Survey Concludes: Atheist Bashing new National Pastime

Discussion in 'Agnosticism and Atheism' started by Shane99X, May 25, 2006.

  1. Shane99X

    Shane99X Senior Member


    Web Posted: April 28, 2006

    What, "in God's name," is going on?

    According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota,
    Atheists have become the ultimate social outcasts. Researchers working
    with the American Mosaic Project which monitors popular attitudes
    about minorities reported, "Americans rate atheists below Muslims,
    recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in
    'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the
    minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their
    children to marry."

    Then came a spike of public statements be celebrities defaming

    Outgoing "Today Show" host Katie Couric opened a recent program
    segment about military policy and religiosity by repeating the old
    canard, "There are no Atheists in foxholes."

    Charlie Sheen, whose career has spanned everything from Hollywood
    awards to encounters with Hollywood Madame Heidi Fleiss was discussing
    his current divorce spat with estranged wife Denise Richards. Waxing
    emotionally about his two children, he told ET's Mark Steines:

    "They represent the real gifts and treasures of this life. Anybody
    that doesn't believe in God hasn't looked into the eyes of their

    monthly special There is also the latest Newsweek column by Rabbi
    Marc Gellman, "Trying to Understand Angry Atheists."

    Gellman, who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern
    University and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College - Jewish
    Institute of Religion in New York, is senior rabbi of Temple Beth
    Torah, and past President of the New York Board of Rabbis. His
    writings have appeared in the New York Times, People Magazine and
    Time. Gellman has authored and co-authored a number of books including
    "Lost and Found: A Kid's Book of Living Through Loss," and "Religion
    For Dummies." He has also attracted a devoted throng of fans through a
    cable television program he co-hosts, "The God Squad."

    His latest piece for the MSNBC/Newsweek web site asks, "Why do
    nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?" Gellman is
    more gracious than other critics of non-belief, admitting "I don't
    think they need to be religious to be good, kind and charitable
    people..." He suggests, though, "Perhaps their atheism was the result
    of a tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading sermon, or an
    insensitive eulogy, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices
    or perhaps something worse."

    Lurking behind Gellman's genteel, soothing, even conciliatory tone,
    though, is a mix of condescension and ignorance of what it is that
    angers many Atheists. He urges us, his "atheist brothers and sisters
    to see things as Spinoza urged, sub specie aeternitatis -- 'under the
    perspective of eternity.' "Atheism, of course, emphasizes the "here
    the now," this life for that is, and as far as we know, all that is.
    We reject the promise of an eternal afterlife, or that we somehow fit
    in as bit players in some cosmic stage production put on by and for
    the benefit of an all-powerful deity.

    What angers the Atheist, though, is the arrogance of those faithful
    who are determined to impose their religious dogmas onto what should
    be a free, open and secular society. We are "angry" when government
    tells us when and how to pray; when politicians drape themselves in
    the mantle of religiosity as a credential for public office; when the
    state demands that we subsidize the faithful and their clerical-social
    institution as President Bush and others would have us under the
    faith-based initiative.

    Rabbi Gellman simply does not understand either Atheism or

    Conservative belligerent Ann Coulter thinks she does, however, or
    at least those who might identify with the term "Godless."

    "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" is the title of Coulter's
    latest bombastic tome which has already created major media buzz, and
    according to the Drudge Report generated "one of the largest advances
    paid to a conservative author for the manuscript."

    One description of "Godless" says that Coulter "holds nothing back
    in detailing liberalism's war on religion and yes, God." Chapter
    titles reportedly include such witty gems as "On the Seventh Day God
    Rested and Liberals Schemed" and "The Holiest Sacrament: Abortion." It
    is, opines another pundit, a "completely original and thoroughly
    controversial work." Coulter has kept unusually mum about the message
    in "Godless," and even danced around pointed questions from Fox News
    talking head Neil Cavuto. She made much out of the fact that her new
    work is due for release on June 6, 2006 (6-6-6 or 666 -- the "Sign of
    the Beast"), telling Cavuto this was her "little tribute to liberals,
    to have it come out on 6/6/06."

    "It's probably not a coincidence," said the Fox correspondent.

