Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich would use belief in God as a criteria for determining who stays in America and who do deport.
He would not seek to deport an atheist citizens or those who are here legally - though I suspect he would like to. However, when determining whether to deport a person in this country illegally, atheists get the boot. On the other hand, a member in good standing of a church, would get to stay.
If you're here -- if you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.
And, later, to show that this was no oversight, he said:
I do suggest if you go back to your district, and you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you'll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave, given the fact that they've been law-abiding citizens for 25 years.
This is simply a reiteration of the standard prejudice that those who go to church and believe in God are morally superior to those who do not. It is a prejudice so common it scarcely gets the attention of those who are assaulted by it - like the black person who hears the word 'nigger' so often he thinks it is his name.
If you are a church-goer (does the same apply to mosque-goers?) you are safe. You are trusted. You not somebody to be rejected as a neighbor. However, if you deny that there is a God, you are a threat. You are dangerous. It is best to be rid of you, to remove you from the community.
It repeats a stereotype and, because it is not publicly challenged, it reinforces a stereotype. The absence of a challenge sends a message through the community that Gingrich's attitude towards atheists is the true. It must be true - nobody said it was false. It is not challenged. It is not questioned. It is not condemned or criticized. So, this is one thing that we can accept without question.
It is great to speak about accepting claims on the basis of evidence, but none of us have time for that. We use shortcuts - we HAVE to use shortcuts, given our limited resources. One of those shortcuts is to simply internalize claims that are uttered without question or criticism. We simply absorb them.
We acquire our cultural dispositions through countless instances just like this. We acquire our values by listening to what people say and watching what they do and measuring the reactions. We acquire dispositions to do that which is praised, and aversions to that which is condemned.
Gingrich's praised those who hold down good tax-paying jobs, obey the law, have strong family ties and have strong family values (that is, those for whom the well-being and association with family members is important, AND who go to church. By implication, free-loading, loaner, atheist criminals types can, in good conscience, be sent away. People like that are not good for this country. America are better off - safer, stronger, happier, wealthier - without such creatures.
I have no doubt that Gingrich views atheists with utter contempt. We are a vermin infesting his idea of an ideal America.
This is not the first time he showed his contempt for atheists. I wrote about an earlier instance in the post, Newt Gingrich on Atheists in America. . There, the comment was:
I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.
There is no doubt, in his stand on immigration and elsewhere, that Gingrich would be more than happy to tape a sign on the door to America itself, "Atheism is NOT welcome in my Christian nation." Nor would he take it down a few moments later with regrets after some deep reflection. Nor would he ever issue an apology. Indeed, these are his sentiments, and he will likely stick to these opinions until the day he dies.
And, yet, I do count it as . . . well . . . incoherent and irrational, to be honest . . . that atheist bloggers and others would put such tremendous effort into attacking a store owner who did such a thing in the heat of passion - and say nothing about a Presidential candidate who did far worse. This provides a set of observations about the real world that seeks a rational explanation.
The first hypothesis that comes to my mind is that it is simply a lot easier - a lot more fun - to snarl and bark at somebody who is weak and vulnerable. A pack of wolves does not hunt for the biggest and strongest member of the herd to attack. It goes for the weak and defenseless - particularly when they can get their prey away from the herd.
But Newt Gingrich is a national figure running for the office of President of the United States - somebody who has wealth and power and who knows others with wealth and power. It may be best to leave this bigot alone and attack the little guy off in the corner of nowhere.
Note: That was sarcasm, by the way.