Ivy Taylor Is Delusional To The Point Of Being Incompetent

Home Sweet Home
A “house” on Oliver Street in Seminole, Oklahoma, that would more properly be called a “shack”. During my nine years in Seminole, I met multiple people who lived in homes just like this, because they couldn’t afford to fix them up and couldn’t afford to move elsewhere. They couldn’t even afford to leave town to search for better jobs. And almost without exception, they were religious.
(Copyright © 2007 by Wil C. Fry.)

A year ago, I wrote about some of the stupidly negative portrayals of atheists in the news media. In case you were wondering, it hasn’t stopped. Week after week, month after month, people in positions of power — including journalists — continue to write about atheism as if it’s the root cause of all society’s ills.

This time it was Ivy Taylor, mayor of one of the largest cities in the United States. The 46-year-old Democrat, notably the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a U.S. city with more than a million people, is a graduate of Yale University and worked in several poverty-alleviating positions before running for mayor in 2015.

Now up for reelection, Taylor was asked: “What do you see as the deepest, systemic causes of generational poverty in San Antonio?” She answered, incredibly stupidly for a person of her educational attainment: “I’ll go ahead and put it out there. To me, it’s broken people… people not being in a relationship with their Creator, and therefore not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities… and not being productive members of society. I think that’s the ultimate answer.”

No, she didn’t explicitly say “atheism”, as several clickbait headlines claimed (example). I think what she actually said was even worse:

• Poor people have only themselves to blame (“not being productive members of society”).

• Anyone who doesn’t believe as she does is the “ultimate” cause of poverty.

This includes atheists, but also rounds up members of other religions, agnostics, deists, and even members of her own church who might not be meeting the church’s expectations. Oh, and you’re all “broken people” — something on which she doubled down when she “clarified” on Facebook. She said it stems from her belief in “original sin”, a core doctrine of most Christian denominations. In other words, Adam and Eve eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden is why we have poverty today.

But she clearly also said that a cause was “people not being in a relationship with their Creator”. So not only original sin, but current people continuing to “sin” by not worshiping as she believes they should.

As an educated adult, Taylor should know better.

Not only does the Texas Constitution frown on such pronouncements:

“No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship.”

…and not only does the U.S. Constitution agree, but the causes of poverty are well-known and understood today.

Injury Accident
One of many accidents I was sent to cover during my time as a small-town newspaper reporter in Seminole County, Oklahoma. Many Americans would be bankrupted by a single car accident or medical emergency. It has nothing to do with religion or lack thereof.
(Copyright © 2005 by Wil C. Fry.)

Ms. Taylor might be interested to learn that the poorest nations in the world are the most religious. More relevantly, she should know that the U.S. states with the highest level of poverty are almost identical to the U.S. states that are the most religious. (And, conversely, the states where religion is seen as the least important also have the lowest levels of poverty.)

If anything, it is people who do have a “relationship with their Creator” at the root of all this.

But they’re not, of course, because poverty isn’t caused by being religious, nor is it caused by being non-religious. Belief in God and lack of belief in God are equally ineffective at causing or eradicating poverty.

I must add one caveat to the above paragraph. In some cases, being religious could make a person poorer, depending on which precepts they hold close. For example, in the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly told people to “sell everything you have” and give it away. Other religions as well have varying levels of poverty-idolization.

But poverty has multiple, intertwined causes.

One of them is history. Nations once under colonial rule of European powers are much more likely to be poor. (There are exceptions, like the U.S. and Canada, of course.) Colonial powers extracted riches, and set up the conditions that led to extreme poverty. Another is war and political instability — often caused by those same former colonial powers.

Then there are international monetary policies, enforced by the IMF and World Bank, which typically force smaller, poorer nations to allow outside competitors from richer nations to move in. This amounts to financial colonialism.

On the individual level, the greatest predictors of poverty are where you were born and to whom you were born. If you are born to poor parents in a poor country, you will be poor. Period. It doesn’t matter what your religion is. If you were born to wealthy parents in a wealthy country, you will be wealthy. Period.

A lot of us were born somewhere in the middle: our parents were neither poor nor wealthy. For us, there are other predictors of poverty. Education is a huge one, because it can very well mean the difference between a good job and a shitty job. The job market is another indicator. Local and federal government policies come into play as well. Is there a social safety net? Are there job training programs? Housing programs? Is education subsidized? Is healthcare provided? People who are physically or mentally disabled are high risk for poverty.

We also know that low wages keep working people poor. Ineffectual health insurance (or in the cases of every job I’ve ever held, zero insurance) can quickly cause poverty in health emergencies. And we know that low wages are often paid by corporations with ridiculously high payouts to stockholders and CEOs — Walmart being a prime example; Sam Walton’s heirs are the single richest family in the U.S. and continue to profit off of the poverty wages they pay most employees. In many small or medium-sized towns, Walmart is the largest employer. So at least in some cases, greedy rich people are the cause of poverty.

None of these relate to personal choices or religious affiliation. Not one of them.

And keep in mind, this wasn’t a radical Christian blogger or a megachurch pastor. This was the mayor of the seventh-largest city in the United States (second-largest in Texas) spouting this nonsense.

Conclusion: We as a country desperately need to stop voting for people so deluded by religion that they can’t interact with real life in any meaningful way.

  1. Dana says:

    It’s a pervasive problem. At our core, America is a religious nation; a primarily a Christian one. I work at a very left leaning not-for-profit organization and my colleagues are clearly uncomfortable with the idea that I’m an atheist. They’re constantly trying to “trick” me into admitting that I really have some secret belief in an “Other.” My lack of spiritual faith or belief in a deity is a constant source of discussion. (And all this occurs against a background where we otherwise walk around on eggshells in this office for fear of committing a micro-aggression or otherwise offending a colleague)

    Which is a very long way of saying, while I’m dismayed to learn that this woman said this out loud, I’m not at all surprised.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      That’s sad to hear, Dana.

      The most left-leaning place I ever worked was the daily newspaper I keep mentioning (circulation: about 5,000), and pretty much everyone there couldn’t understand the idea of non-belief. Weirdly enough, the places I worked with the most *diversity* in religious belief were McDonald’s franchises. In a Springfield (Mo.) McDonald’s, I met my first Hindu and my first Muslim; there were also a couple of pagans, Wiccans, agnostics, etc. In a Jacksonville (Ark.) McDonald’s, we had an atheist, some deists, a Jehovah’s Witness, and a Buddhist.

      You’re right about the U.S. being a religious nation — in that its *people* are primarily believers in one thing or another. Which I really don’t care about.

      What startles me is how poorly they understand the really good idea of keeping religion out of government. Even when I was a fanatical Christian, I recognized that I didn’t want my government dictating which beliefs are best — because history (and probability) shows that it’s rarely going to be *my* belief that is established by my government.

      And this lady, while not acting in her *official* capacity as mayor, was still participating in the political process *related* to that job as a representative of over a million people, a whole bunch of whom do not share her particular beliefs (she was raised Pentecostal Holiness, but now claims Baptist — while the city itself is 44% “none”, 31% Catholic, 17% evangelical, 5% mainline Protestant, and 3% “other”).

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