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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Rooney, Andrew Aitken (1919- )
"The only thing that I hide from people, that I have never said so far as being blunt and honest goes, is that I am not a religious person. I'm not sure the American public would accept from me that fact. I don't think that would please them or that it would attract a lot of people to me. And I take the position that it is sort of a personal matter, so I do not ever make an issue of it."

-- Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney is an American journalist and commentator. He is seen on the weekly news program 60 Minutes.

He began his career in newspapers, writing for Stars and Stripes in the European Theater during World War II. Rooney also was a freelance writer and a television script writer before joining 60 Minutes. In the early 1950s he was a writer for Arthur Godfrey when Godfrey was at the peak of his powers on CBS radio and TV though Rooney later moved on to other projects.

Though originally a regular correspondent, Rooney now has his own "end-of-show" segment, "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney", in which he offers a light-hearted editorial on a trivial everyday issue, such as the cost of groceries, annoying relatives, or faulty Christmas presents. Rooney has always considered himself a writer who appears on television.

According to CBS News' biography of him, Rooney wrote his first television essay, a longer-length precursor of the type he does on 60 Minutes, in 1964, "An Essay on Doors". From 1962 to 1968, he collaborated with the late CBS News Correspondent Harry Reasoner—Rooney writing and producing, Reasoner narrating—on such notable CBS News specials as "An Essay on Bridges" (1965), "An Essay on Hotels" (1966), "An Essay on Women" (1967), "An Essay on Chairs" (1968) and "The Strange Case of the English Language" (1968). "An Essay on War" (1971) won Rooney his third Writers Guild Award. In 1968, he wrote two CBS News specials in the series "Of Black America". His script for "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed" won him his first Emmy.

His shorter television essays have been archived in numerous books, such as Common Nonsense, which came out in 2002, and Years of Minutes, released in 2003. He also has a regular syndicated newspaper column that runs in many newspapers in the United States. He’s won three Emmy Awards for his essays, which now number more than 800. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy.

Rooney is popularly thought to be an atheist based on a series of comments he made regarding Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. In public comments, he has described himself as an agnostic. He has admitted on Larry King Live to having a liberal bias.

Rooney attended the Albany Academy in Albany as a boy, and later attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York until he was drafted into the Army in 1941. He has four children, including a daughter, Emily Rooney, who is also a journalist and former ABC News producer, who currently hosts a nightly Boston area public affairs program, Greater Boston on WGBH. His wife of 62 years, Marguerite, died in 2004.

In the fall of 2005, Andy Rooney's support for medical doctors that "do not advertise" (aired on national television) emphasized the foundation of ethics in doctor-patient relations.

Trivia
In 2003, an e-mail purporting to be a 60 Minutes Transcript began circulating on the Internet. The e-mail assigns numerous political opinions to Rooney. He has said that the remarks were not his and that he did not agree with many of them.

In an interview segment on the satirical program, Da Ali G Show, Rooney erronously criticized the artist for his use of the word racialist. A relatively unused term in the United States, Rooney, among other criticisms of the artist's speech, refused to accept Ali G's use of the term and eventually conceded out of annoyance. In the same interview, Rooney thought he corrected Ali G's grammar in the sentence "does you think the media has changed?", by telling him it's "do you think the media has changed", overlooking the grammatical error he made himself by using the word "has" instead of "have" for the plural noun, "media". Also in his anger, Rooney claimed that the press has never printed election results before the election was over, which is contrary to the famous case of the Chicago Daily Tribune printing "Dewey defeats Truman".

An excerpt from an article on Rooney in the November 19, 2004 edition of The Tufts Daily:

Rooney also attributed voters' reliance on religion in the recent election to ignorance. "I am an atheist," Rooney said. "I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense."

He said Christian fundamentalism is a result of "a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer."

via Brian Westley and Michael Silver

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In writing The God Letters (Warner Books, 1986), author Paul Rifkin posed as a fifth grade student asking entertainers the question, "Do you believe in God?". Rooney responded "No, of course I don't [believe in God] and anyone who tells you that there is a god who make his or her presence known to him or her is hallucinating or not telling the truth."

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In a May 1995 television interview with Sam Donaldson on ABC's PrimeTime Live, Rooney was critical of anyone who claims to know whether or not a god exists.

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From a 1996 interview with TV Quarterly's special correspondent Arthur Unger:

Unger: Do people really know Andy Rooney?

Rooney: The only thing that I hide from people, that I have never said so far as being blunt and honest goes, is that I am not a religious person. I'm not sure the American public would accept from me that fact. I don't think that would please them or that it would attract a lot of people to me. And I take the position that it is sort of a personal matter, so I do not ever make an issue of it.

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In November 1999, Rooney, in talking about the 90s, said that "with all the problems throughout the world, religion has not really done anything to help."

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Rooney's book, Sincerely, Andy Rooney (published November 1999) is a collection of his own correspondence over his long career in journalism and television.

The last chapter is entitled "Faith in Reason", and in it Andy publishes a letter to his children where he explains his views on religion and identifies himself as agnostic.

 
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