Conservative pundit declares atheists can’t be “true patriots.”

I originally wrote an entry about this on Saturday, but a minor system crash ate it and I didn’t feel like retyping it at the time. But it still bugs me so I’m going to rant about it now.

Seems Conservative columnist Scott Thomas of The Illinois Leader has taken it upon himself in the spirit of the recent Memorial holiday to define what a true patriot is.

THOMAS: Patriotism means loving God and country

Patriotism in the United States is loving God and country—in that order—and appreciating the blessing it is to live in freedom. Patriotism is acknowledging and showing our appreciation to God for the blessing of freedom by taking care of this country, participating fully in that freedom, and wholeheartedly, without reservation, supporting those who are willing to fight and die to protect those freedoms.

Let me be clear on this. I do not think you can fully be a true American patriot without first loving the God who blesses this nation. Sure, an atheist can fly a flag, pledge allegiance (without mentioning God), even fight and die for our country…all legitimate patriotic acts.

But, without recognizing the God who makes this country possible, can you fully be a patriot? Without God, there is no free United States, because freedom, even the freedom to not believe in Him, comes from and is ordained by God Himself.

So are you clear on that kids? According to Scott you can’t fully be a patriot if you don’t believe in and love God. Not only that, but love of God is more important than love of nation. If you’ve been hanging out at SEB for any amount of time you already know this isn’t a new argument. The argument that God is the source of all freedom, or love, or what have you is a popular one because it automatically implies that non-believers can’t have any concept of what real freedom, love, or what have you actually is because we don’t believe in the supposed source of these intangibles. Sure, we can go through the motions, but we’re just pretending as far as Scott is concerned.

Scott’s got more on his mind than just classifying atheists as second-class patriots, though, he’s concerned that his fellow believers are allowing the rest of us to ruin this nation.

Left to our own hearts, we would either endlessly seek the power to control people or we would acquiesce to being controlled. That’s the way it worked everywhere before God chose to bless the founders of this country with freedom and, with the exception of those nations who have tried to follow our model, that’s still the way it works today.

Like it or not, believe it or not, the difference between the United States and the rest of the world is God. To the extent that this remains a nation built on faith and one that exercises its faith, we will remain the great country we are.

Not only does this demonstrate an amazing lack of historical knowledge on Scott’s part, but it also perpetuates the popular myth that this nation was built on faith. Which leads to the usual warnings of how we’re doomed if we move away from the fictitious foundation. Scott knows some of his readers are pretty clueless, though, so he goes on to spell things out a little more directly with the following:

Should we, the faithful, allow the secular and evil to continue to advance their causes, this country will diminish.

Note the clever way that Scott is linking the word “secular” to the word “evil” in his dire warning. He doesn’t directly call secularists evil so he has an out should someone call him on it, but the implication is hard to miss. Those of us who strive to keep this country’s government secular as the Founding Fathers had intended it to be are evil and will lead this nation to ruin. This stuff plays well with a populace that thinks “In God We Trust” has been our national motto from the beginning and on our money since the first coins were minted. Christian revisionism is easy when most of the nation is largely ignorant of their country’s history.

Scott wraps things up by completing his re-definition of patriotism to be effectively synonymous with “God.”

So, I ask you, in the shadow of Memorial Day, when we honored those who have served and died defending our freedom, on a day when we proudly and patriotically flew our flags, on a day when we enjoyed the freedom of a day off from the job we are free to have, in a career we are free to choose and pursue, I ask you to consider the real source of patriotism, the real reason for patriotism, and to re-commit yourself to patriotism.

So now you can add patriotism to the list of things which God is the source of along with freedom and love. Just remember that you shouldn’t mention the other things God tends to be the source of such as bigotry and prejudice as those have negative connotations among most people.

24 thoughts on “Conservative pundit declares atheists can’t be “true patriots.”

  1. Well well.  What a crock of shit.

    \Pa”tri*ot*ism\, n. [Cf. F. patriotisme.] Love of country; devotion to the welfare of one’s country; the virtues and actions of a patriot; the passion which inspires one to serve one’s country.

