Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman published an article in yesterdays Washington Post ….
Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.
Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.
Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close.
A growing body of social science research reveals that atheists, and non-religious people in general, are far from the unsavory beings many assume them to be. On basic questions of morality and human decency — issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious.
2 thoughts on “Why do Americans still dislike atheists?”
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Just a few random thoughts (which is all I can muster until the caffeine kicks in). . . . Despite the official separation of church and state, all our money is inscribed with the motto “In God We Trust.” This only serves to reinforce the narrow-minded beliefs of the uber-religious. Many Americans, especially those that are religious conservatives, believe in “American Exceptionalism;” the idea that this country, and its citizens, are blessed — above all others — by God. That we have an inherent right to live better, use more, and particularly, that our supposedly God-based moral code is the highest there is. We are, in essence, superior beings (except for the atheists).
Just this morning, at the end of his announcement that Osama Bib Laden had been killed, President Obama (who is not consider to be a “religious” president, and one I’m sure, that doesn’t consider atheists to be “immoral, wicked and angry”) said “Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.”
In America, God is in the water. Our water is our Kool-Aid. And we all drink it. Some of us, however, have accepted the antidote (widely available to all, even the religious): critical thinking.