Alaska Voices: Rudy Wittshirk

Rudy Wittshirk is a writer who lives in Willow.

Making “Noise” To Warn Off Bears Has Two Purposes - 6/21/2014 4:54 pm

Politics Of The Apocalypse (part 8) - “Biblical Principles” In Corporate Government - 6/14/2014 7:37 pm

Politics Of The Apocalypse (part 7) - Not Hard Enough Wrong - 5/25/2014 5:54 pm

Politics Of The Apocalypse (part 6) - Political Religious Right Is A Brainwashed Cult…So What’s Wrong With The Rest Of You? - 5/8/2014 3:43 pm

Politics Of The Apocalypse (part 5) - Big Money Owns The Supreme Court And You’ve Got Nothing [see below: "PERTINENT QUESTION"] - 4/20/2014 7:28 pm

Politics Of The Apocalypse (part 4) - The De-Lie-Lusionists: “Pastors of Persecution” - 3/24/2014 3:23 pm

Politics of the Apocalypse (part 3) - The American Dream Of Wealth And Salvation - 3/12/2014 6:09 pm

Get Out On The New Snow…Read This First - 3/5/2014 8:40 pm

Two strange cases of atheism and an agnostic

Ayn Rand and S. E. Cupp are darlings of the conservative political and/or religious right. Both call themselves atheists. It gets weirder. For S. E. Cupp, her atheism is celebrated by the religious right…because she rags on atheists and admires religionists.

Lots of atheists are weird, seeing as how they defy the norm. But it is S. E. Cupp’s claim of atheism that is the weird part.

Here’s the right-wing spin:
“Atheist S.E. Cupp Says She Would Never Vote For an Atheist President on MSNBCs The Cycle”

For those of you who don’t know, The Blaze’s S.E. Cupp is an atheist. She doesn’t exactly wear it on her sleeve but she never tries to hide from it either.

Nonetheless, Cupp made a fascinating personal revelation Thursday as she spoke with her co-hosts on MSNBC’s “The Cycle” about the always important role of religion in presidential elections.

The panel was discussing GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and how it has affected his presidential ambitions so far when co-host Krystal Ball threw a curve ball and asked, “What if he were atheist?”

Cupp responded almost instantly, saying Romney would have “no chance” running as an atheist candidate.

“And you know what? I would never vote for an atheist president. Ever,” Cupp added, clearly surprising the rest of her panel.

“You’re a self-loathing atheist,” Salon’s Steve Kornacki joked.
It may seem peculiar that someone who classifies herself as an atheist would say that atheism has no place in the Oval Office, but as always, Cupp put her bold statement into context with a concise and thought-provoking explanation.

“Because I do not think that someone who represents 5 to 10 percent of the population should be representing and thinking that everyone else in the world is crazy, but me,” Cupp said, pointing to her chest.

When asked by Ball what would be wrong with someone like herself representing Christians as president, Cupp said she “appreciates” religion and explained why the person she votes for needs to have faith in something bigger than himself.

“The other part of it — I like that there is a check, OK? That there’s a person in the office that doesn’t think he’s bigger than the state,” she continued. “I like religion being a check and knowing that my president goes home every night addressing someone above him and not thinking all the power resides right here… Atheists don’t have that.”

First of all, I saw this video and Mr. Kornaki did not appear to be joking.

Also, her statements are more curious than “thought-provoking.” Not very morally incisive either since Washington politicians (with their ten-percent or whatever approval rating) are just about all “Christians”---presumably believing in something “bigger than” themselves---and they have created a corrupt and dysfunctional government. In fact, the most overtly religious of the bunch---the new Teapublican radical extremists---have virtually destroyed the political process.

Ms. Cupp is technically correct that an atheist could not “represent” all the religious folks out there. But so what? Congress is comprised of rich, White-guy lawyers and corporate shills---that doesn’t “represent” the people either.