    Les, I’ve been lurking, but I have to chime in on this one, mostly because I’m *not* an atheist.  This guy (and most conservative pundits) have to pull their heads from out of each other’s asses and look around a little.

    Clearly, these guys check their minds at the door.  Any thinking person, athiest or not, can see that an excess of unthinking religion is what causes much of the injustice in the world, be it in the USA or anywhere else. 

    God has nothing to do with patriotism.  Patriotism , IMHO, is about loving your country, and doing whatever you believe to be best for it. “God is on our side” is at best arrogance, and at worst the sort of delusion that results in good service-men and -women being fed into the meatgrinder of War.

    Back to lurking…

  2. I am amazed by the way some people think.  Patriotism and religion have nothing to do with each other (or so says me). One is not necessary for the other and to suggest so (as Scott Thomas does) is ridiculous.  Feelings about and pride for your country have nothing to do with religious affiliations (or lack of religious affliations).  I really feel that religion has no place in politics really.  Of course, this is coming from someone who doesn’t believe that abortion should be a political issue either- but an issue between a woman, her family, and doctors- devoid of politics.

  3. Your blog rolled. Sure I’m a Christian and we might disagree there, but many of the founding fathers were less than religious.

    Seems some of these recent fascist forget history.


  4. [Quote]I ask you to consider the real source of patriotism, the real reason for patriotism, and to re-commit yourself to patriotism.[/Quote]

    Mr. Thomas, I ask that you consider the real source of patriotism, and then, just commit yourself.  I’m sure Illinois has some fine mental institutions.

    [Quote]“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.[/Quote]

    My how history doth repeat itself.

    Thanks for popping in CT.  Well said.

  5. I’d like to see this guy at an atheist KIA soldier’s funeral, carefully explaining to the bereaved that their loved one was not really a patriot. My advice to Mr. Thomas: leave the car running.

  6. Interesting that he implies that the US is a “free country” because God intended it that way.  Which begs the question of whether he thinks any other countries are similarly free, and if so, whether it’s a result of God’s favor as well.  And how about those very religious Muslim-dominated countries?  Are they free?  Are they not free, and if so, did God decide they weren’t going to be free for a particular reason?  It’s not due to their lack of religious fervor and faith in God.  Is Thomas going to claim that they’re not free because they worship the Wrong God (i.e. not Christian)?

    Just makes you want to run Jesus up the flagpole and salute him all over again …

    (Submission word:  meaning)

  7. Kilgore Trout, I briefly considered sending in a letter to the editors of The Illinois Leader (Illinois’ conservative news source.)

    What are your thoughts concerning the issues raised in this commentary? Write a letter to the editor at, and include your name and town.

    However, I really couldn’t come up with anything on short notice. Your post is something I wish I had though of myself.

    If visit their web site and do nothing else, you can vote against putting Reagan on Mount Rushmore.

  8. If “god” intended us to be free, wouldn’t that also mean that we can be free to choose our own religion, or lack thereof?  Therefore, by choosing to free myself from the fetters of a religion, against popular opinion, am I not the very essence of a patriot?  I choose to fight for my countrymen’s rights to pursue any avenue of religious experience (or lack thereof) that suits them.

    What an ass.  I didn’t see that fucker on my boat standing a midwatch, patrolling the North Pacific with a full load of nukes, hoping that George Sr. didn’t flip the switch and make us fire those birds.

    However, I can see why he’s so passionate about his opinion.  It’s the only way a non-combatant fuck like him can declare himself a “true patriot”; by linking the definition of patriotism to a belief in god.  “I am a neo-fascist, therefore I am a patriot.”

    (Note that I do not feel that service to one’s country defines patriotism anymore than buying American products does.)

  9. Holy shit, if that’s really Kilgore Trout, I have to say that Venus in a Halfshell is one of the wierdest and most imaginative books I’ve ever read.  Tres interesante.

    By the way, good point man.

