Secularphobia is one of those phobia words that rather a lot of people have a bit of a phobia about (logo-phobia perhaps), and yet such words do convey and describe fears that are quite real. Some we are familiar with …
- homophobia- yes there still are many out there with an irrational fear of people who were born with a different sexual orientation. It perhaps finds root within some due to the massive degree of insecurity.
- islamophobia – actually it is real, there are indeed people who have an irrational fear of people who are Muslim, but sadly this one has been greatly abused and is often deployed to shut down valid criticism by attempting to label such criticism as irrational
… and so I introduce to you “secularphobia”, and that is also quite real within US society. If you doubt that, then consider the observation that many politicians find it necessary to wear a religious mask if they wish to retain office. Barney Frank, an openly gay member of congress kept the fact that he was not religious a secret until he finally retired.
So would the public vote for a non-religious president today? Actually this one is not so bad, while in the past it would have been a resounding “no”, a recent poll revealed that 58% would vote yes if their party selected an atheist candidate for election, so that leaves a roughly 40% chunk of the public suffering from secularphobia.
How about joining the boy scouts? It is now just fine to be a member if you are gay (since 2013) and so the only remaining group that is still banned from the boy scouts are the non-religious (yes really, if you don’t embrace religious superstitions then you are banned).
So what is going on?
You can’t help but wonder what is going on inside the heads of those who will happily discriminate against people for simply being non-religious, why would they do that?
It perhaps comes down to several things …
- The persistent belief that only the religious are moral, and so anybody who is not religious must be immoral. It is utterly irrational and has no basis in fact, but then the irrational beliefs that drive such thinking is the foundation that this is all built upon, so it is perhaps not such a great surprise, and is one of the tricks that belief plays to hook into the human mind, and ensnares by tricking humans into thinking that belief is the high moral ground. – All humans are born evil (talking snakes, fruit, Eden, etc…), therefore unless Jesus … etc… except none of it is true.
- In the US there is also cultural loyalty at play, the potentially deeply emotional and patriotic idea that “in god we trust” and so if you don’t stand with god that you are not a true American and not truly patriotic. This perhaps has its roots to some degree in the post-war McCarthyism that presented communism and its associated non-belief as the ultimate evil that needs to be rooted out.
What is also rather interesting is this observation.
- If somebody expresses a dislike for somebody because they are black or asian, then culturally they would be very much frowned upon, it is simply not acceptable (generally) to behave like that.
- If however somebody expresses a dislike for somebody because they are “atheist”, nobody is too bothered, there is no social stigma
The fact that it is like this is quite frankly absurd.
Being discriminated against for simply being rational and refusing to embrace ideas that don’t have a jot of evidence is indeed crazy, and this is not just at a cultural level, because there are still eight states within the union that mandate officeholders must have a religious belief … yes really.
Alas, homophobia might indeed be passing, but secularphobia is sadly still thriving.