Cupp embraces an old prejudice---the belief that one can infer the moral values of a person by their religion or lack thereof. But here are some astounding statistics (per blogger Gryphen):
According to Federal Bureau of Prisons data, the number of responding people in prison acknowledging they were Catholic was 39 percent; Protestant, 35 percent; Muslim, 7 percent; Jewish, 2 percent; and godless, 0.2 percent (20 percent did not respond).

Since the number of godless is estimated to be 10 percent of the general population, all things being equal you would expect their prison population to be 10 percent.

If, as many people assume, the godless do not lead moral lives, you would expect the number to be greater than 10 percent. The fact that the actual number is 50 times less than expected can lead to only one of two conclusions: either the godless commit less crime than the religious or they’re too smart to get caught very often. (see below* for the entire article)

Anyone seeking something “bigger than” themselves (just another code phrase for religious belief) need only step outside and check out the night sky.

Okay, I’m willing to let S. E. Cupp have her atheism. It sounds like a gimmick or an affectation to me---just like the “S. E.” instead of the Sarah Elizabeth. It is, however, a unique and daring affectation, and the fun lies in trying to untangle this lovely lady’s atheism---however qualified---from her rather conventional right-wing conservatism. Most atheists are not so conflicted.

As for her being a “self-loathing atheist,” that would be a bitch! I mean, the person who “loathes” you would be right there all the time---with no getting away from it. No, I confess, I can’t figure out this lovely lady’s ambivalence...but she does not appear to “loathe” herself.

She does produce some surreal talk show moments. Like when she got called out with the sarcastic charge: “You’re not an atheist.“ A bit flustered and taken aback but her retort (with a “tee-hee”) was: “Yes, I am!”

Hey, if she wants to call herself an atheist I tend to go along with what people call themselves---unless they are wildly hypocritical. And atheism has no official orthodoxy to cover this bizarre situation.

There are plenty of online comments on S. E. Cupp (supposedly one motive behind her oddball atheism). Some say she is laying the groundwork for a very public “conversion”---resulting in talk show appearances and a lucrative book deal. If this does happen it could conceivably be sincere---she does so seem to want to believe. Such an event would be eaten up by the religious right but fall flat with everyone else.

In any case, S.E. Cupp’s atheism seems rather qualified. For instance, while I haven’t read S. E. Cupp’s books and don‘t intend to do so, the gushing blurb for her “Losing Our Religion” goes like this:
“From her galvanizing introduction, you know where S. E. Cupp stands: She’s an atheist. A non-believer. Which makes her the perfect impartial reporter from the trenches of a culture war dividing America and eroding the Judeo-Christian values on which this country was founded.”

“The perfect impartial reporter?” Because she’s some kind of half-ass atheist? Wonder how many other atheists would get that kind of spin! From the sample text of her book it looks as if any right-wing hack could have written that book…and that’s just what she is---a right wing hack. Cupp, by the way, will join Newt Gingrich (“Beauty and the Beast?“) representing the conservative side on the new “Crossfire” show. I can’t wait not to see it!

However, one can see how the right-wing just loves to use her! She is their token atheist…a “house atheist,“ if you will, for the conservative “plantation.“ One wonders if they would be so tolerant if she weren’t such a totally beautiful lady with that “hot librarian” look. [She’s also okay with that persona, by the way.]


As for the late Ayn Rand, her atheism is never mentioned by her conservative followers…and especially not her blatant pro-abortion views. If she were alive today Rand would never survive the conservative “purity” tests. She is, however, a conservative political/economic favorite because of her economic espousal of selfish greed, self-interest and utter contempt for the “parasites” who live off the labor of others. That part of her philosophy would fit right in with conservatives today. She would make a perfect “compassionate conservative”---very greedy and not very compassionate.

Ayn Rand (died in 1982) was an unabashed atheist. A Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism.

Those ponderous novels and her “objectivism” are embraced by many conservatives from Ronald Reagan to the winsome S. E. Cupp---none of them her intellectual equal (I had to slog through those novels in college). I won’t go into “objectivism” except to say that some conservatives---like Mitt Romney’s 2012 vice-presidential running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan---claim to base their economic plans on it.