  10. While one can be both patriotic and religious, neither seems to be a prerequisite for the other.  Certainly there are folks who have been patriotic (boosters for and acting on behalf of their country) who have not been godly, and there have been deeply spiritual and believing people who were not particularly enamored of their nation.  And, of course, some folks have been both religiously faithrul and patriotic.

    Scott Thomas is a doofus.  He’s representative, I believe, of neither the (Christian) religious nor the (American) patriotic.

  11. The dumbfuck’s “studying to be a pastor” – ‘nough said! I guess “studying” means forgetting about American history.

  12. The captcha keeps hosing me.  I think my internet proxy server is doing it.

    Anyway, since I cannot successfully post my witty, intelligent, insightful comment, you’ll all have to do with a poor summary.

    As a right-leaning atheist, I can say without reservation that Scott Thomas is the reason liberal pundits have so much writing material.  The man is an idiot. 

    The ability to disbelieve the existence of “gawd” does not derive from “gawd almighty” herself.

    If atheists cannot be patriots, then what about Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, etc?  Can THEY be patriots, because they at least believe in SOME power?  And if I’m not a true patriot, I’m going to go on and stop defending the nation.  Sorry, guys, I’m a pretender.

    pssst, Spocko… Les was studying to be a pastor at one point too, if I remember correctly.  smile

  13. Don’t sweat it, Spocko. It was a long time ago and was the stimulus that got me to actually sit down and read the Bible front to back for the first time which was the beginning of the end for my faith. If I hadn’t entertained the idea of becoming a member of the clergy I probably wouldn’t have undertaken the study that led me to where I am today.

    Ben, how is the captcha messing up your comments? You seem to be posting just fine. I can turn it off it it’s too much trouble.

  14. “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots.  This is one nation under God.”
    George Bush the elder, 27 Aug. 1987

    That’s my favorite quote about church & state. Here’s some more.

    The captcha was working fine for me until one time I forgot to enter the word.  Then I got caught in some wierd loop and it became a “gotcha.”  But it’s a mistake I’d only make once (until the next time)

  15. I’ve turned them off for the time being. Comment spam is all but non-existent since the switch to EE. I think we’ve had exactly one bit of comment spam and I’m not positive if that’s what it was because it was all in Japanese.

    So until it becomes a problem again the captchas probably aren’t necessary.

  16. Thanks for that link decrepitoldfool. What a load of shit! Makes wish there was such a place as Hell – I’m sure these fucking hypocrites would have a special department all their own.

  17. Jesus would have agreed with you, Spocko.  This was always one of my favorites:

    But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.  15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte,  and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15 KJV

    …then the text trails off into some crap that was almost certainly added later by some medaeval scribe who didn’t think the original words covered enough contingencies.  Sigh.

    Jesus was a… uh… LIBERAL COMMENTATOR who painted with a rather broad brush!  He was like a Jewish Al Franken of his day.  But I got fired from my one pulpit for saying shit like that.  Then Al Gore invented the Internet and I get to blabber such nonsense all day and night.

  18. For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.

    Wow, that sounds exactly like that Robertson bastard! vampire

  19. What about Northern Ireland? America acts like it is THE Christian country. I have visited Northern Ireland many times and I must say that saying “I don’t believe in God” over there will get you into a lot more trouble than over here. Nothern Irelanders, whether they be Protestant or Catholics, believe that God is a major presence in their country (well, if you count Northern Ireland as a country).

    Asshats like this one obviously don’t think that other countries worship God.

    So all you patriots, whether you believe in God or not, can go f**k yourselves because if you love a country as horrible as this, there is something wrong with you.

  20. Looking at the US from outside, it seems that the first Americans were rebels, not patriots. They rebelled against their own country, England which is not very patriotic. Maybe they could be called patriots of an idea like democracy. Ironically religion is about as far removed from democracy as it is possible to be. The old guy with the beard is in charge for eternity. Some authority trickles down to self-appointed pathetic clowns. Independent thought brings eternal torture. The point is, the patriotism of the first Americans was the opposite of religion. The superstitious can’t be patriots.

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