The Fight for Non-Religious Liberty

Oct 6, 2014

By Todd Stiefel

Many groups are victims of prejudice in America. Women earn less for the same job as their male counterparts, African Americans still face disgusting hostility, and gay people are denied the right to marry those they love. Yet, a different group consistently scores worse than all others in polls gauging discrimination: the nonreligious. The nonreligious may face less severe prejudice than others, but the bias comes from far more people.

This may surprise you, but I can tell you, as an openly secular person, I have experienced it firsthand. On several occasions, my donations to charities were rejected because, amazingly, groups would rather avoid being associated with me than receive badly needed funding. My wife, Diana, has been told by friends that mutual acquaintances have said, “Diana is really nice, but her husband is an atheist.” I have been told point-blank I will be unable to teach my children values, simply because I answered, “I am not religious” to the ubiquitous Southern question, “Where do you go to church?” I have been flipped off and insulted, but at least I have not received the death threats that are common among my friends in the secular movement.

Here are five things you should know about discrimination against the nonreligious, particularly against atheists and agnostics.

1. We are assumed to be immoral.

atheistslideThe worst thing someone can consider you to be is evil. Judgments based on poor appearance, athleticism, or intellect all hurt. But nothing pains like the completely dehumanizing assumption that someone is ignoble and despicable. Having that opinion of someone is to believe that the person’s very character is corrupt to its core. Unfortunately, that is the belief nearly half of American’s have regarding atheists and agnostics.

In a recent Pew Research, 45 percent of people said a belief in God is necessary to be moral. Those who disbelieve or are unsure of the existence of God are simply presumed to be unethical. This is the real root cause of the discrimination faced by the nonreligious. If you are assumed to be a bad person, it is not surprising you will be treated differently.

 

 


 

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9 comments on “The Fight for Non-Religious Liberty

  • Check out the comments at the source article. Same old tropes (Atheism = Stalin/Hitler!!!! Atheists = liberal baby-killing sex maniacs!!!!) that never seem to die no matter how often and convincingly they’re refuted. The willful ignorance and stupidity seems just about insurmountable.



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  • @OP- Those who disbelieve or are unsure of the existence of God are simply presumed to be unethical.

    This is the classic “thick Xtian” definition of “agnostic”!

    The “thick Xtian” definition of “atheist”, is someone “in denial of their god”! (Note the capital “G”.)

    The fundamentalist Xtian anti-intellectualism is like like the cults of Anti-intellectualism of Pol Pot and Boko Haram.

    Basically only assertive thickies know best! ( Dunning-Kruger personified!)



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  • 3
    Miserablegit says:

    The religious of all flavours have always clung on to the delusion that to be moral you have to believe in God. This pile of delusional shit has to be fought relentlessly to ensure that we are not tagged as inferior to the god botherers and of course to undermine a staple reason for faith.



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  • You know what? I’m becoming suspicious that these are not spontaneous comments, but talking points posted to forums by “freelance writers” recruited via Craig’s List. I am serious. These “Hitler/Stalin/abortion/despair/suicide” comments are just a little too prompt and cookie-cutter for my comfort, and people do get recruited to “write” reviews and such for corporations and books/films via CL. (Remember the “Debbie Green Bags are the BEST THINGS EVAH!!!!” fad?)



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  • The parallels with gay lib are so strong. We gays were vilified for committing every imaginable crime. God himself commanded Christians to put us to death.

    My strategy was to let people get a really good look at me and ask any question they wanted, and see how badly I fit their stereotype. I was a novelty so I got front page coverage every time I showed up anywhere. I was on radio, TV, and did lecture after lecture. It only took a couple of years for the first gay rights legislation. It blew me away. Everything quickly snowballed.



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  • Kristine Oct 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    You know what? I’m becoming suspicious that these are not spontaneous comments, but talking points posted to forums by “freelance writers” recruited via Craig’s List. I am serious. These “Hitler/Stalin/abortion/despair/suicide” comments are just a little too prompt and cookie-cutter for my comfort, and people do get recruited to “write” reviews and such

    It’s part of the “faith-learning” thing!
    Some evangelical ignoramus preaches stuff copied from YEC drivel-courses from a pulpit or on-line, and tells the faith-fools spread the wuuurrrrd!

    Those in the evangi-bubble “GOOD”!
    All contrary views and outside knowledge lumped together as evil!

    . . . . .Simple message for the simple minded!



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  • nones ar on the rise for a very good reason; we don’t fit the stereotype.

    if atheism=immoral then a moral society would out us all before we could build networks but in reality, anyone can behave decently (it’s not even hard, comes naturally to most) so the mantra 1 god good, no god bad fails among those who learn it. children are taught right from wrong before they learn to read the bible. even the more “sophisticated” stereotypes (arrogant sciency type who’s angry with god) don’t actually apply to many real people.

    so the problem is outing us. some of us are open, some not. the ones who are not could be in your church, they could be the one giving the sermon, nursing your sick children, fixing your teeth, selling you your weekly shopping etc. in faxct doing all the things you take for granted as being good. at best discrimination makes it preferable to stay closeted but there’s nothing that can be done to stop people thinking for themselves however they pretend to agree.

    for the most part, religious believers are simply people who don’t know any better, have never had to question authority, can get by without learning any more academic subjects, but with the intrusion of media and the internet, they are a dying demographic.

    in the meantime item 4 caught my eye. isn’t this always the case with discrimination? most discrimination is unconsious. e.g. 19th century europe it wasn’t discriminating agasint jews to portray them as inhuman ugly demons because”…well that’s what they are, aren’t they..?”

    Christians claim to suffer discrimination. so did 1930s socialist germans, if life’s not good enough, blame the out-group. chances are most christians would be offended to be told they discriminate. they might not understand that claiming they pray for athesits’ souls is part of that discrimination but religious groups have always been at the forefront of bigotry so no point trying to change them, they won’t be a majority for long



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  • 8
    Claudia Odile says:

    Why am I not surprised by the statistics about belief and morality? Especially the faith/family left group doesn’t surprise me, these people that consider themselves “liberal” or “left” AND with a faith are also those apologists that, for example, believe islam is a peaceful religion, those who play down the danger, but I’m glad to see that gradually more and more people are aware of these worn out arguments. The latest comments of Bill Maher and Sam Harris have been really refreshing, both found and spoke out the matter-of-fact reality.



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  • The ubiquitous Southern question, “Where do you go to church?”

    A: “You’re religious? How can you possibly act morally without a rational ethical system?”



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