I was driving near the Washington Beltway recently behind an evangelistic atheist. It was not the Obama-Biden bumper sticker that gave this driver away, but the one just below it: "You don't need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live."
That seemed an oddly defensive bit of secular scripture, and since the bumper sticker also promoted a website (livingwithoutreligion.org), I decided to see what the Godless were preaching.
"We who are nonreligious lead meaningful lives without reliance on the supernatural," said the website.
"Moreover, we who are nonreligious don't believe our lives lack meaning because there is no God to supervise and direct them for all eternity," said the site. "Frankly, we like the fact that no plan is imposed on us by some immensely powerful being; we create our own meaning."
This website, it turned out, was a project of the Center for Inquiry, which proclaims on its main website that it has a "mission”. "To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values," it says. "The Center for Inquiry is that institution."
The center's first goal: "an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy."
Of course, the center has its own public policy positions. Lower marginal tax rates? A balanced budget? Not quite.
In a position paper titled, "The School Voucher Crisis," the group explains why school choice is bad for America. "Most religion-based private schools are unfriendly toward women's rights, reproductive choice and LGBT rights and interests," it says. "Vouchers would deal these interests a severe blow."
Presumably, good public schools teach children the correct positions on these things. And what would those be?
For starters, "There is no evidence that consensual sex between adolescents is harmful," says the center's position paper titled, "The Importance of Appropriate Sexuality Education."
"The public schools, supported by government policy and funds, should teach comprehensive sexuality education," says the paper. "Government policy that promotes the expectation of abstinence until marriage is based on religious ideology, not science, and is neither in the best interests of youths nor reflective of the wishes of the citizenry."
Consistent with this view, the center believes the government should compel taxpayers to fund other people's "family planning" — including other people still in their teens and in foreign nations.
"Family planning services in this country should be publicly funded for those who cannot afford them, including adolescents," says the center's "Public Health and Contraception" position paper. "The United States should provide its fair share of funding for family planning services worldwide through the United Nations and/or directly to countries requesting aid through organizations which have proven to be effective."
In its position paper on "Same-Sex Marriage — and Marriage," the center argues that in an ideal world there would be no marriage, only civil unions. But, as long as "marriage" exists, it must include same-sex couples.
"We should be able to make publicly recognized arrangements ensuring that committed couples, heterosexual or homosexual, receive all the benefits — legal, economic and social — that marriage now automatically entails, but without its historical baggage or the name that implies stereotyped roles," says the paper. "Thus, all unions would be civil unions. 'Marriage' would still be available to couples who want the name, but it would not confer additional benefits."
Perhaps the center's most telling position paper addresses embryonic stem cell research. The group does not favor licensing the deliberate destruction of all homo sapiens, so where does it draw the line?
"We maintain that the scope of morality, which is a set of practices that ultimately relies on reason instead of force, should presumptively include all beings who are capable of reasoning and, therefore, capable of being influenced by moral norms," says the position paper.
"Our children embody our hopes and aspirations, and assuming a moral community has a desire to survive for more than one generation, its children are the key to its survival," it says.
"So children who are wanted and intentionally gestated are entitled to the protection of our moral norms even when they are too young to be capable of reasoning," it says. "However, embryos that are designated for research use are, by definition, not entities that are, or have the potential to become, children and members of the moral community. Nor do they possess consciousness or rationality or any of the other characteristics that might entitle an entity of membership in the moral community. Accordingly, the fact that their genetic composition may be similar to members of the moral community does not, by itself, entitle these entities to the protections of our moral norms."
Tactfully preached in the passive voice, this doctrine teaches that one human being can decide how to use another even if it means terminating the other's life. Those who are "wanted and intentionally gestated are entitled to the protection of our moral norms." Those "designated for research" are not.
These evangelists against God would give the most innocent of human beings no chance at all to hope, to care, to love, to live. It is a very dark creed they preach.