Since Andy Rooney died last week, I thought I'd post this. It's funny - or maybe not - but there's an email going around, supposedly written by Rooney, in support of prayer in public schools.
Of course, it wasn't written by Andy Rooney (nor by Paul Harvey, which I've also seen). Here's Snopes.com on the matter: "...most of it is the work of Nick Gholson, a sports writer for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas."
Apparently, the person who added Andy Rooney's name to it didn't realize that Rooney was an atheist. In fact, he'd been awarded the 2001 Emperor Has No Clothes Award by the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
CBS commentator Andy Rooney has frequently made irreverent comments in his "60 Minutes" commentaries, columns and books. In November 2000, he reminded readers: "The obituaries in the newspapers and on television [of Steve Allen] were well done but none mentioned what ended up being an obsession with Steve. He was a student of the Bible and a dedicated atheist intent on proving the Bible was a seriously flawed book that many people who profess to live by it, don't know or understand."
In his 1999 book Sincerely, Andy Rooney, he included a final section called "Faith in Reason." In it he reprints a thorough letter about his agnosticism and freethought views. Sample quotes:
"I don't differentiate much, except in degree, between people who believe in religion from those who believe in astrology, magic or the supernatural."
"We all ought to understand we're on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn't do kids any harm for a few years but it isn't smart for them to continue waiting all their lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa Claus and God are cousins."
"I just wish this social institution [religion] wasn't based on what appears to me to be a monumental hoax built on an accumulation of customs and myths directed toward proving something that isn't true."
"Christians talk as though goodness was their idea but good behavior doesn't have any religious origin. Our prisons are filled with the devout."
"I'd be more willing to accept religion, even if I didn't believe it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other but I don't think it does."
What's the point of lying about this stuff? If you agree with someone about school prayer, why attribute it to someone else who's a bigger celebrity? Does the end justify the means? Is that what these people are thinking?
But then, why would an omniscient, omnipotent god need some random Christian to lie for him? If he can do everything, by definition, he can surely make people believe in him, if he wants.
Oh, well. I don't know much about Andy Rooney, but I doubt if he needs me to stick up for him, even now that he's dead. But I don't like lies, and I especially don't like lies about other people.
And after all, once people are dead, they can't stick up for themselves.