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2/13/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Watch Out for those Terrible Atheists

by Lee Salisbury

A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority and that an atheist is the last person for whom Americans would vote in a presidential election. “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians” all ranked higher than atheists in public acceptability. Furthermore, Americans are “least willing to allow their children to marry” atheists.

State laws instill and perpetuate this attitude. Article IX, Sec. 2, of the Tennessee constitution states: “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.” Arkansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas have similar laws.

George H. W. Bush while campaigning for President in 1987 exhibited this same attitude, “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Apparently all theists good and all atheists bad. If this is the case, atheist and agnostic businesspersons like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, investment guru Warren Buffet, Apple’s Steve Jobs and CNN founder Ted Turner should all be exiled for their unbelief. Don’t forget to include the 93% of National Academy of Science members who lack belief in a personal deity. What about atheist Pat Tillman, Arizona Cardinal football star, who left a $3,600,000 salary to enlist in the U.S. Army and subsequently got killed in Afghanistan? The oft-repeated theist claim, “there are no atheists in foxholes” insults a true American hero.

Is there a rationale for this prejudice against atheists or is this just plain theist bigotry? Why are atheists more “despised and distrusted” than any other minority? Why do theists promote this malicious slander? Has it ever occurred to theists to judge themselves by the same standards they judge others? Didn’t Jesus say something about taking the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of another’s eye?

How about the theist record? Theist Roman emperor Constantine had 3,000 Christians plus a wife and son murdered. Roman Catholic theists instigated the murderous Crusades and the Inquisitions. Theist Charlemagne had 4,500 Saxons beheaded all in one morning. Protestant theists arbitrarily tortured and burned at the stake tens of thousands of women because of the Bible’s admonition against witches. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli advocated death for heretics. Christian theists have persecuted Jews for the past eighteen centuries–most notably by the Roman Catholic theist Adolph Hitler who murdered 6,000,000 Jews.

Naively, many Americans assume theists never act immorally nor lie for fear of their God’s anger. Yet a recent study by The Center for Public Integrity finds that President George Bush and his top administration officials (all theists) issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attack. The study concludes these false statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.” That’s 935 good reasons to question god-fearing theist morality.

The January/February 2008 Psychology Today magazine contains an article, “An Atheist in the Pulpit, what happens when religious leaders lose their faith.” The author interviewed Lutheran, Pentecostal, Catholic and Episcopalian clergymen and recorded theism’s cognitive dissonance in their own words. “We tend to ignore how much cognitive effort is required to maintain extreme religious beliefs, which have no supporting evidence whatsoever.” “The disjunction between what clergymen say publicly and what they believe privately is so common that serious cognitive dissonance comes with the territory.” “We spend our lives impersonating who we think others want us to be and end up living as impostors. So when someone comes to me and tells me they are losing their faith, I congratulate them. You’re starting to embrace your own thinking self – the essential, immutable, immortal self – as opposed to the accidental criminal you have been made to think you are.” Integrity and cognitive health are theism’s real sacrifice.

So why this centuries-old acrimony against atheists? Granted some atheists have committed atrocities too. Communists Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung are two heinous examples. Does such justify the entirely one-sided bigotry and prejudice commonly accepted among Americans? America, the land of intellectual freedom, has granted hard-core theists free reign to preach their bigotry against Jews, Blacks, women and homosexuals. However, the deep-seated prejudice against atheists merits special attention because atheism challenges theism’s very existence.

A question seldom asked is what does the prejudice against atheists tell us about those who hold that prejudice? Are theists fearful that their god may not really be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent? Does the cognitive dissonance experienced when trying to explain their god’s indifference to events like 9/11, Katrina, and the 2004 Christmas Tsunami trouble their psyche? Maybe their religious fire insurance has been shaken. When theists must struggle with the ineptitude of their god, who better to lash out at than atheists?

