Bill Donohue’s trouble with Atheists


The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue has a new book out today called The Catholic Advantage, all about how great it is to believe as he does.


By Hemant Mehta|Friendly Atheist

It’s not enough, however, to promote Catholicism. Donohue spends a huge chunk of the book talking about how awful atheism is. In fact, here’s the bulk of the book in a nutshell: Donohue claims that atheists are more likely to have mental health problems, be depressed, and commit suicide. We’re also less charitable and happy than our religious counterparts.

He more or less ignores the fact that religious people have very strong built-in communities and social networks (not to mention ways to donate your time and money), all of which contribute to one’s well-being. Very few atheist communities have the numbers that churches do, though there have been more attempts in recent years to build these up. No doubt we have a long way to go, but there’s nothing inherently bad about atheism — unless you think a lack of false hope is a problem — and Donohue never bothers to explain why Catholicism (as opposed to any other belief system) makes any sense.

I’ll give you an example of the kind of argument Donohue makes. Right in the introduction, he claims that people like us are atheists because we have bad relationships with our father:

In one way or another, [psychologist Paul] Vitz found, the relationship these [„prominent atheist intellectuals“] had with their father was deformed. In some cases, their father died when they were young; often their father abandoned them; for those whose father was present, he was “obviously weak, cowardly, and unworthy of respect”; or he was abusive, psychologically, sexually, or physically. In all cases, the father’s authority was missing or severely compromised. (p. xviii)

Vitz’s whole theory, as we’ve discussed on this site before, is full of holes — it’s a lot of cherry-picking minus all the peer review.

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