By Herb Silverman
Open atheists like me are accustomed to being vilified as a class, but the pejoratives say more about those who cast aspersions than about those they malign. Here are just three examples of judgments made about me, along with my parenthetical thoughts.
1. You have no moral compass because you don’t fear a judging God. (So without your God belief you would be committing horrible crimes?)
2. I feel sorry for you. How can you go on living without a belief in an afterlife? (I guess you must not get much joy in this life, since you focus on an afterlife.)
3. Why do you hate God? (This always makes me want to laugh, but I don’t. Atheists can no more hate God than hate the Tooth Fairy. I can understand why God believers might sometimes hate an all-powerful God who triggers or allows countless atrocities under his “watch.”)
When it comes to politics, there is some marginally good news for atheists. In response to a recent Gallup survey asking if your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happens to be an atheist, 58 percent say they would vote for that person. That’s the highest percentage ever, though it pales in comparison to over 90 percent for a Catholic, Woman, Black, Hispanic, or Jew. While still ranked below gays and Muslims, atheists do beat out socialists (47 percent). Many of us are hoping that an Openly Secular campaign will favorably change the public’s perspective of atheists.
It’s not surprising that politicians who are atheists remain in the closet about their religious beliefs. One notable exception, sort of, is presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He considers himself a socialist and a non-religious Jew, though he doesn’t use the “atheist” label. If he were not an atheist, he would probably be the only Jewish socialist in this country who isn’t.
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