Posted by: buckleyr | May 12, 2009

Atheist Intolerance

Looking for inspiration for my final blog entry of the semester, I of course went to my trusted YouTube link, and as usual, it did not let me down. I found a video that was actually a CNN News story about atheist intolerance. The reporter was interviewing a couple that had let it be known in their Mississippi town that they were atheists. Shortly after, their child had no friends to play with, the husband’s boss got complaint phone calls at work, and people drove by the family’s home just to stare at them. The news story went on to say that atheists are the least trusted and least accepted minority group in the country. Some have even lost jobs due to their atheism.

When I watched the clip and learned of many of the injustices that atheists have to experience due to the refusal of acceptance by many theists, I was quite disheartened. It really made me realize even more exactly how much religious groups can learn from New Atheist claims and accusations. As theists, we generally teach messages of love, acceptance, and compassion to all types of people, especially minority groups. Still, why is it so hard for some of us to accept those that have different beliefs about God than we do? Generally, we pride ourselves on setting peaceful examples to the world, but what kind of example does this set? To atheists, it only tells them that our God loves everyone, except them. Actions like this only highlight the hypocrisy of some religious people. So, in actuality, as I have thought all semester, some of Dawkins’ criticisms are valid. Christians and other religious people should not ignore these critiques, but work to correct them. We really can learn from atheists how to be better theists.

Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbjIYvXpvLM

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Responses

  1. Hey Rachel,

    I think I just made a post pretty similar to yours, which I called “A final call to compassion”. I think there is a bitterness there in the New Atheism which shoes the kind of psychological violence that many atheists deal with day in and day out, especially in fundamentalist cultures like the United States. Due to the evangelical message in the Christian tradition, I have no doubt that many of the Atheists feel forced daily into conversations about God that are uncomfortable and feel somewhat violated.

    It seems fitting that Richard Dawkins, in his movement to convert Atheists, has dubbed one of his campaigns as a “coming out” campaign. I think the terminology, on par with the gay movement, shows the kind of social alienation that Atheists feel regularly. There is a type of violence done when we all take for granted that people believe in God because, the alternative is, not being normal in atheism. After years of being considered “dysfunctional” rather than simply considered “careful” or “cautious”, these people are beginning to express their stories of oppression.

    I just wish their leading spokespeople of today were more compassionate themselves…

  2. That kind of intolerance by theists is what fuels the fire for guys like Dawkins and Harris. They see actions like that and their stereotypes and accusations are confirmed even further. When I was in high school, there was this guy in my class named Mike that was a self proclaimed atheist. He was not harassed quite like it seems the family in the story was, but being at a predominately conservative Catholic high school, he was questioned quite a bit about it, and not always in the friendliest of ways. Looking back on it with the perspective I have now, (and I never actually asked him about his beliefs, only listened in on his conversations with others) I wish I would have 1.) talked to him about it and 2.) defended his different perspective.


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