This country is rotten and it will never change, no matter what

Atheists, non-believers and freethinkers are pissed off across the globe like never before. Just this past week I discovered new freethought websites in Greece,  Cyprus, Uganda and Italy.* I’m now keeping a list, so if you know of any I don’t please send info.

I am pissed off this week because Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini wrote an article which he published in the Osservatore Romano, a Vatican newspaper, attacking atheists as “perverse” and a “threat to society.” I’ve translated the money quote into English so non-Italian readers can see what theocratic bigots are running the roost here:

“Christians also must be able to forge an agreement with Muslims on how to fight those aspects which, like all extremisms, threaten society. I refer to atheism, materialism and relativism. Christians, Muslims and Jews can work together to reach this common objective. I believe it’s time for a new humanism in order to struggle against these perverse phenomena, because only the centrality of the human being is an antidote to fanaticism and intolerance.”

So it’s war he wants, and he’s rallying his homophobic, misogynistic friends at the Vatican against his fellow citizens in a holy alliance which is supposed to include their worst historical enemies, Jews and Muslims. I’m beginning to think we’ve entered a new phase of religious warfare on Earth: it’s no longer going to be Muslims vs. Christians or skirmishes over minor doctrinal differences, but the faithful against the secular. The only thing they can agree on is that non-believers are the enemy (at least they can finally agree on something) of their unfounded truths.

I should point out Frattini’s howler in his call for a new humanism. Is he really unaware of the fact that almost all atheists are humanists? And that faith in the supernatural is by definition not humanism, because it relies on a power outside humanity to solve humanity’s problems? That’s why we call ourselves humanists.

I wrote a short note to President Giorgio Napolitano over at the Quirinale in my best polite Italian, explaining my personal indignation. The UAAR has called for Frattini’s resignation, stating that his ideas are “clearly incompatible with the [Italian] constitution and detrimental to Italy’s international standing” as a “founding member of the European Union.”

But what pisses me off even more are my fellow atheists and secularists – Italian and American – who chide my microscopic efforts. “Why bother? This country is rotten to the core. It won’t change because you wrote an email or posted something angry on your blog.” What should I do, accept that Italy is a Vatican proxy and that I live in a Catholic theocracy? Are these the same people who want me to “accept” that the Tea Partiers mean business and will be ruling the United States in an Evangelical coalition, imposing their God on the rest of us while we kvetch that “it’s pointless to speak out”? The whole point of Gnu Atheism – if you haven’t been listening – is that those days are a distant memory. Non-believers have begun to speak up in unprecedented numbers the world over and they are not going to shut up any time soon.

Go ahead and declare war on us. We’ll continue to send indignant emails, and start blogs and websites dedicated to combating your superstition, ignorance and contempt for reason. And, in the fullness of time (we can cite the Bible, too, guys) we will win this battle. One blog at a time.

* The hat tip goes to PZ Myers, who is tracking the global spread of freethought websites daily at Pharyngula.

39 thoughts on “This country is rotten and it will never change, no matter what

  1. Oh and besides! I half-thought that was who it was, but half-thought it wasn’t, and didn’t look it up. But then I realized that was who it was, and did look it up to confirm. Frattini is the bastard who talked a lot of disgusting theocratic crap during the Motoons fuss, when he was an EU boffin. I remember doing an enraged post about him.

    1. Ophelia,

      Yes, he’s the one. You nailed him, so to speak, in your post (I’m sure he’s feeling crucified by all the attention). What I didn’t write up in my post was that nine tenths of his Osservatore Romano article was taken up by his false plea that Christians are being persecuted across the globe. He is recycling Rocco Buttiglione’s claim of a few years ago that Catholics in Europe were wearing the yellow star (of David??) and persecuted by the European Protestant majority. I just don’t have time to translate that much drivel. Thanks for the link!

  2. If we don’t try, the chance of success is zero and the consequences seem to be increased theocracy and such. If we do, the chances are small, but not necessarily zero, and the consequences are ruffled feathers (not that these people are birdy in any good way, but …). Looks favourable to me.

    Is Franco Frattini subject to reelection as a minister? I hope so, so you Italians can boot him out … or at least write his office.

  3. My own efforts opposing religious privilege and creeping theocracy are also microscopic but they are still worth making. The days of quiet politeness toward those wish to enshrine their superstitions in legislation, those who feel that religion should be exempt from human rights, have definitely passed. That we are collectively having an effect is evidenced by all the whining about “militant atheists” and the dangers of secularism.

  4. So the idiots will all unite and, having murdered or imprisoned every exemplar of rational thought, will once again fall apart and start fighting each other over their nasty doctrines. Keep going, Mr Martino, we have to save the world from stupidity. And it’s not all bad. We’ve at least managed to set up a democracy or two, a declaration of human rights, freedom of speech, microscopes… lots of good things, actually. It’s a start, anyway. I’m sure we can win. It’s believers and fanatics who attack people for being honourable, decent and kind.

  5. Never mind how microscopic you are, the world is hearing you:

    Humanism, as science and education, will be a key to our survival as a species. Like Carl Sagan said “This is a time of great danger, but our species is young, and curious, and brave. It shows much promise.”

    On behalf of our descendants, thank you for not giving up,

  6. maybe they should consider that if they kill us atheists and free thinkers

    then there will be no one left to take care of their pets after the rapture.

    one blog at a time

  7. Well,. you have been heard in the U.S. anyway.

    No single blog is going to make the world safe for secularism and individual freedom of thought. A collection, a swarm, a cloud of blogs as well-written as yours, combined with radio and books and letters and e-mails and all will eventually nudge things towards rationality.

