Atheist activists are accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of issuing a “fallacious smear of nonreligious” residents and are imploring him to apologize to nontheists.
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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group based in Madison, Wisconsin, said DeSantis implied during a June 9 press conference in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, that people without a “‘religious foundation’ are prone to criminal violence.”
“DeSantis made these insulting and baseless statements at a press conference a few days ago regarding the person who allegedly attempted to assassinate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” a FFRF statement read. “DeSantis claimed so-called ‘lunatics’ lack a ‘religious foundation’ or any type of ‘relationship with God.'”
The atheist group argued these comments are unfair to nonreligious individuals and paint them “in a deeply unfavorable light.”
A review of DeSantis’ comments shows he did indeed discuss the accused as well as the topic of nonreligion, though some context is needed. The governor described a “lunatic trying to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh” before explaining his views on extreme individuals’ worldviews.
“I think there’s a lot of really, really crazy people out there, unfortunately, that really get consumed with ideology,” DeSantis said. “These are people that don’t really have, I think, a religious foundation or any type of relationship with God, and so they turn to radical politics as kind of what they’re going to do.”
Watch DeSantis’ comments at the 2:30-mark:
The FFRF wrote a letter to DeSantis pushing back on these comments and requesting a retraction.
“We write to urge you to immediately retract your misleading comments and apologize to
your nonreligious constituents,” the letter reads, in part. “There is apparently no evidence that this particular suspect was in any way motivated by a lack of religion, or even whether he is nonreligious at all. In fact, he reportedly had a religious upbringing, and mental health issues seem to be an obvious factor in the case.”
The letter goes far beyond merely pushing back on DeSantis’ comments and expresses the FFRF’s belief that “morality based on religion alone is dubious.”
The text also alleges that states with the most religious individuals also have a “high occurrence of social ills,” citing poverty, obesity, STDs, teen pregnancy, and other related issues.
Those claims aside, it should be noted that DeSantis’ comments seem rooted in pointing out the fact that people who refuse to follow God are not abiding by His standards. The Bible calls individuals to love God and love others, including love for enemies.
Based on this premise, turning to “radical politics” or harming others would be disallowed and improper — and yet that can unfold when one divorces him or herself from universal truth.
While the FFRF sees DeSantis’ comments as a slight against nonreligious residents, the governor seems to be talking about a baseline for truth and worldview.
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