AlterNet Writer: Fox News Audience’s Fear of Atheists Is Just Part of Its Fear of ‘Everything’

When last seen in these parts about a month ago, writer CJ Werleman asserted that Jesus was a proto-Marxist. On Thursday, staunch atheist Werleman, author of books including God Hates You. Hate Him Back, charged in an AlterNet piece that Fox News has in recent years “waged a relentless war on atheism” because the channel’s viewership is “afraid of an America they no longer understand…afraid of the rapid deceleration of church attendance, the increasing secularization of millennials, [and] the acceptance of same-sex marriage.”

Werleman opined that Fox wildly exaggerates the “power and influence” of atheists and claimed that its coverage of non-believers dovetails with its modus operandi of fearmongering: “On Fox News, Obama is coming for your guns; Madonna is coming for your straight kids; immigrants are coming for your jobs; liberals are coming for your way of life; and atheists are coming for your Bibles.”

From Werleman’s piece (emphasis added):

In a recent online video for Crossfire, CNN political pundit and self-proclaimed atheist S.E. Cupp claimed conservative atheists are “better” than liberal atheists, and said she does not believe the “myth” that conservatism is “hostile” to atheism. “In fact, I’d go so far as to say conservatism is far more intellectually honest and respectful of atheism than liberalism has been,” she said...

[Cupp] acts like she has never heard of the Republican Party’s media arm: Fox News.

For the past few years, Fox News and its right-wing talking heads have waged a relentless war on atheism. Their annual war on Christmas spoof-ganza is their reverse victimhood effort to convince viewers that America’s godless community is coming to take away your toys and your right to say, “Merry Christmas”…

…[O]n Wednesday Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asserted that Christianity should be kept in schools because Islamic militants in Iraq were persecuting Christians. Ipso facto, atheists are as dangerous as al-Qaeda, which is exactly what they want their conservative audience to believe without Fox News having to actually say it...

A few months ago, former Bush White House Press Secretary and Fox News pundit Dana Perino said she's "tired" of atheists attempting to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. She concluded her remarks with, “If atheists don’t like it, they shouldn’t live here.”

Why does the network engage in such negative spin against atheists? Like every business decision, it’s profitable. It pays to sell what your customers will buy. The network’s customer base is afraid, and nothing in the news business sells faster than fear. What is their audience afraid of, other than everything? They’re afraid of an America they no longer understand. They’re afraid of the rapid deceleration of church attendance, the increasing secularization of millennials, the acceptance of same-sex marriage, the refusal of school boards to teach biblical creationism, and the dwindling influence of religious-conservatives on the body politic.

On Fox News, Obama is coming for your guns; Madonna is coming for your straight kids; immigrants are coming for your jobs; liberals are coming for your way of life; and atheists are coming for your Bibles.

Varied polls give varied answers when it comes to determining the atheist population of the U.S. Some polls have it as high as 10 percent, while others like Pew have it as low as 2 percent. But to hear Fox News tell it, you’d conclude atheists are the majority, or at least on level ground with the three-quarters Christian population.

Disproportionately representing the power and influence of a minority is a political tactic used to rally a cause since time immemorial. We’ve seen that everywhere from the Nazi vilification of the Jews; the Israeli vilification of Palestinians; and the Christian Right’s vilification of LGBT Americans…

Since atheists represent such a small percentage of the population, and an even smaller percentage of both the conservative base and the network’s audience, it’s a no-brainer to blame the decline of American civilization on atheists who wish to take away school prayer, rather than talk about problems whose solutions require a pro-government response i.e. safety nets, regulation, workers’ rights, and environmental protection…

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters