CNN Coverage of School Prayer and Discrimination Against Atheists

Paula Zhan had a strange panel to discuss discrimination against atheists–two evangelical Christians and Debbie Schlussel, who, despite being Jewish, expressed the strongest belief that this is a Christian nation while making her intolerance towards atheists very clear. They report on a couple in Mississippi who complained to the school principal about the class time devoted to bible study and prayer and were ultimately driven out of town due to their beliefs. Here’s a couple examples from the panel discussion:

ZAHN: And welcome back. We’re talking about whether there’s widespread discrimination against atheists, folks who don’t believe in God. Let’s check out with our out in the open panel now. Stephen Smith, Debbie Schlussel and Karen Hunter. Hey Debbie, it took me 10 times to say your name right. (INAUDIBLE) So do you think atheists should keep their religious beliefs secret? What’s their beliefs period?
HUNTER: What does an atheist believe? Nothing. I think this is such a ridiculous story. Are we not going to take “In God We Trust” off of our dollars? Are we going to not say “one nation under God?” When does it end? We took prayer out of schools. What more do they want?

ZAHN: Are any of you going to defend them here tonight?

SCHLUSSEL: No, I agree with her 100 percent. I think that the real discrimination is atheists against Americans who are religious. Listen, we are a Christian nation. I’m not a Christian. I’m Jewish, but I recognize we’re a Christian country and freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion. And the problem is that, you have these atheists selectively I believe attacking Christianity. You had a case in California where school children were forced to dress as Muslims and learn from the Koran. In Michigan they’re saying high school (INAUDIBLE) in high school where they say Muslim prayers at the football games, public high school, (INAUDIBLE) in high school. You don’t see atheists complaining about that. I really believe that they are the ones who are the intolerant ones against Christians.

Later in the discussion:

ZAHN: Can you explain to me where you feel the assault? When 97 percent of the folks in this country claim to worship some kind of God, the 1 to 3 percent of this population that doesn’t believe in God, who are they hurting?

HUNTER: Eight to 12 percent. (INAUDIBLE) They’re not hurting anyone. I personally don’t have a problem with an atheist. Believe or don’t believe what you want. Don’t impose upon my right to want to have prayer in schools, to want to say the pledge of allegiance, to want to honor my God. Don’t infringe upon that right.

SMITH: When they want to take – when they want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance or whatever, this is what I’m saying. They’re saying, OK, that’s Christian. What if you’re a Muslim? What if you’re someone of a different belief?

SCHLUSSEL: This is a Christian country.

SMITH: I understand that, but what they’re saying is how can — if we’re inclusionary, why can’t we include all that and we’re not. That’s my point.

SCHLUSSEL: (INAUDIBLE) Look where there are more atheists and where they’ve lost God, where the church is not that strong. Europe is becoming Islamist. It’s fast falling and intolerance is increasing. That’s the one reason our country has not become like Europe because we have strong Christians and because atheists are not strong. And I think that’s a good thing.

Several bloggers are beginning to protest this, questioning why there wasn’t an atheist included in the discussion to defend their views (here, here, here, here, and here). More importantly, I’d like to see someone who would present a stronger argument for separation of church and state regardless of their own personal religious views. Even conservative Mike Huckabee did a better job of discussing prayer in the schools recently.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Vastib says:

    Here is the same debate with african americans inserted for atheists, whites for christians and Communist for Islamist. Some parts were omitted because they only related to atheism but I think you get the point. Feel free to modify this to better fit the original debate. It was a quick fix but it does make a point.