Has religious tolerance for prejudice and bigotry toward atheists so intimidated Americans that they do not even recognize it? Evidently yes, especially when one might be branded one of those terrible atheists. Nevertheless, an intellectually free America, as intended by our founders, remerges as more and more atheist/agnostic freethinkers come out of the closet and stand against theism’s last bigoted prejudicial stronghold of intolerance. As one astute college student said to me, “a man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle”— who needs it?



Lee Salisbury is a former evangelical preacher, founder of the Critical Thinking Club of Minnesota, and writes for Axis of Logic and Dissident Voice. Read other articles by Lee.

28 comments:

Chucky Jesus said...

This so hits the nail on the head!

eejay said...

This is disturbing also but seemingly a true fact as to one of issues we'll be forced to deal with every day of our lives. How do we actually earn people's trust. How does a non christian handle a life in the bible belt states. I was unaware of that TN law, but now that I know it is something I have to look seriously at, as I mistakingly purchased land there last year.

dedhed said...

it's great to hear somethign that is horribly wrong with this country. not to mention the fact that pat tillman, was killed by friendly fire. so basically the christian soldiers he was workign with killed him. that doesn't sound very christian to me.

Chris said...

"there are no atheists in foxholes"

This isn't an argument against atheists, but an argument against foxholes.

Smack that line into the face of those holier than thou types!

dedhed said...

another bit of information,t his has been going on in american history since the founding of this country. it was actually against the law for atheists to testify in court until the early 1900's. there are many court cases fromt he 1600's, 1700's and 1800's in which atheists were barred from testifying.

robin said...

Most people in the USA have absolutely no idea what an atheist is or what atheism stands for, this being. Just what their preacher has told them what atheism is, That atheists hate their god.

We don't hate their god, we hate their man made god concept, that is based solely on faith, and not based any substantiated evidence.

Carl K. said...

There are laws on the books against atheists in several states, just because they have not been removed. They are nonetheless rendered void as a result of the 14th Amendment, and are without force anywhere in this United States.

Anonymous said...

what does the 14th ammendent say? Erich

.:webmaster:. said...

14th Amendment: CLICK HERE

leotracks said...

I have argued with some christians who were incapable of separating the notion of atheism from satanism. In their distorted world view, those are the only choices.

"Either you are with us, or against us."

Our country is in terrible shape. We are probably the most illiterate, under read, unthinking society in the western hemisphere. Our educational system is almost a joke with standards falling every year. More concern is placed on the football team's performance than whether or not the players can spell their own names. Funding for education is constantly being cut, and parents are too busy with their own lives to notice.

And we have a sense of religiosity that the rest of the western world has long begun to abandon. We also have a democracy that is quickly dying; representation and regulation was fallen to the will of the corporations. And again, Americans seem to be too busy to notice.

Religion and Corporatism both thrive in the same atmosphere; ignorance. Once a child is conditioned to believe unproven bullshit, he is then ready to be filled with any information, never to be questioned.

Huey said...

Leotracks said:

“Religion and Corporatism both thrive in the same atmosphere; ignorance. Once a child is conditioned to believe unproven bullshit, he is then ready to be filled with any information, never to be questioned.”

Interesting Leotracks. I have always known about the requirement for ignorance by both the religious and corporate sectors but I have never put the two together for comparison. Thanks for the post. I love looking at things from new angles.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you brought in the politics of the George Bush and his administration's 935 false statements.


Please, please, please listen to Bill Clinton on the subject. I don't know how to add a URL here so you'll probably have to copy and paste.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ENAV_UoIfgc&feature=related

I am a full fledged atheist and I am especially worried about the encroachment of Islam all over the world. So blaming Bush and his lies and ignoring the facts is not helpful.

I'm only anonymous because I can't remember my nic nor password.

Anonymous said...

Try the URL again

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ENAV_UoIfgc&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not computer savvy - looks like the URL I'm providing is too long.

So try googling this.

President Clinton orders attack on Iraq

This is very telling. and there's so much more, from Gore, Albright, Hillery, etc.

trancelation said...