But Ayn Rand is a real atheist…and she is also a real intellectual where many of her modern followers are intellectual lightweights like Reagan, Ryan and Cupp. One wonders, in the super-heated atmosphere of right-wing religious orthodoxy, how Congressman Paul Ryan conflates his conservative views with Ayn Rand’s opinions on abortion. Per the Ayn Rand Institute (yes, folks, there is an “institute“---complete with workshops and all the rest):
What was Ayn Rand’s view on abortion?

Excerpt from “Of Living Death” in The Objectivist, October 1968:

An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

Is Objectivism atheistic? What is the Objectivist attitude toward religion?

They claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence on this earth. The mystics of spirit call it “another dimension…”

To exist is to possess identity. What identity are they able to give to their superior realm? They keep telling you what it is not, but never tell you what it is. All their identifications consist of negating: God is that which no human mind can know, they say—and proceed to demand that you consider it knowledge—God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit…knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out…

Here are more Ayn Rand quotes from a 1964 interview in Playboy magazine:



Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

Qua religion, no—in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy.


Karl Christian Rove was and is supposed to be an “agnostic.” From “A Tiny Revolution: So Karl Rove Is An "Agnostic":

SLATER: You know, I remember seeing Ralph Reed in Texas when Rove tried to bring him on board back in about 1998...Ralph Reed is an Evangelical Christian who was successful in bringing Evangelical Christians around for political ends. Karl Rove is just the opposite. He is, in fact, an agnostic. He has told--he told a friend in high school that he grew up in a largely a-religious household. He told a friend at the University of Texas, where some years ago he was teaching, that he would like to be a believer but he's an agnostic and he couldn't be otherwise. So Rove's approach has always been not that religion and the values of religion ought to have a place in our public policy, which is the message that he sent. Rove's approach is that Christians are a marvelously effective voter delivery system that can be rallied, motivated, energized, and delivered for the political candidate of your choice.
GROSS: Are you confident that Karl Rove would still consider himself an agnostic?

SLATER: I know that he felt that way two years ago. I don't know of any reason to think that he has changed that view. He certainly hasn't told me that he has. It's certainly possible. I think the evidence and the history is that he remains something of an agnostic, though he sees the Christians, and not just Christians but also orthodox Jews, to some extent, as a valuable voter source. With Rove, it's about winning. With Karl Rove, it's how can you put together a team and a constituency or a cluster of constituencies that delivers you 50 percent plus one of the vote? And that's what it's all about.”

Rove was called “Bush’s brain.” Agnostic or whatever he is, my personal take on Karl Christian Rove amounts to the same as the above opinion: He saw those Evangelicals coming a mile away and advised George W. Bush to tell them exactly what they wanted to hear so they would vote the way he wanted…plain and simple!

- Rudy Wittshirk

*Courtesy of Knox News:

The godless commit less crime, have longer marriages and are more highly educated than almost any other group in America.

According to Federal Bureau of Prisons data, the number of responding people in prison acknowledging they were Catholic was 39 percent; Protestant, 35 percent; Muslim, 7 percent; Jewish, 2 percent; and godless, 0.2 percent (20 percent did not respond).

Since the number of godless is estimated to be 10 percent of the general population, all things being equal you would expect their prison population to be 10 percent.

If, as many people assume, the godless do not lead moral lives, you would expect the number to be greater than 10 percent. The fact that the actual number is 50 times less than expected can lead to only one of two conclusions: either the godless commit less crime than the religious or they’re too smart to get caught very often.

According to a Barna Research Group report, fundamentalist Christians have the highest divorce rate, followed by Jews and Baptists. The godless are tied with Catholics and Lutherans for the lowest divorce rate. It seems that some groups that claim to follow the Bible most strictly are not putting their money where their mouths are. The godless who are thought to be without morals seem to take their vows more seriously.

