposes). But lumping all these together serves a great purpose for the Right, as they can push their 'morality' issues on people of faith, by painting all the others as 'immoral', and scaring them into voting against the "immoral, God-less liberals". They are serving, as a "self-evident truth", the erroneous idea that only Christ-based ethical code is really ethical. All the others "eat little children". That ignores millenia of ethical thought and study, dating to the times before Christ. Comparative study of religions shows that ALL religions have about the same ethical codes (do not kill, steal etc.). Ethical codes with non-religious basis (including evolutionary biology) also have the same clauses. The difference is that non-religiously based ethical codes rely on reason and pragmatism, thus people are going to abide by them because they see the logic of it and its usefulness in fostering social cohesion. They are enforced from within. Religion-based ethics is based on fear, on the stick (God's wreath) and carrot (going to heaven) approach, thus it is enforced from without (by the clergy). Isn't it telling that a public figure is absolutely not allowed to make a racial slur, male-chauvinist or homophobic statement, but calling one's enemies 'God-less heathens' elicits just nods in the audience? Non-believers are the last unprotected minority in this country, and they do not have a lobby powerful enough to elicit a social change that would erase such treatment. The churches in the USA today are places where people go for a weekly dose of right-wing brain-washing (ever seen a Q&A session after the sermon?), not to mention fundraising for the oldest industry that works hard to keep the conservatives in power. Creationism is a part of that effort. Prevention of educational reform is another. More they make education to be about memorizing boring facts and acquiring specific job skills, and less to be about learning how to learn, how to think critically, less they can be worried that their propaganda will be seen for what it is. The pure, spiritual, private religion has been pushed aside in this country and replaced by the church-industry, protected by zero taxes, put in place to help dupe people into right-wing ideology. And Bush is openly the Crusader-In-Chief - quite literally by attacking Iraq, a place where Crusaders have been before. What is sold in churches in this country today has nothing to do with the real teachings of Christ, or any other religious leader, it is entirely political, ideological tool for getting the votes.