American politicians have used Iraq as a galvanizer for a long time. Why? everybody hates Saddam Hussein. He's an easy target. He's a maniacal a-hole, but he's no Hitler. Knowing this, it's very easy to make a connection between the two without worrying about any consequences. It's a lot like calling someone a Nazi, not because they believe in Aryan supremacy, but because they might be uptight about something, or they might be very opinionated. Because of the emotional implications tied to Hitler and Nazis, it's easy to throw those cards around. Saddam Hussein was a lot like that. Dubya just had the balls and the stupidity to believe that he could come out of the Iraq War on top. So I'm not blaming politicians for talking shit about Hussein - because they ALL do it. But Dubya deserves the blame for getting us into this mess. HE went through with it, while everyone else was content to talk crap.

None of that really matters in the course of this discussion, though. americans are fucking gullible idiots. My brother, who's in high school, has friends that started smoking because they saw a few pro-smoking videos on YouTube. My dad is an alcholic and won't quit drinking because he theorizes that he's an alcoholic because GOD wants him to be (ironically enough, this invasion of free will is limited ONLY to his dirnking problem). Every fucking day we read about molesters and the people they molest because they don't believe they have to answer for anything NOW because of God. I have to watch rich white kids act like poor black kids because MTV tells them to act that way. i hate to sound like an old person, but seriously . . . the United States is a fucking joke. We are the laughingstock of the world. This country has no identity. It's tempting to not just move to another place and leave this for the religious lunatics. Eventually, they will nuke themselves out of existence. I can't think of anyhting more enticing than Christians killing off other Christians as they have for centuries until there are no Christians left. Unfortunately, we all know there will be some lucrative nutjob to come up with a new religion - after all, there's no better way to make money than by coming up with a religion.

Religious people are destroying this country, not atheists. Fuck religion, and fuck the people who practice it.

Phant said...

Trancelation Said:
"Americans are fucking gullible idiots."

Sounds like something I would say. I've been on here preaching about how American Christians act all tough when they start their damn preaching on this site which is easy for them to do from the comfort of their middle class homes. I have said it many times before, and I will say it again at least 95 percent of "American Christians" would reject Jesus in a heartbeat if someone held a gun to their head or their families head and told them to do so.

Tracelation Said:
"I have to watch rich white kids act like poor black kids because MTV tells them to act that way."

Same here. My 15 year old nice says that "Rap Music is the best music that was ever made, and music is at it's all time best". Now I hate to start slamming my niece, however I cannot get over the stupidity of these kids today. They worship and admire these thugs who produce this crap music that takes no talent to produce whatsoever.

As far as MTV is concerned, it stopped being MTV many years ago. MTV is nothing more than a label. The "Real" MTV has not been in existence since at least since 1992. Most American Kids don't know what "Real" Music is. There isn't really any such thing as good "R&B" Music anymore either. I find it insulting that they even classify Rap Music as "R&B" Music. Kids are taught today how to grow up to be stupid basically.

Trancelation Said:
"United States is a fucking joke. We are the laughingstock of the world. This country has no identity. It's tempting to not just move to another place and leave this for the religious lunatics."

Amen again Trancelation. I don't know how many times I have talked to Europeans, Canadians, and Aussies who make fun or insults about us. For those who would say that they are just jealous, no they are not. These same people in these other countries have made insults about how bad our educational system is, how bad our leaders are, and how most Americans are out of shape. I too would almost like to just get the hell out of this country away from all of these bible beating fanatics who go around waving their American Flags with their little self-righteous American saying "God Bless America". American Christians live in a bubble, and are the biggest dumb asses on this planet.

God is not the answer for America. Until this country figures that out, Secular Nations such as Australia will continue to kick our ass in Education.

leotracks said...

Phant said...

"95 percent of "American Christians" would reject Jesus in a heartbeat if someone held a gun to their head or their families head and told them to do so."

I would go farther to say that they would reject jesus if someone held the TV remote or beer out of their reach.

