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"Fighting injustice, one victory at a time."
This past Saturday, November 15, 2003, terrorists murdered several dozen people at a synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey. Later that same day, George W. Bush issued this statement in which he condemned the attacks and said that the perpetrators were "people without faith." Rob Sherman Advocacy today calls on George W. Bush to retract his bigoted and dangerous remark and apologize to atheists in America and around the world for falsely blaming us for this act of terrorism.
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Here is the full statement by Mr. Bush, copied and pasted from Mr. Bush's web site:
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks today in Istanbul, where Turkey's diverse religious communities of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian believers have flourished together for centuries. The focus of these attacks on Turkey's Jewish community, in Istanbul's synagogues where men, women, and children gathered to worship God, remind us that our enemy in the war against terror is without conscience or faith. Turkey has suffered terrible losses from terrorism for decades, and the United States stands resolutely with Turkey in the global war on terrorism. On behalf of the American people, I express our condolences to the families of the victims, to Turkey's Jewish community, and to all the people of the Turkish Republic.
What evidence, other than his own anti-atheist bigotry, does Mr. Bush have for blaming us atheists, "people without faith," for this attack? The fact of the matter is that these types of terrorist acts are not committed by people without faith. Rather, these acts of terrorism are committed by people with faith solely because the victims are people who subscribe to a different faith from that of the perpetrators.
Atheists don't do "jihad." Religious people do.
It is not atheists who commit acts of terrorism. In fact, the opposite is true. It is those people with the most faith who commit acts of terrorism. It is fanatical people of extreme faith who are the enemy committing terrorist acts, not atheists.
George W. Bush has placed the lives of atheists, especially well-known, outspoken atheists like me, in danger by declaring people without faith to be the enemy in the war against terror. There are people of faith who would interpret Bush's remarks as justification for killing atheists such as me. After all, there is a war going on and the Commander in Chief has designated atheists, "people without faith," as the enemy in this war. That is a very reckless and dangerous thing for the Commander in Chief to do. Anyone who kills the enemy is a hero in war. By designating my fellow atheists and me as the enemy, Mr. Bush has implied that you can help win the war on terror by killing us. This is an outrageous thing for our Commander in Chief to do.
It was wrong for Hitler to blame Jews for the world's problems. It is wrong for Bush to act like Hitler and blame the world's problems on another group solely, like Hitler did, on the basis of the group's theological opinion. Do atheists need to leave the country before Mr. Ashcroft's Justice Department decides that the way to protect the country from atheists is by exterminating us?
I will be contacting the White House during the day, today, to seek an urgent meeting with Mr. Bush to discuss this matter with him. After all, it's not every day that the Commander in Chief names as the enemy law-abiding citizens like me who haven't done anything wrong to deserve it.
I will also be contacting the leaders of Congress and the Democratic Presidential candidates to ask that they, too, repudiate Mr. Bush's remarks and affirm that atheists are not the source of the worldwide terrorism problem.
The next Presidential election is expected to be a close one. A study two years ago by the City University of New York found that approximately 15% of Americans are atheists. That means that the atheist vote will likely be the margin of victory or defeat in the next Presidential election. Designating atheists as the enemy of America in the war on terror is not a good way to win the atheist vote in the next Presidential election, Mr. Bush.
Last night, I spoke by telephone with atheist hero Michael Newdow, whose civil rights lawsuit regarding the Pledge of Allegiance is before the Supreme Court of the United States. Newdow is challenging the inclusion of the phrase, "One nation under God," in the Pledge. Bush's remarks are yet one more reason to get that phrase out of the Pledge. If that phrase causes the Commander in Chief to think that atheists are this country's enemy, it certainly causes many others to mistakenly feel the same way.
Your financial support enables me to do this. Providing financial support now is important because Rob Sherman Advocacy goes beyond merely issuing press releases that are ignored by both offenders and the media. Rob Sherman Advocacy directly contacts and engages with the offenders to solve the problem and change the way things are done. Rob Sherman Advocacy also makes direct contact with and engages directly with the media to ensure that our issues actually receive the publicity that our issues deserve. That takes more work, more time and effort and talent, than simply issuing a press release, but publicizing these issues through the media is important because it is the most efficient and effective way of changing public perception of who we are and what we want.
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