    Coulter has insisted, "Liberals love to boast that they are not
    'religious,' which is what one would expect to hear from the
    state-sanctioned religion. Of course liberalism is a religion. It has
    its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the
    supernatural, its own church, its own high priests, its own saints,
    its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of
    the universe. In other words, liberalism contains all the attributes
    of what is generally known as 'religion.'"


    This may be news to some "liberals" and other secularists. But we
    should ask, "What is Ann Coulter up to, anyway?" If we are to reject
    what she defines as "liberalism" because it is an ersatz religion with
    all of the external trappings of faith, why embrace her brand of
    mainstream religion? It may well be that Ms. Coulter's latest screed
    to the right is less reasoned argument than another polemic salvo
    designed to stereotype "godlessness" and anything else which does not
    smack of orthodox religiosity. As for 666, what better way to demonize
    ideological adversaries than to brand them as modern-day Anti-Christs?

    Finally, there is the description of "most Atheists" as "whackjobs"
    by freelance writer and blogger Melinda Barton. A self-described
    "bi-racial Jewish lesbian from the South's working class," Ms. Barton
    has generally enunciated a sharp but insightful progressive tone in
    her commentaries. Her recent column on the Raw Story website (via
    Pharyngula) was off the mark, however.

    "First, what is a secular whackjob? The term secular for the
    purposes of this article will refer to those who disbelieve all
    religious and spiritual claims, not to those who merely support a
    separation of church and state. Although all secular (by this
    definition) extremists are atheists, not all atheists are secular

    Philosophical and linguistic errors abound in Ms. Barton's essay,
    but perhaps the most egregious offense is the use of "whackjob" as an
    umbrella term for the godless. Austin Cline, moderator of the Atheism website charges that Barton "seems to believe that
    atheists are a threat to liberalism and democratic liberty," and
    fabricates false, inaccurate definitions of terms like Atheism. He
    also points out, "Theism may be a matter of faith; atheism is not," a
    critical distinction both Barton and Ann Coulter overlook. His
    critique can be found at


    If the University of Minnesota study is correct, Atheists have now
    assumed the role of the ultimate "other" or social villain once played
    by more traditional social bogeymen -- Jews, Communists, even Roman
    Catholics. We are, in the perceptions of many, "a symbolic moral
    boundary to membership in American society."

    "The reaction to atheists has long been used as an index of
    political and social tolerance," note the U. of MN. researchers."

    Ironically, this comes as rates of general levels of tolerance and
    acceptance are on the rise. Voters, for instance, seem more willing to
    accept Catholic, Jewish and even gay political candidates as credible
    officeholders. Atheists remain at the bottom of that and other
    rosters, however. Americans are increasingly willing to tolerate
    diverse faiths; those of "no faith" or no religion, however, linger
    outside the parameters of respectable society.


    "We've noted a spike in the animus directed at Atheists," says
    Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists. "It's still permissible
    for major media and entertainment figures to engage in cheap-shot
    'Atheist bashing," and make statements they would never utter about
    any other group."

    Johnson sees a silver lining, though, in this dark cloud. "There's
    improvement on two fronts," Johnson told AANEWS.

    "Atheists are slowly gaining some degree of social acceptance, and
    over the long term more Americans are willing to consider Atheists for
    public office."

    She also sees improvement when it comes to Atheists asserting their
    civil rights and looking for ways to influence the debate over public

    "We've got lobbyists in Washington, we've got a political action
    committee, and whenever media pundits, politicians or celebrities, or
    celebrities say something disparaging about Atheists, a lot of us are
    speaking out.

    "We're the last sizeable minority to be included as authentic
    Americans," Johnson said. "It's just a matter of time."
  2. Occam

    Occam Old bag of dreams

    Athiests the 'ultimate social outcasts'
    Well now they are equal to thiests
    'The burners of free thinkers.'

  3. brothwood

    brothwood Member

    wow, that is quite a shock to hear. here in the UK, it seems people with a religious belief or just a belief in God, are the ones who get 'bullied' and harrassed. nobody i know really takes religion too seriously, which i do not mind, as I am not the biggest fan of organized religion. sorry to hear that it the other way around for where you are
  4. Occam

    Occam Old bag of dreams

    Then u are living in a free society that has been built on the dead burnt tortured bodies of the victamised.

  5. Libertine

    Libertine Guru of Hedonopia

    Atheists have always been the minority. And minorities have a history of being bashed.

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