Nebraska State Sen. Steve Erdman recently introduced a bill, LB73, which would require public schools to display the phrase “In God We Trust” in “each classroom or in another prominent place in each school building where each student shall be able to see and read it each day school is in session.”
It’s yet another Project Blitz-fueled attempt to stick God in the public schools, though Erdman insisted, not very convincingly, that his bill had “nothing to do with religion.”
What’s weird about this bill is how much Republicans have to contort themselves to avoid telling the truth about the purpose of this legislation. They can’t come right out and say, “We just want the Christian God forced on students.” So they make up other reasons. Erdman said it was all about patriotism… as if future traitors will see the “In God We Trust” sign and change their minds.
But that’s nothing compared to State Sen. Mike Groene, the chairperson of the state’s Education Committee. During a hearing on the bill a couple of weeks ago, he made comments that haven’t received much attention but really need to be heard.
Thomas Gray, an atheist veteran, spoke at the hearing against the bill. His testimony included asking which God the legislators wanted him and his kids to believe in. He also asked if the lawmakers agreed he was a good citizen. (They didn’t answer either question out loud.)
Check out the argument Groene used, though, to push back against Gray’s testimony around the 1:43:50 mark. After first arguing that people who do bad things in the name of God are somehow the exception to the rule — ignoring the fact that the “good” Christians include the very people legislating bigotry into state and federal law — he moved on to a different point of attack, arguing that atheists should support “In God We Trust” signs because it would keep people in line.
GROENE: I don’t understand atheists, why they wouldn’t embrace religion. It’s been called the great pacifier of man, to keep them in line, the fear of God… You keep people in line because they fear the afterlife. They don’t want to harm you because one of the tenets is, if they harm you, they can end up in Hell.
GRAY: We agree, I think, senator, that religion…
GROENE: So why wouldn’t the atheists promote religion? They’re smarter than everybody… If there’s no God, why wouldn’t you promote it? Because it protects you. Your neighbors will not harm you because they know… the afterlife will not exist for them, where they want to go, if they harm you, they slander you, they lie about you, they murder you. Wouldn’t you promote religion in a society, because it protects you? The tenets of [the] Christian religion and Islam and Buddhists preach to accept others. To not harm them. I would think you guys would be big cheerleaders for religion…GRAY: In as much as religions have humanist principles that they follow, I agree.
GROENE: Humanist. Is that evolution? Evolution says the strongest survives.
GRAY: I’m… afraid I don’t have time to… but I’d be happy to. but I’d like to… we’ll let somebody else come up and make their comments…
Christ, how did a man that ignorant get in elected office…? It’s a startling admission from an ignorant Republican. Groene’s entire argument is that if religion is a lie, atheists should embrace the lie because it keeps idiots like him in line.
I guess if it wasn’t for his belief in God, Groene would be running around like a crazy man, murdering and raping anyone in sight. Meanwhile, the guy in front of him is an atheist who sacrificed his life and served this country honorably without paying homage to a Sky Daddy, but Groene never makes the connection that belief in God isn’t a prerequisite to be a decent human being.
To bring it back to the legislation at hand, Groene is suggesting atheists should support the “In God We Trust” signs because lying to kids is a powerful way to make them obedient. Sure, we could teach them to do the right things for the right reasons, but why not just throw in the Christian God and guilt them into it?
That’s what it looks like when a defender of Project Blitz fumbles the ball.
And then to top it off, he dropped the mic while wrongly suggesting that evolution teaches people to be selfish and only fend for themselves. (It doesn’t. That’s not how it works. That’s not what Darwin said. Not even close.)
What a complete misunderstanding of what atheists believe. It’s not just insulting to atheists, it’s insulting to the man sitting in front of him — who had the grace to evade what I’m certain was a debate he really wanted to have.
Groene’s comments also show you the moral bankruptcy of these Christians who apparently need God to be good because they would be gigantic assholes otherwise.
Spoiler: Religion didn’t help.
For now, the bill hasn’t been voted on. But responsible legislators should strike it down because even the bill’s own defenders can’t come up with a good reason to pass it.
(Thanks to Nebraska First Evangelical Church of Satan for the link)