AHA News |  

Did Politician Really Apologize for Anti-Atheist Rant?

April 11, 2008

 

The American Humanist Association responded today to the claim that Illinois State Representative Monique Davis (D-Chicago) apologized for an April 2 anti-atheist tirade she delivered during a State Government Administration Committee hearing in Springfield, Illinois.

"As far as we know, the only source for this alleged April 9 apology is the Web site of the immediate victim. It hasn't been corroborated or confirmed," declared Mel Lipman, president of the American Humanist Association. "Moreover, even if confirmed, the apology was only private. That just isn't good enough." 

On April 2, Davis had interrupted atheist Rob Sherman during his testimony critical of a $1 million grant to a Baptist church. She declared, in part: "I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. . . . This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children. . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! . . . I am fed up! Get out of that seat! . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying!" (A transcript and audio of the exchange can be found at http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/ .) Sherman remained in his seat and continued his testimony.

"We humanists would be gratified to know for sure that Monique Davis has apologized for her anti-atheist outburst," said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. "We are grateful already for the public and media outcry against that outburst." 

Speckhardt was referring to commentaries critical of Davis on MSNBC "Countdown" (where host Keith Olbermann designated Davis the Tuesday, April 8, "Worst Person in The World"), various radio stations, prominent blogs like the Daily Kos and the Huffington post, Eric Zorn's Chicago Tribune column and blog "Change of Subject," and elsewhere. A large number of individuals have posted blog comments supportive of respect for atheists, and have phoned and e-mailed Davis' office. "This shows how much America is changing in its willingness to support the right of people like humanists to be God free and be respected for who they are," Speckhardt added.

On his Web site (http://robsherman.com/), Sherman reports that, on April 9, Davis had called him "from the Floor of the Illinois House of Representatives to apologize for what she had said," adding that, "she had been upset, earlier in the day, to learn that a twenty-second and twenty-third Chicago Public School student this school year had been shot to death that morning" and this was why she had taken her anger out on him. Representative Jack Franks, who had chaired the hearing, told Chicago's WBBM Newsradio 780 yesterday that Davis' outburst was uncharacteristic: "she was having a bad day."

"Such a purely private apology, even when publicly reported, misses the point," declared Lipman today. "What Monique Davis said was an offense to all nontheistic people, including humanists like me, not merely an offense to a single atheist. And her words were uttered publicly, so only a public apology will suffice.

"On behalf of humanists everywhere, we will accept such a public apology if it comes," Speckhardt said. "But this won't mean that the godless now enjoy a level playing field. We still have a ways to go. Had Representative Davis' remarks been directed at Jews or Christians instead of atheists, she would have been forced to resign."

Speckhardt went on to note that atheists have been discriminated against throughout history. "In England, when poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published a pamphlet in 1811 entitled ‘The Necessity of Atheism,’ he was kicked out of Oxford. Closer to home, in Arkansas, atheist activist Charles Lee Smith was twice arrested in 1928, first for selling atheist literature and then for blasphemy. Moreover, since he couldn't as an atheist swear an oath to God on the Bible, he wasn't permitted to testify in his own defense!"

Times have changed since then: "This is modern America. We have a right to be here," Speckhardt concluded.

# # #

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

American Humanist Association

Carroll County: A Small Maryland Community Gets Big Attention for All the Wrong...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Matthew Bulger, the AHA's legislative associate, reports on our first congressio...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Washington DC, Atheists, Humanists and Agn...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out some photos from yesterday's congressional briefing on humanist celebr...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our first congressional briefing was a success! The room was completely packed w...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Wonder Works Day Camp in Moscow, Idaho has begun! The first day was a huge succe...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The briefing on military chaplaincy has begun.

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today, the American Humanist Association will be hosting our first Congressional...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a video from Harvard's Making Caring Common Project. 5 Ways to Raise M...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why the Way We Live is More Important. Get TheHumanist.com by email once a week...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hey, have a laugh! http://hmn.st/1sFRZ33 Get TheHumanist.com by email once a we...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

No matter how right or how wrong, religion can not establish morality for the ma...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

I have come across this many times. While this topic may not be important to all...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jesus Cones! A new way to violate church-state separation, in Gwinnett County, G...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well this is rad! AHA Board Member Herb Silverman is featured in this short (10...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

It may seem silly, maybe even a blatant mockery, but if you really think about i...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

A Blessing in Disguise for Atheists? Check out AHA Legal Director David Niose's...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

This is a very interesting interactive chart explaining bible contradictions, sh...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you seen the new FYI Network show Married At First Sight? Tell us what you...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Vaccination Exception; God doesn't want me to receive vaccines... Luis Gran...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

With Corporations becoming "people", they will obviously be exploring religion.....

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

An Invocation for Everyone: What the Secular Invocation in Greece, N.Y., Means f...

9 days ago