A Brazilian TV host has landed his network in hot water over an on-air rant that he delivered about atheists and crime, with the network agreeing to air a religious freedom PSA as punishment for his contentious commentary.
TV host Jose Luiz Datena makes negative comments about atheists (YouTube)
Controversy first broke out after Jose Luiz Datena, host of the primetime show "Brasil Urgente," made negative comments about nontheists on the Rede Bandeirantes TV network back in 2010.
His proclamations were uttered while reacting to a shooting that resulted in the death of a child, with Datena alleging that the incident showed an "absence of God," the BBC reported.
"A guy that's atheist, in my humble opinion, has no limits, and that's why we see these crimes happening," Datena said.
The Brazilian host made it clear that he not only disagreed with and found the atheist worldview dangerous, but that he also didn't want nonbelievers watching his show.
"Listen, I keep on saying that those people whom are watching me doing this kind of journalism for 12 years — I think they share the same creed as I have, God!" he said, according to English subtitles on the original video. "Those of you who do not believe in God have no need to watch me."
Datena continued, "Atheists have no need to watch me."
An unnamed correspondent went on to agree with the host, saying, "Godless life causes individualism, selfishness, greed. All those things."
Watch these comments about atheists below:
It was these statements that reportedly led the Brazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics to bring a lawsuit against the Rede Bandeirantes TV network as well at Datena in 2010, seeking a retraction of his statements.
It is unclear how that legal battle ended, but in 2013, the Brazilian government also brought a complaint of its own against the network, according to the Friendly Atheist.
The country disallows speech that is seen as religiously intolerant, punishing infractions with fines or prison time. In this instance, Rede Bandeirantes won't pay a fine, but the network will be required to air a PSA about religious freedom 72 times between now and November.
"I’d call that a victory for atheists," Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta wrote of the end result. "Not bad in a country that’s nearly 90% Christian."