I don't have regular access to broadcast or cable television, and I rarely watch the talking head shows (the ones without David Byrne at least), so I'm just now becoming educated in who SE Cupp is. That is the reason for the rhetorical question. To many folks she is becoming the most visible and well-known atheist in the US. That is why the rhetorical question is worth thinking about.
Is there such a thing as a non-credible atheist?
Does it make sense to imagine not-doing anything in a credible manor?
Well...sure it does. There are things that have tests. Someone who is credibly "not wet" should be demonstrably "dry" for instance.
Not believing is a trickier issue as the tests for it are subtle to the point of absurdity. Add to this the reticence of big-tent atheists like myself to "judge" someone's non-belief, and "credible atheism" can enjoy almost the same free-pass that theist belief gets in our culture.
But this free-pass is based on a basic assumption of honesty. There are folks I know who are atheists yet subscribe to some ill-defined spiritual super-structure of benevolent coincidence. They readily admit that it does not make sense and that their beliefs are not rational. Upon discussion the nature of their system dissolves into a deistic cloud, but the motivation to dispel the fog is just not there. Since they are truly non-theistic I fully accept their self-identification as atheists even if I do not understand the necessity or usefulness of their deistic cloud. This belief system is psychological rather than theological and may, in practice with limited data, be heuristically credible.
There may be people who would argue that these deists are not credible atheists, and they might have a point. I would be open to ideas on the subject, but this credibility issue is different from the SE Cupp credibility issue.
I think she is outright lying about being an atheist.
I wrote a post earlier this year about BA Christians lying about atheists in order to play act stereotype atheist jokes like the old-time black-face minstrel shows allowed whites to caricature African-American stereotypes for fun.
Cupp has even gone so far as to write a book called Loosing OUR Religion (emphasis in bold caps added by me) bemoaning atheist attacks on Christianity in America.
Other recent instances of "what is going on here anyway??" are:
She has a personal religious test for fitness to be president. She would not vote for an atheist because of some very theist reasons:
“I like that there is a check, OK? That there‘s a person in the office that doesn’t think he’s bigger than the state… I like religion being a check and knowing that my president goes home every night addressing someone above him and not thinking all the power resides right here… Atheists don’t have that.”
She also thinks that militant atheist are:
“ among the most intolerant people that I’ve ever come across in my religious-sort-of dealings.”
Which is a fairly militant attitude, but since it is a militantly attitude associated more often with theists she gets away with saying:
“I am not one of these crazy, militant atheists, and I say crazy and mean it.”
But why would she want to be associated with atheists at all? Well…the answer is she does not:
“I envy religious people. I envy the faithful. I would like to be a person of faith, but I’m not there yet.”
Cupp is a pretty white woman. I've seen pictures of her from her television appearances wearing very high heals, somewhat short skirts, and low-cut blouses. She is exactly what fox news would like in an atheist woman; a pretty light-skinned woman who says she is an atheist, but most everything else she says sounds like it is coming from a hard-core fundamentalist Christian.
I've heard that Glen Beck is apparently using her, and she is on some MSNBC show.
She rails against atheists using the two-dimensional caricatures we have come to know so well. It is like she is not only not an atheist, but that she openly despises atheists:
"What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father's? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree."
Maybe a pretty young fake atheist is a good thing for the greater cause of atheism. It is a weird kind of diversity, but it is diversity nonetheless. Still…I’m not sure what kind of message it sends to say something like: “even lying born-again Christians can be atheists”!?!?
On the other hand, the reason the networks put up with her even saying that she is an atheist is that atheists have grown in power enough to deserve a seat at the table. We have grown in influence enough to deserve several seats at many tables, but we don't have them. We have very few seats at very few tables.
SE Cupp is sitting in one of those seats.