    In about 500 years we would have things set to rights for rationality.

  8. We, in Costa Rica, have the “Asociación Costarricense de Humanistas Seculares” with a Web site, and making progress with numbers of associates. I congrats you for showing clearly the atheist position. We also fight here against the powerful Catholic Church.

  9. i believe all conservative christians should be eliminated, exterminated and erased from the face of this earth. that goes for extremists of all religions, because they all have had their hand in oppression, war, murder, rape, torture, lies, etc….all mankind’s “evils” they supposedly “fight” are the very things they do.

    Please, try to keep the inflammatory rhetoric to a minimum. I rarely edit comments, preferring to let people have their own say, but I won’t tolerate calls to violence on this blog. Free speech does not include the right to incite hatred, no matter how much you dislike religion (or anything else.) Thanks. Saying this should be unnecessary.

  10. Hi Marc, don’t let the bastards grid you down.
    Most Christians pay no attention to what the Roman pope says, Ireland was seen as a catholic fondation of the Roman church, they are losing power, which could make them irrationlly dangerous.

    Most Atheist just want to be left alone, but these people believe they have the divine rite to inflect their beliefs onto all. CCL Love they neighbour, unless their an Atheist.

    (CCL: Catholic Church Limited)

    Thing is Atheists don’t actually exist, it’s just a negative discriminative word that true believers came up with, we have taken that negative name to stand up and show that we are brothers and sisters who love and value our little time on Earth, believe in building a better life for the next generation.

    Religions have come and gone, but non-believers have allways existed, after 2000 years of religious wars where is the “Peace on Earth” Religion has failed.

    It’s not the christian teaching to hate, but all these, mens-only club in skirts, just care about is power and control.

    It was the Catholic church that first put me of religion.
    It amazes me that most Atheists know more about religion than the adherents of their religion.

    So Marc keep up the pressure.

  11. Mr Frattini will need all his time to explain the inter-religious dances his Capo M Berlusconi has been performing with the Moslem lady-Ruby.

  12. @ cpmondello

    Do you really mean that? I’m trying to read it as a spoof, but, alas, without success. You want to start a war of oppression and murder against people who you believe are the cause of oppression and murder? How would that make you different from any other oppressor and murderer?

    Religious persecutions, political programmes of extermination, such things have always been fomented for the same reasons. Frattini is saying that some people are perverse and he wants a coalition of religions to get rid of them; you are saying that some people are perverse and should be wiped out. Each of you believes that you are justified. Neither of you is any different.

    Your words make you an enemy of reason just as surely as do the words of Hitler or the Taliban. Most of this comes from spontaneous knee-jerk reactions and unquestioned beliefs. Please understand that it is unreason that is the enemy, and the answer is democracy and education. Please stop and think carefully about what you really want.

    1. “Please understand that it is unreason that is the enemy, and the answer is democracy and education.” Yes, exactly!


      We do not want to mirror the rhetoric of the Taliban or the more watered-down but equally inflammatory Frattini/Vatican line, precisely because our goals are freedom from such strictures as unquestioned dogmas produce. We want pluralism, democracy and freedom of conscience, not slaughtered millions in the name of our cause. Nota bene.

  13. This quote:
    “I believe it’s time for a new humanism in order to struggle against these perverse phenomena, because only the centrality of the human being is an antidote to fanaticism and intolerance.”
    Describes pretty much why I am an atheist. I fully agree with the importance of the centrality of the human being rather than the perverse phenomenon of some supernatural entity.

  14. This reminded me a scene from the TV series West Wing.

    “President Josiah Bartlet: There’s a promise that I ask everyone who works here to make: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Do you know why?
    Will Bailey: Because it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Remember that. People like the “Tea Partiers” sure do!

  15. If Fratinni truly wanted to see ‘perverse’ he’d only need to look at the Catholic church and its disgusting history of child abuse. And not only that – but the systemic cover-up and reshuffling of Priests to avoid prosecution and proper punishment.

    It’s ironic that atheists often have a stronger moral core that hypocritical preachers of faith. For some illogical, obscure and unfathomable reason, atheists are dubbed morally decrepit, as though with no obligation to a ‘divine power’ you’re free to do as you choose and of course – those actions would be full of sin and contempt for man. What a baseless, false and completely absurd assumption.

    The idea of morality as dependent on religion is arrogant, offensive and hypocritical, and the idea that atheists are a threat to be eliminated is almost laughable. Nice blog post by the way.

  16. The world is what people make it. Those who do not act are shaping it by their inaction (mostly by allowing the active participants free reign).

  17. The real problem here in Italy is the meanness and the narrow-mindedness of average italian man. Such humiliating phaenomena as Vatican and Berlusconism could thrive only in Italy, where the ethic core of this really stupid and sly people is hopelessly rotten. Worthy ones can’t change Italy, they have just to flee away to more respectable countries.

  18. I find it amusing that an Italian-American/America-Italian is writing about the “Italian theocracy,” Marc. Check out the statistics on belief in evolution by country:
    While only 20% of Italians polled deny evolution, 40% of US citizens polled deny evolution. The only country in the developed world with a higher per capita level of evolution denial than the US is Turkey. The theocracy is the country you left when you moved to Italy (As I did), Marc.

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