Culture > Q&A
Michael Benabib

Pro-Christianity atheist

Q&A | S.E. Cupp says the media are not fair to a religion that she believes is not true

Issue: "Daniel of the Year," Dec. 18, 2010

An atheist praising Christianity is like a man biting a dog: It's news. Atheist Sarah Elizabeth "S.E." Cupp's book Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity (Harper, 2010) is attracting second looks because it's a pro-Christianity book by an atheist. Cupp, 31, is a regular guest on FOX News shows and a much-read blogger and columnist: She was a classically trained ballet dancer, graduated from Cornell, and enjoys fishing, target shooting, and NASCAR races.

Earlier this year you earned a master's degree in religious studies at New York University, but I gather you made it up as you went along? I did, I made it up. You could design your own curriculum. I did a comparison study on the devotional practices of sports fans and the religious faithful, and that's what I got a degree in. I call it religious studies.

Now you work with FOX. You must be good because you're not blonde. Or cosmetically enhanced. It's true. They all look alike. But I know most of them, and they are great people. It is a good place to work. It might look easy, but it's not.

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Mike Huckabee works there and wrote the introduction to your new book. Did he try to evangelize you? Everybody does. Every time I'm on Sean Hannity it's "S.E., what do I need to do? You're too smart for this, way too smart for this." There are a lot of Christians at FOX, and they are lovely and nice, and I always think, "How nice that someone is thinking about my soul." Really, it's lovely.

Losing Our Religion is well-written but puzzling: As an atheist, why are you making statements about media bias similar to those made by conservative Christians? It's inarguable. All you have to do is have eyes to see that MSNBC and The New York Times are absolutely threatened by Christian America. They're threatened politically. They're threatened ideologically. And it's not just attacks, it's lies. They're lying about the genesis of our American beliefs. They'll tell you, "Oh, the Founding Fathers weren't Christians, they were atheists." That's crazy. It's a lie, it's a total lie.

You note that they're wrong about the First Amendment. You have people saying that the whole point of the freedom of religion clause was to say that you should be doing religious things in private. That's an absolute lie. The Founding Fathers wanted you to be free to be a public Catholic, to be a public Protestant. The liberal and secular media turn that around, imploring you to be faithful in private and to take religion out of the public sphere. That's simply not why this country was created.

Many atheists see Christianity as intellectually inferior and see themselves doing a public service by enlightening people. Why don't you see it that way? They're proselytizing. I don't believe in God but I'm not mad at Him. I don't think He's dangerous. It's a really unenlightened view to think that 95 percent of the world doesn't know what's going on, but that I am part of the 5 percent of the world that doesn't believe in God and knows the truth. For atheists to pretend to have all the answers while religion is on the fringe is not only incredibly presumptuous but a lie.

Sigmund Freud saw God as an illusion. Do you think that, or do you think He's there and you just haven't noticed yet? I don't have kids, haven't lost a parent yet, don't know what kind of curveballs life is going to throw me. I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow. It's really arrogant to say that I'm right and you're all crazy, that I'll always feel this way and the book is closed and you're delusional.

You're very complimentary to President Bush and his allusions to a Higher Power. If the Higher Power doesn't exist, isn't he a nutcase? It doesn't exist for me. I fully believe it exists for him.

You're saying that subjectively it exists for him, subjectively it doesn't exist for you. So objectively, do you think there's a God? No.

So if President Bush acted in certain ways because of his belief in something that doesn't exist, doesn't that sound like making policy decisions based on belief in the Easter bunny? No, because when you say you're a Christian, there's a value system implied. You may not live up to it, but the attempt is there, and I can look at it and understand your worldview. There is none of that in atheism.


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