Phil Robertson, poster child for right-wing fringe, reality show star, and hater of all things not fundamentalist Christian-y, gave another speech last Friday. Speaking at a prayer breakfast in Vero Beach, Florida, Robertson created a hypothetical situation involving the rape of two children, the decapitation of a mother, and the castration of a father. The point of this horrible and deeply offensive narrative was to “prove” something or other about atheism. What it really proved is that like many fundamentalist Christians, Phil Robertson is a sadist, a sociopath, and has little to no empathy for anyone different than himself.
Right Wing Watch posted the text of Robertson’s rant, along with audio. After reading the text, I couldn’t believe anyone would speak those words, so I listened to the audio, hoping against hope RWW got something wrong. They didn’t. Phil Robertson really said this:
I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
If it happened to them, they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.’
If this awful thing happened to an atheist, he deserves it? Is that the message here? Or is the message if you don’t believe in White Jesus and Angry Yahweh, you are incapable of having a moral compass or telling right from wrong, and will commit heinous crimes like child rape.
My son is an atheist. He is kinder than the woman who told him he couldn’t be friends with her daughter because of his atheism, he is kinder than Rep. Steve “Cantaloupe Calves” King, he is more empathetic than Liz Trotta who thinks women in the military should expect to be raped, and he is a better person than Phil Robertson. On behalf of my son, and the other atheists in my life, I would like to address the next part of this piece directly to Phil Robertson.
Mr. Robertson, you used child rape and extreme violence to make a point about atheists, but you forgot something very important. More people have died in the name of Jesus than have ever been hurt or killed by atheists. You yourself used incredibly violent rhetoric, without thinking for one moment about actual children who have been raped. What if someone listening to you in Vero Beach was a survivor of child rape? Did you stop to consider that possibility, or did your sadism and lack of empathy override your humanity?
Christian violence is real, Mr. Robertson. Timothy McVeigh’s favorite book was The Turner Diaries, a novel written by a neo-Nazi named William Pierce. According to the Anti-Defamation League:
Pierce is also a founder and trustee of the “Cosmotheist Church,” a “Christian Identity” group which shares membership and organizational space with the National Alliance. (The pseudo-religious Identity Church movement holds that whites are the “chosen people” of the Bible, and that Jews and blacks are “mud people” and the children of Satan)
Do you support Christian terrorism. Mr. Robertson? Given that you obviously believe only atheists and Muslims are violent, perhaps you should learn a bit about the Phineas Priesthood. In 2014, Larry McQuilliams went on a shooting spree in Texas, firing at government buildings and a police station. In his home, investigators found the book Vigilantes of Christendom, a book that outlines the doctrine of the Phineas Priesthood, a group inspired by an Old Testament story about a priest who believes he was inspired by God to murder a man and a woman of different races who were having sex.
Vigilantes of Christendom was authored in 1990 by Richard Kelly Hoskins, outlining the philosophy behind “the Phineas Priesthood.” The ideology refers to an Old Testament story of an Israelite priest who claims he was directed by God to use a spear to kill a man and a woman of different races who were having sex.
Hoskins claimed in his book that the Phineas Priest concept lives on. In fact, that claim seems to be supported over the past three decades with isolated crimes, including murders, bombings and other violence, committed by white supremacists and extremists.
“It makes little difference whether you agree or disagree with the Phineas Priesthood,” Hoskins says in the foreword of his book. “It is important that you know that it exists, is active, and in the near future may become a central fact in your life.”
Phineas priests “believe that their God has called them to their dangerous work” and “they multiply and thrive when law and order break down.”
“The simple fact is—one who is willing to give his life for what he believes cannot be ignored.”
From this, one might posit the sexual predators in your story, Mr. Robertson, might be Christians, especially if your atheist mom and dad are of different races.
Be careful at whom you lob your stones, Phil. There are liberal Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, pagans, all sorts of believers and non-believers who are better people than you and the rest of your kind. Atheists who love unconditionally, Wiccans who would never make light of torture, rape, Muslims who support equality and fight against radicalism, and Christians who worship a brown-skinned, liberal carpenter who hung around with whores and homeless people. That’s Jesus, by the way. The actual guy, not the white one you created.
I hope you apologize to the millions of people who survived sexual violence as children, but I doubt you will. You never apologize for any of the awful things you say, because your twisted version of God supports your hate and bigotry. I like actual Jesus better than the violent, gun-toting, LGBT-hating, stepping-over-the-poor-to-get-to-a-megachurch one you invented. Matthew 7:15 says “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” You, Mr. Robertson, are a wolf, leading a flock of ignorant sheep into a life of hate and intolerance.
You are proof that believing in a deity does not guarantee a moral compass, or a sense of right and wrong. You are proof that the right-wing version of Christianity is harmful and cruel. You, Mr. Robertson, are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.