MORE ON BRIGHTS….Dean Esmay appropriately chooses Sunday to defend the “bright” meme. “I quite like having a single word with positive connotations that doesn’t carry so much baggage,” he says.

I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but since “bright” got trashed so thoroughly in my comments yesterday, I figured it was only fair to link to the case for the defense. One thing in Dean’s post did catch my eye, though, and that was his annoyance at Daniel Dennett’s claim in his original article that politicians like President Bush engage in “bright bashing.” He wants some examples.

Glad to oblige. Here’s one:

Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are Atheists?

Bush: I guess I’m pretty weak in the Atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.

Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are Atheists?

Bush: No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I’m just not very high on Atheists.

That’s George Bush Sr. in 1987, but I assume he counts as a politician “like President Bush”?

Granted, that’s one guy and he was probably provoked by the reporter for American Atheist, but it does go to show that there’s not much political downside to bashing nonbelievers. On a more general note, anyone even roughly my age or older will remember that for a long time “godless communism” was such a common phrase in America that it was almost as if “godless” was communism’s first name. There was never much doubt about where atheists stood in the conservative pantheon.

I’ve certainly never felt browbeaten because of my (non) beliefs, but that’s because I usually just stay quiet about the subject ? and Dennett’s whole point is that perhaps we shouldn’t have to. What’s more, I have to say that I’ve been prosyletized many a time by friends and neighbors and silently wondered how they would react if I turned the tables and started aggressively passing out atheist tracts and begging them to reconsider their faith. I’m guessing that while it’s luminous faith that motivates them, they would consider me “smug and arrogant.” At least, that’s what they seem to think of Daniel Dennett….