Ted Cruz laments “atheist Taliban” with radio host who called for enslaving immigrants

This morning, Ted Cruz sat down with Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson to talk about atheists. You’ll remember Mickelson as that guy who thinks we should solve illegal immigration by letting undocumented immigrants stay…as our slaves.

But Cruz had more to talk about than immigration. He’s a good Christian, you see, which means the only thing he fears more than God is the “atheist Taliban.”

Here’s the audio of their exchange, via Right Wing Watch:

[iframe width=”100%” height=”166″ src=”https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220256797&color=ff5500″]

Said Cruz:

There is an assault on faith and an assault on religious liberty that we see across this country, and it has never been as bad as it is right now. When it comes to this aspect of religious liberty — driving any acknowledgment of God out of the public square — you have radical atheist and liberals who go to the court system and try to tear down longstanding monuments.

You heard the man. We atheist have this radical idea that maybe our government shouldn’t place Ted Cruz’s religion above anyone else’s. And when a state government — say, Oklahoma — puts the Ten Commandments on their capitol grounds, they either need to put Satan right alongside it or they need to take it down.

But Cruz wanted Mickelson’s listeners to know that he’s been up that mountain. He’s fought the good fight on the Ten Commandments and won. As he continued:

In Texas, I was very proud to defend the Texas Ten Commandments monument, which has stood on the state capitol grounds since 1961. And an atheist came and sued the state — happened to be a homeless man — arguing that you had to tear down the Ten Commandments. We went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and we won 5-4 upholding that monument.

Cruz is referring to Van Orden v. Perry, a case referred to the Supreme Court by Cruz when he was Texas’s Solicitor General. In that case, Chief Justice Rhenquist, for whom Cruz had previously clerked, delivered a plurality opinion ruling that the Ten Commandments could remain on Texas’s capitol grounds because they held historical as well as religious value. In a parallel case decided the next day, the Court ruled that the Ten Commandments on Kentucky’s capitol grounds needed to come down. Justice Stephen Breyer cast the swing vote in both cases.

In a concurrent opinion, Breyer made the positively bizarre ruling that because the monument had stood on Texas’s capitol grounds for over 40 years, it had garnered historical, secular significance that, taken together with a number of other factors (that the monument had been donated by a civic organization that worked with religious groups to find a nonsectarian, albeit religious, text), allowed the monument to stand. And since no one sued in the intervening 40 years, then even if the monument represented a purely religious function when it was erected, an effective statute of limitations had passed and history could be invoked. As none of this was the case in Kentucky, Breyer felt that he was free to vote against the monument in that instance.

So when Cruz says that he took Texas’s Ten Commandments monument to the Supreme Court and won in the name of Jesus, he’s playing around quite a bit with the Court’s understanding religion’s role in the state. But he didn’t stop there:

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the authors of the government shutdown to kill Obamacare.

Ted Cruz

When I was in private practice, I had the great privilege of representing over 3 million veterans — pro bono, for free — defending the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial. This is a loam-white Latin cross in the desert, was erected over 70 years ago to honor the men and women who gave their lives in World War I…the ACLU came in, they sued, and both the federal district court and the court of appeals ordered that veterans memorial torn down. They concluded you could not gaze on the image of the cross on federal land.

I will say they’re right in one thing: the cross has power. But I was proud to represent over 3 million veterans. We went to the US Supreme Court and we won 5-4 upholding that veterans memorial. And there are these zealots — as you put it, the atheist Taliban — that seek to tear down any acknowledgement of God in the public square, and it’s contrary to our Constitution. It’s contrary to who we are as a people.

There, Cruz is referring to Salazar v Buono, a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that Congress was allowed to grant land to a veterans group on which a cross memorializing veterans of World War I had stood since the 1930s. Since the cross wouldn’t be standing on public land anymore, it didn’t need to be taken down, even if it shouldn’t have been erected on public land in the first place.

And that’s really all that members of the “atheist Taliban” such as myself want; the acknowledgement that our government can’t be used to endorse religious belief. Not a specific religious belief, but religious belief in general; us “unaffiliated” folks have rights, too.

But sure, keep equating me with the Taliban, while making common cause with a man who just came out, in 2015, as pro-slavery, and then complain that it’s liberals who are dividing the country.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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57 Responses to “Ted Cruz laments “atheist Taliban” with radio host who called for enslaving immigrants”

  1. UpMuuchtooolate Is Back says:

    That makes no sense at all.

  2. Butch1 says:

    A-theist do not believe in ANY god. Being one myself I tend to quibble when a person starts messing with the definition even over technicalities or splitting hairs. Cruz can pretend that the Taliban doesn’t believe in the same god that he believes in, though they are the same one; different religions. Cruz is a buffoon and certainly a wannabe preacher. He should just bow out as a candidate for president ( and resign as senator ) and become a preacher which would be something he would be happier doing in my opinion. ;-)

  3. Butch1 says:

    I think he had better do a little research about the Taliban or stop lying about them. His dim-witted religious base will not know that he’s deceiving them.

