On Thursday, television host Gretchen Carlson moderated a heated discussion between three faith leaders with very different views on a litany of religious issues. Among other subjects, American Atheists President David Silverman, Rabbi Aryeh Spero and Catholic League President Bill Donohue faced off over a secular billboard that claims “there is no afterlife.”
Predictably, Silverman, an ardent non-believer, came out in support of the sign, which is being sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and is currently on display in Wisconsin.
“Of course I love the message. It’s the truth,” Silverman told Carlson. “Every living thing in the universe dies no matter how much we wish it weren’t true — and the objective of humanity is to live onto the next generation — to pass a good legacy on to your children,” the atheist leader proclaimed, adding that people should live for today, because “there is no afterlife.”
Donohue, who clearly disagreed with this sentiment, said that “intelligent people” normally do believe in a God — a comment that sparked a quick response from Silverman.
“Are you going to insult my intelligence now?” the secular leader interrupted. “I don’t know if intelligent people believe in an invisible man in the sky.”
Donohue wasn’t done, though.
“I don’t know how much intelligence you have to insult,” the Catholic leader shot back. “You have to understand tolerance, sir. I know it doesn’t come naturally to atheists. Tolerance for my freedom of speech.”
Silverman then made it clear that Donohue’s comment about intelligence truly bothered and “insulted” him.
Unapologetic, the Catholic League leader moved on to share his views on the billboard’s central message. While Donohue said he’s not offended by non-believers proclaiming that they don’t embrace the existence of heaven or hell, he took aim at past actions taken by Silverman and other atheist activists.
“I’m offended by people like him when he takes Christ and exploits him with this crown of thorns and put it up at Christmas time,” Donohue said, referencing an anti-Christmas billboard that Silverman’s group displayed in New York’s Times Square last year. ”If you want to say you believe in nothing I say you could. I know you stand for nothing, I know you’re good for nothing. So we agree.”
Following these tough words, Spero took a softer tone in addressing the debate. He said that he believes in the afterlife, but that God also wants humans to have an intense happiness here on earth.
Watch the fiery segment, below:
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