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Their goal is to convert the US into a theocracy. The current candidate Mike Huckabee is not only a minister, but has recently stated that he wants to rewrite the US constitution so that it conforms to the bible.
Christianism (my term) in the US is also seen as one of the prime factors behind the invasion of Iraq. Bush called it a crusade before he was told to water down his invective.
Statistics show that a non-believer would be distrusted by the vast majority of voters which is why the obviously non-observant pretend to be religious. Howard Dean was the most recent example, but Reagan before and now Bush don't attend traditional services. They do something "privately". Bush's religion is a personal version, not an institutional one.
This kissing up to the religious has meant that criticism of theology was off the table until this latest wave of critics. They are tasked with two things. The first is to repeat all the arguments against the supernatural (again) for a new generation that hasn't been exposed to them before. The second is to open up a space in public discourse where others can express their problems with organized religion and religious doctrine.
To do this they have to be polemicists. Moderate voices don't get heard. So they may go over the top on occasion. It's a small price to pay compared to all statements made by religious/political leaders who are promoting their power politics. Did you know that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for homosexuality? One of our "respected" religious leaders is sure of it and said so.
Several people, especially Sam Harris and Hitchins were traumatized by 9/11 and see Islam as an implacable foe. They dislike Christianity, but most of its power was in the past, they see Islam as a current threat. If you think the world is on the brink of a universal conflagration do you say "fire" or "F I R E!!!".
If you compare the degree of religiosity in western Europe to that in the US you will see why they become so intemperate.
It's not only foreign affairs that have been impacted by US religious dogma. The issues of funding stem cell research, family planning techniques in the third world, AID's prevention and government support for religious organizations have all been directly affected.
Much of the recent rise in AID's in part of the world can be traced back to US religious policies on the "morality" of homosexuality and prostitution.
You are, of course, free to criticize their approach, but is it this you object to or their aims? Who else is willing to take on the religious establishment? Look what happens when anyone offends religious sensibilities in the Muslim world: Salmon Rushdie and the Danish Cartoons are typical cases.
There is even a faction in the US who thinks that the second coming will happen when the appropriate events take place in the middle east and this effects their position towards Israel. This then translates (indirectly) into US policy. We see how well that is working.
If you have any examples of others being more effective then these four please cite them.
Jonathan Miller produced a show on the history of disbelief for the BBC last year. It's worth hunting down on the web. His main point was that until recently being an atheist was punishable by death in many places and that any discussion of unbelief is fairly recent and restricted to a small corner of the world.
Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
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