According to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Survey, the least-educated Americans are Jehovah’s Witnesses, followed by black Protestants and fundamentalist Christians. The most highly educated are reformed Jews, followed by Unitarian Universalists and the godless.

In fact, a review of worldwide studies found that criminality and religion go hand in hand. The countries with the most religious people have the highest crime rates, highest sexually transmitted diseases and the highest teen pregnancy rates.

This is also true in the United States. The more religious a state’s population, the higher the crime, STD and teen pregnancy rates. The report does say that the religious are happier than the secular but posits that the ostracism of the latter may be a major cause.

In spite of this easily obtained information, the groups with the highest crime rate, the poorest marriages and the lowest education continually strive to force their beliefs on the nonreligious. And the politicians pander to them. Why else would they pass laws to put religion in the schools and on courthouse facades? And then they wonder why the godless could possibly be upset.

There is literally NOTHING that pisses me off more than some smug Bible thumper claiming moral superiority based on the fact that they have turned off their critical thinking skills and accepted a child's fairy tale as fact.

And then if THAT were not enough, they feel compelled to spread their anti-intellectual virus all over the world, supplanting indigenous religions, and destroying ancient cultures at will.

As I have said before I would leave people alone in whatever delusion they subscribe IF they were willing to keep it to themselves and out of our science, our education system, and our politics.

The bottom line is that the moral superiority argument does not pass the smell test and without that WHAT could possibly be the reason for judging the non-religious as less trustworthy and ethical than those who supplicate themselves to a god, a goddess, or a pantheon of deities?

I'm sorry what's that? Yeah that's what I thought.
Posted by Gryphen





Your thinking is “static.“ No imagination. Your false, portentous and pretentious “either/or” premises posit only two simple-minded outcomes for essentially unanswerable questions which could have a myriad of possible answers. For instance, a “Creator” may exist but might be old, worn-out, suffering from memory-loss or gone insane (that would explain a lot!)…making him (she or it) weak and ineffectual. Maybe passed away. Murdered by the Devil. Or dead by his own hand.

Also, our personalities may survive our deaths…but only as disembodied and very dissatisfied spirits. There may be no “meaning and purpose” to an afterlife (if one exists) just as there may be no more “meaning and purpose“ to this life than what we dream up for it.

Perception is, of course, “relative”---but scientific or material-based perception is far different from the faith-based “perception” of stuff we can’t see, feel, hear, touch or verify (except in meditations, prayers or demonstrably flawed holy books).

One thing is for sure: It is precisely “the electro-chemical synapsis [synapses] of the physical brain” (to which you refer) that are doing all of the assuming going on around here (yours and mine). And the neurons themselves, of course.


I’m not sure what you mean by “evolutionary religion and static atheism.” I did not specifically espouse atheism in this blog. I am obviously not religious. But I don’t call myself atheist either because there is always room for something unknown. I am not espousing an atheistic viewpoint due to the impossibility of disproving a negative---and because I am not sure. More to the point [and I will deal with this question in an upcoming blog]: Does God actually do much of anything?

I defend atheists because religionists blame this tiny minority for much of the evil they themselves have committed. Atheists actually seem to be morally superior. Apparently atheists have a faith in life sufficient to behave themselves quite respectably---better than those who overtly claim religious faith. Morally-speaking it is the atheists who have evolved...while the religionists remain static.

“Belief, by definition, is faith of theory or conclusion,“ you say. Actually, “theory” in the scientific sense relies a lot less on belief (“faith”) because it is evidence-based---derived by a ruthless sifting of facts and then processed with logic to come up with a “conclusion” that doesn’t require nearly as much “faith” to accept as does speculative religion. And it must be predictable---not dependent upon the whim of some speculative entity.

The problem in using faith to attain an “actual reality that is unattainable at a finite level” is that anything goes when “faith” is used as a sole determinant of any “theory” or “conclusion.” There is no intellectual rigor. There are no intellectual standards. Faith is belief gone out-of-control. Faith means there is little or no evidence and/or logic to a proposition…or it would be posited otherwise.

