Distrust of unbelievers runs deep in American history

Feb 8, 2017

By Leigh E. Schmidt

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama recently raised eyebrows during his confirmation hearing for attorney general when he expressed doubts that secular people respected the truth as much as did those with religious convictions. Even as he insisted that there should be no religious tests for holding public office, Sessions was queasy about the potential dangers of the secular worldview.

This was hardly uncharted territory for Sessions. During a speech in 2015, for example, he had singled out the “relativistic, secular mindset” of Justice Sonia Sotomayor as “directly contrary to the founding of our republic.”

The misgivings that Sessions harbors about secularists and nonbelievers — those who “don’t believe in a higher being” — is no mere eccentricity of a senator from the Bible Belt.

As a scholar who has worked for some years now on the history of atheism and secularism in the United States, I find his suspicions deeply familiar. In my book “Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation,” I have examined attitudes toward atheists.

Distrust of the irreligious runs deep in American history.

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2 comments on “Distrust of unbelievers runs deep in American history

  • @OP – Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama recently raised eyebrows during his confirmation hearing for attorney general when he expressed doubts that secular people respected the truth as much as did those with religious convictions.

    This is laughable coming from a member of a cabinet group which is well into “alternative facts” and science denial!



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  • @OP – Distrust of the irreligious runs deep in American history.

    I think this is easy to understand.

    When a believer’s rosy spectacles and indoctrination by regular preaching, which proclaim that possessors of their own species of god-delusion make its followers “all that is nice and wonderful”, this – along with faith-training in the application of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, leads easily led believers to attribute all negativity and damage in the world to (evil) outsiders who do not share their faith!

    Who is more readily identifiable as “outsider others”, than atheists? – who (allegedly)”deny the one perfect troooo god” – and reject “his commands” – as “interpreted” and dictated by the priests of that particular cult or denomination!

    We see this in the false claims of those (including Ratzi popes), who try to attribute NAZIism and Hitler’s atrocities to atheism!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/02/oklahoma-republicans-advance-bill-to-put-ten-commandments-displays-in-public-schools/#li-comment-218600



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