Berning Bright



It has been interesting to watch my more progressive Christian friends excuse Bernie’s lack of apparent religiosity. Some friends have taken to calling him “a spiritual man” instead. Here is one comment a friend posted online:

Each to their own. Trump has the racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, and narrow-minded ignorance and greed that would suit this nation to its demise. But each to their own. Many people probably recognize Bernie Sanders as a passive, tree hugger, atheist, but I have to disagree. He is much more than just some atheist. I am glad to hear from you though, even if it is on political disagreement!

Let the record show that I am just some atheist.

Bernie is not openly atheist. He is openly humanist.

Unless there is some better source stating Bernie’s atheism? I am shamelessly delighted that a video from Jimmy Kimmel Live! is all we have to discuss his religiosity.

All this begs the question: Why are Christian democratic voters excusing his lack of religiosity? In short, atheism has a negative appeal. Supporting an atheist in an election is inconsistent with their worldview, and so they choose instead to simply dismiss the lack of religiosity rather than confront and rationally assess it. It’s much easier to ignore than to an accept someone’s deviance from religiosity. Just ask my parents; they’re experts.

From what I have seen, secular groups are endorsing Bernie. They never quote Bernie as an atheist, but they are apt to quote some of Hillary Clinton’s more religious remarks. For instance, in 2014, during an interview, Hillary said: “At the risk of appearing predictable, the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking. I was raised reading it, memorizing passages from it and being guided by it. I still find it a source of wisdom, comfort and encouragement. [1]” It’s enough to make my skin crawl.¬†Hillary has made anti-extremist statements, but secular groups are painting her with a particular brush at the moment. Humanist groups have also quoted and supported Hillary in the past. Even their social media has taken a dramatic tern for the bern.

No matter who is elected, I imagine atheists can expect to see much of the same congressional ritual, the same Bibles passed along and used as ceremony, just one more token piece of evidence that fanatics cite when claiming that the United States is a “Christian nation.” We in a period of unhealthy nationalism, and we have been here for a long time.