- Rudy Wittshirk



You sound just like vivazappata. Okay, I am having some fun with you anonymous guys.

Hitchens is sorely missed…the greatest debater, sharpest mind and sharpest tongue of anyone on any side of any debate. Quick, too. He was a greater moralist than many of the religious believers he debated…that‘s where his passion came from.

- Rudy Wittshirk



Obviously not all religionists or atheists fall into oversimplified categories---that was the whole point of this “strange atheists” blog. We can debate the nuances for years to come. Your concept of “evolutionary religion” is, in fact, a rather unique exception in these days of slavish adherence to the “literal” precepts derived from ancient and demonstrably false holy books. A subject which, by the way, neither you nor anyone else has addressed. I say it outright: The Bible is full of errors and falsehoods and I have so demonstrated in this series. All I get back are other arguments. I’m laying it right on the line here---I say that the fundamental premises of religion have no basis in evidence or realities other than emotional! In that regard, you have also failed to address my main objection to using “faith” as “as a sole determinant of any ‘theory‘ or ‘conclusion.’” Faith, by itself alone, is an empty bag!

I really don’t care who is “static,” who is “evolving” or if you have an imagination. Obviously I’m messing with you! And for good reason---because I don’t care for your “evolving” (shifting) arguments! You seem to be off in some religious dreamland…you want me to debate a religious concept that has nothing to do with the religious fascism threatening America today. For instance…

You say: “How people selfishly use religion for dominance, exploitation and personal aggrandizement is beside the point.”

No, it is the point! It is the entire point of this entire series on religion, science and politics. I have made that perfectly clear numerous times. The reason I am going after God and belief and faith and religious dogma is not because I care about honing the finer points of nebulous doctrines but because some static version of these notions is being posited as political and scientific justification to make outmoded religious beliefs into the official authority of law (Christian Sharia); and turn crackpot, pointedly un-evolved notions into the official legitimacy of science (at least in education…scientists will have absolutely none of this nonsense). To go further, there is a “Dominionist” movement afoot among some Christians (maybe not you) to basically assert “dominion” over the rest of us via organized efforts to assert political control! There is a blog coming on that subject.

Thank God for the atheists! A few atheists standing their ground against the hordes of militant Christians is, in America today, nothing more than self-defense. Hardly constitutes
persecution by atheists. And as far as ridicule goes, people who militantly believe in the faith-based religions are asking for it because of their willful and relentless disconnect with reality.

You don’t mean to tell me that Christians do not constantly ridicule atheists. Or worse, blame atheism for all the evils of the World. Again, maybe not you…but you are off somewhere else. You seem to espouse some kind of abstract religious view which has nothing to do with the suffocating “God’s plan” of the radical religious right. As a religious maverick, the atheists are fighting for you. They might ridicule you but they would tolerate you. On the other hand, you certainly don’t believe that the extremist Christians would tolerate, for one moment, your “evolving religion.” If the Christian fascists ever took over they would take you out right along with the atheists.

- Rudy Wittshirk




Okay, you and I have a lot in common. Good eatin’ with the smoked fish.

We…you…most of us…already know how to treat brother and sister Humans with respect. Except for the fans of tribal Mosaic-Sharia laws most religions know it as well---but the “moderate” religions are just too lukewarm about speaking out!

So, what are the odds of some wacko religionists running this country’s moral and spiritual lives? Hey, it’s already taking place!

Camp7: Your comments made me feel somewhat paranoid about seeing the threat of a Christian-Sharia-fascist takeover here in America. But among just the open emails in my inbox were the following:

Daily Kos - Wed Aug 07, 2013...15 things everyone would know if there were a liberal media

In North Carolina, the statewide vote was 51 percent Democrat and 49 percent Republican yet 9 Republicans won and only 4 Democrats.

Gerrymandering -

When was the last time you saw a front page headline about gerrymandering?

Before the 2010 election, conservatives launched a plan to win control of state legislatures before the census. The idea was to be in power when national congressional districts were redrawn in order to fix them so Republicans would win a majority of districts.