    Z: And welcome back. We’re talking about whether there’s widespread discrimination against african americans, folks who don’t have the same skin color as whites. Let’s check out with our out in the open panel now. S S, D S and K H. Hey D, it took me 10 times to say your name right. (INAUDIBLE) So do you think african americans should keep the color of their skin secret and not want equal rights?
    H: I think this is such a ridiculous story. Are we not going to take away separate schools? Are we going to not have separate bathrooms? When does it end? We got rid of slavery. What more do they want?
    Z: Are any of you going to defend them here tonight?
    S: No, I agree with her 100 percent. I think that the real discrimination is african americans against Whites. Listen, we are a white nation. I’m not a white. I’m native american, but I recognize we’re a white country and freedom of equallity doesn’t mean freedom from seperation. And the problem is that, you have these african americans selectively I believe attacking whites. You had a case in California where asians where descriminated against. Or in the east Irish people being descriminated against. You don’t see african americans complaining about that. I really believe that they are the ones who are the intolerant ones against whites.
    Z: What happened to love thy neighbor, the idea that we should be able to practice free speech?
    S: That’s nonexistent. We all know that. We talk about that in America, but that’s pretty much nonexistent, especially in the red states, particularly in the south. That’s where the african americans are having the most trouble. When they talk about violent acts that have been enacted them or (INAUDIBLE) exacted against them or what have you. That’s the kind of area they’re talking about. I think in New York City, I don’t think people care too much about it. We’re a white country. There’s no question about that. I love white people. So does K, so does everybody that I know. But the reality is that you’re entitled to believe what you want as long as you’re not imposing your beliefs on other people.
    Z: Is that what you think they’re really doing?
    H: They don’t have a good – marketing. If they had hallmark cards, maybe they wouldn’t feel so left out. We have white people cards, white people on telivision. Maybe they need to get some african american cards and get that whole ball rolling so more people can get involved with what they’re doing. I think they need to shut up and let people do what they do. No, I think they need to shut up about it.
    S: I don’t think they need to shut up. The reason why I don’t think they need to shut up is because there’s a whole bunch of people in this world that we can look at and say they need to shut up and they certainly don’t. You got everybody fighting for their own individual cause. This is their cause. We might not like it. I don’t agree with it at all, but they do have a right.
    H: I think they need to shut up about crying wolf all the time and saying that they’re being imposed upon. I personally think that they should never have stoped segregation of schools. I would rather there be some morality in schools. But they did that because an african american went to court and said their child was descriminated against.
    S: And what about this obnoxious Martin Luther King, who went all the way to the Supreme Court for his child, the child doesn’t know what’s going on. They are on the attack. It’s obnoxious and they do need to shut up.
    S: They are going on the attack, but the reality, again, is everybody has their own cause. The fact is there’s a whole bunch of people in America who need to shut up and they don’t. So why should these people be any less. We live in a nation. We’re supposed to be tolerant. We’re supposed to be accepting of other people’s viewpoints, even when they are not our own and the fact is, if they’re an african american, that’s their right. They’re not going to change me being white.
    Z: What I find so interesting is when you look at the statistics, that they were the most hated of all the minorities.
    S: I’m not even willing to believe that. That’s news to me. I heard that, I read that, I just don’t believe it.
    Z: Can you explain to me where you feel the assault? When a high percentage of the folks in this country are white, the rest of this population is not white, who are they hurting?
    H: They’re not hurting anyone. I personally don’t have a problem with african americans. Believe or don’t believe what you want. Don’t impose upon my right to want to have seperate schools, to want to have separate drinking fountains, to want to honor my traditions. Don’t infringe upon that right.
    S: This is a white country.
    S: I understand that, but what they’re saying is how can — if we’re inclusionary, why can’t we include all that and we’re not. That’s my point.
    S: (INAUDIBLE) Look where there are more african americans and where they are not white. Europe is becoming Communist. It’s fast falling and intolerance is increasing. That’s the one reason our country has not become like Europe because we have strong whites and because african americans are not strong. And I think that’s a good thing.

  2. 2
    jasmine says:

    i think this Z woman needs to get her head straight. Didn’t jesus say eveyone is equal in god’s eyes? Iisnt everyone the same. I am an atheist, personally i think that there is no difference in christians, athiests, and all those other religions. We are all equal. We are all human beings. We shouldn’t hate each other for what we believe in! This is stupid and i hope that whoever reads this will understand and realize. There is nothing wrong with athiests and nothing wrong with any other religions. Get over it and stop the bull crap! I am only 15 and i think people who complain and whine about athiests being horrible people and that we are a discremination to the U.S. are just big babies that need to grow up and repect each other.

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