« Agnostic Unfair to Atheists | Main | The Itch for Religion -- 2 »

August 30, 2006

Ann Coulter and Morality

Can't resist one more shot at (fish-in-a-barrel) Ann Coulter, borrowed from the review by Jerry Coyne. Here the issue is one that has been visited before on this blog: the relationship between disbelief and morality:

If Coulter were right, evolutionists would be the most beastly people on earth, not to be trusted in the vicinity of a goat. But I've been around biologists all of my adult life, and I can tell you that they're a lot more civil than, say, Coulter. It's a simple fact that you don't need the Bible -- or even religion -- to be moral. Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews, who don't follow the New Testament, usually behave responsibly despite this problem; and atheists and agnostics derive morality from non-biblical philosophy. In fact, one of the most ethical people I know is Coulter's version of the Antichrist: the atheistic biologist Richard Dawkins.... Dawkins would never say -- as Coulter does -- that Cindy Sheehan doesn't look good in shorts, that Al Franken resembles a monkey, or that 9/11 widows enjoyed the deaths of their husbands. Isn't there something in the Bible about doing unto others?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at August 30, 2006 11:00 PM


As a former future Methodist minister and practicing Jew, I find the practice of equating disbelief with immorality quite perplexing. I've spent most of my life studying scripture from both the Christian and Jewish perspectives, so I can tell you that the idea that morality requires belief contradicts it. In Judaism, one's place in the World to Come is based on one's behavior not one's belief. In fact, it is harder to earn a place in that world as a believing Jew than as a non-believing Gentile as Jews are expected to uphold more than 600 laws while even a truly righteous gentile must uphold only 7, which are interpreted/applied less stringently for the non-Jew than they would be for a Jew. (For instance, a Jew who worshipped a man would be an idolator, but Christians who worship Jesus are not considered idolators.) In New Testament scripture, Jesus' parable of the two servants teaches that a servant who denounces his master and rejects his authority but does his bidding because it's the right thing to do anyway is a better servant than the one who praises his master but does his own will rather than his master's. Christian scripture also says, "Faith without works is dead." In my opinion, there is nothing that requires or even permits us to judge as immoral anyone who doesn't believe. We should ascertain the behavior of a person and determine if that is moral. Under these interpretations, non-believers can not only be moral, it is far easier for them to be considered moral than someone who believes/studies scripture and therefore must live to a higher standard.

Posted by: Melinda Barton at August 31, 2006 10:06 AM

I don't know, I am so not sure, but will dare to say that if someone calls God Father, there is a good chance that those will take moral cues from Dad. Parental example, influence being what it is...

And I am perplexed by this God.

Are we to conclude that it is God's will to stand back and do nothing in the wake of so much destruction and loss on earth...so He can do what???

Tell the Devil, "See these people, they will believe in me and trust me no matter what."
That is what He is said to have done in the book of Job...

How moral is it to place one's ego trip above the essential needs of others? That is a question I have 'asked God' but not in such a harsh way. Since he has not answered, I must admit to getting a bit ticked off!

What makes God trustworthy at all? If I read the Bible and with realistic understanding, I see a God that on the one hand rescues mankind, loves mankind, leads and provides for us...but on the other hand I see a God who within His character, makes evil entitities his vehicle to deliver discipline to peoples that he later sent His Son to die for?

That he even sent all manner of things that one would not even think would be in God's perfectly good and righteous storehouse. If Jesus had to be crucified to take sin out of the way so we could have relationship with God, cos he could not have allowed sin into his periphery...then what of God using sin / evil as if it is His to use at all? You can't use something that is not yours, can you? Or if you do, aren't you stealing?

What of even the New Testament God, though I would not believe for God to have done an about face between the two covenants...but many say that the God of the OT was this wrath-filled God and yet in the NT He reveals grace and love. Well I don't see that, cos the Savior is said to be slain before the foundation of the world...and so the provision of eternity's love and grace ought to have been available for God to draw on in any age. And yet, whack, slam, bang...wiped out! Many peoples, and that even in horrific ways. And then in the NT we have even how God supposedly struck dead Ananais and Saphirra for conspiring to hold back some of their profit and lying about it.

Who is God striking dead these days for lying?

I don't mean to bring politics into this, but are the politicians that promote a theocracy and constantly change the reasons we are in Iraq looking at the two stone tablets, on one the words, Thou shalt not kill...or are they simply doing that which shows their Father's character, being a "chip off the old block"???

And what proof do we have that if there is a God that he is even honest Himself?

If we are to believe the promises of God found in the Bible, then where do we find that He has kept them all?

