Yesterday, humorist Andy Borowitz published a piece at the New Yorker with the headline “Cruz’s Constant References to Jesus Drive Millions to Atheism“:
The Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s constant references to Jesus Christ in his speeches and campaign ads are sparking a strong interest in atheism among millions of Americans, atheist leaders report.
“It’s been amazing,” [executive director of the American Society of Atheists Carol] Foyler said. “We’re getting calls from people who are curious about atheism for the first time in their lives. And when we ask them what got them thinking about it, they all say the same thing: ‘I just heard Ted Cruz talk.’”
Satire aside, Ted Cruz may really end up being the atheist movement’s best friend over the next year. The more he merges church and state — as he has already done by announcing his presidential campaign at a fundamentalist Christian school… and through so much of his rhetoric — the more queasy he makes those of us who respect church/state separation. And that includes many Christians.
If he becomes competitive in the race, or (dare I say it) if he eventually gets the GOP nomination, he would become one of the most prominent politicians in the country as well as one of the most prominent Christians. And he exudes Huckabee-level devotion to the idea of his faith guiding his politics.
We’re talking someone who would openly speak out against LGBT rights, women’s rights, evolution, climate change… all issues Republicans want to avoid in the next election. When social issues become the focus in a state-wide or national race, they lose. Many Republicans even avoided signing a Supreme Court brief against nationwide marriage equality because it’s such a toxic issue for them. They don’t want another Todd Akin, especially as they’re watching Governor Mike Pence get hammered over his anti-LGBT legislation. You think Ted Cruz is going to avoid those issues? Not a chance. Social issues would become the centerpiece of his campaign.
What does that mean for those of us on the other end of the Humanist spectrum? It means more young people shying away from the label of Christianity and maybe even doubting their faith altogether, because they don’t want to be part of a religion that does so much damage in our society. It takes someone as extreme as Cruz to make them realize how awful their beliefs really are.
I firmly believe the presidency of George W. Bush, with his faith-based policies, did as much (if not more) to drive people away from faith as the New Atheist books and the discussions surrounding them. And when it comes to public pronouncements of religion, Ted Cruz is George W. Bush on steroids.
So laugh at the Borowitz article… but realize it’s really not that much of a joke.