Growth of “Godless” as an Epithet for Liberals:
The nature of godless liberalism can be difficult to understand because of the misuse of the label by the Christian Right. According to them, all liberals are godless because they don’t adhere to conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity. Only conservative political policies are seen as compatible with Christianity; therefore, all other policies are anti-Christian, anti-religious
, and anti-God. Advocates are all thus godless liberals, but that misrepresents the nature of atheism.
Godless Liberals are Communists:
Christian Right pundits often claim that atheism is essentially socialist or communist in nature – indeed, “godless” and “communist” are often used side-by-side as epithets. Communism is not, however, inherently atheistic. It’s possible to hold communist economic views while being a theist, and it isn’t uncommon to be an atheist who staunchly defends capitalism. Those who link the two as a smear simply haven’t gotten the message that the “war on godless communism” ended long ago. Read More…
Godless Liberals are Elitist & Arrogant:
Just as common as the use of “godless” and “communist” as political smears is the label “elitist.” Conservatives have long attacked liberals as “elitist” to convince average Americans that liberals have nothing in common with them. The truth is that the label “elitist” would apply equally to some conservatives as well as some liberals. There is nothing about being godless which makes a person is more elitist or arrogant; if anything, claiming to know what God wants is a sign of arrogance.
Godless Liberals are Secularists, Opposed to Religious Liberty:
The Christian Right opposes secularism and regards it as one of modernity’s greatest evils, so it’s only natural that they use it as a smear against liberals, godless or otherwise. Liberals are generally secularists, and godless liberals particularly so, because secularism is so important to modern society. Secularism simply means having civil institutions which are independent of ecclesiastical control. The opposite of secularism and secular government is some form of theocracy.
Godless Liberals are Anti-American:
A popular attack on godless atheists is that they are anti-American. This derives in part from the assumption that true American patriotism is impossible without also being a True Christian – America is a Christian Nation
, after all – and in part from the traditional assumption that communists are also anti-American. If godless atheists are anti-America, then godless liberals must be as well. The falsehood of this is obvious given just how false all the premises necessarily are.
Godless Liberals are Anti-Christian:
Many atheists spend a great deal of time with the doctrines and beliefs which are specific to Christianity or, at the very least, to traditional forms of Western monotheism. Some atheists are indeed vehemently anti-Christian, but only insofar as they oppose religion generally – Christianity is simply the most relevant religion in their social context. This isn’t much of a complaint against atheists, though, unless it can be shown that Christianity should be exempted from such attacks.
Godless Liberals are Anti-Religion:
For people who see their god or their religion as the source of all order and morality, godless liberalism may be treated as impossible or even as a threat. The fact that godless liberals do not derive their political positions from religious doctrine does not make them anti-religious, though. They may personally be anti-religion, but politically they may not be – indeed, they may have no problem making common cause with religious liberals.
Godless Liberalism is an anti-Christian Religion:
Alongside accusing godless liberals of being anti-religion, conservatives accuse it of also being a religion that opposes Christianity. Being an atheist isn’t incompatible with belonging to a religion, but atheism itself doesn’t qualify as a religion. Liberalism is a political philosophy which lacks all the basic characteristics of a religion and is no more religious than conservatism – and possibly less so. Godless liberalism is not a religion and there is no church of godless liberalism.
Godless Liberals Undermine Moral Values with Godless Evolution:
A popular target for conservatives is evolutionary science, which they say undermines traditional religious faith and morality. They say evolution is incompatible with Christian beliefs and are convinced that teaching evolution will destroy Christianity. Liberals who support teaching science in public schools are accused of being godless and anti-Christian. The science of evolution is godless, but it’s not a religion, not incompatible with morality, and not anti-Christian. Read More…
Godless Liberalism, Traditional Bigotry, and Christian Privilege:
Atheists don’t exist in large numbers in America and aren’t a very powerful interest group in American politics. Atheists can be found in both liberal and conservative political movements; liberals overall are primarily theistic and Christian, not atheists. Neither the godless
nor godless liberals have by themselves any significant impact on politics, culture, or society. Because of all this and more, we have to ask why conservatives have become so obsessed with attacking “godless liberals.”Conservative attacks on godless liberals make no sense if the target is really supposed to be godless liberals themselves; on the other hand, if godless liberals are merely a substitute for other targets, the attacks are more understandable. One likely point of the attacks is an indirect defense of traditional Christian privileges
: if anything is indicative of the loss of Christian privileges in America, it’s the unapologetic presence of outspoken atheists – and especially the presence of atheists filing lawsuits to eliminate government favoritism towards and promotion of Christianity. Attacks on the godless are thus a means for expressing outrage that some feel because Christians and Christianity are not treated as special anymore.Another likely reason for the attacks on godless liberals is the fact that conservatives are finding it increasingly difficult to attack the minorities they have traditionally tried to attack in defense of other traditional privileges: male privilege, white privilege, and heterosexual privilege. Conservatives frequently attack gays, but it’s getting harder to be openly bigoted towards them without social consequences. Attacks on the equality of women and racial minorities are even more difficult and must be heavily veiled with code-words involving immigration, radical feminism, and so forth. If someone wants to vent their bigotry, they do so against liberalism generally because it’s largely responsible for the decline of traditional privileges.