CLASH is excited to present GODLESS HEATHENS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ATHEISTS by Andrew J. Rausch. We asked him to talk about the inspiration behind this unique project.
ABOUT GODLESS HEATHENS
Author and host of Secular by Nature, Andrew J. Rausch, interviews the who’s who of atheist voices. This electric mix of conversations includes scientists, wrestlers, ex-evangelical authors, academics, sex advice columnists, life in prison inmates, ex-Christian rock musicians, Black Panthers, poets, and publishers. These are the stories of people from all walks of life who became Godless Heathens and found truth in atheism.
Interviews include: Seth Andrews, Autumn Christian, Jim Cornette, Matt Dillahunty,Keith Lowel Jensen, Joe Lansdale, Caseyrenée Lopez, Shannon Low, Dave Mckean, PZ Myers, Pete O’Neal, Jen Peeples, George Perdikis, Aron Ra, Jozef K. Richards, Chris Roy, Dan Savage, Greydon Square, AT Taylor, and Mandisa Thomas.
ABOUT ANDREW J. RAUSCH
Andrew J. Rausch is a a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Cemetery Dance, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.
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Why I Wrote Godless Heathens: Interviews with Atheists
Andrew J. Rausch
One question might be, what was the impetus behind the book? Another might be, why do we need another atheist book? Haven't the Dawkins and Hitchens of the world already covered it all? The answer to this is simple: as long as we live in a world (and American society in particular) where religion (of all forms, not just Christianity, but definitely that one) is shoved down our throats and people continue to be brainwashed into a life where they aren't allowed to be who they really are (LGBTQ), or aren't seen as equals or are told they cannot control their own reproductive systems (women), atheist books are necessary. Not just books, but movies and music and all the other stuff that Christians and the other religions are afforded. Or, to put it into perspective: there have been about a hundred books written about Stephen King. (I myself have written three of those). So why should it seem strange that there are lots of books about something as big as atheism? Stop and consider how many books have been written about Christianity; the number boggles the mind.
In America, we live in a society where Christianity dominates every aspect of life. Not only do most Americans expect political candidates to be Christian, but polling shows that most would elect a pedophile before they would elect a known atheist. In America, we have declared separation of church and state, but hardly anyone adheres to that. Teachers talk about God whenever they feel like it. And when a parent points this out, he or she is then said to be persecuting Christians. Taking that a step further, whenever Christians are scolded for, or told they cannot persecute others (for differing religions or sexuality), Christians then claim that they're the ones being persecuted. They believe telling someone they can't persecute is in itself persecution.
Now we're seeing absurd Christian “facts” added into school textbooks. It's ridiculous enough that the myth of Creation is being taught (at least as an alternative theory) in public schools, but some 2018 textbooks are now teaching children that Moses created Democracy. Where does this end? Can there be no aspect of life in America that is untouched by Christianity?
I'm not saying Christians are worse than Muslims. (I'm focusing on Christianity because here in the United States that's the dominant religion.) I don't think any religion is good, and I don't believe any god is real. Religions are dangerous because, when giving oneself over to the belief in a god and all that entails, a person must then discount important things like science, which could endanger that belief. This is why global warming isn't important to a lot of religious people. And the world continues to hurtle into a shit storm, and Christian leaders don't care because they believe all this will inevitably bring us closer to Jesus' return.
But it won't. Jesus won't return for the same reason he never returns; the same reason God no longer speaks to people while burning bushes; the same reason there are no real according to Hoyle miracles anymore. (There never were, but...)
Educating people and allowing them to shed the shackles of religion and live a full life by their own standards is a beautiful thing. When people come to the realization that they're capable of being moral without a god, and when they realize they themselves should be applauded for their own bravery rather than some nonexistent deity, they will be happier for it.
That's the goal. That's why there are atheist books.
My book isn't a particularly deep one, but it allows people who may be on the fence to find out what makes atheists tick and to learn that they're regular people, too. This book also allows atheists who may have no like-minded people to speak with to find kindred “spirits” in the world and to compare beliefs.
I thought it would be fun to go out and find interesting and notable atheists and speak to them about their beliefs (and disbelief), and how they got where they are. In these conversations we would discuss politics and social issues through an atheist lens. In 2016 I set about interviewing these people, which include former Christian rockers, a prisoner/author serving a life sentence in prison, podcasters, a former chairman of the Black Panthers, a comedian, several novelists, a rocket scientist, atheist activists, a pro wrestling personality, a rapper, etc.
The conversations were fun and insightful. They were thought-provoking. The end result was Godless Heathens. Hopefully you buy a copy. But you don't even have to be an atheist to buy it. If you're a religious person and you're offended by this, then I encourage you to buy a whole bunch of em and have a great big book burning. And of course you'll want that pile of books you burn to be a big one to make your point, so you should buy lots and lots of em. But when you do, be sure and tell em I sent ya!