  4. Indigo says:

    That’s a good point. In ancient Rome, one of the regular accusations against the Christians was atheism. After all, they denied the Olympian gods who personified the state religion at that time. They continue to this day to pretend that only Their God is a god. Atheists all!

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  6. Buddy McCue says:

    Ha ha! I was just trying to tie the spammer into the conservation a little bit.

    (It’s a well-written article, by the way. Thank you, Mr. Green.)

  7. Jon Green says:

    I’d normally blacklist this spam commenter AND delete the comment, but I’m going to blacklist this one without deleting the comment because your response is excellent.

  8. The_Fixer says:

    Indeed it does, but doesn’t most philosophy?

    Probably much less mind-bending than the stuff that some religious people believe, though. An all-knowing, all-powerful god that doesn’t know how to, or doesn’t have the means to, get rid of evil? Now ponder that for a while :)

  9. Buddy McCue says:

    No doubt!

    This all gets pretty complicated pretty quickly.

  10. The_Fixer says:

    They all can be considered Abrahamic religions, but the believers have adopted a radically different set of rules, based on their brand of religion and interpretation of a god. Each believes that a god demands that they follow certain rules that the other does not demand. In my mind, that makes them believers of one god and not the other. Based on the radically different tenets of the various Abrahamic religions, can one seriously say that they are all worshiping the same god? I would say no, but understand the point that your wife is making. They do claim to worship the same god, in spite of their radically different sets of beliefs.

    But set aside the Abrahamic religions, and consider other religions and belief systems. Surely your average Christian, Jew or Muslim does not believe in Vishnu, Buddha, Thor, etc. In that sense, they are atheists. After all, the believers of those religions think that theirs is the one, true god as much as the Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that their interpretation of the Abrahamic god is the one, true god.

    One thing is certain – they can’t all be right. It would take one hell of a power-sharing agreement to pull that off!

  11. Buddy McCue says:

    That way of looking at it reminds me of relativity.

    If you are standing by the side of the road and witness a car rushing past you at a mile a minute, your speed is zero and the car’s speed is 60 mph. But that’s only true from your point of view.

    From the point of view of the driver of the car, his speed is zero and your speed is 60 mph. It all depends on whether you’re inside the car or outside the car. I just went and explained all of this to my wife, and she said “What about the Jewish faith? Which God do they believe in?”

    I had to admit that I didn’t know enough to answer. She said “Aren’t Christianity, Islam and Judaism ALL Abrahamic religions? Don’t they all worship the same deity, but in different ways?”

    I don’t know!

  12. The_Fixer says:

    Basically, that’s it – but it doesn’t matter if one or the other (or both) exist. It’s what a person believes. Denying the existence of one or the other god means that a person does not believe in at least one god, and that is a form of atheism.

    Those who are self-proclaimed atheists generally don’t believe in any god at all. But others don’t believe in specific gods.

    It’s a philosophical argument for which I can’t take credit; I read it elsewhere, chuckled and remembered it. I chuckled because it’s exactly the thing that your average Christian Warrior™ does not want to hear and would be loath to accept.

    Saying such a thing can irritate them, while doing no harm. Once in a while it’s fun to do that ;)

  13. Buddy McCue says:

    If someone were to worship your friend’s brother, but he did not actually exist (and he probably doesn’t,) is that person an atheist or isn’t he?

  14. Buddy McCue says:

    That’s an interesting way to look at it. When I first read your comment, I shook my head and thought “No, that’s not right. That’s not what atheist means.”

    But after thinking about it for a few moments, I think I get the point. If Allah does not exist but Yahweh DOES, then a Muslim person is worshiping nothing and denying the existence of God. In a sense, that person is an atheist.

    Conversely, if Yahweh does not exist, but Allah does, then a Christian person is worshiping nothing and denying the existence of God, and is therefore an atheist.

    Do I have that right? (upvoted for making me think.)

  15. The_Fixer says:

    Ted Cruz doesn’t realize two things:

    1) He may be technically correct that the Taliban is “atheist” in one sense: They don’t believe in his god.

    2) He doesn’t believe in the Taliban’s version of a god, so he is, in a sense, an atheist as well.

    So, everyone is atheistic in terms of not believing in someone else’s god. How does it feel, Ted, to be an atheist?

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  17. jay fulton says:

    He’s a college grad, so he’s not a retard. But in my opinion, he’s failing to understand a key element of american constitutional law

  18. Unrepentant Atheist says:

    I did all that. But the waking up part came later.

  19. Unrepentant Atheist says:

    Damn, he must have been floored when an Atheist got to speak at the convention.

  20. Unrepentant Atheist says:

    I thought we go to war and fight against religious extremism?