Just thinking about the morality of God as found in the Bible...

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at August 31, 2006 5:50 PM

As someone who doesn't see scripture as perfect or intended for literal interpretation in its entirety, I probably have a different perspective from those who do. However, I personally think that the problem is our perceptions of G-d rather than G-d's actual identity. The just man, perhaps, seeks the best of G-d within himself and attempts to develop that. The unjust man seeks the worst of himself in G-d and, in the darkness of his soul, convinces himself he found it. I also believe that evil may have a positive role to play. First, because what is our goodness without that context provided by the conflict between good and bad impulses? Second, because civilization would not be possible without the negative impulses--selfishness,greed, etc.--balanced by the positive impulses--compassion, for instance. The struggle is productive.
As for the father analogy, a man is just as likely to attempt to differentiate himself from his father than to attempt to model himself after his father. Think George W. Bush.
Personally, I agree with the "5 blind men and an elephant" metaphor. I've reached my hands out and touched what feels like I wall. I trust other humans enough and am skeptical enough about my own perceptions that I'm pretty sure it's not a wall. (After all, I may be wacky enough to believe in a perfect deity, but I'm not quite stupid enough to believe in a perfect me.) Unfortunately, I still don't know quite what an elephant is. G-d is an abstraction with which I will always struggle. I think that struggle is productive, so I continue.

Posted by: Melinda Barton at September 1, 2006 9:20 AM

"If Coulter were right, evolutionists would be the most beastly people on earth, not to be trusted in the vicinity of a goat."

She is right, because Darwinism leads to every sort of evil and outrageous behavior conceivable to man. Without God in existence, his statutes are meaningless and any behavior is permissible, no matter how evil, crude or gruesome it is. Eugenics came as a result of Darwinism being applied to humanity, and then Adolf Hitler took applied Darwinism a couple steps further in his bigoted vision of humanity in the notion of the Aryan race. Marx and Engels hailed this atheistic vision of Darwin as their explanation of natural history. Then came along Peter Singer arguing for and condoning bestiality, a "perfectly logical extension of Darwinism," as Coulter says. None of these people were ever to be trusted, and Hitler is one of the very top liars in history, and Singer an extremely dangerous person, to prove that point.

Secondly, ethical does not mean anything close to being a Christian. It doesn't matter what religion you are or who you are, if you are not saved through Christ Jesus you will die and spend eternity in hell separated from God. Besides, Ann Coulter's comments are appropriate given the context they are taken in, so no argument there. As far as we know, no matter how much or how bad our shortcomings are, if Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we are saved eternally and basically nothing else matters. We have the freedom to live fearlessly for Him and fearlessly contend for the truth, not worrying about our opposition. In this respect, Ann is a great example to us.

On the blogger's quirp about Ann characterizing Richard Dawkins, the fanatically devout Darwinist and atheist, as her "version of the Anti-christ", he has been known to viciously denounce the church and anyone claiming creation or even I.D., basically anything opposing his fanatical, faith-like devotion to Darwinism. Ann also points this out in her book, if you ever took the time to read it, which you have not. Besides, Mitchell, where do you come from? NYU, a bastion of liberalism opposing God and godly principles, like the vast majority of American universities.

Could you also not help but take Ann Coulter's comments out of context, also? She is actually polite compared to the torrents of hatred and abuse that come from liberals who hate her and what she stands for. Contrary to what many think about her, she didn't call for someone to kill herself, didn't demand censorship of a book or want to burn books written by someone she doesn't like for the ridiculous arguments put forth in them. She has made proper criticism of everything and everyone she has attacked and takes nothing back, period. Not to mention the blogger takes the Golden Rule out of context, another known liberal tactic in regards to the Bible, to attack Ann.

Watching you people only proves Miss Coulter's point over and over again. At least she actually cares about you, whereas liberals don't. Keep this in mind. Way to go, Ann!!!!

Posted by: Mark at September 4, 2006 3:31 AM

You make a huge mistake in assuming that people like Hitler (who wasn't an atheist) represent all atheists. He represents atheists no better than the Grand Inquisitor, David Koresh, James Charles Kopp, etc. represented all theists (and perhaps worse since they WERE theists).
You also assume that only those who acknowledge G-d's existence are capable of following his law. If we are all the image of G-d, each carrying within himself the divine spark the Jews dubbed conscience, then listening to "G-d's voice" within will lead to morality just as surely as acknowledging the external existence of G-d and the validity of written law. There are many--alive now and throughout history--who did not or do not have knowledge of the written scriptures. A just G-d, as we believe our G-d is just, could not and would not condemn them for not believing in him while otherwise living morally excellent lives.

