Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Atheism as a civil rights struggle

There is an important sense in which the discussion about atheism is a struggle for the civil rights of not only atheists, but non-theists in general (agnostics, Unitarians, "apatheists", etc.) as well as non-Christians and minority-sect Christians.

To most atheists, the discrimination and oppression most of us face is blatantly obvious. But even a sensitive, ethically admirable guy such as the Deacon is just now "getting it". So perhaps it's useful to once again present some of the most obvious evidence.

Bush pere stated that atheists should not be considered citizens or patriots. The worst insult that Ann Coulter can offer to liberals is that they are "godless" (cf. "godless Communism"). "In God We Trust" is on our currency and "Under God" is in the Pledge of Allegiance. Joe Lieberman, a "Democrat", asserts that "separation of church and state... promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," and (misquoting Washington) rejects "the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion."[1]

And that's just in the public sphere. Freethinking teens, young adults and even middle-aged children in religious families face often face profound oppression. Even questioning the absolute truth of the family's religious belief is frequently grounds for ostracism and for minors at worst imprisonment, torture and even murder.

Throw in Creationism/Intelligent Design and Theocratic Dominionism and it's clear to see there's a problem.


[1] These statements were the biggest reason I didn't vote for Gore in 2000. The article notes that Lieberman backed away from his remarks, but I find his change of heart insincere.

4 comments:

  1. Something important to note is that it is still considered quite socially acceptable to ostracise and discriminate against an atheist. This is universally frowned on now for things like race or gender, and is starting to be frowned on even for homosexuals, but atheists are still at the bottom of the heap.

    Note how Bush elder said what he said and he paid no price whatsoever for it and not only did not apologize for it, he reiterated it. Compare that to what is happening to Imus right now. Whatever racism still exists in this country, it pales in comparison to the scorn openly heaped upon atheists. The only advantage is that you can't tell someone is an atheist by looking at them, so you can hide it, but then why should we have to hide who we are just to avoid discrimination?

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  2. These statements were the biggest reason I didn't vote for Gore in 2000

    That looks to me like a monstrously irresponsible decision, particularly if you really did base it mainly on your pet issue -- and did you really think you would get less theocracy in a Bush government?

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  3. That looks to me like a monstrously irresponsible decision, particularly if you really did base it mainly on your pet issue

    It's not a "pet" issue, it's a matter of my own civil rights. I didn't vote for Bush, I voted for Nader; I really loathe the two party system. I was in a "safe" Republican state (Colorado) at the time. In any event, I refuse to accept personal responsibility for the Bush administration.

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  4. Great post and comments. It is lamentable that, as dbb points out, "it is still considered quite socially acceptable to ostracise and discriminate against an atheist" in America. As I pointed out in my own Blog for Theocracy post, the reason most of us don't believe any of the various religious myths is simple: they are just not believable. This doesn't mean we are not moral or ethical, though we may define those words somewhat differently than people of faith.

    "I really loathe the two party system."

    As a Canadian who is immersed in observing American politics, I see this as a HUGE flaw in your system.* The Republicans fit the definition of a corrupted organization as defined by your RICO statutes, and could well be taken down on racketeering charges. What would that accomplish? The field would be left to the Democrats, who would have absolute power - and predictably would become absolutely corrupt in short order.

    * - NOT your system as defined in the Constitution, however, but your system as it has evolved in a capitalist milieu. The idea of political parties is not even mentioned in your founding documents.

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