Now, I tend not to be an angry guy. However, I assume like most people, there are certain things that, well, kind of piss me off. Sentiments like this rank high among those things that get under my skin.
Simply, this guy named Cal Thomas (who apparently gets paid to write his silly beliefs on paper) calls me, and everyone who doesn’t share his belief of the logically impossible benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God of Abraham, a fool, and then wonders why we’re “so angry.” Well, it could be the fact that we’re routinely called fools or that religious people view that atheists are only “about as trustworthy as rapists” because we tend not to believe that the God of the Gaps actually exists.
We have a reason to be angry, and it is, in a word, bigotry.
Of course I’m not going to equate the treatment that atheists receive now to the horrors inflicted on the Gay Rights and African American communities; that would just be silly. But I do firmly believe that atheists, and atheism, represent the one group who can still be openly vilified without real risk to the bigot’s career. Let me give you a few examples. Why yes, that is performer and “comedian” (I use the term very, very loosely… he’s about as funny as a wet sock IMHO) saying that he wouldn’t let his daughter marry an atheist because he doesn’t “get” where our morals come from (just ask one of us… we won’t bite), and now he’s coming out with a movie (that looks horrible) and currently hosts a radio program–would he still have a job if he said that about Jews or Muslims? And oh yes, George H W Bush, while he was president, openly doubting whether or not atheists could be considered citizens or patriots (these guys might take issue with that). And.. actually, it’s not surprising that, as a Republican in this day and age, Mitch Daniels would indulge in anti-atheist bigotry–it makes the Religious Right all twitchy with excitement.
And no, I don’t think that people should lose their careers based on the expression of their opinion (except maybe a sitting president who openly believes that around 10% of the population shouldn’t be considered citizens or patriots… or a governor who openly equates citizens of his state with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao based on their religious beliefs), but I do believe that we should call a spade a spade–or, in this case, a bigot a bigot.
But it isn’t just a few select assholes in the public sphere. After airing a story about an atheist family that was basically run out of town because they don’t believe that God fathered himself then had himself killed to forgive us for some lady eating an apple several thousand years ago (anything else that we might do in perpetuity), CNN had a panel of religious (and theistic) leaders who did nothing but blame atheists for Christian bigotry (except for that one guy, and more power to him). As previously mentioned, religious believers think that atheists are slightly less trustworthy than rapists. People tend to distrust atheists just because they’re atheists. Whatever happened to judging people based on the content of their character?
Okay, this is getting a little too close for me getting out of hand, but, as you can tell, this is something that pisses me right the hell off. It’s about time for me, and other atheists who don’t like being the last acceptable target of bigotry to get a little uppity. If public figures make clearly bigoted comments about us, we should make our opinions public known about the subject, whether through blogs or call in (television or radio) shows. Most of all, we should demonstrate that there is no reason to assume out of hand that atheists are any worse morally than any other group, and we should do this by not being dicks and being open with our atheism.
If you’re in the God-closet (I am talking to you agnostics too), then get out and be open. The best way to cure people of bigotry is to show that they have friends and family who are in the afflicted group.