And Phant and Trancelation brought something else to mind; I have always been irritated by this countries sense of, what I have named, Flag-worshiping. We often hear or see people venerating the American flag, "These colors don't run," etc. This is a perfect parallel to christianity.

First of all, I think the US constitution is a splendid example of human achievement. Our founding fathers did something quite remarkable when they designed our country, and included the mechanism for repairing anything they might have missed. However, most Americans know very little about the constitution, what it says, or can even recognize the phrase "We the People..."

And so we come to flag worship. Just like christianity, we see that it is easier for simple humans to worship a symbol than it is to understand the message. Wave the flag, and deny your own citizens their rights because they are not like you. Wave your cross in the air, and don't bother reading the psychotic text in the holey bible. (filled with holes)

Anyway, just another thought I had to express. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Imagine being gay, and having self-worth issues, and then being atheists on top of that. It seems at times I don't have a friend in the world when I actually tell others about myself in the whole. It turns out, that I do have a nice circle of friends that are able to understand when I do finally feel comfortable enough to share my view.

I have though, lost many of my married friends when they found out about being atheist. So, no surprise by the findings of this study.

Cousin Ricky said...

It should be pointed out that the Christian holy book declares that atheists are evil scum. And if the Buybull says that we’re evil scum then, by golly, we must be evil scum.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” —Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1

I try to point out that since we don't follow the Buybull, we are not required to be evil scum. I don't know if any Christian has yet to understand my point, though. Here’s more:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
—Romans 1:18-20, 28-32

Look, St. Paul even proclaims that there’s no such thing as an atheist! And amazingly, some Christians will tell us to our faces that we secretly do believe in God. Not only can’t they wrap their minds around the idea that someone else doesn’t share their world view, but they’ve got their holy book to back up their closed-mindedness.

I try to point out that since we don't follow the Buybull, we are not required to be how St. Paul says we are. But in my experience, many Christians will believe what a man who died 1900 years before i was born says about me over what i say about myself. Maybe it’s because i’m a wicked liar. You can’t win.

Trancelation said...

ALL Christians are willing to ignore SOME parts of the Bible while they EMBRACE others. And of course, no Christian knows ALL of the Bible. Most Christians that I have argued with don't even mention the verses about 'the fool in his heart'. They simply deny that a person could NOT believe in God. It must be a choice. It HAS to be a choice. Otherwise, Christians will be forced to recognize God for the psychotic fantasy it really is. What kind of God punishes people for things they have no control over? The idea that we have control over every aspect of our existence is ancient and, quite frankly, one that is full of shit, as well as an idea that is embraced IN FULL by the Bible. We know now that we do NOT have complete control over all of our processes, physically or mentally. So many Christians are willing to ignore those parts which state they must controla certain impulse - and at the very top of that pyramid is the idea that we can choose to believe in something.

Which is, of course, complete and total bullshit.

You make a good point, Cousin Ricky, and it's a point thatmy brother has brought up with homophobes many, many, many times. "Well, I don't believe in the Bible, so I don't hav to follow it," he'll say. "WHUT?!11?!?!1" the Christian will reply. From there on, they'll either point out that the Bible matters to THEM and therefore EVERYONE should follow it, or that my brother is in denial.

Christianity is disgusting.

Black Swede said...

Example: JOHN 3:16

A christian's way of trying to excuse all of the other evil deeds that their God does. They think that the verses about love outweigh the verses that talk about God's little temper and his acts of violence. The way the bible describes the character of God, it reminds me of a "Sociopath".

God & Jesus = Jekyll & Hyde

Look at yourselves... said...

Yes, atheists are terrible.

Dawkins tells us Christians are delusional and child abusers, Dennet tells us they belong in ZOOS, Harris tells us peole can be killed for their BELIEFS and that the Jews brought persecution on themselves.

And on that score, Dawkins warns of the "notorious" JEWISH LOBBY, (twice, p 4 and 44 of his delusional book) and Hithens laments that the JEWS were not "wiped out" at the battle celebrated by Hannukkah and "we could have been spared the whole thing."