The Redistricting Majority Project was hugely successful. In 2012, Barack Obama was elected President by nearly 3.5 million votes. In Congressional races, Democrats drew nearly 1.4 million more votes than Republicans yet Republicans won control of the House 234 seats to 201 seats.

How is this possible?

By pumping $30 million into state races to win the legislatures, Republicans redrew state maps in states such as Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Florida and Ohio to place all of the Democrats into just a few districts.
In this manner, Democrats win heavily in a couple districts and lose the rest.


The same gerrymandering happened here in Alaska, which is now more corrupt than the Veco-Bill Allen days…except the public is somewhat oblivious. ALEC is being openly embraced by State legislators---and most of these guys and gals, including the governor, go to the same church.

The reason to be paranoid about the minority of right-wing Christians is because they are allied with the corporatists who wield the real power in the World today. ALEC (look it up!) is a loose cabal/coalition/alliance run by corporate interests with the arms industry, NRA, militarists, etc. and the foot soldiers/voters of radical Christianity. No doubt Christianity is waning and social liberalization is taking place (as you point out, Camp7)---probably because none of it is any skin off the posteriors of the corporate gods. But the social and cultural issues are distractions---especially abortion, which is becoming more and more restricted despite the majority being for it. The rich can buy or bribe their way to get anything they want---and that includes our national and state governments. But for now they need the votes of the “base”---the Christian far-out right.

Then there is “Dominionism” (look it up). Remember those rape remarks that cost the Republicans so dearly last election? Well, they were no accident. These lovelies believe that women should marry their rapist…because it’s “in the Bible.” But those very same toads have no reluctance about taking money from the “eye-of-the-needle” one-percenters to get their chosen ones into public office. Just look back at the line-up of retards who ran in the primaries against Mitt Romney. Well, they, or their clones, are back again!

Here is an excerpt from another heart-warming story gracing my open inbox:

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Lack of "spiritual faith" comparable to "lack of courage, and "history of psychiatric hosptalizations" in Marine training publications. Please tell me again that Atheists are not persecuted.
Courtesy of HuffPo:

In 2011 the Army faced public scrutiny after the exposition of once mandatory "Spiritual Fitness" testing which assessed the resiliency of soldiers on such qualitative measures as frequency of prayer or attendance of religious services. When a soldier failed this religious test they were denigrated with the following:

"Spiritual fitness may be an area of difficulty... You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and to others around you. You may not feel connected to something larger than yourself. You may question your beliefs, principles and values... Improving your spiritual fitness should be an important goal."

Of course, no military organization is content with a tongue lashing as a response to failing a mandatory test. For the test to have been worth anything, Army leadership determined remedial training in the form of training modules and even the requirement to visit with chaplains for religious counseling was appropriate.

Fortunately, after extensive efforts by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), and concerned soldiers, the Army decided in February of 2011 that religious testing would cease to be formally mandatory and remedial training for failing such tests would be optional.

Sadly, this was not the end of religious tests being included in formal policy throughout our military. Several days ago it was brought to our attention at MRFF that the United States Marine Corps (USMC) maintains in its doctrine that a "Lack or loss of spiritual faith" is just cause to increase scrutiny of any given Marine. This clause is present in at least two USMC publications, including Marine Corps Base Quantico's Headquarters and Service Battalion Order 5100.29 and Training and Education Command Order 5100.1...

Here’s another enlightening website referred to me by left-leaners:

____________________ God In America? I Didn’t Know He/She Was Lost!

We already do not live in a majority-rule society right now. Just imagine what things will be like when Americans continue failing to take the threat of corporate-Christian fascism seriously.

- Rudy Wittshirk




Family and religion are just not always what they are cracked up to be…especially when cracked in tandem. In family affairs or politics, religion often makes a bad situation worse. And here I thought my family was dysfunctional. Not nearly! Thanks for your comments.

- Rudy Wittshirk

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