Posted by: Melinda Barton at September 5, 2006 3:15 PM

I am sorry if this is too long, Mitch, but I would like your guest Mark to read this article about Ms. Coulter. It is available online. And perhaps he ought to remember that when one learns the truth, they can be set free. The only snag to that is that some opt not to be freed from that which is familiar and therefore seemingly safe:
Jesusless: The Church of Conservatism
Robert S. McElvaine

In Godless, her latest and most ill-tempered book-length rant, Ann Coulter asserts that liberalism is a "godless" religion. In fact, however, the most fundamental problem in Christianity in America and the world today is that the "fundamentalist" religion that most loudly proclaims itself to be "Christian" is Jesusless.

Coulter demonstrates how Jesusless she and her cohort who have co-opted the name of Christianity are when she identifies "Americans' Christian destiny" as "jet skis, steak on the electric grill, hot showers, and night skiing." For some reason, she fails to cite her source in the Gospels for her definition of Christian destiny, which amounts to: Jesus died for our jet skis.

Read the Gospels from beginning to end and nowhere will you find Jesus suggesting anything like what Coulter sees as the destiny of Christians. Quite the contrary. Indeed, there is no source in anything Jesus said for most of what the best-known "Christians" preach in his name these days. While Coulter fumes that "liberalism is the opposition party to God," the clear truth is that what passes for "Christianity" today is the opposition party to Jesus. She attacks "the liberal hostility to God-based religions" while exposing her own hostility to Jesus-based religion.

As has been widely reported, Coulter offers "Christian" sentiments about widows of 9/11 victims who are not on her side politically: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis," the millionaire TV celebrity and right-wing lioness Coulter hisses. "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." If Jesus had remained in his grave, surely he would be spinning in it to hear such evil venom being spit out in his name.

"Christians" of the sort who buy Coulter's books call themselves "fundamentalists," but their emphasis is entirely upon the word's first syllable; they're all about having fun. But when it comes to the fundamental teachings of Jesus, they take a pass. Turn the other cheek? Self-sacrifice? Help the poor? Nonviolence? That stuff's too hard. They replace the Gospel accounts of what Jesus said with the Gospel according to John and Paul (Lennon and McCartney, that is): "Give me money / That's what I want."

The Church of Coulter -- and that of the loudest "Christians" today -- should be called what it plainly is: Jesusless: The Church of Mammon. Coulter makes millions by calling others treasonous and Godless and saying, "We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Conversion should start at home, and Coulter first needs to convert herself from Mammonism to Christianity.

Like many others in the increasingly dominant and totally misnamed "Christian Right," Coulter has a persecution complex. Upon the publication of Godless, she used her syndicated column to write a self-review of her book, saying it would be ignored: "If you find Godless without asking for assistance, it's considered a minor miracle." This from a woman whose new Jesusless book was at that very moment rising to Number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. (That such a patently anti-Jesus book could become the best-selling book in America tells us just how far removed from being followers of Christ most of today's self-proclaimed Christians are.) She's lamenting all the way to the bank, her house of worship.

In my opinion, those who complain about a "War on Christianity" are right. The generals conducting that war include, in addition to Kill-a-Muslim-for-Christ Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, James Dobson, and the whole Unheavenly Host of televangelists and megachurch moneychangers and wolves in sheep's clothing who have expropriated the moral assets of Jesus and turned them to their own purposes. They never met a dollar they didn't like. They prefer profits to prophecy and pretend that Jesus did, too. They favor the rich over the poor and invert Jesus to contend that he did, too. They favor war over peace and lie by saying that Jesus did, too.

Coulter and millions of her fellow adherents to ChristianityLite -- a "religion" that is the equivalent of a "Lose weight without diet or exercise" scam ("Easy Jesus! Be saved without sacrifice or good works!") -- have aborted Jesus and rewritten his teachings to suit their own selfish desires. Their revision of the Beatitudes -- what we might call the Be-Ann-itudes -- goes something like this:

Blessed are the haughty in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who exult over others, for they shall be further rewarded.
Blessed are the arrogant, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for domination, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are those who show no mercy, for they shall obtain the wealth of others.
Blessed are the hard in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the war-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who persecute for their own sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when you revile others and persecute others and utter all sorts of evil against them falsely on my account.

Onward Jesusless "Christian" soldiers, marching others into war.

Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College and is the author of Eve's Seed (McGraw-Hill). He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled ChristianityLite: Getting to Heaven without the Hassle.

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Copyright © by the author
All Rights Reserved
site promotion

Page printed from:

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at September 5, 2006 6:24 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)