The posts here contantly tell Christians how ignorant and disgusting they are, etc.

So what do you expect? You obviously think you are superior, and extemely intolerant, and continue to flame the hate.

The one satisfaction is that this has ensured that athesits will not gain political control. (At least by electoral means.)

Astreja said...

(looks at LookAt's post, frowns, and reaches for Her rune bag)

Let's see what we've got here... Dagaz, Nauthiz, Fehu, Thurisaz, Teiwaz.

D N F Th T...

Takk fyrir, Pabbi! (packs up runes and wanders downstairs for a glass of ice-cold mead)

Aussie Atheist said...

Look at yourselves:
"The one satisfaction is that this has ensured that athesits will not gain political control. (At least by electoral means.)"

That is exactly why you christian yanks along with your country will always be a laughing stock, and why your educational system will continue to suck.

Aussie Atheist said...

Down here in my country, we don't need some mythical icon named "Jesus" to help us survive. Australia is alive and well and prospering without your pitiful God and the belief systems that come with it.

I challenge your bloody God to fix your educational system and cut down the obesity rates in America.

G'day Mate! :)

Cousin Ricky said...

Look at yourselves wrote: “And on that score, Dawkins warns of the ‘notorious’ JEWISH LOBBY, (twice, p 4 and 44 of his delusional book) and Hithens [sic] laments that the JEWS were not ‘wiped out’ at the battle celebrated by Hannukkah and ‘we could have been spared the whole thing.’”

Quote mining, are we? Dawkins does not “warn” of the Jewish lobby. He simply cites it as an effective organization. I know not of Hitchens lament, but i have a feeling that you took that out of context as well.

Look at yourselves wrote: “The posts here contantly tell Christians how ignorant and disgusting they are, etc.”

See “Not Ready to Be Nice” about the anger. We write from our experiences, not out of malice. If Christians show us their ignorance, we will call them ignorant. If Christians act like assholes, we will call them assholes. If Christians act kind and loving, we’ll give them that credit.

Look at yourselves wrote: “So what do you expect? You obviously think you are superior, and extemely intolerant, and continue to flame the hate.”

I don’t see how we think that we are superior; after all, we don’t claim to have the inside track to a Being with the absolute truth. We realize that we’re fallible; that’s why we don’t take anything on blind faith.

See a mirror about the hate and intolerance. People tend to see what they expect to see, and your holy book tells you that atheists are terrible. I have been called full of anger, pain, and hostility when i had no such feelings. I have seen Christians interpret mere disagreement as hate, many times. We are getting weary of the whining. When you cannot impose your religion on us, you are being “persecuted,” but when we voice an opinion, we are “intolerant.”

Look at yourselves wrote: “The one satisfaction is that this has ensured that athesits will not gain political control. (At least by electoral means.)”

Based not on how ethical we are, or how qualified we are, but on shear prejudice.

Advocate said...

Look at yourselves Said:
"The one satisfaction is that this has ensured that athesits will not gain political control. (At least by electoral means.)"

Nor will anyone from your camp. There will always be plenty of American Secularists to protect the interests of "Non-Christians.

One satisfaction that "Non-Christians" have is the fact that Bible Beating Extremists will never gain political control either.

I realize that George W. Bush says he believes in God along with the majority of Conservatives, however most of them just tell you christians what you want to hear just so you will all vote for them, because Conservative Politicans know that you christians are stupid enough to believe anything they tell you.

However, no bible beating preacher or hardcore christian will never get complete political control of this country, nor will they ever be able to force their christian beliefs and values on the whole entire nation. People like myself, and other secular humanist advocates will see that never happens.

America is supposed to be for all people no matter what you believe or what kind of lifestyle you live.

Keeping America free, and equal for all people.

Black Swede said...

Look at yourselves Said:
"The one satisfaction is that this has ensured that athesits will not gain political control. (At least by electoral means.)"

Nor will:

Pat Robertson or Mike Huckabee

However, it also seems that nobody wants a bible beating preacher in office either. Looks like you christians are screwed also.