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Steve Benson

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Editorial Cartoonist

Benson is the editorial cartoonist of The Arizona Republic and syndicated by United Features. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and has been a finalist four other years.

He describes his transition from Mormonism to atheism in an essay titled 'Good-bye to God (Editorial Cartoonist's Journey From Jesus to Journalism--and Beyond)'. Here's an excerpt:

To understand why I jumped from the Mormon wagon train requires an understanding of what Mormons are and how they think. While Mormons have some quaint, quirky and fanatical ideas, they really aren't much different from millions of poor, guilt-ridden souls who, throughout the march of human history, have hitched their hopes to mass movements of one sort or another. Eric Hoffer, in his brilliant treatise, "The True Believer," explains the attraction of joining a cause: "A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following 'by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated by freeing them from their ineffectual selves--and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole'. "Of all the cults and philosophies that competed in the Graeco-Roman world, Christianity alone developed from its inception a compact organization."

Once I realized this, it wasn't much of a leap out of religion altogether once I flew the Mormon coop. I simply wanted to be free from organizational groupthink. I escaped from the stuffy attic of religion's "pray, pay and obey" mentality into journalism's open laboratory of "who, what, where, when and why."

[...]

Science discovered long ago that carbon is a source of life. The ashes of my faith have prepared the ground for the planting of seeds that have produced new forms of truth, morality and meaning on my own terms, not according to the dogma laid down by religious ruffians or a vengeful God. If, as believers claim, the word "gospel" means good news, then the good news for me is that there is no gospel, other than what I can define for myself, by observation and conscience. As a journalist and free-thinking human being, I have come not to favor and fear religion, but to face and fight it as an impediment to civilized advancement.

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See his work at http://umweb1.unitedmedia.com/editoons/benson/index.html.