by Herb Silverman
Muslims and atheists have nothing in common theologically, but they do share some unenviable commonalities. Since 1937, Gallup has been asking people if they would vote for a generally well-qualified presidential candidate nominated by their party if the nominee belonged to various minorities. The good news is that there is now less discrimination against minorities, and in the most recent poll in 2012 all nine categories received more than 50 percent. Muslims were next to last at 58 percent while atheists bottomed out at 54 percent.
All religious freedom is not created equal, as shown in a poll last month. Americans place the highest priority on religious freedom for Christians, with the lowest priority for Muslims and atheists. Only about 60 percent thought protecting religious freedom for Muslims and atheists was important. Part of this problem is that some define religious freedom as the right to break the law and discriminate against those of other faiths and none, as happened with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
No law prevents a person from being a religious bigot, but we are all required to respect the rule of law. Religious freedom means nothing if it doesn’t allow for people to worship differently or not at all. As an atheist I think all worship is wrong, and I have the right to refrain from worshipping any deities.
At the moment, Muslims are more concerned about such bigotry than are atheists because in some parts of the country Muslims have been receiving threats to themselves and to their mosques. It’s more difficult to spot an atheist, and atheists don’t have any houses of worship to damage.
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