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  22. Don Chandler says:

    Something has always told me his wife is a faghag…he has a wife? But that is okay. It really is okay. You don’t need to look any further than that goatee.

  23. 2karmanot says:

    Fortunately, they have Republicans to cover that base. :-)

  24. 2karmanot says:

    I converted at the age of 8 when I was told by the nuns that the Holy Mutha was not subject to the laws of gravity as she ascended into heaven.

  25. 2karmanot says:

    The Chuck Todd Sit & Spin hour.

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  27. kiljoy616 says:

    Its not like Satanist believe it either.

  28. kiljoy616 says:

    We don’t need to, anyone who actually read their holy crap book comes into the light if they have any empathy for their fellow man. I bet Ted has never actually read the holy crap book he likes to spout so much.

  29. kiljoy616 says:

    Openly and armed.

  30. kiljoy616 says:

    Who are we kidding if they could bring back slavery without been shot in the streets the GOP hicks would do it in a heartbeat. American may have changed but there is a big chuck that wants to be back in the 1800’s. Not unlike the Muslim theocrats and wanting to be back in the 1500’s

  31. kiljoy616 says:

    The GOP does seem to have a gay love for Reagan cock.

  32. kiljoy616 says:

    Ted Cruz is a retard, that guy can’t say something smart to save his life.

  33. crazymonkeylady says:

    As an atheist, why did I not get that memo?

  34. Indigo says:

    That sounds likely. I’ve yet to get a grasp on how Chuck got to the position he now holds. Who’s he doing? And is he? Because if that’s not it, he’s got pictures of something really nasty behind that curtain.

  35. Doug105 says:

    It’s a play on what some christians believe.

  36. BeccaM says:

    Except atheists don’t believe in Satan either…

  37. BeccaM says:

    He’ll pretend it was never said and continue to claim the GOP field hasn’t been this strong since his personal man-crush Ronnie Raygun ran for president in 1980.

  38. Gary Harmer says:

    Screw both of these assholes.

  39. Indigo says:

    Orwell’s work is beginning to look altogether too much like a prophecy come true.

  40. Indigo says:

    That pro-slavery business pretty well sweeps the lot of them off the table. I can hardly wait for Chuck Todd to spin that on Sunday morning.

  41. Indigo says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy but then again, I’m a Buddhist. We ARE crazy. Non-dualism? Huh! That’s more subversive than claiming there is (or is not) a god.

  42. Bill_Perdue says:

    The cure for cultism. Tax. Tax. Tax. Persecute. Prosecute.

  43. Doug105 says:

    I self-converted, the brainwashing never really took and no I don’t take it to someones home.

  44. DKeane123 says:

    When was the last time an atheist was at your door trying to convert you?

  45. BeccaM says:


    Us: “This is how science works. See? These gasses trap heat and here are the numbers showing how we humans have been steadily adding more and more of them to our atmosphere. And here’s more numbers demonstrating a 1-to-1 correlation between the increase in those gasses and rising global temperature averages. Plus the models correctly predict more ‘weather weirding’ — extraordinary storms and catastrophic events — and that’s exactly what’s been happening. We need to stop burning fossil fuels and we need to do it now.”

    Them: “But I don’t believe you. My faith that you’re just wrong is an equally valid viewpoint that deserves equal time and consideration. You can pry my Escalade keys from my cold dead fingers.”

  46. Houndentenor says:

    Projection is exactly what it is. they can’t imagine that if liberals ran everything that we wouldn’t treat them the way conservatives treat everyone else. They also can’t understand that non-religious things don’t operate the same way as religion. Science, for example.

  47. BeccaM says:

    BTW, the reason Mickelson matters is his is apparently the hyperconservative altar at which the GOP presidential candidates must genuflect when campaigning in Iowa.

    That he’s gone so far as to explicitly state a pro-slavery position and earn no criticism or condemnation from anybody in the Republican party says a lot about how extremely radicalized they’ve become.

  48. BeccaM says:

    It’s always projection. All this might more accurately be termed, “Ted Cruz laments the fact the Christianists don’t always get their way 100% of the time…and that non-Christianists exist openly.”

  49. William Kitchen says:

    So non-violent opposition to theocracy is the same as violent imposition of theocracy? It sounds like Cruz read 1984 as an instruction manual rather than a warning.

  50. 2karmanot says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz wha? zzzzz WHAT? did somebody say: “you have radical atheist and liberals.” Waves hand!

  51. mhandrh says:

    Atheist taliban — isn’t that an oxymoron?

  52. Doug105 says:

    Let’s look at that shall we?

  53. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    “And that’s really all that members of the “atheist Taliban” such as myself want; the acknowledgement that our government can’t be used to endorse religious belief.”

    I would like to clear up one thing. I know you guys think I’m crazy, because I have a religion. However, I believe in the complete separation of church and state.

  54. DKeane123 says:

    What a nut.

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