Atheist to Italy: Get Religion April 5, 2008

Atheist to Italy: Get Religion

Rachel Donadio‘s article in tomorrow’s edition of The New York Times profiles Giuliano Ferrara, a “third party” candidate in the upcoming national elections in Italy.


One fringe candidate is different.

He is Giuliano Ferrara, a Communist turned conservative who is Italy’s most operatic and most mercurial intellectual provocateur. A newspaper editor and former government minister, Mr. Ferrara is best known here as a television talk-show host. He combines the political theatrics of an Abbie Hoffman with the rhetorical flair of a William F. Buckley.

To his critics, he is an opportunist, a consigliere ever in search of a new prince, a misogynist meddler trying to draw Catholic votes away from the left.

He’s also an atheist who doesn’t fit the typical mold:

… Mr. Ferrara is running for Parliament on a small slate devoted to a single issue: “pro-life,” which he defines loosely. An avowed atheist and nonbeliever, he has called for a “moratorium,” but not a ban, on abortion, to call attention to the value of life.

When a health inspection found that an illegal, late-term abortion had been performed on a fetus with Klinefelter’s Syndrome, whose symptoms include small testicles and large breasts, Mr. Ferrara said that was no grounds to abort. He said he, too, might have the syndrome — and anyone who doubted him could take a look. But Mr. Ferrara is an unlikely pro-life crusader; he has acknowledged that in his early 20s, three of his partners had abortions.

Ferrara has said he’s concerned more about intellectual advancement than winning the election: “I’m a man in search of ideas, not votes. That’s only a means.”

In the process, he has formed a bit of a bond with the Catholic Church:

One obvious question is whether Mr. Ferrara is inching his way toward the Church as if it were the last best hope for a politics of ideas. He denies this. “I’m not asking for their support, not in any way,” he said. “Of course it’s also true that I don’t have it.” Indeed, three leading Catholic publications have criticized Mr. Ferrara’s campaign, saying matters of faith should remain private. But on a recent visit to a church in Mr. Ferrara’s neighborhood in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI shook his hand. Mr. Ferrara said in the interview that he had a “relationship” with the Church, but no political ties.

For his part, Mr. Ferrara says he remains an atheist. “I’m not a converted Catholic,” he said. “I’m still a nonbeliever, even though my idea of reason is the idea of a reason which is open to mystery.”

Ironic that the atheist would need a miracle to win.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • What draws my attention the most is that the Vatican disapproves of anyone bringing faith into an election, apparentley. They also seem to think he’s scoring points by atheism. I gotta contrast that to elections in the U.S.

  • Karen

    What’s really creepy is that he vaguely resembles PZ Myers, as if one were trying to transmogrify PZ into a toad and the process hung up shortly after the start.. (Which is not a criticism of PZ!)

  • I guess he kinda resembles PZ…

    PZ Meyers – clean hair – grooming = this guy


  • c.darrow

    “three leading Catholic publications have criticized Mr. Ferrara’s campaign, saying matters of faith should remain private.”

    this is what they are saying, but not what they are thinking: in fact they are strongly pro “faith” in public, and they usually praise the faith based american politic. this time they only fear that ferrara, a pupil of the vatican in recent years, with his unexpected move will take away votes from the catholic center party, favoured by those publications. the vatican has a much broader strategy apparently, and the more the media talks about abortion or every other ethical question, before or after the elections, the more they gain power, both on the media and in the government. they just can’t lose, they have a total monopoly on the “values”.

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